Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
And the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all the things
that they had heard
and seen . . .
Luke 2:18, 20
Monday, December 6, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
from One King
* * *
*To enjoy a gathering of spiritual thoughts please visit Spiritual Sundays
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
I heft the big bowl of “other” and load it into the food processor for chopping. Two batches in my 16-cup bowl, lightly pulsed until evenly chopped but mush-free,
and then I set about chopping a batch of apples (peeled and cored) to the same texture. Combining the 2:1 mixture of chopped “stuff” I add a cup of blackstrap molasses, ¼ cup lemon juice, and ¾ cup apple cider vinegar. Now for the spices . . .
followed by the most amazingly flavorful Green Tomato Mincemeat Pudding!!!
I have adapted that persimmon pudding recipe to make gingerbread pudding, sweet potato pudding, pumpkin pudding, and more, but I have to say the spicy kick of that green tomato mincemeat wins the prize. The family begs me to WRITE DOWN the recipe immediately so there’s no chance of forgetting it. (Elizabeth gets up from the table amid mouthfuls and runs for pen and paper.) I decline, preferring to savor my portion of pudding in the moment, vowing to record the recipe here on my blog in hopes of inspiring y’all to move beyond fried green tomatoes into the realm of Green Tomato Mincemeat and more.
It continues around here. I have some of the oddest bits of “growth” littering my counters and tabletops. Rachel “nature walks” daily with her eyes glued to the undersides of leaves and the earth-level bark of trees. We have watched dvds and perused books. They all agree: Nobody wants to be the one to say, “This is safe to eat.” They all balk and say, “Many of these varieties are edible and delicious,” but they fail to pinpoint the safe ones, begging off with the disclaimer that videos, photos, and even YouTube fail to accurately depict the specimen and therefore it is dicey to decipher the green-spored cap of culinary delight from the green-spored cap of emergency-room invite. When I find an expert I’ll be inviting him for a walk and a dinner . . . until then we’ll seek, study, and photograph the mitochondrial wonders, but I shall NOT be serving anything that didn’t pass through the watchful eyes of David, my green grocer. : D
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Crisp. It is definitely "crisp" around here these days. Chilly nights demand a blazing fire, yet afternoons of golden sunshine entice me to believe in the "option" of a sweater. Last week we left for Disneyland in a torrent of rain, returning days later to clear and crunchy whispers announcing, "Fall has come . . . let's celebrate."
And celebrate we have.
Before my sweet sister departed we whipped up an early Thanksgiving meal and reveled in overly-filled plates of herb-y stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, "sweet" potatoes, and all the rest. Naturally we followed the plenteous meal with pumpkin pie topped with silky whipped cream. What a way to spend a Saturday!
Games, games, and more games filled the day into evening. We even made a game (tried anyway . . .) of tidying up the kitchen. While the glutted dishwasher hummed we played Mexican Train Dominoes and Phase Ten cards and "Ultimate" Sorry (our ruthless reworking of the traditional rules), all the while laughing ourselves silly. Laughter burns calories, right? We needed to work off that lavish feast somehow and it was too cold for a walk.
For years I dreamed of walking the property in search of edible fungi to add to our Thanksgiving feast. And every year my family groaned and voted "No" when I waved the business card of some fungi-expert-for-hire. "Where's your sense of adventure?" I pouted.
* * *
Now, leaves litter my deck in tattle-tale fashion. "All dining indoors!" they seem to herald. *sigh* The glorious gem-colored leaves number fewer after each succeeding blustery day, hinting that soon the barren limbs will eclipse the riot of color, offering space for memories and dreams in the emptiness. Winter time: hibernation, slumbering thoughts, and nurturing ideas -- that time fast approaches, so run and play and jump in these rich afternoons while they last.
And so the dance of autumn picks up the pace around here, with all those ideas and traditions of the pending holidays rushing to greet me. Absent among the traditions is the mushroom walk. I gave that idea up years ago. But . . .
