Saturday, October 31, 2015

Flavors of the Day

A new day dawns ... during which I don't tweet, I don't twitter, I don't text.  I don't do Facebook.  I don't have a tablet or a kindle.  I don't have a BlackBerry, and I don't do Bluetooth or Blu-ray.  I don't have a smart phone or a smart meter for the electric company to instantly monitor my needs. I don't buy smart beef or smart hot dogs.  I don't even know what they are.  It's not that I'm against these things; I prefer the simple life.  There's too much to try and figure as it is.  Any mail with my name on it to shred, any account numbers, any old bills.  Passwords to remember where to look up, batteries to recharge, computer to defragment, old emails to clean up, internet history to delete.  (Yes, I do have a desktop computer plus a laptop for when I'm traveling. I also have a land line ... and a cell phone for emergencies.)

Then I'm supposed to quantify my satisfaction based on a one-to-five scale as to how well the service crew last changed my oil ... or how well the new compost program is doing ... or if I'd recommend my car dealership to anyone wanting to buy a new car.  Or how much pain I'm in on a scale of one to ten (that is, if I happen to be in pain).  Speaking of which:  we now have to follow increased medical red tape to satisfy their need for numbers: weight, blood pressure, code numbers, then see a doctor who keeps his/her eyes on the computer screen, not on you, as well as update your meds, re-read their privacy policy, and fill out yet another questionnaire determining just which insurance will pay for the visit.  Never-ending paper work to stick in your paper recyclables--as opposed to your approved-plastic and glass recyclables, your yucky non-recyclables (yellow bag if small, purple if large), and your specially purchased natural fiber "Bag to Earth" for food-waste composting.  

Since I'm starting to feel worn out, except for my book club, I pretty much stay away from regular commitments.  I don't want to find that I have to go out in inclement weather.  I no longer feel comfortable driving at night.  I also feel "I've done all that ... time to let others take over."  Every time I signed up for yoga, I then had to go see a chiropractor.  Whenever I joined a chorus, the music flooded my head later when I was trying to sleep.  Going to evening events, I could find myself out in the boonies (lots of boonies around here) having to get home in the dark.  (And now realizing there's not necessarily cell reception in the event of an emergency.)  It's much simpler staying home and reading a good book.

A good book because I watch very little TV.  Some Masterpiece Theatre but not all including the new Indian Summers.  (To my mind, filming it in Malaysia instead of India is like setting a Colorado story in Florida though that isn't why I'm not watching.)  The Great British Baking Show is fun, sappy, and sweet.  Of course, I'll finish out Downton Abbey.  Week-end C-SPAN is okay, especially their coverage of literary festivals and first-Sunday-of-the-month In Depth interviews.  Sometimes I watch a house renovation program with sledgehammers ripping out walls to create "an open concept," as they call it--an important feature these days so that the cook in the family isn't stuck off in the kitchen while the rest of the party is having a good time elsewhere. One program featured Tiny Houses--with the same square footage some people insist on having for their walk-in closets.  (I've also noticed a tendency for women, when viewing a potential house with a large walk-in closet, to turn to their husbands and say, "This is going to be my closet; I don't know where you're going to put your things."  Some are joking but some aren't.  Easy solution:  toss half the stuff.)

Finally, I also don't watch anything to do with the upcoming (still a year away!!) election.  You'd be surprised how soothing something like that can be.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Okay, It's Time For Me To Go To Sleep Now!"

I'm doing better these nights than I used to.  I was a good sleeper for a long time, right through the night. Then I hit a certain age (can't remember now which it was) and I started having weird nights.  Like the time I woke and found it was getting darker, not lighter, only to realize I hadn't slept through the night at all, only part of the evening.  So I had to go back to bed and try again.  And then I was getting to bed so early that when I woke up, I felt as if I'd advanced a couple of time zones and was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.  I mean:  I'd wake at 3:45 and feel it was time to get up.  That would be okay if I were in Nuuk, Greenland, where it would be 5:45, but I obviously wasn't in Nuuk, Greenland.

So I began following a few practices to get myself through a night without feeling like the next morning's left-over salad.  For one thing, I didn't have anything to drink after a certain hour--including a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate.  I curtailed evening TV, preferring to read instead ... and evening phone calls so I wouldn't keep hashing the call over in my mind afterwards when I really wanted to start shutting things down. My hope was to keep my evenings as free from distraction as possible.

