Friday, March 30, 2012

A Dollar and a Dream!

I know that I am blogging a day earlier than I usually do - but this post will, in all likelihood, be irrelevant tomorrow.  Bruce and I have a few tickets for tonight's record breaking mega-millions lottery jackpot.  And - we have a plan - a little loosely woven, but a plan nonetheless.  It goes something like this:

Our winnings (upfront lump sum) will be divided into thirds.

1/3 to be shared and governed jointly
1/3 each to be dealt with as we choose - this is where we take care of friends and family members.  Also -
     where we contribute to the charities of our choice - and we plan to be extremely generous.

This sounds pretty fair to me!  

Once upon a time, I would have chosen to finish out the school year (now if I won in October - my decision would probably be different), but since I'm retired, this is no longer an issue.  So no grand "I'm quitting my job!" announcement - that would have been fun!  So - what would I do?  I suspect that after some serious shock recovery, I would try to not do anything for a bit, aside (ASIDE!) from pursuing two purchases - a home (or small family compound) on Cape Cod, and a home (or condo) on Sanibel Island.  Each of these locations would provide the ideal setting for calmly, peacefully, and sensibly going about the task of dealing with my millions.  

How nice to know that (and yes, I'm being totally, 100% selfish here) I could:

  1. take as many cooking classes as I want
  2. buy as much expensive yarn as I want
  3. go to as many movies as I want
  4. buy as many books as I want and have as much personal space to shelve them as I want
  5. travel wherever I want to go and take anyone with me who wants to come along
  6. eat lobster every day if I so choose
  7. do anything that money could buy for my family and friends - don't we all dream of doing that?
I love the "dream", I really do - it's worth the price of admission for me. What is your "dream" if you suddenly won the lottery? And - it's ok to be selfish - after all - it is a dream!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

The other day, I spent several hours at The Cortland Free Library, catching up on my magazine reading. Quite awhile ago, I let subscriptions run out to those magazines I could read at the library - ok - I admit a small slip up with Country Living Magazine when Amazon offered me a year for $5.00.  Anyhow - I now read most of my favorite magazines at the library.

In Florida, there were many things that we loved about the St. Petersburg area.  Sadly, I would say that the magazine selection in their libraries was not one of them.  There were several branches that I tried, and not a one of them could come close to my small, hometown library.  I've been spoiled!  

So - there I sat at the Cortland Library, pencil and paper in hand in order to jot down any interesting websites, any interesting book reviews, and any recipes that caught my eye - I always find those!

The catch of the day, so to speak, is the recipe copied below from House Beautiful - (yes, they have great recipes!)  I love salmon!  Missing reheated salmon in the faculty room was even mentioned at my retirement party (sarcastically???)  I'm eager to give this recipe a try - it says that it ensures that the salmon will not be overcooked - almost always one of my fatal mistakes.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Gabrielle Hamilton's Salmon With Creamy Lemon Rice

"The preparation is so scarily simple—salt-and-pepper cooking at its most literal. It's also imperative not to overcook it. Salmon turns from silky and succulent and luscious to chalky, bitter, and lifeless in the span of a minute. The parchment seals in all the juices, and when you open it a cucumber-fresh scent escapes that may well cause you to shudder—but with utter pleasure."

Ingredients for the Salmon, serves 2-4 1 pound whole salmon fillet, pin bones removed, neatly trimmed, and skin intact
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 generous pinches coarse kosher salt
6 full grinds of a pepper mill
1 sheet parchment paper (brown is not recommended)
Directions for the Salmon
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lay a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet and place the salmon fillet skin-side down in the center.
3. Thoroughly coat the fillet and an inch or so of the surrounding parchment with the olive oil, creating a slick and glossy surface.
4. Generously and evenly season the fillet with salt and pepper. Hold your hands about eight inches above the fish when seasoning for more even distribution, thus avoiding salty or peppery patches.
5. Gather the parchment by both long sides and bring them together, folding over two or three small folds with a sharp crease, until you have a neat packet. Then fold the open ends two or three times in the same way, tucking them under the fish, thus creating a tightly sealed packet from which no steam can escape during cooking.
6. Place the packet on the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven and cook for exactly 10 minutes. Remove and, in good light, check the fish's color by peeking inside the parchment without fully opening it. It should be pale pink and opaque at the edges with a broad swath of still-translucent orange flesh down the center.
7. Return to the oven for about five more minutes, or until the rare-looking swath has narrowed to a half-inch stripe. Don't overcook it!
8. Remove the salmon from the oven. Very carefully, open the packet and release the steam to prevent further cooking.

