Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Quote du jour/Washington Irving

It was the policy of the good old gentleman to make his children feel that home was the happiest place in the world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow.
Washington Irving

Monday, February 26, 2007


or maths, as they say in the old country. :<) I'm not one of those people who doesn't like math. I do. I love numbers and Numb3rs. I enjoy all that stuff. But somehow, I have forgotten how to count. Yesterday, I began working on a "page element" for my blog. It was to be a list of my TBR Challenge books. Suddenly I saw that I had 10 books, not 12. I counted over and over again. I counted the books in the photo and sure enough there were 10, the Wodehouse book having 3 books. Now, I am quite sure I know there are twelve months in a year, not ten. I just cannot imagine what I was thinking. So I added two more books to my challenge list, Last Orders by Graham Swift and a YA book, Down The Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New-to-me writer/Robert B. Parker

I don't read a mystery series simply for the mystery. I read it for the characters I have come to know and love over the years. Amelia Peabody and Ramses, Mrs. Pollifax, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, Peter Wimsey, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. I check into a book to see how everyone is doing, what they are up to now, what new adventure they will embark on.

I have recently come upon a new group of bookfriends; those characters who inhabit the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker. I've read Paper Doll, 1993; Cold Service, 2005; and Back Story, 2003. These were all unabridged audio books, with great narration, one by Michael Prichard, the voice of Archie in the Rex Stout books, and the others by Joe Mantegna. I just borrowed the first in the series, The Godwulf Manuscript, from the library. I'm excited to have so many ahead of me to read. I think I'll probably have a Spenser book going all the time till I finish. Then I'll move onto Parker's other series, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randall. I know that Les is a SR fan.

Parker has already done something I absolutely love. In Back Story, Spenser of the Spenser series works on a case with Jesse Stone of the Jesse Stone series. And I think I read that Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall get together in one of their series. What fun for this reader.

Spenser is the private detective, Susan, his girlfriend, and Hawk, his friend with a criminal past. I like the steadying presence of Susan, who is a psychologist. I like how he tells her what is going on. From the three books I've read, it seems to be a relationship of equals. They each bring a strength to the couple. Hawk is very intelligent, and he and Spenser have great verbal exchanges. Hawk reminds me a little of Sawyer on LOST, a "bad" guy who is a reader with a great wit. Dogs and food are ever present as well, adding to my enjoyment of the books.

Robert B. Parker has his own wonderful, up-to-date blog. And there is a terrific website devoted to the books.

Hyacinth "Bucket"

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Haircut day


Friday, February 23, 2007

Quote du jour/Robert Louis Stevenson

I have resolved from this day on, I will do all the business I can honestly, have all the fun I can reasonably, do all the good I can willingly, and save my digestion by thinking pleasantly.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Soot and Raya

Well, now that all the dogs have had their day on the blog, it is time for the cats! Sooty actually made an appearance in one of the earliest blog entries. He has since shown up in other photos, but without name recognition. Soot was one of a pair of kittens we got from a farm back in 1993. His brother died years ago, but Sooty goes on. He has an open spirit, is very friendly, loves sitting on laps, and adores dogs. Here he exhibits his literary interests by using a book as a pillow.

Every year he loves spending time among the presents under the Christmas tree. Sadly, none are for him.

While Soot prefers the lazy life:

Raya is enamored of the treadmill:

She will be six this year, and was a stray brought home by our daughter. She is the best destroyer of furniture we've ever known. Raya loves people, and two of the dogs. Sadie is a bit too rambunctious for her. She loves being in the middle of any activity as evidenced by this photo taken when we were having a room painted.

But she also likes to sleep as well as the next cat.

As I read over this entry, I see how whimsical I've been, and ponder just why that is. What is it about cats that brings this out? Whatever it is, they are joys in our lives. We've had cats since 1969, and can't imagine a life without them.


This is the first picture we have of Sadie, at two months old. She was originally our daughter's dog, but we all agreed that she would be happier living out here on the farm than in town and she moved in when she was seven months old. She had her second birthday this past October. She and Ben are the best of friends, and play together as if they were littermates. However, she is not so fond of MacIntosh. He is a bit of an eccentric dog, and we think she has trouble coping with his sometimes odd behavior.

Sadie is a very loving, warm-hearted dog, but only to the family. She is a mixed breed, and something in her makes her very protective, possessive, and loyal. All fine traits, but not so appealing to visitors. Happily, we have a little room off the kitchen, which Tom calls the dog apartment, where she and Ben (to keep her company) go when friends come to the house.

