New Dumpties

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again

There are a variety of explanations offered up as to the meaning of this rhyme, it’s a drink of brandy boiled with ale (sounds awful), a short and clumsy figure, or various persons, but the true origins are unknown. The real mystery is how the King’s horses were expected to do the job.

There is some mad artist in town who is enamored of these anthropomorphic eggs, and I assume that Mr. Humpty Dumpty was his inspiration.

This nattily dressed figure is in fact, sitting on a wall, but it seems unlikely that he might be seriously injured from falling off of it. So, he’s pretty safe sitting here and it’s just a short ride to the nearest hospital (but quite a bit farther to the nearest stable should the need arise).

Located nearby, again sitting on the walls are the newest of his fellow Dumpties. Careful Pizza Man, you might drop that pie on some unsuspecting tourist.

This Dumpty seems to have been out fishing before settling in to his perch high above the street. Be careful Mr. Fisher-Dumpty, I’m not sure if it is legal to keep a fish that small, and where are your shoes?

I’m not sure about this fellow. Because he’s wearing breeches, waistcoat and a wig, perhaps he is a time-travelling barrister (we don’t get too many of these here).

This is from a book I read as a child, and it supposes that the rhyme is a riddle, and one is meant to guess that HD is an egg (and a rather old-fashioned egg at that). But whatever, I just enjoy seeing the various iterations of this figure and I hope that the artist never gets tired of him.

What’s cooking pt.2

So I previously mentioned that I learned to cook from the back of the package, newspapers and magazines so here are a few samples from my repertoire.

Food companies have used the back of their package (pretty much ever since they invented packaging) to give one a recipe that uses their product. So you don’t really need to keep a copy of the recipe, it will always be there when you need it (you hope). And hopefully the recipe will be adjusted for the constantly shrinking package size.

This recipe has proved to be quite popular every time I have made it (interesting that this and the previous recipe use butterscotch). This recipe came from the Jamestown Sun (in North Dakota), and it looked unusual, so I tore it out and tried it. Definitely a keeper, I think it might have been in an article about Christmas cookies or possibly not. I’ve been making this recipe for years, but only for special occasions. (It’s so good I don’t really want to share the recipe with just anyone.)

Here’s a nice example of a recipe that I kept from a magazine, again the recipes are from a food company. Although I saved the entire page, I have only tried the pumpkin bread, but I also use this recipe for banana bread, it’s a pretty basic sort of thing. This recipe has been floating around the house since sometime in the late 70’s (maybe it needs a touch of butterscotch).

I did learn how to cook some things from my mom (honestly, not just sweets), I think I asked her for this recipe to put in one of those local cookbooks. This is something that Mom made often, because it didn’t require eggs or butter, and us kids were not exactly gourmets. She probably learned to make this when she was a young woman during WWII (before invention of butterscotch morsels).

As you can see I still know how to make lots of sweets, but these things require a crowd to gobble them up, and I seldom have one. ( I made a half recipe of the cookies for my group, and I still ended up eating a number of them. Oh well that’s the danger.) Food is meant to be shared and most everyone will take at least a nibble of a freshly baked sweet.

What’s Cooking

I think that people have been cooking ever since the invention of fire (it really makes foods quite tasty). Remote instruction in the art of cooking delicious food had to wait for the invention of writing, then for the invention of printing. The first written cookbook by a woman in English was published in 1661 and things took off from there. My mother had a 1948 copy of “The Gold Cookbook” that was probably a wedding present, and I don’t recall ever consulting it, but it had it’s special spot in the kitchen. When I learned to cook I sort of remember using recipes on food packaging (Hershey’s cocoa), the newspaper, and the occasional magazine. Now I have been cooking for a large number of years and I now own a small collection of cookbooks.

My mother bought this probably as a magazine promotion in the early 60’s. It’s a beautifully photographed book, with many of the sort of recipes that require special ingredients like lobster (never ever served at my house). It’s pretty much a fantasy of what to cook, certainly not the ordinary sort of recipes (most everyday cooking doesn’t need a written recipe). But there was one recipe in here that I tried, and I have made it often.

And of course since I have made it often, I don’t need to look at the directions anymore, and change bits depending on what’s at hand. It’s very ordinary, easy and delicious.

This booklet is also from the early 60’s and M got this from his favorite restaurant. This was a lucky purchase, because the restaurant decided to stop selling their secret recipes (I’m sure they have a few more up their sleeve).

