Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold" ~ Opening song for Brownie troop meetings (at least it was when I was a Brownie)

Lynn, Debbie, Holly, Alicia, Billi, Chris, Abbie, Diana, Carol, Linda, Ann

If we are lucky, we all have those "golden girlfriends", friends for whom miles and years make no difference.  I recently got together with two old Texas friends - hadn't seen them in over 23 years - but within 3 minutes we were laughing and telling stories as the years just slipped away (why don't pounds work the same way?)  I swear we could have been sitting at lunch in the faculty room of Maplewood Elementary School in Austin, and the world as we know it now just hadn't happened yet.  Those are the friends of your heart - you haven't seen them in 23 years, but you cry saying goodbye after two hours.  

In a few days, I will be spending time with my former teaching partner, but forever friend, Carol.  At my retirement party in June, I mentioned teaching partners that I have had the good fortune of working with over the years - you know how lucky you are if you have one - and I mentioned Carol through my tears (and yes- there were a few).  Carol and I became the best of friends as well as colleagues.  Her husband Phil, and my husband Bruce became fast friends as well. It's just wonderful when that happens.  We have played together, traveled together, helped each other through the loss of parents, and marked the celebrations of life - graduations, weddings, and births.

Many years ago, Carol and Phil moved south.  Talk about tears!  We have gotten together several times over the years, but the distance has been an obstacle.  They have recently moved a little further north to live near family, and it brings them quite a bit closer to us - a day's drive instead of two!

Carol and I each had a magnet on the blackboard of our classrooms with this picture on it.  

We always joked that this is what we looked like on the best of days ~ there's some truth to that!  We never figured out which one of us was Lucy and which one was Ethel - I suspect that we assumed both roles at one time or another.  All I know is that I can't wait to wrap my arms around my "golden girlfriend".  It's been way too long!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

“Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.” ~ George Carlin

1,300 hundred miles in five days, not including air travel!  My husband and I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Florida.  Now that we are both retired, we are looking forward to spending some time south during the harsh Central New York winters.  Being new to this however, we seriously underestimated the amount of time that finding a rental would take, as well as when to begin the search.  We explored virtual towns and condos, only to realize that what we had hoped to find was already taken!  We are so much wiser now.

We then decided that the best approach was the direct approach.  We flew down via Jet Blue - a very nice way to go I must mention.  We landed on the Gulf Coast and commenced to travel south, then east to the Atlantic side, and then back to the gulf again.  No offense to anyone from Central Florida, but it's not my favorite stretch of driving.  We met with realtors, chatted with waitresses and spent way too much time on our behinds in the car.  Anyhow - we have secured a really lovely spot in St. Petersburg.  We had not intended to end up in a city, but our spot is just lovely, and our drive around St. Pete's (I'm practicing local lingo) indicates that there are museums galore, wonderful restaurants and shops, lots of golf for you-know-who (no - not me), and most importantly, lots of for nice gulf beaches for you-know-who (yes - me).  

So, we are now able to put this search aside, knowing that while we are away during some of the gray, bleak days and nights of winter, my son will be keeping the driving-way shoveled and the home fires burning.   Sadly,, there was not much time to take the pictures that I had hoped to take - I thought surely I'd get two blogs worth of pictures out of this trip, but no.  By the way, the gas we saw in Florida was as low as $3.34 a gallon - What's up Central New York?????

A few parting pictures of our travels!

For more information, visit The Swamp Cabbage Festival  And - for recipes (I kid you not) visit River Recipes

Another Central Florida shot.  I really wanted an up-close picture, but as I started to get further in to high grass and water, I just knew that there was something in there that wanted to eat me, so I turned tail!

Atlantic side near Stuart
Dolphin fin gulf-side

Off of Dunedin - gulf-side
It's fascinating to watch these guys work.

Early sunset in Dunedin.

Just beautiful - I wish that I could capture this neck in graceful motion.

So much "pinker" in real life!

