Monday, August 3, 2009

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

Okay. It's officially a triple-header. THREE shows in a week. We know how to live.

Sunday afternoon it was the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus with their show for kiddies at the Spiegeltent. Whips, contortion, sword swallowing, balloon animals, the whole schmegeggy. All backed by a live band. How cool. Since they are practically neighbors, we plan on becoming groupies.

The Bindlestiff's next local show will be in Hudson on Saturday, August 29th at 3:00. It's free and family focused (though you must see them after dark one of these days - it's a whole different Cirkus!). The show will be at the Henry Hudson Waterfront Park. Check their website for rain location info.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

dog on fleas

dog on fleas
Originally uploaded by Cup and Top Cafe
It's a big week for shows in the little Village.

Last night it was Dog on Fleas at the Tivoli Library. Hell of a party wrapping up the Summer Reading Program. The third floor of the Village Hall rocked out with short people hopping from foot to foot and generally makin' mayhem. (One dad, looking on politely at the opener, was down on all fours riding his kid around like a dancing pony before it was all over.) Hilarity is a contagion.

If you haven't yet, you gotta see this band.

"How I got big, I just can't explain.
I was just out there standin' in the clover,
Next thing you know my life's almost over.
How I got big, I just can't explain."

From "When I Get Little (I'm gonna be a boy)."
Kid stuff? No way. Way!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Natalie Live and Local

Did you catch Natalie Merchant at the Spiegeltent last night? On Saturday night, she decided to perform new material from her forthcoming album, and with some scurrying, a piano and an appreciative audience gathered Sunday night. Intimate, casual and an utter delight.

She is a singer-songwriter in her bones and has been writing songs continually since her last release about five years ago. With her lovely little girl off to kindergarten last fall, she turned her full attention (almost full) to creating her new album. As she said last night, many of her collaborators have been dead over 100 years. With a cultural anthropologist's eye, she has unearthed children's poetry (some familiar and some wholely new to us) and set it to music. Collaboration with the living rounds out the project. It's a musically diverse recording with a New Orleans jazz band and a full orchestra appearing.

But, last night was just Natalie, a piano, a little red notebook of music she compiled in the wee hours the night before, and a pen. She sang, played, joked, and made notes in the margins as she worked through the material. It was as much a song-writer's workshop as a performance, and aren't we lucky to have been there.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

6th Annual Tivoli Pie Contest

The judges of Saturday's 6th Annual Tivoli Bread & Baking Co. Pie Contest had quite a challenge this year, as usual.

With nearly a dozen pies contending and scores of people patiently milling around with forks, the connoisseurs chose five winning pies.

Tivoli resident Jacquie Goss took top honors with her lattice-topped peach pie. Her prize, a $100 gift certificate for dinner at Mercato in Red Hook (next year, better break out the rolling pin and give it a shot!).

As he has for the past five years, ten-year-old Alex Gonnella judged pies along side his uncle Mikee Gonnella (baker extraordinaire), Gerard Hurley ( filmmaker and pub owner), and past contest winners Mary Crinnin and Mariah. Alex's known predilection for peach may have tipped the panel toward Goss, but there were plenty of prizes to go around.

As has become the habit of the good people of Tivoli, the minute the final winner was announced, the polite circle of pie aficionados closed in on the table and cleaned those pie plates! Sweet end to a sweet day.

The Annual Tivoli Bread & Baking Co. pie contest is held each year on Tivoli Yard Sale Day. A sign up sheet hangs in the bakery in the days leading up to the event. No entry fee. And, it's a local fresh fruit sorta contest. In season is always best. The bakery is at 75 Broadway. 845.757.2253.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Yard Sale on Steriods

The 21st Annual Tivoli Yard Sale Day is now just a heap of free stuff at the curb, but if you braved the traffic and the frenzied shoppers in our otherwise peaceful village, you may be in possession of a find or two.

