Tuesday, September 27, 2016

more on Shakespeare's influence

 "Among the words first found in Shakespeare are abstemious, antipathy, critical, frugal, dwindle, extract, horrid, vast, hereditary, excellent, eventful, barefaced, assassination, lonely, leapfrog, indistinguishable, well-read, zany and countless others (including countless).

His real gift was as a phrasemaker... Among them: one fell swoop, vanish into thin air, bag and baggage, play fast and loose, go down the primrose path, be in a pickle, budge an inch, the milk of human kindness, more sinned against than sinning, remembrance of things past, beggar all description, cold comfort, to thine own self be true, more in sorrow than in anger, the wish is father to the thought, salad days, flesh and blood, foul play, tower of strength, be cruel to be kind, blinking idiot, with bated breath, pomp and circumstance, foregone conclusion - and many others so repetitiously irresistible that we have debased them into cliches."

                                              -  Bill Bryson,  Shakespeare: The World as Stage

Monday, September 26, 2016

a visit from Cyndi

Cyndi came by today

she's always been big on gadgets and electronics.

She brought a drone. It has a camera on it.


Sunday, September 25, 2016


"O God, you loved the world so much that you gave your Only Begotten Son for our salvation. Grant that we who have received such a gift from you may withhold from those in need no gift that lies within our power to give, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

-  from Magnificat, September 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

bird talk and bard talk

There were three mockingbirds in the bird bath a few days ago - that was a treat.

a bad photo

The next day we were about to sit down for dinner when a hawk landed on the shed. We just could not get a decent photo of him.

In my day, wearing white accessories before Memorial Day and after Labor Day were a no-no, and I've always stuck to that. But I'm recently feeling the impossibility of it when the weather still behaves like summer. If it's 80 and 90 and I'm still wearing summer dresses, and the only sandals that match are the white ones, I'm going to wear them. This is a big deal for me.

another bad photo

I'm finally reading something by Bill Bryson, who seems to have written a book on every subject under the sun. Shakespeare, the World as Stage.  Herewith, a long excerpt:

"[plays] were strictly regulated. The Master of the Revels licensed all dramatic works and made sure that companies performed in a manner that he considered respectful and orderly. Those who displeased him could in theory be jailed at his indefinite pleasure, and punishments were not unknown. In 1605, soon after the accession of James I, Ben Jonson and his collaborators on Eastward Ho! made some excellent but unwisely intemperate jokes about the sudden influx of rough and underwashed Scots to the royal court and were arrested and threatened with having their ears and noses lopped off. It was because of these dangers (and the Vagrancy Act of 1572, which specifically authorized the whipping of unlicensed vagabonds) that acting troupes attached themselves to aristocratic patrons. The patron afforded the actors some measure of protection, and they in turn carried his name across the land, lending him publicity and prestige. 

Plays were performed at about two o'clock in the afternoon. General admission for groundlings was a penny. Those who wished to sit paid a penny more, and those who desired a cushion paid another penny on top of that - all this at a time when a day's wage was 1 shilling (12 pence) or less a day. The money was dropped into a box, which was taken to a special room for safekeeping - the box office."

The one I really want to read is Notes from a Small Island, but this small book will do for now. Small, because he says there is really very little known for certain about William Shakespeare.

"More than two hundred years ago, in a sentiment much repeated ever since, the historian George Steevens observed that all we know of William Shakespeare is contained within a few scanty facts: that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, produced a family there, went to London, became an actor and writer, returned to Stratford, made a will, and died. That wasn't quite true then and it is even less so now, but it is not all that far from the truth either."

the Chandos portrait

Back to the subject of birds, he is blamed for the presence of starlings in this country.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

better planning

I suddenly had a light bulb moment that if I wait until the cats are having their meal and then open the tuna can, they won't even notice.

More for us.