Dunedin Dudes

Dunedin Sunset

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” ~ Sophia Loren

A number of years ago, my husband gave me a Kitchen-Aid mixer for my birthday.  It is a beautiful machine - just beautiful.  The trouble is, I am not a baker - I like sweet things from time to time, but give me nachos any day.  I did a few things with it, but this lovely Cadillac of mixers went mostly unused.  That was until I realized that I could also get  a "pasta" attachment. I have a love affair with carbohydrates, and pasta in particular - well - and bread.  Anyhow - I promised my husband that there could be lobster ravioli for Christmas dinner if only I had the proper Kitchen-Aid attachments.  Needless to say, that wonderful man made sure that I received an early Christmas present of both the pasta and ravioli attachments.  I was true to my word, and served lobster ravioli swimming in a seafood mornay sauce for our holiday meal.  A huge hit!  I have continued with pasta making since that Christmas feast, but I don't really know pasta - other than as a consumer, as in "eater".

Enter - Fabio of  Fabio's Italian Kitchen located in Cortland, New York.  I have just completed the "Pasta Class", the first of four classes that Fabio has just begun to offer.  Please visit Fabio's site for videos and menus from his restaurant.  You will also find information regarding his next three classes:  Breads, Sauces and Seafood - listed under "Special Events". 

Our menu consisted of the following - including a number of other types of pasta.

Gnocchi Al Grana
(A classic Italian dumpling made of potato and flour sautéed in garlic, butter and Grana Padano cheese)

Linguini integrali pomodoro e basilico
(Whole wheat linguini with fresh tomato and basil sauce)

Ravioli con pollo e spinaci
(Chicken and spinach ravioli in a vegetable béchamel sauce)

What follows is a photo essay of my evening (minus captions - sorry - but I'm pooped!).  What a wonderful group of people to spend 3+ hours with. We made and devoured delicious dishes and bottomless glasses of wine (many thanks to his assistant, who kept our glasses full).  If you have the opportunity to attend one of Fabio's classes - it was a FABULOUS experience!

Fabio, our host.

Thank you Fabio!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Very few of us are what we seem." ~ Agatha Christie

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember.  I like nearly every genre and I have always loved a good mystery. I've enjoyed the works of Patricia Cornwell, Tony Hillerman and most recently, Stieg Larsson, to name a very few.  I have never lost the love for Agatha Christie however, with her sleepy English villages - where we know evil lurks!  

A few years back, I came across the review of a new mystery author, Louise Penny. The more I read about her books, the more I knew that I wanted to read them. I have consumed and loved every one, and am currently well into her most recent - her 7th mystery with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team from the Surete du Quebec.  

Released this month.
Inspector Gamache (think Hercule Poirot) can be found most often in the small, fictitious village of Three Pines, just north of the Vermont border in Canada.  The inhabitants of Three Pines (think sleepy English village where evil lurks) are revisited in each book, unless of course, they are the victim! You come to know them, to care about them, and to wonder at what secrets they are keeping.  

Another similarity with the Christie books is the absence of blatantly grim and gory detail.  You are left to ponder the mystery itself, not to try to rid your mind of gruesome pictures. Now, I have loved the Stieg Larsson books - gruesome, grim, gory details and all, but the return to stories that are mysteries at their heart - well - I've really enjoyed it.  These books may keep you up at night because you can't put them down, but they won't keep you up because you are afraid to turn out the lights!  Louise has a wonderful website where you will find a synopsis of each of her books, her interest in promoting literacy, her book tour, etc.  She additionally has a spot where she helps you with the pronunciation and definition of the fairly frequent Quebecois words and phrases.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"And the seasons, they go round and round." ~ Joni Mitchell

It was not long ago - toward the end of my teaching career, that I began to have students who were the children of students I had taught the generation before.  That was a "Oh my gosh!" kind of realization.  I have a very similar feeling now that many of my friends are becoming grandparents for the first time.  When did this happen?  Where was I when all of this "living" was going on?  Some things kind of smack you between the eyes! 

I had not resumed my youthful interest in knitting when my step-grandchildren were born.  No new baby sweaters there I'm sorry to say. I actually had never knit a "baby" anything until recently - when the grandchildren of my friends began to arrive.  I like it!  Baby sweaters are fast (except for the one with the "Indiana" sleeve, which I will explain in a moment). There is instant gratification there, a beginning-to-end project that makes you happy, makes the grandparents happy, makes the parents happy, and makes a baby look - well - darling!  That's a lot of bang for your buck.

