Thursday, December 18, 2008

Solitaire Heartbreak (suppressed sobs)

After winning 1360 consecutive games of Freecell, I accidentally clicked the wrong button and lost the 1361st game. Not everyone will understand the true heartbreak of this moment, but some of you will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Insanity? Or Good Housewifery? You Decide

So... we are having new windows put in this week, meaning all the pictures must be off the walls, all the furniture moved from the windows, anything which might fall over, packed away. Not to mention Christmas. But I noticed that the bookshelves were dusty and I'd been wanting for a long time to move the books around, so all the cookbooks were accessible in one place. This turned into a huge mess of books stacked hither thither and yon. Many books packed in boxes to be given away (or stored by Son of) and a general turnout of the room. The pictures were actually taken when I was nearly done - all 10 boxes of giveaways neatly stowed and the shelves nearly full. The next stage, in the New Year, will be to decorate the shelves a bit - arranging them nicely with some gew gaws and gimracks here and there.

First Snow of the Season

Our backyard after the first snow of the season.

A Happy Birthday

I had a wonderful birthday this year, quiet and happy with some magical moments. The COG and I drove down to Cape Cod to spend the day with the Son of. We picked him up and he took us to a lovely beach in Chatham (picture 1). The picture can't capture the peace and beauty of the spot. It was windy but warm (for the season) and we could see and hear gulls and other birds. I love the sound of gulls and waves and wind.

Then we drove to Fort Hill, in Eastham (second picture). This place was full of delights. The land was farmed from the 1600's to about 1950, when it became part of the National Seashore. It's a wonderful spot with meadows boundaried by low stone walls, then salt marsh, salt ponds and, finally, the sea. There are wonderful vistas and a sea captain's mansion (the mansion in the picture is Capt'n Penniman's house). It's one of those places in the world that have an almost mystical peacefulness. Or maybe it was just the wind and the sea and the sunshine and being with the COG and Son of.

We did a very short walk there, pausing to watch a blue heron fishing (which is just a light speck in a Vee of grass to the left of center of the 3d picture), and then to watch a red-tailed hawk. The COG took much better pictures of the birds due to having an Enormous Lens. You can see his photos on his blog - click here.. Among the magical moments of the day were two surprises here. First, we saw a Mountain Bluebird who was 1,000 miles from her home in the west. She had been spotted earlier in the week - a very rare occurence - much excitement in online bird sites. So there were a number of other bird fanciers around. As Enormous Lenses run in the family, Son of had brought his super-duper spotterscope, so we got to see her close-up in all her soft grey and blue loveliness. Quite exciting.

Then, on the way back to the car, I heard bagpipes playing. I couldn't figure out what it was - someone's phone or a car alarm? But when we got back to the parking lot we saw a man playing bagpipes as he stood overlooking the meadows, saltmarsh, salt pond and ocean. I have a short film of him, which I'll post separately. I talked to him and he told me that he had been coming here for 75 years and he thought it was possibly the most beautiful place on Earth. He lives in Pennsylvania now, so it's harder to get back, but he has made it every year.

But the day wasn't done yet. We then went to another beautiful beach and watched gannets fishing, which was a hoot. They fly low over the water then dive straight down into the water to catch things. We saw several seals - little polka dot heads bobbing in the water quite close to shore. Or maybe that was at another beach, earlier. All the wonderful beaches of the day are kind of merged in my mind.

Anyway, we ended with an interesting ride around a deserted National Seashore park full of sand dunes and finally watched the sun set over a beach near Provincetown (last picture). We ended the day with a birthday meal of Sushi, which was delicious, exotic and not too heavy. Perfect birthday food, in short.

We dropped the Son of back in Wood's Hole, but before we finally left him he had one more treat in store for us. In the center of the bay in Wood's Hole, someone had put a fully lighted Christmas tree in the water at his mooring. So there it was in the darkness, wobbling and bobbing in the water - a fully lighted tree. Just magical.

The only thing that would have made the day more perfect is for the Daughter of to be present as well. But she called me while we were driving down and she texted us a few delightful pictures of the Granddaughter of, so they were there in spirit.

All in all, a magical day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Where are we going? I asked the COG...

'Where are we going,' I asked the COG, 'and why are we in this handbasket?'
He smiled mysteriously, which made me think. First, I thought optimistically that it's my birthday this weekend. But then I thought, more realistically, that this was the COG I was dealing with.

