Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Another year has come to a close and we are at the doorstep of 2015.

For me, 2015 marks 30 consecutive years of owning a Labrador Retriever!  And later this year, I plan to bring home another Lab puppy.  Since Molly died in March, I really miss the craziness of having two dogs in the house. 

First there was Teri.  She was a very loving dog.  I had other dogs in past years, most were mixed breeds and one was a purebred from champion lines.  With Teri, I knew that a Labrador Retriever was the only dog for me. When she was about 5 years old, I got Cash, a yellow Lab from the same breeder that Teri came from, Gladys Rodgers over in central New York.  Cash had a mind of her own and there was never a dull moment with her around.

Next came Molly.  Cash was getting on in age and by this time, I knew my life was not complete without a Labrador Retriever in the house.  And most recently, Morgan came into my life in 2012.

I really feel sorry for people that don't know the joy of owning a Lab.  Yes, they are hyperactive, rambunctious puppies that can test your stamina.  But somewhere about the two year mark, they turn into wonderful, loving members of the household.

Morgan and I look forward to bringing home a new yellow Lab puppy sometime in late summer to early fall this year.  I found a very good breeder in Cobleskill, NY, Four Seasons Labradors, where Lab #5 will come from!  Still tossing around names for the puppy, but that is normal for me!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kale Chips

Okay, so you think you don't like kale.  Not only is it a highly nutritious food that I include in smoothies and soup recipes, but if I blindfolded you and gave you kale chips to eat, you would swear you were eating seasoned potato chips.

There are dozens of kale chip recipes out there.  I like this one.

4 or 5 handfuls of fresh kale

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Rinse the kale leaves under water and then dry very well, using paper towels.

Tear them into bite size pieces, eliminating the stems.

In a large bowl, combine the salt, paprika, and garlic powder.  Using your hands, carefully mix the kale into the salt mixture.

Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Bake in a 350 degree oven.  Check at the 9 to 10 minute point.  They should be crunchy and still green. In my oven, 9 minutes was adequate.  If baked too long, they turn brown and develop a bitter taste.

Remove from oven and cool slightly before eating.

These are not good the second day, so only make enough for one time.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A kid in a candy shop!

I had heard of a restaurant supply store recently that sells to the public.  Hhhmmm. . . anyone who has ever been in my kitchen knows I am a kitchen junkie and spend a lot of time there.  I enjoy all kinds of cooking, whether it is a simple bacon and egg breakfast, a crock pot delight, stir fry, baking, grilling, using my Weber smoker, and more.

Today I ventured inside to take a look.  Wow!

"May I help you?" the friendly sales lady asked.

Already I was deeply absorbed in looking at all the "toys."  "Oh! I just want to look for now.  My daughter-in-law told me about your store and said I should come in."

"Would you like a basket?" she asked.

"Oh, no, thank you.  Don't think I'll buy that much!"

It was a fun half hour or so and I bought a few small kitchen tools and a large cutting board.  While a lot of their merchandise is geared to the restaurant industry, there are a lot of things for the home kitchen too.

If you live in the Rochester area, it is called Innovative Restaurant Supply and it is in the Regional Market on Jefferson Road.  Check it out!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

A wonderful day

My daughter in law posted on facebook today, "If you value your sanity, do not go to Pittsford Plaza today."

Sometimes it is good to hibernate, away from the crowds, away from the craziness of the world. . . and that is just what I have done today.  I have been reading a good book, The Shop on Blossom Street, by Debbie Macomber, and I wanted to finish it today.  And that is just what I did, with Morgan laying beside me on the couch for most of that time.  Morgan was two years old in July and is shedding much of her wild puppy ways and turning into a very loving companion.

I have always been an avid reader.  But too often in recent years, I have shoved that aside because there is always work that needs to be done and never enough time to do it.  Fortunately, I have learned that sometimes you need to step off the non-stop treadmill of life and do something just for yourself.

Do something nice for yourself today.  It will work wonders for you!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Early winter morning


I took this picture this morning while Morgan was running around the backyard.  She loves running in the snow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Snow!

As I lay awake in my bed this morning before the alarm went off, I knew the snow had arrived.  The room was lighter than normal for this time of morning and I could hear the wind.  The weather forecasts were accurate!  Snow had arrived.

I was surprised that there is only a dusting of snow, for now.  Barely enough to cover the ground.  By Friday, we are forecast to have close to a foot of snow.

Morgan loves the snow.  She loves to run in it.

Chances are good Rochester will have a white Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie


A couple of people asked in e-mail and facebook posts for my new recipe for Chicken Pot Pie this weekend.  This one is a winner!  Here it is.  I found it needed more salt than the recipe calls for.

1 lb chicken breast, cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 9" pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine chicken, carrots, peas and celery.  Add water to cover.  Cook over medium heat until meat and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

In a saucepan, cook onion in butter.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper and celery seed.  Stir in broth and milk.  Simmer until thick.

Remove from heat and set aside.  Using a slotted spoon, place chicken and vegetable mixture in bottom pie crust.  Pour hot mixture over the top.  Place top crust over and seal edges.  Cut 2 or more slits in the top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top crust is brown and filling is bubbly.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

MMM-mmm good!  Good enough for company.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Citizens Police Academy

My town police department is offering a Citizen's Police Academy in February and March, one night a week.  I'm proud to have been accepted into it.  You have to pass a criminal background check, but I wasn't concerned about that!

Over 8 weeks we will learn the inner workings of the police department, the K9 corps, the criminal justice system and more.

In my area, I have a Rochester, NY address, but the suburbs are organized into towns.

I have always been a strong supporter of the police and those who protect the public - this includes the military and fire fighters.  These people put their life on the line many times for the welfare of the communities and country they serve.  They deserve our respect and support.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Book of Barkley, a book I just could not put down till the last page


This is a must read for sure.  The author is an extremely talented writer who will take you on a journey of highs and lows in life and in her relationship with her beloved Labrador Retriever, Barkley.  I am honored to have an autographed copy from the author.

She drove some distance to get Barkley from the breeder.  On her arrival that first day, all the pups were scrambling around playing, as puppies do.  But there was one that just stood there looking at her as if he were sizing her up.  In the author's words, 

"After assessing me carefully, he came over and sniffed my hand, then sat at my feet, ignoring the other people there with me, snuffling at my shoelaces while the other pups, losing interest, went off to chase a bug or something.  Barkley didn't leave me the rest of the time I was there.  Where I went, he went and simply sat and looked at me with satisfaction."

