Thursday, October 31, 2013

A ZOMBIE AHEAD OF HER TIME

1970

The back of the picture simply reads "My Halloween Party 1970."  I still remember Emily, Gigi, Norell, Diane, and Anita.  One is easy, Sister is right there, left front. 

One of the scary things about this pic is that I remember getting ready for the party.  And I decided to go as a zombie.  My favorite costume was always a gypsy.  I remember driving to my grandparents and the curve in the road where the gypsy camp was set up, when my parents were young.  Traveling with my Daddy was always an adventure.  He was famous for reading every sign
Scary zombie
between Tim and Buktu.  And he and my mother mentioned the same landmarks every time they traveled a familiar road.  We had our personal "Historic Family Landmark Ahead" designations like the house where the infidels lived (that even began with my great-grandparents), the famous nod to yellow snow outside of Daisy, the famous Penny Hill café, every place they were pulled over for going a little fast.  I wish I could remember them all.  But my Daddy had seen the gypsy camp.

But in 1970 I didn't want to dress up as a gypsy.  I chose to paint my face with lipstick and wear a white sheet.  A Zombie ahead of my time. 

My mother knows how to throw a party.  And she has always been very clever, as is every good mother.  My father was not at the party.  He was doing something else, getting ready to scare the living daylights out of ten year old girls.

Our last little bit of entertainment involved going out to our garage.  My mother had hung old sheets across the door opening.  A single candle was lit on the middle of the floor. She had found a poem at the library, in the old days when a person had to seriously research ideas and not copy off of Pinterest. The storytelling began, a sad tale about a man.  I don't remember the story as much as I do the things she passed around while telling the story.  She had blown out the light but the porch light reflected out to the garage.  His eyeballs were cold peeled grapes.  She passed around his spine, which was wooden spools linked together.  There were all kinds of gross body parts.  And at the very end of the tale, my father came running into the garage as screaming girls were heard all over town when we jumped up, running all over in the semi-dark.  Crying and screaming are good indicators of success.  I have always had the reputation for doing both, well.




  1980.  Ten years later.  Once again, Sister is on the left, dressed as The Farmer's Daughter.  Pam and Andrea are to my right.  And I was going for a different look.  I was taking Art that semester as a requirement for my degree.  We all made paper machie masks just in time for Halloween.  I got an A.  It was a super fun project. I used my lovely, original mask and came up with the idea of being Candy Kane.  I'm wearing a satiny tuxedo shirt over black fishnet stockings and my black Capezio dance shoes.  Obviously, we all had fun with our costumes and the chance to be campy and slightly risqué. 

The scariest person at the party was Burt.  I took a few friends upstairs to see my family.  My parents were there (I was living in their basement) and my three grandparents.  Burt had purchased the most horrible mask possible, a very creepy, leering, wrinkly, bald headed old man with long flowing grey hair.  He was dressed like a bum, carrying a paper bag with a bottle inside.  He would drink from the bottle in the sack and then cosy over to you.  Hideous.  I know he scared one of my grandmothers because I can guarantee she had never seen anything like that before.  I never told her he was the man I married.  From then on, he had to ask permission to bring that ugly thing out of the trunk.  I hate it.  Maybe it has rotted by now.

Halloween makes me sentimental, remembering all the fun times running across the yards in our little part of town, knocking on the doors of thousands of houses.  All the bad things we didn't know about as we trick or treated, unencumbered with parents or cell phones.  We did return home and empty our pumpkins out on the kitchen table, watching  Daddy pick out a piece or two, just in case.  Going to bed before Halloween was over, listening to the older kids yelling, running up and down the street, the neighborhood dogs barking at children running in the leaves.  Lying in the bed, looking at the orange globe full of candy.

I'm off to purchase good chocolate candy, maybe wearing my turquoise wig.  We shall see.  Last year was the first time I didn't hand out candy.  But the porch light will be on this year and a nice veggie soup or chicken curry will be on the stove for the grown-ups living here.   And I won't mind the doorbell ringing off the wall.  I'll just remember the fun they are having when I open the door, definitely in my turquoise wig by then, and scoop out a handful of  Reese's Peanut Butter cups and Snicker's.  No tricks at this address.



 



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

LOSING YOURSELF AT CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE


I was very, very lost once and I didn't even know it.  This is good because I don't think I would like the feeling of not knowing where I am or where I was going.  Infact, I was only lost in one person's mind.  And I was worried that he was lost, perished, while reading some arcane document produced in 2 count font regarding the minutes of life in the tree ring of a giant redwood that had perished
Crossing the bridge
during a hurricane on the northwest coast of British Columbia, breaking, to fall into the swirling waters below, splintered on the boulders peppering the river that was strong enough to send whole logs to the sea.  I thought he might have slipped on the same slippery slope and maybe hit his head while leaning over to read the very last sentence about the hurricane on the northwest coast of British Columbia.  Hopefully, he had fallen into a bed of evergreen needles.

But all I had to write with was a burnt match from a book of matches I had grabbed after dinner the night before.  And I was getting annoyed.  I didn't know about the plot of giant trees which had been felled in a hurricane.  I did know it was a very dreary afternoon and much cooler than I had expected.  When you are traveling, it is easy not to dress properly for the elements.  Was the Bell Man supposed to chase after our rental car, with New Jersey license plates, as we left the hotel and demand I run back to the room for my good coat?  Maybe.  I am a good tipper.  Did he know about the hurricane that had occurred on the northwest coast of British Columbia?  I doubt it.  But he did know the temperature in the elegant, enclosed drive was much warmer than the dreary Saturday morning that awaited us at the end of the driveway emptying onto the city street.  But I never blame the Bell Man. 

Now I was sitting on a bench in a small opening in the middle of a deep evergreen forest.  A trail passed about ten feet from where I sat.  Despite the gloomy weather, I watched packets of tourists walk right by me.  The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a very popular tourist attraction.  We had walked across the 450 foot long bridge and taken pictures from our vantage point 230 feet up in the air, swinging every minute atop the 13 ton cement and steel bridge.  I can't imagine ever using the original rope bridge built in 1889.

After crossing the bridge, a trail split in several directions.  A map showed the various areas to hike and also gave time estimates and mileage.  I decided to sit out this tromp through the woods due to an old injury.  We found the opening and I sat down.  But I know before I sat down, I said, "I will be waiting right here."

Sometimes husbands (and wives, to be fair) don't listen very well.  If I am going to sit out hiking with Burt, why would I decide to get up and wander around the huge park?  I didn't have a personal cell phone yet.  My phone in a bag was driving around my hometown, ever ready to help Burt's folks as they ran carpool back and forth.  At this point in technology, while it was very cool to hear a phone ring in your vehicle, unless you were an extremely important person, it actually was the most helpful for a reminder to pick up milk on the way home or to call and say the car is making that funny noise again.  All the new technology in the world was not at my fingertips, just yet.  Just a book of matches I was considering using as a crude writing tool.

