Recollections of the Navigator or Things we shouldnt/a hadnt/a ougtnt/a done


For the most part we didn’t do that bad. We finished 99th overall (out of +/- 140), none of us had ever been on an ocean race before, and the weather was terrible. Everything considered it could have been a lot worse. But it should have been a lot better. We didn’t even beat Abraxas. And for the better part of the trip I was miserable, scared, drunk, or sometimes all three. It seems to me our problems fell into four general categories:

   Inadequate Pre-Race Preparation
         Equipment Failures
         Sailing Technique
         Lack of Ocean Racing Experience
The problems listed here are more or less related to our scheduling of the whole affair. We boarded the boat Tuesday night having only seen it once before the season. We knew or should have known that setting to Marion for the Thursday afternoon check-in might be tight. Yes, we are all trying to lead professional lives on the side to support our sailing habit but if there is to be a next time setting an earlier jump on things might prevent some of the following:

We got off late — As it was, we had to rush to set off by Wednesday afternoon, and we left some minor things undone. We did not have a full crew until mid-morning Wednesday, and even then BT showed up with some spectators. There were too many goddam things left to be installed. The horseshoe rings, the MOB pole and light mounts, some radio gear, and so on. Another 24 hours would have given us time to do it right – there were times that anyone going overboard would have been in for a long swim. As it was, we barely made it to Marion under the wire, and by then, I, for one was already frazzled.

No detailed inspection of the boat — Half way to Bermuda one of the port-side shrouds was noticed swinging in the breeze. By the time we got to Bermuda the spinnaker halyard winch was almost overboard and was making nasty noises. Did anyone go over the boat and the rigging? I certainly didn’t. It was blowing pretty hard when we finally noticed the shroud problem. What if we had been on the other tact when the squalls hit? Next time we should even send someone up the stick — remember the jumper-stay on Heffalump that let go one fine morning?

Improper storage of gear — The life-raft damn near came loose: I think it was the same day we discovered the shroud problem. We were in a hurry in New Bedford because of the delays with the motor and waiting for the raft. We should have spent more time and thought to the layout. By the end of the trip the cutaway knife was so rusty I don’t think it could have been used. Which didn’t matter because by then we had no emergency fresh water. Jamming the plastic water jug down into the cockpit locker with the awning gear and all the other crap resulted in a puncture. The only thing we did stow away properly was the dingy (more on that later).

No MOB Drills (or any other kind) — Before we took off there was all manner of righteous talk about the MOB drills we were going to run on the way to Marion. Had someone really fallen in we might have either lost a crew person or all wound up overboard in the rescue attempt. The closest we came to a drill was a somewhat drunken and highly theoretical argument about correct procedures. Heaving to is not as simple as it sounds and two hours practice in a breeze would have helped prepare us. Also the experience of trying to get one of the larger crew persons back onboard, even under perfect conditions, would have shown us whether it’s really as difficult as some people say. Even something as simple as everyone taking a reef in the main and the genoa would have assured that (a) everyone did it the same way, and (b) the mainsail reefing lines would have been rigged before the start. But of course we didn’t have time for this.

The great dry ice experiment — It sounded great. Freeze all these packages solid as shit in dry ice, and unpack them two at a time so they could cool down the beer as they thawed out. Other people have done it, and it should have worked. Three days out from Marion the dry ice was gone and the food was mostly spoiled. Our fault. When we packed in Lancaster we lined the cooler with dry ice and then added the “pre-frozen” meals we had stored in the garage freezer. But dumping the frozen food on top of the dry ice must have been like pouring in boiling water. The food should have been frozen first, then packed in dry ice two or three days before the start, then repacked with dry ice and sealed the day before the start and delivered to us in Marion. With all those launches around we would have had no problem meeting someone and setting the cooler on board.

There were a surprising number of equipment failures both going and returning. Some we can blame on the weather, some on Peter Costas and his amateur boatyard staff, and some on our own negligence. It could have been worse, since there were at least two dismastings and uncounted other failures in the rest of the fleet, but I suspect the boats experiencing these failures were being sailed pretty hard. With the exception of the centerboard, we didn’t have any problem that threatened the integrity of Poseidon as a sailing vessel, but we had several that threatened our convenience and our safety.

