Let’s raise a glass

The cocktail

The citrus

The drowsy cranberries

Here we are again, my old friend November. You’re a formidable foe, but you’re on the way out for another year and I’m still writing.

So, here’s to you, November, and your relentlessly grey skies, your bare branches, your frozen water bucket mornings, your summerish deceptions, your early dusks, your inevitable lurch towards winter. I raise a glass to you.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

For this Thanksgiving, M concocted a festive little cranberry punch for us, the very which I’m sipping as I write this.

We’ve tentatively named it the “Thanksgiving Cranberry Spatchcocktail” (spatchcocking being an old technique—renewed in popularity recently—for preparing a turkey where you remove the bird’s backbone and flatten it like an open book before cooking it).

M has graciously written up the recipe for us (below). May you drink it in good health. And may it make you pleasantly spineless for an hour or two.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Spatchcocktail

Yield: About 8 drinks

To prepare the drowsy cranberries

Note: If possible, make the drowsy cranberries a day or so ahead of time so they’ll be nice and potent.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
3 tsp orange zest
3 tsp grated ginger
1.5 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup light rum

  1. In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange zest, and grated ginger.
  2. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the fresh cranberries to the sugar-spice mixture.
  4. Turn heat to medium and cook until the cranberries pop.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand for an hour.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to move the cranberries to a sealable jar.
  7. Use a fine strainer or cheesecloth to pour the syrup over the cranberries (discard the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger/zest bits).
  8. Add 1 cup of light rum to the jar.
  9. Seal the jar and let steep as long as you like.
  10. Chill well before using.

To prepare and serve the cocktail

1 bottle Prosecco
Light and dark rum, to taste
1 orange
1 lime
1 lemon
Mint leaves

  1. Pour the chilled syrup into a pitcher or bowl (reserve the drowsy cranberries).
  2. Add 1 bottle very cold Prosecco.
  3. Top punch with alternating small glugs of light and dark rum, to taste.
  4. Serve alongside: ice, mint leaves, the drowsy cranberries, thin slices of orange, lemon and lime.

Thank you, Mr. Turner

Tonight's Feature

Thanksgiving eve and the snow’s coming down like it thinks it’s Christmas eve and maybe I should be writing the obligatory post about all I’m thankful for. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll just think it and you’ll know it already, because aren’t we all thankful for mostly the same things?

The kitchen is smudged with evidence of the day’s preparations: drips of brown butter ice cream (for this, I am truly thankful), puffs of flour, scattered crumbs, steam from the simmering pot of stock. At 7.30 this evening, I kicked off my shoes and flopped onto the sofa and turned on the TV.

We’ve had TV for a year now. It mostly doesn’t figure into my life, but I tell you, here’s something I’m thankful for: Turner Classic Movies. What a pure joy. Old movies, day and night. No commercials. Brando and Bogart, the Barrymores and Bette Davis. Hitchcock, Huston, Hepburn. Astaire, Ginger, Bing.

Cary Grant, for goodness sake.

Black and white, technicolor. Romances, musicals, mysteries, westerns. Given the chance, I’ll gluttonously feast on them all afternoon.

If only I had a snowbound holiday weekend coming. Can you even imagine how delightful that would be?

Fire – Cat – Stevens – Wallace – Firecat


Earthy Anecdote

Every time the bucks went clattering
Over Oklahoma
A firecat bristled in the way.

Wherever they went,
They went clattering,
Until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the right,
Because of the firecat.

Or until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the left,
Because of the firecat.

The bucks clattered.
The firecat went leaping,
To the right, to the left,
Bristled in the way.

Later, the firecat closed his bright eyes
And slept.

–Wallace Stevens

Things that we love on this Saturday morning

They seem to like ginger snaps

:: Goats with ginger snap breath.

:: Reusable hand warmers. Every under-insulated farm house I live in should have a good supply.

:: The Public Domain Review, a treasure trove of images that have fallen out of copyright and into the public domain. And excellent essays, too.

:: George Ezra singing “Budapest”. H and I can’t stop dancing.

:: A gorgeous book of watercolor paintings by our friend’s father, Aldren Watson.

Waterfront New York

266 Water Street

11 minutes til midnight

We left the hotel this morning and headed into the city.

Toronto is huge. The highways are six lanes in each direction, all clogged with commuting cars. The city blocks are lined with stores and restaurants and people of every imaginable type and nationality. There’s construction everywhere.

Toronto is noisy and busy and blustery. Winter blew in from Lake Ontario and barreled down between the skyscrapers.

On the outskirts of the city proper, new highways head north. The city is building itself outward, mile by mile. Toronto keeps stretching her limits, like a sprouting tree, branches and roots extending north, east, and west.

We drove back to the hotel late this evening, a single cell among many on this concrete artery. Above, bright stars spread evenly in the sky, came closer one by one, and resolved into airplane landing lights. As far as I could see, an unending stream of planes was heading to the airport. We were all life in the great city’s bloodstream.

Riding the night bus


I’m writing this post on a bus and this is definitely a first for me. Not riding a bus, no. The writing part I mean.

I’ve ridden this bus (complete with wi-fi and dumb movie) plenty. I have an almost Pavlovian response to this bus because it takes me to Boston, to the airport, to adventure.

This particular bus ride is the first leg of a road trip to Toronto with my sister. We’re setting off from her place tomorrow morning. I suppose, since I’m blogging daily, you’re coming too.

The driver has turned off the lights. The movie’s just started. The moon’s following us. Let’s ride.