Thursday, October 31, 2013

We Supped & Danced With the Faeries,

watched Ghost Busters, and went off to bed.

That's what we did this Hallowe'en.

I cleaned & polished this floor just yesterday.
He is a manly dog. Don't you think?
Love. Love will keep us together.
I'm from the Government. Show me your ghosts.
Levitating, I assume.
I get that the room is relatively large,
but you don't really need binoculars to watch television. Good Grief.
Dog Whisperer.
Who ya gonna call? Ghost Busters!
By the way, Bill Murray is dead. He got shot in Zombieland.

I was met with astonishment

when I asked if we'd become weary of the word-of-the-day & sentence-of-the day. Of course, they want to continue. They don't manage the game. They just have to come up with sentences.

Which is fine by me. I'm insensate.
Despite my repeated attempts to interest the lump of granite before me in my ruminations about the origins of worlds, it remained insensate.
--A. Leland.

Those who study history know it is insensate to believe the future will be otherwise.

The insensate plebeian shrugged at the latest outrage.
--Mr. Big Food

What an insensate bitch!
--Miss M
And tonight's winner is once again, Daughter C. She matched the word with the day.
The ghost walked through the wall, into the room; she was cold, insensate.
--Daughter C

It Being Hallowe'en And All...

Here is a delightful account of Halloweven, more commonly known as Hallowe'en in The Encyclopædia Britannica Ninth Edition, New Werner Edition Vol. XI (1907):
For some account of the singular observances by which this used to be, and to some extent still is distinguished in Scotland and elsewhere, reference may be made to such works as Brand's Popular Antiquities, Chambers's Book of Days, or better still to the well-known poem of Burns. Though sometimes neglected in modern practice, the most essential part of Hallowe'en ritual seems to consist in the lighting by each household of a bonfire at nightfall. This points to the very ancient and widely-diffused practice of kindling sacred fires at certain seasons of the year. ... 

Probably the winter as well as summer festival was from the beginning regarded as a season at which the fairies were both unusually active and  unusually propitious; but there is no evidence to show that the methods of divination at present usually resorted to, although of great antiquity, were originally regarded as limited in efficacy to any one day.
Robert Burns' poem, recommended in the entry, is appropriately titled, "Halloween." Written in 1785, Burns provides this introduction:
The following poem will, by many readers, be well enough understood; but for the sake of those who are unacquainted with the manners and traditions of the country where the scene is cast, notes are added to give some account of the principal charms and spells of that night, so big with prophecy to the peasantry in the west of Scotland. The passion of prying into futurity makes a striking part of the history of human nature in its rude state, in all ages and nations; and it may be some entertainment to a philosophic mind, if any such honour the author with a perusal, to see the remains of it among the more unenlightened in our own.-R.B.

So you're able to put a face to the name.
The first note, referencing the title, reads:
Footnote 1: Is thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are abroad on their baneful midnight errands; particularly those aerial people, the fairies, are said on that night to hold a grand anniversary.-R.B.
"Halloween" is a rather longish poem. You can read it all here. Here's how it begins (I've taken out the footnotes for ease of reading!):

Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
The simple pleasure of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the rout is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the Cove, to stray an' rove,
Amang the rocks and streams
To sport that night;

Amang the bonie winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin, clear;
Where Bruce ance rul'd the martial ranks,
An' shook his Carrick spear; 
Some merry, friendly, countra-folks
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks,
An' haud their Halloween
Fu' blythe that night.
[The Goldsmith Brown quotes is Oliver Goldsmith of "The Deserted Village" fame.]

So, Halloween used to be about fairies? Who knew? 

Oh. I see. Lots of folks used to know this back in the crappy olden days.


"This play may be up on simply, with only five or six fairies, who dance about gayly... ."
And now, to the matter of the missing book. I think it's safe to day, it being Hallowe'en and all, that the Fairies took my book.

This Is Starting to Tick Me Off

I cannot find our Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry.

Seriously. It's raining cats & dogs-- fitting for Halloween-- the kitchen is clean, I've gone & come to town, the dogs are fed, pot o'tea is made, and I'm already to sit down and do a little Halloween post but I can't until I find that stupid crappy old book. Yeah, yeah. I could look it up on the World Wide Web, but that's not going to find that stupid book, now is it?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's Warm This Evening

We've already had evenings that called for hoodies & blankies. But this evening is warm.

There's a breeze blowing in from the southeast-- warm, moist air.

I hear tell there's a cooler system to the west.

It might rain tomorrow.

But that's tomorrow. Today we had yet another great salad

with the first real pickings of Broccoli Raab,
and a delightful vegan cornbread

sausage casserole.
And... . While the girls were desperately trying to not watch the World Series while we enjoyed our meal, they discovered that Zombieland was on! 

What a great movie.

