Sunday, January 30, 2011


PLEASE PLEASE SEND ME the recipe for ginger muffins. I don't mind deformed anything if it tastes that good--That's what she said in the email.

So I gingerly tiptoed back for a peek at myself subsequent to feasting upon those muffins. And there I was, singing their lavish praises all right, raving and enthusiastic and glowing and...oh, wait a minute, that was the muffins glowing. But you know, Dear Reader, I appeared to be dancing in a flowery skirt, tossing rose petals in the air, and nearly swooning in my delight. And, well. Hmm. Take away that glass of silky organic wine I'd just imbibed and they were likely merely very good muffins. Of course they were! Very good muffins!

And with a flounce and a curtsy, I give you--The Recipe:


1 & 1/2 Cups of all-purpose flour (or if you wish to try for deformities, Dear Reader, you could use one cup of rice flour, a bit of oat flour and finish off with pastry flour)
1/2 Cup Molasses
1/4 Cup Shortening (I scooped from one of the tubs of "buttery spread" I'm trying to finish off and remove from the fridge. To be precise, I scooped a hunk from the tub of fake butter using the quarter-cup measure, and then filled in the leftover space in the cup with olive oil. Enough detail?)
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Medium Egg
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
Pinch of Salt
Hot Water (Try not to get yourself into it, Dear Baker of Ginger muffins)

And then the How-To:

Cream together the shortening and sugar (This will be the add-to bowl).
Beat in the egg, then the molasses.
Sift the dry ingredients and stir it all
into the molasses mixture. Gradually add the hot water,
keeping it all smooth and mellow and satiny and soft and ...

Whoops, where did I go?
Add Raisins and Crystallized Ginger Chips if you've got them (You'd do well to keep your fingers out of the Crystallized Ginger Chips while you've got the container open, however, as the little buggers are horribly addictive!)
Fill the greased muffin cups and bake at 375 degrees for approx. 25 minutes.

(I sincerely hope, Dear Reader, that thirty-five minutes from now you're clutching your skirts and doing a jig. If not, try eating a dollop of fudge-ripple ice cream with one of the still-warm muffins.)


Saturday, January 29, 2011


OKAY, SO I COULDN'T STOP myself from photographing more of those icy little aliens that I mentioned yesterday. It's fascinating how they all have a certain resemblance to one another that is unmistakable, and yet each is so charmingly unique.

(Even the ones that aren't real.)

I was particularly taken with the one living in the Amish schoolyard not so far from my house. I drove past the boy-covered snow hill, then saw the snow man. My goodness--All of these Amish males were begging to be photographed! I put on the brakes, turned the car around, and took a picture of the elderly Amish snow person. Proceeding slowly up the road, I opened the car window and called to the Amish boys, "I had to take a picture of your snowman!"

"He ain't real!" one of them promptly responded.

"He's not a real snowman?!" I questioned, a little puzzled.

"No, he ain't REAL," he said.

"Did you make him?" I asked.

"No," a few of the boys chorused, "the ones in the other room made him!"

"Ohh..." I was starting to get the picture--the snowman's creators must be older kids.
"Did they tell you that he would be real?" I asked. "Did they say he would come alive?"

One or two of the boys nodded.

"But he ain't real!" the original informant reiterated. He seemed to be struggling to erase that tiny niggling doubt in his mind.

"No, he's not." I assured. "But he's a pretty nice snowman!

"He has a cane!"
Now, that was a fact--no doubt about it; he was happy to explain!

Meanwhile, I'd attracted the attention of the girls.
They stood in a line, giggling animatedly...ah, me...
just begging to be photographed!



Friday, January 28, 2011


GALLOPING GALLIMAUFRY, Reader Dear! I was going to start out by saying, First of all...but then I realized it is last of all, considering that I'm still eating these weirdly-shaped ginger muffins I baked and served to my yard man following dinner (following, due to the fact that I hustled around and mixed them up as fast as I could, but the twenty-five minutes to bake were twenty minutes more than we could dawdle, waiting on our evening meal).

When I pulled them from the oven, their strangely misshapen upper bodies made me laugh delightedly and run for my camera, which caused my yard man to comment: I should think they would be mortified to have you showing off their deformities to the world!

Well, so then I suggested it would be an act of kindness to gobble them up rapidly and thus put them out of their shame.

