Tag Archives: food

Oops. sorry about that, and belated Happy Easter

Greetings, readers. I was completely embarrassed when Rebecca texted me informing me that I had forgotten to put up the weekend blog. I said a few minor expletives, apologized to her and asked if she could put up a short blog entry on Monday. She, of course, said sure. I just knew that one of these weekends it was going to slip my mind. If it was going to happen, it was logical that Easter weekend would be it. Sunday morning I went to church, came home, went out with friends for a buffet dinner, and after all that food and two desserts, I came home and slept like a log. My “nap” lasted until 10pm. Needless to say I didn’t sleep much the rest of the night. I hope your Easter was as good as mine, with many blessings and a wonderful day spent with family.

Topic number two. The apartment cleaning. Yes, April 22nd came and went and as promised to myself, I began work on the kitchen. Ready for your funny of the day? A person starts a major cleanup project with one new trash bag in the box and no disinfectant wipes. Sure, I’m prepared. Lol. I must say, it looks a lot better. Then I walk into the living room and I see just how much I have to do. Slow and steady wins the race.

I can’t believe that Bear Spring Camps opens in less than a month. I’m already getting into my camp routine. My TV cable has Music Choice, channels dedicated to playing different genres of music. I enjoy listening to their easy listening music station, and having about an hour or so of what I call wind down time right before bed, which may include listening to crickets, loons, or a thunderstorm on Spotify. Between Music Choice, Spotify, and YouTube, I can find almost any background “white noise” choice I desire. When I am actually at camp, and I’m by myself, I like to lock the screen door and have the wooden door open, turn off the lights, and sit on my sofa, while I watch the twilight disappear into darkness. The easy listening radio station in that area of Maine disappeared long ago. So I will either listen to nature or a cassette tape on low volume. Trust me, when you spend an entire day in the sun, the breeze, as well as eating three wonderful meals a day and expending energy, you are more than ready around 9pm to wind down and call it a day.

Finally, prayers go out to the injured and families of victims from the church bombings in Sri Lanka. I said it before and I will say it again, we need to stop the madness. People must learn to get along with one another and to treat others as you would wish to be treated.

Until this weekend … I hope … have a great few days, do take care, and as always, happy reading.

Thinking of Bear Spring Camps on a cold day

Greetings, readers. This morning, I got up about quarter to 7:00 which is about the time I would rise at camp to get ready for breakfast. Time did not permit me this morning to go to Panera for breakfast because Rebecca was coming and I had things to do before she arrived. Even now, as I sit here looking out the window, gazing at the grey sky and knowing the temperatures are in the low 30s F, I’m thinking how nice it would be to be back in camp in August, swimming in the lake. It is a nice dream, isn’t it?

Yes, folks, I’ve always had an over active imagination. I can daydream and think about almost anything. When it is cold or snowy, my thoughts will generally turn to summer and Bear Spring Camps. Heck, it’s only a few weeks before next year’s vacation turns into this year’s vacation.

Over the years, I shot lots of video tape footage of the camp, the lake, and the people. A number of years ago I edited all that onto a tape which I called Bear Spring Camps: The Day. It was amazing how well it worked. From early with the sun coming up to going to bed at night, with all the typical activities in between, it came out perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a video you have to sit down and watch for eight hours straight. The concept was devised to cover key points in the day. The early morning lake, the going to and from meals, riding down to Belgrade Lake store, boating and fishing, the evening bonfire, etc. Unfortunately I misplaced it somewhere in the apartment, and it has been a while since I watched it.

Boy am I getting nostalgic today. It is Wednesday which I remember as turkey or ham for dinner at camp. Isn’t that embarrassing, I know that Sunday is roast chicken and always will be, but I am blanking on what Wednesday’s dinner meal really is. I really love the food there.

I can see all the wonderful pies and cakes and smell the aroma of freshly made coffee. During the afternoon and evening meals, more people are there early and the sounds of conversations blend together with everyone talking in unison, making it difficult to understand what anyone is saying. Sometimes it is even difficult to hear what the family is saying at our own table. The noise level can fluctuate that much. On Thursday evenings a singer with an acoustic guitar comes to entertain at the evening meal it is quite pleasant and folks tend to sing along.

