Saturday, September 23, 2023
Monday, September 18, 2023
Monday, September 11, 2023
Friday, September 8, 2023
I've just finished Shaun Bythell's second book in his Diary of a Bookseller series, and I loved it so much!
Toward the end, the internet was down because of a storm and he started reading a book.
"This is more like the old days, before the tyranny of the Internet, and it was an enormous pleasure to spend the entire day reading, with a few interruptions."
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
I have just finished re-reading Some Buried Caesar, book 6 in the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout. After it ended there was, on the Kindle version, a 1969 letter from P.G. Wodehouse to Rex Stout upon reading this book for the second time. The letter is actually a copy of the typewritten one. Be still my reader's heart - to think of two of my most favorite writers actually being friends, and respecting one another's work.
"What a good story Buried Caesar is. I had read it before, of course, but had completely forgotten what happened after the adventure with the bull. I find I can re-read Rex Stout indefinitely, which shows the importance of atmosphere."
Atmosphere is what I recall when I think of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. The house, "the old brownstone on West 35th Street", I feel I know as well as my own. When I walk through the door, it is a bit like coming home. And the places visited when Wolfe has to leave, which he abhors doing! I, too, had forgotten all the details in Some Buried Caesar, but the bull in the field was as clear in my mind as could be.
Sunday, August 20, 2023
The ... in the blog title means roosters!! Only once in all the years of getting chickens has there been a rooster. I may have mentioned that we gave it away to a fellow, after warning him that he was not kindly toward the kids. He was fine with that, until the rooster went after his daughters. The man shot the rooster.
The chicken people always warn buyers that they aim for just hens, if that is what the customer orders, but there is always a 10% chance of roosters. 10% of 18 is 1.8, and we have 2! We began to notice maybe a week ago that a couple had red combs. Female Speckled Sussex do not have any red on their heads. Well, this morning, Tom went into the barn early and sure enough a rooster crowed! We are actually quite excited. The Sussex is a mellow breed so fingers crossed the roosters will be as well.
See those red combs!
Saturday, August 19, 2023
You can see these are not called "anniversary brownies". I call them that because today I made them for Margaret and Matthew for a belated anniversary of the date they got together, and the date they got engaged. I have probably noted over the years that they had known each other practically their whole lives though not in a romantic way. But one evening they re-met at a party, and the rest, so they say, is history. Matt wanted to give her a ring on the date they met, but Margaret had to work so he asked her the next day.
I made a recipe out of a book I've used before here. I put in softened butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla and no nuts.
The brownies tasted very delicious, but looked quite a mess!
I have a feeling about what the problem is. I've recently been reading about how baking pans aren't all the same sizes. A 7x11 or a 9x13 may not be exactly those dimensions. I have had a few problems since I bought these stainless steel pans after the "glass breaking episode". I need to measure all the ones I have and see about getting new ones if they aren't right.
Thursday, August 10, 2023
I came upon this in my current print book which I just adore, and thought it went well with my last post.
Breakfast at Charleston
'Vanessa [Stephen Bell] presided in the dining room, the magnetic centre of all our thoughts and activities. At breakfast she was always down first, and sat for some time alone, enjoying her solitude. She had dressed and washed quietly, almost secretively, and would be in her habitual place on the far side of the round table, looking with dreamy reflectiveness at the still-life in the centre, or out of the window at the pond and the weather.... Now, as she ate a piece of buttered toast with coarse salt and held a steaming cup in long, straight be-ringed fingers, she considered her letters, absorbed the temper of the day, and braced herself to meet its demands....
'Duncan [Grant] sometimes overslept, in which case someone would ask me to play a particularly irritating little Écossaise by Beethoven on the piano directly underneath his room. Eventually he would enter the dining room, growling his dislike of the "beastly tune", ruffling his hair through his fingers and blowing his nose on a large red bandanna. Insouciant and natural, every day he peeled an orange, ate porridge and drank coffee with fresh appreciation, almost as though he had never done it before, conscious perhaps that each new day was a miracle that might not be repeated. For him, objects seemed alive, never simply things, just as repeated actions never bored him but became a source of reiterated pleasure. After wishing everyone good morning and hitching up his trousers, which were tied round his waist with an old red tie, he would squat to help himself to porridge, kept hot on a low trivet in front of the fire, and tell us about his dreams - often very amusing - or about the book which, tradition has it, he absorbed by putting under his pillow.'
