Ruth Doan MacDougall: "Ruth's Neighborhood"

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April - June , 2023


June 25, 2023

          On a recent trip to an appointment, my friend Wanda and I went past the 104 Diner in New Hampton. As I’ve reported before, its sign’s messages are always entertaining, and on this day we saw:
          Don’t Worry
          Be Frappey
          I’ve written about how in New Hampshire we pronounce “frappe” as “frap.” So this fit right into a “Happy” substitute. My mother learned the fancy “frapPAY” pronunciation in her youth in Massachusetts; when she heard Penny and me saying “frap,” she fretted more than ever about our acquiring New Hampshire accents even though my father had pointed out to her that their daughters were New Hampshire natives, after all. He should’ve said, “Don’t worry, be frappey!”
          Of course the sign brought back memories of having my first frappes at Weeks Dairy Bar (the inspiration for my fictional Hooper’s Dairy Bar, complete with Awful-Awfuls) and of learning to make frappes when I started working at Sawyer’s Dairy Bar the summer of 1955 and continuing to make them the next summer at Keller’s Restaurant (inspiration for the fictional Sweetland).
          This led to thoughts about Gifford’s Ice Cream. In the July issue of Down East magazine I read an update about a fire last February at this Skowhegan, Maine, ice-cream factory. Their ice cream is sold in New Hampshire supermarkets, and Don and I were fans. After we’d done a couple of tours of the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, Vermont, I thought it would also be fun to see Gifford’s factory, so I got in touch and asked; they kindly said yes, and we went there, too. The Down East piece was reassuring: Before the fire Gifford’s could “churn out a whopping 14,000 gallons of frozen dairy per day, and scoops from its stands—in Bangor, Farmington, Waterville, and Skowhegan—are a rite of summer . . . Gifford’s managed to temporarily contract [eek! split infinitive!] out production—and to open all four stands on time. Retail availability lagged, and some flavors were missing, but the Skowhegan factory should be up and running again by fall. Then, next summer is pretty much just around the corner.”
          Wanda and I continued on to my appointment. In the waiting room, we noticed two women in nearby chairs, one of them holding up her phone for the other to see, and both of them laughing. They noticed our interest, and the phone was turned so we could see—a sandwich? They explained that they were thinking of going to lunch at the Meltdown in West Leb (a NH town whose full name is West Lebanon). This is a restaurant I hadn’t known about before and Don and I would surely have gone there if we’d known. What they’d discovered on the website was, in addition to main-meal melts, this picture of a dessert melt: cheesecake and strawberries between grilled slices of pound cake!
          Wanda and I marveled, but West Leb wasn’t on our route home. Thus we stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Enfield instead.
          And in Enfield I saw another entertaining sign, one for a beauty salon:
          The Hairport

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


June 18, 2023

           Eek! Autumn already? This is what I thought when I saw that the May 29th issue of Publishers Weekly featured the “Fall 2023 Adult Announcements.” Then I was amused by what other meanings “adult announcements” could have and I calmed down and continued reading:
“A fall preview in time for Memorial Day? We like to be ahead of the game here at PW but that must be some kind of mistake, right?
“This is indeed our fall 2023 adult announcements issue, and we moved it up a few weeks for a great reason: the third annual U.S. Book Show, which ran from May 22 to May 25 . . . ”
           These are the books to be published in autumn that caught my fancy:
           Art, Architecture & Photography section: Manet/Degas: Stephan Wolohojian and Ashley E. Dunn. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sept. 12. Essays and illustrations explore the friendship and rivalry of the two French impressionists.
           Cooking & Food section: A History of the World in 10 Dinners: 2,000 Years, 100 Recipes, Victoria Flexner and Jay Reifel. Rizzoli, Oct. 17. Food historian Flexner and chef Reifel mine the culinary past for exemplary meals to recreate, from Tudor feasts to dishes from the court of the Sun King and classics of the early American restaurant scene.
           History section: Eyeliner: a Cultural History. Zahra Hankir. Penguin, Nov. 14. This millennia-spanning history of eyeliner draws on interviews with nomads in Chad, geishas in Japan, and drag queens in New York City to illuminate the significance of an ancient art.
           Lifestyle section: Our Little Farm: Adventures in Sustainable Living. Peter and Miriam Wohlleben, trans. by Jane Billinghurst. Greystone, Sept. 19. The author of The Hidden Life of Trees and his wife recall moving to a remote forest lodge in the 1990s and learning how to plant, harvest, and preserve their own food.
           Science section: Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution. Cat Bohannon. Knopf, Oct. 3. Bohannon’s debut traces the evolution of and busts [!] myths about the female body. 150,000-copy announced first printing.”

           Then I returned to the present season. It’s still springtime, lushly green here. And summer officially arrives on Wednesday!

           I recently wrote about posts on the Sandwich Board; one of them announced the upcoming Annual Dessert Auction on June 10th. On last Tuesday’s Sandwich Board I was happy to learn, as I’m sure you’ll be, that it was a scrumptious success:
“Thanks to the wonderful participation at our Annual Dessert Auction this past Saturday, we were blessed with raising $3,474 to give to the Children’s Summer Lunch Program through the Lakes Region Food Pantry. Amazing! Thanks to you all who baked, help set up and take down, and those who attended and bid very generously!”

           And in the “Sandwich News” section of the weekly Meredith News, there was June history from an old Sandwich newspaper:

“Historical Society Director Jim Mykland has pulled together some interesting entries from the Sandwich Reporter (1883-1944).

           “June 6, 1889:The Secretary of the Board of Agriculture (has released reports for 1888 as follows): Sandwich, pounds of butter made, 103,500; pounds of cheese, 200; pounds of wool grown, 4,215; tons of ensilage fed, 90; tons of commercial fertilizer used, 100; cash from summer boarders, $6,500.

           “June 11, 1891: It is expected that we will soon have a telephone line in operation to Meredith, connecting there with the Laconia system.

