My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What a difference a year makes!


After a few beautiful basking days recently, today is very windy, cloudy and cool with rain/snow showers moving in for the next couple of days. So although March is not exactly going out like a gentle lamb, at least it's not ending with a roaring blizzard like it did last year, and in 2007 as well. (Must be an every-other-year thing!) And I'm thankful we're not getting all the rain and flooding they've been getting back East... I feel for the people and critters struggling with that deluge.

Anyway, I wasn't blogging at the time so here are a few photos of our lovely spring weather one year ago...

BW heading back from the barn (on snowshoes)...


BW is 6 feet tall, so that snowdrift should be in the NBA!
(I guess it has its own interpretation of "March Madness!")

The end result of the blizzard, an additional day of snowfall,
and a few killer days of roof and deck shoveling!

Springtime in Wyoming
When it's springtime in Wyoming,
and the gentle breezes blow
about seventy miles an hour
and it's fifty-two below,
you can tell you're in Wyoming
'cause the snow's up to your butt;
When you take a breath of springtime air
your nostrils both freeze shut!
The weather here is wonderful,
so I guess I'll hang around,
I could never leave Wyoming...
my feet are frozen to the ground!
~author unknown

P.S. Happy Birthday, Molly!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Seeing blue


TGIF! This has been a challenging week, and Wednesday was particularly yuksville (one of those "everything that could possibly go wrong - and even stuff that couldn't possibly go wrong - did" sort of days), so I was really delighted to see our first bluebird of the year yesterday while hiking with the dogs. Here's hoping he was a bluebird of happiness! (I don't think there is any other kind, actually!) ;-)

For happiness, how little suffices for happiness!...
The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing,
a lizard's rustling, a breath, a whisk, an eye glance -
little maketh up the best happiness. Be still.
~Friedrich Nietzsche, "Thus Spake Zarathustra"

Our local bluebirds are Mountain Bluebirds, and they always show up here in March. Last year I saw our first one on March 14, so this year they were 11 days late, and since they are our first true harbinger of Spring, I was getting antsy to see one! It was a male, perched on our pasture fence, and he had a lot to tell us about his winter sojourn as we hiked by. I stopped and chatted with him for a bit, but didn't have my camera with me and wouldn't have gotten a good photo if I had... the light was wrong, the background too busy, and our bluebirds are shy and have always been difficult (for me, at least) to photograph. I have to do it from some distance, and my camera doesn't have much of a zoom.

Here are the best bluebird photos I've been able to take over the 18 years we've lived here. They were all taken in June 2007 - a lucky month for bluebird photos, apparently!

I took all of these from our bedroom window...


"The bluebird carries the sky on his back."
~Henry David Thoreau


I do have a few photos of female bluebirds,
but they are mostly gray & don't show up well from a distance.


According to Cornell University's Ornithology department:

Only the female builds the nest. The male sometimes acts as if he is helping, but he either brings no nest material or he drops it on the way.

LOL! Typical. ;-)~

Oddly enough, for all the various bird feathers I always find around our property and on my hikes, I've only ever found one male bluebird feather (which I sent to a faraway friend). Finding their feathers is even harder than taking their photos, but I'm hoping that one day another male drops another feather (perhaps along with the nesting material he's pretending to bring home with him!)

And while we're seeing blue, I thought I'd toss in this photo of some of the blue flax we grew from seed around our property. They're just so pretty, and really match the bluebirds...


(I took this photo in June 2007 also, so that was a true blue month, but in a good way!) :-)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Babies got bling (for Spring!)


When Molly at It's a Vegan Dog's Life recently shipped me her book that I'd ordered, she also enclosed some fun "collar bling" surprises for the girls! ("Thank you, Aunt Molly!" they say in chorus!) :-)

They've worn them to town and on walks already, but this is the first chance we've had for a fashion shoot...

Willow...

The contrast between her dainty fuchsia flower
and her growly tiger-gnawing just strikes me funny!

She reminds me of a Flamenco dancer.

Tessa...

Tessa also reminds me of a Flamenco dancer,
but one exhausted by the exertion of the dance!

Now she looks like she's wearing a yarmulke!

Josie...

Josie's collar bling, in black, white and burgundy,
really compliments her fur colors!

