I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Goodbye to a neighbor.

Some weeks seem longer and heavier than others don't they?  Part of this heaviness is that a neighbor has died. His name was Freddy. 
I didn't know him really well. We weren't close friends... just neighbors. We would call him when his cows got out on the road. He always had a smile on his face and seemed eager to stop and talk. He was only 58 years old. He had lung damage from a job that he did years ago. The damage finally took its toll. He coughed all the time... but he wouldn't quit smoking. Our friend and neighbor, "D", who knew Freddy well, was always giving him a bad time about the smoking. I think Freddy had quit recently.
He lived at the beginning of our road near the highway. He and his father have the cows that I love to photograph. Freddy had been married and has children that are mostly grown and gone. The latest lady in his life love those cows... but recently move out. She still came and fed the cows for him. I would see her out there feeding them. I don't know why she left.
A few years back I was driving home from work past Freddy's house.  His father, his wife (then) and a neighbor were trying to help a cow give birth. I stopped and got out. Between the five of us, we delivered the calf ,which was breach and in trouble. With our help, the little calf made it. I will never forget the great feeling of accomplishment we all felt. We were all covered in gooey slime and blood, but we delivered that calf in one piece. The cow and her baby were just fine. I remember, then, how tired Freddy was. He was so exhausted he had to sit down and he was having trouble breathing. That was years ago.

The memorial was today at his house. His father seemed so sad and quiet. I guess he knew this was coming, but still... it has to be a terrible loss.

Like the tree that fell in last weeks storm...
Freddy had a weakness inside... damage that couldn't be overcome.
Life got him all tangled up, like the bare, poison oak branches around this old oak. So he said, "Enough".

 Freddy...I hope you can walk without the pain, the oxygen tanks and the scariness of not being able to breath. I hope you are walking and dancing somewhere... and happy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Crab post for Dawn

I mentioned that we caught crabs at Lawson's Landing when we were there last month and I have not heard the end of it from my friend, Dawn. She has a passion for the crab, the lobster, the shrimp and, probably crayfish, if she could find any.
So when I said that I would do a post on the crabs we caught and I didn't, I get this...
JAN 31 Charming Baglady’s comment:
Beautiful post as usual. Magnificent photo of Carl.
Now, down to the REALLY important stuff.
You left me hanging
. . . . .
did you get any crabs?????


and when I wrote back... 
From Farmlady    Jan 31   6:35pm
Yes, we got crabs... stay tuned. C.

She responded with...
A word to the wise is enough.  I hope I haven't been too subtle. A woman's word is as good as her bond.
And be these juggling fiends no more believ'd, that palter with us in a double sense; that keep the word of promise to our ear and break it to our hope.
Never promise more than you can perform.
Never...break your word or lose your self-respect.

Ok, I know it's February 18th. I know that I didn't do a CRAB post... but "A woman's word is as good as her bond."? and "Never... break your word..."?  "palter"??? Good grief! 
This gets worse. 
There was crying involved.

 

So, with out further ado.... 
The Lawson's Landing Crab report for our beautiful, sunny vacation in January 2014.

We caught 7 crabs the second day we were at the Landing.  You can catch 10 Dungeness and 35 Reds per day. Don't quote me on all of this information. Look it up so you don't get caught with too many... like a group that arrived in their boat, at the beach and were greeted by two Fish and Game wardens, who took everything they caught, including their boat. They were searched and everything was laid out and photographed. It was really something to watch and a good lesson about following the rules.

Dungeness and Reds have to be a certain size... so you measure them and throw back the undersized and the females. Dungeness crabs are the largest editable crab on the Pacific Coast. They are light reddish brown with a purple wash on some of them and light streaks, orange undersides and sometimes purple legs. I call them the "fancy" crabs. They stand out in a crowd and they seems more ticked off when they get caught.
This is a red crab.

 The Reds are usually smaller and they are.. well... red.
With black "fingernail polish" tips on their pincers. They have to be 4 inches across the back if you keep them.
 The Dungeness were not as abundant as the Reds that week, but there were more Dungeness "keepers" (over 5 and 3/4" or bigger) when you did catch them.
You can use a crab cage or net, or a snare ( on a fishing rod) . The cage catches more at one time. The snare required patience and you can loose the crab easily.
It was fun hanging out at the pier and watching the activity.

