Skip to content

Archive for

The question is not what you look at, but what you see – Part Three: K thru O

A rapid but never vapid retrospective of what on earth this is about:  I leave the United States in two days time and I am giving a little alphabetic eulogy to my time here – time I’ve loved with a piquant sprinkling of things I have loved a smidge less and a dollop of the things that have given me joy.

Today, a  pugilists dream … K-O which is, surely, a knockout but just in case it isn’t, I’ll simply present you with my Kilo to Oscar of what has floated my kayak-O during my New England sojourn.

K.  K is for Kennedy a name of particular significance to me because it is the name I was born to.  In fact as a child, I used to claim that the road in our village called ‘Kennedy Drive’ was named for my father.  My school-friends fell for it for years.  They fell for the fact that I claimed my Uncle in New Guinea had gone native and stuck a bone through his nose too.  I was always a little fanciful.  I need hardly tell you that the Kennedy’s of Massachusetts are, and were, a compelling family.  Whatever your politics, that much is undeniable.  The very first time I entered the USA at Boston Logan Airport the immigration official carefully examined my passport (it was before I married) and said ‘your name is royalty here’.  That covers it.  Quite naturally, therefore, we set off to lay eyes on  splendid Compound at Hyannis Port a few weeks ago and equally splendidly failed having left the address on the kitchen table.  But I can report that the curious curled arm that is Cape Cod is absolutely alluring out of season (I’m sure it’s lovely in season too but I’m a bit antisocial when it comes to sharing beaches) and it must be wonderful to pass summers safely cocooned on your estate on Nantucket Sound breathing the clearest air seasoned with a good pinch of seasalt, the lullaby of the ocean and the winds, gentle to brisk, relaxing you from what must surely be such a taxing life.   I shall go one-day and present myself as a significantly overlooked ‘Ugly Head’ relly.  That’s what Kennedy means, by the way – Ugly Head.  Which was a source of extreme embarrassment when it was discovered at school and probably served me right for my earlier misleadings vis-a-vis the road and the Uncle’s nose.

And K is for Kiss.  I, most recently come from the land of bisous.  To faire les bises in France is the customary greeting.  It involves touching cheeks (from 1-4 times depending on where you are geographically not your social standing) and making an air kiss, but crucially not planting lip on cheek.  Unless you know the person well, when you can actually kiss the cheeks if you are both of the same mind.  Children will present one cheek to be kissed.  Here, people recoil in horror if I look as though I am going to kiss them.  They seem to favour a  sort of bear hug but not a hug as I know it.  This is the hug of a flapping bear who is cringing at the dread idea of any physical contact, even through layers and layers of goose-padding, mittens and salopettes.  Handshakes work just fine but I find it uncomfortably formal with people I know reasonably well.  I fear I have left a trail of the scarred.  New Englanders who thought I wanted to Kiss them.  I didn’t – I simply wanted the most featherlike glance of cheeks but that, I think, is enough to make them shudder.  And K must be for Kindness because it would be quite wrong of me not to mention the kind nature of most people here.  And this is New England were the reputation is for brusqueness and a lack of warmth.  As a rule the people are certainly direct but once you get accustomed to the bluntness it is not rude at all.   ‘The kindess of strangers’ as breathily extolled by Tennessee Williams’ tragic Blanche Dubois is bounteous here, just not at all frilly or frou-froued up.

L.  L is for Liberal, Liberatarian and (flinty) Lobstermen … To explain – I was listening to a radio show called ‘Wait, wait – don’t tell me’ which I am a slave to and it was broadcasting from Rhode Island (more later) and the presenter ran through the traits of the various states that make up New England …. Vermont, he declared is full of Liberals (Bernie Sanders is their Senator as a clue), New Hampshire full of Liberatarians, Maine has a population of flinty lobstermen and Massachusetts is full of smug jerks.  I couldn’t possibly comment.  Really I could not except of course to graciously disagree whilst noting that a term often used for Massachusetts by outsiders is, I’m rather afraid to share ‘the masshole’, so skipping smoothly on I will tell you that L is assuredly for Lobster.  The often rugged coastline of New England is a haven for seafood and lobster is the unabashed monarch of revered crustacea.  Even MacDonalds trots out Lobster Rolls in season (and has the decency NOT to call it a ‘MacLob’) and there are little stands dotted liberally on the roadside where you can chomp a freshmade bun bulging with lobster meat.  Or you can eat in any one of a multitude of restaurants  maybe gently lulled, maybe mildly grated  by a percussive symphony of crunching claw-crackers.  Lobster is part of every gathering at home or away.  In Maine they doubtless feel theirs is superior and I shall just smile beatifically and remember that this is my KO and I don’t want a right-hook to blot my lobster pot this late in my stay.    L would not be L without three references to Lights.  Holiday season has descended and the lights are beginning to blaze.  And this is a blue-chip five star blaze.  Most get it just right … sparkling but not too showy – subtle with a just the right amount of glitz to remind us all that this IS the season to be jolly.  But the few just don’t know when enough is too much and I cannot begin to imagine what the electricity bill is like in January for the homes with not just a light on every corner of the inside and outside of the house and every bush and tree and inch of picket fence but also the seemingly compulsory blow up santa, snowman, reindeer, snoopy, spongebob, minion AND christmas tree.  Some are actually bigger than the house and I genuinely kid you not.  The other L for Light which it would be wrong of me not to mention is the traffic light.  Now call me old fashioned and a little naive but I really do think that there is a value in putting the things on a pole (particularly in the French way which is to have minature set at eye level as well as the big bazookas atop the sturdy stick (or indeed high above the road on a stonking beam).   Here, they are strung like cumbersome fairy lights on strings across the street.  And when the wind blows they dance scarily above you and in any event if you are first in line it is impossible to see what colour is beckoning you without sitting with ones head cocked sideways like a curious parakeet.  And when they change it is straight from red to green with no amber to help you compose for the off, so the next thing, if you have foolishly decided to rest your aching skewed neck for a moment is a rude blast of the horn from the vast truck behind you almost certainly driven by a person who would come up to my navel but who,  on account of the sheer beef of the vehicle,  truly scare me. This maybe designed to get me moving but is tragically likely to produce a magnificent kangaroo-leap of a stall.  And it doesn’t end there.  I’m used to turning right on red now but for the first couple of months my nerves were so frayed that my hair started to shed …. red means STOP where I come from but here, unless expressly forbidden by a sign you are free to turn if the road is clear.  And let me be very clear.  It works REALLY well once you get over the fear factor but the road to being comfortable with it is extremely anxious.  And the third L for Light are the lighthouses that dot the coast of New England.  And mesmerically lovely they are.

