It’s tipping it down out there. It’s like the weather gods are saying, right, you really wanted the snow to go away? Okay. Try this instead. I didn’t even get hellhounds walked today–not what we call walked–we went out for about half an hour’s swim this morning, and none of us had a good time. I dislike being hellgoddess in these circumstances most extremely: when the weather is frelling awful and I have two beady-eyed acolytes staring holes of accusation through me. I believe other gods have had similar experiences when natural phenomena exhausted the patience of their worshippers.*
It’s also been hanging around about two-thirds of a degree above freezing–just enough to keep the rain rain, I’m trying to be grateful here–so if the sheer weight of the stuff falling doesn’t drive you to your knees you will eventually go numb and fall over because you can’t feel your legs any more. I brought hellhounds home, dried them off, and started looking for their coats. I bought coats for them a year ago** after Chaos was so scarily ill in December, and he wore his***, and I bought a second one for Darkness just in case, which has never been out of its packaging. Until today. I stuffed them into their coats and tried to take them for another walk . . . which was a dismal failure. We lasted maybe twenty minutes second time with the hellhounds muttering, Barbados! Oahu! Algarve! Phuket! Baja! And I gave up and dragged them home again. And dried them off again. Feh.†
And I should have gone bell ringing tonight–it’s the once a month practise at the village next door. And I’m the one did the phoning round this weekend reminding people it was happening in the hopes that they’d come. And I told myself, as I lay on the sofa covered with damp hellhounds††, that I should have lots of extra energy because of all the walking I hadn’t done today. It didn’t work.
So I watched WAITRESS instead.††† And I decided we needed a pie. Specifically we need one of those pies that I can’t eat any more–the opening credits of WAITRESS nearly did me in–and I was even thinking of this one when I pulled my Bad for You Recipes notebook out of the cupboard and lo! it fell open to this page. I believe every American woman of a Certain Age has this recipe, I don’t know how widespread it is in the population at, ahem, large. But I absolutely adored this in my depraved youth.
Refrigerator Lemon Pie
15-oz can or 1 1/3 c sweetened condensed milk
½ c lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
¼ tsp lemon essence or ½ tsp lemon extract
2 eggs, separated
4 T sugar
9″ graham cracker crust‡ which you have made long enough ago for it to have solidified in the refrigerator
Put milk, lemon juice, rind, essence, and yolks into bowl; stir briskly till it’s a thick homogenous gloop. Pour whites into separate bowl; beat till half stiff, then add sugar gradually, beating till fully stiff, and then stop before what the books call ‘dry’ and I would call ‘friable’ but I’m an English major. Fold whites gently into the lemon mixture. Pour into chilled crust. Chill pie at least six hours and overnight is better.
* * *
* I’m having STAR TREK flashbacks. Remember The Paradise Syndrome, when Kirk shacks up with a really embarrassing comic book version of a Native American girlie? You knew she was Marked for Death as soon as she got pregnant, but she gets offed by her own people when Kirk the deus ex machina fails to save them from the return of the–meteor, wasn’t it? Only the size of a small planet, and the real machina which is supposed to take care of these little galactic mishaps has gone phut. And Spock is up there on the ENTERPRISE crunching logic not quite fast enough to save Minnehaha from her ersatz Dakotas and their lousy aim.
** They wore coats when it was cold their first winter, when they were still little puppies. They hated them. They hung on the ends of leads and moaned, especially Darkness, who rarely feels the cold anyway, which meant that Chaos was not going to cheer up and lark about and let the side down. You could see him working up to it and then Darkness would start moaning again and Chaos would instantly sober down: oh. Right. Solidarity. No larking. But they wore their coats. Mike^ got one of those old puppy coats about a month ago. Toooo cute. Every now and then Never Throwing Anything Out is a good thing.
^ Daisy’s Cocker puppy: see various previous entries
*** To begin with he was too frail to argue and then he got used to it. Chaos, in general the waaaaaay more problematic dog, doesn’t really do outrage that much. Despair, yes. Outrage, no. Darkness does outrage.
