Sunday, June 25, 2017

Half a year's reading - 2017

I really do mean to jot down my monthly readings, but, hey, six months is better than 2016's yearly report!

In the early months, I spent my reading time right here in New Hampshire, down on the seacoast. The author changes the names of the towns, but anyone who lives here knows exactly where he means.

I have meant to read Brendan DuBois (pronounced boys) for ages, and finally, after listening to him on NHPR here and here (and just a warning you may not want to listen if you are just beginning the books), I bought some of his books for the kindle and read eight of them. Amazon says that Lewis Cole, is "one of the most appealing heroes in mystery fiction," and he really is. We learn in the early books of his back story and how shattered it has left him. He is settled into an old house right on the sea where he rebuilds his life in the community, solving mysteries along the way. He is not your usual 'hero.' He is close to a mafia type from the North End of Boston. He does some things he is not proud of. But he also is very kind to women, and is close friends with the local cop and newspaper writer. I don't want to give much more detail because it is very interesting how his story unwinds with each book. This is a series that needs to be read in order. Part way through my reading, I actually emailed the author. A few days later it came back saying it was undeliverable. Must have been an old address. But I wanted to tell him how bad the kindle versions were of the early books. There were glaring misspellings. I told him that I loved the books so I soldiered on, but that some readers might be so put off they would just quit. So, I would recommend that you buy or borrow the print versions, at least for the first several in the series.

I've not read any books like this before. They are mysteries, but also I think they could be called thrillers. There is a lot of excitement.

Have you noticed how the price of kindle books just goes up and up? I never minded paying eight dollars for the old mysteries I love, but it seems like newer books cost almost as much on the kindle as they do in print. In most cases, I'll  go with the print version, and just read the old books on the kindle.

I read The Little Book of Hyyge which I had noted here. Although I am interested in the concept, I found the book labored to make its point, and said the same things over and over in different ways. I don't think a whole book on it was necessary. An article would suffice.

I read the six books in the Fred Vickery series one right after the other. They were written in the 1990s by Sherry Lewis, and I found them really wonderful. He is a widower, a few years old than I am, with adult children and grandchildren. Only one of his four kids lives in the same Colorado town as he does, but the others pop into the books, sometimes being the main story. These are mysteries, and though the setting is nice and he is a great character, they are not 'cozy.' Bad murders happen, and innocent people are suspected. Fred is friends with the Sheriff, who was his daughter's high school boyfriend. The local doctor is his friend but also his nemesis, always watching what Fred is eating after a small heart attack. The books develop as the series moves along, and we find out more about the man, his late wife, and his family. I really love these six books. They are an excellent little set. The titles and order of the books may be found here.

I read and enjoyed two old ones by Freeman Wills Crofts who should be as well known as Agatha.

I continued where I left off in the Hamish Macbeth series (number 26) and decided I am done. I just don't like them enough for me to spend my time on. I also checked in on Simon Brett's Fethering series and after only a few chapters I decided I was done with those books, too.

The MC Beaton, Hamish Macbeth book, Death of a Chimney Sweep, and Peter May's The Blackhouse were read for the Read Scotland Challenge. As bland as Hamish was, the Blackhouse was an edge of my seat kind of book. Whew. And I've been assured by my friend Kay that the second one, The Lewis Man, is even better. I bought a lovely picture book companion to May's work that helps bring the setting alive.

I read In This Grave Hour, the 13th and latest Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear. It was wonderful. I love this series so much, and there is a special place in my heart for these excellent books.

I read an installment in the always delightful Coffeehouse mystery series by Cleo Coyle - A Brew to a Kill. Snappy dialogue, intelligent characters with loads of personality, and that wonderful New York City locale.

I began the first book in a new series by Susie Steiner, called Missing Presumed, which I liked very much. I could see the BBC or itv making this into a television show. I was annoyed by the bits about the main character's dating life, but not enough to keep me away from the great story.

A refreshing quality about the older mysteries is that there is very little about the main detective's life. Sometimes I just want the mystery, thank you very much, and I'm now reading more Michael Gilbert, one of the very great writers, I believe. One of his sleuths lives in a boarding house and that's about all the reader knows!

I didn't write about the other 'perfect' book I read that I mentioned in my book report on Stir. I want to spend a full post on it at some point, but I'll tell you here what it is, The Song of Hartgrove Hall, published in Great Britain as The Song Collector, by Natasha Solomons. I loved it beyond words, and will try to do it credit when I finally sit down to write about it.