Monday, September 19, 2016

a wisteria cowl

I haven't blocked my little blue scarf yet - I want to do it on a dry day. But today I began another single-skein knitting project, the Winterfell Cowl. (You can find it on Ravelry or google an image for it.) It's easy and very appealing, or maybe it's the drama of the photos in the snow. Either way, it's a safe bet for this pretty wisteria colored yarn that I lost the label to. I know it's wool and worsted weight.  And I can use it all up with this pattern if I want, because I can just keep going with it. I'll see when I get there, but this is a pleasant way to learn knitting with a chart.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

so young, so cute

At the library, when books are returned we flip through the pages looking for things; in children's books, for possible crayon marks or torn pages, in adult books for coffee stains or water damage. Not to mention personal things left behind, such as a special bookmark, etc. So, with that in your mind, picture me at work yesterday paging through some inter-library loan returns. I see a photograph.

I recognized him right away -  Paul Newman, from the fifties!

I looked up the last patron who had the book, and called - they said to dispose of it. !  It wasn't theirs, apparently. I brought it home to show my brother.

It's a real snapshot, not a print. I googled images of Paul Newman, Paul Newman with car, promotional photos of Paul Newman, but this didn't come up, so I guess it really is a photo that somebody, who maybe even knew him, snapped. It's a great pose; he's got a pen - maybe giving autographs? The car has California plates. Maybe I can look up the person who had it before this one, but we can only go back so far.  I've never been a fan and have probably only seen three of his movies but now I'm feeling nostalgic and want to see another one or two.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

olives and rosemary

I was all set to squeeze out half an hour to bring Dolly outside today, when I remembered (thank goodness!) that I had bread on the second rise which might need to go in the oven. And, it did!  By then it was time to make supper.

I realized my pinterest board with bread recipes in it has been ignored for some time, so I thought I may as well choose a recipe from there to make today. It has kalamata olives and loads of rosemary in it - what a fragrance when it was baking! I threw in a little rye flour to make it better. I did not use a pot, or any part of her method, but just the ingredients. Yes, two tablespoons of rosemary - dried. It wasn't too much! And a good way to use up those olives in the fridge. I had a little, and then put it in the freezer.

I've got another crop of strawberries - they're larger this time, so I think they must not be alpines. Those are small, I believe. I'm also getting loads of plum tomatoes. I never got around to staking them, which was very bad of me, but so many plants seem to be propping each other up. Which is nice.

Monday, September 12, 2016

peace like a river

As rain on meadows newly mown,
So shall he send his influence down:
His grace on fainting souls distills,
Like heav'nly dew on thirsty hills.

By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.

                                                 -  Isaiah, 30:13b

God in his power is refuge and strength; God in his mercy is the river that refreshes the soul; God in his beauty stills all our useless struggles and gathers us into his peace.

(from Magnificat, September 2016)

The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.

                                            -  Exodus 14:14

Saturday, September 10, 2016

fabric for a baby quilt

I was dragging my feet about making another baby quilt for a cousin, but I guess I was waiting for this fabric - just didn't know it.

Friday, September 9, 2016

too fast for me

And here we have Sweetie, licking butter off her lips after she got to my toast before I did.

While I was busy getting her some kibble.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

shawl finished

Over several hours of sitting outside last week (my summer vacation) with Dolly, I finished my shawl. Now it needs ends woven in and blocking.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

little watermelons

I'm pretty bad about weeding my (very small) garden and suppose I could come up with several excuses for it.

This morning was overcast, with an irresistibly balmy breeze blowing in past the curtains. I knew what I wanted to do. I weeded both gardens, clipped the long grasses around them, and tossed fertilizer on the beds. Scrubbed the bird bath and refilled it. And because it was cloudy and windy, it was pure pleasure.

There's a little watermelon out there from a plant Debra gave me just when it was time to pull up the garlic plants. I don't know what variety it is or how big it's supposed to get. And I wish I knew how it would fare if I had to bring it in before it's time. Do melons continue to ripen after picking? If they're picked too soon?

