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Tag Archives: travel

I’m coming back home tomorrow, to 14th Street

There are a few things they don’t tell you when you start working in a newsroom.

First off, it looks NOTHING like this. NO ONE WEARS TIES!

First off, it looks NOTHING like this. NO ONE WEARS TIES!

They don’t tell you you’ll probably be scraping by, pay-wise.

They don’t tell you that your work doesn’t exactly end when you leave the building.

They don’t tell you your news-brain will get turned on and you are always thinking news news NEWS. Do we need this? If so, only on the website, or in the paper? Does it need to hit social media immediately or can it wait a bit? Is it going to cause a rash of insane comments on social media, and do we have someone who can police those for the next few hours? Did we already have this yesterday? What do you MEAN, we covered this last week? Are you sure? Then why does the local news have it today as if it’s new? Is this on one of the feeds we can use? No, Buzzfeed isn’t reputable. No, we can’t use that. No, seriously, I mean it, stop that.

They don’t tell you that you’ll be really, REALLY tired. Like, almost all the time. It’s amazing any newsing gets done with how tired the staff of our news organizations are.

They also don’t tell you, however, you will love this job so much you don’t MIND the above. That you’ll work those extra minutes that add up to extra hours and not even notice you’ve done it. That you work through the exhaustion. (Especially on election night, which never, ever ends. I might still be working last election night, is how long that night lasts.) That the news part of your brain being turned on all the time is actually something you’ll like. That your teeny-tiny paycheck’s tough to handle, but since you’re working insane hours, when would you have time to spend that money, anyway? Mostly you’re spending it on fast food and your cell phone bill anyway.

You kind of put your head down and work and work and work, and then on your days off sometimes you work from a distance and try to run a few errands and sleep and sleep and sleeeeep. You kind of forget there’s an outside world except you see it a little on television. It looks nice. There’s sunshine and people seem to fall in love a lot there. How do they find the time? It’s utterly perplexing.

HOWEVER! Sometimes a magical thing comes up that reminds me that there is, surprisingly enough, life outside of work! And I can take advantage of it! Yes! IT IS TRUE!

Many moons ago, when I was just a baby blogger, I came across the lovely Lisa, who was (and remains) one of the funniest people I’d ever (virtually) met. She introduced me to many other amazing bloggers and we were quite the little blogging community, for a while, until the world moved on (as it does, especially on the internet, which tends to move faster than you’d think.)

However, we have kept in touch and have had many good times over on Twitter and on the Book of Faces and I did warn her once that I was going to come visit her in Texas via hopping a train, as if I was a hobo, with a bindle over one shoulder and probably a hat with a patch on it. I have always wanted to visit Texas, where things are supposedly bigger, and in some places weirder, even though sometimes the politics there scare me.

Me & my hobo lifestyle, yo.

Last week, Lisa sent me a message that she’d be in New York City soon. Well! This is MUCH better and less-likely to end in me being stabmurdered than me hopping a hobo train! So after some finagling (ok, finagling really just involved me asking my wonderful supervisor, “Can I have this date off?” and her saying, “You got it!” because my coworkers are the best EVER) I am set and prepared to meet Lisa in REALLY REAL LIFE. Eeee!

I have, stupidly, moved a zillion miles away from New York City. I moved in exactly the wrong direction. It used to take me a little under 3 hours to get there; now it will take me about 6. My options are a long drive and a reasonable train ride or a short drive and a VERY LONG bus ride. There are pros and cons to each of these options. I have about a month to decide which of them I’ll choose, so I’m not rushing that yet. It’s not like it matters, because at the end will be Lisa!

We have already decided there will be many shenanigans, no matter what we decide to do while we are there. We’ve known each other virtually for…oh, almost three and a half years now? It’s high time for some face-time shenanigans. We will be bringing Andreas along in spirit, because the only thing that could make this trip better would be having Andreas along for the ride. Lisa thought maybe he could create a wormhole and travel to New York to be with us with that since he is, after all, Lucy’s Football’s Science Fellow, but I’ve asked and he said it wasn’t feasable. SIGH, SCIENCE! Letting us all down!

One should never go too far without one's Science Fellow. Who knows when you'd need to science? Without him there, you'd be bereft!

One should never go too far without one’s Science Fellow. Who knows when you’d need to science? Without him there, you’d be bereft! (Also, having spent substantial time with Andreas over the last couple of years, I can tell you he is one of the best humans in the world…but he’ll deny that because he is also VERY humble.)

So: yes. For the most part, I couldn’t be happier to be an underpaid, overworked employee of the best newspaper in Northern New York* (*fine, I might be a little biased, but I’m also right.) But it’s also nice (better than nice) to have a little life to look forward to after this very long, very slow-death winter is close to over with. New York City in the spring is filled with singular magic. It couldn’t be more perfect for meeting one of the most magical people I know.

Happy weekend, people. May you all have happy thoughts and wonderful friends and favorite places to pull you through long, gray, seemingly endless winters.

Oh – and shenanigans. May you always, always have shenanigans. Or what’s it all about, otherwise?

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When it rains, it pours. And I never remember my umbrella.

