Friday, December 30, 2011

Ledgewood Yurt Update

Last winter Jim and I went for a wander through the woods of Killington in search of the Ledgewood Yurt.  It was a fun adventure and it left me with a desire to dine there with a group of my Peeps.  This week I finally had the opportunity.  Tuesday evening a group of us met at the new Killington Umbrella Bar next to the Killington Base Lodge.  We enjoyed a hot apple cider with ginger brandy before boarding a snow cat driven sleigh ride to the Ledgewood Yurt. 

Meeting for a Broken Leg at the Umbrella Bar

The weather went from snow to rain as the evening progressed. Killington provided us with plastic cover ups and wool blankets to stay warm and dry as we traveled.  The Yurt was simple, warm and friendly.  Prior to dinner the Killington's Executive Chef, Greg Lang, described each course of the five course menu (which changes monthly).  Much of the food was  from local Vermont farms.  I have to admit I was a bit skeptical that he would pull off the ambitious menu in a yurt in the middle of the woods on a cold winter night.  Somehow he did.


Sitting down to dinner

A peak at the first two courses.  Very Yummy.
 

First Experience:  Bonne Bouche
Ash Ripened Goat Cheese from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery
Salted Marcona Almonds, Roasted Shallot Confit, Sundried Tomato Lavash



Second Experience::  Vermont Ring-Necked PheasantFarm Raised, Cavendish Vermont
Beauregard Potato Johnny Cake, Brandied Quince, Cold Hollow Cider Reduction


It was a delicious fun filled evening that exceeded my expectations.

Muse: Christmas Reflection and Ubuntu

Luke 2:10-11 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

You might ask what Christmas and the South African Philosophy of Unbuntu have in common.  I say everything. 

I first heard about of Unbuntu from my friend, Mike, after he returned from a trip from South Africa.  He reflected on what he learned on his visit.  Bishop Desmond Tutu's philosophy of “Ubuntu” - I am Because We Are had the greatest impact.  Tutu believed that we as humans are made for goodness, and life is enhanced by helping to enhance others' lives.  Tutu goes on to say we as humans can't live in isolation.  It is our interconnectedness that makes us human.

To me this is what Christmas is about.  I am because of my interconnectedness with family and friends.  My life is enhanced when I hance the lives around me.  Christmas to me is a celebration of this.  I shared most of the day with the people I love most my, mother and children.  Our time together was simple, Church, breakfast, conversation, silly games, and thoughtful gifts.  It was being together, taking the time to care and share that made the day special. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a snowful, blessed, and joyious Christmas. 
Please enjoy this dream run with me.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Killington: End of the week snow report

I waited until the last minute to give an update on the ski conditions at Killington.  When I left on Wednesday it was just starting to rain, and I was pretty discouraged.  Afraid much of the snow they made this week would be washed away down the hill.  There was no snow on Bear.

A friend of mine just sent me this photo of Bear Mountain as of 4:30 PM 12/23/11.  It is looking promising for the weekend.  Six inches of new snow and counting .  Exactly what I want for Christmas.

I plan on being back up next week with a house full of family, and snow always makes the holiday week merrier.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Killington: Show Me the Snow

I find it hard to believe Killington opened on October 29th with a foot of natural snow, and now they are struggling to get and keep snow on the ground.  There is mostly man made snow on 167 of a possible 752 acres of trails.  It has been an odd year.  A big dump of snow, cold temps, snow making, then a warm up, rain and melt down...repeat. 

I think or hope now winter has begun and the cold temps will stick around.  The snowmakers are working their magic and systematically covering the acres of snow barren trails.  Each day there are a few more trails open.  I am here through Thursday.  I'll report back and let you know how white Christmas Killington will be having.

Snow guns covering as much terrain as quickly as possible.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Muse: Is He Still My Brother Inlaw?

I want to know is my brother in-law still my brother in-law even if I'm no longer married to his brother?  My brother in-law John and his wife Karen were in town visiting my ex.  They gave me a call to let me know they were in town, and we met for lunch.  It was like nothing had changed.  Our relationship is still the same. 

There visit provoked me to muse about my relationships with my in-laws.  I know I am divorced, but we have known and loved each other as family for 34 years.  For me, the hardest part of being divorced is the way it impacts relationships formed while part of a couple.  As I was musing about this last night, my sister in-law Brooke (or is she my ex-sister in-law) texted me for Christmas present ideas for my children.  The call brought back a flood of happy memories of Christmases spent at his parent's home, with his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and my parents too.

The last Christmas together (2006)

I feel loved and very sad at the same time.  I now miss the milestones of their lives, but I hope to always remain in their hearts. They will always be in mine, and I will always consider them family.  It was time for my marriage to end, we had changed and grown apart, but I am still not ready to let go of all of the loving relationships that were generated by it.   

