Heading for a Couple of Dozen Donuts

Cider and cider donuts at Indian Ladder Farms. Photo by sebastien.barre

cropped-015.JPG-21-e1338061358983.jpgThe title is just a teaser. This story is not about donuts, other than the fact that a few days before Hallowen 2011, I was on my way to Indian Ladder Farms, to pick up some tasty, delicious, out of this world, sugar coated cider donuts, to take along to my daughter’s in Alexandria, VA, as a bribe so she’d let us stay there for a few days. It’s really about my brief side trip.

Fast forward almost a year to September 2012, and another trip for those fabulous Indian Ladder Farms donuts, that this time journeyed to Phoenix, AZ and Honolulu, HI, as surprise snacks(presents?) for our daughters living in those cities. And I’m very proud of the fact that ALL of the donuts made it to their destination intact, not in my tummy!  Yes, the yummies waited.

This time around, the lady at Indian Ladder was  concerned about the goodies making a safe trip without getting stale.  Martha Stewart and the Post Office should be proud of me. I stopped and picked out a couple of lock top plastic containers. At home, I transferred the very fresh, I had to wait for them to be cooked, baked, fried, or whatever the process is, donuts into double Ziplock baggies and then put them in the Rubbermaid containers, and then wrapped the containers with 2″ tape, adding a third, actually, a 4th layer of air tightness. The tape also insured the containers wouldn’t pop open en-route. Now, the tasty discs were ready to put in my suitcase to be checked at the airport.

Really wasn’t too worried about the Arizona bound donuts, because they would be there the next day after a couple of thousand miles. Hawaii bound ones, I was a bit worried about. Their 5000 mile journey would be interrupted by a week’s stay in Phoenix. Would they survive the heat? Six baggage handling adventures? Being in the hold of a plane over the Southwest, and Pacific  Ocean? Me not desperately breaking into them?

Results: Phoenix ones, no problem. Just like home. Honolulu ones………

Fantastic, too. Daughter popped them in the microwave for a few seconds, and they were farm fresh warm!

Conclusion, both daughters let us stay.

But, as usual, I got sidetracked. What I really wanted to do was post a link to Teri Conroy’s Farmlife Blog for a couple of my nieces. They’d been chatting over on FaceBook about alpaca fibre, and I’m trying to convince them to visit Wansapana Farm and Indian Ladder Farms, when they’re in the area.

On the office door at Wunsapana Farms.

The link about what happenened on my way to pick up the 2011 donuts – Freddie ALWAYS Makes Me Smile.

Why this particular post?  Because, among the many things I’m thankful for, my wife, family, health, and all the other usual things, a brief visit to Wunsapana Farm always is tranquil, soothing, refreshing – like being teleported to, and recharged in another world for a brief few moments – an intangable with no real explaination – except that Teri is the magical “Keeper”, and her love and caring for her critters just overwhelms everyone who visits the farm. Maybe Teri should have called Wunsapana, The Magic Kingdom, but that would never have portrayed the mystic charm of “Wunsapana……And everyone lived happily ever after.”

So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say “Thank-you, Teri, for having become a farmer. And sharing your life and the critters with the world. Sure, I might make you smile, but you make everyone of your visitors GLOW on the inside, and leave with a priceless feeling of peace and tranquility. You’ve found and are following your calling in

Dang! We missed the boat.

I was catching the push off of the canoe that had brought the ancient king and queen, or was it the ancient god, of Hawaii to the festival earlier in the day. Opps, a couple of the crew forgot to jump.

I’ve missed the boat a few times; haven’t you?

Check the video out. Dang! We missed the boat. But you might want to take a long nap while it loads.

Hale’iwa – Surf and Surprise

Marlyn and I took a trip up to this town/beach on the North Shore. It’s noted as a surfer’s paradise. Winter waves – which apparently started early this year, can reach 40 feet heights. Wow!

World class surfers rank (see the pictures to see why)


as one of, if not the best surfing area in the world.

