Monthly Archives: July 2010

Dishwater Day 07.30.10

It’s Dishwater Day, friends. You know – a blog post full of all the things I still had sitting in the sink after I cleaned up. Enjoy the photos, and you have a great day too!

Mister Twiggy Guarding the Onions

The new Hanging Waterer and Feeder Arrangement

The Chickens have an Italian Breakfast



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I Think They’ll Live

Remember the tiny one-inch sprouts in the “Sunflower Forest” I planted alongside the road? The little sprouty peepers I showed you a photo of a few weeks ago? Some of them are almost five feet tall!

Never mind zucchini … if these all bloom, I’m going to have thousands of sunflowers!


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Tales from the Organ Loft #2

Have you ever seen the guts of a pipe organ?

It’s awesome. I wanted to get a feel for what needs done when we call the organ technician, so I went up in the organ loft last thursday. Other than a tuning and a slightly leaky bellows leather, we’re in good shape. And something needs tweaked in the wiring for the chimes, but that’s no big. The organ at St. Luke’s is really a marvel. It was brought to the church by an amazing gentleman named Ranny Duncan. This is the second pipe organ installed at St. Luke’s. The first was installed in 1901, and the current organ was installed in 1973. (I think. I’m hoping I have that date right.)

A pipe organ is made up of thousands of pipes, relays, cables, switches, racks, the control console, huge bellows. A pipe organ is truly built into a place, a part of the building. Some of the pipes are smaller than a pencil, some are as big as … well, I don’t know. But they’re big. I can hardly believe that Ranny disassembled this thing and brought it to Saranac Lake; then reconfigured, tweaked, and reassembled it! Amazing achievement by an amazing guy.

Why don’t I tell you a little bit about it? I know just enough to be dangerous.

Here’s a good shot of some wooden pipes. Wooden pipes are particularly good for producing strong fundamental tones – the meat and potatoes. The main bass-producing pipes in most organs are made from wood.

The straight up-and-down metal cylindrical pipes are called flue pipes. This is where you get your flute and principal organ sounds. They’re made of a metal alloy. The wider the diameter of the pipe, the more mellow and flute-like the sound, and the more tin there is in the alloy, the brighter the sound. Flue pipes have a mouth on the side, and kind of look (and act) like a giant whistle. Air from the bellows enters the pipe through the foot, passes the mouth, and a tone is produced.

These are reed pipes. Reed pipes are slightly conical. The tone is made by the vibration of a metal reed located in the base (or “boot”) of the pipe. The boot also contains a shallot, which is like a woodwind mouthpiece. It focuses the air, and with the reed, produces the pitch.

Now, for the question I get asked most. “Which pipes make that big Phantom of the Opera or Toccata and Fugue sound?” Tricky answer. It’s not really one set of pipes. It’s that the control console on a pipe organ is capable of coupling many pipes together. For instance, if I wanted that sound, I could couple the 16-foot principal (flue) pipes with the 8′ principals, plus the 2′ principals. And add the reeds. Add some overtones (or “harmonics”). Plus the big bass sound of the pedals. So, you see, that sound is not found in one type of pipe as much as it is found in the combination of pipes. What you’re hearing is the fact that most of the pipes on the organ are being used – that is, the organist has “pulled out all the stops.”

On this particular organ, when I want some variant of that big glorious sound, I use just about everything, except maybe the crumhorns and regals, which sort of sound like bagpipes. And sometimes, I even use those.

At any rate. Ours a fabulous instrument, us at St. Luke’s, and I am privileged to play it, sweet little flutes to that big pipe organ roar. Thank you, Ranny, and don’t you worry. We’re going to keep her in great shape.


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Special Potatoes

Posting what I made for dinner? I’m totally mom-ing out today.

This one’s especially good though, and it’s a favorite around here. My “Special Potatoes” recipe changes to include what’s around here, left over, in the garden, and/or fresh. This particular derivation was awfully good.

Goat Cheese Kitchen Sink Garlic and Onion
Parsley Potatoes with Vegetables

6 or 7 Potatoes
1/2 an Onion
Four or Five cloves of Garlic
Little bit o’ Butter, maybe 3 tbsp
1/4 or 1/2 cup Feta (Goat) Cheese, crumbled or cubed
1/4 cup or so chopped Parsley
Cooked Veggies (your choice) to Top

  1. Peel and boil yourself some potatoes.
  2. Mash up them potatoes.
  3. Go out in the rain and dig up an onion.
  4. Saute some fresh onion and garlic in butter.
  5. Crumble as much feta (goat cheese) as you might like.
  6. Heat up a little bit of chicken broth, maybe a half cup at most.
  7. Go back out in the rain and pick some fresh Italian parsley.
  8. Time is of the essence! Mix it all in while the potatoes are still hot!
  9. Thin to your preference with a little milk or cream.
  10. Top with broccoli, zucchini, whatever you like.