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Connecticut Wanders: Bear Mountain Hike

Connecticut has many wonderful hikes, one of my favorite is part of the Appalachian Trail.  It is in Salisbury, in the northwest corner of the state at Mt. Riga State Park.  The hike takes you to the top of Bear Mountain and the states highest summit of 2316 ft.  It is a moderately difficult 6.7 mile loop.  The steep and rocky climb is worth the view from the top.

The surrounding hills and lakes spread out in front of us as we reached the top.  We climbed crumbling old stone pyramid at the top for even a better view.  The original 22 ft stone pyramid was the work of Robbins Battell and built in 1885.  Over the years the tower deteriorated.  It was rebuilt a number of times, but now it  just a pile of stones adding and addition 8-10 feet to the peak of Bear Mountain.

Eric and Sue on stone pyramid at Peak of Bear Mountain
   

Location: From the junction of Route 44 and Route 41 in the center of Salisbury, proceed north on Route 41 3.2 miles to the Undermountain Trail parking area on the left.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Household Hint: Getting Sticky Foods Off Fabric

My kids were home over Thanksgiving weekend, and I had other friends and family visiting.  After they all left, I started cleaning up.  I discovered sticky marshmallows smeared and stuck to a sofa cushion and on a throw pillow.  Yuck. 

I tried scraping it off, but it just pulled at the fabric.  Dabbing with water did nothing.  I was afraid of using a strong solvent that might stain or hurt the fabric.  I tried ethyl (rubbing) alcohol.  It worked like a charm.  I soaked a little bit of a white towel with alcohol, then blotted the marshmallow laden fabric with it.  It dissolved the marshmallow enough that I could easily dab and gently rub it off.  It dried quickly and no left over film, stickiness or stain on the fabric.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for a wonderful day skiing and wonderful friends to share Thanksgiving Dinner.  Yesterday we had a foot of fresh powder to ski on and today we continued to enjoy the snowy conditions. 

Photos are from similar spots from the Killington Gondola. Amazing the difference one day can make.

From the Gondola on Tuesday 11/22/11

From the Gondola on Wednesday 11/23/11

Wait, my holiday isn't over.  I go home to CT tomorrow to celebrate Thanksgiving all over again with my Mom and children.  Yes life is good!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back on Snow at Last

Finally after a busy couple of weeks I am finally back doing what I love to do most...  Skiing.  Today was a glorious day.  The sun was shining, temps mid 30's to low 40's, snow hardpack to man-made powder under the guns. 


View from the K1 Gondola on My First Ride Up for the Season

Cruiser Run Down Great Northern

I have to admit, I am always nervous my first day back on the snow.  The first couple of runs I had a little trouble with my skis.  I had had them tuned at the end of last season, and I kept feeling them catch at the tips and tails.  Luckily I was skiing with my friend Jeff, who happens to be an expert ski tuner.  He had his soft Gummy Stone in his pocket and he "detuned" them at the initial contact points - a couple of inches down from the tips and tails.*  It made all the difference.  After that I felt my ski mojo return, and I was gliding and smiling all the way down. 

Ahhh, my winter affair with the Killington begins again.



*11/24/11 Correction:   He didn't use a Gummy Stone, that is what the ski shop sold me when I asked for a pocket stone to detune my skis.  He says a Gummy Stone is good for getting a little rust off the edges of skis.  He used a Carborundum Stone, which is harder and more abrasive.  Much more effective in wearing down the edge of the tip and tail of an overtuned ski.  He suggested buying a pocket stone with a case, since it is abrasive and could wear a hole through my pocket.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wonder: Giving back to the Farmington Valley Greenway

In earlier posts I mentioned the devastation Winter Storm Alfred reeked on Connecticut.  The storm was named for Alfred Hitchcock since it occurred over Halloween Weekend.  Aptly named since by the end of the storm, the state looked like something from one of his movies.

The day after the storm the 42 miles of the Farmington Valley portion of the East Coast Greenway  was closed due to down trees and power lines.  My thanks to the amazing volunteers of the different Rail to Trail organizations and Bike Walk CT who worked hard to reopen them.  An amazing feat.  I am proud to say I was one of those volunteers on Wednesday working in Avon to get the last segment of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail reopened. When we arrived there were at least 3 huge trees blocking the trail, along with miscellaneous large branches.

photo via Bike Walk CT Facebook Page

Pete and Charlie Clearing a tree from the trail
Rick draggin a branch from the trail

In less the two hours we had the trail cleared, and the last segment of the 42 mile trails from New Haven to the Massechusetts border were open.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Namaste Muse

Today at yoga, I found out it was my instructor Maggie's last day at my fitness center.  Maggie is well loved among the class for her kind, gentle classes.

Namaste is traditionally said at the end of the class from the instructor to the class and to each other.  She sent us each home with a slip of paper containing the meaning of Namaste.  It is a wonderful sentiment and I offer it to you.

Namaste

I honor the place in you which the entire universe dwells.
I honor the place in you of love, of peace, of light and of truth.
I honor the place with you where
If you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Connecticut Bike Walk Summit Post Script

Saturday November 12, 2011 was an inspiring day for Bike Walk advocates around the state of Connecticut. Well over 100 people met at the 2nd Annual Connecticut Bike Walk Summit to share ideas on how to make their communities and Connecticut a healthier-friendlier bike-walk place to live. 

