The area in which we live is definitely rural, but I never considered it wilderness until suddenly, after 20 years of receiving packages from every known delivery service, we can’t be found. We have disappeared.

We get notes saying a post office package was “undeliverable.” Undeliverable? It’s not raining or snowing. There are no civil protests or traffic jams. No massive reconstruction projects. Personally, I think they didn’t even try to deliver to us. What happened to the packages? In the last two weeks, almost $600 of Amazon deliveries have had to be refunded to us and the same items ordered elsewhere.

I’m sure this means something, but what? Have our roads been deleted from maps and GPS’s? Has Uxbridge been banned from Mapquest?


I grant you that we live surrounded by woods. We certainly have a good deal of wildlife. Critters include fishers, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, flying squirrels, deer, skunk, chipmunks, coyotes, and foxes. In the air we have eagles, hawks, woodpeckers and every sort of garden bird. In nearby waters we have ducks, geese, herons, and divers — and some of the biggest snapping turtles you’ve ever seen. Nonetheless, these creatures are not crowding our highways or driveway. They live in the woods and unless you have feeders, they have no interest in you.

Oh look! I found a few seeds!

We have paved roads. Even a traffic light! We have a grocery, a couple of banks, hairdressers, and a really big lumber yard. Until recently, all of these made us a town that was still on the map. We aren’t huge, but we are not wilderness. In this same Blackstone Valley we have probably a dozen small towns, fire houses (with fire trucks, too!).

We have police (not many, but enough). We have post offices and drop-off and delivery areas for UPS and Fedex. You can get your nails done — or you could have, back in the “old days” before March 2020 — or get a tattoo. There were two dry-cleaners and a floor installer and TWO places that framed pictures.

Yet still, no one can find us.

It’s amazing after living here for 20 years and getting daily deliveries that suddenly, we don’t exist. A bit startling, too.

NEW PRINTING OF AN 1896 COOKBOOK – Marilyn Armstrong

The Boston Cooking School

The predecessor to all the great Fannie Farmer cookbooks that would be printed over the next 50 years, this was the one I really wanted most. It was out of print for a long time, but now, it’s back in print and also on Kindle. However, cookbooks have to be something I can bring into the kitching without worrying about them getting wet or covered with flour or batter.

I finally ordered it. First, I had to move out some other cookbooks that I don’t use, some of which were duds in the first place. As a warning, never buy any cookbook that starts with “365 Ways to …”  The recipes are typically mediocre and sometimes a lot worse than that. However, whenever I traveled, I always bought one or more cookbooks. Sometimes they turned out to be fantastic. Sometimes uninspiring. I always thought the best souvenir you can bring home from someplace you loved than their food. So I have Caribbean cook books, Maine cookbooks, Cape Cod, Chinese. One book entirely devoted to rice and another devoted to people who can’t cook at all which I hoped would convince my husband to give it a try.

Nope. But he did laugh a lot, so I suppose it was worth the money just for that.

This one is a treasure. It’s available in hardcover. As a book, the only thing wrong with it is that it’s small so the type is small. If you are me, there’s a good deal of squinting involved.

Also (and this is not a problem but the inevitable result of buying a cookbook written before modern kitchens were invented) is you have to figure out how much of something no one uses any more equals whatever it is we use now. For example, how much dry yeast is in a cake of yeast? Answer: about a teaspoon and a quarter of dry yeast.

The book starts off by teaching you how to build a proper fire for baking in a wood-fired stove. I enjoy doing things the old-fashioned way, but not quite that old-fashioned. I wouldn’t mind a gas oven, though. I think natural gas produces a more stable heat with natural convection.

I live in an area where there is no natural gas. If you want gas, you have to buy big canisters and then you are cooking with propane, which is not nearly as hot as natural gas. So electric it is. My oven runs cool and I have learned from hard experience to bake hotter and for at least five to ten minutes longer than the recipe calls for.

One of the nicest things about this cookbook is that the recipes don’t call for any expensive gadgets. An eggbeater is an advanced cooking item in this book and I’m pretty sure most cooks didn’t own one. You needed strong arms and muscular wrists. It also helped if you didn’t mind getting burned a bit. Also, it contains a lot of recipes for everything from Parker House rolls to egg sandwiches.

In the very back of the book are lots of old advertisements for kitchen and other household goods. Hub ranges (wood-fired) and King Arthur Flour, which I still stock and it’s my favorite flour. Some things never change.

It’s available on Amazon and I’m sure elsewhere as well. It’s worth the price at just under $11 in hardcover.


DAY OF THE MONARCHS – Marilyn Armstrong

We named our little sailboat Gwaihir, the wind lord. Really, she was a wind lady and the name was a bit pretentious for such a tiny boat. Somehow, I thought it would be a lucky name. She was a 16-foot Soling with a centerboard. She drew a mere 16-inches with the board up. I used to tell people Gwaihir could sail on a wet hankie and I believed she could.

