Category Archives: Dining and Food

Wisconsin Corn for My Feral Animals

Last week I scattered in my front driveway the last of the dried out field corn that I acquired from my friend Henry Russell in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin last fall. My feral animals enjoy this very much, but it takes them a day or two to discover it. This morning it was all gone; each husk was stripped clean. There were a couple of loose kernels left, but they will be gone tomorrow as well. The rain today is fast melting the snow away, and the mild weather brings the smell of Spring in the air. The damp rotting leaves from last fall still litter the ground. The block of blue salt is much reduced as well, and I will need another one from the Co-op next fall. The next time clock for mother-nature is the ice on the lake. This may be gone by the time I get back from the Windy city Book show next week. It is still cool enough at night for a fire.


Light Blanket of Snow for Christmas

In the two months leading up to Christmas Eve, I was treated to a double computer crash, recovery proved impossible, so purchased a new machine, and subjected the other two to low level formats. With the new version of Windows Seven, some of my trusted programs didn’t work anymore, and I had to purchase replacements. I also had to upgrade to the latest versions of Wordperfect X5, Adobe Acrobat X Pro, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe In-Design. This process necessitated my extra trips to the Big-Smoke (Toronto) for parts and visits to the computer doctor at the Lung Association.

At the moment I have a lot of unhappy customers since the bookhouse is chock-a-block full of new boxes of books that all need dustjackets, and a stack of orders for fulfillment — long overdue orders!

I have also been working away at the art of e-books. I think I have mastered the hurdles of Adobe.pdf files, with graphics and bookmarks, importing them into itunes, and the masterfully insightful bookshelves on the iPod itself.

I had originally planned to travel over the holidays, because I had deliveries to make in Sauk City, Wisconsin and Chicago, but this did not happen, instead the day before Christmas, a light blanket of white snow arrived, and the chill of cold weather which has finally frozen the lake in front of the house. The front curtains are now closed since they offer another layer of insulation from the cold through the windows.

The two events that highlighted the holiday for me were: a Christmas Eve Carol Service at St. John’s United Church in Flesherton, and a Turkey Dinner on Christmas Day at the Gentle Shepherd Community Centre. Indeed, this was an event to remember! It had been organized for a number of years by Nelson and Wendy Weber, but this year they had a number of volunteer helpers headed up by Kim Lucas and her husband. The tables were preset in the basement with Christmas cheer, including Jelly Beans. The meal was a sit down and not buffet; There was lots of delicious, home-cooked turkey, with all the trimmings, homemake cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, kernel corn, turnip, sweet potatoes, and an excellent turkey dressing, as well as a great selection of homemake pie and cakes. Every attendee left with a Christmas present.

Now that the computer is back in order, I will continue to work on The Wodehouse Bibliography, and get ready to celebrate Sherlock Holmes birthday in New York in the middle of January. I was invited to the preview of the new Sherlock Holmes movie, and the allusions to the Canon were superior to the first one, but the level of gratuitous violence should attract a youth audience, and hopefully lead them to the ready of the real McCoy. The high-point for me was seeing Stephen Fry, plump and past his prime in the buff.

Now it is time for a walk. I will particularly look for the various animals tracks in the newly fallen snow. I bought 50 pounds of carrots and a large salt block for the deer who frequent the old apple orchard behind the cottage.

it is also time to put another log on the fire.



Walden West 2010

I spent the Columbus Day Weekend again this year in Sauk City, Wisconsin. In Canada that’s The Thanksgiving Day Weekend. American Thanksiving is the last Thursday in November, and it is also a wonderful family tradition when families gather together to celebrate a successful harvest. I stayed in a small hotel on the edge of town,a nd Rick the manager was most an excellent host, and mounted a sign to advertise the event.

The members of the August Derleth Society met for dinner at The Feed Mill in Mazomanie.  I had the fish because it was Friday,  And left a tip to pay the bill by credit card only to find the gratuity had already bee added to the bill because it was a group event.  The scheduled  tour of the Train Museum was called off because the key was otherwise in use. Karen Nelson and Kay Price sat across from me, both fouunding members of the Society back in 1978.

The next morning toured the new August Derleth exhibit  at The Tripp Museum in Prairie du Sac which had been painstakingly assembled by the curator Jack Berndt. The group adjourned to the back room in the Blue Spoon across the street. This room has a gorgeous view of the Wisconsin River below the dam. The water level was at a record high because of records rains upriver.

The annual meeting followed on a early lunch. The neeting was chaired by Rodney Schroeter in the absence of Ken Grant, the President. The minutes will be posted by yours truly.  The group next gathered at The Freethinkers Hall. Kay Price gave a spell-binding presentation with the help of series of old photographs mounted on foam board, and received a long overdue globe from Mary Schweitzer. David Schweitzer gave an excellent reading Walden West impersonating August Derleth.

