Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easiest Pasta Sauce Ever (Delicious, too)

I"ve been making Roasted Tomato Sauce with all the tomatoes we are getting this year. It's simple and it's supposed to freeze very well, though I haven't yet used any of the stuff I've frozen. This recipe solves the problem I've had in the past of watery tomato sauce. The sauce is thick and richly flavored and it's incredibly simple to make. One of those recipes that you don't really need a recipe for. It's not fast, because it takes long slow cooking to bring out the flavors, but it could hardly be easier.

Cut a lot of plum tomatoes in half lengthwise, leaving the skin on. Put them on a cookie sheet (the kind with 1 inch edges, not the flat kind) cut side up. Strew over the tomatoes 1) a thinly sliced onion, 2) some sliced garlic, if you like, 3) a cut up carrot and a sliced stick of celery, if you like, 4) whatever herbs you like/happen to have (I've used rosemary, thyme, basil, and parsley at different times. Drizzle the whole thing with a little olive oil - you don't have to use much because the tomatoes release a syrupy juice - and salt and pepper. Put the whole thing in the oven at around 350 for 1 1/2 or 2 hours. until the edges of the onion and the tomatoes are beginning to turn black. Finally, dump it into a food processor and whiz it for 20 or 30 seconds, just long enough to make it into a thick, slightly lumpy sauce. Eat on pasta or freeze.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I just downloaded my first loaned Kindle book from the local library. The service just started this morning and, I'm told, the library director has been swamped with requests about the service.

In my excitement, I got a book I'm not particularly excited to read, so I'll probably end up returning it 'virtually' in a little while. Otherwise someone who does want to read it will have to wail 14 days until it disappears from my system. There are lots of little annoyances with the system, nearly all caused by publishers who haven't yet embraced the idea that publishing is going to change A LOT very soon.

Still, it was very exciting to be able to do it. And it's interesting to think about amazon, a retail store, involved in this book loan scheme and what it means for their business model.

Check out the details by clicking here, on amazon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Puzzling British Road Signs (continued)


Humped Pelicans?

Why are they crossing here?

Why can't I stop for them?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Attention: Readers of Historical Fiction

Reality and fiction are uncomfortable companions, one often finds.

Part of our walk from Alfriston to Charleston was on the old coaching road from Seaford to Lewes. Both of these pictures are of the road. It was perhaps 8 feet wide most of the way, with huge ruts and thorny bushes on either side. It really takes the romance out of imagining riding in a coach. Even the most luxurious and well-sprung coach would have been incredibly uncomfortable on this terrain. Easy to see how a highwayman could have stopped one. Also easy to see how difficult it would have been to overtake or even pass by in the opposite direction.

BTW - What looks like a snowy field, is actually a recently tilled field filled with chalk.

English Signs (Continuing series)

Nothing confusing about this sign, but it is a remarkable example of The Language of Politeness in Public Places. It says (if you can't read it) 'Should you have any comments relating to the repair/cleanliness of these toilets, please contact: ..."

An Excellent Day

We had the best day yesterday. We got up early and took the bus, changing once, to a little medieval village called Alfriston - site of the National Trust's first acquisition. From Alfriston we walked to Charleston, the summer home of the Bloomsbury Group for nearly 60 years. Going there, we walked old paths in the valley, including an old coaching road. Returning we climbed to the top of the downs and walked along the ridge on the South Downs Way, with amazing views in all directions. It was the warmest sunniest day we've had here and it was sublime.

We stopped en route to visit the church in the tiny village of Berwick. The first picture is part of the path from Alfriston to Berwick - the path points almost directly toward the tip of the church steeple, which you can almost see.

The church, which has murals painted by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, is wonderful - 12th or 13th century, with a much earlier Anglo-Saxon font and a barrow just outside the church that is even earlier. It has been a sacred spot for a long time. The murals are my favorite of all the work I've seen by Bell and Grant. They used family members as models and the landscapes in the background are familiar places - the garden at Charleston or the cliffs nearby.
Here is Christ in His Splendor - notice the WW2 service men in the left foreground with the white cliffs of the English coast behind them.