Maybe he is busy taking pictures.  He rarely gets the camera but when he does he really goes to town.  The roll would only last so long, though.  He'd been gone for twenty minutes, twice the posted time.  A mist was beginning to fall but I was somewhat protected by the overhanging boughs.  When we first started visiting museums and historic sights, I had learned the way to avoid frustration and the inevitable words following two people going at totally different speeds.  In any but the smallest of museums, we would set a reasonable time to meet.  He has always been good about knowing when we were short on museum touring due to other activities.  Over time, we have worked out a moseying along system that works for us both.  How many words could there be to read way up here in North Vancouver on a cool, misty day.  At least he had his raincoat.

I was almost shivering in my turtleneck and fleece jacket.  And then I noticed that the people coming up, walking right in front of me, were also coming down, in about 10 to 15 minutes.  It wasn't unreasonable to think he should be down by now.  Definitely.  But I had told him I would be waiting right here for him.  And he is an Eagle Scout.  He couldn't get lost in these woods, unless he fell off somewhere, quietly.  No.  He wouldn't go down quietly.  The thoughts that race through your mind when you are sitting in another country, wondering where, oh, where, has your husband gone. 

Many different groups of people representing many nationalities had walked by me.  A tall, Egyptian man, just as handsome as Omar Sharif, said hello while passing by.  Thank goodness.  One person, in a sea of strangers, with manners.

Forty-five minutes.  I really felt like I must get a plan going.  Maybe I should go back across to the Trading Post.    I could wait back there in the warmth, for another fifteen minutes and then, if he didn't appear, we could start looking for him.  But I was getting mad too, just as much as I was feeling kinda' sick about what "if."  It was not a good feeling.  I decided to leave a note on the bench, marked with a heavy rock so it wouldn't blow away.  But the match idea was not working out. 

I really didn't know the area.  Maybe he had kept wandering, accidently into a spot and was making his way back to me.  With nothing real to write with, I had just pulled Perfect Wine Berry from my purse, considering this autumnal shade of lipstick for an implement.

Honestly, in the first seconds, I didn't know who was running towards the clearing.  I looked up and through the foggy woods, ran a crazed man, calling my name.  His unbuttoned coat was flapping, his arms were flapping, huffing and puffing, steam rising off of his head.      
 
Where have you been?!!!!!

Where have you been?!!!!

There you are, there you are!  He thought I was lost.  He didn't hear me say I would sit on the bench and wait for him. (?) I told him you always go back to where you started. 

Poor thing.  He was exhausted.  While I was waiting patiently on the bench, he had been running all over the park.  He thought I was lost in the woods or fallen down a precipice.  He had seen whatever he was looking for but for some reason, didn't come back to the little clearing.  He went back across the bridge looking for me, running acoss the swinging bridge three times, throughout the park, and across the street to the parking lot to check our car and then to the teahouse, telling people everywhere that I was lost.  
 
My description was even announced throughout the park.  Yellow turtleneck and maroon jacket.  He looked in the bathrooms.  Finally, a man came and told Burt he had seen me.  The nice Egyptian man, the only person in the forty-five minutes who had acknowledged my presence.  Of course, in the South we wouldn’t think of passing a complete stranger without a nod or hello.  After all, they might be related, the sister of your fourth cousin’s mother-in-law’s grandmother’s great-great grandchild.  People were very friendly throughout the trip, but on the street and on the path, there was very little eye contact and let me tell you, a strong absence of pleases and thank-yous.

If you have to be lost, it is better to be lost and not know you are lost.  Afterall, you don't want people worrying about you being lost. 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 

 
 

 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

olEYEve cheeseBALLS for a YUMMY HALLOWEEN app

As promised by my last post, "Thinking about Birds: The Movie and Beyond," the much awaited and anticipated recipe for Olive Cheese Balls which are best consumed while watching "The Birds."   For some reason, those pesky birds really liked pecking out the poor victims' eyeballs which is a horror movie definition of "the beginning of the end."   SPIDER ALERT:  If you have a thing about spiders, don't look at the pictures!

Nice juicy eyeball, squish!
 




OLIVE CHEESE BALLS  (individual pieces)

1 5 ounce Kraft's Old English Cheese in a jar
1 cup flour
1 stick butter - room temperature
Dash Tabasco and/or Cayenne
  (forgot to put Cayenne in pic)
1 jar of green pimento olives
    (small to medium sized)  (well-drained, I finish  drying with a paper towel)


Beat butter and cheese together until smooth.  Add tabasco/cayenne at this point, to your personal degree of heat.  Add flour in small batches until mixture is smooth.  Chill 2 hours, at least.


Through trial and error, I decided it was easier to pinch off a piece of dough and roll out each little piece, using flour - but sparingly.  I tried to roll it in my hands but using a rolling pin gave me better, thinner results. 

Place the dough around the olive and then with your hands, roll into a ball, sealing completely.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

If not cooking immediately, chill the balls on a cooking sheet in the refrigerator.  They may also be frozen on a sheet and then stored in the freezer for later use. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 425 oven.  Serve very hot.

Do not pop one into your mouth just after it comes out of the oven.  Patience is a virtue and will keep you from burning your mouth.  They are super hot!

I did not eat dinner before cooking this recipe tonight.  Thankgoodness.  They are very rich.  A few go a long way.

recipe courtesy of my mother via G. Hart, Dallas, Texas









Monday, October 28, 2013

THINKING ABOUT BIRDS: THE MOVIE AND BEYOND

I love movies but I am a very picky movie watcher, especially movies on t.v.  If I can't watch a movie from the beginning (opening credits and music  rolling) I won't watch it, even my favorites.  Okay, maybe five minutes in.  Even if I've seen it ten times, each time will be different, depending on how cold my Coke is and if the moon is waning or waxing, or if I had shrimp for dinner two nights ago.  Needless to say, I don't start a movie halfway through.

Here was the piece of luck. "The Birds" was just being introduced, my favorite scary movie I can actually view.   Another movie, an old Vincent Price movie that no one seemed to remember but me, recently showed on TCM.  I practically spilled my popcorn jumping up and down on the sofa because it wasn't a figment of my imagination.  True to Price genre, it was a horribly scary movie that I don't ever have to watch, ever again, "The Last Man on Earth."  Obviously, not my favorite genre, real life can be scary enough.  Some movies have left me scarred for life - we can't even mention those.

