Friday, December 31, 2010

Good New Years Eve to All

I only have a moment before we head over to see the “Grand Kid” and start enjoying the end of the year. BUT i wanted to thank all you for following our sometimes unique and different adventures, and all of your comments. You’ve become sort of our extended family in a very good way.

May you all have a happy and safe New Years Eve because we want to see all of you back here next year (or tomorrow, which ever comes first :-)).

And for the New Year, may all your wishes and dreams come true. Of course be careful what you wish for!!!!!

Grenville smiling in Warwick RI.

Happy New Year

It’s auld lang syne time . . .
Candle card renew06Grenville and Beatrice – have enjoyed meeting lots of friends through the Frog & PenguINN blog and reading other blogs too. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read our posts, and leave comments too.

Joy to ALL in the New Year !
Grenville and Beatrice
Auld Lang Syne is a poem written in 1788 by Scottish poet  Robert Burns set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many English-speaking (and other) countries and is often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. Its use has also become widespread at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.
The words “auld lang syne” translate from old Scottish dialect meaning 'Old Long Ago' and is about love and friendship in times past. The lyrics in the song Auld Lang Syne referring to 'We'll take a Cup of Kindness yet' relate to a drink shared by men and women to symbolize friendship.
Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine;
we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne

We two hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne

And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mid Holiday Dramas

WELL folks here we are in New Jersey hanging out at the Fullerton Jeep Dealership. Why you ask????? That cute little engine light, you know the pretty yellow one, came on last night. 

So here we are waiting for the diagnosis. But there is a bright side to all of this. My Jeep was slightly overdue for an oil change and basic Jeep checkup, so that is being taken care of. AND Beatrice found a coupon on line for a discount tire rotation here so that is in the works (they are even checking we have enough winter air). Only little catch was that the coupon had to be printed out and “presented at the time of service”. Being on the road we have no printer and the Days Inn we stay at has discontinued their lobby computer. BUT our new friend Erin Moran(the nice service girl) said she would take care of this. So here we sit.

‘Sooooo how has the trip been so far????? Many of you know that Beatrice’s mother was with us over Christmas. 10 days of with us. 10 days of critical analysis of our lives, food, dinner time, caring about others and taking care of them. If you remember the old saying “Fish and relative begin to smell after three days” all you need to do is subtract 2 of those days and you may begin see how we feel right now. Now don’t get me wrong, she tries to be a nice kind person. BUT this is someone who seems to have never had a happy day in her entire life and is going to see that no one else does either, starting with you. Remember in the play Annie that wonderful character Ms. Hanagan????? “Did i hear happiness here??????”. I feel sorry for all that she is missing that makes life so great. But i am an official “Pollyanna Member”.

The roads at home were getting better but parking lots are a horror. On the way out of town we had to stop at CVS. As we were leaving the lot we started to slid on the inch thick ice (that had not been plowed just compressed by tires). Coming the other direction some yahoo was doing about 30 when he hits the ice. 

The next scene is better pictured in slow motion with ‘the Blue Danube’ playing in the background. We are sliding towards him, my foot on the brake, the ABS brakes pulsating away. He hits the ice and starts sliding towards us. Terror fills his eyes along with total amazement that this is happening (he is in an SUV and probably in 4 wheel drive which make him bullet proof). I mutter (well grumble sort of loud) that he is an anatomical part of the body that doesn’t often see sunlight. The MOL in the rear seat begins criticizing my driving and use of language. I shout “QUIET”. About one second before impact we come to a halt while he slides past us. As i turn quickly to the back seat (pulling the sore muscle in my neck) i state that there will be no talking for the rest of the trip, to which I get a giggle. So to reinforce my feelings i make the suggestion that she could always “walk home”.  I guess now that that was a poor choice of words. Hindsight is so 20/20. The next 7 hours were spent in almost total silence, caused by a serious pout from the rear seat.

On the plus side, the roads were fine all the way to NJ. Some delays due to volume on the Turnpike (can you believe that in NJ????).  The Princess and i spent the ride singing to the Sinatra channel on Sirius, dranking coffee and eating Dunkin’ doughnuts, and for the most part, had an OK ride if you like 7 hours in a car.

