Friday, May 17, 2019

Fun and kinda great thing I saw on Instagram

I came upon this a while ago, and I thought I'd share it. A younger friend who was a fan of the song was going through a terrible divorce, and the list is the opposite of what her husband did.


And here is the video.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Quote du jour/Charles Dudley Warner

Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.
It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.
Charles Dudley Warner

Aren't these words familiar to all home gardeners? We dream (and "hoe") in the spring. Even if the garden does "not turn out well", by then we are already dreaming of next year's garden.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats, and sung by The Waterboys

I was listening to an old album by The Waterboys, and was so taken with the last song. It is The Stolen Child by Yeats put to music by one of the members, Mike Scott, and narrated by Tomás McKeown. It is so very beautiful.

I found it on youtube in a video illustrated with pictures of old Ireland. You may watch and listen here. Addendum: I just saw that you can't watch it on the blog, but must click the watch it on youtube button. Sorry for the extra step.



The faerys [sic] are luring a child to go away with them. They present their home as a beautiful place "where flapping herons wake the drowsy water rats." This is a place of dancing and joy "while the world is full of troubles and anxious in its sleep." And that last line of each verse is a killer - "for the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."  The last verse tells of the good the child will be giving up to avoid the inevitable sadness in real life.

Oh, Yeats! A wonderful poem, and I do love the musical version and narration.

The Stolen Child

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A 23-year-old's impressions of Notre Dame in 1971

I kept all the letters and postcards I wrote to my mother when Tom and I traveled in 1971. Today I looked through them to see if I might have said anything about visiting Notre Dame, and I found a postcard!



I searched to see if the three windows were saved in the fire, and they were! You may read more here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Photos of Notre Dame

There are some excellent photographs of Notre Dame at The Guardian. And here I am in 1971.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Happy birthday to Gladys!

Gladys Taber was born on April 12, 1899. She is such a part of my Letters from a Hill Farm, and if you go to the Gladys Taber label under "letter topics" (on the sidebar on the R - scroll down past "places I love to visit"), you'll find a lot about her. But not many photos. I've just recently joined Pinterest, and I've found a few I hadn't seen. I wish there were more. She was well-known in her day, and beloved then and now.

In front of that fireplace she writes about so often.



Gladys with her family on a Christmas Eve.



My grammies used to look much like this. You may see them here.

Such a kind face.



This is the earliest photo I've come across.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Today's picture/June 1941


I did a bit of research and found out that Mrs Heminway was a real person. I found her husband's obituary here. This woman was his second wife, as you will see. Her obit is here. She lived a lot of years after that Camel ad. I wonder when or if she ever quit. 

My father smoked Camels. I guess because of that I figured it was mostly men who smoked them, but clearly not so. Or maybe they were trying to get more women to smoke them. 

This ad was on the back of a magazine called The American Home, which I bought at a retro diner the other day. I also bought another one dated January 1942, when we were officially in the War. It is quite likely I'll post more pictures of the covers and ads. There is more about the magazine here. I find old magazines fascinating. I wish I had begun collecting them ages ago. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Cranberry Nut Dessert

I'm thinking it is probably okay to post this to Weekend Cooking even if it has been offered there before because it was 8 years ago!! I have kept the recipe all this time, and I finally made it. I knew I would love it, and now plan to make it at least once a month. Cranberries are my favorite fruit to use in baking. I buy a lot of them in the fall and freeze them.  Here is where I originally read it.


Cranberry Nut Dessert




Preheat oven to 350º f.

Melt 1/2 cup of butter and let cool a bit.

Mix together 1 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together and add to dry mixture:
2 beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (recipe called for almond extract, but I don't like the taste)
the melted butter

Add 2 cups of cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 chopped walnuts

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray (my pan is 2 inches deep and it worked perfectly) and add mixture.

The original recipe called for 40 minutes of baking, but I baked it almost 50 minutes.

The most delicious cranberry dish I've ever eaten! We had it for breakfast rather than for dessert.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The school song

This is Campbell Walker singing his school song on March 17. He sang it to me, and then I asked if he would sing it again so I could video it, and he said yes. It makes me just melt with love. Those expressive eyebrows and the way he moves his hands. Oh, just so adorable.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Four Seasons with Susan Hill and Gladys Taber - Susan's winter


The Magic Apple Tree is best book about country life I've ever read, and I've read a fair many. Fellow bloggers have sung its praises for years, and well-deserved they are.

