Friday, May 30, 2014


‘Til this month it has been my habit to have my Friday posts written
 well in advance. I’ve fallen into lazy ways, and today I’ve run out of 
essays. Oh, I could repost one, but I’ve already got a few reposts on the schedule. 
So – you will have to be content with just one picture today.

This gentleman was serenading no one in particular when we walked 
beneath his perch in Cagnes-sue-mer, the next town west of Nice. 
One day, maybe soon, I’ll write about all the serendipitous 
‘concerts’ we’ve heard in our travels.      

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived right down the block in Richmond Hill, New York.  In the middle of their front yard was a huge hydrangea - blue and beautiful. I've loved hydrangeas ever since then. Recently I found the house on Google Earth. No hydrangea - just a paved over area. Why would they do that? Plant something else - the city needs all the greenery it can get - but don't pave it over! You can't even park a car there.
Sometimes I think everything is just going to pot.

Friday, May 23, 2014


(Lots of trouble with Blogger today - it won't let me add pictures, and I've tried it on both of my PCs. Ah, well. Someday, when it all works once again, I'll add the pictures from the South Carolina Aquarium.)  (Woo - in looking at the preview I see that it used several odd fonts/sizes, and is splitting my paragraphs with strange spacing. What's going on today?) (5/26 Well, here's an update. Some time in the past week, Blogger has decided that I don't have the right browser. Thus, the mess with my postings. So I downloaded Google chrome and I will use it just for Blogger postings.  Meanwhile, I'll add some pictures, albeit not too good ones, from the aquarium visit.)

Or, as they are known to some, aquaria. I love them. I don’t know what is so fascinating about watching fish swim around and around and around, but it is: fascinating.
I’ve enjoyed aquariums from California to Connecticut, from the wonderful Monterey Bay Aquarium to the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration.
I’ve even been to the Bergen Aquarium in Norway – the only aquarium I’ve encountered in our European trips. The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston is the latest addition to my growing list of aquaria visited.

Why don;t these suckers stay still? 

On the way back down to the first floor, a guide stopped us. He was scheduled to lead a tour but at that hour no one happened to come by - the school groups were busy having their lunch, or perhaps others hadn’t arrived yet – so he collared us and asked if we’d like a tour of the behind-the-scenes. Are you kidding? Lead on!

It was just wonderful – if a bit fishy-smelly – and something I’d always wanted to do in person, having seen behind the scenes only on TV documentaries. Buck, our guide, took us up to where they were preparing the next meals – all sorts of great gobs of fish, chop, chop, chop, and other oooey looking stuff – and finally to the top of the big tank. It was a real learning experience.  I wished I had some of my granddaughters there – they would have loved it as much as I did. 

Buck, our enthusiastic and very informative guide.

When we resumed our own way we were in time to see the results of all the chopping and mixing when the feeding devices were lowered into the tank. A yank or three on the line and the cover opened and the goo and gish spilled out. What a mess! Sewing as how the tank was completely clear before the feeding started, I'm sure that every bit, large and small, was consumed by every fish according to their own size. Buck has told us that the sharks don’t eat any of the food delivered this way. What happens with them is that later on someone will bang on the side of the tank at the top, and that will be the dinner bell for the sharks’ special meal.  I’d love to have seen that, wouldn’t you?

Just restin' my eyes here.

The next on my list must be the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, to date the world’s largest.  How can I not see that one?  I hope to go next January – stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


This past Friday night I was in the living room, sitting in my rocking chair, rereading a Donna Leon mystery. It was just after 7 p.m., and Frank as watching the opening ceremonies for a NASCAR race.  I wasn’t listening to what was going on.

Though there are several places where I could read in the house, Frank custom made my rocking chair to fit my not inconsiderable width, shall we say, and raised the sides for my considerably short arms. So if the TV is on and I’d rather read, I put on ear protectors and I can do it in comfort.  But every once in a while I do look up at the TV.

Ah yes, they must be playing our national anthem because I see the teams members all lined up, many men, hats off, have their hands over their hearts – and Marcos Ambrose doesn’t because he’s Australian. But what’s this? I’m reading the singers lips and I ‘hear’ “from the mountain, to the prairie, to the ocean, white with foam…” !!  That’s not our national anthem – that’s God Bless America! What the heck?

Though once I did compliment them, I’ve had other issues with NASCAR and the anthem.  Usually I’m grousing because the singer just mangles the thing, but this time I’m grousing because they didn’t even play the darned anthem, hard to sing or not.

