Thursday, June 30, 2011

Carl Schwartz Passes

I am sad to have to tell everyone that Jeffrey Schwartz's 93 years old father, Carl Schwartz, passed away yesterday morning. Jeff and his sister along with their mom had been taking care of their father for the past year and 1/2. The family tells me that his dad had a quiet strength and a smile that would melt your heart. He will be truly missed. May he rest in peace.

Plant Walk this Saturday July 2nd

There are still some spaces available for WCA members at this weekend's plant walk with Violet Snow. Please let me know if you would like to attend. Here are the details:

PLANT WALK w/VIOLET SNOW - Saturday July 2nd, 11:00am - 1:00pm - Location will be in Woodland Valley - Join herbalist Violet Snow for a stroll through our beautiful valley. She will explore and identify some of the different plants & shrubs that grow all around us. Violet has a vast knowledge of both the edible and medicinal properties of many of the herbs in the Hudson Valley. The group is limited to 15 and sign-up is required! If you sign up and then are unable to attend please notify me as soon as possible so I can extend the opportunity to someone else. Please RSVP to me at The walks will require some light uphill walking. Please remember your sunscreen, a hat, good walking shoes and water.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bo's Midsummer Night's Potato Salad

Once again Boreegard has provided us with an excellent recipe. Here is is what Bo had to say on the proper handling of spuds.

Prologue: Jeanne (Bo's wife, aka She Who Must Be Obeyed), having bought some potato salad at one of our local super duper grocery stores last week, suggested that I should buy some more of it as a complement to tonight's beefsteak and fresh local corn, rather than make my own, considering the terrible muggy heat we've been suffering from this past week. When the Scotsman in me saw the ridiculous high price being charged for this sorry pap, he rebelled, and set about to make his own intimate potato salad (if a potato salad in bulk weighs two pounds or less, I think of it as intimate). As Harry Truman said: heat be damned, especially en la cocina.

Here's how you might make a similar one.


o two pounds fresh bliss potatoes (any potato will do, but bliss redskins have the proper starch density, and do not need to be skinned—the skin becomes a defining and vitamin- laden part of the salad).
o ½ a large sweet onion, chopped (in this case it was a Georgia Vidalia).
o 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped.
o fresh parsley, lettuce, endive, or other greens of similar ilk, chopped finely.
o ½ tsp salt.
o fresh ground pepper
o 1 heaping tbsp. Hellman's light Mayo


o 1/8 cup vinegar (in this case apple vinegar)
o 3/8 cup olive oil
o 1 tsp strong mustard
o 1 clove fresh garlic—crushed
o 1 tsp. soy sauce
o several healthy dashes of Louisiana hot sauce

o bring potatoes to boil in a pot, with enough water to cover them. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (to the time that they're just barely done—a fork should just be able to penetrate about 1/6 of an inch).
o in the meantime, chop the veggys required and put aside.
o make the dressing and put in a heat resistant container (pyrex). Put on stove burner at low heat, mixing once and awhile. You want it to be warm.
o when potatoes are done, drain and slice, steaming hot, into ½ inch or so pieces. Place in big bowl and pour warm dressing over. Let sit, and stir from time to time for about a half hour, so that all is joined in a perfection of warm contiguous soak.
o throw whatever's left from above into it and stir gently. Then chill (or not—according to your taste).


The secret to good potato salad is not much of a secret at all, but it seems so often to be ignored. You must join the warm dressing with the steaming hot cuts of potatoes in that big bowl, and for at least a half hour turn the whole mess with a big spoon from time to time, so as to insure that all the good stuff is soaked into the potatoes. Once you have achieved that, add all the rest of the stuff, mix it slowly with said big spoon, and let sit for at least another hour in the refrigerator, so that the various ingredients might blend properly. Forgive me if I repeat myself.


In the busy afternoon of this day, mixed with weeding old garden beds, making iced tea, and chasing quick little toddling grandchildren between the raindrops, I set about putting this recipe together in the hot kitchen, as Jeanne ran herd on the little possums [Griffin and Julia]. All ingredients had been assembled in the big bowl, and been stirred the required time, and just needed the final dollop of mayo. I went out to fill the front yard birdfeeder, which an amazing collection of birds had descended upon, and returned to find Grandma Jeanne feeding bits of Bo's tater salad by hand into the maw, the very appreciative maw, of my granddaughter—Julia. "Mo, mo (more, more)," that delightful little gourmand insisted. Very soon we were all enjoying bitsels of it. Yum!

I'm surprised there was any left for dinner.

