Roamin' the Back Roads of Schoharie County

Friday, October 27, 2017
As you know from previous posts, Schoharie county holds a special place in my heart.  I talked about my history with Schoharie county in my previous post, Discovering Treasure Under the Nose.  In the past two months, we've enjoyed the scenery of Schoharie county four different times.  Two of those times were solely for the pleasure of driving the dirt roads and enjoying the view.  If you hate the country and get bored with old barns and dirt's your time to walk away.  Even my mom recently said, 'after a while, barns get old'.   Not to me!!  Even the oldest barns make my heart skip a beat!   On one of these trips, I learned a valuable lesson and I'll share that lesson here today.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the view as we explore the dusty, dirt roads of beautiful Schoharie county.

It's not unusual for us to pull off onto the shoulder of a dirt road to take a photo.  As you can see, the photos are often of a barn, or a home, or a farm animal.  It's obvious to me that the reason I'm capturing this scene, freezing it in time, is because I'm drawn to whatever the subject is. It's because I love whatever it is.   Well, for the first time recently, a property owner took offense to my fascination.
When I see a barn like this one, I'm immediately captivated.  I imagine all the stories these walls could tell, the stories that live on in the memories of the family members who experienced life here on this farm.....clearly a life lived many years ago.  The barn is in a sad state of existence today, but still standing compared to the other buildings that joined it on this family estate.  As we were stopped and I was shooting photos, an elderly lady drove up to our car and stopped right alongside of us, her window wide open.  Obviously not the least bit afraid of who she might be approaching, this feisty little woman told us in no uncertain terms that she knew we were 'marketing' her property like others had before us.  I tried as hard as I could to sweetly tell her that I LOVED her property and that I photograph old barns and write a blog.  'BS', she responded. Duh.... she had no idea what a blog was, I should have realized that before the words escaped my mouth.  When I asked her how old her farm was, after a long silence she replied, 'why do you care'?   She never did answer me.  There was no fear and no sign of weakness in this proud gal.  She had no intention of  backing away or backing down.  She was standing up for her beloved property, no matter what.  It was clear I was not going to convince her of anything, so we drove on.
As I thought about her later when I uploaded the photos, I realized that this was a proud woman, a woman whose entire life was probably spent on this once pristine farm.  I suppose that now, embarrassed by the state it has fallen into, not unlike her own physical state, this independent woman felt we were making a mockery of the place she still proudly calls home.  No wonder she was angry.  I felt sad for several days after this incident that I'd upset her.  I wished I could go back and bring her flowers and show her my blog so she'd see my passion for old farms.   After speaking to a friend from Schoharie though, I learned more about this woman and learned that those attempts would be fruitless.  Still, I long to sit with her and hear her story.

Not every barn I photograph is old or beyond its heyday, some are pristine and alive.  I love them all equally.  If I've photographed your barn or that of a friend, please know that I'm not mocking it, I'm memorializing it.  I fantasize about days gone by and the stories those barn walls could tell.

 Look at the difference a few weeks can make in the foliage....

Can you see why I love Schoharie County?   If you own a smart phone, you have no excuse for not getting off the main roads and exploring!  The map apps show where you are and help you navigate back to main roads.  All you need to do is ask for directions 'home' and the app will guide you back to civilization.  As you might imagine, this is only a fraction of the photos I took on four trips.  Maybe I'll share the rest in a second installment.........In the meantime, take time today to enjoy your view!
If I've photographed your farm...thanks for sharing it with me.  If I photographed the farm of a friend, please share this with them!  If you enjoy this post and want to see more like it, consider subscribing to this blog.  Each post will be delivered directly to your email. Click Here to Subscribe

What Are You Collecting? Is It Enhancing Your Life or Weighing You Down?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What are you collecting?  In years past, people collected stamps and coins.  Some collected record albums, comic books, antiques, old cars.  We might not even realize we are collecting, we might just think of it as 'acquiring'.  Not everything we collect leads to contentment or joy though.  Some of the things we collect actually lead us to the opposite and can be quite detrimental to our well being.  Let me explain.

