Friday, August 28, 2015

Electric Bills, Gas Companies, winter coming on...and Poor People.

Sunday has a way of making you lonely all on its own.  Whether it be because of the past… when as children we were going to church on Sundays… sitting in that pew waiting to escape from the Sunday clothes or the confinement. We couldn’t wait to get to the world of play and day off from school fun. 

Escape has arrived for us as adults and now that we have a permanent go nowhere on Sunday morning if we wish… and maybe some might feel there is something missing? I don’t know… but Sunday’s for me seems to be a time of reflection still… a time to think about the past week… and always that hope for a better one ahead… escape.

As fall in its festive colors and its brisk winds of dance are poised to make their entrance this Sunday, many of us are dreading the season of winter that lies just a number of days hence.  I have to think that winter will be colder than the last only because I am older.  Being older alone makes us cold I think.

Are we older because of age?  Or are we older because our bodies have aged?  Or are we older because our perceptions have changed?

Here in the north poverty plays a large role in this perception.  Those who can afford a warm house and nice car probably don’t reflect on the changing seasons in the same way as a poor person.  Those that ski and have snowmobiles probably don’t…they may actually look forward to it. This for me boils down to the high cost of winter and its lonely isolation as older friends avoid traveling for visits as shorter days and nights of unending darkness close in.

The object of my thoughts this week is the ridiculous cost of energy here in this rural area.   By luck of location I am stuck with NYSEG.  Yes location because just a couple of miles away my neighbors have Rural Electric service or their own village electric, both having much lower rates for useage.

Here in Eaton we have natural gas wells everywhere… a massive gas substation that is no longer going to pay school taxes, another in our town that is providing service to Hamilton, wind turbines that are trying to drop their tax paying status… and yet we pay a ridiculously high price for our energy!

When I was staying at my mother and fathers house in Solvay my electric bill was the cheapest in the United States and when I came home to Eaton I was paying one of the highest.

I listen and view so many on the Internet complain about welfare programs.  They spout about cutting services for the elderly and the poor, cutting welfare… and cutting social security… in truth they are actually not facing the reality of living in poor areas and being old.  What we should be doing is leveling the playing field… forcing the electric and gas and oil companies to pay up for what they are taking from us… especially here in Eaton…and elsewhere.

We should be able to utilize our own natural resources instead of letting others rob us of it and allow corporate investors to reap money from it.

Good case on this is the solar industry… I have friends that are in this plan… great idea but a catch…how do the poor tap into it?  It costs thousands to install this service…while I struggle to pay for this months electric service.

Next time you flip on the light or an extra heater think of the poor who can’t afford that luxury… oh you say they can get HEAP or help… aren’t they the programs that you are trying to cut????

As old Uncle Basil used to say…yes things and people change… they get worse…  and private corporations make a profit on the backs of the elderly and poor!  Don’t cite New York City or large city statistics on Welfare programs…find figures for a poor rural area that is daily being robbed of its resources. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cat Dilemma, people, Second Chance Thrift Shop, WRHS and the costs of pets

Rascal my original pet
This week the cat situation took a turn for the worst as I discovered another set of little kittens.  I have been working for a year and a half to spay or neuter the kittens and cats that someone dropped off at my house because someone told them I love cats…I don’t!   The cat that was dropped is not feral…it was a pet and it had kittens so many months old and was pregnant. 

I have put up a site on Facebook to try and help and all it has produced is people calling wanting to drop off their cats to me.  The comment I hear most is that they got a kitten so that their kids could see all about childbirth…dumb, by 8 their kids probably know more about everything than they do.

The complication that sets in are that they do not have their animals spay or neutered… and so the cycle continues.  Many just can’t afford to have it done…why get an animal?  I sure can’t afford this and humorously, a couple came over recently and we discussed that is was more expensive to take their cat to the doctors than for them to go.

In the past Wander’s Rest in Canastota issued certificates for $42 to $47 to help with the costs… but on the average to have the cat altered, the legal rabies shot, wormed and flea medicated costs about $180.  It is cheaper to have them put to sleep…although that can run $120.  This year Wander’s Rest has no money for the certificates, which, is why I have the kittens since I had waited for 2 promised for the oldest of the strays.

The Second Chance Thrift Shop now located in the former dinner building on Route 20 in Morrisville has been raising money to help the various animal agencies (see article  “Several thousand dollars have been raised and donated to various local animal rescue programs, including Wanderer’s Rest” and it hurt nobody’s pocketbook since the items for sale are at a great price, in good condition and a boon to people who cannot afford new.