From the very first bite, their light and tender consistency and slightly chewy crust more than made up for their homely appearance. And then I added a dollop of fudge-ripple ice cream and in a flash we were able to put three more out of their misery.

By this time we were raving so enthusiastically about their tasty qualities that I feel quite sure the leftover seven are glowing with pride.

Earlier in the day, I went out on some errands and I discovered the urban trees were so finely dressed, and the rural ones, too. Like a finicky costume director, however, I sighed: Lovely! but you've got it all wrong! and called loudly for something in green.


Needing a small pick-me-up, I went to the home of the Little Actor and picked him up. We haven't been doing much filming lately as he was touring the country in his celebrity role, and he's also been ill with a virus. It set him back slightly in the steps he's been making. But he was in fine shape for acting in today's movie: Lewy's Speech. (It may not be quite as gripping as The King's Speech [another excellent movie that is currently showing], but I thought you might enjoy it, Viewer Dear.)


Last item I'm tossing into this gallimaufry is the one that should have come after 'First of all'...

When I was out today I noticed there's been quite an influx of these aliens that start showing up and squatting in people's front yards and...hmm, even on their porches...this time of year.

If they weren't so doggone cute and most of them friendly, I'm afraid the government might be taking some action to deport them, instead of sitting back and waiting for the sun

to sneak them quietly out of the country.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Give me a color scheme other than white! Give me a day that's not more than half night! Give me warmth, I beg you please! Give me finely dressed trees! Give me bright running streams, birdsong, and green grass!

I've nothing else to say but alack and alas!
(Kind of handy how what I've got to say
rhymes with grass, eh, Reader Dear?)


Sunday, January 23, 2011


AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT my yard man and I got tickets,* and last night we went to the opera. It proved to be a most delightful pastime in the dead of winter!

I sincerely wished to have more to share with
you, Dear Reader, than these furtive little snippets.

But, seeing as how the yard man was hissing at
me to put the camera away this very second!
and threatening to hop right up from his seat
and find another elsewhere if I did not comply,
I whispered back: Stay cool! (Although,
considering the frigid air he'd walked through
after dropping me at the door of the opera
house and finding a parking spot, I suppose
Don't get your knickers in a knot! might
have been a better admonishment) and
consequently I made a big deal of stashing
the camera.

But then! The poor man--he was suffering
from a cold and a very bad cough, and much
later in the show, as two singers were warbling
"Baby It's Cold Outside,"he went into such
paroxysms of coughing that he did indeed
get out of his seat and walk away (he was on
the aisle).

Shortly he returned with a small plastic
bottle of water and was occupied with
removing the cap and taking a swig. He
never noticed what I held ever-so-slyly
in my lap.

Therefore, aha, I managed to get an adorable
smidgen of a duet from Puccini's Die Zauberflote.
It lasts about as long as it took for the yard man
to glance my way.
And then, well, that was the end of the show
(at least for you, Reader Dear!)

*Our son and our daughter-in-law were
the givers--I'm bowing my thanks to them!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


DEAR READER, I'M ABOUT TO DRAG YOU back in time. But in case you think I've got another old letter of mine to unload, nope--this tale goes further back into the murky past than my actual lifetime. It does, however, have something to do with me. It even has a little something to do with you, it's true. Because here's the thing--if my great-great-grandfather had not been such a clever man, history may have written me right out of the picture. Also expunged from the annals would have been my father, along with his mother. Her father--my great-grandfather Timothy--had just made it to the record books at the time of this story.

It was 1864 and he was a baby, too young to be afraid of the soldiers that roamed the fields and woods around his home, the troops marching through the area time and again, even camping on the farm (on account of the very high hill with views far and wide) my great-great grandfather owned in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. At eight months old, he likely wasn't even all that alarmed when mounted soldiers came by one day and scooped him up and passed him around. But his older siblings, outside playing, were frightened! One soldier took him for a ride around the farmyard before delivering him over to his big sister.

Now, if you studied your Virginia history book when you were a kid, Dear Reader (er, uh...well, at least you learned about the Civil War, didn't you?) you might have read about the trials and tribulations of this area in the summer, autumn and early winter of that year. If not, here's a little review:

In the summer of 1864, Union forces under General Sherman moved through the Shenandoah River Valley northwest of Richmond, destroying the land they left behind.

