Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dredging Yaphank Lake

Dredging Yaphank Lake

When I was a kid, (as my kids would say, "back in the day") people used to go swimming in Yaphank Lake.  It was probably the sort of place that mothers liked to come with their small children due to the lack of waves and the fact that the deepest part of the lake is only about 6 feet.  In the mid 80's, when I worked at the preschool just down the road, a bunch of us used to go down to the lake, plop our towels by the "shore" and work on our tans while we watched the neighborhood kids splash around in the water.  It was almost like having part of the day off.

Dredging operation at Upper Yaphank Lake
Some time around then, according to speculation, someone dumped a fish tank, or maybe just a fish from a fish tank into the lake, and invasive waters plant took hold in the lake.

Over time, those plants made the lake go from this:

(minus the black tubing, which keeps the silt from spreading while they dredge) 

...to this.
Lower Yaphank Lake - "Lily Lake"

This is not the same lake, but it's attached to the same lake via a short stretch of stream. Lily Lake or, Lower Yaphank Lake, is just as much of a mess as its sister lake.

 Luckily, a clean-up has finally begun.  I didn't realize it would take such a monumental effort to fix this mess.

First, they rake through the water with this steam-boat looking thing, and pull out the weeds...

Then they pile it onto the shore.  

After the Upper Lake is done, they'll move on to the Lower Lake.

They use this tubing to hold a big screen in place.  It's supposed to keep the silt in a smaller area while they work.  See the massive pipe coming out of the water on the right side of the picture above?  It runs underground and dumps out in the lower lake.  I guess they are filtering out the smaller particles, so pieces of the weeds-from-hell don't spread again.

Look at the massive quantity of this stuff.  
Before they started, the whole lake was literally covered in this stuff

They've pulled multiple piles of this stuff out of the lake so far.  
It's a wonder fish can still swim through it. 

Looking forward to the day when there are kids here again, playing in the water.

If you want to know more about the Yaphank lakes, check out these links...





Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gem and Mineral Show

I went to a gem and mineral show this weekend.  I used to go to these things very often when I used to make beaded jewelry.  Now I just go to oogle the jewelry and buy stuff I'm never going to make into anything.

I'm being honest, here.

I thought I'd bring the kids with me but they were too interested in sleeping until noon.

Here's what they missed:

A gigantic fossilized dinosaur foot. 

... a jawbone with teeth and tusks attached.  Cool.

No, it's not turds.  It's a group of dinosaur eggs. 

An Irish Elk.  

Shark Teeth.  There was also a REALLY big tooth - about 8-12 inches across.  Don't know why I didn't take a picture of that - sorry.  What was I thinking?

On second thought, I was probably thinking about this. Sterling silver with an amber center.

Or THIS, my favorite of the day.  

I think it's supposed to be horse stirrups, which is cool.  $180.00 cool, which was too cool for my budget.  I guess I was so excited, I couldn't hold the phone still enough to take a good picture.

So long, stirrup bracelet, maybe I'll run into you again at the next show.  It was nice wearing you for a minute...

And now you know why I usually just call these events JEWELRY shows. ;-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bored at the Beach or, you can take adolescents to the beach, but you can't make them have fun...

FINALLY, it's not so blasted hot outside!  I decided to take the kids to the beach.  Silly me, I thought they might like this idea.  It was a fairly recent year when they enjoyed spending the whole day collecting shells and fiddler crabs in a bucket, splashing each other in the surf and playing in the sand.

Now, it's a whole new world.

"We're going to the beach today."  I remind them, first thing in the morning.


"Do you want to go to the beach?"

I guess.  Which beach?

"The one with the small waves."

Oh good.  I don't want to see anyone there.  If we go to the other one, we might see people I know.

This reminded me of when I was their age and I went to the beach with my mom.  I had BEGGED my mother to take us to the beach year after year, and she would only take us once or twice a summer, it seemed.  She was not a beach person.   I remember once, when I must have been about 13 and she did take us... or did she just take me, since I am the oldest, and probably the only one begging to go?  She marched to a spot on the sand with her piles of stuff while wearing what I thought was the weirdest, most prim and proper bathing suit in the world, and I trudged along behind her, enduring the stares and comments from the older teenagers in their micro bikinis and cut-offs.  How humiliating, to be there with your mother!  She settled on her towel and did not look happy OR comfortable (perhaps we were there because she had finally given in to my relentless nagging?)  A very short time later, I couldn't wait to go home.  It was a silent disaster.  I don't think I EVER asked her to take me to the beach again.

Today, upon arriving at the beach...

I don't want to sit here, let's walk further away from the lifeguard, you know, so I have less of a chance of seeing anyone I know.

(Am I that embarrassing?)

"Why don't you go in the water?"

I don't want to go in the water by myself (it was 15 feet away from our chairs - egad!).

"But the water is RIGHT THERE."

Well, there's too many people here.

