Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Pines Wines

Hey, guys! Thanks for reminding to update about the homemade wine! If you’re not savvy, look down a few posts. The video is really rather entertaining.

You guys actually reminded me to go back and taste it! I had put it in a dark, cool place like I was supposed too, and forgot about it. However, I did strain it (through coffee filters – thanks Mac) on the tenth day. Stuck it away, and lo-and-behold, it cleared up even more. And it tastes pretty dang good, even after only a few weeks since making it. (Evidence of the fact is in the photo – It used to be full to the top.) That is to say – I actually like it, and not just because I made it. I compare my homemade apple version to something like a pinot.

So, being as we’re poor as church mice this bills-coming-due week, we’ll skip the drinks store, and indulge in the homemade stuff tonight. How much did I say it cost? About $2.50 for two-bottles worth?!




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Music Monday?

Oh, wait. It’s Wednesday. I’ve been (happily) buried in music since Monday, so it feels like one single, long, toodley-toot day.

My first piano student comes today – a kid I know well. Think he might be quite good! Hope so! Also hope the word will spread. I’m going to do some mentioning around and chatting it up this weekend. I’ve been cleaning the RV and the cabin/studio/thing in anticipation. Iron Out, anyone?

Finally joined the Community Orchestra (for real this time), and I need to find time to practice for that too. We have a concert coming up for Winter Carnival. Rehearsal again tomorrow evening.

And the biggee … I am twenty-four pages into writing the score and book for a new musical. A tiny one. Very small. Awesome. We’re reading the chunk I have down on paper tomorrow. I’d say I probably have half-a-first-act written down. I’m not quite at liberty to say what this is all about just yet, but I’ll leave you with this –

1. The topic and story of the show is very, very local.

2. It’s set in the mid-1920s.

3. We’re going to be creating a video blog, so folks can watch the progress of putting a small musical together from the ground up. That is, I’ll have a separate blog for the show. Awesome. Being as it’s a local story, I’m really excited about that part of the project.

4. The big announce is Monday! (There used to be a preview of the music below, but after a meeting, we decided to make some changes – had to take it down. Sorry. However – more to come Monday!)


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The Big Melt

Well, friends, I do fear for the fate of the half-built Saranac Lake Ice Palace. TourPro suggested they cover it with giant tarps. I don’t think that’s such a bad idea. For all I know, they have. Haven’t been into town this morning. We’re thinking of you, Ice Palace!

It is melting around here, folks. 50F, and raining. My five foot snowbanks are down to about three feet. The roofs are clear. The chicken coop roof is about clear at this point. The cabin had about 18 inches of snow and ice yesterday. I took this photo of the cabin roof early this morning – it’s completely clear now that the rain is coming down.

The RV roof is completely clear – no ice now, no snow. I guess that’s a good thing. A day of rain is a small price to pay, I suppose.

The yard (which I shovel for the dog anyway) had about a one or two-inch base, but that’s gone now too. That little White Pine used to be buried just about to the top. The yard (and the short downhill stretch to the chicken house) was water-on-ice when I went out this morning. It’s a bit better now, softened up by the rain. Realizing that I would be staying inside today, I decided to go over to the store to get some butter. Gonna make an applesauce cake. I think it probably took me five minutes to skitter my way up the pictured path and over to the store – almost lost it a time or two.

Speaking of – You missed a spectacular slip-and-fall performance this morning. On my way out to wake up the chickens and put them out in the pen … yeah, I did it. I might have actually been airborne for a few seconds there. ShOOOO – up in the air backwards … plop. Followed by imagined applause as I lied there staring at an Adirondack sky. While I was carrying a big scoop full of chicken feed and carrying a jug of water. The two people I’ve seen so far this morning also indulged in the Early-Morning-Slip-and-Fall. I’ll leave you with the evidence. See that pile of chicken feed and the water jug cap? This was the site of my comic performance.


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Ice Palace Photos 01.23.09

It’s going up folks … and quickly!