           “June 25, 1891: Frank Atwood had new peas and potatoes for his dinner yesterday, Wednesday, raised on his farm.

           The farming items made me think about my father’s farming years.
           Happy Father’s Day!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


June 11, 2023

            At the beginning of the month of June, my mother always quoted the first line of a James Russell Lowell poem, “And what is so rare as a day in June?” This year I looked up the poem to refresh my memory, and the next lines are:

Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten . . .

            But this year, alas, June’s days have been filled with the smoke from Canadian wildfires that we’ve seen out our windows or on TV. Here in New Hampshire we’re comparatively lucky, but there were “air quality” warnings and even in Sandwich the skies were hazy with a charred smell.  And of course there’s the heartsick sadness for the Canadian people—and their wildlife and trees.
            During this I found myself thinking of that saying about certainty, “It’s dollars to doughnuts.” Yes, dollars to doughnuts the weather will be awful again today. And my mind, seeking comfort, naturally turned it into comfort food. Wildfires to doughnuts.
            On June 2nd, Maine’s WCSH-TV’s “Morning Report” told me the day was National Doughnut Day. So their Stumper question was: Which city has the most doughnut stores per capita? Multiple choice: a. Providence, RI; b. Boston, MA; c. Dallas, TX; d. Louisville, KY. The hosts and I were loyal to New England; Sharon, Lee, and I chose Boston and Todd chose Providence. Todd was right!
            Coincidentally, in May I’d been listening to an audiobook of Carolyn Brown’s Devine Doughnut Shop: “Doughnuts, dynasties, and drama—all in a day’s work at the [Devine, Texas] bakery.” It had made me realize I hadn’t had a doughnut in two years, not since—as I wrote about here in June 2021—I saw WCSH’s news about National Doughnut Day and was inspired to buy a doughnut in the bakery section of the Center Harbor supermarket. A cinnamon-sugar doughnut.
            So one May afternoon when my friend Wanda and I were approaching a Dunkin’ Donuts on our way home after an appointment and she suggested we stop, I agreed enthusiastically. We both decided not to have a sandwich, but a doughnut—in the afternoon!
I            ’d been hearing about fancy doughnuts in the audiobook so at the Dunkin’ Donuts I chose a plain one, for contrast. Oh, when biting in, the sudden memory of the only deep-fat frying my mother did, the doughnuts I remember her making only a couple of times, using a Fannie Farmer recipe, telling Penny and me to BE CAREFUL as we helped!
            And then came the memories of all the times Don and I stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts in our travels near (Laconia) and far (Maine). Decisions, decisions; chocolate or glazed or jelly or ? After I heard about Boston Cream Doughnuts on one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum audiobooks, that’s what we ordered for years because we loved Boston Cream Pies. And now I savored the plain doughnut.
            The last lines of the June poem have, ironically, a smell rather like the haze that invaded my yard:

The soul partakes the season’s youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep ’neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


June 4, 2023, 2023

                                                                                       June 1, 4, 2023                      
                               IN THE BEDROOM

           As the years go by, houses seem to collect memories in physical form as well as mental, don’t they! Last week as I was doing the mundane daily chore of making the bed, I suddenly felt dazzled by the springtime sunshine revealing just how many memories surrounded me.
           Most are creations. Let’s start with needlework. On one wall there’s a framed piece of embroidery I first saw at my grandparents’ house. The embroidery says that it was made by “Ernestine E. Doan”; she dated it “April 3, 1938.” My grandparents had been married on April 3, 1906, so my mother had sewn this for an anniversary present. It shows the front of a house, the door a bower of intricate little pink flowers and green leaves. There are two black Scottie dogs, one looking out the door at the other on the front steps. My mother’s family dog had been a collie, so these Scotties had no significance—but lots of cuteness. (Decades later my sister had a Scottie named Skye.)
           On another wall there’s needlework done by my grandmother, flowers on a hassock cover. Don and I eventually inherited the hassock. The fabric was wearing out; Don put a new cover of plain blue fabric on the hassock and saved my grandmother’s flowers by framing them.
           In yarn, Don’s Aunt Irene embroidered a long rectangular scene of two swans and four little cygnets swimming on blue water amid marshy grasses and cat-o-nine tails. Don rescued this from his parents’ attic. Aunt Irene and Uncle Bob had lived on a farm in New Durham, NH, with woodstoves and oil lamps, and we envisioned her sewing the warm scene on wintry evenings.
           And speaking of winter: My father was a “Sunday painter” whose first painting that I remember watching him do was devoted to winter. In the Laconia apartment in which we lived in the 1940s, he worked from a photo of the farmhouse in which we’d lived before. He explained to me how he was doing the painting in blues, even the snow, so the farmer’s mittens would be the only other color, red. Snow is halfway up the windows, and the farmer is trudging between snowbanks to the unseen barn carrying a milking pail. This painting is now here on a bedroom wall. I remember it on his easel and how he gave me a small piece of board so I could do a painting, too,.
           There’s a seascape on a wall, done by my father when attending classes taught by artist Loran Percy who lived nearby in Gilford. Throughout the house are more of my father’s paintings. But I must stick to the subject of the bedroom! The other painting here is one Don did, a still life of a gold-colored bowl and pitcher and a red book.
           However, Don’s main creations here are the hope chest and a radio-record-player cabinet he built in high-school shop (just like Tom in The Cheerleader). He and the shop teacher designed them to match his parents’ bedroom set. A few years later, when Don and I moved into the married students’ barracks at Keene Teachers’ College, his parents made the glorious gesture of giving the entire set to us, bed, two bureaus, hope chest, cabinet. More years later, when Don and I went off to live in England, we returned them all to his parents. Many years later, his widowed mother took them to an assisted-living home. And then they returned to us.
  Also in the bedroom are framed prints of paintings and lots of photos and . . .