"The Friendship"

Earlier, I mentioned in passing that today is the anniversary of John Adams' birth. 

Apparently a scrappy little fellow.
By chance, I picked up one of my newer crappy old books and read a bit about the friendship between Adams and Jefferson. What a great story! Sure, everyone knows the story of  Jefferson's feelings of betrayal over Adams' appointment of John Marshall as chief Justice, made literally hours before Adams left office. And everyone knows that after a crucial time, Adams came to hate Jefferson (but, I'll add, not as much as he hated Hamilton). And everyone knows that after a time, they began to correspond again and continued to do so for 14 years. And everyone knows that they died within hours of one another on July 4, 1826-- the 50th 'anniversary' of the signing Declaration of Independence.

That's the skinny story-- the one I knew-- and it's a good one. But the real story is much more interesting. Abigale's involved. (What a fire-cracker!) And also a guy named Benjamin Rush-- whoever he was. 

I haven't finished the chapter yet. I'll let you know how it turns out. I mean, besides the dying part, which we all know.

Joseph J. Ellis. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001.

It Didn't Even Make the News

If you've been diddling around the World Wide Web this morning as I have, you may have seen reference to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast on the Columbia Broadcast System 75 years ago today. The radio broadcast was based on H.G. Well's (1898) novel of the same title and was largely a series of "news alerts" on the evening of October 30, 1938 describing the invasion of Earth by Martians. Legend has it that zillions of people wigged out over this and large parts of the nation were in a total panic!!!! 

The recent PBS documentary on the broadcast and ensuing hysteria apparently took the "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" perspective. And this has some folks' knickers in a knot:
Tonight’s snoozy PBS documentary about the 1938 radio dramatization of The War of the Worlds not only was tedious fare — it represented a missed opportunity to revisit the famous but much-misunderstood program in fresh and searching ways.

PBS could have confronted head-on the question of whether the radio show, which aired 75 years ago tomorrow night on CBS, really did provoke hysteria and mass panic in the United States. That’s the conventional wisdom, and it makes for a deliciously good yarn — that Americans back then were so skittish or doltish or unaccustomed to electronic media that they readily believed the story of the lethal Martian invasion of Earth, as described in The War of the Worlds broadcast.

The PBS documentary embraced the conventional wisdom.

But a growing body of scholarship — which the documentary utterly ignored — has impugned the conventional wisdom and has offered a compelling counter narrative: The War of the Worlds program sowed no widespread chaos and alarm.
Let me stipulate that I have far more important things to do today than to diligently research this most important question. For example, when I was taking out the trash this morning-- it's trash day-- near the wastebasket in the garage, I found a cardboard box containing 14 coffee mugs most of which say, "hand wash only." Wonder how those got there? 

That said, we happen to be in the enviable position of getting to the bottom of this quite quickly. We'll make two assumptions: if there was mass panic and hysteria it would be 1) news, and 2) history.

We turn first to Lowell Thomas' History As You Heard It (1957) and see that in the days following October 30, 1938 there's no mention of Martians or of mass panic related to a Martian invasion. There are some problems in Palestine. The House of Commons is overwhelmingly confident in PM Chamberlain. A German diplomat who'd been shot by a 17 year old Jew dies. And the American Government's attitude is "exceedingly clear-- outright indignation toward Nazi Germany for the persecution of the Jews."

But no mass panic. 

Checking the same time frame for 1939 we find things heating up a bit in Europe. The French are "going to the limit to wipe out the Communist Party." A bomb explodes outside a beer hall in Munich. "The Fuehrer himself escaped."

But no mention of the mass panic that occurred the year before.

The one and only mention of the War of the Worlds I can find in my crappy old books is in Bennet's American Patriot's Almanac (2008). It is a sidelight.

The main story is the birth of John Adams, October 30, 1735.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'll Let the Sentences Speak for Themselves

I suspect that every politician has had a least one hawser bought and paid for by a special interest and more than likely they were given a yacht to use the hawser on as well.
--A. Leland

Fortunately, during our ocean adventures in Wilmington, we never needed to use a hawser.
--Miss M

Sometimes I feel like I need a life hawser.
--Daughter C

A. Leland needed a hawser to extract the boxwood from the ground.

"Back off you hawser!" said the Brooklynite to his rival.
--Mr. Big Food

Recipe: Shrimp in Garlic and Butter and Baked Variation

This is the baked variation. These are fairly large shrimp. In our oven they took 9 minutes.
Really, really good!


