Cathy Donnelly

Cathy Donnelly's Blog 


No, not turnpike on-ramps. 

These ramps are also known as wild leeks, and they’re supposedly delicious and very very good for you.  RIGHT NOW is the season for them, they’re one of the first things (along with fiddleheads…more about them later) that you can forage for this early in the spring.
They are part of the onion/garlic family, but are renowned for being pungent as hell.  In fact if you eat enough (which isn’t very many) and wait around you (and your loved ones, no doubt) will be able to smell the odor coming right out of your pores
They are found in forested areas all over the Northeastern part of the US.  They like shady and sandy soil, often near rivers or streams.  Some sources say they grow on the north side of embankments or hills in the woods, in small clumps.  They’re very popular in Appalachia, in fact my best friend, who has lived in West Virginia nearly 30 years, was the person who turned me on to them.

Unfortunately I don’t have any on my property, and believe me I check thoroughly every year.  This year I even asked the Ex if I could check his land, since he has a lot more acreage.  He was kind enough to let me, but no ramps, at least not where I looked.
Ramps look a lot like lily-of-the-valley, at least from the ground up, but underground they look a lot like scallions.  They’re not real easy to dig up, either, which is why you have to bring a garden trowel or small shovel.  When you dig don’t take them all, so that they can continue to grow where they are.  You have to eat them almost right away since they don’t keep well even in the fridge. Use them wherever you’d use onion or garlic, but keep in mind they’re a lot stronger.
If and when I ever find any, I have a whole bunch of north-facing slopes on my property, and they’re kind of wooded, so I’ll be planting as well as eating!

Now on to fiddleheads.  I DO have a few of them on my property. They're just the furled fronds of the "ostrich" ferns you see in all wooded areas in NePa.  Left on the plant they'd unroll into large fern leaves.  You have to pick them when they're really small though, because they get bitter almost immediately.  But in this baby state they have a delicate asparagus-like flavor.  Just make sure you cook 'em all the way through.

So ANYBODY who knows where there are some ramps, please reply to this post!  Or just email me, click on "Hosts" then you'll see my little bio, there's a box to email me there.

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Locations : West Virginia



And I have just the inexpensive way to do it!  I haven’t had dental insurance for years, so I was sorta putting off getting them cleaned and checked.  Well!

Last Tuesday I went to the Luzerne County Community College Dental Clinic, located in their Health Sciences Center right in the middle of Nanticoke.  They have a slew of dental hygiene students who are just dying to clean your teeth and give you a full set of xrays, all watched over by a certified instructor and a dentist.
My hygienist was Sara and she couldn’t have been nicer.  Yes, it takes a little longer because at each step the student then has to get the instructor over to examine her work and make sure it’s right.  OK maybe a lot longer but here’s the payoff…the whole thing costs $15!  I @#$% you not.
I arrived at 8:40 (for an 8:30 appointment but no one looked at me funny…well no funnier than usual).  The first thing they do is a long and lengthy conversation about your health, medications you’re on, things you’re allergic to, all that insurance crap.  Then the x-rays, which took maybe 45 minutes.  Then they probe your teeth; measuring them?  Something like that.  Then the actual cleaning; it had been so long I had never had the ultrasonic thingie, which I did not like.  They give you the usual bag o’ dental stuff, explaining what each thing is, and tell you to floss daily and brush twice a day.  I was out by 11:50.  But who cares, I would have stayed twice as long for the price!  I actually heard myself saying they should charge more.
One of the many great things about this is, they can’t afford to slack off because an instructor is looking over their shoulder every inch of the way.  And while I have never met an unpleasant hygienist, my girl Sarah was just adorable, competent, with a sure but gentle touch. (Wonder if she’s married, just kidding!!!)
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So after my gym in Dallas was sold to some guy last year, it changed its name to something that actually gave me pause at first.  Can’t mention the actual name.  However we were all told we had to renew our memberships and I simply couldn’t afford it.  I still can’t.
So I went in the other day to see if there was any kind of discount or payment plan I could get.  The guy wouldn’t even see me.  Wouldn’t even descend the six steps from his office to the front desk to meet me.   After that cold treatment, I decided I couldn’t possibly just hand over the membership fee, which is in excess of $425 (or even more if you pay a month at a time.  That’s called the Poor man’s Tax).
So now I’m asking YOU PEOPLE (yes, I just referred to you as YOU PEOPLE) to recommend a gym.  I live up behind the Back Mountain, in Beaumont, Pa, and that’s the tragedy, because that gym is only ten minutes from my house.  But I can’t go there, and actually reward them, you  know?
I’m looking in particular for lots of aerobics classes…that’s the stuff I love, especially step.  Zumba’s OK, and so is kickboxing, but step is my arch-favorite (hah, get it, arch favorite??!).   If you do post an answer give me a reason WHY that particular gym is great.
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Locations : Dallas



Surprised to find there IS one?  Well there is.  They divide it into three categories:  "Early American Song, 1600-1879," "Tin Pan Alley, 1880 - 1953" and "Rock n' Roll, 1954- present."

