Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Quote du jour/John Mortimer

There's no pleasure on earth that's worth sacrificing for the sake of an extra five years in the geriatric ward of the Sunset Old People's Home, Weston-Super-Mare.
Horace Rumpole in Rumpole and the Old, Old Story by John Mortimer, in explanation of why he continues his bad habits

Monday, January 29, 2007

Quote du jour/Thomas Jefferson

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal;
nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday seven/latest Amazon order

The Master of Sunnybank: A Biography of Albert Payson Terhune by Irving Litvag

American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work by Susan Cheever

Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin

Make Do With What You Got - Solomon Burke

Plans - Death Cab for Cutie

Grey's Anatomy, Vol. 2 Original Soundtrack

Wincing the Night Away - The Shins

Sunday supper/lasagna

This is a real family favorite. Just the basics - lasagna, homemade sauce made from our garden tomatoes and garlic, and cheddar cheese.

Monthly revisit

As January slips away, I thought I'd revisit my resolutions, and see how I fared this month.

1. Get outdoors every day, even if only for a little while.
I've not done well with this one at all.

2. Spend more time reading.
I've read some more, but not as much as I'd like.

3. Spend more of this reading time on my own books, and borrow fewer from the library.
Pretty good with this one.

4. Exercise every day.
Terrible with this one, but now we have a treadmill in the house so I have high hopes.

5. Visit elderly friends more often.
Not one visit.

6. Write more letters.
Well done!

7. Spend less time on the computer.
Less useless time, but more time reading wonderful blogs!

8. Go to more movies at the movie theatre.
Not once, but might this week to The Good Shepherd.

9. Lose about five pounds.
Not one gone this month.

10. Call friends more often.
So-so on this one.

11. Clear out the cellar.
Haven't started.

12. Clear out the barn loft.
Haven't started.

13. Try to live by this wonderful Swedish proverb:
Fear less, hope more;
Eat less, chew more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Love more, and all good things will be yours.
I've worked very hard on this one, and feel I've had some success.

My son and friends

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Desktop wallpaper

I love desktop wallpaper. I'm not a person who has any icons or folders on my desktop. I like it to be clear, uncluttered, and beautiful. I sometimes use my own pictures, but mostly I use photos of England or Scotland. There are a few great websites that offer wallpaper, but my very favorite is the home of those Bronte girls, Haworth, England. I visit the website often to see what new ones are available, and to read about what is going on in town. It is an incredibly active place, with wonderful events all year that I wish I could attend.

If you've never visited, and if you are an Anglophile :<) , I think you'll enjoy the site. Look along the top of the page for wallpaper.

To give you an idea of their beauty, here are a couple of the wallpapers offered.

And this is my current wallpaper:

Today's cd/Cosi fan tutte

Cosi fan tutte/Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart/1975 recording

To celebrate Mozart's 251st birthday, this is the music in the house all day. I don't know a lot about classical music, and even less about opera, but I do like this. Although I haven't a clue what is being said, it still gives me a lot of pleasure.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tools of the trade/Bread

If you watch Grey's Anatomy, you know that Izzie is a baker. When she feels badly, she bakes. If someone is in need, she bakes. In a Thanksgiving show, when she is left to do the whole meal, she says something about being a baker, not a cook. I've thought about that statement a lot. I do make meals, I do cook, but in my heart, I'm a baker. I love to bake cookies, and muffins, and cakes, and most especially, bread. My mother baked our bread, which is probably why I began baking in my twenties, as soon as I had my own place. Fresh bread is like air to me. I can't really live without it. It is probably the most magical thing I do. There is no explaining why sometimes it rises well and other times it doesn't. Sometimes it is soft and fluffy, other times hard. I usually can tell as soon as the rising is done if it will be good or not. I've learned to just throw it away then rather than bother putting it in the oven. Bread making can be influenced by mood. If I'm just going through the motions, it is never very good. If I'm tired and try baking at night, it doesn't come out well. I want to encourage those who are thinking of trying, like Les, over at Lesley's Book Nook. Even those of us who bake all the time, don't always have success. Sometimes, I'll have three or four bakings in a row not be very good, and then the fifth is perfect, though I've done everything the exact same way. You'll see the finished product doesn't look like usual loaves. Again, my mother always made it with four rounds instead of two. I've found it rises better without a droop in the middle.