† The temperature is now rising steeply. It’s trying to persuade me to leave the flowering fruit trees, the tender camellia, and the rose hedge outdoors over night, as well as the geranium out front unwrapped. If I do, no doubt the temperature will plunge again, equally steeply.
I should probably go walk hellhounds. At this time of night? Are you kidding? I don’t think it’s even raining. Whimper. It’ll be 32.5° and sheeting again tomorrow morning, I guarantee it. The meteorological guys say it’s going to take our recently insane weather several weeks to settle down again! Several weeks!
†† Very practical. They steam your jeans dry as they steam themselves dry.
††† About which I have mixed feelings. It is very sweet and funny and charming and it has real roles for women, I mean, you know, more than one, the heroine has friends, and some great dialogue. But I write fantasy, and this makes me extremely literal-minded.^ I’m also not very clever about where the lines run in what you might call real-life fantasy. I’m willing to go with the Andy Griffith character, who is flagged as the deus ex machina from the first scene; with the particular, uh, quality of our heroine meeting cute with Dr Thingummy, although for myself having an affair with my obs/gyn guy is very, very high on my creepiness scale; and with our heroine’s Road to Damascus revelation on first holding her baby in her arms. Oh yes and I’m another of these sad mid-Atlantic types who go all soppy for a Southern USA accent. The thing that got on my nerves is the leisurely way that restaurant was run. I’ve never seen anything so laconic as the way our supposed national champion pie queen ran her spoon around her mixing bowl. Is this irony, and I’m missing it? And I’m just a little uneasy that the two main guys are both total jerks, although Doc Thingummy is cuter.^^
^ I’ve done this rant, haven’t I? That fantasy has to be even more grounded in reality than reality does to make it work because it’s, you know, fantasy?
^^Note that I think Nathan Fillion looks like he needs to get more sleep.
‡ You can’t get graham crackers over here, except in specialist American shops. Digestive biscuits work fine, however, once you’re over the name. Only the Brits would name a sweet cookie something that makes it sound like it’s going to taste like Milk of Magnesia.
Supposedly it didn’t get below freezing last night–instead for our entertainment we had rain* and lashing gales. Therefore I didn’t put the cardboard parka on the geranium. But the geranium was looking distinctly the worse for wear this morning, as if there might have been an ice-edge to the gale** and there’s not a great deal of it left to wear*** so tonight, while it’s not supposed to freeze again either, it is clear and still, which does not seem to me January weather at all to be trusted. So I put the box and the airbags back on and brought the hedge†† and the camellia indoors.
Meanwhile my mind is still running on inaugural food. You can make an excellent seafood stew with chicken stock–or, if you’re playing with the presidential expense account, with lobster stock†††–which latter I feel beats mere cream six ways to haute cuisine. My mind is also running on cold: I’m worried about my geranium‡ which leads directly‡‡ to the little appreciated fact‡‡‡ that DC can be bitter in January. An extremely little-known fact is that I once attended a presidential inauguration–because I happened to know someone with a spare ticket: good seat too–and it was just amazingly cold–this was also back in the days when you could wear fur without being hissed in the street, and I was wearing a somewhat elderly, but extremely warm, thrift shop fur coat. Over my motorcycle leathers. Warmest clothes I had. Ahem. I got some fairly funny looks from other people in the good seats.
But I can’t think about more than one thing at a time or they get all muddled up.§ And I find myself thinking Hot Peach Cobbler for the inaugural dessert.§§ Next year this time I could be defrosting my own peaches to make hot cobbler in January: all one of them, I daresay. Or possibly one peach and one nectarine. Supposing my trees aren’t losing all their flower buds to the unexpected 20° drop tonight.