Henry and Pat Russell lead the car caravan to view the car colo(u)rs in the Baraboo Bluffs and ended up at Ski-Hi Apple Orchard for a wide selection of apples, coffee and especially apple pie.  It is interesting to note that August Derleth patronized the same orchard as far back as 1942 as the illustrated post-card from Jessie indicates. What are Whitneys? a type of apple back in the 1940s. This post card was dated August 26, 1943. In any case they still had Golden Delicious on sale that day.

The group travelled back for Jim Kirschstein’s presentation n the Sauk City Library. Both retrospective vignettes, memorable and well worth seeing again.

The group met wfor dinner at Leystra’s restaurant, and then assembled at Auigust Derelth’s grave for a poetry reading. I didn’t read a poem, but did give my annual report to Augie instead. There wasn’t a mishap with the two pumpkins this year, skilfully carved by Rodney Schroeter and Henry Russell.

The next morning I took a tour of August Derleth Park. The day before Sue Kennedy had presented her attempts to reintroduce native species back into the park. I hadn’t been there for some years, and it looked pretty good to my uneducated eye. So I snapped a picture of The Wisconsin River.


The Incident at Stilmore Lake

When I was attending The University of Toronto, I spent my summers working for The Canadian Pacific Railroad working as a Dining Car Waiter on board The Canadian, travelling from Toronto to Winnipeg and return via Sudbury. It was four days of work every eight days. We spent two nights on the rails; and one night in the staff bunkhouse near the station, or in the CPR Winnipeg Hotel which is now torn down, only to catch the east bound train the next day.

I learned that I was not a poker-player, travelling the rales those summers. I also learned how to work hard, do the dishes, garnish a cheese tray, eat lots of turkey, set tables, balance a tray stacked with four orders of food, and all this on no sleep!

I remember taking a taxi to the local L.C.B.O. in Fort William.

I remember those baskets of wild blueberries for sale when the train stopped around the Canadian Shield.

I remember alot of things, but then I suppose, I have forgotten some things along the way. The exuberance of youth: the infirmities of age!

Between the 3 serviings of breakfast, lunch and dinner, the dining car crew travelled back and forth to the crew car at the head of train to rest, or alternately sat and gossipped in the dining car. The passengers frequently passed going to the Observation car in the middle of the train or the Observation car at the rear of the train. Some passengers would ask — “What the name of the lake?” that we were travelling beside. I learned that the answer to that question no atter who asked was “Moore Lake.” When that passenger passed again usually walking in the opposite direction; the unprompted reply would always be “and that’s Stilmore Lake” pointing to another body of water on either the same side, or the opposite side of the train.


Senior Citizen minus One

It’s my 64th birthday today. A wonderful selection of useful presents and a card awaited me after the morning swim in the heated pool. Now the plan is to pack a picnic lunch and take a drive along the 10 miles of the ocean’s beach at New Smyna Beach. It’s overcast but some cars and families on the beach already.


Travelling to Florida

During a recent car excursion to Florida, we had some some experiences worthy of note. I won’t bore you with the repetitive details necessarily involved — like lousy or good meals, or lousy and hard beds, not enough towels etc. nobody wants to take their time to read that trivia.

The first night we stopped at Dunkirk, New York. We have stayed there before and I know there is a computer in the lobby with the usual gambling and tourist shortcuts, but there was also a short cut to “Google Earth.” I was struck with an idea and I punched in “Maiwand Afghanistan.” And indeed I did get an aerial view of Maiwand, not in great resolution but certainly recognizable. I printed it out, and have now rescanned it. I wasn’t able to save the original digital image, but I post it here, and hope that I haven’t committed some egregious act of piracy. When I get home I should be able to find the landmarks and the military (British and Jezail) graveyard. I don’t suppose I will see the rock cairns, nor the signed entrance, nor the obelisk in the treed grove that marks the Afghan cemetery. Maiwand of course was where Dr. John H. Watson received his wound(s) serving as a Medical Officer with The Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers.

The first destination the next day was my appointment at The Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group in York, PA to discuss the possibility of two large bulk book purchases. One batch of books was held in inventory at the warehouse in York, and the other batch of books was held at the warehouse, sixty miles up the road at their warehouse in Fredericksburg with a Lebanon, PA mailing address. I met with Joan, Shonna and Bradley in shipping and was very pleased when they accpeted Arkham House lapel pins.

