Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Meal for One, last minute thought

Today being dark and rainy and generally gloomy outside, it called for something hot and interesting to eat for supper.  So I made a greedy meal for one, one helping only, nothing to share, and it was good enough to tell about.  

It was a shiitake mushroom, grape tomato and two kinds of cheese pepper jack and sharp cheddar, bake, with an egg broken over it. 20 minutes at 385F in a glass dish, and it was ready.  

Before and after cooking pix. 


 Before shows the whole tomatoes, definitely better than cutting them up and losing the flavor in the cooking.  Cheese cubes about the same size as tomatoes, so all the ingredients are basically same size, so cooking will work best.



 Here, after cooking,  the tomatoes have exploded a bit, the cheese has melted, the egg cooked, and the flavor was great.




The tomatoes were in the freezer since July, from the farmer's market, and if you do this, the flavor is just like summer.  I froze them immediately I got them home.  No need for any seasoning with this meal. The mushrooms were cooked for Tgiving, and saved out, and the cheeses and tomatoes were enough flavor, along with that.  Plus a nice farm egg.

All in all, this is worth trying.  Over a couple of slices of homebaked wholewheat toast.  Accompanied by a glass of prosecco, which cheered me up no end. 

As did a visit yesterday from a friend to whom I'd given some Thanksgiving sponge candy.  She's Indian and we are constantly educating each other about various food items.  It's the place where we intersect best.  

And she said they were at a bit of a loss, since I didn't give any instructions with this box.  Usually, she pointed out, I say to nuke for 25 seconds or something, when it's a baked thing, but how to eat this?  I just said pick up a piece and bite!  it's like a candy bar, big enough for several bites, and better fun than breaking it up.  So she bustled off to try it out!  So now I know I should have included instructions. Reminds me of my first digi camera, which I loved because the first instruction in the box was: take camera out of box!

This post has been an exercise in multitasking, with many Skype messages to respond to, coming in at exactly the same time as uploading, labeling, writing and switching back and forth.  I must reread to make sure I don't have two streams of consciousness bumping into each other here.  I expect it's all good for brain power.  Or something.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Late but thankful anyway, Thanksgiving dinner 2016

Since Handsome Son was working on the day of Thanksgiving, and reported that it was extremely quiet at work that day, wonder why, we celebrated with our official Tday dinner today, and a good day it was.

He always brings along good cheese and crackers to start, so we toasted each other and everything we're thankful about with a nice glass of prosecco along with the cheese and cracker course.


 All set, ready for action. I do the main course, and the new console table worked a treat with the various small dishes of cranberry sauces, mustard, butter, very handy.  




It was ham this year with shiitake mushrooms baked along, corn, peas, baked potato, and stuffing.  



It went down very well, and couple of glasses of prosecco put us both, not being drinkers, in a very happy mood. There was also a very good ginger ale, courtesy of HS.

We took a brisk walk round the park while the pie baked, then came home to tea and pumpkin pie with cream, Handsome Son always provides dessert, plus a dish of sponge candy, from me, most of which went home with him.




Then some Partners In Crime videos for him, while I think I must have slept, since I missed the plot entirely, the evening came on and the day ended with HS going home with plenty of leftovers for next week, leaving me with some, too.

So much to be thankful for, family and friends, including blogistas and online friends, and brand new roof over heads, and enough food on the table to have extra, and a peaceful home.  Can't ask for much more than that.  

Thank you all who read this blog, for your interest and your kindness and endless patience with the Shenanigans of Boud!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016, Dollivers and musings

This year, since Handsome Son is working, Thanksgiving chez Boud and Dollivers, is moved to his day off, Saturday.  So, since for the twelve years I had the petcare service with never a holiday celebrated on the actual day, and he good humoredly handled it, year after year, it's my turn to be cool with celebrating on a different day.

So today is all about loafing and walking and watching Partners in Crime



 a very good production, with great twenties scenes, and cars, and clothes, and slang, and it's just totally spiffing, old bean!  highly recommended, too.




Also the entire crew, Dollivers, still in suffrage outfits, bears, Elton, still in stolen sweater, you'll notice the nude bear in the hat, it's his sweater, and the Tinies, and Greensleeves, and the entire Dolliver Kennels, all arrayed in comfort on the spare room bed, wish us all a good Thanksgiving.  They will return on Saturday with suitable songs and shenanigans, just resting up for now.  

New Big Doll has taken over the rocking chair in the bedroom, ejecting one of the bears, now in residence on the bed. She considers them waiting in line for an audience in her presence. Sitting squarely on the dolls' rocker, tiny feet crossed, one hand on the arm of the chair, she reminds me strongly of Queen Victoria. Well, Mr Disraeli, should we send a gunboat then?



And the bed doll considers herself no part of the toy world at all, and declined to make an appearance in this post.

