Wednesday, October 17, 2018

On Sailing and Stalin

Buffalo marina on an autumn day and here's Titanic 2 (names have been changed) up on the trailer and ready to head down to the neighbour's barn in Cattaraugus County. There was something of a traffic jam on the retrieval ramp - with only a few days to go till the marina closed for the winter, several others had had the same idea, including the noisy restaurant, which was busy hauling away its several various floating docks.  They had to go up the ramp too. Meanwhile we were huffing and puffing and heavy lifting  and attending to all the little details that sailing boats have. It's like undressing an Elizabethan duchess. "I can't fathom" hubby panted, "Why this always takes so long."

Way in the distance you can see to the left, behind the autumnal trees, Buffalo's art deco city hall (I'd say it's more like the Stalin Gothic you get in eastern Europe but it doesn't have a spiky top). It will be a long time before we see this view again.
  And the other way, the pretty 19th century lighthouse - too bad the other buildings in the marina don't match, being a triumph of neo-brutalism.

The blog will shortly be on its road trip south to Golden Beach. I already feel quite nostalgic for autumn frosts - even though, in this bizarre year for weather, we haven't had one yet.
  And speaking of the above, I was trying to book a hotel room for one of this year's destinations and got into one of those "chats" on line with an employee. "Hello", he typed, "You're speaking to Stalin, how can I help you?"  After a frisson of alarm, I was very kind and resisted a comment. He must get them all the time.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Poor Panama City

 Three years ago sister-in-law and I, on our annual road trip south, drove through north-western Florida and the panhandle. As you can see, we took a delightful coast road and in Panama City in a restaurant right on the beach...

....had the best fish-and chips to be found outside Britain. It helped that we were pretty hungry and it was a glorious sunny day. How different things must look there now after Hurricane Michael's apocalyptic devastation.   It's almost impossible to find words to describe it.  Ironic that I'd commented on the houses on stilts that we saw all along the coast, saying how well-prepared they were for hurricanes.  As last year, after Irma, we thank God that Golden Beach was well out of Michael's range but are keeping the people up north in our prayers. My heart goes out to them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Last Hot Day...

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, Western New York State

  ..Will be tomorrow, they say. Then the temperatures plunge some 25 degrees. It's a swizz - since we've been back it's been rain, rain and more rain.  The apples on the grass are a squelchy mess.

  But today the sun shone and I'd planned an al fresco lunch with friends.  This can be unwise in America because of the preponderance of flying insects exuding varying degrees of menace. But this is autumn and hubby had used a flamethrower on the wasps' nest in the lawn. 
  On the menu were bison burgers from our neighbour, Jeff's herd.  There's nothing better -  plus British apple and blackberry crumble which is always a hit with my friends here.  I said to hubby "What's the betting someone starts mowing."  (For the full gen on the local lawnmower menace, click here.)      Well fate was certainly playing tricks with me today. Just an hour before our guests were due to show up, several trucks appeared and started doing something very noisy with the surface of the lane. Plus everywhere stank to high heaven of tar.   Of all the days to pick...Thankfully they moved along pretty quickly. Just as I'd heaved a sigh of relief, guess what happened? Yep, a mower revved up. And the last surviving wasp buzzed us, bent on revenge.  But there's nothing a good lunch and plenty of ice cold sauvignon blanc can't surmount.
  The jungle, having been neglected for much of the summer, is, admittedly, unruly

But the rose surprised us with an encore.

And I'd found pumpkins for the doorstep  from the same chap we get excellent sweet corn from on the way to Ellicottville. He didn't disappoint - his pumpkins were fat and perfectly round, not with one side flattened like the specimens from the supermarket.

The hydrangeas looked pretty round the bird bath

Not many autumn colours this year but the sun was shining through the trees

And some cheeky mushrooms were popping up. 

These were truly bizarre.

I need advice from my Mushroom Mania friend. He would probably cook up quite a few meals after foraging in our jungle but I'm not about to try it. I'll stick to bison burgers.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Out of the Frying Pan into....

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, Western New York State

  Well hello again!  After a few weeks of travelling, the blog is back at base - for a couple of weeks at any rate, before it heads south.  The travels included a Brexit-obsessed Blighty and just when I'd had my fill of political playground argy-bargy, what happened? I arrived in the United States to more of the same. Once again the air is rent with the sounds of axes grinding, toys crashing out of pushchairs and ancient skeletons dragged screeching and rattling out of their cupboards. 
  I would suggest calming down and having a nice cup of tea or, as my Dad was wont to say, a few convivial drinks (though under the circumstances the latter might not be entirely appropriate.) But I fear it's gone beyond that. 
   As a foreigner I don't think I should enter the fray but I would gently suggest to my American friends that, had they never severed their ties with their mother country , they might not be having this particular set of troubles. I don't recall judges in Britain being selected or opposed because of their political, social and ethical views. They're mostly chosen because they're good at the law and with little public fuss. Nor do their personal lives seem to enter into it much. But then we Brits don't have a Constitution to fight over. And Supreme Court judges Stateside have a crucial role, you could say, in running the country. They, rather than the elected politicians, have made some of its most  momentous decisions.  Hence there's a lot at stake and people get understandably twitchy about getting the right person in. I'm not sure if that's exactly what George Washington and his friends intended but there, I  suppose, you are. 
  So on to other things. We arrived back to find the jungle still hanging in there in its last autumn gasp, 

the sedum perky as ever

Though one of the hardy hydrangeas had mutated alarmingly

And against all odds, the sumac appeared to have been struck by lightning yet again. There's not much left of it. Time to call it a day I think.

That's what I should be doing with this gardening lark. But the Home Depot (America's answer to B and Q) had a good deal today on perennial asters. And I thought I might as well buy some more bulbs. I never learn.