LOL - Josie, you're such a goob! :-)


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Erin Go Bragh



Once, back in Ireland, a long time ago,
She saw the little people dancing in the snow.
They didn't have shoes on their little cold feet;
They looked as though they hadn't had
a bite of food to eat,
But all of them were singing
and their singing sounded sweet.

Now she feeds the little birds that flutter in the snow.
They make her think of Ireland, a long time ago.

~Mildred Bowers Armstrong

Sure, an' ye know St. Patrick's Day is so festive, we've been celebratin' it all month! Watching Irish movies such as Dancing at Lughnasa (Meryl's my favorite actress), Michael Collins, and Waking Ned Devine (one of our all-time favorite movies, though filmed on the Isle of Man and not Ireland; if you haven't seen it then do yourself a favor and glom onto it!), listening to Celtic music (which we do all year long, it being one of our favorite genres), and eating green foods (see previous two posts re: wilted greens salad and potato-leek soup!)


This weekend the festivities continue, as I'm planning to make Mitten Machen's Tempeh-Stuffed Cabbage with smashed taters and Alicia's Cucumber and Lemon Water, a prettily green and refreshing-sounding beverage, indeed!


Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep Peace of the flowing air to you
Deep Peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep Peace of the shining stars to you
Deep Peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep Peace to you.

While that is a favorite Gaelic blessing of mine, we will instead be raising our green-hued cucumber-lemon drink to one I love even more. It was a favorite of my Irish grandmother's (Ruth, whom some of you "met" briefly here)... at least, she claimed to be Irish. She was abandoned as a three day old infant, so she never knew her ethnicity. But she always claimed she was Irish because she was left with an Irish name (which may or may not have been real), had coal black hair and porcelain white skin, loved potatoes, and ~ most important of all ~ believed in leprechauns. :-) Anyway, here's her favorite Irish blessing...

May those that love us, love us;
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts;
And if he doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping!

Whatever green beverage and whatever toast you choose to salute the day (and the potato-loving, leprechaun-believing Irish in all of us), sure an' ye know I'm wishin' ye a foin St. Patty's Day, begorrah!


Monday, March 15, 2010

How green tastes


On her lovely blog Dandelion, Rose recently shared her version of a recipe for Wilted Kale and Mustard Greens Salad that was originally featured on the Manifest: Vegan blog. We had to try it - it not only sounded good and über-healthy, I was intrigued with the concept of massaged greens, and thought this would be a great way to try kale (a favorite veggie) raw.

The salads we made more closely followed the Manifest Vegan version, but I used hemp seeds instead of walnuts like Rose did. I wasn't able to get fresh mustard greens, so used organic Swiss chard instead. I also used crimini instead of portabello mushrooms, and Muir Glen organic fire-roasted tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.

Massaging the greens was a fun tactile experience... but then, I enjoy playing with my food! :-)

Isn't it pretty?

Believe me, there are a lot of greens buried beneath
those avos, 'maters, 'shrooms & hemp seeds! :-)

I will definitely make this again, with a few changes. Next time I'll use the mustard (or maybe collard) greens, as I think their flavor might be better in this than the chard; lemon instead of grapefruit juice; and the cherry tomatoes for the fresh little "snap" their texture provides. And I'm going to follow Rose's lead and sauté the mushrooms in some tamari along with the water. I thought this dish would benefit from the flavor of tamari, but was concerned that sprinkling tamari directly on the salad would make it too salty and otherwise overwhelm it. The flavors of this dish are subtle and delicate, and very, very fresh! If the color green has a flavor, this is definitely it! Which makes this salad especially appropriate with St. Patrick's Day and the Vernal Equinox right around the corner! :-)

His & hers Wilted Greens salads
Served with a side of whole grain bread, they were very filling!

for the recipe, Rose!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Boo-Boo Paté


We've been making homemade soy milk since we bought our Soyabella about 3 years ago, but we never did anything with the okara (the high fiber, nutritious residue left over after making soy milk) except compost it. I knew you could use it in baked goods and other recipes, and that it was a wasteful shame not to, but for some reason I never felt inspired to try any of the recipes I'd found.