Sadie makes us laugh so often. She has this expression on her face that makes it seem like she is thinking deep thoughts. She is also positive that it is her job to be the sheepdog on the farm. She "guides" the sheep along the fence, and makes sure they get from one pasture to another. The black goats stare at her which drives her crazy, and she barks and barks at them.

"We're for dogs"

I love the Pedigree commercial which was shown during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last week.

We're for dogs.
Some people are for the whales, some for the trees.
We're for dogs.

The big ones and
the little ones.

The guardians and
the comedians.

The pure breeds
and the mutts.

We're for walks, runs, and romps.
Digging, scratching, sniffing, and fetching,

We're for dog parks, dog doors, and dog days...
and if there were an international holiday for dogs on which all dogs were universally recognized for their contribution to the quality of our lives, we'd be for that too.

Because, we're for dogs.

As I watched the two night event, I kept paper and pen by my side to write down the dogs I might like to have. And today I have spent a lot of time going through all those choices, finding out about the various breeds to learn which ones will fit into our particular life. My list was narrowed down to the following breeds. Stay tuned to see which is the first one chosen. :<)






English Springer Spaniel

Flat-Coated Retriever

French Bulldog

Giant Schnauzer

Gordon Setter

Irish Setter




Quote du jour/Eleanor Perényi

Nothing can replace the shock of pleasure given by a small mountain of fresh basil in the summer kitchen.
Eleanor Perényi

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hanging clothes

I have a very nostalgic, perhaps even romantic view of clotheslines. My mother didn't own a dryer when I was growing up, so the clothes were always out on the line, just as they were in all our neighbors' yards. I love the notion of women talking as they peg out the sheets and tee shirts and dungarees. I, however, am in the country, with no neighbor to be seen, so I hang my clothes in total quiet. I love the activity. I love the "Zen" quality of being right there, in that moment, looking at the colors, feeling the fabric, thinking about the person who wears those clothes.

I don't "have" to hang my clothes. I can pick and choose which items I want to hang, and put other ones in the dryer. I don't hang them out in the winter, though I have an indoor rack for the pants and wool socks.

I have a couple little books about clotheslines:

And I have a book a dear friend gave me:

The last one is filled with words of wisdom about slowing down our lives and really paying attention. "The way to slow down in a hectic world is not to find ever more ways of saving time, but to look for ways to spend it." I love that. Hanging clothes is to me a wonderful way to "spend it." I can't do anything else at the same time except look about me at the birds, the sky, the trees. It is one of the most peaceful things I do, and I always feel refreshed when I finish.

I've had a scheme in my head for years to put together a photographic series of people's clotheslines. I'd like to drive around and ask if I might take a picture of their lines, and somehow put them altogether. I've taken a few photos of my own clotheslines in recent years. I've had a few different kinds of lines, and have finally settled on the very kind my mother used, the "umbrella" type, with a cement base the pole sits in. It doesn't blow down in the strong winds we get up here on this hill. It is right outside the kitchen door, making it easy to run out and get the clothes if it should begin to rain.

New books

I happened to be away yesterday, and stopped for a while in a small and beautiful bookstore. It was in a renovated old house right on the Main Street of a little town. I spent a nice half hour walking around and of course bought a few books. The first one is a book of poems for children, by one of my favorite poets, Maxine Kumin. The second is a delightful sounding book in the spirit of Elizabeth Enright or E. Nesbit. The third is by a writer my husband and I are very fond of, about his much beloved, late wife, Alice. The fourth was recommended by an internet friend who left a comment on a Wendell Berry poem.

Quote du jour/Gladys Taber

Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night. I would be willing to go around the world if I came back in time to light the candles and set the table for supper.
Gladys Taber

Monday, February 19, 2007

Clothesline in winter

Today's cd/Crocus in the Snow

Stephanie Davis/Crocus in the Snow/2003

You may remember in December, a today's cd was Stephanie Davis' Home For The Holidays. I explained there how I came to know this woman's work. I love her songs. Good Night Little Cowpup is my favorite, and another great one is, Talkin' Harvest Time Blues, a song all gardeners can relate to.

Well, it starts with a catalogue that comes in the mail
In the middle of the winter, when you’ve had it with those pale
Thick-skinned, store-bought, sorry, hard-as-rock
Excuses for tomatoes with the flavor of a sock

And there on the cover sits THE juicy, red, ripe
Homegrown tomato you’ve had dancing in your head
Never mind you said last August that you’d had it up to here
With the hoeing and the weeding—that’s what you say every year!