That same afternoon we drove to “Fallingwater” a house built over running water of a stream somewhat southwest of Pittsburgh. We took a wrong turn, and got some excellent directions from Emily and her associates working in Campaign office of a Democrate running for office. Emily was in fact a guide at Fallingwater — serendipity in Pittsburgh. Fallingwater is a remarkable world class attraction where Frank Lloyd Wright built a home for Mr. Kaufman the department store magnate back in the 1930’s. The project went over budget, and rather than describe it here, I’ll let the reader google the word — Fallingwater. They have a remarkable webcam on site which is viewable on their website. The water was running very high under the house with the spring thaw. David Niles and his film crew were conducting a high definition film shoot of the house, and David noted that he had waited for 43 years for this two-day opportunity of a lifetime. The security guard noted that the site had 150,000 visitors per annum. I took a photograph of David doing the shoot, and we agreed that we would meet again at his studio in New York City — likely in January 2011. I invited him to do a shooot of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and he was interested. He knew of the recent Thomson renovation to the tune of 300 million, but he did not know of the 110 million dollar Reubens! I was going to post that picture of David but when I read the disclaimed that the gatekeeper had given me — no pictures of the site are to be posted on the internet, I decided not to. In closing well worth the visit — and now a cherished memory.

A point of interest: Frank Lloyd Wright (Spring Green, Wisconsin) lived just down the road from August Derleth (Sauk City, Wisconsin). They were neighbors and they kknew each other. Augie hired an architect from Chicago to build his house which Augie called “The Place of Hawks” the house that Redbook built. The money from the downpayment came from a series of Sac Prairie novels that Augie sold to Redbook. Some of these have never been collected in book foorm, and a couple are still in manuscript and have never been published at all. They were presumably turned down by Redbook, but on this point the written record is unclear. When FLW asked AD why he had not hired him to do Place of Hawks, Augie is alleged to have said “because if you had designed the house, it would be your house, and because the fellow from Chiago designed it — it is my house. Neat point! who remebers that fellow Kaufman now? The Fallingwater property designed by FLW belongs to the Pennsylvania Conservatory.

The second night we stopped at Breezewood, Pennsylvania. Then after a hectic drive around Washington, DC.
we stopped at Richmond, Virginia. We walked through the mall next door for a relaxed Italian Dinner. I consulted the tourist guides in the lobby, and thought a visit to The Confederacy White House and the The Holocaust Museum in Richmond were top of the list for a visit, but got on the road first thing instead.

On the road again in North Carolina  we stopped at J&R Outlet Mall and my major purchase was a $3.00 children’s baseball bat. Not that I’m a baseball player, but I am publishing a 3rd edition of The Annotated Casey at the Bat by Martin Gardner. I mailed the bat to Martin in a mailing tube, and suggested that his son Jim take a picture of Martin swinging the bat like Casey did in Thayer’s poem. This will form the back cover illustration for the book with a suitable caption.

The fourth night we overnighted in Florence, South Carolina. The Fatz Cafe was located within walking distance from the motel. The next day we did a whirlwind sight seeing tour of Myrtle Beach, and Charleston South Carolina. I placed a telephone call to Dan Boulden and we discussed the two editions of The Shunned House a 2008 facsimile edition issued in an edition of 100 copies. There are minor differences which will be elaborated in a blog in the near future. 

The fifth night we stopped at Ridgeland, South Carolina after a long day. Mexican meal nearby, and on the road early to visit the St. Augustine Outlet Mall. I sat patiently and quietly for a couple of hours while a shopping spree occurred.

We arrived at our destination in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Upon registration I was presented with a package from Pasquale Accardo containing the final correction of the Chester-Belloc Project. I collection of G.K. Chesterton’s illustrations, published and unpublished for some 13 books.

We went out to dinner at a Sports Bar, and I was impressed that not a single one of the 100 TV’s in the place featured the Health Care Debate which was in progress, and that I had been following every morning and every evening of the trip. On the way home I purchased a Magic Jack, a rather magical device for placing and receiving telephone calls at no charge in The USA and Canada.

That’s enough! and here’s Maiwand! I uploaded it twice, and I can’t figure out how to delete the second image.


No. 1 Chinese Restaurant

When you visit Sauk City, Wisconsin — August Derleth country — be sure to visit the No. 1 Chinese Restaurant. You won’t need a reservation to enjoy their long and large buffet, late morning, afternoon and evening daily. Seek out the Auguts Derleth room and have a close look at the four portraits of Augie therein — a portrait by Oba which will be familiar to many as the cover for Colelcted Poetry; a picture of Augie and his comic collection which is now at The State Historical Society in Madison, and bound with the proceeds of his Guggeheim Fellowship in 1939; a panorama of Augie on the east side of the Wisconsin on a hill ovelooking the bridge which now bears his name; and finally Augie on the raidroad bridge which still stands in part a little down river near the site of the Canning Factory where Augie and Hugo worked for a couple of summers in their youth, alongside Mark Schorer, whose father owned the factory.