Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quiet Night In.
Just us with some mollusks & feet from the stomachs, a big crustacean, a bottle of Loire Valley bubbly and some Strauss on the radio.

Time for bed now, though it isn't quite midnight; have had enough of 2011.  Hopefully your New Year's a happy and safe one.  Best wishes for 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Three Easy Pieces II:  Felt.  

Heavens, did life get a bit hectic lately.  Took a trip back to the Heimatstadt to visit my dad, came back to the launching pad, then flung myself across the Big Blue again.  Somehow papers managed to get sorted somewhat and stuff got mailed that needed to be mailed right away.  The knitting WIP pile is slowly shrinking, though not as quickly as I'd like.  Other stuff will get done in due time.

When I couldn't concentrate on some of the larger projects (have three shawls going right now) for love or money, took to knitting scraps of wool into squares or rectangles, beating the fibers into submission in the washer and dryer, then playing at origami:

Three little green bowls.  Sent them off to Karen as a sort of half-a$$ed housewarming gift until I get her real one done and, well, her new house gets finished being built.

Two resolutions for 2012 are to work through more of my yarn stash (greatly augmented by my new thrift-store sweater unraveling mania) and to get better organized. I'm thinking that these guys could help me kill two birds with one stone.  A recipe for the square versions pictured below can be found here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Frenchie dropped a couple strings of LEDs down a couple flights of stairs with an ethereal, almost eerie effect.  It's kind of a Visual equivalent to that Kate Bush Christmas song I like so much.

Here's to hoping that everyone had a happy day - no matter what you celebrate.  Though a little jet-laggy (yes, I'm back across the Grand Bleu), am doing pretty well.  The Frenchie seems in pretty good spirits as well.  The weather's unseasonably warm, which makes the short days a little bit hard to bear sometimes; making it past the psychological hurdle of Solstice really helps, though.

For my first meal back (breakfast; it was a "red eye" flight), was treated to a special surprise:  scrambled eggs with truffles.  Am sad to admit, given how expensive real black truffles* are and all, that I really do love them.  To preserve flavors and not overcook the eggs, he cooked them in a bain marie - that is, in a bowl within a saucepan of hot water.  This turned out so well that we're going to keep up the practice for all our scrambled egg needs, be they with truffles, chives or what have you.

Scrambled Eggs of Champions - serves 2

4 large eggs
approx. 7-10 grams black truffle, finely chopped (this should be about a teaspoon to teaspoon and a half)
A bit of unsalted butter or neutral-flavored oil

Lightly grease or oil a heat-safe bowl.
Crack eggs into a bowl, scramble, add truffles, then transfer to your heat-safe bowl that's been gently heating up in a saucepan of water.  Keeping an eye on the heat (you want the water boiling, but not too violently), stir the egg mixture every minute or so until it sets. 



* Real black truffles from places that haven't been affected by Chernobyl, aren't white ones dyed black, or aren't otherwise adulterated (like soaked in oil, then resold) are very expensive - the going rate around here is about 1000-1200 euro/kg, I think.  A small piece of about 25-30 grams is fairly reasonable and will work for three special breakfasts, or as we did, two special breakfasts and some very lucky olive oil.  Also, truffle bits - what's left over after a traiteur or caterer's sliced one up as a garnish - taste just as good and cost a bit less.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three Easy Pieces - Warm as Wool, Cool as a Concombre.

Don't know how it was by you this Summer, but ours was characterized by damp, dark, unseasonably cold weather. Heck, to add insult to injury, both the Frenchie and I ended up with head colds.*

When we finally started sprouting mold**, I suggested to the Frenchie that maybe, if for nothing other than our sanity, we head in the general direction of the sun as it obviously wasn't coming our way anytime soon. He called his best old friend from school whom he'd not seen in eons, and then it was settled. Off we headed in the big little Citroen towards Marseilles.

