Friday, November 28, 2014


I have to smile every time I come upon this picture I took ages ago in Devon – or was it Cornwall? No, it was the North Yorkshire moors. (I checked.) In Britain you have your numbered Motorways, you’re A Roads, and your B Roads. I sought out the NN Roads: No Number. Being the navigator, I had Frank driving on all the navigable back roads I could find as we drove around England. If our car could pass through the stanchions at the beginning of some country roads, it meant we could drive on through. Topping a rise on one of these wickedly narrow roads we came upon this sign. Danger!

Such signs usually warn of hazards and threats to the driver and passengers. It could only mean, we decided light-heartedly, that we were entering the realm of the Attack Sheep.  Yes – there they were, milling about all around us as we drove slowly up the road: all those sheep, ewes to be specific, with their wee ones usually tucked in beside them. A brave one or two lambs would stray, but as soon as they recognized us as a threat they scampered back to their mothers’ sides.

Many’s the time since then we’ve seen a flock of sheep and asked ourselves if they were Attack Sheep. Two were the times we were delayed on a country road behind a flock of sheep being moved from place to place. Both times we surprised the shepherds by not tooting our horn to get them to hurry, smiling as we watched the action.  Take your time. After all, we were on vacation and in no hurry. I must say though that sheep rank (and rank they are!) just above pigs in my estimation of the smelliest group on the planet.  If the wind is in the right direction you’d better breathe through your shirt.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


And what are you doing reading my blog today when you should be having some Thanksgiving fun – either cooking or eating a bountiful feast? Mmm? And what and I doing here this morning? I am killing time while I wait for Harris Teeter to open at 7 a.m. I did a big shopping last week. Looking ahead, I really stocked up. But what I forgot was that I’d have to go anyway to get my perishables for the week – fruit, veggies, milk, and such. Teeter is open until 2 this afternoon. Many other supermarkets are closed all day – I’m happy I regularly shop at Teeter.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving – go easy on that stuffing, you hear? And, as I tuck in to a wonderful meal this afternoon at our son’s house (dinner by them, two tartes baked by me!), I will think fondly of you, all my regular readers, and wish you a wonderful day.  

While I think of it, go over and visit Jacqueline Donnelly’s blog Saratoga Woods and Waterways, and her posting yesterday called Snow!.  You will be pleased that you did.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Our first stile - near the home of friends we were visiting in Surrey

I’ve been going through my photo albums – now over forty years’ worth – and getting some of my favorite photos saved digitally. For a while I was scanning them into my laptop, but that was time consuming: take out the photo, scan it in, tape it back into the album.  (Yes, I use tape, double-sided tape. I am not Margaret Bourke-White, none of my photos (well, maybe one or two really good ones) will stand the test of time. So, tape it is.) But now I just take a picture of a picture. Oh, I do sing the praises of digital cameras.   

That's Frank slipping through in Penshurst, Kent

But, as usual, I’ve digressed. So - In saving the photos I came upon several pictures with a theme I thought of on our 1984 trip to England.  You don’t see many stiles in the United States – in fact, I’ve never seen one here - but you do see them all over England because of their public rights of way system and all the footpaths through the country. I think stiles are a marvelous invention.

A then rather new installation at Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

At Battle, East Sussex

This stile at Tenterden, Kent, is really more of a gate, like the
one at Bodiam, but the livestock don't know that.

At Laycock Abbey in Wiltshire

And this beauty is at St. Anthony Head in Cornwall
That's Frank up there, ahead of me as usual because I was always stopping
to take pictures. That trip? Exactly 1000 photos. Just think of all that film!

Friday, November 14, 2014


Canterbury Cathedral

Are you old enough to remember the Jackie Gleason show? Remember how he’d exit the stage and cue: “Maestro, a little travelin’ music”? Well, travelin’ music is what this blog is all about.   

Corey's Picture from Notre Dame

On January 21st this year, the wonderful Corey Amaro whose daily blog, Tongue in Cheek, is a must-read for me, wrote about their visit to Notre Dame in Paris. The orchestra of Radio France was there practicing Berlioz’s Requiem and the practice was being filmed. Her serendipitous happening upon a concert, especially one in a church, is one we’ve also experienced in our travels. I thought I’d write a bit about it – for old times’ sake.

