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The Midnight Ramble

21 Apr

This past Thursday – April 19, 2012 – was a very sad day.

The day Mr. Levon Helm lost his battle with cancer.

The Los Angeles Times ran a very nice obituary on Friday…

“…his approach to music throughout his life was “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” an ode to the kind of freewheeling gatherings in which the musician, who died of cancer Thursday at 71 in New York, thoroughly reveled.

When your arms are empty, got nowhere to go

Come on out and catch the show

There’ll be saints and sinners you’ll see losers and winners

All kinds of people you might want to know”

…while reading it I was taken back a few years – to May 2008, in fact.

To my experience at Levon’s Midnight Ramble.

From the Ramble’s website:

“A gracious host, Levon invites you to his home studio in Woodstock, N.Y… Inside “The Barn,” which is really a large recording studio attached to Levon’s home, you’ll see a stage, a cozy fireplace and plenty of seating. The ambiance of the place will give you a feeling that is personal and intimate, casual and friendly, and you know you are about to be part of something very special.”

Very special, indeed!

I went with my music pals, M&E, to Woodstock for a Ramble.

Here’s the outside of the “Barn”:

And here are my pals, next to the sign that is the very bane of my existence:

“No Cameras” – how I HATE those words!

I knew that was the rule of the Ramble, so I didn’t take with me my good camera. I took along a little point and shoot – in case it was confiscated, or in case I was told to leave it in the car. And even though I got inside with it, I didn’t dare try to take any pictures during the show.

We were seated so close to Levon, that M (who was seated on the aisle) might have stretched out and touched the drum kit, if he had wanted to!

The Ramble was AWESOME. Levon seemed to have the energy of a 30-year old man, and his nonstop grin lit up the room. The band was tight and incredible and everyone was having a blast – especially the players. Especially the audience.

Especially Froggy.

Froggy was excited about having his picture taken with a couple of the Helmland Security men.

I was kind of hoping to loosen them up so I could sneak a picture or two.

(Now, I totally get it. No one wants flashes during a show, or people standing to to take pictures. But does a discreet snap or two really hurt anyone?)

No, I didn’t take any pictures during that magical performance. But here are a couple I grabbed as the players were leaving the room.

Daughter Amy Helm waving from the drum kit:

And here, you can see a bit more of the barn, and of the upstairs loft:

I always meant to go see another Ramble. It didn’t really occur to me that time was so fleeting…

I am proud to have this Elliott Landy original photograph hanging on my wall:

Isn’t it remarkable and bitterly sad that those three charming, handsome, talented young men on the left are no longer rambling around on this Earth??

Thankfully their music will live on forever and forever.

I know some of us are in The Helm camp – some in The Robertson camp – when it comes to The Last Waltz and the bitter feud that followed… I am simply in The Band camp.

Happy, thankful to have photographs to gaze upon, movies to watch, music in my soul, memories to cherish… I close today with:




Fabulous And Easy Buffalo Chicken Wings

11 Jan

A dear, sweet, wonderful friend gave me a box of hot sauce recently – 4 big bottles – heavy on the garlic and heavy on the heat.

This is a good friend who knows me well!

“Garlic-o-holic”!! screams the label on the box.

I told her that I would share the hot sauce recipes that I came upon – so here we go with Hot Sauce Recipe # 1:

Fabulous And Easy Buffalo Chicken Wings.

I started with Alton Brown’s recipe, found here on the Food Network website.

But of course I played with his recipe a little bit.

I really like the way he steams the wings before baking them. This gets a good bit of fat out of the skin. But I wanted to try to infuse some more flavor in this step of the process, so I added cayenne pepper, a bay leaf, and some crushed ground pepper to the water before steaming.

I steamed the wings for 15 minutes. Then I laid them out on a paper towel plate and refrigerated them for about 20 minutes.

(Alton says 1 hour – but I was getting hungry.)

Then I placed them on a sheet in the toaster oven and I broiled them for 15 minutes each side.

In the mean time, I grated 4 cloves of garlic with my handy-dandy grating plate

which I bought at the San Gennaro Festival (I posted a blog about it here – I love this little plate! If you’re interested, go here to their website to learn more.)

In a small saucepan, I combined the garlic mush, 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 cup of garlic-habanero hot sauce. I let this bubble away while the chicken cooked, until the sauce got slightly thick and totally scrumptious.

I sliced up some celery, and made a little bit of blue cheese dip (crumbled up some blue cheese into some non-fat Greek yogurt along with some chopped garlic) – and I had restaurant-quality Buffalo Chicken Wings in about 1/2 hour – for the price of $3.00 worth of wings – everything else I had in the fridge.


