meanwhile… Maple Syrup

We don’t use maple syrup often, but a couple times a month we enjoy either pancakes or waffles, and when we do, we have them with butter and maple syrup.

Growing up, I remember we had either Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima syrup, which might have been maple flavored, or not, I’m not sure. It was fine, and I loved my Saturday pancakes and syrup.

Once living on my own, I didn’t make pancakes, if I wanted them I went out somewhere, and the syrup was whatever they offered.

Sometime in the 1990s I got a good griddle and started making pancakes for myself, and after some experiments settled on Trader Joe’s Dark Maple Syrup. It’s good, with a nice maple flavor and I like it.

Recently, after coming across an article on maple syrup, I decided to order and try Brown Family Farm syrup.  It has good maple flavor and is richer tasting than the TJs, though that difference is hard to explain. We like it, especially on waffles, which Barbara prefers over pancakes. We alternate.

Finally I bought one more, Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup, which has a deeper, darker taste, and is very good. 

Of the three, we’re not sure we have a favorite, they’re all different, so we use up one and then open another. Once we’ve gone through all three, we’ll decide which to stick with.

How about you? Do you use maple syrup? Do you have a favorite?

Also, do you prefer waffles or pancakes?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 17 Comments

Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler

Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler, Bantam 2008 trade paper, mystery, 3rd in Bryant & May series.

I’m continuing to read the series of mysteries featuring Braynt & May, written by Christopher Fowler. This is the 3rd.

The odd couple of detection — the brilliant but cranky detectives of London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit — return in a tense, atmospheric new thriller that keeps you guessing until the final page. This time Bryant and May are up against a series of bizarre murders that defy human understanding — and a killer no human hand may be able to stop.

A mysterious stranger in outlandish Edwardian garb defaces a painting in the National Gallery. Then a guest at the exclusive Savoy Hotel is fatally bitten by what appears to be a Cottonmouth snake. An outbreak of increasingly bizarre crimes has hit London — and, fittingly, come to the attention of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

Art vandalism, an exploding suspect, pornography, death by rat poison, references to Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, secret societies…and not a single suspect in sight. The killer they’re chasing has a dark history, a habit of staying hidden, and time itself on his side. Detectives John May and Arthur Bryant may have finally met their match, and this time they’re really working against the clock…

In an interview, the author has admitted that some of his books are very densely plotted, and this is one of them. The premise, when revealed late in the book, is somewhat unwieldily, stretching the credibility of this reader to the limit. Regardless, the various murders and the interactions between characters kept me turning the pages to the end. Of the first three in the series, this is the weakest, yet still so good that I’ll soon begin reading the next.

The Bryant & May series:
Full Dark House  (2003)
The Water Room (2004)
Seventy-Seven Clocks  (2005)
Ten Second Staircase  (2006)
White Corridor  (2007)
The Victoria Vanishes  (2008)
Bryant & May on the Loose  (2009)
Off the Rails  (2010)
The Memory of Blood  (2011)
The Invisible Code  (2012)
The Bleeding Heart  (2014)
The Secret Santa  (2015)
The Burning Man  (2015)
London’s Glory (ss) (2015)
Strange Tide  (2016)
Wild Chamber  (2017)
Hall of Mirrors  (2018)
England’s Finest (ss) (2019)
The Lonely Hour ( 2019)
Oranges and Lemons (2020)
London Bridge is Falling Down (coming Dec. 2021)

Posted in Books & Reading | 10 Comments

reading short stories – end of May

It’s HOT here! 90s again today, too early in the year for this.
I’ve continued to read short stories this last week, but only from this one of the three books I showed last time, and I finished it. The first group of stories is in last week’s post.

The Mammoth Book of Locked-Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes edited by Mike Ashley, 2000 ebook. An asterisk marks those I especially liked.

October 2000 ebook

“No Way Out” by Michael Collins *
“Off the Face of the Earth” by Clayton Rawson *
“Murder Strips Off” by Amy Myers
“Out of His Head” by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
“The Doomdorf Mystery” by Melville Davisson Post
“The Adventure of the Jacobean House” by C.N. & A.M. Williamson *
“The Motor Boat” by Jacques Futrelle
“Murder In the Air” by Peter Tremayne
“The Pulp Connection” by Bill Pronzini *
“Stag Night” by Marilyn Todd
“Mr. Strang Accepts A Challenge” by William Brittain
“The Legs That Walked” by H.R.F. Keating
“The Next Big Thing” by Peter T. Garratt
“The Second Drug” by Richard A. Lupoff
“Ice Elation” by Susanna Gregory *
“The Mystery of the Taxi-Cab” by Howel Evans *
“Heartstopper” by Frank M. Robinson
“Blind Eye” by Edward Marston
“The Amorous Corpse” by Peter Lovesey
also, the afterword: Impossible Crimes by Mike Ashley

I thought this was a pretty strong collection, and handy in ebook format to dip into any time. Recommended.

Posted in Books & Reading | 5 Comments

A Favorite Iris

Happy Memorial Day!
Here’s a touch of late Spring in our garden for you. As you can see, our Iris are in bloom. This one is “Rustler“, a favorite of mine.

