We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, May 1. 2021
Sicilian food traditions (a crazy mix of Arab, Greek, French, Spanish, etc) have lots of lemons, blood oranges, raisins, capers, pistachios, mint, eggplant, couscous, fennel, bottarga, and of course fresh seafood. Also, piglet. Also, especially, grilled octopus.
Re the cingihale stew - no, Romans never made that. They did not have potatoes until after Columbus.
And the chef who puts porcini with vongole? What? No. Procini are one of my favorite flavors, but with seafood?
Re the Mafia in Sicily - forget about it. They are a shadow government and they prevent crime in their own ways. It is a non-issue unless you have a business there.
Monday, March 22. 2021
Saturday, February 20. 2021
Pic is a Northern Italian classic: Veal Tonnato
When I grew up, "Italian food" meant various forms of wheat (no egg) pasta with red glop on top, and maybe meatballs or eggplant. That, plus pizza and Italian grinders. Also, Lasagna I guess, made from an American cookbook.
They don't make grinders in Italy, and their pizzas aren't any good in my view. (I gave up on them. American wood-cooked pizzas can be pretty good, though. Crust has to be half-burnt.)
This was because most of the Italian immigrants to America were from a poor southern Italy with Neapolitan food traditions. To tell the truth, I do not care too much for that stuff but I am willing to eat it if I am starving. I do like a good Pasta Fagiole but I can make the best one you have ever had, and I will have a Bolognese on Tagliatelle. Call me a food snob.
Our best Italian meals have been in Umbria, which is where Romans take dining expeditions by the busload - so they can drink and gorge on wild pig, and get a ride home. No good Italian food tastes wonderful without wine. If you're on the wagon, it's not so wonderful unless it includes truffles or Balsamic. They do not use much wine in their cooking because you are supposed to be sipping it as you eat. Wine is expected to be an accompaniment, blending in your mouth.
I had a fine Lasagna in Verona for lunch, in a sidewalk cafe near the Arena. No red sauce, heavy on the nutmeg which makes sense, given the history of being part of the Venetian Empire for a while. One Italian dish I really wanted to try in Italy was Vitello Tonnato - Veal with Tuna Sauce. Mrs. BD makes an excellent version, but somehow we missed it on our last trip. Also wanted to try their Chicken Liver with Balsamic, but missed that too. That's OK - food isn't everything - and we know some great Italian restaurants in NYC.
Italian Food Regional Cooking: Southern Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: Central Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: NorthWest Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: NorthEast Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: Sicily and Sardinia
Northern Italians eat very well, but are mostly skinny. It's the walking and the minimal pasta that does it. Low carbs.
Friday, February 12. 2021
Photo of our elegant dormitories at the school. $60/night - not bad for a living room with a chart table, kitchenette, and nice bedroom plus a spare bunk in the hall.
First thing, we can recommend them for all levels of seamanship education, from beginner to commercial Captain. Half of our classes were military guys and gals, and were from all over the US and Europe too.
The best thing about their classes is that half the time is spent in classroom, half on the water practicing with whatever size and type boat you want to master. They have the dormitory right at their own marina on Manatee Pocket, which was perfect. Classes are from 8 am to about 4 pm. You need to study for an hour or two after you go out somewhere fun for a seafood dinner.
Wish I had a pic of that lovely narrow lagoon, but I was usually too busy with boat handling to take a pic.
Yes, there are tricky paper exams but the practical water components are useful. Lots of boat traffic to deal with down on the intracoastal waterway in Florida.
A few observations about food, masks, etc below the fold, with a couple of pics.
Continue reading "Florida boating and seafood, with comments on masks, marina pubs etc."
Thursday, October 29. 2020
The town square in Jackson (for what it's worth, the town is Jackson and Jackson Hole is the surrounding region leading up to the Tetons), has entrances adorned with elk antler arches. Every year the Boy Scouts go to the elk refuge and collect antlers. The story of the elk is both interesting and contentious. They should just pass through but growth of the town has blocked migration routes, and a bad winter many years ago trapped them in the valley. So many died it was said you couldn't walk without stepping on them. Originally, a privately funded rescue was created and the elk were fed in the area. Now it is a National Refuge and they are fed there every winter. It is a mixed blessing...and one which has detractors on both sides. An unnatural state of affairs but a great tourist opportunity.