Long and short of it, the direct sun plus the 'southern hospitality' were exactly what a doctor would have ordered. A week became two before we started our way back up to the cold, gray north. Cannot wait to go back.

Now the Frenchie's buddy (who I'm calling Mistral) is, among other things, a bit of a folk humorist, a music historian, a farmer. I asked him if I could make something to thank him for his generosity. His answer was that he'd something green like a cucumber.

So: something green as a cucumber we have to protect the pipes of a cool-as-a-cucumber new friend. (You can download this here.)


* among other things that had to wait to be treated after the Summer break.

** La, je rigole. Really.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Don't know if I mentioned this before, but earlier this year I turned 40. Now, am not a big fan of birthdays*, and would have been perfectly happy to have let the year pass quietly by. The folks at my Health Care Provider, amazingly on the ball that they are, didn't forget.

Long Story Short: things started with a pep talk from my Primary Care Doctor,** saw me through not one, but several photo sessions on a few different machines including ultrasound, then led me to an appointment with the (gulp) breast oncologist and the eventual biopsy.

It's been a little over a week since the procedure and, honestly, I still smart. On the other hand, we are all now 100% sure that the little lump that I'd so affectionately named "verstunkene Schmutz"*** isn't krebsartig, but benign.

Next week, I go back for the followup, and hopefully that's it for six months? A year? Something like that.


* Not because of the fear of aging or anything; just don't tend to be too celebratory in general.

** "Bev, please don't be upset; I know know your difficulties..." she started. "Difficulties" was her wonderfully diplomatic terming of my habit of going into attack mode whenever a person in a white coat even looks at them in askance. The last routine exam improved greatly with my just singing some Jobim and sobbing a little bit afterwards. Feel so badly for my doctor.

*** lousy little sh#t. The doc liked it: direct, no holes barred. Of course, Later found out that she's a fellow former Buffalonian. That sort of cutting through the BS is kind of a regional characteristic.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not.

Remember this guy?

Well, he's undergone somewhat of a transformation.

Ended up with something like 25 jars of a total treat, along with a couple pots of soup.  Am really pleased with myself.

Wasn't sure what I was going to do when I set out to peel and cut up this year's behemoth.  Since jack-o-lantern pumpkins are generally for decoration and not so much eating, figured that whatever I'd do would need to be spicy.  Ended up with something that reminds me both of apple butter and pumpkin pie.  Since we're a low-carb sort of household, we mix just a tiny dollop of it with our yogurt.  Am sure that it'd be awesome on buttered whole wheat toast.

Pumpkin Butter

4 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin
3 cups sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
3 Tbs lemon juice

Slowly warm sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed pan.  Add pumpkin, lemon juice, spices, mixing well so that all spices and sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a boil (you're going to want to do this covered, as the mixture is very thick and will make a mess otherwise).  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for approximately 1/2 an hour, or until further thickened (comes off a spoon in a sheet).  Pour into clean, sterilized jars and seal.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes approximately six eight ounce jars.


You can also substitute equal amounts of sucralose (Splenda) for the sugar, though the consistency will be more like applesauce than fruit butter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reestablishing Equilibrium?

Honestly didn't intend to bring another animal into the home so soon after losing Trouble, but...

Poor Magnolia, after losing her friend and suddenly having to deal with Tony on her own just doesn't know *how* to deal with the new interloper. Little black girl is dealing like a dream with all this. She's surprisingly well-adjusted for a shelter cat. About the best-adjusted cat we've seen.

The shelter folks were calling her Jet. That's a good name (brought to mind Jet Jaguar, in fact!) We've been calling her Molly, not just because she's a little black molly, but because that name goes pretty well with Maggie.

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang so sweetly
she couldn't remember her troubles,

and milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:

and may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.


Welcome home little Molly!

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Flanders Fields.

