Sunday, January 28, 2018

Saturday So

Hi Dear Folk,

The better part of the winter has gone and I've just managed to change to a banner more suited to the season.

Saturday comes and you want to cram in all those things that have rattled around your mind all week, the sun shines and it hasn't been out for a while a walk in the park fits the bill, blow the cobwebs out.

I have been coveting these discarded stone masons cuttings, from the cemetery next door.  I keep thinking could I just pick one up and carry it to the car, or could I bring a little red wagon and tote it out, or just bring Mr. B. to do the job? Is it appropriate to do so, they've been sitting here for years.  Maybe I should go to the police station right at the entrance to the park and ask permission, do I really need permission?

I think a few would look great in my garden.

A Pennsylvania winter in the sun.

Black walnuts galore, it seems that you can boil them up and make ink, probably even a great dye.

There are a number of abandoned houses around the park.  Most were on site residences for the doctors who used to work at the mental hospital.  I expect doctors now live in much larger residences than this.

Ye'll tak' the high road and I'll take the low road
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye

About every seven weeks I get together with a special group of friends, we've all known each other before the Mr's were around.  We used to talk about finding the right Mr. then we talked about our families and now we talk about our aches and pains.

Marianne drives down from the Amish country to get her hair done, my friend Janice is a hair dresser and Joni and I may or may not get our hair done.  I did this week, I got about two inches cut off.

We share some goodies, sometimes some wine and set the world to rights.  Here we are forty years on and I think that is very special.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Camera Shopping and Lunch

Hi Dear Folk,

Where has the week gone? I don't know and here we are at Friday which is a sunny cold day here.  Reaching back a week to last Saturday The Boy and I went out to look at cameras for me.  Rob said "mum you really need a new camera"  mine is about ten years old, a nice one at the time, but technology moves on.  He had looked at two online that he thought I might like, but we wanted to actually see and hold the models.  Very glad we did, because one I thought was too small and the other too big, so I have settled on a mirror-less camera with lens.  There are so few actual camera stores left, we went to Cardinal's in the mall, everything is online now, but that does have it's tactile limitations.

Sony A6000 with a Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens 

Here's Rob looking up some camera specs on his phone.

I said I'd treat Rob to lunch, here we are together.  I had a lamb burger, in a brioche roll, Rob had a chicken salad sandwich.  He treated us to drinks, his was a cider and I had a pomegranate shandy from Chippewa Falls, Leinenkugel's very good.  I'm going to get some from a beer distributor.

Taking the moment with my boy is what it's about.

Have a great weekend,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Love Among The Ruins

Hi Dear Folk,

I ran across this film from 1975 Love Among The Ruins, with Sir Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn, it's almost like a stage play.  I think you will like it, a love story staring two wonderful actors.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  The setting is London 1911.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Carrie's War

Hi Dear Folk,

I do like the film Carrie's War and it is available to view on YouTube which is great.  I watched it on one of those snowy days that we had.

It's about Carrie and her brother who get evacuated from London during WWII to a small town in Wales.  I used to have this on VHS with this box cover.  I guess they all went when the VHS went.

I do remember many a tent camping holiday in Northern Wales where I think it rained most of the time and the best fare in the bakeries seemed to be Bara Brith which means mottled bread and is a sweet yeast bread with mixed fruit in.

My mum usually baked a nice fruit cake to take with us, with marzipan and icing, the whole works, but the previous year we had been to Yorkshire and there was a plentiful array of baked goods in the bakeries that we hardly touched the fruit cake.  Next year mum said I won't bake one and in Wales there didn't seem to be as much in the bakeries, of course I'm talking about back in the sixties and we kept saying wish mum had baked the fruit cake.

Yes I can still see us clambering down the steps at Swallow Falls in the pouring rain.

Back to Carrie's War or rather the hat she wore in the film, isn't that a lovely hat?


Friday, January 12, 2018

In The End

Hi Dear Folk,

Friday and it's 62F, everything is melting, but there's still some ice on the river as I go by on the train and it makes for a whole other world, it looks quite other worldly.  I wish I could stop and take photos.

After all that Mr. B. did have to call the plumber in for the kitchen sink.  I thought let me take a look under the sink and see if all is well and all was not well, because all the paper I had put down was a wet mess.  It seems that two of the three shut off valves were dripping just a tiny bit.  All that turning on and off while the boys were working on the kitchen faucets was too much for them.  He called a plumber and since there are three valves under the sink, the hot, the cold and the garbage disposal I said we might as well get them done at the same time.