Spending a rare holiday alone is also a great chance to make more of my million stars, and to muse on various and pointless things.
Things such as what's the world divided into.

Two sorts of people, makers and shoppers
Two sorts of people, madly gregarious and happy for a day solo
Two sorts of people, Dollivers and nonDollivers, poor things, guess who inserted this one
Two sorts of people, players of music and nonplayers
Two sorts of people, shouters and listeners
Two sorts of people, cooks and diners
Two sorts of people, gardeners and arrangers of garden furniture
Two sorts of people, home painters and hirers of contractors
Two sorts of people, smart and dumb

And if you print and cut all these out,  and shuffle them around a bit, you'll notice that all of us are any of these at any given time!  Except that the nonDollivers are stuck with it, but the Ds feel that's about right.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it today, and Happy Thursday if it's a regular working day for you, having sensibly got it all done and out of the way weeks ago.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Boud abhors a vacuum

Wildly windy day, neighbors busting in all over, very welcome though surprising, one saying I need the ladder from your loft, already halfway up there with his helper to get it for some vital work happening next door.  One bringing lovely spicy food, and announcing her birthday and wanting my blessing for it.  To me that consists of a massive hug and kiss and wishes, and a fervent wish I'd known earlier..

Anyway, on the way upstairs to see if I have any little something she might like, I realized I hadn't watered and trimmed out the upstairs plants, so I did that, and made a bit of leafy debris on the bedroom floor. No problem, I have a trusty vacuum cleaner right there.  Plugged it in, and it sucked up all the leaves then sent them all flying back in my face.  Oh.

Probably a clog.  I unplugged, learned how to take off the footplate, removed the little interior hose, riddled it, nothing in there, no clog, put back the footplate, not without some sweating and cursing.  Tried again, still shooting debris all over the room gracefully landing everywhere.  Oh. And the main part wouldn't hug the floor right.  Oh. Took off the footplate again, getting good at this, took out the small hose, put it back more snugly, hoping this was the answer.  Which is sort of was.

Except that the cleaner was still emitting, not accepting.  Got out the book that came with it many years ago, see there's a reason to keep these things sometimes.  And went through all kinds of studying, having done all the things they suggested at this point.
Hm.  On the point of saying, out with this vacuum, out I say, I noticed the diagram of the fully organized one.  And noticed that the hose which is supposed to take the debris in and keep it there, was detached and had been left in the wrong clamp.  



 See that pipe thing running down there, now correctly plugged in, into the base of the unit, the hose coming out of the top of it?  It and the one on the left had got reversed.  This does not work other than to give debris a quick round trip back onto the floor in a new place.

Ah, put it in the right place, plugged in again, and now it works.  It would have been very good to notice this before all the strenuous taking off and putting back of footplates, but anyway I know how to do that now.  This is a desperate attempt to rationalize things, but doesn't cover my ineptitude.  Actually I think I just qualified for a cabinet position in DC.

And I realize that this abhorred vacuum caper was the aftermath of another exciting appliance adventure earlier in the week.  That was when two friends helped with my broken down clothes dryer, which we all concluded was clogged (my week for clogs, should learn clog dancing, really) on account of hammering on the roof having dislodged a mass of lint back down the hose into the machine. 

They were a little at odds, one wanting to dismantle the entire thing to see it better, one insisting we should check first in case it was simply clogged with damp lint.  Guess which was the male friend...
So, by the time we'd blown through the back and sucked through the front, and both friends and the landing were liberally decorated with dryer lint, the vacuum had seen good service. One of the friends reassembled the various bits she'd used, and that's when the hose got out of commission.

No pix, enough hot air from the dryer and the friends without adding in unflattering pix of them valiantly trying to deal with each other and the dryer, which is now working a treat.  They're back on speaking terms, too.  Throughout this activity, we had an interesting discussion on how we would run the country better than anyone who is on the point of trying to.  Actually, since two of us are GOP and one a Dem, we were a model of civility about the whole thing.

It's been quite a nervy week, what with the national scene, about which let's not talk just for a moment, and the roofing drama, and the dryer breaking down, and the neighbors breaking down over their struggles to get their houses ready for roofing and then the vacuum.  Art cannot exist in a vacuum.

So though nature may abhor a vacuum, she's nothing compared to Boud at the moment.  Fortunately I didn't call in any friend for help and look even sillier than I do now, when they would have taken one look and reorganized the hose...

However, all is not dark.  Remember that nice little table I found at the dumpster?  turns out it was handmade by my contractor/artist neighbor years ago, no room for it in the runup to the roofing cleaning, and though he had noted how fast it vanished, didn't know I had it.  I emailed him with a pic of it in situ, and everyone's happy about this.
 
My cats are bookending me in a friendly way, explaining that the various breakdowns weren't their doing, and I'm going to have a teatime with lemon bars any minute now.  The bars have been going down very well!  Handsome Son polished off a few, and birthday neighbor had several the other day and texted three times with her reactions. 

