Sunday, June 14, 2020


After a friend tipped us off that the farm was open, last Wednesday, Frank and I took a drive down to McBee, South Carolina, to McLeod Farms, the home of the best peaches in the world. We bought a quarter-peck of the crop of early cling peaches, a quart of blackberries, a quart of luscious strawberries, several pounds of new red potatoes, tomatoes, a green pepper, and a nice chunk of Clemson Blue cheese. We’ve been eating well for days.

Last night we had potato salad from the reds, a tuna salad piled on chunks of one of the huge tomatoes, and, for dessert, the last of the strawberries and the first of the peaches. The peaches have taken a few days to ripen more.

This dessert is one I’ve been concocting for years. It’s simple:
--Cut up or sliced fruit or berries enough for two. Any fruit or berries, peaches are great, so are apples in the fall, and pineapple, even bananas, are great - but I’ve never used melons.
--Melt about two tablespoons of butter, put in your fruit, sauté it a bit, then add a tablespoon of brown sugar and a dollop of rum. Last night I also added the last of the juice from the strawberries. Simmer it a while to thicken the liquids.

Speaking of those strawberries, Saturday morning, I took some of the juice and maple syrup, thickened them a bit, and we had them over waffles. So good! So - I keep a 750ml bottle of Meyer’s Original Dark rum just for these deserts. It’s up there with the oils and vinegars and other staples.

We’re out of Trader Joe’s French Vanilla ice cream, the best vanilla ever, so I served this over coffee ice cream. My mouth had a party!

And, in case you were wondering, we had some blackberries for a dessert, then on our morning cereal, and I froze the rest - 5 cups-worth. I plan to use them in pancakes. Fruit in pancakes is another taste treat.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


Two loaves of raisin bread, set out to cool

My order from King Arthur Flour just arrived - it took weeks. I couldn't find yeast at any of the stores I shop regularly, so I had to order from KAF's Baker's Catalog. It seems like everyone who is anyone - and anyone who is a bit handy in the kitchen - is finding it a satisfying pastime during the pandemic. Me? I've been baking bread for decades. I thought some of you might like to read the "Bread Basics" updated from something I originally posted in 2012.

These instructions, written ages ago for one of my nephews,  and recently revised, assume that you have a KitchenAid or similar mixer. Originally I did this all by hand, but the machine is very handy for my arthritic hands.

Basically, my bread has these ingredients for two 9½x5½x2¾ pans
      1 Tbsp. yeast
      2 Cups warm liquid* - water 
      2 Tbsp. sugar**
      1 Tbsp. salt***
      ¼ Cup shortening**** - oil
      5½-6 Cups of flour - white*****    

Notice all these stars!!  Read through all of this, noting the starred item notes (way) below.
I put the liquid in the bowl, sprinkle on the yeast, add the sugar, salt, shortening, and mix it all well. A whisk is handy for this. I add 5½ cups of flour and mix it in. The last half cup or so is added depending on how the dough reacts. If it is too sticky I'll add more. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and lump up on the dough hook. Dough will be easier to work on rainy days where the barometric pressure is low. If your dough is on the sticky side, you should flour up your hands and board.

White bread with added oatmeal - set out for first proof

White bread is just as above. You can use milk and butter to make a silkier loaf. These are nice if making raisin bread. (add 1 T more sugar, some cinnamon, 1 tsp. or so, and about a cup of raisins before adding the flour) (substitute cardamom for cinnamon to a make Norwegian Yule Kake type bread.)

You can add 1C of old fashion oatmeal to any loaf - add about a half to a third of a cup of water to compensate. It makes for a bumpy loaf, as you will see in some of these pictures, but the baked bread inside is smooth.

For wheat bread I increase the water to 2¼ cups. Instead of the sugar I use 2T molasses (for color and a different flavor) and 2T honey. The flour mix is 2C whole wheat flour, 1C quick oatmeal and 2½-3 C white flour.  Always more white than wheat.

