Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Stats Show Clovis Avoiding Housing Slump

Today's Clovis News Journal leads off with an article on Clovis housing with the headline "Stats show Clovis avoiding housing slump." The average Clovis home price in 2007 was $119,568 and the average price in the first quarter of 2008 was $130,746, a percentage change of +9.3.

This information comes from numbers released on Tuesday by the Realtors Association of New Mexico. Statewide, the average home price increased by 2% in the same time period, from $190,247 to $194,114.

You can read the complete article online.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wind Power in New Mexico

It's windy where the High Plains drop off

Driving through part of the 60-megawatt Caprock Wind Ranch south of San Jon

According to Wind Projects in New Mexico, current wind farms in the state produce 496 megawatts with 430 turbines, and future projects in and near NM will produce an additional 545 megawatts. New Mexico business and residential power consumers can choose to purchase electricity produced by wind power through the Public Service of New Mexico's "Sky Blue" program. As PNM says, "it's an easy and affordable way to demonstrate your commitment to our state and its environment."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Such a Lovely Spring

We've just had visitors from New Hampshire and had a chance to see our part of New Mexico through their eyes. They loved seeing leaves out on the trees, as theirs are still in bud. Here are some of the flowers that are blooming now around the house.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The U-Shaped Happiness Pattern

Imperfect Peace

Slate Magazine, in The Midlife Happiness Crisis, reports on "a new study by economists David Blanchflower of Dartmouth and Andrew Oswald of Warwick. They document how happiness evolves as people age. While income and wealth tend to rise steadily over the life cycle, peaking around retirement, happiness follows a U-shaped age pattern... Happiness starts off relatively high in early adulthood, then falls, bottoming out on average around age 45, and then rises after that year and on into old age."

As a relatively new retiree, I'd like to second that notion. Retirement is a wonderfully happy time, after you've done a bit of adjustment. First, you have to get over the guilt you feel when everyone else seems to be zipping off to jobs and stress in the morning. Then you just have to find a way to use the lovely gift of time that you've been given, in a nice balance of service to others and giving yourself permission to do all the things you've been wanting to do--and hoping for the physical capability to do all those things.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tales of the Big Winds

...just snuck out to grab the newspaper...

I recently took part in a discussion about wind in New Mexico at the City-Data New Mexico Forum. It all started when someone in Las Cruces complained that they were in the middle of their annual two weeks of big wind. I couldn't resist answering:

Gosh, I just read about you poor guys with a couple of weeks of wind to endure and the tears are still streaming down my windburned cheeks. Tears of laughter. Tears because one of our 60 mph gusts whisked my cat up into the top of the neighbor's tree last week. Can't use a ladder, those all blew away. The current plan is to wait until the wind shifts and hope she lands back in one of our trees this time.

Like wind? Come on over to Little Texas, here on the High Plains. The winds start in November and end in...umm, not sure when they end. The early morning suburban streets are filled with groggy folk in odd pajama outfits who just snuck out to grab the newspaper, only to find that it has blown away down the middle of the road. It's the one time I'm assured of seeing who lives in the neighborhood and what they wear (or don't) at night.

I know people who keep their false teeth in their pockets most of the time, just in case. My glasses actually blew right off my face yesterday. I bent down to retrieve them and realized I was behind an SUV that was about to back out and over me. It was like a Laurel and Hardy movie. Luckily a really big gust lifted me six feet south, just in time to avoid being another parking lot fatality.

We all have something called "the Clovis do" on our heads because we know better than ever combing our hair until we get inside of wherever we are going. People with toupees make fast friends with the duct tape dealer here.

Only once did I make the mistake of sweeping up the sidewalk after mowing. Now I just wait a minute and it all goes over to the neighbor's place and on down the block.

Don't like your dog? Put him out back in the yard and he'll just blow away and find a new home. Don't like your husband? Wait for one of the really big gusts...