So there you have it. My reading from January through (most of) June. 29 books.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stir by Jessica Fechtor

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home
by Jessica Fechtor
nonfiction 2015

finished 6/9/17

I've read two perfect books so far this year, and Stir is one of them. (Stay tuned- I hope to write about the other one soon) 

When she was in her late twenties, Jessica Fechtor suffered a brain aneurysm.This is the story of a very lucky young woman who made it through what could have killed her. She intersperses her medical story with people and food from her past, and from her time of healing. We learn of the beginnings of her great love story with her now husband, Eli. We meet her family and friends. The author has a wonderful wry sense of humor that made me smile even as she went through some very difficult medical situations. We know she lives, and we know she is alright which makes the book really a joy to read. 

And that's pretty much all I want to say about the book. I don't want to spoil a minute of a future reader's pleasure in reading Stir. It is, of course, a foodie's delight. It is also an excellently written book by a most interesting, kindly, and witty person. I so enjoyed being in her company as I read along. 

It has been ages since I shared a post with Weekend Cooking, 

so here is a dish a friend made for Jessica when she was recuperating. We really enjoyed it, and will make it again.

There isn't a recipe in the book, just a mention of a dish her friend Julia made.
One of those things was farro, a tender Italian grain that feels nice to bite into. I'd heard of it, but never tried it until that night at our friends' table. Julia had cooked up a pot and mixed it with peas.
I have cooked farro before but only in a stew. This time I cooked it until softened. In the meantime I sautéed some onions, and cooked some peas. When the farro was done I stirred in the vegetables, making a delicious, simple, and filling meal. I have rarely cooked with peas, other than cooked fresh from the garden with butter. I used frozen peas in this dish, and really the taste was quite exquisite. They mixed well with the onions and farro. If you've not heard of farro, it is a grain-lovers treat. Here is a page offering high praise for the humble grain.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ray for the day

On Ray Davies' 73rd birthday I decided to put up the title song from his latest album, Americana. What is so interesting to me is that The Kinks and all the 'British Invasion' bands brought England to this young teenager in New England. The music led me to study British literature in college. Much of my reading still is by British writers, and my television viewing is almost exclusively British shows.

I've written about Ray quite a few times here in my letters. You may just type his name into the search bar if you're interested.

After the Americana video, I've also posted two short ones about his knighthood. Sir Ray!

PS - You may read where Ray for the day comes from here. Ten years ago today!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Update on blueberries

In early September I wrote about the blueberries we had bought during the summer. I am amazed to announce that just today we used the last of the blueberries I had frozen. Every day we've had a 1/2 cup each in our yogurt or smoothies.

We first bought them on July 27th which means that we get enough blueberries to have them for about ten months a year. I'm so delighted and can't wait to tell our neighbor the grower.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Back on Facebook

I have been off Facebook since April 2016. I've been completely content and haven't missed it at all. But I rejoined today because of a family situation. A few days ago I read the obituary of my cousin in a newspaper. If I hadn't happened to see it, I would not have known he was dead. I don't have a landline anymore, and I'm not in touch with most of my cousins except via Christmas cards.

The world has changed, and I guess I must change with it. We used to all have telephones with our numbers listed in the phonebook. If someone didn't have access to a regional phonebook, they could dial information and find out our number and call us. I even remember the days when the operator would tell you the address of the person whose number you were seeking.

Today, both Michael and Estée called to say my late cousin's daughter got in touch with them via Facebook, having found them by their last name, so they could tell me of his death. The incident left me a bit shaken, and made me realize that this is a strong reason to be on Facebook.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Ticks (more than you want to know)

