Birthday Outing 2016

This year my birthday happened to fall on a Saturday. So to celebrate Luke,  his parents, and I took a very long day trip.


We picked up the ornaments made earlier in the week from the glass studio in Corning. For more on this see:

Then we headed to Watkins Glen State Park to hike the George Trail.


Being a very warm Saturday, the trail was crowded but as always worth it. We have had a very dry summer so far, and light winter, so the falls were not as full as normal, but still it is a beautiful place.



After our morning hike we drove up to Ithaca to the farmer’s market for a late lunch. Diana was happy to find more than 6 stalls selling organic produce and was surprised to find a pre-made completely organic lunch of samosas and salad. For more on the Farmer’s Market see:


We picked up a few groceries, then roamed to see what options were available for lunch. At the table was a variety of food from a Sri Lankan curry to Momos all with local organic strawberries for dessert. We went back through one last time after lunch to pick up some goodies. Diana and John picked up some local maple syrup, cheese, and wine.


With full stomaches we got back in the car and headed to Cornell university. There we stopped at the botanical gardens welcome center and explored the gardens. After a nice walk through the rohdi’s and sitting in the shade we decided we were ready for dessert. We climbed up the hill from the garden parking lot and over to Cornell’s dairy bar. We discovered all of this on our camping trip in Ithaca a few years ago for more on this see:


The ice cream was just as good as ever, creamy, and just enough flavor and sugar. After enjoying our afternoon treat, we got back in the car and drove the Corning Plantations Arboretum drive passing ponds, orchards, and the student farm. Taking a break to look out over the plantations, we decided to take a short walk to a suspension bridge over looking some of the falls on campus. When we did we discovered even in the low water many people were out swimming in the heat.


Getting back in the car we headed down to greenstar a local natural and organic food store to get Diana dinner and a few groceries for their trip ahead. We then went to get Chinese food for the rest of us to go.


With our to-go meals in hand we drove to Buttermilk falls on the outskirts of town. We found a picnic bench to sit and enjoy our dinner at while watching the falls. With how dry the year has been there was little to  water flowing over the rock but it was still a pleasant view. For more on buttermilk falls see:

A long last outing of our touring behind us, we drove back toward home. It was great day and I was happy to be able to spend it with family.

Kira update: adult puppy


Our puppy Kira is 11 months old; an adult puppy. She has not lost her puppy coat and she has times of crazy energy but she knows the rules and routine and follows them (most of the time) without stubbornness.


Since our last update we have done a genetic test on our furry family member to discover she is not a lab at all! She is mostly American foxhound, American Stafford Terrier, and a little Chow.


We had guessed she could be part chow because some siblings are very fluffy, plus she has spots on the bottom of her tongue, typical of Chows. We would not have guessed the other breeds, but with research about personalities and behaviors it makes sense. She is all nose, can track anything, but she is also all muscle, very agile, and alert. So we have a tracking/hunting dog also with guarding instincts.


With all the yard work we have been doing (more to come). It has been a task keeping  her from eating the fertilizer, plant food, weed killer,  (even gravel) that we have been laying down. It’s like she is a two year old with shiny objects.


We just recently went back to Stony Brook and were able to do the full trail both ways! In the past Kira’s attention span meant that we only would make it part way. This time the park was crowded but she did not jump on a single person, something we have been working on. For more on this see:


Even though she is almost an adult, Kira still has many new experiences. At the park she was curious but afraid of balloons and strollers both items she has not seen before.


This past week Kira had another new experience, the groomers.  In the past she has been scared of brushes, not a huge fan of baths, and requires treats  to  cut her nails. With this in mind, I stayed for the appointment.


I was shocked and impressed at how well she did. The groomer was able to not only clip Kira’s nails and give her a bath but also trim down her winter coat with an electric shaver, something I thought she would be completely scared of. But the groomer was great with her and Kira is adaptable.


It’s hard to believe we have had Kira in our home for nine months. She has challenged and frustrated us, but also impressed and surprised us. We are glad to have her.


Kira’s first outting

Our lab-mix puppy Kira is now a little over four months old.


