Archives for posts with tag: small town

So far, I have written general posts about rural life: chickens, horses, snow, cooking, and so on.  These are things I enjoy – they make me happy, and I figure there needs to be more happiness in my life.  Really, anyone’s life – yours included.  It goes by too quickly to be unhappy.  Whatever you love to do, get out there and do it NOW.  Frankie’s wisdom of the day! 

I was raised in small town America – horses, tractors, bonfires, and beat-up pickup trucks litter my childhood memories.  I love the quiet, open air; the forest with it’s musky smell of underbrush, the beautiful nothingness of an empty field, or long summer evenings with family and friends reminiscing about days and years not yet forgotten.  This is my home in every sense of the word. 

Here’s the kicker: I left. 

When I graduated from high school, I hightailed it out of here.  I went to college in a completely different state, encapsulating the small-town girl, big city stereotype.  In one swift move, I left my tiny comfort zone and experienced life – life, the beautiful and terrifying eternity we share with billions of other humans in an infinitely complicated web that lasts forever, and ends in the blink of an eye.  I lived in Florida, California, Pennsylvania, and finally ended up back here in Upstate New York.  Cities, suburbs, towns, and villages each have their own characteristic uniqueness that have molded me into the person I am today.  No, it’s more than that – these places have allowed me to find, accept, and embrace who I really am.  It took a while, but I finally made it.  There’s only one problem.

I forgot what the people are like.

I really did.  I went out into the world and forgot how afraid they are of what they don’t understand.   I left a shy girl looking to see the world, and I returned as something that scares people.  Gay. 

Rainbow Quote

Yeah, like this Gay.

Now, I know you don’t ‘turn’ gay.  I was born this way, and it took a long time for me to find myself (a short time comparatively in the grand scope of things), and let me tell you – the feeling of being yourself, and actually liking who you are, is indescribably amazing.  For me, it was an internal transformation.  I never really feel the need to scream “I’M GAY” from the rooftops.  I am comfortable being who I am, and that positively impacts my life.  

The people who live in rural America are apparently mystified by me.  They see my jeans and t-shirt as commonplace while I had long hair, most likely thinking me a variation of a tomboy.  However, I cut my long hair off for donation (as always was the plan), favoring a short haircut again.  This is not the first time I have cut my hair, and I didn’t think it was a huge deal.  (Okay, so it was a big deal to me, but my hair was like twelve inches long and SUPER HEAVY.  It feels nice to not have to rake it out every morning!) Cutting my hair was the only change I have made in the last week, and my goodness, you would think I turned purple and grew a third arm.

I get weird looks going into the women’s bathroom at school.  Today, two girls snickered and got quiet as I entered one of the stalls, leaving with awkward laughs and whispers.  Alone in the bathroom, I wondered what was so funny.  

Now, I have cut my hair short several times while living in urban areas, and I didn’t really get any backlash for it.  Sure, friends were stunned, and always said it looked nice.  Occasionally, while working retail a customer would call me ‘Sir’, quickly apologizing politely when they realized I was a woman.  I never minded, and I smiled, saying it was okay.  I was never treated negatively for having short hair, nor was I made to feel like I was wrong, or bad.  

It is the most ridiculous thing that this is happening.  I get significantly more looks in the past few days than I ever did while being out and living abroad.  It’s just hair!  What is everyone’s problem?  I dress exactly the same as I did before.  I eat the same things.  I use the same bathrooms (literally. Like every day).  It took me a bit of pondering to figure out what the problem was.  Do you want to know?

I look gay now.  With long hair, I was just a tomboy.  Now, with short hair, I’m a dyke.  I’m something that people just don’t understand – they fear.  And, just as you would think, they hate what they don’t understand. 