So when we ended up at the Motor Show at the Boston Convention Center, I was not surprised. The COG looked very hard at many cars. I remember that there was a white car, a yellow car, a green car and some other colors of car. And a Mini. My favorite car was gold and it had a cool ipod dock with a concealed bin with 2 places to plug things in and room to store all those power cords. It also had really great cup holders and there was a mirror on the driver's visor so you could apply lipstick in traffic without changing the rear view mirror. And 3 separate compartments in the roof where you could store sunglasses and the garage door opener and a gps unit. It was an awesome car clearly designed by a sensible person.

And, from a stand on the showroom floor, you could buy a glass of draft Guinness for $7, but, obviously, we didn't.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Little Work....

We had a little work done on the house today. We are having some new windows installed and the area underneath one of them was all rotted out, so it had to be rebuilt. It wasn't just rotten, but also completely filled with ancient wasp nests. Really icky. So here are a couple of pictures of the work in progress. The windows are being installed Dec 18th. Because we thought it was a good idea to get 11 windows replaced in the coldest time of year.

Thank You, Martha

I've discovered a new, wonderful way to make the best applesauce ever. It's also the easiest way ever. You cut apples in half, plonk them into a baking dish with a little lemon juice, butter, and brown sugar and you roast them. Then you just put them through a chinoise or food mill. OK, if you don't have a chinoise or food mill - I guess you'd have to peel and core them first, so it wouldn't be as easy. But this recipe is worth buying a food mill for.

The roasting caramelizes the sugars in the apples and creates a lovely caramel at the bottom of the dish and imparts a complex fruity flavor. Here's the recipe. Try it!

Roasted Applesauce
(source: Martha Stewart Living)

Makes eight 1/2-cup servings.

1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 pounds small assorted apples, such as Gala, McIntosh, or Fuji (about 10)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine water, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2) Scatter butter pieces over mixture, and top with apples. Roast until apples are very soft, 30 to 40 minutes.
3) Working in batches, pass apple mixture through the medium disk of a food mill and into a bowl. Stir in spices. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Applesauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Seasons Change at Appleton Farm

Mid July

November -Last pickup day of the year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Definition of Hell....

Hell is when your husband carelessly says 'Oh, I need two baby presents for work. One boy, one girl.' And you have a beautiful baby granddaughter, the same size. So you are forced to spend the afternoon buying adorable things for other people's babies.

Or maybe it's Heaven, now that I think about it.

Daughter of COG, you should expect another package early next week.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day After the Election, 2008

For the first time in many years I feel proud of America.

I remember when Reagan was running the first time and we were visiting family in England and I scoffed and said there was no way he could win. I was wrong, and ever since then, I've felt like I had to defend and apologize for America when I was abroad.

It has gotten worse in the last 8 years, but now, finally, I feel I can hold my head up high as an American in the world.

We, the people, did good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008

The Geezer left before 7 am this morning telling me he was on his way to vote. I asked who he was going to vote for and he said he hadn't decided yet.

This made me giggle because we have been joking about The Undecideds for months. I decided before people had actually announced their candidacy's. The Geezer took a little longer, but not much.

It's an absolutely beautiful autumn day here so Dog of COG and I walked to the polling place. Which was a good thing because the traffic was backed up for a mile in either direction. There were lots of people who chose to walk, quite a festive atmosphere among people on foot. Gossip amongst us produced the information that when the polls opened at 7 am, there was a line stretched around the side of the building.

Before I left for the polls, I watched the whole of the speech Barack Obama made in Philadelphia, the speech that has been called 'The Race Speech'. I had only seen fragments of it before. It was worth taking the time (37 minutes) to watch. A stunning and graceful speech. Click Here to watch it.

The two towns in New Hampshire that are always the first to vote have had a landslide for Obama. In Dixville Notch, Obama got 15 votes to McCain's six. In Hart's Location, Obama got 17 and McCain only 10 (and two for Ron Paul, none for Ralph Nader). We'll see how the rest of the country goes later today.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The COG is Romantic

You have to love the thoughtful kind of guy who brings you romantic gifts. Today the COG came home from work with a sweet gift for me. My very own flu shot.

What a guy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gomez, Cat of COG

I was reading in front of the fire and Gomez, Cat of COG was curled in a ball sleeping by my side. Suddenly, he put his head up, stood and jumped onto the green chest. I kept reading until I heard a noise. When I looked I saw that he had jumped into the top of the bookcase.

He waited long enough for me to get a picture, then jumped down. Oh what a proud, mysterious cat. Did you ever hear of a thing like that?

Halloween is taken seriously around here

We're close to Salem, where witchcraft is a cottage industry and Halloween means Haunted Happenings one of the major tourist events of the year.