Or, as a friend of the 212 persuasion once observed, you may have hauled home something that will end up for sale on your own lawn next summer.

As usual, Mayor Marc (as we still fondly think of him) was pressing the flesh at the four corners and handing out yard sale maps. The ambitious among us use it to guide their drive-buys.

I made a casual perusal of the highlights on Broadway (on foot and with coffee). My reward? This groovy (late) mid-century lamp table for my living room reno.

AND, "The Magic Music Box" made by the Plastic Injecto Corp. of Union, New Jersey. Includes follow-the-dots sheet music for classics like "Swanee River" and "Comin' Thru the Rye." Only $8. I know. You're jealous.

So... What did you get?

The Annual Tivoli Yard Sale Day is sponsored by the Tivoli Community Association. It is held on the last Saturday of July. To be included on the printed map of Village yard sales, contact the Village Clerk's Office at 845.757.2021. There is a $10 fee for map listings.

Monday, July 20, 2009


For years now I've bought amazing local potatoes and no-spray veggies from Debbie and Darryl Mosher of Brittany Hollow Farm in Red Hook. When we first met at the Rhinebeck Farmers' Market, their three kids were little enough to sit together on the tailgate of their farm truck dangling their feet.

For the last couple of summers, their son Ross, now a really, really big guy, has been planting a pick-your-own flower field just north of the family farm on Route 9.

It's a pretty simple operation, really. As with so many of our local farm stands, the farmers are too damn busy to sit there and collect your money. There's a rusty old metal box with a slot in the top for your 5's and 10's.

Grab some clippers and a bucket, large or larger. Hit the field. Clip away among the bumble bees and butterflies. Teach your three-year-old the names of all the flowers and bugs.

Then contribute to Ross's college fund. Stuff your bills into the slot and drive home with enough beautiful zinnias, coxcomb, cleome and cosmos to fill all the vases you own.

Brittany Hollow Farm is located at 7115 Albany Post Road (Route 9) just south of Holy Cow. Pick-Your-Own morning to dusk. $5 for a six-inch bucket. $10 for an 8-inch bucket. 845-758-3276.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pie Contest!

Biggest event of the summer in the Village of Tivoli. Celebrity judges. Prizes. And an orgy of pie eating when it's all said and done. Bring a fork.

Sign up now at Tivoli Bread & Baking Co. Judging at noon on Saturday, July 25, Yard Sale Day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mark Your Calendars

10:00... who are they kidding! The great stuff is gone by 9:17(and the free stuff lays around for much of the following week).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Edible Gems

Fresh from Ray Tousey's bushes in Clermont, these little jewels are available now at Otto's in Germantown.

Tempted as you might be to string them into a blushing pink necklace, these white currants should be eaten. No need to do a pie or jam. White currants are sweet enough to eat fresh. Or try this little summer dessert. (Leave it to the English to work double cream into just about everything.)

White currants are $3.99 per pint. Otto's Market is at 215 Main Street, Germantown. Open Mon-Sat 7-7, Sun 7-3. Phone 518.537.7200.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I grew up in Maine where blueberry picking is one of the great joys of summer. The blueberries of my youth were teeny-tiny and intensely sweet. We usually picked them along the camp road. In places where they were thick, we were ever mindful of bears (who were likely to be meandering along picking them too).

If you find yourself in Maine this summer, you'll spot wild blueberry pickers selling quarts off their tailgates. Buy as many as you can carry. It's tough work picking those low bush berries, and they are delicate. You'll want to eat them before you cross the New Hampshire line, as they will perish in the heat of the lesser New England states. I mean lower.

But, wait! This blog is about Tivoli. Lucky for us, nearby Greig Farm has rows and rows of beautiful high bush blueberries laden with ripening fruit. No bears. And no bending, squatting or crawling around to fill you pail (unless you just can't resist the urge to pick like a pro).