(more below the fold)
Continue reading "More Vacation Pics"
Just going to post a few pictures of my vacation, an off-season visit to Montana, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons. We had to leave 2 days early due to snow, but it was still one of the best trips we've had as a family. Lots of hiking. Lots of driving. Lots of steak. Flew into Bozeman, drove down through Red Lodge and stopped at Cody. Nice towns to visit. We had to skip Livingston, too much snow and the road condition reports were not good. The next day, the drive from Cody to Yellowstone is magnificent, and we did it in the snow, again. Pictures of our Yellowstone Welcome Wagon below. Saw Old Faithful (the boys were underwhelmed, but it did go off right at the time we were told it would).
Spent 2 days in Jackson, hiked the Tetons and met some moose. No squirrel. Definitely need to return and do more hiking there. Amphitheater Lake looks wonderful, and the hike to 9,000 feet isn't horrible.
Drove through Idaho, where we ran into a cattle drive in Rexburg, to West Yellowstone. A tourist town, but in the offseason it has a charm all its own. Spent another day hiking and taking pictures of geothermal activity, waterfalls, and ran into Wile E. Coyote on a short hike to Clear Lake (which is really quite green and smells like sulphur).
The weather in Yellowstone changes on a whim. We had fog, rain, clear skies and snow all in a 5 hour period. The first few snow storms were pretty mild. Unfortunately, the snow kept getting worse. When 4 inches fell, the park closed and a larger storm was on the way. So we changed the flights and headed home. It was the right decision. Bozeman got 10 inches on Saturday, and we would have had to drive in that snow...
Some pictures below the fold, more to follow...
Continue reading "My Vacation out West"
Sunday, September 27. 2020
Readers know that I believe in generous but not excessive tipping whether at Dunkin Donuts or at the Ritz-Carlton.
Why? Not only to show appreciation but to help out people in poorly-paid jobs. Food workers, hotel housekeepers, etc depend on tips to make ends meet.
Here are some suggestions: This Is How Much You Should Tip Hotel Housekeeping Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
I think their suggestions are on the low side.
Wednesday, September 23. 2020
Stonington Borough (pop 929) is as boaty and salty a tiny village as can be found on the East Coast. It is also quaint as heck, almost to a fault. It's a popular summer getaway, right down the road from Westerly and Watch Hill, RI. Also, it has a sizeable retirement population because there is so much to do around there.
Its rock coast has only a postage stamp-sized beach. There is one very pleasant inn, and a yacht club.
Nice boat - a Hunt 33. Mrs. BD wants it.
A bunch more pics below the fold -
Continue reading "Pics from Stonington, CT"
Sunday, July 19. 2020
Not a retirement type of person, but Mrs. BD wants a new boat (I thought I had had enuf boats in my life to worry about already, but I love boats. Love farms too, but I like hiking and working the most. Yeah, I likes me a bit of hunting too.
She likes the custom Hunts. She likes the trawlers too.
This wonderful adventurous couple downsized their trawler to make it trailer-able, and go all around the country - and especially Canada - exploring and having fun times. Trawler Trailer Life. Carpe Diem.
Yes, their home base is Florida, but they seem to not spend much time there.
If forced to retire, what would you do for fun and excitement while awaiting the Grim Reaper?
Sunday, July 12. 2020
No need to bring a car. Bring bikes, or just rent bikes.
Plenty of fun turn-of the century Queen Anne Revival (aka "Victorian") architecture. The island has an interesting history.
Photo below is from the town dock. Block Island is a popular sailing and boating destination.
