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    July - September, 2023


September 24, 2023

              I’m used to early reviews in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, but still I was startled last week to see reviews of Christmas novels in the August 28th issue. (As I’ve mentioned, I’m usually a few weeks behind in my PW-reading.)
              PW divides its Fiction reviews into general fiction and then genres, “Mystery/Thriller,” “SF/Fantasy/Horror” and “Romance/Erotica.” For genre reading, I’m a Mystery fan, so I read those reviews and skip the SF/Fantasy/Horror section and slow down for a look at the titles of the Romance books because they’re apt to be funny puns (or swoons over Scottish lairds, which I can certainly understand). And in this issue’s Romance section there was a subheading: “Christmas Romance.” Christmas already!
               The first title got me giggling: WRECK THE HALLS by Tessa Bailey. Then I read the review, which began, “Bestseller Bailey (UNFORTUNATELY YOURS) pairs the children of celebrities to winning effect in this hot and heartwarming contemporary.”
              Of the other titles that followed, my other favorite was WRAPPED WITH A BEAU, by Lillie Vale. The review concluded, “Complete with love scenes as hot as a crackling fire, sweet romantic overtures, and all the comforts and joys of small-town living, this scintillating contemporary will make a great gift for any romance lover.”
The reviews also included:
              LOVE, HOLLY by Emily Stone. “Stone (ONE LAST GIFT) dazzles in this emotional and immersive holiday romance . .. all learn stirring lessons about the meaning of family, the preciousness of time, and the strength of forgiveness.”
              CHRISTMAS IN PAINTED PONY CREEK by Linda Lael Miller. “A single mother on the run finds solace in a handsome cowboy in bestseller Miller’s heartfelt fourth Painted Pony Creek romance . . . Series fans will be thrilled to revisit this small town with a big heart at the most wonderful time of the year.”
              CHRISTMAS IN RIVER’S EDGE by Nan Reinhardt. “Chaste, adorable, and festive, this is sure to win over small-town romance fans.”
              CHRISTMAS AT THE SHELTER INN by Raeanne Thayne. “Thayne’s depiction of the Christmas season is timeless, complete with marshmallows and a Christmas Eve snowstorm.”
              A COWBOY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS by Jennie Marts. “It’s a Creedence, Colo., Christmas—complete with a grump, a goat, and a gaggle of small-town busybodies—in Marts’s laugh-out-loud sixth Creedence Horse Rescue contemporary.”
              ONE CHRISTMAS MORNING by Rachel Greenlaw. “A woman gets a chance to change her life in Greenlaw’s nuanced debut, a twist on A CHRISTMAS CAROL . . . The result is a heart-warming tale about prioritizing the things that matter most in life.”
              A POINSETTIA PARADISE CHRISTMAS by Janine Amesta. “. .. Their romance is slow-burning but gratifying, enhanced by wit and mutual understanding.”
              FAKING CHRISTMAS by Kerry Winfrey. “Exhibiting a keen eye for both the wacky and the wonderful, Winfrey (JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG) rings in the holidays with an ingenious comedy of errors.”
              CHRISTMAS AT THE LAKE by Anita Hughes. “The emphasis on nature and life’s simpler pleasures makes this a sure hit with those who prefer their romances on the quieter side.”
              THREE  HOLIDAYS AND A WEDDING by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley. Jalaluddin (AYESHA AT LAST) and Stapley (LUCKY) join forces for a holiday romance with charm to spare. The self-explanatory title lets readers know exactly that they’ll get, but a few twists along the way season the story nicely.”
              THROUGH THE SNOW GLOBE by Annie Rains. “Rains (THE GOOD LUCK CAFÉ) paints a poignant portrait of love and second chances in this Christmasy, GROUNDHOG DAY-esque tale.”
              A LIGHTHOUSE CHRISTMAS by Jenny Hale. Hale (BUTTERFLY SISTERS) highlights the importance of family in this touching small-town contemporary . . . This sweet yuletide treat will leave readers well satisfied.”

              The “lighthouse” in this last title brought back memories of a Christmas that Don and I spent at an inn on the seacoast in Stonington, Maine. Maybe it isn’t too early to be thinking about—and remembering—Christmas!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


September 17, 2023

         Last week I learned that September is National Potato Month, and I thought about what a staple the spud has been, in history—the Irish Potato Famine—and in my personal experience, i.e., my mother’s weekly menu.
         Baked potatoes were part of almost every supper. Ernie, my mother, baked them in a little stovetop oven that sat on one of the stove’s gas rings. Penny and I agreed that the best part of a baked potato was the skin, which, after we’d scooped out the interior, we ate first, packed with butter—well, margarine.
         Sometimes Ernie made the more labor-intensive mashed potatoes, peeling, cutting up, boiling, and putting them through a ricer (she didn’t actually mash her mashed potatoes). If there were any leftovers, the next day she patted them into cakes and fried them in the cast-iron skillet. Penny loved these and always remembered how, whenever she saw that Ernie was making them, she hoped fervently that they would be plain potato cakes and not mixed with salt cod for codfish cakes. Penny did not like fish. I of course liked fish and loved codfish cakes so I hoped the opposite.
         Scalloped potatoes were a welcome variation, usually served with ham.
         In THE CHEERLEADER I wrote about Snowy’s sixteenth birthday dinner: “roast beef and gravy, and Snowy’s favorite potatoes, peeled and cooked with the roast.” No surprise, these were my favorite potatoes, too! Many years later, when Don and I were visiting Ernie and Dan (my father), Dan made a chicken version of those favorite potatoes. (Dan was doing all the cooking by then because of Ernie’s arthritis.) I jotted down his recipe:

Dan’s Baked Chicken and Potatoes
Cut chicken breasts in half and trim off extra fat.
Rub on some butter and lemon juice.
Place chicken skin side up in pan.
Peel potatoes and place in pan.
Bake at 300 degrees for 1½ hours or 350 for 1 hour.