1 ¼ c flour
¼ c fine oatmeal (which should look like flour) or smallest porridge oats
1 tsp baking powder
¼ c sugar
¼ c lightly salted butter
1 egg, beaten
¼ c milk, water or apple juice (if apple juice, lower sugar to 2 T)
1 tsp vanilla
4-5 c sliced peaches
Possibly a handful of raisins
¾ c dark brown sugar (a little less if you’re using raisins)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T butter
2T to ¼ c peach brandy, peach liqueur, or hard apple cider: if the last you don’t want the super dry kind. Perry–which is cider using pears instead of apples–is even better, but harder to find
If your flour is fresh, you don’t have to bother sifting it. Mix with oatmeal, baking powder and sugar. Cut in butter, then stir in the egg mixed with the water and vanilla. Knead a few times and roll or pat out about ¼ inch thick on a floured surface. Place peaches in buttered baking dish (probably 9 inch: I have a pottery dish of a slightly nonstandard size that I like because it looks pretty) and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, and dot with butter. Then, quantity depending on how juicy and/or flavourful your peaches§§§ are, sprinkle the brandy over them. Cover with the dough; slash briskly. 400°F 15 minutes, 350° about another 15 minutes, but check on it: the crust should be nicely brown and the peaches should be tender. This is good–and probably more manageable because less runny–cold, but I recommend it warm. And it’s good with cream or ice cream, but I recommend it with hard sauce. You all know hard sauce, don’t you? It’s more or less equal parts sugar and butter with flavouring, in this case preferably a fruit liqueur. I can post the basic range of hard sauce recipes–Peter prefers the slightly gritty with caster sugar, and I prefer the super smooth with icing sugar–if it would amuse you.
* * *
* Although I gave myself a rain gauge for Christmas so at least I have the pleasure of looking at it and going ‘wow’
** I didn’t sleep all that well last night, and as I lay there listening to the banshees in the eaves I thought, you had better not be freezing banshees. You be nice to my geranium.
*** Don’t you dare die! Don’t you even think about it!
† I’m also glad to get it out of the kitchen. It dried out from earlier soggification a slightly peculiar shape and will no longer stand on one end so it takes up even more space. When the fruit trees and the rose hedge are indoors too–I am keeping the trees away from the grow light also–and there are hellhounds fitting themselves in next to the Aga, I can’t even get at cupboard, counter, sink and kettle to make my tea. Summer. I want summer.^
^ But not hot summer. Nice, friendly, temperate–not to say grey and frequently chilly–British summer. Not this new Mediterranean thing that is all the rage.
†† One of the stems has a tiny green rosebud on it. I’m putting it out every day in 40-degree weather! Tell it to STOP!
††† There was a time, even within my life span, when you could get lobster bodies cheap, because no one bothers^ with anything but the big claws and the tails, and then you go home and boil them and voila, lobster stock. Which makes the most amazing bouillabaisse you can imagine.
^ Almost no one. As previously observed, I like playing with my food. There are a few of us around.
‡ I can worry about anything. Besides, in adversity one becomes attached.
‡‡‡ Especially by the people who live there. I was comparing notes in the forum a night or two ago about snow in places like Tokyo and Washington DC, where the roads instantly become impassable, not on account of the twelve snowflakes that have just fallen, but because every car has immediately slid off the road sideways when every driver has panicked.
§ PEGASUS, hellhounds, bell ringing: we had six for service ring this morning. Yaay.
§§ Does anyone know if he likes chocolate?
§§§ You can make an excellent peach cobbler out of dry tasteless shop peaches with this recipe: just be sure to use the full ¼ c of your chosen booze. I imagine sweet sherry would work too. Remember the alcohol will cook off: this is still a teetotal recipe. And you really won’t get enough flavour out of apple juice.
Orange horse is fabulous. I am a little bit in love.
It’s funny that so many of you like him, because these photos are not good. He really didn’t have any butt when he came, although he’s beginning to grow one now, but he has a perfectly nice neck and a nice clean throat latch, and you’d never know it here. And of course he’s half asleep. I keep thinking that I hope that people who know what they’re looking at when they’re looking at a horse can see the potential there and I haven’t totally disguised it.
Particularly like the one where he’s got one leg delicately back, gives him a rather insouciant look… Is the dog on the left the terrier you’ve mentioned? He’s pretty charming too.
