Thursday, April 21, 2016

This "First" is Actually a "Second"

That's right! In years of enjoying various orchids of many different colors, we've never had a second set of buds set near original flowers. And to have them bloom along with those February flowers rather than withering away?? WOWZA! 
Clearly a first in our world, as fat buds begin to spread their wings petals.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rondout Return

Do y'all recognize this incredible nest of the Rondout Reservoir in Grahamsville? We've spent many hours enjoying the roadside view, comparable to none. If you look back at this post, you'll notice the huge expansion of the eagles' dwelling. Joe's theory is that it needed repair work after the exceptionally high winds we experienced, this past winter. Maybe. Or maybe they're considering condo living?? We'll never know for sure. But we're here to tell you that the magnificence of this view never ceases to amaze.
When we first arrived, there was an adult sitting in the nest. We captured it and then went exploring on the nearby Glade Hill Road. After enjoying the sky-high view, we returned for more eagle watching. Nothing appeared to be on the nest; but then… but then…
We witnessed and captured the return of an adult. After a beautiful landing, it perched quite close to the nest. Lo and behold…
A fledgling stuck its long neck out, seemingly looking at its parent. Look closely to see the white patch hidden behind green and above the quite visible bambino. Soon after…
Big Bird returned to its perch to guard its young.
Haven't been there yet? Worth the trip from anywhere… for sure.
Giving Thanks.

Monday, April 18, 2016



And so, this is our third consecutive similar day. We're psyched!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

HBO's "Vinyl" starring Bobby Cannavale

Richie Finestra
There's something about Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finestra that reminds me of a young Neil Diamond - you know, when he smoked and his hair was long and he was all cocky in how he carried himself. Hey, it's all good, if you know what I mean. But I digress….

If you can take the brutal delivery of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, at the same time keeping any resident kids about three floors away, tune in. Lots of big names associated with it: Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, for example.

We're not sure about how terrific it is, but we'll give it "compelling," maybe. We're still watching.

Scary stuff, those early days. It's a miracle any of us survived.

Camo Bird

Momma Nature sure nows how to protect her young! We took a ride to the Rio, the other day, to see how the Baldies were doing there. Not much luck, in terms of sightings. We did see one mature and gorgeous big bird flying over a narrow part of the water. And then… and then…
Joe spotted this immature feathery friend lurking above the water. He was quite far away, but luckily NIK was outfitted with its big lens. How 'bout that camouflage?

Must-See PBS TV - "Jackie Robinson Parts I and II"

It's baseball season, so what better way to celebrate openers than to remind ourselves of the history of the sport. But guess again, if you think this PBS special is all about home runs. After watching, Joe and I first realized that Mr. Robinson's main significance came by way of all he did for civil rights and not how impressively he swung a bat. A very profound few hours and highly recommended. Done way too soon.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Considering the Accommodations

Joe captured Robin RedBreast with his iPhone, this morning, as he perched beyond the sliders upon the wren house. We're hoping he doesn't attempt to nest within the tiny openings… surely his chubby babies will get stuck!
It is a warm, brilliant day, here in the lower Catskills. We're taking advantage with the delivery of ten spectacular American boxwoods, with which we plan to make a border. I am so psyched. Just give me a shrub and I'm a happy camper!

Friday, April 15, 2016

And While I'm On The Topic Of IDOLS...

It's been a rough separation from our GrandLoves for the past few weeks, but not to worry. Good ol' Facebook is a grandparent's friend. Sooooo, in keeping up with the latest on Hunter's long list of musical achievements, we were entertained, early one morning. That's right! He's added guitar to his already accomplished piano and trumpet playing. We actually gifted him the instrument you see when he was just a one-digit number in age. Lessons didn't work out, at that time. But now? A different story. He's actually bigger than the guitar now, too :-) and begged his parents for lessons.

Clearly, our very own IDOL has the music in him.

Musical Interlude - Not So Idle IDOL Chatter

Lookin' back, the IDOL finale was a fabulous show, bringing back past Idols and justly crowning the season's winners, left to right and first, second third as Trent, La'Porsha and Colton. Meanwhile…
I caught Conrad Sewell's live "Remind Me" on GMA, this morning and can only say, "WOWZA!" Here's the Tonight Show version of the song, equally impressive.

When it comes to Idols, I'm just a teenager at heart.   Enjoy.