I don’t see many televised professional sports. I do know there are occasions when the anthem is sung by everyone in the place, but I think I’ve heard everyone sing “O Canada” more times than I’ve heard “O say can you see”. There must be a key suitable for all voices. (I do admit that O Canada is easier to sing.) As I’ve said before, I’d love to see NASCAR get everyone singing.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


This is the last transfer from my now defunct Latelife Recipes. I kept this one for today - Syttende Mai. The Seventeenth of May is Constitution Day in Norway

To celebrate Syttende Mai over the years I’ve ordered fish pudding from Scandinavian Specialties in Brooklyn, fairly pricey what with the shipping added, but great!. And I’ve attempted to make it myself. It didn’t always turn out so well, but it dawned on me that the recipe should be made with cooked white fish.  I’d always tried it with raw fish, and blending that wasn’t always easy. So: my final recipe!  I hope! – This is as it was made Syttende Mai 2011, and it was very good. Almost like a soufflé. The fish had texture and the slices didn’t seem as custardy as what we’d had commercially made, but the flavor was divine, if I do say so myself.
Though this recipe makes much more than two seniors might want for one meal, the resulting loaf, sliced, freezes extremely well. For a breakfast, my husband loves a slice –or several – fried in butter and served with eggs any style. The sauce recipe is for just two, but it can be multiplied for as many as will be dining with you the night you prepare it.   

Preheat oven to 350, put a kettle of water on to boil.

Fish Mixture

In food processor, blend until smooth:
   ¾ lb. cooked white fish – cod is best
   ½ Cup ½ and ½

Then add:
   Another ½ Cup ½ and ½
   ¼ cup potato flakes
   2 eggs
   6 Tblsp softened butter
   1 tsp salt     
   ½ tsp pepper   
   pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

Butter one large or two small loaf pans, coat with unseasoned breadcrumbs. Butter two pieces of foil that will cover the pans. Pour half of mixture into each pan, and cover with the foil.  Place pans in larger roasting pan.  Just before putting them in the oven, pour the boiling water into the roasting pan around the loaf pans.

Bake 60 minutes or until knife comes out clean. 

Serve sliced with shrimp sauce

Shrimp Sauce

for two – prepare as for a white sauce
   ½ Tblsp butter   
   ½ Tblsp flour   
   ½ cup milk    
   1 tsp sherry 
   pinch of salt

then add
   4 or so large (26-31) shrimp cut into pieces

Friday, May 16, 2014


On this day in 1812 the waltz was introduced at Almack's dance hall in London. It was the first closed-couple dance the English aristocracy had ever seen. Men and women embraced one another as they were dancing, and the men lifted the women over their thighs as the couples turned. Critics called it "disgusting."  
       (so said The Writer’s Almanac of 5/11/13)
Detail from frontispiece to Thomas Wilson's Correct Method of German and French
Waltzing (1816), showing nine positions of the Waltz, ----- This is from Wikipedia
Can you just imagine that? The waltz: disgusting? As with most notions we have, they eventually change. After it was introduced, the unmarried young ladies of London’s ton had to have explicit permission to dance the waltz. And if in one evening you danced three waltzes with one man you were ruined, ruined I tell you! Next step: obtain a special license and be married as soon as possible to the rogue who was crass enough, or desperate enough, to lead you into temptation. Today the waltz is a delight, though you rarely see or hear one except for the PBS broadcast of the New Year’s Day concert from The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Invitation to the Waltz, by Francesco Miralles Galaup

My husband calls the waltz – especially a Strauss waltz, and especially The Blue Danube -  the most ‘civilized’ music on earth. He and our son are incorrigible: they hear a waltz and they “da di, da di, da dah di di” away, swaying and smiling from ear to ear. The waltz CD’s are wearing out.

Are you old enough to remember Arthur and Kathryn Murray on TV, twirling away to their signature waltz? Are you old enough to remember after-school dancing classes? In my high school years the school district provided after-school dance classes where I learned to fox trot, lindy, cha-cha, rhumba, and, of course, to waltz. Wallflowers were discouraged. To this day I love to dance.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Well, that taste is fleeting too. For example, years ago a woman wouldn’t be caught dead out shopping in jeans, much less deliberately torn ones.  The taste of this topic is the physical sense of taste.  As with the experiences of the other senses – sight, hearing, touch, even smell – there is a long term memory of taste. But unlike the others, taste mostly happens only while we have things in our mouths, take a bite of something different, or rinse our mouths.

I have just as strong a sense of taste and love of good tastes as I have for beautiful sights and wonderful music, marvelous fabrics and evocative scents. So that is my excuse reason for the extra pound or two I added on to my appreciative self yesterday. I cooked up a large pot of Stilton soup. Hoo boy it was deee-licious!  I had to keep taking tastes – just to be sure it didn’t need more salt, you know (wink, wink) – and then I gave us generous portions for supper.  After portioning out the rest to two freezer containers, I’ve got come left over for lunch. It’s hours away – I can ‘taste’ it already!

Friday, May 9, 2014


Shocking, shocking, shocking!
The mouse ran up the stoking.
When he got to the knee
Oh what did he see?
Shocking, shocking, shocking!

Well, the mouse had no stockings to climb on a recent Saturday in Charleston, but things were a bit shocking – at least to this old lady.
To set the scene: it is a lovely late April, breezy blue sky day. We are in Marion Square, surrounded by the Charleston Farmers Market, the annual Charleston Dog show, and hundreds of people. There was one nice, sunny spot on the lawn. This gentleman had already claimed a spot to one side.
Did he know the show that was about to present itself?

