Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Crochet - 1930's Spool Cotton Hat Book

New from Purple Kitty – a book of quintessentially mid-30’s hats.  They can be downloaded as individual patterns, one by one for free, as a single pdf for $1.49, or you can opt to purchase all the 2014 and 2015 files at a whack for $12.00.

(Buy them all – they’re a treat).

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Right On Time

image from Pinterest
It's the day after Christmas and we received five seed catalogs in the mail this morning.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I Admit It

We're insufferable.

The Online Bookshelf - A Visit From St Nicholas

A free download from Project Gutenberg.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Vintage Images - More Christmas Clipart

Copyright-free, from Dover.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Nightmare Food

I can’t remember if I’ve posted this before (From Dainty Desserts for Dainty People, courtesy of Knox Gelatine circa 1915), but it looks as though it has fangs and would turn on anyone unwise enough to attempt to eat it. 

The rest of the illustrations in the booklet are far less menacing.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Friday, December 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

Winter Landscape in the Mountains, by Pinio Colombi

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape.  Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show. ~ Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Der Tag

image from Pinterest

He got a sizable rebate check from the insurance company yesterday.

Me: Do you want me to deposit it for you?

He:  Only $200.  Keep the rest out for running-around money.

It’s taken 32 years to get him here, and now I’m not sure I like it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Vintage Images - Christmas

Copyright-free vintage holiday images, from Dover.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Friday, December 11, 2015

Quote of the Day

Fascism arrives as your friend.  It will restore your honour, make you feel proud, protect your house, give you a job, clean up the neighbourhood, remind you of how great you once were, clear out the venal and the corrupt, remove anything you feel is unlike you…It doesn’t walk in saying, “Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.” ~ Michael Rosen

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It’s Like Watching An Elephant Trying To Walk On Tip-Toe

image from the Graphics Fairy

He (speaking in a loud and artificially sweet voice to the dog):  I really need to go to bed but I can’t until I check my email, and I can’t get on the computer.

Me (hunched over the computer keyboard):  So ask, already, and stop being so passive aggressive.

He: Can I be actively aggressive?  Get off the f*cking computer!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Vintage Images - Christmas Cards

Copyright-free, from Dover.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

History Repeats Itself

 A joint review of US Ebola quarantine policies by analysts at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Yale University found that the quarantines imposed by states weren’t medically justified and were unconstitutional.

The 46-page report said the infection and death of a Liberian man in Dallas, and illnesses in two nurses that cared for him, triggered disproportionate fear and hysteria in October and Novemver of 2014 that led to overly restrictive quarantine measures in many states that misled the public.

In a forward to the report by Deane Marchbien, MD, president of Doctors without Borders in the United States, said the report put responsibility for the panic on political leaders—enabled by a “fear-mongering mass media”—through ignorance or political expediency.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


from Pinterest

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pondering More of Life’s Little Mysteries

Why are apples, walnuts, and celery considered diet food but Waldorf salad is not?

Along the same lines, why is pumpkin pie not touted as an essential source of fiber and vitamin C?

Why does it take me six tries and three days’ worth of newspaper to get a fire started? 

Why does HE seem to be able to set fires effortlessly? 1

Why does some knucklehead revving a motorcycle on the other side of town cause Babyface to frantically crawl under the bedsheets with me and crouch there with all 90 lbs. of her vibrating like a furry hootchy-cootchy dancer? Reminding her that she is a police dog, for God’s sake, has no effect whatsoever.

Why do I never seem to have an equal number of clean bras and step-ins?  The count varies, too.  Some weeks I have more bras, some weeks more step-ins.  This should not be.

Why, if by some miracle I find two socks of the same color in the clean laundry, don’t they match?  At present there are four bachelor black socks lying on the shelf waiting for four different black sock mates.   Someone could make a fortune with a Tinder app for socks.

While we’re on the topic of lingerie, why would the cat rather sleep in my underwear drawer than anywhere else? 2

Why do people wait until it’s the middle of the night and pissing down sleet to set their houses on fire? 3

And again – while we’re on the topic – why is it when the Red Cross dispatcher wakes me at 0400, the DAT 4 captain doesn’t call to tell me I’m not needed until I have started the coffee pot, gotten dressed, and located my keys?  I can either go back to bed and try to asleep for two more hours, or throw in the towel, pour myself a cup of coffee and crack open a book. 5

Why can I never find something until after I’ve purchased its replacement?  Not little cheap things, either.  Foxtail brushes, several of them, and how do you lose an iced-tea maker in a 1500 square-foot, two-bedroom house?  The kitchen remodel provided lots more cupboard space, but still.