For a nice whole grain bread you can add 1 C Harvest Grains Blend (I get this on line from King Arthur Flour) to the wheat bread recipe.

For sweet rolls you can 2T more sugar and a beaten egg to the basic white bread mix.

For a cheesy bread, add a cup of grated cheese to the liquid mix.

Always add the flour(s) and grains last. 

Two loaves and two extra rolls - I extended the recipe - before going into the pans


After mixing and machine kneading, I knead the dough by hand for a while - very satisfying - and then I form the dough into a flattened ball on a on a floured counter, and let it sit for 20 minutes or so, until it rises a bit. Don’t worry if you let it go longer: “official” recipes tell you to let it rise until doubled.

Punch it down and form it into two equal loaves (I weigh them on an electronic scale to get them about even) - or rolls - and put the dough into greased pans. I put the loaves into the oven and - this is tricky!! - turn on oven until it is just warm-- Then turn it off.

      (Better yet - warm the oven, then put in the loaf pans!)

If you can see the temperature display on your stove don’t let it get too much above 105°. The oven provides the warm, draft free place for the dough to rise. (Sometimes I have forgotten and left the oven on - a bit of a disaster some times. The loaf may look like they have risen properly, but they usually deflate in the baking.  Still tastes good though. Croutons anyone?!)

The dough usually takes an hour or so to rise properly. About double and a half. If you forget it and it really looks puffy, it will almost always deflate some (see above!) in the baking.  If the loaves are for 'show', or if you’ve accidentally hit the side of the oven or rack and the loaf deflates, just remove them, punch them down, reform them, and let them rise again. Yeast is very forgiving.  Note - the barometric pressure has a lot to do with how fast the bread rises. On a high pressure, sunny day it will take longer to rise. Just think of the high pressure as pressing more heavily on the dough. On overcast and rainy days, low pressure, the light air lets the dough rise more quickly.  (pray for rain!)

Once the dough has risen, remove the loaves from the oven and place them on top of the stove, near the heat of the oven outlet.  Heat the oven to 450º. When the oven is up to temperature, put the loaves in side by side - maybe three inches between - and time them for 10 minutes.  At the 10 min. mark, turn down the oven to 350º, and time the loaves for 30 minutes.  (Rolls for 15 minutes) 

Remove the loaves or rolls from the pans and cool them on racks.  Do not slice the bread until it is completely cool.  Slicing too soon will make for harder cutting and gumminess where the knife has pushed through instead of slicing cleanly.

If the sliced loaf or rolls won't be used up in two days, I recommend freezing them because there are no preservatives in these loaves. You can take out just what you need for the meal, and it will defrost in no time, helped along by a microwave if you're running late.  With some toasters, like mine, it is possible to plunk in the slices still frozen and still have them toast properly.

Of course, if the bread goes stale there are always French toast, croutons, stratas, etc. to be made.

Voila! Oatmeal white bread.

King Arthur Flour has a treasure chest of bread recipes.  The nice thing is that you can choose to have the ingredients listed by volume or weight in ounces or grams.

* liquid -what have you?  Over the years I have added bouillon, potato water, milk: regular, skim, buttermilk; tomato soup, orange juice, cottage cheese, sour cream, - any liquid or semi-solid I had left over and wanted to use up - with water or milk added to make the needed measure. (I use an extra ½ cup if I’m making bread with whole wheat flour because it sucks up more water than regular white flour.) Use your judgment and instinct to know what will 'go', according to how you want to use the bread.  Always make sure to use warmed, not hot, liquid.  Yeast slows down in the cold, that’s why I keep mine in the freezer, but too hot a liquid will kill it.

** sugar - white or brown granulated, honey, maple or pancake syrup, even molasses. Powdered sugar isn't recommended. 

***never forget salt - your bread will be blah! Sugar you could forget, never salt!

**** These days I use olive oil for the most part. You can use vegetable oil (Usually, not nut oils because they are too flavorful, not to mention expensive) I have, in the past, used bacon fat and butter – butter, even now, especially for sweet breads and Christmas breads like Yule Kake.  Oh, the cholesterol!  Oh, the calories!  Oh, it’s delicious!

