Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Once a month, a small group of ladies and girls meets at our local library to knit.

The young girls who come are brought by a non-knitting mom, who waits in another part of the library for them. Young Miss R. started coming first and she now brings along her younger sister, Miss S. We have had some other girls come in the past, as well, inspired by an after school learn-to-knit class run by a Malta Avenue School teacher.

These are brave and charming girls who are not too shy to ask for help when they need it. (I think the girls like the snacks, too.)

Knitting projects vary. Some are small. Above, Linda is working on a hat.

Here, Martha is making socks.

This week, I, too, am attempting socks. I am using some ancient yarn from my yarn archives. I probably bought this yarn in the 1970s. It is so old that the color palette is coming back into fashion again, heaven help us.

This beautiful work, above and in the first photo, will be an afghan.

Trish likes to knit scarves.

I have learned some useful knitting tips from this group. But what I value most is the time to reconnect with some good folks. One lady has just lost a dear sister. Another is dealing with a major health challenge. We sit together and chat and knit, offering advice on a knitting conundrum or quiet companionship. In this way, we carry on a tradition that must go back to the
Neolithic Revolution: women with their needlework, sitting together and sharing skills and news and worries.

And the young girls? They are good listeners. I suspect that they are learning a lot more than just knitting. As it has always been; as it should be.

The knitting group of the Malta branch of the Round Lake (NY) Library meets on the last Tuesday of each month from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  All levels of skill are welcome. Click here for more information.

A further note:  Many libraries and independent knitting stores  across the world sponsor similar social knitting groups, along with classes and related programs. Check out what is available in your own neck of the woods. Times are often listed on store and library websites and in newspaper weekly calendars.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Tulips, maybe

Chipmunks. In our yard, we have plenty of chipmunks, along with voles and squirrels. I have given up trying to grow tulips because all of these varmints will eat them.

But then I started reading Garden Rant.

Posts by gardeners who blog there, such as Elizabeth Licata (see, for example, this one) and Michele Owens (see hers, too) emboldened me to try another tack.

Last November, I saw a few bags of leftover tulip bulbs marked down to half price at a local store. What the heck, I thought, I will try them in pots like Elizabeth Licata does.

So unceremoniously, I stuck the bulbs in some pots, watered them well, and set them in our unheated garage. I covered the pots with other heavy pots turned upside down to discourage rodents. And then I pretty much forgot about them.

Until this week.

Shoot, I thought. I should have watered those poor tulip bulbs.

But when I removed the inverted coverings ...

Awww, they managed to survive the winter despite my neglect. Big Smile, indeed.

Both pots have been given a good drink of water and the covers will remain off.
As soon as the weather warms up just a little, I will move the pots to our porch. Or maybe inside.

For not much money or trouble, I will have some tulips to enjoy before long.

Thank you, Garden Rant, for the inspiration. (I loved this more recent post, too!)


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blood, beer, breasts, and Thai food

So that was my Saturday. How was yours?

I started the day at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Malta where, by 9:30 AM, I was in the interview portion of a Red Cross blood donation. Thanks to a very skilled phlebotomist, I was out of there and back on the road within an hour. Nothing to it. If you are eligible to donate blood but never have, please consider doing so. My first-born child is alive today because someone donated blood. My way of thanking them is to donate, too. Click here to find out if you qualify. Somebody's mom will be forever grateful to you.

 Around 1:00, the Handsome Husband and I headed to the Schmaltz brewery near Exit 10 in Clifton Park. We had some bottles to return and the brewery was celebrating the release of a new batch of their Funky Jewbelation ale.

The tasting room dudes gave us the pitch: Jewbelation is a blend of seven ales, aged in whiskey barrels, blah blah blah. They almost had me until the guy said, "It's an acquired taste. It's a sour ale. Some folks think they've opened a bottle that's gone bad." Hmmm.

So we opted for a small tasting glass of Genesis Dry Hopped Session Ale instead. It was very good, but then, I'm a hoppy kind of gal. But since one isn't supposed to drink a lot of alcohol after donating blood (it's important to re-hydrate) we left it at that.

