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.