Serves 8

2 lb raw unshelled large shrimp, rinsed, shelled (leaving tails intact), deveined (using a small sharp knife, slit each shrimp down back, lif out sand vein, remove and discard), washed under cold running water, drained, patted dry with paper towels
½ C (1 stick) butter
½ C salad oil or olive oil
¼ C parsley, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
Dash cayenne
¼ C lemon juice
Lemon slices (for garnish, optional)

Preheat broiler. Melt butter in a shallow broiler pan without rack, or a 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Add oil, 2 Tbsp parsley, garlic, salt, cayenne, and lemon juice, and mix well. Add shrimp, toss lightly in butter mixture to coat well, and arrange shrimp in single layer in pan. Broil shrimp 4 to 5 inches from heat source for 5 minutes. turn shrimp and boil 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until browned lightly. Using tongs, remove shrimp to heated serving platter. Pour garlic mixture over all or pour into a small pitcher to pass. Sprinkle shrimp with remainng 2 Tbsp parsley. Garnish platter with lemon slices, if desired. 


Preheat oven to 400o. Bake shrimp 8 to 10 minutes or until just tender.

Recipe: Red Velvet Cake I

I didn't take a photo of a slice but it is the most beautiful deep red you've ever seen!

Mr. Big Food: There are lots of Red Velvet Cake recipes. This is the most unique one I’ve come across.


2 ½ C flour
1 C buttermilk
1 ½ C sugar
1 tsp powdered cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 C oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp red cake coloring

Preheat oven to 350o. Cream sugar and oil. Add eggs and beat well. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together. Mix together cocoa and red cake coloring in a cup and stir in vinegar. Mix well and stir into creamed mixture. Stir in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk and vanilla. Pour into 3 greased and floured 8 inch cake pans. Bake 25-35 minutes or until completely done in center. Cool layers. Spread icing between layers and over cake.

Icing below.

Recipe: Garlic Rosemary Steaks with Potato Cakes and Peppers and Onions

Now that's a steak!
Mr. Big Food grilled steaks for A. Leland's birthday celebration last week. This is the marinade recipe he used (in bold, below). Everything in this complete meal recipe looks great so I've posted it all.

Involved, so get others involved


Serves 6 generously


½ C olive oil
½ C soy sauce
½ C balsamic or red wine vinegar
8 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
3 ½ lb boneless top sirloin steak (2 inches thick)
Black pepper

Combine all ingredients except steak in freezer bag. Add steak, seal bag, and turn to coat. Season generously with pepper. Marinate refrigerated overnight, turning occasionally. Next day, make Potato Onion Cakes and Peppers and Onions. Bring steak to room temperature and remove steak from marinade, reserving marinade. Prepare charcoal grill (using mesquite chunks, two soaked for 1 hour prior to putting on hot coals, for smoke). Transfer marinade to saucepan and bring to boil. Boil a few minutes, then let cool slightly. Reheat Peppers and Onions in skillet over low heat if necessary. Grill steaks to desired degree of doneness, about 10 minutes per side for rare. Let steak stand about 10 minutes after removing from grill. Slice steak thin across grain. Arrange slices on platter, surround with Potato Onion Cakes and Peppers and Onions. Serve, passing marinade separately.

Potato Onion Cakes and Pepper & Onions below the fold.

Recipe: Beans Irene

Quick, easy & good!
(I wonder where Mr. Big Food got this one from.) 

From Mrs. Michael E. Wilson, (Pat Perry), Wilson, Arkansas, 1971


Serves 4

2 16 oz cans whole green beans, drained, rinsed
3 Tbsp bacon grease or olive oil (for vegetarian/vegan version)
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp seasoned pepper

Melt bacon grease in medium-sized heavy frying pan with lid. Add drained beans to melted grease, sprinkle beans with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Cook covered over medium heat stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Serve directly out of pan without draining.

Recipe: Corn Chowder II (Veganizable)

Add a fresh green salad and warm rolls and you've got yourselves a nice supper on a fall day.
Easily veganized.

“Chowder day once a week will step up the family’s nutrition and be easy on the budget.”—The Encyclopedia of Cooking Complete in 24 Volumes, Volume 6: 250 Delicious Soup Recipes (1953)


Serves 6 to 8

¼ lb fat salt pork or bacon, cut into slices or small pieces, fried out, drained on absorbent paper, some fat left in saucepan or deep skillet, or vegan butter (for a vegan soup)

1 onion, sliced

3 C potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled 10 minutes, drained, 2 C cooking liquid reserved

2 C corn, cut from cob if fresh, thawed if frozen, drained if canned

4 C hot milk (can use almond milk for a vegan soup)

½ tsp salt

Dash pepper

Chopped parsley

Add onion to hot fat in a stock pot and cook until tender. Add potatoes, hot potato cooking water, corn, and hot milk, season with salt and pepper, and heat to boiling. Simmer a few minutes until potatoes and corn are tender. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gettin' Back in the Swing: Words

It's great to be home!

