Welcome to The Squeaky Pen

...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie

I'm writing this on a Sunday afternoon. It's chilly November, although last week was quite beautiful. There's a fire going in my fireplace and I'm doing some TV binge-watching (the hilarious LillyHammer). Harry is on my lap snoozing, and Ruby is nearby. But there's a heartbeat missing from this cozy room: my Lucy.
The first time I saw Lucy she was about the size of a hefty coffee mug. She was born at Mountain Top Golf Course here in Sherburne, the runt of a big litter and easily two times smaller than her littermates. She was sickly, had some sort of respiratory infection, and when I first spotted her she was scampering around under golf cart wheels. The guys at the course nicknamed her "Lucky" because she was nearly run over so many times. I just deleted the "k" and called her Lucy. Gathered her up and took her back to Long Island with me. This was in 2000.
She was a complicated cat. So loving and sweet, a calico who would curl next to me in bed, where in the morning we would wake together. Her walk was dainty, like a little old lady. She was also a bit of a bitch. Once I walked into a guest room and saw her squatting to pee on a brand new mattress. She also, periodically, made her mark on carpets. There were times, I admit, when I thought about strangling her, or taking her to the vet for "the final ride." But of course I never did. I loved her in spite of this peeing flaw, and in fact in the last year she'd been really good. The four of us -- Harry, Ruby, Lucy, and I -- had found an easy peace here on Classic Street. Harry liked the cats -- or at least found them worth an up-close evaluation -- and the cats tolerated him in spite of his barking and sniffing and jealous tantrums when Lucy or Ruby climbed up on my lap. 
My cats go outside ("better to die on your feet than live on your knees" and all that), and on the evening of October 27th Lucy, who'd been out all day, didn't come home. Ruby-the-Rebel stays out overnight sometimes, but never Lucy. The morning of the 28th I knew something wrong when she wasn't at the door.
Hope (of course) springs eternal. Days went by as I watched out the window, checking the door compulsively, expecting to see her sitting there on the sunny porch as I'd seen the afternoon of October 27th. My friends imparted cat advice: "My cat came home after 10 days missing!" Another friend's cat had been locked in a garage and was finally freed. But no. Lucy didn't come home.
Finally (feeling stupid that I hadn't thought of it earlier), I posted her photo on Facebook. In five minutes I got a response: "Look across the street from your house; there's a cat's body there," someone said. Indeed. It was my Lucy, there in grass.
I don't know what happened. Was she hit by a car? Or maybe she just gave up and died. She'd been acting "funny" lately, staring into corners and yowling, squishing herself into strange spaces. And she was, after all, 15-going-on-16. When I found her I didn't investigate to see if there was blood. In fact I freaked a bit, ran to my cousin-neighbors and asked Frank to put her in a box for me, wrapped in a towel. Then when I tried to dig a hole and couldn't, I called my friend Mike to do the job. Lots of crying and hand waving and head thrashing ensued, but in the end Lucy came home, and is now safely buried in the back yard.
There is a contract, if you will, that we agree to when we adopt a pet. An understanding that this little creature we take into our homes and treat as a child will probably die before we do. We have 10, maybe 15, if we're really lucky maybe 18 years with a cat or dog. These babies of ours never grow up and move away, never crash the car, never get mad and say I hate you. They love us unconditionally, welcoming us with big eyes when we come through the door, and when they die we're tortured by their absence. I still see Lucy curled on the sofa in my office, or warming herself by the fireplace. I don't see her piddling accidents. I see my darling's green eyes or hear her scratchy meows. I feel her jumping on the bed, though when I look she isn't (of course) there.
I can only hope she died easy. And I suppose I'll get over the absent feel of her brushing against my legs as I sit at my desk, nudging my ankle for love.
My nickname for her, since she was baby, was Lucy Bird, or for short, Birdie. I've called Ruby "Birdie" six dozen times since Lucy died, which I never did before. I suppose that will fade away, too.
There's something funny about all this -- odd funny, not haha funny: a dear relative of mine died on October 27th six years ago. Maybe it was just Birdie's time, and Scarlet stepped in to take her home. So I'm trying to imagine Lucy curled on Scarlet's lap, Scarlet stroking Lucy's beautiful calico coat, the both of them watching out for the rest of us down here.
I like that idea.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SSIRP Breaks Ground

