Sunday, March 22, 2009     


Crabby
A Very Lucky Hermit crab

     Crabby fans have been asking about our favorite crustacean since his rescue at the Rez. He was still active in December and we decorated his tank with a small string of lights for Christmas. He even had a tiny Christmas tree in the corner with tiny presents around it. He didn't seem to notice. One day shortly after New Years he buried himself in the sand completely. He stayed buried without a trace of activity for close to three months. We kept misting his tank to keep it humid and even checked for a telltale smell... Just in case. The worry has proven to be for nothing. Today Crabby emerged unceremoniously from his burial mound having completed a successful molt. To make matters even more amazing he has regenerated his big defensive claw that was probably lost during his abandonment at the Rez. He didn't seem interested in food yet but "romped around a little" and was very camera shy. He's a very lucky hermit crab.



     Friday, March 6, 2009     


Happy Birthday to me!!!



Life is Simple... Eat, Sleep, Fish

I Am Online!!!



     Thursday, March 5, 2008     


Green Side Up
G r e e n    S i d e    U p
The Herb Garden
T h e    H e r b    G a r d e n

The Herb Garden...
Survived the winter... Barely!

     The herb garden was a small island of success in a sea of turmoil last year. The cold frame was completed just in time to save the plants from the first frosts and every one except the basil was still fresh and green well into January. An avalanche of snow from the roof of The Church caved in the top of the cold frame and the period of sub-zero temperatures that followed was tough on the remaining plants but the first inspection since New Years revealed evidence for hope.
     The next task will be to carefully remove all of the dead stems and take stock of what survived and what didn’t. The flat parsley transplanted from the beach looks like it died. Two of the compartments need to be topped up with soil. I need to plant scallions, basil, cilantro and possibly flat parsley. There were two empty compartments last year and one needs to have savory planted in it. The other may be for a bay laurel (bay leaf) plant if Logees ever gets some ready. I have the scallion and basil seeds so I just need to get cilantro, chervil and savory... And maybe the bay laurel for seven or eight bucks from Logees. They're right in Danielson. The greenhouse is worth visiting. It's like going to the jungle any time of year. That will have to come inside with the rosemary next winter. Just seeing a sign of new growth makes all of the effort last year seem worthwhile. We'll be seasoning with fresh herbs again in no time. By October last year I was able to pick a nice sized bunch of herbs every time I went to the beach... What would be thirty dollars worth or more every trip. This is a Squalid Splendor success in every sense of the word.


Number Herb Type
1 Thyme Perennial
2 Rosemary Annual
3 Mint? Annual
4 Basil Annual
5 Lavender Perennial
  Catnip Perennial
6 Chervil Annual
7 Scallions Annual
8 Parsley (Curled) Perennial
9 Empty Empty
10 Parsley (Flat)
(Beach Parsley)
Perennial
11 Dill Perennial
12 Chives Perennial
13 Chamomile Perennial
14 Empty (Savory) Annual
15 Tarragon Perennial
16 Oregano Perennial
17 Marjoram Perennial


     Saturday, December 27, 2008     


Christmas in Piscataway, New Jersey

A real family Christmas in spite of a troublesome year.

      It seems like Christmas should be pleasant and relaxing. I've always thought that... but it doesn't always work out that way. This year was no exception... If not the most extreme example ever. Part of the stress created by Christmas can come from the extensive planning needed to achieve a few hours of "perfect" Martha-Stewart holidaying. In this particular instance it was all more than worthwhile. It seemed nearly everyone participated to the same magnitude on some level or other. Meal preparation, travel plans, present acquisition and decoration all seemed to come together nicely Saturday afternoon giving us a taste of what we always seem to aspire to.
      It was a true family Christmas in the best sense of the term. There was little or no stress or turmoil and certainly no drama. Timing was loose and all of the food, even the gravy, seemed just right... if not perfect. How many times does that ever happen? We even got to taste some of Agnes Walter's traditional Christmas plum pudding... the sixty-sixth one she's made. We napped and cooked, listened to music and watched some TV and a Sponge Bob DVD, drank a few glasses of wine and ate lots of food, opened some presents and played with our stuff and had about the best Christmas I can remember in a long time.

     Thursday, December 25, 2008     


Christmas Day

A Day of Reflection

      Christmas day has recently been a day of reflection and relaxation for me. I used to make every effort to attend whatever family or social Christmas day activity that was happening but decided I would rather relax and play with my stuff and take naps if the mood strikes. Pork Chop was a great companion for Christmas day. He would have a can of tuna for a treat and be perfectly happy spending the rest of the day just hanging out. This is the second Christmas without him. Cartoon network had a Warner Brother's cartoon marathon running all day so I had my fill of Bugs Bunny cartoons and plenty of leftovers and it was a great day.

     Wednesday, December 24, 2008     


Christmas Eve in Ocean Beach, New Jersey

Christmas against all odds.

      This was the year to end all years and it didn't seem like much of a Christmas was destined to happen... until the last few days. Due to economic constraints we broke with tradition and have a tree that can't be planted and will die. It was $14.00 from Wal-Mart and would die anyway so... Now it has a chance to stand tall and look good for a grand finale of sorts. Better that than end up in a dumpster. This one didn't get a name yet. Years past have seen Cartman, Clint, Doug and Muerta. Doug and Muerta didn't survive but Cartman and Clint are thriving as are most of the rest of them I've planted over the past 23 years. A few have died and one was cut down by the power company because it got too big but most are doing fine at three different addresses. All are reminders of a past Christmas and a tree that had a chance.
      The trip down from Rhode Island took longer than I expected on Tuesday night and I didn't get to the beach until 10:45 pm. The first order of business was to get the living room rearranged and the tree in its stand ready for decorating in the morning. It took three lengths of fishing line fastened to the curtain rod brackets to get the tree stable. It was reasonable full on one side and rather sparse on the other so... she listed too port a wee bit. A little fine tuning Christmas Eve morning and the decorating process was underway. The first ornament in place was Pinchy the stuffed lobster from the Nordic Lodge restaurant... A present to Kelly from Ken Muserlian. In no time at all the tree was decorated with all of the best ornaments and looking fine. The branches were settling down nicely under the weight of the ornaments and we were soon working on getting dinner ready.
      Walks up the beach are a frequent activity during an average day in Ocean Beach. Christmas Eve is no exception. We decided on our favorite meal, Ham and Cabbage, for dinner and the house smelled better each time we returned from the beach. A big ham yields a few ham steaks for Ham Steaks and Mashed Potatoes and... A great ham bone for pea soup. The leftover broth from the Ham and Cabbage makes an amazing Pea Soup base and there's usually enough Ham and Cabbage for two or three meals and as many lunches. We were going to eat very well for a while for not a lot of money. This is the theory of Squalid Splendor you'll be seeing more of in the near future in the Sandpiper. We had rock crab claws in the freezer leftover from a five pound bag Kelly got for my birthday in October AND... Jumbo baked stuffed shrimp from Providence, Rhode Island, stuffed with a stuffing that seemed to beat the Crab's Claw's hands down.
      We ate our fill of crab claws and stuffed shrimp and settled in to watch a Ghost Hunters marathon while the Ham and Cabbage filled the house with a mouth watering aroma. We had wine and Wood Chuck hard cider (Kelly's "Savories") and an early Christmas present to me... A bottle of Goslings Black Seal rum. After a beach walk the house felt warm and was filled with the smell of the Christmas tree and dinner. The tree looked great and the strange blue light bulbs in the strands started blinking. We kept glancing at the presents in anticipation during lapses in the Ghost Hunting action... frequent and substantial as they are. We watched the Charlie Brown Christmas tape from the Christmas box and even listened to the Chipmunks Christmas CD... Number one of course... The best one.