This also applies to magazines.  I have Cook’s All Time Best Chocolate Recipes for 2015 lurking in the shadows somewhere waiting for me to break down and buy another copy for $9.95, no less.  I won’t, damn it.  Even if there is a triple-chocolate mousse pie on the cover.

1 Perhaps I don’t want to examine that one too closely.

2 Perhaps I don’t want to examine that one too closely, either.  He may have a paw in the bra/step-in discrepancy.

3 I’ve been told by the training officer at one of the local FDs that it’s related to household income and creative heating solutions so I should be more understanding. 

4 Disaster Assistance Team.  It could be worse; I could be the DAT captain.  After all he’s the poor sod standing out in the sleet with the firefighters.

5 I don’t get up at 0600, someone else does.  I lie there and listen to him crash into things in the dark and wonder how, when he was the guard officer at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, he racked up 68 confirmed “kills,” a kill being defined as getting close enough to the guard to tap him on the back before being seen. 

The realization that you were patrolling five thousand acres of ammunition bunkers full of God knows what, by yourself, in the dark, and armed with an assault rifle made chiefly of plastic and two clips that by standing orders had to be kept in the magazine pouch until you had a visual on a bad guy (this was fifteen years before 9/11), should be enough to keep you on the qui vive, but to the best of my knowledge there were few sentries he didn’t “kill” at least once.

One night he managed to leap undetected into the back of the guard truck as it drove past his hiding place, slide the rear window open, and put his hand on the guard’s shoulder, causing a sudden cardiac reaction in an otherwise-healthy 19 year old Marine who, thankfully, managed to bring the vehicle to a stop without crashing it into one of the aforementioned ammunition bunkers.

It’s a wonder I never got to collect his SGLI.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Someone always ruins the family photo.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Quote Of The Day

Gladstone…spent his declining years trying to guess the answer to the Irish Question; unfortunately, whenever he was getting warm, the Irish secretly changed the question. ~ W. C. Sellar

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Vintage Holidays - Thanksgiving

Copyright-free, from Dover.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Full Irish"

I was mistaken when I said I had only taken one photo of the food.  This was my first encounter with a full Irish breakfast,consumed (shortly after staggering off the plane) at a lovely guesthouse called the Evergreen.  If you need a place to stay that’s ten minutes from the Dublin airport, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

This particular version lacks the fried potatoes, either because I ate them before I thought of the camera, or possibly because I arrived an hour and a half after normal breakfast hours.  I don't remember.  The proprietors* made up for any carbohydrate deficiency with a basket of fresh scones.

I heartily recommend this, followed by a long nap, as a coping mechanism for jet lag.

(*Jimmy and Mary Canavan, who told me to “come on out” even though it was way before check-in time, served a hot breakfast and then tucked me up in a room in its own wing on the quiet side of the house).

The dark disk on the plate at two o’clock is black pudding, just to the right of the white pudding.  I have sampled the German and the Scottish versions of black pudding on their native heaths and was reasonably certain I would not care for the Irish.  I was right, and it has nothing to do with Jimmy's skill with the saucepans.

Every pork-eating civilization claims a version -- it used to be common in this country particularly among Irish and German immigrants, when home butchering was the norm and housewives made their own sausages and other cured meat products.  Black pudding recipes use oatmeal, beet suet, and fresh pig's blood.  White pudding recipes use pretty much the same ingredients but the pig's blood.

To Make Blood Puddings.  Take your Indian meal (according to the quantity you wish to make), and scald it with boiled milk or water, then stir in your blood, straining it first, mince the hog's lard and put it in the pudding, then season it with treacle and pounded penny-royal to your taste, put it in a bag and let boil six or seven hours.  The Frugal Housewife, by Susannah Carter, 1803.

Grandma Thompson's White Pudding.  Weigh equal quantities of best beef suet and sifted flour, shave down suet and rub into fine particles with the hands, removing all tough and stringy parts, mix well with the flour, season very highly with pepper, salt to taste, stuff loosely in beef-skins (entrails cleansed like pork-skins for sausage), half a yard or less in length, secure the ends, prick every two or three inches with a darning-needle, place to boil in a kettle of cold water hung on the crane; boil three hours, place on table until cold, after which hang up in a cool place to dry; tie up in a clean cotton bag, and put it away where it will be both dry and cool.  When wanted for use, cut off the quantity needed, boil in hot water until heated through, take out and place before the fire to dry off and "crisp." The above was considered an "extra dish" at all the "flax scutchings," "quilting frolics," and "log rollings" of a hundred years ago.  Buckeye Cookery, by Estelle Wood Wilcox, 1877.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


This haiku expresses Reserve Cat’s feelings this morning when he awoke to find that winter has arrived. 