The universe has a funny way of loading a lot on you all at once and then saying, “‘kay, I’m going to leave you to figure this out…good luck with that” and then taking off to traipse through the celestial flowers or whatever the universe does on its day off.

2014, so far, has been the year of both getting my ass kicked and kicking ass back. Gigantic highs and huge old lows.

I went to the land of the Finns…

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn't like anyone stopped you...)

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn’t like anyone stopped you…)

...and I got to see this in really real person...

…and I got to see this in really real person…

...and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world...

…and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world…

...and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle...

…and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle…

...and I got to sleep with this guy...

…and I got to sleep with this guy…

...this lovely lady...

…this lovely lady…

...and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

…and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

Then things kind of went to shit once I got home…in a nutshell, I was let go from an amazing job and all-too-quickly took a job that was offered, mostly out of fear of not having one. To say it was a nightmare is to speak a little too well of what went on at that job. But, professional grown-up ladies don’t badmouth places of employment, right? Right.

I put up with what I think can correctly be called Emotional Abusetown for four months, and then quit. Without a backup plan. Because sometimes you need to run. I mean, come on, Kenny Rogers taught me that when I was a wee Amy, right? I’m still not sure when to hold ’em or fold ’em, but I am VERY good at knowing when to run. Even when it doesn’t seem like a good idea because you won’t have health insurance in your life on the lam.

However, the universe (good old universe) decided maybe I didn’t have ENOUGH going on, so threw in the MOST EPIC CURVEBALL.

It said a lot about Emotional Abusetown that after three days there, I started jobhunting again. I applied near, and when nothing seemed to be coming of it, I applied far. And I decided to stretch a little for the kinds of jobs I wanted, not just settle for the kinds of jobs I could do, but wouldn’t be all that soul-enhancing. What the hell, right?

So when I got a call from a newspaper wanting me to do a phone interview in the middle of the day one day, I looked around for the hidden cameras. People like me didn’t get calls from newspapers, right? Unless it was a person wanting them to SUBSCRIBE to the newspaper.

Over a few weeks, I actually got calls from TWO newspapers. I had multiple phone interviews and one full-day in-person interview. (Yes, you read that right. The interview was – withour the slightest bit of hyperbole – six and a half hours long. It was almost an entire workday. And I did work, too. It was as if I was actually working for quite a bit of the day.)

Hey, guess what?

Both papers hired me.

One paid so little I couldn’t afford to take the job without taking another job (at least part-time, if not close to full-time) to make ends meet. It would have been a very good job. It was a reporter position for my hometown paper, the paper I read growing up that taught me to love newsprint. But it’s a very small town, and a small-town newspaper can’t afford to pay much. I said no, but sadly.

The other paid better, but not as much as I’m used to making. There was a lot of thinking involved. When the editor called with the job offer and explained that, in order to get me to say yes, he’d moved some things around and added on some extra things here and there just to bump up the bottom line…well. How can you say no to that?

So of course I said yes. I am their newest copy editor, and will also be doing some social media, and maybe some writing and reviewing, if the need arises.

Thing is…the really HARD thing is…

…the job is here.

You know I love it here in the Capital District. It’s home, and it’s been home for 12 years (12 years this weekend, actually – I moved here Labor Day weekend 2002.) My heart is here. That’s never happened anywhere I’ve lived, this sense of pride and ownership of place. I’m completely at home here. I feel very safe here.

But, around the time I got back from my adventure overseas, I’d started to get the itch.

Do you get this? This itch that something’s off, and something needs to change? It’s not something small, like, something that can be fixed by going out and buying a new outfit or a getting a kicky haircut (although those itches happen, too, sometimes.) This is a bigger itch, where you don’t feel comfortable in your skin, and something BIG needs to change. I used to get this quite often, which was ok, because when I was younger, I changed jobs or apartments or cities on the regular. But it seems you don’t outgrow the itch. It still shows up out of nowhere and starts bumping around your head like a fly made stupid with autumn.

I thought that finding a new job would satisfy it, and it would – it will. But the universe is, if anything, a trickster. So the universe said, “Sure! Here’s a new job. The new job is, actually, a job you’ve been dreaming of for, oh, only your whole LIFE. But here’s the catch – you have to move three hours away to a town where you only know one person and that you’ve never been in for more than half an hour. Also, the winters are kind of cuckoo-bananas. So, how are you going to handle THAT?”

I’m handling that by spending the last week packing everything I own…

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It's insurmountable.

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It’s insurmountable. Believe me, Dumbcat has tried. And failed.

…cancelling all my utilities, apartment-hunting, saying goodbye to people, quitting my two part-time jobs, sleeping too little, fretting too much, trying to get Dumbcat to understand I will NOT be leaving him behind so he doesn’t have to cling to me like a remora, and getting ready to leave my home for my new town.

I somehow had the best luck in the world and found the perfect apartment with the very first one I saw – really close to work, in a nice area, wood floors, fireplace, a ton of space, a yard, a porch…and only a wee bit more than I’m paying now. And the new landlord seems delightful. She gave it to me almost immediately, even though other people had applied. I think she knew it was a me-place as much as I did. It has good vibes. And it’s almost 100 years old! I have old-building love. Always have.