Merry Christmas to all...

And to all a good night.

     Saturday, December 13, 2008     


Death of a Snowman

      This is some more unfinished business from Christmas. December was a little hectic and it just didn't happen.



     Tuesday, December 9, 2008     


Beach Front Pictures

Scanning the Horizon at Ocean Beach, New Jersey

      The beach front in Ocean Beach has certainly changed since I first remember it. Forty years ago the view would have been drastically different. The smaller houses remain mostly unchanged but the big new double and triple-deckers dwarf the old classics. They also block much of the view from what used to be Otto and Elsie Falb's house. If you are the second house back from the beach this is not a good thing.
      Forty years ago the windows of most of the houses would have been shuttered against the winter storms. Most people didn't have homeowners insurance on a summer home so there was every reason to secure the "bungalow" for the winter. Things were very different back then. The beach was mostly deserted from October on. Everyone battened down everything that couldn't fit inside and shut off most or all of the utilities. Lavallette used to shut off the street lights and traffic lights and the only thing that seemed to be open was the Pirate's Den or whatever the seedy bar that occupied the building that's now the Crab's Claw. I remember "camping" at the beach on a few occasions with no water turned on... Just gas heaters and electricity. If you walked down to the highway, or up to the beach and saw another light on anywhere it was a big deal because that meant someone else was there. The beach was always loaded with driftwood and there might be a tire track or two from a Jeepster or something similar driving on the beach. I miss those days.
      It wasn't ALL perfect though. There used to be pools of crude oil washed up and carcasses of oil soaked cormorants and gulls scattered around and garbage like nobody's business. The isolation and quiet was great... Unless you needed something you didn't bring. I miss those days now. I get that feeling back some times on night boardwalk walks during the week that's not a holiday and the island is mostly deserted. I like the days that I can walk up the beach and be the only one north and south as far as I can see. One of the most vivid memories from when we "camped" was going to "Uncle" Pat Stacik's house for buckets of water. Mr. Stacik was an old friend of my grandfather's and his best fishing buddy. He was the first person I remember staying at the beach all winter after he retired. The house would be warm and smelled of pipe smoke. There might be a fire going in the fire place and if we were really lucky "Aunt" Irma might have a pot of chowder going on the stove. Those moments were the inspiration for Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder... One of my best Danger Kitchen recipes.
      Too many things may have changed forever for those events to be relived. Maybe the impending financial meltdown we're probably going to experience will erase some of the "progress" that's happened since as long ago as I can remember. I'm glad I have the memories.

     Wednesday, December 3, 2008     



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   A mediocre sunset over an agitated Barnegat Bay.   


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   This is the roughest I've seen the bay this year.   


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   This baby would tear up the bay in this wind.   


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   It's a good thing she's tied up... just in case.   


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   A lone sandpiper working the "surf" in the bay.   


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   This looks like the start of a new inlet to the ocean.   

     Tuesday, December 2, 2008     



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   The Atlantic Ocean on a bright sunny December morning.   


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   The Dazzling brilliance reflected off the water is very inspiring.   


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   This is why morning beach walks are the best.   

     Monday, December 1, 2008     



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   The view from inside... looking towards the beach.   


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   A warm cheery place...even on the stormiest night.   


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   This window is a beacon of comfort during the winter months.   

Sixty Years of Tradition

Leaving the beach to start the Christmas season.

     In 1948 Francis and Agnes Walter (Kelly's grandparents)rented a house on East Channel Way in Ocean Beach. The next year, 1949, they bought their own bungalow on East Bay Way. The Walter familly has been a fixture here at Ocean Beach ever since. Agnes Walter has instilled a strong appreciation of rituals and traditions in her family, especially her granddaughter Kelly. For as long as anyone can remember, Agnes has closed up the house the weekend after Thanksgiving and opened it up again soon after Easter. This ritual serves well the great sense of purpose she conducts her life with. The family relies on this sense of purpose and the resulting yearly rituals as much as they rely on anything else.
     One of the important tasks associated with closing up the house is decorating the bay window in the front of the house with Christmas decorations and lights. Kelly helps get the decorations down out of the attic and put up the lights. The warm glow of the Christmas lights is an oasis on an otherwise dark deserted street. I miss seeing the lights at the beginning and end of boardwalk walks for the rest of the winter. The beach finally feels deserted when Agnes closes up the house and heads north.
     Leaving the beach can cause a great deal of stress for a beach person. Agnes has been coming and going with the seasons for sixty years and says it never gets any easier. I can believe this from my own experiences... having to leave the beach many times during the year. We each have our own protocol for dealing with the last day. It almost always includes a last walk up the beach and we all seem to hope for bad weather to make it easier. It doesn't. The key to surviving the ordeal is to look past the emotional anguish to the next arrival.


     Saturday, November 29, 2008     


   Crabby   
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Crabby
A Very Lucky Hermit crab

     Crabby fans are still asking about our favorite crustacean since his rescue at The Rez and first and second appearances in the Sandpiper. He's doing well at the beach and enjoying fresh salt water on his natural sponge and fresh fish when Kelly catches one. He seems to like lettuce and oats and spinach. He had carrots and potatoes and coconut and raisins for Thanksgiving and seems as pleased as a crab can be.

     Tuesday, November 25, 2008     



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   "Seaside" wants to be a pet so badly.   

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   Kelly is tempted by the crane machines but we keep walking.   

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   Nearing the north end of the boardwalk again.   

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   A cheese steak, stromboli or calzone would hit the spot right about now.   

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   This poor palm is not handling the cold very well. I guess the condos are not selling well. I feel sorry for the palm.   

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   This is where the boardwalk road turns west and heads back towards the boulevard in Seaside Heights. That's it for the Seaside Boardwalk walk.   

The last Seaside Boardwalk Walk
The last six new pictures from Election Day 2008

See the Complete Seaside Boardwalk Walk...
tonight in jungle land ( Bruce Springsteen reference )


Check out another Seaside Boardwalk Walk web page.


     Monday, November 24, 2008     



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   The Beachcomber is usually open most of the year.   

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   This is usually a hub of activity during the summer. Wheels and games line both sides with pizza and seafood stands and restaurants galore.   

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   Why is someone power washing the Octopus or whatever the ride is in the dark on Election night?   

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   That looks like the old Himalaya way in the background I believe... or maybe the Swiss Bob. Kind of a merry-go-round rollercoaster sort of ride with loud music and a frustrated DJ in a booth. "Seaside" the cat found us near the gate.   

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   The Saw Mill is always inviting at night. They make the biggest pizzas and slices.   

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   This is the southern end of the real boardwalk... The one with rides and wheels and bars and all. Funtown Pier is the south end and Casino Pier is the north end.   

Even more Seaside Boardwalk Walk
The next five new pictures from Election Day 2008

See the Complete Seaside Boardwalk Walk...
tonight in jungle land ( Bruce Springsteen reference )


     Saturday, November 22, 2008     



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   We have to eat here one of these days just to check it out. Even the crabs seem to be enjoying it.   

