Sunday, August 28, 2005

James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I visited Cooperstown, NY, this weekend. The town was founded by William Cooper, the father of the author James Fenimore Cooper who is shown in this photo.

The town is probably most famous as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's allegedly the place where baseball was invented, if you believe Abner Doubleday, which I don't. It's a beautiful town at the southern end of Lake Otsego. Since most of the land around the lake is in a trust, it can never be developed leaving the lake pristine and quiet.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

You Say "Tomato"

Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Summer is winding down which means that the tomatoes are beginning to ripen on the vine. Mostly I grow plum tomatoes and spend much of my free time in September making red sauce. But I grow a few cherry tomatoes and usually one heirloom beefsteak for the salad eaters. This shot shows plums and a very yellow small beefsteak. I like the small ones because I usually can't use all of a giant tomato which means wrapping it up and putting in the refrigerator so that I can throw it out later in the week.

The sunflowers haven't opened yet at my house. We got a late start this spring because it was cold and rainy so the warm-weather plants had to wait to go in. The birds will have to wait, I guess. They get enough seed from my feeder to keep them well fed so I'm not worrying. And the sunbuttons are in bloom and will start producing seed in the next week or so. The goldfinches will appreciate that.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Lena (restored) and a Joke

Lena (restored)
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I posted a tattered photo of my paternal grandmother, Alexandra Langer Epstein (called "Lena" in the US) on flickr and someone with skills at photo touch-up and restoration fixed it up. This reminded me of a joke that Buddy Hackett told years ago on the Tonight Show:

An elderly lady climbs the stairs to a shop where photos are restored. She shows the owner a old sepia photo of her late husband. (Imagine she has a Yiddish accent--it has nothing to do with the story, it's just funnier that way.) "I have this picture of mine late 'usband. It's a bit tattered. You can fix?"

"Surely, madam," the owner replies.

"You'll notice he's wearing a double-breasted suit. No one wears a suit like that anymore. You can change?"

"Yes, madam."

"And you'll notice he's wearing a derby 'at. Can you take that away? No one wears a derby hat anymore."

"Yes, madam. How did your husband wear his hair?"

"You'll take off the hat and see!"

The guy who restored the photo didn't find this joke particularly funny. I guess that's what makes comedy complicated!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Family Portrait

Epstein Family Portrait
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This is a photo of my paternal grandparents and my aunt taken around 1905. I've begun fooling around with taking digital photos of the old family photos so that I can save them on the Internet. I had visions of scanning them into the computer, but taking photos of photos is easier. (This one needs to be flattened to improve the lower right corner, but over all I'm pleased with the results.)

My grandmother, Alexandra in the old country and Lena in America, came from Kotel Nich, a town in northern Russia along the Volga River. She was one of five daughters and one son in a town with only a handful of Jewish families. There weren't enough eligible bachelors for all of those girls so the choice was to move to Moscow or emigrate to America. I am eternally grateful to my great-grandfather for making the right decision! They came to America circa 1890.

My grandfather, one of 17 children (16 by the same mother!) came to America from Bialystok, Poland, around 1900. He and my grandmother were fixed up by a Singer sewing machine salesman who my grandfather knew in the old country.

When my grandparents married, one of my grandmother's sisters came to live with them. I don't think they were without some relative in residence for years. As each sister married, another single one came to live with them. Weddings were held in the warehouse where my grandfather, who was a candy wholesaler, stored his stock. My grandparents lived above the warehouse. My aunt told me that they covered the boxes with sheets, did some decorating, brought in tables and chairs and held the wedding. She remembered sitting on a fireplace mantle with her cousin Sylvia watching the wedding of one of her aunts. Great aunt Rachel married my grandfather's brother Sam giving us "double cousins".

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Country Life

Sphinx Moth II
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I had two days off in Connecticut. At long last the pool was in swimmable condition, and it was hot enough to make a dip enjoyable. The pool skimmer had lots of frogs, both dead and alive, in it. Mostly leopard frogs--small ones with spots.

Nature was making itself obvious. Tree frogs were singing all night. It was loud, a regular nocturnal chorus. And some critter, probably a raccoon tried to get on the birdfeeders. I heard something that sounded like water dripping on the squirrel baffle. I turned on the light, but the critter had disappeared. The feeders and the baffle were swaying slightly. In the morning I found the birdbath on its side on the ground. I'm glad I finally got a metal bath!

This photo is of a sphinx moth. Notice that its tail looks like the tail of a lobster. Gotta conserve those genes and not redesign everything! (Isn't evolution much more fascinating than creation "science"?) When these moths fly by they are often mistaken for hummingbirds even though they are somewhat smaller. As a result they are often called hummingbird moths. They like to sip nectar from flowers just like the hummers. Of course, the spicebush swallowtail butterflies also seemed to be devoted to the phlox too.

Nicholas enjoyed our stay. He spent a lot of time looking out the door or in the screen porch where he enjoyed the birds, the squirrels and the chipmunks.

Nick at the Door

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bagel, Lox and Cream Cheese

Bagel & Lox
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This rather 50's-looking photo is a picture of tonight's dinner. I got home late from work and didn't feel like cooking. I had some great smoked salmon in the fridge and thought, "Why not have breakfast for dinner?" The glass contains seltzer, a staple of my diet. I added a few baby carrots and--Voila! Dinner.

For the curious, the bagel was an "everything" bagel. That is, one with salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onions and garlic. It's a sort of end of the kitchen thing. And I like cracked pepper on my salmon, thank you. A square of very fancy dark chocolate and some cherries capped off the meal.

I'll probably repeat the bagel, lox and cream cheese thing tomorrow at breakfast. Life is good.