I particularly like the picture of the Annunciation - the Virgin Mary was Angelica Bell (the daughter of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, who thought her father was Vanessa's husband Clive Bell until her 18th birthday - it's quite a story) and the angel Gabriel is a friend of hers.

Charleston is amazing. I went with Sister Rose a couple of years ago and that, too, was a wonderful day. I am not sure I actually admire the work of the Bloomsbury artists but somehow seeing it all in place is really terrific. We spent some time in the gardens, which are wonderful in a particularly English cottagey way. Not that Charleston is a cottage. It's quite a big house, though not grand, dating in art to the 16th century but much ammended and added on to in the 18th century. The Bloomsbury group never owned it - they rented it from Lord Gage(whose ancestor lost the Revolutionary War) and 'all' they did is to cover it with painting on every possible surface. The COG and I were wishing my brother Enward could see it. The COG took pictures, but I didn't. At the moment he is having trouble uploading them, but I'm sure some will appear on his blog, although none from inside as that was not allowed.

The return walk was really sublime. The last picture was taken about half way to the top of the downs. Later, I was too much involved in the experience to remember to take picture, and I knew the COG would.

It was an amazing, wonderful day.

Sofa Update

Remember the sofa in our hallway when we arrived? It's still there. The COG and I think it's hilarious that we have to go over the sofa every time we go in or out of the flat. The poor women upstairs have been trying to get rid of it, but they've been thwarted at every turn. One person's van was too small to carry it etc. Today some guys showed up with a truck and then they couldn't take it because the Fire Tag is missing. You could see where it had been torn off, but the law is that they can't resell it without a fire tag.

This is one of those stupid bureaucratic rules that might sound good in theory, but make no sense. Instead of being able to be reused somewhere, the sofa is now bound for the dump. It's a good, very comfortable leather sofa that could have had many more years of use. Instead, they are having to pay £8 to have it carted away to the dump.

But here's the funniest part - they are taking it the day after we leave!

It's like having a parcourse in your front yard. Our hip flexors have never been in such good shape and we are seriously considering installing something in our front porch.


Friday, August 26, 2011


Yesterday we took the bus to Eastbourne. We sat upstairs on a double decker because about half of the ride is lovely, with beautiful views of the sea and downland. We will not speak of the other half of the ride.

The COG and I think Eastbourne is hilarious because we once heard it called 'the UK's largest open-air hospice,' because of it's reputation as the seaside resort for the elderly. Whereas Brighton's seafront is swinging, artsy, full of clubs and drunken youth and tacky seaside shops, Eastbourne's is dignified, with lovely gardens and the air of an exclusive nursing home. There are, indeed, many many elderly here.

These benches line the seafront in both directions and encircle all the paths in the extensive gardens. Each one of them has a memorial carved in the back: 'For Enid Harbuckle (1898 to 1992) who loved this place' or 'For Rose Clampton (1912 to 2001) Missed by her family' etc. There is something so sad and sweet and rather comforting about it.

We had tea in a building overlooking the sea and it really really felt like a nursing home. Many people in wheelchairs or zimmer frames looking out at the sea while drinking tea. Everywhere there were big signs cautioning people to mind the step etc. By the entrance there was an area for parking of motorized wheelchairs.

In the ladies bathroom, though, there were lots of stickers saying 'Testing Free, Treatment Free, Let's make East Sussex Chlamydia Free.' This made the COG and I giggle hilariously as we looked around at our fellow sea-gazers, quipping that they must be more swinging than they appear.