I was trying to catch a shot of a big breaking wave. And I did. But to my surprise, when I downloaded my card to the computer, I discovered that I had not only caught the wave, but a surfer, too. The header picture and my favorite shot of the day. (Canon SX50sh 215mm combined optical and digital zoom)

Hale’iwa is a quaint old town with some modern stores.A gazillion surf shoppes and restaurants, not to mention the tourist knicknac shops, which are rather reasonably priced. And there is a nice sandy beach for swimming. People were mostly soaking up the sun when we were there because of the breaking waves. They were small by the time they made it to the beach, but strong currents/undertow made common sense and safety a priority. Marlyn met a lady who called it quits in the shallow water on a boogie board because she was getting nauseous from the barrage of small strong waves.

Diamond Head

Here’s a bunch of pictures from our hike up the inside of an extinct(we hope) volcano, better known as

Diamond Head,

on the edge of Honolulu. We went with Liz and the boys, and a couple of other families in the neighborhood.

It’s estimated that 1500 or so people make the trip to the lookout daily. One caveat is that if the parking lot is full, they permit 5(that’s f-i-v-e) vehicles to wait inside the gate for the next available parking spots. And yes, they drop a bar after the 5th vehicle is inside. Your option – back to the bottom, turn around, and try until there’s an opening. Now we were permitted an exception. Car number 5 was our neighbor, and we explained our plight to the gatekeeper, and she got permission to lift the bar and let us be #6.

Don’t be fooled by the concrete sidewalk you see as you leave the parking lot as you begin your ascent. That smoothness soon turns into a chiseled rock trial. You’ll see a pic or two of it here. Is it difficult? Pace yourself and you shold be OK. You’ve got all day. In our group old me and young Mikey did it. And we weren’t the youngest, nor the oldest on the trail.

There are restrooms at the parking lot, that’s it, folks.

Take a water bottle or two along as it’s ALL upgrade to the lookout – and mostly in the open sun!

When you exit the tunnel, go left, the easy way so to speak. 🙂

You’ll see the inside of the crater as you go along. As you gain elevation, you’ll catch glimpse of downtown Honolulu. If you take the easy way, go past the steps to the tiny lookout, not that the one on the summit is hugh, and see the light house and the surfer area.

At the summit, you’ll still get a view of the lighthouse and the surfer area, but also a magnificent view of the ocean and downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach.

No question that the views are great; but so are the people you meet along the way – if you take a moment to initiate the conversation, or offer to take their picture with their camera. Language isn’t a barrier. Hand motions and a smile solves it.

I offered to take a pic of Oriental couple at the big Diamond Head sign, and they insisted on snapping a shot of me, even thought I explained that I was with a group that could do that. I met them again on the stairs to the lookout and you’d think I was their long lost cousin!

9-11-2001 – Where were you?

Originally posted on the Albany Times Union –
September 11, 2010 at 2:51 am by Freddie Dunn

As I drove along Academy Road in Albany yesterday afternoon, I passed this sign that I’ve passed dozens of times before. Only this time something beyond the sign caught my eye. With traffic, I caught only a glimpse of what I thought was a large flag. I went on and did my errant, but made a note to be a bit more observant on the return trip.

And observant I was. So much so that I had to stop and take a picture, which you’ll see at the bottom of this post. It’s self explanatory, even though I don’t have the entire scene that I saw, in the picture…just the “heart of it”.

Gotta be about 20 years ago, we took some of the kids and toured “The City”, the Bronx Zoo, Times Square, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center and a bunch of other places. It was one of the summers we vacationed in cities rather than in Maine or the Adirondacks.

At the turn of the 21st century, one of our daughters was  bouncing around the world sending us pictures, and telling us stories about the places she had been, and occasionally bringing us presents from the cities she visited.

Nine years ago today, I was working nights and sleeping days. The phone rang shortly after I dozed off. It was my wife; she said that I might want to turn the TV on, and hung up. I sat spell bound for the next several hours.