Woven into the pages are glimpses of her personal life and thoughts and how Barkley enriched her life in a way she could never have imagined.  I laughed and cried all the way through, sometimes having to put the book down to clear the tears that were blocking my ability to read the pages.  There was the time she was using a pooper scooper in her front yard that "had more crap in it than most political campaign commercials."   Throw in a neighbor dog that did not like Barkley and in the mix of trying to separate the two dogs, the full pooper scooper in her hand and the neighbor's arm made inadvertent contact, and, well. . . .

" Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat!"

What happened next will have you rolling with laughter!

Every Lab owner will relate to the many adventures throughout the book.  But the book goes much deeper than just a book about a dog and it's owner.  Do yourself a big favor and read this one.  You won't regret it, I promise.  The book is available at amazon.com in both print and Kindle.  The author is donating 100% of the proceeds to Animal Rescue.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Morgan


"I can't compete with football for Sherry's attention, so I'll just take a nap until this game is over."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Internet Issues and Turkey Chowder

I don't know if I will be able to finish this post. . . and if I do, I don't know if it will post!

I'm having internet connection problems that have caused me no end in grief.  A frontier serviceman came out one day this week to see if the problem could be resolved from the outside.  He made minor progress but wanted to come inside my house to check the wires there.  Of course I was at work.  The problem continues so I have made arrangements for them to come back on Wednesday when I will be home. . . not sure my sanity will hold out that long.  Remember the old dial up system when the internet first became a household name?  Well, that is similar to what I am experiencing.  Most of the time I can get into the internet, but it is painfully slow.  And then I intermittently get the pop up box that says I am not connected to the internet.

Many have e-mailed (yeah, the e-mail is slow too!) to ask if I had as much snow as Buffalo.  Thankfully, NO!!!  Although Buffalo is an hour down the New York State Thruway from me, they got the historic amount of snow and Rochester got a few inches!

Yesterday I cooked my Thanksgiving turkey, fresh from my farmer.  I'm having Thanksgiving dinner with Michael and Marisa and she already had her turkey.  No problem, I actually like my "leftover turkey" recipes as much as I enjoy a turkey dinner right out of the oven.

Today I am making my prized Turkey Chowder.  Oh!  It is delicious and I've been making it for 25 years or more.  Here is the recipe:

2 cups cubed potatoes
1 10 oz. pkg frozen lima beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 16 oz. can tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

In a large pot, combine potatoes, lima beans, onion, celery, and salt.  Blend water with the soup and add to vegetables in the pot.  Cook, covered for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Add undrained tomatoes, turkey, and seasonings.  Simmer 15 minutes.  In each serving bowl, sprinkle cheddar over the soup.

Makes about 8 servings and it freezes well.

Now. . . if I press the publish button and this doesn't go through the internet to your computer, you'll know what that loud scream you heard was all about!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Proud day for a supervisor

Anyone who has ever supervised employees at work will tell you it can be gut wrenching and the cause of many sleepless nights.  I know that all too well.

But today there was a ray of sunshine. . . a BIG ray of sunshine.  As part of a project to promote team building and employee morale in our Division, I formed a small committee to brain storm ways to go about it.  A couple of weeks back, we came up with the idea of a newsletter, among other things.  Vanessa was very enthusiastic about it and wanted to take on the project.  I gave her total freedom in design and content.  I said, "Just do it."

She went about soliciting content from employees.  We wanted it to be non-work related content.  It was intended to get to know co-workers as individuals and not just the person you work with everyday.

A few people submitted pictures of their young families or things they like to do in their spare time.  One person turned in a wonderful pumpkin crumble desert recipe.  There was a column on "What are you thankful for?" that generated wonderful and unique responses.

I was extremely impressed with her work in both content and design.  She did a fantastic job.  I was also pleased to see the number of employees who responded to her call for submissions.

But wait!  It gets better.  I forwarded the newsletter to our HR Administrator in Pediatrics.  She forwarded it on to other top ranking people in the Medical Center.  I soon got a call asking if it could be passed on to others. . . ABSOLUTELY! was my answer.

Yes, today I was proud to be a supervisor and see one of my reports do such a fine job.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New ways with veggies

Most of us are always on the lookout for new ideas in getting more vegetables in our diet.  I drink a lot of smoothies, I have a stir fry and sauce recipe that I make a lot and there is always the omelette that you can pile on the veggies.  But today when I was in Wegmans. . . what? you don't have a Wegmans near you?  Oh, you have my deepest sympathy. . . a lady was demonstrating and giving tastes of roasted vegetables.  Nothing could  be easier.  She had acorn squash sliced in half inch strips, bell peppers, cauliflower, and several other varieties.  You put all the cut up vegetables in a bowl and with your hands, coat them with a mixture of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Next spread them out on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for half an hour.  I was pleasantly surprised at how great this tasted.  Guess what I'm having for dinner tonight!  The purpose of her demonstration was to promote Wegman's pre-washed, pre-cut, and packaged veggies.  I passed on that and chose my own veggies from Wegman's phenomenal produce section.  I bought brussels sprouts, parsnips, cauliflower, acorn squash, and carrots.  You can use just about any combination you want.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Comfort Food

When summer winds down, there are leaves to rake, and there is a definite chill in the air, my thoughts turn to my favorite homemade soups and stews.  Today I made my bean and ham soup.  It is so good and very good for you.

Like a lot of things I make, I don't follow a "real" recipe.  But here is how I make it.

The night before or early on the day you want to make it, soak dried beans in water.  Choose a large variety of beans, the more the better!

I get wonderful soup bones from my farmer.  Unlike the ones you get in the grocery store, these have a lot of meat on them.  In a large pot, with about a gallon of water, bring a ham bone, large chunks of celery, carrots, and onion to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for several hours.  Toss in ground cloves, ground ginger, and salt.

Remove the soup bone and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Remove and discard the celery, onion, and carrots.  Place the soaked beans in the pot and turn up the heat on the burner.  Chop the meat off the bone and put that in the pot also.  Simmer another hour or two. . . this is NOT fast food!

Pour a large can of chopped tomatoes and a large can of tomato sauce into the pot.  Simmer another hour of so.  mm-mmmm good!