Schmaltz makes some very good ales, no question. But buyer beware: some of the brews are very pricey. Depending on the variety, prices range from $35 to $100 a case. Just check out the price list before you get too gung ho. But the staff is glad to sell you samples before you buy.

The Slidin' Dirty food truck was also at the Schmaltz Brewing Company on Saturday. Made famous by being a top pick on the Live with Kelly and Michael show last year, we couldn't pass up an opportunity to give their sliders a try.

Good, very good. I recommend the Dirty Ninja: sautéed bok choy and shitake mushrooms, scallion, sesame seed, Asian mustard. Your choice of beef, chicken, or veggies. Yum.

On Saturday evening, we headed up the Northway with our intrepid friends Larry and Val to see an art exhibit of the work of a long-time family friend. We were headed to the Glens Falls Shirt Factory, a reclaimed building that houses about 75 artist studios and a number of retail shops. We've known Matt Farenell since he was a kid. Matt's photography is very good, but he does favor shooting young ladies sans their knickers. Prude that I am, I'm waiting for Matt to shoot a nice old apple tree or something so that I can finally buy one of his pieces to hang in our house. You can read more about Matt's work here.  And if you want to see some lovely breasts, you should definitely check out Matt's work.  Seriously, though, congrats, Matt. You do terrific work.

After leaving the art exhibit, we four headed for downtown Glens Falls. We found the Siam Thai Sushi restaurant on Maple was hopping. We strolled around Glen Street until they called Larry's cell to tell us they had a table for us.

When our dinners arrived, I was so hungry I forgot to take photos. You will have to take my word for it that the dinners not only looked good but tasted good, too. There is something extra wonderful about a spicy exotic dish on a cold, still wintry night in upstate New York. It warms you to the core.
I would definitely recommend Siam Thai Sushi.

Even after this endless brutal winter, downtown Glens Falls, our old hometown, was looking pretty good this weekend. Good restaurants, the lovely Crandall Library, the Civic Center, theaters, the amazing Hyde Collection, a thriving arts community, what's not to like?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

This is the day the Lord has made

Happy first day of spring!  

I am trying to be a less grumpy person. Really, I am.
It has been a challenge to remain upbeat and cheerful through this long and bitterly cold winter we've been having here in the Northeast.

When the first day of spring arrived today, it did so without daffodils and sunshine. Instead, we got a "wintry mix".

But it is too easy to grouse and grumble. And really, what do I have to complain about? Not much. I need to remember that.

The Handsome Husband and I drove home after having breakfast with friends at the Malta Diner this morning. (And wasn't that a delightful way to start an ordinary day? Yes, it was.) As I looked gloomily at the slushy landscape, I made a mental adjustment. These familiar lines from Psalm 118 came into my head:

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

There have been many versions of hymns written based on these lines.
One traditional version was sung very beautifully at the royal wedding in 2011.

So if you, too, need a mental adjustment, listen to that version here. It's really lovely.

As for me, I may just treat myself to a small bouquet of tulips when I stop at the grocery store later today. After all, it is the first day of spring. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Meet author Bob Conner at The Open Door Bookstore this Saturday

Bob Conner signing General Gordon Granger

03/15/2014 1:00 pm
03/15/2014 2:30 pm
Bob Conner will sign General Gordon Granger: The Savior of
Chickamauga and the Man Behind Juneteenth
Gordon Granger was from upstate New York, went to West Point and spent his career in the U.S. Army. He played major roles in numerous Civil War campaigns. After the war, as commander of U.S. troops in Texas, his June 19 order freeing slaves was one of the most significant documents of Reconstruction, prompting “Juneteenth” celebrations that continue to this day.
Author Robert Conner spent most of his career in journalism, including 21 years at the Daily Gazette. He has won two first-place awards from the New York State Associated Press Association.

Book List

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Themes. First up: Thrift

This long winter, I find that my life and my thinking are slipping into a framework of several themes. This has not happened consciously, is not the result of deliberate study. Rather, freed now of a full time job, and not at this moment needed to provide care for a family member, I have had the deep pleasure of filling my days any way I choose.