While I was grazing along picking at eye level, a lovely Jamaican guy was whistling his way down the next row picking for the farm. I hope you get the same relaxing serenade while you tip the darkest berries into your pail... kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk.

Blueberries are $2.50 per pound, and $2 for the plastic pail. You want the plastic pail. Red and yellow raspberries are $5 per pound, and seniors get a 10% discount on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Greig Farm is located at 223 Pitcher Lane in Red Hook. Pick Your Own daily from 8am to 8pm, rain or shine. 845-758-1234.

Wear your sun hat! And watch for blackberries, apples, and pumpkins as the growing season continues.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Uke Joint

Hope you caught the show. The tip jar probably hauled in enough gas money to get that Lincoln to aaahh... Kingston.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jr. Fireman

On a recent rainy day, one of twenty-five, we headed up to Hudson and the FASNY Museum of Firefighting for some indoor diversion. If you have a penchant for chrome, or hooks and ladders, this is the museum for you.

Firetrucks. Firetrucks. Firetrucks. 50,000 square feet of them.

Almost too many to digest on an initial visit.

And, you can climb up into the driver's seat on quite a few of them. In your Jr. Fireman's suit, no less.

There a few other buttons to push and bells to ring, which makes the whole visit more fun than you should have on a rainy day.

Did I mention that I really like chrome?

The Museum of Firefighting is located at 117 Harry Howard Avenue in Hudson. Admission is by donation. Open daily 10 - 5. 877-347-3687.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Weekend in the Little Village

The weekend surprised us with a bit more sun than we've grown accustomed to, and a couple of nice little events were that much more pleasant as a result.

On Saturday night, the Tivoli Artists' Co-op held an opening reception for their annual 3-D show. Ten member artists' work in various media, a decent glass of wine and a room full of artists and friends to chat with. It was a full house and a sweet evening.

On Sunday morning, the second meeting of the Tivoli Bread & Baking Co. Wiffle Ball League (kids vs. adults) got off the ground, and we even needed sun block! Balls were whacked, bases were loaded, points were scored, but not in that particular order, of course.

Pitcher Mikee Gonnella was on the mound lobbing big plastic balls into the sweet spot. No one keeping score. Everyone was a winner. (Note fathers relaxing with coffee in the outfield.)

And, to top off the weekend, Chuck Mead's cherries are in at Mead Orchards; and Mikee knows just what to do with them. Piping hot bakery action, and a lovely finish to the weekend. Cherry tarts with Sunday night supper.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

'Cue to Go

Driving up Route 9G just north of the Village, you may have noticed a small wooden sign at Route 6. It's 'Cue to Go, a take-out barbecue biz that started last fall.

Husband and wife duo Lisa and Brad Renner started 'Cue to Go as an off-shoot of their catering business. Actually bottled chutneys and salsas were the first off-shoot. We're all doing what we can.

I pulled in the drive of their farm house (with a million-dollar view) recently to check it out. Frankly astonished by the size of their commercial kitchen and trying to hide my gas range envy, I ordered a handful of things, then decided to take the BBQ to the view.

As the summer gets too hot for cooking, grab a picnic table at Clermont and give the smoked barbecue a try. The sides are a little heavy for my taste, but pack a salad for balance, and you'll be quite satisfied.

Better yet, order now for the 4th. Ribs and fireworks would be ever so nice.

'Cue to Go is at 230 County Route 6, just off Route 9G. Open Wednesday and Thursday 11 to 7, Friday and Saturday 11 to 8. Call ahead for large orders. 518-537-7246.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The unrelenting rain (and drizzle and downpours and sprinkles and mist and showers) of June have made for a long, slow spring. Lovely if you are a gardener. A bummer if you'd like to wear your new orange flip-flops.

The winds of June dislodged this little treasure from my maple. It dropped and rolled and has made it all the way to my credenza. In our little corner of the world, we'd rather decorate with nests, twigs, rocks and peaches ripening on our windowsills than upholstery and curtains. This little gem should fit in just fine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Living in the Village, there are people you know without ever meeting. They and their habits are as familiar as the water tower in the skyline.