The town is about a third of the size of where I live now, but has a lot of history and is well-appointed – lots of shopping, lots of green space, beautiful old buildings, a zoo(!). Two of my most beloved people live within an hour of my new place, so I’ll get to see them more often, and I’m an hour closer to my family.

And, it all comes down to this: I’m ready for a grand adventure.

This is a job I’ll love, and dammit, I’ll be GOOD at this. The apartment is great. I don’t have anything I can’t leave here – I love it, but it’s not like I have family I can’t uproot, or something along those lines. I’m ripe for a change, and when better to make one?

In two days, my family will show up with trucks and trailers and such and we will have a day of MUCH physical labor…and by the end of it, I will be the newest resident of Watertown, NY, with a new job waiting for me just a few days later.

*deep breaths*

It all happens at once, or not at all…I guess I got the all at once this year.

Onward and upward.

(P.S. – apparently, it pays to be a grammar nerd. GO ME!)

 


Adventures in Vermont, with extra goaty goodness!

Howdy, bloggonians! A while back, I geeked out over the news that randomly, I had been contacted by people in Vermont who wanted me to come stay overnight and write about my experience. Well! Two weekends ago was the weekend! Only I’ve been busy with this and that and have not been able to blog about it until now.

Things that have gotten in the way of me blogging about this over the past week:

  • I got a new job! Which I love, and I think is a very good fit (I know! How did I find a job in three weeks? I have no idea. I don’t want to question it too much, or it might disappear.) I get to be creative, I really like the people I’m working with, and there’s a lot of room for growth and advancement. And, in the best news, when I was offered the job, I explained I’d need to be off for two weeks at the end of May/beginning of June, for European jaunting, and they were cool with it! So, Europe, I am still coming to see you soon!
  • I injured myself quite injuriously! It is very dark outside of my laundry room, and I was in a hurry to do my laundry, and BAM! I totally fell in a pothole. I spent quite a bit of Friday in the doctor’s office and then later getting a billion x-rays to see if I’d broken anything. I didn’t, but I’ve quite seriously sprained and bruised my foot and ankle. It makes walking a little dodgy and unattractive. I’m supposed to keep off it, but since there’s work and all, that’s not possible, so I’m probably not going to heal as quickly as I could. Also, OUCH. (I am, equally attractively, covered in cuts and bruises, so I look like I’ve fallen off a motorcycle.)
  • I had a piece of writing published elsewhere! And I promised I’d tell you when that happened, so here you go: Bully For You. I’m quite proud of it, and it seems to have been fairly widely read and appreciated, so I’m glad for that. I’m still waiting to hear from some other submissions, so fingers crossed for more publications this year!

But! We are not here to hear about all of that. We are here to hear about Vermont adventures!

So Mom came with me on Vermont adventures. She was excited about a weekend away and she loves outdoorsy things. So Mom arrived on a Friday, and Saturday morning, we were off for Vermont!

It was a couple of hours to get there. We went through many small towns with many odd businesses (and also some very wonderful old buildings and churches. I do very much love old architecture.)

Finally, we arrived at the Amee Farm Lodge in Vermont!

Pretty, right? And oh-so-appropriately named for this most intrepid blogger!

(OK, it probably should have been AMY farm, but close enough.)

Amee Farm is kind of the most gorgeous. It’s quiet, and it’s CRAZY-scenic. Seriously, this is the view from their parking lot, looking across the road:

The prettiest of mountains! And it smelled fresh and clean and it was very beautiful.

So this was a blogger’s weekend; there were all sorts of bloggers there. I am not good in social situations. I was very quiet. Mom talked to all the people. Mom is very friendly. At one point, I asked her if she saw a van with no windows with “free candy” painted on the side, she would go up to it to get the free candy, and she very seriously replied, “No, but only because I don’t like candy.” Can you even imagine? Mom doesn’t think everyone’s a killer at first, then make them prove to her they’re not over a number of months. This seems like a suspicious way to live to me.

We met Tom and Erlin from Perfect Vermont, who organized the weekend, and then Jessica, the innkeeper at Amee Farm, who showed us to our rooms. Mom and I had the best little rooms next to each other and a little bathroom in the hallway and everything looked all old-fashioned and woodsy and the mattress was SO HARD. I am such a fan of a hard mattress. Sincerely. I can’t even tell you. I sat on it and said, “I will sleep like a dead vampire here!” and Mom sighed and called me morbid.

My pretty room! Look at that bed. I wish I still had that bed. I’m crazy in love with it.

I also have this strange obsession with wood floors and this place was ALL wood floors. And a billion stairs. I kept forgetting things in my room and then telling Mom, “Oh, well that’s dead to me now. I’m not going back up to get THAT” and she laughed and laughed.

There were events planned for us, but first, Mom had to go to church, so we missed one of the events. (I was down with this. The event involved a lot of hiking. No thank you, says Amy!)

So Mom and I, despite getting a map drawn for us, totally got lost and almost missed church, but (she says because of God, but I say because I actually read the sign correctly) we got there with three minutes to spare. I sat in the car. I don’t go into churches; I feel I would burst into flames. Also, I don’t like hypocrisy, which is what I believe me entering a church would be.