Wednesday, July 1. 2020
Webinars can be hit or miss. The New York Adventure Club, due to the obvious difficulties of getting out these days, have some on offer. I took in one on Five Points that was excellent, and there is one on July 21 about the Brooklyn Bridge that I have signed up for. $10 isn't too much, I guess, though I'd rather do tours on foot (boy I miss the Urban Hike and I hope we can pull one off in the Fall...I was thinking of focusing on movie locations this time).
If you're interested in spending an hour and learning about NYC's history, here's a great way to do it. Just click the link and see what they have to offer.
Monday, June 29. 2020
A richly illustrated full-color guide to the unique plants, wildlife, and environments of Cape Cod and the other nearby “Outer Lands” that face the Atlantic Ocean
OK, we are Cape Codders, and thus biased. But if you know of any getaway place so good for salt air and piney smell, sailing, fishing, hunting (deer, duck and pheasant), gardening (long growing season on the ocean), biking, hiking, dining on day-fresh seafood and Wellfleet Oysters, tell me about it.
Besides that, there is no rich people flavor like Palm Beach, the Islands, Spring Lake, Watch Hill, and the Hamptons. Them folks we have on the outer Cape are very low-profile. It's a Maserati and Porsche-free zone, but you have to deal with "F-Trump" bumper stickers. Whatever. It's a free country, thank God.
I never get invited to Hamptons parties anyway.
Just no skiing on the Cape, but not too far from it. Beautifully desolate and wet in winter, of course, without any real snow but them's the breaks. You can get out and shoot a duck for supper.
Sunday, June 21. 2020
It's been decades since we spent time on the Cape in June, mainly because our annual family weeks are in August. This was a Father's Day gift.
June is better. Too early for swimming, but perfect for the outdoor fun that August is too warm for. No skeeters. Also, few vacationers. The birding is better in August, with all of the travellers heading down from the north. Still, Eagles and Ospreys and nesting herons. Nothing special except the Terrapins digging their eggs and the fox trying to find their nests for breakfast eggs.
We opted for a marsh-side cottage on Lieutenant Island, a quiet corner which is only accessible during lower tides.
More pics etc below the fold -
Continue reading "Cape Cod in June, with a few photos"
Sunday, June 14. 2020
No bugs, sea breeze, 57 degrees F at night, biking, boating, kayaking, hiking trails, running, day-fresh seafood, ocean beach, harbor beach, bay beach, and big ponds. Lots of fun family restaurants. The protection of the vast National Seashore.
If you squint, you can see Portugal on the horizon.
A few more Wellfleet pics below the fold
Continue reading "Sunrise, Cahoon's Hollow, Wellfleet"
Sunday, February 16. 2020
Mac (obviously) started out doing Scotland walking trips, but has expanded all over. We're using his service for our Hadrian's Wall hike this summer. (They book your B&Bs and shlep your luggage. The daily hikes are on you.)
Saturday, February 15. 2020
Sunday, February 9. 2020
I have a small collection of ideas from friends:
Verona Opera. 2020 Season tickets and schedule
Forte dei Marmi in northern Italy
Uzes, southern France
And in Aix, Villa Hotel Gallici
Wednesday, February 5. 2020
It's never too early to plan!
Now that it's February, and a mild one due to man-made hotcoldwetdry, my mind has taken to thinking about what sites we should see in April or May. Also socks, my mind is on socks because it's good to be comfortable while walking 9-11 miles.
Last year we hiked on May 5, a Sunday. This year, Mrs Bulldog and I will be out of the US from April 16-May 2 as we take a drive through Benelux and France. So early April (a tad chillier, but reasonable enough), or the second and fourth weekends of May are open.
Just thought I'd get some thought starters out there - share any ideas of what you'd like to see and/or which weekends work for you. Right now, The Bronx (the only borough with a "The" in it) is the first choice, ending at Arthur Avenue. But I believe we can entertain all kinds of options. Let us know your thoughts!
Monday, February 3. 2020
Thursday, December 5. 2019
Saturday, November 9. 2019
Planning an early Spring visit to Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp. A wildlife trip, kind of rustic in the Georgia wilderness. You have to go before bug season. It's way north of the Everglades (also a fine place to visit).
