He knows.

Pay no attention to the freakish old elf giving you the side eye. May all your days be merry and bright!

Peace and Love from Upstate Oddities

I Know Why the Caged Cow Moos

The caged cow moos with an anguished moan
of the things unknown on a faraway farm,

and her tune is heard in the distant barn
for the caged cow moos for milking.

with apologies to Maya Angelou :-)

What's cookin'?

I've always been amazed by imaginative uses for obsolete objects. Like this marvelous melding of a vintage fridge with a classic car seat. Surely this is coolest couch you'd ever want to plant your tush on, is it not? (source)

Or how about grandpa's suitcases put to use as a bedroom bureau?
Old-timey chicness!  (source)

Since I'm forever stumbling across dusty old discards in these even older mountains, I can't help but imagine a second life for them. This sweet stove must have roasted tons of turkey in days gone by...

...and most certainly the last of its pie-baking days are over. But why consign it to the garage of misfit appliances? Its sad little face is just begging for another shot at being loved - I say repurpose it!

What would you cook up and create?

Happy Thanksgiving to you all...and thank you for popping in at Upstate Oddities!

Mistaken Identities

I really need to wear my glasses more often. While I was coming out of the Phoenicia Pharmacy, I saw my boyfriend, John, in his familiar gray hoodie reading the menu of Sweet Sue's with his back to me. I went in for the tush squeeze (really, who could resist?) only to startle a man who was distinctly NOT John. Same gray hoodie, same body type, but once he turned around, clearly Asian...and clearly shocked. Mortified, I saw John way down the block, standing behind what I thought was my Honda Element. Again, another mistaken identity. I have a few bumper stickers on my car, but not this degree of sticker shock!

We spent a few minutes reading them all, while I contemplated never showing my face in Phoenicia again.
Yes, that's me (in glasses!) being reflected alongside John, sans his hoodie.

Magical Mystery Spot

Halloween is fast approaching and all the little ghouls and goblins will be out and about, demanding a sugar fix...all of them except this little imp, frozen in time in a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. Journey with her into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.

There's a signpost up ahead!

Your next stop - Homer & Langley's Mystery Spot!

What wonders await? Follow me inside, won't you, after the jump!

We'll leave the light on!

My last post led to the Burroughs Memorial in Rochester Hollow. For those who would like to spend the night in the area, I highly recommend this five-star accommodation found farther up the trail. No reservations are needed and there's always a vacancy, or at least a little corner to oneself.

This lean-to is the ultimate in camping comfort, hence the high rating (suck it, Plaza!) It's solidly built and the three walls are well-insulated.

There's a stone fire pit at the entrance...

and plenty of firewood.

A frying pan and spatula are included in your visit...

as well as a broom for cleaning up (or to serve as a pretend dance partner).

There are hooks for hanging your soggy clothes and shelves for storing your gear. On one shelf I found an EEKtm (Emergency Environment Kit) stuffed into a Tropicana bottle.

Let's open it, shall we? An array of its contents reveal...

-emery boards and nail clippers, because no one likes a messy manicure on the trail.
-needle and thread for when you have to sew up a gaping wound (C'mon, that's what  they always do in the movies!)
-a toothbrush (I'll take my chances with a twig, thank you very much)
-a Vicks inhaler (the ragweed count is pretty high right now)
-Chapstick (I'll pass on this, too)
-a dime (a coin toss is the only fair way to determine who gets the primo sleeping  location)
-a panoply of lighters
-a pencil for crossword puzzles & a pen if you're really good at them.
-plastic baggies
-dress socks, for that rare, but impromptu job interview in the forest.

I stuffed a surprise in the bottle...but I'm not sayin'! You'll have to find it yourself.

And lastly, but in NO WAY least (amirite, ladies?) is an outhouse!

And what an outhouse it is! It's HUGE! And CLEAN! And handicap-equipped! (I wish my dog would stop being such a camera hog. Jeez!)

In fact, disabled persons are permitted to use an ATV throughout all of these trails. How wonderful is that?! Seriously, this is the best lean-to I've ever come across in the Catskills. I wouldn't be surprised to find a mint on my bedroll in the morning.

Mother Nature's Son

On a rainy hike through Rochester Hollow this past weekend, my dog led us to a trailside oddity.

This large, weathered memorial commemorates the life of Catskills naturalist and essayist John Burroughs, one of America's little-known fathers of conservation.