Hiatus Shoots

In spite of it all, NIK and I managed a few favorite hiatus shots and birthday remembrances. 
April 4th was Gran's special day. We awakened to snow. Yep, it was the white 'n' fluffy that never showed up during the winter.
April 11th was Vicki's day, but her visit happened earlier when we gifted her a special family heirloom. :-) Drive safely, Sweetie. This photo by Joe.

Christian popped in bearing springtime, by way of his very being and gorgeous, yellow tulips. As soon as the weather allows, we'll plant them outside in a special spot where Bambi can't find them.
Clouds reflected on the lake, making it look like piles of snow. It wasn't.
My beautiful orchid, an early February gift from Joe, still clings to a few of its original blooms, at the same time setting many new buds on old stems. A first, in all our years of enjoying this favorite flower.

All inspiring gifts that keep on giving...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sunshine 'n' Peace

Well, Hello Again. Thank you so much to all who remain and to those who've inquired as to my continued existence. :-)  Life has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, around here, but we emerge on a gorgeous, sunny, spring day that has temps rising into the sixties. We'll take it.

In addition to life itself interrupting my blog, Joe's retirement has played a part. Used to be (for my entire lifetime) that the sun and I arose simultaneously. But now, Joe and I have learned to lounge 'round in the morning, making up for all the times we began our days way too early and in first gear. Hmmm. A body can get used to sleeping in and brunch instead of breakfast. First cuppa in bed is not so tough to take, either. Gone are sunrise blogs. I need to find my discipline, once again.

For today, I greet all with the warmth of the sun setting on a bloom of our prolific peace plant. Photo was taken last evening, here at Golden Pond. Please enjoy it and the sunny peacefulness it imparts.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Big Bird Obliges

And the seasons, they go 'round and 'round and 'round…
Our regulars are abundant at their station, plowing through a feeder-full of sunflower treats every day. Soon, there shall be mating calls and nest-building by these gorgeous finches of the rose-breasted and gold varieties. Just loved capturing them in sunshine, this morning.

Meanwhile, the lake is almost completely thawed. But yesterday, in conjunction with my thinking that I seriously needed a photo shoot, Joe exclaimed,
"I think there's a juvenile eagle on the ice!" 
Sure enough, there he was on the tip of a remaining iceberg. Very young, indeed, with just the beginnings of white sprinkled throughout his feathers. As always, what a treat, as he took off over the shadowy branches reflecting on moving water!!
Oh, and for the record, black and white captures came naturally. 'Twas a gray day, here on Golden Pond.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sometimes, Ya Just Need Dessert!

Okay, okay, so it's not (recipe link) Bûche de Noël, this time of year. It's simply Chocolate-Strawberry Roulade. Fine. That'll do. And we just had to have it, this past week. So, I obliged. It was beyond delicious. Same drill as the former recipe, with juicy, sweetened strawberries added to the mix.
I used the shelf-safe whipping cream from Trader's for this one. Joe detected no difference, but as for moi? I did. Ever so subtle, but nonetheless a difference. Maybe good in a pinch, but…

 My cream has to be fresh, refrigerated and in a container. Purity is the name of the game.

Update: Idle IDOL Chatter

Wow, the week flew 'round to the show once again. It's in a shortened season, so one night and two cuts did it for this week. Eight contestants remain. Once again, I'm afraid my Colton didn't fare as well as the brilliant La'Porsha ("Halo") or Trent ("When A Man Loves A Woman"). 

Regardless of the outcome of the show, I expect to see La'Porsha's name in Broadway lights, one day.

We shall see; but for last night, I agreed with J-Lo. Oh, and have I mentioned how danged cute that Harry Connick, Jr., is??

Must-See Movie "Boyhood"

We recently watched this unique and fantastic movie. It was filmed over twelve years, using the same main cast and depicting the story of a boy's growth from the ages of six to eighteen, told through his eyes. What a brilliant idea to portray real-time growth, along with all the changes that come to life itself in such a time span.

Ellar Coltrane played Mason, the boy, in a totally relatable and tender performance. Patricia Arquette won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2015 for her part as the mom, with all the hair, weight and style changes that came with the passage of time. Ethan Hawke played a terrific dad.

Highly recommended.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Idle IDOL Chatter

What a season, as IDOL bows out… fantastic. I'm sticking with my early call (Dalton) but must admit that La'Porsha (clearly a diamond) and Trent beat him, this week. And how 'bout that Kelly Clarkson? Can we vote for her, again? Great stuff.