Here’s my recipe:

6 wings, cut into pieces (wing tips saved for stock)

water in pot with steamer basket – add:

1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Steam the wings for 15 minutes, then plate on paper towels and refrigerate for up to 1 hour

Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, spread wings out on tray and broil for 15 minutes on one side, then 10 – 15 minutes on the other side. Watch so they do not burn.

While wings are cooking, combine in saucepan:

1 Tablespoon butter

1/2 cup hot sauce

several garlic cloves (to taste) minced or crushed

Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, longer to get thicker as desired.

For blue cheese dip:


1/4 cup blue cheese

1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

several garlic cloves (to taste) minced.

When wings are finished broiling, toss them in a bowl with the wing sauce, and enjoy with celery sticks and the blue cheese dip.

Absolutely fabulous!!

Thanks, my dear friend. You know who you are!!



Cats – Pure Bred vs Mutts?

23 Nov

My pal Ellen and I recently enjoyed The Westchester Cat Show. Ellen goes every year; this was my first time.

We got quite a chuckle out of some of the signs. There were some very stern and explicit directions!

Then we settled down to look at some of those fancy cats.

I liked this one with the eyebrows

and the bobbed tail.

This Siamese had a heck of a lot of personality, and such a crazy beautiful face.

And this Sphinx was…so wise!

We both fell in love with Bengal kitties.

A Silver:

And a, er, Not Silver:

Forgive me, an expert I’m not.

But these kitties all showed so much vivaciousness and sweetness, Ellen and I wanted just to eat each one up!

There were the giant Maine Coons – in every color.





ALL gorgeous animals!

But – can any really hold a candle to Ellen’s sweet Amber Rose?

Or to our sweet Sammy?



The Westchester Cat Show – This Weekend In White Plains NY!

17 Nov

There is no date on this photo, but the little tyke on the left is my Grandmother, and she appears to be no more than 5 years old – so I am guessing the picture was taken in about 1915 or earlier.

Yes, it shows the little girl who would become my T.G. – along with one of her brothers, their kitty kitty, and her new little babies.

Here is our Sammy – being a total goof ball, as usual.

In honor of all cats past, present and future… and in honor of our love of those cats… this weekend I am joining my pal Ellen.

We’re going to the Westchester Cat Show!

I can’t wait!

We’ll get to see Hale Bop – “the world’s first feline super model”.

A cat named Hale Bop models her Egyptian outfit while at the Westchester Cat Show at the County Center in White Plains Nov. 22, 2009. (Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News)

The show usually has over 200 feline entries of a wide variety of breeds in competition and a large number of kittens and cats for sale or adoption.”

I have also warned Ellen – no matter how much I beg, no matter how much I fall in love – Hubby will not allow me to bring home an adopted Baby.

If you are in the area and plan on going to the Westchester Cat Show, be sure to print out the 1-dollar-off coupon here.

Here’s where it’s all going down:

Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York
198 Central Ave, White Plains, NY
junction of Route 100 (Central Ave) and Route 119 (Tarrytown Rd)

Sammy says “See you there!”



Go Now: Fri/Sat/Sun – The WFMU Record Fair – Be There Or Be Square!

28 Oct

If you’re in the New York City area this weekend (Friday October 28 – Sunday October 30, 2011), and if you are a vinyl record freak lover… well, you don’t have to read this, because you already know.

It’s time for the annual WFMU Record Fair.

Their site says:

Last year over 4,000 vinyl fans attended WFMU’s 2010 Record Fair! This year’s fair takes place on Friday October 28th from 7-10pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, the 29th and 30th, from 10am to 7pm. Once again you’ll find 10,000 square feet of amazing LPs, singles, CDs, DVDs and artworks. Admission is $7; earlybirds can enter beginning at 4pm on Friday for $25, which includes re-admission all weekend.

When you’re ready to take a break from digging in the crates you can check out a wide assortment of multi-media presentations in The AV Lounge, or catch one of the live bands playing throughout the weekend.”

First of all, I’d like to say that we LOVE this radio station WFMU, here in the NY/NJ area.

It is the longest-running freeform radio station in the U.S. It began as a college radio station that first started broadcasting in April 1958 at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey.

Our friends at Wikipedia say it best:

WFMU has a stated commitment to unstructured-format broadcasting. All programming is created by each individual air personality, and is not restricted by any type of station-wide playlist or rotation schedule. Experimentation, spontaneity and humor are among the station’s most frequently noted distinguishing traits. Unlike most commercial broadcasting and non-commercial educational radio stations, WFMU does not offer regularly scheduled news, weather, traffic, sports, or financial information. WFMU does not belong to any existing public radio network, and nearly 100% of its programming originates at the radio station.”

This is a very good reason, in my opinion, to support the WFMU Record Fair.

May I backtrack for a moment? When I lived in Atlanta, I thought that I had a lot of records.

That was before I met Hubby.

