Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Creating Photo Ops

NIK and I got busy, today, less than twenty-four hours after Joe filled the old feeder on a new deck arm. Brilliant. Our birds are suspended close to the slider and in such a way that we can multitask, all cozy on the couch. Close enough to use the smaller of my lenses. Yep, build it fill it and they will come.
Chickadee came first and no, I didn't filter the above pic to black and white; it was just a grey morning that offered this result.
Big Kahuna wasn't far behind, but waited for Old Sol to make an appearance. He and the Mrs., who later worked her way into the mix, prefer blue skies.
In between, there were woodpeckers, titmice, blue jays, nuthatches and the resident red squirrel. Not to worry, as he hasn't quite yet figured out how to access the seed.

As though not enough of G-d's gifts, we spotted Big Baldie flying by. Perfect.

So, Check Out "Sweet Caroline"

It's no secret that Caroline is not my favorite from my favorite. Seems to me she is responsible for keeping the masses from knowing Neil Diamond's incredibly deep catalogue of superior music. But hey, even I'm open to a new version; this one is fabulous! How the heck did I find it, you wonder. Well, thanks to my research for the right ukelele, voilà!

Amazing Amaryllis

Nothing says "Christmas" like amaryllis blooms. They are so gorgeous. Gift one at Thanksgiving and it'll bloom in time for Santa. But THIS. Absolutely incredible. Individually waxed bulbs are fed and forced for the holiday and require no water to maintain. Also, this type of planting somewhat dwarfs the plant, preventing long, leggy stalks that require staking. I'm so excited!

Like them? Well, shop around, 'cause we first saw them in Lowe's, last week. I resisted at $15 a pop, but noticed them for the second time in a Jackson & Perkin's catalogue for double that amount. Mentioned to Joe and guess what? During his yesterday's travels, he stopped at Lowe's to later surprise me with these beauties. Have I mentioned my excitement… a rhetorical question.
For me, less is more; their simplicity is what I love. But, they can be arranged in containers to make larger displays, if that's what floats your boat Christmas canoe.

'Tis the Season. Happy Flowers. Thanks, Honey!
Updates to follow, as they grow.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Guest Photog...

Thanks, Joe. Glad you like our very-berry-bedroom-window view. A gorgeous day on Golden Pond.

When You Least Expect It

After a rather grey day, yesterday, this was our sunset gift. Old Sol lurks, so don't forget your sunscreen on cloudy days!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Our Virtuoso ♥

We're still bursting a week later and surely C and D won't mind if we share this with those who've been asking about our boy's progress. This public recital came just days after we moved his piano to our new digs. It's ready and awaiting the next visit, when I plan to do a bit of recording of my own.
The piece is semi-composed by H and you'll not see any sheet music. His memory is phenomenal - his musicality beyond that.
Beautiful, Loving  and Loved Boy. Huge Talent.
Watch out, Billy Joel!

Mouths of Babes:
"Everyone was playing slow songs, G'ma, so I livened it up for the audience!"

What A Mess - Snowmaking!!

Okay, okay! It was a light dusting, not a blizzard!
One more quick stop, last evening, took us to Lowe's, where I picked up a cheap-o fake wreath to decorate for our pretty red door. Didn't want to steal any thunder from Big Branch-Beauty, roadside; but hey, a red door is a natural for some Christmas adornment. Thing is, fake wreaths need fake snow, not available at any of our stops. Online prices are ridiculous, so I decided to go for some kids' vids on YouTube and make some white 'n' fluffy. Oy vey. What a mess!

A combo of baking soda and white conditioner worked like magic. I added some Elmer's, knowing where this stuff was headed. Spread a mess of it all over those fake branches and put it outside. After it dried for an hour or so, I hit it with spray adhesive. Then, another coat of the same about another hour later.

Sure, the end result with its 1/16th of the amount of snow made :-) looks pretty nice. By now, you've guessed what happened to most of the white stuff. Thing is, we'll be vacuuming till the New Year. But hey, that ribbon has no glitter (thanks, Gav) and those needles won't dry and fall off. I guess some price has to be paid to fancy up for Old Saint Nick, eh?

In spite of a snowed-on home interior, I still plan to do this one with the kids, on some cold winter's day. We just won't sprinkle snow… we'll create chubby snowmen and fancy igloos.