In the fall, General Grant sent General Philip Sheridan into the Shenandoah Valley. Grant gave the order to "eat out Virginia clear and that crows flying over it for the balance of the season will have to carry their provender [food] with them." The Union army followed these orders. For the next two weeks, Sheridan's troops came through the Shenandoah counties destroying everything in their path. It came to be known as the Burning.

They ultimately destroyed some 2,000 barns, 70 mills, three large iron furnaces, as well as several railroad buildings, leaving the area barren and unable to function.
The Union soldiers also saw to it that thousands of bushels of corn, oats, and wheat were destroyed along with any other crops they found; and hundreds of head of cattle and sheep were driven away.
A newspaper announced that Sheridan’s troops had “behaved with their characteristic vandalism, insulting women, stealing, plundering and burning.” The time of year made it even worse – winter was approaching and the people of the Valley were destitute with many of them homeless.
Clearly, life in this area during the babyhood of my great-grandfather involved the kind of anxiety no child or adult should ever have to bear. His parents were concerned that they'd have provisions to keep them and their seven children alive. All of the livestock had been taken, even the pot off the stove with the last chicken cooking in it! But my great-great grandfather was an ingenious man. He had a plan. When word spread that troops were once again advancing, he and some of the neighboring men took the horses they still owned (better horses were often taken by soldiers and replaced with old nags, or just outright stolen) and went up into the mountains.
Left at home were his wife and children. He also left behind a great pile of wheat. His family needed it for sustenance; he couldn't just let the soldiers rob him of food for the winter. So my great-great grandfather had carefully hidden the wheat.  
"Come in and look!" my great-great grandmother would say, when soldiers came to the door, ready to walk away with anything edible they could find. She may have been nervous as she trailed them through the house, especially fearful if their eyes lingered long on the large wardrobe that stood against the parlor wall.
After the soldiers went away, empty-handed, she would go to the basement with a bowl or sack and climb up on an empty barrel. Pulling the plug from a hole in the ceiling, she'd let wheat flow until she had what she needed. Then she'd stop up the hole again. 
My great-great grandmother thanked the Lord many times, I'm sure, that the house was large enough to camouflage a small bedroom that held no beds.  In that bedroom lay a pile of wheat that was several feet deep on the floor. Completely hiding the door to this bedroom was the big wardrobe in the parlor!
And that, Dear Reader, is the oral history that got passed along to me. Baby Timothy survived to grow up, and he married a spirited young woman of Welsh descent. Of their first seven children--all daughters (sons followed later)--my grandma Molly was fourth. Fortunately, she and my grandpa had a middle son, Daniel, who married my mother.
So, tracing the story backwards, one can see how my great-great grandfather's ingenuity (and that big wardrobe that hid the door) could have possibly reserved a spot for me among his future descendants. Without it, I may not be here. And that would mean that you, Dear Reader, wouldn't be here, either!
Oh, don't get excited. I only meant, of course, you wouldn't be HERE. Reading this. Right now. (Ha. See how it's true--my great-great grandfather's actions may have changed life for you, Reader Dear... if only for a few minutes!)


Thursday, January 20, 2011


DEAR READER, JUST ABOUT A YEAR AGO I met Mr. Apple. It was fun and fascinating and I raved about his fruity knowledge. Well,!... I lucked into meeting the Chief Chocolate Officer!

My friend Judy and I had arranged to get together for tea--or possibly lunch, whichever we took a notion to pursue. It was 1:00. We chose lunch. We found a little shop and had sandwiches.

And then. After that...we looked across the street and saw an enticing cafe where we thought we'd get a second course. We crossed to the other side, walked up to the door......and straight into chocolate heaven!

There to greet us, with a bright and welcoming smile, was this charming Chief Chocolate Officer--Champion of Chocolate, Chairwoman of Chocolate. Or, hmmm...Chief of the Great Chocolate Council? Whatever you or I or Tom Burford might call her, or she might call herself, she knows more about chocolate than anyone in a six-thousand, seven-hundred and twenty-nine mile (possibly broader) radius (I'm rashly asserting this, based on her extensive knowledge, and the fact that I'm a great lover of chocolate and was so tickled and delighted to meet her. Oh, and also the fact that she's lived on numerous continents and traveled the world, studying chocolate. That, and it's her business!)