This is Mom’s church. Doesn’t this town look like something from The Twilight Zone where everyone seems TOO NORMAL and then are really cannibals? It wasn’t, but I kept telling Mom it probably was.

This is a terrible photo of a very old Mountain Dew can I found outside the church in the woods. I took this as proof for Mom we’d entered a time warp, but she was not convinced.

When we got back, there was a little downtime for me to lounge on the MOST COMFORTABLE BED EVER ZOMG, then it was time for a VERY FANCY DINNER. When you combine Amy and a very fancy dinner (like, with multiple forks you’re supposed to use in a certain order) you get danger.

You can click to make this bigger, if you are so inclined. There was deliciousness all around. Things I loved:

  • raw asparagus. Who knew this could be delicious? Not me! I should have known, though, because I love regular asparagus more than anything ever. YUM.
  • Polenta is the best thing ever. I could have eaten just the polenta for the main course without the pork or the fennel and been a happy woman. (Not that they weren’t good, but still. ZOMG THAT POLENTA.)
  • I had never had pavlova before, and I can’t even tell you how amazing that was. It was like a big meringue/marshmallow thing, and had fruit and fresh cream on top, and I could have eaten fourteen of these things. (Well, only after I picked off all the blueberries and gave them to Mom. I am not a fan of blueberries. When The Nephew was little, he used to call them “boobies” and that’s the only good thing about blueberries, in my opinion. “I want boobies!” he would say. Hee!)

I only spilled a LITTLE food on my top, but it was a patterned top. So no one was the wiser. Whew!

Then it was time for bed because all that traveling was EXHAUSTING. Also all that fresh air. I am a city mouse. I’m not used to all that fresh air.

This sign is what you see when you go upstairs and it made me have all the giggles.

No. No, I didn’t see the rooster. Unless they mean the one on the sign. I did see THAT rooster.

I watched a terrible horror movie on my laptop and then took a shower, only apparently I did it wrong and Mom was all “that wasn’t right” the next day. See, here’s the deal:

This isn’t a great photo, but it was a bathtub and the shower curtain didn’t go all the way around. So did you have the gap in the front, where the shower head was, or the end, where the water would hit, you know? I was perplexed for a long time. Other people’s showers are always so confusing. New valves and levers and curtains and such to learn.

I put the gap where the showerhead was, but Mom was all, “NO NO! You were supposed to put it at the END!” but then she decided it was ok because the bathroom floor wasn’t soaked. Ha ha! Little did she know, it WAS all soaked the night I took the shower, but by the time she took one in the morning, it had EVAPORATED!

A sad thing is that I could NOT sleep in the very comfortable bed because it was not my bed and I was not used to it, and I am like the princess and the pea and didn’t have my fan, and I was a little too hot but afraid to open the window because there was no screen and what if moths got in? MOTHS. So I tossed and turned and then finally fell asleep right before it was time to wake up. As one does.

(Mom had a fan in her room, but that’s a whole story for later. You’ll like it. Wait and see.)

Then it was time for breakfast, and we were going to go to yoga until we realized the two of us brought NO appropriate yoga clothing, so instead I made Mom take photos of my favorite thing, which was HER CLOSET.

So the night before, I was going to grab Mom’s fan out of her closet, until we realized it would be very loud and it was late, because the closet door was very small, and the fan was very large.

Mom said, “how did they get that in there?” and I said, “THEY BUILT THE FARM AROUND THE FAAAAAN” and then we had the giggles.

So then of course I had to get IN the very narrow closet and pop out like a creeper.

Who’s this?

IS THERE SOMEONE IN THE CLOSET?

IT IS ME! (Mom was all, “oh, don’t put these on your blog, you are so crazy, you aren’t going to make fun of our nice Vermont stay, are you?” and I assured her I was not. I actually really loved the wee narrow but deep closet. If I had this wee closet I would hide in it all of the time. It was the best of closets.)

Mom and I also went to visit the country store in town and it had all the best things like syrup and sweaters and beer and stuffed moose. I was delighted.

Next was the thing I was looking forward to the most. What could that be, you are wondering?

GOATS!

Next door is Sweet Georgia P’s, which is the best of organic farms. There is honey and syrup and chickens and all the veggies and ALL THE MOST WONDERFUL GOATS!

These goats are not for eating. They are for milking and having babies and for the making of cheese. And also for being amazing and friendly. They were really the best sort of goats.

We got to go on a farm tour and at the end of it, there was goat-hanging-out time, which I’d been looking forward to all weekend.

At first I was sad, because no goats wanted to hang out with me. Don’t they know I’m the Goat Whisperer? I mean, I’ve already been the Helper Mule Whisperer and at one point I was the Duck Whisperer because I fed this huge flock of ducks some crackers and then they followed me around like a goddess and quack quack quacked at me and were the best. I can’t imagine I’m not the Goat Whisperer. But this goat didn’t want to hang out with me. None of them did. SO SAD.

But THEN! The goats realized I was the best at Goat Whispering and came to see me!

