Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spooky Tales from New Hampshire and New Mexico

This is re-post from 2008.

Since the October chill is in the air and we are all drawing a little closer to our fireplaces in the evening, what better time is there to remind you of some ghostly stories found on The Zees Go West?

The tales start out with the strange happenings in our old Colonial home in New Hampshire, and continue out west with us to New Mexico, where the wide open expanses and lonely dark roads give rise to the spookiest tales of all--the skinwalker stories of the Navajos. Click on any title to read the tale. Don't be scared...

Creepy back hall in the 1770 house
From The House on High Street; Living in an Antique Colonial:

Skinwalker Tales:

Skinwalker Tales: Introduction, definition, and the story of the newspaper delivery woman

Skinwalker Tales, Part 2: Anglo encounters with skin walkers

Skinwalker Tales, Part 3: A shapeshifter dog, a dog snatched up by a skinwalker, and a shapeshifter in the bathtub

Skinwalker Tales, Part 4: The strange creature on the cliff

Skinwalker Tales, Part 5: Living with a Navajo witch

Skinwalker Tales, Part 6: Chased by a skinwalker on the way home from a party (ever notice how many skinwalker sightings happen on the way home from a party?)

Skinwalker Tales, Part 7: Tales from the City-Data New Mexico Forum

Friday, October 19, 2012

Not Socks! Look What I Made

I finally knit something that wasn't a sock! My sister, Auntie Bucksnort, models the shrug I knitted for her. 

I used Malabrigo Sock Yarn in the Caribeno colorway. The shrug took less than one skein, which contains 440 yards. 

The Dream Shrug instructions can be found here, so you can make one too! You just knit a rectangle with sleeve ribbing at each end, stitch up the sleeve seams, then make a five-inch ribbing around the body opening. Either side can be worn up. The lace has lots of give so the whole garment is fairly stretchy and very comfortable. It's the perfect cover-up for air-conditioned rooms.

Note: The ripple pattern is worked over a multiple of 18 stitches. The directions call for 54 stitches cast on; because I wanted three ripple pattern repeats instead of the two in the original pattern, I cast on an additional 18 stitches for a total of 72. After the sleeve ribbing, I decreased the total stitches down to 54, which gave me the three ripple pattern repeats of 18 stitches each. That sounds more complicated than it is when you actually do it. Trust me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shopping for Supper, the Way the French Do

We thought we were prepared for our stay in France. We had translator apps all set up in our phones,  we had special European coverage so that we would be able to use them, we arranged to have Euros on hand, and we had a wonderful navigator thingy in our rented diesel Peugeot. 

However, I'm afraid that as novice European travelers, we simply didn't know what we didn't know. Out in the French countryside, very few folks spoke any English. No problem: We turned to our phones for some handy phrases. Oops, no coverage as promised: Phones didn't work. 

Then came the problem of finding something to eat. Okay, we had plenty of Euros but we simply could not find a supermarket, or anything resembling one. We found the occasional small village store, but they were never open when we were hungry. It seems that family mealtime is very important to the French and they all go home for hours in the middle of the day. When we were finally able to get into one of the little stores, they had what we would consider emergency supplies only. Obviously, the French were well fed and fond of their food, but where the heck were they finding any?

We eventually worked it out. We knew that there were occasional open air markets held here and there and the thoughtful folks who rented the house to us had left a schedule of which town hosted the market on which day. We were picturing American-style farmers markets, which we use to supplement the big weekly shopping we do at the supermarket. Apparently, the French buy the bulk of their food at these outdoor markets. 

And is it ever fresh!  If you will scroll back up to the top photo, you will see a gentleman carrying a cardboard box back to his car. We had no idea at the time that it contained his monthly supply of poultry, still on the hoof! A kindly vendor explained to us--he had a little broken English and we had less and far-more-fractured French, but we worked it out. He told us that those in the know arrive early at this monthly market, famous for its poultry, held in the ancient town of Lencloitre. Thousands of chickens, geese, guineas, doves, quails, and ducks are sold out in the first hour or so. People carry their boxes of live poultry back to their cars, then return to finish the rest of their shopping in a more leisurely fashion. 