Angelica Garnett, Deceived with Kindness, 1984
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Because Tom and I get up at different times, I eat my breakfast alone. It is a little oasis for me. I am not much a creature of routine, but this meal is the same every day: my toasted homemade bread, plain yogurt with fruit (blueberries and cherry plums today), coffee, orange juice, and water. And my book. I got a terrific new book holder, and I happily read quietly for that time. The rest of the day is filled with something different each day, but this remains the same and I love it.
Friday, July 21, 2023
Monday, July 17, 2023
Friday, July 7, 2023
That bush to the right of the chairs is a honeysuckle, and we have seen birds flying out of it and back to it. Not sure what they were, but this is a banner year for nesting birds here at Windy Poplars Farm. The voices we recognize are catbirds, phoebes, wrens, swallows, robins, and our beloved whippoorwill. Not only are they nesting here, but they are closer to the house and more visible. Out tiny bushes and trees have gotten taller and really filled out, making them appealing to the birds. You can see in this yard rosa rugosas, lilacs, another honeysuckle, and out of the picture on the left are more lilacs. It is a little heaven.
And then across the road are many more. Hazelnuts planted when Hazel was born, lilacs, Korean lilacs in honor of our Korean born kids, forsythia, ornamental apple, a small plum, 2 locusts which have popped up, and our remaining maple. All happily welcoming birds to nest or just stop for a while.
Not sure why the photos are blurry.
Thursday, June 22, 2023
I hope that some of my English blogging friends will see this post, and tell me what they think.
In 1971 Helene Hanff finally made it to England after corresponding with the London bookstore, Marks & Co. at 84, Charing Cross Road since 1949. She ordered books that she could not get in New York City. This is written about in 84, Charing Cross Road, one of my very favorite books which I read again recently.
Her book about visiting London is called The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, and in it she says something about the English that I found interesting, and wonder what others will think. Well, she didn't say it, a man named Ken Ellis of the London Reader's Digest told her.
Ken explained to me why everybody over here hates the new money. It has to do with the Englishman's need to be different. The decimal system is much simpler than the old ha'penny-tupenny-guinea-tenner-tanner system, but the old money was theirs; no other country had it and nobody else could understand it. He said they hate entering the Common Market for the same reason. They don't want to be part-of-Europe, they want to be separate, different, set apart. He illustrated this by quoting an old headline which has become a cliché joke over here. During a spell of bad weather when the whole island was enveloped in fog, one English newspaper headline read: FOG ISOLATES CONTINENT.
So what do you think? Particularly in light of Brexit.
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
At 10:58 this morning in the eastern US, the sun entered Cancer and summer began!
We have had the slowest, wettest, coolest spring in ages! The trees opened and blossomed at the usual time, but the plants have just waited patiently, more patiently than I!, for sunshine. I have written my tale o' woe about our plants, and it continued. The second planting of tomato plants look awful after waiting to go into the ground. The cukes we planted are all dead. The squash is hanging on. A couple of planted tomatoes "might" make it. And the basil looks pretty sickly. Just too cool, with way too little sun. The past few days the sun has COME BACK, and the flowers are happy, happy. The local farmers, both vegetable and flower, have had a hard time. Everything's late, but all should be fine now. Picked up strawberries today.
For supper I'll be making the first strawberry shortcake of the season.
Just before I wrote this post, I read the following in The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. Helene Hanff says:
Monday, June 19, 2023
In the wonderful movie Keeping The Faith, Anne Bancroft says:
"Our Lady's Bedstraw, the most poetic herb."
I am wild about this plant. It grows all over Windy Poplars Farm and I keep it all. I'm sure some see it as a weed, but I think it is wonderful. I've read that it was (is?) put in the mattresses of women in labor. I just love that.
This is growing between two terrace steps!
And this among the daylilies.
Friday, June 16, 2023
I don't think I wrote about the chicks we got last spring. Because we still had quite a few from five years before that, we got only 10.