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Adirondack Skies

Around here, we’re always commenting on the skies.

We see a lot of sky. We have a nice clear shot at home. (It would be clearer if they hadn’t installed that damned street light.) The view we see on our six-mile daily commute is pretty amazing too. Across the little mountains back behind Gabriels, then over the peaks beyond Saranac Lake, and finally, across the entire valley, past Bloomingdale and over Whiteface. Lots of sky. It’s amazing to be able to see entire weather systems, and to be lucky enough to quite literally drive through clouds. The quality of the light and sky is different here. We usually explain it by saying, “The sky seems a lot closer.”

I snapped this pic standing in the driveway just now, between thunderstorms. I think it looks like a monster mouth in the middle of the photo is eating the universe. (Isn’t there something like that in Ghostbusters?)

Below is the famous view from Donnelly’s ice cream stand in Harrietstown, over to and across the valley, past Bloomingdale, past Whiteface and the other peaks. It’s amazing how this view changes from day to day, from season to season.

This next one is from a few years ago – another yard shot – when we were still camping out in the cabin during Summers. I noticed it was particularly bright out … Get a load of that moon!

Yeah, it’s the classic view, from the top of Whiteface Mountain. Just about everybody who has ever visited Lake Placid has this photo. But I never get tired of it.

Happy view! You have a great day too!


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And Some Lime on the Side

Hot weather and lots of rain.

You can imagine how those conditions mix with chicken poop. At the first hot spell, the chicken pen started to stink a little. It’s behind the little cabin, so I didn’t mind much. And then it stayed hot. And it kept raining. And the smell crept around the cabin and into the side yard. And besides, flies and chickens are not a good idea. (Besides, it’s just gross.)

Lime time.

We headed off to Plattsburgh last night. We had a few things to go over there, and I needed to buy some barn lime to solve the stink. (Would have love to have gotten it locally, but none was to be had.) Of course, I went in for lime, but also came out with a new feeder, a fireplace brush, and a bag of crushed oyster shells. Anyhow. Barn lime in “non-hydrated.” That is, this lime is not caustic like the kind used for building and such. It’s essentially crushed limestone. Being non-caustic, it doesn’t burn their little footies. (Or mine.) If you’re shopping for it, make sure it says “non-caustic.” They’re very clear about it.

Being as I recently moved the coop and pen, I had to lime around the old footprint as well. Looks a little bit like there was a talcum powder explosion out back, but it seems to be working, even at first sprinkle. The lime dries up the soil some, makes for an inhospitable atmosphere for flies, and somehow, makes it just plain not stink. You know what’s unappetizing? Going to the coop door to gather eggs, and smelling a stinky pen.

Here’s to less-fragrant pastures!

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Tales from the Organ Loft #1

Sunday, as most readers know, I can be found on the organ bench at the most awesome church ever, St. Luke’s in Saranac Lake. You should visit. It’s Episcopal, which I think is awesome. (Especially being someone who has seen every episode of The Vicar of Dibley and Clatterford.) And our Rector, Mother Ann is awesome. Seriously historic, gorgeous church. Awesome. And we have a pipe organ, which is also awesome.


It had been a busy week, and I managed to catch a cold besides. So I went in feeling a little wonky to begin with. For this particular Sunday service, I was switching off between the organ and piano. I had half of my music stacked on the piano, half on the organ. Somehow, I got the music to two of the hymns reversed. (You totally see what’s coming, don’t you?)

At the piano, I play the intro verse to the first hymn. Nicely, I might add. The congregation stands up two lines in, just like clockwork. Bless ’em – half of them must have already known I was making a mistake. I play a beautiful build up into the final into line, and we grandly cadence out of the intro verse. The procession is waiting at the back of the church.

And no one sings. No one walks down the aisle. I stop playing, stand up, look directly at the church full of people, and say, “I’m playing the wrong song, aren’t I?” The congregation, potentially the sweetest group of people I’ve ever met, a group that would never want to embarrass anyone or call attention to a mistake, doesn’t make a sound. Instead, they silently nod their heads, “Uh-huh.”

St. Luke’s is often so sweetly English, it out-Englishes England.


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