Sunday, August 16, 2009


Today I decided to tidy up my indoor gardening/plant area. I went in the kitchen for a while and when I came back the cats were "helping".

I've been on a diet and exercise program - I am following a plan where I eat six small healthy meals six days a week, and work out for six days a week, three interval cardio days and three weight lifting days. Plus I get a free day where I don't work out and I can eat whatever I want. So I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Smorals which is on Avery street near my house.

I took photos and made notes and will write a review later in the week. But I did want to say that it's a really great place because I have noticed a lot of people searching for it and ending up at my blog because they don't have a web page. So this isn't a review but a recommendation - if you want a totally old school, inexpensive steak/pasta/seafood/chicken dinner, go to Smorals. They are friendly and have a full bar.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer Snowshovel

Summer Snowshovel, originally uploaded by Melsky.

Yes, I know you have flowers growing on you right now, and it's 90 degrees today and humid. But don't worry little snow shovel. Winter is never far away in Syracuse and soon you will be removing mountains of snow from my driveway.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Walking up Wilbur Street

You can see the spires of St. John's Ukrainian Catholic Church in the background.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Steve's or Beans - Tipp Hill's secret Mexican Restaurant - part one

Would you guess there was a Mexican Restaurant in there?
Last spring I went to a small get-together down the street from my house. We all lived in Tipp Hill and the talk turned to local eateries. Someone said there was a Mexican restaurant down the street. What? Yes, in a sports bar on Milton Street there is a secret Mexican restaurant and it's great. Wow.

So we went there the next Saturday. There's a bar and next to it is another door that looks more like a restaurant entrance. So we went in. Place was pretty deserted. "Can I help you?" says a man. We told him we were looking for the Mexican Restaurant. He is the owner and cook, named David. The restaurant is still there but only open on Thursday and Friday nights. He is nice enough to bring us a few samples of food while we have a drink at the sports bar.

Flash forward a couple of months and we go there with my friend Adina. First I called for reservations, as David recommended. We get there and sit down, the waitress is pleasant. We get our menus and order margaritas. They were good, not great on the rocks style margaritas. I'm not much of a margarita drinker so I just had one.

David (the cook) walks around the restaurant and he heard my friend Adina talking about vegetarian food. There's no vegetarian entrees on the menu except for quesadillas (grilled cheese sandwiches made with tortillas!) and he said he has a vegetarian special. So she got that. (Why is it not on the menu?) I can't remember what Dave and I had but it was good. Sorry, it's several months ago! But I did take some photos.Looking at these photos the food looks kind of terrible! But it was great.
You know you're in Syracuse when the Margarhitas come in Bud Light glasses!

My friend's vegetarian platter was tofu strips with tortillas, beans, rice etc. She really liked it.

Part 2

So it's August and we decide to try it again, just me and my husband. I called and asked if they had room for two people. Yes! Do we need to make a reservation? No! So we ambled on over there. We are seated right away. Then two large parties show up!

I'm a huge avocado fan, being a transplanted Califronian and all. I ws disapppointed they had just run out of guacamole. Oh well. I was super hungry so I ordered a quesadilla ($2.50) with just cheese, no meat. All the entrees come with your choice of pork or chicken or (secret) fried tofu which is not on the menu.

Since I'm not that into margaritas I got a glass of Pino Grigio and my husband got a glass of house red, which he said was exactly the kind of wine he wants as house red, not too sweet or dry.

The quesadillas came pretty quick. They were filled with a generous amount of mild cheddar and some type of spiciness- maybe a little chili powder. They came with a cup of salsa and a little scoop of sour cream, and they were pretty tasty. They disappeared pretty fast at any rate, and my husband doesn't eat cheese!

Steve's (Bean's) Mexican Cantina is in the back of a sports bar. The walls are fake wood panneling with numerous pictures - southweatern art, 1920s wedding photo, Mexican blanket, and photos of chili peppers. You basically know that you are in a New York State sportsbar from the Yankee game televised on the wall opposite, and the fact that everyone yells when the Yankees score or something happens in the game.

I got chicken enchilladas with a side of beans and corn. It comes with a salad bar too but the waitress didn't mention it to us and I forgot to ask until I was too full to have the salad bar so I guess we didn't need it anyway. It's not the greatest salad bar, lettuce, tomatoes and dressing in bottles from the supermarket. It would be easier just to do side salads.

Anyhow, back to our orders, my husband doesn't eat cheese or tomatoes. He asked for a burrito with only rice, beans, and pork, with a side order of salsa (yes I know salsa has tomatoes my husband is crazy). He asked for no sides or sauce. When his order came it was a regular burrito covered with red sauce and cheese. But it was no problem to send it back and his replacement came within a few minutes and the waitress could not have been nicer about it.