Click to make bigger, and you can then scroll down below bottom right on image page to see “full size”

Posted in Books & Reading | 9 Comments

reading short stories

This time it’s a real smorgasbord, I’m reading from these three anthologies and collections: (*asterisk indicates one I especially liked)

from The Mammoth Book of Locked-Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes edited by Mike Ashley:

“Waiting For Godstow”  by Martin Edwards *
“The Odour of Sanctity” by Kate Ellis
“A Traveler’s Tale” by Margaret Frazer *
“The Silver Curtain” by John Dickson Carr
“The Stolen Saint Simon” by Michael Kurland
“The Problem of the Crowded Cemetery” by Edward D. Hoch (Sam Hawthorne)
“Death Rides the Elevator” by Lois Gresh & Robert Weinberg
The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke” by Lynne Wood & Lawrence Block

from The Vintage Anthology of Science Fantasy edited by Christopher Cerf, Vintage 1966 mass market paperback

“The Great Automatic Grammatistator” by Ronald Dahl *
“An Egg A Month from All Over” by Idris Seabright
“There will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury.

from The Thinking Machine: Fifty Novelettes and Short Stories by Jacques Futrelle, 2018 trade paper

“Mystery of the Ralston Bank Burglary”
“Mystery of the Scarlet Thread” *
“Problem of Convict NO 97”

That’s it for this time!

Posted in Books & Reading | 16 Comments

On A Rainy Afternoon

Nothing for Pongo to do but…

As you can see, I have — at least for now — gotten the blog working again.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 10 Comments

WordPress Problems Again

WordPress has done it again. As of Sunday afternoon, the Classic Editor has become unavailable. Again. I’m beyond disgusted, have tried to get WordPress Help to no avail.

DAMN WORDPRESS. All I want to do is make a simple, old fashioned blog. A few words and a book cover image. Why do they have to make it so damned hard?

I’m giving myself a couple of days to keep trying – I had a nice short story post half done for Wednesday – and if I can’t get it straightened out I’ll have nothing more to do with WordPress and this blog will be GONE.

Posted in Books & Reading | 12 Comments

The Allingham Casebook

Allingham 03The Allingham Casebook: A Collection of Classic Crime Perfect for the Armchair Detective by Margery Allingham, crime short story collection, originally published in the UK, 1969, ebook edition Agora Books May 2017

I enjoyed reading this diverting and intelligent collection of crime stories in ebook edition. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many of Allingham’s novels, though I have several left to read, but when I came across this inexpensive ebook format story collection it seemed like just the thing to pick up between other reading. Nothing profound here, just light, enjoyable tales.

1) Tall Story
2) Three is a Lucky Number
3) The Villa Marie Celeste
4) The Psychologist
5) Little Miss Know-All
allingham 016) One Morning They’ll Hang Him
7) The Lieabout
8) Face Value
9) Evidence in Camera
10) Joke Over
11) The Lying-in-state
12) The Pro and the Con
13) Is There A Doctor in the House?
14) The Borderline Case
15) They Never Get Caught
16) The Mind’s Eye Mystery
17) Mum Knows Best
18) The Snapdragon and the C.I.D.

Posted in Books & Reading | 11 Comments

Drive-Thru Life by John Galardi

der W 04Drive-Thru Life: The Story of John Galardi, Founder of Wienerschnitzel, by John Galadriel, Galadriel Group 2018 ebook

Ever since I was a tad, I’ve loved hot dogs. These days, naturally, everyone says they’re unhealthy, or full of bad stuff or whatever else to discourage a person from eating such a thing, but I still love ’em and I still eat ’em.

Sometime when I was in high school, I came across a Der Wienerschnitzel A-frame, red roofed, and found that for 15¢ (the same price, at the time, of a burger at McDonald’s) I could get a chili dog, with mustard and onions. Boy! There was many a time when, in college in Tucson, a buck in my pocket got me three chili dogs and a soda with change left over. There was a Der Wienerschnitzel in Santa Ana, not far from my home in Tustin, CA and I visited every couple of weeks, or sometimes weekly. There are no franchises here in Oregon, and I miss Der Wienerschnitzel a lot. Yes, I have a T-shirt.

der W 02I got this free ebook from the Der Wienerschnitzel website. It tells the story of Galardi deciding to start a fast food business, learning the ropes by working in a Taco Bell, then launching his first, and many successive stores. Pretty interesting.

I wish I had one of those chili dogs right now.

Posted in Books & Reading | 17 Comments

Forgotten: Swordsmen From the Stars by Poul Anderson

Swordsmen From the Stars by Poul Anderson, DMR Books 2020 Kindle ebook, 172 pages, cover art by Allen Anderson.

swordsmen from the stars01Three early fantasy-adventure novelettes by Anderson, showing off his ability to write in the pulp fantasy-adventure vein, better than most.

 “Witch of the Demon Seas” originally appeared in the January 1951 issue of Planet Stories. Sorcery and greed for power result in captured pirate leader Corun and a band of mercenaries under the leadership of the sorcerer Shorzon sailing dark seas to meet with the feared water-reptile race once of the Xanthi, the Sea Demons in hopes of a treaty of conquest. The sorcerers’ beautiful daughter is the Witch. This made me think of the early Conan tales of Robert E. Howard.

“The Virgin of Valkarion” originally appeared in the July 1951 issue of Planet Stories. An ancient prophesy tells of an outlander from the north riding into the city on the night the King dies, and ending the planet02Thirty-Ninth Dynasty when the “Mating of the Moons” occurs overhead, but the leaders of The Temple are sure they can assassinate the stranger first. Reading this, I kept thinking of Fritz Leiber’s Lankmar stories.

planet 01“Swordsman of Lost Terra” originally appearedm in the November 1951 issue of Planet Stories. Proud Kery of Broina felt like a ghost himself; shade of a madman flitting hopelessly to the citadel of Earth’s disinherited to recapture the fierce, resonant Pipes of Killorn—weapon of the gods—before they blared out the dirge of the world! A hint of Burroughs, in this one.

So, I’ve mentioned Robert Howard, Fritz Leiber and Edgar Rice Burroughs in describing these stories. I don’t think that’s reaching. If you like fantasy adventure, these are for you.

note: Poul Anderson is a favorite author of mine, so take that into account.

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