The following answer was posted by a concerned reader in Michigan:

Hello from Saginaw, Michigan:
I never laughed so hard as I did just now reading your description of what the wind does in your state. After a really hard day at school today (I am a substitute teacher working on her retirement this May), I thought I would never stop laughing at your descriptions. They are truly hilarious. Either someone like me who is used to some wind but not that kind of dust and the snow.....especially this year...... it is truly refreshing to hear a description about N. Mexico. Thank you for making me laugh. You have a great sense of humor. But I do cringe at the thought of a animal being tossed into a tree. I love animals so I don't like to hear things like that. I hope the cat survives, also.

Of course, I needed to set the Michigan lady's mind at ease:

I have to admit that I might have exaggerated just a tiny little bit when I was carrying on about the wind. My glasses DID blow right off my face, and the Clovis [hair]"do" IS a thing to behold. Cats blowing away? Welllll... you got me. All my cats are safe and sound and haven't been airborne for weeks. I just couldn't leave you worrying.

I am very excited to read that you are retiring from subsitute teaching. Talk about scary stories--I'll bet you have plenty. I retired from being a school librarian last year and plan to have a big anniversary celebration on May 17th commemorating the last time I was ever shut in a classroom with a mob of eighth graders. They were way scarier than any big wind.

Except for maybe tornadoes. We're apparently right in the middle of tornado season, and we live only 18 miles from the beginning of Tornado Alley. We have frequent tornado drills with the dogs and cats and they all know to head right for the closet, where I read cautionary tales like The Wizard of Oz to them. They love all the parts about Toto.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cooking up a Casserole Sweater

Yarn leftovers

You know how you just have to clean out the fridge every once in a while? I usually sort out the leftovers and use the good ones in some kind of tortilla casserole, layering everything with a bit of salsa, tortillas, and cheese. Sometimes we're surprised at how well they turn out. Sometimes not so much!
Inspired by the beautiful patterns in The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book and thinking about those casseroles, I started gathering up all the leftover yarns from past Knit for Kids projects. The Green Mountain people use beautiful natural fibers; I've been using tough acrylics for these little kid sweaters, not knowing how they will be handled and washed. I still like the way the sweater is coming out, although blocking will make a big improvement.
This sweater started with a bit of a knitting adventure. After knitting a two-color ribbing and knitting a few inches of the body of the sweater, I really didn't like the looks of the ribbing. To avoid starting all over, I just cut it off stitch by stitch, picking up the body stitches as I went, and knit/purled a new ribbing from the top down. It felt pretty daring to me!

This is the wrong side of the sweater. Because it is essentially knit double, it will make some little kid nice and warm.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day, 2008

Doing something for the Earth

The clothes dryer is typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about $85 to operate annually. A typical clothes dryer will cost $1,100 to operate over its lifetime. Source: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Classic Clovis Movie Theaters

State Theater (Still in use, first opened in 1936, Art Deco style)

Clovis is home to three wonderful old movie theaters, in addition to a more modern multiplex. Two of the old classics are still open, and the third is just waiting for someone to come along to renovate it.

When I was a child in San Francisco, I was allowed to walk to the Saturday matinee movie with a couple of friends. We went to the Surf Theater on 45th and Irving which was just a few blocks away from our home down on 48th Ave. between Judah and Irving. A quarter would take care of the movie ticket and some Junior Mints, with plenty of change left over. The matinee started out with previews of coming attractions, then cartoons, then a serial with a cliffhanger ending "to be continued" the next week, and then the featured attraction. Read Remembering the Coliseum by Pat French Swendsen for a delightful description of kids at a San Francisco matinee just a couple of decades before I was enthusiastically watching Francis the Talking Mule movies.

The most beautiful theater renovation I have seen as an adult was The Moore-Egyptian (now called The Moore Theater) in Seattle, which was showing foreign and revival movies back in the 1970s when I went there. It earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The Cinema Treasures website ("Discover. Preserve. Protect") is devoted to movie theater preservation and awareness and is “…reinventing historic preservation on the web.” It lists theaters by architect, chain, location, etc., and shows them as being open, closed, renovating, or demolished. 98 theaters are listed for New Mexico.