I guess those little feathered guys provide fresh meals for the family until the next monthly market. No plucked and cut-up and sanitarily packaged chicken for these folks!

I liked the way the greens were hung so the ducklings (goslings?)
had to reach for their food, giving them a little exercise in those crowded cages

The chicken guys were able to handle six to ten chickens at a time by grabbing their legs

You got the sense that these weren't like the coddled backyard chickens of America--I'm talking about the ones that get names like Peckatina (to mention a girl we all know and love)

After the family's poultry supply had been squared away, people had time to look over the bedding plants...

... and saddles, clothing, shoes, fresh fish (dead, but fresh), oysters, eels, lovely cheeses, all kinds of charcuterie (as we learned, these are bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit), eggs of every sort, breads and all kinds of pastries, vegetables, fruits, and wine.

Oh, yes. We mustn't forget the mandoline man. He demonstrated his slicer with a deftness that had to be seen to be believed. He chopped, he minced, he julienned, and he grated. He made dangly earring-shaped decorations from zucchinis (of course he called them courgettes). He was charming. He knew he had a sucker with this American tourist (who was thinking nostalgically of the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire). I couldn't tear myself away until I bought the miracle-working slicer and all its accompanying attachments ("only" 20€). Of course, it came in a sealed box with no instructions. We haven't managed to make it slice a thing yet but, on a positive note, we haven't chopped off our fingers, either. 

He minced, he charmed
Although we didn't buy anything that was still alive, we were so proud that we had finally figured out how to buy food! And wine! Lots and lots of wine!

I know I've shown you this photo before, but it's my best food photo ever. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Time to Eat

When you're married to Beez, it's always time to eat, and there's no better place to eat than at Sparky's in Hatch, New Mexico. We like the ride to get there, and we like the green chile cheeseburgers and the red chile mango shakes. 

Sorry about the thumb

There's lots to look at, inside and outside Sparky's, while you wait for your food to be served.

Today, I'm showing you some inside views of the place. If you want to see outside views, click here, or here, or here. Sometimes there is even some fine musical entertainment. I always take some photos while we're wandering around the place.

If you're in New Mexico, you probably already know the way to Hatch, home of the famous Chile Festival. If you live somewhere else, you'd better come on down for some sunshine, unforgettable food, and good times.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Day in the 12th Century

The medieval city from below (photo by my son, Ben)
One of the first places we visited while in France last summer was the town of Chauvigny in the Vienne department of Poitou-Charente. The medieval part of the town is on a hill, and it contains the ruins of several castles:  "Château des Eveques (‘baronial chateau'), the 'Chateau d'Harcourt', the 'donjon de gouzon', and the chateau de Montleon."

We spent the morning wandering around the narrow passageways. I was surprised to find that some of the houses were still occupied and that garages had been built into what might have once been stables. Adding to the mixture and ancient and modern, the 12th century donjon (great tower) had a rebuilt stairway lit by modern skylights; and we could see the cooling towers of a nuclear plant in the distance. 

Narrow little passageway
People still live inside the castle walls

Small cars can just make it down these narrow passages.
Note the garages to the right, and the old drain that goes down the middle of the pavement
I loved the views out over the old roofs

The Church of St. Pierre

This is a modern sculpture outside the workshop of one of the resident artisans who work on the ongoing preservation and repair of the buildings

This modern sculpture sits on the stairs leading to the castle keep

Amid all the ancient walls and roofs you can see a bit of modern glass skylight

Look closely: In the distance you can spot the twin towers of the nearby Civaux Nuclear Power Plant

Looking down at the small streets and ancient roofs; I couldn't get enough of scenes like these

More roofs in another direction. Interestingly enough, you could hardly tell where the walled city ended and the newer city began, because the styles remained so much the same.