I know I am not living in a dream land, dear readers, from my apartment window I am staring at the local Days Inn hotel and it is the middle of December. But how nice to have that five-minute vacation. Now it is time to go back to reality. I think people tend to be nicer when they are on vacation. When you have had a hard day at work, try my method, pop in a vacation video or find a loved one and go through a photo album or two. A small little respite from real life never hurt anybody.

Continued good thoughts and prayers go out to those who need it. Rebecca and I will be back tomorrow with another blog entry so stay tuned for that. I bid you a wonderful day, take care, brighten someone’s day, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Happy Thanksgiving Day 2017

Greetings, Joe’s readers. I hope you are all having a good holiday. In the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day with food, family, football, and, for some of us, a nap. For those of you not celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you are also having a day of good food, family gatherings, and maybe a nap. May all of us feel blessed.

Joe will be back with new entries next week. Until then, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Why I go out to eat so much

Greetings, readers. People have often asked me, including my accountant, why I go out to eat so much. Well, here are the answers. With my physical challenges, I don’t feel comfortable cooking. I have a weak left hand, and I cannot trust it to hold up a hot pan or sheet while I move it from the oven or stove to the countertop. While I can put a pot pie or Stouffer’s dinner in the microwave, there is also something enjoyable about leaving the apartment and getting out for an hour.

The pros are that I get fresh air, good food, and pleasant conversation. The cons are that it is expensive, sometimes very noisy, and, on rare occasions, the coffee is not as fresh as it could be. To me the pros outweigh the cons, except for one: the expense.

All my friends, including Rebecca and my accountant, have warned me that Panera, my favorite hangout, is one of the most expensive places I can get to in town, other than fancy restaurants. I used to go to Panera two or three times a day. Now I’ve cut it down to just once.

The true worry I have, and it already has happened, is that I will cook something and drop it on the kitchen floor because of my weak hand. A few months ago a delicious pot pie, which was all set to be put on the plate, slide onto the floor, and had to be thrown in the garbage. That was most frustrating. I also receive Meals on Wheels three times a week, which does help. They have excellent hot dinners, as well as delicious sandwiches and salads. However, if I don’t eat the hot meal right away, that becomes something I have to transfer to a plate and put in the microwave. With my strong right hand, I can handle that most of the time.

I always look for eating options, especially when I go out with Traci. Not having a car of my own, Traci and I are limited to where we can go and eat. With our health issues, we like to be close to home. A walk to McDonald’s is several blocks away and that trek would be very hard on both of us. Of course, we would use the Dollar Value menu. Across the street from Panera there is a small Chinese food restaurant which we are going to try, and I’ll scout around town for other options. Point blank, as much as I love Panera, I’m going broke each month when we just go there.

I love being out of the apartment building, especially since my work hours are here too, but here is the weird part. After an hour or so of sitting and talking, both Traci and I look at our time pieces (her watch and my computer) and we can’t wait to get back to our apartments. I guess a little coffee-hour time goes a long way.

My friend Dave is set to come for a visit in early December and he’s promised to teach me to cook light, quick, and easy meals. I think I’ll take him up on it because my nutrition could be better.

On a slight side note, it is unusually warm today in central PA. Although I don’t mind it, it is a little unusual and when the mercury rises after it has been cold, I get lethargic. I shall battle through it.

A special shout-out to the Chicago Cubs and their fans. The first World Series victory since 1908.

So sorry about yesterday’s blog post, but time really did get away from us. I bid you a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

I am learning to make budget

Greetings, readers. For the past six months I have endeavored to finish the month on or under budget. So far I have failed miserably. Last month was the closest I have come, only needing $50 extra. Here is why I do not make budget.

Reason #1: Although my medications are not full-price because of my insurance, they do average out to about $75 a month. There is a big ka-ching out of the $600 right there. Meals on Wheels is helping me on food, but …

Reason #2: I like to enjoy my TV time munchies. The closest place to get them, plus cat food and paper products, is next door at the local pharmacy. I do look for the specials, which helps, but that particular store usually wants top dollar. Things like ice cream, chips and popcorn are quite expensive.

Reason #3: Occasionally I need to rent a Zipcar, such as for this Sunday to visit Mom at the cemetery. I am budgeting $20 – $30 for that. As you can see, blink and the money slips away quickly.