I have a distaste for this aspect of Salem. My ancestors were around at the time of the witch trials, on the side of the accused, and it wasn't such a fun-filled event for them.

Don't get me wrong - I like Halloween, costumes and candy are always fun. There's just a terrible irony that Salem's tourist industry is based on witchcraft. And what now is billed as good clean family fun was one of the darkest chapters in the history of our country. Innocent people's lives were damaged forever by the Salem witch trials. Some died horribly.

I try to be a good sport about this, but every year at this time I think about the tragic consequences of religious intolerance and superstition. And I wonder how far we have come since then. That's how the dead are with me on All Hallow's Even.

Four Generations of Women

Our particular spur of mtDNA has made it another generation.

We are among the clan of Helena (Greek for light): 'by far the largest and most successful of the seven native clans with 41% of Europeans belonging to one of its many branches. It began 20,000 years ago with the birth of Helena somewhere in the valleys of the Dordogne and the Vezere, in south-central France. The clan is widespread throughout all parts of Europe, but reaches its highest frequency among the Basque people of northern Spain and southern France.'from Oxford Ancestry: the European clans

Which is pretty incredible, when you think about it.

More Adorable Baby Pictures

Are you sensing a theme here? These have never been seen by mortal eyes - hot off the Scandisk.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Picture, just in

Tavie in her 3d week, taken by her first cousin, once removed (the Bride's family likes to keep exact track of relationships)

Tavie with Her Mom

Favorite pictures of Tavie from the first 2 weeks.

A near-smile, an intent gaze, a sweet almost awake face.

Day 5 Home at Last

Home at last, but Tavie wasn't as excited as everyone else. She took it in stride. This position - one hand by her head and one under her chin - is a favorite and captured in utero by ultrasound pictures.

Day 4, Waiting

On Day 4, everyone sat around and waited until Day 5, when Tavie could come home.

Youngest Red Sox Fan?

Also, Day 3, Tavie was introduced to her Mom and Uncle's favorite team. Just in time, too, because the good karma from her hat-wearing made them win the game that night.

Tavie Day 3

On Day 3, Tavie was moved from the special care nursery to her parents room, much to her parents relief and pleasure. Here she is with her Dad, The Son-In-Law of COG.

Tavie, Day 2

This picture was taken the day following Tavie's birth, in her mother's arms in the special care nursery. The little hats are knit by volunteers and were gifts to the babies and their families.

Welcome, wee Tavie

A first picture of our new granddaughter, Octavia Mary McCambridge - called 'Tavie'. 7 lbs 4 oz, 20 inches long. This was taken Oct 5, 2008 just a few minutes after her birth. She was very alert, responding to sound, looking intently at faces that spoke to her, and clearly trying to figure things out. I was very grateful to be able to spend a couple of hours with her right after she was born. My own babies were whisked away from me and not returned until hours later. The picture was taken with my phone, so it's not the greatest quality but it captures that smooshed face newborn-ness and the intensity of her alertness.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Critters in the house

We have some kind of critter in the house. I went to investigate after hearing noises and saw what I think was a baby squirrel running across the room. I've got the doors to the decks open now - even though it's dark and pretty cool. I'm just hoping it goes away. Neither Dog of COG, nor Cat of COG seems to have noticed.

What Would Your Name Be, If Sarah Palin Was Your Mother?

If Sarah Palin was my mother, my name would be Steam Fangs Palin and my unborn grandchild would be Open Aircraft Palin.

Click here to go to the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator and find out your name.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Startling Insight

This morning I was humming to myself the nursery tune, Three Blind Mice. I was humming it because of an Event with the Cat of COG, about which I will not be too specific.

Anyway, I suddenly realized that the song is about moles, not mice. A mole is a blind mouse with a rudimentary tail. Is this something everyone else has known since childhood? But I missed it until now?

Does everyone else also know why they were running after the Farmer's wife? 'Cause I've always wondered.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Pet Blogging - Dogs of France

French dogs are wonderful. I think it's because they are well socialized from puppyhood. You see them everywhere - even restaurants. They don't bark;they don't jump up;they are happy and friendly but not intrusive or aggressive. Here are some dogs we saw this summer. The first picture - the one with Sister Rose's hand in it- is of Bruce, our favorite French dog.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Patrick Blanc, Vertical Garden interview in Paris

Sister Rose and I saw one of these walls in Cahor. Could we do this to the front of our house?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

And how did you waste time last night....?

I did this color quiz. I scored 11, which disappointed me as 0 is perfect. But then I found out that the scores are from 0 to 99 and that, for my age and gender, I did well.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What's your Viking Name

Mine is Astrid the Voracious. What's yours?