Ingredients for the Creamy Lemon Rice
2 cups excellent, rich chicken broth
4 large egg yolks
½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ cup frozen peas
1 bunch of scallions, sliced to yield a scant ½ cup of rings
2½ cups cooked rice (day-old is more than fine)
2 generous pinches coarse kosher salt, or to taste

Directions for the Creamy Lemon Rice
1. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer on the stove top in a stainless-steel pot and keep it simmering as you gather the rest of the ingredients. It will slightly reduce and intensify in these few minutes.
2. In a stainless-steel or glass heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the lemon juice and whisk until blended.
3. Add a ladleful of hot stock to the egg-lemon mixture and whisk thoroughly.
4. While whisking, slowly add the hot egg-lemon mixture into the pot. Stir or whisk gently over medium-low heat while the liquid ever so slightly thickens and changes color from bright to pale yellow, about two minutes. Add the peas and the scallions, which will turn bright green in the first few seconds as they blanch in the hot liquid. Stir gently until the peas are warmed through, then add the cooked rice. Stir thoroughly, then turn off the heat and let rest, covered for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
5. To serve, spoon the soupy rice onto a platter with a rim. Place the salmon on top and gently pull it apart into large hunks. Leave the skin stuck in the parchment.
6. Taking care not to spill, lift the parchment and pour the accumulated juices over the salmon on the rice.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"There is nothing like a dame! Nothing in the world. There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame." ~ Rodgers and Hammerstein

And that dame is my niece, Rachel Rhodes-Devey.  During this past week, my family and I had the memory-making experience of being able to see Rachel perform the female lead of Nellie Forbush with the National Tour of South Pacific, while the tour was in Syracuse.  On the road since September, and wrapping up in June, Rachel has been the first under-study for the lead since its beginning, and has played the role on numerous occasions throughout the tour.  It was our good fortune ( and those who were lucky enough to be in the Syracuse audience on the 21st) that Rachel played the lead while the vast majority of her Rhodes-sided family and friends were able to be in attendance.

Rachel Rhodes-Devey

Rachel with her grandparents (my parents) following Wednesday night's performance.

A little musical accompaniment if you'd like!

Where to start with Rachel's love of theater and singing, and her subsequent declaration  that this is what she wanted to do with her life?  Well - this is Rachel on her front porch as a child.

This is Rachel on her back porch as a child.

And - in the living-room.  Hmmmmmm...........

Now, at 24, after having been in countless school productions, college productions (Oklahoma City College) , summer stock and Off-Broadway productions, Rachel is on the road with a national tour.  I tell everyone that she is living her dream - but in reality, she's been living it for as long as I can remember.

I have told my sister Alison, her mother, that we are so lucky to have Rachel in our lives and to be along on this wonderful excursion with her, but I have also told her how lucky Rachel has been.  She had people along the way who pointed out and encouraged her talents.  Most notably however, she has a family who recognized that her extraordinarily beautiful voice was just that, extraordinary - and they made sure that she received the proper training, and everything that goes along with it - the vocal lessons, the dance lessons, the hair cuts, the trips to auditions and endless rehearsals.  My sister has always emphasized how important it is to be gracious - how important this would be in her career, but more so in her life. Rachel is exactly that kind of person - gracious, humble and incredibly talented.

Yes, I was the one screaming "That's my niece!!!" as the standing ovation and cheers went on and on. We love you Rachel and are so proud of you.

Remember - you may have heard her name here first -

Rachel Rhodes-Devey

You will undoubtedly hear it again!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Yesterday ushered in yet another first day of spring.  The difference however between this spring, and the ones in previous years ~ well I can't remember one this mild ~ and I don't think that I mean just in Central NY.  It had been an notably warm winter, and yesterday's beginning of a new season was marked by near 80°  weather here.  I needed only to circle the perimeter of my home in order to see the signs.