Optional ingredients include chopped celery and onions or pasta.

It freezes well.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from Neonatology


Theresa and Vanessa show off their Halloween spirit!

The Department of Pediatrics at the hospital where I work goes all out for Halloween.  Children, who are able, parade down the decorated halls and receive treats from the staff.  Nurses follow along and collect treats for those children who are unable to participate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Morgan's Agility Certificate


Morgan finished her beginner dog agility class tonight.  It was quite an experience for both of us!  And there were dogs of all sizes - and temperaments - in the class, from the little white dust mop that just loved Morgan, to a giant schnauzer and everything in between.  Her favorites were the tunnel and the tepee.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Morgan's new toys

Through the agility class Morgan and I are enrolled in, I found out about a website, cleanrun.com, that has all kinds of toys you don't normally find in the pet shops.

In the top picture, there are treats inside the center cylinder.  As she rolls the toy, the treats fall out.  In the bottom picture, you see a ball.  It comes apart in three pieces, held together with velcro, with treats in the bottom.  


These aren't the best pictures, but, folks, have you ever tried to hit a moving target with a camera???

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It started out being fun. . .

This morning I took my new rifle, a Henry Big Boy .357, out to the range.  Today is a crisp, bright sunny fall day and it felt good to be outside.  This is a fun gun to shoot and I was even hitting the target from 50 ft out without a scope!  As I concentrated on hitting the target and experiencing the thrill of shooting this beautiful machine, the stress of work and the every day cares melted away.

Oops!  What happened?  Suddenly one of the .38 specials that I was shooting got jammed.  In all my years of shooting, I've never had a gun jam before.  When I saw I could not easily dislodge it, I packed it up, placed it in my trunk, and drove to Gander Mountain where I bought it less than two weeks ago.  Where it is jammed, there is no chance of it discharging.  Still, I felt awkward walking into a store and having to say, "Uh, I have a jammed live bullet in this thing."

I explained to the man in the gun department what happened.  There is no gunsmith on duty on Sunday so I had to leave it. He walked out to my car with me and brought it inside.

Hopefully I will get it back tomorrow.  Gander Mountain put it in their "snail room", a special enclosed room that even if a gun discharges, the bullet will not penetrate the walls.




Sunday, October 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Kenny!

Today, my cousin, Kenny, is 60 years old and I still call him "lil cuz"!

Kenny is part of our Cousins' Reunion every year down South.  He is from Jacksonville and Lake Butler, Florida.

As many of you know, I moved to New York State in the early 70's and didn't see many of my cousins for decades, until my dad died in 2003.  Funerals and weddings draw relatives out of the woodwork!  My image of Kenny was a shy little kid that didn't have a lot to say.  Man!  Was that image shattered when I saw him again at my dad's funeral!

With Kenny around, there are going to be lots of laughs, no matter what the subject.  He is a walking encyclopedia of firearms.

So if you run into Kenny today, wish him a Happy Birthday!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Did this week really happen???

What a week.  As most of you know, I fell Tuesday night because Morgan tugged too hard on her leash, I wouldn't let go, so I went tumbling to the ground seriously injuring my right knee.  The pain was beyond description.

It hasn't been an easy week.  But there have been a lot of bright spots and even times I laughed.

Try getting in and out of the drivers seat of your car with your right leg unable to bend.  Same thing with the shower.  For the last three days I have gotten around with a leg brace and crutches.  Oh, my God, the very sound of that word "crutches" can turn me into a monster.

But let's look at the things that wouldn't have happened had it not been for this unfortunate AND painful experience.  Somebody wrote on my facebook page, "That's how I became treasurer of our dog club, the former treasurer had a LAB ACCIDENT so I took her place."  Now that made me laugh, in spite of my pain and depression at being reduced to walking at a crawl.  So I was walking down the hall at work.  Someone saw me with my crutches and the gloomy look on my face.  "OMG!  What happened to you???"

"I had a lab accident!" I responded.

"But you don't work in the lab!"

I never explained!

Someone else in my facebook family posted a beautiful picture of the Erie Canal in Fairport (a suburb of Rochester).  Just looking at that picture made me think of all the times I have paddled or ridden my bike along the canal.  So I commented with, "I'd love to be paddling down there now, but I'm not sure how my brace and my boat would get along."

Leslie, never at a loss for a quick response, replied, "With proper counseling, I think they would get along just fine!"

A parking lot attendant at work pulled up beside me with a van.  "Ma'am, would you like a ride into the building?"  I thanked him graciously but told him getting in and out of a car was too much of a hassle, so I would walk.

Thank you to all who have offered help.  Most of you I turned down.  I have a really strong independence streak!

And so life goes on, in good times and bad.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Not a good week

Over the weekend, I came down with the virus that is going around at work.  I am a person who never gets sick.  I often look down on chronic sick days some people are known for.  But I didn't let how I felt keep me home.  I went in to work and did my job.

Last night, on our way out the door to go to Agility Class, Morgan took off running toward the car.  I refused to let go of her leash and promptly fell down, injuring my knee.  When I arrived at class, it was obvious I was not going to be able to participate in the class due to severe knee pain.  So the instructor said I could catch up next week.

Ironically, driving, even though I have a standard transmission car, does not hurt.  It is standing up and putting weight on that leg that really hurts.

First thing this morning, I went to the Orthopedics Department Urgent Care Center   .  I walked out with an immobilizing brace and told to wear crutches, which I already had from an injury years ago.

Why do bad things happen to good people???


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Homemade dishwasher detergent

Last night I discovered I was out of dishwasher detergent and it was getting late, so I didn't want to run out to the store.  Yet I had a dishwasher full of dirty dishes that I didn't want to leave overnight.

A quick online search led me to homemade recipes.  Here is the recipe I found:

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1/2 cup kosher salt

I had all the ingredients except the citric acid.  So I mixed up the other three ingredients, placed a rounded tablespoon full into the dispenser of my dishwasher, then poured a small amount of lemon juice over it.

My entire load came out sparkling clean.  And there was no odor inside the dishwasher.