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  



May 28, 2023

              My dear friend Winifred, who lives in Michigan, recently mentioned that she had discovered how tasty and handy dried blueberries are. She’d found them in a local “specialty” grocery store; they’d come from Cherry Bay Orchards of Traverse City. She described a favorite salad she makes: mesclun, dried blueberries (or dried cherries or cranberries if dried blueberries aren’t available), pine nuts, bleu cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette.
              I had never eaten or even heard of dried blueberries before. Of course they and the salad sounded so delicious that I had to get hold of some, so I checked our local supermarket to no avail and then went online. Amid the dried blueberries there, I saw a familiar brand name: Wyman’s, “Family owned in Maine since 1874.” I ordered a bag of their whole dried wild blueberries.
              And now I have made Winifred’s salad. Blueberries-and-bleu-cheese bliss! I’ll be making it often.
              In the “Food & Cooking” section of the May 15th issue of Publishers Weekly, it was fun to read about foods I might have made in my serious cooking years. Here are the three cookbooks that appealed the most:
              Love is a Pink Cake: Irresistible Bakes for Morning, Noon and Night, by Claire Ptak, published by Norton in May.

              The review begins, “Ptak (The Violet Bakery Cookbook), the baker behind Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding cake, shares drool-worthy sweet and savory baked goods from her upbringing in California as well as her adopted, and adapted, favorites from England. The bakes are stunning yet achievable; the secret to getting a tender crumb for the four-layer blackberry jam cake is to blend fat with flour rather than first creaming it with sugar.” The review continues, “Throughout, Ptak shares wisdom that will be treasured by home bakers: . . .  muffin batter should always be under-mixed . . .  Ptak asserts that ‘baking is, in its own way, a love story,’ and her own love shines through.”

              After I discovered couscous—when was that, the 1980s?—it became a staple in my larder. So I was interested in the varieties mentioned in the review of The North African Cook Book, by Jeff Koehler, published by Phaidon in May: “James Beard Award winner Koehler (La Paella) dives deep into the food and culture of North Africa in this first-class guided tour through the local fare of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya ...Couscous dishes abound, including seven-vegetable couscous (which Koehler asserts could take the crown as Morocco’s ‘national dish’), couscous with grouper (a ‘defining” dish of coastal Tunisia), and sweet couscous with cinnamon-scented milk.”

              Cook Color: A Rainbow of 100 Recipes, by Maria Zizka, published by Artisan in May: “‘There’s a satisfaction to cooking and eating something that tastes just like it looks,’ writes Zizka (One-Bowl Meals) in this striking and unique guide to cooking by color. Without using any dyes or artificial additives, Zizka creates visually stunning monochromatic dishes using the natural color of her ingredients: pumpkin pancakes, for example, get a boost of orange by adding some ground turmeric to the batter.”
              The dried blueberries brought back memories of my grandmother’s blueberry muffins, which my mother also made from her recipe; Penny and I did, too, and so does Thane.  I used fresh or frozen blueberries, usually ones I’d picked. How about dried? The Wyman’s package says, “Enjoy in granola, baked goods, salads—or straight from the bag!” So if I were still baking, I’d be trying them in my grandmother’s recipe. I’ve posted the recipe here before; it’s unique because it doesn’t have an egg. Our family has loved these muffins down through the years, including the latest generation, Thane’s son, Hamish!

Ruth Houghton Crone’s Sour-Milk Blueberry Muffins

              Into 1 c. sour milk (1 c. sweet milk, add 2 T. vinegar, let stand 15 minutes), put:
                            1 t. baking powder
                            1 t. salt
                            ½ t. baking soda
              Stir well and add:
                            2 c. flour
                            1 c. blueberries
                            1 c. sugar (Penny and Thane and I cut this in half!)
                            2 T. melted butter
              Bake 25 minutes in 400-degree oven.
              1 dozen

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


May 21, 2023

               Here are the Sandwich Board posts I enjoyed most last week:

“Gerbil Essentials: Does anyone want these? Opened but still good.” This was accompanied by a photo of a bag with the brand name Essentials.

“Traveling north [to Sandwich] in the next couple of weeks. Anyone have a black fly report? 0—10, 0 being haven’t seen any to 10 being it’s a feeding frenzy. Thanks.”


“Dozens of them on the front of my car.” Photo: car speckled with black flies.

“Keep driving around, you are decimating the population nicely.”

“Everyone needs an emergency clown nose: available at Bearcamp Center yard sale.” (Photo: clown nose in emergency bottle.)

“Anyone interested in a dozen duck eggs a week?”

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


May 14, 2023

               Happy Mother’s Day!

               I’ve been remembering all the blueberry picking on Belknap Mountain that Penny and I did with Ernie, our mother.
               I’ve written here before about the first time Penny and I climbed this mountain near our Laconia home: we didn’t actually climb it; Dan, our father, carried me and lugged Penny in his pack-basket. Ernie followed. I think this might have been the only time Ernie actually climbed to the summit and saw its fire tower and view. She wasn’t an enthusiastic hiker, but she had seen the blueberry bushes surrounding the trailhead’s parking area so on subsequent outings to Belknap Mountain Dan climbed the mountain while she picked blueberries and babysat. When Penny and I were older, sometimes we climbed with Dan, sometimes we blueberried with Ernie, and sometimes we did both.
               The first page of The Conway Daily Sun’s May 6th issue was devoted to a photo of a fire tower on Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard and the headline sure grabbed my attention: “Tower Baggers: New Hampshire invites you to go on a Fire Lookout Tower Quest.” The article was written by “Award-winning Sun bicycling and skiing columnist Marty Basch.”
               He began, “If hiking lists such as the New Hampshire 48 4,000-footers and 52 with a View are your thing, you might be surprised to learn that there’s a Granite State list that could be flying under your radar. If you think those above accomplishments are a bit lofty for your trekking tastes and are looking to get into the list game, the good news is you don’t even have to finish the entire 15 peaks on it to get a nifty patch, a water bottle sticker, and a certificate from the state.
“It’s time to become a tower bagger.
               “Get going on the New Hampshire Fire Lookout Tower Quest, which takes hikers all over the state to towers maintained by the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands.”
               The article concluded, “Thinking of undertaking the New Hampshire Fire Tower Quest? Get started at the NH Division of Forests and Lands website at and for some safety tips.” Then came a list of the “Tall 15.” Out of curiosity, I counted the ones I’ve done over all these years, some more than once:
               Belknap Mountain, Blue Job, Cardigan Mountain, Kearsarge Mountain, Magalloway Mountain, Pack Monadnock, Oak Hill, Pawtuckaway, Red Hill. And in my imagination I’ve climbed my fictional Mount Pascataquac up to Tom’s fire tower!
Of the real tower-mountains, which is my favorite? Of course it’s Belknap and all its memories. My last hike there, several years ago, was with the Sandwich Over-the-Hill Hikers. I mentioned our hiking plans to Hal Graham, who was the lookout on the tower for many years. He and Dan had been friends and when I began updating Dan’s hiking books Hal was a tremendous help with this—and also with my fictional fire tower. Hal and Peggy, his wife, met the Over-the-Hillers at the trailhead and led us up to the summit, where we chatted and ate our lunch beside the tower. Then Hal and Peggy led us down. A beautiful day.