Now after the drop off (the rumors that i just slowed down while Beatrice pushed her out the door are greatly exaggerated) my aching neck was soothed with a Prime Rib at Outback, a hot shower, some Tylenol and arthritis rub, but mostly a good nights sleep.
Which brings us to now as we sit waiting like expectant parents in the Jeep dealers waiting room for the diagnosis. Sorry there are no great pictures today, most were deleted to protect the downtrodden and overly criticized. Later we will visit old friends of Beatrice, and tomorrow will head to Rhode Island to spend New Years with Daughter#1, Son-in-law, and THE KID!!!!!

Grenville (in dealership suspense).
Jeep update>>>>>> Thanks to the folks at Fullerton and especially Ms. Erin Moran, our oil got changed, tires got rotated, bulbs got changed, and the problem with the ‘cam position sensor’ and the ‘crank position sensor’ was solved with replacing and some sensor sensitivity training. All i know is the sensor stuff was covered under warranty and the final bill was less than we expected.

Next was a delicious dinner with friends and great conversation.

Tomorrow we are off to Rhode Island with a lunch stop at IKEA in New Haven (where else). And now to dream land.

What is This?

Here’s the last – What is This – for this year . . .
what is this
No, it’s not an abstract work of art and was taken in November during our GA road trip.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finches in Many Colors

Birds have been flocking (sorry, bad pun) to our feeders since the Christmas Day snowstorm has left very few places to feed. In between unwelcome visits from grackles, starlings, blackbirds, there’s been an endless (or so it seems) number of finches.

Here’s some shots of female and very colorful male house finches.

female housefinch collagemale housefinch collageThe house finches usually have large groupings at the feeders.

finches feeding collageThe goldfinch is a colorful standout.

goldfinch collage2goldfinches collage1SAM_1517SAM_1482SAM_0525SAM_0577Yes, all these photos were taken with my Christmas gift – Samsung HZ50W digital camera (info from the manufacturer here. My cost was well below the price listed – gotta love a great sale ANY time.

Smile - It’s Cheesecake Time

Everyone smiled broadly when the dessert came out aftercheesecake Christmas dinner. And, who wouldn’t when it was cheesecake.

Don’t tell our guests, that this was a first-time tried recipe. While there’s always a risk in doing that with company or on a special day, this one turned out delicious. It’s definitely be on our “try again” list at the Frog &PenguINN. Baked Cheesecake
  • ¼ C margarine or butter
  • 1 C graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ C sugar
  • 2-8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ C lemon juice
  • 1 (8 oz.) container of sour cream
Preheat oven to 300°.
  1. Melt margarine or butter in saucepan, and then stir in graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Press firmly on bottom of buttered 9-inch spring form pan.
  2. Beat cheese until fluffy in large mixer bowl.
  3. Beat in condensed milk, eggs and salt until smooth. Stir in lemon juice.
  4. Pour into prepared pan.
  5. Bake 50-60 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched about 1 inch from center.
  6. Turn oven off and spread sour cream on cheesecake. To reduce cracking, return cheesecake to oven for 1 hour (oven turned off).
Cool, remove side of pan,then refrigerate. Serve with your choice of toppings, cherries are especially delicious and colorful. Refrigerate leftovers – if there are any!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Clear Skies (Finally)

The snow ended early sometime during the overnight hourspenguins in snow (3) on Monday. Grenville got up early today – all excited to go out and “play” in the snow with his buddy, John (Deere).

He also beat me in posting the first day-after storm photos. The penguins in the front yard were snowed in and the frog were buried someplace.

Here’s a few scenes from the back yard.
yard collagePine trees and other plants displayed beautifully against a clear deep blue sky.
colors collagepines in snow1227 (6)
house in snow1210 (12)The Frog and PenguINN wearing holiday and winter colors.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

6 PM Totals

BOY OH BOY!!!!!!! This is really fun. The 6pm total was 14 inches. AND it is still snowing. But the snow is starting to get a little wetter and heavier. John Dee100_0042re was having a little trouble this time out. Of course if i had let him warm up a little more he would have run better.





