Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"The Good Wife" Turns 100!

Such a dilemma on Sunday nights, with "The Good Wife" and "Homeland" airing in the same time slot. Which do we choose to watch-watch and which to we choose for the next day's on-demand-watch?? Ah, this should be our biggest problem in life, eh?? 

Hands down, we knew this week's choice would swing with Alicia and Big (Sorry, Guys - just can't separate Chris Noth from Carrie!)


Not exactly sure how we should feel when considering the general state of society, after watching this depiction of human behavior. Whew! It was exhilarating, if not a tad frightening. Who do YOU trust?

Happy 100th Episode to a fantastic show.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hot Off The Needles

"Purple" on night-time chair, where I relax, craft 'n' WORD.
With special thanks to "Homeland" and "The Good Wife"!
Well, Purple Prevails is signed, sealed and delivered to our adorable cousin, Maddy. 
MADS circa 2009
When we chilled on the Cape's beautiful beaches, last month, she informed me yet again that she had her baby blankie with her - the one that I crafted for her, 22 years ago; I'm flattered. Come on, you KNOW there's something you derive cuddlin' comfort from, too; but will you admit to it, as does Mads? 

This is so much more than flattering, though. You see, this hand-crafter thinks of the recipient, each and every stitch of the way. Yep, I'm thinking that we're connected by rows. Warm vibes surround me. 
Love you, Mads. Cuddle well.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reigning Surpreme

Circa 1960 or so
It's a year tomorrow that Marge joined her Gus. But it was on this Sunday of the month that we were with Mom for her last hours of life... life as we know it. A brutal time, but a blessing to have been with her, as we were with Dad, albeit far too many decades ago.

The priest who tended to her funeral service said it best:
"You know, you have to celebrate your Mom's long life."
And I do. As a family, we do.

Thoughts abound when a butterfly flutters by or a Mandevilla bloom opens or her Jade plant needs watering. A million times a week there's a reason to remember. Thankfully, we've emerged from the darkness of her awful last months, having returned to the light of beautiful years prior.

And if one believes in an afterlife simulating what we know on earth, there's reason to laugh. Ronnie, Joe and I do it best, when we think of the tap on a wine glass, signifying the need for a refill... or the "Guuuuus," when help is required... or the coffee awaiting her awakening, left on her night-table by ever-lovin' Gus.

So, it is with sadness and a sprinkling of humor that I remember; and since this photo was still on display in her home, I've chosen it to make my point. I'm guessin' it's how she'd like to be remembered. But I have to say, there's a story, even here. When it was captured during a cruise on the Italia, Mom was very seasick. She mustered up a slight smile, not quite as glowing as Dad's huge one. But hey, royalty never disappoints.

I do believe that there is a non-sectarian Heaven, where loved ones reunite. And I'm thinkin' that this royal couple is in charge. 

My parents:
 Gorgeous. Smart. Caring. Sharing. Affectionate. Moral. Regal.

Loving. Loved. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"The Place Beyond The Pines"

After an hour of searching for a movie-on-demand, we wanted something that earned more than two stars from viewers and lasted more than an hour and a half in length. (What IS that?) We found it in "The Place Beyond The Pines". This is the Mohawk Indian name for Schenectady, NY, where the epic story takes place; it eventually moves to nearby Troy.

Ryan Gosling's character, Luke, immediately pulled us into the complex tale. It unfolds vignette-style and doesn't stop surprising for more than ten minutes at a time. A terrific film that studies many different human relationships and behaviors - cause and effect, if you will - with emphasis on the impact of father-son woes.

From Derek Cianfrance, the director of "Blue Valentine",  the film held us captive for over two hours. The cast was well chosen, each actor fantastic in his or her role. We gave it our highest rating, a TEN.

A great way to spend a frosty Saturday morning... I guess I spoke too soon about those balmy temps we were experiencing.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Joe and I watched the (link) documentary on CNN, last night. We were appalled. Witnessing the agony of mother whales as their calves were taken from them was heart-wrenching. Learning that huge orcas have been contained in small spaces, sometimes for fourteen hours at a time, was maddening. Seeing collapsed fins... well, you know... just freakin' Free Willy, will ya...