The seafront of Eastbourne is beatiful, though, with a number of lovely Victorian hotels and beautifully kept gardens. Much of the seafront is owned by the Duke of Devonshire which has kept developers of seaside tackiness at bay.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Postcards from Brighton

This is how our days go: we spend the morning in our 'loungewear' reading in the front room. At some point we realize it's too late to go out before lunch, so we eat lunch at home and then we go out. We have been to The Pavilion to see an exhibition of Regency Costume called 'Dressing To Excess'. It was small but good.

Another day we went to the Brighton Museum, which is in the former stables of The Pavilion. There was a terrific exhibition about Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant's work, as well as more costumes and various other stuff. We are hoping to get to Charleston, the summer home of the Bells and the Bloomsbury Group now run as a museum.

We've taken quite a few walks along the seafront. We walked to Rottingdean again, along the cliff tops this time, and then inland to see the pretty little historic center of the town. Rottingdean was a big site for smuggling during the years when luxury good were being smuggled in from the Continent. I'm curious about this, but don't know much else about it.

Yesterday afternoon we went to Lewes. The COG did 6 months in a practice there when he was training. The practice was in Castle Lodge, which is built within what was grounds of Lewes Castle - immediately to the right just out of view in the picture. At that time the castle wasn't opened to the public, but it is now. so we visited it.

It was really very interesting and a good 'beginner' castle. Lots of stuff for kids to do, but also it's got an interesting history. The land was granted to one of William's earls a man named de Warenne, right after the conquest in 1066. De Warenne became one of the richest and most powerful men in the world at that time. He was worth nearly 100 billion pounds in today's money. He began the castle immediately after the Norman Invasion and he and then his descendants expanded several times within the next couple of hundred years. It was one of the few castles not ruined by Cromwell's men, so although it's not intact completely, it is a bit better than most.

At first there de Warenne built a motte with a wooden bailey and stockade but this was soon replaced by stone keep and walls. Very unusually, there were two mottes, the first wooden one which was later fortified and a second one built in stone within a very few years of the first. The mottes are two hills with buildings on them both of them enclosed in one large wall. The part that's open today is the higher of the two hills and the only one with castle left on it. You can see the other motte - it's an odd flat hilltop, but it's not open to the public. The views of the countryside from the top of the existing castle are fantastic.

The castle saw real action, unlike most castles. In the Spring of 1264, Simon de Montfort, the father of the English Parliament, defeated Henry III at the Battle of Lewes on the weald just below the castle. Henry, who held the castle, surrendered to de Montfort in May or June of 1264. Then, the following January, de Montfort called the first parliament, which included not just nobles but also representatives of every shire and town.

De Montfort was killed in another battle, the Battle of Evesham, in which King Henry III regained his power a few months after this first parliament.

One of de Montfort's captains - I've forgotten his name - fought on as a rebel in Sherwood forest for some years until his capture. He is thought by some to be the origin of the Robin Hood story.

We also walked around Lewes, which is a lovely town, and visited the misleadingly named Anne of Cleves House Museum. Anne of Cleves got the house as part of her divorce settlement, but probably never visited it. It's a 15th century yeoman's house - a MacMansion at the time it was built. It's just a lovely old house, not that large by today's standards but full of interesting construction details.

So that's it for now. We are having a laid back and pleasant time. Today, we are going to walk downtown to go to the Farmer's Market in the city center. And then walk home. Exciting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What do we do in Brighton?

Our kids have asked what we do when we are in Brighton and it was rather hard to answer. What we do is hang out, which is kind of unspecific. So I am going to try to record our activities. We arrived Monday and, having traversed the sofa in the hall, we entered our apartment and just looked around to see what, if anything had happened in our absence. Not much, apart from the sofa in the hall, so we were pleased. We unpacked and made a cup of tea, using the ultra pasturized milk we had left the last time just so we could make this first cup of tea. Then we napped for a couple of hours. Cranky got up before me because the upstairs neighbor knocked on our door to try to explain the sofa. When I got up we walked about a mile to a little grocery store (there were many that were closer, but this one was new and we were curious and needed exercise) and then walked home again to make lunch. It was probably 3 by the time we ate lunch, but jet lag.... Then we took the bus downtown to buy a couple of things (a radio and some space bags - boring)

The COG made dinner and we sat in the living room and read until we both started to fall asleep at about 9 and we went to bed. I slept like a log that night but the COG had trouble sleeping.