         To return briefly to Ernie’s menus, I was very happy whenever she served rice as the staple; it was a break from potatoes.
         When Don and I were planting our first garden in Lisbon, NH, in the backyard of the house we were renting, we planted some potatoes by chopping up a few we’d bought at the grocery store. A success! However, in our second garden, in Farmington, NH, I tried a method of planting I’d read about, not putting the seed potatoes in the earth but on top, covered with hay mulch. Alas, I eventually lifted up some hay to see what was happening and saw little pink squiggly creatures. Baby mice!
         While getting Dan’s recipe card out of the Potatoes section in my recipe file, I lingered over recipes for potato dishes I’ve made, such as Colcannon, which Don and I discovered at the Scottish Lion restaurant in North Conway, and another potato-cabbage combo, Bubble and Squeak. And then there were ones I somehow never did make, such as Baked Sliced Potatoes with Mozzarella and Parmesan from MARCELLA’S ITALIAN KITCHEN cookbook and Julia Child’s Gratin of Potatoes a la Savoyarde.
         I can’t resist giving the Bubble and Squeak recipe here because I enjoy the name, which apparently comes from the noise the ingredients make cooking. The recipe is from THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS COOKBOOK.

Bubble and Squeak

1 ½ cup mashed potatoes
1 ½ cup chopped cooked cabbage
4 T. butter
Salt and pepper
Mix the mashed potatoes and chopped cooked cabbage in a bowl.
Melt half the butter and stir into the mixture.
Melt remaining butter in skillet; when hot, pile in potato and cabbage and spread evenly, flattening with spatula.
Cook over low heat for about 25 minutes, until nicely browned underneath.
Turn out onto a flat dish to serve.
Serve with cold meat and tossed green salad.
Serves 4—5.

         Happy National Potato Month!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


September 10, 2023

          In THE CHEERLEADER I wrote:

“Chalk dust, scuffed varnish, ink. In the two brick buildings the school day progressed, bells rang, and the kids moved along dark corridors into dark classrooms. There was no outside. The cold gray sky was the skin of the tall windows. But Snowy, gazing out a window from her desk, had once had a brief surprised vision of the school balanced on a larger sphere spinning lopsided circles in space.”

          I thought of this last week when reading a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Q&A with the author of a book reviewed in this August 21st issue, THE BLUE MACHINE: HOW THE OCEAN WORKS by Helen Czerski, to be published by Norton in October. The review begins, “University College London oceanographer Czerski (STORM IN A TEACUP) takes readers on a riveting ‘voyage through the global ocean,’ exploring its role in the planet’s ecosystem and human cultures.” It concludes, “Wide-ranging and meticulously detailed, this captures the wonder, beauty, and intrigue of its subject.”
In the Q&A, Lenny Picker asks Czerski, “You lament that humans have lost much of their relationship with nature. Are there steps that the average person can take to restore that relationship?” She replies, “The first thing is to talk about and look at the natural world, because I think that leads us to think about it more. I would also recommend people get a globe. People think of it as an old-fashioned thing, but I’ve got one in the corner of my room. You can look at a globe and see this is it, this is the ball of atoms, this is what we’ve got, and isn’t it amazing? But also, isn’t it finite? Everything we know is on this ball and this is what we’ve got to work with. If we see that we live as part of an engine, we think about the whole thing differently.”
          Get a globe! Years ago Don and I felt the need for a globe; atlases weren’t enough. Joking that we’d be like Nero Wolfe consulting his globe, we bought one (a normal size, not Nero’s big one). After reading the Q&A, I went over to where it sits beside the TV on a Don-made blanket chest. All that blue surrounding the continents!
          We always kept it swiveled so that in front there was a place that meant something, either because it was in the news or because of memories. Usually for the latter that was Great Britain and the memories of our two years there in the 1960s. Sometimes I swiveled it to India. When we began job-hunting our senior year at Keene Teachers College we somehow learned that a school there was interested in English-speaking teachers. Being English majors who’d read a lot of novels set in India, we were intrigued. Bravely, we applied. The reply asked us to send a tape recording of our voices, in case our American accents were confusing. Tape recorders were rather rare back then, but we located and borrowed one and sent off our tape. No reply. Our New Hampshire/American accents? So years later I occasionally looked at India on the globe and wondered: What if . . .
          Nowadays I keep it swiveled to Great Britain because my grandnephew lives there!