And now I remember I was on the way to check out the stash of completed stitchery to see if there's anything she might like.  I wonder if I dare try again. You never know what challenge I might find. It's dangerous going upstairs in search of a little present.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cooking finally returns again with prep for Friday night dinner

I made a bigly pot of pumpkin soup, some of which will appear on the table tomorrow evening, and there will be fish cakes made with fresh flounder and various spices, with green peas and roast potatoes.

And then I thought idly, since a friend made noises about coming over for a cup of tea in the next day or two, she having been way under the weather, in the hospital, and struggling to get back, I should make a little something to serve her with a cup of tea.  It won't be a whole meal, like my usual afternoon tea invitations, she's not up for that, but a nice little something is good.  And I need a dessert for tomorrow evening.

Leafed through Martha Stewart in search of simple, quick cookies.  Found quite a few, and bookmarked them studiously, before being totally led off the straight and narrow by finding a recipe for lemon bars...far from simple and quick, but oh well, it's been a hard week and they're so good.  So this happened.





I will be freezing a lot of them, partly so that I don't plow right through them, and partly so that a visitor will in fact get something edible with a cup of tea.  Some will cross the street to friends, too.

There was a tense moment when the dish, with the pastry crust in it, was in the freezer for a few minutes, and then had to go right into the hot oven.  I was fervently hoping the glass would stand up to this, though it claimed it would, and to my amazement, it did.

At this point I think I have had the last of builders trotting about inside the house fixing this and that for me, and though I plan on replacing all my windows at some point when the HOA gets some contractors lined up, that will be another noisy dusty passage, still, just for the moment, I have the place to myself.

Except for neighbors dropping in, four in one day this week, a landspeed record, it's what the renovation does. Breaks down barriers..but they all needed to talk, so I guess that's okay.  It's been a tense few days, and the roof noise hasn't helped with anyone's calm and accepting spirit. Not to mention the problems the roofers have uncovered in various houses, largely relating to wiring and squirrels, a bad mixture.  I was lucky in that nothing in my roof was written up and declared a danger to civilization.

So, Sayers' Clouds of Witness going in audiobook this evening, all's well, and another bunch of handwarmers under way, too. Several local friends are thinking of wearing the safety pin, now that they've seen me with one and asked what on earth I was up to.  

One was worried that I would be a target, and I said, well, already been criticized about it, by someone who was determined to be mad at me, never mind.  Important to stand up even in this quiet tiny way, or the bullies will have won.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Safety Pin Movement and more protest knitting

One of the challenges which will face us in the coming few years is to maintain the alertness to injustice we might see around us, between changing federal legislation and the everyday prejudice which has taken on a new lease of life thanks to recent speechmaking. Right now it's easy to be indignant, especially as we see the cabinet unfolding in DC, but keeping it up is a longer challenge.

One thing I've done is to become one of the people who will daily wear a safety pin, on my coat.  This movement started in the UK after Brexit, when there was a similar wave of hate speech and action toward minorities.  The symbol is one of safety, that the wearer is friendly to all minorities, religious, racial, gender based, no matter, and that goodwill can be expected from her. Simple quiet but eloquent.



So here's my coat now, and the pin will stay on it.  Would you consider joining this quiet movement?  you join by putting on a pin, that's it.  And no matter where we live, it's good to declare our willingness to tolerate and embrace all other people.  This includes people I might fervently disagree with.  I may try to persuade them to see other ideas, but I will do so agreeably and without resorting to self righteousness in the process.  And I'll try to see their viewpoint, even when it's hard to do. Anyway, that's the goal.

At home, the protest knitting  goes on, and I will soon be making contact so as to have a way of distributing these items as they are made.  A better name for these gloves is handwarmers, I think, and this current pair will work for men, too. I have a big hand for a woman, so my gloves would fit a man up to medium men's size, and stretch a bit further than that, too.



Handsome Son was puzzled about the protest name, and wondered if there was something about the pattern that expressed a protest!  I explained that no, it was just the act of doing and giving them that was the protest. It's not secret messages knitted in or anything.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Food, interrupted

Yesterday, a day which will live in confusion.

The plot:  roof replaced, new skylight in place.  Bag of tools wrt skylight left between glass and screen.  Neighbor says, oh, I'll pop out the screen, and get the tools for you.  Screen will not pop. Three roofers unable to remove screen to retrieve tools.  Promise to come yesterday to fix, need to be in house, will I be there.  Yes, I will.

Now, since Handsome Son was expected for dinner, I was going to do a good bit of cooking and baking.  Our weekly meal is also the foundation for a few days of my own feeding.

So I got up early, and figured I'd better be up and ready for company early, since construction starts about seven.  So I'm all dressed, and chopping and sizzling and roasting and baking, doing half a dozen procedures at once, thinking to get it done before they show up,  and the roofer, Bob, yes, he's really called Bob (as in  The Builder), shows up in midstream, as it were.  

