Saturday, August 28, 2021

A wonderful dog tale

Yesterday afternoon we were standing around the kitchen - Tom, Margaret, Hazel, Campbell, Indy, and I - when a police car drove up. This has happened a few times in our 40 years in this house. My heart always goes into my throat fearing for my kids. This time I wasn't concerned because Michael is in another town, and Margaret was right here! But I still needed to go out and see what was going on. The man asked, "Do you have a Pug?" I told him no, but my daughter does, and then I asked if she were dead. He said, "No, he's (he didn't know the gender) in the car!" Margaret was out the door by then, and we walked over and got the whole story. 

Seems a couple of out-of-staters were driving past our road and saw Piglet walking kind of in circles at the bottom of our dirt road which spills onto a busy, tarred state road. They stopped and picked her up and brought her to the police station. The police then drove over here. We were all so very grateful, and amazed. We talked for a long time about the wonder of this. How kind the people were to take the time to bring her to the police, and for the police to bring her back home. There were two of them, a man and a woman with the biggest smiles, probably in their twenties. Just the kindest, dearest police you've ever seen. I wish they could make the national news!

Margaret checked the town page on Facebook and the police had posted a picture of Piggie - (and here comes a bad pun) a "Pug shot", telling the story of where she was found and to get in touch with the police.

This is not the first time Miss Piggie has gotten into trouble. Another day a fellow drove into Margaret's yard, having picked up her up also at the bottom of our road. Again, such kindness.

And here's the thing. Piglet is not young. In fact she turned 14 this year! She can't see or hear very well, but she sure gets around. Here is a picture of her when she was a wee one. Less than a month after Margaret and Matthew got together they brought home this adorable Pug. I've often told people that you know it is true love when a couple gets a dog. 

And this is her a couple years ago. You'll notice the chair does not say her name.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Death of Charlie Watts


Charlie Watts: a rock’n’roll legend whose true love was jazz

He may have backed the world’s most successful rock band, but the late drummer worshipped his jazz heroes through big bands and other projects

Charlie Watts playing with his jazz band at Ronnie Scott’s, London, 1985.
The fulfilment of a childhood dream ... Charlie Watts playing with his jazz band at Ronnie Scott’s, London, 1985. Photograph: Alan Davidson/Rex/Shutterstock
Richard Williams

Everyone knew that Charlie Watts’s heart was always in jazz. Even when he grew his hair long and put on hippie garb while the Rolling Stones were going through their Satanic Majesties period, underneath he was still the cool bebopper who could see through the nonsense that surrounded his group and the rampaging egos at its heart.

Wisely, he never let his true musical allegiance show in his playing with the Stones. When they recruited him from Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated in January 1963, not long after he’d been serving an apprenticeship with trad jazz bands, he listened to the records of Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters in order to absorb the way that master Chicago blues drummers such as Earl Phillips, Fred Below and Elgin Evans kept things simple, soon appreciating that simplicity is often the hardest thing of all to achieve.

His personal adaptation of their discreet approach, concentrating on a firm backbeat and avoiding any form of decoration, turned out to be perfect for the Stones as the volume rose and the venues grew in size, but it could hardly have been further from the styles of the great modern jazz drummers he had grown up worshipping. The likes of Max RoachArt Blakey, Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones had freed the drum kit from its subordinate role, enabling them to become full participants in the music, adding a running commentary to the improvisations of horn players such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, sometimes even as an equal partner.

Growing up in a postwar prefab in Wembley, Watts had saved money to buy 78s by Jelly Roll Morton and Johnny Dodds, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. When he was given his own first full kit, after getting a start by dismantling a banjo to use the body and the vellum as a makeshift drum, he painted the name “Chico” on the front head of what was known in those days as the bass drum. This was a homage to Chico Hamilton, a Los Angeles drummer who had played in a famous quartet with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker in the early 1950s before launching his own adventurous quintet, which enjoyed a vogue at the end of that decade and appeared on screen in the 1957 movie Sweet Smell of Success.

Never ashamed of his tendency towards hero-worship, Watts showed his colours in his first act of independent creativity. Ode to a Highflying Bird, published in 1964, when the Stones were hitting No 1 in the UK charts with It’s All Over Now and Little Red Rooster, was a slender volume of words and cartoons in which he used his skills as a trained graphic artist to illustrate the story of Parker (whom he later covered with his quintet), charmingly rendered as a kind of children’s fable.

His soulmate in the earliest incarnation of the Stones had been Ian Stewart, a piano player who loved boogie-woogie and other forms of jazz but who was soon eased out of the performing lineup on account of his looks and persuaded to take over the job of road manager instead. In the late 70s Watts moonlighted with Stewart in Rocket 88, a boogie and jump-blues band whose shifting lineup included guests such as Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money and Jack Bruce.

Always finding jazz clubs more congenial than the stadiums the Stones were now playing, in 1985 he filled the stage at Ronnie Scott’s with a 32-piece big band drawn from the cream of London’s jazz musicians. An extraordinarily eclectic lineup ranged from bop-era veterans to Courtney Pine, an unknown 21-year-old at the start of his career, who sat alongside his fellow tenor saxophonists Danny Moss, Bobby Wellins, Don Weller and Alan Skidmore. Jack Bruce played cello – his first instrument – and Stan Tracey was on piano. Watts sat happily at his kit between two other drummers, the older Bill Eyden and the younger John Stevens, as they played arrangements of classics such as Lester Leaps In, Stompin’ at the Savoy and Prelude to a Kiss. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were in the house to cheer what Watts called the fulfilment of a childhood dream.