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


May 7, 2023

               In The Husband Bench or Bev’s Book, I wrote:

          Bev remembered an illustration in her childhood copy of Anne of Green Gables, Anne at a stream, with a quotation from Longfellow:
       Standing with reluctant feet,
  Where the brook and river meet.

          Like many of my childhood books, my copy of Anne of Green Gables had been my mother’s and had spent the ensuing decades in my grandparents’ attic. Ernie, my mother, read it to me, and later I read and reread it, then the sequels, which were new books, presents from my Grandmother Ruth.
          I thought of all this while reading in the April/May issue of Smithsonian magazine a fascinating article by Vanessa Braganza, “More Than Anne: The life of L. M. Montgomery was less charmed than her most beloved heroine might have you believe.” The article begins with Braganza sitting “by the lake in the area of Park Corner on Prince Edward Island, where Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the beloved 1908 children’s novel Anne of Green Gables, spent her childhood summers.” As you know, Don and I “collected” several Maine islands. I always hoped we’d go onward to Canada’s Prince Edward Island so I could see Anne’s surroundings and visit the Park Corner house, “originally the home of the novelist’s Aunt Annie and Uncle John Campbell [that is] now the Anne of Green Gables Museum,” but somehow we didn’t get that far.
          Readers assume Anne is L. M. Montgomery, but we learn in the article this isn’t true: “‘People were never right in saying I was Anne,’ she told a fellow writer, Ephraim Weber, in a 1921 letter, ‘but, in some respects, they will be right if they write me down as Emily.’ She was referring to Emily of New Moon, a later novel, the first in a series about the difficulty of making it as a young female writer.”
          WHAT??? I was astounded: Montgomery wrote another series? I was horrified: why had I never heard about Emily?
          Another quotation from Montgomery tells us how Montgomery felt about this new venture: “‘Today I finished Emily of New Moon, after six months writing,’ she announced in her journal. ‘It is the best book I have ever written—and I have had more intense pleasure in writing it than any of the others—not even excepting Green Gables. I have lived it, and I hated to pen the last line and write finis.’”
          Braganza explains that “Like the novels of Louisa May Alcott or Mary Wollstonecraft, Emily made the (then-revolutionary) point that young women’s literary ambitions deserved to be taken seriously.” And about Montgomery’s heroines: “ . . . while Anne was a charmed story, Emily was in many respects closer to the author’s reality.”
          Needless to say, I will be making up for lost time and reading Emily. Meanwhile, I reread Longfellow’s “Maidenhood” poem; here’s a bit of it before and after the lines Bev remembered from Anne:

Maiden! With the meek, brown eyes
In whose orbs a shadow lies
Like the dusk in evening skies!

Thou whose locks outshine the sun
Golden tresses wreathed in one,
As the braided streamlets run!

Standing with reluctant feet,
Where the brook and river meet,
Womanhood and childhood fleet! . . .

O, thou child of many prayers!
Life hath quicksands,—Life hath snares!
Care and age come unawares! . . .

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  



April 30, 2023                               

               Last Tuesday at nearly 10 a.m. I was at the dining-room table, my main desk nowadays, and on my computer I was working on Off Shore when I heard the loudest BOOM ever heard in this house, which shook.
               The noise didn’t sound like a plane breaking a sound barrier. All I could think of was dynamite; it sounded like a dynamite factory exploding! Well, we don’t have a dynamite factory in Sandwich, but was some blasting going on, smack in this section of town? I stepped outdoors. Everything seemed normal again.               
               I calmed down, went back to work, but on the dot of noon I turned on the TV to New Hampshire’s WMUR Channel 9 noon news. Earthquake!! 2.9, and the epicenter was in the Squam Lake area of Sandwich!!! Our house is about a half mile from Squam so no wonder the sound was LOUD. Don and I had experienced other earthquakes over the years, but the noise was less, though still scary; I remember that once we thought a snowplow had run into the house.
               On the NH evening news, Channel 9 (in Manchester) sent a reporter all the way to Sandwich to do a broadcast from the little park in the village center.