   © 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


September 3, 2023

            Thank you so much for your enthusiastic interest in OFF SHORE. Yes, it will be available for pre-buy at some point, and we’ll announce that here.
            During our daily phone chats, I’ve been vicariously preserving food with Thane, my niece, who is in the midst of making jams and pickles from her favorite Syracuse farm stands’ bounty. Raspberry jam! Plum jam! Apricot jam! Bread-and-Butter Pickles!
            And I’ve been remembering how her mother and I began getting really serious about gardening in the 1970s, when we and our husbands bought our first homes. After the seed catalogs arrived every winter, Penny and I studied them and conferred on the phone—long distance between New Hampshire and Maine, expensive, important! We decided which seed packets we each needed and which ones we could split. There was snow outside; we were seeing tomatoes and cucumbers.
            Preserving food was what our mother and grandmother had done, so we’d associated it with the Great Depression and the World War II victory gardens. But now there was a new back-to-the-land yearning and with it came the need to save what we grew on the land to eat all winter. Putting Food By was published; Penny and I also read the canning sections in our mother’s and grandmother’s cookbooks. We bought deep freezers for our cellars and read up on freezing our harvest.
            As always Penny was practical and competent. I was terrified of the canning kettle —eek, all that boiling water!—but thanks to Don’s help I made friends with it.
            Ah, the satisfaction of seeing shelves aglow with full Ball jars. Penny and I laughed over the tale our mother told about the unspoken competition she and her sister-in-law had had years ago: who canned the most jars this summer? Ernie, our mother, was still irate because Ib, her sister-in-law, used pint jars while Ernie used quart jars and thus Ib’s total sounded like more.
            The other day after talking with Thane I looked in the Pickles-Relishes section of my recipe file boxes. There, amid my accumulation of recipes, I found three file cards Penny had written and sent me. Here’s the one for “Souri,” the green-tomato pickles she loved. She noted that it had come from the 1926 Fannie Farmer cookbook that had belonged to “Ma,” our nickname for Grandmother Ruth:

• Wipe 1 peck (8 qts.) green tomatoes and cut in thin slices; peel 1 qt. onions and cut in thin slices.
• Sprinkle alternate layers of tomatoes and onions with 1 cup salt.
• Cover and let stand overnight.
• In the morning drain thoroughly, put in a preserving kettle and add 4 green peppers, finely chopped; 6 cups brown sugar; 6 T. celery seed; 6 T. mustard seed; and ½ oz. each cloves, stick cinnamon, and allspice berries tied in a muslin bag.
• Add vinegar to cover mixture, bring to boiling point, and let simmer 2 hours.
• This may be given a very fresh taste by adding a small quantity of celery cut in small pieces, whenever it is served.

            Penny noted, “I simmered it an hour and a half, plopped it into jars, sealed and processed it for 15 minutes. Nice because it uses up green tomatoes at the end of the season or you can make it when you aren’t busy with other canning or freezing. You can make it any time.”
            Preserving with Penny. As I now realize, we were also preserving memories.

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


August 27, 2023

              Last week as I was reading about a biography of Karen Carpenter in the August 7th issue of Publishers Weekly I encountered a word new to me: psychogeography.
              The biography is Lead Sister: The Story of Karen Carpenter by Lucy O’Brien, to be published by Rowan & Littlefield in October. The review begins, “Music journalist O’Brien (She Bop) reconstructs the life of 1970s and early ’80s pop star Carpenter, from the ‘intense musical creativity’ and sonorous voice that propelled her to fame to the industry and cultural pressures she battled and the anorexia that eventually contributed to her death in 1983.”
              The review concludes, “O’Brien paints a nuanced portrait of both an inimitable culture-defining artist and a highly visible casualty of the music industry’s ‘relentless promotion’ of women as uniformly thin, ‘saleable commodities.’”
              Then in a Q&A titled “The Boss Backstage” by Miriam Grossman, Lucy O’Brien is asked, amongst other questions, “What was the process of trying to get into Carpenter’s head as you wrote?” She replied, “My sense of her came through strongly when I visited L. A. to do what is called psychogeography, in which you absorb the atmosphere of places to understand how someone there felt—in this case, I visited where Carpenter lived and worked. I went to her old studio . . . I think that partly, the studio was her happy place—where she really felt at home, and where the anxious, nervous energy that fueled her released, and she could just be herself.”
              I immediately remembered how, years ago, I had begun thinking about writing a biography of Sarah Orne Jewett. In the midst of my thinking I read an article (probably in Down East magazine) about the places in Maine where she’d lived. During our next trip to Maine, Don and I used the article as a guidebook. And there was one moment in Tenants Harbor, where she wrote The Country of the Pointed Firs, when I felt transported into her Maine life.
              I never got any further than thinking! My next novel called to me and I went to work on that instead.
              Curious about “psychogeography,” I Googled. Wikipedia told me that it is “the exploration of urban environments that emphasizes interpersonal connections to places and arbitrary routes . . also the study of the precise laws and special effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” Hmm. This second definition made me laugh, reminding me of visiting the Brontes’ Haworth parsonage in 1966. Don and I had probably read and reread more of the Bronte sisters’ writing than was good for us; I recall that for a writing course at Keene I’d written a little parody of Wuthering Heights titled something like “After Reading Wuthering Heights for the Millionth Time”; we even named our border collie Heathcliff. And as we stood in that Yorkshire “geographical environment” and looked at the dramatic scenery, the bleak but beautiful moors, we said, “No wonder they wrote the way they did!”

