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Wild Leeks – Succulent Stinky Solitude

Angie and Anne were in town this weekend. As soon as they got here, Angie handed me a ziploc bag.  "Dave said to give you these.", she said. It was a ziploc sandwich bag full of wild leeks no doubt freshly picked by Dave in some secret spot deep in the Adirondacks.  I gazed at the bag in disbelief, then clutched them to my chest in joy.  "Oh happy day!", I said with no sarcasm or irony.

Wild Leeks (Allium Tricoccum – also known as Ramps) used to grow in dad’s woodlot when I was a kid. I remember walking through a patch of them and smelling a distinctly oniony smell.  They only show up for a few weeks in the spring.  I always picked a bunch when I found them, brought them home and ate them raw.  I ended the practice at around the age of 15, when I acquired a steady girlfriend. Wild leeks and youthful romance do not mix.  In fact wild leeks and human companionship of any kind do not mix. 

While they taste like a rich combination of a sweet onion and garlic, the resulting bad breathe will knock a buzzard off a shit wagon. Eat enough of them, and the smell literally comes out of your pores for a couple of days.  My best friend and I once got thrown out of history class for eating them during class.  I can still remember Mr. Cook pointing to the door and saying "Out – both of you! Come back when the stench is gone!"   He wasn’t overreacting. We were eating them by the handfull out of a brown paper bag.  The stink must have been apocalyptic.

Anyways, I held off on eating any until Saturday afternoon, when all the womenfolk were off at Cindy’s shower. I ate a couple of them, and discovered after a thirty year layoff that I still love the damn stinky things.  As a scientific experiment I located a small boy (Matthew), and breathed on him to judge the effect. Not surprisingly, he clutched at his face and tried to crawl under the couch, so he could tear the nose off his face in peace.

Anyways, I ate a few more tonight. Beth didn’t really complain (bless her heart), but she didn’t kiss me goodnight either.  She knows I’m indulging in a little Allium Tricocum related nostalgia. I froze the rest, since I won’t have time to make leek soup till next week at the earliest. Supposedly blanching and freezing take care of a lot of the stink.

Are they really that good? Yes they are. They’re delicious. That’s not the only reason for my fixation with these things.  The thought (and the stink) of leeks brings back memories of wandering my dad’s woods on cool, sunny spring days. It was just a few acres of trees, but it was peaceful, remote and quietly beautiful.  I used to slog through hay fields and pastures on foot to spend a few hours in the woods,  just to be alone with my thoughts.

Anyways – thanks Dave! You made my weekend. 

Matthew Moment #2 – Gross Oneliners

Matthew’s latest joke:

A guy walks into a restaurant and orders The Regular – and they serve him a dead revolutionary war British soldier.

It’s gross but it does prove he’s paying attention in history class.

Matthew Moment #1 – Naming the Band

Matthew and his best bud Kevin were trying to decide what to name their band (assuming they ever form one).

Kevin favored "Food Fighters"

Matthew came up with "Middle Aged Crusaders" 

?????

Turbines on the Tundra

041208_042_resized_to_70_pctI was in Chateaugay a couple of weeks ago and got my first look at the wind park. There are already a bunch of wind turbines in Ellenburg and Brainardsville, with 72 turbines planned for Chateaugay.  With 86 turbines each with an output of 1.5 Megawatts, that’s 129 MW total.  That’s a significant amount of power.

These things completely dominate the landscape. They’re 260 feet to the hub of the rotor, 389 feet from the ground to the top of the rotor when it’s at 12:00.  When they’re turning (and a lot of them are now) the effect is like something out of a science fiction movie.  When you look at the towers it looks like the future has finally arrived. We may not be zooming around with personal jetpacks or colonizing remote planets,  but there are giant windmills in Chateaugay.

It’s strange to see such big changes in Northern Franklin County.  The area has been in a long decline since the demise of family farming.  Most of the changes we’ve seen in recent years are consist of barns and falling down and  fields turning fallow. It’s not often you see something new spring up.

Batter Up!

Img_3583 Matthew’s doing little league this year.  It was now or never.  Next year he’ll be too young to join instructional league.  Since most of the other kids his age have had several  years of Tball and instuctional league already,  he needs to get started now or never catch up. It says something about the local obsession for little league that nine year olds are all washed up if they want to get started in little league.

Little league has changed a lot from the early seventies when Matt and I joined the Chateaugay little league.  In those days they gave you a shirt, a cap with one iron-on letter (in our case B for Barcomb’s Furniture ), and told you to get out there and play ball. Not much in the way of explaining the basics. If you were an un-coordinated nerd with two left feet, ten thumbs and pathogical fear of having a ball hit in your direction (i.e. me) then you weren’t going to get much better.  Luckily for Matt he DOES have an aptitude, and the coaches are great. Nowadays they get cool uniforms (see photo),  great coaching ,  and they have to wear a cup.  Back in the old days we didn’t need a cup. We laughed in the face of excruciating pain and the prospect of singing soprano for life.

Anyways, he’s got a great coach, and he’s doing really well. 

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In Buffalo – Chillin Like Villains

We’re in Buffalo, hanging out with Grandma Sehl. We spent most of the day playing catch, eating (Lunch at Ted’s!) and generally goofing off.