The day included a keynote presentation by Andy Clarke, the President for the League of American Bicyclists to give us a historical to present day perspective of all the achievements made by the league and direction on how we can make our communities and CT more bicycle friendly.  Andy told us their first achievement was in the late 1800's advocating and getting the first paved roads to accommodate the newest form of transportation for the time... bicycles.

Breakout Session:  A Bike Friendly Community Should Be Walk Friendly Too.
Francisco Gomes Fitzgerald & Halliday, Phil Miller State Rep, David Marcus Livable Norwalk, Jim Travers New Haven Economic Development

There were 3 different panel discussion workshops to choose from, in 2 breakout sessions.  They were Every Community Can Be Bike Friendly, Bike Friendly America and Economic Development, and A Bike Friendly Community Should be Walk Friendly too.  At lunch we had 2 panel discussions, Advocacy Making the Case and What's going on in CT.


Advocacy: Making the Case
Roland Lemar State Rep, Martin Looney State Senator, Tom Condon Hartford Columnist Hartford Courant


The speakers ranged from the president of the trails council, state senators, state representatives, local business leaders, local and state leaders and advocates, news columnists.  All and all a diverse representation of the efforts going on in the state to make CT more bike walk friendly.

If you would like to stay up to date with Bike Walk CT following them on Facebook.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Connecticut Bike Walk Summit 2011

Last year I attended the first Connecticut Bike Walk Summit.  It inspired me to get more involved with Bike Walk CT and the Farmington Valley Greenway.  I have been helping on the planning committee for this event.  Tomorrow is the second annual CT Bike Walk Summit, and I am really looking forward to a fun filled and inspirational day.


Learn How To Create Bike and Walk Friendly Places At Bike Walk Connecticut’s 2nd Annual Summit
 

New Haven, CT – October 6, 2011 – In just two years, Connecticut has moved all the way from 44th to 21st place in the Bicycle Friendly State Rankings from the League of American Bicyclists.  By working with state officials to pass important legislation such as the 3-Foot Passing Law and the Complete Streets Bill and increasing the visibility of the cycling community, Bike Walk Connecticut has been a vital contributor to this impressive accomplishment; but much more work is required for conditions on the ground to improve. 

To help make that happen, Bike Walk Connecticut will hold its second annual Bike Walk Summit on Saturday, November 12 from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Kroon Hall, Yale University in New Haven.  The theme of the Summit is “Creating Bike and Walk Friendly Places.” Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists, will kick off the summit with a presentation on the League’s Bike Friendly America program. Afterwards, attendees can take part in a variety of breakout sessions including: Every Community Can Be Bike Friendly; Bike Friendly America and Economic Development; and A Bike Friendly Community Should Be Walk Friendly Too. There will be additional panels on Advocacy – Making the Case, and What’s Going on in Connecticut.

Following the Summit, Elm City Cycling will lead guided one hour tours (on bike or on foot) for Summit attendees to see for themselves how New Haven has become more bike and walk friendly. After the tour everyone is invited to gather at a nearby restaurant to socialize and strategize.

The public is cordially invited to attend the Summit, but seating is limited and preregistration is required. Admission is $20 for members of Bike Walk Connecticut, students and Yale faculty. Admission for non-members is $30. Go to www.ctbikewalksummit.org to register for the Summit and to become a member of Bike Walk Connecticut. 


Bike Walk Connecticut, a 501(c)(3) organization, changing the culture of transportation through advocacy and education.  www.bikewalkct.org


Please join me if you live in CT and would  like to know more about how you can advocate for a more biking and walking friendly CT. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Muse: Appreciating the Little Things in Life

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important. Arthur Conan Doyle via BrainyQuotes. 


Local side street, notice tree blocking road.

Saturday, October 29, 2011 brought about a record breaking snow storm across the Northeast.  Initially it made me really happy.  I couldn't get up to Killington that morning for opening day of the 2011-12 ski season, and I thought it was great the snow was coming to me.  The happiness the snow  brought me quickly faded as I realized the damage the storm brought to Connecticut. Many beautiful trees came down on power lines, blocked roads and damaged homes.

After 11 days of no power yesterday, Wednesday, November 8,  2011 at 6 AM my power came back on.  It truly helped me appreciate many of the things I take for granted.  Flipping a switch to have lights, or work an appliance, heat, hot water, the ability to drive safely, efficiantly from place to place, and to be finally back online.  Yes it is the little things that are most important.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Connecticut Wanders: The Warner Theatre

Last Friday evening my BFFE Lori and her husband Tim treated Paul and I to a fun evening at the Warner Theatre in Torrington CT.  The Warner Theatre is a beautifully restored "Movie Palace" built by Warner Brothers Studios in 1931, and it was described as "Connecticut's most beautiful theatre."  It slowly deteriorated in the 1960's-1980's due to postponed maintenance from lack of funds and declining  business.  In 1982, it face foreclosure and demolition.

