Saturday, December 31, 2011

Faith, film, food, and First Night: It's all about Saratoga this weekend.

Last night, the Handsome Husband and I went to see Higher Ground at the Saratoga Film Forum. I enjoyed the movie but it's an odd sort of story. As I read in a review somewhere, it may be too religious for non-believers and not religious enough for people of faith. Based on a memoir, I found it to be a poignant and believable story of a woman's struggle with both her faith and her marriage. The Forum will have one more showing of this film on New Year's Day at 3:00 pm.

And speaking of faith, I was saddened to read this recent story in The Saratogian, about the First Baptist Church:  Saratoga Springs' oldest church is running out of money. For both persons of faith and for supporters of historic preservation, this is not good news. 

I am an elder in a different protestant church in an adjacent Saratoga County village. Our lovely building is actually twenty years older than this at-risk church, and this story strikes way too close to home. I wish the folks of the First Baptist Church well and we will be doing our bit tonight to support them.

From 4 to 8 p.m. tonight, December 31,  the church will host an annual roast beef dinner during First Night in Saratoga. Please won't you consider helping them out, too? You can find the First Baptist Church of Saratoga Springs at 45 Washington Street, about a block or so off Broadway. Their telephone number is 518-584-6301.

And by the way, First Night, too, supports a good cause: Saratoga Arts.  The Handsome Husband and I will be volunteering at one of the venues tonight. Come on up (or down) to Saratoga and do good while having a great time!

Happy New Year to all!

Note: The photo above shows the cupola of the First Baptist Church of Saratoga Springs, NY.
Photo credit: (ED BURKE/


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post-Christmas Optimism

Every year at about this time, whatever shred of self-awareness I have completely disappears.
Next Christmas, I always imagine, I will give everyone a beautifully hand-made gift. I should start TODAY!

Some crafty, artistic souls actually manage to do this. You would think that at my age, I would have learned that I am not ever going to be one of those people. Still, like the mom in the Zits comic above, I like to dream.

This year, I did actually manage to make some penuche and chocolate chip cookies for our youngest son who lives near by. That counts for something, doesn't it?

I have eighteen (!) more school days left in my teaching career. On Friday, January 27, at 2:33 pm, I will be officially retired.

Ah, I think, then I will finally have time for all of those craft projects I have been imagining all these years.

Beware, family members: there may be a nice pile of fabric squares in your future.

For now, I'm off to try to finish that sweater I started knitting for granddaughter Margie 'way back last February. At least I had enough self-awareness a year ago to pick a pattern that was a generous size bigger than she was then.

Perhaps next year, Margie would prefer some penuche for Christmas.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Good cookies make good neighbors and First Night volunteering

 Our good neighbor Nealie invited the women of our neighborhood over for an annual holiday cookie swap and an evening of catching up.
Nealie is a gracious hostess and we all left with a generous supply of lovely cookies baked by our neighbors.
 Since many of our development homes are quite similar, we enjoyed hearing about Alisa's remodelling adventures and shared snake stories of recent years. It's really good to have this time together. Thanks, Nealie!

Tonight, the Handsome Husband and I attended a training session for Saratoga's First Night volunteers. This popular event is a great way to spend New Year's Eve and benefits Saratoga Arts.
If you're interested in helping out, there is still one more training session, on Monday, December 19 at 6:00 pm. Call the Saratoga Arts Center for more information: 584-4132. Or buy a button for $15 and enjoy the dozens of events and a great night out in Saratoga this New Year's Eve.

Happy holiday to all!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shadowy birds, a full moon, and colliding planets: a quiet Saratoga County weekend at home

On winter evenings, the cardinals are always the last birds to visit our feeders. In the deep dusk, they become no more than gray shadows moving about the yard. They must feel safe then, their bright plumage erased by the approaching night.

Last night, the Handsome Husband and I stood and watched the full moon rise over the horizon. So quickly it rose, from a hint of an arc to the full bright orb in only a minute or two.  It reminded me of the images of the planet Melancholia in the Lars von Trier movie we saw Friday night at the Saratoga Film Forum. (The movie is about a mysterious new planet threatening to collide into the Earth. Not exactly holiday fare and I'm not sure I'd recommend it. But I do like the Saratoga Film Forum.)

Today, running errands after church, I spotted the new commemorative Civil War issue of The Atlantic among the magazines for sale in the grocery store and bought a copy for the HH. Although he protested that I should have saved it to give him at Christmas, he has not put it down this past hour and a half. It's fun to see someone deriving pleasure from a gift you've given them.

In a little while, we will turn on the television and flip back and forth between the Chicago at Denver football game (with Tim Tebow)  on Fox and (sigh!) the Buffalo Bills vs. San Diego game on CBS. The HH says he is getting weary from years of rooting for the Mets and the Bills. Wait'll next year, indeed.

Soon, I will have to arouse myself and start making a zillion cookies for the neighborhood cookie swap at Nealie's on Tuesday night. It's a good thing a simple homemade soup from leftovers is on the supper menu for tonight: butternut squash soup, I'm thinking, maybe with a salad and biscuits.

Wishing you a warm soup and a cosy evening at home, too.

Cardinal image credit:


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ah, December!

On Thursday night, Saratoga Springs celebrated its 25th annual Victorian Streetwalk. The Handsome Husband and I joined thousands of others strolling Broadway, which was closed to traffic for the evening.
 There were folks in Victorian garb (not us, though) and lots of choirs and music groups both outdoors...
 and in.
 With the extra lights and decorated shops, it was a bright and cheerful event, despite the December chill.
 The HH* and I popped into a Saratoga restaurant we like and treated ourselves to a warming dinner.
 I took a photo of my salad, but was so hungry I forgot to photograph my entree before diving in. (Pasta and shrimp in a sage cream sauce. Definitely not the diet plate.) I like the northern Italian style food that Forno Bistro serves, including the shaved Grana Padano cheese laid over the top of the small dinner salads. (I looked it up and discovered that Grana Padano was created nearly 1,000 years ago by the monks of Chiaravalle Abbey. I add this with a wink to my friend Anita.)
 After dinner and a bit more strolling, we popped into the Saratoga City Center, recently remodeled, and checked out the festival of trees, benefiting Catholic Charities.
 I liked a tree decorated with snowy owls...
 ...which made me think of Mrs. Beck, whose daughter sometimes reads this blog ;-)
 Coneheads, anyone?
 This morning, I headed out to the Saratoga Farmers Market, which is held at the Division Street Elementary School during the winter months.
 This, too, is a cheerful, busy place, full of lots of good things to eat.
 People line up to buy Battenkill Valley Creamery milk in returnable glass bottles. This milk is also  available in local Hannaford markets. My son Thomas and I think this particular brand of milk is one of the best foods on earth. It's amazing how good it is: fresh, local, just awesome.
Tonight, the HH and I are off to a holiday get-together with some folks he works with in the summer.  And in a week, Nealie's neighborhood cookie swap is coming up.

I love this time of year. Christmas shouldn't be about just one day with a glut of presents. I like the idea of the season of Christmas, with special foods and spending time with friends and neighbors and family.

Tomorrow, on the second Sunday of Advent, we will light the second purple candle on our Advent wreath. That candle represents love. And then next week, on the third Sunday of Advent, the rose-colored candle is lit. The pink candle is customarily called the "Shepherds Candle" and it represents joy.

Here's hoping that your December is filled with love and joy, all month long.

* HH = Handsome Husband.