Monday, September 30, 2019

You See Some Strange Things

At Buffalo Marina. We were coming back from sailing, chugging along to our dock when something came chugging the other way. 

Had it got detached from somewhere? But no there were people aboard and they sounded perfectly happy, slugging back drinks.

So it was meant to be where it was. A floating Tiki Bar (I think this name comes from Hawaii but it seems to mean anything with a fake grass umbrella. You get them in Florida but they look  just a little out of place in Buffalo.)

Well all credit to people coming up with new ideas to revive the Buffalo waterfront. Unfortunately the season when it's warm enough to do it is short. And there aren't that many palm trees and golden beaches. But like all good Buffalonians they make the best of what they've got.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Lookback: Not Your Usual Buffalo

Buffalo, western New York's major city gets a lot of stick. It was once one of America's richest  but sadly no longer. "Rustbelt", "decaying", "freezing cold", "dangerous", just some of the stereotypes cynics have applied to Buffalo.    
   But if you'd had a quick walk with me around the downtown the other Sunday morning, you'd have been surprised.    Here's just a glimpse. The lovely older buildings were warming in the sunshine

There was something interesting around every corner. Cool reflecting pools

Cool reflecting buildings

Edgy sculptures

Blending in with history..

 A glimpse of Buffalonian humour....

 Don't write this city off yet!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A New Look Farmers' Market

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, wester New York state

   Something wonderful has happened to our local town, Olean. The farmers' market, which used to be a few stalls in the mall car park, always worrying about the weather, has a new building right in the centre of town.

It's on the lines of those old market halls in Europe, with the open sides. And it's been positively buzzing

All kinds of new stalls, selling everything from  local goldenrod honey to Italian bread to lotions and potions... the old favourites, like Stayer's Greenhouse. Amazing how well hibiscus grows in western New York. And their New York peaches are to drool for.

Hordes of customers - and vendors - having a great time and doing a spot of celebrity-watching.  That's Charlie, the famous rescue Yorkie, all the way from Manhattan (see him on Instagram  @charlie_barkie )  with his agent, Molly and to the right, an old friend of the blog, John Policastro of Flanigan Farm fame. I snagged a few of his excellent pork chops and local Polish sausages (well this is America.)

And there was live music too. I got the feeling the new Farmers' Market has made a real difference to Saturday mornings. Almost everyone shows up there, meeting friends, catching up with gossip, strolling, having a coffee. The best idea this town has had in a long time.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Lads Are Back!

Or, probably in this case, lasses. It's been a while since we've seen the turkeys. But I walked up the lane the other morning and 

...there they were, on the neighbour's immaculate lawn.

They didn't hang around. Meanwhile, this little salamander was trying to cross the road. Sadly some of his friends had been squashed but I hope he made it.

I'm never quick enough to get a good picture but here are some Canada geese flying south - or west in this case. Another perfect V passed right over my head, so close I could hear the rush and beating of their wings, not to mention their purposeful honking.

Autumn is fast approaching, despite the fact that, with all the rain, we don't seem to have had a summer.  The goldenrod is taking over everywhere.

The neighbour's pond is rippling with autumnal breezes.

The wildflowers getting ready for tapestry time.

And in the garden, the evening sun shines through the fir tree.

This is about as good as the garden's got this year.

It seems the deer didn't eat all the garden phlox. Just most of them.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Chipmunk Grand Design

You've got to hand it to the little stripy fellas -they're nothing if not resourceful.

While we were busy cooing over them and handing out peanuts on the front porch, they were up to something of their own at the back...
  The first thing we noticed was a suspicious amount of debris around the oak tree.

Odd - it hadn't been all that windy. A closer look showed empty acorn hats - much of the contents had disappeared.

 Later, we heard the sound of plopping and the end of a branch mysteriously shaking.

The chipmunks were having a relay. One shinning up the oak tree to nip the twigs with their acorns and send them falling onto the grass, another coming down. "Go on Harry, it's your turn, bite those twigs son!"

And around the tree on the ground, the rest of the family were busy collecting the spoils.

 Aren't we clever!

 Somebody's going to have a good stash for the winter. Never mind that our oak looks as though it survived a hurricane. And it's not just ours.

 This was the scene around a neighbour's tree up the lane.
  Not content with tunneling our lawn into a swiss cheese, they're out to get the trees now. Little darlings.

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Prickly Visitor

 Dateline: Cattaraugus Country, western New York state

What on earth will be next in the wildlife circus we live in?

The handyman was working on the outside of the house when I heard a shout and he burst in through the screen door, white as a sheet,
  "There's - there's some kind of animal out there........

........and he's heading straight for where I'm working!

"Do you think - could it be a porcupine?"
 "Yes",  I said - the Brit to the lifelong western New Yorker -  "that's definitely a porcupine" And I added optimistically, "Don't worry, he won't hurt you."
 Then I started to have second thoughts. "Don't go too close in case he shoots his spines out!"
 "No he won't!" Hubby had emerged behind the house, "That's a fallacy".
  "But what about the neighbour's dog? He turned up at the door looking like St Sebastian shot through with arrows."
  "Well he was probably trying to bite the porcupine. The spines have barbs so they get stuck."

I wasn't about to get close enough to find out. But the handyman had downed tools until such time as the new visitor left.  I grabbed the hose and tried a gentle spray. Mr Tiggywinkle turned and looked at me, "You cannot be serious!" and waddled slowly, very slowly under the bush right where the handyman was working.

Hubby tried the same trick on the other side. Very nonchalantly, the porcupine emerged again and waddled down the hill and out of sight.
  Last week we had family staying,  including a tiny rescue Yorkie.  I do not want to think of what could have happened there.
  Still, the porcupine, with his little beady black eyes, was quite the charmer. Though we'd prefer he didn't come back too soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


  We waited until dark. On one of the few nights when it wasn't raining. Then hubby announced grimly, "That's it - we're going in". He carried the petrol can; I had the matches. And the torch. As the searchlight swept the flower bed, hubby slung an almighty slosh and I struck a match with a gung-ho flourish. It broke.  So did the second one. And the third. "Defective weaponry!", I cursed. Finally, on the fourth attempt, as our helpful commenter (see below) had so graphically described, there was a sizeable "Woosh!" and flames leapt upwards. We stood back to gloat on our handiwork.
  The next morning we inspected the scene. There was unavoidable collateral damage - the rudbeckia and the garden phlox slightly singed. There was a small black patch in the flowerbed. And all appeared quiet on the wasp front. We congratulated ourselves on a successful operation.
  That was last week.
  Yesterday I walked past the patch to have another gloat. I heard an ominously familiar sound. Two wasps were jauntily celebrating their survival. I blasted them with what was left of the spray.
  Today I walked past again.  Three more of the brutes whirled around,  defiantly buzzing the wasp equivalent of "Remember the Alamo!" You've almost got to admire them.