Ah, Political Perfection in Two Peas in a Pod

I'm nauseous. You must know of this week's endorsement. Now there are two of them with the annoying lip sets, one ridiculously blonde and the other simply ridiculous. A twist in a saga that is beginning to scare me. 

"… the walls and bridges team." Today's NY TIMES

They Just Happen!

It occurs to me, this morning, that good kids and good dogs just happen. You never know, right? And there's a lot of luck involved, regardless of parental or human input. Nature versus Nurture?? A timeless topic, never to be resolved. Whatever. We've been pretty lucky, if that's the component that rules. Cases in point:

On a snowy day last week, pajama-clad Gav and his ukulele arrived for some stormy downtime. It was fun. We jammed. Or shall I say, he jammed while I tried. He ate A LOT. Gramps even went out for calamari and pizza to please the boy. Did I mention that it was fun?! This week, he won an award for Student Of The Month. Just look at that beaming face. Moving along…

The next day, Christian surprised us with Chloe and Lyla, our upstate pretties. Poor Hunter was home sick with Dawn... on a winter-break day, no less. But the girls had a boatload of fun and so did Mambo. He gets TONS of attention from Lyla. She was heard saying, as they prepared to leave, "I'm sorry, Mambo, but we have to leave now." Precious. We crammed a lot of lovin' (and eating) into a few hours, left with that happy glow that kids leave behind. So while we were in family mode…

We shuffled off to Buffalo, the next day. Thankfully, Dale and Maddy were okay with a visit, because we seriously needed to hug them. And there are simply no words to describe how warm and loving they are, even in the wake of such a tragic loss. Cousin Dale is five years younger than I, and speaking of good kids, I'm reminded of an old anecdote. Mom, Aunt Vee and I took a long, girlie road trip to Buffalo when I was eleven. It was a blast, its purpose being to visit Dale's family. When we arrived, this little boy was sitting on the curb in front of his house. Upon realizing it was us, he jumped up and began to exclaim, "My cousins from New York are here!! My cousins from New York are here!!"

Actually, his aunts and cousin had arrived and he lived in New York, too, but it was precious and perfect from a six-year-old. Funny how I've always used that welcoming call to describe Dale to people. We never change, do we?

To add the canine touch to this saga, we traveled with Mambo, who could have easily been left in our pet-friendly suite. But Dale and Mads love him, too, so he was welcomed to hang with us and Riddick, their comforting pooch. What did the two dogs do? Barely looked at each other, just curled up under the glow of Dale's fireplace, lending their soothing touch. We reminisced about Bonnie. She will forever be sorely missed.

Case rested.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Debate? Really?

Or analogous to a middle school brawl? A travesty in Greenville, SC.

Will someone please bludgeon Trump. That'd be a good place to start.

"But it's really sunny outside…"

A little inside humor here for my one and only Valentine. He knows who he is. Forgive me, Friends of CMI. But y'all cuddle closer to warm the cockles of your hearts.

That's right… real temp of twelve below with a windchill factor of thirty-one below.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ever-Evolving Chicken Soup

We're in the midst of an arctic blast. No joke. After our balmy, nearly snowless winter thus far, it's been plunging to sub-zero temps. It's that nasty windchill factor, especially here on Golden Pond. So, I wanted chicken soup, yesterday. Thing is, I wasn't in the mood to start from scratch… or to go to the store. Enter the freezer…

In its depths, I found three mason jars of homemade chicken broth, each with about twelve ounces. Two more jars held about four ounces each of turkey and chicken drippings. The former would be from simmered chicken and veggie dinners; the latter from the last turkey breast I roasted, also with onions/veggies, some pieces remaining. After the contents were partially thawed, I skimmed all fat and poured into a soup pot. 

Then, I cooked about a half pound of ditalini (small pasta) in salted water till al dente. After rinsing with cold water to stop cooking, I added to broth and brought it all to a simmer… and then…

I added cubed chicken breast (from cutlets, also in the freezer) and let it cook at a soft simmer for about five minutes, till chicken was white and tender. Salt and pepper to taste and a hit of parsley - voilà! Yet another version of an old favorite, and… What a flavorful result, with a triple whammy of chicken - broth, drippings and poultry simmered to stay. 
This was delicious served with the Zojirushi banana bread I'd made in the morning, using ripened bananas from the freezer, as well as cacao nibs and almonds, all from…

Well, you've got the gist. There is not much that doesn't freeze well, thus helping us to avoid a grocery run on a frigid day.