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More in the morning as the ‘Great Christmas Blizzard of 2010’  continues!!!!

More Snow Scenes

Yes, there are lots of wintry scenes here today, and this means we can take some photos for next year’s Christmas cards. As you can tell from the many posts that Grenville and I have done, it’s mainly been an inside day; that definitely won’t be true on Monday morning.

Here are scenes from the snowfall – taken from inside earlier today (before the storm worsened).
snow collage2
And more scenes . . .
snow collage3Anyone have an extra shovel?

Christmas and Snow Birds

As you know from reading Grenville’s posts today, there’s a LOT of snow on the VA eastern shore and other places down south.

The Frog & PenguINN feeders had lots of visitors the past 2 days, starting with Christmas morning when there images were taken with my Christmas gift.
Cardinals are always a colorful sight . . ..
cardinal MF collage
So is the blue jay, who prefers to dine solo . . .
bluejay collage
Finches and juncos are fun to watch and “share”. . .
finches-juncos collageThis big guy – a sharp-shinned hawk – wasn’t looking for birdseed. Other birds scattered when he came to roost.
sharp-shinned hawk
The above shots were taken yesterday, Christmas day.
These shots were taken 24 hours later from the same location – the kitchen window.
birds collagesnow birds collage
And visits by these unwelcome visitors once again . . .
unwelcome collage
Where’s that hawk when he’s really needed?
sharp-shinned hawk2

It’s Official!!!!!!

As of 1536 Hrs this afternoon we have ‘Officially’ reached Blizzard stage.
Blizzard Warning
336 PM EST SUN DEC 26 2010









Now some of you are saying ‘So what???? It’s just a little snow!!!!” But it has been a many years since there was an “official blizzard” declared here on the Eastern Shore. On the plus side (as i just told Possum) the ‘Winter Storm Warning’ has been cancelled LOL.
More to come!!!! Grenville

100_0036 100_0040 

100_0039 100_0038

Blizzard Update

Yes folks, we have gone from a rare White Christmas to a roaring blizzard. I was starting to wonder earlier why the weather station wasn’t recording any wind gust. When we went out i saw why. The anemometer and vane were both covered with snow and frozen. Now free, we have winds of 12 mph.100_0030
And as of 1:00pm we have 10 inches of snow  and it is coming down heavy. No that’s not a snowman. Luckily I covered our Chimera yesterday morning after the wrapping paper bonfire. Here it is in the snow. AND we have decided to cancel any BBQ’s or smoked pork for a few days or till the snow melts.100_0031
The Princess and i went out and did our good deeds for the day and cleared our drive and cars(really a losing battle today)and cleared some of our neighbors drives, and of course the Fire 100_0035House down the street. After that we retired for the day (i seriously hope) and some Dark Sensation Cocoa in our favorite radio station (WESM)  mugs. So while we enjoy our cocoa, enjoy some of our other pix.
122610 Blizzard a

A Rare White Christmas

And that is what we’ve had here on the Eastern Shore. As we were sitting down for dinner with family and friends th100_0010at beautiful flaky white snow began to lightly fall. Just enough to cover the grassy spots but not the roads. When we went to bed there was about an inch of the fluffy white coating. Just enough to make a magical Christmas ni100_0018ght.

It was, well for me, the perfect topping for a perfect Christmas. Dinner was one of Beatrice’s specialty’s, Lasagna. And since we have some friends that are not red meat eaters, the meatballs ( another of B’s specialties) and sausage were on the side.lasagna 122510

So, from all of us at the Frog & PenguINN we hope your Christmas was as nice as ours.

Christmas Eve’s Gastronomical Bacchanalia

If you know any traditional Italian folks then you know about the Christmas Eve dinner of 7 fishes. Where i grew up the neighborhood was a mix of Italians, Irish, and Germans. Needless to say every holiday always involved a lot of good food. Of course being a kid i never realized it (i also didn’t realize we were poor).

