Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Where We're From" Revisited

I finally got the prints I'd promised my sister of photos I took last summer in Ireland. Only six months late. As I browsed through the gazillion I took, I came across these that I'd taken the day we climbed up through squelchy, mucky fields to the graveyard, with the cousins, to snoop around among the ancestors.

They reminded me of a long ago post called "Where I'm From". There's a list of mine, Rise's (The Little Blister) and several others, on my sidebar. Take a minute to read a few of them if you missed them first time around. Then, if you're as enthralled as I was when I first found it at Daysgoby, click on her version (it's on the list) and click on the link at the bottom which will bring up the story of how it all started, as well as the template for anyone who'd like to have a go...


As time goes on with a blog you lose some early commenters and gain new ones. I loved reading each and every one on that list. Now I'd like to add versions of "Where I'm From" by the bloggers I've only come to know more recently. Blogger seems to have obliterated all my earlier posts, including this one, which makes me very glad I made that list!

Foxgloves on the passage above Uncle Willie's


So I'm Challenging -----------Relatively Retiring, Secret Agent Woman, Pauline, Persiflage, Smitonius and Sonata, WWWoman, Friko, Dianne, Elephant's Child, StitchinByTheLake, Random Thoughts, Susan Kane, Murr Brewster, One Woman's Journey  and anyone else who's up for the challenge, to tell us "Where They're From." 

How about it Ganching?"

Remnants of a holy well (I think...)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Loaf of Bread and Thou, or, Failing Thou, A Cup of Tea.......

It was a grey and dreary weekend. These poinsettias soldiered on outside, but I hunkered down inside where it was warm and cozy. Sewed and knitted and puttered. But then I felt peckish, and realized I had no bread. I'm not a big bread eater, so when I do buy a loaf it sits and sits and sits after the first few slices....and I often end up throwing the moldy remains in the rubbish bin.......Unless.....

Unless I bake it myself! Sticking my nose out the door, I decided that baking it myself was the better option. The quickest and easiest to make is Irish Soda bread, but I was in the mood for something different....Something dense and crunchy and yummy.

 I was in the mood for Raisin Walnut Bread. I still have the original cutting from the Montgomery, Alabama newspaper. Fragile and yellowed with age, it has a few years on The Bean.

The date says March 7th.1985, which means the OC was on a year-long school assignment in Montgomery, and had his clown posse with him. I shake my head in disbelief these days at the number of moves we made during his Air Force career. If I could be that age again and know what I know now, I'd never do it, but I can't, and I didn't, so we did.........

The recipe is from Cecily Brownstone who was The Associated Press food editor at the time, a name my brain links with the likes of James Beard and Julia..... and a time when there were a few, revered names in the culinary world, a time before the time when any dog or divil could slap a tall, white hat on his head and call himself a chef. (Don't I sound like an old fossil!)

Raisin Walnut Bread differs from soda bread in that there is some yeast in it. Every time I make it I can't believe I don't make it more often, it's so easy. The ingredients are simple---yeast, water, whole wheat flour, butter, sugar, salt and lots and lots of plump, juicy raisins and crunchy walnuts! And kneading that silky dough is so soothing to the soul!

The danger is I'll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and blow off the whole "balanced meal" idea. But I've been good. I've only eaten it for breakfast (well, once or twice for a snack...) And now there's just a tiny heel left. You may call me Miss Piggy....

Yesterday I bought a baguette to make a sandwich for supper, because raisin bread doesn't lend itself to sandwiches,  but now there's half a baguette languishing. I guess I'll have to plan on garlic bread in the next few days.  Meanwhile, where's that Irish soda bread recipe?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Love is.....

Ecstatic phone call from California Girl last week.....

"Guess what? Fourth place in that cattle sorting competition!"

She'd never even done it before, just entered for fun. Fourth out of thirty four teams. She almost fell off! So proud of her boy, Chevy, who she's trained from a tiny colt and who performed "beautifully" according to his proud mama!

Please note the matching hairstyles!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Doing Absolutely Nothing.....