Our chickens have always had daily free access to the outdoors from the barn, but until a few years ago, they never ventured outside the pasture fence. They started getting through that fence and coming across the lawn. I even put up a sign that said "chicken crossing".
Here are a couple of them in mid-July 2020.
We never feared predators because none have ever been around; the very occasional coyote, but never near the barn.
This spring something got all but three chickens. There were no distress noises. There was no sign of attack anywhere. We just don't know whether the killer was from the sky or the earth. I am amazed that Nebby the donkey who is very protective didn't raise an alarm. Perhaps she was out further in the pasture. We'll never know.
We decided to get some more because three chickens don't provide too many eggs. We've gotten from 1-3 a day since the disappearance.
The Dominiques which we've always had were not available, so we got Speckled Sussex. While the Dominique is considered America's first breed, the Sussex has a long history in England and came to this country around 100 years ago. It was a Roman breed way back.
They were born on Wednesday, and we picked them up at the Post Office yesterday!
Thursday, June 8, 2023
As spoken by Vanessa Redgrave:
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
I can't believe it was eight years ago today that we got our Lucy. There is a post here.
She is the kindest dog I've ever known. She doesn't know what anger is. I think this is a Labrador trait. She loves everyone, especially Matthew, our son-in-law. She goes wild when he comes. I have always thought he may remind her of the man where she lived before we got her. She was sort-of a rescue dog because the couple had brought her back to the breeder. That is a trait of the good breeder. They will take a dog back, with no questions.
Lucy was nearing nine months old when we got her. She had a lot of anxiety from the unhappy family situation she came from. Apparently, they both worked all the time, and Lucy was in a cage during those hours. I think I am remembering it right that the woman said it was her or the dog! I probably would have chosen the dog!
She needed a lot of exercise, and we finally came upon using Matt and Margaret's wheeler to go up the hill with Lucy running next to it. That did it! She became much calmer.
She adores cats and they love her. I'm pretty sure my Gemma and Maisy think that she is just another person. They'll go up to her and nuzzle if they are hungry. They snuggle up on Lucy's bed.
You may remember that on my birthday two years ago we found out that Lucy had diabetes. I wrote about it here. After weeks of working out the proper dose of insulin, we have settled into a routine where Tom gives her a shot twice a day, and she has been just fine. I am so thankful. I was sure we were going to lose her early on.
I just took this. Her favorite activity. You "may" see some hair on the rug. Serious shedding season for Lucy!
Sunday, June 4, 2023
Saturday, June 3, 2023
What Is June, Anyway?
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
I think I've mentioned that I always pronounce basil in the English way because the first time I ever heard the word was on Fawlty Towers. Isn't that unbelievable? That show was in the 1970s. The only herb I'd heard of was parsley, the curly garnish that no one ever ate. How very far we have come.
Anyhow, my basil plants didn't make it this year, so I bought some starts at the Co-op from a local, organic farm. They have grown tremendously under the lights. I kept reading that I should prune them, but you all know how hard that is to do when your plants are big and healthy. I went to my favorite YouTube gardener, MIgardener. His name is Luke and he is the dearest person, as well as offering a ton of information. This is the video I watched. Afterward, I went right out to the kitchen, and did what I needed to do. Here are my before and after photographs.
They should really take off now and be nice and bushy rather than leggy. Quite a difference. And a side benefit is I used some of the cuttings to make the first pesto of the season! My recipe is here.
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
This year's spring CSA flowers came from the woman who lives maybe ten minutes away. I love getting them in the spring, when I am so hungry for the sight of them. We did have lovely daffodils, but a whole swath did not come up.
We've actually had some disheartening problems. Many flowers did not come back. The gorgeous cleome and amaranth in the big garden didn't appear. We had to replant all the started tomato seeds because we tried something new in watering, and they got waterlogged. We've dug up areas of the patio and terrace gardens and plan to put some vegetables close to the house, hoping to fool the dear deeries. I still have to get some serious supports to thwart them.
I had taken some chances and planted some zone 4 plants, hoping they might work, but after coming back one year, they did not appear this spring. I guess global warming has missed us for now. So that is one of the reasons that our flower gardens are a bit bare. The daylilies never, ever let us down. They cheerfully come up before anything else, those green, green leaves just calling out "spring"!