This is by far the very worst tick season we've ever had. April 25th, Tom found the first tick on himself, and I found one a couple days later. From then on I have tried to avoid being outdoors in the grass. It wasn't hard to do because April and May were chilly and rainy for the most part. However, Tom takes Lucy up the hill twice a day (Labradors need a lot of exercise!). He rides the four-wheeler so you'd think he would be protected but he still finds them on himself. Lucy runs through the tall grasses and woods and comes home with ticks. We find a lot of them still crawling over her body. Luckily she is light colored so we can see them, but try as we may we still miss some and have pulled off a few big ones. And the other delightful thing is that they get caught in clothes, and I've found live ones crawling up the cloth laundry holder, and even inside the washing machine. I've found them crawling on the floor and crawling on the walls. Not many, but still.... Tom pulls them off Lucy with his bare hands and squishes them. I take them off with a kleenex and burn it in the woodstove. And though we check ourselves every day, we are still apt to wake up in the morning with a tick crawling around or semi-attached. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. They were never here in my childhood or my children's childhoods. They seemed to show up in the early 2000s. I did a search to see if this was recognized as the worst year by anyone else, and got this result. In a way, it is heartening to know there is an answer. Matt thought it might be the warm winter, and I thought it might be the wet spring, but it looks like we can blame acorns! Who knew? What I do know is they should be mostly gone by July, and I can lose my vigilante persona. If you can't get enough of this subject, I've mentioned ticks in my letters - here and here.

Acorns, Not Weather, To Blame for More Ticks
National Pest Management Association explains why 2010's crop puts people at risk for tick-borne disease

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is forecasting a heavier tick season than in previous years, but it's not due to the unseasonably mild winter as one might expect. Rather, acorns can be blamed for the predicted surge in tick populations this year, particularly in the Northeastern U.S.

Oak trees produced an extremely large acorn crop in 2010, which led to a boom in the white-footed mouse population last year. As a result, the blacklegged (deer) tick population also increased because the ticks had an abundance of mice to feed on when they hatched. However, this spring those same ticks will be looking for their second meal as nymphs, but a decline in the mice population may force them to find new warm-blooded host - humans.

Experts are concerned about an increase in human cases of tick-borne disease. "Many of these nymphal ticks may have contracted Lyme disease from feeding on infected mice as larvae," said Jim Fredericks, technical services director for NPMA. "These hungry ticks will soon be looking for another blood meal, which puts people at risk as they head outside to enjoy the weather."

NPMA offers the following tick tips:

• Use tick repellent when outdoors and wear long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light in color, so ticks are easier to detect.
• Use preventative medicine on pets, as prescribed by your veterinarian.
• Once indoors, inspect clothing and your entire body. Check family members and pets that have been outdoors.
• Keep grass cut low, including around fences, sheds, trees, shrubs and swing sets. Remove weeds, woodpiles and other debris from the yard.
• If you find a tick on your body, remove it with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. Then, wash hands and bite site thoroughly with soap and water.  Ticks should be flushed down a toilet or wrapped in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.
• If you suspect a tick bite, seek medical attention.
For more information on ticks, please visit

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mrs Bale presents something other than the weather

Mrs Bale is very proud to show you the latest cover of The Oldie magazine.

Geoffrey Palmer (Lionel Hardcastle on As Time Goes By) will be turning 90 on June 4th!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Today's picture - My kiddos

This was taken at our niece's wedding in April. When did my babies turn into thirty-somethings?!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Death of Gregg Allman

Like many others, I've spent a lot of today looking at youtube videos, and listening to my old Eat a Peach record. This is one of my very most favorite songs. Last year it was played at the memorial service of a man who died way too young, and I thought it was a nice way to pay tribute to Gregg Allman. "Soulshine, it's better than sunshine, it's better than moonshine, damn sure better than rain." 

And then this wonderful performance of Melissa. The person who put it up said, "Calm the sadness and play the tunes while Duane welcomes him with open arms."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

An Afternoon with Hazel Nina - May 26, 2017

It has been over a year since I've posted about an afternoon with Hazel Nina. The months and years are flying by. I keep meaning to post, but just don't have the time or energy sometimes! None of these photos is particularly great, but I took them to show her mummy what she did during the day. Margaret called the texts a "picture book of the day."

Turkey watching

This is really blurry, but she was just so cute. She had to have "tea with Pop." They had Earl Grey, and then she and I had chamomile.

Making popcorn. I used Arrowhead Mills organic popcorn, and made it right on the stove in a big pot.

Hazel said it was "the best popcorn ever!"

Then we watched the most wonderful children's show I've ever seen. It is called Emma and Grandpa. It goes through an entire year, month by month as a little girl and her grandfather explore the beautiful English countryside. We had a video of it when the kids were little, and a few years ago I went looking around the internet, and found a place I could buy a DVD. The new one is so much better because it is narrated by someone with an English accent. My video was narrated by Shelley Winters. Why? I can't imagine who thought that was a good idea for a movie about a little English girl and her grandfather! There is an interview with the grown up little girl all these years later. You may read more here, if interested.