I already make my own laundry detergent and use full strength vinegar as a fabric softener.  Here is that recipe:

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar of Fels Naptha soap, grated

Combine all.  I use one tablespoon for a very small load and 3 for a medium to large load.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Agility Class

Morgan and I are in Agility classes at DOTCORNY - Dog Obedience Training Center of Rochester, NY.  It's difficult to get pictures during class as it is fast paced, but here are a few I snapped with my iPhone.  The little white dog at the top of the first picture is quite a character.  She has a real fascination for Morgan. As we were walking in from the parking lot, Flash broke loose from her owner and headed toward Morgan and me at the speed of sound.  Fortunately, I was able to grab her collar and hold her till her owner got there.  

Morgan was a little shy of the tunnel (bottom picture) at first, but after a couple of times, she decided it was fun!






Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall is in the air

There is a hint of fall all around if you look closely.  Although I haven't turned my heater on yet, there is a light chill in the early morning.  There are tiny patches of red and orange leaves on the larger trees.  And there is FOOTBALL!!!

This time of year in the North Country, you cherish every nice day because you know that before long the cold and snow will set in seemingly forever.  It takes longer to drive to work with the snow and ice.  It takes longer once you get to work to settle in because you have to unwrap and change from your boots into your shoes!

As much as I complain about winter, especially into January and February, it is a part of the four seasons.  I have learned to appreciate the good and the bad of each season.  It is a part of life.  I grew up in the South where there was a long hot summer and a cold damp, rainy winter. . . just two seasons!

Morgan loves playing in the snow!  Sometimes, when it gets really deep, I have to dig a path for her in the backyard.  Then she will find a way to break away from that path and make her own paths!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Morgan's new toy


I picked this up at the pet store yesterday.  I had no idea how much she would like it!  You fill the inside with food (yogurt, peanut butter, etc) and then put it in the freezer.  It's the same idea as the Kong, only this one is tougher and she can't chew it up quickly.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A lazy Saturday morning


Morgan was sleeping, laying with her head in my lap as I enjoyed my coffee while watching Fox and Friends.  As I reached for my iPhone to take these pictures, I disturbed her sleep.  Those eyes are saying, "Did you have to disturb my sleep with that thing?"


Monday, September 1, 2014

A quiet but joyful holiday weekend

As I sat with my glass of wine and a bowl full of fresh cherries tonight, I let my mind wander.  Morgan and I had just played a rough game of tug of war - she loves that! - and she had settled onto the couch next to me with her head in my lap.

Hey, I had a great 31/2 day weekend (I took the afternoon off from work on Friday) and yet it was a mundane, no frills weekend!  On Friday afternoon, Morgan had to go to the vet to update her annual shots.  Next it was a quick trip to pick up my meat order from the farmer I buy all my meat and eggs from - last Friday of the month.  On Saturday and Sunday, I never put on makeup since I didn't plan to leave the house.  Instead, I did several chores around the house.  I put some things from the garage into the shed out back.  I did the usual cleaning and laundry.  But mostly it was "me" time.  I made a large dent in the book I'm reading now, a historical saga by Eugenia Price. . . I love to get lost in a good, long book.

Even though I have a good job that I like, still, the day to day politics and high stress environment can take a toll on your body and your mind.  So a few days of sleeping late and just doing whatever I want to, when I want to, is good for the soul.  And Morgan has enjoyed having me home all day!  She follows me around the house and when she thinks she isn't getting enough attention, a slap on my arm brings me back to what really matters in life!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Taking down the big evergreen tree



The evergreen tree next to my shed had grown out of control, probably 50 to 60 feet high.  It was infringing on my shed.  For a long time, I would get on a ladder each year with a hand saw and cut back the branches that were touching the shed roof.  That got to be more than I could handle.  Not to mention, the tree was preventing me from getting DirecTV because it blocked the southwest sky.  Finally, I called in a tree expert.   I couldn't imagine how they could take down this tree without damaging my house or the shed, but they did!




The neighbors enjoyed the show!  Here is Atraiu, the little boy from across the street, just spellbound watching the man high up in the tree.  Limbs were cut down as he climbed higher.  Then, about 20 feet from the top, he tied a rope around the tree, cut a wedge with a chain saw, and those on the ground pulled it down with precision accuracy!



All the limbs were put into this machine and in the blink of an eye, large branches came out the other end in ground up wood chips!


And there you have the Saturday morning entertainment on my street yesterday!  They did a nice job, including grinding up the stump and raking up the smaller branches.





Friday, August 22, 2014

The candy basket revisited!


Recently I wrote a post on the candy basket at work.  You will recall, we previously had an "old-ladyish" glass "thing" that was way too small.  I grew tired of it and I thought people would appreciate a variety of candy.  Even I had no idea how my new basket filled with dozens of different pieces would take off.

Here you see one of our young Neonatologists (that's a doctor that specializes in newborns) looking for her favorite - Andes mint candy.  I told her I thought those were all gone until I made a trip to Wegmans.


Her persistence paid off!  She dug down far enough and actually pulled two of them out.  Her face tells the rest of the story!

I don't know who has enjoyed that candy basket more, me or the people that find their way to my office!  Some people, following a meeting with my boss, in the room on the other side of the wall from me, will walk past, grab whatever their fingers touch first, say, "Thanks for the candy," and be on their way.  Others make that basket a destination!  They will look at what's on top, then dig down to see what else is available.  When they find what they really like, the look on their face is worth a million bucks!

That basket has become a symbol of joy and respite for me.  We work in a high pressure environment.  If, for only a moment, I can make someone forget the day-to-day stress we all encounter, then that really makes my day.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pear and Parsnip Soup

This is a soup I like to make.  It is simple to put together with only three ingredients and it tastes wonderful.

3 or 4 large parsnips, peeled and cut up
3 or 4 large pears, peeled, cored, and cut up
about 6 cups of chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pears and parsnips in the chicken broth in a large pot until tender.  With a food processor or hand blender, puree until you get a smooth consistency.

Done!  I told you it was simple.

The flavor is so good alone, that I don't add salt and pepper

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wall of blooms



A number of years ago, I planted these bushes along the fence in my backyard when they were just about 3 feet tall.  This is a member of the hydrangea family.  The blooms start out as huge white blossoms and gradually turn pink over the summer.


All the bushes are over my head and provide a beautiful wall of privacy during the summer and early fall.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Update on Nancy

In a recent post, I wrote about my long time friend, Nancy, who had surgery for cancer last week.  I am pleased to report she is home now and no longer confined to the hospital.