We had a rich and velvety time chatting with her, seeing her cafe, meeting her pleasant assistants, and drooling over all the offerings...(Oui! and Oo-la-la!--a recipe borrowed from Marie Antoinette!)

Plus, I had the most divine cup of hot chocolate I've ever imbibed! I was coming back to this place before I even left! Voulez-vous venir avec moi,
Reader Dear?

(yes I crave comments)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I HAVEN'T GOT A THING, Dear Reader. Not a doggone thing!
So sorry.

Unless, of course, you'd like to hear about the bowl of food I just threw together and ate like I hadn't had hot food for days. Hmm. Not since that meat-and-potato-eating Yard Man walked out the door. While he's gone, I've been on the Cold-Easy diet. This means I eat peppers like they're lollipops, and carrots like I'm a rabbit. Peanut butter's been a frequent entree, with corn chips on the side.

But that horse-selling man will be back home tomorrow, and it suddenly struck me that now's a good time to cook quinoa. When it comes to politics, the man and I are like-minded; but as for quinoa, we don't sing the same tune. He growls, I chirp.

So anyway, when the light bulb formed, I scampered for the bag of quinoa at the back of the cupboard, and wracked my brain for add-ins.

Here's what I concocted--Qathy's Impulsive and Rashly Unpredictable Quinoa--(otherwise known as Qathy's Quixotic Quinoa). Keep in mind that naming it was as much fun as throwing together the ingredients; so if you wish to give it a try, Dear Reader, you may want to name it some moniker of your own. It was not, however, more fun than eating this fabulous-tasting dish; so if you don't feel inclined to re-name, by all means go ahead and eat it, anyway!

The following will make two tidy little side-dish servings. If you haven't eaten hot food (other than a few scrambled eggs) for several days, consider it one serving: (Oh, and let me just say right here--I've spelled it all out as though it were, you know, some kind of real recipe that one need study carefully and measure out according to directions. Pfft! It's just a concoction; I'm putting on airs).

>1/2 Cup Quinoa, toasted several minutes in a dry skillet, stirring continuously
>1 Cup Chicken Broth
>2 Wadded-up Handfuls of fresh Spinach Leaves
>1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
>1/2 Cup chopped dried Black Mission Figs
(Hey, figs is what I had--Raisins is what I wished to use, but I finished them off two days ago while on the Cold-Easy diet, and forgot to get more).
>1/4 Cup chopped walnuts
>1 Teaspoon Rosemary-flavored Olive Oil
(just happened to have this on my cupboard, great when one is concocting)

Add first four ingredients to pan and simmer, covered, for approximately 15 minutes. Add figs (or raisins) for last one-two minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and stir in chopped walnuts and olive oil.

Ohhhh--I'm rather enamored of my dish--I could eat another marvelous mess of this QQQ right now!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011



I made my last plea for the rent that is owed just before coming here (the fourth try if you're counting--and that's not toting up the unanswered phone calls and recorded messages left for this tenant, the registered letters not accepted at the door, the letters sent via regular mail that were never taken from the box--I don't have a key, she'd say. Again and again I said, Go to the post office; it's just a mile up the road! until I finally understood: Who wants a key? Who really wants a key? No key--no nasty bills from the box! No letter from the landlord, either!]).

That's all in the past, however. I had no idea if she'd answer the door today.
She let the phone ring when I called from the parking lot to tell her I was there.

But she came to the door on the second doorbell ring.
And she told me to sue her.
"Just sue me!" she said.

Okay. (Gulp) It's the first time anyone's requested that of me.
It's a very unpleasant chore,
but I'll try to oblige.



Monday, January 17, 2011


"TOMORROW IS MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY," I reminded my sister on the phone last night. "The banks will be closed. The post office will be closed. It's a holiday! I'm taking a vacation--I'm not going to do a lick of work!"

"So what will you do?" she asked.

"First of all," I said, "I'll sleep as late as I want!" I said it kind of triumphantly, as though it were really up to me. As though I would not awaken when the yard man arose at an hour that would purportedly make him wealthy and wise; as though his dog would find nothing about which to bark; as though no delivery truck of any kind would come backing in the driveway, clunking and bumping and grinding its gears. As though I would sleep right through--and I knew without a doubt I wouldn't--the yard man loading his stallions and mares, kicking and thrashing and voicing objections, into the horse trailer.

