Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Fare and Second-Hand Smoke

Netflix is great. Not only can we catch up on series-gone-by that we missed, but for one small monthly fee we can share the account with the kids' families. Not bad! Gone are the days when I buy discs, watch and then sell on eBay at a loss.

We've left physical violence behind. Thankfully, "Thrones" has ended. My neck was aching from all the head-jerking necessary to avoid watching beheadings. Sure, I'll tune in to see Tyrion's fate, next season. But till then, a good, old-fashioned soap opera, complete with mental brutality, shall do… bringing me to "Mad Men" and its steady stream of jealousy and love affairs. Oh, and cigarette smoke.

Ya know, I went to school and worked in Manhattan for a couple years during the sixties. I have to tell you that the LIRR had smoking cars. No smoke for me. And my office at Twentieth Century-Fox (it was hyphenated back then) was not smoky. Maybe this was exclusive to Madison Avenue and the advertising agencies? I don't know. But we're dying from the second-hand smoke that we're letting into the living room, for an hour each evening…

That's right. One episode a night. TV time rolls around late during summer months. And besides, the men (and women) of Madison Avenue are interesting, but not quite as compelling as those of "Breaking Bad". For that, we'd be up till midnight watching at least two shows per night, or more. Gonna take a while to catch up to seventy-something episodes of this new-to-us show.
But hey, we're in those lazy, hazy days. Right? 

RealTime - Summer Daze

Mambo was in a summer daze, when Bambi went strolling by. Never heard or smelled her and kept on napping near the front-door screen, even as I went out to hang Old Glory. The young doe waited for me to fetch NIK for a capture. We made eye contact.
After a cloudy start, we seem to be clearing into a pretty summer day.

The LakeHouse - Baby Steps

We're in for gorgeous sunsets on Wanaksink.
Family and friends know that we've been planning renovations at the lake house. My hope is to chronicle various stages here. If all goes well, it shall be gorgeous. We've most of our ducks in a row, in terms of contractors… a loooong story for another day. Now, we're anxious to see something done.

Nothing is easy, believe me. For example, we had the old, y-ugly shrubs removed from the parking side. Now, we await the official stump-grinder, so that we can freshen the soil and plant a pretty Japanese maple, a holly and some other favorites. But not to be discouraged…

Painter #1 showed up and applied the satin espresso we chose for the exterior. We're thrilled with the result; he did a great job. But what to do with that nasty foundation? I know, I know. It won't even show, right? But it gets much wider on the lake side, where the basement is actually above ground, complete with lake view. We decided to do it ourselves. That's right. Now, we can add "Foundation Painters" to our lengthy resumes. A busy Sunday with a pleasing result. 
Next up? A pretty flower box and red shutters for the window. A new door. Some deck updates with a very exciting railing choice and lots of indoor goodies, too. That is, if our contractors show… 

Meanwhile, a mention that the leafy stuff growing by the walkway is persistent. It deserves to live. Many moons ago, we brought a pail of it for each house - all the way from ole Cape Cod. I guess it could be said that we like to keep our memories nearby.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bonsai Elephant Ears??

It's one of the varieties I often forget about, from year to year. A shame, really, 'cause Elephant Ears are unique and gorgeous. They've grown to their normal size during summers gone by. This season, though, I decided to inhibit growth by placing in a small container. You know. It's the bonsai way. Thus far, I'm liking the result, but summer has a long way to go. We'll see.


No sooner did I write my "Flowers" post when gorgeous, yellow day lilies decided to bloom profusely, all over the place -
in this bed and that! It's almost like they're saying: 

"We're here - just a tad late."

And that they are. Almost a month late. But no less gorgeous and clearly worth waiting for.
Sometimes I love being wrong.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

No, not the song… the real deal. It's a strange summer in upstate NY. Perhaps attributable to lingering sub-zero temps of winter past?
You know. The one during which we ran away to South Carolina.
Trees of all shades are lush and thick, with the mountain beyond our cocoon not at all visible from the backyard. Thing is, June's clematis, Lynn's irises and a few rose varieties are nowhere to be found on the garden side of thick foliage. As our weedy, rampant rose began to bloom profusely, we pulled another more refined bush that appeared dead. Way beneath the soil line, there it was. New growth.
Back into the ground it went. We'll see. Strange, really. Lots of old diehards seem to be in recovery.
But annuals are happy. Expansive hibiscus blooms are brighter than ever.
Luckily, they compensate.
Written for you from my little piece of Paradise.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


When we played cards, last night, Joe couldn't find the Boogie Board for scorekeeping.
Never gave it a second thought, till…

Gav stopped in with Bri and Aubs, today. 