"How about you?"

I'm not going in the water.

"You're not?"

No, I don't like to go in the water.  I just want to get a tan.

And so we settled in, somewhat, and I read about a dozen or so pages in my book while they splashed each other with water from their water bottles, and irritated each other in general.  I ignore most of their complaining as I ignore most of their nagging, so I wasn't really paying much attention when my son, who had been nagging me for french fries, started burying one of my feet in the sand.  My legs were crossed, since I was trying to tan my side as the sun went down.  My book was engrossing
(And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini), and quite honestly, I was trying to tune him out...





Suddenly, I became aware of what he was doing.  I looked like I was getting some sort of spa treatment with hot rocks.

"Mom.  I'm bored."

"Can we go home?"

After another hour, I relented, and took them home.  But not before I somewhat successfully dunked my son in the surf.  I say "somewhat" because he is now bigger than I am, and the only reason I was successful at all is because he stubbed his already injured toe on a rock in the process.

Ah, beach memories in the making...


Friday, July 19, 2013

Too Damn Hot for Anything...

It's too hot for anything.  Even my air conditioned house is still pretty hot.  This is why I live where I do, and not in Florida.  Except, oddly enough, right at this moment, it's cooler in Florida.  

I have a whole list of things I want to do, but this heat is sucking the motivation out of me so that I'm just sitting around like a slug, watching the dog pant.  She's too hot, too.

It's too damn hot for anything except maybe catching a water-mohawk on film...

It's harder than it looks.

Catching it on film, I mean.

Plus, there's one crucial thing you need...


I mean, LONG hair.  Sorry, Son.

Still, it's more fun than watching my electric meter spin.

And I do mean spin...

See the blurry dial under the large word, "Kilowatthours" ?

It's blurry because it's moving so fast. 
There should be a little coin-jingle noise to go with that spin.  

I do believe that maybe I need to spend some time making water-mohawks.

Stay cool, friends. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The things you find while cleaning out your junk drawers...

     The other day, while cleaning out some junk drawers in the kitchen, I came across this lovely item.  It's my grandpa's pepper grinder.   I've had it in various drawers since he passed away in 1995.  It needed some repairs that I just hadn't gotten around to doing so there it sat, in the kitchen drawer of my various kitchens until just the other day when I took it out, put it back together (with the help of the two perfectly fitting washers you can see under the handle that I robbed from my husband's parts-stash).  Perfect!  It grinds pepper like a champ - I suspect, exactly the way it did 60 years ago when it was new.  My dad remembers it from when he was a kid in the 1940s.  

     From the time I was very young, my grandmother would ask me to help her set the table for dinner, and after everything else was on the table, she would say to me, "... and put this next to Grandpa's plate."  I loved this little thing - its small size, the fact that it looked like a miniature barrel, the sliding lid for the peppercorns, the simple mechanics of it - I always thought it was just perfect.  Now it reminds me of dinners there at my grandparents house, with everyone sitting around the table chatting, passing plates of course after course of wonderful food.  

     My grandfather spent much of his time in the backyard garden in the summer.  In the winter he painted.  Great, big oil paint portraits of unknown people, posing in robes and postures of people from the Renaissance.  

     I always like this lady best.  My grandmother wouldn't let him hang the pictures upstairs, so their finished basement looked like an art gallery with pictures lining all the walls.    In defense of my grandma, they were rather large...   I found a place for this one in my own house, hanging on the wall in the stairwell - visible to all those going down the stairs.  'Hello, lady,' I sometimes think when I'm walking down the stairs, 'you look happy today.' 

     Still, the pepper grinder holds a special place in my heart, because while the painting was his solitary hobby, the eating reminds me of the family.  Once, when my grandmother asked me to call Grandpa to dinner, I walked a few steps down into the basement and yelled, "Grampa! Come uppa stairs!" in perfect imitation of his Italian accent.  He found this endlessly amusing, and the family laughed about it for years.  

     He had a good sense of humor.  I was not very old when I grew taller than him - he was only about 5'4" or so, and age shrunk him a bit, I'm sure.  He started calling me Shorty.  

"Hey, Shorty!'

"Hey, Grandpa!"

    So Grandpa, consider this a tribute from your Shorty.  From now on, whenever I grind fresh pepper onto my food, I'll think of you.    

Monday, July 8, 2013

5 Reasons Why I Would Not Make a Good Boater

     Living on Long Island, it is no coincidence that we have many good friends who are boaters.  For the purposes of this post, I will call them boat people - they are the people with boats.  Though I love these people dearly, I do not share their passion for boating, and I have come to the conclusion that I will most likely never be a boat person.

Look at these boats... they're beautiful, and it's a beautiful setting.  Who would not want to spend lots of time out here on one of those lovely boats, communing with nature?   For the past week or so, Long Island has been in the middle of a heat wave, which means it's been above 90 degrees and humid as a sauna.