One potato, two potato, three potato, four

I'll admit it. Potatoes are my favorite food. I love them baked, scalloped, French fried, mashed. I cook with them frequently enough that I buy 50 pounds of organically grown potatoes at a time.

Mrs Bale reports 1/26/07

I am so fond of the character of Mrs Bale in the series, As Time Goes By. She's wonderfully eccentric, rides a motorcycle, has a secret "past", and makes outrageously creative cocktails. She is also fascinated by the weather, and often pronounces that it is "calm in the Irish Sea." Well, I am going to occasionally post weather reports and will name them in honor of Mrs Bale.

This was the temp at 8 am. Coldest so far this year. Bright and sunny.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Virginia Woolf shelf

Quote du jour/Dodie Smith

On the day for haggis, I thought of a quote from a favorite book, called I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. Marcia over at Owl's Feathers might like this one. :<)

I love owls but I wish God had made them vegetarian.
Cassandra in I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

Today's cd/A Summer in Skye

Blair Douglas/A Summer in Skye/1996

In celebration of the 248th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth, I am playing the (sadly) only cd of Scottish music I own. I had some Jean Redpath records, and really should buy cds to replace them.

While visiting the Scottish Radiance website years ago, one of the prettiest songs I had ever heard was playing, and I had to buy it. Skye at Last is still there, available for downloading. In the liner notes, it says that the album is based on Alexander Smith's "celebrated book on Skye." Of course, this set me wondering if the author was Alexander McCall Smith, and when I went searching, I found it was written in the 1800s, so, no. But I wonder if he might be an ancestor? Anyway, the music is lovely, and sets me dreaming of a land I've never visited.

Currently reading

I can't figure out if I am someone who likes to read one book at a time, or many. I seem to go through periods of doing both. Right now, I am delving into several all at once.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Dearest Dorothy, Merry Everything!

Recollections of Virginia Woolf in honor of the 125th anniversary of her birth today. I'm having one of those, "oh, to be in England" times as I read of the celebration.

I'm listening to When We Were Orphans, a second reading of a book I loved.

And my husband just emailed to say that Point Blank, the next in the Alex Rider series came back in to his classroom library, and he's bringing it home!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Today's poem - Reading Myself to Sleep by Billy Collins

Reading Myself To Sleep
Billy Collins

The house is all in darkness except for this corner bedroom
where the lighthouse of a table lamp is guiding
my eyes through the narrow channels of print,

and the only movement in the night is the slight
swirl of curtains, the easy lift and fall of my breathing,
and the flap of pages as they turn in the wind of my hand.

Is there a more gentle way to go into the night
than to follow an endless rope of sentences
and then to slip drowsily under the surface of a page

into the first tentative flicker of a dream,
passing out of the bright precincts of attention
like cigarette smoke passing through a window screen?

All late readers know this sinking feeling of falling
into the liquid of sleep and then rising again
to the call of a voice that you are holding in your hands,

as if pulled from the sea back into a boat
where a discussion is raging on some subject or other,
on Patagonia or Thoroughbreds or the nature of war.

Is there a better method of departure by night
than this quiet bon voyage with an open book,
the sole companion who has come to see you off,

to wave you into the dark waters beyond language?
I can hear the rush and sweep of fallen leaves outside
where the world lies unconscious, and I can feel myself

dissolving, drifting into a story that will never be written,
letting the book slip to the floor where I will find it
in the morning when I surface, wet and streaked with

Quote du jour/Tennessee Williams

Enthusiasm is the most important thing in life.
Tennessee Williams

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Today's poem - The Pasture by Robert Frost

The Pasture
by Robert Frost

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long. – You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha'n't be gone long. – You come too.

When I was thirteen, I was given a book called:

You Come Too
Favorite Poems For Young Readers
by Robert Frost

I read this particular poem over and over until I knew it by heart. I didn't know what a "pasture spring" was being a town girl, but I knew I wanted to live near one and have a country life with farm animals. And now I do. I have a pasture spring and a house spring and many other springs that come off the hill above us and go nowhere. Every once in a while, my husband and the dogs trek up and he does indeed clean it out. Once it was plugged with a pink salamander, though we called it a newt in honor of Gussie Fink-Nottle after a Wodehouse character.

The spring never dries up. Pure water that never stops moving. It has furnished water for this house since it was built in the 1800s. It is a little miracle to me.