Lastly, I am still an impulse shopper. I am not nearly as bad as I used to be. At the beginning of each month when I have money, if I see that thing I really want, I usually break down and get it. I am pleased to say that in the last two months, I have not made any impulse purchases. I have told both Rebecca and Mr. Updegraff, the accountant, that we are going to use this computer until it dies. I am also still using my old PS3, and although it is not on life-support, it won’t last forever. I would like to get a PS4 before those go obsolete.

I feel bad when I make myself sound like a poor person. With a trust fund, I’m really not; though it comes to me in monthly installments. I’m still trying to learn to come in on or under budget each month. If I can learn to do this, I’ll feel better about myself and make that lump sum of money last longer.

When I was younger, my family made sure that I wanted for nothing. My folks did not teach me, however, how to save money or make a budget and stick to it. If I needed a little extra spending money, I got it. Now, I’m trying to work with a half-empty tool belt of life skills. Being aware of these issues, I will get better each day and each month. But it is a slow process. I’ll need some good wishes and prayers.

If you would like to leave a comment, or share your story, please do feel free. Until next Wednesday, have a great weekend, take care and happy reading.

I’m back from Bear Spring Camps and feeling renewed

Greetings, readers. As always, I had a wonderful time at Bear Spring Camps this year. I saw family and friends, partook of all the delicious food, had gallons of coffee, and fished until my heart was content. My biggest fish was a 13 inch bass, but it sure did give me a good fight.

The weather, except for one day, was beautiful. I will admit it was not as warm as it usually is when I’m here. Low to mid 70s was the high all week. I chose to not go into the lake to swim this year. At night it was mid to upper 50s.

During one of the evening suppers, I stood up and made a toast to the family who adopted me all those years ago. It seemed to go over extremely well. Although I hadn’t practiced it per se, I was quite happy that I didn’t stutter or fumble over words. One of the points I made, and I will admit it choked me up a bit, was when I said, “I always go back to Pennsylvania, but when I go to Maine, I come home.”

This Bear Spring Camps season was a wee bit unusual in a good way. Best friend, Dave, had all his family with him, including his nephew Cole, and they chose to come up to breakfast around 8:00. Only I was up at the dining room right at 7:30. It felt a bit odd to sit at that big table all alone until one of the nephews joined me. That was usually Nick Carroll. Starting my breakfast first, meant that I was finished first. Sometimes I would have a third cup of coffee and talk to Dave about morning plans, but more times than not I would excuse myself and go down to the cabin.

On Wednesday, I did get a pontoon boat for three days. I made full use of it, including an early morning fishing trip on Friday. That is something I haven’t done in over 20 years. The scenery was amazingly beautiful. The way the fog and the mist lifted off the lake gave the shoreline, with its trees and houses, an almost otherworldly quality. Next year, if David wishes to go early morning fishing, I might just go with him every time. We’ll see.

After supper was my time. I sat in my cabin, did a lot of thinking about the upcoming year, and hosted story time for all the little nieces and nephews that enjoy that so much. This year I actually sang songs for them. I think they were impressed. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I must admit the kids threw me a curve ball when they did not want to hear camp stories, but instead asked for ghost stories. It took me a while to get into it, but towards the end of the evening, I had Ava and Kennedy on edge. When the propane heater kicked on, everyone jumped. That’s when I knew my stories were effective.

My side trips to Portland, Maine were wonderful. I wanted to drive on Commercial Street in the Casco Bay area of Portland. The reason might sound silly, but there’s a Train Simulator run that goes right down that street. It was a surreal experience passing all of the businesses portrayed in that simulation. Everything was exact. Farther down the road, and purely by chance, I found Benny’s Famous Fried Clams, a seafood shack-type eatery with a delicious lobster roll and tasty clam chowder. It’s going to be my new stop for when I go to Maine. I have to give Rebecca’s father’s GPS back, so I’ve written down all the addresses for next year.

I feel completely recharged with new ideas for writing, which is exactly what I hoped to have accomplished, and there is a slight chance that I will be able to go to camp for two weeks next year. Time will tell.

This blog entry will be linked to my Facebook page and to the Bear Spring Camp page as well. I have decided to make it a policy that only blog entries that deal directly with Bear Spring will be linked there.

Lastly, special thanks go to Rebecca for taking good care of Keekee and to Rebecca’s father for loaning me the all important GPS.