She got a little sleepy so we thought we'd take a ride, knowing she would fall asleep, and she did. We got back as Matthew was coming home from work, and he brought his sleeping girl inside. I'll really try and write more often about our afternoons with all the grandkids. They are growing and changing so fast.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mrs Bale is shocked by the heat!

Mrs Bale says, "oh, no" when she sees the temperature! Addendum: We had a thunderstorm Thursday evening which brought the temp way down. At 9.30 Friday morning, it is almost 30 degrees cooler, and Mrs B shouts, "hooray!."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Today's picture/Words on a car

Margaret saw this on a car at work and sent it to me. I love it!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kay and Hayden come for a visit!

On the first of May, Tom and I had very special visitors. Honestly, our excitement couldn't have been more if it had been Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip!

I met Kay, whose blog you may visit here, on the internet 20 years ago. In 1998 our family visited Texas and met Kay in person, at a bookstore of course.

This year she and her husband were coming east for a mystery conference for her, and a work conference for him. His was in Boston which is only three hours away. Tom and I were going to go down and see them but they decided to come to Windy Poplars Farm! They stayed in a local B&B. We went out to supper at the local diner, and then the next morning they came to the house and spent some time. Tuesdays we take care of Hazel Nina so they all got to meet. Sadly, sadly they could only spend the one night, but how wonderful our visit was. We are already talking about another trip to Texas. They are two of the.nicest.people.ever. We felt so comfortable with them, as if they were family or old friends as, indeed, Kay and I are. We've talked via yahoo groups and then email groups, and blogging, and now texting about most everything, and she probably knows my heart and soul better than many people I know.

Here are some pictures from our get-together.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Quote du Jour/Mrs Bale in As Time Goes By

I'm watching the whole series of As Time Goes By again, and this made me laugh.

Mrs Bale brings in tea to Lionel and Jean.
Lionel says, "On the dot, Mrs Bale." (she had said tea would be served in "exactly 17 and a half minutes.")
Mrs Bale responds: "I was born promptly and saw no reason to be anything else for the rest of my life."

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hooray! Problem Solved

Today Margaret was here and decided to pay a bill via her bank's site on our computer. She couldn't sign in using Chrome. There was a pop-up message that said the problem was with cookies. Tom went into Chrome preferences, and saw that the "block third party cookies and site data" was checked so he unchecked it, and voila, Margaret could get into her account, and I am now signed into my blog via Chrome.

So, here is what had happened. About a month ago, we started getting weird spam in our email inbox. Tom thought maybe it had to do with cookies so he went into Chrome and checked the box that said: "block third party cookies and site data." This is what made it impossible for me to post on my blog via Chrome. So now, I'm all set.

I posted to a Google forum the other day about the problem, and I got an email back that I hadn't had a chance to read yet. I just did so, and it said to try to "enable third party cookies."

I thank you all for your responses to my post about maybe switching to Wordpress. I still may do so, but for now will just stay here.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Got To Go Back sung by Van Morrison

I wanted to end my April poetry in songwriting with Van the Man. I think he should be taught in college poetry classes. I've spent a fair bit of time this afternoon at YouTube trying to decide which song to post here. There are some wonderful videos of him singing. I'm sorry this one isn't a live performance, but it is one of my very favorite songs by Van. "Keep me away from porter or whiskey. Don't sing anything sentimental, it'll make me cry." I just love these words.

When I was a young boy
Back in Orangefield
I used to look out
My classroom window and dream
And then go home and listen to Ray sing
"I believe to my soul" after school,
Ah that love that was within me
You know it carried me through
It lifted me up and it filled me
Meditation, contemplation, too

Oh we've got to go back
Got to go back
Got to go back
Got to go back
For the healing, go on with the dreaming

Ah there's people in the street
And the summer's almost here
I’ve got to go outside in the fresh air
And walk while it's still clear
Breathe it in all the way down
To your stomach too
And breathe it out with a radiance
Into the night time air


Got my ticket at the airport
Well I guess I've been marking time
I've been living in another country
That operates along entirely different lines
Keep me away from porter or whiskey
Don't play anything sentimental it'll make me cry
I've got to go back my friend
Is there really any need to ask why

With the dreaming
With the dreaming
With the dreaming

Songwriters: V. MORRISON
Got To Go Back lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

I just found out that he was knighted last year. Here is a little clip. 

