Sunday, November 29, 2020

Cactus revisited

Last fall I wrote about my two cactus plants.

This September we decided to transplant my mother's cactus. It just didn't look like a healthy plant to me anymore. The transplant didn't help, so I threw it out. I looked it up and saw that the lifespan is 20-30 years. I gave it to my mother in 1972, so it has already beat the odds. 

The "anything but fuchsia" is still going strong, and here it is today.

Blurry but kinda cool.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Alice's Restaurant - Original 1967 Recording

On November 22, 2006, I wrote my very first blog post. It is quite unbelievable to me that 14 years have gone by.To celebrate I am going to offer you a song for the season. It takes a few minutes to listen but is oh, so worth it!  

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Quote du jour - from Pie in the Sky

Do you know this wonderful television series? I've watched it at least twice all the way through and recently bought it on DVD and am watching again. The late, much missed Richard Griffiths plays a policeman who wants to retire and just be a chef at his restaurant Pie in the Sky. He is a man who really knows and loves good food, and bemoans the fact that his accountant wife played by one of my favorites, Maggie Steed is happy with prawn chips and take-out pizza. Anyhow, a lovely series that cheers my soul each evening. If you have Acorn TV you may watch it there.

The quote du jour was spoken by the Griffiths character, Henry Crabbe.

"I rarely plan more than a day ahead and even that usually ends in disappointment."

A lot of wisdom in those words, methinks. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

As if we needed something else to worry about... glass pans

 I have always used glass pans for baking bread, cakes, supper recipes, desserts. My mother always had Pyrex pans, and I continue to use them. 

Three nights ago, I was roasting a 7x11 pan of potatoes and onions. It was covered in tin foil and the temp was 400º, just like always. It was a relatively new pan, but I'd used it a few times since buying it. We were in the living room watching Autumnwatch on BritBox when we heard a crash, a kind of explosion in the kitchen. And this is what we discovered.

The side of the pan was bowed out

We were stunned, to say the least. We thought it must be the new pan, though why it would have been alright before and not that night we couldn't figure out. So, I went online and was very surprised to discover that this is a thing! Hot glass pans can explode!! Some sites said that the new glass isn't like the ones in the past. Pyrex and Anchor say it is strong. Though they do add some directions like never put your dish right out of the oven on your stove or on a cooling rack - both things I have done forever. They say it needs to go on a cloth or potholder. That right there is pretty weird. I read that sometimes they explode after you've removed them from the oven - one family had sat down to Christmas dinner when it happened and they found pieces of glass three feet away! 

Well, being a quick-thinker and a cautious person, I went right to Amazon and ordered all new cooking pans - stainless steel. Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Home For Christmas by Susan Branch


This is a wonderful, delightful reminiscence of Susan Branch's family Christmas in 1956. She was inspired to write it after reading a book last Christmas to her five and seven-year-old nieces. 

The book I chose for the girls told the tale of a grandmother describing to her grandchildren what Christmas was like when she was young, a passing of memories that took us back in time. I've always loved stories of life in the "olden days," hearing the jingling livery of a horse-drawn carriage, the sound of long skirts sweeping the floor, a teacup settling into a saucer in Emma's garden ... it's the closest thing to time travel I know.

I'm like that, too. I've always loved stories from the past. And Christmases in older times seem so special to me. 

Somewhat shockingly I must admit that Susan Branch's memories are of "olden days". Shockingly because those were my childhood days as well as hers. She was nine and I was eight in 1956. I tried to find a picture of me that Christmas but apparently my mother didn't take pictures of every Christmas and occasion in our lives. This fact in itself sets 1956 apart from 2020. Do you know I have over 70,000 pictures (and videos) in my iPhotos on the computer?! Granted they could use some culling - a dozen shots of one daylily for example - but still. I managed to come up with one of me in 1956. Wish I could see what that book is. It almost looks like a booklet of some kind.

It feels like just about every single thing is different. You don't see many large families anymore. It surprises Margaret when I tell her that I was the odd duck as a kid, being an only child. I can think of just one other in my class. Hazel knows several like herself. Susan writes:

... everything we had was made in America. Milkmen left glass bottles of milk on our porch, gas cost 30¢ a gallon and was pumped by an attendant. There were individual jukeboxes on lunch counters - for a nickel Elvis, Doris Day, Little Richard, or Buddy Holly would serenade you over your banana split. At school we practiced cursive on huge blackboards that covered the walls, and lined up to get our polio vaccines. Girls wore dresses for everything, to school, for roller skating, hopscotch, and cartwheels, too - and every boy on our street had a six-shooter and a coonskin cap. Drive-in movies were wonderful, under the stars, the whole family went to see Lady and the Tramp, us in our jammies. We had rotary telephones and a party line, and the new thing in the living room called television.

This was a middle-class white American family, like so many others in those days.

My dad got a job with General Telephone, so they moved from Long Beach to the San Fernando Valley. That's where I grew up, along with my seven brothers and sisters in a pink-stucco four-bedroom house my parents bought for $16,000 with help from the GI Bill. ... We didn't have a lot of money but just enough, apparently, because we had the basics, warm beds, clean jammies, friends, shoes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and parents who loved us. I always thought we were rich because I felt so happy. ... There wer 53 children living in the twelve houses on our dead-end street, and more coming all the time. ... Bikes made us totally mobile from about six-years-old. Parents didn't worry as long as we told them where we were going and were home for dinner.

Olden days, indeed. 

But the thing that still lives, that still rings as true as then is the love in the family. I would hope younger people than I am will read this to see that though some external things change, love in a family is timeless. 

"Are we rich" I asked my mom. "Not rich in money," she said, "but rich in love. We have each other. That's what counts." It was a highly satisfactory answer. It sounded exactly like "Yes."

This is Susan Branch's family in 1956.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Today's Song - Blossom Dearie/ Rhode Island is Famous for You

I was listening to Jazz 24 the other day when the DJ played Back Home in Indiana, and introduced it by whimsically asking "how many electoral college votes does Indiana have?". It made me think of this song. It is a wonderfully witty and delightful way of looking at our states in a non-political way. 


Monday, November 2, 2020

Sunday surprise

 Yesterday we met Campbell and Indy halfway between our towns, and brought them up here for the day. Margaret did not tell Hazel they were coming. After we let her know they were here, she told Hazel there was a surprise up at Pop and Nana's. The boys hid, she came in and closed her eyes, and then this happened!