Monday, December 25, 2017

One Year Later...

As I was scrolling social media today I stumbled across this rendition of "Hallelujah".   This song has been covered by countless artists and I know that Mom had her favorites.  I'm quite confident that she would really enjoy this one. 

We love you and miss you! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nicki - Loving Wife, Mother, Grandma and Friend

Nicki C. Soller of Rock Hill, NY, was born on July 16, 1946, and passed on December 25, 2016.  We envision her waltzing once again with her hero and father, Gus Firemark, and sharing all the latest family stories and recipes with her Mom, Marguerite Firemark, both of whom await her spirit at the gates of heaven.

Here to hold her forever in their hearts is her loving husband of 50 years, Joseph Soller; her sons (whom she commonly referred to as her “suns”), Brian and Christian Soller, her daughters-in-law Kelly Soller and Dawn MacKillop-Soller; her beautiful “GrandLoves”, Aubrey, Hunter, Gavin, Chloe and Lyla; brother Ron Firemark, sister-in-law Mary Firemark; nieces Kimberly, Vicki and Alex Firemark; and nephew Lucas Firemark.

She was born in Brooklyn and was raised in Massapequa, NY spending summers at her family’s bungalow at Mountain Lake Camps in Wurtsboro, NY. She would meet the love of her life, Joe, while spending a summer day at Masten Lake.

Married to Joe in 1966, Nicki left her job at Twentieth Century Fox in NYC to “move to the mountains”. In the early years of their marriage, she was employed by the law offices of Kesten and Ledina in Monticello, NY.  Her true calling, however, came upon the birth of her sons.  She was always proud to say that there was no job more important than that of raising her family.

Nicki loved art and music and was the consummate Neil Diamond fan. She was a gifted photographer and writer and maintained a blog (Color Me Inspired) of all the things that she cherished - family, friends, nature, cooking, the beach and her beloved dog Mambo.

Her last year was spent at Wanaksink Lake, a move that she loved. She treasured the ever-changing beauty of the landscape, eagles, nature and mostly kayaking out to the quiet side of the lake with Joe.

Funeral services were private. Family and friends look forward to the summer for a celebration of her amazing life that is impossible to summarize in just a few words.  If one is so inclined, please donate to a favorite charity, in her memory.

Go in peace, Mom, we love you!

“Do not grieve for me, as I have lived a charmed life and have so much love around me!” –Nicki

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cryin' In My Beer?

Well, first of all, I don't drink beer. But, yes, I did shed a few tears in my club soda, after Hillary went down. Y'all know how I feel about that other guy, who now seems to be our President-Elect. Mercy. That's all I can say.

And, yeah, I shed a few more tears in my icy soda when I became ill at the beach, after first enjoying a great couple of days at Baby Bro's new home in South Carolina. We rented the same Surfside Beach house as in January and did settle in for a few nice days of wave-staring. Unfortunately, I started a rather high fever, so we headed home. A week in the hospital got me on track, but I'm still having a tough time on the rebound.

Then came a lot of tears when Lyla became ill and spent a coinciding week in her local medical facility. Now, THAT was upsetting. She is still on the mend from an extremely nasty infection, home with powerful IV antibiotics. But giving thanks that her ailments seem to have been arrested. Prayers. She is just precious.

The good news is that our Sugar turned fourteen during all of this. That's right, Aubrey is growing so fast, as are all the GrandLoves, but she remains as sweet as ever. What more can one ask for?

And we had our first snow of the season. Skiers are ecstatic.

Turkey plans were disrupted, but it seems that Bri 'n' Kell are catering here at the Lake. We'll miss Christian 'n' Dawn et al, but Baby Girl needs more time. I can relate to that, in all my exhausted-from-doing-nothing glory.

Happy Turkey to all. Always giving thanks for the good to be found in each day...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


We're making a choice. To make such a choice, we needed to do some early choosing. A first for us! Absentee ballots are just too cool. Go, Hillary! Oh, sorry; is that more information than you wanted?

Look at Joe's Rainbow!!

Through-the-windshield with iPhone, but nonetheless gorgeous. Thanks for sharing, Honey.

Stuffing - A Sh*t Recipe

My elderly neighbor on Stacey and I used to trade an occasional recipe. We both JUST cooked, so more often than not, instructions were vague. She dubbed these delicious dishes as "sh*t" recipes. You can fill in the blank. I found myself concocting such a beast, this morning. My first contribution to the freezer for Turkey Day. I'll never remember the gazillion ingredients, if I don't make note of them now.

First step was to cube all the potato rolls, both burger and hot dog, left from summer and let them dry in a low oven, while I…

Melted a stick of pure butter (hey, Thanksgiving comes just once a year) and EVOO in a large pan. Into that went lots of chopped onions, carrots, celery, scallions, apples and diced garlic, all tossed with sea salt, pepper, paprika and a chunk of ginger root. Lots of stirring and browning created the perfect pan to deglaze with red wine, after which I removed the ginger and added some defatted chicken drippings. Tossed the whole shebang with the bread cubes and broken cashews. Then placed in a Pam-sprayed aluminum pan for the freezer. Turkey drippings will top off the stuffing on the actual day. I do not stuff the bird, as the browning effect is the best!! If you can live without sausage or whatever, this vegan variety is delicious. Taste-tested by moi. :-)

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Okay, So I Lied

Seriously. Some random WORDer asked these questions during a first game. It's amazing he didn't want my blood type. So, I proudly joined the #nastywoman club :-) for a few, in honor of electing Hillary and slamming t.Rump. I digress...

Claimed A LOT of kids 'n' grands, denied my Italian heritage and aged a bit, but simply couldn't help myself. I lapsed. Doesn't everyone, once in a while??!! Check out this exchange and see what ya think. I'm in blue...

Oh, and for the record…

It was an easy win for me, 'cause he was so busy talkin'! But there's more…

This brings back a childhood memory. When I'd mention that a "new" kid was coming over for a play date or a meal or to ice skate, my Italian Gran would always ask, "Is he/she Italian?" Now, y'all know how much I loved Gran. But I was a sensitive kid and… you're also aware of the adoration and love I had for my Dad - my Dad of, ahem, Russian-Jewish heritage. Gran's question drove me nuts! I think my answer was somewhat written in stone and somewhere along the lines of, "Does it matter?"

Laughing out loud, here on Golden Pond. Memories are made of this.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

To Shake or Not?

No handshake. What did ya think? Does the lack thereof set an unalterable tone?

Debate 3 - Just Hand t.Rump the Noose and He'll Hang Himself

We're all flawed. Nonetheless, Hillary, the "nasty woman," was well composed, well spoken and duly horrified by his comments. I, for one, can't wait for November 8th, in spite of his threats to resist acceptance of the democratic way. Ahem. Assuming here that he would accept a win**, eh? It will be a blessing to be rid of this misogynist, at least from the national stage.

SNL shall be beyond-belief hilarious, this week. Actually, there were times I thought I was watching the show during the actual contest, last night.

Wondering: Is Webster adding "bigly" to our repertoire anytime soon??
**Day-After Update: Yep, he ultimately said he'd accept results, "…if I win."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rockin' Versace and Just Plain Rockin'

Gonna miss these two class acts, for sure! The last State Dinner just happened. Bittersweet. But they are gorgeous with their million-dollar smiles and kind, stable dispositions. Mario Batali was the chosen chef for Italian guests. I'm sure his pastry chef, Cousin Gina, was somehow watching.

Here's to our First Couple.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Million-Dollar View

Now, it is seriously raining leaves. The downside of fall. The dreaded result is… well, you know… bare tree limbs for what seems like forever. C'est la vie. And so goes the roller coaster goes.

Carpe Diem!

Sock It To Me!!

Monday, October 17, 2016

t.Rump Encouraging Threatening Rhetoric

These are frightening times. His supporters are adopting his vibes. Tragic for our democracy.

Anniversary Cruise

We are enjoying an amazing Indian Summer, known by many other names throughout the world. So, what to do? Yesterday, we chose a nice, long kayak ride. Oh my, and in the middle of October. We left the craft lakeside, as it is supposed to hit almost eighty degrees, midweek, before giving us a snowflake or two, next week. Still, I'll always keep those warm weather items handy, unlike years ago when seasons were SEASONS. :-) Remember the days of carefully packing summer or winter clothing away? Remember last Christmas, when upstate NY temps were balmy? Case rested. I digress…
The foliage is changing rapidly, now, and falling fast, too. Gorgeous, as it morphs.
We headed to the cove at the very end of Golden Pond. The water is extremely low and we experienced a near disaster going over a stump. I had visions of NIK, Joe et moi taking a swim. Much to our surprise, there were,  by our best guess-timate, about a hundred Canadian geese gathered. Of course, we spooked some of them by getting too close. Needless to say, they'll be migrating very soon. We'd actually thought they were already gone, as our lawn has been spared for many weeks. Bye-Bye, Birdies.
Upon returning to our cute little house that we love so much, we harvested our cute little punkin'. Hey, don't judge!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

FIFTY Blessed Years ♥

Joe and I are grateful on so many levels. Fifty years of marriage, plus two of engagement, after six months of dating. Long-distance dating and engagement, I might add. Lots of phone calls and amazing letters filled the gaps. There was no messaging, back in the Dark Ages. Ahem.

When I was upset by the rain on the morning of our wedding day, my beloved Gran told me it was all good. In all her wisdom, she said, "Honey, rain blesses a marriage." It cleared in time for our outdoor reception and I'm guessin' the rest is now history. Gran was right. Here we are…

Basking in the glow of our beautiful family. What more can we ask for. Last night was beyond a blast, topping off our pre-celebration just a few weeks ago in Corolla. Perfect. To look around that table… no words.
And so, we share our photos, at the same time looking forward to Thanksgiving. G-d willing, we'll all be together again, giving thanks and sharing love.

Thank you, Children and GrandLoves, for a beautiful evening and for the beyond-lovely gifts and heartwarming cards. We love you all… the sunshine of our lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ever-Gracious Michelle Obama

What a speech, this past week. If you missed it, please Google it on YouTube.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Congratulations to Bob Dylan! How Amazingly Awesome...

So pleased to have shared air with rock royalty on more than one occasion. So pleased the poet laureate of our generation has been duly awarded. So pleased that a friend of Joe's shared his entire Dylan collection with me, one cold and blustery winter. This is amazing news and so very welcomed during these rather difficult news days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How To Stay Sane During Debates...

…and grow your holiday collection, at the same time!

And This Morning's Political News...

An unnamed presidential candidate is having a Twitter meltdown. Again. Nothing further.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Did t.Rump Apple-a-gize Yet?

I think not. Thank you, Alec Baldwin. :-) And an unsolicited opinion…

Hope they skip Debate #3.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

RePosting in Memory of Cousin Gina Depalma

Y'all know that Cousin Gina lost an eight-year battle against ovarian cancer, passing away in December of '15. It's October. This 2009 entry appears again, in her memory.
With love...

Cousin Gina DePalma has battled ovarian cancer for 1 1/2 years now. Won't you please join in the fight to eradicate all forms of this sinister disease? No family is left unscathed by its brutality.

Insalata Calda di OrzO - Warm OrzO Salad
Created For O*Foods

1 cup Tri-Color (plain, sun-dried tomat& spinach) OrzO
3 chopped Sun-Dried TomatOes
Salt to taste

Sweet Onion - finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic - chopped
1 Box Chopped Pomì TomatOes
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Romaine Lettuce
Sliced leftover PollO
Fresh garden TomatO
Chives - the smallest member of the Onion family

Cook orzo with sun-dried tomatoes (ah, the flavor) in boiling, salted water till al dente. While it's cooking, sauté onion and garlic in EVOO till translucent or very lightly browned. Add chopped Pomì tomatoes; season with oregano, pepper and vino; allow to simmer for a quick sauce.

Combine about 1/3 of the sauce with the al dente orzo and let it sit while you begin to slice chicken and prepare remaining garnish items.

Serve with extra, room-temp sauce and sliced lemon, for zip. Delicious cold, as well.

Buon AppetitO!

O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Republicans Need To Lose t.Rump

It's time. Someone needs to take charge. Someone needs to make him understand that it is Hillary, not Bill (his favorite reference), he is running against. If he won't step down, the party needs to take action. Paul Ryan scored loudly, clearly and properly, for today. More, please…

And in case you were not yet convinced, we now see and hear confirmation that t.Rump is a raging misogynist. He is beyond immoral, disgusting, cavalier and reprehensible…

But through it all, I find myself relating to his daughters. My biggest dose of high self-esteem was instilled by my thoughtful, respectful, loving, principled, smart Dad. He possessed biggest heart possible. How unlike this despicable candidate who seeks the highest position in the land...

What a sad day for Ivanka and Tiffany. What a legacy from dear old dad. Personally, I am sickened…

This campaign season cannot end soon enough for me. Let's hope it is with the proper results.

Poor, unsuspecting Tic Tacs.

Friday, October 7, 2016


 This is what happens when it's perfectly still outside and the foliage is morphing.
Golden Pond Gifts

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Mall With Heart

It's hard to believe that the holidays are right around the proverbial corner. Gorgeous days are still allowing summer flowers to share space with fall pumpkins. Sure, the nights are downright cold; but 70-degree, sunny afternoons more than compensate for the chill. Still, October is what it is… the last month before the deluge of big cookin', big entertainin', big family get-togethers 'n' big plannin'. Where am I going with this…

Straight to the (link) Mall Of America. It has been announced that in its entirety, the mega-mall will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. YAY, YAY, YAY!! It's about time. Whose idea was it to start mercenary Black Friday on Thanksgiving Thursday, anyway? Maybe, just maybe, other retailers will follow suit in recognition of the importance of tradition and family.  Meanwhile…

Back at the ranch, I can't help but think of all there is to do and accomplish between now and Santa. The freezer awaits frequent contributions to be used for one holiday or the other. Kids' desires and/or needs have to be sorted. If opting for handmade anything, this year, I must get going. Should have done that in January, actually. I digress...

How beautiful to hear that employees actually cried tears of joy and thanksgiving, when they heard this wonderful news from the Mall With Heart. There's a holiday -theme here, somewhere.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Believe me…"

Uh-huh. Don't think so, you-know-who.
But your counterpart has credibility, believe me!
Alec on SNL

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rosh Hashanah

The kids were off, yesterday, for the Jewish holiday. It was a typically gorgeous day, as Jews almost always enjoy stunning fall weather for this occasion. One cannot help but notice the trend. When the boys were little, we'd always take a ride up to the Roscoe Diner, sit by the window for lunch and enjoy the Rosh Hashanah foliage. Then, they'd come home to paint their memories for all posterity. Wonder if they remember… but then, I digress…
We had fun. Aubs wanted to bake, while she awaited her turn on the four-wheeler. She made her first (link) roulade/bûche... rather successfully, I might add. And she learned a lot of granny tricks, such as putting the bowl of whipping cream in the sink to beat. Makes for a lovely splatter, so if you want to remain apron-free…

Gav loved his turn on the big machine. He's hoping to score his own similar wheels from Santa, but that remains to be seen. Both kids anticipate driving it on the lake, when the ice is thick enough.
A nice day. "Relaxing," as Gav deemed it.

Shanah Tovah to all.

Butterflies Are Free

So, today marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah '16. It's a holiday worthy of celebrating more than once a year, with its good wishes… the Chinese version and ours are soon to come. Meanwhile, may all Friends of CMI fly high and free with good health, happiness and prosperity. As for my Jewish half...

It's celebrating in an abstract sort of way. Yep, I've left rigidity behind and found freedom in the stroke. Makes for a happy camper painter.

Remembering Shimon Peres. And praying for the right candidate to have the opportunity to protect our freedoms.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Clearly our conflicted month, it's here. Already too-short days 'n' too-chilly nights. But many love it, with changing foliage and such. Personally, I'm mentally stuck in my favorite season. You know the one. There are a lot of flowers involved.