Saturday, September 26, 2009

How cool would this be...

I think I shared this one before...

But I hadn't seen these artist's renderings before Mayor Mike posted them on FB this morning...

These images were created by Bill Canon and were funded through generous support by our friends at the Williston-Northampton School. What you see is a cool virtual representation of Mayor Mike Tautznik's vision for one cleaned up Nashawannuck Pond. It won't come cheap (estimates put the tab at $1 million), but it's hard to argue that this wouldn't be nicely conducive to improved foot traffic downtown, and a fine feather in Easthampton's BearFest improved tourism cap.

I can't say I blame Mike for wanting at least another term behind the mayor's desk to help make this happen. He fought for many years to secure the funding for the now-underway dredging project, so it's hard to doubt he wouldn't find a way to make the pond promonade happen too.

Let the dredging begin!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dredge Report: The Big Drain

I realize a bunch of people have already blogged about it, but I thought I'd add a few more images to the mix. And with a little incentive from my friend Patrick over at Bay Road Photo, it almost felt like a responsibility... Greg Saulmon has some great shots over at Local Buzz today too.

Above is a shot of Army Corp of Engineer folks herding the fish through the spillway to safety.

As you might guess, it was quite a spectacle, only to be rivaled by 'the guy getting stuck in the muck while trying to save a giant carp.'

As you can see in this little video, not all of the fish easily made it through the spillway the safety of Lower Mill Pond.

Thanks to the valient efforts of Mayor Mike (seen in the video) and Paul, most of the fish made it out alive. Whether you vote for him or not, it's tough to doubt his passion for this fine town.

Here's the other fish samaritan, Paul, stuck in the mud...

All had been going swimmingly, albeit a bit muckily (if that's a word), until the muck got the best of him, and the rescue squad had to be called in.

Not to worry, both fish and Paul were fine, a bit tired and muddy, but just fine.

(photo courtesy of Davyn via Lindsay Scola via Facebook)

The crowd eventually dispersed, the egrets got back to lunching as usual, and the pond was left as a shell of its former self.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

53 Things I've Learned about Life.

A friend forwarded me one of those emails that people feel inclined to send to everyone they know. You know the ones I'm talking about - a barely funny joke, a slideshow with quotes and pretty pictures, a warning about the latest killer virus. Once in a while one is actually worth reading, and dare I suggest, forwarding to your own circle of cyber-friends. You may have seen this one, but in case you haven't here it is. It's a list of 'life lessons' Plains Dealer columnist Regina Brett, 90, from Cleveland, Ohio. It's a great little list, and I guess this is my version of sending it to all my cyber-friends, but rather than just forward it, I chose to take inspiration from it too.

As soon as I read Regina's list, I thought to myself, 'I need to write my list'. Having spent a good deal of time in my head and buried in the occasional self-help book, not to mention having penned a little something on the topic a few years back, I was quickly consumed by the challenge. I realize I could have spent a year on such a list, but I decided to just carry a little notebook around for a few days, and when something popped into my head, I'd jot it down. I suspect this may not be the 'be-all, end-all' for my life tips list, but I feel like it's a pretty good start.

Since 53 is the number of flavors I have here at the scoop shop, I thought that might be a good number to shoot for. As for whether I'm qualified to dispense such advice on life, I'm surely not, but in the interest of #15, I'm going to do it anyway. Thanks for indulging me. And apologies in advance to anyone who may have already said something that sounded like one of these.

53 Things I’ve learned about life.

  1. Try not to think about what you DON’T want, just about what you DO want. The universe is way too literal.

  2. Self-confidence beats a full house every time.

  3. You get what you give.

  4. It’s easier to stay in shape than to get in shape.

  5. Don’t worry about what others are thinking. They’re probably thinking about themselves anyway.

  6. When in doubt, just go. You rarely regret the opportunities you seized.

  7. Try not to beat yourself up too much. Forgive, forget, move forward.

  8. When you reminisce, focus on the good stuff.

  9. Spend your time wisely, for time gives no refunds.

  10. Turn off the news.

  11. It’s the little things in your relationship you’ll miss most when they’re gone.

  12. It’s never too late to be what you always wanted to be.

  13. Never stop learning.

  14. If the decision brings you peace, it’s the right decision.

  15. Don’t die with the music still in you.

  16. Live a healthy lifestyle, but don’t obsess about it.

  17. Be good to your body now, and it’ll be good to you later.

  18. Take pride in your accomplishments. All of them.

  19. Learn to cook one great dish.

  20. Live below your means.

  21. Once in a while, however, live above your means, but just for a day or a week, maybe two.

  22. Live your life in harmony. Harmony – when what you think, feel, say, and do are four and the same.

  23. See the world.

  24. Discover your purpose and your passions, and pursue them vigorously.

  25. Nobody likes an Eeyore.

  26. This too shall pass. Good and bad just the same.

  27. Keep a journal, but in a safe place.

  28. Live in the moment, but feel free to take a few pictures.

  29. Love only hurts when you withhold it.

  30. Don’t smoke. Medical opinion on stuff often changes, but it’s safe to say this one will always be bad for you.

  31. Stop blaming your parents. They did the best they could with what they had.

  32. Apply sunscreen daily and liberally.

  33. Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends. It’s in their job description. And yours.