Try at your own risk mess; lots of vids to choose from.

To Note: This accomplished while Great White Hunter sat in the woods awaiting the arrival of Bambi. Thing is, Bams got the gist and did not make an appearance. While I love wreaths of all kinds, my opinion of hunting isn't pretty. Cheers!

GrandL♥ve Rescue Mission

Before Yesterday's First Departure :-)
In what must have been the longest trip to Middletown ever, we were already at Exit 118, yesterday, when we received a cell phone call from Gav. Seems the kids had half a day and he was exiled to Schmidt's to spend a few work hours with his Dad…

"Can you BELIEVE that I have to spend three hours here???"

We first told him we'd nearly reached our destination in the opposite direction to his location; but then, we took pity. Back to Exit 104 (well beyond home) for an emergency pick-up and then all the way to Exit 120 for what turned out to be a non-productive but very fun-faced afternoon. :-)

Planned errands were tossed out the (car) window, as we opted for a two-hour lunch at the Outback. We had a blast! Can that kid talk. And talk. And talk.

In an attempt to accomplish a little something, we hit Sam's. Yep. Friday evening at Sam's. Are you familiar? The place was mobbed, but… and this is a huge but… they were serving samples from one end of the store to the other. Gavin, already supposedly full from our long lunch, was ecstatic and found room in his growing, lanky body to try everything offered. Actually, he hit the mashed potato station three times. But hey, I promised not to tell, so shhhhh.

In between bites, he helped me choose holiday ribbon 'n' wrap, not such an easy task when searching for the non-glittered variety. I'm still finding last year's sparkly, here and there! I digress. Here at the lake house, we're already thinking Christmas. I know, I know. It's early and before Thanksgiving. We never decorate till right after turkey. Well, you know how it goes… never say never. We're excited for our first Christmas in our new digs. We've already cut boatloads of red berries from the waterside shrub to do the big wreath with its Stacey Drive branches. It looks so pretty and was nice to return home to, all lit up. Don't judge. We're excited.
For the record, all the pics in this post were taken with my new phone, possibly worth its weight in rose gold. Though I still need to work on indoor results, this I-swear-by-my-Nikon-only Lady is impressed.

Have a Happy Day. Giving Thanks, here on Golden Pond.

"G'ma, I feel so grown up, now that I'm as tall as you are!"

Friday, November 20, 2015

Do You NOT See What I Do NOT See?

Duckless 'n' Sunny - RealTime iPhone 6S Plus Photo
Wow, I blogged about that flock of ducks just in time ("Just Ducky," below)! When we opened the blinds this morning, they were gone! Poof! Off to southern shores and warmer temps. What a great phenomenon to have witnessed. I love lakeside living. And it's a gorgeous day, here on Golden Pond…

May the sun shine on your world, as well.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Shorter Days 'n' Longer Nights

Let's be real - the shortage of late-fall-through-winter daylight sucks. Period. It's pitch black outside when we look at the clock at about 5:00 PM. Ugh. TV definitely gets a good workout, this time of year. And I'm pleased to say that finally - FINALLY - Joe has broken his reality-TV habit. "Dancing With The Stars," "The Voice," and soon "American Idol." History. Now, we're into Netflix, with an occasional On Demand movie. Thank Goodness. I can actually foresee the day when cable will not be necessary, thanks to an inexpensive Netflix subscription that can be shared with four others. Yes, that's five users per one member's registration.
Trending here were "Revenge," a show we initially disliked. It was not made for Netflix, but rather the network; it took some getting used to. Pure soap opera. Yet we were hooked enough to watch all four seasons, commercial free in this venue, to see who won the vicious game of getting even. Besides, who could resist its setting in the Hamptons, clearly Long Island's finest offering. Then…

There was a quickie, "Happy Valley," the first season by the BBC. Excellent. Tough to understand a few Yorkshire accents, but we managed and look forward to Season 2. Complex characters with even more complex relationships define this one.

Then came a movie, "The Gift," this one On Demand. It's a psychological thriller with an outstanding message about bullying, something that destroys lives.

Now, we've begun "The Killing." Made for Netflix, it is fabulous. Horrific AND fabulous, that is. Four seasons should take us a while to consume, but there you have it…
All recommended by Joe et moi and making it extremely difficult to watch touted hour-long shows on network TV that actually time in at forty minutes, allowing for ads.