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   Listen closely. You can still hear the music coming from EJ's there in the distance.   

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   The alley below the roof top miniature golf course is dark and deserted. The north pier, the one with the haunted house ride, sticks out over the ocean just east of here.   

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   Sunny's & Rickey's arcade opens on weekends most of the winter. Coin Castle and Lucky Leo's are usually open on weekends as well. We usually stop in so Kelly can play the claw machines... or the quarter machines in the Carousel Arcade.   

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   The Spicy Cantina closes for the season earlier than the other bars.   

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   The Midway Steak House is a good place to get lemonade. Steaks Unlimited is the new cheese steak place of choice.   

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   Uncle Spud's has been here forever too. They have good cheese fries. The picture is a little blurry. The boardwalk just doesn't seem like the place to set up a tripod. Just a quick click and we're on our way. Maybe next time.   

Still more Seaside Boardwalk Walk
Seven new pictures from Election Day 2008 The last six new pictures from Election Day 2008

See the Complete Seaside Boardwalk Walk.
tonight in jungle land.


     Friday, November 21, 2008     



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   The Rez was quite stirred up from the high winds on Saturday.   

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   The waves were breaking over the Loch Ness Rock here just a few seconds before I had the camera ready.   

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   Even the cormorant was holed up somewhere in this wind.   

Tempest in a Tea Cup
High winds whip the Rez into a froth.

      The Rez can be interesting in bad weather as well as good. Saturday's high winds had this little body of water looking like a miniature ocean at times. The breakers were rolling in to the north shore and whitecaps were visible a hundred yard south or so. The picture quality is not great due to the low light and high wind but it's always great to visit Waureegan Reservoir.


     Thursday, November 20, 2008     



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   The far end of the "Sky Ride" or whatever it's called.   

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   In all the years I've only been on it once.   

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   A cheese steak, fries and calamari sounds good right about now.   

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   I don't know if I'd ever stay HERE... but I bet that second floor room would make a great apartment... even during the winter.   

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   Looks bright, colorful and inviting but...

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   There used to be a whole place called Big Peckers. I have a yellow long sleeve T-shirt from there that I bought in 1980 or so.   

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   Three Brothers Pizza is pretty good. There are at least three of these places on the boards. Maybe one for each brother.   

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   "Bennies R Welcome". That's you if you aren't from around here.   

More Seaside Boardwalk Walk
Eight more pictures from Election Day 2008

See the Complete Seaside Boardwalk Walk...
tonight in jungle land.


     Tuesday, November 18, 2008     


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   The far north end of the Seaside boardwalk... Near where the indoor batting cages were. The Wine Cellar used to be down this end also.   

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   Some of the bars are still open all year.   

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   The Aztec was king of the boardwalk style wise in the late sixties and early seventies. Now it's the Seaside Crab House.   

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Lucky Leo's Arcade has been here forever. It's open because schools were closed for election day.   

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   "Seaside" found us in a dark alley and wanted food.   

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   Walking north just past the Carousel Arcade on the south pier.   

A Lonely Seaside Boardwalk Walk
You can almost hear a Bruce Springsteen song in the wind.

     I remember my very first trip to the Seaside boardwalk. I was four or five years old or so. I was walking with my cotton candy trying to keep up in the crowd when a woman wearing a big bulky fur jacket of some sort rushed past me and snagged half of my cotton candy on the fur. I tried telling someone of my group but they were all busy talking and walking and not paying attention. I turned to watch fur bimbo disappear into the crowd sporting what looked like a pink skunk-stripe on the fur. My grandparents made a fuss about getting saltwater taffy. The machine that makes it is cool to watch but… the taffy never did anything for me. The boardwalk itself and the wheels and carousels and rides always held a special fascination. They used to have a ride with old fashioned cars that rode around a track that I remember like it was yesterday. The boat ride was always appealing. I have to wonder how many new species of parasite and contagion evolved in the fetid pool of filth that the boats floated in… And we happy boaters trailed our hands in while boating, before eating cotton candy or Belgian waffles without washing our hands. Good thing we lived back in the days before that stuff was bad for you.
     I loved the carousel near the saltwater taffy place. Not so much because you could ride on a tiger, which was great, but they usually left the door open to the center and you could see all of the gears and belts and motors and such that drove the carousel and… the pinup calendar that the creepy maintenance guy had tacked up on a cabinet door of some sort. Skee-ball was fun and playing the wheels occasionally paid off. Most of my younger years were spent in the company of a stuffed snake won on the boardwalk. The last one I remember was lime green and about five or six feet long. The tongues and eyes were made of felt glued on. The tongues usually didn’t last too long. Crane machines were always tempting and seldom rewarded the effort. I always made a spin painting or two back then. I still have some of them. The Chatterbox was a noisy busy boardwalk bar that seemed a little scary when I was young. It was open to the boardwalk and was the first bar I ever remember seeing. I’m glad I had the chance to patronize it before it closed or moved or whatever happened to it. The Saw Mill used to be a great place to stop for a beverage or two as well. They used to sell the worlds largest pizza slices with a small soda for $1.25. $3.75 bought many a filling meal at the end of a long cold off-season boardwalk walk.
     For all the hustle and bustle during the summer, and weekends close to the beginning and end of the season, the boardwalk takes on a different character as the weather gets colder. As goes the rest of the beach, so goes the boardwalk. Post season weekends stay busy as long as the weather is favorable… until mid October or so. For the next five months the place takes on the look of a post-apocalyptic movie set complete with nuclear mutants. The Point Pleasant boardwalk gets a “Sorry… we’re closed” look to it. Seaside has a gritty creepy kind of desperate desertedness that you just have to experience. There’s an oasis or two of light and condensation fogged windows every so often from the three or four bars that stay open all year, and the arcades that do the same on weekends. The same tragic group of boardwalk rats always seems to be sitting in the same bar stools in the same bars. The highlight of the last walk, besides the ghost town atmosphere, was the young cat that tried his best to make friends. He was just too skittish to be petted but definitely wanted something to eat. I hope for the best for him. We’ll check on him next time we get a chance to walk the boards.
     If the idea of walking down a deserted boardwalk with the wind howling and the ocean waves pounding sounds a lot like a Bruce Springsteen song to you… Try it, you’ll like it. This is what he writes about. This is the Jersey Shore. There’s no place like it.


See the Complete Seaside Boardwalk Walk...
tonight in jungle land.


     Monday, November 17, 2008     



Click here to see the Bat page

Bat has this emblem on her sail cover
 Bat The Cat
Sits Phat...

Photos By Kelly Jean Walter

      The Bat the Cat page is back online. See pictures from the exciting rescue of a beautiful old A-Cat sailboat from a violent and rapidly advancing thunder storm.





The One-legged Sandpiper Mutineer Logo
The Mutineer
A Fifteen Foot One Design Class Sailboat
A Gradual Recovery
Lavallette, New Jersey
Read the whole story.
Online again after all these years.
Click here to see the Cantaloupe web page


     Sunday, November 16, 2008     



Click here to see the entire Sunset Walk page
A Sunset Walk

Along Barnegat Bay in Seaside Park, New Jersey


      The complete Sunset Walk Page is finished. See pictures from a walk along the bay road next to Barnegat Bay in Seaside Park, New Jersey. There's links to some great old Sandpiper pages about beach people and sailboats Bat and Cantaloupe.