One by one, over they came, the sunbathing young gals, most likely college coeds, in their skimpy suits. Suits? To me, this ensemble above looks like underwear. Underwired, flesh colored – yep! Underwear! The darlings get more daring day by day.

Ah, these are better! At least the colors are more swimsuit-like.

Having had many beaches close by where I lived as a young woman in various places on Long Island, I cannot get my mind to accept sunbathing in the park. I suppose it’s done in Central Park, I suppose it’s done in parks all over the world. Yes, I do remember folks sunbathing in Nordnes Park in Bergen on the day we went to the aquarium there. It was a lot cooler and windier that May day than it was in Charleston: the sun was shining but the temperature was in the high 50’s. To the Norwegians it was a great day for swimming in the big pool by the harbor – brrrr! -  and sunning themselves on the lawns.
 I suppose it all comes down to this: to each his – or in this case, her – own.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Old Curmudgeon has spoken -
and I am unanimous in this!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


This is a reposting and a bit of a revision of one I did over two years ago. I still find the odd occasion when I'd like to smash a few plates - I guess I always will.

A few years ago I read of Eva Gabrielsson’s wonderful evocation of a Viking curse. (You can read the article here.)  What struck me about the Viking curse, and the article describes it as ‘elaborate’ was the symbolic sacrifice of a horse: she broke a statue in two and threw it in a lake.  She was angry and she wanted to vent and get some revenge.  The whole ritual must have been extremely satisfying; cathartic to say the least.  “I felt immense relief, and so did the others who were with me,” she said, explaining, “It’s a ritual - we lack rituals for grief, for confusion, for rage.” It was easy to conjure up a vision of this angry gal smashing things: smashing things is something I’d often like to do.

Except for the Greeks among us who smash plates, we do lack rituals for grief, confusion, or rage.  I suppose, thinking on the lighter side, I can dismiss confusion, especially at my age, with an offhand mention of “Major Senior Moment”, but the grief and rage deserve something specific to be done in response.  I remember a neighbor from years ago who was so mad at him when her husband died.  Not only did he leave her, his death was, in her mind, due to his complete lack of regard for doctors’ orders after he’d had a massive heart attack.  She was mighty peeved, to put it mildly. I know she ranted and raved, but I’m sure she would have liked to haul off and smash him – or, if not him, at least a plate or two. 

I’m not ready to put a curse on anyone or anything, but very often I find that I’d just love to smash a stack of plates or throw a few glasses against the wall. I wouldn’t sacrifice any of my own plates, but perhaps a quick trip to a dollar store would supply me with enough to have a great smash-up. Oooo – how immensely satisfying that would be! Frankly, I have thought of it, but I never followed through.  Why? Because I’m the one who’d have to sweep up the mess! I guess I’ll have to get a membership to a gym with a punching bag and take my occasional frustrations out on it.

And then I came upon this picture - what a beauty!
Now I know what I'd do with all those plates - and perhaps a
cup or two


Friday, May 2, 2014


A very gentle giant

Last Saturday it seemed like every dog in Charleston had its day in Marion Square. The 11th Annual Charleston Dog Show was held in the midst of and alongside of the Charleston Farmers Market. It was a breezy, blue-sky day and everyone was in a great mood. The people were smiling and the dogs were behaving themselves.    

These were for little girls, but we saw one on a large dog!
That day, as every Saturday, there were lots of farmers and their wares – from eggs, veggies and herbs – lots of herbs and annual plants – and meats and things like honey, cookies, beignets, and, of course, lots more stuff to eat. Then there were the artists – jewelry, glass, pottery, leatherwork, photo work, fabric things of all kinds, woodwork, and, what I especially wanted to acquire: the sweetgrass baskets.  Mixed in with these were purveyors of all sorts of things dog: from fresh-baked treats to leashes. You could even arrange to adopt a greyhound. At many of these booths the vendors had set out large bowls of ice water for thirsty canines. Very thoughtful of them – very clever too.

Two of a kind

What struck us as we strolled through the market, watching all the passers-by, was that not only was every dog was well behaved, but that we saw no two of the same breed of dog unless an owner was walking two of the same kind.  There were every breed we could think of from a diminutive Italian Greyhound to a charming Great Dane, from a Pomeranian to an Alsatian, a Basenji and a Beagle. The list is loooong. Thinking about all the breeds we knew, we realized we’d not seen an Akita or a Standard Poodle. They may have been there but we didn’t see them.

The Princess and the Dragon
A Purple Dragon!
Just our luck, we got to the show area just as they were judging the costume class. Some of those folks were very inventive. My favorite was the Princess and her Dragon.  I am a sucker for dragons, and I was delighted when she won a prize. There were many more classes to come and prizes to be awarded, but we had more places to go and things to do that day.

Who wouldn't want to take him home?