*****Some folks measure flour by the cup, some by weight. The recipes on the website at King Arthur Flour give you the choice of either method. If you are measuring by the cup, be careful of taking your flour directly from a new bag. This flour has been tamped down and there is much more weight in that cup than if you had first transferred it to a canister and taken the loosened flour. 

That’s about all I can write down. I have been making bread for over forty years, so some of this knowledge has come to me be osmosis over that time. It isn’t easy explaining the feel of the dough, how it reacts on a rainy day – you just have to get some experience under your belt. I can say this – even my disasters have tasted O.K. – provided I didn’t forget the salt!!  

P.S.  Email me if you have any questions.  ;-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020


Spring is here and it’s time to update your wardrobe, right? You’re tired of a few things, and others are past their sell-by date. Ah, but the stores are closed. Take it from a gal who doesn’t like hates shopping and trying on clothes - shop online.

About the only thing I must try on, rather than order online, is a coat - The fits vary so much that I really have to try them on. For everything else I shop online, and I’ve done that for twenty years. Before that, I shopped the catalogs.

Lands' End | Public Relations | Multimedia Library
Today, as I have for over thirty years, I get my basic wardrobe from Lands’ End. Their clothes are well made, true to size, last and last, and I can usually take advantage of their discounts. I’ve never, ever been disappointed with what I get from them. The only disappointment is when I’ve worn something for years and go online and discover they no longer carry it. If I like a specific item - usually a top - I buy it in several colors. Over thirteen years ago (I say thirteen because I know I got them when we lived in upstate New York) I got three cowl turtle neck, tunic-length sweat shirts. They were divine. I still have one. Now that I realize I want more, are they still making it? No. Nuts.

Another nice thing about Lands’ End is that they’ll hem certain slacks and jeans for you - for men and women. If you’ve got hefty but relatively short legs as I do, this is a blessing.

I also recommend JJill. Land’s End clothes are basic, JJill’s are a bit more stylish, an a bit pricier - but again, I watch for discounts. I’ve been buying JJill clothes, as with Land’s End, by catalog and online for over twenty years. I go to them for “dressier” things.

I’ve also shopped Woman Within. Their clothes are basic and relatively inexpensive, but they don’t last as long and the colors aren’t as good or as brilliant in the dye. I also found that their clothes ran large. Some would like that, but to me they’re baggy. What I did like them for especially was their bathing suits.

I’ve also tried Talbots (meh! And their fabrics are relatively thin) and once or twice I tried sites like Noracora. Beautiful-looking, very inexpensive clothes but everything’s from China and takes ages to arrive. When items do arrive it’s often not quite what the picture showed and the clothes run small. I learned my lesson - they’re too good to be true.

As to the rest of my wardrobe - underwear from Hanes and Just My Size (a Hanes company) and shoes from Zappos. A hint on the underwear - don’t ever get it from Amazon! Don’t get any clothes, except maybe socks, from Amazon. Amazon uses outside sellers for the underwear and other clothing items, and it has seemed like “seconds” when I got it. Get it from Hanes.

Buying shoes online? Yes, if you know the brand and always get the same size. I know that I can get shoes from Clarks, Hush Puppies, and Propet because their lasts fit me again and again. Dress shoes - I haven’t needed them in years - what I have will see me out.

So - that’s my online story. I do like to “window” shop stores like Neiman Marcus and some of the other high end stores that carry the ultra-expensive labels. One result of browsing through these websites is that you wind up getting their ads on your freebie websites. That sure beats ads for insurance, car repair, and way-out cosmetics and health remedies. 