"G'ma, did you find your mail?"

I had no clue as to what he spoke of. Seems he'd hidden a little love letter under Mambo's bed, when last here on Sunday.
It also seems that I didn't move said bed to vacuum, so far this week. Come on, don't judge me!
It's summertime.

Guess who made my day...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chloe's Day!

In a fantabulous stage debut, Chloe joined her first-grade classmates in a stellar performance of Under The Sea. We are SO EXCITED to have been there. Kudos to Ms. Kim for her wonderful work with these gorgeous and talented youngsters.
Seeing (and hearing) was believing!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Do You Scream For Ice Cream?

Aubs does not generally frequent my blog, so I'm safe in sharing this anecdote. My girl is as sweet as Sugar, my nickname for her.
Just don't touch her ice cream…
After dinner the other night, Joe took the kids to a local hotspot for ice cream. It was already pretty late, so killjoy G'ma gave strict instructions to order single scoops with one topping each. They were great about it. In spite of ordering properly, though, Aubs ended up with too much of her favorite - pistachio. She ate what she considered to be the proper amount and put the rest in the freezer.
I know, I know. Great kids, right??!!

Joe was around for lunch, yesterday. He opted for an egg salad sandwich on a roll. I was indecisive. That is, till I looked in the freezer. There is was. Pistachio. Not a flavor I'd ever order. My choices are strawberry and/or vanilla, these days. I thought to have just a taste. Next thing I knew, I was telling Joe what my offbeat lunch would be. Yep. Down to the last nut. What a treat, but not quite the end of story… at four, the phone rang.  

"Hi, Sweetie. How was school? "
"Okay, but I wanted to tell you that I left the rest of my ice cream in the freezer."
"I know, Honey. Guess what I had for lunch??"
"My ice cream?"
"Yes! And it was sooooo delicious!" 


My girl was not pleased with me… like she didn't already know how delicious it is was. She handled it pretty well, though. Sort of.
Let's just say our conversation came to an abrupt end.

"Okay, G'ma, my phone's going dead. I have to go…"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Drink This and Not That - Iced Tea

Sure, I'll share this recipe with you, as long as you don't hold me accountable for any ensuing weight gain…

Long before the sweet piece of lakefront property fell into our laps, we enjoyed the last public beach on Wanaksink. None remain. But back in the day, my girlfriend and I used to pack up the babies and all their gear and head to Sandy Beach. To sustain us through those energetic times, we'd take turns making a gallon of Lemonade Iced Tea. The recipe, you ask?

Just prepare your homemade tea, let it steep for a while and add a large can of lemonade concentrate. You know. The sweetened kind…

And therein lies the problem. We'd drink that stuff like it was water. After a while, I wondered why the weight gain?? Come on! Liquid diet?? Ahem. The culprit was quickly identified and the recipe designated deep within recipe archives,
ever since…

But yesterday, when I made my first batch of Legal Lemon Iced Tea (you know how to do it), I was reminded of times gone by… speaking of which…

I'm always thrilled to find the above-pictured, vintage/nearly-antique glass juice bottle in my stash. It's one of the few things that made the eBay-days-cut, 'cause for my entire childhood, it held our morning Vitamin C. A small can of Minute Maid concentrate and a few cans of water. Remember? I'm sure it was gifted to Dad at a grocers convention, or the like. Whatever. It stays. Here's why...

Even sugar-free, my iced tea rocks! Just has to be that bottle.

Like The Wind

Even the kids will agree - the school year has zipped by in the blink of an eye. With just another week to go, now they suffer through remaining hot and steamy days that make them want to eat ice cream, play later at night and sleep in at dawn.
Yesterday was a scorcher and perfect for a sleepover, while their parents went to Bethel Woods. 