"The Birds" was a big deal in my young life.  And whenever I think of  "The Birds"  I think of Olive Cheese Balls.  They were firsts together.  (Note:  Post to follow with the recipe for Olive Cheese Balls!)

Long before reel-to-reel and VCR, a popular theater movie could take years to hit the home screen.  I remember watching Dialing for Dollars in the morning and again in the afternoon.  These were older, mostly B list movies.     

Two movies I remember hearing a lot about on the "playground" were "The Graduate" (1967 ) and "The Birds" (1963).  This was so far back in the ages, I can remember the name of my classmate who was the first student in our school whose parents divorced.  We were in the third grade.  But her main claim to fame was her boasting that her mother had taken her to see "The Graduate."  Whether or not it really happened, it did get her plenty of attention.  I remember my mother was shocked when I told her. In all of our worldly third grade knowledge, we didn't know anything about the movie except for parents talking when they thought we weren't listening.

I was fairly happy living in a movie land with Julie Andrews and Swiss Family Robinson and Dialing for Dollars, until "The Birds" hit the black and white screen.  We had a black and white television on a cart but it could also be picked up and carried to another room and placed wherever one desired.   

My parents had turned down my requests to watch "The Birds" on television.  I have never been the Queen of Bravery.  Supposedly, occasionally, I had to wake Sister (the younger) up in the middle of the night to "walk down the hall" with me.  We didn't have nightlights and she has never been afraid of anything, in the daylight or the dark.  Family folklore suggest that on one occasion, I couldn't wake her up so I stood frozen in the doorway, looking down the hall until it was too late.  I was very little so that memory is rather vague. 

The parental okay to watch "The Birds" finally came when I was nine or ten.  My parents were having a dinner party.  Sister must have been at a friend's house because she never would have willingly sat in another room while I watched a movie in our bedroom.  The t.v. on wheels was rolled into my room and plugged into the wall outlet.  My mother brought me a plate of appetizers, including olive cheese balls.  Love at first bite.  

Everybody knows about "The Birds" and Alfred Hitchcock.  This was Tippi Hedren's first movie role and every thing about her character of Melanie was meticulously groomed by the famous director.  No one but a grown man would think of putting a woman in a little skiff and sending it across a small bay, with a birdcage at her high-heeled feet, as her perfect coif is held in place by a silk scarf.  Upon arriving, she must climb up a small ladder while holding the cage in one of her beautifully gloved hands while lifting herself up the ladder with the other hand and all the while (in my version) an invisible third hand is clutching her lush, full length mink coat to protect her from the elements, preserving her classic, expensive two piece suit.  Poise in action.  My kind of girl. 

The invisible third hand is as spooky as her boldly walking into a home of people she did not know and leaving a birdcage with two love birds.  Talk about stalking.  The terror of  "The Birds" was not just the visual effects of sparrows, crows, and seagulls, all of which were real and mechanical.  But also their absence, what we cannot see lurking around the corner.  And like the school scene, first one, then four, then five, a glance away to light a cigarette and then the look up to see every single line, from an electrical wire to the bars of the playground equipment totally covered in big, black birds.

Upon my newest watching, I think the birds weren't just miffed about the caged lovebirds, but also by the fur and the cigarette smoking.  The birds did not suffer fools patiently.  After numerous viewings, this time I also picked up on a conversation between Mitch and his clingy, frightened mother.  While living in another southern state, a little further south, it was not unusual to hear a different pronunciation when speaking of young women.  I had a Sunday School teacher call us to order, more than once, "Gulls, gulls, gulls.  Do sit down."  And then in the movie, Mother says to Mitch, "A gull like that." There was not an R in that word anywhere.  Well, we all know about a "gull like that."  Hmmph.  A rich, sophisticated young woman, working for a newspaper which her Daddy owns and plenty of time to run after whatever she likes.  I just wondered if Mr. Hitchcock knew about such a "gull."  I think that pretty "gull" may have been the reason behind all the flapping of wings and pecking out of eyes.

One of the last scenes of this movie involves a desperate Hedren in an attic, battling a seemingly never-ending onslaught by hundreds of birds, with all the protection of a large flashlight.  The acclaimed director failed to tell her that only real birds would be used. "There were boxes of ravens, gulls and pigeons that bird trainers wearing gauntlets up to their shoulders hurled at me, one after the other, for a week,"  the actress recalled in an interview last year.*    A physician closed down production after five days due to Miss Hedren's distraught condition.   

What was unknown at the time, was the relationship between Hedren and Hitchcock.  In an interview on Huff Post Live (12-7-12) Hedren was candid in her remarks about the famous director.  She said she was able to separate the artist from the "dark side" of the man but he was "evil" and "obsessed" and "ruined her career" holding her in a seven year contract when she refused his advances.  Because of the contract, Hedren made one more movie ("Marnie") with the director but had to wait out the rest of the time.  She is now vocal about her relationship in the hopes it will help other young women. 

I thought of other young women, just starting out, seeking to please and do a good job because that is the way they have been raised.  "The Birds" is just a scary movie that is purely fiction.  But there are real halls too dark to walk down and corners we can't see around.  And sometimes,  there are menacing figures who are attracted to the sincerity and the hopefulness of young women.  These buzzards of prey are physically, mentally and emotionally ugly.  They hover, lurking and leering, until they see the right moment to swoop down.   A young, innocent person doesn't always recognize those who are evil and obsessed.

This predator can make your life miserable, especially once you have strongly refused and rejected their plan.  I am not alone in wishing that sexual harassment laws had been in place at the time of my "hell on earth."  Being a "nice" person and worried about a reference, I turned in my notice.  But I was smart enough to finally just walk out, the day that new revelations hit the surface and "guns" were being discussed.  I was true to myself but it was a damaging episode I would have preferred not to experience.  No employer has the right to direct your life through sexual innuendo or blackmail, whether he is an acclaimed artist or just a local pigeon with an alphabet on his shingle.   




signed,
a writer who is always amazed when a story takes over, into another direction


 *  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/starsandstories/9753977/Tippi-Hedren-interview-Hitchcock-put-me-in-a-mental-prison.html

Saturday, October 26, 2013

NORTHWEST PASSAGE: AN EXCELLENT ADVENTURE GETTING STARTED

If you are walking about and discover you are lost, do not run around like a crazy person and lose yourself any further.  Stop and gather your wits.  Just sit.  If you have lost somebody, return to where you last saw them.  Always go back to the start.


This was our first trip out of the country.  One of us was on business and the other was along for the ride.  We had never left Cate for so many days, but she was in the competent care of her grandparents.  Going on about three hours of sleep, I had been up since 5 a.m. because I don't go to bed until I'm packed.  If making all the preparations for our travel, plus getting our home ready for our seven day absence while anticipating Cate's needs during that time wasn't enough, we had a shindig the night before, a not-to-be missed formal affair for the grand opening of a newly completed project. 