This goat was the first goat who wanted all the petting. Then another goat came and headbutted me on the OTHER side for MORE petting! I was surrounded by goats!

This was the other goat. She decided the buttons on Mom’s coat were delicious and tried to eat them. Mom was all, “no no, goat!” (This is the only photo of Mom from the weekend. She did not want to be bloggity. That’s ok. I don’t mind.)

The goat in the middle was eating the girl in the middle’s hair. She decided he thought it was straw. That made me giggle.

Then it was time for us to go home! We were tired and had a very grand adventure.

The GPS took us a completely different way home, and although it took the same amount of time, we were fairly sure it was trying to kill us. It took us through smaller and smaller towns that we’d never heard of and we were all “GPS WHAT IS HAPPENING” but eventually we came through the back way of Troy and were very confused as to why the GPS thought that was a good idea but were glad to be home.

Thank you, Amee Farm Lodge and Perfect Vermont and Sweet Georgia P’s, for a great weekend adventure! I can most heartily recommend if you are ever out their way, you stop by and visit. It is beautiful and quiet and smells nice and THERE ARE GOATS! You can sleep in very nice beds and go biking and hiking and visit the country store and take a break from all the things.

Time for some rest for me! Off to my bed limpingly I go! Thanks for coming along with me on our Vermont adventure!

 

 


Why zoos aren’t usually open in the winter in the northeast

Last month, The Nephew, his mom and I went to the science museum in Schenectady to see butterflies and a planetarium show and also play with huge Lego blocks and train sets. It was very much enjoyed by all parties and the minute it was done, The Nephew’s mom and I started talking about our next adventure, but weren’t sure what it would be.

She sent me a message on Facebook not long after I’d gotten home saying that The Nephew had already planned our next adventure.

Your nephew wants our next adventure to be at the zoo! I told him it’s too cold for a zoo in the winter so we can go in the spring or summer. He said with his infinite wisdom “Mom, the animals don’t just disappear in the winter. Take me to wherever they put the zoo animals when it’s cold. Maybe Aunt Amy will know.” Impossible to argue with that!

Well, I have to agree. How can you argue with that? So I began to research local zoos.

At first, I thought of the Binghamton Zoo, which used to be open year-round when I was a student. I know this because friend R. and I used to go there, and once went the day after an ice storm and were the only ones in the zoo and it was just the best. The animals were all frolicking just for us, and I got a puma to come out of its home by saying “rrawr?” and it said, “RAWR” and came out and we had a happy talk through the wire. He seemed very engaged. He was probably lonely. Or wanted to eat my face. Debatable, I suppose.

But the Binghamton Zoo is no longer open year-round, and a lot of other zoos nearby are also closed for the winter, so I started to despair until I found…

THE UTICA ZOO!

Open year-round and a mere 90 minutes away. We would see our animals in the wintertime after all! AUNT AMY WINS!

So we packed ourselves into the car, and an hour and a half later, we arrived at…

The Utica Zoo!

Driving through Utica makes me sad. It was a grand town, once, and now it’s kind of falling apart, and the buildings have a lot of broken windows and are filled with lost grandeur. You can see how beautiful it must have been, once, though. The buildings are beautiful and stately in that old-fashioned way, and look like they’re waiting for the next act…but the next act isn’t coming, I don’t think. I think the show’s been cancelled. And things like that hurt me. I love history. I don’t like when things are thrown away like that.

On the drive there, mostly The Nephew played Angry Birds and said, “Aunt Amy! Play this level, it’s easy!” but they were never easy, and then he would sigh like I exhausted him and he would say, “Oh, just give it to ME” and then he’d solve it in a second. (I’m terrible at Angry Birds. Those pigs are WAY wily.) He also is fascinated with family relationships. “Aunt Amy, who is your mom?” he’ll ask me, and I’ll say, “Your grammy is my mom!” and he’ll laugh and say, “Oh!” and then he’ll say “Aunt Amy, who is your dad?” and I’ll say “My dad is your grampy!” and he’ll laugh and say “Oh!” and then finally he’ll say “Aunt Amy, did you know my daddy’s mom and dad are my grammy and grampy?” and I’ll say, “Yes, did you know your dad is my brother?” and he’ll say “OH!” and this always cracks him up and he laughs. To REALLY make him laugh, I call his dad my LITTLE brother. “No! He is a grown-up MAN!” he’ll say, then giggle and giggle. I enjoy that kids don’t understand that once, the GROWN-UPS were ALSO kids. This makes me smile, to think that in a child’s mind, we’ve always been this age.

So there were a few signs when you first entered the zoo saying “paths may be icy.” We were all, “pooh pooh! How icy can they be?”

The answer is…glare-icy.

Apparently, in order to stay open all winter, they had to cut back on grounds maintenance. None of the pathways had been cleared at all. There was ice and snow and SO MUCH ICE ZOMG, and of course The Nephew tramped along it merrily (and fell once, but picked himself right back up like he’s made of rubber and kept-on a’runnin’.) At one point, the path just STOPPED, and we had to tromp through the snow, and The Nephew was all “well, now we are lost in the WOODS!” and he was sort of right. But then the path started again, sort of. It got so bad I purposely walked through the snow instead of on the path because the path was slipperytown. Bad news, Utica Zoo! I realize salt wasn’t probably a good idea with all those animals. But sand? Maybe? Or don’t be open? Because you are COURTING DEATH with those paths, you guys.