I’m not that scary.  I promise.  I have stuffed animals all over my bedroom.   Small dogs, cats, chickens, and horses are my furry family.  I play the guitar and like video games.  My favorite music frequently includes annoying synth dance music, rock, and metal.  I drive an old car.  I get a kick out of math humor and science facts.  I’ve never shot a gun, I’m afraid of using big knives in the kitchen, and I have never punched anyone.  When I am angry, many times I cry as a stress relief.  

Yeah, I’m pretty much the devil. 

Through all this, I don’t really hate them – those people who would rather live in the darkness of ignorance rather than the light of acceptance.  In reality, I pity them.  They judge me on how I look instead of who I really am.  Instead of talking to me, they laugh at me.  Instead of stepping out of their small comfort zone, they belittle.  It must be terrible to be afraid of someone because of how they look.  It makes me wonder how small their world really must be.  

I really want to show them how beautiful our differences are.  I will not allow fear to dictate my life.  I am happy being me.  Why is that scary?  

If you are reading this, I know that there are scary things in the world.  Big spiders are pretty freaky.  Heights and deep water are my phobias.  Nuclear weapons is a terrifying reality.  Genocide is unthinkable.  War, poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, and Cancer are unavoidably horrifying to think about.  There are a lot of things to be afraid of in the world.  A big lesbian who sleeps surrounded by cats and small dogs really shouldn’t be one of them.  

PRIDE

Love is Love!

 

 

Advertisements

I’ve lives in several different states across the U.S.; Pennsylvania, Florida, and Southern California.  Everywhere I went, I got one big response.  It went something like this: “Oh, terrible weather there!”  Sometimes, there were more colorful metaphors involved with the comment, but essentially it was always the same.  Oh, the terrible weather!  Why would anyone ever live there? 

It always perplexes me that people judge Upstate/western New York without even visiting.  They have no idea what it’s really like.  They always think, “SNOW!” and they immediately treat it with disdain.  The thing is that half the world has snow.  It’s part of the whole climate aspect of the planet.  

It makes me sad that most people don’t even realize that there’s a state attached to New York City, but there’s so many other amazing things through the year that make rural New York amazing!  So, I thought I’d share some of them with all of you! First up: Fall.  

Fall is in full swing.  I live in Western New York, near Buffalo, Rochester, and the Finger Lakes.  The first and most obvious are the trees! There’s forests everywhere, and the trees become a bonfire of colors that really make the season pop!  Reds, yellows, and oranges like roads, hills, crop fields, and especially the Great Lakes.  There’s even foliage reports on the news.  

Secondly, Fall is the time when events and festivals are still in full swing.  For example, there’s Oktoberfest, and New York comes alive with Wine and Beer, giving local businesses a chance to really show their stuff!  There’s also The Fringe Festival in Rochester, New York, and it highlights the performing artists of the area.  There’s more than you think to Upstate New York! 

Fall is the time for family fun!  Hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and trick -or- treat events are a constant in our area.  Bits of the harvest is coming in, and you can find the farmer’s bounty at farm stands and farmer’s markets all along the roads.  Delicious!  

That brings me to a topic that needs only one word. Apples. New York is the apple state, after all.  They are amazingly wonderful!  New York Apple Cider is the tastiest drink!  Try hot mulled cider on a chilly evening!  You won’t regret it!

My favorite is the cooler temperatures – but not too cold yet.  I love to take the dogs for a walk, sweatshirt and a brightly colored scarf keeping me warm.  I live in an isolated area, and so it’s very quiet through the day, and it makes it perfect for afternoon strolls.  The dogs love to smell and sniff everything!  I love spending time with my furry family. 

These are only a few of the reasons why Autumn in New York is fantastic.  If you visit our lovely countryside, consider Fall for the time of year! 

What do you love about the season?

 

 

Off and on through my life, my family has kept chickens.  My Father started the tradition when I was only a child, but I remember marveling at the chickens on the other side of the fenced coup.  Unfortunately, a raccoon (or a similar rascal) broke into the chicken coup.  My parents found them in the morning.  The rooster’s name was Paddy.  He was mean to anyone who got close, but I remember him as being a beautiful rooster with long green tail feathers and a copper red body.