Yesterday Elizabeth gleefully announced the return of the fungi as she proffered a big, brown mushroom for all to admire. Her reading of Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma has inspired her to hunt for edibles in the woodlands around our cottage. (Sound familiar?) Recently she unearthed a nodule-like growth while digging and wondered if she had found an elusive truffle. Since it was beneath a pine tree rather than the requisite oak and smelled decidedly un-truffly, she cast it aside and kept digging . . . but the idea of foraging for food continued simmering in her fertile mind.
* * *
[Setting: Crisp fall afternoon. Day's end complete with chores like putting the chickens to bed and taking that final sweeping view of the beauty of these homelands. Pink-cheeked, my agri-fairy daughter bounds in.]
"Doesn't it look good? Do you think it is edible?" She queries most excitedly as she shows off a large brown mushroomy growth newly plucked from the plush carpets surrounding our cottage. "Dad said he wouldn't want to eat it, but that it is probably of the edible sort."
I curl back my lips and shake my head. "Nope! That looks decidedly like a toadstool to me. Get it out of here!"
"What does a toadstool look like?" she persists.
"That!" I shoot back abruptly. "Out with that! Ick!"
"Oh . . ." she grumbles as she leaves me to sterilize my kitchen.
* * *
Later, she returns with "fungi" still in hand.
"Isn't there a place I can verify whether this is edible? Didn't you have the name of a guy who specializes in fungus walks followed by a feast of hunted treasures?"
"I did have that guy's name, but last I read in the paper his nature hike with clients landed some in the hospital with poisoning." I reply. "I tossed his card and gave up on that idea."
"Hmmmmmm . . . " she retreats.
* * *
Entering with said brown morsel (I did not say "Morel," mind you, as I am well aware of their appearance and deliciously edible nature -- this was no morel, I assure you), she persists:
"Do you have any reference books about mushrooms and foraging?"
I direct her to the appropriate shelf and she peruses, only to come away with the firm caveat to VERIFY before eating. Ho hum . . . back to square one. In the meantime she is potentially dusting my house with poisonous mitochondrial spores. I grimace.
* * *
I remember a dvd Gary purchased on one of our trips to the coast.
"Dad bought a dvd years ago all about mushrooms and fungi. See if it is out in the cabinet."
Elizabeth dashes away.
* * *
She and Rachel absorb every detail from the screen while I hear Lydia rattling around upstairs -- completely uninterested in The Case of the Mysterious Mushroom.
* * *
Later I open the trash compactor and find the lone mushroom cast away. I gawk and shudder.
Elizabeth walks in casually, "Yeah, you were right. The video said that was probably one of the most poisonous mushrooms around. Guess that's why the chickens haven't eaten them. It starts out as a cute white button mushroom . . ."
"Like those cute fairy rings all over the place?" I interrupt.
"Yep, just like those, but then it grows tall and spreads out into this brown cap with a veil hanging down on the underside," she says as she retrieves the brown blop from the bin. "I wasn't sure this was poisonous 'til I saw this veil thing. See it?" She points to a rotten bit of sludge draped on the underside of the rapidly rotting thing.
I nod and turn away. "Get that out of my kitchen!" I gasp.
End of story.
* * *
Not the end of the story, after all.
Later she is once again parading around with that deadly bit of slime (it had begun to look quite frightful by this time) intending to take some sort of "silhouette" of its spores AND IT WAS LAYING RIGHT ON MY NEWLY CLEANED COUNTER!!!
"Don't worry," she says dryly, "The video guy said you can't get hurt by touching the mushroom."
"Yeah," chimes in Rachel, "Just relax mom."
I stand there staring at a deadly mushroom on my counter -- a counter whereupon I recently prepped veggies and meat for a delicious dinnertime stew (with chocolate in the sauce: yummy!); a counter whereupon burritos are often crafted and eaten by the dozens on Matthew's "hungry" days; a counter whereupon bread is kneaded. I abruptly order this woodland sprite and her unsavory growth from my kitchen!