He was very happy and gave it high marks.

I enjoyed my enchiladas. I also liked the beans. But the corn and peppers side dish was canned corn, not my favorite. I still ate it though and enjoyed it.

The beans remind me of New Mexico Mexican food. They are pinto beans and have different spices than the beans I am used to from California.

I do miss Mexican food from California! This somewhat fills the need. The closest thing I have found to what I am used to is still Alto Cinco.

But I am really glad to have this place within walking distance to my house and will continue to go there.This is our dinner
(Quesadillas not available because I ate them before I remembered to take a photo!)

I guess I should explain about BEANS. When I've told people about this place, some of them have corrected me. "Oh, you mean BEANS Mexican restaurant." And it does say BEANS on one of the walls. Several people have told me in no uncertain terms that the name of it is BEANS. But the menu says Steve's Cantina & Grill!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Me in our driveway

Me in our driveway, originally uploaded by Melsky.

So tired today.

Mostly I love my job, I enjoy property management and I like helping people find apartments and writing ads. But like any job today was a day where it all went wrong. Sometimes it is very frustrating. It's frustrating to open a refrigerator in an apartment that someone moved out of and a million baby cockroaches run out.

It's frustrating to show up to show people apartments and they don't show up or call. Then the one person who does show up, it's a building where the resident manager changed the locks and didn't give me keys. Of course it's someone who seems like they would be a great tenant, and I can't even get them in to look at it.

It's frustrating to find someone for an apartment who seems really nice and as soon as they move in they start playing music really loud and having lots of coming and going in the building.


Every neighbor in that building has complained about her. The thing is she seemed really nice and was talking about how she wanted to live there and get a job and save up money and how much she loved the apartment and was politely thanking me and the housing advocate for getting her into the apartment. The next thing we know she's calling us up and screaming obscenities.

I had some idea that she was going to be a problem because she wanted to hug me after signing the lease. So far, everyone that has tried to hug me upon signing a lease has turned out to be a big, big problem. Everyone who wanted to hug me after signing the lease has been evicted or is about to be evicted, or has gotten many complaints.

I don't like it when people want to hug me after signing the lease. That makes me so uncomfortable. It's a business transaction. I will hug my friends and family but I don't want to hug people with whom I have a strictly business relationship.

Then I had a lease signing at the end of the day. She tried to hug me!

I am so tired today.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This house is not abandoned

This house is not abandoned, originally uploaded by Melsky.

This is a house on the southside of Syracuse with broken windows, boarded up windows, overgrown shrubbery, badly peeling paint, sagging balcony and general disrepair. It has a sign on it that says THIS HOUSE IS NOT ABANDONED people live here, do not break in and steal our stuff. I didn't really want to get close enough to take a photo of the sign though.

The house across the street is very well kept and extremely suburban looking, with siding and professional looking landscaping.

Syracuse is an odd place in that the run down areas are very close to the nice well kept areas, some times across the street!

It's very different than somewhere like California, where there is a much more gradual transition between neighborhood quality.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tipp Hill Irish Festival at St. Pats (and a little bit of Ukranian Festival)

Last weekend I attended the Tipp Hill Irish Fest at St. Patrick's Church. This was after our trip to the Erie Canal (it's funny I just wrote that as Eire Canal and had to go back and correct it. I guess I have Ireland on the brain today.) Anyway, I had seen signs for this festival for weeks and had wanted to go. My husband was to tired after the canal trip so I had to walk down there by myself. Luckily it was not far and I enjoyed the walk despite being sore and tired from my long walk earlier that day.

I was tempted not to go, though I had wanted to go I was tired and it would have been easy to stay at home. So I looked up the festival and found out what band was playing. It was The Town Pants, and I read about them and decided to go see them.

I was surprised that a lot of the festival was taken up with gambling. They had roulette, a lottery, what looked like a poker game.

They had tents to sell alcohol, but sadly for me only beer and Mike's hard lemonade. I am allergic to hops so I can't drink beer! Hard lemonade is made with malt, and malt beverages give me a headache. So I didn't spend any money at the beer tent, and I am not exactly a gambler. But I do like Irish Music! I did enjoy the Town Pants, they were a fun band. I love traditional Irish and Celtic music and this is one of those bands that have it as a strong influence. They were also funny between songs, with a lot of friendly patter and joking around.

Here is a video I took!

The band took a break and then the Irish Dance School Dancers came out. I've seen the same dancers doing the same dances at several other Syracuse events but they are still enjoyable. I think it was the Butler-Sheehan school of Irish Dance and I think someone will correct me if I am wrong.