A concerned group of citizens formed the non-profit Northwest Connecticut Association for the Arts, Inc. (NWCAA) to save the theatre, and successfully raised the funds to purchase the theatre.  The NCA continued their efforts over the following years, and the Warner Theatre truly is a "Palace" for the performing arts (http://www.warnertheatre.org/restoration.htm).

The featured guest on Friday evening was comedian  John Pinette. His comedy was refreshingly clever and funny.  Little to no foul language or comments you might be embarrassed to have your mother or children hear.  We all all laughed so hard that our cheeks hurt by the end of the show from smiling so much. 

Thank you Lori and Tim for a fun filled evening.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Adventure in the Kitchen: Chicken, Portobello Mushroom, Florentine Soup

I know I posted a similar recipe a few months ago, but I made this new version last night to rave reviews. There wasn't a drop left in the pot, and I decided that made the new version worth sharing.



2 qt Chicken Stock
2 large Portobello Mushroom chopped 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup Onion coarsely chopped
3-4 cloves Garlic minced
1 T finely chopped Fresh Sage*
1 T finely chopped Fresh Rosemary*
1 T finely chopped Fresh Basil*
1 T finely chopped Fresh Oregano*
5 cups Raw Spinach (rinsed well)
1/4 cup Brown Rice
1/4 cup Orzo
1/2 cup Cooked Chicken Cubed**
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring chicken stock to boil in a 2 qt stockpot. Add Portobello mushroom, onion, and garlic. Simmer very low for at least 20 minutes. Add herbs, salt, pepper, spinach, brown rice, and orzo simmer on low at least 10 minutes. Then add cooked cube chicken right before serving and simmer a few minutes. 

*   If you don't have fresh herbs, 1 tsp of dried may be substituted for each.  The dried can be added with the onions and mushrooms.

** Raw cubed skinless, boneless chicken breast could be used and added to stockpot the same time as the chicken stock. Simmer a little longer, 30 minutes total or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

NYC Wander: Food and the High Line

I spent Saturday in New York City with my daughter and some very special people, Sam, Paul and Claire. Lauren and Sam gave us an insiders tour of the city. We love to eat and we love to be outside. The tour was customized to meet our needs. We basically just filled in the time between meals and snacks by wandering around the City.

Our adventure began at Cafe D'Alsace in Manhattan's Upper East Side for an alfresco brunch. All though there were many tempting options on the menu, four of us ended up with the same meal, coffee, fresh squeezed OJ, and Eggs Benedict. Claire had OJ and a German Waffle with fresh fruit. We were all happy with our choices, and our day was off to a good start.

We took the subway to 18th Street & 7th Avenue, walked cross town to the Gansevoort Street entrance of the High Line in the Meatpacking District. The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s, to lift dangerous freight trains off Manhattan's streets. The trains ceased running in 1980. 

After decades of challenges and debates the first section of the linear park opened on June 9, 2009 from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street. On June 8, 2011 the second sectioned opened to West 20th Street, and there isn't a date set for the completion of the final section to West 34th Street (http://www.thehighline.org/about/high-line-history.


Paul, Sue, Sam, Claire, and Lauren on High Line
Walking on the High Line, notice the plantings and the RR tracks in the trail
Hanging out on the 23 St Lawn on the High Line

We stopped on the trail, to enjoy a delicious gelato from a trail side vendor.  We exited via an elevator down to street level onto West 30th Street. We took the subway back up town. After a short detour and rest on the rocks in Central Park we walked to dinner. 

Sam suggested dinner at Hide Chan Ramen for some of the best Ramen noodles in NYC. We were not disappointed. Unlike many Ramen Restaurants, Hide Chan gave us options to the richness of the broth, the firmness of the noodles, and the additional items we would like in our soup. There was also a nice selection of appetizers and cheap (by NYC standards) Tsingtao beer. 

We ended the evening with dessert at Two Little Red Hens Bakery for cupcakes. Mmmm what a perfect end to a perfect day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt Muse

Eleanor Roosevelt, I admire her strength and perseverance to make a difference not only for her country, but for the world.  She was a civil and human rights activist as First Lady.  She was the first US delegate to the UN from 1945-1952, and she Chaired the Committee to draft and approve the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Wikipedia).  I thought I would share a few of her quotes that I find inspiring (via brainyquote.com). 

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.
Eleanor Roosevelt


People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.
Eleanor Roosevelt


You can never really live anyone else's life, not even your child's. The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you've become yourself.
Eleanor Roosevelt


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Vermont

This video by the American Red Cross brought tears to my eyes.  I plan on making a donation, I hope you will too. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Killington Devastation

I was so sad to hear about the devastation Hurricane Irene reeked on Vermont.  It is not only a physical place, but a state of mind I go to to find respite.  Friends have been sending me photos of Killington and surrounding areas all day.  Killington is now an island with all the major in and out going roads washed out by flood waters of overflowing rivers.  All over the state homes, roads, businesses, and the beautiful historic covered bridges have been washed away by flood waters.