Thrift is something I have been thinking a lot about. I think this has evolved from a sadness I feel about this decade's growing tide of contempt for the poorest of our neighbors, even the working poor.

According to Time, in each of the 50 states, income growth among the top 1% of earners rapidly outpaced that of the bottom 99%, according to a recent study.  And who are too many among us blaming for this alarming disparity? The poor themselves.

That did not used to be the American way of things.

I recently read this book, Once Upon a Time: The Way America Was, by Eric Sloane. Although Sloan's book was intended for young adults, I found much to ponder in this slim volume. I didn't agree with everything he said, but Sloan sure got me thinking about thrift.

Chapter One begins, "Once upon a time, believe it or not, America was frugal."

Waste was deplorable, Sloan says. There was no such thing as garbage. 

People carefully hand-made things like chairs which were intended to last for generations.

Sloan writes, "Being content with no more than what was needed became an early American trait, almost a national creed."

Well, that sure isn't the case anymore. 

We no longer honor thrift. We no longer teach it to our children. In fact, it is often mocked. We don't think we need to be thrifty. However, somehow we expect and demand it of poor folks, despite the fact that we don't model it, don't teach it, don't value it, and don't practice it within our own homes. Every part of our culture teaches quite the opposite: thrift is for losers.

Happiness, we are led to believe, can be found inside a Best Buy or at the Lexus dealership. Yet, we forgot to tell the poor that this ethic doesn't also apply to them. So, we are outraged when we discover a SNAP recipient who has a bigger TV than our own.

We can re-learn some of the old values. We can become thrifty again. We can learn to be content with enough. In my opinion, it is worth doing.

It is not the food stamp recipients that are causing problems for our country's economy. They are not nearly powerful enough to do that.

I look at my own clutter. I look at food I have wasted. I look at time I have not used wisely. I think I can learn to do better.

An old farmers' almanac put it this way:

The devil damns the man who lives by greed,
Jehovah loves the man who only fills his need.

And how will our family be thrifty today?

  1. The books I am reading this week and the DVDs we will watch have all been borrowed at no cost from our local library.
  2. I am at this moment roasting a chicken that will likely re-appear in at least one or two more meals.
  3. As I write, my Handsome Husband is making use of free open gym time at our local community center. (It is still bitterly cold and icy outside, not very appealing for an outdoor walk today.)
  4. I will do a bit of knitting later, getting closer to finishing a blanket made from yarn leftover from past projects.
  5. I will remember to be grateful for what I have, which also happens to include all that I really need, and more. I will remember to appreciate and be glad of warm food, a warm home, family that I love, good friends and neighbors.
How will you by thrifty today? I would love to hear your ideas.

Stay thrifty, my friends.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bands 'n Beans 2014

Malta's own Don Young was playing in not one but two of the bands featured at this year's Bands 'n Beans in Lake George. This annual fundraiser helps pay for the Lake George Arts Project's many free-to-the-public programs such as their Summer Concert Series in Shepard Park and the Lake George Jazz Weekend.

This afternoon, Don Young helped rock the packed house at Roaring Brook Ranch, first with the Stony Creek Band and then with Big Fez & the Surfmatics.

We had headed up to Roaring Brook Ranch to meet up with our friends Val ...

...and Larry.

The size of the crowd gives you a hint about how long this winter has been. Lots of folks were happy to get out and hear some foot stompin' music and sample lots of spicy chili. It was a perfect antidote to some serious North Country cabin fever.

I was happy to run into some old friends and former co-workers...
...and some locally famous folk.
Matt Funicello is a Green Party candidate for Congress. He was there with Amber Lannutti, helping the fundraiser by giving out lovely bread from Matt's Rock Hill Bakehouse. Matt is a good egg and a generous businessman. If there is a good local cause, Matt is there with his wonderful bread. I wish him well in his campaign for Congress. You can follow Matt Funicello's campaign on his Facebook page: Matt for Congress - NY District 21.

You can also find Matt's wonderful Rock Hill bread at many local grocery stores, farmers' markets, and at the Rock Hill Café in Glens Falls.

It's good stuff.