Saturday, January 28, 2023

Quote du jour - Josephine Nuese

 “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

These words are so very true! My head is full of ideas, and I spend a lot of time looking at catalogues. I am just happy they still come in the mail. Some of them I don't even order from, but this year I feel like I should just as a little thank you for the pleasure I get from looking through them. 

I had declared that I wouldn't have to buy any seeds for this summer because there are still a lot left from last year. More fool me. My head is full of tomatoes, again. After months of eating them fresh, and then using the sauce I made from them, I am again bereft of tomatoes. I've begun thinking of having just a basil, garlic, and tomato garden but then I see a new climbing zucchini, and some varieties of tomato I just must try. And the packets of scallions that didn't get planted last year. And then I think the garden should be doubled! 

So yes, I am indeed dreaming in January.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

What I Learned From TV - January 26

From 2014-2017, I wrote a few posts on What I Learned From TV. 
This is the introduction I always began with.

Each time I do a post about What I Learned From TV, I’ll begin with the explanation from the first posting:

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 no longer have Hulu, and we stopped TunnelBear when we found out it is rather illegal to watch British shows that way! We do still have Acorn, along with Britbox, Netflix, PBS, and Prime, and my many DVDs .

But I haven't done a TV post since 2017, so I thought it time that I bring back the topic.  I keep pen and paper next to my "TV chair" and I jot things down that interest me. The other day, I cleared out a desk drawer that had myriad post-it notes with those jottings. 

Because it has been so long, many of the quotes are not from shows I am currently watching.

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.

"GPS is just another way for the government to keep an eye on me." US televison show The Finder. This said by a man who buries his money because he doesn't trust banks.

From Darby and Joan

Joan says, "I never saw the appeal of sunrises. They're just like sunsets only bloody early." Those could be my words!

From Nadiya Hussain on one of her marvelous cooking shows:

"Oh, my God, mashed potato is my favorite thing in the whole wide world."
"I would rather have a baby than make soufflé."

I'll end this entry with a few quotes from Horace Rumpole in Rumpole of the Bailey.

"Who was it who said that Wagner's music is not as bad as it sounds?"

Upon hearing someone collapsed while jogging. "I've always said that exercise is the short cut to the cemetery"

"No pleasure on earth is worth sacrificing for the sake of five extra years in the geriatric ward in the sunset old people's hospital in Weston-Super-Mare."

Monday, January 16, 2023

Happy Birthday - Stevie Wonder

 The campaign for a federal holiday in Martin Luther King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later on January 20, 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000. 

 Stevie's album with this song on it came out in 1980. 

 "Happy Birthday" 

 You know it doesn't make much sense 
There ought to be a law against 
Anyone who takes offense 
At a day in your celebration 
'Cause we all know in our minds 
That there ought to be a time 
That we can set aside 
To show just how much we love you 
And I'm sure you would agree 
What could fit more perfectly 
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be 

 Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you
 Happy birthday Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you Happy birthday 

 I just never understood
 How a man who died for good 
Could not have a day that would
 Be set aside for his recognition 
Because it should never be 
Just because some cannot see 
The dream as clear as he 
that they should make it become an illusion
 And we all know everything 
That he stood for time will bring
 For in peace our hearts will sing 
Thanks to Martin Luther King 

 Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you 
Happy birthday Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you Happy birthday 

 Why has there never been a holiday 
Where peace is celebrated all throughout the world 
 The time is overdue 
For people like me and you 
Who know the way to truth 
Is love and unity to all God's children 
It should be a great event 
And the whole day should be spent
 In full remembrance 
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people 
So let us all begin
 We know that love can win
 Let it out don't hold it in
 Sing it loud as you can 

 Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you Happy birthday 
Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you Happy birthday 
Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you Happy birthday
 Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you Happy birthday 
Happy birthday Happy birthday Happy birthday Ooh yeah Happy birthday 

 We know the key to unity of all people 
Is in the dream that you had so long ago 
That lives in all of the hearts of people 
That believe in unity 
We'll make the dream become a reality 
I know we will Because our hearts tell us so

Thursday, January 12, 2023


A real sadness for Tom and I to hear that Jeff Beck has died. He was THE BEST as was this band. Rod Stewart vocals. Ron Wood on bass. Mick Waller on drums. Nicky Hopkins piano. In the comments to this video, a man said he saw them at the Boston Tea Party, as we did. Rod didn't stay in the band for long, and how I wish he had. For us this was the perfect group. On the first album, Truth, Beck writes about this song. "Shapes of Things Rearranged, but the same Yardbirds hit. This must be played at maximum volume whatever phonograph you use. Makes very appropriate background music if you have the Vicar over for tea." Go to YouTube and type in "Drinkin Again" Jeff Beck group. A masterpiece. AND it is a Johnny Mercer song! On his Instagram page, Jimmy Page wrote: "The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal. His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans. Jeff Beck Rest in Peace."


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Nine Favorite Books of 2022

 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:

Cross of Snow
A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
by Nicholas Basbanes

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 2023

Books Read in 2023

I am simplifying - no more book facts or Tom's books.
I went back to 2022, and eliminated them from that year as well because they were incomplete. Also, I am no longer listing exact date I finished a book. It is enough to know the month.