But the thing is, this morning, after all of the above--after the clamor and commotion and hullabaloo died down and the yard man drove away with his load of consignments (for the big Draft Horse Sale that he himself runs, and for which he'll be out of town for three days)--I didn't get up. The sky was a perfect stay-in-bed gray. I was starting to drift into sleep when my little white business phone rang; down the stairs I went and took it off the hook. Then I slept. Or at least I dreamed of it, and drifted in and out.

After every last urge for sleep had been slumbered away, I reached for the novel that I've been reading in short clips at the end of each day. This is not a normal day, I said to myself, and I felt deliciously slothful. I opened Cutting for Stone at Chapter 5, and took a deep breath before going back to Ethiopia once again...the plane flaring to a touchdown over shimmering asphalt...

Well, you know, I stayed there in Africa for quite a while, Dear Reader. When I finally closed the book and got out of bed, the sun had advanced far across the sky. (I couldn't see it, as the clouds continued to hang dense and heavy, but I was pretty sure it hadn't stopped; besides, I was hungry).

Well, so then I fixed myself a lovely scrambled egg...and I searched about for something fun to do. I happened to see the overflowing laundry baskets and quickly averted my eyes.

Holiday, holiday, I murmured. Stay on track!

Fortunately, the perfect activity presented itself: I had packages to ready for mailing--a baby gift and a boxful of birthday gifts. My goodness, I could dilly-dally to my heart's content, could shuffle through my collection of vintage stamps, could possibly manage to spend a whole afternoon at this!

By late afternoon, I had wrapped that job up (no pun intended) and I had to keep reminding myself I was on vacation.
I ate numerous snacks.
And drank numerous cups of tea.
I went out to the empty mailbox, just to go outside...and took a picture of the Christmas tree, doomed and waiting in the meadow (my only jaunt out).

As the already meager light began to fade, I hung around the stove and refrigerator, imagining that I might want to cook myself a bang-up holiday meal. Hmm...except I wasn't very hungry.

I picked up Cutting for Stone, and I read for a while. And then I put the book down. Maybe my vacation should end at sundown, I thought.

Yes, perhaps.

In a flash, I was up the steps for those baskets of laundry. I was emptying the dishwasher of clean dishes, cleaning the kitchen floor. I was a whirl of activity--
it was just what I felt like doing.
Thanks for the holiday,
Martin! I thought. I'll take it from here.


Sunday, January 16, 2011


taking steps to build up his repertoire.


Friday, January 14, 2011


WINTER is trying to appease;
not so, my less-than-ideal tenant.
Once again, I find myself ringing her doorbell.
Just as yesterday, she opens the window above me and peers down.
"Why didn't you call?!! I have to go to the bank! Why didn't you call me first?!"
"Well," I say, in as gentle a voice as I can muster. "I will come back. What time would you like for me to come back?"
"Four o'clock," she says. "Come back at four."
"All right. Okay. I'll be back at four," I say, but she has already closed the window.

I look at the clock and it is 2:55 p.m. I should have come here first, before I went to the Post Office and ran my other errands. It's not a great distance to go home for the interim, but I would rather not. I drive to my bank, quite nearby, and I spend most of the next hour sitting in the parking lot, chatting on my cell phone.

At 4:05 p.m I'm knocking once again at the door of apartment #15, in a third quest for January rent payment. There is no answer to my knock, but both of less-than-ideal's cars are in the parking lot. I ring her up on my cell phone. The person you are trying to reach is not accepting phone calls at this time, the phone politely tells me. I do not talk back to the phone so politely.

As I'm driving home, I make bets with myself. Will there be a fourth quest? How about a fifth, huh? Or a sixth? Maybe a hundred-and-thirty-first?! Or a six-hundr---

Oh, good grief...I will keep you posted, Reader Dear.
(just in case you want to, you know, place a wager yourself.)


Thursday, January 13, 2011



My car is still very dirty, but at least the sun was shining today,
and I've managed to keep my miniature poinsettia alive and
looking cheerful well into the post-holiday slump.

A small portion of my afternoon was spent discussing
non-payment of rent with a less-than-ideal tenant:
Well, why didn't ya come get it?!! You know where I live!!
Come back tomorrow,
I'll give it to ya!