The Arctic Cathedral

We heard our first church concert in 1981 at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø, Norway. To walk in to this very modern cathedral and hear very old organ music was quite surprising and delightful. After the next unexpected concert, this one in the crypt under Canterbury Cathedral, we began to expect music wherever we went. It began to seem logical: we came various churches, large and small, at a quiet time during the week when the organist, or in once case a pianist, was practicing for the next Sunday’s service. Strangely enough, we never heard choral practice. I really would have liked that.

Grieg in Bergen

Though most of our concerts have been in churches, 1982 was the year we came upon the Norwegian Army Band playing Grieg in an open air court at the SAS Hotel in Bergen. I am a sentimental fool sometimes, and hearing such lovely music, they began just as we rounded the corner, well, it gave me a lump in my throat and a tear or two. It wouldn’t have been the same if they’d been playing say Debussy, now would it?  The Debussy happened when we listened to a violinist in the streets of Carcassonne. 

Troubador - Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

 Through Norway, England, France, Italy, we’ve been serenaded and delighted. 

 So many free concerts – what could be better.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Due to a very busy weekend ahead - and the chores to be done to prepare for it - I am reposting an entry from November four years ago. One update though: it looks like the NASCAR drivers have matured their stubble and are now sporting beards. I still think they would be itchy under all that gear.


        Should you consult an on-line list of commemorative Months, and follow that up with a visit to the Urban Dictionary web site, you will find No-Shave-November, Decembeard, and Manuary. Truly! Googling each month will net you quite a few sites on the subjects. I suppose that the some men grow in this winter coat to help them keep warm in the winter. By February and March, the coldest months, their faces should be well covered.  It is ironic that the men who could most benefit from facial hair in the winter cold have so little of it. The Eskimo, Inuit and Sami men are relatively hairless. 
      Evidently, facial hair must be grown for several months before it can be fashioned into something dashing. Quite a bit of growth is needed to fashion a neat goatee or a Van Dyke. Growers of the former sport just a beard; the latter add a mustache to that. Most men in these modern times will sport no more than this.
        The nineteenth century saw a great growth in beards. Our Presidents, to use them as an example, were, with the exception of Lincoln who was exceptional in many ways, fairly clean shaven (barring some mutton-chops and side burns which went out with Elvis) until Grant came along in 1869. Hair was there, in beards and mustaches, until McKinley in 1897. A bit of a backslide with Roosevelt and Taft, but it was clean shaving after that.

        Alexander the Great was clean shaven, Peter the Great sported a mustache. These days many young bloods, thinking themselves great, sport stubble. Many NASCAR drivers sport stubble. It’s nice to think back several years ago when many of them were in a razor manufacturer’s ad campaign. These days you can always tell when they’ve been making commercials for any of their sponsors - they’ve had to shave! It must be wicked to have to wear a balaclava under the driver’s helmet along with all that stubble, and it must be even more of a joy peeling the thing off. Ah, what men go through to look great.
        This new trend is called “Designer Stubble”. Can you believe that?! There is a name for it!! An article on the Men’s Flair web site, where there are instructions for maintaining it, describes the look as, among other things, rugged, romantic, sophisticated, cool. Were I a twenty-something female I’d probably think the look romantic or rugged. Being a seventy-something female, I call it lazy! It reminds me of a vacationing man who lets his beard grow for a week, and then regrets it because he has a nasty time shaving it off at the week’s end.  It reminds me of a newly retired man who is delighted to leave the razor in the drawer - for a while! Eventually, he too will regret it.

        So, men, now that November and the winter are upon us, you can begin to grow your beard. Do you grow it out, or do you grow it in? Oh, just let it grow, let it grow, let it grow - but be sure to sport a sign along with your SCCL Resident I.D. Badge that will let the rest of us know that you are a serious beard grower, and not one of those stubbly scruff-balls!

I had to add these pictures of the ever-popular Dale Jr. In the last four years he's sported many looks - the beard is the latest. And if you are at all into car racing, you may have noticed how many of the drivers are redheads. Interesting!
                                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Even the Smithsonian has gotten in on the act – read about Peak Beard has to say about the topic. Very interesting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Ah, yes: November!  My birthday month :-)  It started off being so busy that I forgot to post this month's Sendak offering on the 1st.  

"Spout hot soup" -  of course, this is the start of the serious soup season. So far I've made baked potato soup and burgundy beef. I'll soon me making other varieties, trying to organize space in my side-by-side freezer to store the extras. I've managed to downsize many recipes so that I have four servings for two: two to serve, two to freeze.  But some soups, like my shrimp bisque, are hard to downsize.

I wrote about soup in a blog in 2012. Soup of the Evening, Beautiful Soup.