Lazy Day

No picking at Appleton Farm this Saturday, as we had the dregs of Hurricane Hanna all day. Heavy rain and wind all day. Didn't do much. Sunday has dawned bright, dry and windy.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Voice of Experience......

Never ask the Geezer to 'take a quick snapshot.' It won't be quick. It won't be a snapshot unless you can wrest it from his grasp before he gets it into Aperture.

On the positive side, he's pretty gracious about wresting.

But 'quick' - not so much.

Saturday Picking at Appleton Farms

10 Sunflowers, a huge bouquet of flowers, 8 pounds of green beans, 3 edamame plants, tomatoes, more tomatoes, basil, hot peppers, more tomatoes.

What a Difference a Slipcover Makes.

I changed the slipcovers on our tv room sofa today. If I knew how to link to another entry, I'd show you how the red ones look. But here are the blue ones. I like the red better, but they need washing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Curries- Yum.

I've just posted 2 of my favorite vegetarian curry recipes on Hotdish Bleus. I made the eggplant one last night and had it again for lunch. Wowser.

Excellent for Weight Watchers, who like Indian cuisine and have a vegetarian living with them. Should there be anyone like that out there.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Sheba and I walk to meet the Geezer's train most nights. Tonight, on the way home we spotted this wonderful mushroom. It's about 8 inches tall and perfectly formed. All it needs is an elf living under it.

It's a consequence of the rainy summer we've had - perfect conditions for all kinds of fungus. Mold is pretty happy this summer, too. But we will not speak of that.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Appleton Farm - Picking Veg and Flowers

The COG and I went to Appleton Farm this morning to pick beans, tomatoes, flowers and herbs. The first picture was taken from the gate to the field where we can pick. Someone has left their sunflowers in a pail of water, while they pick something else.
For our membership we get two things. First, every week we get a grocery bag full of whatever is going, which we choose from bins in the barn. Second, there are some fields that are planted for us to pick from. Sometimes some things are limited. Today we were limited to 3 Heritage tomatoes - but could pick unlimited regular and plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. We were also limited (if you can call it a limit) to 10 stems of sunflowers and 5 gladioli.

Beans were unlimited, so I picked about a million. They were so plentiful. I think that people haven't been picking as much because it has been so wet. Plus, I was picking in a newer field, a bit farther out than the older one, which still has lots of beans.

You can see my basket of beans in one picture and a typical plant with lots of beans on it, in another.

I continued picking a long time after the pictures - The basket was full to overflowing before I stopped.

The last picture shows some of the sunflowers. They are planted in rows and they grow so tall. It's fun to walk down the ranks to find the best flowers in the middle rows, far down.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday Evening at Plum Island

Because I'm a cheap date, I let the Geezer take me to Plum Island Sunday evening. He loves going there for two reasons: first, it's free because he's so old; second, it's beautiful. My role was to drive, to stop on a dime when the Geezer saw a photo op and to do my part for the ecosystem as part of the food chain (me->mosquitoes->tree swallows->whatever eats the tree swallows etc.).

While the Geezer took his beautiful pictures, I listened to a book on my ipod and gazed with admiration at all the other photographers, some of whom had very, very large zooms.

As the evening advanced, I did take a couple of pictures - nothing like as lovely as the COG's, but just to give you some idea of the general look of things.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cat amongst the herbs

I went to a local farm today to buy some corn and berries (Russell Farms on the way to Crane's Beach, for anyone who knows it). On the table where they sell herbs and perennials, I saw this cat sleeping peacefully.

Horrible Job, but finished: Part 2

The trellis guys did not show up today and we didn't hear from them. So we aren't sure when our new trellises will be installed. At least my part is done. They are still stacked against the garage door, as in the picture I posted yesterday, being rained on at this moment.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Horrible Job, but finished

Last Spring, the Geezer and I contracted to have some trellising built and erected on our house. It's really good quality trellising, cedar, heavy duty, well-made. You can see them here, leaning against our garage door.

In a fit of what must have been early dementia, I said I'd put the wood preservative on them. What was I thinking?

It was a horrible, horrible job. I rented a sprayer, which made it marginally easier, but also created a fine mist of easily inhaled toxic fumes. And a mess. I did put down a drop cloth to catch most of the spray. However, when you spray lattice, you mostly are spraying the holes between the wood parts, so the drop cloth was a mess by the time I had finished - 2 coats on each side.

Now, although I've showered, the inside of my nose seems to be coated with the stuff because it's all I can smell. And I feel sticky all over.

We think they are going to come tomorrow and put them up. And they will look good. More pictures, then.