It was dark thirty and the car was packed.  The six of us drove to the airport.  The new wills were signed and filed, food was in the fridge and lunch items figured out, and a long list of helpful friends, necessary phone numbers and a few ground rules were completed.  Bye bye.  Tears welled up in my eyes when I turned my back to get on the plane.  For some reason, planes can make me cry.

We lucked out the entire trip to Seattle, never having to share our three seats, making the trip very comfortable.  According to the route map, we flew over Kansas.  The agricultural quilt was beautifully laid out with squares with circles inside them and also plain squares.  The huge territory seemed empty of towns.  Later, I saw a little town I recognized by the Air Force Chapel which I had visited a long time before.  Knowing it was Colorado Springs but without perspective, we still couldn't find Pike’s Peak.  And then the magnificent Rockies just popped.  Being in the air and seeing those awesome peaks rising up towards me was one of the most beautiful sights in my life.  My nose was glued to the window.  I realized I was singing to myself.  My heart just automatically turned to prayerful song – For the Beauty of the Earth and The Majesty and Glory – so well displayed before me.  I said a prayer of Thanksgiving.  I love flat Texas, I love the beach and I love those mountains.

We broke through clouds just before landing at Seattle.  I realized Fall was in full session, the vibrant yellow, green and red set against the abundant dark green spruce, prettier than any fall I could remember at home.  Driving out of Seattle and passing the Boeing Plant, I thought Burt would wreck the rental car trying to see the planes and drive at the same time.  

As we headed for Vancouver, the drive north grew more beautiful as the sun came out.  I remember thinking of  the t.v. show, "Here Come the Brides" which was popular in my house because Sister had a crush on Bobby Sherman.  One of the main characters, Joan Blondell, was my art teacher's sister-in-law.  I had never seen waterways jammed with logs until we got out of Seattle.  It looked like a person could walk across to the other side.  
 
We stopped in Mount Vernon, Washington for a snack at the Burger King.  Once inside, we whispered to each other, very quietly.  We couldn't help but notice that the majority of customers standing in line in front of us were wearing those black wraparound glasses used after eye surgery.  When we placed our order, we asked our server about the glasses.  She replied that many people, including her husband, had very sensitive eyes because of the lack of sunshine.  When the sun did shine, they needed the extra dark glasses.  She was serious.  We almost thought we were in "The Twilight Zone."    True Southerners, Burt and I didn’t feel the need for shades.

A lovely park surrounded the border crossing in Surrey.  While waiting, we watched dog enthusiasts going through their paces with their dogs.  The border patrol didn't wave us through (2000).  She did ask us where we were from and then was a little miffed as to why we had New Jersey plates.  After asking our destination and our reason for being in Canada, she let us pass, never once asking for the birth certificates we thought were required and had spent time in procuring.                                          
 
Near Vancouver, we finally got on a poorly marked Route which headed us into town on a 4-6 lane road that went right through the middle of town, complete with stop lights, buses, bicycles, car wrecks and any other road hazard that could generally have been avoided with a nice interstate or bypass.  

 
Actually arriving at our Hotel was no small feat.  There were a lot of one way and no turn signs and it seemed we went in a circle for thirty minutes.  The Hotel drive was the width of the Hotel, completely sheltered like it's own special room.  Large potted trees twinkling with white lights and gleaming brass accoutrements reflected in the windows.  The valets and bellmen were outfitted in full wool uniforms and hats.  They were helpful and cute.  Later in my visit, I took a picture (several cameras) of the blonde valet and a group of young Japanese girls who must have been around thirteen because they giggled the whole time!
 
This was before airlines charged a fee on every little bag.  With all seventy-eight pieces of luggage streaming behind us on the brass cart, we followed the bellman down a long hall and turned down two more short halls.  The last hall was a foyer with three doors.  I knew this was a good sign!  And it was!  Our room was quite comfortable.  The walnut walls were paneled on the diagonal which cast a golden glow on the room.  At the top of the walnut walls, a twelve inch border of beautiful art deco plasterwork melted into the curved ceiling.  The furniture was old in a good way and fit the room.  The bedding was plush - a red, green and taupe floral linen duvet, the first duvet I had actually seen.   
 
Two very large nightstands, one upholstered bench, a chair and an ottoman, a round side table, a large desk and a chair.  An elegant armoire filled most of another wall with some drawers, the minibar, a big TV and a counter top.  The washroom was down a short hall with a large closet, terry cloth robes, and real hangers!   I told Burt this surely wasn’t the Econo Lodge.  The washroom was entirely done in various colors of marble, except for necessary porcelain items.  It was well sized and every feature was perfect, obviously well thought-out to make you feel splendid. 
 
We definitely felt like we were in high cotton.  Burt later found out that our room had once been a private dining room in a large suite, dating back to the original 1928 completion.  He thought we got this room because he called close to our arrival date to request a king size bed.  Our room was on the business floor and most of the rooms were doubles, which we didn’t know ahead of time.  A re quest for a good night's sleep had been our good fortune.      
 
At this point, I was dog-tired and parched.  Before going to register, Burt had found the ice machine but had not located a drink machine.  I was functioning on three hours sleep minus a full day of plane travels and layovers, a rental car routine, a few hours in the car and the hustle and bustle to get registered and finally collapse in the privacy of a strange room, albeit a luxurious room in this beautiful Hotel.  When the tough need to get going, don't hand me a glass of juice or an amber bottle bubbling with beer.  Just pour me a tall one, with plenty of ice and fizzy carbonation, brown sugared elixir of life - miracle of the South, a Coca Cola. 
 
I called room service.  They knew who I was, very formal, British attention I could get used to.  I asked if they had canned cokes.  They did, so I ordered two.  Lickety split, the cokes arrived on a doily covered, silver platter with two water goblets full of ice.  I gladly tipped the man generously in American currency (this was my first international trip).  I could've tipped him just because I was glad to be there, finally.  He left. I opened the can and poured one up and drank and drank, proclaiming it was one of the best cokes I’ve ever had.  And maybe it was because it was one of the most expensive canned cokes I've ever had, to date.  Everything up to that point was leading up to an excellent adventure.  This was the only room service I ordered.  I've always wondered if it could have been the water or maybe just a real "Mountain Coke!"

 signed,
an American in Vancouver just getting started











Yesterday, when I decided to finally sit down and post about this trip, I discovered the adventure began thirteen years ago that very day.  Wow. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

FRIDAY MUST BE 2SDAY: BLUEBERRIES AND RED LOBSTERS

While I make the last revisions to my Halloween post, I wanted to share my on-going love affair with color and the pictures I have taken along the road. 

