Featured

Everyone’s doing it…..

This is the post excerpt.

Advertisements

So, I have always enjoyed reading the blogs of friends and thought that maybe, I could do one myself someday, but what would I talk about? I mean, let’s face it, we all know I can talk, but does anyone listen? Well, I have decided to give it a whirl, and start with the basic blog, and who knows, if I enjoy it maybe I will update it and do it more frequently.

So, when to blog, what to blog about… well, there are many things that I enjoy, hanging out with my friends, breaking bread together, going on road trips, finding new and interesting places to explore, oh and music… lots and lots of music. Well, since this is the first, maybe I should start with a little bit about myself.

Me or Myself:
my·self/mīˈself,məˈself/
pronoun
  1. 1. used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself as the object of a verb or preposition when he or she is the subject of the clause. “I hurt myself by accident”
  2. 2. I or me personally (used to emphasize the speaker). “I myself am unsure how this problem should be handled”

Well, talking about oneself is often hard, you have to walk the line of letting someone know who you are and not end up sounding like a braggart. I can tell you that I was molded by my surroundings, my mother was a stay at home mom in the beginning, my dad worked during the day and went to school at night to finish a degree. Both my grandparents lived in Albany, blocks away from each other at one point, and could not have been more different from each other. My mother’s parents were simpler folk, never really left New York State, whereas my father’s parents were world travelers, on a budget. Both of my grandfathers served in the army, one a M.P., and the other on reconnaissance (funny stories about that later). My grandmothers couldn’t have been more different as well. Loretta, my maternal grandmother, had a few sisters, and all seemed to have been cut from the same cloth. When I think of them, I think of them as the women who would have gone to work in the factory when their husbands went off to war. Pretty tough dames, that didn’t take lip, or if they were given any, they would give it right back. My fraternal grandmother however was definitely different, she had an older sister and the two of them couldn’t have been further apart, let’s just face it one was two steps (or three kids) from being a nun, and the other was a rebel. Margaret was always an actress, even when not on stage, she was surrounded by a troop of friends that were of similar minds, and often traveled together, some of them even organized a travel agency.

So, where does that leave me in all this? Well, I don’t really remember much of my childhood years, I don’t ever remember my dad living at home, and barely remember when he moved out. Weekends, school recess, vacations, and summer vacations were spent in Albany, at Margaret’s house and when she was working, my grandfather would take care of me. I was a latch key kid early on, babysitters were expensive even back then, so when it came to a point where my mother thought I could be on my own, maybe around the age of 11 or 12, I was. Oh sure, I was never too far from the eyes of a neighbor, Annabelle Chamberlain always had a watchful eye over EVERYONE, and she was a better hollywood reporter then Hedda Hopper. So, I would come home, let myself in, grab some food, and my favorite toys (hotwheels and matchbox cars back then), bring them out to the front porch and play with them, and the neighborhood kids.

Early on, I knew that I was different from the other little boys and girls in my neighborhood, but that is another story.

 

Music and Memories

A Chorus Line

So, I have realized that I will most likely be a bad blogger. I forget that I have one occasionally, until I come across something that sparks a memory, and I am left thinking that I should share it. Then of course, I think will someone care? will someone read it? Or am I just going to do it for myself.  Well hell, even if it is only for myself why not do it when my brain remembers that I have a blog available to me.

So as I struggle to even remember what got me here today, I realize it was a post that I came up in my Facebook page that pulled me into a black hole of YouTube videos surrounding musicals. It started with a post comparing Lucille Ball’s Mame (movie) to Angela Lansbury’s Mame (stage). If you ever want to check it out, search for Musical Theatre Mash, he has a few others, including a comparison of Landsbury, Lupone & Bonham-Carter for Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, but I won’t get into THAT one.

So, with this spiral down into the musical genre, and a recent trip to New York City, for Comic Con, and dining steps from away from Times Square brought a FLOOD of memories to my frontal lobe. Some of my earliest memories revolve around my grandmother’s love of musicals. There was always a different soundtrack playing, Man of La Mancha, Sweet Charity, Zorba, and of course A Chorus Line. And being the young boy I was, I would sing along with most of them. I may not have known the words I was singing meant, take for example, Man of La Mancha…

Man of La Mancha

Aldonza
Aldonza
I come for love, I come for love
I come to Aldonza for love

One pair of arms is like another
I don’t know why or who’s to blame
I’ll go with you or with your brother
It’s all the same, it’s all the same

This I have learned, that when the lights out
No man will burn with special flame
You’ll prove to me before the night’s out
You’re all the same, you’re all the same

Interesting song for a five or six year old to be singing, but nevertheless you sing what you hear. I am sure that if my Great Aunt Frances heard me sing this, she would have had a few questions for Margaret. I am unsure if the first musical Margaret brought me to was either A Chorus Line, Margaret’s favorite, and one I think I would see three or four more times, or Annie with Andrea McCardle. Either one was a start to a love affair with musicals, and New York City. In the beginning, Margaret, my Mom and myself would take weekend trips to the city, head down one day, spend the night, see a musical, have some good food, and head back home. Often these adventures were associated with the theater troupe Margaret was a part of, Albany Civic Theater, the travel group her and her friends started, BaMaNi Travel (For Barry Scott, Margaret Nolan and Nick Toscino) or later on, adventures on our own.

