Back in the Saddle Again!

Well, figuratively speaking, anyway!

We decided to finish up with our work a little early last Friday afternoon and head out for another camping adventure. No, the photo above is NOT our camper, but rather our VERY “close” neighbors. Shortly after we set up, these folks arrived with their cute little Aliner. We especially enjoy this (state) campground, as the gravel pads for setting up are spaced about 20′ apart. This creates a feeling of having some “lawn” around one.

Well, these folks decided that the gravel pad would be much better for setting their EZ-up on, since it had rained and rained for a few days, after all. The EZ-up would then become the “beer tent”, providing protection from any stray showers that might pass by. The problem with this is that the Aliner needed to be biased much more towards our camper, leaving about 10′ between the two. (the tree in the picture was about 8″ from their camper)

On Friday night, we decided to call it a night about 11. Little did we know that with our windows cracked a bit, we would find it hard to sleep, as we were awakened several times until about 1:30 am, by the sound of bottles being jostled around. To add a bit of insult to injury, these folks also hung one of those bright and shiny work lights, along with a halogen lamp from the metal supports on the EZ-up. Even with our mini blinds tightly shut, there was an “aura” which spread out about 100′ around our rather unique neighbors. In fact, the lamps provided safe passage for many neighbors to the restrooms, located about 100′ behind our illuminated neighbors!

On Saturday morning, we were up and out bright and early for our important date at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Here are pictures of the kids with Sabretooth, the Buffalo Sabres’ mascot.

After the practice, we headed back to the camper. Along the way, we stopped at a Blockbuster and picked up the movie RV with Robin Williams. We haven’t giggled and tee-heed so much in a long time! This movie is sure to become a “classic” amongst the RV’ing crowd!

One of the deciding factors for our camping expedition was that the campground was close not only to Buffalo, but also Darien Lake Theme Park. We called Carly last week and asked if she and her kids would want to come along and have a little nearly-end-of-the-season fun on Sunday. She was happy to join us, as last weekend was a sad one….it was her husband’s grandmother’s funeral. So, she met us at the park and the kids had a ball!
We walked around that park for hours and finally decided to leave for a bite to eat, then we would come back for the LaserBlast Show at closing.
As Mark was about to wheel away in the wheelchair, he called out to me…seems this tiny little turtle had lost his way and was wandering about on the sidewalk. Carly was concerned he might need to be near the water (there was a lake right nearby), so she placed him in a drainage ditch and he boogied off on his way! (he measured about 1 1/2″ long)

Carly had been scheming a little surprise for me! When we left to go to dinner, she made plans for a friend to meet us! I had not seen our friend Jo since Carly’s wedding in late 1993. Jo had lived near us 20 years ago. She had grown up with horses all of her life, and now, she and her husband are living their dream! They both work for the rodeo circuit. It was so cool seeing Jo…we chatted and talked about old times and new, as though we had never even missed a beat. It is always such a treat to see old friends and feel comfortable and not not at all ill at ease. It is so good just to be yourselves. This was such a great treat! And, the best part of all is that Jo only lives a few minutes from the park.

We went back to the park after dinner for the LaserBlast show. The kids rode the rides a while longer, then we enjoyed the show. The kids love it, as it is filled with (loud) music, lasers, computer graphics, and fireworks! The best part of all is at the end when they do a tribute to Canada, and then one to the USA. This is one of those presentations that causes your heart to swell and even perhaps a tear to fall as they play the song Proud to be An American. The fireworks just make the whole program so fabulous and intense….

After the show, we headed out and homeward, arriving back in the Bristolwood very late. You see, our neighbors, (the “illuminatas”) caused us to miss another night’s restful sleep on Saturday night when their youngster awakened at 3:30 am, screaming and crying for about 45 minutes. I insisted we head home….I just knew I needed my own bed!

As our neighbors who recently traveled to Alaska confided last week, “there is NO place like home!”

Sabres Training Camp!