The past few months adjusting to a puppy have been a fun challenge. It was entertaining to watch Kira discover fall winds, rain, baths. It was especially enjoyable to watch her jump into the neat piles of fall leaves Luke made with the blower.


Through this process we have had to not only be patient with her as she became potty trained, and learned new commands, but we also had to be patient for her to be old enough to go out with people.


Finally she has all of her booster shots and her rabies shot. To celebrate last weekend we took her for her first official “non-vet” outing to a local state park: stony brook (for more on this see stony brook park). We got set with water, bags, training treats, and collapsible water bowl then drove to the park.


Although it was cold it was beautiful. There were many starts and stops along the way as Kira pulled on her leash, got over-excited, and went off the trail. The further into the trail we went the more she became comfortable with the pace and staying by our side.


We were not the only ones at the park. It was not crowded at all but there were some people and dogs. Kira loves people but is still learning about the different sizes and breeds of dogs.


It was a great chance to show her how to be social. But it also made us realize we still need to train her to not jump on people when she is excited and wants to greet them.


I was all set for a vigorous walk but quickly realized-this was a training session. We did not come close to completing the trail but it was beautiful and I know we will go back soon.



Springwater Fiddler’s Fair

Well it’s been busy past month adjusting to a new job, driving to Rochester everyday, and adding a puppy to our lives. We were ready for a weekend outing.


A few weekends ago went to the Springwater 7th annual Fiddler’s Fair. We heard about this fair from two sources: first from the maple farm we toured for maple week this past spring (see maple season) and from the Springwater trails group we hiked with this summer.


The fair takes places at a tree farm on the boarder between Cohocton and Wayland (so not far from our house) and hosts fiddlers from all over upstate New York for one day of performances, workshops, and jam sessions.


We arrived in the mid afternoon and explored the grounds. A barn was set up at the front of the property with crafts artists inside. We payed a five dollar donation and were given wrist bands and brochures before exploring. Around the corner form the barn was the main stage where fiddling performances occurred every half hour from 10-6pm all day.


Deciding to walk around the craft stalls outside, we walked around the found the inner loop trail to explore the jam sessions in the woods. At each location where a jam session could occur along  the festival had set up haybails and a white fiddle sign.



We came late enough in the day that there were not any jam sessions in the forest, but we enjoyed the walk. The spring water hiking club blazes the trails for all of the events on the farm, and for most of the day supported guided hikes along the trails.


We came back to the main field and listened in on a few of the larger workshops and jam tents further out in the field. Some of the workshops included Penny whistle, woodworking, Cajun fiddling, and basic fiddling skills.


We also noticed they had nature crafts for children and a sing along stage where children could dress up, pick up instruments, and dance along to a guitarist singing children’s songs.


After walking around we decided to get dessert first settling on organic custard made locally from duck eggs. I got black raspberry and Luke had the mint chip, it was very good creamy and sweet.


We sat with our frozen treats and listened at the main stage to several performers including a group of children performers from a string school in Buffalo who were very good.


We then decided to get dinner and had many options to choose from everything from taco salad, to BBQ, to hamburgers and hot dogs, to vegetarian stew and lamb burritos. Sadly the lamb burritos were sold out by the time we decided to eat ,so Luke and I shared some BBQ and mac and cheese. All of the food stands were local bakeries, restaurants, and catering companies.


We enjoyed seeing that this fair was put on by volunteers and locals and the cost to get into the festival goes to run the festival next year and to support the community. It was also great to hear a variety of fiddling styles including Americana, Irish, and even Macedonian.


It was the perfect event to welcome the fall season.

An Ithaca birthday adventure

As I mentioned on my birthday, this past weekend we took a trip to the college town Ithaca for some summer b-day  fun. We got moving slowly in the morning because we went to the local drive-in theatre Friday night and didn’t get to sleep until 2:30am.

Fortunately Luke made us some irish cream lattes for the road. By noon we were traveling through the green tree covered hills with the windows down passing small villages and lake side towns.


