Saturday, September 25, 2010


The Damariscotta Pumpkin Festival & Regatta is in two weeks. We visited the pumpkin patch at Pinkham's Plantation to see how the fruit is doing. That one I'm inspecting is probably 600-700 pounds (43-50 stone or 0.3- 0.4 short tons or 275-318 kilograms). It may become a boat for the regatta. The weigh-off is next Sunday, with $10,000 in prizes (or £6300 or 7400 euros or 68,000 Swedish Kroner) Pumpkin growing is serious business here in New England, but then it always has been.

This verse is from "New England's Annoyances" a song written about 1635

'Stead of pottage and porridge and puddings and pies
Pumpkins and parsnips are the usual supplies.
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon.
If it were not for pumpkins we would soon be undone!

Derry down....

The size does vary quite a bit. there are TWO pumpkins in this photo.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I picked some of our seedless Concord grapes this afternoon. Some years we haven't gotten any before the birds, chipmunks, and deer got them all.
These grapes make an incredible grape fool - just don't give any to your dog!

Here's a fool recipe (not a damn fool recipe)

Ingredients Directions
- 1 pint ripe seedless concord grapes, stems removed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serving Description: 1 cup (US) or 1.04 cup(CDN) or 1.67 gill (UK)
Servings: 4

Container: sauce pan, blender
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • In a small saucepan, mix sugar, water and grapes. Mash some of the grapes to release juice and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until grapes are soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cooled, mash with a fork or, for a smoother texture, puree in a blender or food processor. (You could, instead, put the grapes through a food mill to remove the skins. If you do that you could use regular Concord grapes)
  • When ready to serve, or up to an hour ahead, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks.
  • Lightly fold in the grape mixture, leaving visible streaks of grape and cream. Divide into serving dishes and serve cold.
  • TIP: Cream whips best when cream, bowl and whisk or beaters are well chilled.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Humor is not dead!

Lee Blumburg sent this link. I couldn't resist adding it to the sign collection. There are 19 other unfortunate stones in the collection.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Department of funny signs

As opposed to...when?

Raptor sighting

This morning, as we shared breakfast and stories with local author, Van Reid, I looked out the window of S. Fernald's Country Store in Damariscotta across Main Street and saw a mature bald eagle flying over the town and down the river. In how many towns is this even a possibility?

We are working with Van to put together a Downeast Harvest Review as a kickoff concert to the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta. We only have one song that mentions pumpkins but we're looking for more. The Pumpkinfest starts with the official weigh-off on October 3 and continues through our concert on October 8, a parade, the pumpkin boat regatta - last year there was a giant pumpkin-shooting air cannon that could launch a 10-inch pumpkin with a muzzle velocity of 400mph! There will be an ongoing exhibit of giant pumpkin art along Main Street - lots of fun!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Family Ties

Well, in the midst of 19 gigs last month our eldest, Harmony, got married on August 18. Here she is with her husband, Martin Kummer on the dock in Round Pond.
Harmony has left her Hollywood career after ten years working as an assistant director on hit TV shows (Alias, Brothers & Sisters, In Plain Sight, etc). I flew to Las Vegas last Monday to meet her and help drive her car back from California. She'll be living here in Maine for a few months, at least.

Monday, August 30, 522 miles Las Vegas, NV to Grand Junction, CO

I flew to Las Vegas and met Harmony there. She had driven from Los Angeles on Sunday night. We connected in the airport about 2:00. We need to get lunch and she had a gift card for a fancy sushi place so we scoffed down $130 in raw fish at Ceasar's Palace then hit the road about 4:00pm.
We drove a couple of hours north through the Mojave Desert. The road seems to disappear into the mountain...

...then a quick right turn and we're in a slot canyon. This went on for about 15 miles.
This is still Nevada, I think, still part of the Mojave range.
Here's a friendly sign in Utah.
Sunset somewhere in Utah. After dark we drove another five hours through mountains. The moon set about 50 times for us.

Tuesday, August 31 780 miles, Grand Junction, CO to Topeka, KS

More mountains. There's some plant life, though.
Where are we really?
More spectacular mountains - how long can this go on? (answer: we drove about 750 miles through mountains)
Here we are on the final approach to Denver. There were several warning signs for truckers. We missed getting a photo of the Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest point on I-70 at 11,600 ft. That's only 50 miles or so west of Denver.

Entering Kansas. It really IS black and white. We have picked up significant numbers of bugs on the windshield. Time to stop and clean it. We couldn't find any actual towns along the highway for about 400 miles east from Denver. We theorized that the towns were near the railroad, although you would think we could have seen them, as flat as it is.

We watched this storm all afternoon and into the evening. It's the storm that pushed hurricane Earle offshore. There's no way of telling how far off it was from where we were - maybe 20 miles, maybe 100 - distances are hard for us to judge out in the midlands.
This was a huge wind farm. I estimated there are over 200 windmills in this installation. We stopped for Cracker Barrel meal about an hour west of Topeka. When we came out the sun had set and we saw the most incredible display of heat lightning ever. We spent the night in a semi-underground room at the Super 8 in Topeka. If you stay there, get a room on the SECOND floor!

Wednesday, Sept 1 720 miles Topeka, KS to Columbus, OH

Wednesday started out rainy. After a quick breakfast we headed out, looking forward to a less-than-twelve-hour drive!

St. Louis - Gateway to the West.

The weather started to clear around noon.

The farms in Indiana look a lot like New England farms did back when we had them. The landscape isn't quite as hilly, but the trees are familiar.

Still moving east. We got to Columbus to the home of friends Galen and Sandy Pinkham. I had the office address instead of the home address but we managed a cell phone rendezvous and got there unscathed.

Thursday September 2 579 miles Columbus, OH to Sleepy Hollow, NY

Pennsylvania Motor Vehicles Deptartment has a sense of humor.

We thought a picture of our modest eastern mountains was in order. This is northern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania rolls out the welcome mat for Harmony.
Welcome to New York - we're starting to feel close to home.

Harmony took this shot of the Tappan Zee bridge. She had never seen it. Julia and I use it as our preferred Hudson crossing.

Here is something we didn't do very often. Harmony's diesel Jetta averaged 45 mpg (even though we averaged 75mph)
We finally landed in Sleepy Hollow about 6:00pm. Harmony and I have Van Tassels in our family tree from about 1640 in New Amsterdam. We spent the night with our friends the Coffeys.

Friday September 3 355 miles Sleepy Hollow, NY to Round Pond, ME

The rest of our trip was pretty much uneventful. We did hit traffic at the Kittery bridge - after 3000 miles with no slowdowns! I wouldn't recommend such a demanding schedule (unless you're a longhaul trucker!) but we were hemmed in by various scheduling constraints. Driving cross country is something I had always wanted to do and I'm glad I got a chance to do it with my daughter.