There is a mellowness in Susan Hill's writing that doesn't show up as often in the "book" books. Here she is writing simply about her life with her husband and daughter in the English countryside.
There are five hundred souls in Barley, and more than half of them are over sixty, quite a few well over eighty. It is a companionable village. ... It is only six miles from the city, and feels like a hundred and six, it is so peaceful, so thoroughly rural are its surroundings. There is no through traffic, it is well-shaped and has so many superb views, the houses are modest and pleasing, the size of the place is right, large enough to have some community life and yet not too large.
This book is a tribute to English rural life, the sort of life we Anglophiles dream of. I wonder how much it has changed since publication of the book in 1982. My rural area has not changed too terribly much in those years so perhaps it hasn't either. Her village looks pretty wonderful on the website here!

The book begins with the magic apple tree.
Whether you stand at the top of the stone steps or at any of the windows, you cannot look from this cottage across to the fields opposite, or to your left, away and down the whole, flat stretch of the Fen, without also having the apple tree in your sight, it draws your eyes toward it and balances the picture, a point of reference for the whole view. It is only, perhaps, fifteen feet high, and a most beautiful, satisfying shape.  ... the spirit of the place is in that apple tree.
I wonder if it still stands. I felt this way about the big maple in front of our house, and though we had to have it cut down I still long for its presence.

She worries about the tree.
There is always a wind about here, we are so exposed on all sides ... There have been terrible nights when I have lain awake listening to the roar and boom, hearing branches groan and break ... One February night, a single blast of wind, the eye of the storm, took half our heavy wooden fence, the glass roof of a neighbour's greenhouse, a lilac bush beyond it, two chimney pots and an open garage door, it simply gathered them up into itself and flung them down again some yards away. But the apple tree still stood, resilient, indomitable as some small wooden ship on a stormy sea. After that, I did not worry about it.
The name of the house is Moon Cottage. I do love how the British name their homes. Over here we name farms and ranches, but not homes, as far as I know.

Susan Hill writes of the reasons for their move to a country life.
All through my thirties, since marriage and, most particularly, since the birth of my daughter, I experienced a growing discontent and dissatisfaction with town life. I seemed to be only skimming the surface of things, to be cramped and hurried and tense. I noticed the smell and noise of the traffic more, and I worried above all about the influences of the city upon Jessica, of so much that was ugly and tawdry and meretricious, violent, distasteful, of all the getting and spending. I longed for more space around me, for growing things and time and all the sounds and scents of the natural world on my doorstep, for peace and quiet in which to do my own work, and to provide a counterbalance for Jessica to the time she would inevitably have to spend in the city. I wanted to give her a rich treasure-store of country memories, sights and smells, sounds and colours, on which she could draw for the rest of her life. A friend of mine, who has lived in a north of England city for forty years, feeds off a memory of running through fields, up to her waist in buttercups, on a day's outing to the country when she was six years old.
Susan goes on to say that she actually dreamed about the house before she saw it or knew it existed. Magic, indeed!

It is not a "perfect" house.
It is not, even in the softest of summer sunshine, a beautiful house. It was once three poky labourers' cottages, built of that mottled Oxfordshire limestone, and once thatched, but now ordinarily tiled. It lies at right angles to the lane, facing uncompromisingly north.
Yet, it was just what they wanted, with "two staircases, one on either side of the house, and endless nooks and crannies, oddly-shaped cupboards, sloping ceilings."

She does such a wonderful job of describing the house and the garden that this reader could picture them very well.

As with our house, they made changes but nothing very drastic. She is a firm believer in handling "an old house carefully". To
restrain the first urge to knock down and replace and add on, or even to restore; you need to settle to a place, give it time to speak to you, about itself, rub along with things as they are and see how they work. There has been so much lost, so much alteration and modernisation and ruination at the transitory whim of individual taste and fashion, so many excrescences have been added which are entirely wrong in style, so many plain, sensible features, walls, roofs, window frames, ripped out. ... When you buy an old house, you buy a small part of the past, a piece of history, and yet you do not become the owner of that, and never can, you have only taken it on trust for your lifetime, or more likely nowadays, until you move on and pass it to someone else, in a cash transaction.
In the winter chapter she talks about "wildlife, festivals, food, and the garden". I'm so looking forward to reading about the rest of the year in this wonderful place.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Four seasons with Susan Hill and Gladys Taber - Gladys' winter


From my reading journal - October 2003

Country Chronicle  1974
By Gladys Taber
Non-Fiction  A

Wonderful book.  Sometimes I find it difficult to read books that are
divided into seasons or months, but this one has much out-of-season chat
about a multitude of subjects that made it just fine for me.  This is a book
of Gladys alone with one cat.  She has visits from her family but lives
alone in Connecticut and Cape Cod.  She was a lovely writer about subjects I
love;  home life and rural life.