Yesterday, we got up at about 8:30 am and made breakfast. We had only bought enough groceries to last us through breakfast, so, after breakfast, we walked to a different, bigger grocery store about 3/4 of a mile in the opposite direction. Bought groceries and carried them home on foot. We could have taken the bus, but we like walking. In the afternoon, we took the bus into town and wandered around the North Laines - a kind of hippy district with lots of interesting shops in it. Then, we walked home again - another mile and a half or so. Went to bed after midnight and I couldn't sleep but the COG slept like a log. I finally fell asleep in the wee hours and slept till 10:30. I kind of regret that, but it's jet lag.

After breakfast hung around reading. I finished a mystery on my Kindle and then read the Guardian subscription the COG has this month on his Kindle. Lots of exciting juicy tidbits in the Phone Hacking scandal. Which I love reading about - it's a sort of victimless crime, unlike all the other depressing things in the news. But with people in high places about to get whats coming to them.

After lunch, we walked to Rottingdean and back (about 2 miles each way) on the UnderCliff Walk. It's an overcast day, but bright and warm enough to be comfortable in a short-sleeved top. It started to rain lightly on the way back, but we made it home with no damage.

Now we are at a pub - The George, about 2 blocks from our flat. Free wifi and expensive beer. This morning I made arrangements for us to have internet in the flat. Don't know how long it will take, but I hope we can arrange to have it done while we are here. In the meantime, I've had 1 1/2 pints of bitter and a packet of crisps, in addition to the wifi. So it's not an entirely wasted visit.

So, in summary, what we have done since we got here is ... not much. We've walked around and hung out.


We've arrived

We arrived on Monday, late morning. It was a completely uneventful flight, although for some reason I was more tired than usual when we arrived. I slept most of the way from Heathrow on the bus. Usually, I like to walk from the bus station because it wakes me up and I can see everything, but I was too tired to do anything but take the city bus from the station. We got to our flat, unlocked the front door into the common area and this is what we saw:
Yes, that is a sofa completely blocking the hall to our flat (our door is on the left at the back). We climbed over the sofa with our luggage and entered our flat. One of the new owners from upstairs woke us from our nap a little later to tell us that they bought it and it didn't fit and got stuck and that it was going to be taken out - in a week or so. Yes, that's right. We are still having to walk over the sofa when we enter or leave. OK, it's a fire hazard not to mention inconvenient for two people over 60 with groceries etc. but we don't want our first contact with our new neighbors to be unpleasant, so we are living up with it.

Update: After living with it a couple of days,and getting over jet lag crankiness, we think it's hilarious. And instead of thinking of it as a fire hazard, we are considering that it is a great deterence to burglars. Plus, it's really made us more flexible to have to go over it several times a day so it's like a free fitness plan.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Goose Photobomb

Here's a goose photobombing Miss T and Little Miss A, who were having a picnic at a farm near here.
This farm reminds me so much of my grandparents farm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


My lovely next-door neighbor brought me 10 pounds of wild blueberries from Maine. Because the berries are fresh, I had to use them quickly. So I've made several pints of Blueberry-Lemon Jam and Blueberry Muffins and Blueberry Oat Bread and 2 Blueberry Pies (I froze one and cooked the other) 2 Jam Tarts and last, but not least, some yummy Honeyed Blueberry Frozen Yogurt. All the remaining berries have been frozen in 1 cup portions.