Amidst the rolling of eyes and the groaning I return to the counters and wash them again, all the while reminding myself that homeschooling comes in all shapes and sizes . . . and potencies.
Now, where were those cute button mushrooms I bought the other day?
Friday, November 5, 2010
Butterflies flutter, hummingbirds hum; children lose themselves in a web of beauty and delight among the blooming flowers and the buzzing bees. Did the calendar get flipped prematurely? Why do I feel caught off guard every time I walk up the pathway to the front door and see scarecrows and fat buttery pumpkins lying so abundantly at the threshold? Who wants to count beans and wheat sacks? Who feels like accounting the remains of the pantry before listing the needs of a large family with plans to eat regularly through the winter months? Not me, it seems.
While Elizabeth fills in her farm journal with the many details of raising and harvesting from our lands and hands, I linger over a summery read of sailing from Toronto to Grenada and back again. The balmy prose and tropical menus found therein set me to thinking of mangoes and fresh conch on a beach rather than stews and pot au feu simmering gently through a snowy afternoon. I have yet to replace my fluttery skirts of summer with the denims and such to ward off the chill. Though I recently bought several pair of cute leggings and footless tights for that extra bit of warmth, I haven’t even cracked the packages yet.
I want to suspend myself in a bit more sweet repose framed in days of simple salads and filmy afternoons that reach forward into the eve with an ease that gives me freedom. Maybe freedom is the key. I freed myself of many “musts” and “shoulds” this summer. I filled copious journals with leavings and leftovers that needed a final resting place so that I could dance without added burdens. Life holds enough weight just in the daily doings in the bosom of a family, not to mention the ongoings beyond the garden gates; thus I needed to “lighten up” and “let in the light” where cobwebbing held the dust. I guess you could say I had a summer of spring cleaning and now I want to dance in the lightened space before the clouds of winter bring me inside for winter’s dance. Funny . . . I usually beg for relief from summer’s heat and anxiously await the first frosty flakes of winter. Not so this year . . .
But, life demands attention, or so it seems as the two little roosters from last spring’s clutch prance around and spar with every intention of “taking on” Bob for premium rights. The laws of nature and animal husbandry demand a reduction of leadership. Elizabeth’s course of study compelled her to carry out the necessary tasks assisted by a friend in search of natural education. I settled in to my own education, reading up on the proper procedure for preparing chicken feet for stock. Who would have thought that those prehistoric looking parts could yield such luscious culinary results? But I digress . . . At day’s end we gathered at table and celebrated another milestone in Elizabeth’s education. Not quite like having cake and tea after a harp performance, but the glow of achievement looked the same on her pretty face. Goals set, challenges faced, knowledge gained . . . education as it should be . . . acquired for life.
And so we will continue to do autumn’s chores despite the carefree dressing of another summer-like day and the call to play, which has become a SHOUT around here as we prepare for my sister’s arrival late tonight. After a couple of days celebrating around here we will pack up a few summery items and take our celebrating ways to Disneyland early next week. I can hardly wait! Our months of planning and anticipation wind down to just a few more hours . . . just a little longer. How will I ever manage today’s chores?
So, I will be gone for a time of play but will return with more to share, more to celebrate, more to dance about. I will be stocking up on as many smile-worthy memories as my heart can carry. When I return I will also be wending my way around the blogdom “finding” you all again – yes, FINDING, as my newly revived computer received a new browser which came with an empty space where all my blogs used to reside. GRRRRRR! Those of you who left comments have left a trail to your place – bless you. The rest of you must be found the old-fashioned way. A nice blustery day would afford much opportunity for my fingers to do the walking, but as I have already said, we’re still enjoying summer. Enough said. I’m off to vacuum, count, and PACK!!!
See you later . . . : D
Sunday, October 31, 2010
The other day we began talking about our upcoming trip to Disneyland and I mused about all the wonderful “sights” we would be enjoying. Elizabeth looked at Lydia and said, “Tour Guide Barbie just showed up.”