Not quite a hundred years ago a treaty was signed, signalling the end of hostilities on the Western Front of an awful, bloody war.  Battles continued on other fronts, and other wars followed.  In some cases, the messes we are in today are related, either directly or once removed from that "War to End All Wars."  Such sobering thoughts for such a beautiful Fall day.

Up in keeping with the tradition in these parts, I've pinned a poppy to my lapel:

It was a quick little thing and took me just a few minutes to whip up.


* a small bit (+-30 yds) of red yarn - I used worsted weight.
* an even smaller bit (+-20 yds) of green yarn - again, worsted weight
* a suitable button and matching thread or black yarn for the pistils.
* a pair of needles. I used some US size 4 double-pointed ones, because they were the first things I picked up. Gauge isn't really important, so use whatever you like/have in front of you.
* a safety pin.

CO 28 stitches.
Rows 1-4:  Knit on odd rows, purl on even rows.
Row 5:  K2tog to end (14 stitches).
Row 6:  Purl to end.
Row 7:  K2tog to end (7 stitches).
Row 8: Purl to end.
Row 9:  K2tog, knit remaining stitch.  (4 stitches).

With darning needle, thread tail end of yarn through live stitches, pull tight and secure.  Sew two ends of fabric together to make a circle.  Sew button to front (or embroider a proper set of pistils to your poppy). 

If desired, on center back of flower, pick up two stitches, and make I-cord stem of desired length from green yarn.  Weave in all ends, make sure stem is secure, add a safety pin, and wear in Good Health and Remembrance.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Goodbye, Little Trouble.

He'd been sick for a few months, seemed to be getting better.  Suddenly, over the weekend things took a turn for the worse.  Last night, took him to the hospital.  Today, the vet told us that both the heart and kidneys were having serious problems and, to fix one would put serious stress on the other.  Plus, he needed a blood transfusion, which his heart probably wouldn't survive.

Pavel gave the permission to put him to sleep and, tonight at about 6:40 pm, we let him go.

I can't imagine how Pavel's feeling; they lived together for over 10 years.  I just know that my heart feels like it's breaking right now.

Happy Halloween!

This year, the Frenchie really got into the spirit of things and carved the pumpkin.  Note the beret basque.

As we don't normally get a lot of trick-or-treaters where I'm currently living, we were hoping for somebody, anybody.  Happily, were visited by maybe half a dozen kids.  Still have some treats to deal with (we're not really sweet eaters), but not as much as we were fearing.

Pavel got the actual fruit. I supplied the fruit flavored stuff.

Thank heavens that the weather turned decent (positively balmy compared to this weekend). 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Bright Lights this dark time of the year. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I’m kind of hooked on buying sweaters at thrift stores and unraveling them; currently, have three in the works and just finished two others a couple weeks back.

Anyway, sometimes I’ll find something that, in its original state, I’d never wear and the Frenchie (who still doesn’t quite get the appeal of unraveling stuff when you can buy perfectly good, new yarn) tells me I’m wasting my money on. In this case, it was a nuclear lavender mohair-blend sweater at the semi-annual “vide grenier” (community-wide yard sale) for about $4.00:

 I did feel kind of bad pulling this one apart, as someone did put a lot of effort into creating it. Still, really wanted that yarn in all its glow in the dark, fuzzy glory.

This just doesn't do justice to the color. You should be seeing waves like gaussing on an old computer screen while looking at it.

Since we’re not in what you’d call Kool Aid territory, headed over to my local African market to see what they had food dye wise. As usual, they delivered:

Red, blue, yellow, green; just like McCormick's. Espig is a food-industry supply house around Marseille, where all sorts of really Cool Stuff seems to come from. Indications on the bottles say, "for pastries, desserts and ice creams. Not to be consumed in present state." (Woudn't have considered that last one if they'd not have mentioned. Now am thinking of downing a bottle of green to see what happens.)