The poem has some of my favorite words which aren't heard too much today: sha'n't, fetch, and totters. They have such a beautiful sound.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Book of the month/Stormbreaker

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

I've been wanting to begin this series about a 14 year-old spy for a long time, and was so pleased when a friend loaned me the book. I've enjoyed the British television program Horowitz writes, Foyle's War, so I was quite certain of good quality writing. I love spy stories from The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan to the Mrs Pollifax books by Dorothy Gilman.

The story begins with young Alex Rider's uncle and guardian dying in a car accident. Alex begins to wonder because the uncle was not buckled, and that was not like him at all. Then some strange people show up at the funeral, one of whom has a gun. The story goes on from there at a fast pace. The book was a pure pleasure for me to read. It has all the fun elements of a good spy novel, from a modernistic factory compound out in the middle of remote, beautiful Cornwall countryside to a weird giant jellyfish in a fish tank (shades of a James Bond movie). He is even given some 007 type gadgets to get him out of tricky situations. Alex is a reluctant spy, but we see that his late uncle has actually been training him for the job all through his childhood. I can't wait to read the next books in the series, and to see the movie based on this book.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Seven/singles from my iTunes

Mess Around - Ray Charles

Saving Grace - Tom Petty

Brighter Than Sunshine - Aqualung

If You Don't Know Me By Now - Simply Red

Beyond The Sea - Bobby Darin

Lady in Red - Chris de Burgh

Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

I borrowed this from the library a while back, and realized that I needed to own it because of its great length. Today I came up with an idea for reading it. I'm going to read about 5 pages a day, and will finish around the third week in June. This way, I can keep the thread of the book, but also read other books at the same time.

Lazin' on a sunny afternoon

Creeque Alley

I can't tell you how very, very cool I thought I was when I knew all the references in this song back in the day.

Artist: The Mamas & the Papas
Song: Creeque Alley

John and Mitchy were gettin' kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind;
Zal and Denny workin' for a penny
Tryin' to get a fish on the line.
In a coffee house Sebastian sat,
And after every number they'd pass the hat.
McGuinn and McGuire just a-gettin' higher in L.A.,
You know where that's at.
And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.

Zally said, "Denny, you know there aren't many
Who can sing a song the way that you do; let's go south."
Denny said, "Zally, golly, don't you think that I wish
I could play guitar like you."
Zal, Denny, and Sebastian sat (at the Night Owl)
And after every number they'd pass the hat.
McGuinn and McGuire still a-gettin higher in L.A.,
You know where that's at.
And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.

When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swathmore
But she changed her mind one day.
Standin' on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike,
"Take me to New York right away."
When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps;
Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps.
McGuinn and McGuire couldn't get no higher
But that's what they were aimin' at.
And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.

Mugwumps, high jumps, low slumps, big bumps---
Don't you work as hard as you play.
Make up, break up, everything is shake up;
Guess it had to be that way.
Sebastian and Zal formed the The Spoonful;
Michelle, John, and Denny gettin' very tuneful.
McGuinn and McGuire just a-catchin' fire in L.A.,
You know where that's at.
And everybody's gettin' fat except Mama Cass.

Broke, busted, disgusted, agents can't be trusted,
And Mitchy wants to go to the sea.
Cass can't make it; she says we'll have to fake it---
We knew she'd come eventually.
Greasin' on American Express cards;
Tents low rent, but keeping out the heat's hard.
Duffy's good vibrations and our imaginations
Can't go on indefinitely.
And California dreamin' is becomin' a reality...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Denny D.

I heard today that one of the voices of my youth, Denny Doherty has died. I used to play my Mamas and Papas albums over and over. Michelle is the only one left. I must be getting old.

January TBR Challenge book review


Dandelions in a Jelly Jar by Traci DePree

I really liked the first book in this series called A Can of Peas, and was sure I'd feel the same way about the second, but I didn't. I gave the first one an A, and the second a B. It was an okay read, but it lacked that spark, that quality which makes a book great. I don't think I will bother to read the third in the series called Aprons on a Clothesline, and I'm sorry I didn't borrow the books from the library rather than buy them.

I would recommend the book to a reader who was interested in small town Minnesota farm life, with kindly characters who try to do the right thing in life - to someone who wanted a light, mostly uplifting read. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who wanted a book which was deeper, more profound, more intellectually stimulating, for that person would be disappointed.