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


August 20, 2023

              Have you ever dreamed of owning a bookstore?
              In the August 11th issue of The Laconia Daily Sun I read that the wonderful Bayswater Books in Center Harbor is for sale. Adam Drapcho, the reporter, wrote: “Every good story must come to an end, and for the owner of Bayswater Books that time has come. Michelle Taft, who has run the store for the past 17 years, said earlier this week she is retiring in October . . .
              “Bayswater Books, located in the Senter Market plaza, was started by Pat Thomas about 30 years ago. Taft came to own it as a second career, after leaving a job as head of buying and supply chain for nearly 500 Shaw’s supermarket stores.
“In 2005, Taft and her husband left behind their high-pressure lives and relocated to the Lakes Region, where she sought a new, more relaxed outlet for her retail experience. It was her husband who learned that Bayswater for sale, and in April of 2006 Taft signed the papers to make it her own . . . She loves books and reading, so she was very interested when she learned that the store was available . . .
              “‘The bonus here, what we really were looking for when we came here, was to be part of a community,’ she said. ‘Here, what I’ve found was just a beautiful, welcoming community. Just fabulous’ . . .
              “Taft’s favorite moments are when someone new comes into the shop and tells her how ‘they like the feel of the shop, the vibe,’ which she has crafted to be peaceful and welcoming. Or when regular visitors return and say that hers is the first shop they visit when they arrive for their vacation.”
              Back when Pat Thomas opened the bookstore, Don and I couldn’t believe our luck. We’d thought we were lucky to have a bookstore as near as Laconia, the Sundial Shop, a real bookstore; when we were growing up in Laconia, the only bookstore was Maher’s, which mainly sold newspapers. But now here was Bayswater Books right next door to Sandwich in Center Harbor!
              I’ve posted several times about the fun I’ve had at Bayswater book signings, especially in the summertime when they were held on the porch. As I wrote after a July 2013 book signing with a group of local authors, “A combination of the porch and books and the lake (just out of sight across the road) seemed to sum up summer.”
And I’ve treasured my friendship with Michelle. During the pandemic, she even hand-delivered a book I’d ordered!
I              ’m remembering how some of us English majors at Keene Teachers’ College would talk about having a bookstore instead of teaching. Recalling those daydreams, I wish they could’ve become real.
              Ah, books. Knowing I like books about Maine, a friend recently passed along to me a copy of a book she’d come across, Elisabeth Ogilvie’s Day Before Winter, which I haven’t read in years. As I’ve mentioned here, I was already a fan of Elisabeth Ogilvie’s novels when we moved to Sandwich and learned that a neighbor was her cousin. So eventually Don and I got to visit Elisabeth in Maine, and she and I corresponded. And now I’m reading this sequel to the Bennett’s Island series. I knew I loved Elisabeth’s writing about scenery, but I’d forgotten I also loved her mention of (you guessed it!) food. Here’s an example:
              “Rosa and Jamie came down at dusk, with Sara Jo and the fixings for the chicken pie. A big casserole was three-quarters filled with a mixture of chicken, carrots, peas, onions, potatoes, and green pepper slivers, in a thick, savory gravy. The dry ingredients for the baking-powder biscuit topping were all mixed in a bowl, needing only to be moistened, then gently patted flat on a floured board—never rolled—while the gravy mixture came to a bubbling boil in the oven; then the biscuits were cut out and placed on the mixture, and the casserole was pushed into the oven again. When the biscuits were browned, supper was ready. Rosa always had another pan of biscuits ready to go in, and no dessert was necessary besides fresh hot biscuits with wild strawberry or raspberry jam.”
              Books and food. In the Bayswater Books vicinity there are several restaurants as well as the Center Harbor Diner and the Red Hill Dari drive-in!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


August 13, 2023

              I’m still catching up on July issues of Publishers Weekly. In the July 17th, I read with great interest a review of Wild Girls: How the Outdoors Shaped the Women Who Challenged a Nation by Tiya Miles, to be published by Norton in September. And there was also the bonus of an interview with this National Book Award winner.
The review begins, “With insight and imagination, Harvard historian Miles (All That She Carried) explores the way in which the natural environment presented ‘new possibilities’ for 19th-century women and girls expected to acquiesce to the confines of a ‘restrictive domestic sphere.’” It continues, “In the 1830s and 1840s, future Little Women author Louisa May Alcott thrived on nature walks in the New England countryside. According to Miles, Alcott’s nature writing became her ‘subtle tool of social commentary,’ a way of critiquing and subverting prescribed gender roles. . . Miles concludes her evocative and unique study with a chapter expressing concern that growing barriers for marginalized groups to outdoor spaces will hinder social progress. It’s an inventive take on what inspired people to challenge norms and agitate for change.”
              The interview by Sophia Stewart begins, “In the summertime, Tiya Miles loves to work on the porch of her home in Montana. It’s out on that porch that she is speaking via Zoom, bathed in sunlight and framed by lush greenery.”
Stewart continues, “For years Miles had been thinking in one way or another about the argument at the center of Wild Girls: that the lives and work of notable women throughout U.S. history, from authors to activists, were shaped by their early experiences in the outdoors. She traces the genesis of this idea to a 2005 conference where she attended a presentation that framed Harriet Tubman as someone uniquely attuned to and interested in the natural world, given the ecological knowledge she had to possess to map the outdoor routes of the Underground Railroad . . .
“She  researched . . . and found that the perils of enslaved life ‘required a hyper-awareness of nature’ as both a resource and a refuge. She was also eager to practice this sensibility outside of the academy, so in 2011 she founded ECO Girls, a program geared toward building environmental stewardship, ecological literacy, and self-confidence in elementary and middle school girls.”
About Louisa May Alcott: “ . . . in the gardens and fields outside her home, Alcott could be her tomboyish, rough-housing self . . . Alcott explored the outdoors to break away from rigid Victorian-era domestic spaces and forge her signature sense of independence.”
              In our childhood Penny and I were steeped in our father’s love of the outdoors, in its being the important part of life. We went fishing with Dan, we climbed mountains, we camped out. (Our mother, to everyone’s amusement, was definitely not outdoorsy; she loved and admired his love of it.) And because Penny was the “tomboy” and I was the “bookworm,” Penny seized the outdoors, literally with her hands climbing trees in the backyard, while I read about nature in novels and poems. I did wish to be otherwise. When I read Maida’s Little Shop and the rest of the Maida Series, I longed to be not good-girl Maida but Rose, the tomboy, a wild rose.
              As I’ve written about, when Dan had a little windfall with a novelette sold to a magazine, our parents bought a shorefront “lot” of woods on Lake Winnipesaukee so we could escape the confines of our apartment. We called it “the Lot,” but Penny and I decided to give it a real name, “Chipmunk Hollow,” and I made a sign saying this. Dan remarked, “It should be called ‘Whoop and Holler.’” Because, I realized, that’s what Penny and did after we made the trip from Laconia to Moultonborough and the car stopped beside the Lot. Penny and I leapt out and ran yelling joyously into the woods.
              Wild girls!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