I just love the idea behind this memorial! The land surrounding it had been an abandoned farm site that eventually became the property of New York State. Shortly after Burroughs' death in 1921, the boys of the Raymond Riordon School (way to go, boys!) reforested the land with white pine and Norwegian spruce. This lovely monument, flanked by circular stone walls, was placed amidst the newly planted trees. A perfect spot for a picnic, is it not?

The monument itself, although a tad crumbly, is still quite beautiful with its art nouveau embellishments and simple, forest-green lettering against a snowy field.

I found a fragment in the fallen leaves.

I believe it belongs here:

I wish the DEC would complete the rest of the puzzle and put it all back together again. There is another memorial to John Burroughs that I've visited before - a plaque on an upper ledge of Slide Mountain. Someday, I'd like to visit his childhood home in Roxbury, affectionately called Woodchuck Lodge and his Adirondack style home in West Park, curiously dubbed Slabsides. (I was wondering what that odd word on the monument referred to!) But until then, I'll leave you with a Burroughs quote:

"Each of you has the whole wealth of the universe at your very door."

So what are you waiting for? Open the door and take a hike!

Exchange Fate

As I was driving down a country road, this automotive behemoth caught my fancy.

From its groovy old grill (no, that is not blood on the fender!)...

...to the back of its space-age blinkers, this must have been a fine truck in its day.

Judging by the telephone exchange, that day was long ago.

If you were born before the Beatles played at Shea Stadium, I'm sure you remember the old exchanges that defined our neighborhoods. Mine was FL for FLoral. Isn't that lovely? How about BUtterfield-8? Can you imagine Liz Taylor winning an Oscar for 288? How boring! As the population grew throughout the 60s and 70s, Ma Bell switched to a strictly numerical system, that alas, took away the sense of place that came with making a phone call.

There's a wonderful website, The Telephone EXchange Name Project, that has a searchable database of exchanges. You can also add and share memories of your own exchange. I've added mine. Perhaps the holder of HA1-4755 will include his, as well.

School's open...

...so drive carefully and steer clear of any mutant children.

Upstate Oddities wishes all the students out there (mutant and otherwise) a happy & healthy school year!

After the flood.

My heart goes out to all the people of the Catskills coping with the destruction and loss that Irene left in her wake.

All aboard!

Train travel has always fascinated me. There is something both sinister and sensuous about it - the steam and whistles, the changing landscape whizzing by your window, the strangers on a train. Railroads bring to mind hobos and industry, romance and mystery. And while this is not exactly the Orient Express...

..."The Curious Case of the Caboose in the Copse" is a mystery, nonetheless, and one worthy of Hercule Poirot's sleuthing skills.

An examination of clues reveal the tracks to extend only as far as the length of the car, so we can deduce it's not a runaway train or a loose caboose.

It's been sitting here for some time, as indicated by this rusty wheel, ladder and connecting hitch.

A few yards away, the rather suspicious and alarmed-looking cooktop of a wood-burning stove was found. He remained silent during my interrogation.

The only accessible windows for viewing the interior have been boarded up and the door has been padlocked. What secrets lie beyond? A table for two is the only indication of recent use...

...as well as a two-wheeled means of transport hidden beneath. Someone's been coming here. Do they own this old caboose? I would love to know who....and how they came about it.

The Oil Creek & Titusville line harkens back to 1862. In 1859, when oil was successfully drilled (for the first time in the world!) near Titusville, Pennsylvania, the closest railroad was 27 miles away. The OC&T line was completed to fill that transportation need. Under a series of mergers, it became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad by 1900, then eaten up by Conrail in the late 1960s. In 1986, The Oil Creek Railway Society formed and acquired the remaining original cars in order to preserve the line. 

Today, the 17 mile long Oil Creek & Titusville line operates as a seasonal tourist venue, complete with scenic train trips through the historic Oil Creek Valley, murder/mystery dinner excursions and overnight lodging in refitted stationary cabooses. But that still doesn't answer the question of how one of those cabooses ended up in the Catskills! Hercule? Miss Marple? Anyone?

Mamma's Head

Drive down any road in the Catskills, and you are likely to spy with your little eye an abandoned, rotting abode hidden in the overgrowth. I always find them eerily beautiful, beckoning me to visit.

So why don't you spritz on some bugspray and come a little closer with me?

And closer still...

Don't be afraid. Let's cross the threshold together...

In the midst of it all, nature has come to reclaim her domain.

There's plenty of time to explore...

...and to read!

But what's this, I wonder? Let's have a look-see...


Alrighty then...I think that's enough exploring for the day.