Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yes, Virginia, we went to the Tomato (To-mah-toe?) Festival near Rutgers

Our lead driver, Rich Fleisher, strides thru the gates of the Annual Tomato-Tasting Festival in Pittstown, NJ.

Ada, Rich and I left Huntingdon Valley about 2 pm and miraculously arrived at 3 on the dot, the time the festival began. I say miraculously b/c Rich was guided by the firm but kind woman on his GPS.

And, oh, the wandering way she took us! Seemingly out-of-the-way roads that appeared to dead-end, but did not. All I could think of  was How will we find our way home when it gets dark!

Reader, dyou think it's possible that the Fleishers and I could taste all them sample tomaters? And then go out for dinner afterwards?

Read on.

Miles and miles of country, unadulterated. Hope they don't find oil or coal underneath.

What a delight it is watching people line up to get in - admission a reasonable $7 - after we had simply strode in by being early. Yes, we're the competitive type.

Each booth was in a tent and Master Gardeners offered us the tomatoes - and other Rutgers-grown fruits and veggies - on toothpicks.

Everything we ate was grown on this farm. And everything was delicious. Most are not available in stores but if you brought some seeds home with you, you could plant em and grow your own

Aunt Ruby's German Green -  Ivory Pear - Ravello - Sugar Plum - Sweet Zen and more! The only thing I brought home were the toothpicks and some seeds from black-eyed Susans, which are still in my pocket.

This chef from the Rutgers Club was giving a cooking demonstration. See his home smoker on the right? It had various kinds of chips that gave the tomatoes a smoky flavor.

He was making tomato bisque. In fact, we thought it was made w/bacon, but it was simply the smoked tomato. Is that right, Ada? (She never forgets a thing.)

I was mindful that before my kidney transplant, tomatoes were on my forbidden foods list. High in potassium.

Now I was mindful of my diabetes but I did very well.

Tomato bisque, sprinkled with parm cheese, is served from these tiny cups. Usually I make quite the pig of myself, but we had many booths to go before we sleep.

Who doesn't like watermelon! This golden sweet watermelon - with seeds! - was the best I've ever tasted. The Master Gardener and I agreed we like seeds in our melon. So did the Green Grocer - remember him? the late Joe Carcione - who used to swallow the seeds.

 The be-hatted Ada looks over flowers and ornamental grass. She and Rich both wore very stylish hats. She got hers in Reno, while attending a bat mitzvah; he got his in Montana, while attending a wedding.

Even people in wheelchairs enjoyed themselves on this peerless summer day.

These apples have been growing on this trellis for two years and have produced a luscious crop.

We asked one of the experts if they use pesticides and the answer was Yes.

More flowers near a stone bench. One of my fave articles I wrote when I worked for the Intelligencer was on Spectacular Gardens. I knew them all and simply visited, got a brief story, and Stace Leichliter went out and photographed them. In hideous black and white.

We went thru a CORN MAZE. Could you really get lost? We forgot to bring our GPS so we got a little bit lost but then found our way out.

Did you see the horror movie Children of the Corn? And Sleuth, which I believe took place in a maze in an English country garden. I'll check when I'm offstage.

Can you see the FEET on this corn stalk?

Is it really as high as a dinosaur's thigh? Well, it was purty darn high. The corn cobs grow all over it. Gosh, I felt like such a city slicker, a suburbanite, but I shore loved being down on the farm.

One booth we did not visit was the basil-tasting booth. By now, lines were extremely long.

Goodbye goodbye goodbye.

Off to Frenchtown, New Jersey for dinner.

Our first view of the acclaimed restaurant The Lovin' Oven in Frenchtown, NJ.

We left the car there and decided to explore the town.

"I'm so glad you guys are adventurous," I said to Ada and Rich as we walked along the road.

Our first stop was right next door.

A clothing shop housed in an old mill. Now there's a beautiful bird bath.

Three people have apartments in the old mill.

We hoofed it up the hill to the quaint town of Frenchtown.

My friend Carolyn had driven me here a few years ago and I remembered a wonderful art gallery of duck decoys and other artwork.

The Decoys and Wildlife Gallery was closed. 

Everywhere you looked was something of interest. Look at these huge Caladium!

