Saturday, July 24, 2010

What I am reading, and why, - and when for heaven's sake!!

I keep hearing about those lazy, hazy days of summer, - the kind that finds you whiling away the time under a shady tree, listening to the cicadas with a cool drink in your hand and your finger holding the place in your book where you stopped reading and closed your eyes for just a wee little nap.

I suspect in this valley they might be mythical times, -  farmers are not inclined to lazy days.  But hope springs eternal, and just in case I might turn a corner and run into one of these lazy, hazy days of summer and be caught unprepared I make sure there is a good supply of Orange Brandy and Ginger-ale in the cupboard and read the lists of summer reading materials recommended by authors and reviewers and journalists and all sorts of people who have time to sit out under the acacia tree and listen to the crickets sing.

This results in trips to the library and sideways glances from Charles as I tote home treasures that may or may not get read.  He knows how many times he has come to bed to find my eyes closed, the book fallen upon my chest, my glasses still hooked around my ears and probably only a page or two read before sleep slips up on me.

Nevertheless!!!  I have just finished The Infinities by John Banville (winner of the Man Booker Prize).  It is a tale told by the god Hermes, concerning the relationships of the inhabitants of  Mount Olympus amongst themselves and between the gods and mortals; in particular the rather disfunctional Godley family.  Lovely prose and lots of humour, - I enjoyed it immensely in the many snatches it took me to read it.

I now have beside my bed two wonderful books written by Alexander McCall Smith - one a book of short stories written in the 1990's  (Heavenly Dates), and the other the first book in his new series, Corduroy Mansions.

I read McCall Smith because of his gentle and civilized way of writing, his great imaginative stories and his tender and compassionate humour.

For different reasons I am reading Lynne Olson's 'Citizens of London' in which she 'tells the story of the Americans who did the New World credit by giving their all to help Churchill's Britain hold on against Hitler".
I have picked up the book and read pages while passing through to do something else, and what I have read intrigues me and casts a different light to the one I had always thought shone on British-American relations, - but then I am inclined to be a bit naive.

Which probably explains why I am reading the last book that goes to bed with me, - 'Surprised by Hope, by  N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham.  Having read Marcus Borg's account of the modern politicalization of Religion I was curious to discover the Anglican slant on this subject.  The Bishop has written a book in collaboration with Borg, 'The Meaning of Jesus' and I am wondering if Jesus is taking on a new role of Social Activist, whilst his divinity is abandoned.  It concerns me that Christianity, ( from which the moral structure of our society has risen) grows weaker, while the Muslim faith grows ever stronger in the western countries.

Will the book have any answers to the 'By Chance or By Design' debate?  I rather doubt it.

And that is my summer reading list.  A little heavy for the time I have to devote to it.  If any of you happen upon a hazy, lazy day - please send it my way!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Sunset in the Similkameen 

And the moon hangs like a pendant under an apricot cloud in the south western sky

To the East the sun's rays catch the top of a potential thunderhead with a heavenly glow

and to the North a few cloudy fish swim in a subdued sky

Some nights, after a hot cloudless day, the sun goes to bed weary with its constant blazing, and doesn't bother putting on a show, but when a few clouds linger around he is seduced into creating  ethereal fireworks for us mortals.

For more wonderful skies visit here to reach Skywatch.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ABC Wednesday

We are off on another round and the letter this week is A

I had thought of Aspidistra, as in the greatest in the world a la Gracie Fields.

But when our son from down the hill brought us a beautiful basket of freshly picked Apricots

I decided to don my Apron and make some Apricot pies,  and I will give you the recipe  - anon

But before I do, a word about Aprons.  They have been looked on as practical, humdrum necessities designed for keeping the homemaker clean and tidy, but times are changing and the aprons of today are stylish and pretty and fun to wear.

I was very surprised a few years ago when a gentlemen with whom I am acquainted confided to me that 
.he was quite attracted to ladies in Aprons.

I was not sure if he was referring to this kind of Apron that his mother might have worn when he was a toddler and she was his best girl.

Or if some sophisticated lady had caught his eye in one of these glamorous Aprons

Or perhaps he really had fantasies of naughty French Maids who were costumed thusly.....

In any event, here is the recipe for delicious Apricot Pie

(we had some for lunch)

Find one son who will bring you enough Appetising Apricots to make a Pie

Make your best pie pastry with which to line a 9 inch pie plate

Prepare 6 cups of Apricots by halving them, sprinkling them with 2 tsps of fresh lemon juice, and then incorporate them with the following mixture...

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

pour the apricots into the bottom crust and decorate with 2 tbsps of butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

top with the remaining pie crust, crimp to seal and cut slits in the top for vents.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 425 F until golden and bubbly

Sprinkle the top of the pie with 1 tsp white sugar as soon as it comes out of the oven.

If you can't wait for it to cool serve warm with ice cream

while you are enjoying it pop over to ABC Wednesday, here, 
and see what other goodies the letter A has to offer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We go to an Air Show or Listening for the Merlins

A few weeks ago Charles heard talk of an Air Show in the neighbouring town of Princeton, about an hour up the Valley.

More information leaked his way and his interest piqued when he learned they would have a P51 Mustang at the show, the plane that in his opinion finally became the best and classiest fighter plane the Allies had when the British Rolls Royce Merlin  XX engine replaced the Allison

Let me tell you about the Merlin.  It has a unique sound that causes the hearts of anyone who has ever flown in a plane powered by the Merlin to start, to flutter and then to race.  In 1985 at a 170 Lancaster Squadron reunion I watched a group of Veterans march past the Squadron Memorial while the City of Lincoln Lancaster Bomber flew overhead. The tears trickled down some cheeks, while other faces were screwed up in an effort to control their emotions.  A powerful force, the Merlin.

A few years ago Charles was outside in the garden when the sound of the Merlin reached his ears, - first  faintly and then roaring down the Valley.  A Mustang, flying low along the river, skimming the tree tops about a hundred feet in the air. passed over his head scattering memories all along its way.  It caught the ear of an old Navy veteran up on the hill, and who knows how many other hearts it quickened on its journey through the Valley.

We looked for more information about the Air Show, and finally found a site on the Web that had a newsletter and all the information we needed.  It also had an Air Show contest, and this was the last day to enter.  I quickly signed up for the newsletter and entered Charles in the contest.  He won a T Shirt!!!

This encouraged us even more to attend the Show and immediately I thought how great it would be for Charles to have his Cart with him, and how he would be able to scoot all over the tarmac, looking at planes and talking to people (one of his favourite pastimes).  He has owned the Cart Carrier that fits on the back of the SUV for a number of years, but never used it, but now that his enthusiasm was aroused the idea was airborne, and we started off early Saturday morning.  With some trepidation on my part but total confidence on Charles' that the bar that holds the cart down would do its job efficiently, we started off midst all of the other Saturday morning traffic.

The Air Show was great, - we parked a quarter of a mile away from the tarmac, - unloaded the cart and Charles hopped on and was away down the road.  I walked along beside him on the dusty uneven ground, under the blazing sun, but both of us enthused.  We picked up our winnings, - the T shirt, and then proceeded to the tarmac, where Harvards and Yaks and a Sopworth Camel and a B25 Mitchell Bomber were gathered with other vintage planes .

Charles, talking to other enthusiasts of the Mustang......which unfortunately did not have a Merlin Engine in it, having to make do with the less treasured Allison.

We wandered around a bit, found some shade, bought a hot dog and some vintage airplanes books, and without the prospect of hearing the Merlin suddenly the heat and the dust and the walker's sore feet reminded us of the coolness of home.

We spurned the highway and came home leisurely along the shady Old Hedley Road, enjoying the river and the campers along the way.

A little drink, a short snooze, and we were off to a dear friend's birthday dinner and a visit with old friends.

Busy and pleasant day, even without the thrilling sound of the Merlin.