Van is featured in my letters quite a few times. If you are interested, just type his name into the search bar.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quote du jour/Thomas Osbert Mordaunt

One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name.

   Thomas Osbert Mordaunt (1730–1809)

The character Lionel Hardcastle used these words in As Time Goes By. He has been told by the doctor that his father (who has just married at the age of 85) has only a year to live. Jean asks if he will tell his father. Lionel says, no, and says these words. Then he says, "let them have their crowded hour. Every minute of it."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I know that some of you have left Blogspot and moved to Wordpress.

I have so many concerns - the main one being will all my content come with me, including comments and photographs? This blog is a record of the past ten years of my life, and I would be so upset to lose it.

I know that some people leave the old blog up, and just start a new one, but I don't want to do that.

I haven't had any particular problems with blogspot over the years. But now, I can use only Safari to write posts and leave comments. Overnight I wasn't signed in on Chrome. I've never been able to sign in via Firefox.

I can't control my fonts now and it drives me crazy. The look, the presentation of my blog is very important to me.

I gather there are two Wordpresses - one is free, and one you pay for. As it is now, I pay Google $20 per year. Also, there is something to do with my own domain. I think that means that the content would be mine. With Blogspot, they have the power to delete my blog. I don't mind paying if it means it is mine.

I would so appreciate any help you can give me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Quote du jour/Grandchildren and Grandparents - anonymous

Grandchildren are a grandparent's link to the future. Grandparents are the child's link to the past.

Pop with Campbell Walker and Hazel Nina

Nana with Indy Thomas

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Girl - The Temptations

This song was popular when I was still in high school, and I so loved it. Many years later, when our little Margaret arrived from South Korea, this is the song we sang to her:

I love the words, and think it is a wonderful poem. It was played this past weekend at our niece's wedding, and I was so happy to be with our grown-up little girl.

And here she is with her dear Matty, and their little "my girl."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

True Love Ways - sung by Buddy Holly; and sung by Peter and Gordon

The plane crash in 1959 which killed the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Richie Valens was one of the early sadnesses of my life. I was a few weeks from being 11 and was truly upset by the loss of three singers I greatly enjoyed. 

I never heard Buddy Holly sing True Love Ways. It was recorded only four months before he died. The first time I heard it was when Peter and Gordon sang it in the mid-1960s. I loved the song, and thought it achingly beautiful. I still do. Many years later, I learned that Buddy Holly had written it.

I think it is wonderful, and I offer it as a songwriting as poetry posting.  First you may hear Buddy Holly singing it, and then Peter and Gordon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Will You Go, Lassie, Go? - sung by The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem

Here is another song for poetry month. This is also known as Wild Mountain Thyme, and Purple Heather. You may read about its origins here, and see the long list of people who have recorded it. I first heard it in the 1970s sung by the wonderful Jean Redpath. I didn't even know what thyme was then! I can't find a video of her singing it live, but came upon this perfect, perfect version by The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem.  It brings tears to my eyes. There's just something in a song like this that goes right to my heart. Please do sing along.

Oh, the summer time is coming
And the trees are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

And we'll all go together
To pluck wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

I will build my love a bower
Near yon pure crystal fountain
And on it I will pile
All the flowers of the mountain
Will you go lassie, go?

And we'll all go together
To pluck wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

If my true love she were gone
I would surely find another
Where wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

And we'll all go together
To pluck wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

Oh, the summer time is coming
And the trees are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

And we'll all go together
To pluck wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go lassie, go?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

One For My Baby - sung by Frank Sinatra

Here's another post offering poetry in songwriting. If pressed, I think I might say that One For My Baby, written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, is my favorite song. And Sinatra's vocalizing is sublime. The stage seems to disappear, and we 'see' that guy talking to the bartender. Do you suppose people still do this - talk over their troubles with bartenders?

Here are the words. You'll see Sinatra changed a couple in the live version.

It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place except you and me
So, set 'em up, Joe, I got a little story you oughta know
We're drinkin', my friend, to the end of a brief episode
Make it one for my baby and one more for the road
I got the routine, so drop another nickel in the machine
I'm feelin' so bad, wish you'd make the music easy and sad
I could tell you a lot, but you've got to be true to your code
Just make it one for my baby and one more for the road
You'd never know it but buddy, I'm a kind of poet
And I got a lot of things I'd like to say
And when I'm gloomy, you simply gotta listen to me
Till it's talked away
Well that's how it goes and Joe, I know your gettin' pretty anxious to close
And thanks for the cheer, I hope you didn't mind my bendin' your ear
But this torch that I found must be drowned or it soon might explode
So, make it one for my baby and one more for the road
The long, it's so long, the long, very long

Monday, April 3, 2017

Who Knows Where the Time Goes - Sandy Denny

April is poetry month and though I may not post every day, I will write as often as possible. I plan to share poetry in songwriting. The first is Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where the Time Goes.

