Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


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Golden Memories of The Golden Book Encyclopedia

“The ink in the period at the end of this sentence has more atoms in it than there are people in the whole world.”

 The words opened up concepts I had never even imagined. I read on.

 “In a thimbleful of air there are more atoms than you could count if you lived to be a million years old.”  (I was currently eleven years old.)

I’d been snuggled up in the corner of the couch, reading, but I was so astonished by this new information that I got up and wandered around the house reading the sentences to anyone who would listen.

I was like Belle, walking around with my nose stuck in a book. That in itself wasn’t unusual, but said nose was usually stuck in a Nancy Drew or Judy Bolton book. In the summer of 1963 I broadened my world in every direction. I set out to read straight through all sixteen volumes of The Golden Book Encyclopedia.  And I did.

I read all the time and everywhere, but the memory that stands out most clearly in my mind, is taking my book and climbing up to the little tree house my dad had built for us in the cherry tree. It was a roofless structure with four-foot-high walls, and a couple of little windows. A fair distance up the hill from our house. I would lie on the floor of the tree house and read, and then look up through the branches and ponder. And eat cherries.

The books are long gone. But for some reason I’ve always remembered those exact words describing atoms. They sort of make the caption on my mental picture of the summer of the encyclopedia.

A few weeks ago John and I were at a library sale shopping for books for One More Chapter. Imagine my delight when I caught sight of the first volume of The Golden Book Encyclopedia! As I stood there and  thumbed through the book every picture brought back a shining clear memory. 

Sehnsucht.

From time to time I get an e-mail from someone asking about a particular book, trying to replicate a memory from their childhood. (“Does your book have a picture of such and such on the cover?”) Nostalgia.  I love it when I can send them the very book they describe.

As I reached the end of my new encyclopedia I realized that Volume One only covered Aardvark to Army.  I would need to find the next volume if I wanted to read about Atoms again. 

Now I was one of those people sending e-mails to booksellers, asking specific questions about a book from my childhood.

Volume two arrived a few days ago.  Arthur to Blood.  And there was the entry about atoms – word for word as I remembered.

And here I am again talking about it to anyone who will listen.

Post a comment and tell us your favourite book memory from your childhood.

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Reading Ramble

I have to stand on the file cabinet in my office to reach the top of my overflowing book shelves. There are at least a thousand books in this room and I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to organize them. They stay orderly  for about a week. John says it’s the second law of thermodynamics.

Every room of our house has filled, and fairly neat bookshelves; but my office has my own personal favourites — and books I think will someday become favourites. That’s part of the problem. I have the books arranged more or less in sections according to authors’ last names.  Daphne DuMaurier books are followed by Alexander Dumas. And Dorothy Sayers stands by John Steinbeck and Mary Stewart. Easy enough…

But one of these days I want to read  She Said Yes by Misty Bernal, so I have that book on a shelf.  But I probably won’t remember Misty’s last name, so I have it placed horizontally across the top of some books in the “S” section so I can see the title. 

Then I have a few extra copies of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Glass Castle and other of such good books. When I find extra copies at library sales or somewhere, I want to hold on to them to give to friends. I can’t afford the shelf room though, so they’re piled sidewise on top of other books in the general area of Smith and Walls.

 Someday I’ll solve this problem when I allocate a shelf for favourite give-away books – my sharing shelf.  It will probably be the same time I set up my TBR shelf of books To Be Read. (Probably about the time we add a new wing to the house.)  It seems to me that those would be two important shelves for a book lover’s library – a sharing shelf and a TBR shelf – since one of the best things about reading is talking about books with friends.

 I have a several long-distance reading relationships: my sister Monica, and friends Jennifer, Geigy, and Laura. They are all so dear to me and when we talk on the phone the conversations always include “What are you reading?”  I frantically scribble their suggestions in my little TBR notebook.

 I go hiking with Emily every week, and that woman is a reading machine! (She also thinks I use too many exclamation points in my writing.)  I can keep up with her hiking, but I can’t keep up with her reading. Every week she is reading some fascinating new book that is definitely destined for my TBR shelf.

And then there are The Lalas, my Ladies’ Literary League book  group.  That introduces a must-read book a month – and always well worth the read. And most recently I have joined The Janes, devotees of classic old literature. Which I love.

So many books, so little time. No wonder I don’t have time to organize the shelves. There are way too many books to read!


