Saturday, October 1, 2022

Will the Lesson Be Learned?

Ghosts of vacations past.  What do these all have in common?

Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida.

Shells on a Sanibel beach.

 Boats in a Punta Gorda, Florida marina.
Causeway, Punta Gorda

Shopping area, Sarasota, Florida.

Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, Florida.  I don't think this is the place where the now viral photo of water sucked out of Tampa Bay was taken but it gives you a good view of the bay.

Tampa, taken from Bayshore Boulevard.

Historic home, Savannah, Georgia.

Ravenel Bridge at sunset, looking at Charleston, South Carolina.

College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina.

Sanibel.  Punta Gorda.  Sarasota.  Savannah.  Charleston.

What do they have in common?  The photos were taken between 2013 and 2020, before Hurricane Ian (or tropical storm Ian) hit.  Perhaps we should call it "the before time".  True, these cities have been hit by hurricanes and tropical storms before.  But Ian was what some are calling a "generational storm".

Of these localities, perhaps Sanibel/Captiva Island was hit the worst.  The island is cut off except by air or water, and its residents are lacking power and water.  I spent part of yesterday looking at satellite images of Sanibel, trying to see landmarks I remembered from my two visits there.

But let's not mourn what was.

Let's not waste another moment without working on what is.

The storms are getting worse.  More frequent.

How many more "I've never seen anything like this before?" must we hear before we wake up to what is happening?

Climate change isn't a political position to take.  This isn't a political post.

Climate change  It is reality.  We ignore it at our peril, and the peril of our children and grandchildren.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Canandaigua Lake Skies #SkywatchFriday

I am hoping that my Florida readers and friends are all safe after Hurricane Ian.  Ian was a reminder of the power of Nature, and how destructive it can be.  

Meanwhile, my area is under a frost advisory.

My post today isn't as exciting but I hope you enjoy it.

The last couple of times we have visited Canandaigua, New York (situated on one of New York's Finger Lakes). we haven't enjoyed sunsets along Canandaigua Lake   The weather hasn't been favorable.  But I sometimes forget that there are other reasons to take pictures of a lake.

Saturday, after attending the Naples, New York grape festival, we decided to recover from the massive crowds and chill back in Canandaigua.  We purchased a turkey sub sandwich (others call them hoagies, or heroes) at a deli we like, and took it to a bench to eat.

It had been a lovely day up to then, but clouds were rapidly encroaching.

I decided to take some pictures.
You could see the bottom of the lake (bottom of photo) and a couple of stand up paddleboarders.

The reflections were starting to get interesting.

We took a walk to a nearby marina.

There are some historic boathouses on the lake; I don't know if these were those boathouses but I liked the contrast between water and sky.

One more reflection shot.

Joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Vacation Postcard

Several days ago, I received a postcard from a Facebook friend who was vacationing.  We exchanged holiday cards last year, so she has my address.

"Having tons of fun, my friend!" it said.  She had just visited a famous mountain in the Northeast United States, one I've never been to, although I live a lot closer to it than she does.

I got so much enjoyment out of that postcard!

I thought, when I was a teen and even a young adult, I used to send postcards when on vacation. A lot.  But when was the last time I did that?

Or, when was the last time I received a postcard?  

Thanks to blogging, I do remember the last time I got a postcard.  It was March 3, 2021. It came from Iceland, and I blogged about it here.

And the story behind it, here.

But the time before that?  And when was the last time I sent a postcard?

I do get postcards from time to time. There is the local store that sends me postcards now and again, thanking me for my business and offering me a discount on purchases made in the following month.  The same store I nearly (accidentally) shoplifted from once.

I appreciate their postcards. 

And, sometimes solicitations for Medicare plans come on postcards.  Postcards that I immediately toss (after shredding the part with my name and address).

But other than that?

I honestly don't know.  

Have postcards become one of the many lost arts of my childhood and early adulthood, along with letter writing?