Marty and I decided to go on a photographic foray into the backyard. As you can see, he’s got his dad’s fondness for taking zillions of pictures of virtually everything, from every conceivable angle. Here I think he’s taking a picture of the neighbor’s woodpile. I got a few more pictures of Marty yoga positions and Irish Dance springs. He’s a renaissance man!

It turns out he’s not bad at baseball either. The four of us went over to the local elementary school to get Matthew some batting practice, since he’s in little league. Marty showed more interest in batting and pitching I’ve ever seen from him before. Who’da thought. He’s still completely uninterested in competitive team sports, but he’s on the track team at school now.
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All Is Quiet On New Years Day

We had a fun if quiet New Years eve. The high point of the night was the Monopoly game. Matthew won.  He also got to try a sip of Champagne (response – yuck).  We got out the noisemakers at Midnight and scared the @#$% out of the cats (see photo below).

Back to work and school tommorrow. Aargh. I’ve spent the last week and half at home with the kids, and I’m really going to miss them once we get back into the regular grind of school/work/drum lessons/dance lessons/theatre club/cub scouts.

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The Facts Of Life

Img_0036 Well, he’s 11, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked me to explain, but Marty started asking the big questions today. No, no, no – he already knows where babies come from. I’m speaking about the BIG questions. Like "Dad – what’s ISO stand for?" and "What’s the difference between shutter priority and aperature priority?"

Santa brought Marty a very nice digital camera for Christmas. However, he also got a Nintendo DS, which has obsessed him for every waking moment since 6 AM Christmas morning.  Today was the day he decided to figure out the camera, which has a LOT of controls, buttons, menus etc.

  He’s always had a good eye for what makes a good picture. I’ve lent him my old digital camera in the past, and he took good care of it, and got some really great pictures. As you probably know I’m a photography nut, so I’ve been dying to see if he’s really interested in the camera.I was a little bummed that he didn’t use it much the first couple of days.  It was worth the wait. He patiently sat down and listened to me holding forth on the relation between ISO, shutter speed and aperature.  He didn’t get it all, but at the rate we’re going (his brain developing and mine deteriorating),  I’ll be asking him questions before you know it.

Merry Christmas

Well, I swore in the annual Christmas letter that I’d return from self imposed blogging exile after Chrismas, so here we go!

We had a great, if sleep deprived Christmas. The kids were under strict orders not to wake us before 6:00 AM. Last year it was 5:30 AM. I’m hoping to set later and later Christmas wake up times, in anticipation of the days when we’ll be dragging two sullen teenage boys downstairs and ordering them to open their presents and look merry.

There was a lot of gleeful anticipation this year, despite the fact that Matthew was having some anxiety about getting coal in his stocking . This is no exaggeration. He was genuinely concerned that a few lapses of judgement over the year would get him a stocking full of the black combustible stuff.  No worries mate, he did just fine on Christmas morning.

Marty really had the Christmas spirit this year. He cheerfully wrapped presents, kept the living room clean for Santa, and begged me to let him stay up late so he could help me get the Christmas letter out this year. What a guy!

Anyway, the big day arrived, and nobody was disappointed.  Most of the presents were electronic – Ipods, Wii Games, Nintendo DSs.  A big change for me was the fact that I spent no more than 5 minutes unpacking toys. In past years I have spent HOURs with my leatherman multitool cutting, snipping, untangling, untying, and otherwise dismembering the packaging that toys come in nowadays.  It’s sadistic. 

Matthew got a dance game for the Wii ("Dance Dance Revolutions Hottest Party" if you must know), and … ITS A BLAST.  I know, I know. I am the most boring, cynical middle aged white guy in New England.  For what ever reason I love this game. Whodathunkit. Naturally Marty – with 6 years of dance lessons under his belt at age 11 is wiping the dance floor with the rest of us.

Marty is now officially the computer game technical support wiz at our house. Matthew got a Star Trek game that was waaaay beyond an eight year old. Marty ask to play it and politely elbowed me ouit of the way after I warned him that it was kinda complicated. 15 minutes later he had it all figured out.

Anyways, most of the rest of the day was spend playing games, watching DVDs and stuffing our faces.

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Vacation – Installment 2 – Gargoyle Manor-Or- What The Heck is a Lensbaby?

Yes, I know the text wrapping is messed up in this entry. Matt – what am I doing wrong html-wise?

For the next part of vacation, it was on to Tom and Karen’s place in Fairlee, Vt.  We did the usual: Reading/Margaritas(Beth), Fishing/Beer(Me ) , Fishing/Skipping Rocks/General Tomfoolery(Marty & Matt).  Beth was more successful than I was. She got through most of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while sitting on the dock. I caught even fewer fish than usual.

I also spent some time playing with the new lens I bought for my camera. It’s called a lensbaby. It creates intentionally fuzzy, soft focus, artsy fartsy pictures:Img_0004 Img_0039_2

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In case you’re wondering about that last picture – it’s the gargoyle that supports the light over the downstairs door. You gotta love a place with gargoyles.

And in closing – some pictures of some good looking kids:

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