So now - go online and shop ‘til you drop.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Quite a while ago, I cleaned out random scraps of fabric I'd been saving for far too long. A friend of mine took a piece of yardage I'd bought at a local market in Saint-Martin-du-Crau in Provence in 1999. What with every scrap of usable fabric being sewn into masks, it was no surprise that this piece would wind up being so useful. As my friend wrote, "Thought you’d appreciate knowing your fabric has become lifeboats—and stylish ones at that!"

Speaking of masks, on my few recent shopping trips - one every two weeks or so - I've noticed that not everyone is wearing a mask. That seems very inconsiderate to me, but I'd never confront a mask-less person and give them a Tsk! Tsk! One gal struck me as being odd: she didn't have a mask, but she was wearing gloves. I'd like to know the reasoning in her personal germ theory.

I'm still pondering my own germ theory as far as sanitizing goes. I have one friend who tells me she prepares a mild bleach solution and wipes down everything she brings home from the supermarket - everything - including cereal boxes and the like. To me, that's extreme. I do wonder, however, where and when, among all the various steps we take to shop and get the groceries home, do we sanitize - gloves or none.

The supermarkets have people at the door sanitizing the shopping cart handles (That's "buggy" handles if you're a Southerner.) One bright gal was using the same wipe for several carts. So, the handle is sanitized, you hope, but then you go and buy the groceries, touching an unknown number of items a you shop. You check out, you get to your car. Do you sanitize your hands before you touch the door handle? After all, you could be touching that handle again sooner than you expect. Do you then sanitize your hands before you touch the steering wheel? Do you sanitize your hands before you touch the handle of your door at home? "Etc., etc., and so forth." I don't think we'll ever have the answers.

Stay busy - stay happy - stay well. 🌈

Sunday, April 12, 2020


Yesterday morning I read an interesting article about rainbows and the pandemic. I began an article for the community magazine, but I knew it wouldn’t get out in the community until the June issue - the May issue has just gone to the printers.

This is what I began to write:

“Six colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet, make a rainbow, the meteorological phenomenon that has probably been seen at one time or another by everyone on earth. They are a part of the spirituality and mythology of every culture on Earth, and have been depicted over the millennia in everywhere from cave and rock art to today’s rainbow flag.
Everyone loves rainbows – they lift our hearts and spirits. Children love rainbows. They often draw them when they’re asked to draw what makes them happy. In these times of pandemic, when we need a smile and all the hope we can get, childlike, homemade rainbow signs are popping up here and there in windows around the world. The…”
And then it dawned on me: all of us - not just the children -  should be putting rainbows in our windows. To see what I mean, just google “rainbows for Covid-19” – you’ll be amazed. I didn’t color Easter eggs this year, but I got out paper and crayons and made a rainbow for my front door window.

I hope everyone will join me and make a rainbow for their window and spread some hope and some smiles this viral Spring.

Thursday, April 2, 2020


Ever since I wrote an article for them, I’ve subscribed to the daily newsletter from Prime Women. By chance, this morning they had a timely article on 5 Tips for Growing Our Short Cuts.

Just last night I was thinking that with the salons and barbershops closed for the duration, our hair was going to begin to look shaggy. I’ve often cut my own hair, sometimes it even looked pretty good, and once, years ago, I did cut Frank’s hair. We still laugh about that one.

Frank - trimmed and neat - 1884

The year was 1985, and we were in the process of moving. We’d bought a home in upstate New York, and were waiting to sell our home on Long Island until Frank was 55 and we would be able to take advantage of a capital gains tax exclusion. We spent most of our time upstate. At that time, the closest barber was miles away, over the Berkshires, in Pittsfield Massachusetts. I’d cut my own hair, so I did the same for Frank. In those days of really short cuts for men, I just trimmed it so that it wouldn’t fall over his collar. Today, that look would be common.

Eventually, we did get back to Long Island, and Frank got to go to his regular barber. Much to his delight, the old, Italian barber gestured to him with his hand and said, “Wattsa matter for you? Your wife she cutta your hair?” Yep - she did! So since then, when Frank needs a cut, I say “Wattsa matter for you?”