Birds and buds ~ and beauty.  I will set my worries about global warming aside for a bit and enjoy the warmth, the sounds and the scenery.  
Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"When I die Dublin will be written in my heart." ~ James Joyce

I'm not sure what music other families were listening to in the early 60's, but in my home it was  The Clancy Brothers.  My father is a retired English professor with a specialty in Irish literature - we listened, and sang, and danced to the music of the Clancy Brothers - all over the living-room.  I still know most (well, many) of their songs by heart. My family will not be in the least bit surprised to see the clip that I have chosen to share with you!

When I was 9, our family lived in Ireland, outside of Dublin, for many, many months while my father was on sabbatical from his teaching position.  I was just old enough that I remember a lot of our time there.  We did go back when I was 16 - that's a whole other story - and I went back again as a young adult with a former college roommate - that too is another story!

Boarding the plane in Syracuse in 1965 to head to NYC and then on to Ireland.
They are the childhood memories that I share today.

~ 17 Callary Road, Mount Merrion - our address and the home where we lived.  Coal fire places - which we used.  The coal room was off of the kitchen, and was also where my mother deposited shillings in a little slot in order to get the gas running for the stove.  We all had hot water bottles and I remember occasionally going to sleep with the glow of softly burning coals in the fireplace in my bedroom.  

~ Neighbors and lifelong family friends.  The Grant family lived across the street from us.  Parents, children (lots of girls - yay for us) and Granny Grant.  Over the decades the Grants have remained close friends - who knew that 47 years later that would be the case?  Felicity was (is) closest in age to me, and we spent many hours back and forth between our two homes. Various members of the Grant and Rhodes families have travelled across the Atlantic over the years to enjoy each other's company and reminisce about those early days.

Felicity in the center with her parents, Hilda and Harry Grant
And then -  the Burgess family right next-door to the Grants.  I remember that we all gathered there to watch the final episode of "The Fugitive".  Mairead Burgess was friends with my younger sisters, Alison and Robin.  Robin declared early on that if she ever had a girl, she would name her Mairead.  Robin's Mairead will be married in September.

~ Our backyard - we discovered stone steps going up the small back hill of the garden which were covered in moss - I was pretty obsessed with "fairies" (there were "fairy rings" in the woods not far from us) and I loved the whole "secret garden" feel of those moss covered steps.

~ TV - didn't come on till around 5:00 in the afternoon - I remember watching F- Troop and Julia Child, whom we girls referred to as the "Pitza Lady" because of her pronunciation of "pizza".

~ Tinkers - Yes, I really do remember Tinkers camping at the base of the hill at the end of our street, and I remember seeing their colorful wagons as we traveled about the country.

~ Going to school at Muckross, where I was in Third Form (as opposed to 4th grade).  Muckross was a convent school and my classroom was in a small, single-roomed  building set in a garden.  We had a coal burning stove for heat.  All of my teachers were nuns, and I had to memorize a poem every night (at least that's how I remember it).  Older students had to go to school on Saturday mornings - I could hardly believe it!  I wore a uniform, and caught hell if I forgot to wear my beret.  If I had any truly unhappy moments there - I don't remember them.  Happy memories ~ ~  but I do remember having to memorize a lot of stuff - like -  really memorize!   And how many 9 year-olds can say that they rode a double-decker bus home from school everyday!

There are many other memories, of course, but these are the ones that stick clearly in my mind, without having to ask my parents to fill in the blanks.  They are wonderful memories, and I'm so grateful to have them.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” ~ Lin Yutang

We did quite a bit of traveling on our way back to Central New York from our two month visit to Florida. First, we headed straight across the state in a south-easterly manner.  Central Florida does not hold the same spectacular views as does her coasts, but it is definitely orange growing territory.  We drove through miles and miles of endless orange groves, some of them in fruit and others in bloom.  The scent of orange blossom in the air was AMAZING!  Despite it being an uncomfortably warm day, we kept the windows down - I've never experienced anything like it.  I wish I could have captured it in a jar so I can pull it out and sniff whenever I want!

 The smoke of a distant brush fire - we could see it for miles and miles.

After spending three days in Stuart visiting with friends, where I took no pictures, we headed to St. Augustine, our country's oldest established city.  We passed up a visit to The Fountain of Youth.  Like everything else in St. Augustine, there was a hefty price tag just to walk through the gate.