               Now for some laughter: Carol Burnett’s 90th birthday inspired Wednesday’s Stumper on Maine’s WCSH Channel 6 “Morning Report.” Question: Which sketch made an actor on The Carol Burnett Show wet his pants? Multiple choice: (a) Supermarket Checkout; (b) Went with the Wind; (c) The Dentist; (d) As The Stomach Turns.
               I thought I knew this; hadn’t I seen Harvey Korman and Tim Conway telling their story about it? I guessed c. So did two of the hosts. Sharon, the third, guessed b, the Gone with the Wind parody; Sharon was remembering the famous big laugh about the dress made from a curtain. (And too I was remembering it, with Carol’s hilarious line “I saw it in the window and just couldn’t resist it.”) Correct answer: c. Then they showed a clip from the “Dentist” sketch, Tim as a dentist who keeps stabbing himself with the Novocaine, maintaining a straight face throughout while in the dentist’s chair Harvey gets laughing—er—uncontrollably!
               And now, food. In the April 3rd issue of Publishers Weekly I was intrigued by three of the cookbook reviews. The first was Simply Tomato: 100 Recipes for Enjoying Your Favorite Ingredient All Year Long, by Martha Holmberg, to be published by Artisan in June. I’m fond of my much-used tomato cookbook, Don Bevona’s Tomato Cooking around the World: The Love Apple Cookbook, but it doesn’t include the beverage mentioned here: “James Beard Award winner Holmberg (Modern Sauces) informs and delights in this paean to the tomato . . . The recipes run the gamut from drinks (the ‘G&T&T’—or gin, tonic, and tomato—is a standout) to salads (including a summery tomato and peach salad with lime-ginger dressing) to main dishes . . .The result is an indispensable resource for tomato lovers.”
               In the review of Noods: 80 Slurpable Noodle Recipes from Asia, by Smith Street, published in April, I learned that the “Recipes have snappy informative headers (a Korean stew with sliced Spam dates to the end of the Korean War, when U.S. Army surplus supplies ‘collided with Korean kitchens’) . . . ”
               And in the review of Recipes from Rome, by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, published by Hardie Grant in April, I learned that several of the recipes “celebrate centuries-old Italian cuisine and include fascinating historical context: the original chicken alla cacciatora, for instance, wasn’t a tomato-based stew; it originated as an ancient Roman dish flavored with herbs, vinegar, and anchovy sauce.”
               I wish that instead of a chicken salad and glass of water I’d had a G&T&T and chicken alla cacciatora for lunch after the shock of the earthquake!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  



April 23, 2023

               Springtime was jump-started here on April 13th and 14th, when we leapt into summer with the temperature in Sandwich up to eighty degreesand higher in southern New Hampshire, breaking records. Those two days were followed by two days in the seventies.
               Because of this hot spell, suddenly we were into what Snowy called “the green and yellow time.” Overnight the brown lawns began greening up. Daffodils, which had begun peeking cautiously out of the ground, shot up and bloomed. Forsythia! The buds on the lilac bush beside the back porch fattened. In the backyard the beaver pond was rushing like a river, geese and ducks honked and quacked, the brook was LOUD.  And the spring peepers began their throbbing.
               Springtime! April! To continue celebrating National Poetry Month, I opened my beloved Girl’s Book of Verse, compiled by Mary Gould Davis; I’ve mentioned it often here. My copy is the revised edition, published in 1952. I was thirteen then, and it was a present from my grandparents, Ma and Pop (Ruth and Louis). The cover’s flap description says, “This unique anthology, first compiled thirty years ago, has long been a favorite in schools and libraries, and particularly in girls’ personal bookshelves. It grew out of Mary Gould Davis’s own love of poetry and her knowledge of girls gained through her years of work with youth in the New York Public Library . . . This collection is now revised and enlarged and comprises a fine selection of poems of the 19th Century poets, English and American, and of poems written in the last thirty years... ”
               I turned to the springtime section and was startled to see a poem by William Blake that I’d completely forgotten about:

The Echoing Green

The sun does arise
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and the thrush
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bells cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the Echoing Green.

Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk,
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
“Such, such were the joys
When we all, girls and boys,
In our youth time were seen
On the Echoing Green.”

Till the little ones, weary,
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sport no more seen
On the darkening Green.

              After renewing my acquaintance with that poem, I turned pages to one of my favorite springtime poems, “An April Morning,” by Bliss Carman. The last verse is very poignant this year.

Once more in misted April
The world is growing green.
Along the winding river
The plumey willows lean.

Beyond the sweeping meadows
The looming mountains rise,
Like battlements of dreamland
Against the brooding skies.

In every wooded valley
The buds are breaking through,
As though the heart of all things
No languor ever knew.

The golden-wings and bluebirds
Call to their heavenly choirs.
The pines are blued and drifted
With smoke of brushwood fires.

And in my sister’s garden
Where little breezes run,
The golden daffodillies
Are blowing in the sun.

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  



April 16, 2023

               Last week I learned on Maine’s WCSH-TV “Morning Report” that Wednesday was National Grilled Cheese Day. This provided the program with its Daily Stumper: Which personality trait doesn’t correlate with loving grilled cheese? Multiple choice: (a) Charitable; (b) Adventurous; (c) Interested in travel; (d) Humble. The program’s three hosts discussed the choices and I pondered. Weren’t b and c rather the same? Because a grilled cheese sandwich is such an old-fashioned comfort food, I decided a lover wouldn’t be “Adventurous.” The hosts each chose a, b, c. The answer: d.
               More about food! The March 20th issue of Publishers Weekly featured cookbook reviews and a piece titled “Fifty Shades of Pate” (I can’t make the accent marks!), by Pooja Makhijani. It began, “Single-subject cookbooks reflect their times, says Lisa Dyer, associate publisher at Welbeck Publishing Group. In the 1990s, she recalls, books touted of-the-moment appliances and equipment such as microwaves and juicers; slim, gift-y titles about a single ingredient, like the avocado, followed. Forthcoming books, Dyer says, speak to a market hungry for both simplicity and variety. ‘Even if I have one thing,’ the thinking goes, ‘I can build a meal around it.’”
               I especially enjoyed the reviews about “camp cooking,” which “needn’t be limited to franks, beans, and foil-wrapped potatoes; it can also mean skillet enchiladas and fireside sangria. New cookbooks speak to the possibility of great meals in the great outdoors.” From my father I learned about campfire cooking, and I also learned from him that cookbooks could be read for sheer pleasure, not just for reference in the kitchen. One of the new camp-cooking books certainly would’ve got his attention, as it did mine: Backcountry Cocktails, by Steven Grasse and Adam Erace, to be published by Running Press in May. The review said, “The team behind The Cocktail Workshop take their behind-the-bar knowledge outside, with 48 beverages—12 for each season—inspired by New Hampshire’s White Mountains.” Our 48 4,000-footers, which “peak baggers” collect! (I’ve hiked 21 of them).
And for indoors food, I had the urge to read Keats’s “ Eve of St. Agnes,” which I’d first read in high school, entranced. Amid the romance of Madeline and Porphyro, my favorite lines were:

     And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
     In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender’d,
     While he forth from the closet brought a heap
     Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd;
     With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
     And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon;
     Manna and dates, in argosy transferr’d
     From Fez, and spiced dainties, every one
     From silken Samarcand to cedar’d Lebanon.

