Tempest in a crock pot

No one said anything about this ⇑ starting up again today. But I’ll ignore it because this ⇓ is about to jump-start the cooking day up here on Weathering Heights where cuisine frequently is dictated by the weather.

Any idea what it might be? I’ll give you a slight hint. Many of the ingredients form the base for a variety of comfort meals, and when they are allowed to slowly simmer for a few hours, then just sit and get to know each other overnight in the fridge before being reheated, are better the second or third day. Although, truth be told, there rarely is anything left for a third day.

And, speaking of the second and third days, here’s the weather forecast for the Weathering Heights area for Monday and Tuesday.

We’ll start the week with some snow showers and a high of barely 29˚, with a bit of a breeze now and then. Growing darker toward evening, then hitting a nippy 12˚ as the overnight low. Tuesday will see us beginning a temperature uptrend, with a high of 35˚ as we wend our way into the 60s later in the week.

I wonder what will be on the menu by then?


Let the sun shine

The oft-asked question:

“How can you stand living in the Northeast, with all that snow and cold weather? Why not move somewhere warmer.”

The answer is simple. As I strolled to the communal mailbox gazebo here on Weathering Heights this afternoon I couldn’t help but smile to myself. No heavyweight coat needed, no hat, no gloves, no snow on the road or walkway. And this was just a day after the first appreciable snowfall of The Winter It Didn’t Snow.

What we also did NOT have this winter:



Dust storms



Sub-zero temperatures

Proof of global warming? I’m still not sold on that one, particularly the version that says we’re responsible for the latest warming cycle among zillions the planet has experienced over the eons.

I think it’s more karma, the kind that is making Snowbirds rethink going south for the winter and bragging about it all summer when they’re at home back here. We’re now able to pose a question for them:

“How can you stand living part-time in the South, with all the cold temperatures, rain and tornadoes? Why not stay here where it’s cool and calm?”

Look, look goose

The sound of the avian call-and-response floated not far above my head as I stepped out of the house here on Weathering Heights.

Hearing Canada geese communicating as they make their way to and fro is nothing new around this part of Upstate New York. We are, after all, on the Eastern Seaboard flyway for migrating birds. When some of them decide this is far enough south to winter over they are pervasive year-round. No, the thing that caught my attention on this particular day was that in the midst of the first real snowstorm of this unusually mild winter the geese were headed north. Going home, as it were.

This was only one of numerous signs of confusion in nature this winter. Some spring-blooming plants have been sending out emissary shoots to tentatively test the air. Robins, traditionally not on the scene until becoming a first sign of spring, have been abundant at our feeders for much of the winter.

Here on the first day of March, the iconic Farmers’ Almanac prognosticates that things won’t change much through the month, which may mean a drought of sorts could result from the lack of snow pack in the mountains regions that supply not only local water, but New York City’s main supply as well. To wit: “1st – 3rd, Light snow/flurries. 8th – 11th, fair. 12th – 15th, light rain, then fair. 16th – 19th, showers, heavy thunderstorms. 20th – 23rd, fair, pleasant; 24th – 27th, showery, windy, then fair. 28th – 31st, increasing clouds, unsettled by the 31st.”

A special day, in so many ways

It figures. What I have been referring to up here on Weathering Heights as “The Winter It Didn’t Snow” was, in one fell swoop, erased from the record books on a day that only rolls around once every four years.

Yes, Leap Year Day 2012 was ushered in by the first significant snowfall we’ve had in this part of Upstate New York. It also re-ushered in this not-quite-daily, sort-of-weather-centric blog that has been on hiatus for a variety of reasons since last spring. In other words, winter is back and so am I.

What else is going on this special day? Some very odd things, to be sure.

  • North Korea, which has been content to rattle its nuclear saber while its population endures year after year of famine, surprisingly announced it has agreed to stop nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and nuclear enrichment activities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for food aid from the United States.
  • The credit card-sized $35 Raspberry Pi computer went on sale today, crashing its distributors’ websites on the way to selling out within hours of launch. The fully-programmable British PC can plug into any TV and can power 3D graphics and Blu-ray video playback.
  • In celebrity “news,” speculation is that Snooki is pregnant and Angelina is anorexic. If either requires more explanation, please skip to the next item.
  • A day after word leaked that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was going to require automakers to install rear-view cameras in all cars by 2014, the agency formally announced it would not.
  • And, finally, The Onion reported on the GOP presidential primary results from Michigan thusly: “Romney Thanks State He Was Born And Raised In For Just Barely Giving Him Enough Votes To Beat Total Maniac.”