I wanted to stay for the second set of the Town Pants but I really was tired so I walked home and went to bed!

The Ukrainian Festival was on that night at St John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church which is close to my house. They had music too, and there was a point where I could hear both festival's music playing at the same volume when I was walking home.

The next day in the afternoon, we went to the Ukrainian festival. I wanted to try some Ukrainian food. My husband doesn't much care for Eastern European cuisine of any type except possibly Sausages but somehow I convinced him to go. Well the joke was on me because they were totally out of Ukrainian food and just had Sausages and hamburgers! I did have a sausage. I was very hungry and it was incredibly good. They also had a bake sale and my husband bought us several different sweet things to share which I enjoyed, some sort of apple bread, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies. I don't think they were necessarily Ukrainian, but they were delicious.

They had Ukrainian music at the festival, and children dancing. I liked it but it didn't do it for me like Irish music and dancing does.

Next year I'm going to the Ukrainian festival on Saturday so I can eat Ukrainian food.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The unbearable cuteness of Imp

This is my cat Impediment, nicknamed Imp. He is one of Mocha's kittens. I found Mocha living in the basement of a building we manage. I had to board up a broken window in the basement and she was a friendly and sweet cat and I took her home. Of course she was pregnant, and she gave birth to three kittens in my bed while I was sleeping! I thought that cats were supposed to find a closet or something to hide their kittens away but I guess they don't always.

Back to the subject of Imp, he's a really cute cat. Imp loves my feet, both to attack them while I am sleeping and also to get underneath them when I am trying to walk somewhere! In fact once I was going down the stairs on my way to feed the cats and he was very excited and I ended up kicking him downstairs accidentally! His little body rolled down about 5 stairs like he was a very loose bag of potatoes, completely relaxed. At the bottom of the stairs he hopped up fine and commenced meowing for food. I felt horrible but the cat really did get on top of my feet while I was walking. That's why he is called Impediment.

He's Imp because he's a naughty little guy, always playing and being mischievous. He loves water. He's fascinated by sinks, toilets and the cat fountain we have for him to drink out of.

When anyone flushes a toilet, he runs up and looks in. We have to keep all the toilets in our house with the lids shut or he will play with the water. He leaves little footprints all over because he is always getting his feet wet.

He likes to play with our older cat, Oliver. Sometimes Oliver enjoys this, but a lot of the time he doesn't! Imp plays with Oliver's tail. This makes Oliver very mad, and being mad makes Oliver's tail thrash around. This makes it irresistable to Imp, so he has to try to grab Oliver's tail more, until Oliver gets really mad and growls at him and runs off.

Imp didn't used to like to cuddle and seldom purred but now he does. He likes to lay against me while I am in bed sleeping or reading, and when he's petted he does now give a very loud and content purr!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Demolition of Northside House

Lately I've come across two houses in the Northside area of Syracuse being torn down. This gives me mixed feelings.

They are probably past the point of repair and have been abandoned for so long that it's a good thing that they are being removed. The people who live in abandoned houses are very destructive. They tear things up and break stuff for the fun of it. The house is probably saturated with body fluids and garbage if they are tearing it down.

It's so sad that any house is allowed to get to this point. I am the rental agent for a lot of apartments and houses in that area and most of the houses are well built and charming, though in need of some TLC.

But it's better to have an empty lot than a bunch of crack heads and I hope that weeding out these places will help improve the neighborhood.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


This is the armory square bar/restaurant Ambrosia, where I would go every month or so to get a Martini. It got seized for non payment of taxes. It's a fancy place that was usually packed and I was really surprised.

The photo is the window which has reflections of the street.

Erie Canal Day Trip from Syracuse

I made a big mistake. We decided to go to a part of the Erie Canal Path that we had never walked on before. We headed up to Jordan, about a half hour drive from Syracuse. It was a hot summer day. I brought plenty of water. We used plenty of sunblock and wore cool cotton clothes. What did we forget? Bug repellent. Yes, if you are going to be walking in wooded areas in summer, you will be met by thousands of mosquitoes. But other than that our walk was good.

The canal near Jordan is pretty stagnant compared to the parts we usually walk on near Fayetteville. Parts of it were covered with algae and some of it smelled a little rank. But it was pretty.
For most of the walk we couldn't really see the canal as the thick growth of trees, vines and bushes blocked the way. The path was heavily shaded overhead for most of the walk.
We saw Milkweed pods and some lovely orange berries.
We saw a lot of other interesting plants, including some lovely wildflowers. But I didn't take any photos because the mosquitoes were after us, and we were so hot, tired and bitten I didn't want to stop.

We are planning another trip back there in the fall when it's nice and cool, after the first frost kills the mosquitoes.