Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Got Gas Gripes?

We live in suburban Rochester, New York and, along with some of the highest property taxes in the nation, we also suffer from incredibly high gas taxes and therefore, gas prices. The cheapest gas near our home is at BJ's Wholesale Club, which was 2.939 yesterday. Name brand stations in our area are at about 3.079.

The interesting thing is that in Henrietta, New York, about eight to 10 miles away, gas prices average about a dime cheaper. I needed gas this morning and decided to drive to the BJ's in Henrietta and be there when it opened at 6:30 am. Their gas signs showed $2.869, a full 7 cents cheaper. This is because of what the gasoline industry calls segmented pricing where they can charge more in areas considered more affluent because the average driver won't  (or doesn't have the time or luxury to) drive out of the way to get cheaper gas.

So I showed up at BJ's Henrietta at 6:24 am and was the first in line, feeling fairly clever. The station opened at 6:30 am. Other people pulled up behind me. And we waited. The people behind me left. I waited. Other people arrived and we waited. The station remained closed and the cones firmly in place, keeping us away from the pumps.

At 6:40 I finally gave up and went to another station a block away. I paid 2.959 but with the station's credit card, get a 5 cent a gallon discount. So it wasn't as good as $2.869 but still better than the $2.939 at the cheapest closer station.

As I drove home, I passed another station, again a block away, where gasoline (without a car wash and on credit) was $2.889. Argh.

Not only are all the gas prices continuing to creep up, nicking deeper and deeper into our wallets but then the regional segmented pricing further adds to the insult by charging us for not planning ahead so we can be within quick driving distance of the cheap gas when we need it.

And WHY are gas prices continuing to go up? Even the explosion of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico didn't affect the prices so what is behind the creeping prices? The onset of nice weather? Last year we were paying just over $2.00 a gallon.

We've also noticed that whenever we leave the greater Rochester area, gas prices even in other parts of New York state are lower. The taxes added to gas prices in our immediate county provide plenty of motivation to gas up anywhere but here.

Seriously, it makes no sense. Remember the days of 25 cent gas? I do and it wasn't that long ago. Sob.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Walk in the Park

The schoolkids around here are on break this week so Johnnie is off work as well. We had tried to find inexpensive flights to Ireland to return to the beautiful Irish cottage we've rented near Doolin in County Clare for our third visit. The prices just weren't in line with what we could spend so we opted to stay home. And in light of the Eyjafjallajokull* glacier/volcano eruption in Iceland and the ensuing flight problems in Great Britain and Europe, we likely wouldn't have been able to go anyway. We've chalked it up to everything happens for a reason.

*Isn't that a great word? Pronounced:  EY-ya-fyat-lah-YOH-kuht

So John has gone with our friend Bridget, their Giant Schnauzer Stuka and me for walks this week. The first walk on Monday was one of our rather pedestrian walks on an old trolley car bed - flat and not very inspiring for about 3.1 miles. Yesterday we met at a local park in the afternoon and hiked to see a daffodil meadow. Much more interesting and still relatively flat with a few mounds to skirt around. Again, about 3 miles but lots of stopping and literally smelling the flowers.

Today we went to another trail, much steeper, lots of hills and decently marked areas for walking.  We only logged about 2.9 miles but most of it was quite aerobic with long stretches climbing up and down the glacier-created fissures. John is nursing our forever cold this week so he was whipped by the time we finished.

Our weather has been so incredibly warm and dry (both things Rochester is not known for any time of the year but especially in the spring) that all the flowers and trees are two to three weeks ahead of their normal budding and blooming schedule. And as a big bonus, the mosquitoes have little standing water in which to hatch their hordes of biting progeny so it's an awesome time to get out and hike.

Anyway, all this is preamble to showing pictures of the delicate little flowers we found yesterday and today on our walks. We saw lots of trillium yesterday but very few today. Interestingly, the two parks are not more than a couple miles apart but today's trails are in a different elevation so we think that may have had something to do with the very different vegetation and the slower blooming advance on identical plants that we saw yesterday.