Ada and Rich bought a bowl for "Matches," their beagle grand-dog. One of Rich's associates told him beagles are stupid dogs. But their Matches is the genius of the species. Perhaps he should be named Einstein?

The Yellow Dog. Flotation devices in boxes outside the shops for when you take your dog over the rapids on the Colorado River.

 I revisited Hector Studio, where Don Hector makes gorgeous stained glass. Biz is good, he said.

In fact, I have his business card in the pocket of my car. Why? Artists are my favorite people.

You may find this hard to believe, but I also have the business card of this famous artist, as verified by the PBS show "History Detectives." Click here.

Awaiting our meal.

The restaurant is acutely conscious of saving our beautiful environment. Our table was adorned by fresh flowers including this sunflower.

Fresh garden salad that we all shared. The greens were oh-so-tender and nicely drenched in Champagne vinaigrette.

I ordered a bean taco. Rich got linguine and shrimp, Ada got shrimp with a delicious tomatillo sauce and spicy black beans. I made my own black bean dish today, which was scrumptious, except where it burned at the bottom of the pot. Darn!

I asked Nicole, our young waitress, what the green stuff was.

Kale. Absolutely delicious and as healthy as eating a whole box of Special K. That's goat cheese you see. I told Ada and Rich that when I went on a trip to the Lancaster Farmer's Market, I bought lots of goat cheese from a family who raised nothing but goats.  

A baker arrives every morning and makes the dessert. The banana pudding in the middle is quite popular, said Nicole. The Fleishers got the peach and cherry tart on the upper right and I got the Peach Pie on the middle right.

The pies were heated and served with vanilla ice cream from The Bent Spoon in Princeton.

I've had lots of wonderful meals and this one was among the top!

When I got home, first thing I did was get on my exercise bike to lower me blood sugar. I was on there nearly half an hour, made all the more difficult b/c I watched the Republican National Convention.

The good news is in the morning, my blood sugar was fine!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are you a coupon clipper? Is there a God?

Chrisanthemum in ceramic pot, a gift of the departing Judy Diaz

Life is complicated enough, without having to worry about coupons.

Scott, who takes very good c/o me, went thru my junk mail, and clipped out a coupon from Giant - spend $50 and get 300 points. That comes to about 40-cents off a gallon of gas.

Since I Giant-shop four-five times a week, spending $22 each time, I pondered, "How can I spend a whole fifty bucks?"

It wasn't easy! At the self-checkout, I only spent $42 and had to go back for one more chrisanthemum and a carton of expensive organic tomatoes (w/o herbicides they spoil quickly, but then maybe I won't get cancer).

Don't tell my kids or Scott but people with diabetes have a 65 percent higher chance of getting dementia or Alzheimer's.

Who said Life was Fair.

But it's good right now, so let's celebrate!

One of the greatest gifts God gave me is my love of reading.

Quick aside about God: I don't really believe in God. But if I write something, like the above sentence, and it 'looks right,' then I let it stay. I'm on the fence about God but accede there definitely may be a higher power.

Friday night I went to a monthly Coffeehouse program at the nearby Willow Grove Bible Church.

This sign beckoned me last Friday nite b/c I thought it was a poetry reading. It was decidedly not. A discerning woman named Kim Ruby schedules guest entertainers.

She is a master. I asked her if she schedules poets and she said, "They don't hold people's interest."

While there, I met a host of fascinating people. Might I even say I had an intellectual discussion with a few? Especially when Kim Ruby and I shared our philosophies about shoes.

Burt Plaster is a family doctor and also a dedicated Christian missionary. His wife and four beautiful sons are also devout members of the church.

"The family that prays together, stays together." That was a sign I used to read when riding the CTS bus in Cleveland, Ohio. I looked up at those gentiles on the poster and thought, What a perfect family, like the Turnocks who lived next door.

So, Burt and I are talking, not easy to do in a room filled with 50 noisy people, and I mention What a wonderful room this is and a great idea to have the Coffeeshop, wholesome entertainment for the entire family.

How did you get the idea, I ask.

"We prayed about it," said Burt.

"How do you do that?" I inquired.

They all sat around and said a couple of prayers and then asked the Almighty for his help in deciding what to do with this space.

And he answered their prayers.

I was really impressed. It's sorta like a board meeting, I thought, and God has a place at the table.