So, you fix a cup of cocoa, sink into your favorite chair
Put your feet up and you thumb through the pictures and compare
Big Boys, Better Boys, Early Girls, Romas
The new disease and drought-resistant hybrid from Sonoma !

Then it’s on to peas and carrots, lima beans and beets and kale
And you’ve never tried kohlrabi—say, the lettuce is on sale!
What’s a garden without sweet corn—better plant some marigolds
And you just read in “Prevention” ‘bout how garlic’s good for colds!

So, you phone an order in that nearly melts your Visa card
Then stare out at the foot of snow that blankets your backyard
And visualize your garden, oh, so peaceful and serene
Until at last you close your eyes and slip into a dream about:


Harvest time (bushels of red, ripe tomatoes!)
Harvest time (sweet corn that melts in your mouth!)

Well, the days turn to weeks and the next thing you know
There’s a robin at the feeder and the last patch of snow
Disappears ‘bout the time that a UPS truck
Backs up to your house and you stand there, awestruck

As 47 “Perishable—Plant Right Away”-
Marked boxes are unloaded on your porch as you say,
“Are you sure?” “Yes, ma’am, need your signature here—
Looks like someone’s gonna have ‘em quite a garden this year!”

Well, you watch him drive away, then you sink to your knees
‘Cause you feel a little woozy: Forty-seven boxes—Please!
God, I know I’ve got a problem and we’ve had this talk before
But help me this one last time—I won’t order anymore!

Just then, as if in answer to your prayer, your sister’s van
Pulls up into the driveway with Aunt Martha, Uncle Stan,
Two nephews and a cousin, who just stopped to say hello
But soon are sporting calluses as up and down each row

You, their warden, push ‘em; it’s a scene from “Cool Hand Luke”:
“Over there—those clods need breaking! Leave more space around that cuke!
See those bags of steer manure? Bring a dozen over—fast!
Yes, I see you have lumbago, but you’ll thank me when at last (it’s)


Harvest time (show you what a real strawberry tastes like!)
Harvest time (might even let you help me dig potatoes!)

Well, that night it starts to sprinkle and you can’t help feeling smug
‘Cause your garden’s in the ground and getting watered while you’re snug
Underneath the covers, or at least until midnight
When the temperature starts dropping and in no time you’re smack right

In the middle of your garden, in your jammies, on your knees
With a headlamp and a hammer and some tarps and jeez Louise
It’s cold but you keep working ‘till the last plant’s safe from harm
And there’s holes in your new jammies and bursitis in your arm

“Cause by gosh, you’re a gardener right down to your muddy clogs
And even when the rabbits take your lettuce and stray dogs
Pee on your zucchini and a fungus coats your kale
“Cause it’s rained for two weeks’ solid—do you falter? Do you fail?

Yep. You throw your hoe down, stamp your feet and call it quits—
Declare for all the gods to hear that gardening is the pits
And you’ll never plant another and this one can bloody rot
Then suddenly the sun breaks through the clouds and, like as not

You see a couple weeds you must have missed the last go-round
And shake your head and meekly pick your hoe up off the ground
And hoe and keep on hoeing ‘till your romas dangle red,
Ripe and juicy on the vine, sweet corn towers overhead,

Beans hang from their trellis, big orange pumpkins sprawl about
And you get that satisfying feeling once more when you shout:


Harvest time (Break out the canning jars!)
Harvest time (Man the pressure cooker!)
Harvest time (You have to take zucchini—we’re related!)
Harvest time (Now THIS is a tomato!)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday Seven/Birds

These are the winter visitors at our bird feeders:

Black-capped Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker




Those little bubbles on the wall and ceiling are full of water.

Quote du jour/May Sarton

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
May Sarton

Chocolate Mousse

This is a very quick and easy recipe, and to my mind the best tasting ever.

1. Melt together over low heat, or in a double boiler, 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate and 2 T. water. Let cool.

2. Separate 4 eggs.

3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (I use the KitchenAid), add 1/3 cup sugar and continue beating.

4. Whisk chocolate and egg yolks together. Add 1/2 t. vanilla.

5. Stir a little of the egg whites mixture into the chocolate mixture, and then fold that into the egg white mixture.

Spoon into 8 custard cups, and refrigerate. Add a dollop (or more) of fresh whipped cream to each cup. In the last few years, I learned the best way to make whipped cream is in the blender. Put in the heavy cream and a bit of honey (or sugar). Turn the blender on low, and blend for less than a minute. Keep checking that it doesn't over-blend.

Friday, February 16, 2007