August 6, 2023

              “Thanksgiving in August” is how one of the speakers described this year’s Keene State College Golden Circle Luncheon at Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant in Meredith last Wednesday. In past years I’ve written about this annual event organized for alumni who graduated on or before 1973. Don and I graduated in 1961, when the college was still Keene Teachers’ College; we attended the luncheons and now I do. Other Golden Circle Luncheons are held at other restaurants around the state, but this is thought to be the most popular because of Hart’s famous turkey buffet: the turkey itself, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, dinner rolls—and apple crisp for dessert!
              In the big room there were about ten tables, all set up sparklingly for dinner, each seating eight or more people. Our Class of 1961’s table was at the back, right next to the long buffet table, very convenient. And here at one side was an entry with a sign saying “The Kitchen” and a closed door beyond. How I longed to watch the Thanksgiving work that was happening in that kitchen!
              Kitchens have been on my mind ever since a couple of weeks ago I happened to see on HGTV’s “Love It or List It” a kitchen that had, one of the people said, “an acreage of counter space.” Acreage! Laughing, I’d looked around at my kitchen. As I’ve written about before, when we bought this house in 1976 it was unfinished, a shell. The kitchen was empty except for an old sink; no cupboards or cabinets or counters. For a couple of years while Don worked on the house, with his table saw in the middle of the kitchen, I used that table saw as a kitchen “island.”
              And even after Don had installed more cupboards and cabinets and counters than we’d had in any other place we lived, when I made lasagna I had to set up the ironing board to use as an extra countertop.
              Here at the alumni luncheon, my kitchen-thoughts turned of course to our first kitchen, in an apartment in the college’s married-students barracks. Aren’t these early-married-years kitchens memorable—and funny. I felt thrillingly domestic and also very modern: I had an electric frying pan!
              In the June 3rd issue of The Conway Daily Sun there was an ad for Country Cabinets in Center Conway that impressed me so much I clipped it out to save:

                 “Your Kitchen Is Where You:
                 Enjoy Family Dinner
                 Do Homework
                 Make Breakfast
                 Set The Table
                 Wash Dishes                                  
                 Play Games
                 Make Lunch
                 Listen To Music
                 Tell Jokes                 
                 Watch The News
                 Drink Coffee
                 Carve A Turkey
                 Look At Report Cards
                 Stretch Pizza Dough
                 Share Photos
                 Boil Pasta
                 Check email"

