Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Touching the Autumn Air

"As each day comes to us refreshed

and anew,

so does my gratitude renew itself daily.

The breaking of the sun over the horizon

is my grateful heart

dawning upon a blessed world."  ~Terri Guillemets

This morning we felt the changes that come this time of the year. A window closed, a  door shut against the coolness of the early break of day. A sweater not worn since April grabbed before going outside with the dogs.
I went to water the garden. A pastime of everyday importance in our dry, hot summers here in the California Foothills. I found all the plants and containers still damp from yesterday morning's watering. Nothing needed watering. I grabbed the camera and took some photos here and there. 
When I sat down on the chaise lounge I could feel the  dampness of the night on the quilt that covered the pad. I decided that it wasn't enough to cause any permanent sogginess to my clothing. 
I laid there, feeling the coolness against my body, and thought about the changes that were coming. 
I wait for these changes with each hot breath of summer and with the smell of smokey earth that doesn't let us forget the fire that almost made this journey of ours wither into a summer memory. I love the coming of Fall and the cold heart of Winter. I have always had glacial drift within my California dreamin' soul.
Then Carl jumped up on the chaise with me. Cutter wanted to come up too. He watched Carl waiting for some wordless dog sanction... permission to jump up. He always defers to Carl unless food is involved.

 Then, as if given permission, Cutter hopped up to rest by my feet.
 He was still watching Carl but he finally put his head down and relaxed.

This was the way the morning started. 
The three of us...
sitting there together feeling Fall coming...
Feeling gratitude for this life.
It was a good way  to begin the day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Marauders and Tricksters

OK! I'm trying to find reasons to love a couple of wild things that are visiting our backyard these warm and wonderful, summer evenings.
Maybe it's that they are so beautiful.
Maybe it's because they're so darn cute when they're babies.
And they kind of remind me of Carl and Cutter... only with tails.
I'm trying to be objective about this.
The other night I saw them through the sliding window again.
This time they just walked across the yard and under the grape arbor like they owned the place...
and disappeared behind the new potting shed.
I grabbed my camera and went out the back door and around the house.
Thought I could catch them unaware.
A few candid shots of a cute fox eating bird seed.  I wanted to get closer to them so I walked around the side of the house trying not to make any noise.
I quietly got my camera ready.
I looked behind the new shed and it appeared that they were gone.
I was looking down toward the burned area below the goat run when I noticed that something was moving down in the vegetable garden.
MY FIG TREE WAS MOVING and you'll never guess who was in the fig tree helping itself to my figs.
Can you see this?
The photo was taken about 25 to 30 feet away and them I cropped the photo for the post.
That Fox was up in the Fig tree, balancing like a tight rope walker on my already endangered fruit tree.
The goats leaned on the fence in the Spring, bending as far as they could  to eat the tasty new leaves.
Then Brownie broke into the garden and pruned the tree for me.
Then the fire we had a month ago left the poor tree with fire retardant all over it.
And to top it all off the tree has been struggling  with some kind of bark problem that we have been trying to resolve.
And now a fox decided to do a balancing act in the tree so it can reach some figs.
Look what it did.
Another branch has been broken. This fox didn't know it's own strength.
It was up there dancing around, doing a balancing act in the branches like this was some kind of amusement park ride.

"I see you... you handsome, little marauder." I said , as I walked around the other side of the shed to get a better view of him/her... it.
"You had better leave my poor Fig tree alone."
The fox jumped down and slid through the fence into the burned area below... and then he turned and looked at me.
He watched me for a few minutes and then.....
I swear.... HE LAUGHED.

The last photo is courtesy of Google Images by someone named Curlyson.
Both Baby Fox photos are courtesy of Google Images too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Monarch

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."  
~Hans Christian Anderson~

Monday, September 12, 2011

What to do when overwhelmed by life's circumstances.

First you have to plant some Basil in the spring. So that by September you can go out into the garden and pick enough to make some delicious PESTO.
You shake off the beetles, wormy things, spiders and such. Come inside and pinch off the leaves until you have  about 4 cups of them. Then you rinse them well and drain them in a colander with paper towels in it.
Then you take a DEEP breath. Breath in the wonderful fragrance. Oh, that aroma...
Then put them in the refrigerator for a few hours... or overnight. You want them fairly dry...not full of water.

Now you get out the old blender,or a food processor, which I don't have.
A processor would probably be easier.
Collect some olive oil, Parmesan cheese and a lot'a garlic...
Some Pine Nuts, from Costco, with the recipe on the back...
A cup of parsley that I use with the basil. Cut with scissors. Use only the leaves. This adds good flavor and fills in if you're a little short on the basil.
Then mix it all together according to the recipe. Add a little more olive oil if you need to.
And take another DEEP breath. Oh, doesn't that smell divine.

Don't add any salt or pepper. I do that when I use the Pesto, later on, for pasta or chicken, or ...yum... sliced pieces of toasted sourdough french bread. I also add about a half teaspoon of lemon juice to the batch. This keeps the color light and lovely.
Find some cute jars ... These were kind of pricey. There were four glass bottles with lids for about $7.00 at Raleys, but I give these as gifts so I like them and they are ITALIAN... what else can I say.
Any pretty jar will do if it has a good tight lid.
Wash and dry the containers and lids. This should be done ahead of time.
Take one last DEEP breath...
Load the jars with the Pesto mixture, leaving about an inch for expansion in the freezer and seal them up.
They don't have to be processed if you are freezing them.
Very easy and beautiful...
I doubled the recipe and got three full bottles and a forth one about 3/4 filled.
Now they are in the freezer and ready for winter gifts ....or winter dinners.
If they are gifts, you can cut 4 1/2" by 4 1/2" squares of fabric from your shelf of "What will I do with all this fabric I bought because it was so pretty and never use." stash and use pinking shears to cut them out. Cover the lids and tie them with a pretty ribbon or twine.
Just remember that a gift you make means more than anything you could buy.
A bottle of wine, a loaf of bread and you, PESTO, beside me... in a basket. Oh yes!
I could make a meal of just this... No wonder I never lose weight.
Oh, wait a minute. This is suppose to be a gift isn't it?
So.. let's put it all in a basket and give it to someone.

It does a person good to plant their own food, even if it's only tomatoes and basil...
Why would I say "only"? They are the mainstay of our summer diet. Our passion in the Winter.
My Italian grandmother always said "Pomodori e basilico...Ciò è così buona "(This is so good.). It's true! My grandmother would do all this in very small batches with a mortar and pestle but I think she would have loved a processor.
Remember... anyone can plant a small garden... in pots.  You do need a sunny place.
Uncle Sam thinks so...
I live on 42 acres and the basil, parsley and tomatoes all grow in pots near the house.
It's just easier that way.

Now, take a DEEP breath and continue on....

Buon Apetite

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How could we possibly forget?

No more conspiracy theories.
No "Where were you when ...?"
No  "The ---------- must have been involved."
No photo videos with sad music,
No armchair quarterbacking,
No more "heros",
No body parts in the air,
No  media .
Just a moment of silence
A moment of silence