I came across this scene on one of our recent trips to Montgomery County near one of the Amish  farms there.  Not sure of why they'd have a bunch of rocks in the field, we surmised that perhaps they'd collected them from their crop fields and left them in this corral.  Maybe not, but it was all we could think of.  As I looked at the photo today, it reminded me of some things we are all guilty of collecting at times.  The first thing that comes to mind is how we tend to set aside, and not discard, the times people have hurt us.  We may say we've forgiven, or forgotten, but how many times have we really just shelved that hurt, and set it off to the side for the moment.  What about the things people have said to us that we took offense to?  We may not have even called them out on it, but again, we tuck the incident aside.... out of mind but not forgotten.  Then there are the things we did for people that we didn't really want to do but did anyway and somewhere deep down inside of us we're holding just a tiny bit of resentment that maybe they didn't appreciate or adequately reciprocate that sacrifice.  We just tuck that aside too.  The list could go on and on.
I think sometimes in life, especially when we're feeling down, we have a habit of taking inventory of all these things, reliving injustices we've experienced, hurts we've felt, times we were wronged and somehow in that moment we feel justified for our miserable state of mind.  Sometimes it's easier to be angry than it is to let go, easier to hang on to excuses that justify our emotions.  Before long, we're left with a giant pile of hurts, injustices, and bad memories.  Like this pile of rocks, our pile weighs us down.  It gets in the way of us cultivating positive emotions and positive relationships.  Like this pile of rocks, our pile builds walls.  At times we feel justified in building walls, because we believe those walls will protect us from further hurt and betrayals, misunderstandings and pain.  Maybe it does, but it also isolates us from opening ourselves up to people who might not hurt or misunderstand us.  When we close ourselves off, we barricade ourselves within that cell of pain and disappointment.  We focus on the rocks that bruised us and we let those bruises blind us and prevent us from seeing beyond those isolated circumstances.  We convince ourselves that people purposely set out to hurt us, when in reality, some of the time we too hurt people, even though unintentionally.  It's not surprising that in our fast talking, emailing, texting world, we don't hurt people daily without intending to.  But.....when someone hurts feels bad and it feels intentional.  With each hurt, each sarcastic comment, each misunderstanding or disappointment, our pile grows and gets heavier and more effective in insulating us from not just the hurts, but also from the blessings of others.

We need to scatter our rocks and discard the gravel they've left in our wounds.  We need to let go of our secret stash of hurts and resentments and stop letting them be obstacles in building new trusting relationships.  Our mountain of injustices, our collection, brings no joy and serves no purpose.  We need to mindfully and faithfully stop this unhealthy hoard.  We need to start today.   What are you collecting that isn't bringing you joy?  What are you ready to let go of in order to embrace peace?  Sometimes the war we feel we're in isn't between ourselves and others, it's within of our own emotions.  As soon as you release what's weighing you down, you'll have hands and heart free to embrace your blessings and fresh eyes to see the goodness in others.
Don't let your story be how many hurts you've endured, but how many times you opened your hearts to others in spite of the scars you've endured and overcome.  Share this with someone you know who's burdened by something unhealthy.  Remind them you care!

Discovering a Treasure Right 'Under the Nose'

Sunday, October 22, 2017
Have you ever noticed that sometimes the best things in life are found in places already known to us, places we've visited often, and in things and experiences we may take for granted?   That is definitely the case with the subject of today's post!  I've been visiting Schoharie County for over 40 years.  My dad's job took him on the road so he knew where beauty could be found, and although he'd never say it that way, he knew where to take my mom for a drive.  He took my kids to Gilboa to the Blenheim Power Plant when they were little and an old, now deceased, family friend once owned the Blenheim House.  My maternal grandfather hunted in Schoharie County and my grandmother thought that going to Shaul's for produce was equivalent to dying and going to heaven.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably know we love the Apple Barrel and Schoharie Valley Farm, and recently have figured out that Schoharie boasts some of the most beautiful farm scenery anywhere.  So with such history of visits to Schoharie, you'd think I'd be pretty aware of all the great stuff there......but you'd be wrong.  I recently discovered quite the treasure in Schoharie County, in Middleburgh and it is right 'Under the Nose'.

Quite the play on words, right?  Under the Nose is the most amazing shop that is located right at the trailhead of Vroman's Nose, the rock formation pictured above, a popular hiking destination. For more information on Vroman's Nose follow this link: Vroman's Nose Link

The brainchild of Lin and Tom Quinn after their printing business was damaged during the Schoharie flooding of Hurricane Irene, Under the Nose is like opening a box wrapped in brown paper, which holds the most exquisite treasures.  Obviously the wrapper on Under the Nose is way more beautiful than brown paper...nestled at the base of a mountainside, this pristine package was built by Tom, himself!  Open for about 3 years now, Under the Nose began as a gift shop, but not just any gift shop.  Lin didn't want her shop to be a typical souvenir shop, and we all know that being located at a popular tourist attraction could have led to that.  No, Lin wanted her shop to offer quality artisan wares.  She didn't want duplication among her artists, but instead wanted a beautiful variety of quality merchandise that would appeal to the masses and provide tourists with gifts from every price range.  Lin and Tom's talents are also featured in the shop.  Lin, an artist and writer, features her pottery, her cards and her recent children's book, "1 Silly Cow".  Tom makes fudge - in numerous flavors, as well as scones and 'boogers'.  I can't tell you about them just yet....but stick with me till the end and I will!  First though, c'mon inside and have a look around......