I like Georgia. Not moving there, but a fine place to visit and the southern food is amazing.
Natural History of the Okefenokee Swamp. 500,000 acres of blackwater swamp filled with gators and other Pogo critters.
Here's a Youtube:
Sunday, October 20. 2019
Reposted from one year ago because I wanted to relive it, sort-of: Notes from an accidental tourist, with MAGA. What is Ostia, and what is Real Italy like?
Pic from of MAGA Caffeteria from my urban hike around Ostia outside Rome.
"Ostia" is the mouth, the area of the old Roman port. About 25 minutes from the airport, 20 by ambulance.
No foreigners visit Ostia. It's a Roman middle-class and working-class suburb south of Rome on one of the commuter trains. Its 3 miles of beach on the Med (The Lido) attract less-wealthy Romans in summer for beach getaways. It has a half-mile of spartan hotels, one of which I stayed in (Hotel Bellavista) for 5 days while Mrs. BD was in Ospidale Grassi about a 30-minute walk from my hotel. No fluffy towels.
This was an accidental visit by this accidental tourist. (Mrs. BD fainted on the plane to Rome - face plant - and fractured some facial bones. Dangerous to her eye, and she looked by post-car crash.) While stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues, I did spend one day hiking Ostia and getting lost and hiking the beach with my trousers rolled up like T S Eliot, took the train to Rome to urban hike one day, took train to Ostia Antica (do not miss that visit when near Rome) and had a wonderful day there until it closed.
So before I post some photos of Ostia Antica later (a truly magnificent ruin of a Roman port city, just 3 train stops from Ostia, an hour from Rome) I thought I'd post some fun observations about some aspects of the real, non-tourist Italy. Remember, Rome is sort-of on the edge of northern and southern Italy, and a blend of both cultures but more southern than northern. I've been to Rome several times. Once is enuf in my view. Fun stuff below the fold (BTW, Mrs. BD is just fine now)
Continue reading "Reposted from one year ago because I wanted to relive it, sort-of: Notes from an accidental tourist, with MAGA. What is Ostia, and what is Real Italy like?"
Friday, September 13. 2019
Now is prime hiking season. An excellent resource for day-hikers in southern New England and the NYC metro area:
Top 30 Hiking and Biking Adventures - We bring you the best trails the Hudson Valley has to offer
Thursday, September 5. 2019
The US TSA offers a few Trusted Traveler programs which reduce some or much of the annoyance of air travel.
The Pre-Check is easy to obtain. The Global Entry is a bit more involved, but worth it for regular travelers. You can do most of the processes at the TSA website, but a brief in-person interview is required for all of these. It's a vetting process.
Somewhat related, many states now offer "Real ID" driving licenses. It's a minor hassle to collect the info your DMV wants for this, but worth doing for some people. You can upgrade your license to REAL ID any time. Next year, REAL ID will be required.
Ideally, make a lot of money and fly private... no fuss.
Wednesday, August 28. 2019
Photo: Our porch. No screens, no bugs. Just a constant cool sea breeze.
Cut my driving time to our place on Cape Cod by an hour with my new fun car. A sporty but not excessive 280 hp with turbo, but I've never had a car that could cruise comfortably in the left lane at 85- 90 mph or which wants you to accelerate into corners and curves instead of braking. I have been cheap/practical with vehicles all of my life until now. This car has the tightest steering I could imagine, and zero roll on curves. Sheesh, kinda fun, a bit of adrenaline.
Only thing I could figger out on the sound system thus far was the Sirius Grateful Dead station. That is something ok for driving. Never a big Dead fan but I got the gist of it. Still not a big fan, but I sort-of appreciate their relaxed stoner approach. No CD players in new cars, which is a great annoyance.
A few thoughts about Wellfleet, on Cape Cod, below the fold.
Continue reading "Life in America: Cut my driving time by an hour to the family getaway, etc."