The engine — First on the charts (log) and last in our hearts. It first died on the way to New Bedford. We were able to set a mechanic to work on it but it’s not clear that he did more than add a missing gasket (thanks again, Peter) and clean the filters. Paul remembers that he found a surprising amount of water in the filter bowl. It did run reliably for another two or three days, but once it got thoroughly wet it was useless. The bilge pump failures may have contributed to the wetting. I’m still amazed that we were able to set it running again. It worked fine in Bermuda and for a while on the way back. It finally succumbed to water in the fuel. It is still not clear where all the water came from. The missing O-ring on the filler pipe plug could not have helped, but we had the rail in the water pretty often on the way down so I would have expected the problem to have appeared in Bermuda, not on the way back. In any case, not having power while becalmed in the Gulf Stream cost us at least one and maybe two days, not having power approaching Block Island cost us some topside paint, and not having power on the way to New London cost the skipper (and ultimately the navigator) the last reserves of humor and psychic energy.

The bilge pump — Thanks to the beautiful new heat exchanger on the the exhaust system several of the life-preservers in the aft lazarette were burned through and began leaking kapok in the bilge. To worsen the problem, some of our food stores which had been hastily stowed, became soaked with bilge water (of which, given the extreme angle of the heel, they had ample supply), and disintegrated, thereby worsening the pollution problem below. The pump filter finally closed and the pump ran dry for quite some time. We noticed the funny noise too late. Cleaning the filter every twenty seconds or so helped, but I now wonder why we didn’t flood the bilge with the more than plentiful sea water and pump it out with the gusher pump. Surely a couple of cycles would have cleared out most of the gunk. As it was we succeeded only in overloading the already well worn automatic unit. It eventually burned out completely.

The steering — This one we can definitely pin on Peter. He admitted to knowing better than to re-run lag bolts into existing holes but he did it anyway. As a result of this and the heavy strain on the steering gear in the first day of the race, the port side cable pulley came unglued. Good for Paul to have rigged the emergency tiller before things really went to hell. I don’t really see how we could have done anything to prevent this.

The centerboard — I’m not sure whose fault this one is but given the amount of time we were on the wind not having a centerboard was rather a nuisance. At first I was one of the people who, while on watch, would try to sneak it down a couple of cranks, but once I heard it banging back and forth I became a believer. Did we ever find out what the problem was?

We could have sailed the boat better — that’s all there is to it.

Sailing close-hauled — There was much more of this than any previous trip and for longer periods of time. Part of the problem was the poor sail selection — it seemed to be very difficult to balance the boat and keep it floating cleanly. Our tacks weren’t that bad but our sail trim was. Subsequent reading (WALLY) convinces me that there were things we could have done to improve our speed and comfort. The day of the start we should have been shortening sail earlier than we did and should have been playing with down-hauls, vangs, and outhauls to set the main in better shape. There is more than personal comfort involved. Living on Poseidon sailing with the rail under is about like climbing a spiral staircase during an earthquake. Dan could have been seriously injured when he got thrown across the cabin, and we all could have used more sleep.

Reefing — We needed more practice and we especially needed to talk things over to find better ways to do it. Clark got his arm smashed trying to reef the main — maybe a couple of practice tries would have taught us all how difficult it is to control the main halyard winch. Reefing the genoa never once took less than 20 minutes with someone leaning over the lifelines on the foredeck trying to feed the reefing line through the grommets. Dropping the sail on the deck would have made the whole operation much simpler and quicker. We should also have procured a number of light lines, the right length and with proper whipping. We should also have had a separate line for bundling the main during the squalls. Practice setting the main down quickly would have made us much more confident about putting it up again.

Weather — We finally got our share of it. I had never seen a “white wave” before but, like seeing an Apache in war paint, there is no mistaking the real thing. What scares me is that only the day before I had asked Paul what to do. The next morning, when it was my turn, we could have been in serious trouble. The whole procedure should have been thoroughly discussed ahead of time. It’s no good having one person on the boat who can handle emergencies. With all the experience on the way down, we handled the sail on the way back fairly well. Our mistake here was ignoring the reports of weather ahead from a passing boat and, not giving more heed to the offshore weather forecasts. Wishful thinking on my part convinced me that we had passed the trough hours before the barometer started to drop.

Personal Gear — Next time, everyone must bring and use a good set of foul weather gear, including boots. The cabin was wet enough from the leaky hatches without us bringing a lot more water below in our clothes. It seemed to me that Clark was the only one who stayed dry.

