Thursday, June 22, 2023

Some words from The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

 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

And now it is summer!

 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:

"... every time I eat strawberries here [in England] I think of the English clergyman who remarked:
'Doubtless God could have made a better berry than the strawberry and doubtless God never did.' "

Monday, June 19, 2023

Quote du jour from Keeping The Faith

 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!

And today

We ordered 15, but they always include some extras in case any die on the way, which happily we've never had happen, so our total is 18, and with the 3 in the barn, 21 chickens! So out of sadness, something good and joyful has come. They are so adorable. Sussex chickens are supposed to be quite docile and friendly with people. 
Tom has moved the original three into a stall that cannot be gotten into by predators, and is working on a new big, big stall for all of them. They will not be going out. They will have all the mod-cons, as the British say. Perhaps in another year, he will build a run outside their home covered completely so they will be safe. No more wandering chickens. 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Quote du jour/Call The Midwife - Season 12, episode one, last words

 As spoken by Vanessa Redgrave:

"We are more enmeshed in others' lives than we imagine. We are all somebody's memory, someone's joy or their regret. We are the weavers of each other's cloth, the keepers of our fellow travelers in time. 

Change is not a threat. It is a chance, and if we embrace it, we can begin again."

I wanted to put up a picture of Vanessa but wasn't sure about rights, so I decided not to. If you go here, you may see a very recent one.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Eight years ago today!

 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

Today's picture/Woodstove in June

 In reference to yesterday's poem. We did not have a frost but it is plenty cold.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Today's poem by David Budbill

 This is the third poem I've posted by Vermont poet David Budbill. The others are here, and here. Both are from 2007, so you may not have even seen them! Oh, what a wonderful poet he was. 

What Is June, Anyway?

After three weeks of hot weather and drought,
we've had a week of cold and rain,
just the way it ought to be here in the north,
in June, a fire going in the woodstove
all day long, so you can go outside in the cold
and rain anytime and smell 
the wood smoke in the air.

This is the way I love it. This is why
I came here almost
fifty years ago. What is June, anyway
without cold and rain
and a fire going in the stove all day?

David Budbill 
(June 13, 1940 - September 25, 2016)

I was going to put this up on the first of June, but we were indeed having hot weather and drought. I thought I'd wait until the inevitable cold spell. Well, it is today! We had a lovely 1/2 inch of rain yesterday evening, and today it is windy and cold. Most of the weather reports are saying we won't have a frost, but the one I trust the most is over the border in Vermont, and they are saying 35-45 degrees overnight. That is too close for comfort for me! We'll cover the  Zephyr squash and a couple tomatoes that have been planted but we are holding off on planting anymore today. After tonight the temps are warmer.

It makes me so happy that Mr. Budbill moved to Vermont and loved it just as entirely as the natives of that state and my New Hampshire love it. We take the weather we get without (much) complaining. 

Point of fact, I was actually born in Vermont but lived there only four months before my folks moved over here.