Sunday, August 24, 2014

Glens Falls in late summer bloom

Late Saturday afternoon, the Handsome Husband and I drove up the Northway to our old hometown, Glens Falls, NY.  We were headed for dinner and a movie at Aimie's on Glen Street, but we allowed time for a pre-dinner walk. 

On this August evening, Glens Falls was looking pretty good. We strolled past an insurance office, above, that had a great mass of zinnias and late summer perennials in a colorful sidewalk garden.
We walked around the downtown Rite Aid to check out the community garden they host next to their building.
The garden is not fenced and lies open to any passers by. Yet, it seemed unmolested. 
 Bright flowers, ripening vegetables, and even some garden tools lay there for the swiping. How wonderful that people respect the gardeners and leave things alone.
While many of the small plots had vegetables, a few seemed to be solely cutting gardens of annual flowers.
The butterflies were enjoying those.
 We encountered an old acquaintance, Dan Hall, checking on his plot after having just returned from a week away on vacation. We chatted about our respective now-grown children. These days, Dan serves as the Councilman-At-Large on the city's Common Council. Dan told us that there are now five community
gardens across Glens Falls. That's terrific, I think.

We left Dan to finish hoeing around his ripening corn plants and continued meandering through some of the residential blocks near by. Glens Falls was my home for 27 years; we raised our three kids there. Like many upstate cities, it has its challenges. But it was good to see it looking so cheerful on this August evening.
Back in the downtown area, I took note of this poster about an exhibit at the beautiful Crandall Library's Folklife Gallery. I will have to go back and check that out.
And then finally, it was time to go see our movie and have some dinner. We were there to see A Most Wanted Man, a film based on a John le CarrĂ© novel. The movie has gotten good reviews and we both enjoyed it, but then, we are both fans of le CarrĂ©'s writing. I noticed that a couple at a table next to ours walked out midway through the movie. It is a bit dark and moody. It feels as though it were filmed in black and white, so gray is the city, the interiors, the costuming. It also happens to be the final film made by the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, which made it more poignant, I thought.

The Handsome Husband and I are happy for Glens Falls that this theater is still in business. What a nice asset it is for the city's downtown. 


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Better Housekeeping, maybe

People who are better housekeepers than I am may not have this problem, but I certainly do. It's that stuff that lurks in the back of the kitchen cupboards. 

I'm certain I bought this can of pumpkin last fall, thinking I would make pumpkin pie or pumpkin tea bread during the holidays. Or perhaps it was an extra can that I just never needed. 

Anyway, there it sits, not getting any younger. Time to do something with it. The recipes I would normally use canned pumpkin for tend to be sweet. My Handsome Husband doesn't really like sweet stuff. ("Sugar is poison!" he loves to declare.)

So today, I tried a new recipe, for Pumpkin Yeast Bread. I didn't follow it exactly, reducing the sugar, for example, from 1/2 cup to just one tablespoon (for above stated reasons.) I also used half whole wheat flour and half white flour, and subbed cinnamon for the cardamom. A good handful of oatmeal went in, as well, because that finished off the open container.


I used the dough hook on my sturdy KitchenAid mixer, then kneaded the dough briefly on a clean, lightly floured board.

Into a well-greased bowl it went to rise. I covered the bowl with a clean, damp dish towel.

 After about an hour and a half, it looks like this, above.

The dough is punched down, turned back out onto a board, and divided in half.  Each half is shaped into a loaf and popped into well-greased baking pans to rise again.

The pans are covered again with the clean, damp dish towel.

Be sure your dish towel is at least thirty years old.

After about 45 minutes, the loaves have nearly doubled and are ready to go into the oven.

Mmmm, smells good. When the loaves are done, remove to a rack for cooling.

Here's the Handsome Husband adding a little butter to the first slice.

The verdict? Not bad. I bet it will make great breakfast toast. And French toast, too!

Okay, one lurking can eliminated from the cupboard. Now, what can I make that's fairly healthy with that jar of maraschino cherries I have no idea why I bought? THAT will be a challenge.






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Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's August in Saratoga County: All horses, all weekend.


The weekend isn't quite over yet, but it has been a pretty darn good one so far. Isn't summer wonderful?

We started out on Friday evening with overnight family visitors. Since our guests included a horse-loving 14-year-old niece, we packed up a picnic supper and headed over to Saratoga Polo.

The match was exciting to watch, with galloping horses sometimes only ten feet or so away from our lawn chairs. Because we went early, our niece was able to walk over near the horse trailers before the match started and get a close-up look at the polo ponies.

The crowd is not a rowdy one. It's like watching pro tennis or pro golf: everyone is fairly quiet and intent on the action. We knew nothing about polo and felt foolish for not having looked up the rules before we went. I know more now.  For example, most polo "ponies" are thoroughbreds or thoroughbred crosses. A polo match lasts approximately one and one-half hours and is divided into seven-minute time periods called chukkers. There are six chukkers in a match. There is a 15-minute halftime.