To end with a laugh, here’s Ogden Nash’s “Yorkshire Pudding”:

Let us call Yorkshire Pudding
A fortunate blunder;
It’s a sort of popover
That tripped and popped under.


© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  



April 9, 2023

             Last week I read about our town’s Easter Egg Hunt plans on our internet bulletin board, the Sandwich Board, and on the Discover Sandwich website: “The Sandwich Fire-Rescue Association will be holding their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 8th, starting at 10 a.m. sharp at the Central Fire Station. The hunt is open for toddlers through grade-school age children, visitors and grandchildren are welcome. Over a thousand Easter eggs, filled with candy and certificates for prizes, will be scattered on the Fairgrounds adjacent to the Station. So come dressed for the weather, it goes rain or shine, and bring an Easter basket to collect your finds.”
I remembered the Easter Jelly Bean Hunts that Penny and I did when our mother hid jelly beans throughout the house. We didn’t always find them all, but Annie Laurie, our dog, and Kit, our cat, did!
             Some other items on the Sandwich Board last week got my attention.  Here are three of them:

“Sheep Impregnation: Hey, I have 3 female Suffolk/Hampshire cross sheep desperately looking for a one night stand. If anybody has any suggestions, I’m open to them.”

“Today on School House Road, in the road was a cardboard egg crate. Instead of eggs in the container there was a set of keys. We have strange chickens here in Sandwich! Please contact me off the board if these are your keys.”

From our friend Dick, a Haiku:
“eight billion of us
         each one seeking happiness
         so what could go wrong?”

             It is National Poetry Month! As usual the Yeoman’s Fund for the Arts is posting a poem a day on the Sandwich Board during the month. One of them was Robert Frost’s “Dust of Snow”:

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

             And although we do still have snow in the scenery except for some sunny areas, my thoughts have turned to gardening. In the April section of Celia Thaxter’s Island Garden Daybook, I was amused to see, on opposite pages, her two opposite emotions about gardening:

Up from the ground, alert and bright,
     The pansies laughed in gold and jet,
     Purple and pied, and mignonette
Breathed like a spirit of delight.

Flaming the rich nasturtiums ran
     Along the fence, and marigolds
     “Opened afresh their starry folds”
In beauty as the day began . . .


From “My Garden”

“If there were no other enemies which the gardener must fight, this one of weeds alone is quite enough to tax all his powers and patience.”  

  © 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  



April 2, 2023


            Here in New Hampshire we’re into the fifth season, mud season. Recently when I went past the 104 Diner in New Hampton, I was delighted to see that their always-amusing sign announced: “Our Mud Pie Is in Season.” If I hadn’t had an appointment to keep, would I have stopped for this treat?
            In March 2018 I wrote here that to celebrate mud season “there was a fun article in the Laconia Daily Sun by Barbara Lauterbach about the dessert called a Mud Pie, ‘a New England favorite.’ I’ve only had this once, at a Maine restaurant; it was memorable. She explains that there are many variations on the theme, but usually the basics are a chocolate-cookie-crumb crust, a filling of coffee ice cream, and a topping of whipped cream with a garnish of chocolate sauce or chocolate shavings. She gives the recipe for her version, which includes a chocolate ganache. Oh, bliss—not an emotion I usually associate with mud season, when we worry about sinking out of sight on our dirt roads.            ”
            I also thought about a very different pie recently, when my niece, Thane, was visiting. One evening we watched a favorite movie of hers—on her laptop, the first time I’d watched a movie this way. The movie was a first for me, too; I’d never seen Fisherman’s Friends. Have you seen it? It’s set in Port Isaac, Cornwall, the same town that’s the setting for the Doc Martin series (which Don and I watched with great enjoyment). When Penny and Thane visited Cornwall in 2017, they stayed in Port Isaac!
            So naturally I got remembering the 1964 trip Don and I made to Cornwall from our Suffolk apartment during Don’s Christmas vacation from the U.S. Air Force high school where he worked. As I’ve written about here before, we stayed at the Ship Inn in Mousehole. I gave this stay to narrator Isabel and her husband, Jacob, in A Lovely Time Was Had by All:

A            fter unpacking upstairs in a shipshape room warmed by a small electric fire, we went down to the bar, which was filling up with locals. Real mistletoe and paper Christmas decorations were everywhere. Sitting amid sea charts, lobster traps, an old ship’s compass with an oil lamp, and collection boxes for present-day shipwreck survivors, we drank beer and dined on chicken and chips, wondering why a seacoast inn didn’t have fish and chips always on hand. Once again we were enlightened; a patron in a rakish beret began complaining over his beer about all the damned crayfish and clams and fish he had to eat while he was at sea.
            But fish was apparently appreciated here in emergencies, at least, because our beer coasters commemorated Tom Bawcock’s Eve, December twenty-third, a few days hence, the celebration of a brave deed done more than two centuries ago when Tom had  put out to sea in a gale and landed a large catch of fish to feed the starving villagers:
            A merry plaace, you may believe
            Was Mouzel ’pon Tom Bawcock’s Eve.
            To be there then who wudn’ wesh,
            To sup o’ sibm soorts o’ fesh!
            When morgy brath had cleared the path,
            Comed lances for a fry,
            And then us had a bit o’ scad,
            An’ starry gazy pie.