Even before Beatrice and i found each other i had usually celebrated Christmas eve with with some sort of fish. The daughters were not always happy about this but they survived and now speak of it 100_0020fondly (kids????).

Keep in mind that this was the first time in three years we were celebrating Christmas at home . So even though we promised not go crazy decorating (not), and decided we had more than enough stuff and promised no presents (another not), the Christmas spirit overwhelmed us (as always).

But, bxmas eve food122410 (1)ack to Christmas Eve dinner. Keeping with the fish menu we had baked salmon, a shrimp platter, fried oysters (an Eastern Shore traditional delicacy) a big antipasto,  cheese and crackers, cookies, brownies, chocolate covered cherries, all washed down with eggnog. Needless to say, no one left hungry (another Irish/Italian tradition).  There would have been more pictures but it would have been a blur of hands and forks, and plates moving around, and most likely they would have been out of focus as i shot one handed.

Tomorrow will be a re-run of some delicacies and some new ones. For now i will say Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! i think i heard reindeer in the back field.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to Everyone . . .
2 cardinals on fence plain
from Our Perch to Yours
Beatrice & Grenville

One Solitary Life

I’m not sure who first wrote this, I've seen it in many places and many versions. I like this version because it gets to the point of who’s birthday we celebrate on Christmas. Merry Christmas to all. Now i have to get back to the kitchen…….Grenville

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never traveled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three when the tide of public opinion Turned against Him
His friends ran away
One of them denied him and one betrayed Him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Twenty centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of humankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of humankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

It’s almost here!!!!!

It’s almost here!!!!! The day so many of us wait for all year long. Or as that great American philosopher and satirist Jean Shepherd tells us in “A Christmas Story”, “Lovely, beautiful, glorious Christmas, around which the entire kiddom year revolves.”

For me kid refers to a state of mind and not to a chronological measurement. So Christmas is the time for surprises, for the unexpected, for miracles.

Beatrice and i have gotten to the point in life where we have just about all we want, so gift buying has become difficult. Add in the internet and a credit card and the world is yours with a simple click.  So many of the gifts we will receive tomorrow morning will have been bought by us, wrapped by the other, and then opened by us to our great surprise. But then there is the Santa ‘Clause’ which can never be factored out.

What is special for us this year is that we are celebrating at home at the Frog & PenguINN for the first time in three years (the last three included being with the Grand Son). Of course the festooning began as ‘just a few decorations’, ‘lets not go crazy and do the whole house’. These thoughts led me to not just light the front of the house but also the patio, my shop, the barn, and next year the green house. Inside we seem to have run out of places on tables, chairs, shelves (had to put up 2 new ones") and door knobs for the left over deco’s (and there are a lot). BUT we didn’t get tooooo crazy. That second tree in the library was just aching to get out of it’s box.

But Christmas is about more than Decos and gifts. Even my hero the Grinch finally realized that. Christmas Eve and Christmas day always seem like a time when folks are just a little kinder, nicer to each other. They share easier at Christmas even if they don’t have a lot to share. They wish each other good health, happiness, and most of all peace, something that we always seem to be very short of.  If we could only make it last all year long (good thought for a song).

Tonight we will share our meal with long time friends and a neighbor who is alone this Christmas (and who ever else happens to stop by). Tomorrow we will share our meal with other friends and neighbors and anyone else who has no one to share with. Being a very Scotch/Irish and Italian household, no one is turned away or leaves hungry.

BUT beyond the decorations, gifts, warm feelings, and sharing we will not forget who’s birthday we are celebrating. The birth of one solitary man who has changed the world more than any other human in all of the worlds history.

Merry Christmas.

Peace, love and joy to all.