Anyhow, I have huge basil plants (bought from a local farmer), medium sized tomatoes, and some lettuce under the grow-lights, and we are finally getting some warmer weather. Some years spring is a little slower coming than others.
And here are the four weeks of the wonderful, wonderful CSA flowers beginning May 4.
Each week there are two bouquets, and I usually put them all together for a couple days, and then separate into smaller vases. This week the small bouquet was full of poppies, and I put them into their own containers right away. I adore poppies but they do not last long. They are the strongest lesson from flowers - to fully appreciate them every moment because they are here and gone by.
Now, you'll see the dirty windows (and window sills)! I will clean them when the screens go on. It just hasn't been warm enough for them yet.
So, what do you know?! An actual blog post from me.
Saturday, May 6, 2023
Last evening as I went up to bed, the (full) moonlight was streaming in the windows, and I thought about Emily's line in the Thornton Wilder play, Our Town. I don't seem to have a copy in the house, and couldn't find the whole play online. I did find the quote, but hoped to get more context. I think she was doing her homework, and maybe talking to her boyfriend out the window. But I could be way off.
"My, isn't the moonlight terrible"
This was taken with no flash at 10:24 pm.
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Sunday, April 23, 2023
How I love the first daffodils.
We've had some quite warm days, and more cool/cold days. Typical April.
The hen turkeys are off sitting on eggs somewhere, but there are up to six toms who are around most days.
And no picture ( I don't feel comfortable putting up pictures of other people's kids or grandkids) but I am a great-aunt for the first time! Tom's sister's son's baby. So this little girl is a second cousin to my grandchildren.
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Monday, March 20, 2023
A few years ago, I posted about washing dishes by hand. You may read it here. It was really fine, and even better, it was fun for quite a long time.
Then, in the past few months, I kind of found myself not baking as much, and even making less complicated suppers so there wouldn't be so many dishes to wash. I also got weary of almost always having dishes on the counters; either waiting to be washed or sitting on towels, drying. I made a couple noises about wanting a dishwasher but then decided that it was fine hand washing. Was there a tipping point? Yes. The dishes weren't as clean as I liked them, even though I spent a long time washing them. I also got annoyed at having to soak everything for ages so it wouldn't be so difficult to wash them.
We got one at Lowe's, and it was delivered by two moving men - one of whom carried it in on his shoulder!
I am very, very happy with it. One of my gripes when I used one before was that it ran for so long. I now just use the one hour setting, and it works every single time. Sometimes it is very full, and others not so much, but I don't feel badly because it is just an hour. I'm delighted! I'm already doing what I wrote above that I had cut down on - baking and more complicated suppers.
Monday, March 6, 2023
I've searched around some, and it seems that both re-read and reread are acceptable now. I have been eliminating the hyphen just because it seems easier. But I find I don't like the look of reread, so I guess I'm going to go with the hyphen from now on.
However you spell it, I am having the best reading time reading books over again. I mostly don't remember the whole story, but I have flashes of recognition sometimes. I kind of got started on this scheme because I didn't want to keep spending money on Kindle books. I am happy to buy a book that I can see; a book I can put on a shelf and look through anytime I want. I just can't do that with a Kindle. I am in high praise of the device because it is how I get to sleep and go back to sleep at night. Years and years ago, I read by lamplight. Then I had audiobooks on tape. Then I tried one of those itty-bitty lights. They were all distracting in terms of sleep, except for the books on tape. I gave those up when they went to CDs or phone. That was too much work for me in my sleepy state. And then the Kindle came along. It was perfection. But I've decided to read what I haven't read yet or re-read the books I have. And what a delightful experience it is. Just now I'm zooming through the Mrs. Pollifax books by Dorothy Gilman.
I wondered if there were quotes about this subject, and I found some great ones.
Robertson Davies: "A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight."
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
In a letter, a woman writes to another:
"Excuse my unburdening myself. My worries travel about my head on their well-worn path, and it is a relief to put them on paper."
Isn't that a perfect description of worrying. I love "well-worn path".
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Sister Monica Joan:
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Thursday, February 9, 2023
An explanation here.