She has intrigued me for a long time, the tricycle rider. She reminds me of another tricycle rider on the other side of the world. I never met him, and neither will she; but they are parentheses around my little world.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tivoli Day

Due to a lack of ... ahh ... preparation, Tivoli Day has been rescheduled for Saturday, August 1st. Do not despair. It will be worth the wait. As details are dreamed up, we'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Old House Love

You might wonder where I've been lately. No, this is not a crater on the surface of the moon. This, friends, is old house love. Living around here, you pretty much have to have it. Not so many new houses around worth shaking a stick at and the handful of modern marvels are rarely on the market and priced out of reach. So we satisfy our irrational homeowning urges with remuddled old houses.

Mine was built about 1870. Doubled about 1900. Used to face the other way. Got stripped in 1949 by well-meaning working folks. They tired of the redo in the 70's and went at it again. A car ran into it in the 80's and left behind a lovely picture window. You could say that renovation opportunity knocked. Actually it crashed right through the living room wall.

Lucky for me, they never had much money, so it was all cosmetic.

I don't have much money either, so now it's all elbow grease. I've spent the past month scraping away sixty years of bad taste (with the help of many). I can no longer say it looks like the function room of an American Legion Hall. All the paneling, dropped ceilings and wall-to-wall are gone. I'm now down to the flesh of the place. Wood. Actual wood. Oh, isn't it going to be nice.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Otto's Kids' Club

If you live within a ten mile radius of Germantown, I'm guessing you've visited Otto's Market. You can do a good bit of your weekly marketing there. If you like to linger and chat, fabulous things come out of the kitchen for breakfast and lunch to encourage a sit-down. All this and the best coffee in the tri-village area (that's Red Hook, Tivoli, and Germantown if you're not from around here). You may even have spotted me at a little table in the window with my favorite coffee date.

What you may not know, is that Otto's has a Kids' Club. You may not know because it's a fairly exclusive little membership.

Otto, think avuncular grocer with a campy sense of humor, makes the invitations himself. There is an interview.

A photo is taken for the membership card. Yes, these are card-carrying members.

References are checked. The steering committee convenes (I'm thinking this is the Lays guy, a neighborhood cat, and Otto's accountant). If they smile upon an applicant, the reward (apart from the obvious thrill of carrying the card) is a dive into the treasure chest stashed under the register.

I tried to get my little guy to pick the clicky cricket toy, but after a brief dalliance with candy lipstick, he walked away with Smarties.

Go to Otto's. Take a kid. Have lunch. Clean your plate and hope for an invite.

Otto's Market is at 215 Main St. conveniently opposite Jim Lawlor's liquor store. Otto's is open Mon-Sat 7-7, Sun 7-3. Phone 518.537.7200.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bubby's Back!

The little Burrito Stand is open again. You don't need me to tell you, unless you haven't traveled 9G on your way to Tivoli in the past couple of weeks.

It's a sure sign that Bard graduation will soon be upon us, when Bubby comes back home from Mexico and sets up the Burrito stand. All winter she and her husband run a cafe in San Miguel. Not a bad gig. But, in summer, she's all ours.

You can get your black bean burrito with guacamole or without, and there's a cheese quesadilla on the menu too. The most you could possibly spend for lunch is $7.50, so add this to your cheap date list.

If you hang around the stand to eat (which is the best part), just watch out for the chicken. She's a burrito-eatin' chicken, and if you are part of the under 3-foot crowd, she just might steal your lunch.

Bubby's Burritos is located at the Montgomery Place Orchards Fruit Stand on Route 9G just north of the light at Route 199. She's open Tuesday to Saturday from 12 to 5. And, she'll be with us until early fall.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yard Yachting

Last Saturday was Germantown's Yard Sale Day, a minor event if there ever was one. Being a former Gtowner and quite partial to the place, I'm not one to criticize. However, it was few-and-far-between. That didn't prevent us from finding treasure. No sirree.

