Saturday, May 28, 2011

Apple Fritter - The National Pastry

  Tonight Garrison Keillor had a skit on The Prairie Home Companion about Congress  enacting a law to make the apple fritter  the national pastry.  Part of the skit was a negotiation between two senators where one would support the apple fritter for the national pastry if the other would support his legislation for designating grits as the national side dish.  I loved the piece!   I am an apple fritter addict.  My ski buddies routinely chide me about my consumption of an apple fritter every day at our morning coffee break at the ski slopes.   I get the same grief from my associates at Cornell when we have our morning coffee breaks too.   I claim that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  It is just that I consume my apple in the form of an apple laced pastry.  Probably I should feel extremely blessed that I can have this vice since many of my companions are diabetic and not allowed such an indulgence.
Apple Fritter Giant

Add Some Freshly Brewed Coffee

    My dear wife is my enabler since she willingly shops at our local Price Chopper for my fritter supply.   She buys in quantity and they are available in the freezer for my daily fix.   Whenever the supply gets low she make sure to resupply during her morning coffee run.   So in my house the apple fritter is the pastry du jour.   Thank you apple growers and the Price Chopper bakers!   I don't expect any real legislation to make the apple fritter the National Pastry but if ever a National Pastry or even a State Pastry is to be designated you know what I'll be lobbying for.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Apple Blossom Time

   I grew up on a fruit farm so apple blossom time wherever I am has a special significance to me.   This year I have been especially aware of the apple tree blooms.   The blooms seem  to be unusually fragrant and abundant on both the domestic and wild apple trees in my neighborhood and on the Cornell Campus.   For the first time this year I learned that the only native apple trees to North America are the crab apple trees.   Today's domesticated varieties of  apple trees are derivatives of crab apple tree stock.  Over 60 years ago as a youngster on the family farm we celebrated full bloom of our apple trees in anticipation of a bumper crop of apples in the fall.    It was always a tragedy when a hard frost occurred during bloom time.   If my memory serves me right,  a major run of frosty nights in the spring of 1947 decimated our apple crop.   Our normal harvest would be about 5000 bushels.   The 1947  crop was only 746 bushels.   This was a serious blow to the bottom line.   Sixty four years later the same vagaries of weather assail apple growers.   However, this year's later in the season blooming of the trees should reduce the risk of a killing frost.   In 1947 full bloom occurred in late March due to an unusually warm spell in early spring.

     I am thankful that I can now enjoy the beauty of apple tree blossoms without the anxiety of needing apple production for my livelihood.   Below a are a couple of pictures of crab apple trees in  bloom on the Cornell Campus.   Enjoy!
Smell the Blossoms
I'll Look for the Crab Apples This Fall

Monday, May 16, 2011

Geezer Gatherings

North Rose Central Class of '52
   In the past six days I have had two meals with geezer groups.   One a breakfast with  the ROMEO's (Retired Older Men Eating Out) of the Fayetteville United Methodist Church and the other a lunch today with with some of my classmates of the North Rose Central School class of 1952.    Although the ROMEO's gather every Wednesday morning, I only see them every few months.  However, it is fun to get together with them to catch up on the doings of a community we lived in for several years.   One member of the ROMEO's consistently ribs me about the success of Cornell athletics (He is a Syracuse University fan) and I always tell him about the Cornell related Nobel prize winners.   The banter is light hearted with a good number of laughs and fortunately we all know the boundaries and avoid being offensive.     This is not true for all geezer gatherings so I am grateful for these fun filled and peaceful gatherings.
L. to R.:  Rose, Millie, Bob, Camera Shy Spouse
     Today Nancy and I had a leisurely drive to Newark, New York for the lunch with several of my aforementioned classmates.   It was our first longer trip in our Smart Car.   Speaking for myself, I found it to be a comfortable two hour each way trip.   Even if we did have some rain and fog.   Ten classmates and three spouses were in attendance.   The ten of us represent about half of the class that is still alive out of the class of 28.   We have been getting together for class reunions starting with our 25 year reunion at five to ten or more year intervals until recently when we have been planning annual to semi-annual luncheons.   Next year (2012) will be our 60th reunion year so perhaps we will have a bigger event.   All of us are well into geezerhood.   Some even have great grandchildren.   Many of us have survived with relatively few age challenges while others have have significant medical issues or are deceased.   I suppose our class  is a microcosm of the general population by age but certainly not in ethnicity.
     These gatherings can be challenging for spouses since they typically do not share the same experiences of the classmates.   Usually we are rehashing events of our teen years that have no relevance to the spouses.    Frankly, I think reunions can be overdone.   Unless one can move on beyond reminiscing my interest begins to flag and I am ready to move on to current events.    While Nancy and I  make it a point to inquire about what is going on in their lives, we notice that few pick up the idea of asking us what we are doing.   I hope that this is not totally true of all geezers but just an anomaly of this group.   I conclude that geezer reunions are to be taken in small doses.   A couple of hours of conversation and a good meal suffice.      Meanwhile some of us who remain tech savvy know that social networking over great distances can be accomplished with Facebook, e-mail and the like.   Will face to face reunions be the thing the current generation when they become  geezers?   Who knows what that future world will be like?

