The Amazing Tortilla Press

We had a great time with Julie’s friend Captain Danny when he came to visit us at Thanksgiving. He was only here a few days, but we shared stories and jokes over many a pint of homebrew, and he even fixed Julie’s broken iBook. I also made a few batches of tortillas, using the wooden tortilla press Kate borrowed from Roque’s, and every time I used it I complained that I’d have to give it back soon, as they were asking for it back. Dan assured me it would be easy to make one of my own, I just needed to get the wood and some bits of hardware to hold it all together. I added it to my “someday/maybe” list, where it joined so many other unfinished projects, and a couple weeks ago Kate brought the press back to Roque’s.

A few days ago we got an unexpected package from Danny, and inside we found a beautiful tortilla press he had made, fashioned of dark wood and polished brass, routed details on the sides and big brass hinges and fasteners. It truly is a work of art and craftsmanship, and looks like it would be right at home on a 19th century sailing ship. I can only imagine how many hours went into this beauty!

It makes perfect tortillas, of course, and is truly a pleasure to use. I look forward to making many, many tortillas with it.

Thanks so much, Captain Danny, and please come back to see us soon, and enjoy homemade tortillas in huevos rancheros and enchilada suizas!

  • tortilla press
  • tortilla press
  • tortilla press
  • tortilla press
  • tortilla press
  • tortilla press
  • tortilla press
  • tortilla press

Schooner Stephen Taber

Robin and I just got back from a four day wine tasting cruise on the Stephen Taber, an 18th century schooner out of Rockland, Maine. It was great being back on the Taber again with Captain Noah and his top-notch crew; last fall I sailed on the Taber with Julie and loved it so much I vowed then and there to come back with Robin for their wine cruise.

The evening before we headed out we got to spend a little time with Julie in the galley of the J&E Riggin where she works as galley hand and deck hand. It was great to see Jules in her element, and only wish we could have had more time together. We’ll just have to go back to see her soon 😉

Each day on the Taber started with hot coffee on deck, with breakfast served at 8:30. Hannah treated us to hearty breakfasts of French Toast, eggs and sausage, grits, and even some delicious scones.

After breakfast, we would raise sails and anchor, and Captain Noah would take us to someplace new. Since there are 4,000 islands or so off the Rockland coast, there is no shortage of destinations! One day we sailed to Deer Isle where we walked around in the town of Stonington (famous for its granite quarries) and shopped for gifts. Another day we explored the lighthouse at Owl’s Head, a small town south of Rockland. There were lots of sights and sounds, from beautiful island homes to various lighthouses, islands (inhabited and not), other schooners, seals sunning themselves on warm rocks, and even a few porpoises!

Every evening we dropped anchor in a different harbor, and Jane led the wine tasting. Each night she introduced us to different selection of wines, starting with some that were light and sparkling, followed by some tasty whites (my favorite), and finishing with to some delicious, mouth-filling reds. One night she ended with a port and a madeira to round things out.


Noah and Jane compare notes during the wine tasting

After the wine tasting Hannah served up dinner on deck. On the night Jane served wines from Italy we had osso buco; another night we had a classic Maine lobster bake.

Thee food on the Taber is first rate. Cook Hannah, assisted by Cara and Sarah, all worked tirelessly in the galley preparing one tasty meal after another. Amazingly enough, all cooking is done on an old fashioned wood stove.

The weather was exceptionally fine, adding to the perfect sail. First Mate Phil let me help out with the jibs when the ship came about, and showed us how to do a “long splice,” where he seamlessly joined two shorter lines into longer one. Deck hands Super Dave and the sprite-like Sarah had brass-polishing competitions in between hoisting sails and anchors and keeping things running smoothly. The amazing Cara (a dear friend of Julie’s) helped Hannah in the galley, where they churned out one delicious meal after another. These kids did an amazing job, and it was inspiring to watch them and learn from them.

Our fellow passengers were delightful, a fun-loving bunch that enjoyed wine, fine food, and sailing just as much as we did. We bonded over stories and laughter, food and wine, and the incredible shared experience of sailing on the beautiful ship that is the Taber.

Each evening, after the wine tasting and dinner, the captain and crew brought out their instruments and entertained us with a wide variety of music, from the captain’s blues and Phil’s touching rendition of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” to Cara and Sarah’s “Amazing Grace” duet, and Cara’s playing Swedish and Norwegian folk songs on her fiddle. The perfect ending to each perfect day.