Blueberries and lobsters. Blue and red.  Two of my favorite colors.  How convenient that two of my favorite colors match with two of my favorite foods.  Today has been declared Blue and Red Day.  I can eat dinner in the blue dining room and repose in the red study.  We won't even mention the Egyptian Green room just around the corner.  Green will have its day, guaranteed.  For now, just a glimpse into my blue and red snaps and the two combined.


Just a few Maine blueberries
 


Fresh twin tails steamed in salt water


A view across the harbor


Deep bushes along the beachfront


Blue with a touch of red, French Quarter


The Natchez Steamboat, New Orleans, Mississippi River


Fetching blue January sky


Red heart potato


Blue pointers direct the way


Vegas blue and red glass ceiling


Woo Pig


 View while eating pancakes, Ebbtide, Boothbay, Maine


Cool blue Atlanta day


Jackpot, Las Vegas Sign Parking Lot


Red in blue, at home


Inviting red doors, French Quarter


A classic blue


Red roof in the Maine sunset


Hard to beat this patriotic combo


This beats it all!


 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GOING TO MAINE POTATO SOUP

An ancient red leather journal is among my prized possessions.  It is a wealth of information regarding my cooking history, full of successful menus and handwritten recipes complete with soup-dappled pages and lists of dinner guests.  I call it my Kitchen Diary.  Some years I am very diligent about entries and at other times, as lazy as lazy can be.  I am faithful to include the date and usually a quip about the reason for the recipe.  I am not the type of cook who dreams up new and different but I do like a record of those items where writing it down keeps the product somewhat consistent.  One of the best things is the writing down of what book a new recipe comes from because the passage of time and an expanding cookbook shelf wreck havoc with even the best of culinary memories.



Among the notes are records of who I cooked soup for and the descriptive titles with enough historical tidbits to jog my memory of cooking on that certain day.   
         "First Soup of Fall 09-07-04"                                    "Suit Shopping Soup 12-05-04"  
         "Home Alone Vegetable Soup 10-23-05"                 "Chili for 86 Degree 09-09-06"
                   "Steak and Veggie Soup Ya Ya Stitcherhood Christmas Party 09-09-08"
                                          "Winter Storm Warning Chili 01-29-10" 


This entry in the diary was my attempt to finally get a little something put back for Burt, while I lived it up in Lobster Land with my cousins.  As I like to say, someone had to eat seafood for nine days.  But the least I could do was leave a nice pot of potato soup in the fridge.  After all, it was only lacking a nice piece of haddock or a couple of handfuls of clams or a dozen scallops or several nice chunks of lobster and it would almost be like being in Maine.

I would have posted this earlier but I left my exact recipe at home.  Whenever I make this soup, I think of my Grandmama and the big pot of potato soup she fixed me when I was a little girl, recuperating from double pneumonia.  I think it is a comforting and curative food.  Enjoy!

6-8 potatoes, peeled, cubed in small cubes
3 ribs celery, sliced lengthwise and chopped well
1 onion, diced well                            
4 tablespoons butter
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups skim milk
1 cup Fat Free Half&Half
1/2 sour cream
1 1/2  cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup potato water
salt and pepper
splash of sherry
a few drops of Tabasco

Cook cubed potatoes in 4 quart pan, salt and pepper, on a slow boil. 

In another pan, add chopped celery and chopped onion along with 4 tablespoons of butter, a little salt and pepper and cook on medium low, until soft.  Turn off and let them rest.

Microwave the bacon and reserve cooked, crumbled pieces.

When the potatoes are just done, drain potatoes, RESERVING ONE CUP POTATO LIQUID.

Return the cooked, cubed potatoes to the 4 quart pan.  Add 1 cup potato liquid.  Add 2 cups skim milk and 1 cup Fat Free Half and Half.  Turn the stove on low-medium to reheat slowly.  Easy to burn the bottom at this point.  Add a good splash of sherry and four or five shakes of Tabasco.  Basically, you just want the essence of elegant and kicky.  Add cooked vegetables, scraping any leftover melted butter into the potato soup.  Stir.

When the potatoes are soft but not mushy, use a potato masher or Immersion Blender to mash the potatoes, slightly.

At this point, add 1 cup of shredded Cheddar Cheese to the pot and stir. Taste and salt and pepper as needed.

In three little bowls, place crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese and sour cream.  To serve, dish out soup at the stove and add a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of cheese and top with crumbled bacon.  Bring those condiments to the table where people can add more if they wish. 



I usually cook with skim milk.  However, this particular recipe I always
use whole milk but I forgot because I was busy getting ready to leave town.  I used what I had and I was very pleased with the creamy consistency.  I did purchase lite sour cream and the Fat Free Half and Half.  The Fat Free H&H tasted delicious but the lite sour cream was too clumpy when added to the soup.  Someone suggested yogurt which I may try next time.


  

 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

DROP DAY

My eyes were barely opening this morning when I realized I haven't heard a single acorn drop on the roof of my cousin's home in Maine.  I am missing the prime of acorn flinging season back home, maybe not missing, but noticing the piece and quiet when there are no elephants chasing each other
across the roof and no concrete nuggets falling like a burst of raindrops.  I wrote this little piece a few years ago.  Enjoy!

We do not have tickets to the World Series.  At this late date, all the baseball uniforms of every team are at the cleaners.  So who is running bases on my roof?

It is that time of year again, the Squirrel World Series.  Day barely breaks before they are playing with acorns as big as crabapples.  And they can’t catch!  If I sneak out on the deck, I can hear the fans singing “Take Me Out to the Taylor Tree,” smell the popacorn and hear little bitty cans of Nut Beer popping open, all before 7 a.m.!

Drop Day is a big deal at my house.  We have oak and hickory trees circling the house.  But this year we are experiencing Drop Week.  The acorns are so big everyone knows someone who has either been hit in the head or broken a bone falling over an acrimonious nut.  The dog has had his legs crossed for days. 

What is the purpose of the squirrel?  Maybe their purpose is to drive the meek mad. Friend or foe, ask a person not what they hate or love, but what drives them crazy.  A whole industry has developed to thwart the endeavors of these birdseed thieves.  My father had a little chair for the squirrel to sit on and eat corn, thinking it would distract the cute rodent.  They just got fatter. 

They keep their teeth sharp by chiseling deck rails.  We have especially talented squirrels that leaned out over the roof edge, devouring a shoebox size piece of soffit.  We covered the opening with mesh wire stuffed with steel wool pads, about the only thing they can’t get their teeth into!