Did what I normally do with the yarn (skeins of about 200 m with 40 drops of color, 1/2 a cup of vinegar and water to cover. Microwave until water turns clear) - found that, for the blue, I was always going to have color remaining, and a lot of it. It cost more than the other colors, so must be much, much more concentrated. The red acted like Kool Aid or Mc Cormick red - meaning, after a few minutes, the water was clear. Let stuff cool, rinsed, then soaked in salt water for a while. Rinsed again, then set out to dry:

There goes the neighborhood. 

Ended up with something like 1600 m of a beautiful morning-fog like blue and about 300 m of a nice raspberry color. Both seem fast and am amazed at the depth and variation of color in both. (Apparently, there was a bit of acrylic).  Am currently working on a classic doily pattern with some of the blue (pictures forthcoming.  I'm not quite done with it yet) and have the rest kind of earmarked for a circular shawl or two.

Heavens, can’t imagine what the yarn would have cost if I were to have bought it pre wound, pre dyed, packaged-up.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Relatively Sweet Fruits of Failure.

After having tried to learn to use a drop spindle for some time, I’ve come to some conclusions:
-I’m not very good at it (really - I’ve been attempting for a couple years now; bought books, watched videos, even paid for private lessons.  Practiced like crazy.).

-I don’t think I enjoy the process.

This is okay; we all can’t love everything we do, nor can we be good at all we set out to learn. If I can’t get beyond my current park-and-draft limping into lopi, so be it. The thing is, what to do with the leftover, half spun stuff (aside from using it raw in projects or giving it away) that’s been accumulating?

Set to work by using means that I do enjoy and in which I have a bit of competency:

First thing I did was to drop my attempts into dye baths that I thought might work out. Let stuff dry, and was kind of amazed with the results - not only from the color standpoint, but from the wool-quality one.  The Bit of Red felted itself into a dred worthy of maybe being sold to a trustafarian somewhere (Boston not being a College Town, am not sure where). Got a lay of the land gauge-wise then just started iCording my way into a solution.

Don’t think it turned out too terribly badly. Kind of aht-sy, even.  Would wear it if it weren't destined to be given away.  Heck:  might even consider making another.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Don't know if it was due to the weather, hormones, or just general malaise, but just could *not* get anything right today.  Since am feeling like I have a foot permanently stuffed in the mouth, will keep the words to a minimum and let the pictures do the talking. 

(I think they're saying in warm and soothing tones, "Keep it simple.  Persevere.")

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recently, I've been getting into fermenting stuff - maybe because of my own recent episodes with antibiotics, maybe due to that biological clock thing.   Who knows? All's I knows is that I'm feeling the need to nurture something that might possibly nurture me back someday.  Anyway, here're some of the Somerville Test Kitchen's subjects of the moment:


I guess that this is coming back into style, as I've now seen stuff from both Martha Stewart Living and Lifehacker. Made a couple batches for the Frenchie, and his feedback has been good.

Kosher Salt
Distilled or Filtered Water
Caraway Seeds or Juniper Fruits if you're into that sort of thing

Shred your cabbage thin. In a crock, large mason jar, pickle jar, whatever you've got - put down a layer of cabbage, then tamp it with a wooden spoon as much as you can. You're going to want to both release juices and get rid of air bubbles. Sprinkle this layer with some kosher salt (about a tablespoon or so; the more the better, as this is what helps keep the cabbage crisp) as well as with a bit of spice, if you want it. Repeat the cabbage/salt layer thing until you get to about an inch from the top of your vessel of choice, ending with salt. Cover with water. Cover loosely, and let sit in a cool, dark place, checking daily to see that everything's still covered with water. (If it isn't, add more.) Should be ready to eat in about a week, but you can keep it fermenting for longer. To prepare for eating - just rinse and eat raw, or rinse and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Is great with a pork chop, a sausage...a potato or an apple, maybe.


Am following this recipe to the word. At this point, all I can say is that my balloon's started to inflate. Will keep folks posted.   