Yes, we went to see the Sabres practice on Saturday, and it was so COOL! Yeah, I guess that statement could be taken more ways than one! It was pretty chilly at the practice, but the action was so much fun to watch that the chill in the air seemed more bearable!
When I heard that the Sabres were going back to the blue and gold jerseys, I was kind of disappointed…they have been sporting red, black, and white for several years, and I really didn’t like the royal blue and gold colors prior. What a pleasant surprise to see that the new blue and gold combo is actually a “blue-black” navy and gold! I really LIKE these new colors!
These pics are some I shot of warmup, the guys s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g, and some play. Now, all of these pictures made me realize that I REALLY “need” a new camera! Hopefully, an SLR…one that I can change lenses, and get lots of closeups from far away….OK, so PINCH me to wake me up! I was green with jealousy as I watch a guy in front of me catching closeups with his Pentax camera….
We were able to watch the practice for about three hours and it sure was exciting. The Sabres lost a few key players this year, so it was thrilling watching the rookies play and speculating how the Sabres “machine” will do this year.

Ooooooo….it’s THAT Time of Year

We are getting so excited, as it is that time of year when the hockey teams are hitting the ice. Taunted as the “hottest game on ice”, we really do love hockey here in the Bristolwood.

Mark played hockey as a kid, and he got to be pretty good, even winning a “Most Improved Player” trophy in high school. Funny thing, he and I talk about growing up as kids (in different areas of NY) and being able to skate on lakes and ponds nearby. Our kids are lucky if it even gets cold enough for puddles to freeze anymore! When I was a girl, we would walk to a pond that was part of an old gravel pit. My dad made a big “plow” on a “push stick” and he would push the snow to the sides so we could skate. We would skate and have fun for hours. Mark tells how he skated on the bay on Lake Ontario. When we pass the bay in even the coldest weather now, it is hard to believe it was cold enough to freeze over. The bay is BIG!

This Saturday, the Sabres (Buffalo NHL team) are having a practice that will be open to the public. We are so excited, as they will be unveiling their new jerseys. Seeing hockey games in person is just so exciting, and seeing the Sabres practice will be great fun!


A Nice Day

Even despite the rain! Oh yes, I think we had better get the plans out for an ARK! Yikes! I woke up this morning, and after taking the boys out to do their thing, I had to brave the rain to backwash some water out of the pool! The rain filled the pool so full, water was splashing out the top of the skimmer. Now I know the skies have been gray and bleak for a few days, but I refuse to complain. We have had more than our share of summers and autumns when the ground was so parched, it was cracking and crying out for water! During those times, we have to get water delivered to fill the well. Somehow, that just doesn’t sit well with me at all.

Speaking of water, the little stream in the front yard was much biger this morning. We went out early this evening, and when we returned, the little stream was raging! As I got out of the car, I told Mark the wind must be blowing really hard….he listened and said, no, it was the stream! While we were gone, we got another good dousing!

As I walked around the house today, I noticed that the trees are beginning to show just a bit of color! Well, some of the maple trees, anyway!

The trees down in the valley from us seem to be changing a little faster than our trees, but then again, many of those trees are softwoods….our woods is almost entirely hardwoods.
I was anxious to get outside for a bit today, as I have been cooped up inside too much! The rain has done wonders for all the plants! They look so big and healthy! I was happy to see my little Aster plant was filled with those pretty purple flowers. I love their “feathery” appearance, and they just look like such happy little flowers with their bright yellow centers.

We visited with our neighbors this afternoon and got a treat, looking at their footage from a recent trip to Alaska. They kept telling us that although the scenery was impressive, it was much more so in person. The vast expanses of wilderness were breathtaking and it made me long to take just such a trip. We saw footage of grizzly bears, orcas, salmon, sea lions, moose, and just all kinds of wildlife that we don’t see here. Earlier this summer, before leaving on their trip, they told us this was their vacation of a lifetime. They both agreed this afternoon that it was just that, indeed! It sure was terrific!


Michelle ran outside the other night to get something from the garage. Suddenly, I hear this ridiculously hysterical scream!!!! Now, we do understand that *sometimes* Michelle does have a tendency to overreact a BIT! (understated!)