He was able to subsidise the project, which toured the US the following year, from his earnings as a Stone. In later years he took advantage of the band’s substantial downtime to return to Ronnie Scott’s and other venues with groups of more modest size and to record in 1996 a beautiful album of standards, Long Ago and Far Away, played by his quintet, a small orchestra and the singer Bernard Fowler. These warm, relaxed versions of songs such as Stairway to the Stars and In a Sentimental Mood, with Watts’s presence registered only by the gentle background rustle of wire brushes, were about as far from Sympathy for the Devil and Street Fighting Man as it is possible for music to get, but they were clearly heartfelt.

He was never patronising about the music he played with his fellow Stones but his long and loyal friendships with other jazz musicians, such as the saxophonist Peter King and the bassist Dave Green, whom he had known since childhood, were of great importance to him. Another close friend was the American drummer Jim Keltner, with whom he recorded a percussion-based album in 2000, again between Stones tours. Each of the record’s nine tracks took its title from the names of the drummers he idolised: Roach, Blakey, Kenny Clarke, Roy Haynes and so on. Yet again he was paying unforced and deeply felt tribute to the musicians who had enriched his life, as he, in a different register, enriched the lives of others.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Blueberry Report - 2021 (and a bit about flour)

I'm always pleased when I see our neighbor's name on my caller ID because it means blueberry season has begun! This year the first call was July 29. The last of the berries was on August 12. This year we bought 26 quarts. 

This is more than last year's 17, and equal to 2018's number. The man asked about the numbers because his wife likes to keep track, so I gave him the list I posted here on last year's blueberry report. 

What you may see to the left (and under) the berries is my bread flour.  A fourth-generation farmer just across the state line has begun growing wheat and other grains. The farm he grew up on was a dairy farm. Dairy, as you may know, has declined greatly in the country so they sold up, and he now has a grain farm. You may read an article about it here. I buy 50 pounds of whole wheat flour,  

move it to freezer bags, and freeze it. I take out a couple bags at a time so I always have some available. I make bread twice a week. The fridge freezer has local strawberries, and some blueberries from another local source. Today I am heading to the Co-op to get lots of local sweet peppers to freeze. Ah, August!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The essence of summer suppers

 We have three favorite meals that I make only in summertime. I made a little vow to myself years ago that I would eat tomatoes only when they are fresh and local or from my own plants. They are heavenly. The other times of the year they come from God-knows-where and are, as they say, like cardboard plus being expensive. So when summer comes we eat and eat them. I also never buy fresh basil any other time of year, and usually have enough that I have grown myself. 

Hummus (which I do make other times of the year, sans tomatoes)



Friday, August 6, 2021

In praise of cleome and cosmos

Sometimes on TV you will hear the phrase "wow factor". Well, I think the cleome and cosmos both have it. This year we started two-year-old seeds of both these plants. We figured we had nothing to lose, and maybe they would be fine. And they were. More than fine! This is the variety of cleome I bought from Renee's Garden. Some people say "cle-ome-ee" but I prefer cleome, sounding like gnome. 

Hummingbird's Choice

Color Fountains Cleome

(Cleome spinosa)
Thomas Jefferson loved the beautiful flower trusses of tall cleome in his renowned flower gardens at Monticello. Today, these vigorous summer flowers are treasured in heirloom and restoration gardens. The 4 to 5 foot plants are crowned with huge flower clusters of pale pink, crisp white and rose-violet florets. Cleome’s unique blossoms with their long petals and spidery stamens are favorites of nectar-seeking hummingbirds. They make striking large arrangements when the long stems of bloom are brought indoors. 

I just love it that Windy Poplars Farm is growing a plant that Jefferson had in his garden! Have you ever read the wonderful book, Dear Mr. Jefferson: Letters From A Nantucket Gardener by Laura Simon?  

I grew one years ago, and it kind of took over the flower garden so this year we planted them out in the vegetable garden where they have plenty of room to spread out. I like having flowers among the vegetables, although I'm beginning to see it is vegetables among the flowers!

Blurry and washed out, but I wanted you to see how huge it is.

And aren't these stems otherworldly looking. 

They all don't look like that.

It has been noted by visitors that the leaves look like a pot plant, and even the smell is a bit "skunkish". I don't think they are related though.

That same year I also ordered this from Renee's. 

Double Butterfly Cosmos

Rose Bon Bon

(Cosmos bipinnatus)
New from the very best French breeders, florist-quality Rose Bon Bon offers you extra fancy, uniformly double blossoms densely packed with frilled petals in a rich romantic rose. This exceptionally beautiful and carefree new cosmos produces 3-inch flowers that bloom non-stop on long stems, making them perfect for cutting abundant bouquets all summer long. Butterflies love to visit these lovely blossoms as they sway above finely cut foliage.

This is an interesting cosmos because it has both these tight flowers and the more usually seen open ones.

Here is how they look together.

I think we planted three plants of each. Again, sorry for the less than perfect pictures. The afternoon sun is so bright. I should have waited for a cloudy day!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Today's video /Michael Franti & Spearhead - Hey Hey Hey

This song is from 2010 but could have been written yesterday. This man makes the world a better place with his songs.