Kelly's Chorizo Frittata

A Major Mexican Inspired Italian Recipe

     This is great breakfast dish that Kelly created on a cold windy October beach day. It has a distinct Mexican flair to it. If filling and comforting is what you're looking for; this is what you need.

Ingredients

> 12 oz Mexican chorizo sausage, skin removed.
> 1 medium red onion.
> 2 cans sliced potatoes, rinsed and drained.
> 5 eggs, lightly beaten.
> 4 slices American cheese.
> Garlic powder.
> Onion powder.
> Fresh ground black pepper.


How

> Make as many 3/4 inch meat balls out of the sausage as you can.
> Fry the sausage balls in a cast iron skillet until lightly browned.
> Drain and set aside the sausage balls.
> Chop the red onion and add to the pan with a little sausage grease.
> Cook the onion until tender.
> Remove the onion from the pan.
> Put the sliced drained potato slices in the pan and spread the onions over evenly.
> Pour the beaten eggs over the ingredients in the pan and cover with the sausage balls.
> Season to taste with garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. No need to add salt.
> Cook on the stove top for a few before moving the pan to a 350 degree oven.
> Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
> Cover with cheese slices and let the residual heat melt the cheese before serving.
> Slice and serve like quiche or scoop it into a bowl.

Options *

> Add green pepper and/or hot peppers to the pan with the onions.
> Use crumbled chorizo instead of balls.
> Use breakfast or Italian sausage instesd.
> Add mushrooms if you're using breakfast or Italian sausage.
> Add shredded cheese to the pan before adding the egg mixture.
> Top with crumbled bacon.

Boat/Camp Considerations.

This works well for boats or camping. There's just one pan. Cover with a lid and keep on top of the stove or fire if there's no oven available.


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* Did you think there was a recipe that I wouldn't suggest adding bacon to? You'd be wrong.


     Saturday, November 15, 2008     



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   Seagulls seldom sit by themselves... Unless there's a problem.   

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   This guy let me get quite close to him.   

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   Ah... There's the problem.   

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   He quickly settled down when he realized I meant him no harm.   

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   Great eyes and beautiful markings. Quite a specimen this one.   

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   He was more than happy to ignore me.   

Stumpy the Seagull
A noble bird deals with his inconvenience.

      Seagulls have a hard enough life without handicaps. This guy was around for the whole time I was in New Jersey this last trip. He's missing his right leg from the knee down, and his driver side leg is broken and useless. He can hobble on what's left of his legs but spends most of his time sitting quietly by himself rather than participating in the big squabbles for food that the rest of his brethren waste most of their time with. He's good at catching food thrown to him in mid air, preventing any other bird from getting it. I fed him a big chunk of leftover pork roast this way while he was sitting on the dune near the benches. He likes to sit with his butt over the rut from tire tracks on the beach so he doesn't have to move every time he poops. He seems to be dealing with his "inconvenience" rather well. He reminds me of Limpy before that bird went MIA.

Stumpy... One heck of a seagull.

     Tuesday, November 11, 2008     



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   Always worth the effort... A "Rez" sunset.   

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   Looks like a storm coming in from the west.   

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   My cormorant buddy. I've kayaked within two feet of him.   

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   He arrived this spring.   

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   Ok... One last picture before heading home.   

Another Sunset at the Rez
It's always worth making this part of the day.

      Sunset at the Rez is always worth the effort. I try and plan the day's activities around getting there by sunset when I'm here in town all day. I was pleased to see my cormorant buddy perched in a tree on the point just south of the main swimming beach. He has a commanding view of the whole body of water from there. He arrived early this spring and has been a regular all summer and fall so far. I've kayaked to within a couple of feet of him when he's in the water. He seems to be part of the reason the fish population is down. The heron, a regular for two years now, has a mate now. The three birds seem to be doing a good job keeping fish scarce and on the run. I only saw one fish related ripple while I was there. The water is down to winter levels and the trees are mostly bare. Winter comes to the Rez.




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Red Tag Sale

How much is that seagull in the parking lot?

     This seagull inhabits the parking lot in front of Michaels in the Killingly Commons shopping center in Dayville, CT. I though someone may have stuck a price sticker to him but he seems to have a band around his ankle also so I think he's been tagged. Many people have no respect for seagulls but I've always considered them rather special. They have some bad habits but so don't us humans. I've seen them playing in the updrafts in front of big waves and riding the air currents rising over the berm in a strong east wind... Apparently just for the heck of it. I've seen one carry a shell in the air, drop it, and chase it to the ground a dozen times or more in play. There's usually one that will ride the thermals of the accumulated heat of day over the island hundreds of feet in the air. They leave the beach to roost in the sedge grass of the bay islands around sunset. If the sunset is red they will all call in unison until the last light id gone. The redder the sunset, the more noise they make.
     I've saved many of them from fishing line entanglements over the years. Fisherman will cut the line rather than untangle the hapless bird sentencing the bird to eventual and tragic death. I've paddled out in the kayak in the worst conditions to catch seagulls tangled in line and struggling in the surf... Sometimes tangled two together. They may put up a fuss, but the largest seagull can be immobilized by folding up its wings and pinching its beak shut. They calm right down then. Even the biggest ones can't break the skin on your fingers easily. I feel bad seeing them in parking lots eating McDonalds French fries but don't use that as an excuse to run them over.



     Saturday, November 8, 2008     


   Crabby   
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Crabby
A Very Lucky Hermit crab

     Crabby fans have been asking about our favorite crustacean since his rescue at The Rez. He recently traveled to the Jersey Shore in his fish tank. We cleaned out his tank and replaced the corn cob bedding with beach sand, bought three new shells for him at the Bait and Tackle Shop and hooked him up with a natural sponge fresh from the ocean. He seems to be loving life and spends his nights romping around his tank now and climbs to the top of his horseshoe crab cave regularly. He munches on his sponge and bathes in his salt water clam shell pool. He's a changed crab. The trauma of his abandonment to the wilds of CT seems to be over.



     Tuesday, November 4, 2008     
Election Day


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   A great night for a sunset walk past the old Wheelhouse Marina... Gateway to Island Beach State Park.   

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   Still a few boats in the water in Seaside Park.   

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   Sunset boat ride? Sure!   

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Walking south along the bay beach.   

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   The town dock, south of the yacht club.   

A Sunset Walk in Seaside Park
It seems more important as the days grow shorter.

      Sunset is a special time at the beach. Some times it's even worth leaving the beach for the bay side of the island to watch the spectacle. I've taken thousands of sunset pictures but can never find an excuse no to take more. It's as worthwhile to collect sunsets as it is to collect sea glass. They can be a little sad sometimes. They mark the end of a beach day and that's never good. They also mark the beginning of a beach night and that is good.
      Each sunset is different. The reddest ones seem to excite the seagulls that leave the beach settle in the sedge islands in the bay for the night. They all call loudly in unison until the last light of the sun is below the western horizon. Yellow, orange or pink sunsets don't seem to affect them the same way.
      This sunset walk started on 24th Avenue in Berkeley, the last town on the island before the state park. 24th Ave. is the location of the Berkeley Seafood Market and restaurant, which is a great place to have dinner and a great place to watch sunsets from the second floor dining room. The dining room has views of Barnegat Bay and the ocean side dunes of Island Beach State Park. Our walk took us west past the old Wheel House Marina to the intersection of 24th Ave. and the bay road. We walked the beach along the bay road north into Seaside Park. We stopped at the big town dock just south of the Seaside Park Yacht Club. The walk back was dark as the last red glow slipped below the horizon to the west over Bayville on the other side of Barnegat Bay. A few red running lights passed by as the last few fishing boats returned from the open ocean through Barnegat Inlet. We could see the light of Barnegat Lighthouse ten miles to the south across the Inlet.
      The saddest part of this sunset walk was seeing all of the boats washed up and possibly damaged from the fierce storms that hit hard most of October. The whole scene reminded us of how we found Cantaloupe, our own long suffering Mutineer sailboat after letting someone use it for the season. Someone who didn't look after her.
      We stopped at Georges Mexican grocery and deli on the boulevard in Seaside Heights for fresh cilantro before hitting the A&P for the rest of the ingredients for fresh salsa for the party Saturday. It was a great end to a great beach day... and the first test of the new kayak seat.