To Note: Sure, you can used boxed or canned broth. But honestly? I've never - as in not ever - found one that compares to the homemade variety. Just go back and check out my (link) simmered chicken recipe; it's the meal that keeps on giving.

Buon Appetito. Stay warm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lookin' Back - "Grease" is STILL the Word!

Meant to blog in a more timely fashion about (link) "Grease Live" on Fox, a couple weeks ago. Having seen my favorite John Travolta version multiple times in addition to the play on Broadway, I was skeptical. Hmmm. That was before we were hooked into this fabulous production. Yep, it's still the word. 

It wasn't till after the show that we came to learn that 
its star is practically a local boy, having grown up in Middletown, where he began his thespian career. How's that for a small world?

Here's to longevity, all around.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

WHEW!! That Was A Lot Of Blogging For One Day...

Rest easy. That's all she wrote!!

Congrats to the Broncos and Kudos to Lady Gaga...

The underdogs won; yay! Joe was happy. The ribs were delicious and… well, to repeat - the Broncos won. But for me? I loved Bruno, of course. Lady Gaga, though, stole the show with her brilliant performance. It brought tears to my eyes.

Marital Problems? "Better Call Saul"

While working around the LakeHouse the other morning, I listened to the girls on "The View." Or, was it "The Talk?" Whatever; I was listening, not watching. I digress. One of them commented on how Netflix was saving marriages, nationwide. "Hmmm," thought I. My ears perked up…

The theory mentioned is that every couple needs a third faction to their relationship. For example, when you've got kids at home, you talk about the kids. Bought a new house? Dinnertime conversations prevail. New job? New puppy? You get the gist. Soooo…

What happens when Party #3 is no longer. What or who fills the gap? Enter Netflix. Hours and hours of wedded bliss watching "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men" or "Bloodline" keeps couples together, in the same room, for hours on end… encouraging ensuing discussions. Interesting. And there's an etiquette to this TV bliss…

No watching ahead of time without the other. A mortal sin. One waits for his or her partner to share.

Thank you, Netflix. Hilarious. But true? Well, you decide, but I'm here to tell you that we love our series. We cuddle on one couch or another and watch and watch… then talk and talk…

No, no, Saul hasn't gotten into matrimonial law quite yet; but Bob Odenkirk is brilliant in this prequel to "Breaking Bad" and he might enhance your marital bliss. By the way, "Better Call Saul" is a stand-alone, whether or not you watched "Bad." And the bonus… a huge one… comes by way of the lovable Jonathan Banks in a continuation of his role as Mike. What a treat!!
Highly, highly recommended!!

Cucina News

Before we left Christian's neck of the woods, we hit Trader's. Needless to say, we overbought and overspent. I was excited to find this shelf-storable item, ready and waiting for when I'm in the mood to make a Bûche de Noël. Had to text Cousin Maddy, a schooled baker. Of course with a Trader Joe's in her neighborhood, she was already aware. She told me that it's an excellent product. I'm spreading the word.

You're welcome. :-)

UPDATE: Not for moi; my first review is here.

Home Improvements

So, I missed my big Cape Cod lanterns in the Old Homestead's living room. Needed to rectify that with a LakeHouse version. Perfect! I hope you like.
Also, we had a few plant casualties while away for a month. Thought to fire the help, but we love Bri too much. And he's proficient in other areas of home guardianship. Instead, Joe hit Lowe's and surprised me with the motherlode of greenery. Gorgeous stuff, including the first orchid to grace our new digs. And it's not even Valentine's Day quite yet.

Snow - Or the Lack Thereof

We are normally considered to be in the snow belt of New York. Well, Friends, the times are a-changin', for sure.
A couple weeks ago, we headed into the Big Apple after they were pounded. Bridge traffic was a mess, but generally speaking, main roads were pretty well cleared. The above picture is a self-portrait of sorts. Can you find me, precariously holding my iPhone by an open window?

Yesterday's lakescape was snowless… the lake with just a touch of ice on it… still waters reflecting.

Finally, last night, we had an inch or two of the white stuff. Our lakescape changed a tad. A tad. It's February 9th and this is it. And now, the sun is shining with reflective stillness returned, so the white coating won't last for long.
Bizarro world? Global warming? Ah, poor Long Island. They were blasted again.