So, to the "Indiana" sleeve - two years ago my husband and I embarked on a charter bus trip from Central New York to Chicago and back again for a wedding (from Friday to Sunday - as in - three days!).  Wonderful wedding, wonderful travel companions, but - never again (frequent flyer miles should be used - not hoarded). I brought along a plethora of hand and mind occupying paraphernalia, including the baby sweater that I had started for the newly arrived son of a colleague.  The pattern that I had chosen was  the "February Baby Sweater" by Elizabeth Zimmerman, found in her "The Knitter's Almanac".

I was quite inexperienced with some of the stitches in this pattern, and was regularly frogging parts (that's "ripping out" in knitting lingo) and re-doing them.  One sleeve in particular was knit while our bus rolled along through Indiana.  That sleeve was different (and difficult) from beginning to end, no matter how many times I tried to correct it.  Hence, it become known as the "Indiana" sleeve. Thankfully, the errors were not easy to detect.

Which is the "Indiana" sleeve?

I have recently completed a lovely little cardigan for the soon-to-be granddaughter of dear friends in New Orleans.

     "Will it be cold enough in New Orleans in November to wear a sweater?", I asked.  I was assured that yes, it will be.

This pattern is from This is Knit.  While the shop is in England, there is the beauty of being able to purchase and download a pattern within seconds.  The name of this pattern is Cute as One Button, and is a delightfully quick knit.  The yarn that I chose for this particular sweater is Chris by Schaefer Yarn, located not far from me in Interlaken, NY.

On my needles now is the same pattern, but for a little boy who was born in Virginia this past May - I felt fairly confident that a sweater in Virginia in May was not a good combo.  For the winter however - I think yes.  My husband and I will be getting together with this  little guy's grandparents in a few weeks and will pass this on to them then - I'd better get cracking!

This yarn is Cascade Yarns and is a 220 Superwash.  No amount of editing could show you the accurate color of this yarn - a beautiful, deep aquamarine - the color number, if you care to look it up, is #859.

So for now, I will continue to intersperse my larger, more time-consuming projects with these little appetizers.  They bring such joy to everyone, including the knitter!

A reminder that if you are receiving my posts via e-mail, you may still check in on the full page version, with its links to the book-list, other blogs that I like, etc.  That site is: My Retiring Life 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"The number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can't tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble.” ~ Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

When I was young, my friend Abigail's grandmother taught me the basics of knitting.  I remember that I mastered cables early on and knit nothing but rows and rows of cables - I was so intrigued by my ability to create these wonderful trails with yarn!  I continued my interest straight through college, but once motherhood and teaching came on to the scene, knitting kind of fell by the way-side, as often happens to leisure pursuits when "grown-up" life takes over.  At about the same time that my son left for college, a knitting group was established at our local library.  The timing was perfect.  Now, several years later, this collection of knitters, who had not known one-another before, are all fast friends, supporting each other in our fiber pursuits, and also in our day-to-day joys and struggles.  I mentioned in my first post that many of these women are not only creative, but very entrepreneurial.  Some have their own blogs and on-line shops, one has a soap-making company, and joyously, another has opened her own yarn store!  It has been  many years since our town has had a LYS (Local Yarn Store) and our excitement is immeasurable!  I recognize that "immeasurable excitement" for yarn, needles, hooks, and knitting paraphernalia  may seem foreign to some, but to a knitter, it's like being in a candy store where you are encouraged to taste everything! When you walk into a yarn store, you touch, you squeeze, you sniff - all the signs of a true "yarn harlot".  Today was the Grand Opening of our new LYS,  Spun Right Round!!!!  Welcome Renee!

Renee is as friendly, colorful and inviting as her shop!
Colors galore! 
In every available space!
Chock full of fabulous fiber!

My decorating contribution.
In addition to knitting supplies, Renee is one of the few places in Central New York to carry supplies for spinners.

Renee is also carrying a line of bags by Blue Q.  They are delightfully whimsical!

A delighted door-prize  recipient.  She actually squealed in delight!

Knitting paraphernalia and doodads!  I love them all!
Welcome Renee and Spun Right Round - we are so excited to finally have you here!
And in closing for today, and for tomorrow ~~~~

A reminder that if you are receiving my posts via e-mail, you may still check in on the full page version, with its links to the book-list, other blogs that I like, etc.  That site is:  My Retiring Life