I am by no means complaining, but ten pounds of blueberries are a lot of blueberries to deal with in one day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Work In Progress - Dining Room Wainscotting

Here it is: the project for which I needed the nail gun. I've added wainscotting to three walls of the dining room. It's not done, yet. It needs another coat of paint and some sanding, but that's going to wait until we decorate the whole room this autumn. The wall color will change as will the furniture layout. More about that later. Now we are going to enjoy ourselves with Daughter of, who is bringing Miss T and Miss A to visit tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My New Love (Don't worry COG, I still love you, too)

Be Still My Beating Heart.... The Paslode Cordless Nail Gun. Even writing that musical, beloved name makes my heart beat a little faster.

I rented it, but I want to buy one now. It made possible a project I have been working hard on and which I will show you when I am done.

Here's a hint - a picture of my dining room as it was last week with all the furniture pushed to one side so I could access the walls.

The thing about power tools is they are great equalizers. I am little, weak, and old but with power tools I can do nearly the same work as someone younger, bigger, stronger. Technology is wonderful that way.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What I've Been Doing..

Among the many things I've done lately (while not blogging) is organizing my pantry. Of course, it was pretty organized to begin with, but the pasta, pulses and grains were a bit of a mess - mostly in plastic bags thrown into one of several wire baskets. As a consequence I never knew quite what I had or where it was.

A trip to Sister Rose's house inspired me. She was using quart-sized spaghetti sauce jars for her rice and nuts and it looked quite tidy. On the way home, I suddenly had an epiphany. I could use actual canning jars. So, I went to Essex Agricultural Coop (because they are the only place I knew that has canning supplies all year long) and I bought quart jars and half gallon jars. At home, I transferred all my stuff to jars and made labels. It looks so neat now and I know what I've got - more than 10 kinds of rice, for example (that would be brown and white jasmine, brown and white basmati, brown and white sushi, wild rice, arborio rice, English pudding rice, red rice from the Camargue, a couple of rice blends) 4 kinds of lentils (Brown, red, yellow and Puy) etc.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Great Blue Heron Rookery

The COG and I went for a drive to find a Great Blue Heron Rookery he had heard about. A rookery is like a nursery, where chicks are raised. It turned out to be a short walk through the woods, then a primeval looking place -a huge marsh, with lots of dead pine trees in the middle. The pine trees were like apartment buildings with nests stacked over nests and teeming with herons. It's not a great picture, but the nests are fairly obvious - they are the darker, thicker bits you see going up the tree trunks. We stayed for quite a while - it was so amazing to see so many herons at once. Usually you see one which flies off the moment you see it, but here there were a hundred or more. Often 3 or 4 to a nest, the young ones already very large and nearly fully fledged. Soon the rookery will be deserted and they will all return to their solitary ways.

The Cranky Old Geezer has posted a few better pictures he took so you can see more clearly.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Home Made Pizza

We made pizza last night. I used a no-knead bread recipe for the crust, which was fantastic. And we set the oven to 500 degrees for an hour before baking, so our baking stone could heat up properly. We used fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, olives, parmesan, red pepper flakes and finely chopped garlic to top the pizzas. We baked them, one at a time, for 3 minutes, then turned the broiler on for an additional 3 or so minutes - until they were nicely browned. I added torn purple basil when I took them out of the oven.


Click Here for a link to a video explaining the method.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vinegar Miracle

I'm going to start posting regularly again. Today I just want to share something I just learned. It's so delightful that after so many years of life, there are still things to learn.

Anyway, in the summer we have a problem with mildewy smelling towels. It happens every summer. There is no visible mildew, but there's that horrible moldy smell. In the past, I have treated it with bleach in every washload and hot water. But it hasn't been very effective. They smell fine out of the dryer, but after a day or two of use they begin to leave a mildewy smell on your skin. Yecchh.

So I did a little research online and discovered that bleach doesn't actually kill mildew. It bleaches dark stains of mildew, but it doesn't kill it. To kill it, you can use white vinegar. I've heard of this before but was always skeptical. It sounded too eco-friendly to actually work. But a painter I know said that white vinegar is the best thing to treat mildewy areas of woodwork inside and outside of homes before painting and that impressed me. So I tamped down my skepticism and I tried it. It worked fantastically. No mildew smell at all since I first did it several weeks ago.