So, my program includes:
  • No liquid after a certain hour.
  • Not much alcohol regardless of the hour.  (Wine, especially, seems to wake people in the middle of the night.)
  • Nothing sugary after supper. (Otherwise, it just perks me up.)
  • Preferably no phone calls after a certain hour.
  • Nothing loud so that I can transition into the night. 
  • No caffeine ever.  Any tea or coffee has to be decaf.
  • A dark bedroom which includes a black shade for full-moon nights.  (Also no TV or electronic equipment in the bedroom.)
  • Oh, and a good book to read once I'm in bed which can soon enough put me to sleep regardless of how interesting it is.
Of course, there are still nights when sleep is elusive.  Sometimes, as I'm lying there around 1:30 or 2:00, I call out to the night (as if it had control over things), "Okay, it's time for me to go to sleep now!!"  In other words, get on the stick, please, and help me do this thing. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quintessential New England

Dwight House 1754

It turned out that this year the REAL Columbus Day, October 12th, actually occurred on the day set aside to celebrate it, though, in fact, such celebrations now don't amount to much more than not having to put money in parking meters.  Otherwise, the congestion of cars around here as people made their way out of town, home again after the weekend--THE New England weekend, meaning the best of fall color--overloaded the roads considerably.

I, too, had to leave, for an appointment an hour south of here, but I chose not to take the interstate which I find a race-course and instead took the two-lane state highway which basically parallels the interstate on into western Massachusetts.  A wise choice.  No traffic whatsoever.  I did not have to speed and so could take in the beauty of the countryside as I meandered on down past farms (one advertising a corn maze), sheep, past trees in golds, oranges, reds, all burnished by a totally sunny day complete with an unmarred blue sky.  I put on a new CD by the contemporary Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi with stirring violins and piano--the perfect accompaniment for my magical drive.

Then ... since I was taking the back road, I happened to drive right by the turn-off to what is called Historic Deerfield, a mile-long authentic18th century New England settlement with restored museum-quality houses and furnishings, some open for inspection, some privately owned.  (The opening scene of the 1994 movie, Little Women, was filmed there.)  So, turn off, I did.

When I got home again, I decided I'd experienced the quintessential New England day.  THE day of the year for color combined with THE place for a viewing of an authentic early New England setting.

Williams House 1730

Ashley House 1734
Wright House 1824
Privately owned
Privately owned
Privately owned

For more on Historic Deerfield, go to this link

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Gallery of Photos: That First Yellowing

It starts in September when you realize that a purposeful yellow wash is slowly covering the land.  A bit of orange pops up.  A spot of red.  Then, as October takes over, the landscape's ubiquitous green changes color and peak leaf-viewing season arrives as a thrilling palette takes over ... until it then fades and the leaves drop and blow away, crisp and pungent.

October is THE month in these parts.  The furnace starts up.  Sweaters and jackets come out of closets with scarves and mitts not far behind.  Garden furniture is put away.  Chipmunks nibble crab apples that litter lawns.  The sound of leaf blowers replaces that of lawn mowers.  The last road constructions begin to wrap things up along with the last yard sales.  Traffic becomes congested as tourists arrive for leaf-viewing, harvest festivals, literary readings, and craft tours ... all foreseen in that first yellowing of a few weeks back.

Cutting the cow corn

Talk about color ... even the chard is gorgeous!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pickity Place Revisited

Just a week ago, two family members and I enjoyed our annual ladies luncheon visit to Pickity Place, a charming 1786 little red cottage some distance away in the hills of southern New Hampshire.  Each month features a different fixed menu.  (One's only choice is between a vegetarian and non-vegetarian entree.)  Along with the little cottage, which was used as the model for Elizabeth Orton Jones's illustrations of Little Red Riding Hood (Little Golden Books, 1948), the property features herb gardens, a gift shop, a drying shed for herbs and flowers, a shop featuring seasonal and gardening items, a greenhouse, and a sheep pen along with little paths that one can wander while taking in the picturesque rural setting.

Pickity Place is open daily, year around, except for major holidays.  When calling to make reservations, you can choose between the 11:30, 12:45, or 2:00 seating.  Fixed price at $21.95.  Their web site ( lists the menu for each month's five-course luncheon that features their herbs and edible flowers along with a choice of tempting beverages:  mulled cider, lavender lemonade, mocha coffee, herbal teas, raspberry orange tea, and hot or cold spice tea.

Water jug refreshed with a peppermint sprig

Hot spiced tea and cold lavender lemonade

(We started with a cheese and fruit dish but finished it before I remembered to take a photo.)

Potato soup, called Twice Baked Yukon

Salad with citrus, watermelon radish, and featuring a pineapple sage leaf

Rosemary foccacia with a wonderfully seasoned dipping oil
Beef medallions over risotto and burrata with sauteed matchstick zucchini
 and a pea flower.  (The vegetarian choice was Harvest Vegetable Strudel.)

Lemon and blackberry cake with butter cream frosting.
In the Drying Shed

For my first posting about Pickity Place, see "A Visit to Pickity Place," November 12, 2013.  For quick access, go to Topics in the right hand margin and look under Food.