Senator James Seward, Sherburne Town Supervisor Charles Mastro, and Sherburne Mayor Bill Acee joined SSIRP board members and representatives of Rich & Gardner Construction Company on July 13 for a groundbreaking ceremony at The Sherburne Inn. Senator Seward congratulated SSIRP on what he called "a great day for Sherburne," adding that The Inn is not only at the physical center of the community, but at its emotional and social center as well. "The Sherburne Inn represents Sherburne's history," he said, "and its future."
Pictured here, left to right: Mark Becht of Rich & Gardner Construction; Kathleen Yasas, SSIRP president; Kristina Rodriguez, SSIRP board member; Steve Perrin, SSIRP vice president and project manager; Chris Hoffman, SSIRP treasurer; Senator Seward; Charles Mastro; SSIRP board member Vince Yacono; Bill Acee; and Mike Gardner, of Rich & Gardner Construction.

Monday, June 22, 2015

SSIRP Hires General Contractor, Construction to Begin

1915-1916, Downtown Sherburne, post Sherburne House Fire and pre Sherburne Inn
Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project, Inc. (SSIRP) announced this week that Rich & Gardner Construction Company of Syracuse has been hired as the general contractor for Phase 1 restoration of The Sherburne Inn, which will include exterior work on the 98-year-old building. Work is expected to begin within 30 days and will include brick pointing and general masonry, window restoration, porch deck and porch roof work, trim painting, and column restoration.
Rich & Gardner, which counts among its employees Sherburne-area residents, was one of several companies that submitted bids. Bids were opened and reviewed at The Sherburne Inn on May 20.
Conceptualized as an economic driver for Sherburne and the surrounding area, SSIRP plans to reopen The Inn with sleeping rooms, event space, conference space, a farm-to-table restaurant and bar, a tavern, retail space, and office space. Temporary and permanent part- and full-time jobs will be created both during restoration and after The Inn has been reopened.
For more information on The Sherburne Inn and SSIRP, visit www.thesherburneinn.org.
SSIRP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations to SSIRP are deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spring Symphony

I think it was sometime around the first of April when I caught myself wondering why in god's name I ever moved back to upstate New York. It was early, around 7 a.m., and I'd gotten up to let the dog out. When I went into the kitchen and looked out the window, I burst out crying. It was snowing again.

I like snow, I do. In fact, people who know me would probably call me a snow person if their options were 1) she loves the beach; 2) it can't be sunny enough; 3) the hotter the better; 4) snow person. Still, everyone has their breaking point. So yeah, I've been wondering what dark moment it was that I decided to head north, knowing the weather situation up here in the winter. Two months of snow is perfect. Three is okay. Four, you're pushing it. Six? Time to call U-Haul.

Then yesterday I took a drive.

It's the end of May, a whisper from June, and it was One Of Those Days. Sunny yes, but so much more. 75 degrees and low humidity. Puffy clouds drifting. Green lawns, green trees, green fields -- that splendid not-dark green of spring that's maybe got a week of life left. Miles of pink flowers chasing each other in meadows, geometric shapes flanked by yellow blossoms. The smell in the air? Freshly-mown grass and a final whiff of lilac. Men on tractors, kids' smiling faces, canine ears flapping out of car windows.

And a tiny voice in my head said, "oh. that's why."

What's that old saying? I'd rather have two minutes of something wonderful than a lifetime of nothing in particular. That one was written for upstate New York weather. Such days around here don't come often and they don't stay long; but if you can catch them, if you're lucky enough to be outside paying attention, days like yesterday are one of maybe four all year, those that usher in summer and fall and winter and spring; 24 hours four days a year when Nature says come look at me. Come see what I can do.

Such days (okay, maybe they're worth the wait) ... a spectacular symphony for the senses.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hello Day 67!

I decided to quit smoking in January. Well, decided may be the wrong word for it. I didn't really think about it, it wasn't like I sat around writing up a list of pros and cons and, seeing that the pro side was vastly less populated than the con side, announced "That's it! I shall stop smoking!"

What actually happened was I was sitting in my home office with all the doors closed so the smoke wouldn't get into the rest of the house when it occurred to me that I was just done. I'd been spending way too much time lately burning scented candles and spraying air freshener because the smoke smell was bothering me more than usual. I was smoking around a pack a day and doing so was bugging me. It's expensive ($10+ a pack here in New York State), it stinks up the house, it stinks up my clothes, it stinks up my hair, and ... oh yes, let's not forget this little detail ... it's deadly. The only good thing about smoking for me was the fun factor. I liked it. Or at least, I did like it. All of a sudden the fun factor was getting its ass kicked by all the negatives. All of a sudden, smoking wasn't so much fun anymore.