1.  The heat.  When it's 90+ degrees and humid as a sauna, the LAST place I want to be is out in the blazing sun.  My boat people friends were out there walking around looking fresh and sunny and I was melting like an ice cream cone on the hot pavement.

2.  All that moving of stuff - onto and off of the boat...  the food, the bathing suits, the towels, the sunscreen...  Am I making too big of a deal out of this?  And what if I forget something?  My husband makes fun of me sometimes because I would forget my head if it wasn't attached to my shoulders.  With a boat, you're carrying stuff into your car, then from the car to the boat, then the boat to the shore, then back into the boat, then back into the car, then back into the house.  Seriously though, all this movement reminds me of the futility of making my bed - why should I make my bed every morning when I'm only going to get back into it again in a bit more than 12 hours?  Does everyone not feel this way about making the bed?

3.  The sunscreen.  Sunscreen works well when you use it.  Mr. Golden Sun may look friendly, but don't let him fool you - when you're not paying attention he will sneak up on you and fry you like a slice of crispy bacon.  There is no time off for good behavior - you may have used sunscreen all of your life, but he's just waiting for that ONE time you forget (ask me how I got THIS particular piece of wisdom) to give you sunburn lines that make you look like a human version of Rudolph, and remind you in not so subtle ways of the EXACT length of your shirt sleeves that day.  If you think that's bad, in a few days you'll be peeling like a snake.  Fun stuff.

4.  Salt and Sand.  Under my toes - awesome.  In my hair - not so much.  Don't get me wrong, when I was a little kid, I used to put sand in my hair because I liked picking it out.  I'd swear that people with dreadlocks start their dreads with a trip to the beach.  Personally, when I want to say goodbye to the salt and sand with a nice fresh-water shower, the thought of swaying to and fro with the tide while attempting to rid myself of the cup of sand I've accumulated during the day sounds like it requires a little too much coordination.  

5.  Which brings me to...  my lack of sea-legs.  My mother-in-law states that she got sick on the tea-cup ride at Disney World.  Well, I am right there with ya, Mom, and a day of swaying to and fro is probably more than my eustachian tubes can bear.  See the boardwalk in the picture below?  There are some days when I feel like that on dry land.  (By the way, wavy boardwalk courtesy of Hurricane Sandy)

In the same way that my husband can go to a party, be the life of said party, and then, somewhere are around midnight (you would swear he was Cinderella) be seized with the need to go home RIGHT NOW because he's grown tired of socializing, I can go to the beach, enjoy the sun, sand, etc, and then somewhere around sunset, become VERY GLAD that I don't own a boat which would require me to stay a few minutes longer.  So boat people I am more than willing to spend some time visiting you at the beach. I will totally enjoy the atmosphere and your company.  But when it's time to go, it's time to go!  Until next time on the water!

Love, the Landlubber!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summertime... (the long anticipated!)

It's almost here...  

Summer vacation.

This year, after much thought and consideration,  I will be off for several weeks. Seven weeks to be exact.  Lest you think I live amongst the rich and famous, let me assure you that I listened to my husband worry about this for the last few months.  I assured him it would be ok, and wouldn't it be great that I would be able to do things with the kids while they're home from school?  He seriously thought about this one recent Sunday while he cooked us all eggs over easy with bacon, and he decided yes, it WOULD be lovely - especially when I take over Sunday breakfast duty.  (DAMN!)

For a few months I've been working on a list of things I want to do over the summer - mostly things I want to do with the kids.  It's by no means complete, but it's a start...

When I thought of something, I added to the list on my phone.  This is just one of about 3 different lists I started.  Do I get credit for listing the stuff, even if I don't get to actually DO it all?  Maybe I can convince my son to do the power washing.  Although, he might power wash his sister instead.  I figure, if I play my cards right, I might be able to get them to do certain unsavory chores if I can offhandedly mix them in with the fun stuff, i.e., "I'll take you guys to the beach...

...if you just do the dishes while I clean out this junk drawer, ok?  Might work...

I'm hoping we can try out some crafts I found on Pinterest.

Not necessarily these, but you get the idea.

One thing I DON'T want to do is too much of this:

...and don't tell me you have no idea what I'm talking about.  I've seen a bunch of you complaining about your Candy Crush addiction on Facebook.  I know what you mean - I'm stuck now on level 116.   Is anyone out there willing to be my sponsor in a 12 steps to quitting Candy Crush program?  I think I may set a timer for myself when I start to play...  then I can jump out of my SKIN when it rings and disturbs my concentration.  All I know is, I'm seeing brightly colored pieces of candy when I close my eyes, and that is downright disturbing.  At least I managed to quit Farmville and Castleville, and I'm determined not to let any other _villes into my life. 

So now I'm down to waiting for the last few days before summer vacation starts... stick with me and I'll keep you updated.

Can it live up to the hype I've created in my own mind?  I think so...