Horsey thoughts

I’m in this really wonderful place right now – totally immersed in a book that I can’t put down. Don’t you just love when that happens? I’m little more than halfway through Jane Smiley’s Horse Heaven and already I’m trying to stretch it out and make it last a little longer. I’m tempted to read at every spare moment, but at the same time, I want to savor it before it ends. This is the first of Smiley’s books that I’ve become engaged with, not for lack of trying. I think it must be just the topic that is really interesting to me right now.

I tend to be a little obsessive/compulsive with my reading habits, in that I get hooked on a topic and read anything and everything I can find. The current horsey interest started with a memoir I picked up on the bargain rack, Chosen By A Horse and then the current issue of Vanity Fair had an article about Barbaro which led me to this book. I’m afraid there may be horseriding lessons in my future or a weekend job mucking stalls at the track down the street. Somebody save me, please!

A Cape May tease

In case you’ve missed mention of it elsewhere or, for those of you in the know who need something to focus your anticipation with (Lynne!) I’ll pass along a link to the Cape May Bird Observatory’s newest website called – lots of neat features there and just the thing when a cool Fall weekend seems years away.

A few of us girls: Susan, Mary, Lynne, Naturewoman and me are planning to meet at this year’s Bird Show in Cape May 10/26-10/28. Maybe you’d like to join our merry gang for a day or an hour or two? The bigger the flock the merrier, right?

Kind of strange, but I came across this pic of me, back when I had short hair – at least I think it’s me – on a website while I was searching around for some info on Cape May. I’ve been going down for years, but don’t remember when this was. I remember that purple coat, though. The guy standing behind me must be the hawk counter; he looks very serious about it, doesn’t he?

Anyway girls, we need to get some plans together! The Fall will be here before we know it. Be in touch, okay?

Lazy Sunday

I didn’t even step foot out of the house until near 8pm today. It wasn’t all that hot, only in the high 80’s, but the glare of the sun kept me inside on the couch with a new book. I was lazy, but my husband got a lot done, at least. The vegetable garden is weeded and presentable enough that I might share a pic or two of our baby peppers and tomatoes. The grass is cut and the patio finally cleared of clutter.

I wanted just to share this pic of my *bog* garden – isn’t it monstrous?! Every year I warn myself not to let it get out of hand and it gets away from me anyway. The Joe-Pye Weed is beginning to bloom and is almost as tall as our new gazebo. The goldenrod and swamp hibiscus are just as tall. The purple loosestrife needs to be cut before it has a chance to make seeds. Down low under all that shade are a few plants struggling to find some sun and have a chance to survive.

Our plan had been to have an early dinner and head down to the beach for some surf fishing with my husband’s brothers, but he lost track of time and I took a longer than expected nap. Oh well. At least I had a few minutes in the garden with a nice breeze and the company of the fireflies. Wish the weekends didn’t go so fast!

What’s cookin’ ?

Every now and again the cooking bug bites me and, like this afternoon, I spend a few hours in the kitchen trying out new recipes. I never really learned to cook, so I always have to start with a recipe. Even still, it manages to feel like a science experiment. Any *serious* activity in the kitchen catches my husband’s interest and before long he’s sniffing around and peaking under pot lids to see what kind of poison I’m whipping up.

Today I made a barbeque sauce with at least fifteen different ingredients and a nice bite that we’ll use tomorrow – the chicken breasts are marinating overnight. I also made an avocado and tomato salad and a corn salad with fresh Jersey white corn. I’ve sampled both already and they’re pretty yummy!

I’m curious if the rest of you have any favorite cookbooks to recommend? My father swore by the Fanny Farmer Cookbook so I bought one when I first got married and rely on it for basic stuff like what cut of meat to buy or how long to cook a poached egg. For years my favorite *everyday* cookbook was the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but lately I’ve been sampling from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks by Ina Garten.

My friend Linda at work is crazy about her and finally I got tired of listening to her rave about the dishes, so I bought a few of her cookbooks and have been very pleased. Any recipe that I’ve tried so far has turned out wonderfully. For Christmas Eve I used her recipe for spiral ham with a mango chutney glaze and also made her recipe for baked beans that went nicely with the ham. Christmas morning I made her banana crunch muffins which have turned into a family favorite. All the things I made this afternoon were from her books also.

What I like about her recipes is that they’re simple and not intimidating; she uses common ingredients but insists on quality. I hate having to search out some oddball ingredient in gourmet shops in order to make a dish. More often than not I spend a lot of money on something that I’ll never have the chance to use again.

So, any good cookbooks to recommend? Have you done any experimenting in the kitchen lately? Please share your successes (or failures)!


I went fishing for photos this evening, just as the sun was beginning its earnest descent for the day, and came upon another doing its own sort of fishing.

Black skimmers are as magical-looking as they are improbable: the lipstick-bright band that highlights their underbite, the way they twist and turn over the water, alternately showing black on the topside or silver beneath. That I should find them so close to home, just down the street where the small creek widens into something resembling a lagoon, is something of a surpise. I should know better, know that it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

The cormorants were waiting for something in the willow overhanging the shoreline, shadows of ducks flew overhead and landed in the water at my feet. A few night herons, silhouetted against the setting sun, the kingfishers dashing back and forth over the creek and I saw this one skimmer, far off in front of an improbably large waterfront home. Oh, how I would love to have this view out my front window!

Most often I see skimmers from my car while sitting in traffic, waiting for the bridge to go down after the sailboats pass below on the river. It’s always just a glance out the car window, that flash of silver and black, and lipstick red. This evening was a treat to see one coursing along the creek, dipping and turning as it searched the water below. But it’s only ever one or two. At Cape May, in late September, I know to look for the skimmers resting on the beach, facing into the wind, a whole gang of them, looking about as improbable as any bird could.

Purple waterlily

There’s only time tonight to share this pic of a new waterlily; it had already closed for the day when I got in from work, so I’m not so sure what it really looks like. So far it seems similar to the purple and yellow one I had last summer, but the flowers are much smaller. What’s really fantastic about this lily is the leaves – they’re large and splotched with purple. I’ll have to work on a better pic to share that includes the lilypads and maybe a sunbathing frog.


We drove to the water this afternoon to escape the heat; rather than going south along the ocean (where all those pesky tourists like to congregate) we went north along the bayshore and drove through what used to be mainly fishing and clamming communities. Many of the old neighborhoods have been replaced with upscale condos and in most places the commercial fishing docks have given way to recreational marinas. The bayshore’s commercial fishing industry survives in Belford however, with a fleet of some 50 boats, including 18-20 modern lobster boats, 7-8 clamming boats, and a few traditional seining boats that are part of the Belford Seafood Cooperative.

In addition to Jersey corn and Jersey tomatoes, there is also Jersey seafood! I prefer the corn and tomatoes, but the boats are pretty to look at, too. We were hoping to find a quiet creek where we could set out our crab traps, but all the places I knew from growing up in the area were either already occupied or seemingly gone. I’d guess they’re still there, but the neighborhoods have changed so much that it’s hard to get my bearings when all the familiar landmarks seem to be gone.

This area is probably the northernmost commercial fishing fleet in the state and there’s a fair amount of historical significance there, as well. Growing up, we made fun of the people who lived there and made their living on the boats. Yet it was a thriving industry and still may be. To the person speeding by on the highway on the way to the beach, one might think our only local industry now is strip malls and big-box stores.

What local industries do you recall from your childhood? Do they still exist there?

Random X 8

TaraDharma and Patrick both tagged me with this 8 random facts meme. Here’s the rules:

*We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
*Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
*People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
*At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
*Don’t forget to leave them each a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I’d swear I’ve done this before, but here we go:

*I’m not much into movies, but I really like Braveheart. Must be those Scottish accents.
*I designed my own engagement and wedding rings.
*My favorite candies are Hershey’s Kisses and Smooth and Melty Easter Mints.
*I love rollercoasters, so long as there are no loops and they don’t go upside down.
*I have this recurring dream about being lost and going over a very long bridge. My dad used to have a similar dream only his involved being on the wrong bus.
*I can’t stand the smell of lilies.
*The blotter/calendar on my desk is still on the page for April.
*I’d like to get my doctorate someday… for my dad.

So now I’m supposed to tag 8 other bloggers. Hmmmm.. how about Dave , Ruth , Bunnygirl , Liza , KGMom , Jean , Laurie , and Cathy . I don’t think that I’ve seen any of you tagged yet, so have at it!