Here's the link, they just announced this years' inductees today:  Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and Mick Johnes and Lou Gramm of Foreigner, are being inducted this year, as well as Holly Knight, JD Souther and Tony Hatch.

Here's the list to CURRENT members: Most of the people you expect to be there are there, like Lennon & McCartney, Holland, Dozier & Holland, Bruce, Goffin & King, even the Sherman brothers who wrote every Disney song ever. 
What surprised me is who's NOT on the list.  John Hiatt.  John Prine.  Jim Steinman, who wrote "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."  Tom Waits.  Chrissie Hynde.  Justin Hayward from the Moody Blues.  Warren Zevon (there's no "Z"s at all!)

I was gonna say Lionel Richie but then I remembered he wrote "We Are the World" so I kicked him off my list.

Anyone you feel should be nominated?  List 'em below in the comments.

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I've been eating healthy for at least 25 years.  As soon as I started giving birth to people, I realized I needed to be much more responsible about my eating habits (and theirs, at least at first).  I cut waaay down on red meat.  I made all kinds of fabulous vegetarian meals for dinners each night.  I never put salt on anything.

When I moved up here to Northeastern Pennsylvania, I started really living the life.  100 ounces of water every day.  Plenty of leafy greens.  Actually, there's a guy (Dr. Dan Golaszewski, who has a show on our sister station, WILK, that I listen to religously. He has a mnemonic for the healthiest foods: GOMBBS, which stands for greens, onions, mushrooms, beans, something else starting with "b" that I can't remember, and seeds.  I eat almonds and steel cut oats.   Raw, local honey (I mean local, I could practically walk to their house), raw milk, free range eggs.  And it takes me, like, a month to get through a dozen eggs.  Only bake with gluten free flour, (mixed with a little whole grain spelt flour).  As most of you know who read this blog I grow tons of my own food.  Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beets, sweet potatoes (that didn't work out so well), corn, peas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, onions, garlic, zucchini, butternet squash, pumpkin, melons, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, celery.  Even edamame, but this didn't work out too well either.  Anyhow, all this means I also eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.  All organic, of course.

Using this strategy I managed to lose, like, 35 pounds year before last.  Well, now most of it is back, because I just stopped, you know, controlling my intake, so to speak.  But I still manage to eat mostly healthy stuff, tempeh, white meat chicken, and when I have to eat grains they are only whole grain.  Don't eat rice or pasta pretty much ever.  I even buy that Ezekiel bread that is made from sprouted grains.

I quit smoking 30 years ago.  I stopped drinking 32 years ago.

And what did I get for this virtuosity?  High blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

That's right, I'm just like everyone else.  Everyone else that's been drinking soda pop all their lives, and wolfing down Doritos, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets made of pink slime.  Not to imply that I never scarf down a bag o' chips, but it's rare. 

This is why I'm blaming my mother and her Irish family.  Poor genetic material.

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Seriously, you'll love it.  No pressure, a good workout but easy on the joints (do I sound old?).  Don't even have to have a date because you're ENCOURAGED to change partners each dance.

Chicory House Dance Series

Community Contra Dance February 2, 2013, in Kingston PA

A New England Contra dance features  music by the “Smash the Windows” with fiddler Bruce Young, accompanied by Peg Shutes on keyboard, along with calling by Hilton Baxter. The dance at 7:00PM, at the Church of Christ Uniting, 776 Market Street, Kingston. No partner or previous experience is necessary.  Because the pattern of moves of each Contra Dance is repeated often, Contra Dances are easy to learn, and dancers of all skill levels are welcome.  The caller will teach all the dances.  The dance tradition encourages dancers to change partners throughout the evening, so each person will get to dance with a variety of skill levels. Lightweight clothing is recommended. Dancers are invited to  bring a snack to share at intermission. Those arriving early can join a pot-luck dinner starting at 6 pm.  Bring a dish-to-pass if coming for the dinner.  Further information is available at 570-333-4007 or at, where dancers can connect to the Facebook page and watch videos.of recent dances.
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Locations : Kingston
People : Bruce Young



Apparently Monsanto is trying to take over even the heirloom seed market, so they can own everything we eat AND grow.  Here's a link to a list of "Monsanto-free seed companies."  I'm glad my guys, Baker Creek, are on there.
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Anything you're planning on growing has an "heirloom seed."  These are open-pollinated (non-hybrid) seeds.  Hybrids are what you'll find in most seed catalogs, since they are bred to produce disease resistant and pretty plants.  When you try to grow a seed that came off a hybrid plant, only some of the characteristics bred into that plant will result.  For instance, say you decided to save the seeds from your BigAss Tomato that you got from Burpee.  It will probably produce a tomato plant, but it may not be so big, or it may be real big but not so tasty, or it may be big & tasty but not disease resistant. 
Here's where I buy all my seeds:  I don't know why that's their URL but their company is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I'm sure there are other companies around too.

