Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 20, 2015 Gingerbread people, angels and bears

The one thing I really enjoy doing at this time of year is baking cookies. Not just any old cookies, like the Snoopy cookies. I bake those all the time. This is the time to bake all of those cookies I tend to only make for the holidays, gingerbread being at the top of that list. I wasn’t really thinking about baking much, but I got a sweet message from my dear friend Sue, from Bellingham. She said how much she was going to miss my gingerbread people. So I got my act together and started baking. I even bought an oven thermometer because I thought my oven temperatures might be off. It’s one of those convection ovens, and I’m still getting used to that.

 Have to remember to chill that marble slab. Helps even though it's been darn cold here lately.

Almost ready for the oven.

Last Tuesday, I squeezed in some time to make the dough, it has to chill for at least two hours. I didn’t get around to baking them until two days later. With teaching one class at 9:00 a.m. and the other class at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday’s, I just didn’t have the time to get the baking done. But that was okay. I got them baked, let them cool off and made the royal icing to add some decoration to the people.

They turned out beautifully! The royal icing sometimes doesn’t stick to well if I don’t get all of the excess flour off of the cookie. 

This one eyed cutie was just calling to me to have a bite. Really nice with a cup of tea. Thinking of you Sue, again, another time when we could be sharing tea and cookies.

So, our neighbors here will get a little bit of homemade Christmas cheer. I also baked up some of  Jay’s favorites and an old standby I got from Carolyn, the Nutmeg Cookie Logs. They are already half gone. But that’s okay, even though I made only half a batch of the icing, there’s enough left over to ice another batch of cookies!! And who doesn’t need more buttery cookies?

p.s. Your cookies are in the mail!!
Jere's guy suffered the one-eyed fate.

Friday, December 11, 2015

December 11, 2015 javelina damage

Back in November the big home improvement stores and the local plant nurseries were all advertising Fall color spots. You know, the pansies, geraniums, mums and other winter hardy flowers? And how I am a sucker for those? I have a neat little stacking planter that a friend gave me and a large clay pot I thought would look nice with some color for our front patio. One day early in November Jay and I were at Lowe’s and they had some beautiful plants so I picked up a few pansies and dianthus and a couple of geraniums. Just a few, no need to go overboard. Besides, I was going to be in North Carolina for a week and I didn’t want too much for Jay to have to tend to.

They were all coming along fine, a sweet bit of color walking up to the front of the house. I had them right out by the driveway so even if you were walking by you would be able to see it. We don’t have gates on our front patio, to make it more welcoming, and besides they are expensive.

I had been warned that javelina, the local wild pigs, love pansies and acorns. We have two oak trees in our front yard and at this time of year the acorns are ripe and fall all over. Last year I never saw any evidence of the javelina any where in our yard and the neighbors didn’t report seeing any. You think I would have heeded the advice of others, that it would only a matter of time before they would show up. And they did.

One evening last week, about 9:00, Jay had already gone to bed. Toby and I were sitting on the couch watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix. We both heard a clattering sound, his ears perked up so I knew the noise was outside. He’s a pretty good watch cat. If it’s a noise inside, he doesn’t pay attention to it, but if it’s coming from outside, he looks up to see where it’s coming from and sometimes will get up and go to the window to see what’s happening outside. I didn’t think much of it, we had been working in the garage so I thought maybe something had fallen over out there, even though Toby told me it was outside. Then the noise came again, this time more from the front bedroom. I hadn’t been in there all day so I knew nothing had fallen over in there, but thought I better get up and see what’s going on. As I walked toward the front bedroom, there was more noise and definitely coming from outside. I opened the window blind and peered out to see three small javelina having a jolly good time knocking over my planter and rooting up all of my pansies and dianthus, eating the flowers and making a general mess of it all.

I ran to the bedroom to wake up Jay because he hadn’t seen any javelina since moving here. He was sound asleep and not wanting to wake up but finally did and was excited to see them. I opened the blind, then opened the window and with that noise they ran off. He was disappointed as he wanted to watch them and the damage had already been done so why not just let them root around. Because, just like raccoons, they would come back until they were done doing what they wanted to do. Jay went back to bed and 5 minutes later, they were back to finish things off. I did shoo them away just long enough for me to dash out and save my geraniums. They were on a little metal table and I didn’t know if the javelina would try to knock that over to get at those too, so I took a chance. Javelina are mean and they were small ones so there could have been a larger mother pig I didn’t see. They are known to charge when they feel their young might be threatened. 

it's a goner....
They continued their foray in the front then moved around to the side of the house rooting up one of the small grassy plants and as many acorns as they could find. I swear I heard them bumping the gate in to the back yard like they were trying to get in there to see what other tasty morsels might be available, but at that point I was probably just hearing all kinds of things going bump in the dark night.

the one they didn't destroy

In the morning, we went out front to assess the damage. I picked up the root balls, found a smaller pot and now have everything on the back patio. Away from the marauding herd of javelina.

Rumour has it, they were back in the neighborhood in the middle of the day two days later. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1, 2015 Impermanence

As part of the Yoga teacher training I attended, one of our lessons was a walk in Duke Gardens. The focus was on impermanence. We were given 30 minutes to walk in silent meditation in this beautiful park and reflect on aging, death and dying. Then, we would meet back in the Memorial Garden and pair up with one other person for active listening. One person speaks for 3 minutes while the other, just listens without the usual verbal and visual listening remarks. It's interesting, I can remember what my partner told me, but I am having trouble recalling what I said to her.

The garden spoke to me, with it's fall beauty. I began to think of all of my senses and what each one was experiencing as I silently walked the winding paths.


The sound of water trickling over stones.
A bird rustling among the fallen pine needles.
Dry leaf as it lands on the earth.

The smell of sweetness of flowers fading.
Earthy decay of the fallen pine needles.
A crush of mint emits its heady scent.

The feel of wetness as my hand touches the water.
Dryness of the fallen pine needles.
Smooth is the peeled log hand rail.
The sight of the amber leaf that once was green.
And brown are the fallen pine needles.
Children playing on the green lawn.

The taste of air on a full inhale.
What would a fallen pine needle taste like?

As I walk in the garden of life, can I be
in this moment? These fleeting senses are
ever changing, never to be exactly the same

in another moment.

Those who are in our lives are also
ever changing. Be in the moment with them.
For they too will become

the fallen pine needles.

July 28, 2018 It's been a busy month

It’s been a busy month. Brownie at Black Elk Peak aka Harney Peak After we shipped our grandson back home, we rested a little t...