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The Mousetrap

With a post called The Mousetrap, you might think a booklover such as I would be leading into a book review or commentary on Agatha Christie’s famous mystery. But this is even better. 

I guess this is one of those stories that are told and retold, but I heard it for the first time a couple of weeks ago from Rev. Stanley Long, of South Bay Community Church, in Fremont.  It’s  thought provoking, and so cute that I smiled all day.

I won’t tell it exactly as Dr. Long did, but here’s the gist of it.

Little Mouse lived in a cozy condo in the wall of Farmer’s house. It was a good life and Little Mouse was well provided for.  He didn’t realize Farmer and his wife considered him to be a pest.  Until one day he peeked out his tiny mouse hole and saw them open a innocent looking Home Depot bag, and take out a mouse trap!  Little Mouse was aghast!

In a panic, he ran out into the farmyard where a chicken was industriously pecking at scratch.  “There’s a mousetrap in the house, there’s a mousetrap in the house!” he screamed.

The chicken stepped back apace and shook her head. “Mr. Mouse, I’m sorry for you, but this doesn’t affect my life, so I can’t be bothered by it.”  No doubt she was remembering her notorious ancestor, Chicken Little who had caused a similar stir in the barnyard some years back. And all for nothing.

Little Mouse scurried to the pigpen. Wringing his tail he poured out his torrent of fear. “There’s a mousetrap in the house!”

“Sorry Mouse,” the pig shrugged, “but there’s nothing I can do about it.”  She callously returned to slurping her slops.

Discouraged, Little Mouse approached the cow in the hope of help or advice. But the cow just stared straight ahead, chewed her cud, and pretended that she didn’t hear.

Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Little Mouse went back to the Farm House feeling very alone.  

That night, the very walls of his cozy condo shook when a loud snap reverberated through the house. The farmer’s wife rushed downstairs to see what was caught in the mousetrap.  

In the darkness, she didn’t realize that it was not the pesky little mouse, but the trap had caught the tail of a poisonous snake.  In the dimness she reached toward the sprung trap, and the very much alive snake bit her! No doubt the snake was feeling particularly venomous over the injury to his tail.

Little Mouse watched as Farmer rushed his wife to the hospital.

And he saw her when she came home a few days later. She still had a fever, but the hospital staff said she would recuperate more quickly at home with a little TLC and Fresh Chicken Soup.

Looking out his hole, Little Mouse watched the Farmer head to the chicken coop with his hatchet.  

Little Mouse watched day after day as Farmer’s wife continued to be ill. Friends and neighbors came to sit with her day and night. So many caring people – but Farmer had to feed them. 

So he butchered the pig.

In spite of all the tender loving care, and the good chicken soup, Farmer’s wife didn’t get well. She died.

And so many people came to the funeral that Farmer had to have the cow slaughtered to provide enough food for the mourners.  

The moral of the story is that we’re all connected. We might think, “It has nothing to do with me,” but we never know how the misfortune of someone else will affect our own lives.


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Emergency Hot Chocolate Brownies

The attack came late one evening when the house was dark and we were deeply engrossed in Band of Brothers. John paused the movie and looked at me urgently.

 “Do we have any cookies?”

 The attack of the Sweet Tooth! And alas! Not a cookie in the house.  Not even a stale biscotti.

 Help was on the way…sooner or later we’d have Girl Scout cookies. Earlier that day we had placed our pre-order for Thin Mints from our almost granddaughter, Angelina. (The cutest little Brownie in the World.) 

 But that was no help in this current emergency.

As I was thinking about Angelina and Brownies I remembered an old recipe in my word file.  I copied it from an e-mail someone sent me years ago.  For such a time as this.  Brownies you make in 3 minutes, baked in the microwave in a coffee mug. Hot Chocolate Brownies!

We went into the office and dug through the computer, found the recipe and took it to the Paladini test kitchen. Ten minutes later we were back with Winters, Malarkey and company — enjoying our slightly rubbery but very chocolaty late night snack. Mission accomplished.

Emergency Hot Chocolate Brownies

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 mug (I used an 8oz size)

Powdered sugar (optional)

Stir the flour, cocoa and sugar together in the mug.

Add the egg, milk, vanilla and oil. Mix it very well.

Place it in the microwave for 3 minutes and watch it rise!

Let it cool for a couple of minutes and tip it out onto a plate.

Cut it in half and sprinkle each half with powdered sugar. Or eat it out of the mug with a spoon.