See the Complete Sunset Walk in all it's glory.




     Monday, November 3, 2008     


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   Choose your weapon.   

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   The Shopping Cart... The very first one.   

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   Number two... The Catchers Mask.   

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   Darth Vader.   

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   The Clam Killer. The best rake of all.   

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   The New Shopping Cart... not as good as the old one.   

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   The Farmer. My personal favorite.   

Clamming
If it's worth doing... It's worth doing well.
Or
Don't dwell on the negative.

      Clamming is a lot like beachcombing. The differences are that you can eat the results of successful clamming and usually not so with beachcombing, and clamming is a much greater time and resource commitment and a heck of a lot more work. The similarities are as strong as the differences. Both are enjoyable outdoor activities. Both have elements of skill as well as coincidence or luck. Both result ideally in treasure that can be enjoyed immediately as well as the future (clams and broth freeze very well). Both activities are conducted next to, or in, water. Both can be weather dependent for participation and results.
      The first time we went kayaking at Island Beach state park, Kelly dug a toe in to the sand in the ankle deep water south of Tices Shoal and dug up a clam. We were soon armed with out first clamming rakes, an anchor, a traditional bushel basket in an inner tube to hold the clams and lunch in a twenty year old Playmate cooler. We made our way out to the sand flats west of the winter anchorage near the southern end of the park. We passed a canoe full of Pineys ( denizens of the Pine Barrens ) that seemed amused that we were wasting our time on the sand in clean ankle deep water while they slogged chest deep in murky water and knee deep muck feeling for clams with their toes. 92 clams later we felt we had a formula for success.
      There are some rules to be followed. You need a license to clam. One for each person clamming. You can't clam on Sundays... Clams are Methodists I believe. The most clams you can get in one day is 150 per person. We have yet to catch our limit but... That limit leads to counting, which leads to statistics. We do a rough field count as we catch them. We had a day where we only got one. We had a day that we got two-hundred fifty-two. We seldom get less than a hundred. Some times we get them consistently from the time we start. Some times we have to roam over huge areas to find a sweet spot. We've caught 3042 all together since we started counting... and not so much as an upset stomach from eating them. That is a tribute to how well New Jersey has done when it comes to cleaning up the coastal waters and keeping them clean.
      Quite a few times we have been chased off the flats by thunder storms and cold weather. Biting green flies can be a nuisance. Crabs can attack regularly. Cow nosed rays can be a little scary when you encounter them... They like clams as well. Above all... Clamming is hard work. Try dragging a long tined rake through deep soft sand in the burning sun and drying wind for hours at a time while swatting flies and dodging crabs. Then we have to paddle back to where we put in, dead tired, carrying anywhere up to a few hundred pounds of extra weight in the form of clams. Hating to have to get up out of the kayak to portage over the shallow spots. Kelly even had a kayak sink due to a crack near the foot rests and barely made it across the deep spot before the put-in area.
      In spite of all of the trials and tribulations, there's nothing more rewarding than a day of clamming. We get the clams back to the house and sort them on the patio before hosing them down with fresh water every half an hour for a while. This method, shared with me by David Sardinha of David's Seafood in Fall River, Massachusetts, results in virtually sand-free clams without any corn meal, cayenne pepper or any of the other old wives tales about de-sanding clams. The best part of the whole process may be the first batch of roasters off the grill. A batch of Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder is a great way to use a few more and there's nothing better than raw clams when they're this fresh. Ten days on ice and they are still better than store bought. Stay tuned for a New England clam chowder recipe, clams Negra Modelo, Mexican clam chowder and Dot Trautman's stuffed clams. Check in the Danger Kitchen online cookbook.
      One of the goals for this trip was to get clamming one last time. The weather was just too cold and uncooperative this trip. The best haul in October was eight clams. Good thing we always keep a good supply of frozen clams and broth for special occasions. Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday clam dishes have become a regular part of the celebration.


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   A pretty good haul... Just out of the mesh bag.   

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   Still a load of gear to get out of the truck and put away.   

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   Sorted by size and grouped by tens.   

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   Collateral damage... A bucket of crabs.   

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   Roasters AND crabs... This is as good as it gets.   



     Sunday, November 2, 2008     



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What A Difference A Day Makes
It's suddenly winter.

     Yesterday was a gift. It was warm and sunny with almost no wind. I got to go kayaking again with my new kayak seat. We got to walk around barefoot all day and it stayed warm even when it clouded up in the afternoon. Kelly made two batches of fresh salsa for the party at her grandmother's house and all seemed right with the world (on a limited basis) for the last normal day of sunlight before the darkness of winter overtakes us before five O'clock.
     One of the things that make the beach so appealing is the sudden change possible weather wise. That change can also be traumatic. Today is a completely different animal from yesterday. It's bright and sunny and the ocean is covered with the blinding reflected sparkles that chopy water and sun create. You have to get your fill of that effect before the sun passes over head. There's a cold wind blowing strong out of the northeast and the fishermen are all of a sudden like so many hooded druids facing the pounding surf. This is what winter feels like. It was summer only yesterday.
     True beach people don't lament foul weather for long. We throw on another sweatshirt or two and go about whatever activity we can under the new conditions. I'll be doing my boardwalk walk tonight in the dark on a deserted boardwalk in a deserted town. It might be a great day to drive to the park after sleeping late and making a big breakfast. It could be a great day for an afternoon nap before the sun sets. It might be a great day to take sunset pictures on the way to the A&P for cocktail sauce. It's still a good day for a beach walk. Who knows what kind of sea glass may have washed up? There are less people looking for it when the weather turns bad so odds at finding a blue or something even more exotic are improved. Today will be the day we recreate my grandmother Dot Trautman's amazing stuffed clams with clams that were frozen after September's last successful clamming run. We'll be watching the Simpson's Halloween special while eating stuffed clams and the last of the giant rock crab claws Kelly got for my birthday. I've got Oktoberfest beer and ice wine (both birthday presents) left as well. See... things are looking up already.



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   A brand new kayak seat ready for testing.   

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   Still sitting in the summer spot.   

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   The view from my "spot".   

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Lined up with the sign in Lavallette and the tallest tower on the Seaside boardwalk.   

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   Triangulated with Nick's house.   