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


July 30, 2023

               August already?! When I was in the library recently I was startled to see a stack of programs for Old Home Week. This always takes place in August—and August is apt to arrive sooner than I expect. The program told me that the Sandwich Old Home Week Association is inviting us to celebrate the 125th anniversary.
I’ve written here before about how Old Home Week started out as Old Home Day. The idea behind such days across New Hampshire was to awaken an awareness of roots, to bring back natives who’d moved away, entice them to return for at least a day.
               As always, it was fun to read the descriptions of the week’s events. This year they  include:
               Saturday, August 5, 5:30 —7 p.m.: Advice to the Players [the Sandwich Shakespeare company]; opening performance of War of the Roses: She-Wolves & Queens, Part I. Shakespeare’s tale of the battles between the Lancasters and the Yorks (and the French!)—used as inspiration for Game of Thrones. Come see epic sword fights, complex family drama, and the women behind the wars. Bring a blanket, chair, or picnic for this “in the park” relaxed performance. Quimby Park, 8 Maple Street
Sunday, August 6, 11 a.m. —2 p.m.: One & Two-Room Schoolhouse Alumni Picnic for all those who attended schoolhouses in Sandwich. Bring lunch and a chair; dessert and beverages provided. Friends and guests welcome. Lower Corner Schoolhouse, 22 Schoolhouse Road. (Rain or shine.) [One year when there was an open house at this restored schoolhouse, Don and I enjoyed talking with the woman in charge, who had attended the school.]
              Tuesday, August 8, 10 a.m.—4 p.m.: Friends of the Library Annual Book Sale. Funds raised support community programs at the Samuel H. Wentworth Library. Smith Building, Fairgrounds. [We always went to this, of course; I joked that I did my Christmas shopping there—and I did!]
               Wednesday, August 9, 8—10 a.m.: Guided Hike on the Bearcamp River Trail. Walk sponsored by the Sandwich Conservation Commission to honor the 30th anniversary of the trail. Meet at the Bearcamp Pond parking lot. (Rain or shine.) [Memories of hiking the trail with the Over-the-Hill Hikers.]
Thursday, August 10: 10 a.m.—4 p.m.: Artisans on the Green Art and Craft Fair. One-day art and craft fair featuring local artists selling handmade crafts. Enjoy craft demonstrations. Town Green, Main Street.
               And also on Thursday on the Green, 11 a.m. —1 p.m.: Sandwich Woman’s Club Luncheon. Traditional luncheon and raffle on the Green. Visit with friends while enjoying homemade sandwiches, beverages, and desserts! Proceeds support community events sponsored by the Sandwich Woman’s Club, founded in 1928. See you on the Green! [Memories of sitting at a table on the Green and savoring a very good chicken-salad sandwich.]
               Friday, August 11, 12—3 p.m.: 2nd Annual Collectors’ Day. An opportunity for Sandwich residents to showcase personal collections (historical, cultural, pop culture). Advance table registration required. Grange Hall. [There are more details on the Sandwich Board: “Buoyed by the enthusiastic response created by last year’s event, the Sandwich Historical Society will present our 2nd annual Collectors’ Day . . . Collections can give insight into the history, life, and culture of people over an extended  period of time. It is part of humans’ desire to keep memories alive, to be the caretakers of these objects in our lifetime.”
Saturday, August 12, 8—10:30 a.m.: Pancake Breakfast & Open House at the Fire Station, sponsored by the Sandwich Fire and Rescue Association. Proceeds for community charity work. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, coffee, juice. $8 adults/$5 children. Open House to follow.
               Also on Saturday, 10 a.m. —noon: Farmers’ Market on the Village Green. Bliss!
               Sunday, August 13, 12—2 p.m.: Sandwich Historical Society’s Annual Excursion and Picnic. Bring lunch and a chair; desserts and drinks provided. Location: 14 Mountain Road. [Memories of the excursion one year in a schoolbus, trundling along the old dirt road through woodsy Sandwich Notch to a house that remains from an old neighborhood.]
               Happy 125th anniversary!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  



July 23, 2023

                It sounds strange to say, but in the nearly five years that I’ve been reading daily a page of Martha W. Hickman’s Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working through Grief, I’m always delighted to come to the quotation for July 11th. Delighted? Happy anticipation for something in a book about grief? This is the quotation:

Hikers refer to them as “middle miles.” These are the most exhausting, challenging miles on the path, when the exhilaration of beginning the journey has evaporated into drudgery and the promise of the path’s end has not yet given new energy for the stepping.
                    Henry E. Woodruff

                Martha Hickman explains that “In the early days and weeks of our grieving we usually have much to help us—the solicitude of friends . . . Then we are in for the long haul, when we are at least as sad but more on our own . .  . Like the climbers in the ‘middle miles,’ we must keep going, knowing that one day we will get on top of our lives again. Looking back, we’ll marvel at how far we’ve come.”
                The first time I read this, I was surprised that I’d never heard the term “middle miles” in all my years of hiking. And then I thought of New Hampshire’s Mount Eisenhower. Why, I wondered had this mountain immediately sprung to mind? Oh. Because its middle miles were comparatively easy.
                In his 50 Hikes in the White Mountains, my father began his description of the Mount Eisenhower hike (6 ½ miles round trip): “Southwest from Mount Washington, rocky peaks extend toward Crawford Notch. One of these [is] Mount Eisenhower (formerly Mount Pleasant) . . . Into the arctic-alpine world of Mount Eisenhower, the Edmands Path climbs up a west ridge and around the north base of the dome to the Crawford Path. There, near this junction, a side trail leads up the crags and over the rounded 4,760-foot summit. On a clear day, from that vantage point high above the forests, the sky and rocks are elemental and clean.”
                Back when I climbed Mount Eisenhower, I did the hike with friends with whom I hiked many a mountain, the Sandwich Over-the-Hill Hikers.
                As my father described, “In the parking area you’ll see a sign for the Edmands Path. The great trail builder J. Rayner Edmands relocated and graded the path in 1909. It bears left among beech and yellow birch and crosses two small brooks on footbridges . . . The grade steepens but is nowhere excessive. You enter spruce/fir woods, the habitat of the blackpoll warbler and Bicknell’s thrush.
“You climb up sections of graded fill held on the slope by rockwork. You notice rocks drilled and split with hand tools to clear and ease the way . . . Approaching treeline, you find the trail paved with flat stones. This improvement of Edmands’s meticulous trail construction was a 1930s CCC task . . . ” Helping with the middle miles!
                Then, eventually, the summit: “Up the ragged ledges the trail zigzags, then takes you in a more gradual swing to the wide summit and the cairn. The green cushions all across the summit are the alpine plant diapensia. If you climb in mid-June, you’ll see the array of white blossoms.
                “Be careful not to step on the plants as you walk around admiring the views. Stepping stones are plentiful. To the north, up Mount Franklin, curves the old and honored Crawford Path. Dropping away east of Mount Franklin, the ledges disappear into Oakes Gulf, where the Dry River (Mount Washington River) begins its turbulent run to  the Saco River. Beyond Mount Franklin, you see a small peak and a higher crest right, which combine to form Mount Monroe. Then comes Washington, often crowned by a misty cloud.”
                With Don, my middle miles continue. With Penny, they’ve just begun. She never climbed Mount Eisenhower, but in our childhood she climbed several mountains with our father. When I began updating his hiking books, she and I checked two of the hikes together. I’m remembering how our father, when inscribing a copy of the books, often wrote, “Happy hiking."