I recently photographed the old Clovis theater exteriors. The information in the captions comes from the Cinema Treasures website.

The Lyceum Theatre (Restored vaudeville theater, first opened in 1921, designed by Boller Bros. in the Mission style. Still in use)

Mesa Theater (closed)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pancake History

The Food Timeline website is written by Lynne Oliver, a reference librarian with “a passion for culinary history.” Here is a tiny taste of what Oliver has to tell us about pancakes.

"Pancakes, as we Americans know them today, were "invented" in Medieval Europe. Throughout history, pancake ingredients (finest available wheat flour, buckwheat, cornmeal, potatoes), cooking implements (ancient bakestones, medieval hearths, pioneer griddles perched on campfire embers, microwave ovens), social rituals (Shrove Tuesday crepes, Chanukah latkes, mass quantities for community fundraisers) and final product (thick or thin, savory or sweet, slathered with butter and smothered with syrup, or gently rolled around delicate fruit) have reflected regional cuisine and local customs. Cake-like galettes [France], thick potato pancakes [Germany], Boxty [Ireland], paper thin crepes [France], palascinta [Hungary] drop scones [Scotland], coarse cornmeal Indian cakes [colonial America], flapjacks [19th century America], rich blini [Russia], poori [India], qata'if (Middle East) dadar gutung [Indonesia], bao bing [China] and simply-add-water instant mixes [late 20th century] are all members of the pancake family."

To learn more about pancakes and how they are cooked, the place of pancakes in cultures around the world, and for a sampler of historic pancake recipes, go to the Pancakes & Crepes section of the Food Timeline.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Best Pancake Recipes

Back near the beginning of this "Pancake Week," which has somehow stretched into nearly two, I gave you my best yogurt pancake recipe. Today I would like to direct you to some other "best" recipes. Here are some sites to start with:

101 My Favorite Pancake Recipe

Recipezaar: The Best (No Kidding) Buttermilk Pancakes

Baking Bites: Crepes for Pancake Day

For a nice big list of every kind of recipe from everywhere—India to Ireland—and with every kind of ingredient from sour cream to lavender and from matzoh meal to red lentils, go to the Global Gourmet and search the word pancakes.

We're almost at the end of this pancake celebration. Please join in by sending your own favorite pancake recipes via the comments. You know how I love to get comments--otherwise, how do I know who is reading?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cheese Blintzes

In the 1950s, Cheese Blintzes were a big favorite at luncheons for the ladies. I don't have a copy of my mother’s recipe, but I found this one on

Cheese Blintzes

2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 lb. hoop cheese [dry cottage cheese] or Ricotta
1 sm. pkg. cream cheese
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Dash of cinnamon

Make batter by adding milk to salt and eggs. Sift in flour gradually until smooth. Heat 7 to 9 inch iron skillet, grease with butter. Pour in enough batter to cover bottom of pan, tilt quickly to cover evenly. Cook on 1 side until it blisters. Quickly turn out onto towel-covered board.

Filling: Leave cheeses at room temperature. Mix with fork, combine with rest of ingredients. Place heaping tablespoon of filling onto uncooked side of blintz. Fold envelope style. Cook in heavy skillet in small amount of butter until lightly browned on both sides.

Serve with sour cream and/or strawberry jam.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes in Sugar Season

Back in New Hampshire during maple sugar time, we sometimes took the family on the beautiful drive to the Monadnock region to visit Parker's Maple Barn. There was always a line to get in for breakfast, so we would get our place reserved and then head over to the sugar house to watch the syrup-making process. It was usually freezing cold, and often snowing or raining, so when we got too chilly we would warm up in the gift shop. When our names were finally called over the outdoor loudspeaker, we would step into the big restaurant/barn that smelled of wood fires, maple syrup, and breakfast.