            How beautiful it sounded—a star-gazing pie. But years later on the internet I learned that alas, it’s actually rather grotesque and sad, a fish-egg-potato pie with the fish heads staring up out of the crust at you (or at the stars).
            A Mud Pie is beautiful!
            And there was a third pie. While watching Fisherman’s Friends, Thane and I split a wicked good Whoopie Pie made in Maine.


  © 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  

RDM titles collage




Pete   (March 31)
Road Trip  (March 24)
Reviews and Remarks (March 10)
Girl Scouts  (March 3)
Board, Not Boring (February 25)
Postholing & Forest Bathing (Feb 18)
Chocolate (February11)
PW's Spring Previews (February 4)
From Pies to Frost (January 28)
An Island Garden (January 21)
More Sandwich Board (January 14) Nancy (January 7)


Spotted Dick (December 31)
Dashing Through the Cookies (December 24)
Chocorua (December 17)
Senior Christmas Dinner (December 10)
The Sandwich Board (December 3)
Nostalgia (November 26)
Socks, Relaxation, and Cakes (November 19)
Holiday Gift Books (November 12)
Maine (November 5)
Cafeteria Food; Fast Food (Oct 29)
Happy 100th Birthday, Dear LHS! (Oct. 22)
Giraffes, Etc. (October 15)
A Monday Trip (October 8)
Laconia High School, Etc. (October 1)
Christmas Romance (September 24)
National Potato Month (September 17)
Globe (September 10)
Preserving With Penny (Sept 3)
Psychogeography (August 27)
Bayswater Books (August 20)
"Wild Girls" (August 13)
Kitchens (August 6)
Old Home Week (July 30)
The Middle Miles (July 23)
Bears, Horses, and Pies
(July 16)
Fourth of July 2023
(July 9)
Lucy and Willa
(July 2)
Frappes, Etc. (June 25)
Still Springtime
(June 18)
Wildefires to Dougnnts
(June 11)
In the Bedroom
(June 4)
Dried Blueberries
(May 28)
More Items of Interest
(May 21)
F(ire Towers
(May 14)
Anne, Emily, and L.M.
(May 7)
Earthquake, Laughter, and Cookbooks (Apr30)
Springtime and Poems
(April 23)
Cookbooks and Poems
 (April 16)
 Items and Poems  (April 9)
Two Pies  (April 2)

Audiobooks (March 26)
The Cheeleader
's 50th Anniversary
(Mch 19)
The Lot, Revisited
(March 12)
(March 5)
Parking and Other Subjects (February 26)
Concord (February 19)
Bird Food and Superbowl Food (February 12)
The Cold Snap (February 5)
Laughter and Lorna (January 29)
Tea and Digestive Biscuits (January 22)
Ducks, Mornings, & Wonders (January 15)
Snowflakes (January 8)
A New Year's Resolution  (January 1)


Jingle Bells    (December 25)
Fruitcake, Ribbon Candy &Snowball
.(Dec. 18)
Christmas Pudding (December 11)
Amusements (December 4)
Weather and Woods  (November 27)
Gravy (November 20)
Brass Rubbing (November 13)
Moving Day (November 6)
Sandwiches and Beer (October 23)
Edna, Celia, and Charlotte (Octobert 16)
Sandwich Fair Weekend (October 9)
More Reuntions (October 2)

A Pie and a Sandwich (September 25)
Evesham (September 18)
Chawton (September 11)
Winter's Wisdom? (September 4)
Vanity Plates (August 28)
2022 Golden Circle Luncheon
(August 21)
Agatha and Annie (August 14)
National Dog Month (August 7)
The Chef's Triangle (July 31)
Librarians and Libraries (July 24)
Clothes and Cakes (July 17)
Porch Reading (July 10)
Cheesy! (July 3)

The Summer Book (June 23)
Bears & Goats & Motorcycles ...(June 19)
Tuna Fish (June 12)
Laconia (June 5)
More Publishers Weekly Reviews (May 22)
Shopping, Small and Big  (May 15)
Ponds  (May 8)
The Lakes Region (May 1)
TV for Early Birds; An April Poem    (April 24)
Family; Food; Fold-out Sofas (April 17)
Solitary Eaters (April 9)
National Poetry Month (April 3)
Special Places—Popular Cakes(March 27) Neighborhood Parks ( (March 20)
More About Potatoes—and Maine (March 13)
Potatoes (March 6)
Spring Tease (February 27)
Pillows (February 20)
Our Song (February 13)
Undies (February 6)
Laughter  (January 28/30)
A Burns Night  (January 23)
From Keats to Spaghetta Sauce (January 16)
Chowder Recipes  (January 9)
Cheeses and Chowders  (January 2)


The Roaring Twenties (December 26
Christmas Traditions (December 19)
Trail Cameras (December 12)
Cars and Trucks(December 5)
Return? (November 28)
Lipstick (November 20)
Tricks of the Trade (November 12)
A New Dictionary Word (November 7)
A 50th Reunion (October 31) "
Sides to Middle" Again
(October 23)
Pantries and Anchovies (October 1i7)
Fairs and Festivals (October 10)
Reunions  (October 3) A Lull  (September 26)
The Queen and Others (
Sept. 19)
Scones and Gardens (Sept.12)
Best Maine Diner (September 5)
Neighborhood Grocery Store; Neighborhood Café (August 28)
PW Picks of the Week (August 21)
A Goldilocks Morning_and More (August 15)
Desks (August 8)
Sports Bras and Pseudonyms (August 1)
Storybook Foods (July 25)
Rachel Field(July 18)
The Bliss Point  (July 11)
Items of Interest  (July 4)
Motorcycle Week 2021 (June 27)
Seafood, Inland and Seaside  (June 20)
Thrillers to Doughnuts (June 13)
National Trails Day  (June 6)
New Hampshire Language (May 30 )
Books and Squares(May 23)
Gardening in May (May16)
The Familiar (May 9)
Synonyms (May 2)
"Bear!" (April 25)
Blossoms  (April 18)
Lost Kitchen and Found Poetry (April 11)
More About Mud (April 4)
Gilbert and Sullivan (March 28)
St. Patrick's Day 2021 (March 21)
Spring Forward (March 14)
A Blank Page (March 7)
No-Recipe Recipes (February 28)
Libraries and Publishers Weekly (February 21)
Party; Also, Pizza (February 13)
Groundhog Day (February 6)
Jeeps (January 31) Poems and Paper-Whites (January 24) Peanut Butter (January 17)
Last Wednesday  (January 10)
Hoodsies and Animal Crackers  (January 3)