Are you someone who still sends postcards?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Blues Brothers #WordlessWednesday

These figures are brought out every September in downtown Binghamton, New York to celebrate the Blues on the Bridge festival.  They are normally located near the merchandise tent.

The Blues Brothers.

Just imagine if they showed up in person one year?

 Wouldn't it be awesome?


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Monica's Last Stand

I've blogged before about my love of grape pies, a regional specialty of a certain area of the Finger Lakes. In my opinion, the best pies were made by a woman named Monica. More on her later.

Grape pies are made from either Concord or, if Concords aren't available in your area, red grapes. I was introduced to this specialty around 2015 and have loved them since. Every baker makes them slightly different and the fun is in the tasting.

To truly experience grape pies, one has to attend the Naples (New York) grape festival, held the last weekend in September

Let me give you a virtual taste.

Naples is on the southwest side of Canandaigua Lake, one of the Finger Lakes.  Grapes grow on the Finger Lakes (and along Lake Erie) especially well.

Naples is all about grapes.  The fire hydrants are painted purple. There are commercial vineyards right on Main Street. There are a couple of wineries right along the main street, too.

Front door of Monica's Pies, early September 2022

As you can tell from the architecture, grapes.

Naples has a population of about 900.  Except for the Naples Grape Festival, when the population swells to 20,000 or maybe more.

I think they were all there on Saturday, when we got there.  This was a little later on, when things had thinned out some.

What can I say? It was a festival.  The sidewalks were so crowded you couldn't walk,  The traffic when we got there was, shall we say, jammed.   We expected crowds.  We didn't expect a crush.

Pie signs were everywhere. I understand, in a good year, around 30,000 grape pies are sold at the festival.   Cindy's is a favorite of many people but we hadn't tried her pies.  Cindy is Cindy Trzeciak, a home baker who made some pies around Christmastime, 1978, to make some extra money.  They sold so well, the rest is history.

Here is Cindy's menu.  Many vendors give the choice of frozen unbaked or baked, because you can't freeze a baked pie.  But we didn't have any way to keep a frozen pie frozen.  Cindy calls her take out window "the pie hole".

Another of the great bakers, Jeni Makepeace, recently retired.  I had one of her pies earlier in September - I think her daughter has taken over the business.  Anyway....back to the festival.

I waded my way to the judging tent on the grounds of the high school.  After buying a T-Shirt (purple, of course), I asked one of the judges how they run the judging.  (I was secretly hoping one of the judges was late, and they would choose me to take their place.)  Alas, no.  But the judge explained how they cut the pies into small pieces, put them into cups, and, well, eat them.  

Then the judge showed me the plaque with the names of past winners and invited me to enter next year.

Well, no.  Unless they had a subcategory of worst pie.  Also, grape pies are not easy to make because you have to skin the grapes.  Concords have tough skins.  And, oh yes, seeds.

We ended up buying a pie and cookies from her, and one from another vendor, Jeanne. 

But what about Monica, you ask?  Her name is Monica Schenk.

Monica used to sell her pies year round.  She started to bake them in 1983 as a young mother and eventually opened her own shop on Rt. 21.  We had last been at her shop (which had turned into a takeout window due to Covid) in 2021. At that time she hadn't yet announced she was retiring.

Monica's Pies closed at year's end "for the winter" and never reopened.  When we passed by her store earlier this month, there was a sign saying she had retired.

But it turns out (I found out on Facebook) she was going to be open one last time, for the festival.

And that's it.  It was going to be her last stand.

We drove past Monica's on our way to Naples (it's not within the village) and saw the lines of cars parked along the narrow highway and the lines of people in front of her small shop.

It's nice to be loved, in a way.  But then, people don't let you retire. 

Two lines!

We decided to come back on our way out and, hopefully she would still have pies.  She did.  The lines were much shorter, too.

People were buying (literally) hundreds of dollars of pies (she has, or should I say had, many flavors besides grape).  Maybe some were buying for their entire family?   We bought a pie.  One pie.  

Oh, Monica.  It will be the last one of your pies we eat.  RIP (rest in pie), Monica.

We drove home Sunday, with our precious cargo of three grape pies, which somehow we need to eat before they spoil

Don't tell my Weight Watchers coach, but I'm up to the task. Shhhhh!

If you want the recipe, I took the liberty of getting it from Monica's website, because I fear it will be taken down in the near future. 

Thank you for the several years of pie, Monica.  It was worth driving 120 miles to get one.

Recipe by Monica Kay Schenk
Grape Pie

        4 cups stemmed Concord grapes

        2/3 cup sugar

        3 tbsp. cornstarch

    1 tsp. lemon juice

Slip skins from grapes, saving some of the skins.  Cook middles until soft, put through a sieve to get seeds out. Put back with skins and add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.
Fill pie shell and cover.
Bake 400 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Do you like pie?

Monday, September 26, 2022

Musical Mix and Tributes #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and you know what time it is:  time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Sunday or Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only-meaning at least one music video, please!)   Our head hostess is Cathy from Curious as a Cathy,  and she is joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and (last but not least) me.

Why not join our music loving folks?  It's so easy. All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (there must be a music video or your post will be subject to removal or labeling "No Music").That's all it takes!

Each month, except December, we have a guest host. For September, we once more welcome a new guest host:  John from "The Sound of One Hand Typing".  It's been a great month, John, thank you!

This week, John declares a "You Pick" week.  It's our choice.

First, a tribute shoutout to Jesse Powell, a R&B singer who passed away on September 13 from cardiac arrest at the age of 51.  He was not on my radar in life, but I recently heard what may have been his biggest hit, "You", from 1996.  I always feel a little regret when I don't hear about an artist I may have liked until after his or her death.

 I just heard of the death of Jerry "Jl" Allison on August 22 at the age of 82 (only a month plus late, sigh).  Allison was the drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and also co-wrote several of their hits, including "Peggy Sue".

We will be commemorating the fifth anniversary of the passing of Tom Petty on October 2.  I like so many of his songs, but I am choosing "Runnin' Down a Dream" for today.

Today, the Jewish community is celebrating Rosh Hashana.  Honey is an important part of that celebration, so I am including this Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, with Dave Grohl on drums in this live performance.  "Honey Bee", from 1994.

A couple of other songs I heard on satellite radio recently.

"Mysterious Ways" from U2.

And finally, Nik Kershaw and "Wouldn't It Be Good" from 1984.  Enjoy the special effects in the video and also in the music.

And that's a sweet wrap! 

Join us again next week for another episode of Music Moves Me.  October will be a special month, not just one guest host but three (each contributing a theme for the week's post.)  So stay tuned and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Speckled Hound and Other Fall Delights

Let's face it, people like me who dread winter, fall is here, and it won't leave without inflicting some pain on us.  And we know full well, here in the Southern Tier of New York, what follows fall.

But on the other hand, there is much to enjoy.

The leaf turning season has begun early.

But we are on the produce shoulder season between summer and fall.  Let's visit Frog Pond Farms, in Bainbridge, New York, to see what's on the menu.

Fall beckons with a harvest of winter squash.  To the left, hubbard squash, an old fashioned variety with a super thick skin but is prized for being able to store well.  On the right, banana squash.
Summer still calls us with hot peppers.  I didn't take pictures, but there were lots of peaches (grown in Pennsylvania-our climate here doesn't support peach cultivation).

Garlic has been harvested and is being dried.
I always seem to find something new each year.  This year, it was a squash (technically, I think, a pumpkin) called Speckled Hound.
Yes, we bought one and tried it.  I am not a fan of pumpkin but I love certain winter squashes, especially butternuts.  To me, the flesh was a lot more butternutty (is that a word?) than pumpkiny (ditto).

More fall to come!

For those of my readers who are Jewish, Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown tonight. For those who celebrate, shana tova (in English, a good year). 

In some Jewish families, it's traditional to eat pumpkins on Rosh Hashanah and that speckled hound sounds like something you may want to try, if it's available where you live.  

Tomorrow is Music Moves Me and I hope you'll join up for some music!