Building The Perfect Beast

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Archive for the ‘family’ tag

Tee Time

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Couldn’t ask for a better day. Playing gold with my dad and Colin in Pismo.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Asides

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Worth Repeating

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Cranberries!The best cranberry sauce ever!

Just a few days from now we’ll all be sitting around the table giving thanks for the past year, sharing our lives with family and friends, and eating more than our fair share of turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, and, of course, cranberry sauce.

Last year I posted a cranberry sauce recipe here that I found several years ago in one of my favorite cooking magazines: Cuisine. Simple and delicious, this cranberry sauce is one of the best you can make with a minimal amount of effort. In fact, it may be easier (and it’s definitely better!) than opening a can. And it’s so good that I think it’s worth repeating again this year.

Be bold this year, my friends.

Cranberry Sauce
Combine:
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 bag (3 oz.) dried tart cherries
1 cup cranberry juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. fresh lime juice
2 t. fresh ginger, peeled, minced
1 t. lime zest, minced

Simmer in a large sauté pan until berries begin to burst—about 10 minutes—then cool.

Enjoy! And happy Thanksgiving.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

November 19th, 2007 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Food,HousePosts

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A Weekend of Brotherly Love

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alt textJacob overlooking the manmade lake near the Cornish Estate dairy barn.

The downside to living 3000 miles away from your siblings is that you don’t get to see them as often as you’d like. This past weekend, after a trip from SF to Oslo to NYC, my youngest brother Jacob (aka Celsius) came up for a visit. Besides the occasional iChat video, we hadn’t seen him for almost two years.

alt textUncle Bucket’s Killer Sushi

Even though the weekend was short, we still had time to do a number of things together. Jacob spent time with Colin teaching him proper ollie techniques, watched Joanna play soccer, and made sushi for Kristin’s birthday.

On Monday afternoon Jacob and I hiked around an area just south of Beacon called the Cornish Estate. According to several accounts, there is very little information available about the estate, but the estate was built around the early 1900s, was acquired by Edward J. Cornish and his wife around 1920, appears to have been abandoned around the mid-30s, and the main building was destroyed by fire in 1956.

What remains of the estate is several large buildings, including what must once have been an incredible greenhouse, a large, manmade dam, a variety of outbuildings, swimming pool, dairy barn, and several beautiful streams and small waterfalls. Jacob and I hiked for about two hours, most of which was spent exploring the various buildings. The trails are wide and easy to walk on and were obviously used as carriage, wagon, or motorized vehicle routes when the estate was still in use.

alt textDairy ruins at the cornish estate.

The buildings were built out of stone taken from the local area and the stone portion of the structures remain substantially intact. In the main house we counted at least 7 fireplaces in what was once a very elaborate house that, at one time, must have had commanding views of the Hudson and Storm King Mountain. These views are now obscured by overgrowth.

Overall, the Cornish Estate hike was leisurely and enjoyable, especially on what turned out to be a glorious fall day. More importantly, it was a great weekend with my baby brother, and who could ask for anything more? Well, if you’re Colin you certainly could…

alt textColin -n- Jacob

Once we’d gotten back from our hike and picked up all the goods we needed for Kristin’s birthday party I went to pick up Colin from school. When we got in the car Colin informed me that he was having a difficult time keeping his mind on his work at school that day. “All day long,” he said, “every time I was supposed to be doing work, I kept on thinking about Uncle Jacob and when I was going to see him again.” He topped this little bit of fun off last night, after Jacob had gone back to OAK, when he informed me that all he wanted for Christmas was, “Some new trucks for my skateboard and for Uncle Jacob to buy the house next door.”

I think we need to get Uncle Jacob out here a little more often…

Written by Jeffery Battersby

November 7th, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Marcy Plans and Algonquin Dreams

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Lead us to the Wright stuff

We’re just back from the high peaks region of the Adirondacks putting a period on a two week long vacation that has taken us from Washington D.C. to Weirton, WV, Niagara Falls, Canada, and finally Lake Placid, NY. Sounds like a crazy trip but it’s been quite good with no more than six hours of car travel between each of our destinations, great family visits—my dad met us in DC and we spent several days with Kathy’s family in Weirton—and excellent sightseeing of the sort that we don’t usually undertake on vacation.