She. Yes, that’s Clover. Clover is a fruit loop, as terriers so often are*, although she is a very nice fruit loop**. I don’t think I’ve told you the Car Story? She has me pegged as a soft touch, so when she’s been let out of durance vile in the tack room*** she tends to follow me around, flinging herself on her back at intervals so that I can rub her tummy.† It didn’t take long for her to start following me back to my car. One day, when I opened the door, she jumped in. I laughed appreciatively, picked her up, and put her back on the ground. She immediately jumped back in the car again. I tried getting in the car before I put her out and she could still get back in before I could close the door: I swear she turns in midair, like a boomerang. So I thought okay, fine, started the car, and rolled downhill to the gate: Clover sat happily in the passenger seat: Great! Where are we going? Is it fun? Does it involve food?†† I left the door open while I opened the gate. Clover waved her tail madly when I got back in the car. I left the door open when I went back to close the gate. . . . Clover was still sitting in the passenger seat waiting for her next adventure. At this point I fished her out, grasped her firmly, and went in search of Jenny. . . . Clover still follows me out to my car pretty often, and has a nice little ride down to the gate, but she usually then gets out of her own accord. Usually. Sometimes I still have to go find Jenny.
Clover’s mum, Sparkle, has her own variation on a theme of human interaction, hijacking, and tummy rubbing. She likes to lie down in the road in front of the gate and roll over on her back. She rolls over on her back for cars, because she has figured out that cars have people in them, and when they get, crossly, out of their cars to move her, chances are they will relent when she waves her paws madly, wags her tail like sixty and flattens her ears at them. There are days that between the two of them–since chances are I have Clover in the passenger seat while I’m moving her mum–I wonder if I’m going to get home at all.
And he looks a lovely horse, but surely he’s chestnut rather than orange?
Mmrmph. Er, yes. I’m afraid I’m having my little joke about his colour because I do not like chestnuts. I didn’t like Palominos even when I was a little girl. I think it’s against the law for horse-mad girls not to like Palominos.
(Of course, I have practically zero experience of horses…) Any way, I think he’s a gorgeous colour.
Many people like chestnuts. There is no accounting for these things.
*pets Roland cautiously*
He’s a very sweet horse. He will put his head in your chest so you can rub his ears better. That is, in fact, what he’s trying to do in those pictures, and why he won’t stand still. He thinks there’s a perfectly good human on the other end of the lead rope and he doesn’t want to stand over here when she could be making herself useful by petting him.
R and B says:
He’s lovely–looks built uphill even at this age! How old is he–did I miss that? He looks to be about 16h?
He looks extremely nice going under saddle–there’s enough in the front and enough in the rear to balance. He’ll be four in March, and he’s 16.3. That’s another case of the camera lying–Jenny’s quite small, but I must be shooting them at more of an angle than I realise, because if she’s small he must be about 15 hands and I can say, having stood in his shadow, that he’s large.
But he really is a chestnut, right??
Snork! No, he’s ORANGE! Diane in MN says that horse people call her fawn Danes ‘golden chestnut’ which I find peculiar–dog fawn ought to be dun or buckskin in horse terms, which would then say certain things about its breeding.†††
Lucy Coats says:
But maybe orange only in the way that turning beech leaves in autumn are orange.
Oooh. Imagine a copper-beech-coloured horse. (Note to those of you who have never seen a copper beech: they’re, um, purple. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jacqamoe/166343428/ )
I am looking out at a magnificent tree in our field as I type–and it seems like exactly his colour. He looks as if he has what is known up here as ‘a kind eye’.
Yes, he does. They’re a little small–mind you, I’m spoiled, Connie has those enormous deer eyes that Connemaras are prone to–which is one of the things I didn’t like about him when I went with Jenny to look for a horse, but as soon as he turns it on you you change your mind. Especially after he’s craned over his stable door to put his head in your chest and say ‘pet me’.
Diane in MN says:
Am I right in thinking that mares come in season quite frequently until they’re bred?