She is sending text messages and has even been on facebook!  It isn't going to be an overnight recovery but she is doing well and improving.  She has strong support from her family and friends and that is so very important.  Equally important, she is going to do everything she can to beat this thing.  Attitude, family and friends support, the best medical care available. . . a winning combination.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Candy Basket


When I came to my current job at the Medical Center three years ago, I was told it was my job to keep the candy jar full. . . and only with special dark Hershey kisses!  I inherited a small glass candy jar with a lid, something you would expect to find in the home of an elderly lady.

Well, I like variety and I never liked that candy jar!  And I have a reputation for stirring up the pot on occasion.  About two weeks ago, I came into work carrying the basket above filled with a variety of candy. . . I had it inside a white plastic bag so that I wouldn't get mugged on the way in from the parking lot.

It was an instant sensation!  "Now THAT'S a candy basket!" one young doctor proclaimed on first finding it!

It has become a popular gathering place and to be honest, I enjoy watching people dig through it to find that perfect piece of candy.  I fill it with everything from hard candy (butterscotch, peppermint, sour balls, lifesavers) to all kinds of chocolate.  I go through the bulk candy department at Wegmans and grab a handful of this and a handful of that.  Taffy is another popular treasure people like to find.

Working in a top ranked major medical center is a big source of stress.  I hope the candy basket can brighten everyone's day and it appears that is just what it does.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A nice day for a ride

I drove to Romulus, NY this morning to pick up a quarter of a beef from my farmer.  It was a nice drive down the Thruway and then a turn South at the Geneva exit.  In New York, once you get off the Thruway and into the "real" New York, it is a pleasant landscape.  I passed through Waterloo, the birthplace of Memorial Day, a quaint little village with old world buildings and homes.  Once out of Waterloo, there are miles and miles of farmers' fields.

When I returned home and was busy putting all the meat in my freezer, I threw a beef bone at Morgan that kept her entertained.  They always give me a bag of bones for Morgan.

Autumns Harvest Farm is a grass fed farm.  That means their beef, pork and chickens are fed on grass, with no hormones or other yucky stuff.  The meat is much healthier for you than that grown in the large commercial operations.  I have been buying from them for probably about 5 years.  Do a search of grass fed meat and you will learn why it is healthier for you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nancy


Nancy and I have been friends for over 40 years.  I met her and Robert right after moving to Rochester.  We watched each other's kids grow up.  Today she had surgery for cancer.  Needless to say, anyone who cares about Nancy had cause for worry.  I stayed with Robert during the surgery, as did a few others.  

The surgery appears to be a success and we are all hopeful.  This just came out of thin air and no one saw it coming until a few weeks ago.  But she had two of the very best oncology surgeons operating on her today.

Long time readers of my blog have no doubt seen her mentioned here before.  We have backpacked, cross country skied, day hiked, and paddled extensively together and had many fun times.  But more importantly, we have been there for each other through good times and bad.  That's what friends do.

The picture above was taken just a few days ago.  It is the best picture I have ever seen of her.  She will lose her hair to chemo, but hopefully that will be a short term thing.

I consider Nancy's friendship a true blessing and I look forward to many more years of paddling, camping, dinners together, and, oh yes, for years, we have planned to hike Mt. Marcy (the highest peak in NYS) on our 80th birthday.  We are six months apart in age. . . she's the oldest!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Smoking meat is fun, easy, and delicious!

I can't believe how long I waited to try smoking meat because it seemed difficult and a lot of effort!  I've come a long way since back in early Spring of this year when I bought a Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker and it sat in the box for several days in my living room because I was afraid to try to put it together by myself!  And then waited a week before I used it because, "what if I ruin the meat?"

I not only assembled it by myself, I have had great success with the meat I have put in it. . . whole chickens, baby back ribs, a pork shoulder, and a chuck roast.


A chicken cooked in a smoker is perhaps the easiest, and sitting by the smoker enjoying that wonderful aroma is one of life's simple pleasures.  Prepare the chicken by letting it soak overnight in a brine.  There are many brine recipes out there - online and in smoking cookbooks.  The one I use is simply water, kosher salt and brown sugar.  Make enough so that the chicken is totally submerged.

About an hour and a half before you want to put the chicken in the smoker, take it out of the refrigerator, discard the brine, rinse the chicken well and then pat dry with paper towels.  Cover it with a homemade rub - there are plenty of rub recipes to choose from.  Next let the chicken sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour.

Prepare your smoker by first pouring cold charcoal in the bin of the smoker.  In a charcoal chimney, heat up charcoal (enough to fill the chimney), soak your wood chips for 20 minutes or more.  What kind of wood chips?  Well, there are a lot to choose from:  hickory, apple, cherry, mesquite. . .  When the charcoal is ready, pour it over the unheated charcoal and then add the wet wood chips.  Next place the bowl of water in the smoker above the charcoal.  Now you are ready to place the prepared chicken on the rack and put the lid on.  My smoker has a shaded area on the thermometer and as long as you keep the interior temperature in the shaded area, you are fine.  You maintain the proper temperature by either closing or opening the vents on the smoker.


I have found, for a chicken, you don't need to add charcoal during the cooking process.  For meats requiring longer smoking time you likely will need to add fresh charcoal (heated up, of course!).  How often you add moist wood chips is a matter of taste, about every two hours or so.  My smoker has a door on the side that you can use to add charcoal and/or wood chips without disturbing the meat above.

Use a quality brand of charcoal, such as Kingsford, for longer lasting coals.  A few days ago, I smoked a large chuck roast for 4 hours and 45 minutes and I never had to add charcoal.  

When the meat is done, let it sit at room temperature for about a half hour.  I always test with a meat thermometer before taking it out of the smoker, except that I have done so many chickens that I learned to tell when they are done without the thermometer, but for other meats, I do use the thermometer.  Smoking times given in your owner's manual or in recipes are kind of "ballpark" figures and you may find your cooking time differs.

I clean the rack and the water bowl outside under a water faucet with a steel wool pad.  Once a year, you need to clean the interior of the smoker. . . that will be more of a challenge, but the rewards you get from the smoker are well worth it!

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, I would welcome hearing from you and sharing recipes and techniques.  If you have never tried smoking meat, you don't know how much enjoyment - and great taste - you are missing!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It was once a beautiful tree. . .