It's six or seven inches in diameter, I'd say. It doesn't look like anything exotic, does it? And in my weeding, I found another, smaller one too. I'll keep them out there as long as I can, covering them up if it gets cold. But I really don't know what to expect. I'll just hope.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day

O God, who through human labor
never cease to protect and govern 
the vast work of creation,
listen to the supplications of your people,
and grant that all men and women
may find work that befits their dignity,
joins them more closely to one another
and enables them to serve their neighbor.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God,
forever and ever. Amen.

- from Magnificat, September 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

the scent of water

For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down,
that it will sprout again, 
and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof will wax old in the earth,
and the stock thereof die in the ground;
yet through the scent of water it will bud,
and bring forth boughs like a plant.

- Job 14: 7-9

"What is the scent of water?"

"Renewal. The goodness of God coming down like dew."

- from The Scent of Water,  by Elizabeth Goudge

Saturday, September 3, 2016

ripping it out and starting over

I used my new-found soup knowledge the other day, and turned some almost-wilting greens into a soup base. Then I (turned on the air conditioner) added beef broth and frozen corn, and threw in cheese tortellini and cut-up meatballs. A meal in itself.

I took Dolly out the other day; we sat quietly listening to podcasts -

a good listener

and I knitted my scarf. It takes me so long to complete anything, but I was doing very well and was ALMOST at the end, when

I didn't have enough yarn. Another yard would have done it. I couldn't stand it - we came inside and I put it away for a day.

The pattern is called Veron, and it seems very clever to me - you are supposed to weigh the yarn at the beginning, and when you reach the point where you've got twenty percent of it left you start doing short rows while slowly decreasing until you're done. When I got to that awful point of no more yarn, I instantly realized that twenty grams was more than twenty percent of 99 grams. If I'd begun the short rows at 21 grams that would have been just right. Why did that only become clear to me in hindsight?

Anyway, a day or two later found us outdoors again. I was right to let it alone for a while - I had no trouble ripping it out to the twenty one gram point.


I'm almost done again. But if I have to undo it again, I will! (I avoid the term "frogging" - it sounds very rude)

I picked up "The Scent of Water" by Elizabeth Goudge. Her books always are magical, but it took me a little while to get into this one. Now I'm all in.

She opened her window in the morning and saw a spider's web sparkling with light and was aware of miracle. Sitting in the conservatory with her sewing she knew suddenly that the sun was out behind the vine leaves and that she was enclosed within green-gold light as in a seashell. She dropped her sewing in her lap and was motionless for an hour while the light lay on her eyelids and her gratitude knew no bounds. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

slanted rain

It rained against my bedroom window today; I guess that means summer's over.

I said here that in summer, the rain falls straight down, and I can leave my north-west window open. The rest of the year it falls in a slant, and would come in if I let it.

There is no season such delight can bring
as summer, autumn, winter and the spring.

-  William Browne  

Monday, August 29, 2016

my mother's recipes

I went through my mother's recipe boxes today. I don't know why I never thought to before - she's been gone eight years.

Some were definitely familiar, others not, and I suppose many were just ones she'd collected but never made, and none of them were entirely her own creations. She was a very good cook, but I think she went on inspiration as she was cooking, but didn't record any of that.

So I saved about one quarter of them. Cooking was such a different prospect back then, with so much cheesy casserole-y stuff, so much Campbell's soup in the recipe, etc. I don't cook like that very often. I didn't save anything which we won't be eating, but I found plenty of interest.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

always strawberries

Two years ago I bought strawberry plants at Agway, and a strawberry pot. When the cold came, they couldn't last in the pot, of course. Last year I bought more plants and did the same. They didn't do well in the pot, but two survived, I think. At the very end of the warmth, before the ground hardened, I stuck them in one of my gardens.