So guess what I have to do again for the third time, line under the sink and put everything back in it's place.  Isn't that just the way life is?

Do you really want to hear this probably not, in fact I'm boring myself on this.  This morning the train had passed Temple University Station when there was a train in front on the same line that had broken down.  We had to reverse all the way back to the station, where they said we would change tracks.  However they brought another train in and we had to all get out and get on the other train.  I was half and hour late for work.  Oh the joys.

Just nice to be home and Tuppy thinks so too, she's likes to help with a little paperwork on the computer.

Our sprightly old lady will be eighteen this year.


Yes I Remember This Winter 1962 - 1963 UK The Big Freeze

Hi Dear Folk,

I was watching Call The Midwife the XMAS 1962 episode,  depicting the terrible snowstorms that hit the UK I remember that winter.  The lack of daily milk delivery, and if you did receive it the top was all popped off because it froze, the country just shut down. We had a solid fuel Rayburn in the kitchen and we just huddled up. As a child it was great fun, I do remember wrapping up including welly boots and layers of socks and going out to play and having snow ball fights and sledding.

Not so good for my dad he worked for the Eastern Gas Board and he was out on call day and night. Somehow he kept a heater under his lorry just to get it started for call out.  He would have been 35 years old then. My dear dad.

It was terrible though, people died and many animals had to be fed from the air.  Shortages of food, especially fresh food in the shops.  Burst pipes, no water, no gas, no electric.  Cars and trains stuck in snow drifts.  For a child most importantly no school.

You might enjoy this to go along with Call The Midwife.  A must watch to see how very bad it was.  Cliff Michelmore was the news reporter of my childhood.

John Le Carre The Biography by Adam Sisman

Hi Dear Folk,

John Le Carre The Biography by Adam Sisman.

This book is 600 pages long.  I'm sure most people are familiar with John Le Carre the writer.  His real name is David Cornwell.  Probably his most well known books are The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, The Perfect Spy and the Constant Gardener.

Back in 1963 he became known worldwide with the publication of The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.  This was made into a movie staring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom.  Most of his earlier novels were based on spies MI5 and MI6 and the Cold War of Iron Curtain years.  His more recent novels have touched on a number of issues such as Pharmaceutical Companies in the Constant Gardener, set in Kenya and The Tailor of Panama, a country that only came into existence because of the USA and the Panama Canal.

Cornwell had a sad "hug-less" childhood, in the care of a "totally" hopeless father who was a charming womanizer and a charismatic con man.  They would rise and fall from living in mansions and driving round in a Rolls Royce to his father being in prison.  A common expression of his father was "I'll see you right son."  Much of his childhood and father was put into The Perfect Spy.

To say the least it was a very unconventional childhood.  He went to some of the better public schools, but his father always owed money for his tuition and usually the school would land up paying some of his fees.  He excelled in languages and totally immersed himself in German literature, language and the culture.  An excellent advantage for a cold war spy.  He was recruited by MI5 and MI6 during a year that he spent studying in Switzerland as a teenager and later at Oxford where he spied on a number of his fellow students who were thought to have communist leanings.  An appointment to a government job they had applied to might never come through and they would never know why.

MI5 was not a very impressive organisation.  'For a while you wondered whether the fools were really pretending to be fools, as some kind of deception,' David wrote later; 'but alas, the reality was the mediocrity. Ex-colonial policemen mingling with failed academics, failed lawyers, failed missionaries and failed debutantes gave our canteen the amorphous quality of an Old School outing on the Orient Express.  Everyone seemed to smell of failure.  Many of the older men seemed to be living on credit they had accumulated from their wartime records,  David noted wryly that 'anyone who was old enough to have fought Hitler was deemed a hero.'  Stella Rimington, who would eventually rise to become MI5 first female Director-General, has related how, even at the end of the 1960's 'the ethos had not changed very much from the days when a small group of military officers, all male of course and all close colleagues working in great secrecy pitted their wits against the enemy.'

It was very much an old boys society, many having known each other from their public school days. The country club view not open to Jews and Blacks. Interesting that Stella Rimington was the first to raise doubts about Kim Philby.

Looking back at his career with MI5 more than thirty years afterwards David would write that 'it was witch-hunt time,'

After a while David transferred to F4, the section responsible for agent-running.  The 'agent' is confusing, because it has different meanings in British and American parlance.  In America, an 'agent' is used to mean an intelligence officer, as in 'FBI agent'; but in Britain, it means an individual who is paid or persuaded by an intelligence officer to provide information about the Communist Party, or any other organisation deemed to be subversive.