Happy Birthday Jesus. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Deck the Halls with Songs

It’s that time of year when local and satellite radio stations deluge us with Christmas/holiday songs. Most of the songs played have been recorded many times over by various artists – this list includes the original artists and year recorded.
Here’s a couple of questions – just for some fun:

1. How many of these oldies but goodies do you      remember (without dating yourself)?
2. What are your favorites – even if not listed?
  • All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth – Spike Jones and his City Slickers (1948)
  • Baby It’s Cold Outside –Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer (1949)
  • Believe (from The Polar Express) –Josh Groban (2004)
  • Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley (1957)
  • Boogie Woogie Santa Claus – Mabel Scott (1948)
  • Christmas in Killarney – Dennis Day (1950)
  • Christmas Island – The Andrews Sisters/Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians (1946
  • Dig That Crazy Santa Claus – Oscar McLollie & His Honey Jumpers (1954)
  • Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid (1984)
  • Dominick the Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey) –Lou Monte (1960)
  • Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano (1970)
  • Frosty the Snowman – Gene Autry/Class County Boys (1950)
  • Happy Holiday (from Holiday Inn) – Bing Crosby (1942)
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (from Meet Me in St Louis) – Judy Garland (1949)
  • Happy Xmas War is Over (So This is Christmas) – John Lennon/Yoko Ono (1971)
  • Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) – Gene Autry (1947)
  • Holly, Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives (1964)
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Jimmy Boyd (1952)
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Bing Crosby (1943)
  • It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters (1951)
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams (1963
  • Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms (1957)
  • Jingle Bells – Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (1935
  • Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale (1958)
  • Little St Nick – Beach Boys (1963)
  • Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters (1950)
  • Merry Christmas, Darling – The Carpenters (1970)
  • Nuttin’ for Christmas – Art Mooney and his Orchestra (1955)
  • Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison (1963)
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee (1958)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry & The Pinafores (1949
  • Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt (1954)
  • Hey Santa – Carnie & Wendy Wilson (1993)
  • Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me – Elvis Presley (1957)
  • Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney – Ella Fitzgerald (1950)
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Eddie Cantor (1934 radio)
  • Silver Bells – Bing Crosby (1950)
  • (Simply Having) A Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney (1979)
  • Sleigh Ride  – Leroy Anderson (1950; he composed it in 1946) Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops (1949)
  • Snoopy’s Christmas – The Royal Guardsmen (1967)
  • Snow, Snow, Snow (from White Christmas) – Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen (1954)
  • The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – The Chipmunks (1958)
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) – Nat King Cole (1946 and 1953)
  • The Christmas Waltz – Frank Sinatra (1954)
  • The Man with All the Toys – Beach Boys (1964)
  • We Need a Little Christmas (from Mame) – Angela Lansbury and Cast (1966)
  • We Wish You the Merriest – Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra with Fred Waring & the Pennsylvanians (1964)
  • White Christmas – Bing Crosby (1942)
  • You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft (1966)
  • You're All I Want for Christmas – Frankie Laine (1948)
  • Zat You Santa Claus? – Louis Armstrong & the Commanders (1953)
Keep singing – soon these songs will be put away for another year.

My Christmas Gift

One of the joys of the holidays can be treating yourself to a gift. This year for me it was a 14 MP Samsung HZ50W digital Samsung cameracamera which features  a 26mm Schneider-Kreuznach wide angle lens and 26X optical zoom. It uses a rechargeable lithium battery and includes an AC adapter which charges the battery while its in the camera. There is a small start-up guide; the more detailed user guide is on an included CD-ROM. Remember the days when you got a printed manual?

In the past I’ve owned 35mm film SLRs and, in recent years, a couple different brands of digital SLRs – all  with assorted lenses, macro to telephoto. All that equipment is gone now – sold for varying reasons. There’s no comparison between a digital zoom point and shoot and a digital SLR in terms of photo quality. But after awhile, it became burdensome to carry around so much equipment.I switched to longer point and shoot zooms and owned several models. In recent months, the last of these was sold and I’ve been using an old Fuji 6X zoom which takes good photos but lacks “zoomability.”

Samsung may not be in the same league as name brand heavy hitters, but this one was offered as a special deal online at under $200, so I gifted myself this holiday season. Today was the first test shooting birds at the outside feeders – shots were taken indoors from our kitchen window and outdoors in late afternoon. finch collagecardinal collage

blue jay collage








finch-junco collageWhat do you think of its performance?