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Category Archives: Mohawk Valley

Oh Christmas Trees

I drive by Weller Library and Weller Park almost every day after work. Weller Library, if you didn’t read about it in one of my previous posts, is a lovely building, the former home of the Weller family. It is surrounded by a park which hosts many community events. I noticed a sign about Christmas in the Park. Eventually information about a tree lighting appeared on the sign, and a couple of Christmas trees showed up.

I drive by the park slowly due to traffic and a four way stop, but also due to traffic and a four way stop, it’s not easy to read signs. So I wasn’t clear on if the event was Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. or from 4 to 5 p.m. Luckily, the OD (that’s the Utica Observer Dispatch) listed it in their Events Calendar in Sunday’s Paper. 5 p.m.

So Steven and I made sure we got all or most of our stuff done by 4:30 or so and headed on over. We brought our dog, Tabby. We figured there could be no possible objection to a dog in a park, and we had faith in our ability to keep her from peeing on the Christmas trees.

A crowd had already gathered, but we found a parking space without too much trouble. There were a lot of trees, all beautifully decorated. Signs told us who had put up each tree. Local businesses, Girl Scout troops, fire departments and other organizations had participated. We walked around and admired. Several young girls admired Tabby, and petted her.

We ran into a gentleman from our church, and he told us this was the third year for trees in the park. He said anybody could put a tree up.

“You could put your tree up here next year,” he suggested.

That sounded like a good idea to me. I have been toying with the idea of not doing a tree this year. One reason is that nobody ever comes over to see our decorations. Of course we’ll still decorate, because we like to look at decorations, but how many decorations do me and Steve need to look at? Now, to put a tree up in Weller Park, everybody would see it. Most of the trees are memorials. I know some people I could make a memorial to. It’s something to think about.

The trees in Weller Park are gorgeous this year, especially with the lights on. Before the actual lighting, a color guard marched and a chaplain said a prayer. Then they played Christmas carols, which I was not the only one to sing along with (I danced a little, too; I love Christmas carols). Hot chocolate and cookies were served in the library. Steven went in and brought us out some (as well behaved as Tabby is, I did not think she’d be welcome in the library). It was yummy cocoa.

People were still enjoying the trees and the music when we left. We drove around a couple of blocks in Mohawk, admiring the lights on people’s houses. We don’t have snow yet, but there is plenty of Christmas spirit in the Mohawk Valley.

Saturday Morning Walk

Other Saturdays I have gone running in the morning and then blogged about my run. Today I walked to the bank with Tabby, so my post will be about that.

I had a couple of checks I wanted to deposit in my Mad Money account at First Source Federal Credit Union here in Herkimer. I like that bank, because they are dog friendly. They don’t mind if Tabby comes in with me; in fact, they usually give her a treat. I thought they opened at eight, so we set out accordingly. I figured if I was wrong and they didn’t open till nine, I could get two walks in.

It was cold! Our thermometer said thirty-one degrees, and I believed it. The grass was stiff with last night’s heavy frost. I slipped on a little ice in the driveway and told myself I’d better watch it. I quickly put on the headband I had put in my pocket in case I needed it. I was wearing a jacket large enough to pull the sleeves down over my hands. Tabby did not seem to mind the temperature, but then she has a built in fur coat. I kept telling myself, wait till February. Then when it gets to be thirty-one degrees, we’ll be rejoicing in the warm weather. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

We saw a young person wearing pajama bottoms walking a large dog on the other side of the street. I could not tell if it was a young man or a young woman, because he or she was bundled up in a coat and hat, and the pajama bottoms were gender neutral. I mentally deplored again the fashion of wearing pajamas in public. Then again, maybe the person had just rolled out of bed and did not want to make their dog wait for its morning business meeting. Anyways, who am I to judge other people’s clothing? Especially when you consider some of my crazy old lady outfits. Tabby and the other dog regarded each other suspiciously but did not bark. Good dogs.

Tabby did her business, and as we continued toward the bank I kept an eye out for a trash can. You would think some of these businesses would have one by the door. At last I found one. I did not want to carry Tabby’s poop into the bank. I carried it into the post office once, set it down to transact my business and forgot it. I went back to get it and apologized, but how embarrassing. And pretty gross for other people.

After I made my deposit and Tabby got her treat, we went home by a different route. We saw a pug I know across the street but did not get near enough to pet him. He looked at us rather interestedly but kept walking, pausing of course to sniff or poop. Closer to home I got to pet two sweet shih tzu looking dogs (I’m never sure about breeds; I ought to get a book). Tabby touched noses with them but was more interested in heading home.