I mosied out the back door toward the garage to hear Michelle spewing out, “Eeeeww, eeeewwww, eeeewwww!”

I followed her eyes down to the ground, and what I saw was not “eeeww”, but rather, a quite large, obviously well-fed toad!

As I looked at this toad, I asked HOW she could be frightened of such a CUTE little critter sitting there with a little green leaf atop its head! (if you look closely you can see the green….) I am not sure how you tell a male and female toad apart, but this MUST be a female to have decorated her head….Since the great “toad incident”, I have seen this particular toad several nights and when I see it, it is always accompanied by a little toad. It is always in close proximity of the larger toad….further evience that the larger toad MUST be a female…it looks like the little one is greatly attached to its mama, after all!

God Bless the USA

In light of the fact that this is the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, I just want to voice my thanks to those brave souls who passed away while trying to save the lives of others….And, to those who lost loved ones in this senseless attack, I pray that your hearts will mend and that life will make sense at some point if the pieces still seem unfitting and somewhat blurred.

No matter what comes to pass, this nation is one that I believe we can still be proud to stand behind. I realize that we are not always the most popular nation, but when push comes to shove, the world knows that they can always count on the USA…

May God continue to bless our nation as He has so richly in the past. May we realize that without His hand upon us, we do not stand a chance………

God Bless the United States, and may she continue to shine as a beacon of freedom in a world filled with darkness.

Last Night’s Wonderful Adventure

The kids worked hard on schoolwork yesterday, so we decided that this would warrant a ride to Darien Lake. Darien Lake is a Six Flags Amusement Park that isn’t too far away. The sad news is that the future of the park is totally in the dark. Six Flags is closing six parks this year, and Darien Lake is on the list. The even worse news is that we bought season tickets, thinking we could visit throughout September and even into October. Well, the park is basically closed all throughout the week now. The hours are cut to 3 hours on Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday. We decided that if the kids worked hard, we will try to make a couple of Friday nights, as we heard that weekends entailed hours of waiting in line to ride one of the few rides still open.

The first ride of the evening was the UFO….

Going up………..

and up a little more………

and then straight up!

And on the way to the Twister, of course they had to stop by the Pirate’s Ship to ssssssswwwwwwiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggggggg back and forth………..

Ah yes, the Twister. This thing is amazing to watch, but I cannot imagine riding it! The bench goes WAY up in the air, then swoops down, doing multiple 360’s. Oh, and sometimes it goes in a forward swoop, and sometimes backwards. UGH!

We didn’t get a picture of the ferris wheel. Gads, were they ALWAYS that large? Guess I am getting way old, as my feet are getting to the point that they refuse to leave terra firma! Then, there was the Ranger…

and finally, a ride I forgot the name of…

The most wonderful part of this outing was that there were very few people there! The evening was absolutely GLORIOUS. We could not have ordered a more PERFECT evening. It was warm and not humid. The kids rode several of the rides multiple times as lines were totally non-existant.

Just before the sun was fully set, Mark snapped a pretty picture of the lake located just outside the park. It was so nice….quite a contrast to the noise and hubbub inside the park. The fountain really added to the scenery, with the roller coasters in the backdrop. Hmmm…the kids never rode any of the coasters!

And once the sun had set, the moon graced us with its fullness, making the experience even more memorable!

And now we have yet another fairly simple event etched into our memories. This was such a fun time, and since the amount of time spent walking around was greatly reduced, it was much more bearable than walking around in 90 degree weather with the sun beating down! The culmination of the fun was going over to watch the Laser show. Even though we saw it earlier this year, the kids enjoyed it once again. Tonight, the moon is covered by clouds and it has rained, making it feel so chilly and damp. I am so grateful for the memories made last night!

As an aside, I am NOT an amusement park person….going there requires a great deal of sacrifice on my part as I would rather be doing something else. When my parents were visiting last month, I asked my mom if perhaps I had always disliked parks. She said she wasn’t sure, but then went on to tell Mark a rather amusing story about me….