 The antics of the squirrel are so amusing we forget they are just rodents in the tree of life.  Recently, we watched a squirrel climb into the BBQ grill.  He thought he had found Khubla Khan, but his twitchy tail still hung out the back.  Later, we looked in the grill and found a half-eaten acorn.  I left two fat ones as a gift.

 Do you know why you never see a squirrel kid?  They can’t run with nuts in their mouth and aren’t long or fast enough to keep up with Mama.  What makes a squirrel change direction in the middle of the street?  Count the times you’ve zigged for his zag.  Come to think of it, have you ever seen a squirrel lying dead with a broken neck?  No.  A Secret Squirrel Society gathers up the missed leapers to perpetuate the myth of the flying squirrel. 

 Despite the negative, there are good things about Mr./Mrs. Squirrel.  They are thorough and tireless when building a nest high in the treetops.  Think of the courage required to jump out a distance five times your length or the confidence required to zip along branches and electrical wires.  Despite my frustration with them, I am drawn to their secret treetop world, only imagining the thrill of flying through the air and maneuvering their hickory mazes and oak bowers. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

THEY DIDN'T TOUCH HIS BRAIN: Things Seen and Heard in a 3 Hour Layover in Atlanta

Greetings from the beautiful New England state of Connecticut.  Yesterday was spent traveling the nation's airways without a single glitch and the luck of being in a three seat row in the plane, with only two people, both flights!  The entertainment for the day was provided in my three hour layover in Atlanta which was by my choice.  I don't like cutting my connections too close.  And airports are good places to watch the world go by.

As soon as I got to the gate to wait for the next leg of the trip, I whipped out my handy dandy VB notebook and started writing down the conversations and observations of the world going on around me, while tied to the charging station for my IPod.  I could only hope the father and daughter sitting next to me didn't have an exceptional ability to read what I was writing, but I think he was too consumed in her constant need for his attention.  He was charging his IPad.   The disconnected mother was sitting an aisle away, reading a book, but she may have had the pleasure of sitting with her daughter on the previous flight and one would need a break, even from your own child.

The conversations are in order of speaking but a couple of the observations are out of place.

Thirty something father and his eight year old daughter.  She never sat still for more than one moment.  I know because all that divided the two of us was a small formica-topped bench for placement of charging devices.  If my IPod hadn't been there I have no doubt someone would have been tap dancing on the table. 

Daddy, I have to go.   Daddy, I have to blow my stuffy nose.   I have to see your IPad, Daddy.   I want my IPod.  I want to lay down, Daddy.  Daddy, I want face time.  I'm thirsty. 

A couple walking down the concourse, in plaid shirts in the same colors but different variations, matching jean colors. 

A strange looking young man with his arm in a sling, walking along with what looked liked a silver writing pen in his mouth.  He stopped across from me, getting  a small round cardboard container from his bag, and pulled out a bottle with brown liquid.  He unscrewed the pen and with the bottle dropper refilled the pen.  Put everything back in place and continued on his way, sucking on the pen, lost in his world of noise canceling headphones.

Please maintain control of your bags at all times.

A baby crying every time there is not a grape in his fat little hand, destined for his mouth.

An officer crisply dressed in desert camo, headed for Afghanistan.

Trim, skinny people have very small bags.

Daddy do you want to play?  (Patticake)  My mother is a baker.........My sister is a hairdresser......
Daddy, what is a concourse?  Daddy, what is a terminal?

Be at your gate thirty minutes before departure.

Twenty men in snappy navy sailor suits in loose formation walking down the concourse.

A dachshund's head sticking out of a shoulder carry on bag. 

Daddy, I need some Kleenex, now.  Daddy, I want to board now.

They didn't touch his brain, so why is he having problems.

A beautiful, tall, blonde, well built couple, wearing white knit gym slacks, white newspaper boy caps, holding white knit jackets.  Wearing similar black patterned tees and plenty of gold jewelry. Her shirt was a little tighter and lower than his.

Little girl in a stroller, laying down sucking on her pacifier, very relaxed, looking around, playing with her hair like she was playing a fiddle.

Lou Diamond Phillips look-alike.


signed,

A happy person who was not seated on the airplane anywhere near the Daddy Girl.



   

Saturday, October 12, 2013

OH BOY, THE DUST HAS SETTLED


Cate hasn't been home since Christmas and the bathrooms are the closest they have been to being completed, just some fine minor details.  The wonderful thing about a daughter is she is happy just to be home, even if the place is in the earliest stages of Hoarders.  Instead of finishing up while she sat in a chair watching, the two of us went shopping.  One day we all went to eat at her favorite catfish hole and tour the Oscar de la Renta Fashion Exhibit at the Clinton  Presidential Library.  The two of us traveled to have lunch with G.  Then we all enjoyed a three day tour to see more grandparents, her aunt and uncle and her old college stomping grounds, complete with football tickets.   

Before her arrival, Burt hung the huge medicine cabinet in the Master Bath, complete with my standing ovation.  The four bulb light fixture in Cate's bath finally arrived, properly sized.  The business did get the re-order in promptly so I will not have to say unkind words.  It's final placement did ellict a squeal or two.  I love bright, sparkly lighting.  The mirror in her bath is a special project.

One of my favorite ways of relaxing is to spend time walking up and down the aisles of my favorite flea market/antique store haunts.  Heart to hand anything, turquoise milk glass, unusual cobalt glass pieces I don't already own, primitive art and interesting books.  Recently, I purchased a pair of milk glass vanity lamps, a cobalt glass hand and a slightly chipped green Depression glass creamer for my makeup accoutrements.   

I was on my last excursion to look for a mirror before giving in and ordering a large plate vanity mirror.  Right this very minute, I am kicking myself because I didn't take a picture of this great mirror - before I painted over the lemon yellow paint. 

Of course, a mirror is easy to spot because the shine catches your eye.  I did have to move a couple of items.  But Eureka, I had found it.  The owner carried it up to the register for me but it wouldn't fit into my car.  A wonderful friend with a pickup truck helped me bring home the mirror the next day.  His kind assistance will be rewarded with Chicken and Dumplings or Chocolate Amaretto Bundt Cake.  But I am not currently in the kitchen mode, so I need to get with it soon.

The $52 wood framed, beveled glass mirror is now painted Sea Star and hanging in the guest bath and we love it.  I have to admit, I am very impressed with Burt's ability to get the mirror on the wall securely.  It is the icing on the cake.

Frankly, I had no idea of the dust output and accumulation that would be gifted upon this unsuspecting homeowner.  I'm sure there is a special op team that makes a living by swooping in and righting this disorder.  Little old me is plowing through the boxes of all the old, under the sink stuff like 15 year old hand lotion and ripping up contact paper decorated by spilled jewelry cleaner and an old, dried up bottle of  Black Purple Nail Polish that was not properly sealed before it was knocked over by a dusty bottle of Vanilla Essence Body Wash.  Work in progress.  But it will be clean and organized properly when I finish.