Julie Worden, former lead dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Colin Firth, had a baby girl. I knew immediately what I wanted to buy for Kieran Ava.

Before I stopped to see Grace for lunch, I bought this hand-crocheted baby blankie from the guy I bought my carpets and floors from.

His wife Sandy showed me her storeroom, there on Easton Road. She has huge boxes of clear plastic where she stores her yarns, which she buys online.

She had me open the bag above and feel the soft material. She makes 8 blankets a month. She remembers her mother teaching her how while they were sitting on the beach. Her mom, in turn, was taught by her mother. Sandy has taught all the girls in her family to crochet, but she says they're more interested in doing sports.

Just wait until they get older.

This is the New Directions phone line, permanently off the hook so I don't hear it ring. It's in the family room. In case the electricity goes off, the phone still works.

Why am I in the family room?

I'm on my way out to my screened-in back porch to finish my book club book....

I wanted the perfect place to finish the book. I sat on the wicker furniture of my departing friend Judy Diaz who moved to Niwot, Colorado.

Just her luck that the week she gets there, the psychotic doctoral student James Holmes mows down people in the Aurora movie theater. Have you been reading about him? The Times had a good article on him and I was gonna leave a comment, but they weren't allowing comments.

The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard was quite good, a sweeping view of the entire world after World War Two. Took her 20 years to write. We'll discuss it at my library book club.

Hot today. Of course. Global warming and all that. I sit near my whirring fan and don't need the A/C. Power plants emit noxious carbon fumes into the air and in the summer months, a disproportionate amount of energy goes to cooling our air.

And ever notice how freezing-cold public places are?

Come to my house and pass out from heat exhaustion.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A perfect day at Lake Galena, except...

Approaching Lake Galena in Bucks County PA

Here's the man-made lake in the distance. From Wiki:
Lake Galena in its current form was created when the county (Bucks) flooded the lake in 1972. Before that time, much of the lakebed had been part of the village of Leven, the economy of which was based largely on lead ore (galena) mining[2].
We approach the boat house. We plan on riding one of the paddleboats - your power is your cycling feet - but learn that the boat house is closed today. Lack of manpower, as most of the staff are college students returning to college.

Undaunted, we walk around the lake, which in toto is 6 miles. I check my blood sugar constantly. And always carry one of those horrid granola-like bars in my pocket. Gimme a Snickers any ole time. My sugar was 195, quite high, but that was good b/c I didn't need to worry about going low.

The clear cool water of Lake Galena. You can see the rocks below.

This lovely young couple live in Doylestown. Their b'ful dogs, who look like mini-German shepherds but are not, are named Zelda and Elkin.

Zelda can't wait to get wet!

She was not the only dog we saw in the water.

Our picnic lunch consisted of egg salad, rice crackers, peaches, and blueberries, and ice-cold water from a Thermos. Let's see if Thermos is still in biz. 

Before lunch, I took my sugar again. Scott and I had walked for over half an hour. From 195 it had dropped to a normal 93.

We ate near the boat house. I wanted to see the water. Two bikers stopped by.

The sad thing about eating at the boat house today was hearing the disappointment of all the people who couldn't rent boats. These three kids consoled themselves by skipping rocks.

What you can't see in these two photos that Scott took is a HUGE WATER BIRD in the tree. I didn't even see him, but Scott saw him move.

Queen Anne's Lace shares space with clover and tiny yellow wildflowers. Grace? What color are the wildflowers? Yellow, Bubby!

I'm gonna try and see her this afternoon. Her use of language is extraordinary. She repeats everything you say, in an attempt to learn.

Look how these grasses pushed themselves right up thru the rocks! Ain't nature amazing?

Who dyou suppose made this tee-pee?

By the time we left, Lake Galena was quite crowded. The reason I took this photo is b/c a very sexy man was pulling in his boat. You can't even see him! He was telling his buddy that his daughter and her BF were up in Minnesota. Sound travels.

Do I really wanna clutter up my blog with houses I don't consider absolutely gorgeous? The purpose was to show how built up Bucks County is. There's barely any wild acreage left.

This house, however, deserves a place. Why? Because it is so odd. Look at the flat roof. The stone. Who lives there? It's on Byberry Road, 10 minutes away.

And now, if you'll excuse me, it's GRACE-TIME!