It always comes as such a shock to him.  He clawed open the door of the living room cabinet, climbed inside, and stayed there until lunchtime.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Quote Of The Day

image from Care2.com

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.  ~ John Adams

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Did Anybody Bother To Proof-Read This One?

image from Pinterest

In one of the Federal government’s less fortunate acronym choices, EMS personnel working in support of law enforcement are now getting tactical medical training through a program called Counter Narcotics and Terrorism Operational Medical Support.

Cat-Tested and Approved

Someone really, really likes my new blue Irish stole. In fact he has been caught stealthily tugging it down from the back of the sofa (or off my lap) and re-arranging it for optimal napping comfort.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Vintage Advertising - "Plaited 4 Ply Genuine Leather - Big Bullwhip"

I occasionally dip into the offerings at the Digital Comics Museum.  The ads on the back pages would make a child safety advocate blench; among other things I’ve seen offers of miniature but fully functional cannons, and a company that shipped live Chihauahas.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Notes On A Knitting Tour -- Food

Inisheer graveyard, overlooking the jetty. 

I have to say that I did not have a single bad meal while I was in Ireland.  Two or three that were unmemorable, but none that were bad.

We spent two days/nights on Inisheer, where everything has to be hauled over by ferry or plane from the mainland.  Breakfasts were a choice between healthy options like yogurt, fruit and porridge/cereal or the “full Irish” – eggs, potatoes, grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, three kinds of toast, bangers, Irish bacon which should not be confused with American-style bacon, and white or black “puddings” (aka blutwurst I tried it.  Once).  I found that eating a full Irish kept me from getting hungry again until about 4pm, which was unfortunate given the quality and quantity of the lunches.

These consisted of different potato-based puree’d vegetable soups and amazing sandwiches.  Maybe they were amazing because of the butter, which in Ireland is unbelievably good --  threats of violence were made against those who took all the egg salad.  There were always at least two kinds of cake for dessert, along with fruit scones, cream and jam.   Everything was freshly-made, un-fussy and absolutely delicious.

Dinners were eaten at a small guesthouse whose proprietress runs a cooking school.  The first night we were served a seafood casserole made with chunks of fish and prawns, cream and buttered bread crumbs.  Dishes of root vegetables were passed separately, family-style.  The second night’s main course featured local (Galway) sausages.

I can't believe I only took one photo of the food.

Our hostess/instructress’ husband is a burly retired Irish Army quartermaster sergeant.  He is also the lunch cook.  The kitchen/ prep area is open to the dining area and he would lean against the counter with his massive arms folded, watching us swoon over the food.

1st knitting tourist lady:  Omygawd these sandwiches are unbelievable.  Try the chicken.

2nd knitting tourist lady:  Have you had the scones yet?

3rd knitting tourist lady:  Quit hogging the cream.

4th knitting tourist lady:  I would kill for another slice of that cake.

Cook:  (finally) What about the soup, then?

This culinary largesse may have contributed to some nervousness on our parts the third morning, when we had to fly off the island (in two batches, on a plane about the size of my front porch).  The airport lady made all of us weigh in along with our luggage.

Knitting tourist lady from California: (aghast) She's weighing us?

Me:  Yes, but look -- she's just writing it down, she's not announcing it.

Knitting tourist lady from California:  Good, because I'm wearing heavy shoes.

(Edited to add some photos. Click on any one to enlarge).

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Friday, November 13, 2015

Quote Of The Day

For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad. ~ G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A moi le Vicks Vaporub!

image from Pinterest

I got caught in a downpour at Blarney Castle on Sunday (soaked doesn’t begin to describe it) and the cold that I brought back with me settled in late yesterday with a vengeance.  I can’t breathe and have been mostly guzzling Dayquil and sleeping, so any posting on my trip is going to be a little delayed.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ye Queen's Cabinett Unlock'd

luggage, return trip

This post probably falls into the TMI category, but you asked for it. 

The following went to Ireland packed in the (checked) suitcase. 