The Spanish influence was evident at every turn - just spectacular architecture!  We took a trolley tour, which gave us a very good feel for what the city has to offer.  I must say that we were a bit disappointed by the touristy feel of the city - some truly lovely spots, but a lot junky shops.  Everything had its own admission price, and there did not seem to be the unified approach to handling and encouraging tourists that we have found in say, Williamsburg, or our next day spent in Savannah.  A lovely city though, to be sure. 

Oyster beds ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

We spent a lovely day in Savannah Georgia where, sadly, I didn't seem to take many photos.  I think that this was in part because many of Savannah's streets are still paved in cobblestone and brick, and  we just bounced along during the trolley tour that we took there - not conducive to good picture-taking!   Savannah really did seem to have its act together when it came to handling tourists.  Everything seemed to flow nicely, and the shops had a genuinely historic feel to them.  It is just a gorgeous city - very lush in its greenery, and beautifully historic in every way. 

Savannah sits on the Savannah River, which is Georgia's largest port.  We watched several large freighters as they glided on their way to who-knows-where.  They are actually quite majestic and graceful for such large and seemingly awkward structures.

Our Final Day of Travel!

Our final night on the road was spent in Richmond, Virginia, where we arrived late at night, and hit the road first thing in the morning.  We stopped at Juniper Moon Farm, where Zac, the farm manager, gave us a wonderful tour.  The morning couldn't have been more lovely, and the farm is just a beautiful, beautiful spot. 

A face only a mother could love, I think!  

Well, our journey is at an end - for this year anyhow!  As we walked into our home later that same day, I realized how lucky I was to be able to spend two months vacationing - wow!  And how happy I was to be home.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Just click your heels together three times and say . . . " ~ Glinda the Good Witch

"There's no place like home; there's no place like home."
I must say that despite all of our wonderful travels and experiences over the past couple of months, I am very, very glad to be back home.  I like my home.  I like my stuff.  I like our neighbors.  I like that my family is nearby.  I like that my friends are here.  There's no place like home!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

By Hand: A lifestyle magazine for people who make and do

Excuse me while I interrupt my travels!  Yes - we are still on the road - having spent three days in Stuart Florida; one night in St. Augustine, Florida; one night in Savannah, Georgia; and one night in Richmond, Virginia.  As this posts, I will be visiting Juniper Moon Farm, a bit north-west of Richmond.  I first introduced you to Susan Gibbs of Juniper Moon Farm back in early February when she was visiting A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Florida.  As I finally caught up with my mail during the few down moments in the past week, I learned that Susan, along with Jeannie Bloch, is launching a new magazine ~

By Hand: A lifestyle magazine for people who  


make and do ~

Take a moment to watch the video below to learn about this inspirational new magazine!

I take such pleasure in creating things with my own two hands, whether it's knitting, soap-making, making pasta, or making a pair of earrings!  It brings me such personal satisfaction, and if you are a "By Hand" person - you know exactly what I mean.

Click on the photo below to learn how you can be a part of launching this wonderful new magazine - I can't wait for the first issue!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

“Is it time to go home yet? I keep clicking these damn shoes, but nothing happens.” ~ Robin Hecht

By the time this post posts - we will be on our slow trek back home to the chilly north.   I'm not sure where we will be this time next year, but we enjoyed our two months in St. Petersburg.  

I hope to share with you some of the places that we stop along the way as we head home.  In the meantime - 

Whenever I am away from home, I seem to pay more attention to signs, and what is written on them.  I think that at home they are just part of my everyday surroundings and I just don't see them.  While in Florida, I snapped a few signs (and sights) that caught my attention.  Here for your viewing pleasure -

~ and 50 cents? ~
~ ok! ~
~ oops! ~

A little background on this photo - I saw this sign on a Friday evening, without my camera.  I knew that I had to snap a picture of it before Monday morning, because it surely would be corrected when school began.  I'm so glad that I went back on Sunday, because as we drove past it on Monday morning, it was indeed corrected.  I cropped the picture to leave the school name out, but on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times featured an article about the misspelling, along with the fact that before it could be corrected, students had taken out their cell-phones and immediately began posting pictures of it to Face-Book.  It is the principal's fervent hope that it not end up as a "Send us your headlines" segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno!
~ I'm having a little trouble with my new iPhone 4S - do you think you can repair it for me? Oh, and I'll have the breakfast special while I wait. ~
~ the backyard of an apartment ~
~ interesting combination ~