Eventually, I'd like to get a yogurt maker, as the temperature regulation is so much easier than without one.  Until I do finally go out and find one I like (one with one large pot as opposed to seven or eight little ones), this recipe works very nicely.  Have to say, though, that, since we keep the house kind of chilly, it takes a fair bit more time (like 2-3x) than what's noted in the recipe for the yogurt to set.  Even then (and this doesn't bother me at all), it's more like kefir or a very thick buttermilk.


Okay, technically this isn't anything fermented; it's a decoction.  Still, really wanted to share, as it's just such a lovely thing.

During the Summer, had my first taste of Salers, a sort of sweet aperitif liquor with gentian root at its base.  Wondered if I could make something similar to it myself, only without the sugar.  Here's what I came up with:

750 ml neutral spirits (I used a mid priced vodka, like Smirnoff.)
1/2 oz dried gentian root
the peel of one orange, grated

Put ingredients in a 1 qt container, like a mason jar, for example.  Shake up, then set aside in a cool dry place for a minimum of one week, shaking daily.  Mine's been sitting now for just under three weeks, and it smells absolutely wonderful.  Might try a thimbleful one of these days.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day.

In honor of the day, headed out west to visit "a special place designated by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs because it exemplifies the unique qualities of the Commonwealth."

Drunk in a fair bit of vitamin D along with the view.  Is it me, or does it seem that the leaves are changing awfully early this year?

Such a glorious day.  Am hoping for at least a few more like it.
Breakfast of Champions.

 Brunch at the Spring Hill Cafe.  Today it's pretty calm.  Sometimes it's like Sound Bites in Ball Square on a weekend morning during the school year.

One of the things I've been doing lately (and I'll get into that later) is try to eat differently (and, hopefully, better).  This has led me to cutting out all grain products, as much sugar as possible, caffeine, alcohol...essentially a sort of liver cure/metabolism helper sort of deal. 

My normal breakfast of an egg or two, some meat and a salad is normally pretty good.  It does get monotonous sometimes, though.  Today, just couldn't stand another egg and really wanted something creamy and dessert-y.  Came up with this adaptation of a lovely, luscious shake from my favorite Vietnamese restaurant (which normally uses sweetened condensed milk, more cream and comes topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry).  Am so happy with how it turned out:

Avocado Smoothie

1 ripe Haas avocado
1/2 c kefir or buttermilk or a  mixture of 5-6 yogurt and 2-3 T water
4 ice cubes
1T coconut oil (if you have it)
a splash of cream or half and half
sweetener of choice to taste, if desired

Peel, pit and cut avocado into 4-6 pieces.  Put in blender with all other ingredients and whizz away until smooth.  Drink down immediately. 

Serves 1.

Optional - if you'd like a bit of extra protein and this doesn't give you the heebie jeebies, toss in a raw egg.  You can buy them pasteurized nowadays, or, if you can't find them that way - just dunk in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.  (I have found that about 40 seconds works for me.  Beyond that, I usually end up with a semi-poached egg.)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Frenchie was telling me that there should be some sort of astral pyrotechnics - meteor showers?  comets? - over Europe the next few nights.  Nothing so spectacular here right now; the Perseids were the last big thing around these parts I think.  Still, condensation trails reflecting the red of the setting sun isn't too shabby.

After a fair period of wet, the weather's turned absolutely glorious.  The past few days, we've had spectacular sunrises, a warm and intense daylight, lovely pastel-ey sunsets.  Folks have been calling it "Indian Summer," but I think it's too early for that; haven't had a frost yet.

Moved indoor operations outdoors as much as I could so as to drink in that wonderful, free vitamin D.  Noted that a lot of the Spring plantings bloomed again, possibly (sadly) for the last time this year.  Picked three small melons that tasted like cucumbers from a withered vine, watered the amazingly fast-growing lettuce, planted the late kale. 

