Monday, April 30, 2007

Today's picture/Quelle couleur!

These are the unbeaten eggs (in an orange mixing bowl) for last night's griddle cakes. The color just makes my eyes feel good.

Today's cd/Tourist

St Germain (Ludovic Navarre)/Tourist/2000

I love this cd. It gets me dancing around the kitchen.

The song playing is So Flute.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Griddle Cakes

You may know that I love Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin mystery series. A few years back I bought this delightful companion to the books. Each recipe is preceded by a little excerpt from a book. Tonight's recipe begins:

The trouble with mornings is that they come when you're not awake. It's all a blur until I am washed and dressed and have somehow made my way down to the kitchen and got orange juice in me, and I'm not really awake until the fourth griddle cake and the second cup of coffee. [A Window For Death]

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour milk (or more)
2 Tablespoons melted butter

Sift the flour and cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs until lemon yellow in color and add the sour milk. (Sour milk can be made by adding a few drops of lemon juice to sweet milk and allowing it to stand for a few hours in a warm place.) Add the dry ingredients to the egg/milk mixture, and beat with a wire whisk or electric hand beater. Add the melted butter gradually while beating.

Ladle out the batter with a dipper onto a hot, lightly oiled griddle (I use cooking spray and an electric frypan). You may add blueberries or other fruit if you wish. When the bubbles on top have opened and the underside is golden brown, turn each cake and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more. Serve with butter and maple syrup. Delicious! A perfect Sunday night supper.

Quote du jour/Kenneth Grahame

When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

This is my new toasting center compliments of Target. The toaster is the second generation Michael Graves toaster. I bought the first one years ago. I've had a couple others since, but wasn't happy with them. This is great. The toast pops up far enough so I don't need toast tongs to take it out. I love toast. I think that it is probably my favorite food, and I eat it all times of the day, not just at breakfast. I love these words from Wind In The Willows.

Today's picture/First spring color

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Today's poem - The First Green of Spring by David Budbill

The First Green of Spring
by David Budbill

Out walking in the swamp picking cowslip, marsh marigold, this sweet first green of spring. Now sautéed in a pan melting to a deeper green than ever they were alive, this green, this life,

harbinger of things to come. Now we sit at the table munching on this message from the dawn which says we and the world are alive again today, and this is the world's birthday. And

even though we know we are growing old, we are dying, we will never be young again, we also know we're still right here now, today, and my oh my! don't these greens taste good.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bulgur and Vermicelli Pilaf

When people are very hungry, or if I don't have much time, this Armenian dish is what I make for supper. It comes from a 1976 cookbook I've had for ages.

In a big saucepan, sauté on low/medium heat, 1/3 cup vermicelli in olive oil or a butter/oil combination until lightly browned.

Add 2 cups hot water, and bring to a boil.
Turn down heat to simmer, and add 1 cup bulgur.
When water is absorbed, it is done.

In the meantime, sauté in olive oil any vegetables you like. We have used chopped onions, frozen green peppers, and frozen zucchini. You don't have to thaw them first. I sauté the onions a little, and then add the frozen ones.

When serving, I add freshly chopped chives. Salt and pepper to taste.
The portions may be changed according to how many are eating.

Mrs Bale offers the quote du jour from Thomas Tusser

Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers.
Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry, 1557

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quote du jour/Irene Rawlings and Andrea Vansteenhouse

Hanging laundry on a line is one of life's luxuries. It represents time. Time to be alone. Time to think, even to meditate, accompanied by the repeated actions of hanging clothes - stooping, straightening, lifting, hanging, breathing, watching the clouds. There is a spirituality in the simple, positive actions of this everyday activity.
Irene Rawlings and Andrea Vansteenhouse, The Clothesline

Today's picture/Cool tool

I bought mine at the Gardener's Supply store, and though for some inexplicable reason they no longer sell it online, you may buy one here.

It is just the perfect tool for getting into small areas where a regular sized rake won't fit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Book Passage/The Reader's Bill of Rights

I've not read this book but I really like the following list.

The Reader's Bill of Rights

1. The right to not read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right to not defend your tastes.

Daniel Pennac, Better Than Life

Quote du jour/Ann Patchett

Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself to be an audience - not everyone can be the artist.
Ann Patchett, Bel Canto

Farm life/Sheep shearing

One of the spring rituals at our farm is sheep shearing. The sheep would be too hot wearing those wool coats all summer. Since 1989, the same man, who was the seventh fastest sheep shearer in the US, has shorn them. This year for the first time, his son took over; the same son who used to come with his dad, and play with our son while his dad worked. He is the one in the orange tee shirt. His friend did the hoof trimming and worming.

Waiting their turn, none too eagerly.

After the haircuts.

The sheep on the right is the one featured the other day in the "sheepish" blog entry. What a difference!

Years ago, I bought a spinning wheel and I had high hopes of becoming one of those women I so admire; one who spins the wool and then knits it into sweaters and hats and mittens. What I neglected to include in my dream is that I am not good with my hands. I can garden and I can cook, but I'm just not capable when it comes to using my hands in sewing or knitting. And I never could get the hang of that wheel. I had to do one thing with my hands while peddling with my foot, rather like the old rubbing your tummy and tapping your head at the same time. So, very, very slowly and reluctantly, I came to the realization that this wasn't going to be part of my life. We sold the wheel to a friend, a man who really does spin and knit. He makes himself a new sweater every couple of years or so using the wool from one of our sheep, one bag full. We give the rest of the wool to a woman who uses it to make felt toys.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


You may have noticed that I don't have my blog lists on the sidebar anymore. Over time, I have found more and more blogs that I love to visit. Some I visit every day, some I visit each week, and others I visit occasionally. A fellow blogger once said that she tries to keep her list short because she felt people were more apt to click on them if there weren't too many. I think that is true, but I simply couldn't list only a few. So, I thought the best thing was to eliminate the list altogether.