When I was a teenager in high school, I wanted to keep chickens again.  My Mother decided that it was a great idea!  We got one Road Island Red and five black chickens. Each one had a name that described their personality or feather colors.  This backfired a bit when they grew up and all the black ones looked the same.  They became ‘Sunny and The Girls’, since Sunny was the only red one.  I held them every day, meticulously cared for their food, water, and coop cleanliness.  They became lovely free range chickens that lived in the barn alongside horses and barn cats too fat to care about the huge birds.  Since I hand raised them, you could pick them up, pet them, and even cuddle them a bit.  We loved them very much and had them for many years.

A family moved into the run-down shack across the street and had a dog that liked to run away. He got a few of my chickens, but four remained for two years or so.  Eventually, they were gone too.  That’s the way of life.

Last year, my Mother got heirloom chickens that were supposedly the best free range egg layers.  I was very proud of myself that I spotted it in Urban Farmer and researched the breed.  They were nine chickens and a stow-away rooster.  They were… not as wonderful as described.  Only one still lives. My Mother named her, “Sweety Pie Chicken”

 

"What are you doing? Is it time for my close up?"

“What are you doing? Is it time for my close up?”

So, this year my Mother went to the store and told the shopkeepers, “I want smart chickens that are good for free ranging!” They were a bit confused, but they gave her their suggestions. It took her over an hour and a half to pick them out.  She got eight red cross breeds, and a White Silky (who is VERY feathery and ADORABLE).  The Silky was protecting a small grey chick from the others in the pen.  My Mother was so taken with the pair of friends that she took the little grey chicken as well.  She looks like a Dove, and she and the white Silky are inseparable. The whole flock has accepted Sweety Pie Chicken, and they are one big happy family.

This story is a big part of our lives.  Over the years we have learned from our mistakes, and it has made us better at our tasks.  We know the best way (or a very, very good way)  to keep our animals healthy and happy.

There's always one who doesn't want to go to bed!

There’s always one who doesn’t want to go to bed!

Many people go into the grocery store and buy the cheapest eggs on the shelf, even if they can afford something better.  These eggs come from chickens packed into tiny cages, with barely any room to move.  They have no life.  They are fed terrible food instead of their natural diet.  Chickens need to move, they need to peck, and they need to eat a variety of food.  These differences produce a rich, delicious egg that is filled with more nutrients than their counterparts.

But it’s more than that.  We are humans, and that means we have different brains that are capable of compassion and understanding.  Eating and egg shouldn’t mean that you benefit from another living thing’s suffering.  I would rather have my eggs come from chickens who actually can move, eat, and thrive in their lives. I feel that just because something is different from me doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected.  A Chicken gives us eggs, meat, and in many cases enjoyment.  They give us their entire existence.  That means they deserve our respect.

You can tell I have had this discussion before, mainly with people who do not value an animal’s life.  They see them like a paper cup: simply something that is theirs to use.  That is so heartbreaking.

It makes me sad that people don’t understand why cage-free eggs are so important.  My family’s chickens have a pen and a chicken house.  They would not be safe at night otherwise.  But they are out from early in the morning through just before sundown.  They explore the world around them: the trees, the Sumac bushes, the horse paddock, and so on.  And you know what?  I think that is marvelous!  I wish everything could be as happy as they! Don’t you?

This is what a Chicken Stampede looks like!

This is what a Chicken Stampede looks like!

So, we are still up here, struggling against oppressive heat, still angrily mourning the tragedy of Treyvon Martin’s memory, debating Florida law, and wishing that something can be actually accomplished in Washington D.C.  We are here in Rural America, Chickens and all, struggling to have our voices heard.