Seems when I was about 4 years old (remember the “Good Ole Days” when there were no “safety provisions” required?) I was riding on the Merry-Go-Round…..My mother said she was watching when I suddenly got up on the saddle, standing upright, trying to look graceful and elegant, and “performed” just as I had seen the circus riders do on TV! Mom said she was totally mortified, going between wanting to wring my neck,to concern that I was going to fall on my head! Unfortunately, or, perhaps not, this particular performance totally evades my memory!!!!!

The Beauty that Surrounds Us!

Yesterday morning, when I got up, I went outside and just somehow felt in awe of all the beauty that is there for the taking. I pulled up a chair on the porch and sat staring at the beautiful pink begonia plant hanging on the beam. I have shared a picture of two of this plant before….but, yesterday morning, the light was filtering softly through the petals. The flowers ended up looking as though they were illuminated. I just couldn’t take my eyes off the plant, almost as though entranced. That plant just emits an “aura” of peacefulness.

A little later, I decided to take my camera and try to get pictures of some of the beauty here, knowing that although I love the fall and winter seasons, the beauty will take on a new wardrobe and new life. So, here is a glimpse…just a bird’s eye view of some of the things I so love…..

This is a little stream that passes through my “front yard”. This stream runs only when the earth is saturated and can no longer hold any more water! But, I love this stream, no matter how small nor temperamental. The sounds carry onto the front porch when it runs strongly, and it has been a soothing salve from time to time.

We needn’t travel too far into the woods to find a lovely spot to just rest and leave the worries and cares of this world behind. We offer many “seats” in the woods for just such times!

A jewelweed flower…

And another!

And some pretty wildflowers. I certainly hope you enjoyed your visit. Life is so good here in the Bristolwood!

Taking a Breath of Relief….

For the past five months, I have been a bit “creeped out” by what was happening near my hometown….

There was a certain man named Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, who had been in a minimum security prison for parole violation. Bucky was said to have had a very long record of petty crimes….but, crimes nonetheless. These included break ins and thefts. He had earned the privilege of working in the kitchen, and it was there that he stole a commercial can opener and planned his escape….one week BEFORE he was due to be released.

Last June, in Elmira, Bucky was stopped by a police officer who spotted the stolen car he was driving. As the officer approached the car, Bucky shot him and took off. Thankfully, the officer lived.

After this point, there were “Bucky spottings” here and there, but no one seemed capable of catching him. In the past 5 months he has been on the lam, he allegedly broke into a gunshop and stole 41 guns. He also stole over 15 different vehicles.

Believe it or not, after this all happened, people actually were beginning to see Bucky as a local folk hero.

My brother had to have open heart surgery in June. He lives in the woods and has a few guns. When we visited him in the hospital, he said he had moved his arsenal to a “safe place”. He said if Bucky ever stole his guns and hurt someone, he could never live that down. I thought that was such a strange comment…..UNTIL all the stories about stolen vehicles and guns were released.
To add to this, my brother has a little dog named Bucky….of ALL the names!

A week ago yesterday, police were beginning to close in on Bucky. It was said that several of his friends and past jail mates had been helping hide and protect him. As police officers surveyed his former girlfriend’s home, Bucky allegedly shot two troopers. One was hit in the leg. The bullet penetrated an artery. The other trooper was shot in the back…the bullet going through his protective vest. The trooper who was shot in the leg lost an enormous amount of blood and his leg had to be removed last Saturday. The next day, he passed away. He was 32. He had celebrated his son’s first birthday just one month ago and yesterday was his wedding anniversary. The troopers were shot with what was believed to be a high-powered rifle.

From published reports, after this spineless shooting, people began to lose the sense of “cat and mouse” folk hero, and began to wish he would be captured.

Shortly after 8 pm tonight, Bucky raised his hands and came out of the woods where he had been evading the police (NY and PA, as well as FBI) since the early hours of this morning.

I am sorry that a petty theif became a murderer. I am sorry for the police officers that have suffered the loss of one of their own. I am so sorry that a wife and child are now feeling the loss of their husband and father. This whole thing is just so sad.

The fact that Bucky did all of this just with only one week of time left in his sentence doesn’t seem to make sense. But, then again, what sordid story of useless loss of life ever does?