Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the Yuletide gay.
~Ralph Blane~

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baking bread. birthday wishes and creature comforts

I baked some nut breads for Christmas today. The house, this evening, still carries the fragrance of orange peel, spices, pecans, walnuts and bourbon.
The three on the left are pecan/ orange rind/ bourbon bread. The ones on the right are walnut/ orange rind/ cinnamon.The pecan bread mixture seemed more dense and baked up much higher. Interesting... Same recipe with different nuts. Could a tablespoon of bourbon make the dough rise higher? Don't know.
I love these paper bakeware pans. They are pretty and perfect for giving out as gifts. This brand is called Welcome Home. You can buy them on Amazon.

Another storm moved in today. Wind and rain... I didn't know how much I missed this weather. I curled up in the afternoon and took a nap with the dogs (A perk of retirement) and fell asleep listening to the wild weather outside. After dinner I read my latest Mary Oliver book of poems, called Blue Horses. A birthday gift to myself a few weeks ago.
Cutter, happy to just be nearby, lay sleeping on the sofa.
sharing with me, the joys of his creature comforts.

Today is also my youngest grandson's birthday. He is eight years old. How fast they grow. It seems like he was, just a little while back, this toddler, eating dirt in our vegetable garden...

 but he's growing up so fast.
Happy Birthday little man. We love you.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Walking by myself

~How I go to the woods~
by Mary Oliver

"Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone,

with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers

 and therefore unsuitable.
 I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds

or hugging an old black oak tree.

I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.
 Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”   
~Mary Oliver~

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pickle juice and sausage

I brought my Beans back with me on Thanksgiving Day.
 They were here until Sunday. Then, the Prospector (Papa) drove them half-way home and met their daddy at Flag City, so no one would have to drive the whole, almost three hour, trip.
We had a wonderful visit with moments of chaos and silliness...
Leaving Cutter and Carl wondering what was going on.
Leaving Carl with pillows and little stuffed animals... and socks to chew on.
 You sly dog, Carl. I know you've got your eye on that little, stuffed animal. I know you're not asleep.

We made bird feeders out of empty toilet paper rolls, peanut butter and birdseed. I didn't take any pictures. I had peanut butter on the fingers.
We drove them to the river...
 for a few hours of panning for gold.

They love "going for the gold", and learning how hard it is to retrieve this valuable resource.
Papa shows them how to find the "good spots" and how to have patience.
They always have a smile for Noni's camera.
We went to the Thanksgiving Weekend Christmas Delights in downtown Jackson on Friday night.
Santa arrived on a fire truck...
 The Christmas tree was lit...
All the Main Street businesses were open.

 Santa gave out candy.
One Bean learned to play pool.
Little Bean finally crashed in a comfy recliner waiting for his brother.
All the decorations were delightful.
The weather was nice. We went with a neighbor and her grandson. He was visiting too.
The next day I took them all to a movie. Now I know that movie reviews aren't always accurate. They said that Big Hero 6 was pretty benign, but the ending was very intense and the boys came out of there very quiet. My youngest grandson said that his heart hurt at the end. Mine did too.  I will just say that some of these animated movies are more like "sheep's clothing" for adults.

I love having the Beans here. It's kind of like a small whirlwind for a few days but we love it.
Saying goodnight and tucking them into bed with their pillows...
 ...takes me back to a time when my boys were little and life was about children, noise, toys, learning to be good parents and having patience.

They are good together and I would offer this photo as proof.
Of course, you know it wasn't like this the whole time, because they are filled with what I heard them say one night, from the bedroom door.
They were  hysterical... they were laughing and being really silly.
Then I heard one say, "Pickle juice" and the other answered "Sausage!". Then, they went to sleep.
Yep, that's the kind of weekend it was... 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The way I see things.

The rain came two days ago and while there was a break in the weather, I went for a hike.
I've said this before. I wish I could use fragrances on this blog. The combination of rain, grass, Oaks, Pine trees, Manzanita and Toyon fill the air with an intoxicating smell. It is a sensual, sensory overload... a wonderful fragrance that fills me with happiness.
The forest sparkled. Each tree had absorbed the rain and darkened...  which contrasted with the flattened, dry grass and its new layer of green underneath. The earth is so productive, left to its own devices. There is always something growing underneath, to replace the dry, dying remains of Summer.

I found this green plant growing everywhere.
This might be a kind of Ceanothus, like Buck brush. I'm not sure, but the leafs were collecting rain drops as if each leaf was trying to hold as much rain as it could.This plant is an evergreen but without flowers, this time of year, it's hard to identify.
I didn't have my macro lens on the camera, but caught these with my 18-300 zoom lens, holding the camera as still as I could.
Not too bad for a zoom, but after the next rain I will take the 105mm macro lens and a tripod up there and show you the difference. 
With the macro lens, You will be able to see my reflection in the larger drops. Really! It's amazing.

No rain today... so we are cutting and trimming some Oak trees that are too close to the house. You should see us out there. Two old people (69 and 70 yrs) using a chainsaw and ropes, trying to avoid the goat fence, the electric wires to the house and the propane tank. Oh, boy...Scary.
The Prospector was using a cold pack tonight and went to bed early. I need some Advil before I join him.
Oh, the joys of getting old.

Monday, November 17, 2014

No eggs, just feathers.

Things are pretty slow in the chicken coop these days. It's time for THE MOLT.

Not having farm fresh eggs is a bummer. (Yes, we are spoiled.)
Squeaky would if she could, but she's in a permanent "molt" called old age.
No more eggs for this old gal.
She just eats and follows me around complaining about the big, bully hens that won't leave her alone.
She's such a sweet little hen. I love bantams. They are the laid back peace makers of the chicken world.

I try to feed her separately. First I feed the big hens outside... then ( and Squeaky knows this) I keep some scratch just for her and when I go around to the other door she is already inside waiting for me to clear a spot on the floor and give her some grains... just for my chicken little.
Of course as soon as I do, in comes big, bossy Miss Plymouth Rock...
She struts her coolest, most badass self into the hen house and scares Squeaky away. If I'm still inside, I tell her to leave and scoot her back outside so Squeak' can have a few moments of peace and quiet  before they all come in to see what's going on.
Miss Rock just gives me that, "What am I doing?" look and ...
leaves, until she sees me walk down the hill. Then she goes inside and finishes the scratch. She's a bully bird. The other hens are looking pretty scruffy right now, but Miss Rock looks great... and she's no Spring Chicken. She's a beautiful, big girl and she knows it.

The other day I told them to molt fast and get back to laying eggs, 'cause they could always be dinner... AND, if truth be told, I need to be able to eat raw chocolate chip cookie dough while I'm making cookies.It's one of my traditions. I can't do this with store bought eggs.

 The next morning I found this...
Do you think it was a statement?

(Losing feathers and re-growing them is called molting and occurs every year when the days get shorter.
 For chickens, shorter days and cooler temperatures are a sign that it is time to renew their feathers. This usually lasts for a month or more with our chickens. It's been two weeks so far.)