I know enough about them to know that they spread, so I had been avoiding putting them in the ground, mulling over where the best spot might be where they'd stay put and behave themselves. But when it got too late for any more wondering, I just planted them. I suddenly had the freeing idea that I'd be better off just going with the consequences. I had some dill in the other bed, and I thought that if I had a dill garden and a strawberry garden, that would be okay. (and you can also see the weeds here, I'm sure)

Anyway, I had forgotten what type they were, but they're small, so I guess they must be alpines. And they are ever-bearing. Always either those pretty white flowers, or the luscious berries! They may take over the whole place, but I am willing to adapt to that eventuality

Thursday, August 25, 2016

two plain soups, and meatballs a different way

I made two soups recently which surprised me. I forget where the first was from, but it entailed sauteeing some leeks in olive oil, and then adding chicken broth with romaine lettuce and snow or snap peas (I get them mixed up). Cook it for a little while, put through the blender and strain. When I decided to make, I paid full price for the ingredients, of course; but the second time I made it I used onions, and had the lettuce and the peas on hand - they were wilting, and it was very handy to know this recipe.

The second one was something from August's British Country Living - a Sicilian recipe which actually called for zucchini leaves for the greens! And fresh tomatoes. You chop up two onions and cook them in olive oil, then put in water! yes, plain water, one and a half liters, (or litres) with a pound of your greens, a pound of tomatoes, skinned and seeded and two garlic cloves, chopped. Cook for a while with 125 grams of really small pasta - like alphabets - until the greens are tender and serve with plenty of Parmesan.  Do I need to tell you that I used spinach (frozen), and did not skin or seed my tomatoes? The surprise was that we really liked it!

It tasted flat, as you can guess, but that's why the Parmesan. I tell you, I feel that I learned something from making it, and hope I remember that a tasty soup can come from almost nothing of interest. (well, zucchini leaves are very interesting, but we're not growing any this year, and I doubt if I'd have a pound of them, anyway.) This whole thing reminds me of the Stone Soup folktale - basically a soup made out of very little, but still good. 

my meatballs are never round

This afternoon I started to make some meatballs, and I've been using the same method for quite a while now. But today I went into the fridge looking for things to put in and use up. I found a mostly empty bottle of capers with less than two tablespoons left. Then, a container of hummus - roasted red pepper - which had perhaps one third cup in it, so I scooped that in. At this point I thought I wouldn't need salt or pepper, but I dumped the end of the Italian seasoning bottle in - a teaspoon, maybe, but didn't dare add anything more. The bread I included had it's own flavor and the meatballs turned out quite good. I haven't made up my own recipe for that in a long time. 

So I tend to go back and forth, trying new recipes and spending more than perhaps I should in the making, but that's the price you pay for learning something new. The trick is remembering the ones worth remembering. Now for a while I'll spend less and stick to the familiar. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

the Dottie Angel dress: getting there

I finished the Dottie Angel dress, except I didn't hem it. Here it is, wrinkled, and with the pockets looking (but not!) uneven.  This version was the experiment; I had to unpick the tucks and re-place them an inch and a half lower. And I don't care for such a low back - next time I'll raise it at least three and a half inches.

I left off the ties, as an afterthought, even though I had cut them out.  But I am going to try it again, and even make my own bias binding because I prefer the softness of all-cotton to the store-bought stuff, at least for this project. I like the idea of a summer dress with throwonability - not for anything but daily living around the house - and this could be really cute for that, if I get it right.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Are parsleyed potatoes an English thing?

I've read that potatoes cooked with butter and parsley is an English dish, but -

When we were little, my parents were friendly with an older couple. My mother thought this friendship was especially important because there were no grandparents, and so these good people were as close to that as we could get.  They had a very small Italian restaurant in the city, where we'd often go on Sunday evenings; my brother enjoyed being allowed to set the tables (red checked tablecloths!) and refill the shaker jars with red pepper flakes and grated parmesan. The wife did all the cooking herself and the husband waited tables - they were well into middle age back then, and worked hard! Her spaghetti sauce was like nothing I've tasted since.