Welcome, 2021December 27
Cornwall at Christmastime( December 20)
 Mount Tripyramid ( December 13) 
New Hampshire Pie ( December 6)   
Frost, Longfellow, and Larkin ( November 29)
Rocking Chairs ( November 22)
Thanksgiving Side Dishes ( November 15)
Election 2000 ( November 8)
Jell-O and Pollyanna ( November 1)
Peyton Place in Maine  (October 25)
Remember the Reader  (October 18)
Sandwich Fairs In Our Past  (October11)
Drought and Doughnuts  (October 4)
Snacks (September 27)
Support Systems, Continuing (September 20)
The 85 Best Things to Do in New England (Sept
Dessert Salads?! (September 6)
Agatha Christie's 100th Anniversary (August 3
Poutine and A Postscript(August 23)
Pandemic Listening and Reading (August 16)
Mobile Businesses (August 9)
Backyard Wildlife (August 2)
Maine Books (July 26)
Garlic (July 19)
Birthday Cakes (July 12)
A Collection of Quotations  (July 5)
Best of New Hampshire (June 28)
Hair (June 21)
Learning (June 14)
Riding and "Broading" Around (June 7)
Sunday Drives, Again (May 31)
The Passion Pit (May 24)
Schedules & Sustenance (May 17)
Doan Sisters Go to a British Supermarket (April
National Poetry Month 2020 (April 12)
Laconia (May 10)
Results (May 3)
Singing (April 26 )
Dining Out (April 19 )
Red Hill (March 29)
An Island Kitchen (March 22)
Pandemic and Poetry (March 15)
Food for Hikes (March 8)
Social Whirl in February (March 1)
Two Audiobooks and a Magazine(February 23)
Books Sandwiched In   (February 9)
Mailboxes February 2)
Ironing (January 26)
The Cup & Crumb  (January 19)
Catalogs  (January 12)
Audiobook Travels  (January 5)


Christmas Weather  (Dec. 29 )
Christmas in the Village  (Dec. 22)
Marion's Christmas Snowball, Again  (Dec. 15)
Phyliss McGinley and Mrs. York  (December 8)
Portsmouth Thanksgiving.  (December 1)
In the Dentist's Waiting Room, Again.  (Nov. 24
Louisa and P.G.  (November 17)
The First Snow  (November 10)
Joy of Cooking  (November 3)
Over-the-Hill Celebration  (October 27)
Pumpkin Regatta  (October 20)
Houseplants, New and Old(October 13)
Pumpkin Spice  (October 6)
Wildlife  (Sept 29)
Shakespeare and George  (Sept 22)
Castles and Country Houses  (Sept 15)
New Hampshire Apple Day  (Sept 8)
Maine Woods and Matchmaking  (Sept 1)
Reunions  (August 25)
Sawyer's Dairy Bar  (August 18)
Old Home Week  (August 11)
Summer Scenes  (August 4)
Maine Foods (July 28)
Out of Reach  (July 21)
This and That, Again  (July 14)
The Lot  (July 7)
Pizza, Past and Present (June 30)
Setting Up Housekeeping (June 23)
Latest Listening and Reading (June 16)
Pinkham Notch (June 9)
A Boyhood in the Weirs (June 2)
The Big Bear (May 26)
It's Radio! (May 19)
Archie (May 12)
Department Stores  (May 5)
Spring Is Here!  (April 28)
Dorothy Parker Poem  (April 21)
National Library Week, 2019  (April 14)
National Poetry Month, 2019  (April 7)
Signs of Spring, 2019 (March 31)
Frost Heaves, Again (March 24)
Latest Reading & Listening (March 17)
Car Inspection (March 10)
Snowy Owls & Chicadees (March 3)
Sandwiches Past and Present (February 23)
Our First Date (February 17) 
Ice Fishing Remembered (February 10)
Home Ec (February 3)
A Rockland Restaurant (January 27)
Kingfisher (January 19)
Mills & Factories (January 13)
Squirrels (January 6)


Clothesline Collapse   (December 2)
Thanksgiving 2018
(November 25)  
(November 18)
A Mouse Milestone (November 11)
Farewell to Our Magee   (November 4)
Sistering (October 28)
Sears (October 21)
Love and Ruin (October 14)
A New Furnace (October 7)
Keene Cuisine September 30)
A Mini-Mini Reunion (September 23)
Support System  (September 16)
Five & Ten  (September 9)
Dining Out Again  (September 2)
Summer Listening (August 26)
Donald K. MacDougall 1936-2018  (August 19)
Update--Don (August 12)
Telling Don (August 5)
Don's Health (July 29)
Seen and Overheard (July 22)
Donald Hall  (July 15)
Fireworks (July 8)
Off Season (July 1)
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (June 24)
2018 Motorcycle Week (June 17)
Springtime Sights (June 10)
Seafood at the Seacoast? (June 3)
Lilacs (May 27)
Going Up Brook, revisited  (May 20)
The Weirs Drive-In Theater  (May 13)
The Green and Yellow Time, (May 6 )
Recipe Box and Notebook (April 29)
Henrietta Snow, Second Printing (April 21)
Miniskirts and Bell-Bottoms (April 14)
The Poor Man's Fertilizer (April 7)
The Galloping Gourmet (April 1)
The Old Country Store (March 25; First  FB entry)

Earlier: :Ruth's Neighborhood
(multiple entries, 2011 - 2017)