Grab bag – “Nyoo?”, guitar fun, Batzina, Bots

Grab bag this week – just bits and pieces.

1) Greetings!

The United States offers a variety of ways for people to greet each other – “How’s it hangin’,” “How y’all doin’?” (South only), “Sup?” (mostly cities), “Hey there” or “Howdy” (West), but Maine is the only place I’ve lived where “nyoo” comes into play, as in —

“How ya doin’?”

“Good. Nyoo?”

Or, more accurately as one word “GoodiNyoo?” Everywhere I’ve lived – Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington State – greetings are not traditionally balanced with a return request for how the other person is doing. I swear it’s unique to where we live, but maybe I haven’t traveled quite enough. No, I have. Elsewhere, I’ve typically responded with “Pretty good. How ’bout yourself,” or something similar, but never with “Goodinyoo.”

This response levels the table. It evens the match. It draws the other person into a temporary web of connection. It (of course) declares that you give a rat’s ass about the other person’s condition. I love hearing it, even if I have yet to use it. I still say, “Pretty good, and yourself?” or “I been better, but it costs more,” or “Still upright, taking nourishment, but enough about me” or others. I like trading smiles. I like trading a bit of caring with others.

2) Guitar dreams

Old trusty – my small body Martin mahogany guitar

I’ve been playing guitar for some years now – straight fingerpicking style – and can play a few songs fairly well (and many others quite badly). Barring is beyond me for the most part – I find various ways to cheat around a barred chord. And then Christmas arrived and utterly out of the blue my wife gave me a new Yamaha electric guitar and amplifier (I was gobsmacked!), reminding me that some months earlier I’d fantasized about treating myself to an electric guitar where, suddenly, barring wouldn’t be so difficult.

New trusty: the twang is the thang. Not yet barring… I usually capo up two or three frets.

Fretting and fingerpicking suddenly loosened up and songs that migrated from the Martin acoustic sounded flat out terrific. I keep the amp’s controls pretty flat to maintain the song’s original nature – the Rankin Family, Stan Rogers, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” and one of my favorites where my wife joins me on mandolin, Manhã de Carnaval, the main theme of the movie Black Orpheus.

The major bonus of this gift is that it’s easy to tell when you’re becoming a better guitar player. And you don’t have to blow the doors off your house amping up gain and volume; I usually keep it “sweet and lowdown” so it sounds nearly acoustic.

3) And okay, some food: a crustless butternut pie from Greece — Batzina!

My wife and I have tried several Greek dishes over the last few years, and this one scores a “10” for tastiness, ease of preparation, and an original solution to last year’s problem of so many butternuts, so little time.

This is adapted from a recipe on, a terrific site for healthful Greek recipes where olive oil rules the roost. Here we go —

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound grated and peeled butternut squash – about 2 cups plus
  • 1/2 lb. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus some extra for greasing the pan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups flour

Now do this:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large bowl mix the milk, egg, feta (save a little for sprinkling on top later), olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Add the grated butternut and mix well.
  • Add the flour gradually until the dough is thickish (note that the original recipe called for 3 cups of flour, but we found this to be too dense. If 2 cups doesn’t seem enough, add some more).
  • Empty the dough into a greased pan. It should be less than 1 inch high.
  • Sprinkle some crumbled feta on top.
  • Bake for 45 minutes (a bit longer if you use more than 2 cups of flour). Then let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

4) 18,000 views for 2 weeks: Whaa…..

Ever since I published my last post I’ve been hit with a ridiculous number of views – about ten times what’s normal – and frankly my blog’s “popularity” alarmed me. I wrote the BDN’s blog coordinator, Lindsay Putnam, who advised me lots of blogs were having the same issue, most certainly from hundreds of weird little bots whose only function seemed to be to boost your numbers and make you feel better about yourself. Get off my lawn, bots!


There we have it.

Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.