And that's just the front part of the store!!!   Among Lin's vendors are quilters, wood carvers, painters, a photographer, and so much fact about 15-20 all together, all bringing together a wealth of talent and the most unique and high quality selection of merchandise for any shopper's delight.  Ready for more?   Here's the back room....
The quilted pieces were to die for!!!

Lin's eye for the novel and fun is evident in her popular and whimsical clay characters.  Her 'people' are reserved and sold quickly and it's easy to see why.

Here's a process....just waiting for their final details before they 'come alive' and go to their forever homes.

These bundles were so cute.  Secured by an elastic and button, once unrolled several pockets held crayons ready to amuse any lucky child while away from home!  Yes, I bought one for my granddaughter.  This vendor, Millions of Stitches, also had pencil bags in bright, cheery prints filled with colored pencils, as well as make-up bags, purses and much more!

Beautiful baskets by Beverly Cornelius!

Of course, what every hiker wants after a long hike is nourishment and Lin and Tom have thoughtfully considered that too.  From Lin's special cracked egg salad, to chili, to macaroni & cheese, to hot dogs... each paired with a side and a beverage for under $10, the hungriest hiker will be satiated in no time.  I had the egg salad on a wrap, along with Lin's fancy Harvest Slaw with apples and cranberries.  John had Mac & Cheese topped with chili, diced onions and melted cheese and Harvest Slaw.  Both were super fresh and delicious!

 Don't forget to save room for dessert.  Of course you could play it simple with a cookie or fudge, but the specialty at Under the Nose is Lin's ice cream sandwich.  Made with two of her giant cookies and vanilla or chocolate ice cream, you'll either want to save room for this delight or share with a friend.  We shared one made with a chocolate crinkle cookie on top and chocolate chip cookie on the bottom with vanilla ice cream.  Maybe had we hiked I may have felt less guilty but my-oh-my, it was deliciously sinful.  My guilt passed quickly and yours will too.  ;)
We headed back to Under the Nose the next day with my mom because Tom's specialty is only made on the weekends.  Although I'm sure he'd rather be known for his scones and fudge (which is also sold at Schoharie Valley Farms and Terrace Mountain Orchard), I knew our Elena would be amused by Tom's "Boogers".  On our first visit I spotted this t-shirt:
Naturally, my interest was piqued!  When I asked Lin what the story was behind this, she explained that they thought it would be fun to have a funny treat to go along with their location under Vroman's Nose. So what is more appropriate (or inappropriate) than a booger, right?   So Tom and Lin put their heads together to invent a 'booger'.
Green, sticky and a little goey, once you stop thinking of them as boogers....they're delicious!
You can imagine the look on Elena's face when I asked her last night if she wanted to try a booger for snack!  The mix of a smirk and a healthy helping of doubt.... I think a part of her knew I was joking, but part of her sincerely thought I'd lost my mind... for real!  If you have kids in your family, I guarantee these boogers will be a hit!  By the way, she loved it.

 We also picked up a copy of Lin's book, 1 Silly Cow, a cute counting book featuring one silly cow, some friends and beautiful photographs (by Deb Bechtold) of Schoharie County.  It's also available on Amazon, but since you'll want to visit Under the Nose, you can pick up your copy there!
Lin Quinn, artist and writer and Jill of many trades!

There's so much to love about Under the Nose....the beautiful gifts, the delicious food, Lin and Tom's warm hospitality and the spectacular Schoharie Valley.  Don't be like me and assume you knew all the good places to visit....turn off the main drag and head on down Mill Valley Road and visit soon.  You'll be glad you did.   Check out their website and Facebook page for more information.  Under the Nose is open Thursday-Sunday until Christmas from 9:00-6:00.
Thanks for reading Life As I See It.  If this is your first visit, check out my Directory (click here) to read more stories like this one featuring the beautiful Upstate NY, with several posts on Schoharie County and consider subscribing to receive my posts in your email.  To subscribe, enter your email Here.     And don't forget to share this with someone you know by using the social media links just below and have a great day!
p.s. For any of you who are under the notion I make money blogging, nothing could be further from the truth.  These blogging visits cost me a small fortune but meeting so many great people and having the opportunity to share their stories is worth every dime.  And it keeps me out of bigger trouble ;)  I blog for fun, not income. Unlike most bloggers I do not advertise. The businesses I feature are businesses I personally support and want to share with my readers.  I don't blog on request.
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