Yikes, no. Well, sort of. They’re like a lot of other critters in that they tend not to come in season during the winter, and lengthening days bring them back into their fertile cycles–racehorse breeding mares live in barns with sunlamps so they can get them cycling early in the year, for example–and the cycle is usually around three weeks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_reproduction And there are certainly people who won’t touch mares because mares can be moody on account of fluctuating hormones. Well, yes. And there are certainly mares who are a real pain to have around when they’re fertile–and if you were sensible you would not breed them so as not to produce more mares like that. I mean, they do come into season if they aren’t bred and pregnant, but most working mares are fairly low key about it, or at worst are only a bit twitchy a day or two per cycle during high summer. Jenny is extremely cross about Connie because she says she’s never been ‘mare-ish’ before, and she’s had her three years or so–and that furthermore it’s spreading and here it is November when the estrous cycle should be closing down for the winter and there are several mares on the yard who are prancing around and whinnying and peeing. Roland is a gelding. Get a grip, girls.
Puppies are adorable — and puppyhood is also hell, and when I’m going through it with one I can’t wait for it to be over! I really don’t understand people who keep puppies until they grow up and then want to give them to the pound; they’ve paid their dues and are about to get their reward, for heaven’s sake! Old dogs just get richer with age.
The people I totally take my hat off to are the ones that raise seeing-eye puppies. Year after year after year of puppy–as you might say ‘hay fever’ or ‘foot rot’–as soon as it’s old enough to start proper training, it’s gone, and they have another wretched puppy peeing on the floor and eating their shoes. I repeat: puppies are darling, but puppyhood is still something you get through to have dogs. But some of the idiots who take their post-puppies to the pound are in shock from adolescence. You hear a lot about puppyhood but the facts of adolescence are downplayed. She says feelingly, her aging adolescents being fast asleep about three feet away. But people forget that brains take longer to grow up than bodies do and foolishly despair.
Diane in MN says:
This puppy is obviously very good at looking like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. It would be interesting to know how long it takes, after he settles in, for the halo to slip. Of course, he may be like MY puppy, whose halo has barely budged.
He arrived halo-free: don’t let that face mislead you. Look at those calculating little eyes. This is not a hearts-and-flowers puppy but a right little bruiser. I understand that the sock population in that house has already dropped dramatically. However given that he’s still about three inches square and has been pitched into a family of about fifteen (technically it’s only Daisy and Roy, but in practise it’s also three kids, three spouses/spouse equivalents, eight grandchildren, and the odd in law) this is exactly what he should be.
You want to encourage your perfect puppy to eat the occasional small noncrucial piece of furniture or when he hits adolescence he’ll suddenly think, yeep, what am I missing, and start staying out all night and coming home drunk and disorderly in the company of girls of dubious virtue.
Some people think that having more than one pet makes you love them all less
Pet [sic] peeve alert. This philosophy–and I get it too, although I only have two critters instead of eleven‡–makes me nuts. What is the matter with these people? Hearts are infinitely expandable. There are critters, just like there are people, which are easier and harder to love, but the more people of all ages, sexes, species, etc you have in your life, the more room(s) in your heart you have. The end of a well-lived life your heart is going to look like Gormenghast Castle, only cheerfuller.
- no! it just means there is fur to bawl into when the time comes…
That too of course. Sigh.
Mrs Redboots says:
Having a new puppy is like having a new baby – thankfully, though, the “must-be-aware-of-what-she’s-doing-every-second” phase only lasts about six months, compared with about five years in humans!
Six months! You have had much mellower, more amenable puppies than I have! (However, all mine have thrown up in the car on the drive home from the breeder, so obviously I’m doing something wrong!) The saving grace of puppies over human children, if you’re asking me, who never raised any of the human variety, is that you can lock them up in their crate and run away for a few hours if you have to.