Wow, sixteen years ago. I sound like me, and not like me at the same time. A very big difference is that now I am just a bit younger than Gladys was when she wrote this. I look at the photo on the back, and can't believe I look that old to younger people, but I know I do. 



As I've mentioned, Gladys in this book is just about Susan Hill's age in Jacob's Room is Full of Books, but I found a great difference between them. Gladys seems like an elderly lady whereas Susan doesn't at all. If I were to read these two books without knowing the age of the authors I am quite sure I would think Gladys is considerably older than Susan. Isn't that odd? I can't point to any specific examples, but it was quite striking to me.  

Gladys lives alone in this book. Her friend Eleanor had died in 1960. Her children and Gladys' have all grown. Yet, she remains cheerful and hopeful. She feeds wild animals - skunks and cats! She lives a full life, with helpers. There are people at both her homes, Stillmeadow in Connecticut, and Still Cove on Cape Cod, who work for her. I suspect they helped make it possible for her to remain in the places she loved. 

Her descriptions of winter are incredibly lovely and poetic. And her wisdom always makes me stop and think and wonder.
There is a strangeness about a winter morning when the temperature is zero or below. Day begins with a pale glimmer along the horizon beyond the lacings of dark branches. ...
Quite literally there is no sound. And therefore the motionless air seems to sing - a melody from the beginning of time. I cannot analyze it, but my heart also stands still. Of course this singing silence is rare, for winter has a whole orchestra of her own, and the sounds of winter are chiefly percussion notes - the crack of ice, the plop of snowfall from the roof, the crash as a tree gives up a branch under the weight of snow. The harsh cries of bluejays and the call of an owl at night and occasionally the scream of a bobcat in the upper woods all announce it is January. ...
We live in a world of noise and confusion, and a good many scientists agree that man suffers from it. We are bombarded with noise from jet planes to riveting machines, from subways to sirens. And I think, as I feel the healing of the winter-morning stillness, that we all desperately need some quietude in our lives. I notice how we scream at parties and shout at meetings and what a tendency the young have to toss bombs and smash windows, and I wonder whether part of this isn't a reaction to frayed nerves.
Winter means work; there is no arguing around that. Nature does not make it easy. Snow shoveling, plowing the road, thawing the car out, getting in firewood, cleaning the ashes from the hearth, filling the bird feeders - and always and forever mopping up melted snow, thawing frozen pipes, feeding stray barn cats - all of this would be alien to a tropical inhabitant. But mankind, whatever else one may say, has the ability to adapt and manage, whatever the climate involves.
Successful living, I suspect, depends on how willingly we do adapt to the environment. New Englanders adapt, which is one reason life here is so pleasant. When it is 20 or 30 degrees below zero, Art Olsen, the plumber, may come out at night to get the furnace going again. His boots will have a glaze of ice from the preceding emergency call. His face is ruddy with the cold, making his sea-blue-eyes startling intense.
"How dreadful to have to come out on such a night," I may say.
The typical Yankee answer comes firmly: "We got to expect it this time of year." Or sometimes, "Well, I don't care for the tropics myself. Too hot, too many bugs." Or "This snow is good for the ground. Nature knows what it's all about." Or "We take what we get. Spring's coming in time."
I know that was a lot to quote, but isn't it all just so wonderful?! And if there's one thing I would say is different now is the "typical Yankee answer." So many people around me complain, complain, complain about the winter. If they have the money, they travel south. If they don't, well, you'd think they didn't know what to expect in the winter. I don't remember people thinking so much about the weather. They talked about it, of course, but they didn't get so upset about it. The weather reports on radio, television, and internet make one feel like the winter apocalypse is upon us, when those practical among us, those who remember that winter is most always the same - cold, snow, ice, rain, melt, wind, repeat - just shake our heads thinking these weather people have a really short attention span.

I have said that I love winter, and the only thing that upsets me is if my kids are on the road in bad weather. This year there seems to have been snow and/or rain and/or ice every few days. And I've worried. Not fun. We had tickets to see Jim Gaffigan again, this time much closer and not at a casino like last year, but we opted not to go because the snow was going to start just as the show ended and we'd be in it all the way home. Matthew, Margaret, and Hazel traveled two hours to a Disney on Ice show, and had to spend the night because of a storm, and still had to drive home the next day in iffy conditions. Estée had to pick up her parents from the airport, and the weather was awful. Both my kids and their spouses have had to go to work in bad weather. Other than this worrying mother, most of us are like Gladys' plumber and we just get on with it. We have studded snow tires, and brave whatever the winter brings.