The hospitality of the captain and crew really made us feel welcome and pampered, and their skill and professionalism made us feel safe and at home.

Casa de Rane

It was great hearing Rane play at Club Metronome last Friday, it had definitely been to long since they’ve been up and the music as always was superb. They all came back to the house afterwards and played cards way later than I could stay up, unfortunately. I love leisurely Saturday mornings with a houseful of Rane and friends, and get a kick out of making breakfast for them. They’d persuaded Wade and Jen to come back, and it was so good to catch up with all of them. They all know me as Unka Dave, a title I’m proud to wear.

Dan gave Calvin a bass lesson, which they both enjoyed, and it was great to see him being a mentor to the boy.

The band brought Kelly and Jordan up with them on Friday, and we got to hang with them and share Nectar’s fries, Club Met, a tour of Magic Hat brewery and a fine dinner at Roque’s before we dropped them off at the train station Sunday morning. A wonderful, full weekend, and it was a pleasure having them up, tho their visit was way too brief.

I had a brief anxiety attack an hour later when Kelly called to say she’d accidentally taken my MacBook instead of hers. I considered trying to overtake the train in my car, but realized that with the lead it had I wouldn’t catch up until Springfield, MA, a seven hour round trip. I realized I could actually work just fine on her laptop, and will only be without my Macbook for a week, since we’ll be visiting them next weekend.

It’s a quiet Monday morning now, gray and cold outside, just me and Julie and the dogs. I miss having a houseful of dear wonderful people, our extended family, and look forward to the next time they’re all up.

Boston

Robin and I are here in Boston with Calvin and his friend Nick. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Boston, it’s good to be here but it took a bit to relax into it and overcome the “I’d rather be home” feeling. Today we started with breakfast and browsing at Fanuel Hall, the requisite trip to the Museum of Science, lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, dessert at the top of the Pru Tower, then we dropped the boys off at the concert and relaxed back at Fanuel Hall over iced coffee, before we took a romantic trip over to Borders 20 minutes before it closed at 9. (9pm? in Boston? what’s up with that?)

Boston is a fun city to visit. Being four hours from Vermont it’s a little too far for a day trip but great for an overnight. There’s lots going on here, and lots of interesting people to watch. I’m amazed that the Borders in Burlington stays open longer than the one here, but then everyplace can’t be Vermont 😉

We successfully navigated the T to get around today, but balanced it with a lot of walking so we weren’t total slugs. I know I’ll feel it tomorrow. The food here is great, and there are an amazing number of restaurants to choose from. Boston is fun and it’s good to be here, but I’m really looking forward to getting back home tomorrow.

The Maine Trip

Last Saturday Calvin and I took the dogs on a long trek to Maine. Driving with the dogs went pretty smoothly this time around, they pretty much slept most of the way. We waded around in a cool stream by the side of the road in Crawford Notch, NH, but otherwise didn’t make many stops. We arrived at Tom and Pam’s by mid-afternoon, swam a lot, had a great dinner, laughed a lot, and tried a few local brews. On Sunday they took us out on their party boat for a day-long tour the lake, and we checked out lots of shoreline and a few coves, and got to see some incredible houses and beautiful scenery. Tom took us to the big rock he used to jump off of as a kid, and we got to climb it ourselves, taking a running jump into the water down below. Great stuff! And afterwards, another great cookout and more Maine beers…

We all headed out early Monday morning; Tom and Pam going back to Vermont and us heading further up the coast to visit Julie and Dan. At first the car acted funky, sputtering and running on too-few cylinders, but by the time we reached the main road it was OK except for the Check Engine light being on. The drive to Rockland took a couple hours, and our first stop was to visit Julie at work. We were happy to see her, and got to try some of her wonderful baking: peanut butter pie, a chocolate brownie, and a cookie. Yum! We left to meet up with Dan at their house, and for supper we had tasty cookout and got to meet Dan’s mom, and his brother Brian, and Max (she of the amazing yellow and orange hair). Frisbee and good food ensued, and I even got to try more Maine beer. I really enjoyed myself, and I could get used to this!