The tree in my front yard, at one time a beautiful Maple tree, is now debris out by the road for the town to pick up.  For years, daffodils grew at its base in the spring, followed by impatiens in the summer.  But in recent years, it began to die.   When it got to the point that I feared a strong wind would knock down its branches and cause damage, I knew it was time to take it down.  



This was found in one of the branches, but the babies and their mom were gone.


Ropes being strung to make way for the fall.



It's gone.  I learned a lesson from someone who knows about these things.  If you have a tree that you want to keep, it is a good idea to have a tree expert take a look at it every few years.  That way, problems can be caught early and the tree can be saved.






Saturday, July 12, 2014

I really do care. . .

Someone I know, who is going through a really tough time, through no fault of their own, said something to me this week that really touched my heart.

"Other people ask me how I am doing, but they don't really want to know.  I know that you really mean it when you ask how I am coping."

I was dumbfounded to hear that.  Everyone goes through rough times now and then.  Yes, I do care.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A bittersweet picture


I posted this picture today on facebook as a TBT (Throwback Thursday) photo.  That's me with my twin sons, just two weeks old, taken back in 1973.  So, you are thinking, "so why the title, a bittersweet picture?"

I ran across this picture recently and it immediately stirred strong feelings inside me.  Yes, the picture of me holding my twin sons, brought a tear of joy to my eyes.  I was so very happy to bring them into the world as two healthy, full term babies.  I always felt having twins was a special gift from God.  John and Michael are every mother's dream and I am happy with the way they turned into responsible, intelligent adults.  Both married women that I was pleased to welcome into the family and John has given me three grandsons that I love.

But look closer at that picture.  In the background.  The dog.  That is Happy, a Samoyed mix, that my former husband and I got before we had children, as a young puppy.

I was raised in a home with a father who didn't like dogs and did not allow a dog to live in the house.  "Dogs are dirty and don't belong in the house," was his sermon.  "They carry diseases."  So the few dogs I had over the years were relegated to a pin outside.

As a young married couple, we got Happy.  Geez, what the two of us knew about raising a puppy was pathetic.  It was cute when Happy was a puppy and he did puppy things.  We laughed at his antics.  Dog obedience classes?  What was that?  Happy had little or no discipline.

Without going into the unpleasant details, Happy soon moved in with my mother.  She lived alone and Happy was a joy to her.  And I have to admit, he seemed to calm down in his behavior, at least somewhat, with her.  The years went by and my mother's health declined to the point that she could no longer properly care for Happy.  In spite of a great effort to find a good home for him, he had to be taken to the shelter.  From that point on, I never knew what happened to him.  Did he find a loving home? 

Then John and Michael came into the picture.  "Okay," I said to Don.  "We have to do better with these two kids!"  And we did.  Over the years, we often said that Happy taught us how to raise children.  You can't let a baby or toddler get away with something that is cute and then later on punish the child for the same thing just because he is older and should know better.

Looking at this picture and thinking of how unfair we were in raising Happy, I am also pleased that I have had great success with the Labs in my life, going all the way back to 1985.  Morgan is my fourth Lab and next summer, I plan to bring home another Lab puppy.

Happy, I hope you found a good home for the rest of your days.



Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hummus

For a long time, I wouldn't eat hummus.  The only hummus I ever had was store bought. . . tasteless, bland, definitely lacking pizzaz!

Enter my recipe for hummus!  I'm not sure where I found this one.  But it is a winner.

You can adjust the ingredient amounts to suit your own taste.  I usually start with dried garbanzo beans that I soak and then cook, but Progresso canned ones work just as well.

1 clove garlic, chopped
16 oz. garbanzo beans
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine beans and garlic in a food processor and process on high, stopping to scrap sides.  Mix in remaining ingredients and process on high.

Chill.

Serve with your favorite veggies or crackers.

Tahini is in the Asian foods aisle at the grocery store.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BBQ Sauce Recipe

Those that follow me on facebook and my blog postings here know I am having a great time with my new Weber smoker and trying new ways to smoke meat.  I had wanted to get into smoking for a long time and finally bought a Weber Smoky Mountain smoker this spring and gave it a try and now I'm hooked!

I can honestly say I haven't tried a new recipe yet that wasn't just great!  But here is one that ranks right up there with the very best!  This one is good on pork, chicken, or turkey.  I found it in my Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen, who has written several very good books on barbecue.

Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

14 oz. ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup jellied cranberry sauce, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan and gradually bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring or whisking steadily to dissolve the bits of cranberry sauce.  Gently simmer the sauce until thick and richly flavored, stirring often to prevent scorching, 15 to 20 minutes.  Use right away or transfer to a large jar, cover, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.  The sauce will keep for several months.  Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fun day with family

Earlier today, both my sons, Michael and John, and my grandsons, Kevin, Jake, and Andrew came over.  Michael stayed until time for his golf league and Jen came later.  She works for a company in Rochester but works from home.  So while she is in town here, she worked today.

I smoked a pork shoulder roast in the smoker and it was a hit.  We had pulled pork sandwiches with shredded cabbage and a great North Carolina BBQ sauce for dinner and my apple pie for dessert.

Kevin, my oldest grandson is now taller than I am and Jake isn't far behind!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Not exactly a peaceful Sunday afternoon on our street

A short while ago, I backed out of my driveway onto our street and a whole lotta people were staring at my house.  I drove up to them and asked what was going on.  There was a mange infested fox very near my property line and they were trying to keep an eye on it till the police or animal control arrived.  I was gone about a half hour, hoping this would all be over by the time I returned.  It wasn't.

I came inside and soon looked out my window and saw two police cars on the street directly in front of my house with one of the officers walking toward my door.  I went outside and asked if this was about the fox.  It was.  "We are going to put it down, ma'am.  You may want to go back inside."

"NO!"  I said, "I want to watch!"  He seemed okay with that.

I kept an eye on the animal until he grabbed his gun.  It wasn't his service firearm, but a shotgun. The fox would walk a few feet, then lay down.  Then get up and do it again.

The neighbors thanked the officers for taking care of this on a Sunday afternoon.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pacific Coast Pillows. . . the best!

Rarely do I endorse products on my blog.  But this company is an exception.  It is very difficult for me to find a bed pillow that I really like.  My current pillows are ready to be replaced so I have been looking around, hoping to find something I could be happy with.  Well, guess what!  I found it!