Happy Viewing!

Just Ducky

Trust me, they're ducks!!
The fog is just now lifting at 11:00 A.M., to reveal the flock of ducks that has been building and chilling off our shoreline. It all started with a few. Then there were a dozen. Now, there are about double that. Not just a foggy phenomenon, as this has been going on for about a month. For some reason, they like "our" waters, 'cause they haven't budged much. And even though it's already mid November, I'm assuming they are staging in anticipation of a soon-to-be migration, as per (link) this article. Live and learn…

They're fun to watch, often going under water to forage for food. It seems like forever, before they pop up many feet from where they began. 

Feeding ducks appears to be part of our family's genetic make-up. Here's Bri taking my childhood spot on Unqua Lake, way back in the day. Lakeside living speaks for itself; wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Verizon Games Update - Unscrupulous Tactics

I hope you read last Friday's post about the games Verizon has taken to, in order to boost their sales and our data bills. If not, please do so; it's linked here. Now, to continue the saga:

Yesterday, we received a notice from Verizon of a new phone number and fees associated with the new, unwanted iPad.
"NO WAY!" said I. "I'll return my pink pretty first, as much as I like it."
We decided that Joe would try to return the new, unopened "gift" iPad, as he was going to be in Middletown today, anyway…

He immediately got the Verizon store's manager on the case, at the same time discovering they'd charged us FORTY DOLLARS… $40.00… for activation of assigned, non-transferable number…

CAN YOU IMAGINE??? This was supposed to have cost us nothing.

ALL was corrected; device was returned; number canceled. But still, I am totally pissed by these unscrupulous tactics. The phone ended up costing us too much. I could have waited, believe me. Sure, I'll enjoy it nonetheless… BUT…

 We'll ditch Verizon at the first opportunity.

Red Squirrel vs. Red Apple

Taken through the kitchen window with the wrong lens (of course!).
Look closely. Do you see what I saw, just moments ago? The little squirrel, Mr. Red, has been busy hoarding for weeks now. He was traveling over a nearby tree branch with a large, red apple in his mouth… well, that is till he dropped it! Research tells me that Red and Red would each weigh in at about half a pound. How's that for carrying one's own weight? 

For the record, I now see that the fruit is gone from where it dropped on the ground. You may draw your own conclusions, but no worries…

Apples, whether fallen from trees or hunters' lure bins, are in abundance, now. The little guy shall dine well.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cucina Talk - Time for Turkey

Have to say, I'm lovin' my lakeside cucina. It flows well. And it comes with a view. But time still flies, here on Golden Pond. Amazingly, it's that turkey time of the year again - mid November. WTF? How IS that possible?? Okay, so I digress…

Joe scored a couple Shady Brook Low-Sodium Turkey Breasts, all nice and fresh… ready to cook or freeze. I popped one into the oven, two nights ago, surrounded by seasoned white and sweet potatoes, carrots, apples and sweet onions, all sprayed with EVOO. First-night fare was scrumptious. Into the fridge went leftovers. Enter "Chopped." You know the concept. Nothing new, really; my family members have always cooked with whatever they had available. A ten-second stare into the fridge and out would come ingredients to whip up something special. So, what to do with those leftover veggies? Soup? No, not again, 'cause we're still working on the vats of chicken soup I recently made and froze. Just heated up? Nah; they never taste the same as freshly roasted. How 'bout a casserole?
Into the Cuisinart went the already-seasoned veggies to be emulsified and thinned with fat-free milk. I chopped the turkey into bite-sized pieces, while cooking up some small shell pasta. All was layered into old Glidden low bowls and topped with a slice of Swiss and some parsley, to be nuked (no need to bake this one) for a quick dinner with a side salad.
Meanwhile, I had all the leftover summer potato rolls and such cubed and slowly drying in a 200-degree oven. Ahhh, the cucina smells super. And to imagine Thanksgiving stuffing made with that delicious bread. You can take the turkey; I'll take the trimmings.

This one's for Gav, who loves the competition of "Chopped!" Who knew? He has strong opinions of what might or might not work, as well as a few creative ideas of his own. A budding chef? One never knows.

Buon Appetito!

Friday, November 13, 2015

This Dark, Sad Tower Speaks

G-d, more tragedy. It affects all of us. Prayers for France.