Seasickness — I honestly don’t know how Dan lived through it. We need more experience with the various remedies and their effectiveness for different people. Mary claims that once she stopped taking the pills she felt fine. I couldn’t survive without them. Having one person sick on a two person watch is dangerous for everyone.

Watches — I had never realized just how hard the 12 to 4 can be, especially at night. Four hours of darkness is too much for an amateur crew under the conditions we experienced. The 3-4-5 we used on the way back seemed to be a lot better.

Misc. — The sail would have been easier to manage if we had been using the gusher pump. Having the leeward cockpit locker open with those seas coming aboard made use of the navy pump a real ground loser. I don’t remember who decided that the gusher was broken, but I felt not unlike a fool the next day when Paul “fixed” it with ten quick strokes. We (I) lost the hawse pipe cover because I had never learned the function of the hook on the underside. Even then it might not have been lost if anyone had remembered to stow the anchor chain before we left Bermuda. We also lost one of the blocks used to secure the spinnaker pole to the deck. The block pulled loose on its own but we failed to secure the block itself to the boat.

Well, everyone has to start somewhere. Still it wold have been nice during the planning of the trip and at the start of the race to have had someone along who had done it before. Spending an afternoon drinking beer with Cap’n Bob might have saved us some grief.

The Dinghy — Talk about tits on a bull. The dinghy was of no use whatsoever and made the cabintop a terrible place to work. Why didn’t we just leave it behind, or at the worst find an inflatable to borrow or rent. Would the inspector have asked to see the dinghy had it not been on the cabin. I doubt it.

The Gerry Jug — I now believe those things were even more of a hazard than we thought at the time. The top leaked and refueling was a mess. Can we consider (for next time) a diesel with a 30 gallon tank to be a non-negotiable demand.

The Meal Plan— The rest of the fleet seems to survive perfectly well on ham sandwiches and cold cereal. Given the difficulties of cooking hot meals under racing conditions I wonder if we couldn’t try to do the same. We could also think about paper plates and unbreakable thermos jugs. Ham sandwiches wash down really well with hot coffee and Kahlua.

Navigation— We didn’t do too badly. In spite of my 90 mile error the last day out from Bermuda we nearly ran over Northeast Shoals buoy. Still, I don’t see how the spirit of a “cruising race” is in any way a violated by Loran-C. Getting penalized four hours for trying to assure a safe passage seems unfair. If we’re going to cheat with the motor we might as well cheat on the navigation, and Loran-C is the best way to do it.

Pre-race Tuneup — I suggest a full two days doing nothing but sailing in circles using every piece of equipment on board. The other big races seem to be preceded by a number of shorter events to get everything shaken down. We should do it on our own.

The Crew  — Having one unhappy person on board is a bit problem. Maybe the skipper and the navigator needed to be more open about decision making so crew members who care about such things wouldn’t feel left out.


Recently I rediscovered the Recollections above.  I do not know if any of the people who sailed in the race are still alive, but I did reach out to Phyliss, Dan’s girlfriend at the time and later his wife, and we have been having a great deal of fun reminiscing.  We both flew down to Bermuda to celebrate their sail. I knew nothing of the trauma until I arrived.  Clark flew home with me and a few other crew members and others flew down to help sail Poseidon back.

There was no wind and they floundered around for longer than they wanted and found an unexpected bundle of marijuana floating nearby. They pulled it up and sailed it home but knew they had to get it on shore before they could go through customs. Dan called Phyliss and asked her to meet the boat at a secluded spot and drive the “seaweed” back home.. And she bravely but nervously did. The pot was not very satisfying because it had been waterlogged for who knows how long.  But they sold it in $20 bags and people really didn’t complain. It had “history.” While they had been sailing lightening hit Dan and Paul’s home and burned out the stove. The money from the sale of the dope bought a new one.

And it is a story Phyliss and I are now sharing with our children, all of whom will get to know their fathers a little bit better!

Flag Memories

As a child growing up in the fifties, every day at school we would put our hands to our hearts and recite the pledge of allegiance. Our teachers taught us what the stars and stripes represented and how a star was added as each state joined the union. We learned about Betsy Ross, and how the flag proudly waved over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I believed that there was something about the country, my country, that made us special in the world. All races all religions — democracy — the right to speak my mind out — that was America to me.

