Tuesday, October 29, 2013


This little building, so finely made, is the privy at
Van Cortland Manor, the Hudson Valley restoration I told
you about last Friday.
No tacky outhouse with a crescent moon carved in the door
 for ventilation, this facility is a luxury accommodation.
It's a four-seater, created to accommodate both the
 young and the old in elegant style.
I saw no indication of what would have been used to wipe those
colonial bottoms. Any guesses?

Monday, October 28, 2013


Here's a Latelife Recipes post from last summer. I've made several versions of this since then, varying the breads and the toppings. So easy - almost
 a no-brainer you might say.

Lazy lump that I am, wanting something different for supper, I looked at the fresh loaf of seeded rye from Breadsmith and the huge tomato that were among my purchases from yesterday's Fresh Produce Club's Market Day here at SCCL.

Hmmm - - what did I have that would go with those?  Well, the fridge yielded a  spread that I'd made from blue cheese, cream cheese and a bit of mayo. O.K.! Let's go with that.

I toasted six slices of the rye, spread four slices with what was left of the blue cheese spread, sliced up some great cheddar for the last two toasts. I sliced up the huge tomato, some salt, fresh-ground pepper, and a sprinkling of chives.
Under the broiler for about five minutes. Voila! 

Then, at the last minute, I remembered to take a picture of it all before it went under the broiler.

Two blue cheese and one cheddar each - and they were excellent, if I do say so myself. 

This is another idea that fits well into the "By the Numbers" category.

Friday, October 25, 2013


10/20/1984 – This was a crisp autumn day – a wonderful day for an outing to Van Cortland Manor, up in Westchester County, New York. It was the day for Autumn Crafts and Tasks and there were lots and lots of kids there – school groups, scout groups, and kids along with their families.  I’m going through my old photo scrap books and making a log of what happened each year, and scanning in the best of those pre-digital photos. There’s a great bunch from that October day.

Here’s a list of the crafts people we saw:
Herbalist, Soap maker, Dyer and Weaver, Carpenter, Miller (kids helped grind the corn), the Sausage Maker, Candle Maker, Pillow Lace Maker, a crabby Cooper (for some reason we regularly came upon crabby old coopers in our historical travels), the people who do the retting and spinning of flax, and, of course, the Butcher, the Baker (there had to have been one there but I didn’t take any pictures of him- or her!), and the Blacksmith
(he’s the Candlestick Maker.)


Hog butcher. He didn’t kill the hog there: it would be a bit much for many sensibilities. Even so, look at the expressions on some of the faces.

Preparing flax – "get your hackles up", "flaxen-haired beauty", tow head":
all phrases we get from the preparation of flax


Spinning flax


A true and excellent teacher, she was wonderful with questions
from the young city dwellers

And on the way out to the parking lot was an artfully arranged sales area with pumpkins and gourds and wonderful fall decorations – and the very best cider and donuts that have ever passed my lips. To this day whenever we have cider we remember the cider we had that day and all the others pale by comparison.

Have a happy fall weekend everyone.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The mind is a wonderful thing, and it’s strange the things people remember.
I remember…

…my mother telling me about a party at my Aunt Lou’s house in Richmond Hill. I think it was for my Cousin Virginia’s high school, under age, friends.  After the party my Aunt was up in the bathroom and saw a big puddle on the floor. Bending down and swiping her finger through the puddle she brought it up and smelled it. Indignantly, she turned to my Uncle Cornell and exclaimed “liquor!” And Uncle Cornell thought about it, thought about where they were, and calmly asked “What if it had been something else?” I’d have turned green!

Speaking of Aunt Lou, who was named for my grandfather’s mother, Louise, my Great Aunt Lou, my grandmother’s sister, I found out on her 100th birthday, was really Lulu.  She was a lulu alright!  A large woman who was suitably corseted in those days when corsets were de rigueur, I remember her always dressed in black, wearing her pearls. You know how they say someone is always looking down their nose at others? That’s how it seemed Great Aunt Lou was looking at me. Maybe because I was a little kid and she was tall and so large. She always wore Tabu perfume, and I remember that first because of the scent, which I didn’t like, and second because once, within my hearing, someone asked her about her perfume: “Oh, I always wear Tabu.”  Oooh, la la – or Oooh lulu.

Both Great Aunt Lou and her sister Elsie lived to over 100, my grandmother, their middle sister, lived only to 91. My mother and I kidded that it was because the other two had only two children each, whereas my grandmother had eight.  91! I’d like to live that long.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Just a quick note - it's late in the season for peaches, and some of them on the market look really good. But! when you get some of them home they turn out to be a bit mealy. They're not too good for eating as is, no matter how you slice them, but cooking them a bit will do the trick.

I've never used mealy peaches in a pie or tart, but I have cut then into chunks and done a quick sauté in a big gob of butter, brown sugar, and some rum - Demerara is the best! Serve this as is, or over vanilla ice cream. Good? You won't believe it! This will keep for many, many days and will heat up quickly in the microwave.