All those lines, below the pier, have a cage attached to them.
Saturday was a very busy day. Lots of "crabbers" catching a lot of crabs. The Prospector went down early and I would came later with the Corgi boys. The dogs loved the commotion, the people, other dogs and the fish smells. Everyone helped everyone and  gave "newbies" advise. It was a very encouraging place to learn.
In the late afternoon we laid a fire to enjoy after dark and started heating water in a big pot on our outdoor burner. This pot would be the crab's demise.
It seems that there is a controversy about cooking live crabs. There have even been studies done about Crustacea and whether or not they feel pain when being cooked. I will leave that to the experts. If you really need to debate this subject, here's a link:
http://science.time.com/2013/01/18/do-crabs-feel-pain-maybe-and-maybe-we-should-rethink-eating-them/

As a little girl, I would go to Fisherman's Wharf, in San Francisco and look at the crabs and lobsters in the big tanks on the street and ask Mom and Dad how they ended up on my Crab Louie salad at the table. I don't remember a definitive answer. Then I saw them cooking the crab on the sidewalk and I knew... BOILED ALIVE.
OK... little pragmatist that I was, I accepted the information and moved on. It seems more humane than other ways to kill animals and it was fast, so I didn't give it too much more thought... and I really loved Crab Louie's. 

 I didn't get too worked up about the crabs this trip, but I let the Prospector do the dirty work. I guess there is a part of me that could easily be a no meat eating vegetarian. I can catch fish, cook them and eat them... doesn't bother me at all... but if I had to kill a deer, bear or elk I don't think I could do it... unless I was starving and it was the only alternative. I believe you do what you have to do under certain circumstances. I love chicken eggs but I would never kill my chickens... and yet, I go to the store and buy packaged chicken. Go figure. I guess if I was starving or my family was, I could kill a chicken. Not much of a fair fight, but I would do it.  At my age, with my limited skills, the deer/bear/elk would probably kill me. I never think about it this way. I can hear that bear now...
"What's for dinner tonight, Smokey?"
"Stupid human with loaded rifle and audacity."

So that Saturday night, we cooked the crabs,
(Yes, they are dead now.)
We cleaned the greenish brown goo out of them, washed them really well and had them for dinner. They were wonderful. I melted some garlic and butter to dunk the crabmeat into, cooked some asparagus and made a salad. OH, it was really a good dinner.
We didn't have as much luck the next day... something about the tides. We caught two big Dungeness keepers all day.
Pretty markings on the shell.
 I swear the one on the right looked at me when I took this picture. Once something makes eye contact with me... it's usually a sign that I'm loosing my distant, non caring, hard shelled attitude, so this may be the last crab I eat... especially if I have to cooked them myself or turn away while the deed is done by someone else.
 We cooked them, cleaned them and took them home with us. I made a Crab Louie with the meat and bought fresh french bread to sop up the seafood goodness. I didn't think about those eyes staring up at me in that bucket of seawater as I ate them.... but I haven't forgotten it either.
So, my "Never...break your word or lose your self-respect." friend. Are we good?
 This was probably why I didn't do the CRAB post until now. Mixed feelings. Doesn't seem that big a deal... crabs. But... I'm even getting soft on spiders. What is happening to me?



 



Sunday, February 16, 2014

He brought himself... and chocolate.

Our oldest son came up for the weekend. I made a cherry pie. This is what is left.
And he brought us Godiva chocolate... three pieces each of our favorites.
 I've cut them in small pieces so they lasts longer...well, kind of. You know how that rationalization goes.  I tend to eat less this way. Right?
We went to dinner at Teresa's in Jackson last night. Had a wonderful dinner and came home filled with good food and leftovers.
The visits are never long enough, but our son drove up to see us and that's all that is important.

Carl is wondering what happen and where the guy went.
He's been sitting on the sofa bed looking like he lost his best friend. Dogs... you've got to love that 'ears back, sad eyed' look.
I have to say that this weather is beautiful. It rained last night, was foggy this morning and sunny the rest of the day. It's the reason folks come to California.
The Daffodils are blooming profusely... everywhere. We are not out of the woods with the drought conditions, but this rainy weather certainly has put everyone in a better mood.
Take a deep breath and smell Spring...
It's just around the corner.

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
 ~Rainer Maria Rilke~