Other than the DEATH-ICE, and how cold it was (we all had windburned faces and chilly legs and hands when we were done) and the fact that about half of the animals were gone (I don’t know where…I guess wherever animals go when it’s cold? Vacation? Florida, like retirees? Just inside in the groundskeeper’s buildings? Anyone know?) it was kind of an awesome zoo. You know how much I love zoos. It would take a lot more than a little ice to put me in a terrible mood.

What’s that?

You want to see photos of our day at the zoo?

Ha, it’s like you don’t even know me. I took a MILLION photos of the zoo. The whole time, I told The Nephew’s mom, “This is for a MOST IMPRESSIVE BLOG I will be writing about this adventure!” and she said, “Of course you will!” She totally knows about the bloggery. Most of my people do. It doesn’t even shock them anymore.

Let’s go to the zoo!

First we had to go to the bathrooms, and outside the bathrooms, randomly, was this loose peacock. The Nephew was all “LOOK AT THAT!” and wanted to I think either pet or ride the peacock, but the peacock was having none of that and booked it away from us. (Isn’t it pretty? I’ve never seen one up close!)

Here’s The Nephew chasing it as it walked away. He really wanted a pet peacock.

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It was all, “listen, dude, I am JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU” and The Nephew was all, “No, seriously, come back, I will play “In Your Eyes” to you on a boom box! YOU COMPLETE ME!”

Then we saw some goats. I know some people who like goats. I took a lot of photos of these fellas.

This one looked like a genetic abnormality. Therefore he was my favorite.

There were none of those little feeding stations at this zoo. I hear rumors that they all had to be removed because hooligans were breaking into the zoo to steal the money in them. This goat didn’t get the memo. He wanted me to feed him. I had no food. Only Tic Tacs. I don’t think the goat wanted Tic Tacs.

This goat looks like he knows a secret. Do you think it’s the secret of why they didn’t put any sand on the paths so we almost died like a hundred times?

This goat was chewing on a log. I don’t know why, either. But it made me laugh. He was SO FOCUSED on this. He didn’t even look up. Look at his funny pupils! This is why I love goats. They have curious eyes.

I think this is the genetic abnormality goat again. I was a fan of his.

ZOMG GOAT! Stop with the log, already, people are going to think you have a complex!

Next was a thing I loved, and I think I need to get it on a teeshirt.

I BITE! And there was NOTHING IN THE CAGE! So it was totally scary for no reason. I like that it’s in ALL-CAPS.

But then the bitey thing came out. What do you think it was? A cougar? A wolverine?

Nope.

This stork-thing. I would think he pecks and pinches more than bites. Just to be safe, though, in case his beak was hiding sharp teeth, we didn’t poke him.

This is his wanted poster. I BITE, DAMMIT!

Yes, I know. That’s a lot of snow. We’re really mired in this neverending winter up here.

Thought you’d like to see some adorableness. Here’s The Nephew taking a photo-op in front of the children’s zoo. He has many layers on. We were chilly, yo.

Yeah, I know. Worst photo ever. See, my nice camera totally died almost immediately and I had to use my phone for the rest of the day. This is a zebra. He was really far away and to get to him, you had to cross TREACHEROUS ICE. So I decided to zoom in as far in as I could and call it a day. HI, ZEBRA! (He totally finds me fascinating. Look at him checking me out.)

This is a camel I decided to call Spicoli. He seems to be stoned, and really laid-back. I think he would call you “dude” a lot and laugh inappropriately. Look, he totally has hay in his hair and he doesn’t even CARE. And he looks like he’s grinning at NOTHING. (Also, apparently in the winter, this kind of camel grows a lot of dreadlocks, and their humps droop randomly to one side or another. Just makes them look more like stoner-camels to me.)

This was some sort of peacock with a huge lacy tail. There was no sign on this exhibit so I can’t even tell you what kind. I liked how fancy it was. This peacock would ALWAYS get invited to the dance.

MERKA!

The Nephew didn’t see this eagle at first, then when he did, he was kind of tired, and said “That doesn’t even LOOK like an eagle” and I said, “No? What does it look like?” and he sighed and said, “A big bird with a yellow beak.” But later when we asked him what his favorite animal was, he said the eagle.

Oh, pretend there’s a photo of a sea lion here. They wouldn’t stay out of the water long enough for us to photograph them, but they were very cool. One popped up long enough to kind of clap his flippers at us, then disappeared again. I do so like sea lions.

Why does every zoo have Cotton-Topped Tamarins? These things freak me out, man. Where’s that stoner camel. He’d calm me down. I think he has something that’ll help me out with that.

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Snakes! This one’s pretty. I think it was a corn snake.

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I don’t remember what kind of snake this is, but the photo turned out well. Sometimes that happens.

These were gigantic pythons, and they would most definitely eat you and digest you. I even like snakes but I’m glad they were safely behind glass.

