Those Winter Sundays

winter clothesA poem by Richard Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

 

A Grandma and her Cat

I have so far stayed far away from sharing cat pictures on the ‘net, but  Misao to Fukumaru (Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat), the story of an elderly woman and her beloved “odd-eyed” cat living in the Japanese country side is irresistible. Find a slide show of photos from the book at nippon.com titled “Enjoying Life One Day at a Time: A Grandma and Her Cat”.

The giant white tubers in these photos are Daikon radishes. I can grow them here in Maine but it will be many years before I have this depth of soil. How many years do you suppose the Bōsō Peninsula has been home to farmers? As to the photo of bathtub filled with orange gourds, I really wish I knew what was going on there, I do.

The book by photographer and grandaugher Ihara Miyoko is available from various sellers on Amazon.

 

Happy Birthday, Harriet Louise.

In honor of my mother’s birthday, here are a few of my favorite photos. You can imagine her with auburn hair, brown eyes, and I believe the checkered dress was green and white. She’s standing by the east porch of her parent’s house on Jerome Ave. during the summer of ’48.Harriet 1948Harriet and her fiancee, Dwight, in the “front parlor” in 1951.

Harriet and Dwight 1951Harriet, Dwight, and Amy at the lake, 1955.

Harriet Dwight Amy 1955Happy Birthday, mom!

 

 

For all the fathers

I’m late with this, I know, but it’s been a long, beautiful day in the garden followed by pizza and chocolate cake with friends.  And there has been a steady stream of news from the Greek elections which will arguably have an effect one way or another on every part of the global economy so yes, late to the party with a post on Father’s Day.

So for my small part of the festivities from the Giant Shoebox of Old Photos comes 1957, when Father’s day looked like this:

Candid Dad

And in 1928 my great grandfather holds his eldest daughter Harriet (my mother) at five weeks old.

RHB with HBB

To all the generations of fathers down the line, Happy Day.

July 4, 1968

While I was growing up my family had a set routine for celebrating the “Patriot” holidays. Washington’s Birthday was spent at Aunt Margaret’s house. Her husband, Bert, and my grandfather and the other white males in town spent the night at the Mason’s Hall in sacred rites and a fair amount of liquor. The women and children had dinner back at the house followed by charades and story-telling, possibly some entertainment at the piano. On Memorial Day we went to my grandmother’s house which was conveniently situated on a hill above the parade route and watched the veterans of the foreign wars and the fire company go up Jerome Ave. and down Tunxis from our picnic on the lawn. July 4 was spent at the middle sister Mildred’s house. Uncle Raymond stored the watermelons in the dairy cooler and we rode our bicycles at break-neck speeds around the old barn foundation. There were bruises later, and road-rash, and fireworks in the field at night. Here we’ve been dragged away from our fun and lined up for a mugshot.

1958

Folks will have to help me out with identifying everyone – there are no names on the back of the photo. I’m on the far right in the blond pigtails and woe-is-me expression. Is that Stevie W. in the checkered shirt to my right? Are the twins in the middle John and Russell C.? Who is that in the overalls, and the one in back with the helmet? I bet somebody out there might recognize themselves. . . think back, folks, and let me know?

Hardy Ancestors: Oliver and Louis

I cleaned out some of my mother’s storage locker today. I hauled out two table tops sans legs, a bag of curtains, four plastic boxes of truly miscellaneous kitchen gear (Salad Shooter!) and a box of playing cards so far gone with black mold they looked like dead leaves. I rewarded myself by taking home a shoebox marked “old photos” and now, after a lovely long day in the garden, I’m picking through the black and white and sepia prints of Barnards and Wileys, picnics and formal portraits, some with names and dates on the back of the photo and some who will be anonymous forever, now that everyone who knew them has passed on.

kitten brothers

This one is labeled “Carleton’s sons Oliver and Louis Barnard, 1931, at L. H. Barnard’s house, back steps”. The kittens are cute, but their names are lost to history.Also – great hat, Oliver!

Irish Soda Bread

Next Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, and in keeping with the season I’ve made a huge round loaf of Irish Soda Bread. Note the sorrel leaves just popping up to the right of the bread – early in this year of no winter.

Soda bread and sorrel leaves

There are probably as many variations of this recipe as there are descendants of Old Eire. My mother’s Irish Soda Bread was dry and crumbly and very, very white. Mine is tan (1 C of whole wheat flour) and quite moist; my mother’s recipe didn’t list any butter and mine requires 1/2 a cup -more if you’re feeling celebratory. I’m sure Great-great grandmother Bell’s differed from both of ours, back in Co. Cork.

All versions have a few items in common: raisins, caraway seeds, buttermilk and baking (or bread) soda. Something else – most of these recipes call for 5 C of flour and a cup of sugar. That’s a big batch of quick bread! I use a 12″ cast iron fricasse pot with 4″ sides and you’ll need something like that unless you divide the dough into two parts, which will bake nicely in nine or ten inch pie plates.

4 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (see below)
2 1/2 cups raisins, 1/2 C orange juice, 3 Tbs whiskey
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°F. Use a heavy ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with at least 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high sides. Melt the butter in the skillet and then turn the heat off (this butters the skillet nicely while providing melted butter for the recipe).

Put the raisins in a small sauce pan with the orange juice and whiskey (optional, but very nice). Bring the mixture to a boil then turn off the heat and let them soak while you make the dough.

In a large bowl, whisk first 5 ingredients to blend. Stir in the butter, using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated.

d'oh

Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding slightly in center.  Bake until bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

This bread is wonderful fresh from the oven with butter, as a side for beef stew, and even better the next day toasted with Dundee marmalade.

Every recipe in the world

I’ve decided to experiment with encaustic painting. Encaustic is an ancient method of combining beeswax, damar resin, and pigment. It requires some equipment: a heat source to melt the wax (in this case an electric griddle), another to fuse the layers on the painted surface (I’m using a heat gun but a blow torch works too), and some space to lay out paints, boards, brushes and pots near an electrical outlet. One of the realities of living in a 20′ x 30′ house is that a project like this will require moving something else out of the way first.

The space I’m clearing is chock ablock full of computers, CD’s, video games, books, and one of my mother’s metal recipe boxes.  I think I have six of them scattered around the house (time to pass some on to the nieces) and this one probably should not have been stored precariously on an upper shelf as a head wound waiting to happen. I levered it down and started to go through the cards and now I’m making a blog post rather than continuing to clear out new studio space. There was just no resisting categories like Dream Cakes, Not-Bad Fudge, and Risin – which turned out to be cakes made with yeast, not misspelled raisins. Or neuro-toxins.

I need snack food for a meeting on Monday, so tonight I’m starting the Connecticut Raised Loaf Cake, below. It is neatly typed on onion skin paper and the folds have worn thin but there’s very little spatter. There was a similar recipe on the next card attributed to Elsie Dresser Barnard but it makes 5 loaves and requires a fifth of brandy so I’ll wait to try that another time. Not that there’s anything wrong with adding 4 C of alcohol to a cake recipe, not at all.CT raised loaf cakeI can already tell that I’ll have to publish a post with all the changes I’ve made to this recipe. I added the shortening – where I used unsalted butter and my mother would have used Crisco – to the scalded milk, both to cool it quickly to a good temperature for the yeast and to avoid having to melt it separately later in the process. I plan to double the mace and nutmeg but then I find myself increasing the spice amounts with every old recipe. Were my grandmother’s flavorings that much more potent? Or her taste buds less spoiled by extremes? I imagine it’s the latter, in the days before candy bars came in flavors like dark-chocolate-pasilla chili-cayenne-cinnamon.

This recipe for “Caraque Cookies” is next in line. Three and a half sticks of butter, 6 egg yolks, filling AND icing – perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Caraque cookies - whatever that means.

 

Time travel souvenir

I was never here, but I have pictures.

Your mother would know, your mother would know.

Occasionally I use this blog to keep track of information that passes through my hands, and this house. Much as I’d like to sometimes, I can’t keep everything – I can’t even keep track of everything.

My brother would like a few family pictures for his son’s room and I’m sending him this photo of our great-grandparent’s house in central Connecticut when it was newly built. I have several copies of the photo, but this one has details written in my mother’s small, lefty handwriting on the back:

House was Dark Aqua on top with a gray bottom and cream trim, built around 1900 by Louis Harrison Barnard on the “V” corner of Bloomfield and Tunxis Avenues in Bloomfield, Ct., across the street from his “Wintonbury Farm”.

Raymond Barnard married Martha Louise Miller, and they moved into the house in 1938 after Louis died. They had previously lived in the “little house” across the street with their four children (including my mother, Phillip’s grandmother).

Hope Phillip likes the photo!

Ching!

I had a post ready to go tonight about mulching strawberry plants with re-purposed slate shingles. It’s a great idea but it’s going to have to wait because I just came across pictures of my father’s dog, Ching.

Winner!

Ching won a blue ribbon at the pet show in 1938. My father would have been 12 years old. I don’t think I could have picked the breed but on the bottom left of this piece of newsprint there’s a note, “Dwight’s Chow”, in my mother’s printing. There are also photos of Ching on the hood of my father’s car (probably four years later, when Dwight could drive?), and another of him with his bowl of kibble.

Ching on topCould the car geeks help me out here? My grandfather ran Burnham’s Garage in Bloomfield, CT. for many years, and all the boys had cars. Click on the photo to enlarge and tell me, is that a Buick? Very classy, especially with the canine hood ornament.

No fair!That’s a happy dog. Kind of a weird photo, but a happy dog.

A boy and his dog, with apologies to Harlan Ellison.