They blew in with the breeze and hit the pool, within moments. Dinner al fresco allowed for dripping wet bathing suits.
Seriously. I ask you. Is there anything better than summertime??
"Daddy, did you see my glasses?"

My guest blogger was too tired to submit an entry. She needed the beauty sleep that would transform her from little water rat to sophisticated pre-teen.

Morning came quickly. We found Gavin's good wishes awaiting us. Tradition.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Girl Talk - Spa Day

Giving Thanks, Today
What a gorgeous day! A solid ten. I brought all my girlie supplies outside and declared it a Spa Day. Who wants to sit in some dingy, smelly shoppe for nails 'n' toes? Just give me the patio and its surroundings, where I can admire the fruits of our years and years of planning and planting.


Tree treasures are many. Old trees propagate themselves all over the property. Consider the Half-a-Tree Japanese Maple I've mentioned before. Just look at the beautiful baby we transplanted, yesterday. I couldn't resist the addition of a few Hens 'n' Chicks and Live-Forevers.

June '11

Then there's yet another Holly. Turns out it's a female and shall be loaded with red berries, just in time for Christmas. Look at this youngster just three years ago and now. It's quickly catching up to parents that sit elsewhere, here at the Old Homestead.

Before you leave, please check out the mirror image of just what was keeping me company, as I primped and polished…
In My Mirror, Today

Pasta 'n' Crumbs

Need a carb fix? There's no better way to double the dose than by indulging in a delicious dish of pasta and crumbs. When we've accumulated too much of too many varieties of bread and rolls in the freezer, I dedicate about an hour to it and my Cuisinart, making bags of coarse crumbs. Seasoned as I go with garlic powder and paprika, back into the frigid zone it goes, ready for so many uses. My favorite has to be this dish. It's a bit different than the (link) super-quick version I blogged once before:

While your pasta-of-choice is cooking, sauté a hefty amount of crumbs in EVOO, adding fresh lemon juice, pepper and parsley to taste. Add al dente pasta to crisp crumb mixture and toss. Loosen with that **starchy water** you've saved from the pasta pot or low-sodium chicken broth that has been warmed. Play with amounts till your own taste buds are satisfied.

**You should always save a cup of water from the pot of nearly-cooked pasta. When too much sauce is absorbed, just a bit of it will bring a dish to perfection.**
My cousin, Evelyn, tells me that her Italian-born Mom made this dish every Christmas Eve, flavoring the oil with anchovies. Meatless for the before-midnight occasion, it was a favorite. While anchovies are not for us, I loved the memory.

So many classic Italian dishes are of the peasant food variety. For me, they're gourmet to the last bite…
especially when angel hair is the star.

Buon Appetito! And remember! It's even better al fresco.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mine ♡

The light green plant is a Live-Forever, scientifically known as Sedum Telephioidies, one of the hardiest succulents around. It's easy to propagate with just a snippet. Our first one came from Dad's garden in Massapequa, many moons ago. In the fall, it blooms lavender. It disappears in the winter. It's the first to poke a leaf through in the spring. Just a glance its way conjures up peaceful memories galore.
Yep. My Dad. He lives forever…

Maya once said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." And again, there's Dad, living through a quote. How he made me feel… like a princess on a pedestal, loved to the moon and back countless times. I remember his look of distress melding into relief and then boundless love, when I descended train steps after a night caught in the blackout of '65. And the time my favorite hat blew away, also in the train station, how he made me laugh hysterically. "That's okay, Nick. You wore that hat too much, anyway." Or way, way back, when a wave came crashing over our heads. Not a worry. I was safe in his arms. He set me up for life, securing my self-esteem...

I can spot male chauvinism and/or condescension from a mile away. As recently as last week, we met with a highly recommended carpenter to consider a lake-house project. He made the mistake of ignoring my input and speaking over me and directly to Joe, several times. Joe knew. I knew. End of story. Bringing me to...

Dad's quick and loving bond with Joe - fifty years ago, when we were just kids. And that tells the highly significant story of another great man, great husband and friend… and amazing father. A fantastic role model for Brian and Christian. 