Next week'll be February and I'll be starting the eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, petunias (yeah I'm gonna try 'em again this year), and echinacea.  Most of which are from seeds I've saved from previous years.  Yes, this means I DIDN'T HAVE TO BUY THOSE SEEDS THIS YEAR!!!!
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Well I actually didn’t attend the Peach Festival, but I was very interested in the attendance since I think if Northeast Pennsylvania proves it can sustain such a thing they might come back year after year.  My friend Alec went all three days.  He is not a fan of Zac Brown (but I am) but took Zac’s pic form e anyway.  Also he got to meet everyone and saw all their set lists.
He said Robert Randolph was the best of the entire weekend, BUT Sunday was also the most sparsely attended.  WTF people?  It’s ROBERT RANDOLPH and the FAMILY BAND for Gods sake!  Alec also said that Tedeschi Trucks saved Saturday. 
And he is pretty blasé when it comes to Warren Haynes, who played with practically every band there.
 The one thing he was really sorry he missed was, when Zac Brown was on one stage, the Joan-Osborne band Trigger Happy, was playing on the other stage.  I actually opened for Joan Osborne back in the 90’s when she was touring behind the “Relish” album, at the North Star Bar in Philly.  Also got mugged the same night (not by Joan Osborne…in fact the kid can’t have been more than 9 or 10).
 Then there’s the Philadelphia Folk Festival (known as “Fest”).  It's usually either a mud fest or dust fest, this year was definitely MUD.

These aren’t my pictures either, I didn’t take too many, probably a reaction to the 80’s and 90’s when I would come back with 15 rolls of film.  I was only there Saturday & Sunday, so I missed Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the Red Clay Ramblers, since I left after the Mississippi blues workshop.

Little Feat was AWESOME.
John Hiatt was pretty damn good too, even did a new song for us.  I really like when they do that.
Steve Earle, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, I just wasn’t bowled over.  And HE’s the main reason I went.
 And Lucinda Williams, well, I’ve heard too many stories about her and the kind of person she is to really be able to like her on stage.  But she did do “Changed the Locks” which is one of my all time favorite songs.

This is a picture by my dear friend Vince Salandra, whom I’ve known since my second Fest in 1986.  He’s an awesome photographer and pretty hot for an Italian guy, to boot!
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My LAST PSA for the NPOs of Northeastern Pennsylvania was one I had been wanted to do from jump.  Marley’s Mission grew out of a horrible event into a wonderful organization that helps children who are the victims of abuse, using what they call “equine therapy,” meaning they use the cues and actions of horses to help the children break down barriers (check out  It’s amazing and when I was there they actually led me through a mock-session that was deeply affecting.  I never felt one way or the other about horses, I mean, I knew they could hurt if they stepped on you, and we used to live next to horses I would occasionally feed corn stalks to, but otherwise, I could take ‘em or leave ‘em.  Well, turns out horses are among the most empathetic creatures on God’s earth, and it’s uncanny how they pick up on the emotions of the kids, their parents, any ol’ body.
I felt like I couldn’t really get the feel of the place without actually seeing the horses interact with kids, but of course I couldn’t do that – even if they were willing, their parents wouldn’t be, and the whole nature of therapy prevents it anyhow.  That’s why they walked me through a pseudo-session.  I filmed the environs, the outdoor pasture, the indoor ring with the toys, the Equine Therapist (she was awesome) and the two horses.  They’re so placid and peaceful.  I also wanted to get the founder/director, April Loposky, who had been so eloquent at the Take Back the Night Rally, to say a few words.  Plus she looks great on video.
This time I had actually brought a tripod, so back in the edit suite there was plenty to choose from.  As I said previously I really like to see something moving when I shoot video, which is why I had the Equine Therapist entering the ring at the beginning.  Of course the ponies chose that moment to become statues, but I reminded myself, it’s only 30 seconds.  I took a lot of the pictures off the website, including the one at the end that makes me cry every time, the horse nuzzling the little girl.  They really are  empathetic.  I particularly love the scene where I had set the camera in the corner of the indoor ring on the tripod, and one of the horses comes up and sticks his big nose right into the lens.  Makes me laugh every time, although I was worried it might look a little scary.

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People : April Loposky


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