Until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

Top ten list of things I like about Bear Spring Camps

Greetings, readers. This top ten list will be composed of wonderful experiences that have happened to me at Bear Spring Camps, which is located in central Maine. I’ve been going there for the better part of the last 45 years, and have loved every second of it. If there is a heaven on earth, that is it. And away we go with our countdown.

#10. The trip itself. [From the moment I leave the parking lot of my building to the moment I arrive at camp, I consider it to be part of the yearly experience. I truly savor every second.]

#9. Great Pond. [The lake is eight and a half miles long by three miles wide. There are plenty of great places to catch fish for those who like to do that. It is also very good for taking a pleasure ride in a boat, a kayak or a canoe, to explore all the nooks and crannies of the lake. Campers have lots of fun swimming by the shore, playing King of the Raft, and throwing a tennis ball around.]

#8. The shops in Belgrade Lakes. [Small town shopping in the general store and picking up souvenirs in the Maine Made Shop is a truly delightful experience. Both places have sweatshirts, hats, mugs, and other collectables dealing with the state of Maine. Day’s Store also has several aisles of groceries items.]

#7. Hearing crickets at night. [On the rare hot evening, I will leave the wooden cabin door open and listen to all of nature’s beauty.]

#6. Rain falling on the tin cabin roof. [It is a most relaxing way to sleep, unless you are afraid of storms. The only thing I get upset about is that fishing will be rained out the next morning.]

#5. Morning fishing excursions. [From the days of fishing with Cy Greco and Bob Smarz, to more recent excursions with Dave Trost and his family, I’ve always enjoyed going out to catch the big one, though I rarely do.]

#4. A good land day. [I learned this expression from my mother and it refers to sunny warm conditions, with too much wind over the water to make boating safe. It allows me to listen to music, to go on visits, or to go to town.]

#3. Bonfires. [Even though the wind can make them too smoky, I do like to sit around a good campfire and tell stories. I’ve been told I’m a good storyteller, and my little nephews and nieces just love it.]

#2. All the delicious food. [Since I was a youngster, I’ve looked forward to the delightful and delectable three square meals a day made from scratch. The breakfasts are my favorite and usually I will partake either of eggs or pancakes. The noon meal is what most of us call dinner, and Sunday chicken dinner with all the trimmings is number one with me. The evening meal is supper and consists of hot dogs, burgers, or perhaps yesterday’s dinner left-overs as a casserole. I have never been disappointed with BSC food.]

#1. All the wonderful people. [This is truly a generational place. The original owners’ granddaughter is now in charge and doing a great job. Also, the campers are multi-generational. I’ve known some folks since I was five years old. Others, I’ve known their whole lives.]

Well, that’s our list. I hope you’ve had as pleasant a time on your vacations as I’ve had on mine.

Until Friday, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Darn it, I broke my Bear Spring Camps mug

Greetings, readers. For those of you that don’t know, I go on vacation every August to a place called Bear Spring Camps in central Maine. In the office, the owner sells a few souvenirs, shirts, and hats. For the last two years I have purchased for myself a Bear Spring Camps coffee mug. The first one came home with me and got cracked in transit. I didn’t even get to use it once. Last year I bought an identical replacement and happily used it until the morning of my birthday just a few days ago. I knocked my cup of coffee off the table and I heard a clink. I knew the handle had broken off. Unfortunately I was correct. I’m 0-2 with BSC coffee mugs.

Shortly I’m going to contact Peg Churchill at camp to see if they are still selling them this year. If they are, I am going to ask her to hold one for me and I will try once again to make it last more than a year.

I’m not usually a klutz. Maybe the Bear Spring Camps cups are jinxed. I don’t really believe in such things, but you never know. I don’t think I would be quite as upset as I was if it hadn’t happened on my birthday.

The rest of my birthday was flawless. I did exactly what I wanted to do and heard from all my Facebook friends. As I replied on FB, I was feeling the love. For dinner, I cooked myself a mac ‘n cheese and had some ice cream.

Now here is something you don’t know about me. For me cooking is burning water and I nuke everything. I just decided last week that I was going to get a chicken pot pie and use my oven for the first time in almost 10 years. Many of you will have to read this sentence twice – like I said, I don’t cook. Besides burning a finger a little bit, everything turned out perfectly. And it is true what they say, food cooked in an oven tastes better than food cooked in a microwave.