This is the ingredient stage, not shown is chicken thighs roasting in oven, nor potatoes, not yet cooked at this point, before Bob came in



Oh, what are you cooking, smells great? when's lunch?  now switch everything off because I need you to show me the skylight situation.  So I switched everything off, retimed it all in my head, took a Skype message from anxious son, I had failed to switch on my phone, his texts unanswered, while trotting upstairs to show the nonfunctioning skylight.

Bob the Builder assessed the situation and found that the original aperture was too small for the unit they'd installed.  But, hearteningly, he said we'll make this work, okay, you can carry on now, got this.

And he ingeniously made a solution with a bit of sheet rock cutting and a cunning new way to get at the screen, which can now be removed, by anyone, not just Bob.  So, pausing  to take a look around the studio, which is where the skylight is, he commented that it all looked very familiar to him, his daughter's an artist, and his friend, a roofer, is a terrific portrait painter in oils, and so on, very nice convo.  This brings to one hundred per cent the sampling of building tradesmen I've met who make art or their family does, and they're very up on it. Seems to go with the territory.  

In fact contracting has a lot in common with art: constraints of materials and size, need for inventiveness at times, ability to visualize the next stage and execute, adeptness with tools, persistence, focus, willingness to try several approaches.  I don't have the physical strength, otherwise I bet I could have been a good contractor.

So Bob departed, and I got on with the main dish, a sort of chicken pie thing, partly Craig Claiborne  NYT cookbook, partly my own ideas, partly the addition of a small dish of tendoli, at least I think that's what, gift of Indian friend via her daughter.  Spicy way of cooking a green veg that is like a kind of green bean, very popular among Indian friends.

All the vegs were fresh chopped including the parsley still bravely growing out on the patio, despite all the torrent of debris and boots stomping on it lately.  That slice of red stuff is frozen tomato paste. Roast chicken thighs in oven throughout this time, to be cut up into cubes and added to the vegs, simmered in a chicken stock, thickened with flour. Wine, supposed to be white, but Merlot was just fine. Mashed potatoes, real mash this time, with grated sharp cheddar, on top. 

All this taking place in a house swathed roof to ground in tarps, quite dark indoors, with hammering overhead throughout, and snatches of cheerful Latin songs to be heard, and people coming and going and driving massive equipment about, a few feet away.

So, the pie thing in the fridge for evening, and I had plans to show you pix of the completed dish, which was pretty nice, bubbling and inviting, once it was safely on the table.  Son at table awaiting main course, just bringing it from the kitchen, sizzling, anxious to set it down, when neighbor drops in with item he'd picked up for me at the store to fix my clothes dryer which sort of had a nervous breakdown amid the renovation. Leaving me with a pile of hot wet laundry.

So I put the dish out on the table, invited Handsome Son to help self while I settled up with neighbor and discussed other neighbor's woes and plans and you know how it is.  By the time I got to the table, the dish was still lovely and hot, but it was sort of wreckage owing to the inroads of very appreciative son.  We both needed comfort food this week.  So no food-styled picture. It looked a bit like those patio pix with all the debris raining down..

I had also made hummus, served on hot biscuits for a starter, since soup wouldn't go with this chicken pie thing, must figure out a better name for it.   All made fresh same day.

You do know how easy it is to make hummus, no?  beats me why it's so expensive to buy, it's only chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, peanut butter if you don't like tahini, which I don't, and you can leave out the garlic if you can't do garlic.  Chuck the lot into food processor, I have a tiny one called Oscar, no, that's the actual name of it, which handles whole can of chickpeas plus other items.  Went over well, on the fresh hot biscuits.

Then this evening, after a quiet day, with audio version of Faro's Daughter on Hoopla, protest knitting see here, the slot scarf fun to make



supper was very mideastern: pitted dates with hummus, glass of red wine. 




If you've never tried this combo, do.  The sweetness of dates can be a bit much, but the more savory hummus and the contrast in textures, works really well with it. 

So upshot: cooking despite interruptions, the Shakuhachi effect, went fine, the skylight works, the dryer will be seen tomorrow by handyman neighbor who works in IT but should really have been an engineer, I believe,  is intrepid at taking things apart, we'll see if it's fixable.  All's pretty well, considering. 

Particularly in view of the massive huge moon out tonight, very reassuring that at least other planets are working okay.  And I imagine it's a lot more peaceful and less confusing on the moon that around here.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Protest knitting

So it's the next day now, and plans are afoot.  Aside from various comments and encouragements I'm putting out there in the world, to people dismayed by the outcome of the election. I'm embarking on practical protest work.  

This consists of taking care of people who may be hardest hit in a new administration which plans tax cuts, and which will therefore probably create cutbacks in social supports.