I had never heard of Pacific Coast Pillows (www.pacificcoast.com).  I found them in an internet search.  They offer a 30 night money back guarantee so I decided to take a chance on their pillow.  They have been in business for 125 years, another factor that led me to try their product.

It is the most comfortable pillow I have ever found.  I just love it!

Check them out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A throw together dish that turned out great!

Just on a whim, I tried something different tonight for dinner. . . a one-dish vegetarian concoction.

I chopped fresh kale.  Then I combined olive oil and apple cider vinegar with a generous dose of salt.  I had a jar of sun-dried tomatoes for another recipe which I never made.

First I put the kale in a hot pan and poured the olive oil mixture over it.  I  cooked this until it was still slightly crisp.  I added a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes and stirred just until they were heated.

What a pleasant surprise!  It was a very satisfying meal.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Where does time go?

Earlier this week, I saw Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys, on TV.  Ouch!  He is OLD, I thought.  I quickly put that out of my mind.  The Beach Boys were big when I was in high school and college. . . and I am not "that" old.

Tonight I was driving around in my car listening to Cousin Brucie's Palisades Park reunion on Sirius Radio.  Neil Sedaka was on.  Another one of my favorites from yesteryear.  Oh, my God!  Listening to his voice, it was obvious he is not the young super star I remember.  Ugh.  I came home and looked him up online.  He is 75.  That can't be!

I haven't aged.  Why have these musical greats that I have loved for years gotten old???

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Look what jumped out at me at the mailbox today!

You can't be too careful these days, even in "safe" neighborhoods.  Look what jumped out at me when I went to the mailbox!




This is Atraiue, who is quick to remind me these days that "I'm four!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Morgan goes to Doggie Day Camp

I took Morgan to Doggie Day Camp today.  It was the first time she has been with other dogs all day long, except for when Molly was still with us.

This afternoon when I picked her up after work, I looked in the window in the room where she was, and there was one pooped pup laying next to the wall!  They told me she ran out of steam before the end of the day!

Here is what her "pawgress report" says:

Morgan had a great first day in camp today.  She had no trouble making lots of friends, and she played very nicely with everyone.  She especially loved to wrestle with Jessie and Zoey, the Collie mixes, and Lilly, the Spaniel.  Morgan was such a good girl today, we can't wait to have her back!"

There were 14 dogs in her play group today.  They separate the smaller dogs from the larger ones.

She has been on the lethargic side since I brought her home, but she still follows me around from room to room.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

A nice paddle on the canal today

My friend, Nancy, and I paddled on the Erie Canal this afternoon for several hours.  It was too nice a day to stay inside.




This is just one of many boats we passed.  It is fun to point your boat in the direction of the wake from big boats and ride the waves!


Nancy in her boat.


Me!



The Sam Patch.  Behind the boat is the Canal Path where bicyclists, walkers, and runners can be found.  The Erie Canal, which runs across NYS is a valuable recreational asset for our state.  Twice in years past, I have ridden my bike across NYS on the Canal Path in guided tours.  It was a fun trip both times.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Chicken thighs on the grill tonight


Tonight I cooked chicken thighs on my grill, enough for my dinner and leftovers for the weekend.  I used my rub and bbq sauce on them and they turned out just great.  I sometimes overcook thighs on the grill but not this time!  It was a frantic week at work.  Sitting beside my grill in my outdoor chair, looking up at the sky and picking out designs in the clouds was the perfect escape from the pressures of earning a living in this crazy world we live in.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Perfection!


Ahh!  If only you could smell this latest winner from my smoker!  It is stuffed with red and yellow bell peppers and baby red potatoes.


These are my new silicone gloves that are great for handling hot items.  I used to swear by my OvGloves.  But these are even better.  They have a solid grip and protect you from heat even if wet, unlike the OvGloves.  And the best part, just throw them in the dishwasher to clean.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Red Cabbage and Chickpea Salad

Here is a great tasting salad full of nutritional value.

2 cups chopped red cabbage
16 oz. chickpeas
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
Apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing

Combine the cabbage, chickpeas, chopped tomato, onion powder and salt and pepper in a medium size bowl.

Mix up the dressing:  2 parts apple cider vinegar to one part olive oil.  Pour over salad.  Mix well and enjoy.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Another winner from my grill!


Everyone knows how I love cooking on my grill or using my smoker.  Today I grilled a steak on my Weber grill.  DELICIOUS!  I used the rub and bbq sauce recipes you can find two posts down from this one.  Stir fried veggies rounded out the meal.

While the grill is going, I enjoy sitting in my outdoor chair with my glass of wine looking up at the sky, today it was sky blue!  The smell coming from the grill was out of this world wonderful!

And here is the finished product!



Friday, May 23, 2014

A nice quote

Here is a quote at the end of my grandson's e-mail to me recently.  I never quite thought of a mile in these terms.

"On a mile of highway, you can drive a mile.
On a mile of railway, you can travel a mile. 
With a mile of runway, you have the whole world."
-Ed Bolen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Here they are! The rub and sauce recipes you asked for!

My facebook friends know how excited I am about the new rub and sauce recipe I tried yesterday.  They both were 5 stars plus!  Several people asked me to put the recipes on my blog, so here they are.

These came from Steven Raichlen's 2000 edition of his Barbecue Bible.  In my copy, the Basic Barbecue Rub is on page 23 and the Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce is on 134.  I have 4 or 5 books on bbq and smoking meats and this is definitely one of my favorites.

First, the rub

Steve writes, "Here's the grand-daddy of all barbecue rubs, but don't let its simplicity fool you."

1/4 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir or whisk to mix.  Transfer to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light.  This will keep for several months.  Makes one cup.

Next, the sauce

6 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup mollasses
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon pure chili powder (not a blend)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cups ketchup
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients, except for the ketchup, in a large, deep, heavy, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook, uncovered, until all the ingredients are dissolved, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the ketchup and bring to a boil, stirring well, as the ketchup has a tendency to spatter.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce the heat slightly and gently simmer the sauce, uncovered, until dark, thick, and richly flavored, about 30 minutes, stirring often.  Use right away or transfer to jars, cover, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.  The sauce will keep for several months.  Makes 5 cups.

Both of these are good for all types of meat.

Enjoy!  And invite me over when you have your next cookout!!!

