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.


...to 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.