Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Sheep Alpaca Project

M.'s grandmother keeps a small amount of sheep and alpaca. We walked the walk of terror to get there and see them. They were pretty cool.
Walk of terror, you ask? Oh my god. It was my worst nightmare. It was terrible. My heart beat faster, my brain hurt and I felt dizzy and sick. Why? Oh, well, you know, TENT CATERPILLARS everywhere! I don't like to broadcast this particular fact because there are assholes in world who think irrational fears are fun to mess with. I disagree. Since I was 7 or 8, maybe a little later...I have been unable to stand the sight of tent or gypsy moth caterpillars. This is, at least in part, due to the blight/infestation my area of Maryland went through during that time period. Burlap sacks on all the trees. Barrels on fire with people stuffing tent after tent into the flames. I remember, specifically, my father and I gathering as many of the suckers as we could and putting them into a large jar of turpentine where they died a wriggling, awful death. It was a holocaust of caterpillars. Ooook! Guh. Guh. Yick. I tense my shoulders and cringe just writing about it. So getting to M.'s mother's house and finding the driveway/house/yard/every possible surface crawling with tent caterpillars really threw me for a loop. A terrible, stultifying and paralyzing loop. I was scared. I wanted to see the sheep/alpaca but in order to get there we had to walk down a path a path liberally strewn with live and recently deceased creepy crawlies. It was awful. Did I mention how awful it was? Oh shiver of all shivers. This alpaca's eyes are blue. Blue eyes in an alpaca suggest a high probability that they or their offspring will be deaf...not a good attribute for a species born to protect and guard their fellow fiber cows.
Luckily we didn't stay overnight there. I would not have been able to sleep in a house that could so easily be attacked and infiltrated by tent caterpillars. To take a photograph of the buggers would put me over the edge so there is no photographic proof. If you doubt me I'll let M. get in touch with you.

Me, I love a tent party.
Me, I love a tent camping trip (not during caterpillar season).
Me, I hate tent caterpillars...and most other caterpillars too. I fear they will get me.


Dinner c/o Cascade Lodge

Sunday I drove down to the Bethlehem, PA area to meet up with M., her boyfriend A. and her good friend A. Good friend A. was the third member of our 'grand tour' of Europe the year after my freshmen year of college, lo these many years ago. M. and I went to high school together and have continued to enjoy each other's company ever since. Our last meeting resulted in what still ranks as one of the best meals of my life. This time around we went to Cascade Lounge, the most unique of dining establishments.
This lady greeted us. This building is way old school but in all the right ways...strange photographs on the walls, piano bars on weekend nights (maybe all nights?) etc.
A spring runs through the bottom of the building and they keep a trout pool and keep live trout in a section of their cellar. If you order the trout (which the boyfriend A. and I decided to do) you can have the option of going down to the cellar and choose your own live trout! We ended up looking but not picking.
One large element of the Cascade Lounge experience is table side preparation of a number of their dishes. Caesar salad being one. On the menu they say it's prepared for two but three of us easily were satisfied by its portions.
Also tableside prepared was the trout. Look at that fire.
The trout was quite delicious, moist etc. The sauce was rich and creamy with an element of brandy (maybe?) and fennel...but you couldn't actually taste the fennel, which is just as well to me since I don't care for fennel.
A. the friend and I split a piece of delectable coconut cream pie. A. the boyfriend had a slice of cake...the name of which escapes me but it's rich, dark chocolate with a layer of apricot goodness. It was quite good, the bite I had.

This Lovely Meal Is Brought To You By The Red Hook Diner

After my time at the farm I met back up with K. and C. at the Red Hook Diner. The diner just happens to be located right next to the house I lived in for two years after college.
I didn't live in the whole house, mind you. Just the bottom left apartment. Oh my was that a nice place. K. lived on the bottom right and we sat out on the back porch and watched groundhogs do their thing, snow accumulate and, even, The Red Hook Diner catch on fire.