Boreegard (aka Mike O'Neil)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Poetry of These Mountains

I almost never publish poetry by people outside WV but this poem came to me yesterday in an odd way and I thought I would pass it along. I signed up with the American Academy of Poets to receive a "Poem-A-Day" by email. Weirdly enough, when they sent me my first poem from their huge collection, it was by someone I have known for years (he lives in Saugerties). Not only that but it was entitled "Our Valley" and seemed to talk about this beautiful place we call home. Such synchronicity!!

So here it is. I hope you all enjoy it too!

Our Valley
by Philip Levine

We don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you're thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn't your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Reviews Are In!

We all had a great time last night at the screening of "The Donner Party"! Not only was the film amazing but Ric was very, very interesting and insightful at the Q&A after the film. Several people emailed me this morning to say how much they enjoyed it. Here are some of their reviews:

"It was such a privilege to be there!"

"What an intelligent and thoroughly thoughtful man he is."

"What a great evening!"

The evening went so well that we might do it again next year with one of Ric's other films. For any of you who would rather not wait until then to see more of Ric's work, all of his films are for sale through PBS Online Store.

Since it would probably be hard to screen his entire "New York" series together I would highly recommend you checking this incredible work out at home. If is a wonderful portrait of what I consider the greatest city in the world!

Thanks again to everyone who helped last night! Brave Emma for always, always helping with everything! Rick Altman for setting up the professional sound system. Vinny Wallace for opening the theater and helping in any way possible. The STS board for allowing us to use the theater. Bonnie LaFave for working with me to organize this great event and last but not least to Ric Burns for agreeing to share his amazing vision with us!!!! It was a great night!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

"The Donner Party" Film Screening

“The Donner Party” - Film Screening with Filmmaker Ric Burns
This Saturday June 25th – 7:00pm - STS Theatre - 10 Church St, Phoenicia

We are thrilled to welcome Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker/writer (and WCA member) Ric Burns for a special screening of this amazing work. The film profiles a group of American settlers headed west in 1846 towards the promise of a better life. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, the group becomes stranded high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for one of the worst winters on record. It is an intense story of struggle, tragedy and survival. We will view the work and then have a Q&A afterwards with Ric about this film and the documentary process in general. It should be a great night!! WCA members may bring guests. The event is free to all Due to the harsh nature of the struggles faced by the pioneers in this work, the film is not recommended for children under the age of 13.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Howard Lindemann turns 100!

For many years a small group in Woodland Valley has stocked the stream with trout. Mike O'Neil (aka Boreegard) is the fearless leader of the piscatoral devotees. There have been many stalwart volunteers in the crowd, none more faithful than Howard Lindemann. Mike sent me this message in celebration of Howard's upcoming birthday. Read on:

"I'm sharing this old posting (18 years past) to illustrate how a spry 82 year old Howard helped us stock the Woodland Brook's fly fishing stretch, as he did many years before and many years after.

Howard is about to turn 100 on June 27. God Bless you Howard!"



The basic elements of stocking trout in the two mile fly fishing stretch of Woodland Brook are by definition felicitous simplicity itself. On the appointed summer day the volunteers gather about the trout hatchery truck—about fifteen of them is the right number. And for the next two hours they stroll behind the truck as the troutmeister—me—occasionally asks them to take a plastic bucket of fish down to the stream. There the trout are gently released into the brook’s accepting pristine waters. Ah, nature!

We stocked the stream last July. What a genuine bummer. Only four active stockers showed up. Somehow, through the steaming hot afternoon we deposited 300 fine trout. We were too few and too old, but we wanted to do it, so to Hell with statistics. Our premier stocker, Howard, was 82. Charlie was 73, and Jim was sixty. Then there was that workhorse John with his wife Lee and their five year old daughter Julie.

I hardly understand why wholesale collapse was not the order of the day. Twin Pines was the worst. I’d sent John ahead with a bucket of ten. I followed him with my own bucket for the long haul. I saw him and Lee on hands and knees in the sand, trying to scoop one of the big ones back into their bucket. I went around them. Fifteen feet later I was on MY hands and knees, scooping up two grit-covered trout. Then, with the sparkling stream just six feet away I tripped again and collapsed forward. With skinned knees, eyeglasses hanging on the tip of a sweaty nose, four more of the poor dears were flopping just in front of me. I finally managed to slide them into a circle of pristine water—the Grandparents Pool.

God determines and sets these exercises in a tumbling joke upon us. Each year’s stocking, with volunteers listening, I pontificate, giving the implacable instructions once again—just as my Daddy did before me. “If you feel you must touch the trout while you are putting them into the stream, “ I intone, “ALWAYS wet your hands first.” HAH! Yesterday the yoke was on me. Wet your hands, INDEED!

