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.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day chores

 Yet another perquisite of teaching is getting the federal holidays off.  I had a mental list of chores for today, like getting my car inspected. (Check.)  I also remembered to hang up my Blue Star Mothers flag and our American flag in honor of Veterans Day, and of these two good-looking soldiers, below. 

Last winter, the snow got so deep around here that I had trouble getting out to the bird feeders to refill them. So today, I moved all of the feeders closer to the house. I'll be able to refill the back yard feeders from the deck. Note Daisy the dog looking suspiciously at these new arrangements.
 The mourning doves, too, were looking on with concern.
It took about three minutes for the birds to find and adapt to the new feeder locations in both front and back yards. Below, a woodpecker claims a bit of suet.

I can see the back yard feeders as I type this. Chickadees, nuthatches, finches, doves, sparrows, and titmice are swirling around, jockeying for a turn. Later, as dusk approaches, I know our cardinals will visit, too.  On a gray, blustery November day, the birds bring color and life to a garden that is otherwise closed for business until next spring.

We will have granddaughter Lexi visiting us for the first time this Thanksgiving. I am hoping that she, too, will enjoy watching the bird feeders from a closer view.

See you soon, Lexi!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A North Country November Saturday

The Handsome Husband and I headed down the Northway Saturday morning to watch the Lake George High School boys soccer team play in the class C sectional finals at Colonie High School. The game ended 0-0, went into sudden death overtime, when alas, Maple Hill scored a goal and won the title. The day was cool but a cloudless sky made sitting in the sun very pleasant. Both teams played well and hard, making it exciting to watch.

Leaving the soccer game, we headed down Central Avenue to check out how things were going at Occupy Albany in Academy Park.
 As a professional mother, I'd say they are going pretty well.

I counted over fifty tents.
Everything seemed pretty clean and organized.

Meetings were being held ...
... and law and order is encouraged.
Grandparents felt safe bringing along their grandchildren (and equipped them with drums and tambourines.)

Demonstrators held up signs for passing cars, but there were no rude shouts or attempts to block traffic.
The atmosphere in the park was so civilized that a wedding party was able to take photos on the edge of the encampment without any problem.

I'm impressed.

On Saturday evening, the HH* and I drove north to Queensbury for a trivia night to benefit the Glens Falls Youth Center. We've played before with some area teachers I know through high school quiz team. Sometimes we win, but last night, our team lost by one point.

The real winner was the Glens Falls Youth Center, which in this economy needs all the help it can get. It was great to see a group of Skidmore students there last night, helping with the fundraiser. Apparently, several of them have been volunteering at the Youth Center throughout their four years at Skidmore. Good work, ladies. The Youth Center is a great cause. Check them out.

* And you can check out the Handsome Husband's PlanetAlbany version of Occupy Albany here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Supporting the Occupiers

The word went out on a NYSUT blog and on various Facebook sites about an Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Event to be held this afternoon in front of Albany's Capitol building. Despite threatening  skies, the Handsome Husband and I traveled down to attend. The HH* was there as an impartial observer for PlanetAlbany, he said. I, however, a card-carrying NYSUT member, intended to participate.

Arriving a little early, we strolled through a near by park, stopping at a memorial.The inscription on it seemed timely:

The demonstration was a little slow getting started, but eventually, by my count, over two hundred people showed up.
The crowd was older than I would have predicted. There were some young folks, but I think they were in the minority.
NYSUT's Solidarity Committee led off the speeches. (NYSUT stands for New York State United Teachers.)
The signs were many and varied...
...and no one seemed to mind having his picture taken. I did ask.
Warren Buffett would have agreed with this sign, below.
But now we were getting into a touchy area, at least for me. I'm not exactly pro-war, but as long as Americans have skin in that game, my kid or anybody else's, we'd better fund it.
Veterans for Peace, like the fellow below, make me nervous. Such a nice-sounding name, but I don't think they are very peaceful. Look them up on the web sometime. I mean, am I wrong about them?
Before the event got under way, a couple of troopers showed up. The troopers asked the NYSUT folks if there was anything they needed. Hmmmm...that's a bit different from the 60s.
Across the road, three mounted Albany policemen watched the goings on, but they never came nearer.
This gentleman from the IWW had an interesting homemade drum set.
The banner below refers to a controversial case from the capital region. Much has been written about it. You can find many links to news stories here. 

If folks who look like this...

...keep showing up at events like this ...

...somebody's got to start paying attention.

Will the varied movements and concerns help or hurt? I don't know.
But I admire the folks who are getting out there.

You should come next time.

*HH = Handsome Husband