Dumped in a big floppy cardboard box along with some hideous old curtains, I found the mother load of vintage fabric.

I made a big pile of the stuff and tentatively asked how much, hoping I had enough to take it all. The answer, "Free." I guess when you're selling your husband's ex-wife's stuff, it's not worth a hell of a lot to you. Lucky me.

Which isn't to say I didn't lay out some cash. I, of course, needed a red Scotty dog door stop. Cost 25 cents. I did my bit.

A few of us have been of the opinion that this is the year to buy second hand. With every manner of vehicle parked on someone's front lawn this spring, it's a buyer's market. Snow plows, camo trucks (two of them), boats, campers, cars, motorcycles. I've even seen kids' bikes. Everyone's lightening their load and looking for cash. (Except in Germantown, of course, where they just break in and take it. If we still had local newspapers, you could read all about it.)

If you missed Gtown's Yard Sale Day, do not despair. Tivoli's own Sale-ing event is July 25th. Mark your calendars and come early. The Mayor will be handing out maps at the intersection. Gtown could learn a thing or two.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baked Goods Mania

In the category, "weirdest employee benefit," this little entry.

Mikee apparently now sponsors company logo manicures for his employees. Any, yes, that is a flying baguette.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blossom iCandy

The apricots are in bloom in my friend Jane's old orchard on the north side of the Village. Apple blossoms in a week or so!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Foraging Ramps

Last week, my friend Mark came by with an armful of ramps. He foraged them from the banks of the Roe Jan Creek in Germantown. I grew up among foragers, so this bundle of beautiful wild leeks was an utter joy.

My Maine relations are out this season of the year gathering dandelion greens and fiddle heads, and we've spent hours together digging clams, chopping muscles off rocks, picking wild raspberries and crawling around for blueberries. So hunting for ramps seemed like a good activity for the week. With the two-year-old asleep in the back seat, I figured a quick drive around the Village would yield a patch or two.

Mark and our friend Arno have found big patches of ramps along streams this spring. Ramps like dampness, but don't like to have their feet in standing water. My friends found theirs about 10 feet above the water line growing just a little higher than the skunk cabbage. My foraging needed to happen a little closer to the road (with sleeping toddler in tow). About five minutes into my adventure, I struck it lucky.

Ramps are wicked easy to spot, it turns out. This time of year, the spring sunshine pours right down through the open canopy of trees onto their bright green leaves. They are lit up like a beacon. Slightly deterred by a No Trespassing sign, I bypassed the first patch, but a short drive on, I hit the brakes at patch number two. Looked like ramps. Picked one. Smelled a little oniony, but could have been some woodland wildflower. Only way to know for sure, a big ol' mouthful. BINGO. Ramps.

Raw ramps are sharp and oniony, but sauteed they become sweet and mellow. I ate the first batch from Mark lightly sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with a little Celtic sea salt. Twirled them on the end of a fork and loved them. A little stringy, but not enough to deter me.

I julienned my second bunch of ramps and sauteed them gently then stirred them into hot pasta with minced anchovies (not being a girl afraid of a little flavor). A big grind of black pepper and some sea salt made a mighty fine spring dinner.

If you're intrigued, you can buy ramps this week at Adam's for $12.99 per pound. Makes my little patch an even sweeter find. And, thank goodness we're not living in Quebec, because ramps are a protected plant there and selling them is a punishable offense. Poachers abound, because Quebecois love their ail des bois.

Oh, and the first spring shiitake are in too! They don't exactly qualify as foraged food, but when you have a pal who is a former shiitake grower, every now and then a little brown bag of them finds its way into you kitchen. If I hadn't devoured the shiitake within minutes of getting them, they'd have been lovely with my ramps. Oh well, there's always next spring.