Skating librarian says
|Can anybody tell me enough about the taste [of chestnuts] so that I’d know whether I should give them another try? Thanks!|
Susan from Athens says:
Well it’s a very nutty taste. In purree form it is very thick and sticky in mouth – somewhat like peanut butter (the smooth kind, obviously – but I don’t particularly like peanut butter).
Ewwwww! I love peanut butter and I love chestnuts, glaceed, pureed, or any thing else, but I deny that chestnut puree is anything like peanut butter. It’s much lighter and airier than any nut butter, smooth, barely sticky, and while chestnuts are nutty, they always taste to me like a near relative of a real nut rather than like a nut themselves. Chestnut puree tastes to me like something with nuts in it, not like nut puree.
Melissa Mead says:
I’ve always thought they taste vaguely maple-y. Sort of like a rich smoked maple hazelnut? I didn’t like them as a kid, either, but I’m slowly coming to. Roasted, they have an almost soft texture.
Soft and a bit crumbly, yes. And yes . . . almost mapley. And yes, a bit more hazelnutty than . . . well, than peanuts, or cashews or something. Mapley hadn’t occurred to me (although crumbled chestnuts are good in waffles. . . . But then since I like chestnuts I’m liable to throw them experimentally into all kinds of things) but I think you’re right. They aren’t themselves sweet but they taste like they might be somehow.
My mother had a version of this recipe , known as Slut’s chocolate chestnut log because it was so quick and easy. She used icing sugar and rum instead of caster and orange juice. And wrapped the whole thing in silver foil instead of putting it in a tin.
I don’t myself use tin foil–it’s also implicated in those of us with auto-immune problems–but icing sugar works fine, and rum is excellent. My original recipe called for orange liqueur rather than orange essence, but I prefer the essence if you’re going for orange.
We ARE a cult! Yaay! Robin has a cult following!!!
I’m still worrying about this. . . . Following me where . . . .
* * *
* All right, name me a dog family that doesn’t have serious fruit loop tendencies. But they do vary. Terrier fruitloopery is significantly different from hellhound fruitloopery for example.
** And my Exhibit A when the hellhounds and I have just been jumped by another nasty, aggressive little, or, worse, not-so-little s.o.b. of a terrier and I’m shouting that I hate terriers
*** Or when she escapes, which also happens. It is very difficult to get into a tack room carrying a saddle and not let a terrier bent on freedom out. Then you rack the saddle hastily and go in pursuit. I’ve chased her into the schooling ring where Jenny is giving a lesson more than once. Generally speaking it’s very nice using Jenny’s tack room instead of one of the two bigger ones for the boarders, but the terrier situation is problematic.
† I’m with Jodi about fuzzy tummies. I’d be an instant ferret slave too.
†† Clover, unlike other dogs we could mention, has a positive attitude toward food.
††† http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equine_coat_color This is not really satisfactory and only barely scratches the surface. But there’s a lot out there about colour types and genetics . . . which I’ve just wasted most of half an hour on and I still have to play the piano tonight. . . .
‡ Or is it fifteen now, and you’re just afraid to tell us?
It’s way over time for a recipe.* Also, I’m hungry.** And this time of year I always think of chestnuts. I love chestnuts. Although you can perfectly well get tinned chestnut puree all year round, and this is a chilly thing so not really suitable to November.*** Never mind. The point is there is a world beyond crumbled whole chestnuts in your Brussels sprouts.†
Chestnut and chocolate pudding††
Yes, it’s in horrible metric. But 300g chocolate is merely 3 100g bars of Green and Black’s, and over here anyway 435g is a standard size of chestnut puree tin. Also I have a kitchen scales which is in fact very sleek and pretty and a pleasure to use and it converts.
Oh, and this freezes beautifully. You might consider if it’s worth pre-slicing it, so you can just crack off a slab or two at a time: there’s a lot of good group food out there which you can’t do this to, so it’s very useful for those of us with small households and waistline problems. The original recipe says you can slice it frozen, with a knife dipped in hot water. Maybe they used a different kind of knife and a different kind of water. My experience is that this doesn’t work and makes a nasty smeary mess.