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


July 23, 2023

                At half-past midnight on Wednesday morning, I was awakened by an odd noise. Was it the sound of the porch’s door closing? Then a couple of creaks. Floorboards? A million eeks! One night about ten years ago Don and I had heard similar sounds and discovered a bear on the porch.
I got out of bed, went into the dining room to the glass-paneled back door, and switched on the outside light. A bear filled my view, about half of the porch. It stood stock still, in profile. That earlier bear had instantly leapt out through the biggest section of the porch screen. This bear now calmly turned and considerately squeezed himself out through the smallest section. He moved off across the lawn and along the beaver pond into the woods.
I                 wondered if I’d be able to go back to sleep. I did. Then when I got up I measured the empty section, 20” x 25,” and phoned Jere, our friend who takes care of the house; he arrived that morning and replaced the screen before any chipmunks, etc., discovered this entry.
                After the first bear visit and the big project of replacing that screen, Don had locked the porch door at bedtime, though as he said this would only slow down a bear determined to explore. I’d continued to lock it until I got lazy about one more damn evening chore. I’ve been locking it since Wednesday.
To change subjects from wild animals to domestic ones: As I’ve mentioned before, in Saturday issues of The Laconia Daily Sun Laconia historian Warren Huse has a column called “Our Yesterdays,” with items from past newspapers. (He and my friend Dorothy Duffy researched and located the Laconia Historical and Museum Society’s photo of Laconia High School for the cover of A Gunthwaite Girl.) In the July 8th issue there was an item I much enjoyed: “100 years ago, from The Laconia Democrat: An ordinance, approved July 2, stipulated that horse-drawn vehicles ‘backed up to the curb or sidewalk’ must have the horse or horses turned so as to stand as nearly parallel with the sidewalk as possible and headed in the general direction of travel for that side of the street.” Parallel parking with horses!
                And to change the subject again: After reading the list of contents in the July/August issue of Yankee magazine, I turned first to the “Up Close” page: “Snack in the Box: The sweet legacy of Table Talk Pies,” by Joe Bills. And I was laughing. Because Don’s mother, a very good cook, made pies often, Don had never encountered a Table Talk Pie until, in our dating days, he saw one in my mother’s pantry; he was interested but I sensed he was also rather horrified, a factory-made pie. He became very fond of the mini pies, especially the lemon.
Joe Bills told me that in 1924 “Greek immigrants named Theodore Tonna and Angelo Cotsidas started a bakery in Worcester, Massachusetts. Their bread was a hit, but it was the pies they’d cook at night and sell the next day that got people buzzing.” The Table Talk name “was inspired both by Tonna’s initials and by a cozy vision of American families gathering to eat and socialize. It struck a chord, and sales climbed.”  Joe Bills concluded, “Table Talk pies come in dozens of flavors and several sizes, including a popular 4-inch mini pie, perfect for snacking on the go. While not quite the social centerpiece the founders imagined, perhaps, it does leave one hand free for holding your phone.”
                I haven’t had a Table Talk pie in ages. Next time I’m at the supermarket I’ll be looking for a lemon mini pie.

                P.S. So far, no return visit from the bear. Has he tried the locked door and then politely continued on his way?