On a happy note, it was announced today that the Lakeside Hospital was acquired, and is being renamed “Strong West”.  They hope to restore services by January.  Or so the news said.  I hope it is sooner.  Either way, it is nice to know that they didn’t completely forget us.  Why couldn’t they have done that before the hospital closed it’s doors is beyond me.  Perhaps it is a conspiracy to keep us dependent on this or that.  All I can say is that we will breath a sigh of relief when the emergency room is reopened.  Until then all we can do is wait.

Wherever you are, please stay cool, stay safe, and stay happy!

When people hear, “New York” they think of the big city – lights, cars, skyscrapers, business, stores, the crazy guy on the corner holding ‘THE END IS NEAR’ sign, and people as far as the eye can see.  The city has everything you need to survive (and many things that are just icing on the cake). Endless numbers of people move to New York City and others all across the world.  Some love it, some hate it.  But everyone has big dreams of what their life will be.  Whether it’s the next big music producer or an upscale chef with your own restaurant, New York City is the mecca of the Eastern Seaboard. That’s not anything new. It’s always been where the-next-big-thing hits the market.

But there’s so much more to New York – like, a whole state attached.  With people living in it – and cars – and color television.

I know that most people don’t think about that. Country!  That’s down south!  Farms! Those are out in Kansas!  I have heard it all.  Most people don’t realize that there are rural places in the North East United States.

I come from Western New York – right on Lake Ontario.  For 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house.  I graduated High school with nearly everyone who was in Kindergarten class.  My town has a Post Office, some houses, fields, woods, and nothing else.  ‘Going to town’ is a big thing out here… mainly because you have to drive about thirty minutes to the nearest grocery store. The corner store is 5 miles away.

I live in Rural America.

I graduated high school and went to college.  Small town kid in a big city.  I went out of state, far enough away from farms and livestock because I wanted to experience life in other places.  I earned my degree, bounced around a little, and worked in dead-end jobs that barely covered my rent and student loans.  I was tired, unhealthy, and not in a very good frame of mind.

And now I moved back home for good.  I have lived in several states and cities, with friends and roommates, near the streets and cars and skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of people living on top of each other.  I returned home with no job and too much student loan debt – like so many of my peers.

Two months ago I felt like a failure coming back here.  I felt like I was worthless, like I wasn’t good enough to do anything.  Why can other people make it while I can’t?  Why?  There are many different reasons, but my mother didn’t care about any of that.  She wants me happy and healthy – and for me, that meant here in the middle of corn fields, horses, and the summer humid heat.

I have always looked for my place out here, but I never really fit in.  When I was younger I thought it was because I was meant for city living – and I met many people who agreed with me.  But over the course of seven years I have found that my place is out here – I just have to find it.

So, I am finding the beauty in rural, small town America (Small is a bit of an understatement).  People who are born in a small town grow up and leave.  They want bigger and better things, and rightly so.  The result of that is the rural community is dying.  Small businesses easily parish under the poor economic climate that has plagued us for over twenty years.  It is harder and harder to make ends meet.  The cost of living keeps rising while income stagnates or declines.  We have the same problems that people who live in the city have.  The difference is that out here, all we have is ourselves.

This past April, the closest hospital closed it doors.  It was in the nearby college town, 30 minutes away.  Now, we have to drive an hour to the nearest emergency room to receive care.  I heard the message loud and clear: We don’t care about you.  People who live in rural America don’t matter.  Just die, because you don’t even deserve a hospital.

I don’t accept that message.  I don’t accept the fact that the world is blind to us, our hardships, our people, and our community.  I don’t accept the fact that we are powerless to change that world view.  I don’t accept the fact that the world thinks we are worthless.  I don’t accept that we are invisible.

That’s why I am here.  I am on a journey to chronicle life out here in rural, small town America.  I am going to show you that we are beautiful, vibrant, and filled with sights, sounds, places, food, and more.  I am going to show you that the heart of America is worth saving.

Come on the journey with me.