Over the past few years, thanks to the support of my loving father, birthday presents have included trips to NYC to see musicals. In the past three years, I have seen Neil Patrick Harris re-create the role of Hedwig, in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and this year, I got to see Bette Midler in Hello Dolly. Everytime I go to New York City, I am reminded of these fond fond memories of my weekends in the city with Margaret. Occasionally I break out the soundtrack to one or more of the musicals I have seen, and just think of those amazing times. At times, I can hear Margaret sing along in my head.. especially at certain parts of songs that she would enunciate as they were her favorites. Thankfully, I will forever have those memories.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Shows I have seen with Margaret: A Chorus Line, Annie, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, La Cage Aux Faux.

Hello Dolly

Shows I have seen since Margaret’s passing: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hello Dolly

 

 

Weekend Adventures with Mikey

I live for the weekends and the time I get to spend with Mike. Monday through Friday we see each other occasionally, but usually it is when I am dropping him off at work at 7:00 a.m. (I MUST love him), or after work for a few minutes before he goes home. His living situation is not the best, he has no private space really, hence his search for a better living environment. But I digress, so most often on the weekends I try to create fun things for us to do, and mostly on a tight budget. This past Saturday, a friend and a former co-worker had posted on Facebook that they were having a garage sale at their home in Florida, NY so I thought this could be a nice drive, and a chance to introduce the two. So, Saturday morning I dropped Mike at work, went grocery shopping, got home, did some chores and then back out to pick up Mike for the day’s adventures.

Our first stop was meeting our friends down at The Scotia Diner for a light lunch. I have posted a Yelp review about this place, and once again it was great. Our friends Christina and Robert joined Mike and myself, and Mike being a creature of habit, got the same sandwich he got last time, a Nomad (picture a Reuben w/o sauerkraut), I got a BLT because I hadn’t had one in a while. Christina was saddened by the fact they did not have a soup available as they close early on Saturdays (3:00 p.m.), and as a pregnant lady, soup is her friend right now. Robert ordered a chicken parm sandwich with a side of buffalo sauce, to make it a buffalo chicken parm, and odd thought at first, but he did explain that he enjoys buffalo chicken pizza, so it made sense, well at least to him. Our conversations with Christina and Robert are always great and often lead to laughter. At one point I think both Christina and I had Mike concerned that both of us were ready to poke his sides to make him squirm because of things he had said/done (he had threatened to steal a mozzarella stick from her… don’t mess with a pregnant lady’s food).

From the Scotia Diner, we put the address in Waze to head off to the garage sale and it had plotted out a bizarre route in my opinion. Their address was on Route 30 in Florida, NY, and I thought it would have lead us back onto I-90, to the Amsterdam exit, and than back tracked a little ways, but no, it wanted to take us over the river and through the woods, and I am glad I did. At times the roads were VERY steep and windy, however most often the views of the valley were well worth it. You could see land for miles and miles, and it was beautiful. This ride was one more reason that if I ever have the funds to move out into the country, I would like to do so. I would also like to own something four wheel drive before I do so, so that I may travel out of the hills and mountains when I need food and supplies. Eventually we did reach out destination, and got to say hello to Pam, and her family and check out the garage/yard sale. Mike immediately spotted something he liked, two old cameras, probably from the early 60’s, both in pretty decent condition. One was still working, the motor still runs, and the other had a beautiful leather case, and with some cleaning up, might work as well. Both Mike and myself share a love of old photography equipment, and I am sure will have quite the collection of cameras displayed if there comes a time where we are under the same roof. Both resembled what use to be called a Browning camera, with the crank on the side, and multiple lenses. Mike also found a knock off Dabbawala can, or at least he thought it was. So, I offered $20.00 for all three items, and a deal was made. We waited for Pam’s husband to come home, because also part of the days adventures were to head out to a Farm Stand that Pam & Bob had taken to me a year or more ago. Pam said that Bob could give us good directions, and that it would be easy to get to.