Tuesday I had a local shop look at the car, and since the day was so hot we all went to a dam for a swim, and we hung out there for a good long time and the dogs swam and chased sticks. From there we checked out a few cool stores in Belfast, then continued on to Rockland where the dogs got to swim in the ocean, and we devoured Mexican food. On Wednesday we got the car back (running much better after they replaced the coil and spark plug wires), and headed back to Vermont after lunch. Ten minutes after we left I realized I’d forgotten the PSP, so of course we had to go back and get it. And six hours later we got back home.

It was a great trip, so good to see Tom and Pam in their Maine house that we’d heard so much about (it’s as nice as they say!) and to hang out with them on the lake. And it was great seeing Julie and Dan after so long, and seeing their house and being with them. The dogs were really well-behaved, altho we were as tired of leashing them as they were of being leashed. Calvin helped a lot with the dogs and keeping things running smoothly, and I’m pretty sure he had a good time on the trip as well (a challenge on road trips with your parents when you’re 13).

It was a fun trip and I’m glad we did it, and I’m happy to be back home. The dogs are so much easier to take care of here, and they’re happy to run free and be in a place where they don’t need leashes. With all the swimming they’ve done they’re cleaner than they’ve been in a long time, but now that we’re back by the pond that’s only gonna last so long…

Our Hero: Kate in "Much Ado"

Last night we went to see the opening performance of Essex Community Players production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Kate plays part of Hero, and she and the other players did a marvelous job. The scenery was minimal and worked quite well for the various scenes. The period costumes were colorful and authentic (to my eyes anyway). The actors did a great job making Shakespeare understandable to modern ears. Beatrice and Benedick in particular were played remarkably well, I really enjoyed their performances.

And once again I’m so proud of Kate’s performance. It’s such a pleasure to see her up on stage doing what she loves. Thanks Kate!


Hero, Claudio, Don Pedro and Leonato
(played by Kate, David DiLego, Sam Kunz, and Ron Ewalt)

The "Family Guy" Guy

Last night I went with Calvin and his friend Sol to see Seth MacFarlane give a talk at UVM. Seth is the creative genius behind “Family Guy,” and he’s a funny guy and an entertaining speaker. It was interesting to hear about his background and the history of Family Guy, and of course he worked in a few bits in the voices of Peter and Stewie. An unexpected treat was when he screened the upcoming premier episode to be aired this Sunday. The episode was really funny, and it was delightful to watch it with a couple thousand thousand college kids.

Afterwards the Q&A was entertaining as well, with some questioners doing impressions, some pitching ideas, and one English guy asking how to get hooked up with the “high quality English porn” mentioned in the episode.

They boys were thrilled to get autographs (one on Sol’s sneaker!), and enjoy it possibly even more than I did.

Kate's Play

On Saturday we saw Kate in the Essex Community Players‘ production of Lend Me A Tenor. It was great to see her up on stage again (and doing an incredible job I might add). She played Diana, a role she obviously enjoyed and played quite well (in this father’s humble opinion).

The play was delightful, and the acting and directing superb. Catch it if you can, you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Kate!

On the right: Diana persuades Tito (played by Sam Kunz) to put in a good word for her.

Rane

Last night I took Calvin and Gage to catch the Rane show at Nectar’s. Great music and a great performance, they even played a couple songs from their upcoming album. A high point was when Jen Hartswick joined the band onstage and belted out “Pieces of Me,” the song Ashlee Simpson had problems with on Saturday Night Live. The kids enjoyed the show, I’m glad they went.

Afterwards the band came back to the house and I stayed up way past my bedtime to hang with them. I love it when Rane is in town, they’re a great bunch of guys and it makes my week having them stay here.

They had to head out early this morning, something about Bowman picking up a cat for his girlfriend Cory, and they gave him the expected amount of shit for that. It’s too bad they had to leave so soon, I feel bad they didn’t get to have breakfast before heading out.

Thanks guys, I’m already looking forward to your next gig here in VT.

Update 2/21: fixed typo and added links (thanks Robin).

A Full House

Sometimes Everything Happens At Once.

Katy’s play opens Friday night, and Julie is coming home from Maine to see it. On Thursday, Robin’s sister Lori comes up from Florida with Emma and Kara to visit for a long weekend.

This afternoon my nephew Dan called to tell us his band Rane is coming up from CT to play at Nectar’s on Friday. They’ll be staying with us too, as they usually do when they’re in town. I love it when they play, and I’m hoping Calvin and Gage will be want to go hear them play as well.

Let’s see, that brings us up to, um, thirteen or so in the house. Sure, we can handle that!