You can tell from the red chile stains on the page that I have used this recipe a time or two, but it’s also something of a pain to make, so it’s only for special occasions

I didn’t get this book until 1970, when my first boyfriend bought it for me. And I would guess that he bought it because his mother probably had a copy and I suppose it was a hint. At that point I only knew how to make simple things and sweets, pies, cakes and candy. Since I was a grown-up (sort of) person, I learned how to make regular sorts of things, using this as my guide.

This is another recipe that I have used a zillion times. Even with my annotation, it’s a pretty basic recipe that presumes some sort of experience in the kitchen. What’s interesting to me about my cookbooks, is even though they have lots and lots of recipes, I have kept them for just a few tried and tested ones. Now there are infinite recipes and cooking styles available from the internet, but there are still physical cookbooks floating around out there in our homes and hearts. (A reprint of “The Gold Cookbook” is $35 on the internet, maybe Mom’s copy is around somewhere).

10 Second Tourism

Malls were once the thing, a temple to shopping and a sign of modern times. But, modern times have passed and now going to a mall is more of a creepy experience. My fitness instructor was wearing the most adorable, sparkly shoes and I decided that I must have a pair just like them. So I was off to the half filled, dark and half-shuttered mall nearby. There, located next to the defunct Sears was a play area for children. Of course in our current era, children are not allowed to do the dangerous things that we did as children, so as a play area it seemed rather lacking to me. However it is a great 10 second introduction to local tourist attractions. (Overall, a great time saver).

Here is the state flower (Columbine), a local park (Garden of the Gods), and the cog railway that goes to the top of the mountain (currently, not in service). If one goes to the top of the mountain, one can see the next state (if one so desires) and eat a high altitude donut. I myself have done this once, many years ago.

And here it is, the local mountain! In all of it’s shrunken glory, it should take well under a half a minute to climb to the top, take selfies, and be done.

The river winds around to our favorite bighorn sheep. The real thing can be elusive to spot, and they often turn their backs on people, but this one is ready for the selfies with very short persons or children. So there it is, an almost instant and painless tourist experience. And without the hordes of other tourists, it is easy to photograph, with plenty of free parking (not available at an actual tourist site). Plus one can purchase sparkly shoes and other non-essentials right nearby.

Box art

Because this is a tourist destination, there is a lot of street art to be seen. Quite a lot of it is juried-in sculptures, but the street scene also includes the common phone router box. And someone got the bright idea to wrap up these eyesores in printed art, which is really quite brilliant. One can look at them when stopped at the many traffic lights, or should one happen to be strolling along. These bits of art add a tiny splash of color to the streets.

This enigmatic gentleman will watch as one sashays down the avenue.

This winter scene was customized by a passing bird.

This artwork depicts a solitary fisherman, enjoying the quiet of nature. Anyone who has ever gone fishing knows that as soon as one decides on the perfect spot to fish, someone else will come along to fish in the same spot. It’s inevitable.

This scene is even more idyllic (and untrue for the local area). In spring (like right now), nothing has greened up yet, and when the winter snow melts, the creeks do more than “babble”. But it is a lovely image, perhaps it is of somewhere else (note to tourists: please go there immediately.)

These beasts can be seen nearby in the foothills, at least for now (until the city permits a massive apartment complex to be built in their home).

Whether it’s a slice of life or an artistic fantasy. I do appreciate the effort every time I spot one of these.

Anthropomorphics

It started with this guy, the King Trumpet mushroom. (I assume he is male, because he is a king).

I had used the mushrooms in my dinner, when I noticed the bag these came in. I decided that King mushroom was a rather snazzy figure, and started to wonder who made the choice to have an anthropomorphic design to explain and sell this product. (Sadly, there were only ordinary mushrooms in the packet). So I decided to look around to see what other anthropomorphic designs I might find.

I was lucky to find that I had saved this container to use for storage, because Mr. Peanut was killed off by his company! Yes, some genius decided that a peanut with a monocle, gloves, cane and a top hat (spats are not pictured here) was not the proper salesman to flog their product, so they declared him dead (although as an inanimate cartoon figure I am not sure if this is even possible). Oh well, he lives on in my heart (and pantry).

I am happy to see that the Kool-Aid man, a staple of my childhood, still lives on (and cherry remains my favorite flavor).