Things changed a bit in 1954 when “under God” was inserted into the pledge. My mother was furious and I didn’t even dare to mouth those two words when we said the pledge in class for fear she’d know. The pledge came after the Lord’s Prayer. I was seven years old. Even now at some meetings the moderator calls for all to recite the pledge. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I just stand. Usually I put my right hand over my chest and check out my breasts — which is not meant to be disrespectful, but does give me reassurance that after surgery and radiation I am still whole.

Morgan with FlagStill, it was exciting when as a camper it was my turn to raise and lower the flag at the beginning and end of the day.

My parents hung the flag off our porch for July 4th. Not sure when they stopped. My husband and I brought our son, flag in hand, to the Memorial Day parade in the 80’s.

Yes, it is a symbol, only a symbol, but now it is the flag waved by those who do not believe in all races and religions, who believe that not all have the right to live free, nor the right to speak their mind out. It is a symbol for those who don’t believe that along with rights we all have responsibilities.

When the pickup with the flag defiantly flying in the wind goes by, when the President hugs the flag to convince his public that he cares about their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, when our men in uniform attack our own it does make me shudder.

What have we as a nation become when those, who cannot with any good conscience stand but get down on their knees when the national anthem is sung, are among the most inspired by what our nation is supposed to be. How can they pledge allegiance to a country that is currently in the hands of people who no longer even pretend that we are a nation with liberty and justice for all? As adults we know that it was a myth when we were taught this back in the fifties, but as children we believed it.

What are children taught now? I cannot imagine what parents who wear the flag on their sleeves while walking through the streets with automatic rifles, who wave the flag while refusing to wear a mask to protect others from the virus teach their children. What do the men and women who write the laws that beat down and punish those who need support and help and food and shelter and health care and education — what do they tell their children the flag stands for?

Preparing for the end

I’ve started throwing things away — one thing a day. Most of it is stuff that has no significance to anyone but me and some not even to me and and a good deal of it has been stored in closets and under beds since moving into the house. My mom’s clothes for instance — random things that she was wearing at the end of her life, Most of her clothing was too small for me. I took a picture of the label of a white blouse Size 2 as a memento before tossing it. Three more blouses followed.


Two of her jackets fit. When I wear her now very shabby black leather jacket I am an older (I suppose that means my age!) eccentric gentleman who refuses to follow the rules. When I wear her camel hair jacket I tuck a scarf inside the collar, put on nice shoes and a hat and am the woman my mom wanted me to be. They are not on the toss list. Nor is her tiny lace blouse. The lining is gone and I had the seams let out and wear it now and then with my nippies poking thru under a jacket and wonder if anyone wonders what might be showing underneath.

This project is seven days old. Today I tossed an old pair of reading glasses that sat on the table in the guest room for several years waiting for someone to claim them. Recently a pair of silky boxer shorts mysteriously appeared in a set of sheets when I folded laundry. I’m keeping them hoping to wear them some day and feel silky and sexy — if that will still be possible.

Perhaps there will be enough days left — years and years please — for me reduce my belongings to a minimum and not leave M&A with a huge project of sorting it all.

Kokopelli on the drain

My plan for this house was for it to be free of clutter, but I find so many treasures. I enjoy walking around the rooms looking for their proper perches and then, as time go by, walking around the rooms smiling at the treasures.

Shoes are next on the list of stuff to go. Some haven’t fit for years or have pointy toes or too high heels, but they do inspire memories – even some I’ve never worn. Still deciding if they will go one at a time or as pairs.


Daydreaming in the bathtub

the-lighthouseMany an evening during my tweenie-teenie years would end with a soak in the bathtub. I would luxuriate in the warmth daydreaming of becoming a National Parks ranger or marrying a fisherman or living in a lighthouse.

I did work for the National Parks for a while, in Lowell.  I was a librarian in an urban historical park which is a far cry from being a ranger in the desert or in the mountains. My husband was a sailor, not a fisherman. And now the Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration & Sailing Society is holding a raffle for a night at the Saugerties Lighthouse. Of course one night in a bed and breakfast is a lot different than living in a lighthouse, but it is pretty good.  If you never daydreamed about living on a tiny island, waiting for the mail boat and supplies, seeing the tides come in and out, watching the gulls, signalling to the ships that pass in the night, get in your bathtub right now and do it.