Jack Frost

Someone painted pictures on my
Windowpane last night --
Willow trees with trailing boughs
And flowers, frosty white,

And lovely crystal butterflies;
But when the morning sun
Touched them with its golden beams,
They vanished one by one.

Jack Frost by Helen Bayley Davis

Friday, January 19, 2007

Quote du jour/Gladys Taber

We don't have much to say about what the new year will bring. We have learned to go on the best we can, and be thankful for whatever we have.
Gladys Taber, The Book of Stillmeadow

A January bouquet

This afternoon I visited a little flower shop and bought this beautiful bouquet of sweet peas and hellebores. They truly bring a touch of summer into the living room.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


On this cold, cold winter night, I made a leek and potato soup and homemade bread, with a strawberry-rhubarb crisp for dessert. Good for the stomach and good for the soul.


4:45 pm

Ivy in winter sunlight

Today's poem - The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

This poem expresses much of the essence of my country life. The wildness, the nature around me does truly give solace when my heart is heavy. The quietness calms the noise in my head. I receive the visits of deer and chickadees and wild turkeys and bears and moose as blessings. The one asparagus plant that always comes up reminds me that someone planted it oh, so many years ago. The Duchess apple tree has survived a long, long time and still bears fruit. The big maple out front has been here probably longer than my old house. We find chunks of coal and shards of pottery and old bottles and think about those who lived here before us. There is a feeling of permanence and of natural life continuing on, no matter what occurs in the lives of the humans who share this land. The swallows come back to the same birdhouse each spring, the robins fill the lawns and nest in the trees, the woodcock tells us winter is gone. These things are unchanging, and I am filled with peace.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Literary schemes

Occasionally on Virginia Woolf's birthday, January 25, I have begun one of her books. I am planning on doing so again this month, and I have added a couple other writers to this scheme. In June, the month of Thomas Hardy's birth, I plan to read the new biography. And in December, the month of Kipling's birth, I want to finally embark on reading something by him, and a book I own about him, called Rudyard Kipling in Vermont. I may come up with others as the year procedes, but these are the ones I'm committed to so far.


In January 2000, I began reading P.G. Wodehouse for the first time, and when we got our Collie in April of that year, we named him after a Wodehousian dog.

Everything you may have read in the books by Albert Payson Terhune about Collies is true. All those traits we saw in the Lassie movies or tv show are real. They are the best dogs. They are true companions, they love children, they are loyal and trustworthy. MacIntosh is such a wonderful dog. He loves his family, but he also welcomes anyone who comes to visit. He still remembers the first two people outside the family he met when he was a pup, and always gives them special attention.

When he was younger, he developed epilepsy. He had a lot of terrible seizures before it was finally brought under control. He loves bread, and we have learned the hard way that fresh bread must be placed far back on the counter. He'll come from anywhere in the house if he hears us slicing it. He gets haircuts in the summer because he doesn't like the heat. He loves the snow and will happily lay in it for ages even on this snowy/sleety day, as you can see in the last photo I just took from the kitchen window.

Today's cd/Love Actually soundtrack

Love Actually soundtrack/2003

My 24 year old daughter is visiting, so I asked her to choose the cd for today. I didn't get to watch this movie during December, but hope to next year. It's one of my favorite movies, Christmas or otherwise. The album has a lot of great songs by a variety of artists. Here's one done by Wyclef Jean and Sharissa called Take Me As I Am that I just love.

And Joni Mitchell singing Both Sides Now as an older woman is just amazing.

And I think using the old Beach Boys song, God Only Knows was the perfect touch.

In the liner notes, the director of the movie, Richard Curtis says, "Without its music, Love Actually wouldn't work at all. I know – because I saw the film without the music, and it was a shocker. So this soundtrack isn't a few songs stuck together; it's the life and soul of the film."

A really great soundtrack album.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Quote du jour/Gladys Taber

It is a good thing to curl up with a book for a little while before bedtime. I like James Russell Lowell, saying, "Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character." We all need to spend some time alone; people who cannot bear their own company for a time have thin souls.

The deep part of winter gives most of us a little more time alone. The natural rhythm of time has changed from that of summer. But instead of dreading the dark winter days, we ought to savor them for what they can give. Now there should be time to reread old books, to absorb some philosophy, to play a whole symphony without hurrying. Meanwhile, I dip into Keats, or read a little of the magic of the Irish poets.