I have at least one more walk in mind for later today, as well as a couple other Mohawk Valley adventures. This morning’s stroll was a pleasant way to start my day.

Return to Vinny’s

Last summer we went to Vinny’s Pizzeria in Herkimer, and I did a blog post. As I recall, they were about to close for two weeks. So I felt a little silly: here’s this great place to eat, but don’t go there, they’re closed. Last night, Steven and I decided to check Vinny’s out again.

I don’t want anybody to read anything into the fact that we waited so long between visits. The fact is, we don’t eat out as often as we used to. Last night we found ourselves shopping, and I was so hungry I couldn’t stand myself. Go home and cook? Oh, no, I couldn’t. Actually, Steven volunteered to cook, but I needed a blog post.

Vinny’s is just as good a place to eat as I recall. Good service, friendly atmosphere, yummy Italian food. Steven had lasagna, and I had manicotti. We both got garlic bread with our dinner, and we ended up taking enough home for a good lunch the next day.

As I write this, I realize it really has been a while since we went out to dinner. What’s that all about? I had a birthday last month, and we had an anniversary the month before that. Where are my dinners, Steven? Actually, I probably should not nag via blog post. Steven usually reads my stuff, but he will stop if all I do is kvetch. And in his defense, I have not wanted to go out as much either. I go to bed early week nights, and restaurants are usually so crowded on the weekends.

Be that as it may, we had a nice dinner on Wednesday. Vinny’s is good for dine in or take out. For more information, call 315-866-7961.

My Black Friday

Subtitled Fun with Family.

You might think Mohawk Valley Girl would be out on a day like Black Friday, checking out local retailers or community events. Sorry if I disappoint you. I had plans to spend the holiday at my parents’ house in Rome (at least it was still in the Mohawk Valley).

Steven was all set to experience his first Black Friday behind the cash register at Wal-Mart. I confess to being a little worried about him. My husband is a sweet, mellow guy. He is not up to combating the dastardly behavior of bargain shoppers. At least he had Thanksgiving Day off. We had a lovely day, then he went home to recruit his energy while I stayed on to continue partying with the family (I like the use of “party” as a verb; I find it descriptive).

I went running in the morning with my nephew Tom. Tom, of course, ran the DARE 5K with me — that is, ahead of me — in August (ah ha ha, snuck in another mention of the DARE 5K!). I’ll do a running blog tomorrow, perhaps. For now, I’ll just mention that we ran across a bridge over the Mohawk River.

Later in the morning, my Mom, sister Victoria and I went to the grocery store (for some reason, I like to refer to my older sister as Victoria, although I usually call her Vicki). Vicki (see?) needed supplies for the chili she was making, and Mom needed a few things. I’ll tell you what: the grocery store is the Place to Be on Black Friday. No crowds! Everybody we encountered was polite. We had a nice conversation about lemon cake with a lady in the baking goods aisle. Next year, everybody on my list is getting groceries for Christmas. After the grocery store, we crossed the street to the drug store so I could purchase some sinus medication I had unaccountably left at home (I later found it on my living room coffee table).

York Liquors, we discovered, is handily located next to the drug store on Black River Boulevard (or The Boulevard as Rome residents tend to call it). We though we’d just peek in. York’s has a nice selection of New York State wines. We pointed out to each other all the wineries we had been to. Mom was pleased to discover she could get some of her favorites without returning to the winery. I should perhaps mention that many local liquor stores now carry New York State wines. Some excellent wines are being made close to home (well, my home; I guess I don’t know how far away some of my readers live).

And how was Steven’s Black Friday going? As it happens, not too bad. By the time he started at 8:30 a.m., it was pretty much a typical Friday. He and other cashiers actually had time to do some straightening. I understand some shoppers behaved badly at some Wal-Marts (notably in Rome, we heard), but Steven luckily did not encounter anything alarming. He was even able to make it out of the parking lot and go home for lunch. That was one of my main concerns, given my terror of parking lots, especially during the Christmas shopping season (Victoria drove on our little shopping expedition; she has no fear).

So now I guess it’s on to Christmas! Let’s see what kind of Mohawk Valley fun I can find to blog about in the next month.

Saturday Adventure II

When we last saw our Mohawk Valley couple (um, that’s me and Steve), they had just left the Christmas Extravaganza at Ilion Elks Lodge in search of further adventures. We were armed (I’m not keeping up the third person POV for the whole post), not sensibly with the newspaper that listed area events, but with my sometimes reliable memory.

“Don’t forget,” Steven said again, “at some point we have to get a loaf of bread.”