After an incident when the neighbor's Black Angus cows escape from the barn and spend some time on Gladys' lawn, we learn that she has strong feelings about "caged creatures". In that marvelous way she has of thinking deeply, she says:
Most of us, I thought, are caged in some way all our lives. There are walls and bars and fences of all kinds, invisible but tangible. We spend a great deal of time climbing over obstacles - perhaps this is what life is all about. But we must all, I think, long for a brief time of real freedom outside the restrictions of our existence. A time, for instance, when we would toss all the clocks out of the window, take the telephone off the hook, let the doorbell ring all by itself.
Now more than ever, I think.

Gladys tells a story I hadn't heard because I've not read any of her Cape Cod books. One year they went on vacation for the first time in ages.
We stayed in a primitive shabby cottage with all the discomforts a house can have. ... The yard was thick with poison ivy. The beds were so bad that my cousin spent half of each night sitting in a wicker rocker. ...
But the ocean was there and the marshes and sand dunes, and sea gulls flew over all day.
Jill (the fictional name of Eleanor) went off the next morning. ...  "I have bought us a piece of land on Mill Pond around the corner." ... "We'll be coming back and we'll be comfortable."
I've often wondered - if we had rented a good modern cottage, would we have ever had Still Cove? In any case, she was wise, as she invariably was, for after the children married and had their own children, we spent more and more time on the Cape while they took turns at Stillmeadow during vacation times.
I was so very happy to read this. I must read some of her books about Still Cove.


I was there as a small child but have never gone back. I read horror stories of the traffic and it just doesn't appeal to me.

One of my favorite old songs is about Cape Cod. It is so evocative of place, and makes me yearn for something that is long gone.



Gladys writes of what is going on in the world:
Perhaps the one universal solace for anyone, anytime, anywhere is being able to blame something on somebody for the sorry state of the world we find around us. Today's young people want to blame the older generation or the government, and the older folk find some ease in blaming the young. There must always be a scapegoat, and this evidently goes back to Biblical times. I notice men will do anything except ever, ever blame themselves.
As the Talking Heads sang, "same as it ever was."

Addendum: I don't know what is up with the fonts, but they are weird again.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Flowers in the Rain & Other Stories by Rosamunde Pilcher

From June 2005:
Flowers in the Rain by Rosamunde Pilcher 1991
Recorded Books read by Davina Porter
Fiction A+ 
This is a collection of stories, and my very favorite book among all her writing. The characters and situations seem real to me. The scenery and house interiors are described expertly.
And now here I am, 14 (!!!) years later rereading this little gem after Rosamunde Pilcher has died having lived a good, long life.

I love short stories. They feel like perfect little snapshots of a moment or a day or even a longer time. There is no excess. I think an author must be particularly talented to be able to take an idea and express it completely in just a few pages. And I think Rosamunde Pilcher was particularly skilled in doing so. 

This collection was published in 1991, but many of the stories appeared in various publications from 1983-1991. I can barely bring my mind back to the days of stories in "women's magazines". Her stories were in all the popular American ones, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, and Redbook. (Were those available in the UK as well, or were her stories published in different magazines there?) These were all magazines my mother read, but by the 1980s, I didn't read any of them. My loss. I know some of you have collected these old magazines, and it must be wonderful to browse through them. There is an interesting article about them here. The old ones are really of their place and time. Though some are still going, they aren't like they were in my mother's day.

One of the aspects of Rosamunde Pilcher's work I adore is the coming together of different age groups. The young admire the old, and the old are accepting and understanding of the young. They are friends. This is something that has always been important to me. I have had older friends, women my mother's age, and now I have younger friends, the friends of my children. I feel very lucky.

The author has a great understanding of all ages. She writes about children as well as she writes about adults. And the children get along with older, caring adults. Readers are happy to spend our time in their company.

In November 2016, I put the following into a draft for a future posting, and it occurs to me that now is the time to use it.
Yvette left me this comment a while back on my In the Garden with the Totterings post talking about the old Victoria Magazine.
 "I've heard of the Totterings (probably from the same Victoria Magazine - gosh how I miss that magazine, the older issues, I mean. I have so many clippings and many of the covers)"
It seems to me that the 1990s were rather a golden time for homey types like me. There was Victoria Magazine, there were Rosamunde Pilcher's books, there was Mary Engelbreit, and there was Susan Branch. Each of them celebrated the simple, quiet joys of home and garden and family life. When I was in my forties and fifties these women sustained me in my own love of home. I was part of yahoo email groups whose members had the same kinds of interests. I now feel more adrift in my own boat. I do miss the camaraderie with women which the magazine and the books and the discussion groups used to make me feel.
Over two years later, I still feel the same way, and the feeling is made more poignant with the announcement of Rosamunde Pilcher's death. She was so important to me, and to fellow readers, that one of the groups we formed was called Rosamunde's Kitchen. It was so named because her books and stories always had the best kitchens! They were big spaces with room enough for a large table (always "scrubbed pine"), a writing desk which was the pulse of the mother's life, and often a couch. Her descriptions are still of my ideal kitchen! In every book, the author brought rooms and houses and gardens alive in the reader's mind.