I ordered myself fried pickles. The first time I ever tried such a dish was, goodness, almost ten years ago at this very place. They've changed their batter method but the end result is still very good...I dipped some of my pickle pieces in ranch and shared with K. and C.
I also ordered the BLT. Quite good though I couldn't finish it due to my recent brioche and pickle consumption.

Sheep Farm Time

After Tivoli there was a little re-grouping to do before yet another meal. I packed up my stuff and left the dorm room I had called temporary digs for two nights then went on over to the farm for a little more quality sheep time. I hung out with my boss while she worked her huge yarn making machine (I was there when it arrived and had I stayed I would have been, at this point, an expert) then I walked the fields a bit. These are the resulting photographs.

A Bottle Makes All The Difference

Lambs are cute but, like their mothers and fathers, they're not altogether very intelligent. Another thought: lambs, though babies and precious and tiny, quickly learn not to come up and say hello to human beings...they learn this from their parents...well, their mothers. So bottlefed lambs are the way to go if you want to actually touch or spend any time with a sheep. Behold:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Onto The River, Young Women

After our baked goods we went down Tivoli's main road to the tracks and the river and took photographs.
I found a crazy seed pod. K. looked at it quizzically.
Then we smiled.

Brioche c/o Tivoli Bread & Baking

Sunday morning K, C and I went to Tivoli Bread & Baking for a morning baked good. I know the proprietor of the establishment...not overly well but I have made him dinner and worked at places he has delivered his amazingly good products to with regularity. What? I got to go 'behind the scenes' and shoot the shit with the baker while he made tarts and one of his assistants made a batch of dough. Then I ate my chocolate brioche and loved every bit of it.

One Place

After the fireworks C., K. and I took a shuttle to Tivoli...well first we walked around forever looking for other members of our class with little success. We went to a bar I was quite the regular customer of (in?), The Black Swan. I left for a little bit and walked to the house I lived in my senior year. It was divided in half, into two apartments. I shared the one on the left. It was not an entirely happy time. But the place was great.


Having stayed up way later than I have in recent months I was worn out after our walk. So I went and took a nap then went to the technical reunion of my class. Except that it was kind of not really very good at being a reunion. Or maybe I wasn't good at it. I think maybe both. I wanted to have awkward conversation with my peers but it seemed like the class didn't stick together for very long and, as Bardies do, what did stick together were the social circles that already existed.
Supposed Chevy Chase was somewhere in the madness but I never saw him.
Blithewood Garden.

There was a pretty mediocre barbeque.
The Blithewood Mansion/Levy Economics Institute (or something like that).

Fireworks! Oh my goodness! I had such incredibly vivid memories of loving the fireworks on my graduation night. I remember finding them amazing, spectacular and the most prettiest ever...and the duration. I remember also thinking it was the longest display of fireworks I had ever seen.
So expectations were high. Too high. They were very pretty. And pretty long. But, well, not as awesome as I expected.
Still awesome though...what with the mountains in the background, good friends nearby and booms.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Super Pretty To The Rescue

L. slept in while I went to breakfast with K. and C. Afterwards I picked her up and introduced her to the Bagel Shoppe. I did not partake in the wonders of the bagel shoppe myself because I was still reeling with the wonders of the best poached egg of my life. In retrospect I should have eaten a everything bagel, toasted, with some kind of ridiculous cream cheese...tomato basil maybe or green olive....I didn't get a chance to return there. L. had (get this, she is so weird) a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with green olive cream cheese. That L. She's so funny. Then we drove on over to Poet's walk and took a little walk out to look at the river and mountains and fields and then into the woods. I photoshopped these photographs and the clouds look quite striking, I think...they didn't look quite so ominous in real life but the photographs look pretty dramatic, no?

I tell this to L. every once and a while but, well, she's one of my favorites. Look! The Kingston Bridge.
Super woodpecker holes. I think.
Afterwards we did as we often did back in the day and went to Dunkin Donuts where we had the most inefficient drive thru experience of all time and the WORST iced coffee ever. Red Hook's Dunkin Donuts was better when lots of old ladies worked there.