I am worried about how my friends, neighbors and home has fared. It will be a few more days before I find out, since the road to my Vermont neighborhood has been washed away.  Power and cell service is also out because of Irene.

"It's just devastating," Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday. "Whole communities under water, businesses, homes, obviously roads and bridges, rail transportation infrastructure. We've lost farmers' crops," he said. "We're tough folks up here but Irene ... really hit us hard." (CNN.com)

I think pictures and videos capture better then any words can express.  My thanks to  via YouTube





Late addition:  Check out the article in the Rutland Herald regarding the storm damage to Killington Resort and Town.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Connecticut Wanders: A Little Wednesday Night Music

Last night I had fun sharing music with my good friend Paul and his family.  The Band Band was playing a free outdoor concert in West Hartford's Blue Back Square at the pergola on Isham Road. 

video


The Band Band is a notable Canadian group rich in Rock and Roll history.  The band successful in their on right, also played as the back up band for notable artists like Bob Dylan and Robbie Hawkins.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 (Wikipedia.com).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Marielle's 15th Birthday

This past weekend my friend Kathy, whom I've known since kindergarten, came to visit with her daughter Marielle.  It is always great fun reconnecting with Kathy.  She lives in Seattle now, but it doesn't seem to matter how long it is between visits, the moment we are together it is like no time has passed.

Today was the last day of her visit, and Marielle's 15th birthday.  We had great plans to do something special outside, and we were disappointed when we awoke to the second straight day of rain.  We called around looking for something fun to do inside, but every fun/interesting place we called was closed on Mondays. 

After Kathy and I ran out of ideas, we asked Marielle how she would like to spend the day.  She chose swimming at my neighborhood pool.  Her attitude was the product of being a native of Seattle.  She didn't care if it was 68 and raining, she wanted to go swimming.  Kathy and I wanting to make this a fun and memorable birthday, agreed.

I haven't had that much fun playing in a pool since my children were young. We were the only ones in the pool.  We raced laps, we did hand stands, flips and all kinds of silly things. We laughed so hard my ribs hurt.  The life guard must of thought we were totally nuts. 


Two hours later we finally headed home to shower, and then a late lunch.  We had lunch at Abigail's Grille and Wine Bar in Simsbury, CT.  It was originally Pettibone's Tavern, built during the American Revolution in 1780 for Jonathan Pettibone Jr as a key stop on the Boston to Albany Turnpike.  This tavern is full of history and interesting tales.  Famous Americans like George Washington, Ethan Allen and Harriet Beecher Stowe have stayed there. 

One of the more interesting tales is of Mrs Abigail Pettibone, the wife of a whaling captain.  Her husband returned early from one of his voyages to find her in the arms of another man.  He responded by slaying them both with an ax.  There have been many reports of paranormal activities since her death, and many people believe it is her spirit is still present in the restaurant today. 



The lunch was a fun way to end their visit.  A good lunch in a historic New England restaurant with a good story to take home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vermont Wander: Pico Adventure Center

Last weekend I again ventured up to Vermont for some summer fun.  I met up with my Killington friends for our mid-summer reunion.  As we looked up at the mountains, some of us wanted the adrenaline rush of schussing down the mountain.  Skiing was definitely out.  I suggested riding the Alpine Slide at Pico's Adventure Center.  The activities at PAC are an included benefit as a Killington Season Ski Pass Holder.

On Saturday morning we headed over to Pico, and we flew down the Alpine Slide laughing and wohooing all the way.  It was the closest thrill to skiing we could get in early August.


Braking at the end of the Alpine Slide

After 3 runs down the slide we moved on to the Pico Power Jump.  We were attached to a bungee cord, with the tension electronically adjusted, as we jumped on a trampoline.  It is harder than it looks.  It takes quite a bit effort to jump hard enough to keep touching the trampoline mat and not just float above it.  Some of the more experienced jumpers could do flips and various tricks.  I didn't, but it was still a blast.















We didn't have the time to explore all of the adventures at Pico, but it would be fun to return and adventure some more.


*photos curtousy of Rob K.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vermont Wander: Pine Hill Park

I had a great weekend in Vermont mountain biking at Pine Hill Park in Rutland.  It was the first time I've had the opportunity to play on my mountain bike this season.  We rode over rolling single track trails through the woods.  It took me a little while to get re-acclaimated to my bike, but once I did it was a blast.  I only took one spill, luckily I landed on my meatiest part.  My right glut has a good size bruise but it was worth it.

Pine Hill Park has 16 miles of single track trails on 300 acres open to the public for mountain biking, hiking, running, geocaching, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wonder: What I am looking for...

Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable. ~Bruce Lee

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rhode Island Wander: Block Island

Summer is such a fun time of year, especially when you have a good friend who has a beach house in Rhode Island and she invites 11 of her closest girlfriends to stay with her.  My friend Lorraine, who is a gracious hostess did just that.  We arrived Monday, hung out at the beach all afternoon then ate dinner and socialized in the evening.