But the worst nightmare of all was learning of Sea World's denial of knowledge that death and further threats against trainers had existed for decades. Secrecy. Why? Well, you know... the almighty dollar ruled. Take away Shamu shows and there goes the profit. OMG. Human life at such high risk of brutal death. Trainers' lives meant nothing to management.

And to think, we just enjoyed Mystic Acquarium. 

The questions become, 
"Are you opposed to zoos, aquariums and circuses? Will you continue to take your children and grands to see wild animals in captivity?

Enter Jack Hanna. In the post-show discussion, I knew exactly what he'd say. And he did. It's kind of like us and Mystic. We'd never given a thought to beluga whales. I truly fell in love. Further research taught me all about them... what threatens them... how we can help. Still, the vision of them swimming by exists in my mind's eye. Smiling faces? And like Jack observed, would we ever have given a thought to the unknown, without coming face to face with its inhabitants? Is he right? Is this mandatory to our caring?   
Moral of the story:
I am so very torn, this morning.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First Ever Spaetzle - A Recipe for German Egg Noodles

Michael Symon and his German competition were making spaetzle on the cooking network, last week. How simple! If you Google methods of getting the gooey dough into the simmering water, you'll see that there are several techniques. I went with the stainless screen and scraper Michael used; it was ordered on (link) Amazon in a heartbeat. Enter a recipe - here's the basic one I used:

Whisk together 4 eggs, about 1/3 cup milk or water
dashes of salt, pepper and nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)

Add 3 cups all-purpose flour and stir well with wooden spoon. Add more water, if necessary; dough should be sticky.
Cover and refrigerate for an hour, before using; it can be held overnight, too.
(Gluten-free or white whole wheat flours can be substituted)
Photo by Joe, who waited patiently for his first taste!
Scrape portions of dough into salted, simmering water. The squiggles will drop to the bottom of the pot. In the blink of an eye, they will surface and be done... ready to strain into a bowl or onto a towel, if you'd like to dry for freezing. The noodles should be very firm.
If serving hot out of the pot, a light dressing of butter or EVOO, parsley, pepper and garlic powder is perfect. Research tells me that they can also be pan-sautéed to brown.

There are many variations online. How 'bout Punkin' Spaetzle for Turkey Day?? Or Spaetzle Primavera? We are already anticipating adding them to soup. 

Guten Appetit!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grasscloth 'n' Paint

It was time to perk up the dining room, after ??? years with grasscloth. Thing is, we wanted paint. What we didn't want was the mess of paper removal and the need to repair walls. UGH. And so it goes and so it goes...

We repeatedly postponed plans. The man we'd hired did the same. Oooh-kay. Enter Google. We took the advice: 
"Yes, you CAN paint OVER grasscloth?"

Seriously, color inconsistencies turned me off, but the texture remained fabulous to my view. That is, fabulous for one who loves bumps and grooves all over the place. Besides, check out Martha to see that textures are SO trending, at the moment. Ahem.

Since it turned into a paint-only job, Joe volunteered. He detests the brush 'n' roller gig, but he's very good at it. 

This means to a successful end is only recommended if your paper is glued fast to the wall... no peeling corners or seams. It took two coats, the first one quite challenging in that paint needed to be pressed into the porous paper. The second coat evened things out to perfection; seams disappeared. Joe used 3 1/2 gallons of Behr with primer in an eggshell finish. I can't stop admiring the result.
Do you like?

Impatient Impatiens 'n' Such - Real Time

The only Impatiens I planted this year were oranges of the New Guinea variety. Hmmm. Last year's dormant seeds from the window-box pinks seem to have confused warm fall temps with springlike conditions. There amongst fallen leaves are two fabulous plants, blooming away as though summer is 'round the corner. Impatient Impatiens. In addition...