·         1 pair black knit waleless corduroy pants
·         1 short sleeved white t-shirt        
·         3 long-sleeved t-shirts (white, grey, black)
·         1 mulberry poly-crepe long-sleeved dressy tunic
·         1 red cotton/acrylic blend v-neck pullover
·         1 tan cashmere/silk crewneck pullover
·         1 grey light-weight cotton/poly knit cardigan
·         1 red/blue faux Pashmina paisley stole
·         1 tan/red silk rectangle
·         1 pair black walking shoes
·         Pajamas (black leggings, red Illinois State t-shirt)
·         2 pair black socks, 1 pair white sweat socks, 4 changes of underwear
·         Toiletries in a small plastic travel kit, meds, Chapstick, Visine
·         Trifles that I didn’t want to have to explain to the TSA (mag light, small pair of sewing scissors, extra knitting and cable needles, needle gauge)
·         Adaptor for chargers/cords
·         Small jewelry box with two pairs of earrings and a gold chain
·         Spare glasses (and a good thing too, because I stepped on my primary pair the third day out)
·         Empty carryon bag (for souvenirs/yarn/books)

I carried these items in my purse.

·         Wallet
·         Cell phone (Samsung Galaxy, bought just before the trip)
·         Tablet
·         MP3 player and headphones
·         Chargers for phone and tablet
·         Small notebook, pens
·         Knitting bag with tatting and mindless garter stitch project for the flight
·         1st aid kit that included among other things my Red Cross ID, CPR mouth barrier and surgical gloves, along with a multi-purpose metal Leatherman-type tool that the TSA fortunately overlooked.  Kit actually used during the trip when a fellow participant stabbed himself in the hand during the felting workshop.  Serendipitously, I also found it to be just the right size to put under the small of my back during long bus rides.
·         Passport, itinerary, e-tickets, etc.
·         Hairbrush, travel-sized Vaseline Intensive Care lotion, Kleenex.

I wore this outfit on the plane trip over.

·         Black jeans
·         Grey-blue long-sleeved t-shirt
·         Running shoes
·         Socks, underwear
·         Grey/sage green/mulberry shawl
·         Sage green rain jacket with zip-in lining, leather gloves in pockets
·         Silver earrings

Everything in the suitcase was either knit or very lightweight (or both) and wrinkle-resistant.  The pajama pants, the red pullover and the black pants were layered into the suitcase.  The rest was folded into rectangles and then rolled up as tightly as possible and stacked in rows alongside the shoes that were holding down the pants/pullover. 

I did “washings” as necessary in hotel bathrooms of several items including socks/underwear, the short sleeved white t-shirt and the cashmere sweater, and sent the long-sleeved knit tops and the black jeans to the hotel same-day laundry service halfway through the trip at a cost of 9 euros.  A hair dryer does a good job on stubbornly damp sweat socks, by the way.  Fit the sock over the blower end and hit “high.”

There were no formal events on the itinerary but the mulberry tunic and the black knit pants, accessorized with gold earrings and the chain, would have passed muster just about anywhere.  I wore them to the welcome dinner the first night.

The grey shawl was large enough to be folded into a triangle/halter top and worn under the grey cardigan in a pinch.

Everyone else on the trip had a monster wheeled suitcase and most of them had two, in addition to a variety of carryon bags.  I had three different drivers ask me if I was sure that was all the luggage I had.

Coming home I was able to mash into the carryon and the suitcase a purchased sweater, ten skeins of yarn, three knitting books, half a dozen knitting patterns, a variety of postcards/refrigerator magnets/souvenir beer coasters, a silver shawl pin and earrings, several different types of rocks that I picked up for the spousal unit’s geography class (this is mandatory whenever I travel, particularly overseas), a mousepad of puffins from the Cliffs of Moher, and an Irish bird book, as well as all my workshop projects (two headbands, one honeycomb cable sample, two felting samples, and a knitted wire pendant).  I packed the grey shawl in the suitcase and on the trip home wore a gorgeous oversized blue stole I bought at the Kerry Woollen Mills.

What I could have left behind.

·         The mulberry tunic. 
·         The red pullover, worn only once.  It used up more space than it was worth and another cashmere sweater in a bright color would have been a better choice.  I’m not just being a cashmere snob – it folds compactly and can be rinsed out in the bathroom basin, rolled in a towel to get out the excess water, and then dried suspended over the hotel towel-warmer during the night (thank you to the lovely people who run the Lake Hotel in Killarney).  The fiber content of the red pullover was not conducive to field-expedient laundry operations.
·         The tablet/charger.  It was a nice-to-have, especially for composing/answering emails, but not, strictly speaking, necessary.  I downloaded the Kindle and Adobe Acrobat reader apps to my new phone along with some music and games and it was much more convenient on the bus/airplane.
·         The earrings I wore on the flight over, one of which I lost in transit.  I will no longer wear earrings on airplanes if there is going to be sleep involved.