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


July 9, 2023

                “Ruthie,” said Thane, my niece, phoning me on the morning of the Fourth of July, “may I borrow your whisk? I forgot to bring mine.”
                As I’ve written about here before, Thane and Penny have been celebrating their July birthdays since 2016 with a week at a cabin colony on New Hampshire’s Mirror Lake. Thane’s birthday is the Fourth! This year she was here with other family members. As you may remember, Penny died suddenly in February.
                “Of course,” I replied, recalling how in 2018 Thane and Penny had decided to make an icebox Zebra Cake for their birthdays and had bought all the ingredients before realizing the cabin’s kitchen didn’t have a whisk. Thane had whipped the cream with a fork, successfully. After that, she’d brought whisking equipment from home, until now.
                Happily I got out my whisk. I could contribute to the birthday party’s preparations in this tiny but essential way!
                Thane arrived, we had our twosome reunion, and off I went with her to the cabin where, as the morning progressed, the lunch prep began. Penny and I had learned—somewhat—not to feel guilty about being the senior citizens and we’d enjoyed the sight of everybody else at work. This year I sat at the dining area’s table and watched five people in the little galley kitchen, all busy, humorous, talking while they were chopping and stirring, unfazed, blithely rinsing out a used bowl to use for something else, adapting to the circumstances.
                How I admired this! I myself cannot concentrate when anybody is in the kitchen, even including Don, and the pots and pans and utensils I’ll be using have to be as organized as implements in a hospital operating room. I reveled in these family members’ ease, competence, and camaraderie. They sometimes used the dining table as sort of a kitchen island, and here Thane mixed biscuits for this year’s birthday cake, strawberry shortcake.
                The weather had threatened rain, and of course at lunchtime the rain began. Undeterred, our grill chef put on his raincoat and went outdoors to cook the hamburgers and hotdogs (a choice of the latter, regular or Maine’s red snappers). But we did dine indoors, at the useful table. Then the table became a kitchen island for dessert-making when Thane whipped the cream for the shortcake—with my whisk!
                And while we ate the strawberry shortcake, we reminisced about the birthday cakes Hamish (Thane’s son) had made for Penny and Thane in other years. Last year for Thane he’d done a New York Times icebox red-white-and-blue Fourth of July cake decorated with raspberries and blueberries; for Penny he’d made a Swiss roll and we had a tea party on my porch.
                We also talked about Penny’s gardens, and I thought of Celia Thaxter’s entry in An Island Garden Daybook for the July dates that included July 8th, Penny’s birthday:
            “Weeding all day in the hot sun; hard work, but pleasant. I find it the best way to lay two boards down near the plot I have to weed, and on them spread a waterproof, or piece of carpet, and kneeling or half reclining on this, get my face as close to my work as possible. Sitting flat on these boards, I weed all within my reach, then roll up a bit of carpet not bigger than a flat-iron holder, put it at the edge of the space I have cleared, and lean my elbow on it; that gives me another arm’s length that I can reach over, and so I go on till all is done.  I move the rest for my elbow here and there as needed among the flowers. It takes me longer to weed than most people, because I will do it so thoroughly.”
                Ever since childhood, Penny too got down and dirty in gardens!

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  


July 2, 2023

            In The Cheerleader I wrote: “[S2nowy] looked at herself in the mirror, counting all the things she considered handicaps. Her forehead was high; she hid it with bangs...”
            I’ve now read two of Lucy M. Montgomery’s Emily books. Emily had many challenges; the ones that most struck a chord with me were of course her writing (though my situation was far different, with my father a writer) and especially her high forehead—her longing for bangs! My mother (who did not have a high forehead) thought my forehead was beautiful (like my father’s), so during my haircuts at Thelma’s Beauty Salon I did not get bangs. At last in junior high I prevailed.
Thinking about this and telling Thane, my niece, I suddenly remembered that Laura Ingalls Wilder also had to wait; when Ma finally consented, Laura cut a “fringe.” Thane remembered, too, and added a detail that I forgotten: Laura heated her slate pencil to use as a curler for the bangs.
            A Lucy M. Montgomery coincidence: I had read about her, Anne, Emily, and Prince Edward Island in a Smithsonian magazine, and last week the July/August issue of AAA Explorer magazine arrived and what did I see on the “Features” page?: “Finding Green Gables: A fan of the beloved series of novels visits their settings on Prince Edward Island,” by Mimi Bigelow Steadman. I eagerly turned to it. Steadman began, “Our buggy bumped down the dirt road as the gray-haired driver, dressed in denim and a wide-brimmed hat, steered his sorrel mare alongside a sun-dappled pond. I could almost hear Anne Shirley proclaim, ‘I shall call it the Lake of Shining Waters!’”
            Steadman describes the places to visit, including the farmhouse “still owned by the writer’s family, who have turned the property into the Anne of Green Gables Museum” and the Blue Winds Tea Room where “a glass of raspberry cordial reminded me of the unfortunate occasion when Anne mistakenly served Diana a glass of Marilla’s currant wine instead of the berry soda.”
            Then the latest Smithsonian magazine arrived, and in this July/August issue there was an article about another of my favorite authors: “In Search of Willa Cather: Looking for the writer in the small prairie town she returned to over and over again in her novels,” by Jeff MacGregor.
            He visits Red Cloud, Nebraska, telling us that Willa Cather came here “with her family from Virginia in 1883, when she was 9 years old . . .  This year marks the 150th anniversary of Cather’s birth. One of our greatest novelists, she helped invent the literature of American modernism . . . Many of the novels feature a fictionalized Red Cloud . . . including her three fame-making ‘prairie novels,’ on which her reputation largely rests: O Pioneers!, published in 1913; The Song of the Lark, 1915; and My Antonia,[1918], arguably her best and most studied book, a perfection of form and theme, of purpose and personal history.”
            In my younger years I read and reread her novels, particularly My Antonia. Because of My Antonia and W. Somerset Maugham’s Cakes and Ale, in my first two published novels (The Lilting House and The Cost of Living) I used the method of a narrator observing the main character.
            After reading the article I went to that file box I’ve mentioned before, my Writing File Box, and in the Quotations section I found a quotation from Willa Cather’s story “The Best Years,” which I’d typed onto a file card:

She gave herself up to the feeling of being at home. It went all through her, that feeling, like getting into a warm bath when one is tired. She was safe from everything, was where she wanted to be, where she ought to be. A plant that has been washed out by a rain storm feels like that, when a kind gardener puts it gently back into its own earth...

© 2023 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.  

RDM titles collage

Link to the Current Entries


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 (Dec 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)