On Tuesday morning we were all up bright and early and headed over to Point Judith to take the ferry over to Block Island.  Some of us brought our own bikes and some of us rented bikes.  We rode to Mohegan Bluffs Beach.  The parking area where we left the bikes was high above the beach, and we descended 142 steps to get to the sand, rocks and crashing waves. 



By 1:00 PM we were all hungry, and ascended the 142 steps back to our bikes, and rode to Spring House Hotel's veranda for lunch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  When we arrived an ice cold beer was well deserved and we drank it enjoying our breath taking surroundings.  I had a delicious Lobster Cobb Salad.  After lunch we rode the rest of the way back to town and took the 3:30 PM ferry back to Point Judith and returned to Lorraine's house.



Some of the gals stayed one more night.  I decided to head home - my spirit full from the beach, fun and good company, and in dire need of a good night's sleep.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Adventure in the Kitchen: Tialla

It is getting to be that zucchini time of year.  If you have friends with vegetable gardens, you know what I mean.  They start giving you zucchini, which is initially appreciated, then you are afraid to open the door when they visit, because you know they will have yet another grocery bag of zucchini to share. 

photo via FLOWERS.VG

I would like to share with you one of my favorite zucchini recipes passed down to me from my mother, Tialla. The exact amounts will vary depending on the size of your zucchini and potatoes.

1 qt  Spaghetti Sauce (homemade or jar)
2-3 medium to large  Potatoes thinly sliced (1/8")
2-3 medium to large  Zucchini  sliced (1/4")
1 1/2 cups Bread Crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese grated
1 cup  Mozzarella Cheese shredded

Preheat oven to 350*F.  In a separate bowl mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  In a greased 8" x 11" Pyrex casserole layer the first 5 ingredients like you would a lasagna, beginning and ending with tomato sauce.  Reserving 1/2 cup of  spaghetti sauce.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until you can see the sauce bubbling.  Remove foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top then bake until the cheese is evenly melted on top, approximately 15 minutes.  When done let cool about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.  Serve heated reserved tomato sauce on the side.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ganglion Cysts

I have been having a great summer so far except for the developement of a painful ganglion cyst on my left wrist. 


A ganglion cyst is a fluid filled sac on a joint or covering a tendon.  This cyst is not harmful and accounts for around half of all hand tumors.  They are usually found in the hand or wrist, but can rarely be found on or near the knee or ankle.  One theory is that these cysts are caused by acute or chronic trauma to a joint or tendon (WebMD).  I have a tendency to develope these cysts on my hands and wrists, and a few years ago I did have one on the back of my left ankle.

They are also known as Bible Bumps, because one nontraditional cure is to hit it with a heavy book, which ruptures the fluid filled sac and gets rid of the cyst (Wikipedia).  The nontraditional method is not recommended by the medical community, since the wack may cause damage to the surrounding bones or tissue. 

The more traditional treatment is to have the cyst's gel like contents aspirated, or to have it surgically removed by a doctor (SurgeryEncyclopedia.com).  In the past I have used both traditional (aspiration) and nontraditional (a good wack) to get rid of ganglion cysts.

This cyst started putting a damper on my activities.  It is aggrevated by rowing, paddling, riding, sailing, yoga, keyboarding, driving... just about anything that involves using my wrist. 

Last week after getting home from Montana, I went to visit my hand surgeon to have the painful cyst aspirated.  The cyst (smaller), but not the pain returned.  My dilema is now whether to pursue the tradional route go back to the doctor for multiple aspirations and possibly surgery, to pursue the nontraditional route and hit it with a book, or do nothing unless continues to grow and the pain returns.

I think at this point I will take the conservative and whimpy course of treatment, and do nothing unless it starts to hurt or impede my function again.  I will add a comment at a later date if I change my course of treatment.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Connecticut Wanders: The Hartford Jazz Society Monday Night in Bushnell Park

Oh summer is finally in full swing.  The outdoor concerts have begun.  Sitting outside on a beautiful summer evening listening to music is one of my favorite things.  Last night was the first of 5 concerts in the Hartford Jazz Society's Monday Night in Bushnell Park.  The concerts run through Monday, August 1st.


SINAN BAKIR QUARTET

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exploring the West Side of Glacier National Park

We spent Tuesday through Friday night's in Whitefish Montana and drove back to the west side of GNP park for our daily adventures.  Many of the more spectacular sights near Logan's Pass were inaccessible due to high snow cover and flooding of the roads and trails.  I guess I'll have to return in the future to experience them first hand.



Actually the high snow is good for the park.   It may help delay the retreat of the remaining glaciers.  There were approximately 150 glaciers in 1850 and most of the glaciers were still present when the park was established in 1910.  In 2010 there were only 25 glaciers left larger than 25 acres in GNP.  It is predicted most of these will be gone by 2030(http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/research/glacier_retreat.htm).