“Lighthouses capture the imagination in ways few buildings can.
They hark back to an era when nautical travel reigned and
time moved at a slower knot…As special as these buildings are,
even more uncommon is the privilege of staying in one overnight.”
                                                             – – – The New York Times

Eleanor sailing towards the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

Eleanor sailing towards the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

Your raffle ticket money will go toward completing the restoration of the 1903 sloop Eleanor, the last of a class of “raceabouts” built by Clinton Crane. She sailed the Hudson River from Albany to New York City. You can read about her and the band of volunteers who are meticulously rebuilding her so that she will once again be on the water offering all the opportunity to learn about the Hudson River’s history and environment, the forces of nature, the value and rewards of cooperation and good communication, as well as the thrill of the wind at your back as you sail.

Like the Eleanor, the Saugerties Lighthouse is on the National Registry of Historic Places. In 1834 the U.S. Congress appropriated $5,000 for a lighthouse at the mouth of the Esopus Creek. It was required to guide ships away from nearby shallows and into the Creek when Saugerties was a major port with daily commercial and passenger transportation.

One beautiful summer afternoon several years ago during low tide I walked out to the Saugerties Lighthouse and daydreamed again, but along with growing up comes practicality.

cup-3I’ve bought my chances.

Get your chance to stay at the Lighthouse here.

And what are you doing May 31st?

Rokeby and wildflowers cropped even more

Why not dress up and party with the Hudson River Historic Boat and Sailing Society at Rokeby in Barrytown, NY?



As a member of this lively band of sailors, woodworkers, city of Hudson and Hudson River history buffs, and crazy romantics, I invite you to an Edwardian Great Porch and Lawn Party at Rokeby, a  privately-owned Hudson River Livingston/Astor estate with a twist. The event is a benefit to fund the purchase of the spars for the restoration of the 1903 Clinton Crane sloop Eleanor.

According to the Historic American Buildings Survey prepared by the National Park Service, Rokeby, originally known as La Bergerie, is 200 years old this year. Ricky Aldrich, Vice President of HRHBrass is our host for the day and Wint Aldrich will be giving tours of the first floor of the mansion. Speaking unofficially for the volunteers and supporters of the Eleanor Project, I will say that we are extremely thankful to them and to Ania Adrich for opening their home for this occasion.

First Floor PlanGuests will be able to stroll the grounds which offer beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Catskills. If the sun is out, the afternoon will be magnificent If not, it will just be outstanding! It will be hard not to have a good time.

Reliance, 1903

Reliance, 1903

At 4 o’clock Halsey Herreshoff will speak about his racing experiences, the America’s Cup and things dear to sailors. Since 1878, the Herreshoff family has been designing and building select high quality yachts, including the famed Reliance and Westward, the most technologically advanced racing yachts of their time. Halsey is a prolific designer of production and custom yachts. As a sailor, he has been bowman, tactician and navigator, with four successful America’s Cup defenses, and he will have just returned from this year’s race. He is  responsible for the development of the Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame in Bristol, R.I.

000_0005-860x547Hudson River Historic Boat was organized in 2011 to save a very distressed Eleanor. A hard working group of volunteers meet weekly in a warehouse in Hudson, New York to bring her back to her glory so that she can once again sail the Hudson River for the public’s pleasure and education. This event will raise money for Eleanor’s mast, boom and gaff that will be built by the Beetle Boat Shop in Wareham, Mass.

There will be food by Bruno’s, there will be music by the Blackiston Brothers, and we hope you will step back in time and dress Edwardian and join us.  Or dress for 2015 and join us.

For more information on the Party and to purchase tickets, as well as to learn more about the work on the Eleanor please see our website.  If you can’t make be with us on the 31st, but would like to join our group and volunteer your time and/or expertise, please give us a call.

We do have fun.

She had a big breakfast, lay down and . . .

Mom, 2009?

Mom, 2009?

My mother died November first. She was 98 years old, though she looked younger. Yesterday her death became one of the stories Lee tells to people — at dinner, parties, breakfast, or whenever they seem appropriate. This telling was at Crafts People in Spillway, according to Lee, or Hurley, according to their business card.

When we walked into the first building — Jewelry, Lamps and Toys — the man sitting at the door, the owner, recognized Lee. We wandered a bit about until we were in different places. I was kneeling at a counter with barrettes and hair ribbons, sticks and such, hoping to find just the thing for my niece for Chanukah, when from the other side of the aisle came the words: “She had a big breakfast, and lay down for a nap, and . . . .”

He may have already told the story to Derrick or Eric or others of his men buddies separate from our life together, but this was the first I heard him tell it and it shook me a bit.