On the one hand, I would be very happy if things would stay the way they are.  On the other, perhaps I'm seeing it as so beautiful precisely because it won't last.  Warm, soft and golden will be replaced by bare branches and crystal - a bit harder, with sharper edges, but not without their own charms.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Les Mains Vertes, II

Though the weather's glorious out now, am brushing up on my Rain Dance: the cistern's almost empty and I've been flirting pretty seriously with a sunburn. Such a far cry from a couple weeks back when no sun would be seen for days, the garden plots were all soggy, and we were huddled in woolens, seriously contemplating turning the heat on again.

Aah, but what a growth spurt said wet contributed to -

Am I a bit mossy about the edges?

The above was the result of a few not-at-all related projects: my taking up dyeing a huge mass of cream-colored wool, a stab at the May project (mittens) in EZ's Knitters Almanac, and the need to make folks on my day-to-day route smile a bit (hey, we need to get our sunshine somewhere). (Pattern Available Here.)

Have fun with these! (Am seriously thinking of making a few more pairs of these in Fall colors.)
Les Mains Vertes, I

Scabiosa - new to the garden this year. Am not too keen on the name, but it sure is a pretty flower. Hopefully these'll come back next year.

Here's hoping that folks had a great Memorial Day - the unofficial start of Summer in these parts. Myself? Spent a good bit of the weekend in the garden, rather than doing the Barbecue Thing, as have been feeling the need for more quiet than revelry lately.

Anyway, knocked the Forsythia back into nominal submission, got a whole bunch of pretty stuff planted as well. Transplanted and took a headcount of the beautiful seedlings from that Trader Joe's melon we schlepped home a few weeks ago*.

Picture's from a few days ago; these guys have grown like crazy since then.

The backyard's being left to 'devolve,' so to speak. Violets and milkweed are taking over where there used to be grass, greenbriar's taking the place of the old vegetable garden. Having a bit of a forest in the middle of the city's kind of a nice idea. I will have to prune the lilacs and cut back the ivy. That's not too big of a deal, though, especially since it's all in the shade.

One of the two columbines we planted last year. The other one didn't turn up. I wonder if the garden's self-selecting for purple and yellow only?


* Anyone want to try for cantaloupe this year? I have two dozen plants and absolutely not enough room for that many.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Just got a postcard that the Frenchie painted for me.

The bridge spans the Seine. Home's in the green just below the fort at the crown of the hill. When I left, the apples and plums were in full bloom. Am told that, now, the hedgehogs (who we encourage) are out in full force. I really like hedgehogs; it's a pity they don't seem to be indigenous to this part of the world.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This is a bit worrisome.

Blogging's free on Blogger. Ann (to say the least) is a power user though, and as such (I'd assume), would be generating a fair bit of traffic (donc revenue) for them. Far more than my little site that had all its posts/drafts restored fairly quickly.

What gives?


She's back; good. This is at least the second time that this sort of thing's happened. Might be time to consider a better host.
Seems that Blogger had some serious GI problems the past day or so. Had about 3-4 posts that disappeared; am sure that they'll be back soon enough. It's just nice to be able to log in again.

Onward! other works in progress.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This may seem like not much, but for me, it was a whole lot. Took time out for three proper meals at the right times today. Though I love to cook, and I'm considered a pretty decent cook at that, I'm not always a particularly healthy eater. Am generally not hungry at all. Followed the MFK Fisher How to Cook a Wolf plan and did as such:

-Breakfast: a cup of coffee and lots of buttered toast, something like four slices.. (Heavens, Toast is so good! I usually try to keep away from it - it seems a big no in all the weight-loss counsels I've heard. Carbs.)

-Lunch: a glass of tomato juice, a banana, a handful of nuts.

-Dinner: a couple cups of some leftover gumbo, a bowl of lettuce with black beans, a couple leftover breakfast sausages and some sprinkled dry cheese.

Of course, I take a couple vitamin supplements.