My favorite was the pumpkin pancake breakfast. What follows is not the Parker's recipe, but one that I put together that reminds me very much of the great breakfasts we had together there.

Pumpkin Pancakes

3 eggs
1 cup yogurt
¼ cup molasses
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
2 tbl. melted butter or vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. each: cloves, mace, ginger
Strong coffee

Mix first five ingredients together in a large bowl; sift the dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin mixture, stirring in enough coffee to make the batter the consistency you like.

Serve pancakes with warm applesauce or maple syrup.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Elva's fancy 50s kitchen.
It even had a wood-fired grill with a copper hood.

My mother, Elva, was born in 1914 on a farm in eastern Canada. In her lifetime she saw amazing things--families changed over from driving horses to driving automobiles, the national highway system was developed, telephones were installed in homes and then the cell phone was invented, and household labor savers like vacuum cleaners, automatic clothes washers, dishwashers, and the microwave became common. We got our first television set (black and white, of course) in the early 1950s, opening up a whole new world of entertainment with its three channels. Computers were invented and changed over time from room-sized to pocket-sized. The Internet was really getting going in her later years, but I could never interest her in it.

One thing always remained the same with my mother. She loved to cook--whether on the wood cookstove of her youth or the fancy GE countertop burners in her first new house in the 1950s--and she loved to try out new recipes. Here is one of her favorites, probably cut out of a magazine in the 1960s.

These pancakes are very tender.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup milk
4 eggs
¾ cup flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tbl. melted butter or vegetable oil

Separate eggs, beat whites, set them aside. Beat yolks with cottage cheese. Sift dry ingredients, add to cottage cheese mixture. Fold in egg whites. Makes about 20 pancakes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What to Put in Your Pannekoeken

The Dutch Pancake Café (Nederlandse Pannekoeken Café) in Stowe, Vermont serves their pannekoeken in the traditional Dutch way, with the added ingredients cooked into the pancake. Their mouthwatering menu, quoted below, will have you packing your bags for Vermont. In the meantime, this list will give you some ideas for your own pannekoeken.

"We serve over 80 varieties of 12 inch sweet and hearty Dutch Pancakes. Dutch pancakes are specially prepared, crepe-like pancakes with a variety of ingredients baked in. Pancakes range from apples, cinnamon and bacon to chocolate chip with cream to shredded potato, onion and cheese."



Apple Cinnamon: Fresh Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon.

Blueberry Cream: Maine blueberries with whipped cream.

Chocolate Chip: Plain pancake with chocolate chips.

Apple Blueberry: Fresh apple slices with Maine blueberries.

Banana: Fresh sliced bananas cooked inside.

Coconut Chocolate Chip: Plain pancake with chocolate chips and sprinkled with shredded coconut.

Banana Blueberry: Fresh sliced bananas with Maine blueberries.

Banana Chocolate Coconut: Fresh sliced bananas cooked in then topped with chocolate chips and toasted coconut.

Apple Raisin: Fresh apple slices with raisins.

Fresh Strawberry Banana: Plain pancake topped with fresh sliced strawberries(seasonal) and bananas finished with whipped cream.

Banana Pineapple: Fresh sliced bananas with diced pineapple.

Strawberry, Chocolate, and Cream: Fresh sliced strawberries (seasonal) on top of pancake drizzled with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Maple Walnut: Pancake topped with walnut-infused maple syrup.

Banana Walnut: Fresh sliced bananas with chopped walnuts.

Pineapple Almond: Diced pineapple topped with toasted almonds.

Lemon Butter: Spread with lemon compound butter and sprinkled with confectionary sugar.

Pineapple Coconut: Diced pineapple sprinkled with shredded coconut.

For an extra special treat add a Belgian chocolate truffle cup of Vermont's own Ben & Jerry's French Vanilla ice cream.