The high peaks were the planned highlight of our trip as we’d hoped to hike to the top of Mount Marcy, the highest mountain in New York. But after checking the weather for the day that we planned to hike it became clear that Marcy was not going to be possible. Friday morning, it appeared, was going to bring rain and thunderstorms and we didn’t want to get caught on a ten hour hike to the highest peak in the state with that kind of storm looming. So, on the advice of a waitress at Lisa G’s restaurant—a primo local joint that beats the pants off of any other restaurant in town—we decided to attempt Algonquin Peak—the Adirondack’s second highest peak—on Thursday instead.

As Thursday was originally planned as a light day, we slept in, had breakfast at the hotel, grabbed some sandwiches for the trail (again from Lisa G’s) and headed out to the Adirondack Loj trailhead which was about 15 minutes down the road from our hotel. We ended up hitting the trail at just after 1:00 PM, which was much later than we should have started. not dangerously late, just hot afternoon, middle of the day late. The kind of late that has you drinking all of your water much sooner than is reasonable. The “I didn’t bring a water filter” kind of late the leaves you parched—or giardic—by the end of the hike.

We had two books in hand to help us along as we hiked. Barbara McMartin’s 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondack Trails High Peaks Region trail guide. The ADK’s book is excellent and includes a topo map in the back with clear markings for all the trails in the region, but 50 Hikes was the book we used as our guide to select the trail we’d hike for the day. McMartin’s book stated that Algonquin Peak was a moderate hike that would take us about 6 hours to hike out and back.

The Adirondack Loj trailhead was as wide as a super hi-way and nearly as crowded, although most of the people we saw were walking in the opposite direction. In all Kathy and I figure that we saw about 50 people on the trail, including two groups of 10+ kids that were part of a local camp. Even with the crowds the trail was beautiful. The evergreens gave it both the smell and the feel of Twain Harte, where I spent all of my summers as a kid, and every turn revealed a different vista, from stone steps to a slow-running but beautiful waterfall.

Algonquin Trail

Algonquin Trail

Algonquin Trail

About three hours into the journey we were no where near the top of Algonquin Peak and the kids (and I admit it the adults too) were feeling pretty toasty. We’d finished drinking about 1/2 our water, hadn’t eaten our late lunch and weren’t certain how much further we could afford to go forward before we’d end up hiking the return trip in the dark with the aid of headlamps. About 30 minutes earlier we’d met a ranger on the trail who suggested that we forgo Algonquin and head for Wright Peak. “Same view,” he said, “but you’ll be able to get out and back again before dark. The last 9/10 of a mile on Algonquin Peak is going to take you at least an hour to get up.” I wasn’t buying that until about 15 minutes later when I met a 10-year-old girl coming back on the trail who looked at me like I was crazy when I told her father where we were headed. 10 years old, and much wiser, she said, “You’ll never make that today.”

Out of the mouth of babes…

At the split for Algonquin and Wright we went left, which was Wright, and hustled the last half mile to the top. It was steep and challenging but the ranger was correct, the view from Wright was beautiful. A complete panorama of the entire High Peaks region. And, while the trip up had seemed like a super hi-way, we enjoyed the top of the mountain all alone. Not a soul in sight for miles.

Going back was rough but good. The downhill trudge wreaked havoc with Kathy’s knees, but seven hours after we started we were back at the Loj and ready to head to dinner.

Back in the hotel and ready for bed I fired up my MacBook to see why a six hour hike was going to end up taking us about nine hours. Well… if you look closely at the link above you’ll note that Algonquin Peak is listed as a NINE HOUR hike. So either this is one ugly typo in 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks or Barbara McMartin is a serious mountain goat. (Just in case you’re wondering… I’m not going to go the other direction here and say that I’m a wuss…) The seven hours listed on this web page for the Wright hike, by the way, was right on target.

Lovely hike to be sure. We all had a great time and Wright Peak put a perfect period on our high peaks vacation.

Wright Peak

Written by Jeffery Battersby

August 6th, 2007 at 11:53 am

Heredis 10.2 Review

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Good genealogy program offers iPhoto integration

Heredis 10.2Heredis is a good genealogy program that doesn’t quite match up to some of the other programs on the market—it offers iPhoto integration that doesn’t quite match up to other genealogy offerings. But Heredis does have a unique interface that makes it easy to manage and enter your genealogy information.