Here's what I did: I soaked the towels for 1 hour, in my washer with the hottest possible water, to which I added 1 cup of white vinegar and only enough water to barely cover the towels. After an hour, I let it finish the wash cycle and then washed again using detergent and the hottest water. Then I dried them in the dryer at the hottest setting.

Now when I wash them each week, I add 1 cup of white vinegar to the wash and use hot water.

And presto, chango! No mildew.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father's Day

Son of is still with us, still on crutches, but getting slowly better. We were, thus, able to celebrate Father's Day with half of our children present.

The other half, Daughter of, was with us in spirit. She gave the COG a rather delightful Father's Day present - a whole lot of oysters and a fantastic French loaf. So, on Saturday night, we picked up the oyster order she had called in to a local fish market, and we had a lot of fun with the oysters. The COG shucked, that being a gender-stereotypical role in this family. I made a salad. We just sat and stood around in the kitchen, drinking wine and eating bread and oysters, a few at a time. Most of the oysters we ate raw. I say 'we' meaning mostly The COG. Son of and I are a little tentative with raw oysters. We had a few and they were fresh and sweet and tasted of the sea. Then we found two recipes for broiled oysters and did 3 at a time, using these two recipes. One recipe was simply a teaspoon of cream, a bit of freshly-grated parmesan and a little olive oil, then broil for a couple of minutes. It was very nice. But the other recipe was divine and that was the one we did over and over. It had lime juice, cilantro, siracha, melted butter and shallot. Really really really good. Quite a delicate flavor so as not to over-power the oysters, but delicious. It was a really lovely, impromptu meal and one we'd like to repeat.

Sunday night, Son of grilled fantastic aged beef steaks and I made salad and a Strawberry Sponge Cake and we celebrated again.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back Again

I've been trying to figure out what to say after this long absence. A lot happened in a short time in April.

1) Son of broke his leg quite badly. It's nearly 8 weeks later and he still can't put any weight on his leg. He's home but he is recovering. It's only a matter of time is my mantra. He doesn't have a cast, but a huge black Darth Vader looking device he puts on when he moves around. The stitches are out and his leg has healed well, but has big scars, of course. He has gotten quite good at moving around on crutches, but it's hard when you can't put any weight at all on your foot and he gets tired. We've taken him out to do a little bird watching, but it's sad that he has mostly missed this years migration. Still.. only a matter of time. Could have been so much worse.

2) Daughter of gave birth to another beautiful little girl. What riches, to have two lovely granddaughters. I spent a couple of weeks helping out after the birth. Miss A. has a very easy-going personality. She eats well; she sleeps well; she looks around contendly in between. No newborn is easy, but she reminds me of her mom, who was a blessedly amiable baby.

3) Dog of Cog died. She had reached a good old age after a pretty eventful life. She was a good dog and I miss her. I keep looking for her around the house before I remember that she is gone. Now Cat of Cog is an Only Pet.

Meanwhile, life has been going on around here. Lots of nests around. We've Baltimore Orioles in the front yard and Orchard Orioles in the back. There's a family of swans across the street who visit our pond sometimes in the morning. There's a family of Canada Geese that visits in the afternoons. They must be nesting nearby. The air is full of birdsong all day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We Interrupt This Blog....

I'm in Bangor, Maine. The Son of COG fell going down his back steps this morning and broke his leg. It's quite a nasty break - the big bone in his lower leg is broken in two places above the ankle. The smaller bone is really shattered, a bit higher up. He's in a lot of pain and is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, time unknown.

I'm staying at the former Nurses Residence of the Eastern Maine Medical Center, which is now the Riverview Inn. I, however, have a Parking Lot View. Not complaining - it's convenient, cheap and clean.