Frank - shaggy

Thursday, March 26, 2020


 I love that the old article said that 16 brownies could be made for $2.48 (to the penny) but I've never priced it out in recent years.

Sometimes it eerie when you’re thinking of something and then along comes an unexpected reference to it. Case in point: early this morning I was looking through my baking binder, searching for some goodies to make for Frank. I looked at but passed by a recipe from Katharine Hepburn that I usually make for brownies. And what came up in this morning’s New York Times daily recipe? Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies. Eerie. Cue the theme from The Twilight Zone.

The brownies in this morning's New York Times

The Times recipe is here.  There’s quite a bit of difference in the recipes, from the type of chocolate used to the oven temperature. Seeing as how the one I use is one I clipped from an issue of Woman’s Day in the 1980s, I’d go with mine. But then, you might want to try both recipes - extra goodies never go to waste

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Lately, I’ve been re-reading several historical romances and mysteries, both in books and on Kindle. Currently though, I’m reading a good, new contemporary novel. It just dawned on me that as I've been reading, I've been actively wondering why these people aren’t keeping a safe distance from one another as they should. Good grief, it’s fiction, not real life! I had to laugh at myself.

O.k., I think the current practice of social distancing has become a norm for me. I’m wondering how authors are going to handle storylines set in these first months of 2020, and I’m thinking that they just might not want to refer to this time at all. Are there any stories that were set in the time of the Spanish flu?

Friday, March 20, 2020


Do you have in your memory any of what my brother calls Kodak Moments? They’re scenes that you always remember because they’re beautiful, heart-warming, amazing, or even startling? I added a little one, a thumbnail shot, to my own Kodak pix file this weekend.

I gassed up the car, I was on low, and because I was just across the way from Publix, and I thought to stop in for apples. I’m pretty well stocked up, but I’d forgotten to replenish the apple supply. I got more bananas too. As I turned down an aisle on my way to the checkout I came face to face with a gal wearing a surgical mask. It startled me a bit - wow! I’ll always remember that sight. I know that I'm taking this epidemic seriously, and I have evidence that others are too: empty shelves. But that was the first time I'd encountered someone with a real sense of self-protection.

Someone here in suburban Indian Land is really taking all this COVID-19 seriously. She can’t know who might already have it, so she’s covering herself - in more ways than one. It’s really here. The virus is here, and masks, though the CDC an the FDA say they aren't necessary or truly effective, will soon become de rigueur. I’m thinking that those Muslim gals who wear the niqab are way ahead of the curve.

I read this by a reporter for The New York Times, “The sad thing is: most people — this has been true in every epidemic I’ve covered, whether it’s Zika in Puerto Rico or AIDS in South Africa — don’t believe in the disease until they see someone get sick and die from it, someone they know.”

Well, I know of the daughter of one of our editors. She’s in Paris, and she has the virus. Before I see it I do believe it.

Stay well, everyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Hello to all my readers. I've not posted for about three months. Working on our community magazine - writing and editing - is taking a lot of brain time. I'm writing quite a few articles at the cost of neglecting my blog. Whereas in the past I could post articles the magazine didn't use, now I could post articles already printed in the blog. I've even gone back to my posts to get material to print.