Food just doesn't taste good right now for whatever reasons (hormonal, I think). Just need to get the vitamins in me in as pleasant a manner as possible so my nails don't start splitting again and the hair doesn't start falling out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pattern Recognition.

Weather's awful and we're all feeling down. A friend who's a bit in the doldrums started talking about his favorite R & B classics from the 1970s. Of course, I chimed in with one of my all-time all-timers:

Ooh - same key, cadence, rhythm as this:

Monday, May 09, 2011

I sort of have to keep the heart on auto-check, as there's no outside verification of my being okay right now. Stuff hurts badly, but probably not worse than than anywhere else.

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long –
Or did it just begin –
I could not tell the Date of Mine –
It feels so old a pain –

I wonder if it hurts to live –
And if They have to try –
And whether – could They choose between –
It would not be – to die –

I note that Some – gone patient long –
At length, renew their smile –
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil –

I wonder if when Years have piled –
Some Thousands – on the Harm –
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve –
Enlightened to a larger Pain –
In Contrast with the Love –

The Grieved – are many – I am told –
There is the various Cause –
Death – is but one – and comes but once –
And only nails the eyes –

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –
A sort they call "Despair" –
There's Banishment from native Eyes –
In sight of Native Air –

And though I may not guess the kind –
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –

To note the fashions – of the Cross –
And how they're mostly worn –
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like my own –

Sunday, May 08, 2011


The Frenchie makes fun of me all the time for misplaced words. I take it in stride and even see it as a source of pride as, whatever the language, the error's usually a graceful one if I do say so myself.

Last Summer, we visited a favorite town on his side of the Channel. After a bit of dune-wandering (kind of an adventure for me as I worry about old ordinance), we decided to take a walk around a part of the town that wasn't demolished by the Germans in the last war. Something that's striking in a lot of the old architecture is that it's mainly taller buildings and apartments - mind you, not as huge as the monstrosities built by modern development companies to attract the English - but maybe two or three stories in cement with sharply-pointed roofs and a fair bit of ornamental woodwork. Kind of like the Queen Anne style here (certainly from the same period).

The more modern houses that are built by families on the outskirts of town are generally one story, white stucco and red tile roofs - the footprint being a bit larger than your average Cape. Since there is very little variation one starts noticing the details a bit more: beach roses as opposed to lavender as a hedge. Patches of Beach Grass in gravel as opposed to everything being just paved over. On one house, I actually saw something pretty common in my part of the States that is a fair bit rarer over there and thus worth pointing out: a weathervane.

"Regarde le joli vol-au-vent!" I cried out, tugging at his arm like a little kid.

"Quoi? Come again?"

"Re-garde le jo-li vol-au-vent!" I repeated (louder and more slowly, of course. It's an American thing.) pointing to the roof where the iron rooster was perched.

When he figured out what I was talking about, burst out laughing. It took him a couple minutes to calm down.

"It's girouette! Gir-ou-ette."

"Now that you mention it, yes. I know that word. Just forgot it and had to come up with something that made sense in the context. What's wrong with vol-au-vent?"

"Absolutely nothing; not a thing at all. It's nice. Poetical, even."

A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. This one's in Rockport, MA.


The other day, it was cold, damp and pretty miserable out. Comfort food was in order. Since shopping hadn't been done yet, kind of needed to work with what I had which, in this case, was a half a roasted chicken and some frozen veggies. Decided that I'd improvise a bit of something I'd been longing for for a while:

Chicken à la King

4 c. diced roasted chicken (about 1/2 a bird)
1 medium onion
2-3 large branches of celery
1/2 large green pepper (or one smaller)
3 c. frozen mixed vegetables
1/4 c. butter, margarine or olive oil
3-4 T. flour
2 c. milk or
1 c. milk and 1 c. water or chicken brother (this is what I used).
Seasonings to taste. (I used about 1 T of curry powder)


1.) Dice onions, celery and green pepper. Saute the three in a tablespoon and a half of fat. (Generally, I start with the onions. When they've turned a bit transparent, I add the other veggies and cook over low-med heat until soft).