Read my Macworld review here.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

July 16th, 2007 at 10:08 pm

A Dangerous Book?

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Or a misguided fear of a dangerous mind…

Sooo Dangerous!I was intrigued (or maybe that’s incensed) recently by an essay in Newsweek about The Dangerous Book for Boys—an Amazon bestseller and a book that my nine-year-old son, since receiving it for his birthday less than a month ago, has been carrying around under his arm wherever he goes. Dogeared and bookmarked, the book has become his constant companion and the genesis of at least a half-dozen creative adventures with a dozen more written down in his Moleskine for future use. In other words, it’s a book that has more than captured my son’s imagination.

Jennie Yabroff, in her Newsweek essay, contends that the reason for The Dangerous Book’s whopping success is a “…nostalgia for the halcyon world of our fathers and grandfathers…,” “…anxieties about the present…,” or because of conservatives who see the book as a “…corrective to the ‘feminization’ of the culture.” I find her assessment as cynical as I find the title of the essay and a million miles from the truth.

Nostalgia requires an understanding and an idealization of some long lost past. A time when the grass was greener, or the sun was brighter, the summer days longer, and where the world was a much better place. In other words, nostalgia requires you to have some history. A halcyon to dream about. Some kind of quantifiable past that you can look back fondly upon and pine for.

Certainly there are those who are buying this book for nostalgic reasons. My sixty-plus year-old uncle loves the book. He ran out and bought a copy after seeing my son’s.

My mother thinks it’s great too. She said it, “looked old,” like the books she had when she was a kid.

But my son?

He’s nine-years-old.

He has nothing to be nostalgic about, unless you’re talking about the play he made at first base a couple of weeks ago or the trip to the lake that we took last week. Hardly some great past, but certainly the halcyon of his future.

So the book’s appeal? That Dangerous book’s appeal, has nothing to do with some misguided sense of nostalgia or any glamorization of how much better it was in “days gone by.” The book appeals to something far simpler: the desire to learn, have fun, and to be able to create things with your own hands.

Nostalgia can sell thing’s to people with memories but it can’t create desire in those whose past is still in their future. Especially when nostalgia has to compete with iPods, Wiis, Tivos, and Gamecubes. What The Dangerous Book for Boys appeals to is the imagination. And it’s that alone that makes this book successful.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

July 14th, 2007 at 6:58 pm

Waltonian Island Wonders

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Where four days and three nights equal one wonderfully long vacation…

Saturday morning we packed the car, put the canoe on top and headed to Lake George in the southern part of New York’s Adirondack Park.

Four hours later… Wow!

Our Waltonian Island Site

Our bloody good campsite

Waltonian Island is about a mile north of Hague—it’s one of the islands just to the north of the arrow on this crappy Google Maps image—and was an easy boat ride from the public dock in Hague. There were about 40 of us in all for the four days and three nights that we were there, but the island wasn’t cramped at all. You could be with people if you wanted to or avoid them altogether if you liked. Most of the crew headed up to high land in the center of the island as there were many small children that we didn’t want having easy access to the water. Others—including Kathy and me—camped closer to the water. Our hosts were gracious enough to allow us to have a beautiful site on the northern side of the island that had a perfect view of the lake right from our tent window. Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for better.

Mad Mike the Motorman

The inimitable Michael Rutkoske

The days consisted of Mike (one of our hosts) jetting all the kids around the island either on water skis or a two-man tube. (Sunday he spent more than nine hours on the lake and when it was all said and done he looked as happy as the kids did.) If they weren’t behind the motorboat people were swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or jumping off the rock ledges behind our campsite and into Lake George. Adventure and excitement for all!

Buddy!

A young Rutkoske cliff jumping

Kayak Boy

A young Battersby paddling his heart out

We had rain almost every night while we were there, which could have been a real pain except for the fact that our tent was on a platform. On Monday night we also had a crazy thunderstorm that blew over pretty quickly but that we continued to watch for about 45 minutes as it made its way into Vermont. Joanna caught a great deal of it on video on her digital camera, so I hope to have it posted here soon.

Overall it was a wonderful couple of days.

Good friends, great activities, and an excellent part of the world.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

July 12th, 2007 at 4:51 pm