Things I forgot to pack and needed.

·         Sunglasses
·         Q-tips
·         A Tide pen.  Curse you, red wine and that craic on Inisheer.
·         A washcloth. I forgot that B&Bs and most hotels in Europe do not provide them.
·         A rain hat or travel umbrella.  I got soaked in a downpour at Blarney Castle on Sunday and am currently nursing a scratchy throat that is probably the result.

Things I wish I'd had room in the suitcase for.

·         Another pair of knit pants, in grey or khaki
·         Binoculars

Voila, c’est tout.

Happy Birthday, Marines

"The First Recruits," by Col Charles Waterhouse, USMCR

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passes a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. The resolution, drafted by future U.S. president John Adams and adopted in Philadelphia, created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.

Serving on land and at sea, the original U.S. Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations during the Revolutionary War. The first Marine landing on a hostile shore occurred when a force of Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas captured New Province Island in the Bahamas from the British in March 1776. Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines and is celebrated as the first Marine commandant. After American independence was achieved in 1783, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded.

In the next decade, however, increasing conflict at sea with Revolutionary France led the U.S. Congress to establish formally the U.S. Navy in May 1798. Two months later, on July 11, President John Adams signed the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. U.S. Marines saw action in the so-called Quasi-War with France and then fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa during the first years of the 19th century. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In all, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.

Today, there are more than 200,000 active-duty and reserve Marines, divided into three divisions stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Okinawa, Japan. Each division has one or more expeditionary units, ready to launch major operations anywhere in the world on two weeks’ notice. Marines expeditionary units are self-sufficient, with their own tanks, artillery, and air forces. The motto of the service is Semper Fidelis, meaning “Always Faithful” in Latin.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Your Tax Dollars At Work

I can still fit ten days’ worth of gear into a 14x22 inch bag.


A very foolish intruder  strolled across the living room floor about five minutes ago.  Domestic Security (R. Cat, prop.) has secured the area.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Calling All Canadians

If you live in the Yukon and know what a bakneesh vine looks like, can you contact me?  I’m trying to find out if it’s a real plant or something James Oliver Curwood made up.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vintage Images - Hallowe'en

Copyright-free, from Dover.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Those Who Can, Can

image from The Graphics Fairy

I put up a half bushel of apples, half sliced and frozen for pies and half as apple butter using the recipe in the Ball Canning Book (my preserving Bible, after Putting Foods By).  I’ve been snooping around in my older cookbooks and if we get any pears this year, I’m going to make this.


9 c. sliced ripe pears
1 cup diced pineapple
Grated rind and juice of 1 lime
5 c. sugar

Grind the pears through the fine blade of a food chopper and combine all the ingredients in a preserving kettle.  Bring to a boil and cook the jam over a slow fire for about 20 minutes, or until the fruit is clear and the liquid is thick.  Pour into hot jars and seal.

The Complete Book of Home Preserving, by Ann Seranne, 1955.  Recipe as written, but I'm pretty sure Ms. Seranne expects the cook to peel the pears first.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


UPDATE: I got curious and looked up string theory.  Now my brain hurts.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Quote Of The Day

Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.  ~ Charles Johnson

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Online Bookshelf - Birds, Illustrated Through Color Photography

Multiple volumes with beautiful color plates available on Project Gutenberg.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Knitting -- The Khaki Knitting Book

If this were 1914 we’d be reading about the first week of Ypres.  And, depending on our location, we might be knitting something in scratchy grey or navy or khaki wool.

(You can buy a copy from Amazon or download it for free from archive.org.)

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Friday, October 16, 2015

Quote Of The Day

I was fifteen before I saw any form of television, twenty by the time I was properly introduced to the nuclear American family happily in residence on network television – Mom and Dad, both white and presumably Protestant, content in their love for one another, his steadiness of heart and mind matched by her comforting spirit and competent managing of the household that was clean, well-lit, above all nice; two children, both adorable and neither of them known to the police; no crippling disease or black people anywhere in sight; nobody talking about money.

I’d never met such people, didn’t know the neighborhood, but apparently it is their exemplary innocence and charm that the saviors of the republic these days have in mind when they trace the cause of many of our sorrows back to the deterioration of the once-upon-a-time triple-A-rated American family values…the economy stumbles into recession, the schools decay, the currency is debased, the middle class implodes, the hope of the future is foreclosed, and why, pray tell, is that?  Not enough family values left in the minds of the free and the hearts of the brave.  ~ Lewis Lapham