David hit back at 'the whole oppressive weight of political correctness, a form of modern McCarthyism in reverse',  He insisted on his right, as a non-Jew but as a convinced supporter of the nation state of Israel, to condemn Israeli actions without being branded an anti-Semite.  

I like the terminology "modern McCarthyism in reverse."

In 2005 David had suggested that Britain might be sliding towards fascism.  'Mussolini's definition of fascism was that when you can't distinguish corporate powers from governmental power, you are on the way to a fascist state.  If you throw in God power and media power, that's where we are now,' he told an interviewer from the Guardian.  When asked if he was saying that Britain had become a fascist state, he replied, 'Does is strike you as democratic?'

He has been with many publishing houses over the years, but decided in later life to publish his old classics with Penguin Classics, to keep them out there.  All his manuscripts and work have been donated to the Bodleian in Oxford.

His books are always current based on things happening in the world, he is a prolific writer and has had many #1 best sellers.  He takes time to travel to political hot spots, seeking out people in the know all this is fodder for his books.

Penguin marked the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of The Spy who Came in from the Cold in August 2013, with a special edition, featuring a retro cover design, archival images and a new afterword from David.

Yes, we must both keep writing, keep creating, it's the only weapon against death.  When I'm writing properly I still feel 23.  When I'm not, I can hardly sleep for despair;  such an awful life in so many ways, and looks so terribly impressive from the outside.  But the inside has been such a ferment of buried anger and lovelessness from childhood that is was sometimes almost uncontainable.

If a few words could sum up his life. maybe the above quote could.

Asked how it felt to be eighty, David replied that is seemed premature:

It was always in the contract, I just didn't know they would deliver so soon.  But it's okay, I feel ready to die.  I've had an incredibly good life, an exciting one.  I've got 13 grandchildren and fantastic wives for my sons.  I was the bridge they had to cross to get from my father to life ... I find it very difficult to read my own stuff, but I look at it with satisfaction.  So if it were over very soon, I would not feel anything except gratitude.  To have had my life and be ungrateful for it would be a sin.

A most interesting biography and well written, with access to David Cornwell's, friends, colleagues, unpublished photos from the family archives as well as lovers and enemies.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

I Tried To Keep Positive

Hi Dear Folk,

I think yesterday was my worst commuting day to Philly in the year I have been traveling to work by train.  I already told you of my commute in, so commute home, running on a Saturday schedule my train leaves at 5:31PM I get down there on time, first thing I see is thirty minutes late and it just kept getting worse, until an hour had gone past.  Now all this time you are sitting in an underground platform totally open to the elements, there is no heated waiting room, it is 10F out.

It just reminded me of the scene in the sixties version of Dr Zhivago, where the Pasternak's are sitting on the Moscow train platform in the middle of winter waiting for a train to come to take them to the Urals, and they can't leave the platform because they don't know when the train will come and they will loose their spot, that's how I felt.  With my crochet shawl wrapped tightly around my shoulders and head.  Trying to keep warm was a major problem.

Train gets to University City and it cannot come any further another frozen switch, so from somewhere probably the yard, a totally empty train pulls into the station that says Trenton on it, opens the doors and across the speakers they say "don't get in," I don't know why we would have as all on the platform were waiting for the Manayunk/NST train, then they announce this is now the NST Train, we all get on the train, and proceed to sit there for another twenty minutes in the station with the doors open, because now there is not going to be a 6:31PM train and maybe not anymore for a long while, so they are trying to get everybody on the train.  On to Jefferson Station in Philly and we wait there another ten minutes with the doors open.  After that it was a regular ride home the usual hour.  I did not get home gone 8:00PM having been out of the house for over twelve hours and five of those were traveling and out in the cold.  Needless to say I was frozen and had a bad headache.

The transportation system in the USA is so archaic and fractured as is most of everything.  SEPTA runs some of it's own branch lines, but other lines they run on belong to AMTRAK so rent those.  In some places SEPTA lines run on the outside and AMTRAK runs two lines in the center, so very often SEPTA has to wait for AMTRAK as they own the lines and also have to cross over AMTRAK and therefore switches, but train switches are normal.  It boggles my mind that they get frozen, what do they do in Norway and Sweden?  Nobody wants to spend any money in infrastructure, that's the problem.

Wa! Wa! Wa!  I know just had to get that off my chest.

Beautiful sunny day today, and the whole day ahead.  Hope your weekend is good.

Talking about fractured and fragmented, I was listening to a program about apprenticeships in Germany, where a young person can learn a trade.  They are apprenticed for a period of three years and at the end they come out a master worker in their trade.  A company sponsors this at about a cost of $10,000 and they earn a lower wage while being taught, by the second year they are doing about sixty percent of the work they would be doing when totally qualified.  It seems Trump wants to implement that here, but as was bought out our school system is so fractured, for one thing from state to state.  But it gets worse than that because the money to pay for schools is collected from your local borough taxes, not even county taxes.  You can see how there can be a wide difference in quality of schooling according to wealth of area.  Progression is Borough, County, State, Federal.

We do have trade schools but not closely associated enough with companies, also thought is not clever enough to go to college, so stigmatized, which is ridiculous and therefore a deficit of skilled people in the trades.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Life Happens

Hi Dear Folk,

What a day, just getting into work was a trek.  Arrive at the station and find out from a SEPTA person that all trains are running on a Saturday schedule, that means no 8:15AM train, the next one is 8:45AM, no point in going home just sat in the car with the engine running.  Walk back up to the platform, now find out after sitting there a while, and you must remember we are in a cold freeze, temperature is 10F, train will be thirty minutes late.  Yesterday it snowed and the trains ran on time, if not slow on the tracks.  Today it seems they have a frozen switch problem.  My boss even said they have lit literal fires by them to unfreeze them, really?  Don't they have a switch warmer or something?  What do they do in Canada?  Our train coming up from Delaware could not make it because of this problem so they had to take a train out of the yard, that has to be in Philly and send it up the line for us, my stop is at the end of the line.  After all this I arrive at work at about 10:45AM to come in late on our company President's New Year address.  Thank goodness late trains are a viable excuse.

Below was going to be a post on it's own, I know I've referred to this quote before.  Try and live in the moment and not wish you were somewhere else, make the best of it.  Did get to read more of my John LeCarre biography.

A statement which I think is so simple and yet so profound -

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon had this quote in one of his songs Beautiful Boy, but I'm sure it was around before that.  We have all sorts of plans and goals for the future, while life is in the present.

I want to make definite plans for the future but they keep getting thwarted.  Mostly by the follow up on my eyelid surgery.  I have to go back again in March and may need some tweaks at that time, not sure how much more is involved, so will need to keep my health insurance going and that means I've got to stick with my job until all this business is sorted out.  By the time all this is finished it will probably be a year from the time I made my first appointment, I had no idea it would take this long and would have started earlier.

Be happy in the moment and make tentative plans for the future.  A trip to UK to visit family is on my agenda for this year, even if it is later in the year, rather than earlier.

Keep warm up North.


P.S.  Just talking to one of the vendors that I deal with in Maine and he said the high tide with this full moon came right up over the piers in Portland and flooded out many places on the waterfront.   Flooded out and as cold as this must be terrible.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Zahav, Cooking Israeli

Hi Dear Folk,

From my Zahav cookbook, what we made last week.  Tierney and I had a cooking afternoon together, it was fun.

This is the rugelach we made, such a rich pastry, sour cream, unsalted butter and cream cheese.  We did not cook all at the same time and halved the ingredients and put them in the fridge, they refrigerate well. Could be made ahead of time and then put together and cooked.

Our meat pie came out looking the same and it's a tasty pie.  Cuts beautifully into pieces.

This Tabbouleh salad with parsley and peas is most refreshing.


Monday, January 1, 2018


Hi Dear Folk,

Just wanted to say thank you for those who follow my blog, share their thoughts, their hearts and their passions.  I am touched by all.

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

My Little Woodland Tales Agenda Notebook

Hi Dear Folk,

My little Woodland Tales book for the coming year.  I'm still trying to decide if I want to keep a journal as well, as this is a small agenda book, not much room for keeping extended thoughts, not so sure how many I have these days, but sometimes I surprise myself.

The woodland pictures are lovely, especially Mr. Fox.


New year's Day A Going Away Dinner

Hi Dear Folk,

Tierney is catching her flight back to Boston and I thought I'd have a nice going away dinner, typical roast chicken and stuffing with roast potatoes and roast sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, Yorkshire pudding, flat but tasty and gravy.

I forgot to take a photo at the table with all of us.  Isn't that always the way you get into serving and eating the food and forget.

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