Hubby is the Record King!

Hubby ALWAYS keeps his records and their jackets in absolute mint condition. No matter how often he plays them, they are just like brand new.


So, for quite a few years, Hubby and his great pal M. had a table every year at the WFMU Record Fair. They were some of the best-loved vendors there, due to their reputations of having the best mint and/or obscure vinyl around.

Besides selling records, Hubby loved making new friends and talking Music with the other Music-loving freaks collectors.

He met Snuffles there once, and for Hubby, that was the highlight of that year’s Fair.

Snuffles is the dancing bear-host on New York City’s public access TV show “Wild Record Collection”. They show the record cover, and then play a song or two from that record. Snuffles and his friend dance to the music – rather like a stuffed-animals-Shindig.

You can watch an episode of “Wild Record Collection” here, if you dare.

The guys who are behind Snuffles get a lot of their Wild Collection from the annual WFMU Record Fair.

You can also find fun, kicky album covers for your wall there:

And, if you’re REALLY lucky, you might see Snuffles.



P.S. Hubby no longer sells his records. He cannot BEAR to part with any more of his Wild Record Collection. (HA HA, pun intended)

Bent, But Not Broken.

19 Sep

This morning, Hubby reminded me to water the plants.

“Wifey” he said, “I think it’s time that you water the plants.”

I looked out the window – he was right!

So I started to fill the watering can to attend to the plants out on our balcony (fire escape? or balcony?)

Then I saw this dreadful sight:

Half of my precious Todd Rundgren Jade Plant/Friendship Tree was lying in the bottom of the balcony/fire escape.

I climbed out to inspect the damage.

You all remember my Todd Rundgren Jade Plant/Friendship Tree, right? If not, acquaint yourself here.

So, you see how I could be deeply affected by any severe damage to this wonderful plant.

I got some damage-control equipment from our supply armoire , and climbed back out onto our balcony/fire escape.

And I staked that baby back up.

It will be as good as new.

Because, it was Bent, But Not Broken.

It’s ironic that this exercise took place this morning, because right now – as I type – my dear friend E is undergoing 8 hours of surgery. To get rid of that damned cancer for once and for all.

She’s been on my mind an awful lot these days.

And I know, just like that Friendship Tree, that my friend E is Bent, But Not Broken.

And she will soon be as good as new.

But for now, it is a trying time for E and her husband M.

If you’re so inclined, please send out a spiritual wish to E that she has a speedy recovery.

Thank you!



More Tugs (Heart!)

9 Sep

I have a friend who has a friend who’s really into Tugboats. So, my friend sent her friend this link.

About Tugs.

My blog from the other day about the 19th Annual Tugboat Race & Competition that took place over last weekend.

Her friend wrote back:

Sherrie, Great pix and fun commentary! I’m related to the McAllister Bros tugs – the striped stack. My Grandfather ran the co. for many years and his grandfather started it. Lots and lots of fun. And they are definitely little mighty boats!

I *believe* that this picture from last weekend is one of the Tugs that belongs to the McAllister Company.

I’ve written back asking her to confirm.

I also asked for more stories.

Then I Googled the company. They have an awesome website, telling the history of the company.

If you like Tugs, you should check out the website. Since 1864. Wow!

In 1864, The Civil War was going on. I wonder if there was any connection.

Their website says:

Captain James McAllister started the first McAllister enterprise shortly after he arrived from Cushendall, County Antrim, Ireland . Together with his brothers and in-laws, McAllister formed the Greenpoint Lighterage Company. They augmented the lighterage business with towing, with the acquisition of their first steam tug, the R.W. BURKE, in the 1880’s, while the Brooklyn Bridge was still being built.”

I had to look up the definition of “lighterage”. It means “transportation of goods on a lighter”.

I’ll bet that Captain McAllister probably came here from Ireland to transport goods during the Civil War.

Or, I could be SO off base!

I really hope that my friend’s friend writes back with more stories!!!

Their website even has a store! You can buy Tug hats

Tug tee shirts

and oh, oh oh! I MUST get one of these little Tug pins!!!

They also have a photo book available. I looked at it, and read:

Fantastic Collectable Book, with 48 full color pages of photos featuring McAllister tugs at work.  The book includes recent high profile jobs such as towing of the USS Intrepid, McAllister’s maiden voyage to San Francisco and escorting the USS New York, whose bow was partially made from the melted down World Trade Center steel.”

And I thought, “Wait! I took pictures of the USS New York in 2009, when she came into port on the Hudson River.”

So, I pulled out another picture.

And there, hard at work, are at least two of the McAllister Tugs – the red ones in front with the striped stacks. And, maybe another one further back, in the middle of the river?

How totally cool is that??!!

If I’m wrong, I’ll eat my (Tug) hat!



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