  34. Breathe deeply.

  35. Lighten up a little more, and laugh a lot more.

  36. Hustle.

  37. Go to the gym, especially when you don’t feel like it.

  38. Figure out what the right amount of sleep is for you, and try to get it nightly.

  39. Make the world a better place just by having been.

  40. Pain now or pain later.

  41. Everything works out the way it’s supposed to.

  42. Hope for world peace, but strive for inner peace.

  43. The quality of your life lies in the quality of your relationships.

  44. Buy the best you can afford. It’s probably still cheaper than buying another one in six months.

  45. Try not to stress over the stuff you can’t control - like the weather, chemistry, wrinkles, and the stock market.

  46. Take a genuine interest in people, and they will want to be around you.

  47. The fear goes away a little bit every time you do something you’re afraid of.

  48. You attract what you are, not necessarily what you want.

  49. Be grateful, generous, and humble.

  50. Find a job you enjoy. You spend too much of your waking life there to have it any other way.

  51. Try not to take it too personally. Their reaction likely has more to do with them than you.

  52. The answers to most of your life’s questions are already inside you. I probably should have said that one first.

  53. Do as I say, not as I do.

Enjoy your day. Jim.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Garden winds down: A brief photo essay.

I had a few minutes to kill before heading over to Bub's for some bbq yesterday, so while I waited for a buddy to finish a home improvement project, his dog showing complete disinterest in retrieving the stick I kept throwing, I took out the trusty pocket Pentax and headed for his garden. It's just about down to the brussel sprouts and late blooming flowers at this point, but that's ok - still made for a nice little intro to the Fall photo season, undoubtably the awesome'est time of year around here for photo fanatics like me.

Here's what I came up with...


These two have a subtle existential feel...

Flowerbed POV...

Late bloomers...

This one feels the most like Fall...

A small sign of things to come...

I hope you've been enjoying this stellar weather. The pumpkin pie ice cream is going strong already, and rumor has it, I just made the first batch of apple pie ice cream too. And in keeping with the flavor wackiness of the past few weeks, I tried my hand another new one, salted buttered popcorn ice cream, today. Feel free to stop by and see how that turned out...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dredge Report - Easthampton's New Bird Sanctuary

Well, it seems the shrunken Nashawannuck Pond has given way to lush marshes and steep sandy banks. Work continues over at Rubber Thread Pond behind the town hall. I believe they are replacing some piping between the two ponds, so the bigger fish can go through. It's my understanding that once that work is complete, the pond will then complete its retreat.

Meanwhile, it's been cool to see the new wildlife that's been enjoying the new all-you-can eat buffet that's arising in the muck.

Speaking of muck, as you can see, I had fun this morning wandering around with my trusty Canon. Lighting wasn't great and the visiting Snowy Egrets don't let you get too close, but was still good fun exploring.

Didn't really see anything interesting or valuable, historically or otherwise, but I'm sure they'll dig up something interesting when they bring in the big guns.

A few shots to add to the collection (click on an image to enlarge, seems to work for most)...

Here's a before and after shot, from one of my favorite composition shots of Mt. Tom. Usually have to be in a kayak to get this shot, but not now...


There's our snowy egret friend again. Might have to invest in a longer lens if this bird show continues... Maybe Patrick Brough will lend me one...

There's a little bit of an update for you, stay tuned, the fun appears to be just beginning.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall is in the air.

Sure enough, with highs now in the low 70's and brisk nights that find us closing windows after the sun goes down, comes the first infantry of Fall. A few turning trees in that low spot at the top of the mountain on route 141. Having to move the timer for the outside floodlights up to match the earlier arrival of darkness each day. Long pants.

Some may find the waning of summer as a depressing forboding of the ice and snow and hibernation that are slowly approaching from the north once again. Others greet these climatic changes as the perky grinning maitre d' welcoming them again to their favorite restaurant, one full of fine crisp air, spectacular colors, fresh apple cider, and deep blue skies.

