Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat

There isn't a lot I miss about the early days of my children's childhood, mainly because many of the things you do with them then grow with you or you grow tired of. But I so miss the Trick or Treating part of Halloween. Every year, I would take off early from work to enjoy seeing them in the costume we struggled over either picking out or making for the last 3 weeks. First there was the Halloween Parade at elementary school where all the classes would walk around the school to the theme song from Ghostbusters and the great Halloween song, Monster Mash . My attempt to video tape the parade only succeed in getting a half hour tape of their feet. (I wasn't very technically savvy then.) Then it was off to "the" block in my neighborhood where the street was flat and wide and the kids would run amok from house to house getting candy and treats. It was the in block to be on for Halloween night. Then, somewhere around 6 PM, we would gather at a friend's house for the pizza and wine (just for the adults, of course). The kids would be eating their candy for dinner. The fathers would take over the night shift of trick or treating taking the kids to whatever neighborhood they still needed to go for more candy. So being grown up, we did some new things this year. Tony and I went to the Nyack Halloween Parade. A bit tamer than the Greenwich Village Parade but very worth seeing. I can see this as being a solid competitor to those who don't want to venture into the madness of the Village. The annual Halloween party at Ronnie's was great fun. His costumes are always great (see last week's post) but his wife is no slacker on this either. Here she is looking mighty fine: Then there is the house on pumpkin hill. A friend of mine told me about this house in Hillsdale where the owner would carve about a hundred pumpkins and light them every night starting the weekend before Halloween. It is awesome looking! If you click on the picture you can see some closeups of the great works. So I guess I have been reduced to just the pizza and wine today. But before coming home this evening, I drove to "the block". It was packed with kids who ranged in age from middle school and up. It is still the in place to be tonight. Tonight, I'll just have pizza, wine and remember.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ronnie and Halloween

According to my husband, Halloween is the start of the Christmas Season. According to his brother Ronnie, it is a sacred, religious holiday. From the moment Halloween ends to Halloween of the next year, Ronnie plans his costume. I too love Halloween and getting into costume. But my costumes are nothing like Ronnie's. One year, I was at my friend’s mother’s garage sale where I found my perfect versatile costume. She was selling a bride maid’s gown that my friend wore in the late 70s (typical puff sleeves and gathered Cinderella skirt). That gown turned me into a debutant one year, a 1890s whore (to Tony’s Jack the Ripper) another year and finally, a Can Can Dancer (by shortening the skirt) before the dress fell apart. My favorite was the year I was pregnant and became the Statue of Liberty (I didn't give birth to the State of Liberty, just dressed the part). My husband, on the other hand, loves the holiday but absolutely hates dressing up. Every year, Ronnie has us to his house and the rule is we must dress up. Other than the year he was Jack the Ripper, Tony has never felt comfortable in a costume. No problem, I made my husband a monk robe. Every year he would slip the robe over his head, tied a rope around his waist, sandals, and done. For a change, I think one year he took Thomas’ lightsaber and went as Obi-Wan Kenobi – for about 10 seconds. But it is Ronnie’s costume that is the highlight of the season. You would not believe the effort he makes so I had to show you. Here is a collage of Ronnie’s Halloween costumes:
A inspiration from a vacation at Plymouth Rock
The Devil Wore Prada
The year he went to Gettysburg Still don't know how he drank wine with that face
The Wall Street Devil and the Monk
I can't wait to see what this year's will be. Comment on your favorite. And yes, Jen and Robert (aka Stephanie), the small white pumpkin was Jaws.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Great Pumpkins

My husband is the king of pumpkin painting. Every year the family would go to the pumpkin patch where each kid would pick their perfect pumpkin and a bushel of apples (which no one ate). The best part was coming home to paint the pumpkins.
So to brag a little about Tony, I decided to blog his pumpkin art on this week's post. Although the pumpkin face ideas were generated by both the kids and him, Tony did the majority of the painting with the kids flocking around him at the table. I, with my untalented, inartistic abilities, would be relegated to the kitchen, searching recipes to use up a bushel of apples. Here is a retrospective of some of our finest pumpkin art. Please post a vote for which one you like the best and see if you can guess what the white pumpkin face of of 1998 represented. 1996 - traditional but
I think each pumpkin was like the kid it represented
The year of Tweety Bird. Can anyone guess what
the little pumpkin with the white face was? (Hint: Kept on swimming.)
No caption necessary. Who's the pumpkins here, huh
Not too old yet.
And this year's pumpkin patch. Carved by me and Tony.
But what the heck, we have pumpkins!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Columbus Day Weekend