Soling Drawiing

She was a surprisingly stable craft. We carried a 5 HP outboard motor so when tide and wind were against us, we could still get home. In the old days, sailboats had to drop anchor and wait for one or both to shift. Today, we have to get home for dinner … so we have outboards.

When my husband had the time and felt particularly frisky, we took Gwaihir out through Sloop Channel and Jones inlet into the ocean.

Even a 3-foot roller looks big when you are on the deck of such a small sloop. My then-husband was a madman on the water. He would sail through thunder squalls because he liked the challenge. His father had been equally insane, so I guess he came by it honestly.

Mostly, I piloted her through the salt marshes and canals off Long Island. She was perfect for shallow water sailing. We could sail through nesting plovers, herons, and ducks, silent except for the soft flapping of the jib. The birds were undisturbed by our passage and went about their business, white sails wing-like in the breeze.

One bright day with a warm sun lighting the water and the sky blue as a robin’s egg, I anchored on the edge of a shallow, reedy marsh. I drifted off to sleep as I watched little puffy clouds scoot across the sky.


I awoke a while later and our white sail was covered with thousands of monarch butterflies. I had drifted into their migration route and they had stopped to rest on my little boat.

I didn’t move or say anything. Just looked up and watched, thinking that if ever there had been a perfect day, crafted for my delight, this was it.

Then, as if someone had signaled, they rose as one and flew onward to complete their long journey, and I sailed home.

Check out AMAZING MATHILDA, Bette Stevens’ inspirational tale of a Monarch butterfly and her meadowland friends. This award-winning children’s book follows the life cycle of an endangered butterfly. It’s a beautiful read and learning experience.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 13, 2014

DEAR REPUBLICAN SENATOR – By musingsofanoldfart

Dear Republican Senator

As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat) voter, I try to read and watch several validated news sources. They are validated, as they try to get it right and print retractions when they don’t. I also try to use an independent lens to see politicians for their good and bad actions and stances, regardless of party. Am I biased? Of course, we all are. But, my greater bias is favoring the truthtellers as I do not cotton to being obviously lied to by our elected officials.

That is why your support of this reckless president is troubling. It troubles me that he is so cavalier with the truth, that maybe, he does not know when the truth stops and the marketing schtick begins. But, this is not news, as five biographers of the president have noted he has a problem with the truth. And, the Mueller report (which I read) validated several untruths made by the president and did not exonerate him of obstruction of justice.

But, you know this, because I would worry about you more if you did not. Yet, it bothers me to see Senators seemingly support tribal loyalty over our constitution. You can say that you do not do that, but I can read how seemingly rational people bend over backwards to defend the indefensible.

Instead of looking to say those who investigated this corrupt and deceitful president somehow did not do it pristinely, it would be better to pay attention to that parade of honorable diplomats who testified under oath and at great risk of their concerns over the president’s actions in Ukraine. Now, the Republican Senate can pretend that all that did not happen, but these folks knew the president is highly vindictive, but testified anyway. Some have lost their jobs and received death threats, yet they still did it,

Rather than focus on whitewashing history, I would prefer the Senate to spend time focusing on the issues of today. COVID-19 deaths in the US are now in excess of 115,000. That is 27% of the global death total, but we have only 5% of the global population. And, as we have opened up the country more, too many have been too rash with their actions and COVID-19 is on the rise again. Frankly, this is not a surprise. The summer heat dampens the spread, but too many folks in close proximity, especially indoors, does the opposite.

The other issue is the ongoing racial injustice that is being shown to our black citizens. This new Jim Crow era is seeing greater degrees of incarceration for blacks than for whites for the same crimes and blacks being treated differently and more aggressively by police. I recognize the police have a hard job, but they need to better police their own. Every group has bad apples and even good police make poor decisions in the face of fear. We must do better at this. It is well-past time.

The current president has not helped on these two issues and it concerns me. We missed six weeks of planning on COVID-19, where we could have taken some steps instead of calling it a hoax and naysaying it as late as February 28, ironically the date of the first US death (now we exceed 115,000 just over three months later). Instead of being the leader we needed, the president decided to follow his modus operandi of misinformation, which continues to this day. As for the racial injustice, while I applaud the bipartisan sentencing reform of many months ago, the president has not been one to ease the tensions of the whole nation. We need him to be president for all, not just his more strident base of voters.


BYE BYE FACEBOOK – Marilyn Armstrong

I have hated Facebook since they sold my private information to Cambridge Analytica and got  me hacked. Today, for reasons that escape me, they blocked me and that was one step over the line. I dislike what they do and how they do it. Zuckerberg is a jerk.

Garry uses Facebook a lot to keep in touch with old friends, but I can’t do it anymore. I don’t like Zuckerberg,  his company, politics, or greed. I have kept Messenger so you can try to get in touch with me that way, but to be fair, I never look at messages in Facebook. I can’t remember the last time I looked to see if I had messages, much less read any.

Twitter remains alive.

Meanwhile, it’s good-bye Facebook. I’m sure I’ll lose followers this way but you know? I really don’t care.