The website said there would be so many turtles and tortoises, and there was only this one. This is for Heather. She is my tortoise-friend and she said I would love this guy the most of all the turtles and tortoises. She was right, considering he was the only one. Sadly, this is not a very good photo. Good grief, why is it so RED? Sorry, Heather.

It is very hard to see, but up in the upper left-hand corner of this one is a beautiful owl. I love owls. I went “hoo! Hoo!” to him but he was all “I’m napping, lady, sheesh.”

This is not a helper mule, as much as I’d like it to be. This was just a donkey. He was pretty cute, though.

This was a HUGE Flemish rabbit. The sign says they can grow to 28 pounds. I was all “The Nephew! Come see this huge rabbit!” and he came over and said, “Aunt AMY, that rabbit isn’t that huge. He’s just really fat. I think he eats too much food” and that made me and The Nephew’s Mom giggle.

Look at this guy. He’s GORGEOUS. I sincerely want an owl. On the way home, we saw two hawks, too. It was a raptor-bird kind of day.

Look! He looked at us! He wanted to be our friend!

It’s hard to tell, because he’s very blending-into-the-landscapey, but this is a beautiful lynx. He watched us the whole time but not in a scary way. In a “bring me home!” way. The Nephew said I could bring him home, and he PROBABLY wouldn’t eat Dumbcat. I like them odds.

I saved the best for last. What do you think is best?

What’s that? You can’t see them very well? I CAN FIX THAT!

LIONS!

At first, The Nephew said, “I don’t think I want to see lions…” in a scared little voice, but then he realized they wouldn’t eat us and he was cool with the lions. This one was pacing the whole time we were standing by it. He wanted to eat our whole faces. I loved him.

I’m going to be obnoxious and show you a lot of photos of this lion. He was my best fella.

Isn’t he so PRETTY? I do love big cats.

And you know what you have to do when you’re around the lions.

You HAVE to make a lion face! (Those lions don’t even care.)

Then we discovered one of my favorite things at zoos…

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One of these “you are an animal” face-thingies! First The Nephew was a lion. You can also see Aunt Amy behind him holding him up so he didn’t fall on the little teeny-tiny piece of wood he was standing on in order to be a lion. I especially like the paws on this thing. Very realistic.

I am a scary lion! This is totally my Facebook cover photo right now, yo. This is like the best thing ever. RAWR I AM A SCARY LION (who is also holding a Utica Zoo sign, for some reason!)

Then we were cold and tired, so we hoofed it to the gift shop and The Nephew decided he wanted a scary lion thing that bit things and grabbed things but we convinced him that really he wanted a spelunker’s hat with a VERY cool flashlight built in (when I told him the word “spelunker” he repeated it and giggled – this kid LOVES learning, it is so good for my heart) and I got a NEW FRIEND!

His name is Trent. He is a very brave tortoise, and not at all afraid of Dumbcat. (Right after this photo was taken, Dumbcat randomly started purring and headbutted poor Trent right onto the floor. Oh, Dumbcat. That’s no way to treat your new housemate!) Don’t even mock my warm flannel PJs, yo. It’s going to be NINE DEGREES tonight. Where is my spring?!?!)

Then we all went to a diner and The Nephew had pancakes and french fries (which was an awesome combination, I thought) and I helped him clean up some spilled milk and I told him I was helping him because I loved him all the way to the moon and back, and he said “I love you TWO TIMES that!” and I kissed him on his little head because that made me have tears. Oh, do I love that child.

Then it was time to go home, and tonight I am ouchy from walking and ouchy from windburny but we had a lovely day. But I would recommend that you probably don’t go to a zoo in the winter that DOESN’T upkeep their paths, though. Total liability. Otherwise? Good times had at the zoo by all. Including the animals. They were probably so sad to see us go. We’re excellent zoo visitors. No one was as happy as we were. We won zooing!


The wages of bloggery = ADVENTURE!

Howdy, blogosphere. Are we good? Good, good. Is it spring yet? No? Dammit.

I have a story! No, seriously, I totally do.

So sometimes, as a VERY IMPORTANT BLOGGER* (*not at all important) I get emails offering me things from companies who want me to blog about them. I’ve been offered sunglasses (which are useless to me, as I wear glasses); bumper stickers (I don’t care for bumper stickers, I feel they’re the lazy man’s way of shouting while driving); sex toys (I don’t even); and business cards (for a while there, people were giving business cards away to bloggers, and I just didn’t – and still don’t – understand who I would give those to, unless I went to a blogging convention of some sort.)

Problem is, other than the fact I didn’t really WANT any of these things (well, let’s be honest, I was curious about the sex toys, if only to make fun of them on the blog) is that in order to GET them, you had to SHILL them. You had to put an ad for them up on the sidebar of your blog, and you weren’t reviewing them, but advertising them. Totally against the terms of service of WordPress. We’re not here to be advertisers. (Try to tell that to all the spammy blogs out there that never get shut down, somehow…but technically, that’s a big old no-no.)

