Category Archives: Town

Clouds

A little gale will soon disperse that cloud.

For every cloud engenders not a storm.

Small showers last long, but sudden storms are short.

Many thanks to our old friend Bill Shakespeare for once again writing a guest column on this blog.

Still more snow

The usual guidelines for setting out plants in this area is anytime after Mother’s Day or May 15th, whichever comes first. It’s usually safe from freezing, but this year has been a little different. When I first heard that it was supposed to snow on Monday, I really wasn’t worried as it had been so warm. And the TV weather persons didn’t think the storm would amount to much (they were uniformly wrong).

It started off with a bit of snowy rain. As Mr. Dog did not like this, we took our walk inside the giant hardware store and then went out to dinner (he is a Labrador, so of course he loves to eat).

But after the sun went down, the snow kept falling.

And it didn’t stop until all the trees were bent over under the weight of snow. It was about eight inches of snow here, a friend measured the snow at her house and it was twelve and a half inches!

Then after a bit one could see a patch of blue sky. And those big clumps of snow on the branches started crashing down as it warmed up.

So as the snow melted away I could see the mess left behind by the storm. I got out my trusty bow saw and quickly cleared up these branches so that I could get my car out of the garage. Unfortunately, the plum tree in front of the house looked to be a total loss, the main trunk had snapped. As I looked closer, I noticed that one branch was spared. I had thought about trimming this off, but had been too lazy to do this. I tied up the branch in the hopes that it would grow straight, and now I just have to wait for Mother Nature to quit playing tricks on me (for a little while at least).

The petunias in the barrel would have been a total loss, except that the deer had already come by and eaten them. 😉

Art or?

I’m not sure why having Art on the street has become so popular and necessary. It supposedly draws in tourists with their all important tourist dollars. Maybe it is for the locals to admire, or just something to spruce the place up. Well for whatever the real reason might be, there is a lot of art on the streets in my town, at least in certain parts of town.

Wow, is this the latest from a pop artist, like J. Koons? It’s certainly looks to be done in his style. No, it’s merely a prop for a tourist shop and one doesn’t have to make a special trip to a museum to see this. It’s on display every day. (Note the lovely reflections in the window behind this fowl).

How about this interesting hand? Is it part of a gallery display costing big bucks in Santa Fe? No, it’s another bit of street art for a shop.

Surely this is a bit of art? I mean it is reminiscent of the works of both Pop and Surrealist artists. Sorry to disappoint art lovers, it is yet another example of tourist art, designed to draw one into a shop for souvenirs. (You don’t want to forget seeing a Sasquatch on the street and the stop sign surely compels one).

But not to despair, there is actual Art for the intrepid tourist to discover. This artwork has a tiny solar panel at the top so it actually lights up at night (in a sort of Pop meets Surrealist way). And as one can see there were tourists strolling along, so I guess all of this art drew them in.

Spring snow

Spring snows are much different from Winter snows because they are usually quite ephemeral. The overall temperature has started to warm up, and snow doesn’t stick to the roadways as much. But, there was a rather severe blizzard on March 13th this year, which is sort of unusual. There was not a lot of snow, but there was tremendous wind speed, and it was dubbed by meteorologists as a “bomb cyclone”. Which is a fancy way of saying that the atmospheric pressure dropped more than 24 millibars (whatever these are, but apparently it is quite a bad thing), and this intensified the wind. Of course people did not take the warning about the storm seriously and bad things did happen: about a thousand people were stranded in snow drifts along the roads, a friend was in a 44 car pileup, etc.

I could just about see the house across the street, so I was staying home. And I had to dig through a bit of a snowdrift to be able to leave two days later.

Because this was such a huge storm, when the next one approached, people tended to get a bit hysterical about it.

Here’s the morning of the next storm, it was warm and clear, looking to be a beautiful day.

Right on schedule these lovely big snowflakes started to fall. But the blizzard bit failed to materialize here in town, it stayed up north, then moved to the east. This storm was only a “baby bomb”, which really sounds sort of cute and cuddly.

This was the only aftermath to the storm at my house, I had to scrape off the windshield before I could go anywhere, so it was not too bad (much to the disappointment of the local tv newspersons).

Bees

I know by now that you are wondering why I bother to stop in at the pub. It’s across town, it’s expensive and it is hard to find a parking place there. But there is an attraction to the place, it is called “The Golden Bee” and every time one stops in the bartender will throw an embroidered bee at one. Now most of the time it is just a regular bee, but they do feature a number of special bees throughout the year. And I try to show up for a pint on those special days.

So this is the very newest bee. In fact I got the first ones that they handed out. They have a big space symposium every year, all sorts of government types and defense contractors show up, so they make this special bee to commemorate the event. I had to get these before the conference started because the place is packed while all these free-spenders show up.

These bees are from: a big conference (they will make a special bee if your event is big enough), St. Patrick’s Day (no green beer is served here), Christmas and the Senior golf tournament from last summer (it was on TV).

This is what I usually do with the bees, I put them on the dashboards of my cars (the rocket bees are from previous Space Symposiums).

They do end up all over the house, these ones are in my sewing room.

And this is the lamp in my bedroom.

And these bees are hanging out in the dining room. There are so many bees in my collection that you might be thinking that I go there an awful lot (really, I don’t). But, these bees represent years and years of stopping in (also it’s a lovely place to take out-of-town guests). So I won’t actually have to go there again until July 4th, Halloween and Christmas. Hopefully by then they will have a new delicious cider on tap. 😉

Pub

My faithful dictionary defines pub as an informal British term for a public house; inn; tavern. And there is one actual pub in town, imported from London some years ago. Of course this means that London has been short a pub for many years now. But with the commercialization of real estate in London they lose pubs constantly, so I suppose it is a good thing that this pub landed here where it is appreciated.

These pub fittings were originally shipped off to someplace in New York City, and about 58 years ago they came to rest here in town as part of the fancy hotel. The original pub was rather small, and a few years ago the new owners expanded the place so that they could get more tourists in. Apparently they have evening sing-alongs with a piano player, but in all my years of stopping in I have never been to this (also I have a terrible singing voice).

Here’s a bit of the lovely main bar. There is not an infinity of bars, but there are a lot of mirrors about the place to bring in some light (it is properly dark for some serious drinking).

The antique and the modern sit side by side, the television at the top is almost always turned to a sports channel (yawn). Quite often it is tuned to golf, as the pub is part of the hotel, which also has a golf course nearby.

They have lots of period details to evoke that Olde England experience.

Are these the sort of things one might find in a pub in situ? I doubt it. One might expect to see beer advertising and photos of the patrons perhaps. But this sort of thing does add a certain quaintness to the place, and we are paying extra for this experience.

The Fuller’s tap had this lovely griffon on top, so I asked the barmaid to take a picture of it for me. It perhaps best symbolizes the very nature of this pub, a mishmash of various bits and pieces put together to make a new sort of animal.

Truckin’

Food trucks have become a popular choice for dining out. It’s a phenomenon that started in big cities and it is a trend that has even become popular here. I was driving down the street on the way to the dentist (driving very slowly) when I saw this group of food trucks in a parking lot. And as I was hungry after the dentist visit, I decided to stop in and see what’s cooking.

Well this guy is my favorite and I have often patronized his truck. He makes a delicious lobster roll (lobster meat held together with a little mayonnaise on a special grilled bun) and other things I have never tried, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for lobster today.

There was a wide variety of vehicles serving food. This is obviously a converted school bus. (It would be more fun to ride to school if they also served hot dogs on the way). 😉

I liked this truck because it was brightly colored, but this truck doesn’t serve any food, just treats.

One doesn’t need to have a truck at this food rendezvous. These folks were unconventional in their vehicle and unconventional in their menu, a vegan po-boy indeed! (No such thing exists).

I liked this trailer, a miniaturized version of a food truck. I assume it had the essential bits for serving food, it didn’t take up any excess space, and was just a cute little thing.

So what did I choose to eat on this occasion? I got a grilled Cuban sandwich (roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickle and mustard) from “Lucy, I’m home” and I was so busy eating that I forgot to take a picture. There were so many other delicious looking choices I shall have to go back and try them all (except the vegan po-boy).

Bar rooms

When I was a college student I was often to be found in the bar closest to campus. It featured a jukebox, pizza and cheap beer, all the things a college student favors. The place no longer exists, much to the relief of the neighbors, and a convenience store has taken it’s place (really not the sort of thing one hangs out at). Although I am not a barroom denizen anymore, I do occasionally stop in someplace for a brew or a cider (more likely).

This bar has been around for about 20 years, but I never stopped in until quite recently. Built originally as a neighborhood market in an old neighborhood near downtown, it is very much a hipster sort of place with lots of funky signage (and very good modern food).

This place has existed for less than 10 years in anewish strip mall built in the north part of town. It’s a brewpub, which means that they make their own beer on the premises as well as having other craft beers on tap. It’s a good thing to brew beer, as they do not have to pay the federal tax on it (although this fact does not make the beer any cheaper). The place is dog friendly and serves bacon, so I suppose it is sort of a hipster place as well.