With Bob’s directions given (Google Earth/Showed a route, nothing written down), we headed out Route 30 to Exit 27, and back down I-90, Eastbound to Exit 25A, to take it to Cobleskill, and 145S. We were headed to Middleburg, and the directions were pretty easy. Although the battery in my phone did not last, we were able to locate the Farm Stand. It is owned and operated by a little old Romanian lady, who’s stand is feet away from Route 145S in Middleburgh NY. We approached and no one was there, so at first we thought we had missed our opportunity, however there was a small sign that said to ring the bell if they were not there. We took a few moments surveying the available produce to decide what we wanted before ringing a bell (if we could find it). She has amazing produce, beautiful tomatoes (plum and beefsteak), peppers (Bell, white, purple, jalapeno), carrots, eggplant, corn, green beans, and many different potatoes, and onions. She also has some great fruits. By the time we decided we knew what we wanted, she had come down out of her house, and was wondering why we didn’t ring the bell. Our Romanian is as good as her English, but we got an amazing amount of farm fresh produce at an extraordinary price. 1lb beefsteak tomatoes, 1lb of carrots, 1lb of peppers (Green/White/Purple), A head of Savoy Cabbage, 4 ears of corn, 1lb of Italian plums, 2 green pears, and 2 red pears. Also, in the bag, she included some more pears, a few of her apples, some more Italian plums, and two jalapenos, all for $17.00. We had two HUGE bags of produce, and I was going to need to look up on how to cook some things (Savoy Cabbage). She is amazingly sweet and friendly, and I asked how late was she open, in case we, or you would like to adventure out there. She is open from 8:00 a.m until 8:00 p.m. on the weekends. Mike and I hopped back in the car for our ride back to civilization. Once we got back to the Cobleskill area, we made a decision that instead of taking the highway back, we would meander along Route 7 East so that our views weren’t of tractor trailers and other vehicles. There were a few cute homes along the way, I found out where The Bears restaurant is, and made a note to go back, as well as a place called The Chuck Wagon Diner, that when we passed it, the smell in the air was amazing.

It was another great day with the man that I want to spend the rest of my life with. On these adventures, there are always great conversations, from heavy to light hearted, and a lot of them end with a laugh. There is great music through either the iPod or the Sirius Satellite radio, and occasionally a sing along. I always get home rested and relaxed. I had planned on taking pictures of our haul when we got home, but I was tired so I just rinsed everything, and placed them in the appropriate storage compartments.

Next Upcoming Adventure… A Saugerties Garlic Festival!

Too much of a good thing?

So, what is too much of a good thing? Go BIG or go home right? Over the time with Weight Watchers, a lot of focus has been on people who are either “all in” or “all out”. And personally, I have always thought I am not a person that falls under either. Yes, I can have slip ups, but that never makes me quit, I am not a quitter… unfortunately, I am also not the best follower either.

Well, food could be one thing that is too much of a good thing. I have a hard time with portion control, I always have. Hmm.. 8 people are gathering for a potluck dinner… I think I need to make two trays of macaroni & cheese, and I mean LARGE trays. Recently, I figured out how I can stop this, I bought large muffin tins, and figured I will only make one pound of pasta, and portion them individually in the tins, for up to 12 portions, but at least I think that will cover the one pound of pasta, and the rest of the fun ingredients easily. Now for a short story:

Margaret Nolan, my grandmother, amazing person, witty personality, and amazing cook. She could, and would cook anything! I remember early on, when I lived with her, she asked me what one of my favorite meals were, she wanted to make it for me. So I told her, that I always loved my aunt Lois’s goulash. So low and behold, later that week I came home to an amazingly prepared goulash… truly authentic hungarian goulash. Now, of course it was amazing, it was delicious, it was EXTREMELY filling, it was not however, Aunt Lois’s goulash. My grandmother looked at me puzzled, “Is it okay?”, “yeah.. but it’s not the same.” I thanked her, told her I enjoyed it (which I did), and went along my merry way. Later I found out that my grandmother called Lois, and asked her how she made her goulash. Lois said it was nothing more than ground beef, green peppers, Campbell’s tomato soup, and elbow macaroni. They laughed, because Margaret had looked up the recipe (in a cookbook because she did not internet), and went out and got beef stew, pork, and all the ingredients, and served it over egg noodles. To this day, I have two favorite recipes for goulash, Lois’s and Margaret’s.

Shrimp ring salad

So, another Margaret story: This one has been requested by Daisy Ford Paglia, the story of the shrimp pasta salad. Now, the details are a little fuzzy, as the last time I heard it from the source was many years ago, so the details now live as whispers in my fond memories. Every year, the Nolan’s would gather up at Ed & Dolores Nolan’s camp, for a family reunion, I have many fond memories of these events. Since it was a large gathering, usually everyone brought a dish to share, and their own beverages. There were coolers of many colors lined up outside the enclosed screened in porch, and kids throughout the day would be opening and closing them getting an iced cold soda. The food was usually done in two shifts, a late lunch and then a dinner. Mostly hamburgers and hot dogs were served from the barbeque pit that was in front. Desserts were kept in the screened in porch, and there was a refrigerator in there to keep things cold as well. Margaret frequently made a shrimp salad, which was pretty simple and consisted of P&R pasta rings, diced cold shrimp, diced onion and celery, and Hellman’s mayonnaise. The trouble with P&R past rings, they are very very small when they are uncooked, which lead to more than one box being used. So the tale that has been told, is that on one such occasion, there was so much pasta ring salad made, that not only was it brought up to the family reunion, that it also filled two large vegetable crisper drawers in the refrigerator at 64 Hoffman Ave, for a week or so after the event. It was served with every meal, at every occasion. I am sure she even brought some into “Piggy Heaven”. And for those of you who want to know about “Piggy Heaven”, that will have to wait for another story…

 The Master Chef and myself1545643_10151820194588062_1634182318_n