The Ice Palace (centerpiece of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival) is rising pretty quickly! Thanks to all the volunteers that are out there working on it. Looks gorgeous already! We made a visit down to the water today between errands. Got mistaken for a tourist, I guess because I was taking photos. Ha! You’re totally on Candid Camera. Here’s Satuday’s progress, folks …

A view of the entire footprint

Man and Machine

Pulling blocks from the lake

The view across the frozen lake


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Playing the Big Time in Saranac Lake

Before radio, television, and even talking pictures, Vaudeville was king. Being a musical theatre historian, I know way too much about this, and could go on and on. So I’ll try to keep it relatively brief. And I promise there’s a local connection.

Think of the entire audience for television, radio, and film, all seeking entertainment. Vaudeville. It was a lot like those TV variety shows from the 1970s. You might have a juggler or a dog act opening the bill, move on to a legit singer, maybe a big star in a short one-act play, a comedian or two, a pianist, a dance ensemble, a big-time headliner, and maybe a dog act to cover the walkout. The last slot was considered the worst … “Playing to the haircuts.” Every town had a vaudeville theatre, and most often, acts travelled the country via syndicates. Our local theatre, the Pontiac, is pictured towards the end of the Vaudeville era, as operators were beginning to combine live acts with films. (Note the marquee – Looks like we had our share of big-time headliners!)

Vaudeville was no vacation. Poorly heated theatres in Winter. Stifling heat in Summer. Several shows a day, constant travel. However, performers did tend to stick with it. In the days before assistance and social security, even a small-time performer could make decent money. But. With the Syndicates (who owned and operated the theatres) quite literally running the show – names like Pantages, Loew’s, Albee, and Keith-Orpheum – the performers felt that they needed a union. This had become an industry. By 1907, vaudeville was earning $30 million a year.

Enjoying the bulk of that profit, the biggest Keith-Albee syndicate pretty much controlled the industry. In fact, in several instances, they crushed infant unions founded by the performers. When a union called “The White Rats” emerged and began to show signs of succeeding, Edward F. Albee set up a company union called National Vaudeville Artists, refusing to book performers who did not join his group. And if you didn’t play Albee’s Keith-Orpheum circuit, you pretty much had no work. Albee had a near monopoly.

Albee kept his so-called union under his firm control, silencing all opposition to his often abusive treatment of performers. After all, a union run by the syndicate was hardly a union at all. However, on down the road, Albee’s NVA stuck. And although under the control of Albee, it did manage to do a few decent things. A beautiful clubhouse was opened in Manhattan’s theatre district. (It’s now the Church of Scientology on West 46th Street.) And eventually, Albee built a retirement and rest home for Vaudeville artists on the top of a gorgeous hillside in Saranac Lake, New York.

In 2010, the gorgeous facility is Saranac Village at Will Rogers, an independent living community for seniors. What’s the Will Rogers connection? As Vaudeville was in its decline in the 1930s, famous Big-timer and philanthropist Will Rogers and his Will Rogers Institute took over the place, and began caring for tuberculosis-stricken entertainers. The facility was the Institute’s home TB and pulmonary cases and research. In 1976, the Institute moved to White Plains, New York. After a few failed attempts at ownership, the historic facility became Saranac Village … although, around here, we still call it “Will Rogers.”

I played a rehearsal on the old stage last night. (Think of the famous feet that crossed that small stage!) Saranac Village hosts a good many concerts, plays, and community events each year. The care and restoration work that has gone into the building is just stunning. What a gorgeous place. It’s a wonderful thing, you know? To have a historic landmark so well cared for, and so involved in hosting and presenting community events.

Cheers to you, Saranac Village! You’re awesome.

Thanks to Bunk’s Place as always for the gorgeous photos and postcard images, and thanks to MWanner for the wonderful area photos, and documentation of Saranac Lake’s history.


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The Adirondack Jib Market

When multiple friends remark about how quickly you returned an email, it’s time to go out and find a jib.