Do I have any reflections on turning the big 5-0? Actually I was a little melancholy that day. There are more days behind me than are in front of me. But if I worry about that, my hair will just turn grayer. I have decided to live every day to the fullest, deal with what life throws my way, and enjoy it as much as I can. A friend of mine once told me – and he was correct – that life is too short for bullshit. In other words, don’t worry about what you can’t fix.

Well, kitty cat Keekee is hungry, so I’m off to feed her, then Rebecca and I will edit this post and publish it. Until Friday, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.

The Arts Festival is here again

Greetings, readers. Today is children’s day at the 49th Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Every July artists from all over come to display their wares. The first day, always a Wednesday, is for kids. They can play in the water bucket soaker, have their faces painted, and eat lots of yummy food. I believe that at our local library they have activities that kids can participate in indoors.

Tomorrow the booth sales begin up on campus and downtown. Goods include pottery, drawings, leather goods, sculptures in wood and metal, paintings, and glass works. I will admit that since everything is handmade, the prices range a bit high. But people do buy; sales have been good the last few years I’ve heard. One big factor is the weather.

It’s a running joke that during Arts Festival it is either a hundred degrees or it rains everyday. The forecast that I read called for cooler and drizzly. To me, that is not pleasant to walk around in. If I want to shop for things, I’ll go to a nice indoor mall or flea market.

In Boalsburg, a town not far from here, is the competing festival, the People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts. It has only Pennsylvania artists and has been running for 23 years. I’ve not visited it and to tell you the truth I’m not sure why. For one thing, I don’t have a car any more, and I would expect parking to be a hassle anyway. There is a bus that goes to Boalsburg, but I don’t have enough interest in it to go. If I want to go to a festival, there is one outside my front door.

Tomorrow I plan to partake of some of the delicious food. There are some choices that I don’t ever see except during this festival, like corn dogs and bunt cakes. Instead of meeting Rebecca at Panera, I might meet her in front of the library where there are some benches.

Friday or Saturday, I’ll walk down Allen Street and see what kind of live music they have playing. I can’t stay long, because the volume bothers my brain. A couple of years ago, I walked right by one of those big speakers on the way to a bus and it damned near put me into a seizure. Not fun. I do like to see what’s going on, just so I can say that I was part of this year’s festival crowd.

Until Friday, enjoy the good weather if you have it, have a good couple of days, and happy reading.

I dub the Keurig experiment a partial failure

Greetings, readers. Although I love my Keurig coffee maker, I am finding that since I bought it three months back, I have failed to make my budget each month. When I would get my coffee at Panera, in the early morning, I would tend to get a muffin or souffle, which would add to the cost. I would sit there for several hours, drink cup after cup of free refills, and fight with their internet connection. I figured that the Keurig would let me stay home, have a cup or two of coffee, and save a bunch of money.

Scanning my receipts I have noticed that the K-Cups are close to $8 per box at the store next door. I will usually have three or four cups a day. This means one box will last approximately four days and then more will have to be purchased. This starts to add up quickly. The per unit price is larger than I thought it would be, I am using more K-Cups per day than I thought I would, and I still buy food at Panera (with water), just closer to lunch time.

The way I used to get my coffee was to either make a big pot in the Sunbeam coffee maker, switch it off and nuke each cup as I needed it, or I simply went to Panera, paid a couple of bucks and could enjoy as many refills as I wanted.

Sure I get more time at home now, and that is good, but yet again today I had to ask my accountant for a little extra to make it through the month. This is frustrating me to no end.

At this stage of the game, I am not ready to sell my Keurig on E-Bay or put it downstairs on the swap table. I think the answer lies in finding a store where K-Cups can be bought in bulk so that each individual one is a bargain, i.e. Sam’s Club. A friend of mine says that she is going to look into this for me, and perhaps purchase some and I will pay her back.

I have loved coffee from the age of ten years old, and have no plans to give it up. I thought for sure that the Keurig coffee maker was the answer. Yes, it has kept me at home, but as far as being the economic answer that I was looking for, the jury is still out.

We will be back to a three-day work week next week.

Until tomorrow, have a good day, take care, and happy reading.