M.  M is not merely for moving swiftly on, M must be for Massachusetts (or Massive Chewsets as I amusingly call it when on my own in a darkened room).  This is where the Pilgrim Fathers landed in the Mayflower in 1620, this is where Paul Revere rode through the night to warn that the English were on their way to quash the rebellion, this is where the Boston Tea Party took place and this is where the M for Minute Men mustered and lay in wait, a lethal militia fired up and ready to take unfettered ownership of the land they had colonised for their very own and let no faraway King tax them.   And M is for Maine where we spent a blissful few days in May and where I experienced not a single Flinty Lobsterman but rather a population of hardworking, decent and laid back people who live in a corner of Heaven in my opinion.  If you are British think Cornwall, if you are French think Brittany …. it has the strongest echoes of both on it’s coastline and we didn’t even begin to explore inland.  And it has Acadia (which sounds very Greek and necessitates images of Pan posing with his pipes on little cloven feet with those rather muscle-bound furry legs of his) which is a small but perfectly formed National Park where you can climb a mountain and look over the sea all in one piece and the granite is pink and I could lose myself in it forever.  In early Autumn I was confused by signs popping up everywhere for large or small M for Mums … being a mum myself and probably on the larger taller side of mumkind I was disappointed that my retail value was a paltry $5.  Eventually the predicatably slow penny dropped in my pint-sized brain and I understood that they are crysanthemums and they adorn porches and entranceways and verandas alongside plethoras of plump pumkins and their entrancing tiny baby cousins and really do herald the change of seasons.  In France crystanthemums are put on graves for tousaint and I wonder how such different meanings became attached to the flowers beloved of batallions of Grannies in England and only recently revived as retrotastic there.

N.  N is for New York.  When our youngest daughter was staying in the last gulp of summer we breezed down and back for a weekend.  Taking the Greyhound from Boston (and yes I do know it should be Pittsburg) gave me the opportunity to tire my travelling companions with endless dronings of ‘America’, the Simon and Garfunkel classic.  Given that we set out at 4 a.m one day and got home just 45 hours later, it’s unsurprising that I was a split hairsbreadth from the upper cut to KO me on Broadway.   We did what we set out to do.  We mingled in Times Square, we marvelled at the Empire State (though my Sleepless in Seattle moment will have to wait for another day), we ate monumental and complicated sandwiches in a steaming, noisy deli and I revelled in yelling ‘hold the mustard, extra pickles on the side’ just because I could , we stayed in a tiny appartment in Hells Kitchen, we took the Subway to Harlem, we strolled in Central Park and we took the ferry to Ellis Island stopping to nod to Liberty herself and note that unlike most extremely large statues I did not get my usual creeping feeling of anxst driven unease but rather I found her gentle, unyielding gaze to be comforting.  Ellis Island is levelling, moving, disturbing and hugely evocative.  And I cannot close our speed-dating moment in the Big Apple without mentioning the 9/11 Memorial.  I do not have the words in my frail armoury.  It steals your breath in that  silent lightening way that only the most iconic places can.  I have my memories, I am sure you do too of where you were the day the horror show  played out and our lives changed forever.  This is a beautifully worked, utterly fitting remembering of those whose lives permanently transformed in the worst way possible either by their own deaths or through their own loss or by being there.  And do you know what it really speaks of?  It  speaks of hope.  Which resoundingly smacks the trivia of life into perspective.

O.  O is for Ocean State.   The Ocean State is Rhode Island, smallest state in the Union and not actually an Island.  Go do your own research … I’ve taken far too much of your time already.  We visited very briefly a few weeks ago so that I could say I’ve had a foot in every State in New England and I can report that the diner we visited was top notch.  We popped into Providence (the State Capital) and took the compulsory foolish-grinning picture of self in RI.  I mostly know it, though for the joys of Ocean State Job Lot (Strapline ‘A lot more, for less) … these discount stores are a little like pound stores in Britain.  They have what they have and when it’s gone it’s gone  in general though some things, including many groceries remain.  I buy teabags in Ocean State.  Proper Tetley red boxed tea.  Strong tea.  Tea you can add a dash of milk to, in a sturdy mug and have your spoon stand to attention.  Tea to put hairs on your chest.  Tea that we proudly call ‘Builders Tea’ where I come from.  Not that insipid almost transparent scared of it’s own shadow fake tea that is generally called ‘black tea’ here and ‘thé noir’ in France and is very nice with a slice of lemon or indeed stark naked (the tea, not the drinker – though who am I to stop you except to caution against scalds) as are the ‘infusions’ beloved of the French and the various fruit and flavoured and green teas equalled revered here.  But first thing in the morning, when my life-skills only barely stretch to kettle-teabag-mug-pour-milk-drink it is the toothcurling tanin of a British Teabag that I need.

dscf9316

And on that note, I will finish today’s jog through the alphabet and go and brew a proper cuppa.

dscf8074

PS:  I couldn’t possibly leave you without a rendition of the song that nearly had me butchered in Hell’s Kitchen by Two Brains and the youngest bratling.  And by the way, the man in the gabardine suit was certainly a spy …

 

The top and bottom pictures were taken in the Minute Man National Historical Park very close to where we live.   In summer – the third season I passed here

The question is not what you look at, but what you see – Part Two: F thru J

To recap – I will be leaving this New World on Thursday 1st December, exactly a year after I arrived from Europe.  To celebrate my year here I am making a little tribute to what I will miss and what I won’t miss so much, by way of an alphabetic account surgically divided into five to be posted on my five last days.  If you want to catch up simply type ‘The Question is’ into the search box and you will be magically transported to my plentious tome. Procrastination, get behind me … here come my Foxtrot to Juliet tidily presented in their rightful order:

F.  F is for Freedom.  And before you think I am going into a diatribe about the land of the free or freedom of the individual or freedom of speech, rein in your horse because I’m not.  If you only know me a little by now you surely know that making such political statements is not my style.  Mostly. I’ve got as many dents in my halo as the next girl and satin knickers can make the best of us slide off our pedestal from time to time but in general and particularly when I am a guest (as I have been here), I keep my mouth and my typing fingers taped.  So F is for the Freedom Trail   The Freedom Trail runs through Boston for 2 ½ miles and leads you through the area where as Bostonians have it, history was made and the course of the world changed forever.  And I can’t argue.  In effect what you are seeing are the collection of places that formed the end  of English occupation and rule and successful struggle for Independent free rule for the people who had made this place their home.   That the people are proud of it is entirely justified, athough I do think the term Boston Massacre might be a teeny bit optimistic for a death toll of 5 at the hands of some British soldiers which in terms of modern gun crimes in this country is frankly feeble.  Ooops – sorry, I said I wouldn’t be provocative so on that note I will step decorously back into my gilded cage and recommend anyone who ever has the chance, to visit Boston which is undeniably a beautiful city and assuredly oozes and reeks the history on which this great nation was built.