300g plain (dark) chocolate (semi-sweet cooking chocolate, approximately. Do I have to remind you you want good quality chocolate?)
435g can unsweetened chestnut puree
175g/6 oz slightly salted butter (call it 12 T: http://www.ez-calculators.com/measurement-conversion-calculator.htm )
175g/6 oz caster/superfine sugar (call it ¾ c). I made it with granulated once and it was not crunchy.
¼ c orange juice
1 tsp orange essence
You can use an ordinary big (9″) loaf tin, but if you have a drop-sided one, use it.††† Grease it, whatever it is.
You’re supposed to beat the puree on its own till it’s light and fluffy but my experience is that chestnut puree on its own does not get light and fluffy. I melt the butter and chocolate (gently‡) together and then pour it slowly into the puree, and beat like mad–use your electric mixer. Then beat in sugar. Then add orange juice and essence and beat again.
Pour and scrape the result into your loaf tin. Smooth the top [duh], cover with greaseproof paper and chill overnight at least, and in the cold part of your refrigerator. Then let the sides down and pluck it out. I find that in an ordinary loaf tin you can slice it in the tin and ease the individual slices out.
* * *
* Also, I have to get up at what passes in my case for the crack of dawn tomorrow morning–Connie and I are going to baby-sit young Roland and Jenny on a nice hack over the beautiful Hampshire countryside, which we have to get in before Jenny’s first lesson of the day. This could be extremely amusing in several different directions. In the first place, while Connie is a perfectly good trail horse, she is far from what you could call bombproof, and I think I told you that I was delighted when Jenny told me a few weeks ago that she’d taken her out on a hack and she had been shying constantly in every direction^ at shadows, falling leaves, imaginary pheasants^^ and so on: I mean, she does it to Jenny too. My guess would be that Roland will be better-mannered than she is. However the second gremlin in the soup is that Connie and Roland are seriously sweet on each other–Connie, drat her, has come back into season again, and they spend a lot of time murmuring fondly to each other through the bit of grating at Connie’s end of Roland’s stall. I have no idea how this is going to translate riding out together–in the usual run of things they both have a good attitude toward their work–but I’m sure it’s going to make some variation on a theme of oops, wheee and arrrrrgh.
Meanwhile it’s already late in the evening because I’ve been ringing handbells. . . .
^^ She is, in the curious way of horses, usually rather good about real pheasants.+ The answer to this would be that it’s not an imaginary pheasant, she wouldn’t be frightened of a pheasant, it’s an imaginary tiger. This would make a certain amount of sense if she didn’t also shy dramatically at butterflies and dandelion clocks and so on. Okay, wait, the butterflies are the eyelashes of the blinking dragon++ who is invisible except for his eyelashes–this is a story passed down through thousands of years of domestic horse life from mare to foal. And the dandelion clocks are the subterranean goblin outpost antennae. Okay. Got it now.
+ I said usually
++ Not the friendly kind of dragon
** But then, I usually am hungry. Sigh. Menopause. Lose Your Interest in Food or Gain a Whole New Wardrobe.
*** Unless you’re in Oz, of course, or some other place down there.
† I also love crumbled whole chestnuts in my Brussels sprouts.
†† No, not an ideal recipe for a crabby menopausal woman who suddenly finds herself gaining weight by profligate breathing. I’m sure typing the dadblatted recipe is going to cost me a pound or two. At the signing last week I ate two tiny brownie-y things, one spider^, and a glass of hot chocolate. And I had carrots and hummous for supper, going home on the train. And I was almost two pounds up next day. Arrrrgh.
^ No, no–it’s a kind of butter cookie
††† I only have one–cupboard space is limited–and it’s too small. After agonies of custard cups for the overflow I just used an ordinary loaf tin which works fine, although you have to be a little careful. You’ll feel safer using drop-sided.
‡ Chocolate does burn easily, and it will taste scorched before it burns. But it doesn’t burn or taste scorched as easily as its reputation says it does, and melting it with butter gives you a much better quality of barrel to roll over Niagara in.