Friday, October 18, 2013


I always thought that my reading was not well rounded because, like some of the more literary characters in the books I did read, I never could remember anything witty or apropos to throw into a conversation. I’ve never amassed a repertoire of pithy sayings from, say, the Odyssey or Finnegan’s Wake, even from Catcher in the Rye. Only recently has it occurred to me that the writers, fleshing out those literary savants they’d created, had time and references to make their characters widely or aptly read. The ones I admired for their bon mots were just characters, not real folks. And if there are, and there probably are, such folks floating around in the real world – and I’d guess they’d be closer to the academic world than I am – they are few and far between. Yes, most folks know a few lines or sayings from Shakespeare or the Bible, but most don’t know that they know them, if you know what I mean.
Most of the books I’ve read didn’t lend themselves to memorable catchy phrases, but now that we are into the second century of the cinema, there are plenty of times I can quote appropriately from the movies. Frankly my dear, one could go on and on with quotes from Gone with the Wind, Dirty Harry, The Godfather, Casablanca, Star Wars, Love Story, even Blazing Saddles – though that’s more of a sound bite than a quote.              
And then there’s our family favorite: I’ll get you, my pretty,
and your little dog too!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Last week I wrote to my dear friend in Canada. When I finished, it dawned on me that the small saga, with a bit of tweeking, would be an interesting bit for a Tuesday:

It was hectic here the other day when I was emailing to you. All sorts of goings on: several packages arriving by mail, UPS and FedEx all at once; and my cell phone finally turned up its toes and I was trying to get a new one PDQ.  I did get a new one - a smart phone - and had it for a day when it dawned on me that not only would the monthly bill go up (I’m part of a friends & family group so the rates are combined), but I was getting more phone than I need. I need just phone, texting to answer a contact who always texts rather than phones (and this is sometimes a big problem), and the camera.  I do think the camera is handy “just in case.”

The new phone had GPS, Kindle, all sorts of apps - We have a Garmin GPS for the car - and that was a gift - and I have all the rest with my new Widows 8. I’m a senior for heaven’s sake, and when I’m home I can use one of my two lap tops (yes, I know: conspicuous consumption!); when I’m out I’m busy shopping, touring, visiting: busy.  Rarely, if ever, would I have time on my hands so that I could play with a smart phone. I’m not going to be out and about and want to check the lowest price for a certain item I want to buy, or know how to get to somewhere (I’m happy with printed maps and the Garmin, thank you), or want to read a book on line while I wait at a doctor’s office.

So back it went. (I did have fun playing with it for a while.) I brought back a perfectly good old phone of mine - one that I’d saved when my son gave me his old but ‘newer’ phone (the one that bit the dust) - and had them transfer all the data to that. I‘m back in business with a smaller phone - those smart phones are large and heavy - and I am delighted.


Monday, October 14, 2013


Today is Monday, October 14th, the day we celebrate Columbus Day - so go and raise the flag. Mine is already out there. As I did my daily early-morning saunter around the neighborhood I noticed a lot of darkness where there is usually light - for showers, dressing, breakfast and such on a normal Monday morning. It's soooo nice to snuggle in and sleep a bit longer on holidays.

This morning brought two reminder from The Writer's Almanac:

It is the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings - I'm sure you're all excited about this. I was because two years ago I'd written a blog essay about William the Conqueror's arrival on England's shores. You can read it here.

Also, it is the birthday of Dwight D. Eisenhower.  I particularly like this quote attributed to him: “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”      Think about that concept.

Last I must recommend that all my readers who are also writers of any ilk, do go and read the latest entry at Susannah's Journey.  In case you'd never thought about it before, there's the answer to why we write.



Once again, I've got a recipe that can be made in the time it takes to cook up some bacon.  I had a small, homegrown tomato fot this supper, but pimentos go well with this too.  They were what I used the first time I concocted this dish.

Here's the method -

Cut 4 to 6 strips of thick-cut bacon into 1” pieces.  Sauté them until almost 

crisp.  Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, cook until onion is just soft and add

1 t minced garlic.

Add a 4 oz. jar of chopped pimentos, or some chopped fresh tomatoes

and a 14 oz. can of kidney or navy beans or Great Northerns

maybe garnish with some snipped chives or scallions

Serve – with a green salad.

Simple as that!