Anyway, she was an excellent cook, and made a couple of things which still stay in my mind, and one of them - this will probably surprise you - was to slice canned potatoes, and sort of fry them in butter with parsley. We ate plenty of canned veg when I was a kid, and I didn't mind potatoes canned (don't think I'd want them now).

Anyway, tonight I was putting my brother's dinner together - he works late - and there is some leftover chicken and some boiled potatoes. I sliced them up, and browned them in butter with some parsley. They're good; better than just warmed over.

But, isn't this an English thing?

Monday, August 15, 2016

the key to summer

I will give you the key to this garden gate.
Bright summer lives over the wall.
You may play in the sun till the season grows late,
and bring back the key in the fall.

-  Arnold Lobel

Sunday, August 14, 2016

and, finally

last, but not least -

Henry on my flip flops last night

Amazing that, for three days in a row, they each took a turn posing for me. These were not pictures from my archive. 

Twinkle toes,
He comes and goes,
In and out the door.
He can't remember
Where's he been
A minute or so before.

 -  Arnold Lobel

Saturday, August 13, 2016

from the Churchill Factor

"It has been said that the difference between Hitler's speeches and Churchill's speeches was that Hitler made you think he could do anything; Churchill made you think you could do anything."

                                                -  Boris Johnson,  The Churchill Factor

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016


We're in the dog days of summer now, the days when the air conditioning (thank God for it!) is running even at night. But today there was cause for rejoicing because we had blessed rain - and some yesterday, too. It's been very, very dry. And have you ever noticed the garden always seems to prefer rain water to tap water?

It was so cool and pleasant in the living room today that Dolly actually wanted to lay on some warm laundry.

Good thing my brother isn't bothered by the cat hair on his sheets.

I've been working on a Dottie Angel frock  - or rather, I realized I started one a month ago, and somehow haven't felt much like sewing lately; but that's ridiculous - I want to get it done.  I made one a while back and it ended up being huge, and the fabric was stiff and cheap and it was awful - I rolled it up and stashed it somewhere I don't remember. I have higher hopes for this one. It's a very cute design and would be a useful garment, I think. Today I'm working on finishing the neck.

Have you ever noticed that if there are any flip flops hanging around, a cat is sure to lay on them?

This is not my imagination. I have a picture of Henry on some, and am sure I'll soon have one of Sweetie.

I'm reading another book on Winston Churchill. The first one, Churchill's Trial, I'd read a review of, and had to buy it; it's basically a character study of the man during his experiences with the two world wars. Now I've got a library book by Boris Johnson, recent mayor of London, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History. He's a good writer and not afraid of giving strong opinions, which makes it very interesting to me. It seems that Churchill was the sole voice against appeasement with Hitler - what a terrifying thing to imagine how things could have ended up!


In between the rain, sunshine and occasional thunder there was a very brief sun shower, which I caught (quite poorly!) in a little video.

It rains and it pours.
I've got too many chores.
There's the cooking and cleaning to do.
I'd rather be out on a wet, green hill,
Laughing and dancing with you.

-  Arnold Lobel

found on the internet

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

the old woman of long ago

There was an old woman of long ago
Who went about her mending.
She sewed the wind against the clouds
To stop the trees from bending.
She stitched the sun to the highest hill
To hold the day from ending.

Her thimble and threads were close at hand
For needlework and quilting,
For sewing gardens to the sky
To keep the blooms from wilting,
For lacing the land to the crescent moon
To save the world from tilting.

rhyme and picture by Arnold Lobel


Monday, August 8, 2016

a gerbera daisy

I know nothing about gerbera daisies, except they're full of charm. So I brought one home from the supermarket the other day, and put it in the front window. It wilted sadly in a short time.

Since they're not hardy in our zone, I'll just keep it in the house.