The Last...
A perfect fall beach day and
A new Kayak seat

      Life at the beach revolves around the rhythm of changing tides and seasons. The cyclical ebb and flow is marked by milestones typically divided between firsts and lasts. This time of year, the lasts are almost as traumatic as the firsts. Any day could be the last swim; barefoot beach walk, fish caught, clamming or any number of important events. Any day could be the first snow, the first time its dark before five O'clock, the first one beach walk only day or worse yet... No beach walk day. This means that every second counts double and if you have a chance to do the last of something you go for it.
      Friday was warm and sunny and I had a new kayak seat to test. A birthday present from Kelly, it's my first new seat in close to ten years. A first to balance out a possible last. The seat made me realize how bad the old one was and how much I miss kayaking the beach when I can't. The Rez is nice, but it's no beach. With any luck this won't be the last kayaking of the season. I should probably find my dry suit and try again at Thanksgiving or Christmas. For now... It doesn't get any better than this.
      Friday was probably the last swim. To count... You need to be submerged completely. Hair wet and all. There's no time requirement so... This one counted. To be a true beach day, you have to be able to walk up the beach in bare feet, sit in a chair for a while and walk back in bare feet. Usually that happens in November during the Thanksgiving trip.


     Friday, October 31, 2008     


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   Pork Chop washes up after a meal.   

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   Eyeing Kelly bundled against the cold.   

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   Missed a spot.   

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   Pork Chop wanted companionship as much as he wanted food.   

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   The first tail grab.   

Pork Chop
The Best Cat Ever

      It was Halloween night four years ago that Pork Chop decided he could trust us. I had been seeing him up near the turn-around at the end of the street for a few years by then. I first noticed him when he was a tiny kitten sunning himself on an old section of boardwalk. He had grown into a spectacular big cat by 2004. Kelly came home from a night shift at the Crab's Claw with a takeout container of spicy wings. We bundled up against the cold and ate the wings outside over a beer and a recap of the day's events. The cold west wind was blowing the aroma of the wings up the street to where Pork Chop spent most of his time. Kelly noticed him advancing slowly into the light, sniffing the air as he went. She threw him a wing bone and he devoured it without hesitation. He seemed to be very hungry.
      Pork Chop was a caught-and-released feral cat. His left ear had a quarter of an inch clipped off it indicating that he had his shots and was neutered and posed no issue for his surroundings. Pork Chop ate eighteen chicken wing bones that night and was soon up on the deck coming closer with each pass he made. He even tolerated a solid tail grab by the end of the night. By the end of that beach trip he was showing up to eat and visit regularly. He seemed as interested in companionship as he was in food. That night was the start of a friendship that sadly ended with Pork Chop's disappearance about 16 months ago. He was the best cat ever.


     Thursday, October 30, 2008     



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A Sign Of The Times
In more ways than one.

     Like migrating birds, changing leaves and putting in storm windows; one of the things that mark the pending arrival of winter at the beach is the steady stream of cruising yachts parading by as they empty out of the northern waters. The migration starts somewhere right around Labor Day and continues on into the depth of winter. The heartiest live-aboards stay North long enough to watch the leaves change, have Thanksgiving, participate in the Christmas Stroll on Nantucket island or just aren't in a hurry to leave a favorite spot.
     For as long as I can remember, the mix of boats has been pretty evenly divided between power and sailboats. I was not uncommon to see a motor yacht in the 100 foot range barreling down the coast at warp speed well into December. I've noticed that the ratio of boats is not tipped in favor of sailboats by a substantial margin. It seems that fuel prices and the economic outlook are affecting even the big boys. I'm sure there is still plenty a person that can afford the hundreds of dollars an hour in fuel costs that some o the big rigs rack up. I'd like to think that some of the conservation may be voluntary but I doubt it. I hope I haven't seen the passing of an era.
     I don't aspire to be one of those power boat guys... But it would be dangerous to offer me the position. In a perfect world we'd be sitting on one of those on an easy beam reach as we watch Ocean Beach disappear slowly behind us... Trying to decide to put in at Barnegat Inlet for lunch or eating underway. This is all why the picture above seems so significant. The sight of a big flush-deck motor yacht heading south may become a rare sight in the future. This one is plodding along at what must be his most economical throttle setting. I hope that means they're consciously trying to conserve fuel and maintain that lifestyle for as long as possible. I hope it means they truly appreciate the benefits of their situation.


     Wednesday, October 29, 2008     



When the world is a monster
Bad to swallow you whole
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in
Throw your trolls out the door


R.E.M.


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   Stormy October Day   

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   Beachcombing Results   

Purple Sea Glass
   Purple Sea Glass... The Rarest Of All... So Far   

The Value of One Hand Clapping
Wealth and Riches in the Post Apocalyptic World

     These pictures were taken at Ocean Beach, New Jersey after a beach walk. I've been taking beach walks since I was old enough to remember. My Aunt Em McNally showed me what sea glass was and didn't need to explain why it was important to collect it. I just knew... And have been doing it ever since. Kelly and I collect sea glass every time we walk on the beach. We try and get at least a short walk in every day that the weather allows. We look for anything of interest but mostly sea glass and "purples". Purples are pieces of shells that have purple on them. They can be holy purples if they have holes bored in them, orange purples if they have orange as well as purple, and the rarest of all: holy orange purples.
     We have a protocol that has evolved for the process. When you find a piece of glass you call out the color, show it if it's a particularly good piece, and pocket the results. "Purple!" means a purple and gets handed to Kelly. It's not competitive per say but... Can get a little dicey when blues or other rare colors are involved, like reds or yellows or purple glass. Kelly's victory dance would look right at home in the end zone of a football field.
     There should probably be a beachcombing program on the Travel Channel. I'd watch that before I'd watch any reality TV or sports. It seems to be a very noble activity... existing for its sake and not requiring any special equipment. I suppose after a beachcombing show was launched that some one would start selling beachcombing attire and gear and there would eventually be competition between professionals and that would suck all of the fun right out of it so maybe we better leave well enough alone .
     Beachcombing plays a significant part in The Mosquito Coast with Harrison Ford. There are a number of reasons that this is one of my favorite movies; mostly the scenes where the family survives on the beach by beachcombing, which brings me to the point of all this. Recent events may tend to indicate that the apocalyptic end of civilization as we know it is only a few percentage points away from where we are now. The election next Tuesday could bring us that much closer in a big hurry if it goes the wrong way. In the post apocalyptic world, it seems likely that sea glass may be the new currency. If that's the case... I'm the new world's Warren Buffet.


     Sunday, October 26, 2008     


Danger Kitchen
Danger Kitchen

Kelly's Garlic Crabs


Way better than Bum Rogers

Crabby
Ingredients:

> One dozen blue claw crabs cleaned ( see notes below ).
> Butter.
> Olive oil.
> 1/2 red onion finely chopped.
> 1/4 bunch parsley chopped.
> 1 head of garlic peeled and minced.
> 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
> White wine ( optional ).


Procedure:

> Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
> Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and the onion.
> Stir the onion on medium heat until transparent,
> Add the garlic and parsley, turn the heat down and cover for a few minutes.
> Mix well and add the crabs, turning to coat them well.
> Add more olive oil, butter or wine as necessary.
> Cover and reduce heat to low for 2-3 minutes.
> Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, turn off heat. Cover until ready to serve.
> Serve in bowls with good bread and ice cold white wine or beer.
> Leftovers keep for a day or two and can be served over pasta, or as is.