Some of these short stories end with "happily ever after" and if not, they end with "hopefully ever after". A common theme is going back to the country, to a place where the character vacationed as a child, or lived as a child, or moving to the country as an adult and finding it is just where the person should be. She has fond memories of the places, the buildings, the gardens, the villages, and the people. These are stories of the healing power of nature. Rural life is a well-defined part of each story. And what a rural life it is, with dogs and horses and flowers and weather! Honestly, I read myself into the locale being written about, I become an observer, at close hand, of the beauty and calm of the various places.

Her characters are not people without pain. There are widows, there are children whose parent has died, there is unhappiness. They find a way to bear their grief, with the help of people showing them gentle kindness.

I wrote about one of the short stories, The Watershed here, if you'd like to read it. When I wrote the blog post, I had a few comments saying they didn't know Rosamunde Pilcher had written short stories. If you have read her novels, but haven't picked up the two books of short stories, you have such a treat in store. Each story is a mini-book.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Quote du jour/ The Old Farmer's Almanac Engagement Calendar

125 years ago
March 1894

All the winter work should be finished up this month [March] in order to be ready for outdoor work as soon as the weather will permit. The man who always keeps two weeks behind his work never makes a success in any business.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Favorite Bookish Couples

Favorite Bookish Couples...


Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme?

Favorite bookish couples!

Gosh, I haven't participated in memes for ages, but this one... I could not resist! What a brilliant idea for St. Valentine's Day!

Mine are not in any particular order. Not all are people!

Radcliffe Emerson and Amelia Peabody - Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane - Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers

Jo March and Professor Bhaer - Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

Inspector and Jane de Silva - Nuala series by Harriet Steel

Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig - Charlotte's Web by EB White

Nick and Nora Charles - The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Kathy and Mike Flannigan - Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Holly and Guido, Misty and Vincent - two couples I'm going to count as one since they are in the same book - Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

And last, but not least, on the 24th anniversary of the author's death

Jeeves and Wooster - by PG Wodehouse

Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings (his pig) - by PG Wodehouse

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

Quote du jour/The Old Farmer's Almanac Engagement Calendar

Violent north winds in February herald a fertile year.
from my Old Farmer's Almanac Engagement Calendar

I don't know if they were north winds, but we had really strong winds this past weekend. If the saying is true, it bodes well for the new vegetable and flower gardens!

Tom took a video of the prayer flags up in the woods on Saturday.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

I read A Spool of Blue Thread in May of 2015. If someone had asked me, I would have said it had been only a year or so ago. As I read along the second time, I didn't remember the details that well. Hmm, in May 2015 Hazel was 17 months old and we had been taking care of her four days a week for a year, Campbell was a year old the day after I finished the book, and Indy was two months from being born.

When I begin an Anne Tyler book, it feels like I am entering the scene, not as a participant but rather an observer who can't be seen by the characters. And the scene is so often a family scene. She is a master of writing family relationships. The book spans four generations of the Whitshank family, though not in a linear way. After a fair bit of the book, we go back to the first generation in the house, and then move back to the present.

The house is a part of this family. And oh, how I wanted to see it - to walk its rooms, to see the "pocket doors" which are in every room but the kitchen, to sit on the front porch which is as deep as a room, and as wide as the whole house.
Under the shelter of the trees the front of the house didn't get the morning sun, but that just made the deep, shady porch seem homier.
Can't you just see it? 

Not only is it beautifully and carefully described, but we learn early on that the older Mr. Whitshank built the house for someone else. He designed every bit of it and often argued the owners out of some decision they had made about it because he knew best. And this reader is sure that he did. What a marvelous thing to build a house, but on the other hand such a sad thing if the house isn't yours. Happily, the family didn't like where they lived and the Whitshanks were ultimately able to live there.

This is also a story of making it in America, of the poor person making good and wanting more for his children. Sometimes the children accept this responsibility of being "more" than the parent, and sometimes they grow up and become what the parent is rather than what he wants his child to be.

And as in Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers, we see that families do not have to be "blood" to be "real".

Okay, I haven't told you much of the storyline, but as I've written before, I personally don't like to know too much before I read a book. I don't like to know what's coming next. I want to move along the way the author meant the reader to. I do hope this book report might encourage you to at least give it a try.

There is a lovely quote relating to my new-found love of washing dishes.
Mrs. Whitshank was talking about dishwashing machines. She just didn't see the need, she was saying. She said, "Why, some of my nicest conversations have been over a sinkful of dishes!"
Hazel is still washing them, pretty much whenever she comes. Here's a picture from last week. The sun was streaming in so Pop wore the hat Campbell chose for him.