But I've got one other cash-paying tenant, and she
calls me each month to say: I have my rent ready now,
if it would suit you to come and collect it, and thank you so very much.

Hmm, I guess, after all, it does take all kinds to make the world go around.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


ONE MORE TINY CHUNK of my past, Reader Dear, then I'll tuck my random yesterdays back into envelopes and try to stick with my todays--each one stepping up to take its place in prompt and orderly fashion . For the time that it takes you to read this post, I'm at a private high school several hours from home. I'm living in a dormitory, and I'm, oh, so young:

Thursday eve.

Dear Padres,

I realize you haven't heard from me for a while so I'll try to make up for it by an especially long letter. First of all I'll have to tell you about something that happened last night. Becky and I got late per. (which means we can have our lights on longer) and so we didn't get to bed until 10:45. Becky went to bed about 15 min.s before I did so she was already asleep when I hit the sack. I had turned the radio to go off by itself. Well, a little later I woke up just in time to see someone crawling in Becky's bed with her. I sat up and stared for a little bit and said "What on earth?" rather sleepily. Nobody said anything so I said it again and both of them were quiet. So I thought "Well, if that's the way you want to be about it!" I tried to figure it out and I figured that the girl (I thought it looked like Mim) had come over for some reason and asked to sleep with Becky or something. So I went to sleep trying to figure out why. At about 1:00 I woke up again and Becky was standing beside my bed saying "I don't know what to do...there's a girl in my bed with me and I don't know who it is!" Now that DID scare me! I said "You don't?" rather shakily and we were both about ready to run out of the room when she raised up in Becky's bed. I said "Hey, you.....Who are you?" very accusingly. She looked up and said "Mim" like she couldn't help it that's who she was. Then we found out that Mim had gotten up to go to the bathroom (in her sleep) and when she came back she stopped one door too soon and came in and got in bed with Becky (B. didn't even wake up) So they slept together for about 1-1/2 hours. Then Becky woke up and felt herself being pushed against the wall by someone in her bed. So she crawled out very carefully and didn't know what to do until I suddenly woke up. Just imagine how scared she was. Anyway, all three of us laughed hysterically...for about a half hour. Then we all went back to our beds and went back to sleep. I don't think Mim's going to hear the end of it for a while.

Our French class is going to have our supper tomorrow evening. I went to grandma's house and she gave me some low vases and some artificial flowers to put in them. (They look pretty good for artificial flowers) Then I got a candle for the wine bottle and some French paintings from my French teacher--so I think it'll look pretty nice in there.

Saturday night they're showing a movie on campus. I'm going to go with (X). He wouldn't be my pick if I could choose but after all I can't be choosy. He was walking beside me on the way to class and he asked me if I was going to see the film and I said I guessed so in a very "how-would-I-know" way. Then later on in the day (R) told me that (X) had told her he was so glad because I had said I would go to the film with him. I said "WHAT?!" and she said Yes, that was what he had said. Later on, he said something else about it and I said "You didn't ask me, you just asked if I was going. He insisted that he had asked me. So then he said "Well, will you?" and I said yes.

I am starting to be very busy (I should have spelled it with capitals) Our term papers are due a week from tomorrow. I know what I'll be doing all day Saturday. Miss Q (Queen of the Campus ((self-elected)) has hers all done--written and typed and all. She's very good-looking and she is the biggest snob on the campus. Only a select few are good enough for her (don't say I'm just jealous because I'm not one of them--Definitely NOT) Well I shouldn't have put this mean little paragraph in, but any way...It's just what I thought of. And, after all, it does take all kinds to make the world go around. I really do have to stop and get to my homework.

Mucho Amor--------------etc.

Your loving daughter

Are you all finished reading, Dear Reader?
Because, oh my, I don't care to stay sixteen for very long!


Monday, January 10, 2011


WELL, YOU KNOW, DEAR READER, I couldn't keep my hands off those letters--that boxful of letters my mother saved for decades, and then gave back to me before she died. But time travel can be SO disconcerting. At mid-afternoon I am planning a wedding--(D)'s mother is anxiously waiting to hear what color her dress should be...and a few hours later I'm writing to my mother:

It's a beautiful Monday morning...I woke my two sleeping children (littlest one already up) to get ready for school, and got them dressed, breakfasted and out the door in 20 minutes.
Tomorrow evening (J) and (B) are coming for supper, so I need to get the house cleaned today. It's awful. And get groceries. Make phone calls.
(C) is playing happily in the basement. I can hear her chattering to herself. She wants every day to play with the Barbie dolls. She plays and plays with them. But one day she decided to dismember them--very easily done. (S) was horrified and also furious! Well, we put them back together and scolded (C) fiercely. Now she plays very carefully with them. But still we never get them out until after (S) leaves for school and make sure to put them all neatly back before (C) goes for her nap.

And then, Reader Dear, the phone rings, and it's (S).
And she's not worried about her Barbies anymore because she's got herself a real live doll, but he's been cranky and she doesn't know why.

I'm afraid all this bouncing around through time is giving me sequential whiplash.


Sunday, January 9, 2011


YESTERDAY, WHEN I CLIMBED TO THE ATTIC and returned those boxes of Christmas do-dads, I didn't simply shove them into the congested pile at the top of the stairway, as I'm wont to do. I ventured into the depths, snooping around for a more suitable spot to stash them. And that's how I happened to stumble on a time warp and ended up years ago.

Do you know, Dear Reader, how one can disappear into a box of old letters and find oneself....

...baking a birthday cake on a warm summer evening for a boyfriend who is sweeping one off one's feet. Taking her breath away. Making her head spin.

Dear Reader, I carted that box of letters downstairs to the dining room table. And I told myself don't even start! It was time to go and eat chicken corn pie.

But I reached in the box and I pulled out one letter at random:

Dearest Moma, Here it is after midnight already--so I'll have to make this fast and short. It seems funny to be writing to you when I've just talked to you twice already today.

I made the cake, and of course--as my cakes always do--it looks pretty goofy. It stuck to the pan when I turned it out. I had to try to patch it up. It's good, though--I sampled one of the two smaller layers, which each also had little hunks out of them where they stuck to the pan (I greased the pans--why did they do that?!)

Anyway--I think it will taste okay. He should realize it's the thought that counts.

He came over tonight. And so did (J). At the
same time
. It was rather awkward, I must admit. (J) came first, as I was trying to fix the messed-up cake. He was only here five minutes when (D) came to the door. He had delivered something to his sister, who lives nearby. Just as I was ready to tell him to come on in, the guy living two doors up got mad because (D) had parked in front of his trailer. So (D) left to move his truck. Then didn't come back. I was glad that he didn't see the cake--but I was sorry he didn't come back over.

He did scare (J) away, though---(J) left in a hurry about two minutes later. It was kind of funny really. I feel sorry for (J), but I would much rather be with (D).


I put down the letter. "It's time to get going! Plans are to eat at five!" I said to the man who had just come in from feeding his horses at the barn.
"Well, let's go!" said (D). Then we left the house, got in the car and drove away to eat chicken corn pie.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


NO SOONER DID I get the Christmas tree plucked clean of all decorations and hustled out the front door to the porch, sweep up the small truckload of needles that it had wept all over the floor, gather up much of the Christmas paraphernalia that had served to infuse the house with holiday cheer and tote it back to the attic... than it was time to go to another Christmas gathering!

Sometime in late December, one of my yard man's sisters had emailed this message to her siblings and nieces and nephews :

After much discussion and consideration it has been agreed that Saturday, JANUARY 8, 2011 is the date we will be gathering to celebrate Christmas, eat chicken corn pie, and generally enjoy each others company. Let me know if you can attend.

Ah. It's a tradition that cannot be allowed to die--the eating of Chicken Corn Pie! I've been eating it myself--with most of the descendants of the yard man's parents--since that very first December that I knew the man, when his mother wielded that rolling pin like a magic wand and I stood by with sudden trepidation (a few more months and it would be MY job to feed this woman's son!)

Fortunately for us all (those who meet to carry on this fine tradition), the master maker of these pies had five fine daughters. Three of them live in this area. And all of them, I do believe, are adept at making chicken corn pies.