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it's time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time

For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving
Ah, but then you know it's time for them to go
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time

For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it's time to go
So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again
I have no fear of time

For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Quote du jour/Samuel Taylor Coleridge

'Tis a month before the month of May, and the spring comes slowly up this way.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge's words are apt as I look out my front door this afternoon.

We've lost some snow since the last snowstorm, but it is coming down strong and steady today. Michael lives an hour south of us and they got 8 inches overnight. March has been consistently cold with intermittent snowfalls and a blizzard mid-month. Those red-winged blackbirds haven't come back. There is no sight or sound of robins or woodcocks. We've had some sunshine but the wind has been cold. Three deer come by each evening for their daily meal. The usual winter birds are still eating heartily at the feeders.

But this won't last. A few warm, sunny days and we will have forgotten all about snow!

Friday, March 24, 2017

An old, yellowed newspaper clipping

Many years ago I read something my mother had cut out of a newspaper. I've thought about it occasionally and wondered if I still had it. I've been going through a tub of photos and memorabilia lately, and was so pleased to come upon the clipping.

If you are not religious, please do not be put off with the fact it is a prayer. The words are most meaningful, and truly are a guide to living as we get older. There is great wisdom and humor.

I looked it up on the internet and found out that it is a seventeenth century anonymous nun's prayer.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Reading

Spring begins tomorrow at 5.29 am my time, and this is the book I plan to begin reading.

I've read the first three and so loved them. Here are book reports for the others, if you want to know who The Penderwick family is.

1. The Penderwicks

2. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

3. The Penderwicks at Point Muette

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Four and Twenty...

Blackbirds! The red-winged blackbirds came today when we'd just had a big snowstorm. They ate from the feeders, and the food spread on the ground. 

These aren't the world's best pictures because I had the zoom on and they were taken through the front door windows, but you get the idea. I counted two or three times and got 24. What do you think? Do they travel in groups of 24? Why does the old rhyme say 24? 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

What I Learned From TV - March 9

From the British television series, Born and Bred. So very worth buying from Amazon UK. If you are in the US, you need to have a DVD player that plays shows that were made in Britain. There are some listed here.

The younger doctor says to his father, also a doctor.

"Oh, Dad, it's sometimes all so difficult."

Father: "Nobody ever said life was easy. Frustrating maybe. Exciting, sometimes. Heartbreaking. Ridiculous. Never easy. But always worth it."

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Today's picture/Chickens at the bird feeders

This warm weather is bringing the chickens outdoors again, and they were delighted to find that we are feeding the birds again! They often eat right alongside the ground feeders - mourning doves, blue jays, sparrows, and crows.

I had to take the photo through the door window. It is on a bit of a zoom. Not very clear, but you get the idea. There are a few more chickens who haven't stopped by the new feeding station yet, but I expect they will in time.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017

Today's video/The Fighter - Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood

Did you see this on the Grammys? I LOVE this song, and I've ordered the record Ripcord. I bet you can't stay in your chair while you listen! (Sorry there's an ad)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Old sayings

One of the things that goes along with the shift from agricultural to urban in this country is that the old sayings most likely make no sense to someone who has never been in a farm or rural environment. Take this product, for instance.

A lot has changed since 1886.  I'm glad they decided to keep the slogan on the can for old time's sake. What it means is that when chicks first come out of the eggs, it is a little while before they 'scratch' - before they begin to use their claws to rake the bedding material. Chickens spend a lot of their time scratching up the soil for food, and probably that first scratching is an innate knowledge of what they need to do to survive.

So, for a product that promises not to scratch your sink, this is the perfect saying. There's a nice page about the company here.