Rachel looked up from her latest “project” and said, “Guess I’d be Nerd Knowledge Barbie.”
“YEP!” we all chimed in.
[This shouldn’t come as too much a surprise since I married Nerd Knowledge Ken with the bonus entrepreneurial accessories and she’s a chip off the old block, if there ever was one!]
Judging from Rachel’s latest “fun” read and the artsy-craftsy expression it inspires in the doodles of her free time after she finishes schoolwork:
coupled with the fact that she thinks safety glasses and a test tube make sensible fashion accessories . . .
I’d say she’s well-qualified to launch the Nerd Knowledge Barbie line.It gets even better! Rachel's Nerd Knowledge Barbie could be friends with Computer Engineer Barbie who makes her debut on December 15th according to Amazon.com.
I expect to be hearing from Mattel any day now!
When I do, I will definitely tell them they need to expand the line to include a Makes Me Smile Every Day "Mom" Barbie waiting in the wings.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
My computer took a vacation (causing me untold irritation), but a young man with essential skills came to my rescue.
I shall be waxing eloquent with glimpses from among the wisteria and the roses in the coming days.
So much to share . . . so much to savor as we take an accounting of the past season -- taking stock and stocking up. There have been roosters butchered, final produce harvested, and new goals set. Many a teapot has been drained, many a new book has been cracked as we wind down from Summer's fun and prepare to tuck in for Winter following Autumn's gentle harvest dance.
Come join me as we celebrate life here at Wisteria Cottage with a new header, a newly fitted computer, and a renewed sense of joy.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Just last week the rainy skies of fall (which had literally thundered in!) broke wide into smiles of summertime's rich sunshine that nearly matched the smile I wore as I greeted my Norwegian sister Mimmi, her daughter Siv, and my precious "Mamma."
An earlier email informing of flight info also pleaded for a bit of warm sun, as Norway had been bypassed by summer this year. This simple request prompted prayers on my part for clear skies of the former season while my dear "sister" and family visited. Did chance swing by again? I never bothered to wonder as we dined out of doors on artichokes and apple pie, discussing Nordic summerhouses and fjords, clothed in gauzy skirts and sleeveless tops -- surely my prayers had been heard by a designer rather than a will o' the wisp wind.
Grass Valley, Roseville, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco -- it mattered not where we traveled -- the sun joined us every day. Yet, on the day of departure the clouds gathered above and sweaters rescued chilly arms. The day after they left I awoke to the pitter-patter of raindrops and a quiet coffeepot. No sun in the sky, no strong coffee calling out, "Come and play!"
I contented myself with warm memories as I sipped tea and wondered whether our plans for a midsommer visit to Norge next summer will come to fruition . . . and after that a meeting up in Southern California, then Florida, Italy . . .
Sunday, October 17, 2010
It is so good to be loved.
Oh, the comfort,
And the gentle breeze of such love
After a time of extended quiet
Shall we dance?
Thursday, July 22, 2010
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
~~ Gerard Manley Hopkins ~~
* * * * *
A rediscovery. Buried treasure from long-ago, unearthed most unexpectedly; savored most deliciously on this sweet summer’s day. I hear the poet cry “look!” and I stop to “look” . . . and then I “see.” I see with my eyes, ears, and heart. There are fire-folk sitting in the air, and I’m not alone in seeing it.
Today a scant bit of poetry nestled in my morning reading launched me on a journey back in time to renew an acquaintance. In my days at university I chanced by print to meet Gerard Manley Hopkins -- monk, professor, poet. In my rush to mingle with the “Lost” of a generation led by Hemingway and Fitzgerald, I nodded courteously to poet Hopkins and hurried down the path of learning and letters. Today the lines of beauty I stumbled across by chance sent me searching for my old Norton Anthology of English Literature.