What prompted me to post today is a post from one of my favorite blogs French la Vie. Corey Amaro posts every day. Her post today is especially apt for these recent times. I had to pass it on to you, as she passed it on to her readers.
“A little different perspective someone just posted. Just a few positive thoughts to contemplate.There is so much fear, and rightfully so, about COVID-19. And, what if...”
If we subscribe to the philosophy that life is always working out for us, that there is an intelligence far greater than humans at work...
That all is interconnected.  
What if… 
the virus is here to help us?  
To reset.
To remember. 
What is truly important.
Reconnecting with family and community.
Reducing travel so that the environment, the skies, the air, our lungs all get a break. 
Parts of China are seeing blue sky and clouds for the first time in forever with the factories being shut down.
Working from home rather than commuting to work (less pollution, more personal time). 
Reconnecting with family as there is more time at home. 
An invitation to turn inwards -- a deep meditation -- rather than the usual extroverted going out to self-soothe. 
To reconnect with self -- what is really important to me? 
A reset economically.   
The working poor.  The lack of healthcare access for over 30 million in the US.  The need for paid sick leave.   
How hard does one need to work to be able to live, to have a life outside of work? 
And, washing our hands -- how did that become a "new" thing that we needed to remember.  But, yes, we did.  
The presence of Grace for all.   
There is a shift underway in our society -- what if it is one that is favorable for us?
What if this virus is an ally in our evolution?  
In our remembrance of what it means to be connected, humane, living a simpler life, to be less impactful/ more kind to our environment. 
An offering from my heart this morning.  Offered as another perspective.  Another way of relating to this virus, this unfolding, this evolution. 
It was time for a change, we all knew that. 
And, change has arrived.  
What if...

- Gutpreet Gill


Friday, December 20, 2019


In yesterday morning's offering from the New York Times, there was a recipe for "Gruyère Puff." They billed it as "a giant, eggy gougère." The picture was this:

A thing of beauty, is it not? Not having yet decided on "what's for dinner?" I thought I'd try this one. Well, you see that cast iron skillet? I gave mine away years ago: too heavy.The recommended 9-inch skillet became a 9-inch pie plate. 

And then there's the Gruyere - all I had on hand was sharp cheddar. I used that. My results don't look the same, and I certainly don't have their photographer. I'm thinking that maybe it's because the pan was not as hot as the skillet when it went into the oven, but this was the result:

It was all puffed up, than it settled to about an inch high. It was delicious.
I served it with Canadian bacon, and we really liked it. This dish will be added to the repertoire.

I've been rethinking the recipe - they had 3 tbsp. of butter in the skillet - too much for the pie pan, and it got very dark. And, we both think it could use more cheddar. Cheddar is the stocked cheese in our house. Never mind the kosher salt, the sea salt, the fresh-ground black pepper, and the unsalted butter. We'll go gourmand rather than gourmet on nights like last night.

So, here's the revised recipe:

    3 large eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp. each salt & Pepper
    4 oz. grated cheddar [or Gruyère :-)]
    2 tbsp. butter

Heat the oven to 400°

In a 2-cup measure, measure the milk, then whisk in the eggs. Mix in the flour, salt and pepper.  Stir in the cheese.

While oven heats, melt the butter in a 9-inch pie pan over the oven exhaust. Swirl the butter to coat the pan. Pour in the batter.

Bake until dark and golden, 25-30 minutes.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019


I haven't posted in almost a month, and before that it was hit and miss. I find that being the community magazine editor takes a lot of my time - time to keep the records and files, time to edit articles and handle the editing staff's assignments, time to do the magazine proofs, time to write. I do enjoy it all.

In the past, I've often posted here with articles of my own, usually the articles that didn't get printed.
I've still got several that may never see print, but I do have some that you might enjoy. They've been in past issues this year, and I'll post one now and then. I find I am more and more interested in researching and writing essays than in any other pursuit - except reading, of course.

Herewith - an article I hope you'll find interesting:

Image result for ld days of air travel

                                             by Lee Johnston

Of course you remember air travel and  what it was like many, many moons ago.

Lately, the airwaves abound with horror stories of business trips and vacations ruined by the airlines. We hear stories of waiting for hours on the tarmac, lost luggage, not to mention passengers being forcibly removed from  their seats. And those seats are not too comfortable these days. We do know that what we hear are just the most newsworthy items.

It wasn’t always like this. Oh yes, there might have been the time that the airline overbooked and you got bumped, but there was usually decent compensation and even some surprising upgrades to a better class.