Wednesday the temperatures hit 80+ degrees and we rafted the middle fork of the Flathead River with the Glacier Raft Company located in West Glacier. The river was running high and fast, and the mountains looming over us made a spectacular view as we rushed down the river.  We covered over 27 miles on the river in less then 5 hours including a hour on shore for a BBQ lunch.  Later in the season when the water levels are much lower, the same distance is covered in a 2 day trip.



Thursday we went horseback riding through the woods and marshes at the Apgar area of the Park, located by the West Entrance of the Park.



Friday morning we hiked in GNP, and in the afternoon we checked out the Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. We didn't ski, but I did take Hayley on her first chairlift and alpine slide ride. Saturday we wondered around the town of  Whitefish before we headed to the airport to fly home.

Glacier National Park Continued.... Exploring the East Side

Monday Morning, June 27th we headed south through Blackfeet Country into Montana to explore the eastern areas of Glacier National Park (GNP). 

Cows roamed free as we drove through Blackfeet Country

We spent the next 2 days kayaking, canoeing and hiking the eastern side of GNP at Many Glacier, St. Mary and Two Medicine areas. 

Many Glacier Hotel overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake

It was fun to paddle across the lake, dock our boat then hike to another beautiful lake or waterfall.  The weather warmed up and we were hiking though snow 18" deep with T-shirts and water sandles, it seemed surreal. Monday night we drove west on the Going to the Sun Road from St. Mary's to our lodgings for the night.  A rustic cabin at the Rising Sun Motor Lodge right in eastern GNP. 

In front of the Boat Dock at Lake McDonald

The lakes and streams are formed from the melting snow and glaciers.  They are the liquid aqua marine color of a glacier.  One of the park rangers told us the water is so clean that their aren't many fish that live here.  Very little microscopic vegetation for the fish to feed on.  The water was around 39*F.  Most lakes and streams have 2000-3000 fish/acre.  At Glacier this time of year it is more like 500 fish/acre.


Did I mention the abundance of wild life we saw in the and around the park? Grizzly (luckly we were in our car driving by when we saw him), deer, cows, moose, chipmunks, squirrel, marmots and beautiful wild flowers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

National Parks Wander/Wonder: Glacier National Park Montana

I have wanted to visit Glacier National Park ever since I watched the Ken Burn's National Parks series "The National Parks: America's Best Idea."  Well that is where I spent the past week.  Feasting my senses on the beauty of the park and its surroundings.

I made the decision to go less then a month ago.  I really didn't want to travel there alone, so I asked my niece Hayley, who just graduated from college the week before to join me.  She shares my love of nature and an energetic love of adventure.  Her company was the icing on the cake, so to speak, to a perfect adventure vacation.

We arrived at Glacier National Airport in Kalispel, Montana on Friday June 24th, and we drove directly to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta Canada.  The two parks make one continuous eco-system of rugged mountain, glaciers, Crystal blue waters and an abundance of wild life.   In 1932, Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park were officially linked across the international border to form the first International Peace Park

We stopped at the ranger station on our way to get trail and road information.  Some trails and roads were only recently opened or still closed due to snow and/or flooding.  The Going To The Sun Road, which bisects the park east to west across the Continental Divide, may not completely open at all this season.  As of last week there was still over 40 feet at Logan Pass, that meant we had to take the long way around the park to get to our destination in Canada.

The drive to Waterton was breathtaking.  We arrived at the Prince of Wales Hotel to gusting winds and temps in the low fifties. Needless to say we were worried we hadn't packed enough warm clothes.  The low that night was around 39*F. 

The following morning we took a brisk boat ride across Waterton Lake the the Goat Haunt dock in Montana's Glacier Park.  After clearing customs at Goat Haunt, we hiked back 10 miles along the lake back to the hotel.  We warmed up quickly as we walked and the temps climbed into the mid-60's.  On the way we almost ran into a moose.  Literally he was standing just a few feet from the trail when we saw him, we cautiously backed up and took an alternate route.




We stayed at the Prince of Wales 3 nights before heading south back to Montana and Glacier Park.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Connecticut Wanders: Elizabeth Park and Mark Twain House

My cousin Ann and her husband Ray were visiting this weekend from Michigan.  As hostess, I am also their tour director for Connecticut.  I thought visiting Elizabeth Park's beautiful gardens and the Mark Twain house would be a nice introduction to the west side of Hartford.


We were in luck.  This weekend was Rose Weekend Festival at Elizabeth Park.  There are actually 5 different gardens in Elizabeth Park; the herb, annual, perennial, heritage and large municipal rose gardens.  It is the oldest municipal rose garden in the US, and it celebrated it centennial anniversary in 2004. We enjoyed all of the gardens with the grand finale being the rose garden.   

After the delightful morning at Elizabeth Park, we headed over to the Mark Twain House for a tour of the house, and insight into what it was like for the family while they resided in Hartford.  After the tour we stopped in the gift shop, and Ray purchased a copy of Mark Twain's Autobiography.  It wasn't released until 2010,per his request, 100 years after his death.  He felt the only way he could write it honestly was by knowing that none of the people he wrote about would be alive to read it.

Ray and Ann in front of the Mark Twain House

The Mark Twain Quote of the day: 
Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.



After sp

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Euchre

Last night I got together with a group of friends to play Euchre. Euchre is a fun easily learned trick-taking card game usuallly played with 4 people/2 partners and uses the 9-Ace of a regular deck of cards.  The game was popular when I was growing up in the midwest.

I started this group12 years ago when I first moved to Connecticut, as a Newcomers activity.  It was a great way to meet new people in the area, especially people who relocated from the midwest. The group is still going strong, meeting one Saturday evening each month year round.

Tonight, I was asked by my BFF Lori to fill in for her, so her husband could play while she was out of town.  I hadn't played or seen most of these friends since before my divorce.  I knew this group as a couple, and I always find it wierd to now be a single when mixing with my old "couple" social groups.  I got over the wierdness and really kicked butt with a couple of 5 loner hands, and some of the highest scores of the evening.  I guess I still have it after all.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CT Senate Passes Recreational Liability Reform

The in the last hour the Senate of the Connecticut General Assembly finally passed the Recreational Liability Reform bill  H.B. 6557.  It was passed by the house on May 17, 2011 and the Governor Malloy is expected to approve it.  This will protect our municipalities from frivolous lawsuits from outdoor activities on the more then 150K acres of recreational land around the state (via Connecticut Forest and Parks Association).

Lets go out and play in our state parks to celebrate.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

National Trails Day

National Trails Day was Saturday, June 4th.  Community organizations around the country held events celebrating our nation's 200,000 miles of trails.  I volunteered to help with the 14th annual "Trails in Motion" celebration of the Farmington Valley Trails.  The featured event was a 62 mile bike tour of the entire trail system.  Shorter bike, skating, running, and walking were tours were also available.


I was assigned to the Rest Stop Team at the Brickyard Road rest stop.  We provided snacks, water, and tools for minor bike repairs for event participants.  The weather was perfect. Mid-60's and sunny. We had a good turnout, and fun was had by all.

I didn't get a chance to ride yesterday, but today I celebrated the
Farmington Valley Trails by riding the southern half of the trails; 35 miles round trip.  Tomorrow I plan on continuing the celebration by riding the northern section into Massachusetts.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Clean Start a Cookbook for Healthy Eating

A couple of weeks ago my friend Di invited me to join her for a discussion and lunch by Terry Walters at the Enlightened Way Wellness Center in Tariffville, CT.  Her message is to eat clean and live well. 

I found her talk reinforced my own views on healthy eating.  Her message focused on the nutritional benefits and an improved well being from eating organic foods with no or minimal processing.  Her two favorite foods were quinoa and kale

The lunch highlighted a few recipes in her latest cookbook, Clean Start.  They were:  Raw Kale Confetti Salad with Roasted Sunflower Seeds, Asparagus with Miso Lemon Dressing and Marcona Almonds, Festive Quinoa with Apricots and Orange Zest, and Energy Squares.  All them were very tasty, and the recipes look simple to prepare. 

I did buy the cookbook, but as a present for my sister Jean.  Her birthday is in June.  She has been into natural foods for the past 30+ years.  If Terry hadn't signed a message to her in the book, I think I would keep it for myself.  In fact, I think I will buy myself a copy.  Jean if you are reading this please ignore this last paragraph.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sunshine Muse

Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. (Walt Whitman via FirstQuote.com)

After almost 2 weeks of rainy gloomy weather, it was so nice to have the sun shining down on me today.  My gloomy mood lifted and the joy to my spirit returned.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meetup: River and Shore Kayak-r's of CT

I have been in the shadows of a few Meetup Groups for the past two years.  Monitoring their events, but never attending.  Yesterday I attended my first Meetup group, the River and Shore Kayak-r's of CT.

Meetup.com is a website that lists interest and activity groups.  Most groups are open to the general public, a few a closed and by invitation only.  You can find/start/sponsor a group by interest and/or zip code. 

What finally motivated me to join and attend this group?  I bought a new kayak last week.  The Heritage 9.5 Featherlite.  I wanted to take it out on its maiden voyage, and I didn't want to take it out alone. 

Low and behold the day I bought the kayak, there was an email from AL-R inviting me to a kayak Meetup on Sunday to Willie River put in at Plains Rd, (Eagleville Dam + Upstream) and PotLuck BBQ.  The desire to kayak motivated me to check out this group.  


photo via Laura Z

I had a great afternoon, glad I finally came out the shadows to attend this Meetup.  My fellow kayakers were a fun supportive group of people.  Always there to lend a hand.  We had 3 people who kayaks tipped, and someone was there within seconds to help get them out of the water and right their kayak.

Afterward we gathered for a potluck picnic and BBQ. We shared stories, laughs and music. What a wonderful day to end a perfect afternoon.