We arrived in Ithaca around 1pm and drove straight to the steamboat dock. Here at the base of Cayuga lake is Ithaca’s famous Saturday Farmer’s Market.


We entered the wood covering strung with lights and began to look around. Like a true farmers market there were many stalls of fresh local herbs, vegetables and fruits, garden plants, dairy products, and meats. But much like the more permanent Pike’s Place Market there were also vendors selling local maple syrup, honey, cheese, wine and hard cider all up for tasting and sampling.



Interspersed between the food goods were vendor stalls with homemade crafts, pottery, jewelry, paintings, photographs, incense and essential oils, woodworking and even hammocks. This was a great place to people watch or listen to a street musician playing an acoustic guitar.



There were also many food vendors from around the world: Cuban, Tibetan, Cambodian, Thai, French, and Mediterranean to name a few. Luke and I chose to order buckwheat gluten-free crepes stuffed with ricotta and spinach and topped with a mozzarella herb sauce. We took our food and sat down on the dock watching the ducks, boats, and kayakers on the lake as we ate.



Satisfied with our market experience, we left with a local bottle of hard cider and stomachs full ready for the next stage of the adventure.


Driving up the hills we stopped at Buttermilk State Park. This park hosts trails and bridges spanning from the top of lake Treman, to waterfalls through the gorge, all the way down to Buttermilk Falls base where there is a swimming hole. We took the gorge trail down to Buttermilk Falls named for the foamy white water which falls over the grated slate.


It was a very hot and humid day but it cooled off considerably once we took a few flights of stairs down onto the gorge trail and stood under the cover of the trees lining the gorge’s rim. The gorge trail follows the river as it passes over slabs of slate creating several unique mini-falls along the way.


Everyone and their dogs, were taking breaks from the humid trail to splash barefoot in the shallow waterways between the waterfalls.


After our hike, I was ready to cool down my cherry red skin. So we headed to yogurtland.  After sampling a few flavors I chose a bowl of tart blackberry passionfruit swirled with original and a small amount of vanilla topped with cheesecake bits, strawberries, and yogurt chips.


After our sugary cold treat, we checked out the campsite at the base of Buttermilk state Park then drove up to the commons, the central college area for Ithaca College and Cornell.

After a walk around we drove back down the hill and ended up at A Taste of Thai. I ordered my favorite norm: red curry with chicken and Luke tried their Rad Nah drunken spicy noodles. I was happy to get red curry as good as they come with plenty of fresh chicken, basil, peppers, and bamboo shoots.


When we arrived back home Luke commented that he saw a firefly. Excited I got out and watched, sure enough I saw that yellow flashing light moving along the grass in our backyard! I guess that is one benefit of living in some humidity.

That was my Ithaca birthday adventure.

Do you have a favorite Farmer’s Market?

How do you like your frozen yogurt?

Part 2 update: Life in 2011

Part 2: In 2011

-I decided to earn the full MA degree in TESOL after some fasting, searching, and consulting of wise advisors in my life.

-I started to date Luke in the summer after a year of co-leading the college group together.

-I was hired as an international writing center consultant at APU.

-I taught a summer English camp for Chinese high school students.


-I went with Luke on a two-part summer rode trip. 1: We went camping in Yellowstone with my family:

kayaking on lake Yellowstone exploring the geysers

kayaking on lake Yellowstone exploring the geysers

At the top of Mt. Washburn

At the top of Mt. Washburn

2: Then we drove to Oregon to meet and stay with Luke’s parents.

hiking Silverton Falls trail with Luke's parents

hiking Silverton Falls trail with Luke’s parents

blackberries we picked from the bushes on the Greene property they made for amazing pie

blackberries we picked from the bushes on the Greene property they made for amazing pie

-I got hired at a private English language institute, ELS, in the fall.

-I went on a two-part northwestern winter road trip with Luke.

1: We celebrated Christmas and New Years with his parents and  brother’s family.

2: We toured my old stopping grounds in the Seattle area and visited with my college friends.

And that is Part 2 update of my life in 2011

in the U district near the University of Washinton

in the U district near the University of Washington

At SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Park

At SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Park