I had forgotten. I suggested we go by the Ilion Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm on Otsego Street. It runs year round on Fridays and Saturdays. They usually have a Dilly Bread that is quite yummy.

“Oh, yeah, there’s a Christmas sale at that church,” I said, as we passed it. See what I mean about my sometimes reliable memory? We thought we’d check it out after the farmer’s market.

When we got to Clapsaddle Farm, we saw signs saying the Parker Cider Mill was also open. We had never been in the cider mill, which is on the same farm as the Farmer’s Market, so we went there first.

It is not a huge, elaborate place, but it is a pleasant, pretty room. Steven bought me a Halloween mug with a spider on it for a very good price. We had a nice chat with Jim Parker’s daughter. We are huge fans of his art, and he is such a cool, fun guy to talk to. I mentioned my Mohawk Valley blog. The daughter told us that the Sunday morning show Mohawk Valley Living was coming back on the air on Sunday, Dec. 4, with Jim Parker as their first guest. I’ll have to set my DVR for that.

Before we left, she asked did we want to purchase any cider.

“Oh, I don’t drink much sweet stuff,” I said.

“Well, would you like a free sample at least?”

Why not? After one sip, I said, “I think your evil plan is working.”

Steven said, “We could get a half gallon.”

Real cider, I find, is not the same as what you get in the super market. It is not too sweet, and it doesn’t gunk up your throat. I drank a big old glass on Sunday, which watching movies on TCM and munching popcorn (incidentally, the popcorn was purchased at Dyn’s Cider Mill of Richfield Springs, now sadly closed for the season).

Steven and I went on to the Farmer’s Market for our Dilly Bread. We resisted the pumpkin roll and a really delightful looking strawberry rhubarb pie. We headed back toward the church I had noticed earlier. I’ll save that for tomorrow. Let’s see how many blog posts I can get out of one adventuresome Saturday.

Vintage Friday

I’d been looking forward to Friday all week, since I have the weekend off. I was delighted when I got the email informing me of the Thanksgiving Wine Tasting to be held at Vintage Spirits.

The tasting ran from four to seven. I arrived shortly after 4:30. The Great Cheese Lady who had been at the last tasting was absent (I wasn’t the only one that missed her), but Bronson had some cheese and crackers out, as well as roasted turkey and cranberry sauce. I thought that was a pretty good idea for a Thanksgiving Wine Tasting: you could easily see which wines would be good with dinner. Some would automatically think of white wine with turkey, but a light-bodied red can work, too.

The first wine I tried was Pascal Jolivet Pouilly-Fume. The grape used is sauvignon blanc, so I was pretty sure I would like that one, and I was right. I wrote “yummy” in my wine notebook (I haven’t mentioned yet, although regular readers are aware: this isn’t a real wine blog).

Next was Juvenile Macon Chardonnay. It was only lightly oaked, so I liked that one, too. I feel like a real oenophile when I drink Chardonnay, because I say, “Is it aged in oak or stainless steel?” just as if I know what I’m talking about. But I guess aged in oak is OK with me as long as it’s not too oaky (there’s a pun there somewhere).

The other two whites, Pfaffenheim Gewerztraminer and Skyleaf Riesling, were sweeter than I like. I do think Gewerztraminer is a good wine for anybody to drink, though. When you can’t say the name, you know you’ve had too much.

Bronson was also sampling two Woodbridge sparkling wines (some of us call them champagne, but there’s usually somebody around to tell us that’s a misnomer: real champagne is from a certain area of France). I learned that Brut is always drier than Extra Dry. Both Woodbridges were pretty tasty, although I found I liked the less dry Extra Dry just a little bit more.

By the time I moved on to the reds, still busily taking notes, another patron asked me if I was writing a term paper.

“No, a blog post,” I said.

I tried three reds: Pinot Noirs by Barefoot and Illahe, and a Blue Coast Vineyards Syrah. I liked all three, but I decided the Illahe was my favorite wine of the evening.

I also tried the Fulton Harvest Pumpkin Pie cream liqueur. That was quite rich. I asked for another taste of the Illahe, just to cleanse my palate.

The wine tasting was a great way to start my weekend. I picked up a couple of bottles, to continue my enjoyment (um, I didn’t drink them both, or even all of one, on Friday). Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St. in Herkimer. You can call them at 866-6800 and ask them to put you on their email list, in order to be informed about future wine tastings. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

Back on My Feet Again

I do tend to go on about things (like for example the DARE 5K). I think almost every post since last Thursday I have mentioned my bad cold. Due to the cold, I have not been running or walking in a number of days (that’s a silly expression: “a number of days.” After all, one is a number.) (Some say the loneliest number) (But I digress). I was determined to take my schnoodle Tabby for a walk on Tuesday.