To all my men - have a happy Father's Day, tomorrow. Our family is blessed. And it all began with the Great American Firemark, who would be thrilled to know that Maya's real first name is none other than Marguerite!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bloomin' Inside and Out

No trip to Albany would be complete without a stop at Trader Joe's. They must love to see us walk through those doors. As if all the food items are not enough, they've the most awesome collection of orchids, like the one above that I chose for Gran's bowl.
Then, upon our return home, there he was, by way of an iris named for him. Yep. Neil Diamond in my garden. Resplendent in raindrops. It's simply not true that he doesn't bring me flowers, anymore.

Next Up - Hunter Takes The Stage!

Yesterday, more blessings came by way of Hunter's invitation to attend his 4th Grade Spring Concert.
It was our first-ever trip to his "new" school and what a treat
Born with music in his soul, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing him take the stage in both chorus and band.
All the kids were adorable and enthusiastic, as were their fabulous teachers.
This little man's room looks like a music studio. Next up? Piano lessons are to start in just a few days.

Love Sings and Plays!

Testing The Waters - Gav's Day

"What should we do, today?"
Sure, sure, it's great to have the whole gang all together. But once in a while, everyone needs a one-on-one day…. or, as in this case, a three-on-one day. Two grandparents and one Black Russian Terrier bonding with one BoyGrand make for some true adventures and good-for-the-soul spoiling time. We had a blast on Saturday, dedicating ourselves to what has now become known as the
First Annual Gavin S. Day And Sleepover.
We were blessed with gorgeous weather and Gav was the first to hit the pool, this season. Gramps got a tough workout, playing various games of pool ball. When exhaustion struck, we headed for the lake. Upon arriving, I'm sure Mom was listening when he said,
"I wish Big Nanny was still here. But a long, long time from now….. we'll see her again."
They shared a very special relationship.
Rough waves??
Gav was also first to test the kid-friendly kayak recently added to our modest fleet. He'd never paddled himself, but learned quickly. In what seemed like no time at all, our two vessels were heading out for an awesome trip to the Island, where some exploring took place. Round trip? About two miles logged for our novice!
By the time the sun began to set and create diamonds on the water's surface, our boy was cruisin' upon the two-man kayak. No problem!
Imagine ALL of the above interspersed with food. A LOT OF FOOD. When's the last time you kept an active nine-year-old satiated? What made this day unique, though, was that he got to create his own menu. Interesting. Out the window went all those healthy choices of mine and in came a man-sized sandwich of cold-cuts that was devoured in minutes, in addition to other less G'ma-friendly picks.
Gotta love it.

To top off the night, "Charlotte's Web" was the Netflix choice. We highly recommend this classic with its arsenal of celebrity voices bringing it to life. In keeping with the movie's theme, Gav announced at its finale that our "…miracle of the day will be sleep…" Trust me. It's the first time EVER that this little man WANTED to hit the proverbial sack!

Morning came quickly, leaving time for more food and a wicked game of Wii baseball with Gramps.

That was FUN... and it's true…
there are miracles to be found in every day.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Remember Our Double Take?

Seems that Robin Red Breast did some reconstruction on the nest that has been atop (link) our wreath for many moons. Sure, he had plenty of energy after devouring all those red berries. Now, we've little ones that might also consider wintering over at the Old Homestead. Look hard to see those little beaks. I had to be quick. Momma was squawking loudly from a nearby tree, waiting to protect and feed her babes.

How sweet it is!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Long Island's Favorite Rockin', Rollin Son - Billy Joel

TV has been brutal, lately. Literally. Brutal. Just can't seem to tolerate "Thrones" or "24" and the beyond-normal-imagination violence. So, when PBS aired "A Matter Of Trust - The Bridge To Russia" as their fundraiser, the other night, I found immense relief. Billy in his prime. Wow. Lucky for us that he chose to be a musician instead of a gymnast. Sure, we've seen Billy live multiple times since the nineties. And he has always mustered up wild and crazy. But the 1987 antics for the Moscow crowd redefined stage presence!

Best parts of watching on PBS were snippets of the accompanying interview - Billy now. Nothing to sneeze at, with his still wildly popular shows and current long-term gig at the Garden. Such an intelligent man. It's no wonder his lyrics go deep…

Alternative, uninterrupted watching can be done on Showtime, as well… it's a must-see event…

Trust me! You'll love him. Long Island girls never tell a lie.

For Kim