On the way up today I saw two bald eagles. One of them was over the Penobscot River, just by the hospital. I take this as a good omen.

I'll post more when I know more.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Adieu, Borders

The Borders store I worked in for 8 years, closed for the last time, yesterday at 5 pm. Coincidentally, I had dinner with 3 women who used to work with me there. It was lovely to talk about the good times we had there, in the old days before the business went South.

One of them quipped that we were now 'Booksellers without Borders'. I've been smiling about that all day.

The people I worked with there were such an interesting group of people. I'm glad they are mostly still around and I can see them from time to time.

Mother Nature's April Fool's Day Trick


After a lovely Spring day, it snowed a couple of inches overnight.

No pictures because I'm pretending I didn't notice.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Each Minute Sweeter Than Before

It's 51 degrees. Sunshine. Crocuses in the lawn and daffodils half-sprung. Birdsong. Peepers.

After a hideously extended winter, it feels like Spring.

"It is the first mild day of March,/ Each minute sweeter than before." William Wordsworth

Friday, March 25, 2011

No Diet Gingerale.

I went to the grocery store for diet gingerale. This is the row of soda. There was no diet gingerale of any brand whatsoever.

OK, I know this isn't a tragedy like tsunamis, earthquakes, nuclear disasters etc. But, in the absence of these tragedies, is a little diet gingerale too much to expect?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just showed this picture to the COG

And he said 'My God, get me a drink. Quick!'

Not sure whether this counts as an offense to my feminist principles.

New Storage -

I'm a Storage Geek. Today I finished a project which I've been thinking about and working on for ages. It's a wooden thing for stacking the large platters which won't fit elsewhere. I am very happy it's done and it fits and it's doing the job.

This is not my proudest moment, carpentry-wise. However, it does the trick. I also made the shelf you can see at the back of the upper shelf. I make lots of these. It's simply a 1x4 inch board cut to the length I need and set on two upright pieces of the same board, glued, not even screwed. Very useful for finding extra slivers of storage.

Monday, March 14, 2011

National Geographic Channel Shows: Deconstructed

I"ve been watching waaaay too many National Geographic Channel shows lately. I get sucked in by the promise of some kind of awesome new information because of new Chromo/thermo/DNA/
imaging/ satellite/new discoveries and then watch the whole show which turns out to be a waste of an hour.

So to save you the trouble, here are some quick synopses.

Finding Atlantis: It might be mythical, or maybe not. It might be on Crete, or in Greece or maybe even under a marsh in Southern Spain, or maybe not. More research may tell.

D.B.Cooper, Who Was He?: No one knows. He probably died the night he jumped from the plane with $200,000. But maybe not.

Amazing Sunken Treasures of the Nile: Over the past several millenia many broken stone things and some amphorae have ended up in the water of the Nile. More research may tell us what they mean. Oh, and it would have taken 200 men 10 days to chip out about 2 inches down along the side of an obelisk. That's about 1/4 inch per man per day.

Finding Jack the Ripper: Who was he? No one knows, but it's an exciting hobby for retired detectives, involving foreigh travel and making tv shows.

Countdown to Catastrophe, Mega Quake Seattle: It's only a matter of time before the area from Vancouver BC to Southern Oregon (including Seattle and Portland) and up to 50 miles inland has a mega earthquake like the one in Japan, or even larger, followed by a catastrophic Tsunami. No one knows when.

Egypt Unwrapped: The Mystery of the Screaming Man: conclusion: He wasn't really screaming, he just looks that way.

The Real Cleopatra: What a scheming bitch! She had her siblings killed or exiled and when she died there was no one to inherit, so Rome took over. Ha Ha serves you right, Cleopatra.

The Real George Washington: You thought the Father of Our Country was a secular saint who never told a lie? Guess again. He so lied to the British when he planted false information to deceive them during the war. And he had spies and he used secret codes and invisible ink to communicate with agents. Plus, he was a not-entirely-benevolent slave owner. So there, America.