Adder's Tongue

Jack in the Pulpit

I looked but couldn't find the name of the moth or butterfly - it was very small and glossy black. I did play with the enhancement settings and cropping on a few of these pictures to boost the colors. Bridget is great to have along on hikes because she studied forestry and loves plants so she knows the names of most everything we come across. I always learn a lot!

Then, when we were back at home, I took a picture of an extremely persistent tulip that is blooming in the dirt that should be grass in our back yard. Once the trees leaf out, the shade is so dense that grass just doesn't grow back there and the lawnmowers scrape what little grass does grows. One of my summer projects (after dismantling the compost heap) is finding some grass seed durable enough to survive in this area.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What really happened...

Aren't some days just like that?

Sunday, April 11, 2010


After a year of officially asking the blogosphere to help find my friend from my teenage years, it happened. My friend Bernie (her childhood name was Babe back then) is found! An elementary school classmate of hers was googling her name, looking to connect with people with whom she had gone to grade school. It was a small Catholic school and a small class.

When she googled Bernie's name, my blog popped up. So she left a comment on my blog a week or so ago, we made contact and I renewed my search. In checking out Facebook, I found Bernie's younger sister, Bette who remembered my family and gave me Bernie's email address. I sent an email, Bernie responded and we'll see where it goes from here.

I'm so excited that I have found her after 40 years of wondering where she was, how she was and what she was doing. Can't wait to see how it all turns out and to fill in the blank spaces in our lives. I need to look for some pictures of our teenage years together.

In the meantime, though, just knowing that we're in contact is so cool. The connections and friendships you find through blogs and the Internet are just amazing. Even 20 years ago, finding someone this way just wasn't possible.

Thanks, Margie and Bette -- and those wonderful Google spiders for helping me find Bernie!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A bunch of things

Lucy and I were together last week for our usual time together at The Little Gym. Our class isn't until 11:30 but I pick her up from Erin when she's dropping Emily off at school and then Lucy and I play for the morning  before class and sometimes all day.

We were in the car leaving school to meet Ban-ha (Johnnie) for breakfast. I looked in the rear view mirror and Lucy is clutching Monkey and waving him wildly in the air. 
Me: "What's Monkey doing?"
Lucy: "He shaking his booty."
How do you respond to that one? And where did she hear about shaking booties?

Have you ever noticed when you drive past furniture that people have discarded at the side of the road how you decide if you would have lived with that furniture? Especially if it's been scratched up by cats or been used and abused. I check out the couches and love seats and mostly think "echhhhh - I would never have bought that in the first place." But obviously people have had these things in their homes for long periods of time. They just always look so sad sitting on the side of the road, getting wet from road spray, waiting to be picked up.


There's a public service announcement that runs frequently on both of the radio stations I listen to during the day. It's about lead paint safety. The sentence that always perplexes me: "Any house built before 1978 could have lead paint, no matter where it's located."

Are they saying it could have lead paint in any room (no matter where it's located) or are they saying no matter where the house is located? Diagrammatically (I loved diagramming sentences in school), it would have the last phrase modifying the lead paint, not the house. But I really believe their point is that no matter where the house is located -- inner city, suburbs, rural areas -- it could have lead paint issues if it was built before 1978.

It's just a poorly worded sentence, I think. These are the things that give me headaches and give me pause. Sigh.

We can always tell when the college kids are home in our neighborhood. The lawns in the area sport fresh lawn jobs: tire tracks across the grass. Apparently some kids were home for the Easter weekend because I saw new ones yesterday. They're out late at night and find their kicks leaving the road and decorating multiple lawns with their tire tracks. And inevitably more lawn jobs will appear during the coming summer. We've been lucky enough to receive our own lawn jobs requiring a couple hours of raking and reseeding. I've been tempted to stud the perimeter of the yard with large rocks to thwart them but haven't done it. We'll be glad when the peckerheads actually grow up and move away from the area.

Saturday, April 3, 2010