Sunday, February 9, 2020

Today's poem by Midge Goldberg

Busy Signal

No busy signal from his cell,
Instead I'm on "call waiting."
I can't hang up the phone and so
I'm left anticipating

Whether when he sees my name
He'll want to take the call,
And if he doesn't, am I on
His contact list at all?

Or am I still a nameless number
In this three-way hell,
Will he know it's me or think
"That doesn't ring a bell"?

And who is on the other line
He might prefer to me:
His mother, sister, college friend,
That girl on speed dial 3?

But if I choose to end it then
"missed call" gives me away.
No anonymity will hide
The things I didn't say.

Times have changed, these days there are
No hang-ups any more;
I'm strong enough, so go ahead:
Accept or else Ignore.

Midge Goldberg
from Snowman's Code

2020 Book Facts

Only a collecting post.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

My mother's muffin recipe

These were the best cranberry muffins I've ever tasted. In fact, I had a couple other recipes for them in the recipe box, and I threw them away, knowing this is IT from now on. So many recipes I see call for 1/2 - 1 cup of sugar. That's a lot for twelve muffins, I think. This one calls for 2 Tablespoons, and even with tart cranberries, they were perfectly sweet. The same goes for butter - most of the time, recipes call for more than 3 Tablespoons.

The things I changed - I didn't separate the egg, and I used the whole egg. Also, as you must know by now, I only ever use butter in baking. And I greased the muffin pan with cooking spray.

Can you tell what is under the word "preheated"? Is it 400? Well, I wasn't sure enough so I put the oven at 350 F. I've made these muffins almost half a dozen times, and they have turned out perfectly. I baked them for about 20 minutes, but check because all ovens are different.

You may use fresh or frozen cranberries, and I put them in the food processor to break them up.

I love that she called them "standard" and that the cook can use any fruits she or he wants.

Please visit Weekend Cooking for more food related posts.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

January Books

I had a good reading month, though I still mean to read more of my print books. I've begun my reading from the 1920s.

January - 6

1. Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War - book one in the Mrs Caldicot series
by Vernon Coleman
fiction 1993
finished 1/2/20

As I read a line in this book, I had a flash of seeing a television production of it. I looked it up, and it starred Pauline Collins and John Alderton. I don't remember much about it, but from what I read, the film was changed some from the book. The story is about a very passive, very sheltered woman whose overbearing husband suddenly dies. Her son feels that she should go into a retirement home. She is my age (gulp!). The book is all about how the residents become empowered about their living conditions, and their lives. It is quite inspiring, with a happy ending, though there is sadness for the reader seeing how this place is run. And that there is such little regard for the inhabitants until Mrs C shows up.

2. The American Agent - book fifteen in the Maisie Dobbs series
by Jacqueline Winspear
mystery 2019
library book
finished 1/8/20

Gosh, a lot of time has passed since we readers first met her in 2003. I so enjoy these books and the characters. One of the very great pleasures of my reading life.

3. The Nine of Us
 Growing Up Kennedy
by Jean Kennedy Smith
nonfiction 2016
finished 1/8/20

Jean Kennedy Smith is the last surviving child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. She has written a really lovely telling of her life. Even if you've read everything about the Kennedys, she offers a new perspective. I loved this book, and am so happy she wrote it.

4. Mavis of Green Hill
by Faith Baldwin
fiction 1921
finished 1/13/20

My first book of the 1920s, and such a joy it was. This wasn't about flappers and gin, but about a young woman who was bedridden from a train accident a dozen years before. She begins a correspondence with a young poet, and rather falls in love with him through his poems. She is a romantic soul who doesn't have a lot to amuse her in the life she leads. A new doctor comes into her life who suggests new treatments, and suddenly her whole life changes. One of the treats of the book is seeing Cuba in those days.

5. Brooklyn Legacies - book five in the Erica Donato series
by Triss Stein
mystery 2019
finished 1/16/20

I do so enjoy this series. The reader learns something new about Brooklyn in each book. This one focused on the tensions of development between the Jehovah's Witness church and an historical home. The only negative for me is that I got annoyed at the main character's little criticisms of older times, while she is an historian!

6. The Cask
by Freeman Wills Crofts
mystery 1920
finished 1/30/20

I've never read anything quite like this 100-year-old book. It is the ultimate police procedural, with the emphasis on procedure. It was almost like reading a police report, and then later a lawyer's report.

These policemen are mostly all men, except for a short time when three women do some work. They don't have families or girlfriends. They have friends, and they eat out, and they go to the movies, but there is no romance. They are totally devoted to their work. This work is slow and methodical.

I actually had to look up the word cask.  It is a large, barrel-like container used for storing liquids. In this book casks also held statues, and a dead woman's body.

The people investigating went back and forth from England to France to Belgium, trying to find out who killed her. The phrase about not leaving a stone unturned absolutely applies to these men. A fascinating book with a thrilling ending.

I have mentioned before, I think, that I subscribe to a publication called Give Me That  Old-Time Detection put together three times a year by a man named Arthur Vidro. The autumn edition featured Mr. Crofts. The 1996 review ofThe Cask was written by Charles Shibuk in the British publication CADS. I am going to quote some of the review.
Crofts suffered a major breakdown of his health in 1919 and, while seeking something to distract him from a slow and tedious period of convalescence, decided to try his hand at writing a detective novel.
The Cask (1920) secured rave reviews, and was translated into many languages, and had sold the not inconsiderable total of 200,000 copied by 1940. 
With the exception of E.C. Bentley's Trent's Last Case (1913), The Cask is probably the best first detective novel in the history of the form, and with Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), it heralded the advent of the detective story's great Golden Age. Critic Anthony Boucher, reviewing a 1967 reissue of The Cask, remarked: "Probably the most completely competent first novel in the history of crime, it is the definitive novel of alibis, timetables - and all the absorbing hairsplitting of detection..."
Ellery Queen, who considered it one of the ten most important detective novels, described it as the first great modern police novel.
The Cask is available on the Kindle, in paperback, and in hardcover. Not bad for a century-old book! Well worth all the praise. I was completely immersed and fascinated.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Today's picture/napping house

Did you ever read The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood? Wonderful children's book.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Today's video - Nina Simone / Why? (The King of Love is Dead)

Written by her bassist, Gene Taylor, this is Nina Simone singing.

These words were written by the person who posted the video, Baye Kambul:

Recorded on April 7, 1968, live three days after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and performed at the Westbury Music Fair. Nina Simone dedicated her performance to King's memory. The song was written by her bass player, Gene Taylor. An edited version of this performance appears on Simone's album, Nuff Said (1968). I felt the unedited version captures the true emotional energy of the period surrounding Simone's performance.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It's (almost) midnight and the kitties are sleeping

Do you remember Letterman singing this song?

Well, we got our kitties today, and it was 11:30 when I took these pictures. That's Gemma on the couch, and Maisy on the floor. They have been wild as sin! Play, play, play and then fall down asleep. I had forgotten the utter joy of kittens. More, and better, pictures to come.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Quotes du jour / Rudyard Kipling and T.S. Eliot

These two quotes are from this year's Susan Branch calendar - A Year in the English Countryside. The Kipling is on the cover, and the Eliot on the January page.