I took this picture at the grocery store, because the sweet cereal that I do eat uses a cartoon character, instead of this friendly fellow. Because the last thing one wants when sitting down to breakfast, is a bowl of grumpy cereal.

But the winner of this contest of mascots has to be the King Trumpet mushrooms. Because they don’t just have one smiling figure, there are also all of his friends. Perhaps they are on the way to a party, or are running a race, whatever. They are happy to see one, and I expect I shall purchase them again (and not the ones that come in a plain package.)

Sketchbook

I bought this little sketchbook the last time I was in London (and who knew that it would be soooo long until I can go again).

I use my sketchbooks for a couple of purposes. It is an aide-memoire to things that influenced me: I re-watched Vertigo, saw a documentary on slavery and made a visit to the National Gallery. I sketched this horse there in the crowded gallery, surrounded by hordes of tourists milling about. The words attraction, suicide, duplicity, domination and desperation were used in the BBC description of Vertigo (not quite how I would describe it).

I noted a couple of ridiculous words that I saw on signs: “pedestrianize and wealthify”. There are addresses I wanted to find, and I especially recommend 1a Princeton Street.

Hogarth’s rather ugly dog, which he included in his self-portrait. I sketched at the museum and later inked it (because it was Inktober after all).

I started this drawing on the flight home, and didn’t have time to include Pteri until now.

The sketchbook is still unfilled, and I still carry it around sometimes. Here’s a bit of the local scenery. Perhaps I shall finish it off someday, or it may be destined to remain as is.

Steel Town

The place where I live has always been a tourist destination, sometimes there are more tourists, sometimes (almost never) there are less. Industries and jobs have come and gone, but tourism remains.

But in the town south of here, industry was always part of the fabric of the place. The first steel mill was built in 1881 to make the steel rails need for the D & RG railroad. This company was bought out in 1893, and the mills kept on running until 1982. Only some interesting buildings remain as a reminder of this past, and the town now seeks to reinvent itself as a tourist destination (good luck with that).

I would love to be able to wander around the site and get better photos of the place. We should all “decide to be safe”.

Some bits of the plant have been torn down, but a lot remains because it is contaminated with asbestos and will probably stay until it falls to complete ruin. The busy motorway runs right past this place.

This beautiful administration building sits alone and empty, waiting to become a museum. Someday.

The downtown has lots of funky old buildings from the days when there was money in town.

You know how I love reflections. And in this picture one can see both the reflection of the lovely former Elks hall, and inside the building, where there is an oak telephone booth. The past is still present and the town has not been trod on by the forces of progress, like my town.

And what was I doing going south? Why I needed to buy tamales from the best place in the state.

Signs

I had ended up in this part of town because the restaurant I wished to go to was closed for dining, they only had take-away. And the second choice was closed as well, but the third one was open for business. Success! It was a cold day, but after lunch I did take a brief stroll, looking in the many closed shop windows, and admiring the signs as I walked along.

This looks to be an electric meter, and I presume that the stickers are advertising local bands, but really, I have no idea what it all means.

I found this one to be rather specific (and I suspect that it is against “vapers”: persons using electronic cigarettes). My handy dictionary defines vapor as moisture in the air; especially visible floating moisture, as light mist. Also smoke and fumes. It would be a powerful sign that could deter the forces of nature.

I’m sure that this sign will stop something: it’s from the police.

But of course this was the best sign. And as signs are meant to be obeyed, I immediately complied.

Downtown Buddha

When one goes to our tiny downtown area (much beloved of politicians and real estate interests), one of the more unusual stores is the Buddha shop. It caters to all of one’s Buddha needs (which must be rather extensive). I was going to a nearby shop, but there was plenty of parking spaces on this particular day, so I took a few quick snapshots (this is my apology for the poor quality of the pictures).

And besides the regular Buddhas for all the Buddhists out there, one can also purchase Hindu gods (you’re not buying the actual god, just an image).

Buddhas come in either laughing, contemplative or praying models.

And they are available in a choice of finishes, whether one needs a gaudy gold or plain matte statue.

Wait a minute, the next shop window display aren’t exactly Buddhas. But they have become objects of veneration, so I suppose that any of them counts as something to worship too.

This is the only Buddha at my house, the drinkable kind, and perhaps it leads to Nirvana, or something like it.

random bits of life