Only those few words. I quickly moved into the little room at the back which held the toys, in order to avoid hearing more. If it becomes part of his repertoire, it may acquire embellishments, and I’m looking forward to them.

But this telling was, like her death, quiet, peaceful, simple. I wasn’t at her death and will never know if she died as peacefully as the woman who sat with her told me. She said it was beautiful and the way she said it and looked at me and cried, there is no reason not to believe her.

I would have liked to have been with her.

She was in her own world these past few years or so. For the most part they seemed comfortable, content, healthy years, although I have no idea at all of what was going on in her mind. Did she know that she was and yet was not the woman she used to be? that she was unable to communicate? that she no longer could walk? that her sister had died? that her grandson got married? that people still loved her? Did she really just exist in the moment and did that moment ever seem much too long or meaningless? What did she do in-between those moments?

Did she recognize me as her daughter, did she recognize me as someone who came to visit every now and then, did she miss me when I wasn’t there?  Did I disappoint her by not doing whatever she might have wanted me to do, or not saying whatever she wanted me to say? Did she want?

redheaded woman illustrationMy presence during these later years may have had no impact on her happiness. My presence at her death may have been the same. Her last thoughts may have been of those who died before her — her mother, father, husband, or maybe no thoughts, only a longing to be finally free of the confines of her wheelchair and her own mind, or maybe no longing but just a blissful nothingness.

Is it a gift to be present at death? My husband Clark told me of how he held his father’s hand and felt his spirit pass on to him as he died. I wanted so much to give Clark the chance to be on the giving end when he died but I made a mistake and I’ve never forgiven myself. The night of his death was a nightmare that still continues to haunt me, all the layers of which I have yet to explore.

Perhaps being at the side of my mom when she died would have helped me.

It’s been written that

            “when Mister Death come, the living couldn’t see him, and wept and wailed,
            but the folks that was dyin’ rose up to greet him, and smiled at him on their way,
            like they knew him for a friend.”

I like to think that is true, but its simplicity makes me cringe when I think of those who lose loved ones, especially young loved ones, to accidents, gun shots, cancer. Who gives a shit about this Mister Death coming and taking our innocents away?

           “Well son,” said granny, “here’s another question she asks of you. Why did you take             away her baby sister from the cradle?”

           Then Death twisted and turned in his sleep again. “She was sick,” he said, “She                  was full of pain. I took her so she need never cry again.”

Life, death — it’s all a burden and a blessing.


redheaded woman cover

Mr. Death and the Redheaded Woman, by Helen Eustis, with illustrations by Reinhard Michl. A Star & Elephant Book published by Green Tiger Press, 1983, originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, February 11, 1950 under the title “The Rider on the Pale Horse.”

The Great Water Race and Barbecue to help build sloop Eleanor’s Spars

EleanorThe Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration and Sailing Society Inc. invites all to the Great Water Race and Barbecue at the Roe-Jan Creek Boat Club in Germantown on September 6th, from 2 to 5pm.  Proceeds will go to support Sailboat Eleanor’s restoration – specifically to restore the mast, boom, and gaff of this lovely landmark vessel.

The racing sloop Eleanor was built in City Island in 1903 and is on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.  Being well over a century old, with materials of mahogany, oak, cedar, iron and copper, she will provide invaluable restoration experiences for both master craftsmen and their apprentices.  Eleanor is the last surviving example of a class of boats known as “raceabouts” that were designed for speed, and represents a unique chapter in the evolution of sailing.  This is an opportunity to have a wonderful afternoon and contribute to a unique cause as well.

Duck and FlamingoThe Water Race will begin at approximately 3:30 pm.  Ten ducks and ten flamingos, who have gathered from various point on the map and are staying at members’ homes, have been studying and swimming the waters of the creek for the past month or so, will vie for the finish line.  Racers, at $50 each, can be sponsored before September 6th by calling 618-568-8832, or at the barbecue if still available.  Five hundred dollars will go to benefit Eleanor, $250 will be awarded to the sponsor of the first place winner, 50 to the second place sponsor, and $100 to the third.  The racers will have the option of remaining with their sponsors as honorary drink floats or returning home.  Guests can bet on their favorite racer. Enjoy the view of the river and the mountains as you cheer the racers on.