TED talks don't rule my life. But they often remind me of ideas I've had, of things I want to do, that then get buried under the constant onslaught of new information and new ideas. That, and the hum-drumminess of life which allows for limited time to go chasing rabbits down hundreds of different holes. So it was with the one I watched the other night. It was by an Englishman, a former Buddhist monk, looking, I have to say, very hip and un-monk-like in his bright blue, muscle-hugging shirt and tight jeans! But, I digress....

 "When was the last time you spent ten minutes doing absolutely nothing?" he asked the audience.

And went on to expound for ten minutes himself on the benefits of making time, every day, to do absolutely nothing for ten minutes. He didn't call it meditation. You don't need to empty your mind, or sit in uncomfortable positions on hard floors. All you have to do is "nothing." For ten minutes. How difficult could it be?

I tried it tonight. I lit a candle and turned out the lights (I was going to do this right!) Then I lay down on the couch from which my up-ended supper of a few nights ago had been thoroughly scrubbed, wiggled my tail feathers a bit until I was thoroughly comfortable, and set about Doing Nothing.

I think I'm going to make a habit of it. I lay there in the flickering glow of the candle and thought about the very tasty supper I had just eaten---poached salmon with steamed spinach and Brussel sprouts (I think it was Smitonious who planted that seed in my head!), emphasis on non-inflammatory foods, in a dietary effort to help with the Great Unclenching---because I refused to let the bone crunching chiropractor within an ass's roar of my bones again. He had his chances, two of them, and no improvement.
 Not even the merest whisper of butter was used in the cooking of fish and veggies both. I felt downright virtuous! Of course, if the menfolk were here they'd look askance at steamed spinach and would run a mile to get away from the sprouts. There are some benefits to being alone a lot of the time!

I watched the flame jumping in the melted wax, throwing crazy shadows on the ceiling and thought about my frustration last night at not being able to watch Downtown Abbey.
"Lady Mary!" said Pat as I left work last week. "Don't forget to watch Lady Mary on Sunday evening!" Through the trials of The Clenching, and The Supper Dumping, I clung to the light at the end of the weekend---Downtown Abbey"  on Sunday night. I live a simple life. But it was not to be.

I hardly ever watch television when I'm here alone. There is quite enough entertainment going on in my head at any given time. But on the rare occasions when I do want to watch something, it's not unusual for me to run into problems. I have been agitating for years for a return to simplicity. An "on" button to turn the blasted thing on, and an "off" button to return to peace and quiet. I have never quite mastered the intricacies of the five hundred remote controls that litter the coffee table. I pressed various buttons with no success. I called the Bean on the phone and he did his best to maneuver me through the necessary steps, assuring me it was easy, I'd done it hundreds of times before, and holding his head in his hands, I'm sure, at my tales of which buttons I'd pushed. I felt sure that I'd pushed enough buttons to have been teleported to the kitchen of Downton, but no. That's not apparently how it works.

Disgusted, I gave up. Anyone who fills me in on what was said to whom, by whom, particularly any exchanges between Lady Grantham and the moneyed American visitor, will have my eternal gratitude. Meanwhile, my world did not come crashing down......

I was getting sleepy....Such a comfy couch. And then I was back in the tiny town near the border with Northern Ireland, and shyly walking in to the staff room at the Vocational school where I'd been hired as a P.E. teacher. Being given appraising looks by one sexy siren of a teacher who saw all new females as competition.....And then me and Miriam were walking back up the hill to our new digs with the widow lady who was to become like a mother to us, and us like daughters to her.....

And then my eyes flickered open and I wondered where I was....The candle had burnt down quite a ways. It had been a very relaxing ten (wink, wink!) minutes of Doing Nothing. Definitely recommended for stress relief.  I think I'll do it again tomorrow!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hedging My Bets

Had I known what kind of a day it would be I wouldn't have bothered getting up.

Made pancakes in the morning but forgot to put the oil away. Not only that, I forgot to put the cap back on. Later in the afternoon I noticed the open bottle and went to put the cap on. Cursed arthritic wrist! Sent the (mercifully plastic) bottle flying across the kitchen, with me diving after it, but not in time to stem the flow of Canola oil all over the kitchen floor. Mopped as best I could. The Bean was off helping Nick the Greek to buy and plant bamboo. Left a large scrawled warning sign at the scene of the crime so he wouldn't skate to his death when he came in the door....