Speaking of dust, Cate left several thank you notes scrawled in the dust, which I do appreciate.  But the kicker was my own mother leaving her signature! 
 
   
   

signed,

a lady pledging to make a promise to dust

Thursday, October 10, 2013

FRIDAY MUST BE 2SDAY: A MATTER OF DEGREES


At first glance, this could be all about the Icee - the frozen concoction staring at me from the blue and red striped cup, complete with the fetching plastic domed lid and the necessary long red straw, delivered into the cup at 28 degrees.  Without a doubt for even a nano second, this is one of my very favorite items, in the world.
 
Just because I love an Icee doesn't mean I drink one every day or one every week.  But since the discovery of my new favorite flavor, I have had three Icees in the last four or five weeks.  Winter, spring, summer or fall.  These are not factors when considering the best time for partaking of this frozen concoction.  

Despite growing up in the Big City, I was able to enjoy a satisfying measure of independence.  A large city park was literally steps away, complete with a softball field, a concrete pool, a playground full of swing sets and a merry-go-round and a tall metal slide - all accidents waiting to happen- and a bridge over the creek.  At the edge of the park, the fire station sold candy to all the accidents waiting to happen - pocketfuls of Now and Laters, Sweetarts, ChickOSticks (Atkinson Candy, Lufkin, TX) and Double Bubble, to name a few.  But going to the park alone is not much fun. 

I preferred riding up to the 7-Eleven on my bike, all by myself.  This was a rare treat.  The store was located on a busy street but I knew the short-cut down a residential street.  Wow, memory from the past triggers another memory from the past!  A two story tan brick apartment building was near the store.  Sister and I dreamed of sharing an apartment there someday.  We drove by it almost daily in our course of elementary life, and I remember looking up into a window and seeing an iron on an ironing board.  Seeing that symbol of hearth and home, such a prominent fixture in our own den, presided over by our Mistress of Starch and Pressing, made the little apartment even more appealing, as long as we had a dog and a cat to complete our idea of career women.  The careers were in some question because all of the women in our lives, except for two aunts, were housewives.

Creature of habit but lover of change for change sake, I usually got a Coke Icee.  Maybe a Cherry Coke Icee.  Ah, the mighty state and city of my birth, played a huge part in furthering the original design of Omar Knedlik, a WWII veteran from Coffeyville, Kansas.  He invented the idea and the mechanical start, and with further help from an engineering firm, began marketing the wonderful new product and machines to 7-Elevens in the early 60's.  At some point, the convenience store held a naming contest for the drink and the Slurpee was born.  My current drink was not purchased at a 7-Eleven, maybe that accounts for the original name.

My biking independence was well rewarded as I returned home, a large Icee in one hand and the other hand on the handle bars, most of the time.  I practiced becoming hands-free on the flat streets.  I felt great physical prowess (didn't know what it was called but I did feel supremely able) in my ability to navigate without my hands, leaning my body in a certain way to travel down a street.  The best trick came when I could turn onto D.H.'s street, ride past the field and the little garage where I got my first kiss in first grade, past my friend's house and go down the hill (a rarity in my neck of the woods) and then around the corner onto the next street.  My idea of heaven is to be able to go back to my childhood and do the fun, physically demanding things that were originally as automatic as breathing like climbing trees, playing four square, jumping rope, and whirling like a dervish.  Makes me a little dizzy.  Whew.

The hill was successfully mastered many a morning, until I took a spill.  I was late to school because I had to hobble my way along, after leaving a good deal of my knees and forearm back on the pavement.  I still have a scar but I think age and fat have erased it nicely, almost.  But I would love to hop back on my bike, and give that hill another try.  Except I am wiser.

My new flavor of Icee is Dr. Pepper, which I can't ever remember stirring up before.  This would definitely be in my category "Nectar from the Gods" alongside other favorites - Almond Tea and Strawberry Tea.  I highly recommend the experience as a freely opinionated endorser.

In the above picture, my 28 degree beverage is sitting above the car's outside temp reading.  Just a cool 98 degrees in the shade.  No wonder this is such a desirable brainfreeze! Doesn't your life revolve around the temperature of the moment or the prediction of the high for tomorrow or the low for two weeks from yesterday?  Coming out of the sauna of summertime, we seem to hang on every little degree no matter which direction it is going.  The Weather Channel trained us years ago, beginning with brass dials of wind speed, temperature, and barometric pressure, to fixate, at first, on the movement of a dial when we didn't even know what barometric pressure did. 

Now we can look at the temperature handy dandy,
the minute our cell phone lights up.  Or in retiring for the evening, "Check the temp, please."  One degree does not a heat wave make, unless you are of a certain age.  Jumping for degrees, I am pleased to share this almost current photo of my hall thermostat.  Now we are beginning to feel a difference and actually breathe true cool air.  Heat, I am not sad to see you go.  I was a premature baby but I can't imagine being cold, even at that point in my life.  When I say fetch another blanket, you might just want to fetch the doctor.  Welcome fall. 

 



signed,
wishing and hoping, I'd rather drink than eat 






For more Icee Info:

Mental_ Floss    The Cool History of the Slurpee       Rob Lammie

Wichita Eagle,  Coffeyville Man Creates Icee           Beccy Tanner

Sunday, October 6, 2013

THE APPLE GIRLS

October is my favorite month of the year.  I want to bask in the cooler temperatures, opening windows and sitting on the deck to read.  Unfortunately, the weather has not gotten the message the page has been flipped.  I love to watch the leaves change and the squirrels leap from branch to branch.  Apples, candy corn, mums, pumpkins, sausage and potatoes, fall showers, crackling fire pit, red cowboy boots, college football, travel.  All necessities for a good October. 

I call them The Apple Girls.  I found them about three years ago, in an old American Art and Antique magazine (1979) which had a feature on the artist John George Brown.  Even in black and white, they caught my attention.  I tend to collect paper.  Before tossing, I give everything a quick look so that nothing important is lost.  My filtered collection is eventually re-assessed and tossed, shredded or filed.  Eventually is the key word.  I do have a lovely shopping bag (once full of new clothes) in my office closet for items in waiting, but I am not a bag lady.

The Apple Girls have been in waiting until I could do more research on the artist.  I've probably touched the pilfered  page five or six times.  Why a particular item strikes our fancy, I don't know.  But the copy of this sweet painting of five girls eating apples played on my heartstrings, even though I had never seen a color version.