Music will be provided by The Livingston-Blackiston twins, Sky and Sandy, and by Mike Pagnani and Friends.  A menu of hot dogs, chicken, local potatoes contributed by Staron Farm and fresh corn contributed by Holmquest Farm, salads, and home baked desserts will be served.  Call 518-567-8832 or email for tickets or get back to me in my comments — only $15 a person.  You may also purchase them at Anglers Marine at 12 County Route 31or Bruno’s in Hudson. .  Tickets must be purchased before August 29th.

Come have a great afternoon and learn more about Eleanor.  Visit HRHBrass’s website at

Thanks to Hudson River Sampler from whom I happily stole whole sentences!




Love in the Cookie Jar

Back in those crazy years after my husband died and I began dating again, a fellow who intrigued me asked me to bake him cookies in exchange for his affection. He followed a quasi gluten free diet. I bought Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America.  Author Richard Coppedge had formulated four specialized flours that could be blended for breads, cakes, cookies, bagels, pancakes, everything to keep a lover happy.  It was intense, scientific, and required visiting several natural food stores for ingredients. This was 2008, before gluten free baking flours and such were readily available.  I am just a casual baker, and after several attempts at success, was not willing to put in the effort to get it right.

Love in the Cookie JarIn the end the fellow wasn’t worth the effort either, but at this point I was hopelessly smitten. Momma’s Favorite Monster Cookie was perfect. I found it on the internet.  It was simple, forgiving, nutritious, and the recipe produced 48 delicious cookies.

He loved them. They surpassed anything found anywhere, and they still are hard to beat. He encouraged me to market them.

Well he’s gone but the cookie is still a favorite.

Lots of friends and family, one with gluten issues, visited these past few weeks.  I made a double batch, froze them – which they do so well — and served them continually.  Several cookie lovers asked for the recipe.

I went online to send them the link. The url no longer existed. Fourteen million, six hundred thousand results popped up binging “Monster Cookie.” Ah yes, a lot of them were Cookie Monster hits. Forgot about him.

There were countless versions of this oatmeal, peanut butter cookie:  Grandmother  versions, Jewish versions, Amish versions, Nestlé’s version, Pillsbury’s version, Paula Deen’s version which has 447 comments by the way; a modified version for autistic children which uses corn syrup instead of butter or margarine, fully illustrated presentations, utube demonstrations, and some which added flour.   One site honored it as a “modern classic.” And then there was that entirely different blue genre mentioned above.

What is my point?

I’m not sure.

But many caring women, and hopefully some just as caring men have featured this recipe on their blogs or have commented on it suggesting variations, asking for more details, or simply praising it.  And surely, an even greater number of women who have discovered and baked and loved this cookie have their own story they will tell when they share this treat.

Momma Kate’s recipe was originally at and is now available on

One of the most recent comments on Paula Deen’s site is “. . .They did not turn out. They were yucky cookie balls. Such a bummer.”

My suggestion to the writer is that she try again.  Practice makes perfect, and mine get better and better every time.

Just like picking fellows.

Stephen, Lee Rubinstein, Jo Hills, Mary Jo @ Beekman Arms (Rhinebeck, NY)


I hope I’ll get another chance

We just recently moved into the eleven by eight foot loft of our new addition where we can lie in bed and look out over the Hudson and the Catskills.  There’s not much we can do there but sleep, read, and you know what.  It’s very romantic.

Our kids were up for Thanksgiving – three thirty-ish men with their lovely women.  It was a fabulous weekend for us, the first Thanksgiving with the two families merged.

The last of our children left Sunday afternoon, and the house felt suddenly empty, but it also was once more ours alone.  We decided to pour ourselves each a glass of wine and watch a movie in bed ––



An hour or two later we awoke.  Lee told me he felt like were in our twenties again.

I told him I forgot to open my eyes.

Mommy! Mommy!

Zachary Kanin, in The New Yorker, 11/25/2013

“Mommy, Mommy!”

I’d hear my son’s baby squirrel voice from the back seat of the Caravan.

“Mommy!  Where’s Daddy?”

We’d have just passed a squashed squirrel on the road – most likely Groton Road on the way to  — to anything.

“It’s okay, honey, he’d reply in his mommy squirrel voice.

My boys had a huge repertoire of voices. They’d invent characters and mimic others:  Bush one, Spock, Jack Nicholson, and oh my goodness, a favorite teacher during a speech at graduation.

“It’s okay.  Daddy had to go somewhere.  He’s all right.”

I guess that’s why when I read the featured cartoon this morning my stomach lurched, I felt the blood drain from my face, and my entire day has been colored by the sorrow and pain of those stupid water toys.