You know how a friend says something that sticks with you? My friend Juli once thought she might go out to find a regular jib, in addition to continuing to create her awesome artwork. The term stuck. Seems an apt term too, to a freelancer like me … jib. Makes it sound a little unusual. And besides, I have thing for nonsense words. Awesome.

I just want a little, no-big-deal jib. Something like making sandwiches or cleaning cabins, maybe. Or working at a motel desk. I just want a little something to do. I’m to the point where I don’t want to hang around here all day. Well, that’s not all of the story. Having a little more money around here to buy a new car would be nice. Dare I mention it would be nice to toss around some disposable income?

So. Time to look for a jib. I might draw the line at pouring slag or wearing a humiliating uniform, but otherwise, I’m open to anything. (I guess I would have to be, considering my only skills are being nice to people, cooking, cleaning, and playing the piano.)

However – Hold your horses. Have I ever mentioned that I was pick-pocketed in the city, and that all my ID went with the wallet? Yeah, you see where I’m going here. So, I started that process today too. Ever have to replace your ID without ID? I don’t recommend it. In fact, it’s a total weeks-long thing.

Anyhow. Working on that part. It’ll take a bit of time. Meanwhile, I thought I would like to see what’s out there, and I bought our local Adirondack Daily Enterprise to check out the classifieds. Very encouraging! For me, anyway. No, there were really no career sorts of job listed. At all. But, there were more than a few “Regular Jobs.” That’s what my Grandmother used to call them. Here’s a sampling, and my personal ratings.

Bagel/Sandwich Maker – Totally. I could do that.

Motel Housekeeper – Actually, I’d love it. But I don’t think they’d hire a guy.

Animal Hospital Receptionist – Hmmmm. Maybe.

Store Clerk in Small Shop – You betcha!

School Janitor – I try to stay away from archetypes.

Sears Sales Associate – In our little lawn-and-garden Sears? Awesome!


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Charmed, I’m Sure

I find our laundromat kind of charming.

On one side of the river in Saranac Lake (town to us), most of the lots are/were occupied by old warehouses. It’s also near the railroad tracks. I can’t quite put together what might have been ideal about the warehouses being on such a tiny river, but there must have been something, because there they all are. Down Woodruff street and otherwise, quite a few of the old buildings have been repurposed by newer businesses like the feed store and the laundromat. The photo here is the view from the parking lot. Neat, huh?

I’m charmed by our laundromat. It’s in one of these old buildings, and it’s a little rough around the edges, as laundromats usually are, but the owners have taken particular pains to make it comfortable. It’s clean. Big tables and chairs have been set out. There’s a drink machine. It’s not cramped at all. Nice machines. Restrooms. There’s a big laundry sink for whoever needs to use it. We had to use it today. Know why? See if you can guess from the photo. A hint – This probably doesn’t happen to people in the South.

So, yep. I guess so. It’s that kind of post today – Not much going on, and just a slice of life from the weekend. I got the transmission seal leak stopped on the Jeep. Isn’t that awesome? And the whole wheel-falling-off thing? I fixed that too. I still have to put the other rims and tires on, but it’s in good shape for running errands. Trust me. I obsessively checked – Each time we stopped the car somewhere, I got out with a lug wrench, checked the wheel, and looked underneath for transmission drips. All good. As I mentioned, we’re not driving it full time anyway, but it seems to be back to normal.

So, folks. That’s the excitement. Stopped at Advance Auto for a new lug wrench, swung by the DD for coffee, put the wash in, and did the shopping at Grand Union and Aldi’s. (Evidence of the DD coffee in the photo.) Not much else going on. I finally picked my brushes and oil paints back up on Sunday, as promised. Found myself some golden silence, and did a simple painting of Whiteface Mountain as practice. I fear I actually have a style. (How you can have a style when you really don’t know what you’re doing, I have no idea.) So, it’s been pretty quiet around here.

Boring? Nah. I love it when everything goes right.


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