My Brother Calls Him A Buffoon - Heaven Help Us!

Did you hear last night's rant or even a small portion of it??

The Games Verizon Plays

We think Verizon is taking lessons from Time Warner. It's not pretty. See if you concur…

I made a decision on which phone to upgrade to, about a month ago. Yep. I went all girlie and a bit bigger. Lovin' my choice, but NOT lovin' how the purchase went. The phone was not yet available, at that time, but we were assured by a Verizon rep that we'd receive a $200 credit for my iPhone 5. Oooh-kay, that would have worked for us.
When the product finally arrived in the Verizon store, POOF! There went the deal. Now, we were down to $80 for any model iPhone, as long as in good working order. The deal came with a mandatory "gift" of a new iPad Mini.
Joe: "But we don't NEED an iPad, we each have our own."
V: "Sorry, that's the deal and it's in sync with your phone on Verizon WiFi."
Uh-huh. Let's see how much over our data plan we can go… no thanks. Continuing…

Next day, we swapped my 5 for a 4 that one of the kids was using; it's in perfect condition, always protected by a case and screen saver. Down to Verizon it went.
V: "Oh, no, THIS is not an $80 trade."
Joe: "But you said ANY phone."
V: "Sorry, Pal, this is worth a $30.00 credit."
 Let's be clear, we're NOT pals. Furthermore, Mr. Store Manager couldn't be bothered with handling the issue for the salesman, sooooo…

A VERY long, two hours on the phone produced the total of $80. But, it's the principle of the thing…


In Retrospect...

I missed Veterans Day. That's not to say that appreciative thoughts of just how and why we enjoy our freedom were not pulsating through my brain. We know. Freedom is SO not free. Our vets, past and present, have our eternal gratitude for all they sacrifice and all they give. Prayers for peace.

When We Can't See The Lake

Each morning differs from the other, here on Golden Pond, but I'm not sure about this fog. Hmmm. Does it still qualify as a "view?"

And Speaking of Thirteen...

What can Aubrey's gift be????
Joe and I were chatting about Aubrey's special birthday, yesterday morning - the much anticipated and anxiously awaited Number Thirteen. According to Aubs, she does feel a bit different, now that she's a teenager. Funny thing is, as I told Joe and later Aubs, I so clearly remember the gift my parents gave me on my own thirteenth birthday. While Joe attributed the memory to my "incredible mind," hahaha, the reality is that I only recall a few gifts from way back when. Thing is, as I conceded to Aubs, maybe thirteen does have a memorable charm to it.

Found this pic online… it's sort of like my old
radio, but I recall its case to be much
more lavish!

Sure, my mind's eye can muster up my incredibly beautiful Columbia bicycle, but the occasion for which I received it escapes me. But that big clunker of a portable radio with its leather case was my you've-become-a-teen gift. My girlfriend, who had a similar one, and I would walk around with those things, hoping Ricky Nelson would come on the radio. Back in the day, they served only one purpose. No CDs. No tapes. Just radio.

Teen ♥-throb Ricky
While that ol' radio would be considered a "big" gift, there was another teeny tiny one that has forever stayed with me. Wish I'd had the foresight to keep it, over the years. Still a teen, I found the coolest pen in my Christmas stocking. A bunch of iridescent glass balls in a gorgeous shade of chartreuse were held together by an ink cartridge. It was like writing with a piece of jewelry. I tried duplicating it in an art app, but you'll have to trust me on this one - it was soooo pretty. A little imagination would be very helpful, here. :-)

We're celebrating Aubrey on Saturday and her gifts were actually requests for her new room. We got some online retail therapy, as we shopped for part of her gift. After all, the girl has distinct tastes of her own, now! After all, she's a teenager.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sweet 'n' Sassy, Smart 'n' Stunning, Simply Spectacular - and THIRTEEN, today! ♡

The entire family is pretty much in awe, on this special day. Aubrey is thirteen! How is that possible? It seems like just yesterday that she was born, as we waited with Mom for hours on end in Middletown, even catching a movie. It was only when we returned to Monti and walked in the door that Bri called again, to tell us to come on back! Our first GrandLove had finally made her much anticipated entrance. And now…