I've even made them myself a time or two. But sad to say, the little card onto which I copied directions is clean as a whistle--no splashes or splatters to prove its good use. Here's what I jotted down in my long-ago lettering, as the woman who would be my mother-in-law told me she had no recipe, but I could just do this:

Chicken Corn Pie
--Turkey or Chicken
--Good roasted in oven
--Can put in onions
--Saute onions & celery in butter
/carrots, too, if you want
--Heat corn (or at least thaw)
--Salt, Pepper
--Mix altogether, pour off juice
--Put into pie crust
--Put daubs of butter over top (under top crust)
--Brush top with milk


5 Cups flour
1-1/2 Cups white crisco
1 egg or 1 egg white beaten
Ice water in with egg to equal about 3/4 Cup

roll as thin as you can

(It sort of breaks my heart, Dear Reader, that I actually wrote that down--"roll as thin as you can.")

The sis-in-law's pies were delicious tonight.
Three generations enjoyed each others' company.
And I do so hope the Little Actor will be eating
chicken corn pie at Christmas time when
he is a very old man.


Thursday, January 6, 2011


No particular reason.
Lots of trashy little reasons rolled into one--
for example, the way nothing that I clean stays clean forever
(or even long enough to enjoy the fruits of my knuckle-scraping labor, it seems [I require lots of time]):
The kitchen floor and the kitchen sink, that spot in the driveway
where Ms. Chicken roams,
the windshield and floors of the car...
blah, blah, blah...

Then I got in the car (with the newly cleaned mats and the sparkling windshield [the rest of it still filthy on account of the snow that's predicted tomorrow]) and I drove up the road on an errand. The sun was shining brightly, and moments later this sprightly tune hit me full in the face. Before I knew it, the foul mood had dissolved and was trickling away. Wiped clean. I did a spirited back-flip somewhere in my head, and I turned up the car radio. If only, IF ONLY!! I thought (and it was just that emphatic), there'd be a trick like this I could use on the laundry, and the dirty bathroom floors...


Tuesday, January 4, 2011


OKAY, (SIGH), IF YOU'RE GOING to zip your lips like that, Reader Dear, I guess it will have to be me who says more. About this little theory of mine: It's the year two thousand eleven, and I'm sure as can be, there's more talking today than at the dawning of two thousand ten.

When technological wizardry produced a proliferation of written communication, verbal gabbing slacked off, of course. It's a verifiable fact (or possibly not), phones don't ring as often [hmm...though some of them twitter and tweet and play Here Comes the Bride). But as soon as this New Year--this year of two thousand eleven--drew near, speaking picked up.

Happy two thousand eleven! folks greeted me on New Year's Day. Happy two thousand eleven!--I said it myself. And I've mentioned the date pretty often since then. I'll bet you have, too, Reader Dear.

Just think of it--all year long, the English-speaking world will be mumbling and muttering and whispering and shouting and otherwise voicing the date as two thousand eleven.Two thou-sand e-lev-en.* That's right, ONE MORE SYLLABLE to verbalize the year than ever we've had since the 1970s! Millions and millions of people in the U.S. alone, each saying the date every day...well, maybe not every day, okay; but, hey, lots of them--bankers and lawyers and some of the hoi polloi--putting the number on the day more than once each twenty-four hours.

BILLIONS of added syllables vibrating through the airways!
BILLIONS! Didn't I warn you, Reader Dear?!


(*Yeah, sure, a few will say twenty-eleven.
I don't wish to count them! They're the
same lazy folks who put a nickname on
two thousand ten.)


Monday, January 3, 2011


Airways have been filling up with an increase of talk in the
past few days. I've thought about this, and I'm sure that it's true.
Even you, I believe, Dear Reader, have become more loquacious.

This video clip of the fire as it springs to life
says nothing about my theory, in spite of
its chattering. But I wish you would,
Reader Dear.

Or I suppose that I could
(say more).


Sunday, January 2, 2011


PERFORMED their New Year's Day concert
for me once again:

Clearly, my second fabulous feast of the day!

Ah, thank goodness I didn't have to choose---
between delight for my stomach,

or rapture for my eyes and ears!


Saturday, January 1, 2011



PORK AND SAUERKRAUT and all the fixin's is the meal The Yard Man and I enjoyed today--a gustatory feast, as prepared by the aunts and cousins and cousins-in-law and sisters, possibly one brother-in-law, and at least one uncle of my yard man. (Plus it was I who put the devil in those eggs donated by his [angelic] hens).