January - 3

1. A Winter Away
by Elizabeth Fair
fiction 1957

2. What W. H. Auden Can Do For You
by Alexander McCall Smith 
nonfiction 2013

3. The House That is Our Own
by O. Douglas
fiction 1940

February - 6

4. Three Witnesses - book 27 in the Nero Wolfe series
by Rex Stout
mystery 1956

5. As They Slept (A Year in the Life of a London Commuter) 
book 1 of 4
by Andy Leeks
nonfiction 2013

6. Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop
by Roselle Lim
fiction 2020
library book

7. Danger at the Drawbridge - book 4 in the Penny Parker series
by Mildred Wirt
Young adult mystery 1940

8. Almost American Girl
by Robin Ha
An Illustrated Memoir 2020

9. The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax - book 3 in the Mrs. Pollifax series 
by Dorothy Gilman
mystery 1971

March - 6

10. The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax - book 2 in the Mrs. Pollifax series
by Dorothy Gilman
mystery 1970

11. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
fiction 2008

12. A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax - book 4 in the Mrs. Pollifax series 
by Dorothy Gilman
mystery 1973

13. Mrs. Pollifax on Safari - book 5 in the Mrs. Pollifax series
by Dorothy Gilman
mystery 1976

14. Hippie Food
by Jonathan Kauffman
nonfiction 2018

15. Crocodile on the Sandbank - book 1 in the Amelia Peabody series
by Elizabeth Peters
mystery 1975

April - 2

16. Something Fresh - book 1 in the Blandings series
by P.G. Wodehouse
fiction 1915

17. Titanic Town
by Mary Costello
fiction 1992

May - 7

18. Lord James Harrington and the Spring Mystery - book 2 in the Lord James Harrington series
by Lynn Florkiewicz
mystery 2013

19. In My Mind's Eye
by Jan Morris
nonfiction 2018

20. Silent Witness - book 2 in the Patrick Grant series 
by Margaret Yorke
mystery 1972

21. Still Life at Eighty
the next interesting thing
by Abigail Thomas
nonfiction 2023

22. Crying in H Mart
by Michelle Zauner
nonficition memoir  2021

23. The Lighthearted Quest - book 1 in the Julia Probyn series
by Ann Bridge
mystery 1956

24. The Summer Mystery - book 3 in the Lord James Harrington series
by Lynn Florkiewicz
mystery 2013

June - 5

25. Mr. Lynch's Holiday
by Catherine O'Flynn
fiction 2013

26. 84, Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff
nonfiction 1970
reread - looks like the last time was 2007

27. This Hill, This Valley
by Hal Borland
nonfiction 1957

28. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street
by Helene Hanff
nonfiction 1973

29. Q's Legacy
by Helene Hanff
nonfiction 1985

July - 5

30. An English Murder aka The Christmas Murder
by Cyril Hare 
mystery 1951

31. With A Bare Bodkin - book 2 in the Francis Pettigrew series 
by Cyril Hare
mystery 1946

32. Virginia Woolf At Home
by Hilary Macaskill
nonfiction 2019

33. Tragedy at Law - book 1 in the Francis Pettigrew series
by Cyril Hare
mystery 1942

34. Tenant For Death - book 1 in the Inspector Mallett series
by Cyril Hare
mystery 1937

August - 2

35. Fer-De-Lance - book 1 in the Nero Wolfe series
by Rex Stout
mystery 1934

36. Some Buried Caesar - book 6 in the Nero Wolfe series
by Rex Stout
mystery 1939

September - 

37. Confessions of a Bookseller - second in The Diary of a Bookseller series
by Shaun Bythell
nonfiction 2019
library book - ILL

38. The Bloomsbury Cookbook
Recipes for Life, Love and Art
by Jans Ondaatje Rolls
nonfiction 2014

Tom's 2023 Reads

 This is just a collecting post.


1. Marked Man - book 32 in the Joe Gunther series
by Archer Mayor
mystery 2021
library book
finished January 3

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Quote du jour/Charles H. Spurgeon

 "Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began..."
Charles Spurgeon

I have often read these words in British books, or heard them on British television. And they have been spinning in my head as this new year arrived.

The past years have been pretty blogless for me. I haven't writtten much or read much. It's been an odd time, and I am going to begin on this day and go on. I miss writing. It is good for me. It takes me completely into what I am thinking about, rather like a meditation. But even more, I miss reading. I miss all the different voices of fellow bloggers. I miss reading about your lives, and gardens, and books. A blogging friend's father died and I didn't know for too long. That made me so sad, and pretty much brought about this new resolve. 

I am going to give myself the gift of sitting down each day in the study and either reading or writing or both. I love this room with its south and west windows, a computer desk, a writing desk for letters (which I am also working on doing more often) and paying bills (yes, I still pay as many as I can by check, which isn't a lot these days and I still check my checking account!). And the rest of the room is photographs, plants, books, and Tom's mother's dolls. It has two doors, so I can be quiet when I'm in here.

So, what brilliant topic will I write about on this first day of the year?  I thought I would tell you how much I love paper calendars. I have two. The one in the study, just to my left as I write this, is by a New Hampshire woman. 

 Cindy Hendrick does the most delightful drawings, and has created a whole little world of animals. Her website is here

The second calendar is in the kitchen. Susan Branch is probably very familiar to most of you. I've had her calendars for many years, and also have her address book and birthday book. I love her work, and all the wonderful quotes she has introduced to me. Actually, her newest book is one of quotes. I don't own it yet, but will before long.

I love this quote:

So, there you have it. A little blog entry to welcome in this new year, and as Mr. Lennon said, "Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear." That kind of says it all, doesn't it.

I don't write on either of these beauties. I have a desk engagement calendar I use for jotting down days we take care of the grandchildren, etc. And speaking of grandchildren, this is the 2022 Christmas card!

Campbell Walker, 8
Hazel Nina, 9
Indy Thomas, 7