So I stopped. There in my office I was puffing away when I said out loud, "Oh man, this is just disgusting." I mashed the cigarette out, threw the rest of the pack away, emptied every ashtray in the house, washed them, and packed them away in a cabinet. I've been a smoker, on and off, since the early 1980s, but always insisted to people that I wasn't addicted. The response to that pronouncement was almost always the same: "Yeah, right." Everybody assumed it was the addict in me talking when I said I wasn't physically hooked, but I really wasn't. I was socially hooked in a big way. Loved to smoke when on the phone, or in the car, or after a meal. Sitting down with a friend for a chat and a glass of wine? Out came the cigarettes. Cup of coffee? Oh yes, cigarette required. I was never one for going outside in the freezing cold to huddle against a building for a puff (that's not to say I never did it, but I never liked it and for the most part preferred not smoking to standing around like a delinquent in some alleyway). So on January 9, 2015, around 6 o'clock at night, with no fanfare and with ten or so cigarettes still left in the pack, I just quit.

I have to say it has not been hard. There were a few times when I got this "saliva feeling" in my throat that I think was a physical reaction to wanting to smoke. And yes, there was the altercation I had with the TV remote after I dropped it on the floor. The remote stopped working and I flipped out, screamed and cussed and pounded it on my desk 12 times, then threw it across the room. I know I pounded 12 times because there are now 12 tiny holes in the wood where the little nub on the back of remote punched into my desk top. (Ironically, the remote just needed new batteries.)
On the good side? The house and my clothes and my hair smell wonderful, the very tiny cough I once had is gone, and I wake up every morning without the fuzzy and nagging thought "gottaquit gottaquit gottaquit." Then there's the money! Sixty-seven days (as of today) equals $670. By the end of one year, if indeed I had smoked a pack a day and taking into consideration that I infrequently bought cartons, I will have saved $3,650, much of which I plan to plug into my Maine summer vacation. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a win-win!
What made me stop? Who knows. Sometimes you just hit the wall with things: bad habits, bad choices, bad people. Sometimes you just say "I've had enough" and walk away, feeling so much better -- on every level -- that you did.
So I'm taking a deep breath (an easier thing to do now), enjoying Day 67, and looking forward to Day 68 ... and to all the good smoke-free days to come.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Sherburne Native Invents Temporary Wall System, Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Jim Hoefler, formerly of Sherburne and a graduate of SECS (’73), has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital that will help him bring his latest invention – XoomRooms (pronounced “ZoomRooms”) – to market. XoomRooms is a portable, temporary wall and storage system Hoefler has been working on for the last three years. Kickstarter is a social media site that allows inventors, entrepreneurs, and community activists an opportunity to raise capital for their ventures on the web. You can view Jim’s XoomRooms web site and see a link to his Kickstarter campaign here: http://XoomRooms.com

“Kickstarter is a little bit like the television show ‘Shark Tank’” Hoefler explains, “except you make your pitch on the web, anyone can contribute in any amount desired, and the contribution is a donation rather than an investment.”

The campaign will run for 30 days, from January 20 to February 19, 2015. Jim, son of Sherburne native and current resident Katie Hoefler, started working on XoomRooms in 2012 after helping his daughters create a temporary bedroom to sublet in their Washington, DC, apartment. The temporary walls he created worked fine, and his daughters successfully sublet the bedroom he created for them, but the walls were difficult to assemble and were not able to be reused when his daughters moved. 

So Hoefler set out to create a wall system that would be easy to set up and durable enough to be reused in other locations.  "There was nothing on the market that could make creating temporary spaces like this in your home possible” he recalls, “and while my walls served their purpose, I wanted to create something that any Do-It-Yourselfer could use. XoomRooms seems to fit the bill perfectly!” 

Several XoomRooms prototypes are already up and working well in Sherburne, and in his current home town of Carlisle, PA.  “Now it’s time to scale up production capacity so I can bring the product to the masses,” Jim says. “That’s what the Kickstarter campaign is all about."

“Take a look and see what I’ve been up to,” Hoefler says.  “Even if you don’t contribute, if you like what you see, it’s really important that you share the Kickstarter link with all your friends!”

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum