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Monday, July 30, 2012


Benign neglect.
That's pretty much the modus operandus that
governs the gardening done at That Old House.
Would it be a good idea to cut down our big lilac to get
better pictures of our house for my blog?  Probably not.

Despite the slap-dash care in the garden, today daughter Anne
harvested these from our 5 tomato plants: 

She plopped them down on the oak table in the sunroom,
for the paparazza (that would be me) to enjoy. 

And tonight, a pasta with fresh tomato sauce is on the dinner menu.
Prepare to meet your Maker, ugly little
tomato who is secretly delicious.

Okay . . . honestly?
I have absolutely nothing to blog about.

Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.

Note to self:  put away the garden hose
before taking pictures of the porch.

I told you I had nothing to blog about.
I'm reduced to rambling about pretty much nothing.

So . . .
here's our front porch, with its
summer ferns a-swaying in the breezes.

 I usually hang asparagus ferns, as they are not the fussy divas
that Boston ferns are.  But this year, I could not find nice asparagus 
ferns, so it's Boston.  With their diva demands for water and haircuts.
Boston ferns are not down with the whole benign neglect thing.

 More porch trivia: Howard likes to take a glass of his favorite
adult beverage, and a nice cigar, out to the porch,
and have some quiet time in one of the old rocking chairs.

There is an old stone crock on the porch. 
Let's take a closer look.

 Oh my stars and garters!
Who or what has been pooping in the old stone crock???

Oops.  My mistake.  It's not poop!
It's Howard's old butts.
I mean, cigar butts, of course.
Howard himself has only one old butt, and he is rather attached to it.
(With apologies to Eeyore's tail.)

Ah, poor house; no shutters except for a few of the first floor windows.
I am still in mourning for the lost shutters.
Ah well.  Someday.

Where did this post begin?  Oh, yes, with benign neglect.
Which is why I love Black Eyed Susans.
Benign neglect is their way of life. 

Speaking of benign neglect, that's what I've been doing to this poor blog,
to my booth at the antiques mall, to my house . . . 
and it's partly because I've been focused on our dog Dion,
who is in failing health.  With adjustments in his medications
every few days, he is hanging in there for at least a little longer,
but he's getting very tired.  We are preparing ourselves.

Dion, a week ago, at the vet's.
Still a cutie-pie.

Thank you, so many of you, for your very kind words and
your understanding, your good thoughts and prayers.
You are amazing, and much appreciated.

And about that booth at the antiques mall?
I'm doubling my space.
 Yup, that's my new space, above.  9 X 12 instead of 6 X 9 feet.
But that's not my "stuff" in it -- that's the stuff from the
person who is vacating and moving to a still larger space.
And that's Howard, and his butt, inspecting.

You can see that I've been neglecting my own booth, above.
Not even very benignly.  Wish me luck in the new space;
Anne and I go tomorrow to start setting it up.
I'm looking forward to having more room for furniture.
Craigslist, don't let me down!

Our heat wave has moderated to perfect summer weather;
I wish the same for you!  -- Cass

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dion DiPoochy

I have shared with you already that our
much-loved Cavalier spaniel, Dion DiPoochy,
is having serious health issues. 
DION, 2010, looking guilty about something.

Every few days for the past two weeks,
I have thought it was curtains for our boy.
But every few days, he has rallied.
DION, on Alida and Josh's wedding day, June 25, 2011.

The most recent crisis was yesterday.  
I took him to the vet,
afraid I would not be taking him home. 
DION at the vet on Friday July 20, 2012.

But the vet had different ideas.  She started him
on a doggy NSAID and it's giving him comfort, and more strength.
He is walking, eating and drinking again.

DION, with Lily, 2007, in our old kitchen.

Can we have a guarded Hooray?
DION in 2010

In comparison to the horror and searing grief of the
Colorado theater shootings, our little dog's health is insignificant.
Our hearts ache for the victims, their families,
that community, and our country,
and our minds boggle at the randomness of evil.

But hearts and minds are limitless,
with room for all manner of sadness and joy, including the sadness
of watching this most sweet and gentle and funny of dogs,
our good boy Dion, 
slowly lose his grip on Life.
DION, Friday July 20, 2012, doing what he now does most of the time -- rest.
Dion's lust for life is deserting him; he is so very tired,
and even food -- which he worshiped -- is no longer of much interest.
We would not keep him with us if he were in distress
but he is calm and seems comfortable.

Thank you, Joanne, for your breeding that produced this special dog.
Thank you, Jane, for your gift of him to our girls.
1999 -- DION (in the lead of this Conga line) with his 3 sisters, nicknamed The Belmonts.

We are cherishing every moment we have with Dion.
I know that many of you have traveled this same road;
thanks for listening.  -- Cass

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Ma'am, You're Doin' 60 in a 25 Zone!"

It's definitely weird,
and it has a wicked sense of humor.  
On Tuesday of this week, July 17th, Time
frisbee'd another birthday to me, and I am now 60.

Now how stupid is that?
And why is it that while my outside is definitely 60,
my inside still thinks it's 25?  Or, sometimes, 12.

Heck, I haven't yet decided what I want to be when I grow up.

Whatever I decide, it better not take too many years of schooling.
I'm just sayin' . . . .

What about you?
Does your inside match your outside's age?

For me, saying "I'm sixty" just makes me want to giggle.

Of course, this brings me closer to my ultimate plan.
If I am lucky enough to reach 80, I am going to claim to be 100.
'Cause when you are 100, you can pretty much do
whatever you dang well please, and people help you do it.

And I'll start smoking.  So there, Surgeon General.
Who's going to bug a 100 year old lady to quit smoking?

No pictures today!  No time -- leaving now to work
at the antiques mall.  The heat wave has broken here -- hallelujah!  -- Cass

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blueberries, Bagels, and One Big Biscuit

Most out-of-town houseguests at
That Old House get New Jersey bagels
for breakfast -- at least for their first breakfast here.
Sometimes there's a cookie.
But usually not.  Don't get your hopes up.
Alida and Josh, our daughter and son-in-law, were no exceptions to the
Bagel Rule when they visited us from the end of June to July 3rd.
They live in Los Angeles, where the bagels
can best be described in one word --  feh!

Whereas New Jersey bagels, and their twins
from across the river in New York, are Mmmm Mmmm Good.
Bagels, warm and waiting in a brown paper bag.

On Alida and Josh's last morning with us, this past Tuesday, I got creative.
Inspired by a recipe on the blog Noble Pig, but realizing that
I didn't have the right ingredients (oh, eggs and bacon, where are you
when I need you?) and being both too lazy to go shop for them,
and too lazy to go out for fresh bagels, I improvised.

studded with bacon, I made a giant oven biscuit studded with
breakfast sausage, and a warm fresh blueberry sauce to accompany it.

Above, the big biscuit, after being turned out
of the cast iron frying pan and onto a large plate.
Below, the blueberry sauce.

Anne volunteered to take pictures of her plate.

She wisely put her blueberry sauce on the side,
so as to make the biscuit and sausage slice look better.

Now that does look pretty, doesn't it? Bits of sausage, and
crunchy baked brown sugar edges on crumbly biscuit?

I, on the other hand, put my blueberries right on top of my slice
of the biscuit cake, thereby making my breakfast look like
a big pile of . . . you fill in the blank.

This is why I had children; they are smarter than me.
Or is it "smarter than I?"  Me?  I?
I think it is "I" but that sounds dopey.

Recipe?  So simple it's stupid.

***Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
***Mix up a batch of the shortcake biscuit recipe from the Bisquick box.
***Nuke a box of your favorite breakfast sausages,
and cut 'em into wee teeny bits.
***Melt some butter in the bottom of a cast iron fry pan, add the
sausage bits, and spread them around.  Sprinkle on some brown sugar.
***Spread the biscuit batter in the pan; it's sticky but you can do it.  I have faith.
***Put it in the oven, and bake till done -- and here's the thing; I can't remember how long it took.
I think around 35 or 40 minutes.  Keep poking at it, you'll know when it's done.
***Let it rest and catch its breath for 15 minutes, before you turn it out upside-down onto a big plate
or platter. (By the way, that's when you'll know if you melted enough butter in the bottom of your pan.)

***As for the blueberries, just wash them and fish out those annoying little stems,
then put the berries into a small saucepan with about a heaping soup spoon's
worth of sugar and a couple of good squirts of fresh lemon.
***Cook until the mess begins to bubble and the berries start cracking open.
***Sprinkle on a small amount of flour, and cook that into the berries and juice.
It will thicken a bit, and look all glossy and alluring and irresistible.

Then eat.  I recommend black coffee with it,
but then I recommend that with almost everything except pizza.
It's Friday, friends!  May your weekend be full of fun,
and awesome breakfasts.  -- Cass
Foodie Friday

Visit Michael Lee West at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.
I promise you won't regret it!   Click here.

And click here for the Thursday post from That Old House . . .
about tomatoes!  

Hello There, You Cute Little Tomato

Our Goal:
Homegrown tomatoes by the Fourth of July.

We do it every year here in northern New Jersey, but this year we
just squeaked past the finish line in the nick of time, with a small, ripe
plum tomato plucked from the vine yesterday, on the Fourth.  Whew!

Ain't she a beaut?

When I watered the borders today, where our tomato plants cozy up
cheek-by-jowl with our perennials and a few scraggly annuals,
with a healthy serving of weeds to keep them in fighting trim . . .
another plum tomato just fell right off its perch, into the wet dirt.

I rinsed it off, and I et it.  It was delish.  Warm and spicy.

Our secret to getting homegrown tomatoes by the 4th of July?
We totally cheat.

We buy BIG thick-stemmed tomato plants in big pots, already
blooming, dig them into our dirt and pass them off as our own. 
Often they have baby tomatoes already growing.

They take off like gangbusters.

I'd tell you where we get these amazingly big and healthy tomato
plants, for just a couple of bucks apiece, but then I'd have to kill you.
Hey, it's New Jersey.  We got rules.

Now if we can keep the chipmunks, groundhogs, and deer away from
our tomatoes, we might actually get a chance to eat more than one or two.
'Cause this is all we usually get off the vines:
I don't know about you, but I prefer
my tomatoes not be pre-chewed.

I prefer them fresh, in sandwiches,
 or in something tossed-together, like this:
Just cheese, fresh tomatoes, bacon and a bit of basil
in a pre-baked pie crust.  Into the oven - instant lunch.

Or this - a spicy cold tomato soup, topped with a plop of goat cheese.

This is why we try and grow enough tomatoes for us, and the
foraging beasts.  The beasts always get more,
but we make do with their leftovers.

Summertime at That Old House.
Stop by, why don't you?  We could use the help weeding . . . .

And our Dion could use the company.

Have a lovely July 5th!  -- Cass

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sundays at Home

It's is another hot and sunny day in northern
New Jersey; 'tis the season for outdoor gatherings!

In the morning sun, the tables and chairs and canopy from
yesterday's party look a little forlorn. 

Anne's party was great fun.  We went through a lot
of food and drink, but still have plenty of leftovers. . .

including French bread, which this Sunday morning I turned into this:

Blueberry-Craisin Bread Pudding.

There were 6 of us for breakfast and, yes, we ate it all.

While we ate, and for most of this morning, our Dion slept.
He has a gift for plopping down in the most inconvenient spots,
and now he stays there for hours, napping.
"Don't step on Dion!"

Dion is on a new heart medication, and I am so hopeful,
having heard many good things about it.
Brief odd doggy moment --
a couple of weeks ago, Dion had his dinner,
and then lay down for a post-chow nap. 

Now, what is unusual about this pose?
Dion's little butt is in his dinner dish.
I'm not sure if this was a mistake, or an editorial comment
on the content of his dinner, or a precaution.

He loves to nap on this little rug,
which is right in front of the kitchen sink.

I prepare a lot of meals straddling my softly snoring old dog.
And I don't mind.

Have a lovely Sunday, and thank you for all the wonderful
warm wishes for Dion's health and well being.
If he weren't napping (still) he would thank you himself!  -- Cass

Go visit The Tablescaper for more Sunday musings!  Click here.