The flower tower that has graced CMI since June 9th is going strong. Thing is, it's nearly November. Sure, it's a tad spacey here and there, befitting the barren woods that now surround it. But I've not touched it since arriving home from our September week on the Cape. No deadheading. No water. 

Every summer day - sometimes twice a day - I'd diligently rid it of wilted blooms. After all, it is said that petunias will die if they don't receive this treatment. Now, I'm doubtful. Can I skip this task, next year? And...

 Cooler nights, morning dew and a few rainy days in the mix have sufficed for necessary moisture. 

Does all of the above constitute the makings of a lazy gardener?

I say, "Here's to Flower Power and balmy fall temps."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mystic 'n' More

In researching places to head in celebration of our almost-anniversary weekend past, Joe and I simultaneously thought of Mystic, CT, a place we'd not been since the boys were very young. We'd taken a side trip there on our way home from the Cape, one summer, in order to see the aquarium. Time to revisit. A last-minute reservation landed us in a hotel directly across the street from the popular venue.

On Friday, we traveled in cloudy weather, arriving to a very busy city. We hit La Luna for dinner and recommend this restaurant for its attention to detail in individually prepared dishes. A perfect start.
  Saturday turned into a brilliant, warm, sunny Indian summer day. Gone was the prediction for heavy rain. Our breakfast waitress, Shana, gave us tons of hints about the area. We decided to skip the expensive seaport visit, a sure-fired tourist trap, the highlight of which is a tour on an old whaling ship with guides dressed in period pieces. Instead, we headed straight for the aquarium, a two-minute walk from our digs. The first stop brought us to the beluga whales - four of these gorgeous creatures. I fell head over heels in love. Joe had to tear me away from them...
Perfect habitats have been recreated, allowing sea life to thrive. Penguins are so cute, but none were named Mambo... you know, of "Happy Feet" fame and our pooch's namesakeEven jellies look appealing, when they're not threatening to sting.
Exotic, colorful fish from all over the world redefine G-d's palette. Hey, I know that guy who seems to be in the humongous fishbowlThe California sea lions put on a fabulous show, bringing lots of laughter and cheers from the crowd. They'll even identify letters and shapes, if there's a fishy meal involvedAfter a few hours of wandering full circle, we headed back to the belugas for another fun photo shoot. 
Afterwards, it was off to Mystic's famous drawbridge. We'd kind of guffawed at the fact that it's considered a tourist attraction. But we're here to tell you that the intrigue level is high. So much to see in such a beautiful setting. 
By now, it was somewhere between lunch and dinnertime, so we chose the S & P Oyster Company for "linner". It's next to the bridge; we sat outside in spectacular gardens overlooking the Mystic River. Another great choice, Joe enjoyed warm lobster salad. For me, it was amazingly prepared cod, served on a bed of spinach and topped with an outstanding lemony oil and shredded arugula. I must duplicate that dish.
A hop across the bridge brought us to nice shops, decorated both for Hallowe'en and breast cancer month. Pink punkins have enormous appeal! Then, it was back to the other side of the bridge, where we chatted with a local firefighter who was cleaning a very special craft, after its return from duty elsewhere. Brian will be quite interested to know that the MARINE 1 travels as far as our New York harbor, if it is needed. It's just a year old and has already paid for itself in lives saved.

Before returning to the hotel, we stopped at McQuade's, a local market famous for its big-city quality, excellent bakery and attached restaurant. We chose this 'n' that for snacks and headed back to the hotel. A fabulous day.

While we were gone, hotel staff had switched us to a fourth-floor room. Ah, very pretty and much more peaceful than our Friday room on the first floor in the senior citizens' caravan wing. Good Lord, if ever you need to choose between rowdy college students or seniors, choose the former. Sure, Joe and I qualify as sc's and maybe we're in denial. But doors start slammin' at 5:30 a.m. and loud criss-cross hallway conversations soon thereafter. Jeesh. Cut us a break, folks. We know you've earned your rights, but others are up and coming, eh? I digress...
My waking thoughts on Sunday morning were beluga-related. Our validated tickets allowed for re-entry; this is a fabulous deal. You know where this is going, yes? So, after a hotel-comped, noise-related breakfast, we headed again to the whales. Much to our surprise, we were just in time to see them being fed, examined and trained. WHAT A THRILL! We watched for an hour, in awe of their gentle responses to trainers' commands. Honestly, I can't wait to see them again. But we said our au revoirs and  left for the day, to explore great towns and beaches.
Shana had suggested that we take a ride towards Westerly, her hometown. It is just across the Pawcatuck River, the first town in Rhode Island. We happened upon a seemingly never-ending Columbus Day parade, so we hung around for a while, though celebrations for this particular holiday disturb me. We had lunch on the river, at Bridge. Yum. Another great dining experience. Time was zipping on by, though, so we bailed on the festivities to go find Watch Hill Beach. Shana promised we'd fall in love... and we did.
Watch Hill is a rather unusual beach area. There is a private parking lot next to a long row of what turned out to be cabanas. Yes, that's right - cabanas built on the dunes and facing the ocean. To the right of the lot is a gorgeous cove, surrounded by houses with the most spectacular views. We happened upon a plein-air artist named Barbara Lussier. She was highly enthusiastic to share her love of the harbor and shore, encouraging us to walk to "the point" and be sure to climb the dunes for the most spectacular views. We did just that, and in addition, wandered down to the shoreline. Lordy. Words cannot capture the exquisite beauty of the coastal views, but Barbara's paintings sure can. Mother Nature assists her with light-shows such as the one we witnessed when Old Sol broke through the clouds.
Barbara had told us to be sure to look back towards town from the dunes, to see the magnificent and ginormous Victorian Beach House.
It felt delicious to walk barefoot through East coast sand on a mid-October day, only to be rewarded with such views! When we returned from our hike, we went by car to explore the landmark mansion a bit further. Just incredible to witness, with every angle capture-worthy.
This entire area is alive and hoppin', proving that with the proper attractions and gorgeous beaches, tourism is not extinct, at all. We'd intended to travel on to Narragansett Beach, about another forty minutes or so from Watch Hill. But time had pretty much run out, in terms of making it during daylight hours, so we opted for an ice cream cone with the vow to return soon.

We chose the Boathouse for a late dinner. It was good, but not up to the standards we'd become used to at other places. There are scores of fabulous restaurants to choose from and the food-service bar is set quite high.

 Upon returning to the hotel, I met a woman from California. She was with a large group of folks who'd flown to Boston from SoCal. They were touring by bus just to see New England's colorful foliage, something they don't witness at home. This made us appreciate our next day's drive home, even more. But before closing... 
I'd be remiss were I not to mention the congeniality of the proud New Englanders we were fortunate enough to meet. They know they've something special in their surroundings. They treat tourists like gold. They are anxious to share what they love. They are courteous in representing all establishments... well, at least the ones we visited. Seriously. They aim to please.

We listened to the Elvis station on Sirius, on the way home. A gorgeous song called "Suppose" played. As impossible as it seems, we'd never heard it before. I share it with you here. It's perfect testimony to Joe's and my appreciation of all things beautiful, through our "together hearts and eyes"... such a meaningful discovery for our 47th wedding anniversary, tomorrow.
Giving thanks.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Build It And They Will Come

"PUZZLE" an Aubrey Abstract '13
Sure, we all got the message from Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams". How 'bout "Playroom Of Dreams"? It seems as though we scored big-time, with the GrandLoves. You've all heard ad nauseam about it. Clearly you do not need more photos. But there's a message herein...

Much to my chagrin, Aubs had a run of displeasure with her art results. She was comparing her freestylin' work to Gav's, as siblings will often do. You see, he is a detailed artist, drawing with tiny lines that defy nature. So, she took a lengthy time-out. But who wouldn't be tempted by paints and supplies at one's fingertips. No need to ask, "G'ma, can I paint now." Just go to it, Girlfriend. And that she did, disappearing to the corner of color. I love the result and told her that maybe she has found her niche in abstract art. Whatever. She's at it again and I'm pleased.