Notes:

     Quite a few years ago a small kitten became trapped in a Maryland style crab trap a few streets over. I heard his cries for days before I found him. He was probably only two months old and it was a cold February and I was amazed he had survived. I got bit by him and had to get rabies shots because my dad didn't want to risk the kitten peeing in the bathroom where the cat in the trap was sitting in the bath tub until animal control could come capture him for quarantine. He made the guy take the kitten in the trap locked in the bathroom outside to put in the cage to take to quarantine and the cat not wanting any part of it made an easy escape. $2,500.00 worth of rabies shots later I had a crab trap to show for my trouble. The cat was fine and I can juggle rats for ten years if I so choose but that has nothing to do with crabs.

     Kelly wanted to try the trap so we put it in Barnegat Bay near where Cantaloupe the sailboat was moored and pulled in at least a dozen or more every time we set the trap. There's almost nothing better than sitting down to a meal of crabs and they quickly became a staple last-night-at-the-beach meal before I had to head back up north. One winter day after we were out of frozen crabs we stopped at Bum Rogers in Seaside Park. Bums has always been known for two things: Serving minors at the bar and... Serving the best crabs on the island. The garlic crabs we had that day were great. That meal made the whole beach trip and Kelly was able to reproduce, and improve on, the recipe with crabs she bought from the Crab Shack on Mantoloking road on day on a whim. This recipe is that recipe.

     We returned to Bums a year or two ago when the supply of crabs ran out and hoped to recreate the magic of the previous experience there. It was not to be. I would go so far as to say it sucked... Big time! The place was filthy. Everything felt greasy ( and I am far from fussy ) and sticky. Worst of all the crabs were lousy. We vowed never again and haven't since. We've been meaning to try the Seaside Crab House in the old Aztec motel on the boardwalk but... finances have been tight for longer than I care to remember. The good news is... It was a banner year for crabs so we dined on garlic crabs when Kelly came up to Connecticut for 2008 summer vacation. The Seaside Crab House says they have jumbos so we may have to splurge soon. The last time we had jumbos was at Skeeters restaurant in the Tuckerton Seaport Museum for Kelly's birthday about three years ago. Skeeters is gone now unfortunately so we need to find a new seafood eatery.

     Preparing crabs for garlic crabs is easy, but may not be for the squeamish. If your crabs are fairly lethargic they can be cleaned alive. This is not as cruel as it sounds since Mr. Crabby is separated from his brain in about a second so it's as effective as the guillotine and way better than the electric chair or lethal injection. Flip the crab over and pin his ( They should all be males, throw the girls back ) claws down. Lift up the pointed hatch-like structure on the underside of the crab and pull it towards the rear of the crab. Place your thumbs on the lower and upper shells at this juncture and pull the two apart, removing the top shell from the crab in one quick motion. Remove the feathery gills and rinse out the remaining miscellaneous guts under cold water. Break the bottom shell in half leaving two pieces each with three legs, a claw and a flipper. These "clusters" are ready to go into garlic crabs or the freezer.

     If you don't want to clean the crabs alive you can plunge them into boiling water to kill them and remove them immediately to clean or you can steam them. Place them crabs in as small a covered pot as will hold them. Put in a cup of cold water or wine or a 12 oz. beer. Cover the pot and turn the heat on low. The slowly increasing heat should make the crabs become drowsy and they should expire quietly. As soon as the pot starts venting steam, rinse them in cold water and clean as above. Be aware that you may hear them banging on the inside of the pot for way longer than you would like. Some times they don't go quietly.

Links:

Visit a Bum Rogers web page.
Try the Seaside Crab House instead and let me know what you think.


Boat Notes:

This is another great meal to make on a boat for a number of reasons. If you're in the right place at the right time, you should be able to catch enough crabs without any difficulty. The whole dish can be made with one pan on a grill or any kind of stove and a cutting board. The leftovers can be added to pasta for lunch the next day and... It's a great meal no matter where you serve it.




     Thursday, October 23, 2008     


   Fall at the Rez   
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The Rez
Fall at it's best

     These pictures were taken at Wauregan Reservoir, also known as Quinebaug Pond State Park, just a few minutes drive from the Train Station in downtown Danielson. The opportunities to experience "The Rez" in all its glory become scarcer as fall approaches. It's a beautiful spot any time of year, but nothing soothes the need for nature in short notice like an afternoon paddle around the perimeter in a kayak. Fish were still feeding on the late season insects swarming in clouds in the warm spots left as the sun slowly drops behind the hills to the west. I never get tired of taking pictures of the Rez. This is one of the best places in Killingly, CT.


     Saturday, October 18, 2008     


Danger Kitchen
Danger Kitchen

Hot Buttered Rum


A great fall drink with a pirate flair

Ingredients:

>   3 shots of good rum.
>   Apple cider (almost boiling).
>   Lemon slice.
>   Cinnamon stick.
>   3-5 whole cloves.
>   Pat of butter. >  

Protocol:

>   Put the rum in a large tankard, stein or mug.
>   Add the cinnamon stick, lemon slice, cloves and butter.

>   Pour the hot cider over all.

>   Serve while telling stories around a fire.

Notes:

     This was one of my first ever takes-some-effort-to-make drinks. The first ever was a whiskey sour. The first time I tried these was a dark and stormy (no relation) night in Ocean Beach, New Jersey. We could hear the surf pounding and the wind howling. The comforting warmth of this drink can make all of that seem trivial.
     Goslings Black Seal rum works well for this recipe. Bacardi 151 is fine also; just adjust quantities to taste. Don't... under any circumstances... use Craptain Morgan. That's not really rum any way.

Links:

Visit the Goslings Rum website.
Wikibooks.org has a Hot Buttered Rum Recipe that looks interesting. I haven't tried it or the thousand others online. I like mine.


Boat Notes:

     This recipe can be adapted easily for making under way in rough weather , which is the perfect time for one of these. You can put all of the ingredients including, or except, the rum in individual covered containers to heat on the stove or in the microwave as needed. The lemon slice gets a little ugly after few hours in storage but still tastes fine. Add rum just before serving for a stronger drink. Best not to start drinking these if you're more than an hour from anchoring for the night.





     Wednesday, October 15, 2008     


Danger Kitchen
Danger Kitchen

Ham and Cabbage... Danger Kitchen Style


A traditional Irish meal... and more

Ingredients:

Cooks shank portion ham (The biggest one you can get)
2-3 heads of cabbage.
3-5 pounds of white potatoes.


Protocol:

Skin the ham and trim off a lot of the fat.
Rinse the ham well in hot water.
Put the ham in a very large pot and cover with hot water.
Place on high heat until boiling, reduce heat and simmer for at least two hours.
Trim, core and quarter the heads of cabbage.
Wash, trim and peel the potatoes (Peeling is optional).
Put the potatoes and cabbage in the pot with the ham and return to a rolling boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the cabbage and potatoes are tender... about 40 minutes.
Turn off the heat when done. The pot can sit for an hour before serving and still be hot enough.
Best served in large bowls with plenty of the broth on the side. Should serve 15 hungry people. Use a big spoon to dig out chunks of ham and cabbage and potatoes for each bowl. Cut up the ham and cabbage and mash the potatoes before covering with hot broth. Its great all mixed together.