Gladys Taber, The Book of Stillmeadow

Sunday Seven/Favorite tv shows

In alphabetical order:

1. 24

2. Grey's Anatomy

3. House


5. Monk


7. Numb3rs

Today's cd/Organic Vibes

Joey DeFrancesco/Organic Vibes/2006

There's a quote in the liner notes from the late jazz organ player, Jimmy Smith:

After Joey, nobody's close.

You may read more about this artist on his homepage.

Organic Vibes is just the right music for this snowy Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Crunchy Pecan Wild Rice

2 cups cooked wild rice
2 cups cooked brown rice (I cook them together)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 chopped onion
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Prepare rice. Sauté onion in olive oil, turn heat down and add pecans, and cook some more.
Stir in the rice, and cook together at low temp.

This is an incredibly delicious dish. It tastes great, it is very easy to make, and it is very nutritious. Who could ask for more?

Tools of the trade/Orange Juice

This is the season for Florida Temple oranges. They are a fine eating orange, but I squeeze them into the sweetest juice imaginable.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Quote du jour/Virginia Woolf

Seeing a lovely copy of Virginia Woolf's A Writer's Diary over at dovegreyreader scribbles prompted me to take my Signet Classics $1.25 paperback off the shelf and look through it a while. On February 18, 1922, she wrote in her diary:

I've made up my mind that I am not going to be popular.

I'm just shaking my head.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Three Dog Afternoon

Today's cd/Don't Give Up On Me

Solomon Burke/Don't Give Up On Me/2002

Wonderful, wonderful music by a truly great artist. You may listen or buy here.

There is a terrific video of he and Van doing Fast Train over at the Van Morrison News blog.

I sure wish I had been at that show!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Canned Goods

On this 9th day of January, in the middle of winter, I find myself thinking of the most wonderful Greg Brown song, called Canned Goods. Here are the lyrics:

Canned Goods

Well, let the wild winter wind bellow and blow.
I'm as warm as a July tomato.

There's peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin.
Supper's ready, everybody come on in.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Grandma put it all in jars.

Well, there's a root cellar, fruit cellar, down below.
Watch your head now, and down we go.

There's peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin.
Supper's ready, everybody come on in.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Grandma put it all in jars.

Well, maybe you are weary and you don't give a damn.
I bet you never tasted her blackberry jam.

There's peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin.
Supper's ready, everybody come on in.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Grandma put it all in jars.

Oh, she got magic in her, you know what I mean.
She puts the sun and rain in with her beans.

There's peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin.
Supper's ready, everybody come on in.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Grandma put it all in jars.

What with the snow and the economy and everything,
I think I'll just stay down here and eat until spring.

There's peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin.
Supper's ready, everybody come on in.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Grandma put it all in jars.

When I go down to see Grandma, I gain a lot a weight.
With her dear hands, she gives me plate after plate.

She cans the pickles, sweet and dill,
And the songs of the whip-or-will,
And the morning dew and the evening moon,
I really gotta go down and see her soon.

'Cause the canned goods that I buy at the store
Ain't got the summer in 'em anymore.
You bet, Grandma, as sure as you're born,
I'll take some more potatoes and a thunderstorm.
There's peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin.
Supper's ready, everybody come on in.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Taste a little of the summer.
Grandma put it all in jars.

[As sung by Greg Brown on "One Night" (1983), "One More Goodnight Kiss" (1988),
and "The Live One" (1995).]

You may hear a bit:Canned Goods.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Quote du jour/Alan Titchmarsh

A man may be the master of his own house, but only if he doesn't have animals.
Alan Titchmarsh


This is the very first photo we have of our Ben. His story has a hint of the miraculous about it. In the 25 years we have lived out in the country, only one stray animal, a kitten, has ever made it's way to our home, until the night of March 5, 2004. In the weeks before, we were having our downstairs bathroom changed over into a bathroom/laundry room. The old fan was turned into an outside light that shone out into the north pasture. The very first night we turned it on, I was downstairs alone around 10 pm. Suddenly, I saw, sitting in the glow of that light, a black dog. Once he saw me, he followed me from window to window all around the house, ending up on the front terrace. I went out to visit him, and it was like we were long lost friends. I could tell right off that he was a wonderful dog. The evening was mild for March, so I put a blanket down on the porch with some water. I thought, we'll see if he's still here in the morning and he was waiting at the door when we got up. We let out our other two dogs, and they were all fine together. Then came the hard part. We called the police in the two nearest towns, and the vet to see if anyone had reported a dog missing. No one had, thank goodness. We waited a few days, and then brought him up to the vet for a checkup and shots. Other than being a bit thin, he was in good shape, and they thought he was probably under two years old. He had been neutered, so someone had taken care of him. Who knows his story, but we find it a wonder that the light went on and he came to it. We call him the "wise dog" following the light.