G.  G is for GobblerIn my recent post on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I talked a fair bit about Turkeys.  What I didn’t mention is that for me, the live wild ones register high on the excitement richter scale when I spot them.  You’ll round a corner and come to a halt as a rafter of them saunter casually from one side of the road to the other, you can spot posses of them pecking idly in gardens and cemetaries and it is common to stumble upon a gang of them in a parking lot seemingly preparing to queue for a donut or pick up some groceries.  The collective nouns for Turkeys, by the way, are rafter, gang or posse which conjures marvellous images of the Wild West for me and a gang of turkeys-gone-bad in secret locations high in the rocky wilderness, plotting their next violent bank robbery whilst the good-guy turkeys collected together by the Pinkertons are gathering in a posse to bring these no-goods to justice.  I haven’t decided whether there are horses involved nor if it is safe to allow them a saloon … would alcohol just make it ugly?  Anyway, back on point – imagine my delight that on Thanksgiving morning, aided by my amazing Allard Brace which enables me to walk and run as elegantly as I did before my accident, which is not to say that I will ever be graceful but simply that it is my normal gait rather than the comedy-clumsy carriage caused by being left with ‘drop foot’, honestly imagine my delight as I lined up to run our local Turkey Trot which is riotously called ‘The Gobbler’.  I truly gave thanks at the end when I picked up my time and it was only seconds slower than I had been before my sorry tale of busted leg woe and that Gobbler has spurred me on to knowing that I can get back to full fitness which in turn means I am able to pursue a couple of personal goals that I had thought had been crushed.  Back to the feathered colossi …. my husband was almost taken out by a low-flying one not so long ago – in the retelling it seemed to resemble one of those huge, lumbering  Lancaster Bombers en route to the Rühr Valley to release Barnes Wallace’s recently perfected bouncing bombs to destroy the Möhner and Edersee Dams.  In this case, the bomber had failed to gain sufficient altitude and was heading straight for the windscreen of the car.  Given the sheer bulk of the birds in question I am confident that a lucky strike would have been extremely unlucky for them both.  I am also relieved that it didn’t release an egg in its moment of horror when eyeball to eyeball with Two Brains it thought it had gobbled it’s last …

dscf9192

H.  H is for Halloween.  In Britain and in France Halloween is creeping in and becoming a tradition but I can honestly say that Europeans have an awfully long way to go before they can say they are fully conversant with this bad boy.  For a start, I have never EVER seen so many pumpkins.  And practically every house is decorated with jackolanterns and black cats and witches and ghouls and sinister cobwebs and whilst trick or treating is, I am told, mildly on the decline, you still witness tiny, small and slightly larger children dressed as every conceivable and many inconceivable incarnations of their own or their parents imaginings,  with their predictably enormous bags to contain the booty that is on offer at all houses not inhabited by grouches (whose porch lights tend to be forthrightly turned OFF).  Many communities have special events and they are all about Fancy Dress.  If you are a runner, expect to run in costume if an event falls on or around Halloween.  And the next day …. the day that I thought I would nip in and pick up a cut price pumpkin to put out for the critters.  Gone.  Not a pumpkin to be had.  Whether this was because the locust hoards had grabbed every last one or whether it was because they are swept away to make way for Thanksgiving and pies of every conceivable type imaginable (and some that shouldn’t BE imagined) I know not.  But I do know that my smart plan to feed the squirrels backfired and I shall have to be niftier another time.

dscf8664

H is also for Harvard which in reality is the reason I am here.  Two Brains is a well-seasoned Harvard boffin and has been these past 27 years.  That is why he is here and that, by proxy is why I am here.  But Harvard as you quickly discover is NOT in Harvard.  Harvard is a lovely town just west of where we live and contains a place called Fruitlands Museum which provoked my recent borderline obsession with birds (more later).  Harvard University is in Cambridge which in a personal way is fortuitous.  I’m English born and from Oxford.  Cambridge are Oxford’s arch rivals.  When I was introduced to my husband I presumed, knowing he was a Professor, that when he said he was based in Cambridge he meant OUR Cambridge and although that is a teeny hike West to East in England it is inconsequential in the context of facilitating the possible blossoming of a romance.  Call me slow.  Call me dense, dopey or downright retarded but the fact is that it was quite some while later that I realised that he actually meant Cambridge Massachusetts …. fortunately by that time I was a sufficiently smitten kitten to fling caution aside, ignore the doubters who gave grave warnings about a long distance relationship and these few years later, I can graciously report that it was the best decision of my life.  Kismet dresses in many kimonos but tends to favour an open heart.

I.  I is for Ice-cream.  Mainly it is for Ice-Cream parlours like Erikssons just over our town line.   These shrines open up some time in April each year and close again at the end of summer presumably when the student workforce returns to school.  The array of flavours is staggering and the size of a single scoop is positively swoon-worthy.  I always have two.  On summer nights people gather in their cars and park up in the heat and pick up dessert on the fly.  For me it is the most delightful incarnation of what I imagine American Tradition to be.  I’m from the Happy Days, American Grafitti, Grease era and these places somehow seem to evoke that time in my past when I dreamed of  being in an imagined American dreamland dancing, cruising in an open top car with a bench front seat and being what seemed to be the epitome of free-as-a-bird young.  Envision my glee when my daughter was staying and we took her for one last ice-cream before she flew back to England and a whole platoon of vintage forties and fifties cars paraded into the lot.  The owners were delighted that we wanted to take pictures and affably invited us to sit in the cars ‘that’s the whole point of having it’ said one.  Sadly the pictures are on HB2’s phone and despite having a cavernous intellect he has never been fully in control of a  cell-phone and thus they are entombed and I can only offer my meagre descriptive powers to try and evoke them to life.