So, donation off this morning to Meals on Wheels, and another pair of warm fuzzy mitts started, these, now that Handsome Son and I are both supplied, are for giving to other people who need them. Winter's coming on, and a lot of seniors get very cold hands.  This yarn is soft and warm, and there will probably be a keyhole scarf to go with, if the yarn holds out.



The mitt design is similar to the one I used to make Handsome Partner several pairs, which he was so happy with.  Warmer hands in the house, and he could eat and turn pages and pick up pens and so on, wearing them.  So I figured there are other folks not far from here who could use them, too.  I have a small stash to knit down.

I have in mind some local people living alone and in poor health, senior or not, and this little bit of comfort might be acceptable. Anyway, this is the current state of the protest movement chez Boud.

 Reminds me of the story of the shrimp and the kid. You know the one?  kid walking along the beach, sees a stranded shrimp, picks it up carefully and tosses back into the water.  Friend says, what's the point? one shrimp? what difference does that make? Kid replies, made a lot of difference to that shrimp.

So I guess my protest knitting is a handup to a shrimp. And it's local shrimp I plan to help, they being as needy as anyone elsewhere on the planet, and in danger of being needier.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mourning in America. The Dream Deferred.

So this post is different from the post I thought I would be able to write.  Many dreams swept away at the ballot box.  Many fears among my friends working in homeless shelters and other agencies whose funding is already difficult and may get more so.  Many fears among friends fearful of backlash against the rights gay people have finally begun to secure.  Many fears among people like me who don't "talk American", who get aggressive responses already from certain folks the minute we speak.

But over and above all the fears, one great source of pride:  even though the winner of the popular vote did not win the position, even though there has been great bitterness throughout the campaign, still, still, the transition will be a peaceful one. 

Handled with grace by loser and even, to my surprise, honestly, by winner, too, with the sitting President gently moving things along on the side of peaceful acceptance, we will get through this without taking the low road.



The Dollivers had dressed in the white purple and gold of the women's suffrage movement (white also the color for the British suffragettes who were imprisoned for their activities).  And rather than pantsuits, they opted for the historical long dresses and sashes, and hats, to honor women who've gone before us.  Ready for a party that didn't happen.  But they still plan to continue in these outfits to Thanksgiving at least, to give thanks that we did have a woman candidate on the ballot at last.  One of ours. The first of many!



And win or lose, Hillary's still a star, as are all the brave women who fight without losing heart for our rights and the wellbeing of our country.  Elton already wears white, and got a purple and gold hat to honor men who support the achievements of women.

So he played us out with the theme from Our Town, quiet music, no singalong this time. 
 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day, and the roof came off

What with all the existential anxiety around this most stressful campaign in recent memory, this was the morning the roofers arrived to tear off my roof.  Debris raining down all morning, decorating the cherry tree


 and the patio




Heavy equipment all around us 




Next door neighbor came in to check I was okay, and we had a brief anxious convo about the election results.

I tweeted my feelings about this year's election to the Brian Lehrer show here on wnyc public radio, and as I was moseying about doing Dolliver related things I heard him read it on his radio program. Particularly moving, since I referred to my Mom, early and dedicated feminist.

So the destruction overhead seems emblematic of what's going on around here in general, but destruction precedes creation, so hope springs eternal.  In both realms.  Let's hope our country gets its renovation going.

The Dollivers are agitating for outfits reflecting the historic occasion, and they will make an appearance as part of the celebration they plan, eternal optimists, so watch this space later this evening..

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Dumpster diving yields console table. FBI considering charges.

Today a find appeared at the dumpster, and now lives in my house despite all my vows not to add anything. In fact something else will go, an ugly, dumpster-sourced, piece of furniture I have upstairs, so that  it will come out even.

What's happening is that the renovation, of which I have moaned, despite being a great proponent of it and happy we're finally updating our development, is causing some internal upheaval in various households.  These are comparatively small townhouses, and a lot of people store masses of items in the eaves of the roofs. 

However, since all the roofs are being completely torn off and renewed, this means the eaves have to be empty, so that the insulation can be taken out and replaced. Also since the roof is open to the sky when the top's off, you don't want stuff in there anyway.  

My own eaves, says she virtuously, are completely empty.  Partly because I think if you have to fill more and more storage places, you have too much stuff, and partly because of the squirrel problem. Bad experiences with mice in an earlier house, and good things laid carefully in the attic, sad story, never again.

But my neighbors are largely of a different frame of mind, and store, or stuff, stuff merrily in the eaves till they're groaning. So  all the household organization and pruning that they were thinking of doing if ever they sell, or if they get a big spring cleaning urge, has to happen very suddenly, like now.  

The result is a steady stream of interesting items at the dumpster areas, particularly at weekends, when other neighbors take a look, before the garbage detail comes early Monday to remove everything.  I have a feeling items are traveling around the development in slow motion this way.

And this is my find today 




It's pretty nice, and you see, totally clean, the drawer possibly never having been opened.  It's playing the part of a console table behind the sofa for now, always wanted one of them.  

After the holidays it may go upstairs for a plant stand at one of the windows.  I have a feeling that meanwhile, two cats might find it a nice place to sleep and look out at the birds better. 

On the food front, no pix, just a satisfactory Friday night dinner with Handsome Son.  Soup of leeks and kale, then baked flounder in crisp crumbs with lemon zest on, edible pod peas, roasted french fries.  Plum cake for dessert with a pot of tea.  Nice evening. All the vegs and fruit from the farm, always like to make that point.

I've done this before and realized that, though it's a many-stage meal to make, it comes out as fish and chips and peas, a trad brit Friday dinner.  Must be the subconscious at work, or something.

Speaking of which,  old trad language, to be exact, that Lake District shepherd whose books on the Shepherd's Life are huge best sellers, terrific writer, was on a book tour in this region this week, and was on one of my fave public radio stations, wnyc.  

They were talking about language, and he mentioned that shepherds count their sheep yan tan tethera methera pip.  This is directly from the Norse, which a lot of my Yorkshire language also harks back to.  It was suddenly an emotional moment to hear that old language on my radio!  

You can google on it if you want to see more. Shepherding is an ancient farming craft and art, and the language still is ancient.  His family has been in it for possibly a thousand years, using the old language all the time.  Tup for ram, yow for ewe, beck for stream, sneck for latch, and on and on, familiar to me but not useful to my current life!



 

Friday, November 4, 2016

A peaceful loss, and a spot of retail therapy

The obituaries this week included this one

Ani Trime was the Buddhist nun who organized and built the labyrinth I walk all the time, as part of her religious work.  An American, born Nettie Poling in West Virginia, she was a wonderful person, and the fact that her body is now silent does not alter the fact of her great and continuing life.

I met her once, while Handsome Son and I were waiting anxiously in the surgical waiting room at the old hospital,  then located near the labyrinth.  

It was the day we were to find out whether they could restore any movement to forestall Handsome Partner's quadriplegia, so we were nervous.  I suggested to him that he pass some of the time by walking the labyrinth, and this nice older woman leaned over and said, oh you know the labyrinth?  

I explained that it had become a main spiritual exercise for me, and she agreed that in that case, given our situation that day,  it was a good moment for my son to walk it.  When the news out of surgery was that there was no hope of restoring movement, he was glad to have walked it, as a help with the emotion of the day. That was where our lives fell into before and after.

She explained she had built the labyrinth, and was very happy to hear that it was being used. Tomorrow will be her funeral services, so I will walk it again, this time for her. She would understand this.

Another friend was in a meditation group she led, and one of the things Ani taught was to sit, take a breath, hold it a moment, then on the exhale tell yourself:  at this moment in time, my life is perfect.  This is surprisingly calming and helpful, since all it does is characterize this very moment, not our whole lives.

Then to temporal things.  Very unusually for me, I did a bit of retail therapy while I was at the Asian store picking up basic foods.  A little one-person porcelain teapot, just right for getting through the next few tense days.  





It's the blue and white with the fish, second shelf down.  And I show you the other side of it, too, with the writing on it, and if anyone can translate, please do!  I hope it's not a political slogan, is all..

This is my accidental collection of teapots and milk pitchers, just sort of found their way here.  All with their own story, too, which I will spare you, it being slightly less gripping than other people's recounting their dreams or their mileage..

 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

National Coping with Stress Day

Apparently today is about coping with stress.  And the prime suggestion is to get out of doors and seek peace in the scenery there.

So here's what's happening out of doors around here, where my roof is being torn off





Just sayin'

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Big Food, by Accident

Not sure how this transpired, but at eleven a.m. I was idly wondering what to get for lunch.  Then by 1 p.m. I had a giant Vegetable Roast and a giant Plum Cake there.  It just sort of crept up on me.  Big Food happened.

Here's the veggie set up 




I had just pulled out a lot of frozen veggies, farm stuff I mean, and thought maybe a stirfry.  Kale, onions, tomatoes, edible pod peas. There might be celery and leeks in there, too.  Then I thought why? you don't like stirfry that much, how about roasting them?  Looked up a recipe or two and found one for a roast vegetable pie.  But it involved making a pastry crust, nooooo, another day.  However, there were some great ideas for flavoring the veggies, so I studied them.

And after letting the vegs sit in a tossed olive oil mix, with baharat (that Ottolenghi spice mix, which I have to make again soon) and a big pinch of turmeric along with salt and black pepper,  here comes the recipe lady's idea:  I poured over a nice mix of chicken broth thickened with cornstarch.  Back to my ideas, then put a big twig of curry leaves on top, and a big sprig of basil, both fresh.   Roasted for about an hour at 325, and it was a treat.  Much more interesting than the run of roasted vegetables.

And while the oven was hot and I was waiting for the lunch to cook, I thought I might as well get around to mixing that plum cake recipe I make sometimes, since I had the plums prepped in the freezer, waiting for it.  



A bit short of butter, but it worked fine with half the usual amount anyway, and where she puts brandy I put red wine, and where she puts Demerara sugar I sniffed hoity toity and put white sugar.  



But I did buy this pan specially for this recipe and I'm glad I did.  It has to be just this thick and just this size in order to work.  If you're interested in trying it, I have completely forgotten who the writer was, but she presents it as Figgy Demerara Snacking Cake, so you can probably find it that way.  If I ever find her name, I will duly credit her.  

And since it needs a  400F oven, I had that heat up further after the veggies were done at 325F and I was eating lunch, so there was cake for dessert, more or less.  I like it best with plums on top, nice  tart contrast with the sweeter effect of the cake part, but I guess you can stud it with just about any fruit you have to hand.  It's made with wholewheat flour, too, so it's virtuous. Not that I think that considerations of health ought to enter into the consideration of cake.  Just eat a nice little bit and enjoy it.

So now there are many squares of Plum Cake in the freezer ready to bring out any time I need a little something with tea.  Or for a friend.  And a little plate of them is already across the street awaiting friends homecoming this evening. 

Always a good thing to have enough to share.  Some fresh scones with homemade strawberry jam found their way next door yesterday, where the little granddaughter was there for the day, wonder how that happened..it beats me how people living alone manage to cook for one, really.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rain's down, soup's up, spirits middling 6WS

Today needed a reboot.  I woke before dawn, still dark o'clock, to a chirp.  Gah, why do smoke alarms notify about batteries in the night time? the next chirp confirmed that it was no use trying not to hear it.  
 
So I staggered downstairs in search of batteries and stepladders, found a battery, stepladder nowhere to be seen.  Not in the place it spozed to be, nor anywhere else that I could see with half-open eyes. Upstairs again for a second sweep, chirp still going, then back down and found it, um, in the middle of the living room...I didn't notice it because it was in the wrong place!  it was there from another adventure last night, unhooking an S hook from the ceiling, to lend it to friend next door, too complicated to explain now.

 So I finally got the steps upstairs and situated in my least favorite place, at the head of the stairs, where the alarm is.  Replaced the battery, after prodding and banging to find out how the little door opens.  Climbed down again, all smug.  Chirping continues. Took out and replaced battery.  Chirping.

Realized it must be the CO alarm on the nearby wall.  Got that off, wrenched open the little door.  And found it needs three AAs.
Back downstairs, rifle through kitchen drawer full of seeds and clips and rubber bands and batteries, amazingly found three AAs.

Back upstairs, install them, more or less got alarm hung back on wall, silly keyhole openings in the back you can't see to hang.  Got out phone and put in note to self to get more batteries.

Then breakfast for all, and catch up on email.  This is where the morning suddenly sped past, since I found I'd fallen asleep upright and woke up about an hour later. So the day did reboot.



Made a wonderful spicy soup as a consolation prize and good lunch for a cold rainy day.  Can't reproduce this, since it included all the rest of the steamed green beans from last night's dinner with Handsome Son, a bowl of spicy vegetables donated by Indian friend, chicken bones from last night, two containers of the water you get when you wash the blender after making pesto, onions and garlic, usual base in olive oil.  And very good it was, spicy but not too much so.  Hot biscuit to go with.  This restored me a treat. And made me feel a bit less incompetent about being unable to find a stepladder in the middle of the living room.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Summer came back, but looking like October

Today was the warmest day in a while, high 80sF and a little breeze, perfect for people to do what I did, mosey over to Cranbury, for ice cream before the shop closes for the season, then walk about. 

Amazing how many people are free in the daytime to be out and about, all ages, reminder that everyone is not on a nine to five workday. This is my second positively last ice cream of the season, and I wonder now if I will make a few more positively final appearances, like an Italian tenor.  I'm not fighting it.




Anyway, after the obligatory icecream at the store all tricked up for Halloween, I went over to Village Park, to see sun on the water, a favorite sight. 






I notice yet again that I do like those empty benches in front of a view.  They suggest stories and happenings to me.  And sun sparkling on water.  And shadows in trees and of trees.  This is one of those days where I don't draw nor paint, but store up images which will later occur to me as I'm working.
 


Then home to the last of the fruit crumble and a cup of coffee, very Viennese, and an Emma Lathen.  If you have not read any of them, you might really enjoy.  It's a series of detective stories set in the world of high finance, but a lot more fun than that sounds, with great comic characters and dialog.  Written by two women, both from that life, it is as funny as it is wise.  I'm rereading, just to have  books I can laugh out loud at.  Urgently needed at this point in history.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tea's up! and visiting geranium too

So yesterday about 3.30 p.m. I thought hm, time for a little something.  Scones, maybe.  Jam, too, maybe.  But I didn't have either. However, in practically no time, amazing how fast it goes when you're hungry, I'd made a batch of golden raisin and walnut scones, and a pot of strawberry jam.  