Monday, May 9, 2011

In Lieu of Motorcycle

    My son is an avid motorcycle tourer and when he posts pictures of his adventures I remember my motorcycling days and get the urge to ride again.   Last fall I was actively looking for a motorcycle in anticipation of riding again.    There are still men in their seventies who are  riding so I didn't think I was too crazy.    I must say I have a very tolerant wife who calmly said, "Well if that is what you really want to do I can handle it".   However she did ask where I would ride and with whom.   I wrestled with this idea for a while and held off buying a cycle with the thought of perhaps buying one this spring.
Gerry's Smart Car
    During the winter I had a reality check with memories of the challenges of motorcycling.   As my son says you must ride with All The Gear All The Time.   This means you need the proper helmets, clothing and shoes to be as safe as possible.   That further reminded me that riding means taking the time to gear up every time you ride.   Then I recalled some of my cross country rides with cold and wet winds.   Even with the proper gear it can be taxing.    In spite of all these misgivings I still had the desire to capture some of the excitement of travel on a motorcycle.
   I am pleased to say that I have found a motorcycle alternative that brings back the pleasure of  travel  on the open road.    The answer for me was the Smart Car.  This sub-sub compact two-seater is truly a fun vehicle half the length of  a compact car with a good safety rating and many of the standard amenities of full size cars.   This rear engine - rear wheel drive vehicle has an automatic transmission that may be operated in a manual mode with paddle shifters in the steering wheel.    It is truly fun to drive in either manual or automatic mode and one can move from one mode to the other to fit the the driving conditions of the moment.  After three weeks of ownership I enjoy driving the Smart Car as much or more than the first day I had it.   The car is a head turner since there are probably only a couple of them in the two counties I regularly travel in.   It provokes as many smiles as I have on my face when I am driving.
   I even look forward to driving it to the ski area this winter.   Of course I will have carried my skis and poles to my locker with my Toyota Camry so all I will have to carry are my boots.  Or maybe not since I could let the skis stick out the window on the driver's side or out the back with the open tail gate window.   Meanwhile, Nancy and I will try some overnight road trips this summer.   Limited luggage space but enough room for a couple of overnight bags.

Pack Light - Tennis Racket and Overnight Bag
    Finally as an engineer, I continue to be impressed by the quality of engineering that went into the production of this vehicle from the Mercedes-Benz stable of cars.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Time Markers

Native American Winter
    An avid skier probably marks time in terms of  the events of a winter season.  So one might have a memory of a particular winter ski season and measure other events before and after by that marker.   I seem to recall that native Americans would measure their age by stating they had seen a certain number of summers.   After I did a little research on time perception by different cultures I discover that the Native Americans likely measure long time intervals in terms of number of winters.  Perhaps because surviving winter was the challenging part of their life experience.   Every culture and every community and family has their unique way of comprehending the passage of time through the markers or events that are seminal in their experience of life.   It is interesting to observe that the western concept is that time is linear.   Other cultures see time as a wheel cycling according to some predetermined repetition of events such as the seasons.  In geezerhood one has a bank of memories of the past so there are a multitude of events that serve as time markers.
    Until I became an avid skier, I tended to mark time by the summers of my life.   Each summer seemed to have a unique set of events that were memorable and would permit me to put the past in perspective.   In recent years the markers have tended to be both in the summer and winter.   Last summer/fall we had weddings of two daughters so these were great time markers.   Moving farther back in time I can recall surgeries, births, marriages, funerals, house purchases, etc.   Thus life events seem to be the time markers one retains.   It certainly is interesting that it seems easier to remember years ago events than events that happened weeks ago.   I guess a time marker sticks only if it is of major significance.
   Spring is upon us now and another summer approaches.  It seems only yesterday that we rang in 2011 and here we almost one third of the way through this year.   It is good to anticipate another summer and plan for another winter.  Who know what major events will become markers of this year.   I look forward to pleasant markers of time for the unfolding year.   Perhaps some travel, a Bar Mitzvah for a grandson, special visits with friends and a host of birthday celebrations for children and grandchildren.    Good health and good living for all.