Shredded Potato, Onion and Cheese: Sautéed potato and onions cooked into the pancake with cheddar cheese. Served with sour cream and applesauce.

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions: Sliced Italian link sausage with sautéed red and green bell peppers and onions.

Bacon, Cheese and Tomato: Crumbled crispy bacon, cheddar cheese and fresh diced tomato.

Tomato, Onion, Mushroom and Cheese: Fresh diced tomato and onion with sliced mushrooms and cheese.

Ham & Swiss: Diced ham and Emmanthauler Swiss cheese.

Spinach, Onion, Mushroom and Bacon: Sautéed fresh spinach, onion, mushroom slices and crumbled bacon cooked into the pancake.

Sausage Gravy: Plain pancake served with a side of southern style sausage gravy.

Apple Bacon: Fresh sliced apples and crispy crumbled bacon.

Broccoli and Swiss: Sautéed fresh broccoli florets and Emmanthauler Swiss cheese.

BaconCrumble: Crispy bacon in pancake.

Potato, Broccoli, Ham and Cheese: Sautéed fresh red potatoes, broccoli florets and ham topped with cheddar cheese.

Pineapple Canadian Bacon: Diced pineapple accompanied by thin slices of Canadian bacon.

Canadian Bacon and Cheese: Thin slices of Canadian bacon and cheddar cheese cooked in pancake.

Bacon and Cheese Crumble: Crisp bacon and cheddar cheese cooked in the pancake.

Vegetarian Canadian Bacon and Pineapple: Thin slices of soy based Canadian bacon and diced pineapple.

Vegetarian Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onion: Spicy Italian vegetarian sausage with sautéed bell peppers and onions cooked in the pancake.


Breakfast Pannekoeken: Eggs and bacon or sausage cooked in the pancake and topped with cheddar cheese.

The Rembrandt: Apple, shredded potato, pineapple, raisins, ham and cheddar cheese seasoned with curry.

Farmers Pannekoeken: Sautéed shredded potato and onions with tomato and cheese.

Nor-Easter Pannekoeken: Apple slices with walnuts and raisins sprinkled in.

Vegetable Fantasy: Basil pesto, artichoke hearts, sliced black olives, tomato and cheese.

Hawaiian Pannekoeken: Ham, pineapple and Swiss cheese.

Pina Colada Pannekoeken: Pineapple, banana and toasted coconut pancake topped with whipped cream.

Fresh Fruit Pannekoeken: Featuring the freshest in seasonal pickings layered on top of a pancake.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pannekoeken Recipes

My son suggested that I include some pannekoeken recipes as a part of this series. These are the real Dutch Pancakes, as opposed to those delicious Dutch Babies that I featured on the blog yesterday.

Rich Vermunt, on his delightful web page called Dutch Cooking, which is part of his larger site Going Dutch, tells us that the best pancakes are made with yeast. The first recipe below is another variation which uses lots of eggs instead of yeast, and the yeast pancake recipe is also given (in Rick's words). Be sure to visit his website--it's a very entertaining and informative introduction to The Netherlands.

Ingredients for one large pancake:
1 cup flour
2 large eggs or 3 medium (fills ½ cup when beaten)
1 cup milk
at least ¼ cup butter or margarine
(multiply the above recipe with the number of pancakes you wish to make)

Put the flour and salt in a bowl, make a well in the middle and add the beaten eggs. Mix to a smooth batter. Add the rest of the milk. Melt half the butter in a heavy skillet. Pour the batter into it. Turn these pancakes frequently, each time adding some butter. They should then become golden brown and crisp at the sides.