One, probably insignificant, note.  I didn't have dark rum but I had an almost full bottle of light rum that I had bought a number of years back for another recipe.  I used that.

I would love to hear your thoughts once you try these.

Postscript:  I use a Weber Smoky Mountain smoker (22 1/2 inch size).  You can smoke meat on a regular charcoal grill, but I think using a smoker makes it a lot easier, especially for a novice like me.  I used a small handful of hickory wood shavings thrown over the charcoal in the beginning and threw another small handful in about halfway through.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday


I love the Throwback Thursday theme online and on Fox News Channel's Fox and Friends weekday program.  I enjoy looking at friend's TBT pictures and laughing at how they looked back in the day.

This one brought back a LOT of memories.  Back in our younger days, my long time friend, Nancy, and I did a lot of backpacking and canoe camping trips in the backwoods of the Adirondacks, and day hikes to all over.  This particular picture is from a weekend backpacking trip into Wanika Falls, near Lake Placid.  Jen, who later became my daughter-in-law, was with us on this trip.

Oh, the stories I could tell about our adventures!

My friends know I carry a legally licensed concealed firearm.  There was one trip Nancy and I did with another lady whom we knew, maybe a little better than "casually."  She was an avid backpacker and we invited her along on a week long backpacking trip in the Adirondack Park of New York State.  I wasn't going to mention the fact that I carried.  But Nancy did.  The atmosphere became a little tense after that conversation.  The subject wasn't brought up again. . . until after our first night on the trail!  It was getting late in the day and we needed to find a place to camp.  The only spot available was on a lake where a gang of guys in a motorboat had taken up residence with several cases of beer.  We pitched our tents as far away from the leanto (which, by the way, by state law is only available to canoe campers and backpackers. . . not motorboats) as we could.  Fortunately, the men left us alone.  The next day on the trail, the other lady told me she felt comfortable knowing I had my firearm. . . just in case.

On another backpacking trip, with just me and Nancy, she brought along a two pound chunk of German sausage.  I didn't like the sausage at all!  She did.  But two pounds is a lot of weight when you are backpacking.  After a few days on the trail, we ran into a German couple. . . it was obvious by their accent!  Nancy and I looked at each other as soon as we heard them talk.  "Would you like this German sausage that we have but Sherry doesn't care for?" Nancy asked.  Their eyes were like those of a kid on Christmas morning.  They were hiking for three weeks and their food consisted of freeze dried food and rice cakes.

They were totally thrilled to get "REAL FOOD" as one of them exclaimed. . . and we were more than happy to get rid of the extra, unwanted weight!

Several winters "back in the day" Nancy and I and whoever else we could talk into coming along would stay at a bed and breakfast in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks and spend our days snowshoeing or cross country skiing in the backwoods.  One winter, it was just me and Nancy.  The owner of the B&B offered to drive us in to Lake Placid and drop us off at the trailhead of the Jack Rabbit Trail, a wonderful long distance cross country trail.  We left a car at our end spot.  We spent the day on a truly delightful cross country ski through the woods.  At mid-day, we came to a nice little restaurant where we had a wonderful hot lunch that energized us for the rest of the afternoon.  I will remember that day for the rest of my life.  It was just a leisurely, very scenic, fun day.  We went at our own pace, neither one of us into setting any speed records.  I would love to do that ski trip again someday.

Isn't it amazing how running across an old picture can bring back great memories from the past?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

SNAKES

I don't like snakes.  Not even the so-called "good" ones that, I'm told, eat garden pests.  I don't like snakes. . .

This morning while mowing the lawn, one wiggled beside my lawn mower.  In total panic, I ran over it with the lawn mower.  Just how long does it take a snake to die?

I finished mowing the back yard, dug a grave for the slithery thing.  Took my shovel out of the shed, began to scoop up the culprit.  It hadn't moved during the time I mowed the lawn, but as soon as my shovel touched it, it began wiggling.  So I left it for several hours to allow it to totally die.

Again, I picked up my shovel and the creepy thing rolled over and over.  So I stabbed it unmercifully with my shovel, trying to cut it in half.  It's head reared up with its mouth wide open, sending ice through my veins.  In the act of trying to cut it with my shovel, the shovel went into the ground.  "Okay", I said to it.  "You want to be buried here?"  I can arrange that.  With the shovel, I pushed it into the small hole the shovel had made, and then used the shovel to beat down the dirt over the snake.

Okay, even I have to laugh at this. . . I pounded that dirt really hard and then started to walk away.  The last 2 or 3 inches of the tail of this beast was still above ground and "waving" at me. . .

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bring on summer!

Even in the frozen tundra, also known as New York State, spring and summer eventually take over from the harsh winters.  This past winter, by anyone's estimate, was a very brutal experience.

Now the spring bulbs are in bloom, my lawn needs to be mowed, I don't need my glasses to see the foliage taking hold on the trees and shrubs.

I found a new passion this spring - smoking meat.  I like all kinds of cooking, especially grilling in the warm months, but smoking meat?  Wow!  I wish I had discovered how easy it was a long time ago.

Summer is my idea of fun times.  I have three one week trips planned for canoe camping in New York State's Adirondack Park.  I am really looking forward to that.  There is a new canoe area just opened to the public last October, near Long Lake in the Adirondacks.  I intend to explore that this summer.  No motor boats or jet skiis allowed.  Just the solitude of paddling on a warm summer day with the only sounds you hear are the leaves blowing in the breeze or the birds singing.

Summers are short in the North Country.  So get out and make it a good time every chance you get!


Saturday, May 3, 2014

A pleasant day trip today

I have been all over New York State, from the big cities to the small villages, from one end of the state to the other and everything in between.  Today my travels took me to Canojoharie, Sharon Springs, and Cobbleskill - all small villages where I have never been.  I went to Cobbleskill to check out a breeder for Labs.  Since Molly died, I miss the craziness of having two dogs in the house.  I would like to get a new yellow Lab puppy sometime in the summer or fall of 2015.

Once you leave the New York State Thruway and get onto the back roads, you find quaint little villages, streets lined with American flags, interesting architecture, distant views, even a road sign warning motorists of cows in the street!

These pictures were all taken with my iPad so I didn't have a zoom lens.










I was very pleased with the breeder after talking with her and seeing her kennel.  I think my search for a breeder is over!  She is more interested in finding the right puppy for you rather than making a quick sale.