2.) Add frozen vegetables and raise the heat slightly. When they've thawed, add the chicken and allow all to warm through. When done, set all this aside.

3.) Prepare a roux: melt remaining fat in a pan, slowly add flour and cook until bubbly and slightly golden. S-L-O-W-L-Y add the milk (& other liquid), stirring all the time until all is incorporated and you have a nice, thick sauce. (Small lumps are okay; they'll dissolve. What you want to avoid are big lumps which end up like dumplings in the sauce). Add seasoning(s) and heat through a bit to get rid of the flour taste. Don't let it come to a boil.

4.) Add the chicken and veggies mixture to this, then heat through again (on low heat). The sauce should continue to thicken a bit. If it gets too thick, you can always add a bit more liquid.

Serve over noodles, potatoes, biscuits(a great recipe for those is the standard Joy of Cooking quick baking powder biscuits.), or the aforementioned vols-au-vent.

Now, I love puff pastry as much as the next girl, but have no intention of ever making it. Was all out of the biscuits, too (strawberries were on sale, so we've been going nuts with the shortcake). Ended up serving this over toasted, buttered pumpernickel bread slices; was pretty good.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Better Dead Than Red In the Head? (Hopefully Not.)

After a scare back in the dust days (not willing to post pictures), I was totally converted to the "check yourself" for the skin. So far, so good, despite the wrinkles that eventually show up with age. Please, folks, take care of yourselves!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Silly Cat.

Took the Frenchie to the Harvard Natural History Museum a week or so ago when he last visited. We try to make a pilgrimage every Spring, as it's one of our favorite places in the neighborhood.

Anyway, in the Geology section, I believe I was contemplating the cabinet of fool's gold (bright and shiny!) when he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me in his wonderful Yves Montand accent if I realized that they were going to be inducting Tony into the Rock Hall of Fame.

"No?" I asked, wondering if I was missing something.

"Why yes, because he is a seely-cat."

"Dignity, Dignity, Dignity." (Aah yes, we have sound now, too.)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Hope is the thing with feathers.

As it's been warm enough lately to sleep with both the windows and the back porch door open, I've been getting woken up early (like 4:00 am ish) by the birds. Often it's cardinals working at establishing territory. Sometimes it's house finch chatter. Every now and again, it'll be a little white-throated sparrow singing a matin.*

Thank goodness for Spring! Thank heavens for those bird-songs!

When there's enough light (and it's not too damp, of course), I've been taking to sitting out on the balcony with a cup of coffee, the cats and a knitting project. The knitting's a great soul-soother; don't know why, but it seems that when my hands are moving, my mind gets calmer and I can think more clearly.

Lately, my fingers have been itching to swatch bits of lace. Sometimes they stay swatches, other times they grow into projects. Here's a little pattern for something I whipped up recently based on the Gull Lace Stitch made popular by the legendary Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Hopeful Neckwarmer (Pattern Available Here.)


* Sparrow is moineau in French, so we like to say that it's un petit moineau-moine qui chante ses matins. Have also decided that he's a Franciscan, since he dresses in brown and that's the big animal-friendly order.

Well, it has been a while, now, hasn't it? It's been kind of rough going lately, and I was so tired, so decided to take a break from things. Though am not in top shape, do feel a bit better, less tired, maybe slightly more able to get the stuff taken care of that needs to be done. We'll see.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Poetry Month.

As I normally do every April, will be spending my time over at my other site. (Why not stop by?) As always, would love to hear from folks about their favorite arrangements of words.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


My dad rocks. Is all I can say. I'm here grieving about all sorts of stuff, including the end of my school's hockey season. Mention that, well, if anything, at least the President's college basketball stats are good. His reply? "probably more important than the expansion of Obamacare to Libya."

(Takes a deep breath, dives.)