J.  J is for Jeopardy.  It’s fair to say that I am obsessed with this iconic quiz show.  Alex Trebeck hosts us 5 or 6 nights a week and I sit glued and giving my answers in the acknowledged style.  For the unititiated this means that if the answer is a person you must preface with ‘who is’ and if it is anything else you preface ‘what is’.  In Britain we had a programme called ‘Mastermind’ and my definition of a triumph was when I answered a question in a contestent’s specialist subject (in other words they were some sort of an expert) round correctly which they either couldn’t answer or got wrong.  My definition of a triumph here is when I can answer a question on Americana correctly that none of the contestants get right.  This tends to bring forth an unseemly whoop and sadistic grin and I transform into something eerily resembling Ghengist Khan after a successful pillage.  And this is probably why it is time for me to take a gracious pause from this country and leave you all in peace for while.  But not before I have noted that J is also for Jelly which I call Jam and Jello which I call Jelly.   And J is for Jiffy-Lube.   This is a national chain and I am sure they are absolutely wonderful but I can assure you that we would never EVER call a place by that name in England for the same reason as in France it is unwise to ask for Vaseline …. we tend to associate the word lube with something you slather on your nethers when the lights are dim, the music breathy and the atmosphere hot.  Which explains why this overgrown schoolgirl has a peurile snigger to self everytime I pass one ….

dscf6519

PS:  You surely were waiting with breath a-baited for the predictable PS and never one to disappoint, here it is.  Jeopardy first came to my attention unwittingly in the marvellous movie What is ‘The Bucket List’ with the incomparible Who is Jack Nicholson and Who is Morgan Freeman (whose character -Who is Carter Chambers – is as obsessed as I with What is Jeopardy) – here’s a snippet if you care to watch it.

The top and bottom pictures were taken in Spring the second season I experienced here.

The question is not what you look at, but what you see – Part One: A thru E

On Thursday, I will have been here for exactly a year and to mark this significant anniversary I will be leaving on a jetplane not knowing when I’ll be back again.  As it rightly should, that decision rests with the venerable United States Customs and Immigration Service.

It has been a captivating sojourn in many ways and so as I prepare to depart, I leave you with an alphabetic homage to the melting pot of things that I’ve loved muchly, not loved quite so muchly  and been altogether bemused by whilst living an everyday life in this USA.

Not wishing to tax you, I’ve divided the alphabet into 5 almost even chunks so today we have the Alpha to Echo of ‘Osyth Stateside’:

A.  Let’s start at the very beginning, which is, Miss Andrews tells us, a very good place to start!  A is for American and the first thing you learn here is that being American means  a micro-awareness of your heritage which one is given by way of introduction.  ‘Hi, I’m Delores O’Fanakapan …. my father was Irish-American and my mother was German-American but my Great Great Great Great Grandfather  was actually Swedish-American’.  The builder who is working on this house is Italian-American and always says ‘ciao’ at the end of every conversation but was entirely confused when I spoke to him in Italian.  He’s not Italian.  His ancestors were.  You can buy an Ancestry DNA kit for $99.  I’m altogether tempted ….  Which brings me to A is for Accent.  To be very clear,  I don’t have an accent … I speak what the British would regard as BBC English circa  a distant and all but forgotten epoque, but  here my accent is an object of fascination.  My husband has a Scouse (person from Liverpool) accent, particularly when folded into the bosom of his family,  and sounds entirely different to me.  I  would be ribbed as posh in Liverpool, but here we  collectively have a British accent.   It’s not unsual for people to simply not understand us.  Therefore I have developed a sort of verbal tick – I automatically repeat what I have just said but very very slowly and a little too loudly.  And I smile.  A lot.  As for the language of American English – that deserves a post all of it’s own and it shall get one.  Suffice for now that I speak American like a Spanish Cow in the same way as I speak French comme une vache espagnole

B.  B  is for  Beaver … they live here and are probably no more exciting than a badger is to a Brit but for me they are a source of amazement and delight.  From their tree felling to their lodge building to watching them silkily cutting through the water and stealthily, silently diving under for a quite breathcapturing length of time in the river at the end of the road I am captivated and I will miss them deeply and achingly.  I would include B is for Bear because we have had recent sitings in our town but I haven’t seen one yet so it feels a little like cheating.  Instead I will say that B is also for Biscuits which is VERY confusing for a well dragged up English gal.  A biscuit is what I call a scone and I would serve it with butter and jam and if I was feeling greedily decadent, clotted cream, but here it is served with gravy which isn’t even vaguely brown but palest creamy white and it has bacon or sausage broken up  in it.  What I call a biscuit you call a cookie.  Biscuit means twice cooked, cookie’s are definitely once cooked because they are delectably chewie and often absolutely gargantuan.  Biscuits in my venacular are dry and snappy.  Rather like me.  It’s fine though, no hard feelings – I’m very happy with your biscuits and I’m extremely satisfied with those cookies.  And I do know that you know about scones too … and may I say that B probably should belong to Baking because heavens to betsy you people can bake!

C.  C is for Critters … where I, as an English girl have wildlife in my garden you have critters in your yards.  And they are all SO cute!  C is especially for Chipmunks  with their tails at 90 degrees to their bodies like a flagpole and those squidgeable little stripey faces … honestly and surely, no-one could  say they are not adorable.  I had one in the kitchen on a hot day in summer. I don’t know who was more surprised.  Fortunately The Soporific Bean didn’t notice ….  The critters here include skunks (they walk SO slowly and awkwardly it is hardly surprising that they get rolled over on the roads a fact that is signalled by their singular stench from a great distance) there are turtles and frogs and bullfrogs that belch and groan in chorus all night long in summer, which I find surprisingly restful, and we have a groundhog that lives under our shed, there are raccoons (generally referred to as bandits) with their masked faces and little leather gloved hands and pink tailed oppossums and there are squirrels – big fat bruising greys that are sometimes black and look like they’ve been pumping iron and steroids and little red ones that nip about at a crazy pace and treat me to their finest squirrel pose when they find nuts or corn to nibble.  We also have ground squirrels which I believe to be the love-child of a red squirrel and a chipmunk – perhaps I should try Ancestry.com DNA on one ….

D.  D is for Diner.  I worship at these holy temples.   They vary of course but the good ones …. with wonderful staff who fill your cup with coffee tirelessly and cook breakfasts and lunches or that combined wonderment called Brunch … eggs, bacon, sausage, home-fries and a short stack with oozing butter and smothered in maple syrup must rate as one of the finest of fodders the world over.  And the opportunity to eavestrop on the best of intimate conversations ranging from politics to pumpkins and cosmetics to contractors is irrisitible.  Or I could drive by D for Dunkin’ Donuts (‘America runs on Dunkin’ if you didn’t know) but my husband doesn’t.  In fact recently at our nearest Mall and suffering from terrible bun-lag (a condition discovered by my mother many decades ago which is that moment when you are shopping and you start to fade and only cake will revive you), I persuaded him to queue with me at the Dunkin’ (by the way I don’t think there is a single community,  plaza or mall n Massachusetts, birthplace of Dunkin’, that doesn’t sport it’s own, however small) … he is a man of fastidious palette and I don’t think a Dunkin’ has ever passed his lips – I was so sooooo tempted to go for the Reeses Peanut Butter filled caramel topped cream donut but the look of absolute and abject pain and disgust on his face made me volte face and opt instead for a sober plain pumpkin ring.  It was nice.  It was really nice but the regret will live with me ever more (or until I can sneak one on my own and guzzle it in solitary splendour some day over the rainbow).

E.  E has to be for Election (that Presidential one in case you are in any doubt) but only to note two things.  The first is that I have been genuinely privileged to be able to follow the proceedings at first hand from Primaries to President.  And a privilege it is.  I noted once before, in France, that my opinion is of no interest to anyone but I was fortunate to see it with my own eyes – watch entire news programmes, read several newspapers and journals, watch the ‘Town Halls’, the debates and the interviews, speak to people whose country it is and who were going to vote for someone, as the spectacle, a gruesome bloodbath that might have been more fitting to an amphitheatre full of baying Romans watching Christians wrestle lions and Gladiators Gladiating, unfolded.  I feel extremely lucky and my American friends who have been embarrassed by the antics and apologised –  please, there is no need.  To be in a country which is  electing it’s leader rather than in another gathering snippets and thinking you have the facts is a quite amazing opportunity and I am glad I was here.  What I was horrified at was the manner in which the media conducted itself and I do hope that a little less partisan behavior might ensue one day.  Sadly, I think it won’t.  In fact I have often noted that the British have an unfortunate knack of embracing the worst of this side of the Atlantic whilst seemingly being blind to the many wonderful things they could  grasp and cleeve to and it seems the British media is becoming smitten with the same tune so I fear we just have to go with it and try to retain our own faculties sufficiently to understand when we are being beaten round the head with someone else’s opinions rather than being given a plateful of news to sort out in our own sweet way.  E is also for Enormous.  I thought of making B for Big but it simply doesn’t cover it.  Everything is humungous.  Cars, trucks, cups of coffee, meals out, banners (starspangled and otherwise), TVs, houses – everything is just so much bigger than I am used to and on occasion I have felt like Alice after embibing the cherry tart, custard, roasted turkey, toffee and hot buttered toast spritzer and shrunk herself to teeny tiny.  We drive a mini cooper which is possibly not helpful.  And E is for Eggs.  I’ll take mine over easy …

So there you have it a little stroll through a few of my favourite things and a nod to my not so favourite.  Meet me back here tomorrow and I’ll treat you to my F-J if you can stand it.

Toodlepip

dscf4855

PS:  The title is from Henry David Thoreau in a journal that he started at the suggestion of his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson.  You cannot, simply cannot be here in this corner of New England without getting immersed in the pair of them.  Thoreau’s impact on modern American thinking cannot be underestimated and it is a further joy to me to have been able to walk in his footsteps on more than one occasion.

The first and last pictures were both taken in Winter when I first arrived.

The minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight

As previously noted I am fresh and frisky from celebrating my first Thanksgiving.  To mark this momentous, and possibly newsworthy occasion I set about making a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.  I like the idea of Thanksgiving and would be very happy if more nations adopted the notion.  Pondering, however fleetingly to reflect on what one has to be thankful for can never be a bad thing, surely?   After one of the most epic Googlings of all time I concluded that this year I would be cooking two turkeys in the space of a month and a day because it is unforgiveable to not serve turkey for Thanksgiving and equally de trop to forsake the fowl for Christmas in  England where we will be celebrating this year.  Having settled on what I thought would be a good enough array of trimmings to sink a dry-docked battleship and simultaneously feed the navy on the leftovers I set about the bird.  The fact is that I have never ever been knowingly under-catered and being in this land of the copious plateful  it surely would be hugely rude to break my habit.

Turkey then.  The first challenge was to find one small enough for HB2 and I to eat on our own and not have the poor fellow (and The Bean who is NOT poor) gobbling nothing BUT Gobbler for the rest of November, the entire month of December and ad nauseum (potentially literally) beyond.  But find one I did and once I had apologised to it profusely and several times that it had not been pardoned by The President and instead had found itself in my poshed up paws, I brined it and roasted it exactly as I always do at Christmas. We don’t possess a roasting pan so we bought two disposable ones and cleverly fastened them together to form a sort of dutch oven with the aid of bulldog clips pinched from top secret paperwork Two Brains is working on.   The turkey was duly ready on time, The Bean had welded herself to the the oven door by the snout, intoxicated with the heady cooking aromas of a bird that weighed 1.5 times a Bean.  We lifted it onto its plate and one leg fell off. Fortunately my deft husband managed to snatch it in mid-air before it reached the shark-like jaws of the waiting Bean.  We managed to wedge the leg vaguely in it’s original position and if you didn’t look too closely it looked only slightly inebriated and wholly enticing.  I should own up that our own impending inebria helped this vision enormously.

Some while later and utterly turkey-comatose  we drowsily talked of Christmas.  For what sort of a Christmas would it be without a fine turkey bird bronzed and gleaming like a drumsticked Olympian God?  Well actually last year we were only three for the feast so we had guinea fowl and two years prior to that, our first married Christmas, and alone together in France, we  had a collective rush of blood to the head and opted for a fish.  A turbot in fact which we bore enthusiastically from the fish store on Christmas Eve, like Samuel Whiskers and Anna Maria preparing to set about the unfortunate Tom Kitten with suet and string. On Christmas Day  it occurred to us that we had not asked the chirpy girl on the fish counter to faire vider le poisson (to wit, gut the beauty) which would not be a problem for either of us except neither had the teeniest clue where a flat fish stashes it’s innards.  Hallelujah and pass the tambourine for Google …. a swift search revealed that they are, indeed not remotely where one would expect them to be.   Standing majestic and mighty  over the fish like Christopher Lee in role as a High Priest preparing to slaughter a virgin Two Brains plunged our sharpest knife from on high with lethal accuracy and our sharpest knife rebounded like a comedy rubber blade off it’s innocuous lily white skin as though it were a trampolene.  After a short pause I rather tentatively suggested scissors.  I’m not too humble to share that this was, frankly, a moment of genius.  The fish didn’t stand a chance against my snippers and I rather smugly and, may I say, with positively surgical dexterity, cut it open and  emptied it’s vital workings.  That complete, we stuffed the neat little cavity with herbs and citrus and stood reverently surveying it’s  buttered and lemoned and parsleyed allure … it had the air of a slightly macabre still-life …. strangely attractive (something I was once called by a drunk in  a friend’s living room and which I embraced as a compliment – one must cherish such delights from wherever they stem, I have always felt).  So there’s one personal myth burst … I have merrily told everyone over the years that Christmas isn’t Christmas without a turkey bird but clearly my tongue is forked …the truth is that two out of three of our most recent Christmas meals have been devoid of the indispensible gigantic fowl.

You might ask what has prompted this little sojourn into my various kitchens and indeed what value you have gained (except to know who to call if you ever need to gut a turbot or stick a stray leg back on a turkey) …. the answer lies in this week’s weekly photo challenge titled ‘It’s Not This Time of Year Without ….’ of which a cornucopia of sparkling entries here.

What can I not do without as I join the merry carnage that constitutes the season of goodwill and until this year was all about Christmas but now includes Thanksgiving too in my half-baked paradise?

Snow.  I absolutely must have snow.  Or at least I must hope it will snow.  And that is really what it is all about for me.  The notion and hope of decency and delight.  The idea that people can be kind to one another.  The concept that sharing is the right thing to do.  I have always included waifs and strays at my table.  And I always will.  Maybe in the run up to Christmas I will include a few of their stories.  Not because I have a trumpet to toot but because humble stories can speak to good hearts.  And because a humble story is where it all started ….

 dscf4449

PS:  The essential PS.  The title is from ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ by the masterly Dr Seuss.  My third daughter can still recite it word perfectly having done it as her School Christmas Play at the age of 9 and her younger sister can recite it word perfectly because she sat in on all the rehearsals waiting for this inevitably late mummy to pant up the school drive to pick them both up.  The very end goes like this:

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
And what happened then? Well...in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch's small heart Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light,
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he, HE HIMSELF! The Grinch carved the roast beast!

This perfectly Christmassy image of snow covered holly was taken in Cantal.  In February.  Holly is called ‘houx’ in French (pronounced oo) which I always take every opportunity to say because it amuses me.


							

One shaft of light that shows the way

There are few inalterable facts in life but the one constant that we all have to adhere to is that one day we will die.  What comes after that is up for debate and despite an abiding interest in philosophy which promotes an interest in religious teachings from all belief systems,  I don’t profess to have any finite or valuable answers.  Therefore I think that it is hugely important to LIVE a life.  In this one single life that I will assume I have until some bearded or loinclothed but surely extremely sage bloke sends me back for another go it has to be what I adhere to.  By living a life I don’t mean indulging in excesses, I simply mean not wasting valuable time looking back because another inalterable fact is that we can’t change the past.  This week two things have put that notion of mine into sharp focus.

The first is the death of a beautiful lady not ever a close friend nor even actually a relative though we would have considered ourselves family for complicated reasons that are not mine to bore you with here.  She died on Monday, she was the same age as me and I can think of no sound reason why she should have been taken relatively young.  That’s the nature of life and death …. they have no real sense when you distil then to their meanest dregs.  All I know is that it is harsh on her husband and her children and her family and her friends and I grieve for them whilst selfishly collecting myself and giving myself a sharp reminder that life is fragile and I have little and probably no control over its end point.

The second is the fact that next Thursday (24th November) marks the 25th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death.  I remember what I was doing when I got the news.  I remember my body entirely giving way in discreetly Streatley (-on-Thames) as I caved in, sobbing the great overwhelming, body racking sobs of a person who felt a hole had been punched in the world.  His was a death that effected me.  Let me shed a little light on that.  Apart from being, with a huge proportion of the world, a fan of his music, his voice and showmanship, I had the privilige of working for Queen in the early 1980s.  In those days not so far away, and this shocks my daughters, we were not allowed to acknowledge that he was Gay.  We had a public story and we stuck to it.  Things really have changed in those three decades and it is a huge mistake to say we have not progressed.  We have.  And Fred did much to influence that change.  By the time he died less than a decade later, the world was openly comfortable with his sexuality and it had not remotely been detrimental to record sales in the way that those that managed his career had been fearful it would be those few short years earlier.

When I left it was in the fine style of an arrogant little madam.  I had categorically made my fine mind up that the dinosaurs that dubbed themselves Queen had had their day and anyway, they were quite clearly underpaying me.  They called a meeting.  Fred was sent downstairs to speak to me.  I stood as he descended the stairway – one just did, it wasn’t demanded but his presence was so dynamic and it was somehow compellingly correct to rise even for a modish and edgy avante garde force such as me. ‘I hear you want to leave us’ he said having stepped backwards up two steps of the same staircase to speak to me eye to eye (I’m brushing 6′ and wore stilettoes with my drainpipe jeans or rara skirts and  he, like so many extraordinarily large personas was actually not at all a tall man) ‘won’t you stay’.  ‘I don’t WANT to leave’, I countered ‘it’s simply a question of money’ … it was a slight of hand that any member of The Magic Circle would be justifiably proud …. I barely realised his hand had extended and grasped mine as he shook it firmly and equally firmly said ‘it’s been such a pleasure to have you as part of our team’.  Lesson learned … never try to use money as a bargaining device even if you know the collective wealth of your employers is stellar and, as I was to learn just two years later, never EVER underestimate a authentic star.  I was in the VIP enclosure at Wembley as he walked on stage on 13th July 1985 to lead Queen’s set for Live  Aid.  I looked at his face and I said to my neighbour (who I didn’t know from Adam or Eve) ‘he’s going to OWN this baby’ …. I don’t think anyone will ever argue that little nugget with me.

It happens that this 24th November which quite incomprehensibly marks a quarter of a whole century since this remarkable, vibrant and nonsensically talented human left the earth is also Thanksgiving Day in the USA and given that I will actually, for the first time, be here in the US for this momentous day and given that whatever petty nonsense may affect my life either day to day or policitally, I am ALIVE I will personally be giving thanks for the life I have, for the life I share and for the sheer joy that alive should bring.  I will not be presumptuous enough to forget that for many it is hard to be thankful but I will hope that all can at least find cheer in the rising and setting of the sun and the fact that there is air to breathe.  Death comes to us all and when it does there is no moment to regret the moments that you forgot to be thankful.  So I implore you to put politics aside, squish ill-will, banish anxiety about things you can’t fix and just be the best version of you that you can be.  Not just on Thursday but throughout your days, however many they may be.

This is my entry to the gallery entiled ‘Magic’ as hosted by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – here are the enchanting others for you to delight in.

dscf9546

PS:  The title is from a Queen song ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ which was actually written by their drummer, Roger Taylor for the soundtrack of the film Highlander – we both attended the Premier but I’ve taken up far to much of your time already so that story will have to wait for another day ….

The picture was taken on Cape Cod the day before the Supermoon shone as dazzling as sunlight … it amused me that it was sitting silent-sweetly in the sky behind us as we focussed all our efforts on the setting of the sun, seemingly waiting for the perfect moment to pinch the glory from its effervescent brother. 

And here, because you knew I would, is your bonus:

In chaos there is fertility

At various points in my life I have described myself as a ‘cat herder’.  Herding cats being, if you are idle enough to dwell on the issue, a thankless and almost impossible task.  At times it has been part of my job and at other times it has been part of my role as a mummy and surrogate mummy to whoever was clinging to whichever of my children (and there were usually multiple clutches of them) at that particular time.  I find that a combination of drill Sergeant Major and free-wheeling hippy chicky does the trick a treat.

In the summer of 2015 I was asked to reprise this role – to give a one off performance of ‘The Cat Herder’ to an audience of lightning fanciers and experts and interested amateurs from all over the world in Aurillac.  Aurillac is the capital (or prefecture) of Cantal and is known throughout France as the coldest town in the country.  This is because the weather girls and boys on all channels and in the newspapers always have the lowest temperature on any day listed as Aurillac so therefore it must be true … hold that thought.

The meeting was to last two days and HB2 and I plus The essential Bean arrived the night before and checked into our dog friendly hotel.  Not an issue since so many hotels are dog friendly in France and in fact most cafés and restaurants bat not the merest graceful eyelash at the dog dining with you.  Particularly tiny dogs like ours.   This makes The Bean  fully portable and no hindrance to our lives whatsoever.  Since we were eating en masse with the entire posse of delegates and organisers we left her snuggled in her basket dreaming of Bean things and enjoyed our evening immensely.

The following day I hit the ground hell for leather, checking everyone in, making sure those that hadn’t paid in full before the event opened their moth-eaten wallets and placed their owings in my ultra-efficient paw, setting up the refreshments and generally acting the part of the elegant swan to perfection.  Swans, we know, paddle frantically but invisibly and glide their impeccable glide with an unparalleled serenity.  Hold that thought too.

The fly in the ointment was the fact that this gleaming conference facility, the pride of Aurillac and contained in their Centre de Congrès had a large and prominent no dogs sign – one of those with an emphatic diagonal line through the offending pooch.  We asked if they really meant it.  For example most of the newly refurbished small airports in France have these signs but you will find there are hounds and houndettes strolling around unpeturbed in all of them – in fact The Bean is entranced with airports in France because she tends to be fêted royally by passengers, crews and sundry workers alike which she considers, quite understandably, is her right.   They did mean it.  They really, really did mean it so we had no choice but to leave her in the hotel with me running up and down stairs at frequent intervals and hightailing it to our staying quarters to air her.  Believe me this was not the plan – worrying about the dog whilst herding all these cats was unequivocally NOT the plan.     Unfortunately the might of Two Brains’ intellect was one of the star attractions of the show so he was required to sit and look brilliant and wise throughout all the presentations and ask pithy questions in English and French of the presenters.  Me, I’m just the tea girl.  I know my place.  Cast your mind back a couple of paragraphs.  Aurillac is the coldest place in France so leaving The Bean in the hotel room  was no more than a mere inconvenience, surely.  Except that it isn’t at all cold (well in winter it can be pretty nippy, downright chilly and even positively freezeling because it is in the mountains) … in fact the daytime temperature those two days hit 45°C (thats 113°F).  So quite warm.  Not thermal underwear weather.  Not knitted mittens weather.  Not even nylons weather.  And certainly not weather to have a dog cooped up anywhere and mostly not in a hotel room which unlike the conference facility did not boast even a ceiling fan, let alone air conditioning.  I have seldom passed such an anxious time.  We got through it, of course we did.  I found a little square round the corner with nice shady trees and took her to sit (and be fêted by sundry locals) every hour and I kept her watered.  I think brittle would be the best word to describe me as I herded those cats to perfection for hours on end back and forth to the restaurant for lunch and dinner, dolling out the refreshments which they seemed to destroy like a plague of locusts in minutes flat at every break and all the while smiling my rapturous smile, inclining my head graciously, gliding my silky glide, giving of my famed shimmy and schmooze and wishing I was somewhere else entirely.

The end of the conference, the end of the longest two days of my entire life,  was marked with a gala reception and the guest of honour was the fourth most important man in France.  The Mayor of Aurillac who has a particular interest in Science was also on the guest list.  And of course all the delegates from all over the world.  They were each presented with a lovely box of Cantalien goodies and the food laid out on the long tables looked achingly beautiful – salver after salver of exquisite bite-sized confections savoury and sweet, and the champagne on ice waiting to be poured by the equally exquisite and immaculately uniformed team of young servers their beatific faces never flickering from that porcelain expression that sits between inscrutable and the merest flicker of a smile and had clearly been drilled into them by the rather  forebidding and hawk-like bloke in charge.  I don’t think he had ever smiled.  I don’t think he actually had ever wanted to smile, for smiling surely would be a foolish fripperie and not something to waste ones life on when one had important functions to preside over and guests to skillfully intimidate if they fell short of ones exacting and giddyingly high standards – none shall pass but the most hallowed and they shall be obsequiously attended to and with aplomb so that all the lesser mortals need only look on and dream that they too might one day be so elevated.

We waited and we waited and we waited.  The tired delegates, most of whom were not French did not understand why we waited.  And to be frank neither did I.  I asked the hawk-eyed witherer and I swear he dessicated me on the spot with the most epically condescending yet oh so fleeting glare of my entire life and, lips barely flickering as he murmured his patronising finest, he explained that in France you cannot start proceedings until the guest of honour arrives.  And the guest of honour was the fourth most important man in France.  I went wearily downstairs with Ferdinand (a rather goat-like German who had been part of the organising team for reasons that escape me).  Ferdinand is a ladies man.  He flirted tirelessly and I ignored him tiredly.  Every so often I went upstairs to report that I had nothing to report.  We waited and we waited and we waited and, if I may be candid the heat, the lack of food (I had been serving refreshments, not eating them for that is  the Cat Herders remit) and possibly dehydration which would have certainly been rectified with a glass of bubbly but the bubbles couldn’t be popped without the all important presence of the fourth most important man in France.  I became silently hysterical and not a little delirious.  And then I spotted him.  A man on a bike weaving his purposeful way towards the building.  He dismounted and removed his bicycle clips placing them in the breast pocket of his, admittedly rather elegant whisper grey shirt and chained his bike carefully to the front of the building and smoothed down his undoubtedly snazzy designer black jeans.  I usually pride myself on picking up on clues.  This day my inner Marple had abandoned me – presumably a victim of evaporation brought on by the heat.  He entered the building.  I spoke up.  I admit I shouldn’t have.  Hindsight is not wonderful.  It is painfully embarrassing.  I asked him, with a little twinkle of irony in my tone if he might be the fourth most important man in France.  No, he replied.  I’m the mayor of Aurillac.  The ground failed to swallow me up and Ferdinand who up to that point had been an irritant became my hero as he swept the aforementioned and understandably disgruntled mayor up and took him up the equally sweeping staircase.  Minutes later Ferdinand reappeared and as if by magic, so did the enormous black car bearing two of  the most glamourous and chic women I have EVER seen in my life and the fourth most important man in France.   I remained stoically silent.  I may never learn but I seldom repeat the same mistake in the same evening.  Seldom I said.  Not never.  Fortunately this was a seldom night.  Ferdinand greeted the VIP and his entourage and then introduced me ‘this is Mme B – she’s the head  of diplomacy for the organisation’ …. levity has never been more welcome.

And don’t ask me who this fellow was … I never discovered.   He’s the fourth most important man in France – why on earth would I need to know more than that …. after all I’m just the Cat Herder and I know my place.

I offer you this little bauble as my entry to this weeks WordPress Photo Challenge titled Chaos and you can see all the other fabulous entries here.

dscf9552

The compulsary PS:  You might be wondering given the story above why I have picked this picture of random rocks.  I have a logic.  The picture is of a Chaos Basaltique in Cantal …. the area is volcanic and strewn with reminders of that heritage in such formations which are left over when the basalt columns known coloquially as ‘Organ Pipes’ collapse and fling their broken pieces seemingly randomly in rivers of brittle rock.   I love stumbling on them.  This one is at Landeyrat and was the high spot of a most enraging hike two years ago.

The title comes from Anaïs Nin …. it appears in one of her umpteen journals – she was prolific, writing every day in volume after volume from girlhood until her death.   The chaos in the picture is fertile with plants and lichen and mosses so her words seem to fit nicely.  And I happen to agree with her … chaos can be fertile – as a seasoned Cat Herder, I should know.

Later, Osyth added this bonus in response to a question from a reader as to what a Cat Herder actually is:

(turn turn turn)

I’m a simple soul and I’m a fortunate one.  Not because I have riches that I can greedily count in gold pieces stashed in a safe box in a bank vault in Zurich, not because I have jewels to gloat over nor lands to survey from my ivory tower.  I’m fortunate because most of what I need I can get simply by surveying the beauty of a landscape and preferably by being in it.  I need little, I lust after less.  Mostly.  I’m imperfect so I am allowed lapses of grace from time to time.  It makes me more interesting.  That is my excuse and I will doggedly stick to it as long as I draw breath after which time people can say what they like and I won’t give a damn.

I have been here now in every month that assembles a year (today is November 1st) and I have been here through all four seasons.  Fall (Autumn it would be if I was in England) is my favourite out of four favourite seasons.  Here in New England it is truly glorious.  Nature’s blaze of glory before she breathes her glacial best and ices the landscape and the flesh for the grey and gloomy months of winter.  Those months when a blue sky is like a venous opiate lifting the spirits from varying degrees of malaise and doldrum to a frenzy of good cheer and often as not casting one back to the weary treadmill of a life lived in darkness as the days shorten such that you are never home in daylight.  I paint a despondent picture – actually I love winter as much as I love her three sisters – there is delight in the darkness, as one gathers oneself into a snuggly woolly pully and drinks cocoa or vin chaud in front of an open fire.  And for me Christmas, for others Hannukah, Eid, Diwali, las Posadas, Kwanzaa.   And making no apology for hefty comfort food.  And snow.  Mostly I love snow and ice and frost.  So winter I malign you unfairly but Fall you are the Fairy Godmother that transmogrifies landscapes such as this one into a trinket box of ruby and amber and coral sparklers and the once lime verdant slime on the water hushes its tones to  paler green lying effortlessly chic on the glistening water like an elegant cashmere shawl thrown casually over the liquid satin evening gown of a ’30s siren.

Yes, I’m a fortunate girl.  Fortunate to be able to witness all of this and fortunate not to need more.

I give you this tosh in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge entitled Transmogrify and I give you the rest of the far more admirable entries here

I define transmogrify as a magical transformation and not necessarily specifically into something grotesque or comical as Websters insists.  For example, Cinderella’s pumpkin transmogrified into a sparkling glass carriage – surprising and enchanting certainly, absurd if you are splitting hairs but not at all freakish or repulsive.  Correct me by all means, but I am confident that I have it right.  Pedant is my middle name when not using Osyth and it happens that my definition concurs with the Oxford Dictionary and after all I AM an Oxford girl ….

 PS: The title is from Pete Seeger’s wonderful song made legend by The Byrds.  The lyrics, with a few deft strokes of his own were borrowed from The Book of Ecclisiastes.  I think it rather apt to read and absorb his version as we face the last week of the bloody slanging match that is the election here and the equally bloody wrangling in England over whether or not Article 50 should be triggered.  I will remain decorously silent in opinion but believe me it is hard for me to tape my tongue on either issue.

dscf9138

Turn! Turn! Turn!

Pete Seeger

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die.
A time to plant, a time to reap.
A time to kill, a time to heal.
A time to laugh, a time to weep.

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to build up, a time to break down.
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together.

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time of love, a time of hate.
A time of war, a time of peace.
A time you may embrace.
A time to refrain from embracing.

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time to rend, a time to sew.
A time for love, a time for hate.
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

And your bonus: