tisdag 22 april 2008

Baking & reading

Spent most of yesterday in the kitchen — not looking half as feminine and efficient as the woman above.
I made two very unhealthy but yummy cakes. One a standard recipe but the other was new. As so many American recipes it called for insane quantities of sugar which I — as always — cut in half.

I had to get up early today to go to the studio to let in the chimney sweeper. Now, back home it feels much later than it is as I've been up for so long. I'll heat some leftovers for dinner, thank heavens for leftovers, and afterwards I'll return to L. M. Mongomery's Short Stories. Like so many of you I have lost track of how many times I've read her Anne books — but I think I like the books about Emily even better.
The short stories I'm reading for the moment were written before the books about Anne and sometimes I get a feeling that she reused some of them in her Anne-books. Miss Sally and her Juliana in "Miss Sally's Company" reminds me very much of Miss Lavender and her handmaiden Charlotta the Fourth in "Anne of Avonlea".

"Oh, no, no," cried the little lady. "It is a pleasure. I love doing things for people, I wish more of them would come to give me the chance. I never have any company, and I do so long for it. It's very lonesome here at Golden Gate. Oh, if you would only stay to tea with me, it would make me so happy. I am all prepared. I prepare every Saturday morning, in particular, so that if Cousin Abner's girls did come, I would be all ready. And when nobody comes, Juliana and I have to eat everything up ourselves. And that is bad for us—it gives Juliana indigestion. If you would only stay!"
_ _ _

When Miss Sally came back, she was attended by Juliana carrying a tray of lemonade glasses. Juliana proved to be a diminutive lass of about fourteen whose cheerful, freckled face wore an expansive grin of pleasure. Evidently Juliana was as fond of "company" as her mistress was. Afterwards, the girls overheard a subdued colloquy between Miss Sally and Juliana out in the hall.

"Go set the table, Juliana, and put on Grandmother Temple's wedding china—be sure you dust it carefully—and the best tablecloth—and be sure you get the crease straight—and put some sweet peas in the centre—and be sure they are fresh. I want everything extra nice, Juliana."

"Yes'm, Miss Sally, I'll see to it. Isn't it great to have company, Miss Sally?" whispered Juliana.

And this description of Miss Sally and her cottage — so typical for the author — doesn't it make you think of Tasha Tudor?

They reached the little grey house by way of a sloping, grassy lane. Everything about it was very neat and trim. In front a white-washed paling shut in the garden which, sheltered as it was by the house, was ablaze with poppies and hollyhocks and geraniums. A path, bordered by big white clam shells, led through it to the front door, whose steps were slabs of smooth red sandstone from the beach.
_ _ _
She was very small, with an eager, delicately featured face and dark eyes twinkling behind gold-rimmed glasses. She was dressed immaculately in an old-fashioned gown of grey silk with a white muslin fichu crossed over her shoulders, and her silvery hair fell on each side of her face in long, smooth curls that just touched her shoulders and bobbed and fluttered with her every motion; behind, it was caught up in a knot on her head and surmounted by a tiny lace cap.

When I read those books as a child I happily skipped all sunsets, cherry blossoms and rice lilies. All those things that I love to read about now. I'd like to visit P. E. I. but I'm not so sure that I want to visit Green Gables — I think I'll be disappointed — but I would like to see the sunsets, the red roads and all the plants she wrote about that don't grow here.

Some days ago
Nithin wrote this on her blog:
I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?
I never answered it but it got me thinking. If I read e-books on my laptop it is easy to take notes and look up unknown words. But my computers modern dictionary is not always able to help me if I read older books. Lovely old fashion words require better dictionaries so I usually bring out a Webster and The New Penguin English Dictionary before I sit down. So today I've learnt a handful of maybe not so useful but lovely words and expressions:

  • simper, snuggery, inglenook and canter
  • "You look as if you had a corner in time, Curt,"
  • Sarah was always of a grumbling turn, and she had a brand-new stock of them this time.
  • and she's as poor as second skimmings.
  • Mrs. Theodora Whitney was wont to sigh dolorously

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