And yesterday, though I didn't get a picture, she did the whole sinkful all by herself!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A big day!

I got a text from Margaret this afternoon.
Hazel just asked can I go up there all by myself? She's been looking out the window up at your house to see if your car is there.
And this happened!


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Ice delay

It doesn't get much sweeter than being woken up by a granddaughter popping into the bedroom at 7:45 because the school had a two-hour ice delay, and her mum had to go to work. I love these surprise visits. We had such fun, and now the sun is shining and Pop just brought her to school. (Nana's still in her jammies)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Calico Joe by John Grisham

Did you read The Bridges of Madison County when it first came out?


I did. And somehow I missed those words "a novel" on the cover.This was 1992. I read it believing it was a true story. When I finished, I rushed to the library and spent a long time in the little closet/room that held all their National Geographic magazines, looking for photographs taken by one of the main characters. Very gently, my librarian friend told me the book was fiction. 

And now it has happened again! This time, I knew Calico Joe 


was fiction, but I thought it was historical fiction about this real ballplayer, Joe Castle from Calico, Arkansas, nicknamed Calico Joe. I got about halfway through when I decided to look up Joe Castle. You guessed it. There never was a Calico Joe. I may be forgiven this time because there are a lot of real people in the book, real ballplayers I remember well. 

I loved this book. I grew up listening to the Red Sox on the radio. Whenever they were playing the radio was on in the house or in the car. In those days most of the games were during the day. It was one of the very few things my father and I shared. My mother listened too, but she wasn't as passionate about the game or the team. And I'll tell you, you had to really love the Red Sox in those days. They were in either 8th or 9th place most of my childhood. Now it is easy to be a fan because they win so much!

There is a lot of baseball in this book - stats, play-by-plays, personalities. I was riveted. However, even if you don't follow baseball there is so much human interest that I think you would be drawn into the story. The narrator is Paul Tracey looking back at 1973, 30 years ago, when he was 11. His father was a pitcher for the New York Mets. He was not a great pitcher, and he was by no means a good man. 

I don't want to tell any more because there really is a plot that is best discovered on your own. The book was published in 2012. I've recently read three of my blogging friends saying that Grisham's newer stuff isn't as good as the early books. I don't know where 2012, comes in his work, but I thought this was an excellent book. 

I've been looking back to see what books I've read by John Grisham. In the early days, I gave grades to my books.
Skipping Christmas A-  I read it twice, in 2002 and 2011. I wrote about it on the blog, here.
The Pelican Brief A
The Testament A-
The Firm A
Rogue Lawyer which I wrote just a bit about here.

I look forward to reading a lot more.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January 2019 books

January - 7

1. Little Christmas
by Agnes Sligh Turnbull
fiction  1964 in book form, 1947 in Farm Journal magazine
print
reread
finished 1/6/19 (on Little Christmas)
American writer/American setting

This is such a special book. I wrote about it here.

2. Someday the Rabbi Will Leave - book 9 in the Rabbi Small series
by Harry Kemelman
mystery 1985
Kindle
reread
finished 1/7/19
American writer/American setting

3. One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross - book 10 in the Rabbi Small series
by Harry Kemelman
mystery 1987
Kindle
reread
finished 1/10/19
American writer/American setting

4. The Day the Rabbi Resigned - book 11 in the Rabbi Small series
by Harry Kemelman
mystery 1992
Kindle
reread
finished 1/14/18
American writer/American setting

5. That Day the Rabbi Left Town - book 12 (and last) in the Rabbi Small series
by Harry Kemelman
mystery 1996
Kindle
reread
finished 1/19/19
American writer/American setting

My beloved Rabbi Small books came to an end with this one. They have a very strong sense of place - Boston and its suburbs. There is a lot of talking, which may put some off, but I love it. I love reading about what it means to be Jewish, I loved reading about Israel, I love the relationship between Rabbi Small and the Irish-Catholic police chief, Lanigan. This was my second-go-round of the books, and I still look forward to reading them all again.

Kemelman's obituary is here. The books were very popular. I love this picture of him. Such a cheerful, pleasant looking fellow, and I believe that spirit comes through in the books.


6. If Morning Ever Comes
by Anne Tyler
fiction 1964
Kindle
library book
finished 1/24/19
American writer/American setting

You may have noticed on the sidebar that I've announced 2019 to be my Anne Tyler year. I got thinking about it in November of last year when I read this. I went to my authors list and saw that I have read only four by her since I began the blog - Back When We Were Grownups, Noah's CompassA Spool of Blue Thread, and now If Morning Ever Comes. I'm really looking forward to reading/rereading her work.