I know. We've been home more than 24 hours and I should get over it already. But you know, I don't travel much anymore. And to tell the truth, I hadn't been on an aeroplane in a coons age. So you will excuse me for still being excited about being home, where we can feast, and then read our sentences.
I would like to pay homage to Mom and [Mr. Big Food] on this auspicious occasion.
--Miss M

Every human life is a homage to Hume's philosophy of human nature.
--A. Leland

To paraphrase something I read, I, myself, pay homage to Guttenberg every day.

"Homage to Rudolf Carnap" is one of Quine's better essays.
--Mr. Big Food

Daughter C requested to be the last to read her sentence, as Miss M was eating pie.

We pay homage to this humble pie.
--Daughter C

Coincidence? Fate? Destiny? Divine Intervention?

Or none of the above?

Thomas Babington Macaulay
I only took one crappy old book with me on our Texas adventure, my little book of books, The Guide to Reading: The Pocket University Volume XXIII (Lyman Abbott, Asa Don Dickinson et al., eds., Nelson Doubleday, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1925). This is the little book that suggests daily 15-30 minute readings. Macaulay is featured in both the readings and the two lengthy introductions. Prior to October 26, 2013, I'd come across Macaulay's name while reading up on British history, so I knew him to be a historian, but I did not have any of his works.

And then... on October 26, 2013, I stumbled upon the crappy old volume pictured above in the antique store in Slaton, Texas!

Relaxing, back at our room, Mr. Big Food asked about the book I'd purchased. Then, seeing that I was reading my little book of books, he ask what the readings for the day were. I turned to "October 22nd to 28th" and something on the page caught my attention.


Thomas Babington Macaulay was born October 25, 1800!! Just yesterday!!

What are the odds of my finding a volume of Macaulay's The History of England the day after his birthday?

About 1 in 365, I think. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Welcome to Ransom Canyon, Texas!

A community of 1096 residents, and just as many ordinances.
I've never taken the time to ponder this question before, but how many ways are there to explore a place unknown to you? One can consult the expert guidebooks and websites before the trip and plan ahead. (Such was the case with the Ranching Heritage Museum which we learned about by watching Red Stegal's RFDTV show.) One can ask a local-- or better yet, ask a local to be your guide to the little known gems in his community or region. (An excellent approach when off the English-speaking beaten path.) Or one can buy a map and plot out one's own adventure. [Or, one can forgo maps and just wing it.]

I don't think there's any need to debate the virtues of one over the others, so long as your repertoire of place exploration includes them all. [Including winging it, on occasion. Nothing like being lost teaches the value of a good map.]

We picked up a map of Lubbock County. Mr. Big Food's attention was immediately drawn to the blue parts-- the water. So we went in search of water. 

The price-tag turned us off the first lake. $6.00 per individual to see a lake? Are you kidding me? So we turned around and headed toward another splotch of blue.

Across the street from the "Welcome" sign. Please note that I did not leave the paved highway to take this photograph.
I don't know the crops of this region of Texas, but these acres, planted in some blond grass, were unlike any we'd seen closer to Lubbock. Lovely.

Water in the canyon.
This was quite a sight! Lubbock and surrounds are shades of brown. See, for example, Shallowater

Ransom Canyon is blue... and green!
We were probably violating some ordinance here. But we took care to keep two wheels on the road while we got out of our tiny little rental car to enjoy the view.

And get a closer look,
thanks to the camera's zoom.
And that's when we turned and discovered this.

Note, once again, that we did not leave the paved road.
Not even when we turned around and saw this.
Having had a few good laughs, we proceeded to get back on the highway

descend into the canyon
and come up on the other side,
on our way to another map-inspired exploration of Lubbock County, Texas.

As it turns out, had I done some research beforehand, I'd have learned that near Lubbock was an exclusive community of big-name architect's houses inhabited by a handful of folks who make way more money than the Texas median, and where Vogue had done a recent shoot-- models standing on the roof of the brown house & all. The community sits on the rim of a canyon and drifts down its sides. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Highlight Reel

We made the most of our final day in Lubbock.

We saw this,
and 47 other structures from the frontier days.
We drove out to the east and saw

the sorriest looking cotton I have ever seen
on our way to
Ransom Canyon,
where, as at the Heritage Center, 

there are some interesting abodes.
From there we made our way to 

home of
where they brewed a pot of coffee for us to enjoy with
our cookies while we
looked around the museum of old baking equipment.
Just around the square from the bakery there was an antique store!

It was here that we were able to put a face to the place.

Mr. O. L. Slaton
(As an aside, just so I remember to mention this again, there was big money in getting a town named after you back in the crappy olden days of the RR.)

We then proceeded to depart Slaton,

via the scenic route,
and return to our sweet suite in Lubbock, Texas.

We went to the 'burbs for supper at a Texas Steakhouse Chain. (No. Not the one with sawdust floors. One that serves real steaks.) 

Tomorrow? Back to Mississippi! Texas is always fun-- no place like it! But it's time to be back on the Farm.