Whichever way you lean, shorter and colder days cannot be stopped. Whether you welcome Mom Nature into your home as your favorite grandparent who always brings you a big bag of candy and rewards you with a pocket full of change for eating it all, or you try to slam the door in her face like she's selling magazine subscriptions, she's coming in anyway. Best start now that search for your giant box of sweatshirts and winter gear that's buried deep in the far recesses of your attic. Because you know one of these mornings you're going to wake up and see frost on the pumpkin, be running late, and will curse being made even later as you hunt through boxes of books, old trophies, and instruction booklets for electronic equipment you don't even own anymore as you desperately try to find a pair of gloves to wear to scrape your windshield.

Or, dare I say, shovel your driveway.

I'm here to help you feel just a little bit better about these impending changes on your thermometer. It won't miraculously incite the return of tropical August temps or encourage you to reopen your pool, but it will hopefully distract you from summer's exit, if but for a few minutes. I considered offering up candy corn, gummy skeleton kits, Jack-o'lantern pops, and monster boogers as sweet ways to help charm Fall's return to your life, but I've gotta 'dance with the girl that brung me'. So if you're feeling blue about saying goodbye to summer, and are dreading the short, cold days and long, colder nights that are comin', I've got just one small token of solice to offer, and here it is...

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.

It's on, and you know where you like to get it...

And I promise you won't have to wade through nearly as many metaphors to get some as you did here.

Also up, as threatened earlier, Salsa ice cream. Actually, it turned out to be quite a bit spicier and with an unexpected hint of lime. So in the interest of full disclosure and better marketing, I give you 'Jalapeno Lime' ice cream. Plenty spicey. Takes a few seconds to hit, but don't worry, it will...

Next up, Apple Pie ice cream. Then it'll really feel like Fall around here.

See you soon.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Just Hitting my Stride?

If you've been to the shop lately, you may have noticed a few new flavors under the Specials section of the chalkboard. Bear Tracks and Peach have been old standbyes this summer (the Peach is particularly peachy this time of year as the fresh local peaches we use are extra good as they wind down). You may also notice a few new players on the roster. I've talked about where ideas come from for new flavors, and the ones on this list make up a pretty good variety of - suggestions from customers, ideas from cooking mags, etc., and suggestions channeled from other worlds.

Ok, maybe the channeling part is a bit of an exaggeration.

In any event, the Vienna Finger flavor (sweet cream base with crunched up Vienna Finger cookies) and the Salted Butter Caramel have been unexpected crowd favorites. I must admit I was skeptical of the Coconut Pear when a customer suggested it, but I thought, if Coconut Curry works, who knows. And sure enough, it too is selling pretty well.

Next up, Salsa ice cream.

Dare me to?

Gotta do the daring stuff now while the shop is still buzzing. Salsa ice cream may be a hard enough sell while it's still warm out, nevermind when there's ice on the pond (or where the pond used to be).

I bet these cool kiddos (Ty & Luc), my toeheaded regulars & neighbors, would give it a try...

Hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. Fear not, we're still open 7 days, noon 'til 9:30. We won't close Mondays until after Columbus Day.

And in case you were wondering, Pumpkin Pie ice cream should be starting up again very soon...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Changing of the Guard.

If you've been in for a cone this week, you may have noticed a few new faces behind the bar. Yes, it's that dreaded time of year for me when I have to say 'good luck in college' to my ace scoopers, and bring in new recruits to replace them. Kate, Lauren, & Taryn are all off to college. Just wanted to welcome & introduce the new scoop crew.


And Rani (pronounced Ronnie).

I actually didn't have a photo of her yet. Soon, I promise. Unless of course, she turns out to be in a witness protection program, which she forgot to mention during the hiring process.

September is always the most challenging month of the year for me as I have to resume scoop duties, train the new staff, and try to make ice cream during the quiet spots, which with weather like this, isn't too often (hard to complain about that though). But it's Thursday, and I'm still standing, the flavors are all stocked, and the new crew is coming along just fine, so all is still well in Scooptown.

Providing a nice little break from the insanity was fourth grade wiz kid, Jackson. He stopped by yesterday to interview me for a little newspaper he's publishing.

In impressive hardhitting reporter style, Jackson peppered me with questions ranging from 'How did you get into ice cream?' to 'What's your favorite flavor?' I thought I was doing pretty well until he asked me, 'What's the specific gravity of cookie dough?', to which he quickly followed up with, 'Please describe the cohesive properties of guar gum.' Seemingly disappointed with what he must have considered elementary responses, he returned to questions like, 'What's your most popular flavor?' and 'Have you ever gotten beaten up for wearing that apron?'

A few more questions and some friendly banter about his current read, Landry News by Andrew Clements, and we moved it to the bar, where Jackson unwound with a frothy chocolate shake, and I returned to my normal early September ice cream chaos.