When we’d finished stocking we went to Howard’s cabin for refreshments. His wife Elinor was there to welcome us. Ah, the blessed cool of the shaded porch, freezing cold soda and beer, and munchies.

Julie, stationed on the porch hammock, said, “Know what we’re having for dinner tonight?” “Pizza,” I asked. “UH, uh,” she said, “lobster!” We all said, “Yum, Yum.” Julie was our relief during the hot stocking regimen—a sweet child who collected handful after handful of wild flowers and presented them to us as we tended to our piscatorial duties. Queen Ann’s Lace and Oxeye daisies were in the ascendancy, bunched with the occasional velvety stem of mullein and other delicate wild simples.

As the day finally cooled in earnest, one of the big bullfrogs in Howard and Elinor’s pond went GALLUMP, gallump, GALLUMP. Jim said it sounded like a moose. And you know, in that protected nook it did. Not to put too fine a hat on it, but I agree with whoever first said, “God is good.”


Monday, June 20, 2011

Helping Hands Benefit

The Helping Hands food pantry is having a BBQ fundraiser this coming Sunday June 26th. This is a wonderful organization that helps to feed a lot of folks in our area. Several WCA members volunteer with the group and asked me to pass along the details. The festivities will be held at the Phoenicia Black Bear Campground - Bridge Street, Phoenicia. Gates open at 3:30 and the event will be held rain or shine. The fundraiser will honor John and Olga Zirinsky. There will be a lot of music and fun!

Please RSVP by June 18th
Contribution with reservation $30.00
Tickets at the gate $35.00
Call 845-688-9825 or email:

Please Make Checks Payable to:
Helping Hands of NY
PO Box 546
Bridge Street
Phoenicia, NY

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I posted this last year but it is one of my all time favorite poems written by WCA member Mike O'Neil aka Boreegard. I think it is definitely worth reading again. Happy Father's Day to all!!

Father’s Day in Retro

What does a son yearn for, after all?
To know his father—that mysterious entity,
Daddy, Papa, Da, Pop,
The bloodline to the past.

Combing through his writing, if there was such,
Recalling his pronouncements,
Gazing at the kodaks for a hint of
Meaning behind the frown or smile.

We delve the unknowable, we sons,
(Daughters, take your own matters in hand),
And while you may think you have a clue,
Sonny Boy, you don’t.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

"The Woods" at BAM

I received this message from WCA member Max Nova. I thought folks who are going to be down in the city next Sunday might want to go and see the film!

"On the heels of our world premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, we're excited to announce THE WOODS will be having its New York / East Coast premiere as part of the BAMcinemaFEST in a couple weeks:


Sunday June 26:
6:15pm The Woods (94 min) 2011. Matthew Lessner/ cast/ crew - Q&A

At 9PM there will be a post-BAM jam at the Rock Shop featuring contributors to the film's soundtrack, including Lydia Ainsworth, Fort Lean, SAFE, and Unsolved Mysteries, with Rewards as DJ and Toby Lou, star of THE WOODS, as MC."

- Max

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pet Sitter needed June 27 - 30

I received this message from Karen Randolla yesterday. Please contact her directly if you are interested.

"We'll be in Woodland Valley at the end of June, but are also taking a side-trip for a few days and need someone to feed our Guinea Pigs. They get fed twice a day, and we need to cover from Monday evening to Thursday morning. You can contact us at 914-945-0304 or email Payment TBD."
- Karen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Phoenicia in NY Post Today

There was a big article about Phoenicia today in the NY Post Home Real Estate Guide. It talks about what a great place Phoenicia is to live. We all already know that but I guess now our secret is out! If you would like to read the article here is the link.

NYP Phoenicia Rises

If you are thinking about selling your house maybe now is the time. Between this piece and Phoenicia's rank as the 6th coolest town in Budget Traveler magazine there will probably be a lot of interest in the area.

Fawns in the Valley

Doris Morehouse recently sent me the adorable photos below with this message:

"Spring is here. Mother and fawn are in our yard about 10' away. As long as they don't eat the garden, we love seeing them. She's quite tame which may or may not be good for her and baby. They came to the front porch area later and I walked out about 6' from her but couldn't get one more photo although she did stay and just looked at me."

