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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ending, Beginning & Marking Time

         The end of June the school year came to a close and with it Hillary’s school career and my employment by the school district food service.  The four years we spent at the high school were by turns rewarding and maddening.  I was happy to see that time end for many reasons, exhaustion being one of them; for both myself and Hillary.  Seeing the end of predawn wakeups and bus pickups was most welcome! We celebrated graduation with a small party and moved forward.

         After spending months nudging the state along to have all paperwork done and arrangements in place by graduation, Hillary was able to begin attending a day program for medically compromised developmentally disabled adults.  The transition went really well and she is quite happy with the new situation which starts later in the morning, is shorter hours and fatigues her less as it is slower paced than school was.  I like it too as I no longer have to get up as early in order to have her ready for the bus. It was a quick turnaround for one thing to end and a new one to successfully begin.  What a blessing!

         I’m spending time this summer resting and trying and get my house and head in better order; clearing clutter and old papers, donating items, and throwing things away. Emotions go along with many of the cleaning projects I am undertaking so each day is a little bit of a roller coaster ride.  I find myself at times nostalgic, at times sad, annoyed, angry, amused and happy as I look at old notebooks, pictures and toys long ago set aside.

 I’m also trying to figure out what to do next for employment.  Although our board of education chose to hire a private company going forward to provide food services rather than keep our department going, the food service company has offered any of us who wish to continue in this profession a chance to work for them.  I’m going to have to work fewer hours than I was due to Hillary’s later and shorter schedule but current plans are for me to accept the offer.  For now, at least, and I’ll see how it goes and how I feel about it.  If I don’t like it, or for whatever reason it doesn’t work out for me then I will have to find something else.  It will give me some income as I try to figure out what else to do. So I am marking time job wise and getting used to a new rhythm to the days.

         The recent changes to my life were not as difficult as I had imagined they would be, and Hillary seems to have no ill effects from the changes for her.  It seems as if life changes don’t have to be hard if I look to the future and realize that I don’t have to figure everything out immediately.  There’s something nice about marking time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Percolator Vacation

The top picture is the St. Lawrence Seaway as seen from our hotel balcony last year. The picture below is a tanker heading downriver passing Boldt Castle.

It seems that there is some interest in knowing about the vacation I alluded to in my last post so I decided to expand on that topic in this one.  That particular vacation started out a little rough but lives in our memories as one of our best ever. We had switched from a big national chain hotel near a metropolitan area along the St. Lawrence River due to the uncleanliness of our room to a mom and pop type motel in the small but thriving resort town known as Alexandria Bay a bit further south but still on the St. Lawrence.  We were now within a few short blocks of the main drag and the river itself.  We found ourselves on a shoestring food budget as we took some of our food money to pay the higher price of the new lodgings but we didn’t mind.  Most of our meals we ate at a hot dog/burger shack as it was cheaper than any other eatery in town. The first time we walked to a public dock where we could see the mighty waterway in all its glory left us breathless. There, on an island, directly across from the town in the middle of the river stood a castle! Boldt Castle on Hart Island, we found out on an Uncle Sam’s Cruise Line tour, was built by self-made millionaire George Boldt as an homage to his beloved wife Louise.  She tragically passed away before the castle was complete and the heartbroken widower ordered construction immediately stopped.  There it sat going to ruin until finally restoration was begun by a historical preservation group.  The work is ongoing but the ground floor, parts of the upper floors and the grounds are quite beautiful as we found out on our first tour. I love the romance of the castle and it is a beautiful sight any time of the day.  As we explored other aspects of the area, we drove about 30 minutes to Cape St. Vincent which boasts a lighthouse at the mouth of Lake Ontario, and one day about 3 hours to Massena, NY to visit the locks there that allow vessels to navigate the waterways.  There are huge tankers, freighters, and barges that travel through carrying all types of supplies and goods to and from the great lakes to both Canada and the United States.  We also see some of those huge boats on the St. Lawrence when we are in Alexandria Bay and they dwarf Boldt Castle as they chug past.  While there we toured the Eisenhower Power Project, my main memory of which concerns getting Hillary to the top floor observation deck via a stair lift for her wheelchair.  It was the first time we’d seen such a contraption and it made a pleasant melodic dinging sound as it carried our princess up and down the stairs.  On the Wednesday of the week we spent in Alexandria Bay we went to the park on a hill overlooking the river for a free sunset concert by the Ft. Drum army band. It was wonderful!  We sat on a huge flat rock and munched on subs and chips as people danced, tapped their toes and children cavorted in time to the music.  All in all our vacation that started out not so well turned into one which we remember fondly, and we have returned to that town again and again, although now we stay in a larger family owned resort hotel right on the river with glorious sunsets, fresh breezes and a constant view of the castle.

This is Boldt Castle at sunset.