I DON’T WANT ANYTHING BUILT THERE

This is a bit of a rehash of my first post here.

It’s not political either, even though I’m not happy with the new property assessments in my town.

It’s in reply to a comment that appeared on Keith Wiggand’s post on the If Your From Delmar Face Book Page.

The comment:  I was wondering if this idea is even possible. If a large landowner has to sell a parcel to offset taxes, and the neighbors don’t want their “viewscape” or green space to go to developers, could they pool their money and buy it from the landowner? Say the parcel would be purchased by a developer for $40,000. If 20 people chipped in $2,000 a piece, they’d each own 1/20th of the land. As owners of the property, they could decide if it would remain unused by people, or if they would allow each other to walk their dogs on it, and their kids to build forts on it. Then they’d have to decide if they’d allow other people to use it. If one owner moved away he could sell his share to one of the other property owners or to a new person.

In my opinion, yes they can, or rather, YES THEY SHOULD, AND they should do it as soon as they think about it, not wait until it’s about to be sold or developed.

MarshmellowsFour years ago, there was a petition circulated attempting to block residential and commercial development on this corner. The reason, as I recall, was more or less to preserve it as agricultural land. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yep, grasp at anything when you don’t want to see land developed that you don’t own. Am I being sarcastic? How about this? The petition originated across the road from this parcel! That’s right. Across the road from a fairly new development that had been built……on a corn field!

Now let’s go back 35 years or so ago. Next to where I lived at the time, was 80+ acres of vacant land. 20 or 30 acres had been stopped being hayed, the year before we had moved into our home, in 1969.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I didn’t want to see it developed any more than my neighbors. Maybe, even less, because there was no barrier/buffer between the vacant land and our property. We had to pass through that land to get to our house. The vast majority, in fact none, of the neighbors who wanted to see it remain “green”, had to pass through it to access their homes.

Let me clarify something. By being developed, I mean in a use that was already legal and permitted by town code in effect at the time.

Anyway, I was approached by a couple of the people opposed to development, sporting a petition of around 60 reasons why it should not be developed. They got a little(a lot) agitated with me when I told them that I thought that there were only 2 or 3  legitimate reasons on the petition, and that I wouldn’t sign it.

I also suggested, as does the commenter mentioned above, that they should get together as a group and purchase the land. That way, they could basically do what they wanted(legally) to do with the land, and keep it green. Nope, that wasn’t an option.

What I haven’t mentioned, is that the land was still in the hands of a financial institution, that wanted to unload it for almost any reasonable offer.

What I didn’t tell anyone, was that I had tracked down the institution and visited them, and was told that if I made an offer of X dollars, I could own it. Even for the time, it was a quite reasonable price – substantially under appraised/assessed value! Doing a little more investigating, being direct, but vague, I was told that the town would maintain the assessed value(read – not lower) of a piece of land, even if it was purchased under market value. That was the breaking point of my continuing considering making the purchase.

The parcel sat vacant, going through several purchasers, going through applications for non-conforming zoning code uses, which were rejected. One or two or three more changes before it was finally begun to be developed for residential use, as permitted by the zoning code.

5553_499685576764026_1663739515_nWhat I’m trying to say is, think BEFORE you try to tell a landowner that they can’t use their land for a legally allowed use, just because you and your neighbors don’t want to see it happen. Also, don’t move someplace and expect the landowner (business) to stop what they’ve been doing for years, because YOU don’t like it – aka, look before you leap.

 

 

Dixie’s Adirondack Adventure

This is a guest post from Eileen Laskoski:

IMG_3917-22I wanted to tell you about Dixie’s big Adirondack adventure. I think I told you, we had to buy a new tent so we could take her with us so when we were at Kittery Trading Post, we picked up a blaze orange vest for her to wear while out in the woods so it’d be easier to spot her.

Anyway, we let her off leash on the trails and she was soo good! I stocked my pockets with really strong smelling doggie meat treats just in case we needed to entice her to come back but she stayed right with us. However, I was a little worried I’d also smell good to the bears… :)

It ended up raining on us the entire evening/night we camped. Big thunder and lightening storm but we had brought the red lead you bought when you stayed at our house and hooked Dixie to a tree while we got dinner ready. She kept sneaking under the rain fly though so she’d have a dry place to lay.

On to day 2, the bushwhacking portion of our trip. Someone isn’t good off trail and it’s not just me. Dixie ran off and we couldn’t spot her. I was getting really nervous before we finally spotted her on the other side of a stream. dixie 7She gave a pathetic bark like, “Help! I want to come back to your side but can’t”! 

We got her to head back up stream where the water wasn’t as deep and moving as fast and she crossed back to our side. She was soaked so we think she must have fallen in and scared herself.

We abandoned our plan and kept her on leash (not easy when bushwhacking) until we got back to the trail. Then we let her off again and she stayed right with us! I think she’s good when she can anticipate where we’re going to be. Where there’s not that defined path, she runs off.

Anyway, she was a super happy pup out in the woods. She’s totally a country dog and not a city dog.

From Bethlehem to Bethlehem

75580_10151384764784804_752998275_nAs Christians, we celebrate Christmas in honor of of the birth of Jesus. This beautiful hand carving of Jesus and Mary and Joseph, a gift from Bud and Jorgine Hanson, has made it’s way more than 1/2 way around the world, passing through many hands on it’s journey from Bethlehem, the West Bank, where Jesus was born, stopping at the Hanson home in Minnesota, then on to Hawaii, and finally back to our little town of Bethlehem, NY. It’s kind of ironic that we brought it into our house in the first hour of Christmas Eve 2012. It’s been a family tradition, (I don’t know if it was of French origin or something our mother started for us kids), for over 70 years, to light a candle at dusk on Christmas Eve as a symbloic way of saying that the Holy Family was welcome to stay here. Looks like this year they took us up on the offer. Thanks, Bud and Jorgine, for finally prodding them in this symbolic way.

Pearl Harbor – Today

If anyone knows:
Charles Ebel of Guilderland, a seaman 1st class aboard the USS Curtis;
Robert Grimm of Schenectady, a carpenters mate 1st class on the USS Cummings;
Adolph Krenn of Delmar, a seaman 1st class on the USS West Virginia;
William Langston of Cohoes, a fireman aboard the USS West Virginia;
Edward Bartholomew of Troy, a gunner’s mate 1st class serving on the USS Pennsylvania;
Leonard W. Dooren of East Greenbush, a chief warrant officer on the USS New Orleans,
who were at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, would you please do me a favor, and get this post to them.
Little did I know when I was on this tour of Pearl Harbor, that these local sailors had been here in 1941.
Chuck Ebel, I haven’t seen in probably 35 years.

The photos will open up on my Face Book page if you click this link — Pearl Harbor 9/26/2012 (20 photos)

The Choice IS Yours.

This post was prompted by Teri Conroy’s Times Union Farmlife blog. Here, I elaborated a bit more on my personal business experience.

My comment on Farmlife: Christmas or Merry Christmas has been changed to Happy Holidays to pacify the objectors to the word Christmas. But if it were not for the celebration, and commercialization of Christmas, there would be no Holiday Season….just Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

Flash mobs can be a beautiful few moments of entertainment. And yes, the presentations are usually in public places like malls, train stations, etc.

I would guess that the reason malls welcome(give permission) to flash mobs during the month of December, is to provide some free entertainment, as in free for them, and free for the shoppers in a vain that will encourage them to spend a few extra dollars at their tenants; not that they necessarily agree with the flash mob’s tenets.

How many have ever been to New York City, or some other city, and witnessed the “street performers” who hope you’ll toss a buck or two in their box or hat. Should they be called “flash performers”?

In either case, if I like what I see/hear, I’ll stick around for a few minutes for the performance.

Now, if I disagree/dislike a performance, I have several options: move on, complain to management, not shop there anymore; or all three.

In my opinion, being politically correct is a double edged sword. One side to “keep the peace”; the other side to be a coward. And sometimes the decision should be to keep it in the scabbard.

Sorta related to this discussion is a real life situation I encountered three or four years ago. I had a customer base of around 200 retailers. Some were stores associated with local or national chains. The majority, probably over 90%, were mom & pop establishments, owned and operated by people who had been born outside of the United States, or at least their family origins were. Examples of where they came from include Sudan, Iran, India, Pakistan, Guyana, and Nepal, amongst other countries.

Obviously, besides the various nationalities, surely there was just as diverse a group of religious beliefs and backgrounds.

So here it was the middle of December as I made my bi-weekly deliveries. Now for my dilemma. Knowing the diversity of my customers, do I make my deliveries, say thank you and walk out the door as usual, or……do I do something else?

I choose to leave the sword in the scabbard. And if you think I wasn’t scared of a possible confrontation, you’d be wrong. But, I figured I’d take the risk that I knew my customers.

As we exchanged paperwork, I held out my hand and shook hands with each and every customer, as I said, “Merry Christmas, or whatever you do, or don’t celebrate”.

To my astonishment, they all returned my greeting with a smile and some version of ‘Merry Christmas to you, too, my friend’. AND…….NO ONE objected or was ticked off, then or down the road! Actually, I believe it strengthened the bond and trust between us.

Although Christmas is still nearly a month away, to all of you, “Aloha, and Mele Kalikimaka, or whatever you do, or don’t observe”.

================

What I left out in my comment on Teri’s blog, is that I considered this group of customers as sorta my little United Nations. What I learned from them about their homelands and in some cases personal backgrounds, could never be learned in a classroom or the press. And was an education that was priceless. They were all friendly. Fact is, there was a far greater raport with them, than most of the large stores I served. Many, not all, of the large stores, seemed to enjoy creating a power struggle of sorts.

At most of these mom and pop stores, I gathered the returns, put the new product in the racks, handed them the bill to sign or pay, and left. As simple as that. Trust both ways. Of course, if they weren’t busy, I’d get my history/geography lessons.

I’d Like the Special, Please.

2010

Strangely enough, with this Dr. Seuss story, “Green Eggs and Ham”,  having been around for 52 years, I’ve never read or seen it…until tonight. Some how I missed it despite having 8 kids and 11 grandkids. Missing it doesn’t mean that I’d never heard of it. I just never knew anything about it other than the title.

Tonight, I did rather enjoy the movie. Liked Sam, but was shattered by the surprise ending. Maybe that’s why I had a flash back to 13 or 14 years ago, when I was trucking in the North Country of upstate New York.

Doing an evening run  from Schodack to Massena to Watertown, and then down thru Lewis County, gave me just enough legal hours of driving time to make it back without having to do a layover along the way. On the way back, I had a pick up at Lyons Falls Paper Mill, in , where else, Lyons Falls. Since I hit town a few hours before my scheduled pick up time, I found a safe spot to pull over and take a couple of hours nap in the sleeper berth. Naturally, I set the alarm to go off in time that I could catch breakfast before heading to the mill.

I found a small “hometown” restaurant with an open sign and lights on inside. It was daylight, around 5:30-6AM. I parked the truck in the large lot and wandered on in and grabbed a seat at the counter. I must have been pretty quiet, because I sat there for probably 5 minutes before the ladies in the kitchen saw me.

They apologized for not noticing me, and proceeded with the usual, “Do you want coffee”, which brought an affirmative answer from me. That was followed with, “What would you like for breakfast?” Having sat there for awhile, I’d had a chance to peruse the menu and the white board with the heading Today’s Specials.

Not really sure what the ‘special’ would be like, I had already decided to give it a try, so I nodded toward the board and said I’d have the special. I started to wonder if I was having an hallucination when the ladies looked at each other in a very puzzled way, then looked back at me and said they hadn’t posted a special yet.

“It’s there”, I said, “and I’d like to give it a try.”

One of the ladies, the owner, took a couple of steps forward and  turned so she could see the message that she knew wasn’t there.

“That granddaughter of mine. Wait ’til….she was in here last night helping me clean up”.

Don’t know how old the granddaughter was, but she had neatly, and artistically, written on the board, I still remember, in green marker “Green eggs & ham”.

And yes, I had to change my choice of breakfast amid the laughter of the two ladies. What did I have? I haven’t a clue.

 

 

Everyone Needs a Haircut, Even Blockheads

We all get haircuts – babies, well infants, boys, girls, men and women. Rare is the person who doesn’t get a hair cut. OK, Rapunzel didn’t get one for a long time.

As a kid, I remember going to barbers Fred Gilette, Harry Oschner and Larry Jearm. Once, my dad cut my hair, and I called Larry to see if he could trim it up on a Monday morning before I went to school.

Men’s barber shops were closed on Mondays back then, as they are today. Larry thought one of my older sisters had practiced on me. Not wanting to rat on my dad, I let Larry leave this world many years later still thinking that was the case.

My boys were teenagers before they went to a real barbershop. Me, the clippers, comb and scissors kept them trim. After all, I gained my knack of the barber trade while at Cobleskill Ag and Tech College – trimming beef cattle for show. And I might add that I DID place first, or was it second, in the Fitting and Showmanship category.

The girls got off easy. My wife either did some light trimming or took them to a hairdresser.

Those days are well behind me, for better or worse.

Recently, one of my daughters asked me to get the grandsons haircuts, and not wanting a couple of yelling and screaming little boys, not to mention the thoughts of what their mommy and daddy would say, I took them to the barber who had cut my precious few strands a couple of weeks earlier.

Having watched how well she handled the young lad who was getting his hair cut while I waited, I knew she could do the job. She was way better than any gold tongued politician or journalist, and could probably sell freezers and ice cubes to the Eskimos. That kid couldn’t have been more attentive if he was licking a 5 scoop ice cream cone.

Besides, the cost of a haircut here is still only 10 bucks.

Talking about haircuts is kinda dull, but hopefully the clippers aren’t, so let me get to the point of this story.

What I saw this morning, and you are about to see, is the process of one of the sharpest haircuts you’ll ever see. This barber is gooood! So good, in fact, that he doesn’t use sissy clippers. He’s honed his skills to the point that he uses, are you ready for this, a chainsaw on his clients overgrown tops. Who but a blockhead, would stand still for this kind of trim job.

Click picture to enlarge.

Heading for a Couple of Dozen Donuts

Cider and cider donuts at Indian Ladder Farms. Photo by sebastien.barre

The title is just a teaser. This story is not about donuts, other than the fact that a few days before Hallowen 2011, I was on my way to Indian Ladder Farms, to pick up some tasty, delicious, out of this world, sugar coated cider donuts, to take along to my daughter’s in Alexandria, VA, as a bribe so she’d let us stay there for a few days. It’s really about my brief side trip.

Fast forward almost a year to September 2012, and another trip for those fabulous Indian Ladder Farms donuts, that this time journeyed to Phoenix, AZ and Honolulu, HI, as surprise snacks(presents?) for our daughters living in those cities. And I’m very proud of the fact that ALL of the donuts made it to their destination intact, not in my tummy!  Yes, the yummies waited.

This time around, the lady at Indian Ladder was  concerned about the goodies making a safe trip without getting stale.  Martha Stewart and the Post Office should be proud of me. I stopped and picked out a couple of lock top plastic containers. At home, I transferred the very fresh, I had to wait for them to be cooked, baked, fried, or whatever the process is, donuts into double Ziplock baggies and then put them in the Rubbermaid containers, and then wrapped the containers with 2″ tape, adding a third, actually, a 4th layer of air tightness. The tape also insured the containers wouldn’t pop open en-route. Now, the tasty discs were ready to put in my suitcase to be checked at the airport.

Really wasn’t too worried about the Arizona bound donuts, because they would be there the next day after a couple of thousand miles. Hawaii bound ones, I was a bit worried about. Their 5000 mile journey would be interrupted by a week’s stay in Phoenix. Would they survive the heat? Six baggage handling adventures? Being in the hold of a plane over the Southwest, and Pacific  Ocean? Me not desperately breaking into them?

Results: Phoenix ones, no problem. Just like home. Honolulu ones………

Fantastic, too. Daughter popped them in the microwave for a few seconds, and they were farm fresh warm!

Conclusion, both daughters let us stay.

But, as usual, I got sidetracked. What I really wanted to do was post a link to Teri Conroy’s Farmlife Blog for a couple of my nieces. They’d been chatting over on FaceBook about alpaca fibre, and I’m trying to convince them to visit Wansapana Farm and Indian Ladder Farms, when they’re in the area.

On the office door at Wunsapana Farms.

The link about what happenened on my way to pick up the 2011 donuts – Freddie ALWAYS Makes Me Smile.

Why this particular post?  Because, among the many things I’m thankful for, my wife, family, health, and all the other usual things, a brief visit to Wunsapana Farm always is tranquil, soothing, refreshing – like being teleported to, and recharged in another world for a brief few moments – an intangable with no real explaination – except that Teri is the magical “Keeper”, and her love and caring for her critters just overwhelms everyone who visits the farm. Maybe Teri should have called Wunsapana, The Magic Kingdom, but that would never have portrayed the mystic charm of “Wunsapana……And everyone lived happily ever after.”

So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say “Thank-you, Teri, for having become a farmer. And sharing your life and the critters with the world. Sure, I might make you smile, but you make everyone of your visitors GLOW on the inside, and leave with a priceless feeling of peace and tranquility. You’ve found and are following your calling in life.”