I know I met G. M. Hopkins once upon a time, but where is he to be found now? Where can I find that quiet monk-professor who once burned all of his poems upon entering the Society of Jesus, fearing they would not meet with approval? And where can I find that monk’s body of work that lay unpublished (intentionally so) until nearly 20 years after his death? “Where is he?” I mutter as I scour the dusty shelf allotted to poetry, largely unread these days judging from the uniform film Time placed atop each volume. Each volume that has been lovingly packed and carted with me from one address to another as I graduated, married, set up housekeeping, moved, birthed babies, moved again, birthed more babies, and moved again. The poetry books settled comfortably into a bookcase and set about the business of aging beautifully and peacefully . . . until today.
Blowing puffs of dust, prying thin volumes away from thick, rustling pages dormant for years, I cringe at the shameful neglect. On occasion, when a fevered child suffered through the night, I would carry them away on the worthy words of Wordsworth or Keats, Shelley or even silly Mr. Carroll, but Gerard Manley Hopkins remained at rest. And the looking goes on.
A-Ha! The anthology appears and my memory guides me directly to the time period hosting Hopkins ’ offerings. I peruse the bio and breeze past the literary style notations – deeply ingrained from years of university work, I need not review – and reach out to grasp the meat: the poems. Dancing through the sprightly verses I skip over the footnotes included to define troublesome words (such as enlightening the reader that the “oil” referred to comes from an olive rather than a tanker – would one ever confuse the two herein? I hope not!) and journey up and down and all around with my monk friend as guide and songmaster in praise of the Lord’s amazing canvas – our world.
I read . . . I know . . . I smile . . . I see . . .
I lie back in the grass and seek the treasured gems dropped from heavenside down to this tarnished Eden that Hopkins sees so clearly. Even death and pain find beauteous glint from poet’s pen. I read . . . I read . . . I read long into my day.
Unlike the hurried introduction so long ago, today I linger and walk stanza by stanza through the wonderment and praise. Whereas I knew nothing much of monks when we first met, I have since undertaken many a reading voyage hosted by monks (such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen), as well as followed pilgrims through the pages of recorded retreats and solitary stays in monasteries world-wide. I now greet Hopkins the monk comfortably, as well as Hopkins the poet. Those days of yesterday, when I wondered why someone would destroy their work, have been replaced with a pilgrim’s knowledge; a pilgrim knowing that sometimes SELF destroys a poem or thought as surely as a match.
I once knew someone who wrote a book. Upon notification of intent to publish, the company sent the author a list of things to “add” for completion of the book. The list called for “salty” language, snippets of sensuality, etc. The book remained clean and unpublished in the author’s possession.
Years later, lying in a hospital bed, the author revised his tale, intending to reach a younger audience. I saw the excitement in his eye as he worked anew on his book. Publication would surely happen this time around . . . or so I thought.
The man healed, left the hospital bed, and lived the balance of his life with fresh vigor. I never saw the book again.
In declining health at the end of his life I inquired about “The Book,” hoping to self-publish this achievement for his grandchildren to enjoy.
“I destroyed it,” he said matter-of-factly. “I feared that someone may think that Science could replace God and I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want to lead anyone astray, so it’s gone.”
Simple. Truthful. Pure. Good.
I had always anticipated reading this book as a way of knowing more about this unemotional, enigmatic person. With so little on display to be observed, I longed to read from the inside. I never did get that chance, but the brief exchange regarding the book’s destruction told me volumes.
As this summer’s day passes from dew-kissed morn to dappled afternoon, as I seek respite from the heat until the twilit sky ushers down the velvety curtain of a star-spangled night, I will marvel and delight in the lingering words of Gerard Manley Hopkins as he weaves a tapestry of poems bound in parcels addressed to a magnificent God. I read. I nod. I delight.
I’m so glad I paused to meet up with this poet over a cup of tea as he guides me through nature’s beauty: simple gems dropped heaven-side from the hands of God to bury in Eden ’s dust as treasure for this seeker.