The Thrift Shop that is open on Friday and Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00 needs volunteers, since it only through volunteers that they are open.  This is a total not for profit situation.  The volunteers can work as little as one shift per month or more and the shifts are only 3 hours long…so it seems many people could donate their time if available.  For more information you can call 315-480-0336 or email or stop in.  This is a case of need for all of the community. If you can’t volunteer, then shop there for something before purchasing it new.

A second thought is that something should be done to have clinics for the neuter-spay operation.  I am working with a few people on thoughts about setting up a special program for rural areas that use a mobile unit for veterinary school grads to serve as a summer clinic that would defray the costs of their education if they participate.  This is something New York State should get involved with…other states have them although they might be privately is needed.

If interested in helping or in commenting email me at and I will get back to you...although it will take a bit as I am off line.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Another one of those weeks...Towpath Day, Erie Canal, and some summer FUN!

This week has been trouble and I thought I would pass all of it by and bring via the blog an event scheduled for this weekend.  My friends at the Erie Canal Park in Camillus, Liz & Dave Bebee and all there volunteers, are holding Towpath Day.  Earlier this year I spoke there to the new and old volunteers and I always marvel at the new things and the new history that is here is the "skinny" on the upcoming event...really worth a visit!

Towpath Day in Camillus

The summer is heating up and as usual the Camillus Erie Canal Park on DeVoe Road in Camillus will be celebrating Towpath on August 8, from 10-4.

The park, located on the first enlargement of the canal where it crosses the Town of Camillus, is about seven miles long and features many displays on the history of the canal, the area near Gere Lock, which was lock number 50, as well as the newly restored Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct. The first enlargement of the Erie Canal was completed in 1862 with a depth of seven feet and a width of seventy feet with 32 active aqueducts at a length of 350 miles.
At the park site just off of Devoe Road is Sims Store, the centerpiece of this fun, family event!  Sims  is a replica of a store as it would have looked in the 1850’s. The actual store was located a couple miles away near Belle Isle and Gere Lock. This beautiful rustic building houses maps of the canal, photos, and models of the locks, aqueducts and canal boats and looks much the way it did during the days of travelers along this historic waterway.
This year’s theme is “Boats Afloat on the Erie Canal”! and features the Rotary 5 K Mule Skinner Race which begins at 9 AM, the Circus Boat  where there will be "kids stuff" featuring Make and Take from the Home Depot,  and old fashion games. There will boats and wagon rides with crafts, raffles, demonstrations including Mules, Lock Demonstration and  a Steam up.
The Showboat will include the Morris Dancers, Dr. Tom Dooley Chorus  and Jason  the  Entertainer/ Magician.
 So come out for a Summertime Fling with great food and music by Diamond Someday and the Soda Ash 6.

For more information call 315-391-7020.  Or go to Admission is Free and parking is available by shuttle cart transportation from DOT site, which is near by!

Here is a video I did for them this year...enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

A bad week and thoughts of a trip to another of America's Favorite State Parks..Watkins Glen...

Beautiful Watkins Glen is a scenic wonder of the world.  They say history is a unique seductress and I know her call and often wander off to it.  We have had so much talk about Letchworth State Park that I thought I would put up a piece on America's other favorited state park Watkins Glen. 

Watkins Glen has been one of my favorite destinations for years and with all of the troubles I have faced this week I would gladly visit there and walk the hills and gorge to forget.  Its history will take you back in time to a past when it was a major destination of the wealthy!

Today it is now noted more for its racetrack and concert venues than for its wonder that people travel miles to see by coach or train.. Today it is a New York State Park and its many former owners have faded into history.

The natural gorge was situated on a parcel of land purchased by John Watkins an English man who left the property to his younger brother, Dr. Samuel Watkins. Samuel Watkins spent much money to develop the property and was responsible for improvements that included roads, homes, stores and a hotel.

His wife Cynthia remarried after his death and her new husband George Freer inherited the property at her death. The property was often referred to as the “Big Gully”. It is Samuel Watkins that Watkins Glen, originally called Jefferson was eventually named for at the insistence of Freer.

Morvalden Ells a newspaperman from Ithaca and Freer became business partners. Ells love for the glen and his ability to market the Glen to visitors with its scenic charm, is what eventually opened the Glen to tourism on the Fourth of July, in 1863. At that juncture in time it was called “Freer’s Glen: Mysterious Book of Nature”, and the rest is history!
Through Morvalden’s writings about the Glen it attracted and sold over 10,000 entrance tickets in its first year, and there after was improved yearly with additions that included resort accommodations.