Gewone Pannekoeken (Regular Pancakes).
This recipe makes 4 big pancakes.
4 cups of flour (or 4 cups of proprietary pancake mix if available)
1 cake yeast (60 grams) [or 1 tbl. dry yeast]
4 cups lukewarm milk
butter or margarine

Put the flour and the salt in a bowl. Make a depression in the center. Add the diluted (with a little milk) yeast. Add 2 cups of milk and mix to a smooth batter. Add the rest of the milk. Leave to rise for three quarters of an hour. Heat enough butter in a heavy skillet. Pour in part of the butter and fry the pancake on both sides. You can toss the pancake in the air for turning, if you like. Try out with someone standing by to catch them is advisable if this is your first attempt ! :-) Otherwise use a spatula. Keep them hot in the warming drawer and serve with sugar or molasses, golden syrup or treacle.

Tomorrow: Some serving suggestions for pannekoeken.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dutch Babies

Here is a treat for a special breakfast. These pancakes are simple to make but impressive to serve, as they puff up beautifully.

Dutch Babies
This will make one 8-9 inch pancake.
2 eggs
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbl. butter

Put the butter in a Pyrex pie plate, place the plate in a preheated 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes to melt the butter. Beat the eggs well in a bowl and add the flour, salt and milk; stir or whisk until smooth. Take the hot pie plate out of the oven and pour the egg mixture into it.

Return the pie plate immediately to the oven and bake 25 minutes or until the pancake is puffed up. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar or topping of your choice. Serve immediately.

Friday, April 11, 2008

French Pancakes

Long ago, my then-10-year old son studied a breakfast menu carefully in a restaurant and announced to the waitress in a clear and carrying voice that he would like to order "the French creeps, please." I believe this recipe is what he was thinking of, because it was always a popular one in our home. It comes from an older edition of The Joy of Cooking. I hear that the new edition no longer contains this recipe. I can’t imagine why they would leave it out.

French Pancakes (or Crepes)

Sift these dry ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Mix these ingredients in a bowl with a whisk:
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla, or a little grated lemon rind
1/3 cup water

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir a bit, just until the dry bits disappear. Lumps are ok as they will disappear during the cooking. Spray a little cooking oil in the pan, or wipe quickly with a paper towel scrunched up and dipped in vegetable oil. Pour in a couple of tablespoons of the batter and swirl the pan to spread it around. Cook until a peek underneath shows that the pancake is brown, flip it over to finish cooking, and put it on a plate to keep warm in the oven.

These can be rolled up with jam; or with powdered sugar, butter, and/or lemon juice.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Making Chocolate Chip Pancakes Without Singing

Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be any more pancake videos, I bring you one showing the right way to make pancakes. There are no funny songs that will stick in your head, I promise. This comes to you from, a great place to learn basic techniques.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Healthy Whole Grain Pancakes

This recipe verges on being good for you, except for the sauce. Perhaps you can come up with a healthier orange alternative.

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Orange Sauce

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbl. brown sugar or honey
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
½ cup oil

Sift flour with baking powder, salt, sugar. If using honey, add it to the milk and oil. Beat milk and oil into beaten egg yolks.

Combine wet ingredients with dry, fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Cook on griddle, serve warm with orange sauce.

Orange Sauce: Combine ½ cup butter, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate. Bring just to a boil, stirring constantly.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pancakes For Your Face

You wouldn't think there would be many pancake videos, would you? Take a look at Scottish songwriter/video producer James Provan's second (see his first one here). You'll see that he has a much fancier kitchen now, and I suspect that has to do with his video successes. Check out his YouTube page for more of his works and his biography.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Yogurt Pancakes

Here is my very best pancake recipe ever. It evolved from a 1960s Sour Cream Pancakes recipe, but this version is much better for you.

2 eggs
¾ cup plain yogurt
2 tbl. vegetable oil

1 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar

Milk or water to blend.
Mix the first three ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients and add to wet mixture. Stir in milk or water until the batter is the right consistency. I'll leave the cooking part up to you, but I hope you'll use a very hot griddle.

Optional: Add blueberries, fresh or frozen.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

It's Time for Pancakes!

