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

Sunday, October 13, 2019


Yes, I'm still learning. I learned this morning that I forgot to post on Friday. The last few days were first proof days for the magazine. That takes a big portion of my attention. This is the November issue, and it looks like another good one, if I do say so myself. So...

People often ask me where I come up with the wide, wild variety of subjects for my blog and community magazine articles. My answer: surfing the internet. I subscribe to the news briefings from the New York Times and the Washington Post. I’ve bookmarked and check in each day with the BBC and Politico, Houzz, and the Microsoft’s Newsfeed. I get daily emails from On This Day, Prime Women, Atlas Obscura, Trivia Today, and Colossal. Then there are the websites, like PBS, that email once a week. The topics they cover go beyond the everyday news and into the realm of the truly interesting. I won’t add links to these. If you’re really interested, you can google them. You won’t be getting too many emails if you are truly interested in their content.

Just this week, I read about an Off-Broadway actor who went into the audience and threw some boor’s cell phone under the seats. Good for him!

I read that the average allowance parents give their kids today is $30 a week. Not to say this is excessive, but my first allowance, at age 7, was 10 cents – and I had to save two of those cents. Ten cents is inflated to about $1.08 today. So, if the average is $30, some kids out there get too much money.

I checked our 50 delicious ways to serve eggs. The Tortilla Española looks absolutely delicious!

And I learned that much of the world thinks we westerners have peculiar bathroom habits. Americans are the greatest users of toilet paper. I do plan to write a magazine article about this topic.

I can sometimes spend an hour or so reading, and learning, and being truly amazed. You might think this is time wasted, but, as Bertrand Russell said, “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Friday, October 4, 2019


Recently, Corey Amaro featured this unique wedding cake on her blog French la Vie . Wedding cakes here are almost universally tiered affairs in white. I have seen different versions, but this French cake takes the cake. The puff pastry male and female symbols are held together with pastry cream, then decorated with fresh fruit and edible flowers. Now, who wouldn't want a piece of that?

Friday, September 27, 2019


I remember pulling up next to his car at the town’s only stoplight. He was going to make a left, probably heading over to the branch he was building for the bank where I worked. I’d met him a few times when the company he owned expanded the printout storage room for our computer department.

I just knew him as “the man with the Mercedes.” He knew me as “that blond girl in the basement.”

When I pulled next to him he smiled and waved, and I said to myself, “too bad, he’s married.” Little did I know that between the time he’d worked in our basement computer department, to that time at the light, he filed for a divorce. When the new branch finally opened, both of us were at the festivities. We got to talking there and, as they say, we connected. Tomorrow, forty-five later, we’re still connected.

Friday, September 20, 2019


Singapore is a bustling place - notice all the ships out there.

...but someone has to do it.  I keep saying that to our son. He's traveling for the Bank of America. This time, again, to Singapore. During the business week, he stays at a hotel near the office, which is near the beaches. The last weekend of the trip, he moves right into town and sets himself up in a balcony room overlooking the street route of the weekend's Formula One race. He is an avid F1 fan, and whenever and wherever he can, he'll parlay a trip with a race. He doesn't need a ticket to this particular race - he'll sit on the balcony, watch the action, and listen in on a transmission of the race action.

He really likes Singapore, it's clean, efficient, and the climate agrees with him. Above all, he enjoys the food. From the every-day to the exotic, the food choices are phenomenal. Take this morning's breakfast. Well, you can take it, I'm not so sure. He calls it the Singapore Breakfast Boo-fay.

It's a buffet, so obviously he chose the items. I don't know what that white stuff is, but I do recognize eggs, a steamed bun, probably some smoked salmon, a rice dish, a roll, perhaps some duck meat and - egad! - a duck's head. I meant to ask him if he ate that. Aw, come on! These days, restaurants no longer decorate the plate with a sprig of parsley, but, in Singapore, evidently, you can decorate your plate with a duck. I'll pass on that one. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


I subscribe to Prime Women - This morning I was pleased to see a rerun of the article I wrote for them. It's Old Wive's Tales: The Many Myths About Women Over Fifty.   As I am well, well over fifty, I do know a thing or two about the topic.

However, what really held my interest this morning was a very interesting article on Exercising to Lose Weight? This one is very timely for me. As it says - "Stop. It doesn't work!" I can attest to that too. As you may have gathered from some of my recent posts, I recently found out that both my knees are bone-on-bone.  I've had knee and leg problems and pains for over twenty years, so I thought it was just part of an old condition. Who knew? The surgeons at OrthoCarolina have parameter for when they'll do replacement surgery. You must be below a certain Body Mass Index. I am below that threshold, but I was advised that I'd be a lot more comfortable, and have a lot less problems, if I lost some weight first. O.K. I'm on it!