The first step in planning a flight was to head to the travel agent. Unless you were planning an extensive trip like a circumnavigation of the globe with appropriate stops, transportation, hotel bookings, and side trips, the service to book your flight and prepare your ticket was free. Travel agents are still in business, but the emphasis for many of them has shifted to unique group tours, and planning and making the arrangements for lengthy, individualized itineraries. Anyone  today can do most  travel arrangements for themselves online and print their own tickets, vouchers, and boarding passes.

Air travel has regressed from the days when flight attendants had to be registered nurses, know the procedures backwards and forwards, and, on international flights, speak several languages. Today, many attendants seem ill-trained and surly. Though we do know better, sometimes it seems that they were handed a uniform, a schedule, and told to get on the plane. To be truthful, not every airline is guilty of this. There are those like Singapore Airlines and Southwest that enjoy stellar reputations, but several of the others are the ones making the news. The unsung flight crews who do a yeoman’s job are not newsworthy.

The economy, the tense state of the world, and the less formal way we live our lives have stripped air travel down to the essentials.

Years ago, ticket in hand, dressed to go to church, you presented yourself and your bags at the airline’s ticket counter. Unless you had packed your entire wardrobe and encountered a fee for too many or too heavy suitcases,  airlines took your luggage, assigned you a seat, gave you a boarding pass, and sent you on your way to the gate: no lines, no increasingly complicated security checks. You usually had a pleasant flight, with a snack and a drink on a short hop, and a meal on a longer flight.

As to our clothes, it’s easier now to go through security checks in slip-ons and flip-flops instead of lace-ups. Flying is certainly more comfortable now that we’ve ditched the suits and ties, the panty hose, hats and gloves, and (egad!) the girdles. Now we dress for flying as though we were going to Walmart. With regular airplane seats getting smaller and smaller, and closer together, it’s downright uncomfortable to dress up for anything but first class.

Remember all the luggage? Many of us now do with a very large tote (heaven forbid we leave the electronics at home) and a properly-sized roll-on. And what wouldn’t we have given for some built-in wheels back in the days of hard-sided luggage? Savvy travelers have reduced their travel wardrobes to the coordinated essentials, and many go online to learn just what to pack a trip – be it a weekend in the country or a three-week jaunt to Europe. Just search online for “travel wardrobe.”

When holidays are approaching, it’s difficult to tote everything you need or want to bring on a flight. Think about sending holiday gifts, even some of your wardrobe, on ahead via the USPS, UPS, or FedEx. Moreover, think about making your travel reservations sooner than later .While considering  holiday flying, think if it would be possible to avoid hassles, delays, and crowds by traveling days before and after the peak rush so you can relax and enjoy your trip.

Have a good flight.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Katie and her grandfather "Say" at the Kinderhook - 1991

This morning, as we usually do for Sunday breakfast, we use the Make-a-Plates I made about twenty-five years ago. At that time, I made animal drawings on the plates for the granddaughters, and put some of my favorite sayings on the set for us. Today, when Frank finished his French toast, he read the saying “No ducks, es worms.” That was what Katie said, probably in disgust, when her parents asked about the resident ducks at her preschool. Just worms there that day.

As he usually does when he reads one of her sayings, he reminisces about the wonderful times we had with her and her sister when we lived just a few miles away from each other in upstate New York. This morning, he asked me “How big is she now?” I had to smile. I said, “She’s thirty.” Oh. He’s confusing her with her daughter, Adeline, who is just the same age as Katie was then. They’re all in Texas now, and we wish we were closer.

KATIE - 1993

At age eighty-eight, and having had two mild strokes resulting in mild senile dementia, it is understandable that he confuses the generations. It’s also understandable that he confuses Adeline with his Katie. Adeline is almost a Katie mini-me.


Friday, November 8, 2019


I went to the animal fair,
The birds and the beasts were there

A Parliament of Owls

Trivia buffs know, and usually remember, an odd selection of facts. Many specialize in fields like the history of sports, television, or popular music. Some specialize further into individual sports and  music genres.