- Doris

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Panther Mountain Wikipedia Page

Today I discovered quite by accident that there is a page for Panther Mountain on Wikipedia. It has a lot of information about the theory that the circular pattern formed by the two creeks surrounding Panther Mountain was caused by a meteor strike. Very interesting reading. Check it out if you have time: Panther Mountain - Wikipedia

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stephen Houska Passes

Longtime Woodland Valley resident Steve Houska passed away on Tuesday June 7th at Kingston Hospital. He was a born in Brooklyn but raised locally. He graduated from Onteora High School in the 1970's. He was a longtime employee of the NYS DEC and at one time had managed the Woodland Valley Campground. Here is a link to his obituary in the Kingston Daily Freeman: Stephen Houska

May he rest in peace.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Woodland Kids Play Day Postponed!

Unfortunately, due to bad weather the Woodland Kids Play Day has been postponed. We were originally going to reschedule for tomorrow but the forecast doesn't look much better. So we are going to have to postpone the gathering indefinitely and find another date later in the summer. We will let all WCA members know as soon as it is decided.

Friday, June 10, 2011

We Have a Winner!!

By a slim margin the WCA members finally chose their favorite design for a Woodland Valley logo. The winning design is posted underneath. It was a tight contest between the 1st (with the trees and stream) and the 2nd (with just the trees) versions of the design. But in the end, the 2nd version won. So here it is folks! Hopefully, we will give everyone stickers with this logo at the annual summer meetings. I will poll everyone at the meeting and see if we have enough interest to print t-shirts and maybe even ball caps.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Remembering Paul O'Neil

My father, Paul O’Neil, was born June 9, 1909, 102 years ago, for those of you who like to count such things. I like to celebrate his birthday by digging up a bit of his writing and sharing it with friends. This year’s no different. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, POP!

Way out west in the Cascades, in a first growth forest settler's cabin, near the entrance to Mount Rainer National Park, tacked up on the log wall near the trophy elk's head and a pair of broad old-fashioned snowshoes is this piece of writing from an old magazine. I think it bears reading again.

Boreegard aka Mike O'Neil


Man would not be man if, somewhere in his heart, he was not a bum—if he did not nurse a recurring dream of indolence and irresponsibility, and did not yearn to stretch out on a tropic beach or under a western watering tank and let his whiskers grow and occasionally have a shot of something rousing from a bottle. It is a dream which has a way of growing stronger in summer, but in most strata of society a fellow just can't hustle off to hunt for Tom Sawyer's island, or for pearl oysters—he can't, indeed, even doze off on the courthouse steps at noon—without causing a raise of eyebrows and a wag of tongues. Fish, however, are a bum's best friend. Not the lusty salmon, nor the leaping trout, nor any fish which must be pursued, but the flounder and the catfish—fish which inhabit the tide flats and the back eddies of slow rivers, fish which may be lured to the bait from a recumbent position. Millions of men annually escape that constricting maze erected over the centuries by their women with no more equipment than is reflected in the still life to the left. They escape in every country under the sun—the photograph was made by W. Eugene Smith in a Portuguese tidal inlet off the Gulf of Cadiz—and, though the red wine in the jug might be white mule, or cider, or muscatel or rye in other parts of the world, it is a picture which reflects a universal aspect of the masculine soul. A man need not row a weather-beaten boat such as this Portuguese fisherman's craft more than a dozen strokes to achieve Purpose and, hence, a suspect but unassailable license for bumhood. After that languid series of motions he is free to drop an anchor (a tin can full of cement), bait his hook, float his bobber upon the softly gurgling flood, pull out the cork, tilt his jug, lower his hat over his eyes and sink back into that comatose and reflective state in which man reaches true nobility of character. In the process, although the odds are against it, there is a chance that he might even catch a fish.
Paul O'Neil
Sports Illustrated

Monday, June 6, 2011

Phoenicia Library Fair This Weekend

Phoenicia Library Association presents the Annual Library Fair this Saturday June 11th from 10am to 2pm. It will be held in downtown Phoenicia at the temporary library, 9 Ave Maria Drive (the Old Maverick Health Building).

The Annual library fair will feature a plant book sale. There will be a free music class with Miss Miranda for children 0 - 5 at 11:30. There will also be summer reading program sign-up, craft activities and free lemonade.

For more information call Judith Singer, 688-9861, or email her at

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Melinda Stickney-Gibson at Elena Zang Gallery

Melinda Stickney-Gibson's show of new paintings called "Thinkings" will be in the Elena Zang Gallery on Rt 212 in Woodstock from June 11th - 28th. The opening reception with the artist will be Saturday June 11th from 2-5. For more information go to

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Fantastic Photos from Tom Healy

Here are some more awesome dive photos from Tom Healy's trip to Bonnaire! Thanks for sharing these with us Tom!