Friday, October 11, 2013


One recent Saturday we went to our seven-year-old granddaughter’s gymnastics competition. Sometimes they are hours away, but this one was right here at her own gym so we could go.  The place was packed with parents, and here and there a few grandparents like us. Waiting for her turn was, for us, almost like watching grass grow, but there was lively conversation going on with other folks waiting for their own girl to go, and all the Moms who knew all ‘our’ team members were actively attentive, so it wasn’t too bad.
Two things I noticed: one, all the girls had longer hair done up in pony tails, none had short hair like the sassy Mary Lou Retton (This dates me, I know, but then, depending on the subject, I am dated to the max.) and two, none of them had bandages on their wrists or ankles or feet – yet!
It’s a mighty long day for these little ones. Their section of the meet started after 4 p.m., but I’m sure the girls were up and about and eager to go since the early morning. We got there at 4 and left after 7. She hadn’t yet done her floor routine, but we hadn’t realized how long it would all be and hadn’t eaten since before noon.  Poor Frank was thinking he’d never get home alive.
It was all quite an experience. I’ll tell you, I looked at those agile little things, jumping, vaulting, swinging, doing their routines – they all have to do the exact same routine or they get penalized – and I was just amazed. I did take ballet and tap dancing when I was little – gymnastics were unheard of where I lived back in the 40’s – and I attribute any grace I now have to those years. Ha! I took modern dance when I was in college. I loved that course. At one time I could lift myself off the floor gracefully, without using my arms – just go from a sitting position to standing in one movement. Not today – and not tomorrow! After so many years of being fairly agile I now groan inwardly when I see people doing things I can no longer do, like kneel for any reason, run up and down stairs, get into a canoe (which I’d love to do again), even sit on the floor – because I’d have one hell of a time getting up.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013


the characteristics of the situation are characteristic of such a situation -



Monday, October 7, 2013


This recipe isn't quick, but the results are golden and delicious. Last week's onions must have been especially juicy because it tool almost two hours for them to cook down.


Sweat the onions in butter on medium to low until onions are very soft and translucent and browning begins in the bottom of the pot, checking every fifteen minutes to stir the onions and note their color.  When the onions are golden, scrape up and mix in all the browned stuff from the bottom of the pot.
Add water, beef tablet and thyme. Stir, let simmer on medium for half an hour, then taste it. It may need a teaspoon or two of brown sugar, and some salt and pepper.
I serve this plain, without added cheese, along with a salad and some crusty bread for dunking. The dunking is the best part!

Friday, October 4, 2013


Streisand’s sang to Sadie:
Look at that face just look at it!
Look at that fabulous face of yours,
I knew first look I took at it,
This was the face that the world adores,
Look at those eyes,
As wise and as deep as the sea,
Look at that nose,
It shows what a nose should be!
As for your smile, it's lyrical
Friendly and warm as a summer day,
Your face is just a miracle,
Where could I ever find words to say
The way that it makes me happy,
Whatever the time or place,
I will find in no book,
What I find when I look,
At that face!

Faces fascinate me. I never tire of looking at people. On the occasions that I got to ride it in my younger days, the New York City subway was always a field day for me. I tried my very best not to look at one face for very long in case they thought I was staring at them. Faces can be recognized and classified in the very large global sense as Mediterranean, Scandinavian or from elsewhere in Europe; African or Oriental and the various permutations and colorations thereof, and how ‘bout some lovely Polynesians? You know ‘they’ – the nebulous ‘they’ – say that one day we’ll all have skin color similar to the Polynesians. That might be a very good thing.
I know there are researchers out there who are trying to quantify the attributes we recognize as being typical of the faces of various ethnic groups. How do we know – or guess - that that European face belongs to a Swede or an Irishman? That that Mediterranean face belongs to an Arab or a Italian? That that oriental face belongs to a Japanese or a Korean? Can all this be put into words? Not easily!

I found this on Google Images - you can fine the greatest stuff there.
And then there are the faces that I just want to slap on looks alone. I hate to admit this but there are perfectly nice folks out there with faces I just don’t like. There’s one singer whose music I just love – but I can't watch him perform. I really can’t stand his face.  I’ve known or known of a handful of people over the years whose looks just turn me off. In discussing this with friends I realize it ain’t just me. No one will ever be able to quantify the whys and wherefores of this in me – or anyone else for that matter. ‘Tis a puzzlement.
I know of one instance where the difference in the faces of two groups of people was really striking. Frank and I were in Europe way back in 1982. We spent two weeks in England and then flew over for two more weeks in Norway. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am an inveterate Anglophile, but I’m bound to say that the looks of the English paled in comparison to those of the Norwegians. We were struck by the good looks of the Norwegians after the very plain looks of the English. And in addition to that, Frank, a very open person, usually smiling at most people he passes, noticed that the English women looked at him with distrust and usually lowered their eyes, while the Norwegian women looked back at him, assessed him, and held his gaze, sometimes even nodded. I do suppose this last bit is a result of culture, not of facial characteristics.  I too like to look people in the eye and smile at them as I pass.  Most of the time I get a big smile in return – and sometimes when I don’t I wait until they pass, and then I turn around, cross my eyes and stick my tongue out at them.




Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I once heard these described as the only way to take a trip without psychedelic drugs. I was rubbing my itchy eyes this morning and saw the phosphenes again, and just thought I’d mention them to you. 
Have an interesting day.