With soccer season behind her and ski racing on the horizon, this Girl manages to make the High Honor Roll, first marking period, all while enjoying what seems to be every special social event her friends can drum up. Then, there's stage crew for "Peter Pan," chorus and violin. Need more? Another master multi-tasker? Yes!
Mainly, her outer beauty is so greatly enhanced by a sweetness that earned her my nickname…

Happy Birthday, Sugar!
We sure do love you!
Enjoy your teens and stay smart, safe 'n' sweet!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Lot of Lovin' - Gav ♥

Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs, Fried Ham, Caramelized Apples 'n' Bananas and Juice
We had a beautiful time with Gavin, during a sleepover this past weekend. He needed to escape a house full of girls, as Aubs and a gaggle of friends celebrated Number 13 a little early with their own sleepover. We came to his rescue and he came with lotsa lovin'.

The mouths of babes. So many precious things said, in between what came to be known as "random hugs and kisses," something Gav is famous for… declared as our favorite part of the weekend.

This little boy is so diversified; he never ceases to amaze us. Karate, skiing, soccer, fishing, gaming, schoolwork, music and even cooking. The list goes on. He takes interest in everything, wanting to learn the whys, wherefores and how-to-dos of all encountered. So, as he made pancakes on Sunday morning with our special recipe, we arranged for more kitchen time to learn how to make his favorite breaded chicken. We were too busy for pics during that session; but trust me - it was delicious and didn't have an ounce of fat on it, after he learned how to trim with kitchen shears. Gramps was impressed.
"G'ma, can I wash the dishes? Do you appreciate the help?"
There were lots of happenings with both Joe and moi. Towards the end of the day, we played UNO and I was told, "You're a rad G'ma." Melting, here on Golden Pond.

Ask me how much I love that beautiful, funny, interesting and mega-smart kid… and be prepared for the long answer!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

MIA - C'est Moi

Hello Again, Hello…
It's good to say, "Hello." And I know... I've been missing in action. Be assured, "action" is the operative word. It's been crazy, here on Golden Pond, where fall has clearly descended. Lake waters are losing heat every day, with clouds of foggy mist rising to the heavens...

Our nearly-resident carpenters and new good friends, Aaron and Bill, said, "Au Revoir, until we meet again," after an admiring glance inwards upon finishing the finishing of the downstairs. It turned out beyond our greatest expectations. Another room with a view, bedroom, full bath, utility room and much needed closet space. Moi? I'm so grateful to have seen this huge undertaking to fruition. My vision has been realized, thanks to Joe's handing over the reigns and basically saying, "Have fun!" While most have exotic trips and such on their bucket lists, tops on mine was the gutting and renovating of "one more house." Who knew??

Upon completion of the work end of things, we were able to move the rest of our furniture that we are able to use from the Old Homestead. Basically, we now have a "Stacey Drive Room-With-A-View" that includes all of our older "stuff" that has somehow taken on new life. Gav deemed it "cozy," as did Bill, mentioned above. That it is, complete with our painting (taken from a wintry photo) of that gorgeous house we built when in our twenties… bringing me to the awesome news that Bri, Kell, Aubs and Gav shall soon move in to keep the memory-making on the move, as they guard our precious, most wonderful ones. The old abode is bursting with Soll-family stories. Yes, if only walls could talk!!

While Joe stained lots of new doors, I took on the staircase and glass doors, so as to complete the much anticipated photo gallery we'd planned. Can't seem to escape that paintbrush, but I'm not complainin'. 

I discovered one must-use photo of the kids, BL - before Lyla. I'd taken the shot in Aubrey's bedroom, brought it into PhotoShop to delete the background and turn into black 'n' white. Thing is, it had gotten all ripply, in its frame. A coat of Modge Podge on its backing allowed me to smooth to perfection. Maybe this hint will help another.

A tad off topic but along the way to this post, we got to see Gavin playing defense for his soccer team, in what was the last chilly game of the season. He looks like a gazelle, out on the field, and now boasts of being taller than moi. For the record, he saved A LOT of goals. Nice job, Honey.

Oh, and one more mention… just as the Old Homestead forever lives in our hearts, so does the beach. To think, we now have our own beach, albeit lakeside…

I'll take it, at the same time giving thanks and hoping y'all have been well and enjoying November. Can't believe that it's almost turkey-time. We must put that umbrella away.