Notes:

     Agnes Walter made the first batch of Ham and Cabbage I ever had. It was explained to me in great detail by her granddaughter Kelly Walter. I have to admit it didn't make too much sense at the time. The urge to make it into a New England Boiled Dinner was strong. Once I tasted it though I was convinced. Agnes Walter came over on a ship from county Cork in Ireland when she was eight. She's been here close to eighty years since then and has been making ham and cabbage the traditional way since the first time she made it. I have to admit that I put onions and carrots in a batch once as a test. Kelly was not amused. The results were not improved. Why try and change perfection?
     Agnes Walter uses a slightly different method. She doesn't cook the ham for quite as long and cooks the peeled potatoes separately. This may be due to her not having a large enough pot at the beach house. I've added some procedural enhancements to the process that extend the pleasure to additional meals. I slice a ham steak or two off a large ham shank to make Ham Steaks and Mashed Potatoes with. If you have a large enough pot, you have way more broth than you can use serving the ham and cabbage. Save the extra broth and freeze it if necessary. The broth makes the perfect base for pea soup instead of water. Don't be tempted to add any salt though, the broth is briny enough.

Look for a recipe for Ham Steaks and Mashed Potatoes soon.

Links:

Visit the Cooks Ham website.
Learn about County Cork by reading the Wikipedia entry.


Boat Notes:

This is actually a great meal to make on a boat for a number of reasons. Cabbage can stay fresh at room temperature for quite a few days. Cabbage can stay fresh for a month or more under refrigeration. Potatoes can last for weeks with no refrigeration. Ham is relatively forgiving when it comes to refrigeration. The whole meal is made in one pot. Seagulls will fight over the ham fat and skin. Crabs will be attracted to the ham trimmings. The ham is great on sandwiches for lunch, or egg sandwiches or omelets for breakfast... or cold right out of the cooler or refrigerator for that matter in rough weather.

Stay tuned for a Ham and Cabbage Soup recipe.




     Monday, October 13, 2008     


   It's coming up on 16 months since Pork Chop disappeared. Kelly took these pictures of him with her phone.   

   Porker seems quite pleased with himself in this picture. We were certainly quite pleased with Pork Chop.   


     Tuesday, October 7, 2008     


   Me and Yoinkie   
Click here for a larger picture of the Kelly and Yoinkie
   Yoinkie at Beechwood   
Click here for a better picture of Yoinkie at Beechwood
   Oh the weather outside is frightful...   
Click here for a better picture of Yoinkie in the snow
Me and Yoinkie
Telling jokes at the expense of the pig...let

Click here to visit the Crabs Claw website
     That's me with my friend Yoinkie in the walk-in cooler at the Crab's Claw, just a few minutes from Ocean Beach New Jersey. Yoinkie is on his way to a pig-roast... which, in this case, is NOT sitting around drinking and telling jokes at the expense of the pig. Yoinkie has been a mascot of sorts for years and years. The "real" Yoinkie made an appearance at Astor's Beechwood mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

It's Crabby
Check out the Crab's Claw in the movie Greetings From The Shore.


     Sunday, October 5, 2008     


Green Side Up
G r e e n    S i d e    U p
The Herb Garden
T h e    H e r b    G a r d e n
I beg your pardon...
   Me picking herbs in August   
Click here for a high res picture of Kelly picking herbs at the herb garden in August


Number Herb Type
1 Thyme Perennial
2 Rosemary Annual
3 Empty (Cilantro) Annual
4 Basil Annual
5 Lavender
Catnip
Perennial
6 Chervil Annual
7 Scallions Annual
8 Parsley (Curled) Perennial
9 Empty Empty
10 Parsley (Flat)
(Beach Parsley)
Perennial
11 Dill Perennial
12 Chives Perennial
13 Chamomile Perennial
14 Empty (Savory) Annual
15 Tarragon Perennial
16 Oregano Perennial
17 Marjoram Perennial


     Saturday, October 4, 2008     


Danger Kitchen
D a n g e r   K i t c h e n

The Dark and Stormy... Danger Kitchen Style


The BEST drink EVER!!!

Ingredients:

Goslings Black Seal rum (At least one bottle)
Ginger beer (Goya is nice and spicy)
Orange juice (No pulp is better)
Ice cubes
An interesting glass (Your soon to be favorite Dark & Stormy Glass)

Protocol:

Fill the glass with ice
Fill half the glass with Goslings rum (Don't be stingy, the ice takes up room)
Fill 2/3 of the remaining space with ginger beer
Stir... or at least swirl with your finger
Fill the remaining space in the glass with orange juice
Sip a little out so you can stir again
Make a face if this is your first one of the night (Or day)
Dunk your finger in a few times to swirl the orange juice around
Enjoy the best drink EVER!!!
Worked once... Ought to work again (See Below)

Notes:

     Rum never used to taste as good as I imagined it could until I discovered Goslings... Thanks to caterer and event planner Aggie Clifford Carmone of Soir‚e Full Service Event Planning. I mean... pirates drank it and all. It must be great right? Then you have your first taste of Bacardi something or other when you're too young to drink legally and it's a huge disapointment until...

Now the huge variety of estate rums available can be daunting. When in doubt... stick with the classics. Goslings is hard to beat. Time to try the Danger Kitchen Rum Cake with Goslings I think.


Links:

Visit the Goslings Rum website. Try the "Official" Goslings Rum Dark 'n Stormy recipe (Nowhere near as good). Try one with Goya "Spicy" Ginger Beer after you try one with Barritts' more traditional Bermudian Ginger Beer. The Danger Kitchen Dark and Stormy is more like the version served during events at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol Rhode Island... but quite a bit stronger. Call Aggie Clifford-Carmone at Soir‚e event planning in case you're planning a big shindig in Rhode Island... Dark and Stormys or Dark 'n Stormys or... Not. Check out the Danger Kitchen section of the One-Legged Sandpiper for a great Rum Cake recipe.


Errata:

"Worked once... Ought to work again" is my favorite line from the 1974 movie The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds. Check out the Wikipedia entry for Dark 'n Stormys for another opinion about the drink and the making thereof. It was a Dark and Stormy Night when this was written.




     Wednesday, September 24, 2008     


   Crabby   
Click here for a high res picture of Crabby
Click here for a high res picture of Crabby
Crabby
A Very Lucky Hermit crab

     Kelly was fishing at The Rez and I was walking along the bank when I noticed some movement near my feet. At first I thought I had kicked a rock, but then noticed a snail type of shell on the ground in front of me. I picked it up and found it was occupied by Crabby. Crabby is a Hermit crab that someone released at The Rez thinking they were doing him a favor... or getting out of caring for him. He's missing his big claw but otherwise seemed in good health. Being from the Caribbean, there's no chance he would have survived September in the "wild" and would no doubt get eaten or stepped on so... His new home is now in a ten gallon fish tank with a horseshoe crab shell for a cave, clam shells for food, fresh water and salt water AND... New Jersey beach sand to stroll on.


     Saturday, September 20, 2008     



   Wauregan Reservoir   
Click here for a high res picture of the Rez
The Rez
Five minutes to another world

     These pictures were taken at Wauregan Reservoir, also known as Quinebaug Pond State Park, just a few minutes drive from the Train Station in downtown Danielson. The opportunities to experience "The Rez" in all its glory become scarcer as fall approaches. It's a beautiful spot any time of year, but nothing soothes the need for nature in short notice like an afternoon paddle around the perimeter in a kayak. Turtles and frogs still abound and the shallows are teaming with small fish. Three bass and a snapping turtlte on the prowl were easily visible in the clear water. There was scarcely a ripple on the surface. This is one of the best places in Killingly, CT.