This bar is definitely a hipster hangout, located in downtown (that means there is no parking nearby). They sell various craft beers and pizza. Those things hanging down from the ceiling are beer taps from all the craft beers that they used to carry. This place will soon be history, as the entire building is being converted to condos (flats) for hipsters (they will have to go down the street for a drink).

This bar is the hipster re-creation of a neighborhood tavern in the Midwest. It’s just like the sort of place old guys used to drink in, but with an edgy vibe. They serve the sort of comfort food one used to find in a tavern, chili mac, fried walleye (okay that’s all I ever order there, so I don’t know what else they serve).

I’m sure that they have craft beer, but they also have the sort of brands of beer that ordinary people drink (in Wisconsin or Minnesota), Leinenkugel (which is terrible), Pabst, Hamms and Moosehead (a delicious Canadian beer).

I’m not sure what it means that I end up in hipster sort of places (as I am totally too old, cranky and un-hip to be a hipster). Rather, I guess it means that I like good food and good beer (or cider) and I will go to any place that serves these.

Church suppers

I could count on one hand (and have fingers left over) the number times we went out to eat at a restaurant when I was a child. But the one place where we did go was to church suppers. And so I retain a fondness for this sort of event. Unlike chef-driven restaurants, the food has a certain humble and sincere appeal. Driven by both a fund-raising need, and the desire to please and share, I am happy to be part of the experience.

Pteri went with me to this event, a full fledged church festival, complete with booze, booths of items for sale and dancing. It was a celebration of one’s (not mine though) Greek heritage, so on the menu this day was delicious gyros prepared by members of the congregation and a local restaurant.

This was a fund-raiser for a church school prepared by a parent’s group. This day they were serving my favorite, carne adovada (pork marinated in red chile, then slow cooked and shredded) tacos with refried beans and rice. It doesn’t really look that lovely, but it was quite tasty. They hadn’t counted on the demand for beer however, as it was a rather hot day, and they ran out. 🙁

KODAK Digital Still Camera

This was a different sort of church dinner, prepared by some men from the sister Spanish language church of this congregation. The guys had dug a pit, lined it with rocks, lit a fire to heat up the rocks, then buried the food on the hot rocks to cook it. They had made tamales, potatoes, chicken and pork. This was what they thought of as a perfect church supper back home. As the parent church did not condone alcohol, the men surreptitiously passed a bottle around.

This church food came from an Orthodox church out on the prairie, 7 miles from a small town (which is really far from anywhere). The area was settled by Czech farmers, and although most of them have moved away, lots of old-timers come back for a chance to eat this food. Kielbasa, haluska (some sort of noodle, onion and bacon dish), pierogi (potato and cheese dumplings), cabbage rolls, and borscht (plus some things I don’t know the name of) were on the menu.

And this was what was served at the most recent church supper I attended, with food cooked up by a local family-run restaurant and served by a parent’s group. This restaurant has been in business since 1959, which makes it quite an ancient establishment in this town. And served in a plastic cup was an excellent vintage wine.

It is interesting that all of these meals were based on immigrant/ethnic foodstuffs. All of these varied churches are looking to make a little money (sometimes very little), and provide a place for the community to break bread together. What could be a better excuse to get together?

Sports

It was time for the annual ice hockey game between the local expensive private college and the expensive private college from the nearby big city. One of my friends is an alumni, so we always go (I’m not an alum from either school, so I root for them both, secretly). We got there early this time rather than arriving at the last minute, so we wandered about the stadium, checking out the offerings.

It is pretty much de rigeur to have giant foam fingers proclaiming that one’s team is number one. This team is actually ranked #3 by whoever ranks these sorts of things, so get with it giant foam fingers.

And what sort of a sporting event would this be if they didn’t sell nachos?

Also available are the other great food groups, hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, colas and beer (the most important item of the lot).

There are also the rather mis-named cheerleaders. They didn’t actually lead any of the cheers as they were located halfway up in the stands near the band, instead of in front of the crowd. And if what was being chanted was the school cheer, they should probably learn some more polite terms for addressing the opposition.

This time I remembered to get a shot of the action. One could also watch this on a giant television screen instead, as it was being broadcast on the local sports channel.

The school had just recently split from the previous beer company that sponsored advertised was somehow involved with the school, so if one had bazillions of dollars to donate, one could become the new name of the stadium. Just imagine ‘your name here’. 😉