So - in just over three months, I've lost 16 pounds. Slow but sure. My BMI has come down two points. If the cortisone shots keep working for me as well as they do, I should be able to go the distance.

What am I doing? I started out again, counting the old, original Weight Watchers Points. Recording them gets tedious after a while. But I do know which foods carry the lowest points, so now I just guesstimate them, and it's working. I think my halo might be on straight, because I don't often go overboard. It just may be that instead of just deciding to lose weight, I have a specific goal: new knees, no pain. I think it can be done.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 13, 2019


Image result for mental wheels going round

And my mind was going round and round last night.  I'm fortunate in that I had cortisone shots in my bone-on-bone knees yesterday, so my time in bed was very comfortable. I'm delighted that I could be comfortable because for some strange reason, I could not get to sleep. I did try my usual trick of rehashing the story I read on Kindle just before bed - no luck.  I don't suffer from insomnia, so I'm not trouble by an occasional sleepless night. I just go with the flow of ideas.

As it happens, I had a very productive night. I keep a journal and lighted pen in the bookcase beside my bed. Last night, on and off, I wrote one whole page of random ideas.  Some for the house, some recipes I wanted to find, some things I want to order online, and many ideas for the community magazine. So far today, I've manged to cross quite a number of them off the list.

And, very unusual for me, no ear-worm went round and round in my mind. That would have been the pits. It was a silent night.

Friday, September 6, 2019


Just something that I wish had come true – A week ago, on Friday, August 30, sent this note of a medieval-age date in history:

1146  European leaders outlaw crossbow, intending to end war for all time.  

Nice try, guys.

Friday, August 30, 2019


I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a few weeks now. At first, the idea of it didn’t appeal to Frank, but last Monday night I decided to give it a try. I saw the idea for it in a recipe that proved to come from Taste of Home. This is supposed to taste like pizza. Taste of Home is based in Milwaukee. What do they know about New York pizza in Milwaukee? Their recipe had a ground beef sauce that wouldn’t have the necessary bite, and, along with the required mozzarella, cheddar cheese. Now, that’s the Wisconsin Dairy State’s idea of pizza – not mine. My recipe, except for the cooking time and temperature, which experience would have told me is just about right, is nowhere like theirs.

If I do say so myself, this dish was very good, and the Brooklyn-born Frank gave it two thumbs up. It has all the right bite in the sauce and pepperoni, and the proper chewiness and strings of the mozzarella. It certainly takes a heck of a lot less time to prepare than my pizza from scratch. Even having to make my own sauce recipe, if there’s none handy in the freezer, it takes only minutes to prepare. No cooking necessary for this sauce.

Give it a try - you may like it.


·         2 cups noodles, any size

·         ¾ to 1 cup pizza sauce – recipe follows

·         30 or so slices of pepperoni – sliced into 1/4” pieces

·         1 cup shredded mozzarella

·        Preheat the oven to 350°

·         Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
·         While the noodles are cooking, get out the other ingredients, and grease a small baking dish.
·         Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Mix in the sauce and sliced pepperoni slices. Pour the mixture into the grease baking dish.
·         Top the mixture with the mozzarella.
·         Bake for 20 minutes. Serve.


Quick Pizza Sauce – in a large bowl mix

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt

This recipe makes four two-person servings of just under a cup each. This is just enough for a two-person pizza or for the pizza-noodle casserole. 

One quarter of the sauce in this dish, freeze the rest for three other meals.

Saturday, August 24, 2019


Image result for analog clock
Even tech savvy kids must learn to tell time by an analog clock

I’ve not worn a watch since 1962. That was the year the bank where I worked began computerized accounting. Starting with the tellers’ work and the checking accounts, the big item we handled was checks. To read the checks, and deposit slips, and the other bank items, they had to go through a reader-sorter that had a huge magnet, larger and longer than a half-gallon of milk. If anyone went near that machine, their watch would go haywire. It pulled the hands off my boss’s watch, and really scrambled the innards. So, from then on, I never wore a watch.

I’ve had computers, desktop and laptop, for almost twenty years. I’ve had my cell phone for twelve years. They are handy. The cell phone, a flip phone, resides in my pocket. Do I consult them when I want to know the time? No, I look at the clock, any handy analog clock. I could bookmark or download an analog clock on my PC, but I think I’d still look up and check the clock in the room. Old habits die hard.

Monday, August 19, 2019


Geeeeze Loueeeze! In this morning's crop of emails, there's one from Hobby Lobby announcing: Starts Now: 40% Off Christmas Decor! It's August! There are four months and six days until Christmas. I've not yet even looked at fall decor this year. I think that what I have from years past will still look good. Is the Fall stuff already on clearance? Once again, commerce raises its ugly head. 