Yep, build it and they will come.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For The Love Of Rhoda

"....I feel like maybe my life's a little bit better since I met Valerie Harper."
Tristan MacManus

The Good 'n' The Bad

The bad first...
Our leafy cocoon is diminished.
Saving the good for last...
Sunrise views are vivid.

GrandLove Makes My Day

Gav 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Giving Thanks

Bri will correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think he's been in Washington since we were last there as a family, about twenty-five years ago. That is, till yesterday and today.  

There on business, he was IN the Capitol, as the shooting and lockdown occurred, a few hours ago. He'd just moments earlier sent Kelly a photo that depicted a gorgeous day and a calm Capitol... eerily calm, due to current events.

My heart stopped, when I heard the news. Thank G-d for cellphones and instantaneous messages of safety. Man, it was extra special to hear his voice.

Thankfully, there was a quick solution to this seemingly random incident, executed by a woman who was then executed by police.

Giving thanks for the safekeeping of my precious Son and all others.
Praying for better, safer times for all of us.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Diner Drawing - "A Tree Grows In Monti"

An Original Pen 'n' Placemat Diner Drawing by Gav, 8 years old

Not To Belabor The Topic, But....

It is just amazing to be experiencing nearly 80-degree temps for a solid week, this time of year. I am absolutely loving it. Doors open. Flip flops nearby. Hair messy. Visor handy. You know. All the stuff I'm made of. Then...

To look outside at leaves in color against cerulean skies and have cheerful Morning Glories peek at me from behind fall mums, as other summer annuals continue to bud and bloom... well, there lie all the makings of a true "keeper"...

Al Gore, are you reading? Is this global warming?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

CapeScape - So, Where Do You Souvenir Shop??

Generally speaking, Joe and I are not interested in personal souvenirs. We're in downsize mode and less is clearly more, especially in my view. We do, however, have little traditions we maintain - throwbacks from our own kids and now kept for the GrandLoves. So, when on ole Cape Cod, we always hit Cuffy's for yearly updates of warm and fuzzy sweatshirts.

This past trip, though, we'd not even gotten to our destination in North Truro, when we stopped in Wellfleet for some Dunkin'. A favorite antiques haunt happens to be nearby; just couldn't resist a quick peek. They'd just gotten in four Danish modern chairs, circa 1950's. Using a bit of imagination to get me past the green striped fabric that adorned them, I could just picture the gorgeous frames by our kitchen island. The shop-owner noticed my interest and quoted me a ridiculous price. Oooh-kay.
A few days later, we experienced some rain; I convinced Joe to head back inland to make an offer on said chairs. It was accepted. Joe was skeptical. I was thrilled. Since we didn't have Mambo with us, we were able to stack 'em into the trusty Hyundai. Yippee!

On the way home, I checked in with an upholsterer whose work we liked, many moons ago. Still in business. Yippee, twice

And so it goes and so it goes. When I researched the fabric I'd previously used for a small project, it had dropped from $40 a yard down to $16. Joanne's delivered, by way of Waverly, in just a few days. Yippee, thrice!

It's good that Joe trusts my design imagination. He's almost as thrilled as I am with the results. But we still needed a company test. 
It just so happens that Gav slept over last night - our first chair guest. He loved the homemade chicken fingers and fries I whipped up for him. And the Little Man found the chairs very comfy, commenting, "Especially this part, G'ma," as he pointed to the backrest.

After dinner and before freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, our Monday Maestro serenaded us with quite the little concert.
We're still shooting for a piano prodigy. Maybe? 
Not to worry. We found perfect sweatshirts for all of our babes. Now, won't you please excuse me while I put up pancakes and pack a lunch. I hear the patter of little footsteps, coming from upstairs.