Quote du jour/Miss Read

I had good health, a dear little house, and even more precious - a host of friends. These things spelt happiness.
Miss Read, A Peaceful Retirement

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mrs Bale proudly presents

Quote du jour/Susan Branch

In April, all over America, the doors fly open, fresh air permeates and the spring cleaning ritual begins. Storm windows come down, blankets and pillows flap from clotheslines (among crowds of daffodils) and dust bunnies are evacuated to the great outdoors to be recycled by home-minded songbirds. The breeze through the open windows carries the fresh smell of the blooming earth.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Signs of spring

A walk in the pine glade




Lilac buds

A drink from the fast-flowing stream

Poppy popping up

"I think I've got spring fever"

Home comforts

A few days ago throughout our area, and in the whole state, we had what some called, a Nor'easter. Very strong winds which uprooted trees and blew off tin roofs so that some areas looked like the black and white scenes from Wizard of Oz. Our power went off Monday morning at 7am and didn't return until Wednesday evening. Over 60 hours without electricity is the longest outage we've experienced since moving here 26 years ago. We even lost our phone for a day which has never happened.

I've thought so much about this time without; without lights, without music, without television, without a computer (!!), without refrigeration. Even in the midst of it, I found myself feeling gratitude. We have a spring which is gravity-fed, meaning it just flows down the hill into our house without an electric pump. Though there was no hot water, we had water to drink and the toilets could flush. We also have the woodstove which kept us warm the whole time. We heated water on the stove and made pasta. We went to bed when it was too dark to read. And we did a lot of reading. Tom kept thinking that this quiet is what the house had experienced for a lot of its years; years before the house had electricity. No refrigerator motor, no humidifier motor, no sound of the furnace going on. Just silence. It was an amazing experience, and though we were happy, very happy to have power back, I am grateful for those hours without.

Further afield/Mountains and Crocus

This is what our daughter sees going to work each day.

Today's picture/Escape

Annie the goat found a way to escape from the pasture today. Here she is, nibbling on the front lawn.

Today's cd/Big Night

Big Night soundtrack/1996

Wonderful, wonderful combination of great Italian tenors and 1950s pop/jazz music. I wish radioblogclub offered some selections, but you may hear clips here. If you haven't seen the movie, I would say, rent it and then buy this great cd.


I'm not always current with what's going on in the television world. For a long time we didn't have access to any stations except PBS, so I didn't know about Friends or Homicide or Alias. But once I found out, there was no stopping Tom and me. We had many marathons of the shows we (now) love. We'd rent the dvds from Netflix and watch one episode right after the other. And now that we have a satellite dish, I am still catching up. A guy at Tom's school told him that we had to watch LOST, so there we were, night after night, catching up on all the shows before the new ones began this winter. And then, our daughter told us about The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I vaguely knew who Ellen was, but had never seen her television series or her current afternoon show. Now our dish is set to tape it everyday. What a wonderful, upbeat, cheerful, warm, earnest woman. She brings sunshine right into our living room. I love all the rituals on the show; the dance, the sitting in the chair, the various daily segments, her phone calls. On and on. It doesn't really matter who is on the show, we watch it for her, just as we watch the Late Show for David Letterman. She is the most positive person I've seen in "show business." She seems truly kind and caring about other people. She is, as people used to say, "a breath of fresh air" in a cynical, sarcastic, sometimes mean-spirited, sometimes lewd entertainment world. Watching the show enriches my life, and, I truly think, is making me a better person.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Today's picture/Washday

After losing power for over 60 hours, there's a lot of laundry to do!

Thursday Thirteen/Places to go

Thirteen places outside of the US I would like to visit if I had more money. :<) The places I've been to have stars after them.

Bermuda *
British Columbia
England *
Holland *
Ireland *
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island *
Wales *

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quote du jour/Selma Lagerlöz

Nothing on earth can make up for the loss of one who has loved you.
Selma Lagerlöz

My mom,
August 29, 1913-April 18, 1973

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quote du jour/Bob Dylan

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues, 1965

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Today's poem - Clouds by Christina Rossetti

by Christina Rossetti

White sheep, white sheep,
On a blue hill,
When the wind stops
You all stand still
When the wind blows
You walk away slow,
White sheep, white sheep,
Where do you go?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Quote du jour/Emily Whaley

A warning: life is full of decisions and you better not waver and quaver over each one or you will stress yourself. You will die young and miss your seventies and eighties, which are two decades that can be a delight.
Emily Whaley

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quote du jour/Maya Angelou

Sister, there were people who went to sleep last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. And those dead folks would give anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of plowing. So you watch yourself about complaining. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.
Maya Angelou

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today's picture/Ben

Calm before the storm

I wanted to take a picture of the patio before tomorrow's anticipated (yet again) snowstorm. Mrs Bale will not be talking about it. She fears her language might get her thrown off the blog.

Today's poem - The Cat by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

1973 photo

The Cat
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The cat
licks its paw and
lies down in
the bookshelf nook
can lie in a
sphinx position
without moving for so
many hours
and then turn her head
to me and
rise and stretch
and turn
her back to me and
lick her paw again as if
no real time had passed
It hasn't
and she is the sphinx with
all the time in the world
in the desert of her time
The cat
knows where flies die
sees ghosts in the motes of air
and shadows in sunbeams
She hears
the music of the spheres and
the hum in the wires of the houses
and the hum of the universe
in interstellar spaces
prefers domestic places
and the hum of the heater