We set out down German Street in the direction of Caroline. I thought we might pass a couple of Mohawk Valley landmarks I could put in the blog. First we walked by Trinity Lutheran Church. They had a craft fair and soup luncheon last Saturday, which I missed as I was in the throes of the Overtime Blues.

I saw a cute little poodle I’ve tried to pet on occasion. She was a block and more ahead of us, walking with her lady, and we did not catch up. Just as well, she’s a nervous poodle. I also saw a pug I think I know, peeping out of the front door of his house. If it was the pug I think it was, he’s hard to pet too, but not because he’s scared of me. He’s just too wiggly.

Tabby and I boldly crossed Caroline, which I don’t always attempt at that time of day. It was no problem, though, and we walked on. We passed the Bellinger Rose Bed and Breakfast. I’ve never set foot in the place much less stayed there, so I can’t give it a real plug. However, it’s a beautiful building to walk by. Maybe one day they’ll do a Historical Society Fundraiser there, as the Balloon Farm Bed and Breakfast in Frankfort did once (alas, in my pre-blog days).

I had thought to walk down by the high school. For one thing, they have a handily located trash can, and Tabby had done her business (incidentally, I don’t know what kind of dog food and treats, Steven has been buying lately, but Tabby’s poops were tri-colored. It was amazing). Unfortunately, some parent meeting was going on. Lots of traffic, and I did not like to intrude. I did scan their electronic sign as I passed for upcoming events. We went to a fun play there once (again, during pre-blog days. Sorry, Herkimer Footlighters).

Tabby was getting a little tired of walking by now and started pulling me toward home. We headed in that direction, making good time except for just a couple pauses while Tabby explored a promising smell. She may get tired of walking, but she almost never gets tired of sniffing.

I always like walking in Herkimer, and I like writing blog posts about my walks. I always try to find something new and different to mention to my readers. I’m almost never disappointed. I hope my readers like it too.

Book about a Bloody Battle

Previously I blogged about going to Weller Library in Mohawk and looking for books on local history. Then I blogged about renewing the book I found. I am so glad I renewed that book! I finished it today. What a good book! Liberty March: The Battle of Oriskany by Allan D. Foote with James Morrison, Joseph Robertaccio and Alan Sterling, illustrations and maps by David Yahnke.

After a prologue about the centennial of the battle, Foote gives us background on all the battle participants: The Iroquois, the Loyalists and the Patriots (not to be confused with the ball team) (sorry, couldn’t help saying that). I was absorbed by the story of the Palatines. I could hardly believe all the crap they went through getting here from their native Germany, and all the crap they went through once they got here. Of course, Foote uses more scholarly terms than crap and goes into a lot more detail. Hey, I’m just trying to get you to read the book.

It’s always interesting to read about the background and beginnings of the American Revolution. Sometimes we get the impression that the pilgrims came over and a few weeks later Sam Adams was dumping tea into the Boston Harbor. It was a whole lot more complicated than “No taxation without representation.” The American Revolution, Foote says, was really our first civil war. We rightly feel stirrings of patriotic pride when we hear of the heroic actions of the founders of our nation, but the story is in many ways a sad one. Neighbor fought neighbor, and families were often divided.

It is a brutal story as well. The Battle of Oriskany was the bloodiest battle of the American Revolution as well as one of the bloodiest battles ever. As a percentage of all participants, more were killed or wounded at Oriskany than at Custer’s Last Stand at Little Big Horn. Even more brutal was the treatment of many of those captured.

I noticed when reading “About the Author” on the last page that the book has one of those old fashioned check out cards. The librarian would write the patron’s card number in a column marked “Borrower’s Name” and stamp in the due date. I was pleased to see this book has been checked out a lot. I encourage you to check it out as well.

Arsenic Part Two

First a disclaimer. As I write this, I have taken a rather powerful decongestant. My nose and sinuses feel as if they’ve been sand blasted. My limbs feel a bit macaroni-ish (shouldn’t effect my typing), and my brain is foggy (effects about to be seen).

My plan was to continue my rave about Ilion Little Theatre’s Arsenic and Old Lace with mention of the cast members I haven’t mentioned yet. Hmm, look at that cast list. May turn into a three parter. We’ll see how the word count goes.

For those of you just tuning in, I attended Ilion Little Theatre’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace Friday, and in spite of a bad cold, I loved it. Also in spite of a bad cold, I wrote a blog post about it, but because of the bad cold, I did not say all I intended to. Did I mention I have a bad cold? Makes me a little punchy. Anyways, on with the rave.