A few days later, we heard the story how my wife’s neice’s husband, who lives in Connecticut, was delayed at home  and was late leaving for work. Their daughter was on a high school field trip, on the Beltway in DC, when the bus driver received a call to cancel their sightseeing trip.

A few months later, our daughter’s pictures and stories and presents stopped; replaced by our not asking where she was going, where she was, or where she had been, because we knew the answer would be, “I can’t tell you”. Those travels were now highly classified.

A few years later, after dropping my son-in-law at his cousin’s in Greenwich Village, I went a few blocks farther, and my daughter(a different one), my sister and I viewed an enormous excavation.  I can’t describe the errie feeling I had standing there in the early winter dusk looking down, and up, and around. The chill I felt wasn’t from the weather. I didn’t want to stay, but I didn’t want to leave either.  Maybe it would have felt different if it were daylight, but I don’t think so. It sure wasn’t the scene it was 20 some years earlier. It was not the same scene my nephew would have seen if he hadn’t been delayed at home, nine years ago. Nor was it the scene my wife woke me up to see on TV nine years ago today.

A year ago, I had a tour of the Pentagon, where my niece’s interrupted field trip had been headed 9 years ago today.  The last thing I did on the tour was to visit the small(small as in about the size of the back room in the Perfect Blend) chapel. I’m not sure if that’s what it’s officially called, but that’s how I refer to it. No chilling feeling this time. Rather a warm feeling, and a bonding with the people and families, whose memories I was reading/sharing. Memories about the last days, or hours, or minutes, or seconds that they recall of their loved one.

Some day, maybe I’ll get out to Shanksville. I missed it when I was in that area last February.

Click the links in the post to see the names of the victims who unexpectedly gave their lives on what we call 9 11.

Thank You, God, for sparing my family and extended family nine years ago, today.

May God continue to console the families that lost loved ones on 9 11.