Our daughter was married at home a couple months after Ben arrived, and he was the "wedding dog". He is in a lot of the wedding pictures, including the one of the whole family which was our Christmas card that year.
[addendum: the marriage ended in divorce in 2007.]

He is the fellow who takes care of us. If I should have even the slightest sound of sadness or upset in my voice, Ben is there beside me, putting his head in my lap and looking up at me with those brown eyes. If one of the dogs is outside wanting to come in, Ben lets us know. He is such a great dog, and in many ways, the very best we've ever known. At the time of his arrival, we were watching all the dvds of Friends, and his name came from Ross' baby son.

Today's cd/Fire in the Kitchen

This album is a terrific collection of music done by Canadian musicians, joined by The Chieftains. Many of my favorites are here, including Great Big Sea and Ashley MacIssac. This is the perfect music for a dark and rainy day. The song playing is Lukey, done by Great Big Sea.

You may listen to more selections or buy it here.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Sunday Seven/The next books I want to buy

I thought I might start my own little list and post it on Sundays instead of doing a Thursday Thirteen each week. Sometimes, it is hard to come up with 13 items. :<) So, here is my first Sunday Seven, a list of the next books I want to buy, in no particular order.

Leonard Woolf: A Biography by Victoria Glendinning

Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin

Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters by Marilynn Brass and Sheila Brass

American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever

Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer

Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther, from a used bookstore

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear

An uncommon January day

As I walked today, I decided to photograph this unusual winter. There have been a couple little snowstorms, but mostly we've had mild temperatures and bare ground. Today the temp is in the low 40s with bright sunshine. There have been many January days in my life when the thermometer read 60 degrees colder than this. I decided to change my "Winter" photo to a picture I took today to give a more realistic view of what this 2006-2007 is like.

These are a couple of the nests of summer. The one on the barn is used every year; sometimes they build on the top of the provided wooden nest box, and other times they use the inside. Here is a mid-May photo of a robin on the outside nest.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Little Christmas

Today, on Twelfth Night, also known as Little Christmas, I re-read this wonderful little book. I love the story which first appeared in a publication called Farm Journal in 1947. A woman is thinking about the Christmas just past. Her grown children have been back home but it has not given her the joy she expected from the holiday. She decides to make an old-fashioned, familiar Christmas for herself. She gets the tree a neighbor is taking down, and she brings out all the old decorations and books.

Tonight she would light the candles and have a fire, and do all the things she always wanted to do at Christmas. Perhaps in the very doing of them she might find some sort of refreshment and wisdom to take up again tomorrow the cares that lay upon her heart.

Her cares are variations on the ones all mothers of adult children have. Will my child's marriage last? Will my other child find a good partner? Is the youngest going to succeed in college?

Through the process of decorating the house and remembering the happy times when her children were little, she creates an atmosphere that brings about changes first in her, and then in her relationships with her three children, and then in the childrens' own lives.

When they had left, Margaret came back into the pine-scented, fire-warmed, candlelit room, her heart melting with joy! New wisdom and understanding had come to her along with hope and relief. On this, the anniversary of the holy night when the Wise Men had come to worship the baby in the manger, her own children had been given back to her, safe from the perils which threatened them. They were all one now, as in the past, close and secure in the circle of love.

This book is one of my treasures.

Friday, January 5, 2007


For a person who doesn't pay much attention to the passing of time, I have an incredible amount of calendars. Two were gifts, but the other four I bought for myself. The only one I really "need" is the desk engagement calendar. All the others are simply delights in my life. I get to read a bit from For Better or For Worse each day. I also find out about a new book the first thing every morning. I bought the Susan Branch wall calendar because I love her art and her way of looking at life. The beautiful quilt one is a present from a dear internet friend, and the Pug calendar from much-loved cousins.