I've read that more people in cities and bigger towns are raising chickens now, so maybe the saying will be better understood in the populace. I certainly didn't know what it meant until we began keeping chickens all those years ago. Incidentally, we have new chickens arriving in May. I've written about the experience here on the blog.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Today's pictures/Icicles

Not the world's best photographs but top to bottom are the icicles out the north window. In the last one, you can see that they are touching the ground. It took three pictures to get them in because they were so long!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The death of Stuart McLean

Tom and I are so sad that Stuart McLean has died. We have spent some of our best times listening to the Vinyl Cafe, entering into the lives of Dave and Morley and the kids. His voice was so perfect. He told stories that seemed as real as could be. He seemed like a friend who just happened to be on the radio. "Come and get me, copper" is a phrase that sets us laughing every time someone in the family says it.

There is an obituary here, and amazing social media tributes here. He will be sorely missed in this world.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Today's picture - The garden gnome a week later

We've had a little snow since last Wednesday when I put up the blog header photo of the gnome!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Quote du jour/Anna Quindlen

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.
How Reading Changed My Life
Anna Quindlen

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Today's video/My snowboarding son!

My son Michael works at a ski/snowboard resort, and a co-worker took this video of him.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Today's picture/Cartoon from The Oldie

As I was reading my Oldie magazine this morning, I saw a cartoon that I wanted to post to the blog. I wrote to the cartoonist, Crowden Satz, and asked about using it. For a small charge, he optimized it for me so it would look good here. I think it is just the best cartoon.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie

Taken at the Flood - book 27 in the Hercule Poirot series 
by Agatha Christie
mystery 1948
finished 1/16/17  

The book cover picture comes from my one of my Agatha Christie reference books, 

 which has this to say:

Agatha uses the speech in her epigraph:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

It has been ages since I've read an Agatha book, and the old familiar feeling came back as soon as I began; that feeling of ah, I can completely sit back and relax because my reading is in the hands of a master. She really can tell a tale better than almost anyone. As they say, even her worst writing is better than most people's good writing. Her intelligence, her good sense when it comes to characters, her settings all combine to make a great reading experience. 

Another of my reference books 

says that the bombing in the book comes from the bombing of her own house in London during the war. The houses right around hers were "completely flattened," while hers suffered only external damage. Most of the contents were fine. Just this kind of randomness happens in Taken at the Flood. The twenty-four year old Rosaleen married the sixty-two year old Gordon Cloade and two weeks later a blast 
blew the basement in and ripped off the roof. First floor practically wasn't touched. Six people in the house. Three servants: married couple and a housemaid, Gordon Cloade, his wife and the wife's brother. They were all down in the basement except the wife's brother...
The only survivors were the wife and her brother who come to the family estate in Warmsley Vale. Gordon did not make a new will in those two weeks of married life, so his family who were to be the beneficiaries now receive nothing because his old will is 'revoked by his marriage.' I was amazed at this law - that the wife automatically got the money. What hardships this placed on the family. 
The rich, childless man had taken all his relatives completely under his wing. ... Yes, they had all depended on Gordon Cloade. Not that any of the family had been spongers or idlers. Jeremy Cloade was senior partner in a firm of solicitors, Lionel Cloade was in practice as a doctor. But behind the workaday life was the comforting assurance of money in the background. There was never any need to stint or to save. The future was assured.
A stranger comes to town saying that perhaps the first husband is still alive, which would of course make Rosaleen's second marriage invalid, and the money would all go to the family. Or if she died, the same thing would occur.

I read this for the 

and I took special note of life in the third year after the end of the war. The young Wren who had done overseas service is thrilled to come home again ... for about three days. 
And already a curious dissatisfied restlessness was creeping over her. It was all the same - almost too much all the same - the house and Mums and Rowley and the farm and the family. The thing that was different was herself....
And her mother's life
Except for a rather unreliable woman who came four mornings a week, Mrs. Marchmont was alone in the house, struggling with cooking and cleaning. ...   The small but adequate fixed income which had kept them going comfortably before the war was now almost halved by taxation. Rates, expenses, wages had all gone up. 
A farmer says
"I'm only just keeping my head above water as it is. And what with not knowing what this damned Government is going to do next - hampered at every turn - snowed under with forms, up to midnight trying to fill them in sometimes - it's too much for one man."
There is mention of an 'ill will' and 'ill feeling' that is everywhere. 
On railways and buses and in shops and amongst workers and clerks and even agricultural laborers. 
The book offers such a strong sense of English life in 1948. The atmosphere is almost a character in the story. The characters' actions and reactions are in response to the social, monetary, and political situation of the post-war years. I really enjoyed the book and learned so much.