A wealthy businessman, E B Parsons for $25,000, then purchased the property. Parsons continued its development until he sold it to John Lytle for a hefty $100,000. Under Lytle’s ownership the Grand Mountain House opened, a facility that could house more than 300 people.

Eventually the State of New York purchased the property from the estate of Andrew H. Green for $46,000 plus, and made it into today’s Watkins Glen State Park.
The Glen has survived thousands of years of water wear and natural disasters such as a horrific flood in 1933 after which the CCC did much repair work. Because of the flood the Army Corp of Engineers were engaged to build two dams on Glen Creek to help control the water.

It is through the loving care of all of the Glen’s owners and contributors that Watkins Glen has remained a natural historic treasure of New York State and tourist attraction for visitors from around the world.

Enjoy the video I did on a trip  there!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

That Field of Dreams feeling, stepping into the past and losing your troubles for just a moment in time!

This has been a busy week… though I actually took time to take a mini vacation mixed with work… the first in 6 years.  Only 48 hours or so long, it managed to do something special to me, something I will always remember. 

The trip was business in a way…and payment to a volunteer helper Barbara Keough… who had become enamored by the Shakers after viewing a video I owned by Ken Burns.

Ironically, the story of this year’s speaking engagement was on William Pryor Letchworth and the Shakers played an important role in his work, so I had planned to do this year’s lectures on the Shakers.

To prepare for the trip I had bought Barb a wonderful (used) book by June Sprigg called “Simple Gifts”.  It was a charming look at her college summer job for three years as a tour guide at Canterbury Village in New Hampshire.

The summer was magical for her as she became an adopted “granddaughter” in a way, of the old Shaker woman who were left and who had opened the village officially to tours as a way to educated and to preserve the rich cultural heritage of those that toiled before them in the religious sect known as The United Believers in Christ’s Second Coming…better known as “Shakers”.  The women lived in a belief that June not only came to understand, but also came to accept in an enlightened way…though not becoming a Shaker.

As she described her arrival at Canterbury Village and her view of the dusty road that led to a place that had once been a vibrant community of “Believers”…working, living, and dying in their beliefs you fell in love with Canterbury yourself.  That summer she came to understand herself and what she longed for…her “Spiritual Awakening” you might say.

As a novice guide she worked with a young man of only 13 who was the tour guide the previous year.  His father worked as a caretaker for the community and lived with his two boys in the village… it is his father before him who took people through and explained the Shakers as well as Canterbury’s history to visitors for many years…The young man's name was Darryl…someone she had become fast friends with even though he was younger.  It seems anything she wanted to know about the Shakers he shared with her, knowledge he had gained as having lived there at Canterbury for much of his young life.

The day we arrived, we were a bit hot and tired since we had gotten lost and were running behind schedule. But as we approach the village... June’s words seemed to come to life…there before us was the dusty road with a clearing at the top of the hill… lined with white and colored clapboard built structures dating from almost 200 years ago!

We bought our tickets and just caught a tour that had started a few minutes earlier.  We walked to a grove of trees where the guide gave us the story of their plantings… it seems each tree was planted by a child who lived in the village and it was their responsibility to water and nurture it… the one we stood before he said was his.
At that moment… like in the movie Field of Dreams…” all the cosmic tumblers fell into place”…Darryl of the book was our tour guide…but 30 years older.  As he spoke with so much love and knowledge of the women who in the book he called his “grandmother’s”, he made you part of that love and of their story.  His history knowledge of the Shakers was enormous and he was a fascinating speaker and guide.

As he closed the tour and left us to wander and explore on our own… he stepped out the building’s side door.  I followed him and called him by name asking him about June Sprigg who he said was now a librarian at Berkshire College. He said she was a wonderful writer…I said, “I know”. We spoke for a while of the two new Shaker converts at Sabbath Lake Maine. 

As we ended our conversation, I thanked him and said that I was so glad he was our tour guide.  He smiled and put out his large warm and firm hand for me to shake.  With his touch I felt I had been transported back through the years and knew all the people who had come before…  I was now part of them and the pages of their dusty and once glorious past.

Now as I write this I have a feeling that perhaps I left a piece of me there at Canterbury Village… in the past…now a part of it... I wonder?

***Barb and I have visited a number of Shaker Villages that are now being restored and the Hancock Shaker Village, which is in my opinion too commercial.  So I recommend if you want a trip into understanding and wish to see a Shaker Village, visit Canterbury.  It looks and feels as if the Shakers just had just left it there for us to find and become part of.

To make the trip complete… read the book “Simple Gifts” by June Sprigg… perhaps Daryl will step out of the pages of it to take you on a trip back to a much more simple time….

Here is a quick video I did of our trip... enjoy!