Did you know? Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday and is sometimes known as Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday. This year it fell on Feb. 5th. I missed it, so I'm going to celebrate my very own Pancake Week starting right now.

Here is my favorite pancake video in the world. It has the best pancake song ever. Big warning: The song is extremely addictive and I predict that it will get stuck in your head. I know I always sing it when making pancakes now. By the way, the producer of the video is James Provan, screen name "GiR."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

We Went Up to Pecos

We went up to the Pecos National Historical Park over the weekend, a 400-mile round trip from Clovis. Pecos is some kind of touchstone for both of us. Beez goes down into a kiva and stays for a while and comes out a newly refreshed man. I stay up top and take photos, as I'm not much for going underground here in snake country.

It is a very haunted and mystical place and one of the reasons, I believe, that New Mexico deserves to be called "enchanted." The air was absolutely incredible there--each breath smelled like sunshine and juniper and pine and distant snows. The elevation is almost 7000 ft., so even though it wasn't hot we had to be careful of getting burned in the sun.
It seemed like the most beautiful place in the world.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Yes, They Can

Kids in the South Bronx on Obama and His Campaign

My First Try at a Shetland Lace Pattern

“Shetland Lace is an accepted term for the very fine and elaborate lace knitting produced in the Shetland Isles from the 19th century onwards…The most famous pieces were the Wedding Ring Shawls; these were commonly six foot (180 cms) square and so finely knitted that when finished, the shawl could be passed through a wedding ring. Shetland Lace is still available today, usually for exclusive items like Stoles, Christening Shawls and Robes, prices ranging from £100 - £2000 each.” (From Heirloom Knitting.)

I used one of these traditional patterns, Old Shale, to make a very airy summer-weight baby shawl with Red Heart Soft Baby three-ply yarn and some circular needles in size 10 ½ (American).

I love this pattern, which is just one of the many Old Shale variations. The end product looks far more complicated than it actually is to knit. The only problem I had was losing my place while knitting and chatting with my knitting group and that was soon solved by making a little chart to keep track of which row I was on. As long as I finished each row and checked it off, I could see where I was and could avoid errors.

Since the pattern calls for a multiple of 18 stitches, I cast on a total of 108. This gave me a shawl about 32 inches wide. I expected it to relax more after blocking than it did, and would make the next one a bit bigger.

Old Shale Pattern

Cast on a multiple of 18 stitches. Check off each row as you complete it, using this chart.
Pattern Row: *[K2 tog] 3 times, [yo, K1] 6 times, [K2 tog] 3 times, repeat from * to end.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Employment Possibilities

From an old postcard in my collection

If I ever had any doubt that I am far, far away from New England, a perusal of the local Help Wanted ads would make it abundantly clear. Here are a few that I have seen lately:

-Sample Puller for Peanut Grading Station
-Elevator Help Needed [that would be grain elevator help]
-Farm Hand Needed, must speak English and be willing to relocate to Muleshoe
-Seeking dependable, self-motivated person with adequate Kill Floor experience
-Cow Pusher wanted. [Is this the same as a cowpoke or a cow puncher? Poor cows, always getting shoved around].

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Blankets for Newborns

I've always loved working together with other women for a common cause. I met with a knitting group in New Hampshire whenever I could over the 20+ years we lived there, even though I worked full time and the scheduling was often tricky. Sitting in a room with those women, I would marvel over the many years of knowledge and experience we shared with each other. As we worked, we talked and listened and helped each other through whatever problems came our way.

I missed that fellowship when we moved to New Mexico. I finally decided one morning to go out and either find a knitting group or start one, and was lucky enough to find The Needle Gang at the Baxter-Curren Senior Center. These women have been meeting together for at least a couple of decades, making blankets and hats for newborn babies in the community, which are distributed by the local Foster Grandparents program.

I still make sweaters for needy children through the Knit for Kids program, but I am glad to enjoy the friendship of these wonderful women while contributing to local families by making baby afghans. My first few efforts are pictured above.