No wonder we're going into a recession. Perhaps folks like me are starting to realize they have enough stuff, and are not buying anything new, so the wheels of commerce - up and down the manufacturing and retailing supply chain - are very slowly beginning to falter.  

Friday, August 16, 2019


I had to laugh this week when I saw the crowd collected in front of the Mona Lisa. Evidently. Because of refurbishing of the gallery where she normally hangs out, Mona Lisa has been moved to different quarters. To get there, 30,000 visitors a day, they say, have to go up several escalators, through a small door, and there she is. You have to pre-book a ticket just to see her.

Everyone there was taking a picture with their phone. Not one, it seemed, was looking directly at the painting, just studying it, They get just one minute to be in front of the painting. Thousands of people make the trip just to get the “definitive picture” of the picture and then have to move on to make space. Why would they put themselves through all that?

What really got to me was seeing the photo of everyone taking a picture of a picture. I’ve been guilty of that – once. In the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I took a picture of The Night Watch. It was almost automatic – I turned the corner into the gallery, and there it was – huge – facing me. I lifted the camera, without thinking, and took a picture. A picture of a picture I could easily find a picture of. What stopped me was my flash. The attendant there scolded me, and reminded my about no flash. Embarrassed, because I knew better, I turned off the camera and looked at the painting for quite some time. I really hadn’t thought of taking pictures there or in any museum we visited in Amsterdam - or anywhere else.

There have been times in our travels that I’ve been so fascinated by what I was seeing that I completely forgot to take pictures. I’d have liked a reminder or two to put in our scrapbooks. And I do like to take pictures to use with my greeting cards each year.

It just saddens me that the iPhones are everywhere and people seem more concerned with taking pictures than with enjoying the moment. Being there and actually enjoying the moment, not the picture, insures a lasting memory.

Friday, August 9, 2019


The local NBC affiliate we usually watch airs six hours of local news programming each day, plus many more hours from the nation feed. “What’s trending” seems to be of vital interest on the local news programs. They pick all this up from the social media, of which I am not a part. (Unless you consider a blog social media? Maybe.) I think the reporting of such trivial nonsense helps the stations fill in the time spaces on otherwise blah news days. Contrary-wise, if some local crime or mishap happens, no matter how minor, they devote much too much time to the incident. Feast or famine, and that’s why I’d turn off the TV if it were just me here. I get my fill of news online.

I heard this was trending on Wednesday: a research group that had nothing better to do, discovered that if you don’t want sea gulls to steal your food at the beach you have to stare them down. Where and how do groups like this find such topics to research? And who is paying for this research? I want to know because I want to get a cushy job like that one where I could hang out at the beach and challenge the sea gulls.

Here’s my one sea gull story. Years ago, we lived next to a restaurant that occupied a large corner lot just across from Long Island’s Manhasset Bay. The gulls would get into the over-full dumpster and pick out the stale rolls. By instinct, these birds will grab something like a clam, fly with it, and drop it on a hard surface to crack it open. Rolls seemed to be like shells, and the gulls would drop them all over the parking lot. They were accurate though, none were ever dropped in our yard.

I found out later that the sea gull study was done by researchers at Britain’s Royal Society. Yes, that Royal Society, officially, the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. It is the society whose members, fellows, if you will, have included Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren, James Cook, Charles Babbage, and Stephen Hawking.

I do think that, if they could, those esteemed gentlemen would be rolling in their graves.

Friday, August 2, 2019


When I'm all caught up with the emails and have sorted everything to its proper file - it's mostly trash these days once I've read it - a notice pops up and says "Nothing to view here."
This morning I went to my blog files of "In Progress" and "Ready to Post." Nothing in either file - it might as well have read "nothing to view here."

I am running out of material. Oh, sure, I have my opinions on what's happening in the community, in the country, and in the world, but my brain doesn't want to contemplate putting my opinions in writing. I've done enough in the recent past. 

I'm not young and physically active and able to report on all our daily doings. No, I'm old, and mostly mentally active, especially with my reading, writing, and magazine editing. For the most part, my physical activities are limited by a set of wonky knees, and we have few "daily doings" worth reporting.

The only thing on my mind this morning is peaches. I had a fairly good one for breakfast. A few weeks ago we went down to McBee and bought luscious peaches at McLeod Farms. Having exhausted the supply, last week we went over to York to try the peaches at Black's Peaches. They were fine, O.K., but not worth the hour trip in the future. Next week we'll try the local place again - Springs Farms' Peach Stand, just over in Fort Mill. We've had peaches from them many times over the years we've been here - they're very good. South Carolina grows more peaches than Georgia, the state with the peach on their license plate. California has us all beat for production, but I don't think their quality compares to the deliciousness of our own picked perfectly peaches.

TGIF - have a lovely weekend.