And speaking of halftime, polo is the only sport where spectators are actually invited to enter the playing field. Why?
Well, to replace the divots. of course. I think our young visitor even got a kick out of that part.

If you've never been to Saratoga Polo, I recommend it. See their website for more information. Here's my tip: if you choose to tailgate, bring a hat with a visor or brim because you will be looking into the setting sun. 
~~~

On Saturday, we were off to see more galloping thoroughbreds, this time with some former co-workers of my husband. 
I like to go to the Saratoga "flat" track about once a year (so called locally, to distinguish it from the harness track.)
I am too cheap to be a bettor, but I like to see the beautiful horses up close and you can do that here. The track atmosphere is always festive. This Saturday, it was about as crowded as I've ever seen it. The weather was perfect and many of us are feeling that summer is already slipping through our fingers, so I can understand why there were so many people there.
We spent the day with three couples, all much younger than we are. The men-folk all once worked together for the same regional newspaper. It is somewhat telling about the newspaper biz these days that out of the four guys, only one still works there.
There were cute kids involved (always a plus.) This is 9-month-old Nora. She is a cuddle bug with a wonderful gummy smile.

And 11-month-old Emma has the most amazing blue eyes. There was a delightful five-year-old, too, Lucy, but she didn't stand still long enough for a photo. She far preferred to spend her afternoon on the nearby jungle gym. It was a good day, I thought. Thank you, Justin, for organizing it.
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Sunday dawned just as beautifully as the last few days. Today was our annual church picnic and service at the Armer Family farm near Ballston Spa. We had a good turn out.

There were happy couples...

and more cute baby girls...

and kids in ancient apple trees...

and, in keeping with this weekend's theme, more horses.
A sweet pony shared a barn with the Armer family's massive and handsome...

... Belgian draft horses.




All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.






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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Down the road and back

It was such a beautiful day today that I was drawn out to take an afternoon walk down nearby Brownell Road.
 I love this road. I don't know how much longer I will love it, but right now, I still think it is a wonderful place.
 A few of our neighbors still have small farms: a few beef cattle, a few horses, some large vegetable gardens.
 Some land lies fallow and it, too, brings forth fruit.
 As I walked, I could hear bullfrogs, see a turtle slip into a quiet pool, hear a steer low.
 On other days, I have seen deer here, foxes, wild turkeys, a coyote slipping across the road like a quick shadow.
 A neighbor once told me that twenty years ago, a farmer had an old beagle that would take afternoon naps in the middle of this road. She guessed that the warm pavement felt good on his old bones.
"No one ever hit him," she told me. "We all knew to watch for him and we drove slowly. He died of old age."
 I don't think that dog would last long today. The Town of Malta is growing so fast. Houses are sprouting up and people zip by, going to and fro to work. They don't hear the frogs, they don't smell the fresh-cut hay.
No one likes change. But I do wonder: can we save some of THIS before it's too late? Can local governments fund programs to purchase the development rights for farms like these?

Saratoga County used to do that, used to have a very successful Farmland and Open Space Fund. It conserved farmland, created trails, and  protected natural areas. 


Money troubles caused them to stop funding the program. But now the county's economic picture has changed. Money isn't so tight this year. I hope the supervisors bring back this program. 


Because once all of this is gone, it won't ever be coming back. And I, for one, will sorely miss it.


I am asking for the support of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors for a modest investment of $500,000 in the Farmland and Open Space Fund in the county’s 2015 budget. Will you join me? Please call or email your  town supervisor soon. They start putting the budget together in August. Thank you. 




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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's Saratoga County for horses and blooms this weekend

I love farms. I love horses. I love FREE. So the 2014 Saratoga County Horse Tour, sponsored by CCE Equine/Cornell Cooperative Extension sounds to me like the perfect way to spend Saturday afternoon.

This is a self-driven tour that is open to the public. Click here for a printable brochure and directions to each farm. If you've never met that lovable loser, retired thoroughbred Zippy Chippy, this weekend is your chance.

Several of the featured farms are in the thoroughbred biz in one way or another, so local racing fans may find this tour fun and informative. And if there is anyone in your family who is smitten with horses, this is a Must Do event.



And then there is Sunday. This event isn't free but it sure is popular. One of the main fundraisers for Soroptimist International of Saratoga County is this annual garden tour. Several generous and ambitious families open their private gardens to visitors on this one Sunday in July. Some gardens are professionally "done" but most are the result of the hard work and creativity of mere mortals who happen to love gardening. Those are my favorite. They fill me with awe and admiration. Please click here for information about when and where to buy tickets for the garden tour.

For those of you who can't make either tour, please check back here after the weekend. I will try to get some good photos to share with you.

Wherever you live, I hope your weekend is filled with lots of things you love to do in the out of doors.




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