I borrowed this from my state's downloadable books program. I didn't notice when it was written and was completely astounded to learn after I had finished that this was her first book. What a way to begin! She was only 22, yet the book reads as if it were written by someone much older. I loved every minute of the book. A young man comes back home for a bit from college in New York City. Home is a small town in North Carolina, in a houseful of women - his grandmother, mother, and six sisters. The interactions between them all, the descriptions of their lives, the town and its residents were all so well written. As a reader, I loved being amongst these people. I thought it was a  wonderful book.

7. The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker
by Jenni Keer
fiction 2019
Kindle
finished 1/30/19
English writer/English setting

I loved this book. The author describes her writing as "romantic comedies with a twist", which I think is just perfect. The characters are believable, there is romance, and the interiors are beautifully described - which is very important to me as a reader. I like to know where I am in a book. This book gave me the same kind of feeling as a book I read last year, Frances Garood's Ruth Robinson's Year of Miracles. What a complete pleasure it was to read each of them.

There was a lovely friendship between a 25-year-old woman and a 79-year-old woman. The older woman reminded me of a character in Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs. They are both herbalists, growing herbs in their gardens which they make into remedies for ailments. Her kitchen was "a room that resembled an old-fashioned apothecary, with racks of jars and tins on every wall." There is a wee bit of magic in the book, which I believed in. It was quite, quite perfect for me. Addendum: I meant to say that I first heard of this new book here.

In January I read:

3 fiction
4 mysteries

6 Kindle
1 print

4 by men
3 by women

1 - 1940s (woman)
1 - 1960s (woman)
2 - 1980s (man)
2 - 1990s (man)
1 - 2011-2019 (woman)

6 by American authors
1 by an English author

5 rereads
1 library book
1 new-to-me author

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Quote du jour/Susan Branch

I recently brought my desk from the study upstairs to the bedroom.


This is one of the upstairs rooms in the midst of renovation. Right now there is a plywood floor, and paint that has been on the walls and windows since 2004. Yup, you read that right! But I thought this was the place where I'd love to sit down and do desk work. I still pay as many bills as I can with a check, and I still check my account on paper. I write my Christmas cards and letters here. Just out the left window is where the new garden is going, and it will be a treat to look out and see it, and out the right window I'll be able to see the daffodils we planted in the fall. I wanted to get a wall calendar for the room, and decided on the Susan Branch one.


I've gotten hers often over the years, but not for a while, and I am excited for all the words and pictures throughout the months. This month she said:
Feed your soul with silence - that's where dreams are born.
And
Sounds of Silence  Crackling fire, furnace humming, oatmeal bubbling, snow falling, cats purring, dogs snoring, page turning, flickering candlelight, clicking knitting needles, pen scratches on diary pages, stars twinkling, & moon shining. Linger in bed those first dreamy moments after waking & listen to the birds. Rejuvenate yourself in nature - a walk-a-day keeps the doctor away. Cultivate optimism - count your blessings & remember, for better or for worse, nothing lasts forever.
She also writes as the month begins
Let us love winter for it is the spring of genius. Pietro Aretino
Meaning what, do you think? That we need the quiet of winter for the deep thoughts that give us a sort of wisdom in the coming spring?? A bit like planning one's garden?

I have loved Susan Branch's work for a long, long time. Do you know her? If you go here, you may find out about all her work and her life.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Washing dishes redux

In June 2016, I wrote a blog post about washing dishes. I was full of enthusiasm about not using the dishwasher anymore. Of course, I never wrote about starting to use the dishwasher again, and why. And now, I don't remember why. Maybe because it was there. Probably because I was still quite busy with little ones then. Hazel was only 3 1/2, Campbell was just 3, and Indy was about to turn 1.

Well, now 2 1/2 years later, the dishwasher broke down again. I told Tom to give me a week before getting it fixed to see if I might enjoy going back to doing the dishes by hand. At the end of the week, I said I wanted to try another week. And so it has gone on with nary a negative from me. In fact, I kept saying what a relief it was to just wash up the dishes as they were dirty instead of loading and loading the dishwasher and then waiting hours for it to be done. Or waiting an hour for a "quick" load that I can do by hand in 5 minutes! It is a satisfying feeling to do the dishes and have them done rather than "do" them in the dishwasher and wait. And there was a sweet side benefit that I never thought of. I texted my sister-in-law that day and said "can't do this with a dishwasher, can you!!"


It has now been almost three weeks, and all the big dishes have been washed like the crock pot, bread bowl, 9x13 pan. I'm still smiling, and I'm dreaming about just what might go into that space after Tom removes it.