Then there are generalists like me. For a few days before our monthly Trivia League game, I quiz myself on crazy, trivial facts. Crazy is the word, ‘cause it does make me a little crazy. One bunch of facts I’ve always loved is the names of groups of animals. I do remember some, but most are lost to the depths of memory.

You can understand intuitively how some of the groups got their names: a tower of giraffes, a parliament of owls, a pandemonium of parrots. Then there are something fascinating groups: murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens, or a zeal of zebras.

My favorite – an exaltation of larks.

Sunday, November 3, 2019


Image result for big dipper
The Big Dipper is in its Winter position now.

This morning when I got up and went to close the drapes - I close them so the morning light won't disturb Frank - what did I see? The Big Dipper. What a treat to have it handing right there outside my bedroom window.
I'm so glad I saw it, because it gave a happy start to my very early day. I was awake at what is now 4:30 a.m. The switch in time really bothered me this year. I don't know what powers that be decided we needed to have Daylight Savings Time in the first place, but they should have set the clocks ahead and left it at that - forever.
There are movements afoot to leave time - someday - at the earlier hour. DST was supposed to save money, and it really hasn't proved to do that. There are many pros and cons. I'm all for keeping DST.
So now, that I'm up early, I'll go write something.

Friday, October 25, 2019


I was noodling through the picture file Blogspot saves from my postings, and I came upon the one of that huge chandelier. I knew it was time to do a repost. Recently, I've been enjoying the daily emailed collection of artistry I get from Colossal.  Some of the art work are absolutely marvelous. So - here's the posting from May 31, 2012 - quite a while go. I've removed the links to the original articles because they're no longer valid.

Two hanging creations, two different concepts: which one would you take time to study and admire?  Which one is art?

Yesterday on the lovely blog Plum Siena, Annie presented a photo essay: a piece called Creative Mind: Joana Vasconcelos. First up was a piece called ‘Marilyn, 2011’, a 9 ft. pair of high heels constructed of cooking pots and their lids. They are sort of fun – like a Claes Oldenburg sculpture with a culinary twist.  
The next one up, however, gave me a case of the “Whywouldyas.”  It’s a chandelier, ‘A Novia (the bride), 2001’, displayed in 2005 for the Venice Bienale.

I just had to wince at this. As a chandelier it looks like many others: the kicker lies in the material used. When I tell you what it is will you wince too? I wonder if the creator (for this piece I’d hardly call her an artist) lay in bed one night and thought “Eureka! I’ll make a huge chandelier. All out of tampons!”  That’s correct: tampons! Whywouldya?  It may be creative, but it surely isn’t art.

 Coincidently, today I was made aware of the work of the industrial designer Thomas Heatherwick. The piece above was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust for their London headquarters, and is made of 142,000 glass spheres (someone counted every one?) suspended on tensile steel wires. I find it beautiful and very creative. I might get a crick in my neck, but I'd love to stand and look up, up, up at it. I wonder if you can see it from the higher floors. This is art.

And that
(Said John)

Friday, October 18, 2019


This recipe is fast and easy. I made this a week or two ago, but forgot to take pictures. That was reason enough to make it again so soon. I think you'll like this one. And as to garlic - use as much as you'd like. I keep it on the conservative side.



·         Spaghetti for two
·         1 Tbsp. butter  and 1 Tbsp. olive oil
·         1 tsp. minced garlic
·         1 egg
·         ¼ cup Parmesan
·         Asparagus spears –
  (One serving pf Trader Joe’s Frozen Asparagus - 12 spears)


·        - Prepare the spaghetti
·        - In a large pan, warm the butter, oil, and garlic, leave on low
·         -Beat the egg very well, then add the cheese – set aside
·         -Cut the asparagus into 1” pieces, add them to the pan

·         -When spaghetti is done, reserve some of the liquid, drain, and mix
      the spaghetti into the ingredients in the pan
·         -Add the egg and cheese, mix well
·         -Add some of the reserved liquid if needed to thin the sauce a bit
·         -Serve