Posted in Freddie Dunn
  1. My husband & I were on our way to Kingston to meet w/ a lawyer about custody of his oldest son. On the way down, we stopped at the Saugerties rest area. When I came out I told Pat it was going to be a busy night for him at work ( he works at a local TV station) cuz there was a fire at …the Pentagon. I had seen people gathered around a tv in the rest area, not realizing that a plane had actually hit the Pentagon. When we got out of our meeting, the lawyers secretary told us what was going on, & I felt a sense of panic rising up in my belly. It wasn’t until I got to work that I saw the footage, 1st of the planes striking the buildings & then the buildings all collapsing. To this day, those images strike a fear in my belly, & bring tears to my eyes as I only imagine what the horrific last moments of the lives of all those people! :-(Comment by  C Teetsel — September 11th, 2010 @ 10:55 am
  2. I was home watching Disney channel before taking the little one to pre-k when my husband came home from work and told me to turn on the Today show because a plane had crashed the Towers. We were immediately anxious to make contact with our son who was in Chicago on business near and at the Sears Tower. They were shaken and we were all so fearful. Daughter was on campus at Siena. Yes, we were ‘lucky’, although two families from Schenectady lost beloved children. The rest of us just lost our innocence that day.Comment by  lizzee — September 11th, 2010 @ 3:54 pm
  3. I remember it was my first day of a new job. Before I left for work , I saw the first crash on TV. I thought it was an innocent accident.  Later , people told me the news, and I didn’t really believe it….I thought they were exaggerating!  My brother in law literally ran away from the area over the brooklyn bridge.  When my children came home from school,I gave them the biggest hugs ever, and they were not sure why.  We will never forget!!Comment by  walker — September 11th, 2010 @ 7:40 pm
  4. Thank you for this post.  I will never forget those who lost their lives.  It was beyond unimaginable.  I was in mid-town Manhattan visiting my husband who was on a business trip.  I will never forget the streams of people running up and away from downtown.  The feeling of being completely trapped on the island of Manhattan was terrifying.  The subways were down, the trains were not running.  We did not know what was coming next.  Airplanes circled the city all night long awaiting the next wave of possible attacks.  I sat at our hotel window watching firefighters stand in the streets facing downtown waiting for their comrads to return.  Around 3 in the morning, a truck did return – covered in ash.  God bless the people in the planes, in the towers, those at home who never had their loved ones return home from work that day.  I will never forget you.Comment by  Jennifer — September 11th, 2010 @ 9:00 pm
  5. I was living in an apartment, recently married and working 2 jobs while getting my paralegal certificate.  I was supposed to pick up my friend from the airport that morning.  She woke me up with the message she left on my answering machine.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  It had been half a day by the time I turned on the TV and saw (I was asleep since I worked until 7 am).  It felt like I was watching a movie. Then, when I figured it out it was real, I kept thinking…”What’s next?” and for a long time kept waiting for something else to happen.  I was pretty sure it was the beginning of the end of the world (seriously).  A few weeks later, I bought plane tickets home to see my family and we visited Ground Zero.  NYC was still a ghost town and practically no one else was on the subway.  Everyone I knew was OK but it was painful to see the stories of those who weren’t everywhere.I still don’t feel safe taking a plane.  I don’t trust our airport security and think it is mostly a show (why aren’t our planes equipped with flares to deflect misiles since the threat and unfortunate ease of shoulder launched missiles is real?).Remember all of the American Flags everyone displayed as signs of resilence and solidarity?  Let’s not forget that part too and let’s not forget what America is either.  And let’s not let 9 11 be politicized.  I also remember exactly where I was when I first heard about the OK City Bombing and visited that memorial too.  We never know when our last day will be…something 9 11 reminded all of us.Comment by  Cindy — September 11th, 2010 @ 10:22 pm
  6. It is now September 12, but I recall clearly where I was on Sept 11, 2001. I had just turned on the tv in our house, just in time to see the recap of the first plane crashing into the trade center, and in time to see the second one hit ( I thought it was a replay of the first). Days spent glued to the tv, and that is when I became a news junky. Our son was oversease, on his first command pilot assignment, and I prayed for a sign that he was ok. Soon on the tv, I heard a reference to a base in the Indian Ocean. I knew he had flown there, and took it as a signal of his safety. In later years, as I described this to my son, his reply wasthat this particular base was never mentioned in the news relating to 9/11! A sign from God? I believe soComment by  Jorgine Hanson — September 12th, 2010 @ 6:02 pm
  7. I was in New York–one of the worst days of my life.Comment by  countrygirl — September 13th, 2010 @ 7:52 am


Sap to Syrup

Spent an enjoyable afternoon at Mountain Winds Farm in Berne, NY. Sapmaster, or is that Syrup Master, Randy Grippen, presented nearly a two hour presentation on how maple sap gets transformed into wonderful things like maple syrup, maple cream, and of course maple candy.


It started with about a 3/4 mile wagon ride to the edge of the sugar bush. There, Randy told us how the trees are tapped and how the sap makes the journey down to the sugar house, aka the place where the sap is boiled in the evaporator until it reaches the desired temperature to become either syrup, cream or candy.


What I was most amazed with, was that it takes about 9 miles of tubing to connect the almost 1200 trees in the bush to the sugar house. The other tidbit was that sap is boiled to a certain amount of degrees above the boiling point of water. Did you know that the boiling point of water isn’t always 212 degrees F, but varies depending on atmospheric conditions?


As you’ll see from the pics, everyone, regardless of age, enjoyed the tour. Thanks, Randy, for taking the time to tell us the process. Sure made us more appreciative of the hard work that goes into a gallon of syrup.


Click on the large picture, then you can keep clicking for a slide show.





Woodstock Lake Association Family Day 8-25-2012

The Pictures say it all. 

If you click the top picture, you can continue like a slide show by clicking on the picture or the next/previous arrows.