As the two murderous old ladies, Eva Jaunzems and Sara Militello are wonderful. Both are new to Ilion Little Theatre, and Sara is new to any stage anywhere. They are funny separately and together.

Dave Dellecese as Mortimer is marvelous. The part calls for some extreme reactions, and Dave rises to the occasion without ever going too far over the top. As his sweetheart, Megan McCoy Dellecese (so cute when real life sweeties play sweeties on stage) is, well, sweet.

George Lyon as Teddy livens up the stage, charging up San Juan Hill, blowing his bugle and generally Roosevelting it up. Norm Turner and Charlene Girmonde as the beat cops help set up the action and come to the rescue at the end.

I identify with Elisa Welch’s Officer O’Hara, the frustrated playwright, when she leaves Mortimer bound and gagged while she recounts her opus. I have never physically restrained my husband to read my my blog posts, but I understand the motivation.

Jim Mills plays both the Rev. Dr. Harper and Lieutenant Rooney, so he’s in at the beginning and end. He manages to make both characters distinct and enjoyable.

Art Wilks points out in the program what a small part he has. I don’t know why he even brings it up considering his cameo as a dead husband in Clue the Musical. But Art is always welcome on the Little Theatre stage.

Another cameo type role is played by director George Malavasic, proving once again that George will do whatever it takes to get his play on the stage. He got some good laughs as a would be tenant who does not realize his own luck.

A smaller part, and very fun, is Rick Vroman in the prologue. I saw Rick’s picture with the rest of the cast in the lobby and was delighted to think he was expanding his theatrical horizons. Rick played a very small role in And Then There Were None, as a guy that doesn’t get killed. Here he is onstage for about twenty memorable seconds, in a part I believe is not in the original script.

The smallest part of all is played by Julianne Allen, proving the adage there are no small parts only petite actresses. She plays the body in the window seat, a part I had wanted to play, but alas I did not audition. In the theatre as in life, you snooze you lose.

The other two cast members, Raphael DiLorenzo and Ron Creighton, are mentioned in yesterday’s post. If you missed it, I think you can click on it from here quite easily. Now I see my word count is approaching 600, a lengthy post for me. I will reiterate: go to http://www.ilionlittletheatre.org for more information on one of my favorite places in the Mohawk Valley.

Arsenic and a Bad Cold

I’ve been promising a real Mohawk Valley adventure, and here it is. An authentic gem, unique to the Mohawk Valley: Ilion Little Theatre, where Steven and I went last night to attend a production of Arsenic and Old Lace.

My only regret is that this post will be published on the afternoon of closing night, so any local readers whose theatre appetite is whetted by my words may have to scramble or miss out. Then again, I know a couple of my local readers (you know who you are) are actually in the show. There may not even be any other local readers. How many readers do you suppose I have, anyways? I sometimes make these self-deprecating jokes about having few or no readers. It could be true.

Be that as it may, on to the play (hey, that rhymes).

Many people are familiar with the movie Arsenic and Old Lace starring Cary Grant, which as based on the play. I have never seen the movie from beginning to end, but I understand there are some similarities and some differences. One difference is that in the movie the guy that’s supposed to look like Boris Karloff is actually played by Boris Karloff. So the “you look like Frankenstein” jokes maybe worked better in the movie. However, Raphael DiLorenzo, who plays the part in the play, looks sufficiently threatening that the jokes are not off-base, and he is hilariously offended by the comparison. Ron Creighton, who plays the role Peter Lorre played in the movie, the Karloff character’s henchman, is also very funny. The two play off each other comically to the delight of the audience.

I had written this much on my first break at work (remember the Overtime Blues?). When I got on my second break, my cold symptoms had kicked back in, causing my brain to flee from my body to parts unknown. I thought, “I can’t mention only two members of the cast; they were all wonderful!” But I looked down the cast list and I just couldn’t do it. Oh dear.

In my defense, I’d like to mention that I felt AWFUL yesterday. I came home from work and slept for an hour an a half, got up, showered, and stoked myself with coffee, because I was DETERMINED not to miss this play. I was really glad I went, because it is laugh out loud funny, a real quality production. However, it did not get over till after 11 p.m. I got up at 3:30 a.m. to work. I’m afraid this is as much as I’m going to be able to write today.

Still, I can publish this much on closing night. At least I’ve given my beloved Ilion Little Theatre this much of a plug. And what’s to stop me from writing a continuation of this post tomorrow and mentioning every last cast member. It can’t entice anybody to see the show, but it might be worth a read. For more information on Ilion Little Theatre, visit their website at http://www.ilionlittletheatre.org. You can also like them on Facebook.