It was Columbus Day weekend when the fall colors are usually at their peak. In previous years, Tony and I would try and use that weekend as our fall getaway. When the kids were little, I would ship them off to my mom’s. This mini-vacation relieved us for a short time from parenthood while it was a few days relief from parents for the kids. My mother, brother and his wife would treat the kids to everything that their ever-trying-to-be-the-perfect-mom did not do for them. Their weekend would include a visit to McDonald, as much TV as they wanted, and a trip to the toy store where they would come home with some noneducational toy. I think we all made out.
Typically, Tony and I would go to some B&B either in the Berkshires or upstate NY. This Columbus Day weekend, given we had just went away and could only do a day trip, we decided to drive up to Dutchess County NY. I had heard about a winery up in Millbrook where there were great photo opportunities and good wine. So with camera in hand, and the top down on the Miata, we left home.
I can say the reports were accurate. The winery was very picturesque and the wine was surprisingly good. We attended a tasting where we picked up a couple of bottles each of a white Chardonnay and a red table wine, both under the winery's label for under $20/bottle and delicious. If the Miata didn’t have such a little trunk, I would have purchased a case but, little did I know, that little trunk would be the reason our day’s plans took a nose dive. After leaving Millbrook, we headed on Route 301 to Cold Spring. Shortly after getting off the Taconic, Tony, of course, picked up the vibration while I was still contently looking at the countryside. Before I knew it, we were pulled over on this two lane country road with nothing but trees as a landmark, and a large hole in the left rear tire. Oh yes, that little trunk, that did not have room for a case of wine, it did not have room for a spare either. We tried fixing the hole with tire repair fluid which leaked out as fast as it was pumped in.
Trying to be calm, I called AAA getting an operator who didn't want to be bothered. I gave her my coordinates but she kept asking me for an intersection. I should have told her we were between Maple and Elm. Then, of course, I got disconnected. We then called Mazda roadside assistance who first said courteously they would help only to called back five minutes later to say we were on a restricted road (??) and to call 911. I later found out that most auto company use AAA as their roadside assistance centers. Figures. Our lovely day was quickly melting. If I had a corkscrew, Tony and I would have had a better time.
So I now I feel that if I don’t get out of here alive, I am going down bestowing a verbal tirade on some deserving AAA person. I called AAA back three times before I got someone who didn't hang up on me and actually knew how to read a map. He found the road we were on and dispatched a tow truck.
In response to the 911 call, the local police came and so did Casey’s Towing for AAA. We headed back home in the cab of Casey’s tow where we made conversation by complementing his truck. Never mind that the cab was air conditioned by a small fan powered by the cigarette lighter. An hour and a half later, cranky, tired and eating hot dogs for dinner, we were home.
I'm determined to try again to see the fall colors, so this weekend, we are going up to Vernon, NJ. Its only 40 minutes from home and this time, I'm taking the Jeep and a corkscrew. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Weekend in Rhode Island and the French chef

As I mentioned before, I love this time of year and can't get enough of the fall festivals. This past weekend, Tony and I went to Newport, RI where they were having a Wine and Food Festival. So with the weather being predicted as perfect and good friends who welcomed us in their Newport home, we were set to do nothing but eat and drink wine all weekend - nice idea if you ask me. On Friday night, we attended a dinner at one of those elegant mansions in Newport, the Rosecliff. I have to say, I'm a sucker for a good night out in a elegant mansion reminiscent of the Gatsby era. I act like I do this all the time. The setting was beautiful particularly in the back of the house where 2 Bentleys were parking in front of the water's edge with a moon whose light spotlighted the cars as if they were sculptures of art. It wasn't until the end of the night that I realized the famous French chef, Jacques Pepin was there signing autographs of his books. Being an avid but amateur cook, I was excited to meet this great artist of food. By the time I arrived at the table, a woman behind the counter said he had finished autographing books for the evening. As he got up to walk away he started to walk towards me. I asked him if he would sign my book. "Of course", he said in that wonderful French accent and asked me my name. I felt like a teenage girl in a new school where the most popular football player asked me to dance. He proceeded to sign the book I selected which was his autobiographical, "The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen". I am reading his book which starts with his early beginnings in the outskirts of Lyons, the capital of the French cuisine. His father is a member of the French underground and his mother bicycled to markets to buy the best foods every week. If I was alive then, I would probably have done the same. He was 10 when he stated he wanted to be a chef. It wasn't until the next day that I looked at the inscription in my book. He wrote, "To Virgine, Cook with Love, Jacques Pepin. I think I love cooking even more.