This past weekend, I finally arrived at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a new museum that opened two years ago, in the northwest part of the state.  Hats off to Alice Walton and this gem of a gift!  The quiet location of the museum, the caliber of the artwork collected and the fortune spent in purchasing the collection has had the art world in a frenzied tizzy.  Imagine, most folks don't even know where our state is located.  Ha.   

My college cohort-in-mischief and I met and went together, with her daughter.  I had only seen snippets about the exhibition Angels and Tomboys but wanted to see it before closing.  I told A. it should have been Rebels and Tomboys, like the two of us.  The special exhibit was a large collection of work focusing on artwork depicting "Girlhood in 19th Century American Art" which originated with the Newark Museum in New Jersey. 

The exhibition walls were painted in fresh, bright colors one would associate with young girls - soft pink, rosy red, sky blue and apple green - reflecting the colors seen in the silk sashes, coral jewelry, hair ribbons, shallow streams, dappled sunlight, and blushing cheeks of the girls' forever, captured with the artists' brushstrokes.

The "Angel" portrayed the young girl with symbols of her future, a storied house in the background, a pampered doll or pet, a sprig of red flowers held in her lap while properly posed in clothing not made for rambunctious pursuits.  The "Tomboy" enjoyed outdoor settings that allowed the girl to play in a barn, walk in a stream, swing on a gate and sled on the ice, enjoying the freedom of movement and the raw experience of the moment which had only been acceptable in the depictions of boys.

The stages of womanhood.  A baby in mother's lap.  A young girl feeding her dolls.  A young lady looking at a new bonnet.  The girl poised between the little children and the responsibility of womanhood.  At a certain age, an awkward dance back and forth, between the desire to be the carefree girl and the desire to be a woman, until societal expectations encourage "behavior befitting a young lady" and the first chapter is closed.  At the time of these paintings, home and family were the options.

On the way home, a song came on the radio, Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.  For me, music and memory are like an old 45 record, music stamped on one side and vivid memory on the other, no B side.  Maybe my mind just works differently.  Beginning with the son's birth, the father tells the story of the passage of time and the lessons learned.  This song was playing on the radio the very last time I played with my Barbies.  I was a teenager and beginning the process of letting go of childish things, even knowing the afternoon would be the last time I cared about clothes and characters.  It didn't interest me anymore, years and hours spent making up stories, and using imagination and humble pieces to peg together "set-ups" which stretched out across the floor and remained for days.

There was a boy I liked.  My family had just returned from a weekend in New Orleans, which I proclaimed "sin city" before going, begging not to go.  Of course, I had to go because my family did everything together, no exceptions allowed.  The magic of the place drew me in and I was hooked - by the hot beignets and the strong coffee of the French Market, by the young, uniformed French sailors stopping by as I was sitting for a charcoal sketch on Jackson Square and knowing, because of my first semester of French, what "Tres Jolie" meant, a hippie selling carnations, a Grambling State parade with floats and tokens and beads, a real New Orleans styled funeral with the saints marching, the sound of jazz as we passed by Preservation Hall, the flavors of the restaurants exhausted into the sky, mixing with the salty Gulf of Mexico breeze, I loved New Orleans.  But I had also seen the girl on the velvet swing, swinging out over the crowd from her second story window.  She was just a few years older than me.  I have never forgotten her.

I have never talked to other women about the peculiar dance between, but I remember wanting to look for guppies in a stream and climbing trees in a skirt because I was there and it was the best tree for climbing.  Definitely a tomboy.  And then a first kiss.  Seeing those paintings brought back memories of swaying between the two, the girl and the woman.

When I walked to the next passage of the exhibit, they were hanging on the wall, in their sheltered fall afternoon, enjoying the sweet, juicy apples they had been picking.  So unexpected, brilliant colors jumping from the canvas, close enough to almost smell the fragrance of the apples.  A moment when my breath was taken away and tears came to my eyes.  Pure happiness to find the surprise of their placement in the exhibit.  The magic of art to touch all of one's senses, without anticipating the moment.  My Apple Girls in color, hanging on the wall. 

When I came home later that night, I knew the picture from the magazine was in my office, somewhere but I didn't know where.  The clipping was discovered two pages from the top, in a stack less than two feet from the rollers of my chair.  Every now and then, one day will be good, the very best, when you least expect.


John George Brown, The Cider Mill, 1880


signed,

a lady who will soon have a framed print of  The Cider Mill hanging on the wall
  









Thursday, October 3, 2013

DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT

These are the ingredients for one of my all-time favorite recipes.  Curried Chutney Cheese Pate.  This recipe comes from “Thirty Years at the Mansion, Recipes and Recollections” by Liza Ashley.  I had the privilege of volunteering alongside Miss Ashley in the Mail Room at the Clinton for President National Headquarters in 1992.  We had a tremendous experience!  And she can cook.  Everything I've tried in the cookbook has been delicious.

I need to grab my Paul Simon, Graceland CD, and head on down the road tomorrow.  "I'm going to Memphis, Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee," to paraphrase Mr. Simon.  Roll across the Mighty Missisip and soak up the unique Southern hospitality offered in the city on the banks. 

Hopefully, I will return home a winner.  Two years ago I placed in my first poetry contest.  Now I can refer to myself as an award-winning poet.  The Mid-South Poetry Festival begins with a dinner tomorrow and a day of festivities on Saturday.  Of course, I will be crossing my fingers and toes and if I don't win anything, I will still keep writing my poetry. 

This dish is easy and travels well.  It is always well received and even liked by folks who say they don't like curry or chutney or cheese.  It is that good!  I made the little pate for testing purposes as I will add the chutney and onions on my big dish before the party.  Burt always loves this yummy appetizer but it's not something I would make for just the two of us.  Makes a big batch.

My 2000 New Year's party girl is one of my favorite spreaders.  She is in a set of four revelers all lifting the beverage of their choice.  Someday, when I am very old, I will pass them down to my grandchildren as a memento of Grandmother's inner party spirit.  Not party-ing spirit.  A spirit of party-like attitude, kinda' like Memphis and Beale Street at 3 a.m. when the trumpet player jumps up on your table to toot his horn.  That kind of fun!  Life's too short - that's why appetizers and dessert courses should be one.





CURRIED CHUTNEY CHEESE PATE

 

16 oz. cream cheese

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 jar Kraft Old English Cheese

3 tablespoons sherry

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ 8 oz. jars Major Grey’s Mango Chutney

Green onion tops, finely sliced

 

Beat together at room temperature cheeses, sherry, curry powder and salt.  Spread on a serving platter, shaping into a layer about ½ inch thick.  Spread chutney thickly on top, almost to cover.  Before serving, sprinkle with green onions.  Serve with buttery cracker like Town House.
Doesn't need much salt at all.

signed,

a lady who has already seen the Jungle Room