Now, we ARE allowed to accept things to fairly and honestly review them. Books, for example. You know how book bloggers write “I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review?” That’s totally allowed. Still not allowed to put an ad on your blog for them (at least, I don’t think you are…or maybe that’s just if you’re running WordAds, which I am, because I sure do like making pennies a month with those suckers…PENNIES a MONTH, baby!) but you’re totally not violating any rules by honestly reviewing something that was gifted to you.

Thing is, I’ve never been offered anything but books, so it was kind of a moot point, really.

UNTIL A FEW WEEKS AGO!

I got what I thought was possibly a spam email (I get a lot of those on here) offering me what seemed to be something TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. So I asked a billion questions, because I don’t like to be fooled. And come to find out…IT WAS A REAL THING!

Guess what I get to do in April?

GO ON A TRIP OUT OF STATE AND STAY IN THE MOUNTAINS FOR FREEEEEEE!

Probably won’t be staying here, but let me pretend I will be for a couple of months, ok?

Nope, totally not even spammy, you guys, I’m like a big deal or something!

OK, so the email offered me a stay in Vermont in a farmhouse so they could get more exposure for this new outdoorsy program they were running there (hiking, cross-country skiing, yoga, snowshoeing, etc.)

I immediately thought, “Oh, this is like the time Dad got roped into going to a timeshare presentation when I was a kid and we went to Florida, and we had to sit in this room and listen to this man talk at us for like four hours, and we were SO BORED, and Dad was SO ANGRY that he was tricked like that.”

So I asked this nice lady a billion questions, like, “Do I have to snowshoe, or can I just stay in the room, maybe?” and “Is this like the time I had to sit through a timeshare pitch? That would make me so mad” and “Wait, HOW in the mountains are you. You have, like, TVs and wifi and bathrooms that are indoors, right?” and “You do know I’m not, like, a SERIOUS blogger, right?” and “Is this a scam? Come on. You can tell me.”

Luckily, she did not think I was crazy, and she wrote back to me answering all my questions in a “you’re not at all crazy, blogger lady” manner, with links to the site, and where I would be staying, and an actual itinerary and dates I could stay and everything. And…even BETTER…I could bring a GUEST! Now, who do I know that loves outdoorsy things, doesn’t care if I act like a loon, and likes to have adventures?

You know I'M not going to do this. I had to find SOMEONE who might.

You know I’M not going to do this. I had to find SOMEONE who might.

You think no one, don’t you? Who do I know that likes the outdoors? And you’d be all, “NO ONE,” and you’d be CLOSE to right, but you’re overlooking ONE PERSON and that person is MOM!

Mom was VERY EXCITED when I invited her on a Vermont adventure and she only asked if we were going to be killed or asked to listen to a timeshare presentation about ten times. (Listen, we’ve all been quite scarred by this timeshare presentation situation. It was a very monumental point in our communal past as a family.) I told her she would have to do all the outdoorsy things (because the woman who emailed me was all, “um, we’d LIKE if you at least TRIED some outdoorsy things?”) and I could do the other things like eating and sleeping and maybe yoga and then Mom was all “I want to yoga!” so that’ll be a fun thing. Also there’s a masseuse, but Mom and I hate being touched, so we’re undecided about the masseuse. “Do you think I can leave all my clothes on for the masseuse, and ask him or her to please not touch my feet?” I asked Mom. “They’re going to kick us out of this place,” she laughed.

And and AND, guess what ELSE there is?

A FARM TOUR!

YOU CAN TOUCH GOATS!

Goats!!!!1!

Goats!!!!1!

Oh, you know I’m all over this goat thing. Goats are the best. Mom thinks they look like demons and make all the poop but I told her she had to be nice to the goats because goats are my buddies and she said FINE but she wasn’t going to TOUCH the goats and I was like “good, you can take pictures of me touching goats and also BEING a goat and making GOAT HORNS with my FINGERS” and she said she would.

I also told her we should put her photo on the blog and she was like NO NO NO but in a kind of curious way so I think we could work on her about this. “They don’t want to see ME!” she said and I was like, “Oh, sure they would” and it’s not like Dad and his “THAT’S HOW THEY GET YOU!” thing about having his photo on the interwebs so I think maybe we might be seeing Amy’s Mom! Won’t that be fun? Sure it will! (Amy’s Mom looks like Amy only thin. I’m completely serious about this. Genetics can be cruel.)

Dad was all, “WHY WOULD YOU BRING YOUR MOTHER” and I think he was jealous I didn’t ask him and I was like, “Old man, you hate hotels, and also outdoorsy forced cheer, and you would never do yoga and you would be all complainy. Mom and I are going to have an ADVENTURE” and he was like “GRUMP GRUMP GRUMBLE GRUMP.” Aw, Dad. Feelin’ all left out.

So! Yes! Mom and I are having an adventure in the spring, and we are MUCH EXCITED! So stay tuned, my little tater tots. Will I get eaten by a yeti? Will I get to pet all the goats, or just a few of them? Will I really hike, or just nap in the room? SO MANY QUESTIONS! SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!

You know I'll have an adventure here. Or maybe get up to shenanigans. Or both.

You know I’ll have an adventure here. Or maybe get up to shenanigans. Or both.


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