And that's it for this installment. You really should see all the post-its I have! I am gradually entering them into a beautiful moleskin notebook. And when I do, I pick out some to bring to the blog. And incidentally, we moved the television back into the living room. It is colder, but it seems more fitting in there.
Saturday, February 4, 2023
Saturday, January 28, 2023
“Anyone who thinks gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year; for gardening begins in January with a dream.”Josephine Nuese, 1901-1974, American gardener and author of The Country Garden, 1970
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Now that my kids are grown, and Tom has retired, I’ve been able to go back to my natural sleep pattern which is to stay up late and get up late. Tom’s natural rhythm is just the opposite. So, he’s the lark and I’m the owl.
And what this owl does in the late hours is watch television- not in the traditional way but through Hulu, Netflix, TunnelBear, and Acorn TV. Most of the shows are British, though I am a great fan of a few American television shows, and have been watching some from other countries now that we have TunnelBear. Some of these shows Tom will watch in the mornings, but some of them are all mine. So, when I hear a great quote from a show I know he’s not going to watch, I’ll leave him little post-it notes near the computer keyboard. I had a notion this morning to begin a new ‘letter topic’ called What I Learned From TV so I can put up some virtual post-its for you to read and, hopefully, enjoy. Some are funny, some are educational, some are wise.
I did once have a television like the one in the picture above, but nowadays this is the scene (currently watching the excellent New Amsterdam on Netflix):
With talk of oil and electric prices going up, we decided some months ago to put the TV in the kitchen where the wood stove is so I didn't have to turn up the heat in the living room when I watch television in the evenings. We have liked it so much that we probably won't move it back when the weather gets warmer.
Without further ado:
I don't know where this came from but it is quite amazing. I am one of them.
"In 1967, never before had so many Americans been under 25. There were over 90 million of them, nearly half the population."
Being a watcher of older British television shows, I have noticed a lot of griping about two particular subjects - the National Health Service, and the European Union. Here is one from Dalziel in Dalziel and Pascoe.
"Do they sell toffee hammers anymore? No, probably banned by those clowns in Brussels." 1996 show.
Monday, January 16, 2023
Thursday, January 12, 2023
Tuesday, January 3, 2023
I have done a couple (though maybe just one) of the Top Ten Tuesday posts. I do enjoy them and mean to do more this year. I didn't happen to visit her blog today, but I did get to read an entry here, and decided to do my own. I haven't done anything with my year end wrap-up of 2022, and I think this is all I will do!
I didn't have ten, but nine. I reread many books this year, and though they are good old mysteries, they can't compete with the books below which were really excellent. Five fiction and four nonfiction.
I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg. I've not read a book by her that I haven't loved. This one was really very special.
4.50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie. One of my top favorite writers. This was a second reading.
The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer. This became one of my favorite books ever. I've never read anything like it, and was wowed.
French Braid by Anne Tyler. Some think this is her last book and if so, it is a lovely way to end a career of many wonderful books.
The Adventurous Chef:Alexis Soyer by Ann Arnold. This is a children's picture book about someone I had never heard of until the television series Pie in the Sky. Inspector/Chef Crabbe idolizes Soyer. We learn a bit about him in one particular episode, and I wanted to know more. He was quite a fellow, and this book is well-worth reading.
The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore. This was a reread, and I loved it just as much as the first time. I wrote about it here. I didn't have grandchildren in 2011, and the book had a whole new meaning and richness that I understood this time. It really is a wonderful book.
Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith. This is a standalone book, and I really enjoyed it. Four strangers on a train telling about their lives.
Doctor Turner's Casebook by Stephen McGann. The author plays Dr. Turner in Call the Midwife. The book is mostly nonfiction, with delightful bits of the fictional doctor's casebook complete with teacup stains and imperfect typewriter letters (remember them?). I learned so much about medicine and diseases from that time, and saw how very accurate the program is.
And the star of stars, also going onto my list of favorite books ever is:
My Letters from a Hill Farm blog is full of Longfellow's poems. I've loved him since childhood, and now my love and respect is much deeper. I so enjoyed my time within the pages. It is a perfect, perfect biography, and history of America and the world during his lifetime. A marvel, a masterpiece. Nothing better.
Books Read in 2023
January - 3