One really interesting show didn't disappoint; however, I can still save you watching it.

Revealing Tutankhamen's Secrets: His two fetal daughters were buried with him and both had Marfan's Syndrome,so they died at 7 mo pregnancy and 5 mo pregnancy. He didn't have it, so his Sister, who was also his Wife must have had it. She was not one of the two unidentified royal female mummies from the same period, but not buried in his tomb. His father- Akenaten - had Marfan's, too, which is why he looks so weird in the pictures of him. When King Tut died he had the worst kind of Malaria, also a serious bone infection in his foot (which was painful and certainly necessitated use of a stick), and a compound fracture of his leg just above the knee - probably a chariot racing injury. One of the unidentified royal female mummies from the same period had a serious foot deformity and was probably a sister or cousin of his, but she didn't have Marfan's so she wasn't his wife. Conclusion: DNA is wonderful.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cats and Books - Does It Get Any Better?

If you can't see the whole picture, click twice on it and it will fill your screen. Escape to get out of the full screen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011


I have always wanted to make marshmallows - just to see how it's done. Finally, I made some lovely pink and white marshmallows for Valentine's Day. I took them to a party last night and this is all that's left. They are good - melt in your mouth sweetness. Softer and lighter and with more flavor than bought ones.

I saved these few to put in hot chocolate.

They were actually quite simple to make. I'm going to try it again with some different recipes which I have gotten off the internet.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Arrival in Brighton

The first day I arrived in Brighton, I snapped this picture from the front of our flat. I am torn between tremendous guilt at leaving the COG to deal with the heavy snow in New England and pleasure at seeing sail boats.

Brighton Aquarium

The first full day that Daughter of and her family spent with me in Brighton, we went to the Aquarium. Which is a wonderful Victorian era aquarium, now operated by Sea Life. Miss T enjoyed herself very much, as did we all. I saw Sea Horses - very thrilling. Miss T loved the huge sea turtle, the crabs, and touching a sea anemone.

The World Watches Egypt Anxiously.... While Here in Brighton...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Weather in Brighton

Either: Partly cloudy with sunny periods and a possiblity of rain, later.

OR: Partly sunny with cloudy periods and a possibility of rain, later.

And: Daffodils

The Weather in Massachusetts

And there has been another 12 or 18 inches since this was taken.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Morning After

Have you ever noticed that the morning after a big storm the sky is blue, the air is clear and the sun shines? There's a metaphor there somewhere.

Taken from my car, on Heartbreak Road after the last big storm.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow and Meatballs

We've had a lovely snowstorm - 18 inches caused by two storms that joined up in MA. One storm came up the Atlantic coast and one swept in from the Midwest and they met here. The COG has exhausted himself with a truly heroic amount of snowblowing and shovelling.

I, on the other hand, made meatballs. That is, I made meatballs and tomato sauce and pasta, all from scratch. And bread. I spent about 4 hours cooking. Quite satisfying. And they were good. Though, I must admit I'm not sure it's worth it as far as the food goes. Those Trader Joes Turkey Meatballs are pretty darn good. And pasta is pretty much pasta. But it's a pleasant thing to do on a snowy day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Doggie biscuits for Miss T

I've made some doggie biscuits for Miss T., who answers to Doggie T. much of the time. Most recently, her parents are introducing her to her 'big girl bed' because of little Rosebud who will arrive in April. She refers to her big girl bed as her 'kennel.'

I wanted the biscuits not to be fragile, so I found a recipe for gingerbread Christmas ornaments. I bought the bone-shaped cookie cutters at amazon.com.

Some are frosted. Some are not frosted. Some are frosted and sprinkled with red and green sugar. It was a big recipe and there must be 8 dozen of them - too many for a little doggie - so I'm depending on the COG and Son of COG to finish them all.