I had a packet of strawberries in the freezer waiting for the moment I felt like making jam.  And the smell as they came out, pure summer time and hot weather. It's nice to remember hot weather when you're cool at the moment.


So by 4.15 I was sitting down to a nice afternoon tea, complete with hot scones, fresh strawberry preserves, and a great air of smugness.  Amazing how fast this is when you make small batches of everything.  And sb's taste better, usually, than massive batches.

And they'll be shared with various people, too.

I also have a visitor hanging out with me while the roof down the street is being repaired, well, several, but this is the most spectacular, the geranium.  



Also several of her friends came with her until their porch is uncovered and back in action.  Really improves the look of the place, I must say. 

Having a couple of computer setbacks today, involving losing and finding and accidentally deleting programs, dang, which is why there's no watermark on these pix.  But they're not good enough to steal, so I'm not too disturbed about this.  

But I wish I could find all my icons, which suddenly shot off my desktop!  SOS out to techie son for suggestions on how to do this. The solutions I've found look a bit dangerous to me, not wanting to dig this hole any deeper.  So I will breathe, and spin, and go for a walk and this too shall pass.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dessert for breakfast, life is good 6WS

Yesterday's dinner, for Handsome Son and self, was all about comfort food in the first chilly days of fall.  Pasta with red sauce of farm tomatoes, homemade oregano pesto, sausage slices, then a crumble of apples and blackberries, farm produce. Nice glass of red wine.  


 Here's the fruit looking like natural jewelry, and the bowl of melted butter with olive oil waiting to mix with the flours on the left
 
 
The crumble part was almond, walnut and oatmeal flour, which I processed from the nuts, in the coffee grinder, plus oatmeal flakes.

This not only made a very good supper, fresh grated parmigiano cheese and hot pepper flakes on the pasta, then the different texture of the crumble, but the dessert is good for breakfast, too.  

Because, you know, oatmeal, fruit.  So this morning a bowl of it with mango yogurt over it, cup of Vietnamese coffee. What could be better.

Now that the farmers' market is almost over, many vendors having finished for the season,  my mushroom and egg people sell to other stores, so I can still get them, I can look at the season and muse.  

Very glad to be out from under the onslaught of squash, zucchini and potatoes of last year's farmshare.  I have been given a few summer squash, but those I can manage. And I've had more variety of everything.  So all in all, it was a good move to quit the farmshare.  I still eat top of the farm, but my own choices.  

And the visits to the farmers' market were social events, too, with music, and bumping into friends and friendly dogs, and generally a value added morning. I guess this is an unsolicited testimonial.  I still buy from the farm where I had the share, though, but it's what I want to have, not what they want to sell me!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I write to you midst shot and shell, to quote the poet

So we are at the start of a long long long period of renovation in the development.  After years of prodding and wailing and pushing and generally being squeaky wheels to the Board, we have taken out a massive loan, and are now at work.  

Starting a couple of weeks ago, all the roofs are being completely replaced, yay, fixing the leaks in my ceiling, I hope, and all the wood siding, rotted and rotten looking, replaced with some synthetic stuff that lasts forever or near to it.

This will be great when finished, meanwhile, there will be a long period of noise and disruption and dust and sneezing and general chaos.  I have to move furniture off the patio, and put away my solar light for safekeeping, and generally hope my little trees survive having stuff flying down on them from a great height. Parking is always tight anyway, and with many spaces taken for vehicles and setup, even more so.  If you are out in the evening, your parking spots are gone before you get home.  

I don't store anything in the eaves, so I don't need to do anything about that, though I have neighbors frantically emptying out the storage of years from there and figuring out where it is to go, since it was in the eaves because there wasn't anywhere else...But this too shall pass.


 
Meanwhile, it's a kid's paradise to see all the big rigs and giant digging and pulling and hauling machinery, and all the huge chunks of debris flying down off the roofs.  I can't watch while men are trotting about on the ridgeline waving large roofing panels, though.
And they worry if anyone gets too close, hence the distance pic of the current roof under construction down the street.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Voting around here is Done and Dusted by Dollivers

The mail-in ballot arrived, and the Dollivers, always keen to exercise their fantasy franchise, clamored to get on with it, and assist in the photoshoot of the historic ballot.  Call Me Michelle made sure I knew whose name to check.  



Great excitement, particularly since today former GOP governor of NJ, Christie Whitman, announced she will vote for Hillary.  The Ds claimed to have called her and urged this action, for historic reasons if no other, she being our first female gov, but they tend to get carried away with these things.

So it's Done, the Die is Cast, and now for the wait..