As I was saying …

I took some time off from Weathering Heights beginning last spring to concentrate on fulfillment of a book contract with Sterling Epicure of New York City.

The project, which came to fruition in September, followed by a round of book signings and media interviews, now is at a stage that allows me to regain some time and resume Weathering Heights. That will happen on February 29, what I ope is an auspicious day.

Meanwhile, if you care to get the book online or from various book sellers, it’s titled “Barrels & Drams: The History of Whisk(e)y In Jiggers and Shots” (that’s it over there). I created, co-wrote and edited the collection from some of the best spirits writers from around the globe, from Tom Wolfe to David Wondrich.

God save us, it’s the Queen

For the first time in nearly a century, a ruling British monarch has set foot on Irish soil. Queen Elizabeth II, decked out in bright green from head to foot and looking for all the world like a well-tailored leprechaun, today began a four-day visit to a country her royal predecessors spent untold amounts of money, manpower, manipulation, mayhem and malevolence to subjugate.

A spate of bomb threats, security nightmares for the police force and military, lots of booming voices of protest emanating from the pubs of Dublin and other communities around the Republic of Ireland certainly wasn’t much of a welcome. Quite the opposite of the sort of silly adulation showered on one of her grandsons during his recent nuptials.

The Queen began her official whirlwind tour — the first by a sitting Brit ruler since Ireland gained its independence in 1917 — by shaking hands (above) with Irish President Mary McAleese in front of the Aras An Uachtarain, then moved inside to be greeted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and sign the visitors’ book. Prince Philip, every bit the Royal Afterthought as always, jotted his name below hers.

(For those unfamiliar with Irish terminology and surprised that not everything there is in English — it is a bilingual country, with Gaelic much in evidence, “Aras An Uachtarain” is the name of the president’s mansion, and “Taoiseach” means “chief” and is the title held by the prime minister.)

Although this is QEII’s first trip to Ireland, she and the President have met elsewhere numerous times and chatted animatedly in public view. The role of President is largely ceremonial in Ireland, but has its moments as a public relations force. Such McAleese predecessors as Mary Robinson have been able to lobby other nations for trade improvements and such things from the bully pulpit. So, it will be interesting to see how McAleese’s public demeanor toward QEII this week will be cited as a negative when the next national election is held in October.

Bruno’s rear view

It is with great sadness that I read and listen to comments from many people about the conviction this week of former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno on two corruption charges.

In essence, they contend that because Bruno used his political clout to funnel millions of dollars into local hands for projects from playgrounds to firehouses to business facilities to anything that could bear his name (*), it was OK for him to line his pockets in exchange for being such a benefactor with taxpayer dollars.

That is known as situational ethics. Lawbreaking is OK if everyone else gets theirs. Bruno’s attitude and daily play-by-play commentary on his own trial, along with such reprehensible forgiveness of his transgressions by people who like what he did for them, are a major factor in nourishing New York’s dysfunctional, pathetic political climate.

Bruno says he’s disappointed at the jury’s decision, even though he was found not guilty of several other counts. He should be disappointed in how his own greed and misfeasance led to him becoming a convicted felony.

Bruno, who among many pursuits is a lover of race horses and has been involved in that field, once was asked what he thought about criminal charges against two organizations he had long supported with my tax dollars — the Institute for Entrepreneurship and the New York Racing Association. He gave this thoughtful, statesmanlike reply:

“It doesn’t make sense to look up a dead horse’s rectum. You want to look up a dead horse’s rectum, go ahead; it’s not something I’m going to do.”

In light of the court results, he now might prefer that view than having to look us in the eye.

(*) Joseph L. Bruno Town Park in Hoosick Falls, Joseph L. Bruno Family Resource Center of the Commission on Economic Opportunity for the Greater Capital Region Inc., the Joseph L. Bruno Scholarship from the New York State Summer School of Orchestral Studies, the Joseph L. Bruno Theater in the Arts Center of the Capital Region, the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium at Hudson Valley Community College, the Joseph L. Bruno Pavilion at Saratoga Spa State Park, the Joseph L. Bruno Biotechnology Development Center at Albany Molecular Research, the Joseph L. Bruno Lobby in the Greenbush Area YMCA … . I can’t go on.