And slunk to the sewing room. How much damage could I do in there?

He came home by and by, engaged the cat in some silly conversation, and a bit of wrestling, and didn't skate to his death across the kitchen floor---due in large part, I think, to my thoughtfully scrawled warning. I emerged from my sewing room (where I had, indeed, done no damage) and started making supper noises, but no. He is quite taken with his cooking prowess these days and was heading back to Tampa to make supper there, so don't worry about him.

Hmm. I chopped a shallot, and some mushrooms and red pepper, mixed it all with leftover chopped chicken and some rice, and yum! Supper for one! I usually insist that people eat at the table, but I granted myself a dispensation, this one time, and carried my plate to the couch. Because I am so clean, and everyone knows I would never make a mess........The first forkful had not reached my mouth before I knocked the plate over, spilling its contents all over my lap, the couch, and the carpet.

The jury is still out on whether I'll get up, or not, tomorrow.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Easing Gingerly into the New Year (with a little moan on the side!)

2013. Ten days in and all is, more or less, well! Happy New Year to all my bloggy friends.

5:30 a.m. and I'm sitting on the porch, in the dark, hugging my coffee cup, staring at the stars. My Stargazer has returned north after spending a week with us, so I have no idea which stars I'm seeing, but they sure are pretty and they sure are bright.

I can hear the hum of the world waking up, the distant murmur of traffic, the trundle of the garbage truck, early birds whizzing by in their cars on their way to work....But that's all in the distance. Here on the porch, it's peaceful and quiet, all dark tree silhouettes, velvet sky and glistening stars. I hear a cricket off in the bushes---yes, it's that warm! Should we worry? Headline in the newspaper yesterday ---"It's Winter, Right?"---over a picture of tourists baring their bones at a local beach.

"What an early riser!" you're thinking admiringly? Not! I'd rather be sleeping! Put it down to a stiff neck which makes sleep elusive,  even tossing and turning out of the question. Wah, wah!
Diagnosis: wimp. At the grocery store yesterday I stepped out of the way of a young woman in a wheelchair, her face permanently contorted with pain. Reality check. If I were in her situation I might  have something to be grumpy about! I've told the children already that, if and when my conversations start to be mostly about aches and pains, as The Prince's famously were, it'll be time to take me out back, like Old Yeller, and do the deed.

On a positive note, I've read three books since Christmas (see "on my night table") and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. And I've started knitting socks, 'cause the good lord knows I don't already have enough projects underway, and when a friend asked me to join her it sounded like a good idea. Yup. Almost a week and I have two inches done. Stiff necks do not make for speedy knitting!

Today is oldest grandson's tenth birthday! How that happened or where the last ten years went is a mystery to me......but Happy Birthday to you Tommy! Please try not to turn twenty as fast as you've made it to ten!

And before the month is out there should be a new grandchild in the picture. Brit Boy and the Lovely Natalie are about to provide a sibling for Little Brit Boy! No word yet on girl or boy, which gives me fodder for procrastination.....Do I make a wild guess and start a girly quilt (oops! Is my bias showing?? Four out of five so far are boys and while we love them all, it would be nice to bring a little balance to the picture!) or do I start two quilts----one for a girl and one for a boy---so I've got all the bases covered? And I know all you super-organized quilters out there are aghast that I don't already have two quilts finished, folded and ready....I'd shrug, if it wouldn't set off torture, and tell you it's too late for me to change. I need that down-to-the-wire thrill to do my best work!

The sun climbed higher as the ghost of a fingernail moon sank behind the trees. Time to ice again--- chiropractor's orders---the only way I would ever willingly put ice on a body part!  Between you and me and the wall, I'm not 100% sure it's a great idea to hammer on ancient bones with something that sounds and feels like an attack by an enraged woodpecker, but I'm in wait---fingers-crossed---and-see mode.Time will tell.......And then, groan, I must try to motivate myself and my stiff neck to wrap up all the tree ornaments and stash them away for next year. Fun, fun, fun!

 But first perhaps, a wee nap?