In Anne Tyler's If Morning Ever Comes, a grandmother says that "the only thinking time she has is when she's doing the dishes." Sometimes I listen to music, or a good radio program, and sometimes I just sit and ponder while looking out the window.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Out of the mouths of babes

I got a text from Margaret showing me her Facebook post (because I am not there).

Margaret wrote to me:
So this happened just now --- I told her nana and pop would be so happy and proud.!!!!
Now, I have to tell you that we have never "preached". Occasionally, she will offer us something or it somehow comes up and all we've ever said it that we don't eat meat or fish. We've never said anything about "eating animals" or "animals dying". She probably won't stay with it because her parents and friends aren't vegetarians. But who knows?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Today's poem by Midge Goldberg

North by Northeast

O, come to New Hampshire, my dear Cary Grant,
And pack your tuxedo designed to enchant.

We’ll dance down the aisle at the grocery store,
Buy oysters and caviar, champagne and more,

You’ll laugh and turn backflips, winning my heart;
You’ll swing us around on the grocery cart.

You’ll bow to the bag boy, tipping your hat,
Nod at the checkout girl, fix your cravat.

The limo will come, and we’ll be on our way,
“And where are we going?” you’ll smile and say.

But that is the rub, now where do we go?
To the farm, where “yar” is a yard that you’ll mow?

How are you, Cary, with chickens and chores?
I know you do rooftops, but do you do floors?

You’re the talk of the town in your glamorous scenes,
Will you trade your tuxedo for flannels and jeans?

What about wood stoves and maples to tap,
Sump pumps and snow plows and boiling the sap?

I can’t be the one who gets dirt on that sheen.
Debonair Cary, go back to your screen,

Your taxis and mansions, your princesses true.
You’re sweet but New Hampshire is no place for you.

Midge Goldberg
Snowman's Code


Friday, January 18, 2019

Today's poem by Mary Oliver


If you have read my blog for a while, you'll know that I love Mary Oliver's work. In the poems section (under the blog header photo), there are more poems by her than any other. She has meant so much to so many people. Last evening as I was going down my blog list, blogger after blogger had a piece on her. I've got many books of her poetry but on this sad occasion I knew just the book from which I wanted to choose a poem. Dog Songs.


School


You're like a little wild thing
that was never sent to school.
Sit, I say, and you jump up.
Come, I say, and you go galloping down the sand
to the nearest dead fish
with which you perfume your sweet neck.
It is summer.
How many summers does a little dog have?

Run, run, Percy.
This is our school.

Mary Oliver
1935-2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The gift of old books

I wrote recently about a cookbook my sister-in-law sent me. That same woman also gave me a big box of old books she had sitting on her shelves. I guess I must be known as a book lover! Anyhow, I was as delighted as could be. This was in October 2017, and I've been meaning to write about them ever since.

These are pictures I took when I first opened the box.







The variety shows the interests of children from Tom's grandmother's childhood, through his mother's, to his sisters'. Mrs. Mike which I noted here was one of the books in the box.


The cover isn't in great shape but it made me love it all the more.

So far, this is the only one I've read, but they sit patiently on the floor of the study waiting for me.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Refrigerator Rolls

I first mentioned this cookbook eight years ago, here. My friend Les gave me the book and I so love it.

On Wednesday I made some soup.

Soak over night in crockpot:

T. each:
cannellini beans
brown rice
moong dal (In India, "dal" is the word for lentils, and "moong dal" is the general term for mung lentils, also known as split yellow mung beans.)
black lentils
and einkorn (info here)
Next day, cook on high until all are soft. Then I added 1 cup of homemade tomato sauce. Delicious, and enough for supper and lunch for two people.

I wanted something to go with it, and decided on rolls. I haven't made rolls that often, and usually when I do it is my regular bread recipe with one of the loaves being rolls. So I went looking around, and came up with this one that didn't sound too hard for a sort of roll novice. 

I'm going to put up pictures of the recipe. You may click to make them bigger. 





You'll see that I made them with "my girls". Hazel had a snow day and they walked up and both helped with the rolls.



And then when they left, Hazel waved to the deer who were eating from our buffet of sunflower seeds.


You may be wondering what those delicious rolls looked like.



Can't you almost taste them?! PS I didn't cover with plastic wrap. I used a damp towel. And I used two 9x13 pans, greased with cooking spray, with 8 rolls per pan. This worked perfectly. Strong bread flour described here.

You may visit Beth Fish Reads for more food related posts.


Addendum: Sunday evening, the 13th I made the rolls with half whole wheat and half strong white bread flour and they were great. We both preferred them to the plain white. Made hummus and spread it on the rolls. Delicious!