Until I came across Bryanna Clark Grogan's Okara Miso Paté recipe. Some of our favorite recipes are Bryanna's, so her Okara Miso Paté had instant street cred with us. (It helped that we also love miso!) I had to adjust the ingredient measurements since our Soyabella only yields 3/4 cup of okara, we like this best with half mellow white miso and half hacho (dark red) miso, and I skip the olive oil drizzle. But other than that, I haven't altered the original recipe. Well, except once by accident, which is why we now call this Boo-Boo Paté. Besides, I think that Boo-Boo Paté, in addition to being a less cumbersome name than Okara Miso Paté, is almost as much fun to say as "Baba Ghanoush!" (which just happens to be my favorite food name, as well as a favorite food item!) :-)

Boo-Boo Paté with whole wheat pita crisps

My boo-boo happened when I grabbed a jar of organic peanut butter instead of the jar of organic tahini. The jars are the same size and look enough alike (if you're just grabbing things out of the fridge without paying attention!), that it was an easy mistake. But how I failed to notice that the much darker and peanuty-smelling peanut butter was not, in fact, tahini is a disturbing mystery. I blissfully measured out and added the peanut butter to the paté, never noticing my error. When we ate the paté, we agreed it was the tastiest batch I'd ever made, though we had no idea why that was the case! It wasn't until I made it again a week later, when I again grabbed the jar of peanut butter thinking it was tahini but this time noticing my blunder, that I realized what I'd done. I refused to believe I'd used peanut butter instead of tahini without noticing, especially since I don't typically like peanut butter in anything except sandwiches and cookies. So this time, I used half tahini and half peanut butter. But we agreed that this batch didn't have as much flavor as the previous one. So the next time I used all peanut butter again, and Boo Boo Paté was here to stay! :-)

At least my ingredient goof worked out for the best,
instead of being a culinary catastrophe!

Alicia has been making okara paté delights lately too, including her own version of the Boo-Boo Paté.

For more vegan okara recipes, just do a search... there are many out there, from burgers and bread to cookies and quiche. Okara "Crab" Cakes is one I especially want to try soon. (Truly, had I known how much fun okara was, I'd have bought a bigger soymilk maker!) :-)

For more ways to enjoy miso, check out the VegNews article Mastering Miso.

Enjoy your weekend, even though it's shorter by an hour for many of us! >:-( (Why can't we "spring ahead" on Mondays instead? If ever there were a day that's worthy of having an hour lopped off it, it's Monday!)


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Feathers, leeks and unicorns


We went on a long hike with the dogs on Sunday - a beautiful, warm, sunny Spring day (that didn't fool us one bit, since hard-earned experience has us girding our loins for the big snowstorms that come in late March and April), and I found this wild turkey feather waving from a dead stem like a little avian flag.


I found two more turkey feathers in the same vicinity, which was on the edge of a very deep and wide ravine that the turkeys often fly across. Apparently when they flapped their wings for take-off, a few feathers came loose. I find turkey feathers on my hikes all the time, but usually in the summer. I'd never found winter feathers before, which were covered with incredibly thick, soft, warm down that their sleek and streamlined summer feathers lack.

Note the iridescent shimmer of the feathers' tips,
the fluffy soft down of their bases and midsections,
and the two naughty adventure dogs in the distance. :-)

I stuck the trio in the snow for someone else to find - perhaps a barn swallow or wee field mouse will use the down to line their nests!


We returned from our hike to feast on a new soup recipe we tried this weekend from our newest cookbook, The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment by Jill Nussinow, one of our cooking instructors at Camp McDougall. I often have difficulty finding organic Yukon Gold potatoes, or leeks that don't look like they were used to sweep a barnyard, but last week I won the lottery. And so, potato-leek soup, made in the pressure cooker, was our yummy reward along with organic oat bran bread and über-deluxe tossed salads!


This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I took this photo last week and was just wondering if anyone else sees the unicorn prancing across the sky? :-)


It actually looked a lot more unicorn-like a couple moments earlier, but by the time I grabbed my camera and snapped this picture, the wind currents had thickened his neck and dislocated his front knee! :-( But at least his unicorn horn was still intact, and his mane and tail (which seems to have an arrow pointing at it) were still flying! There's nothing like a warm, sunny day to make everyone - including cloud unicorns - want to kick up their heels! :-)

More goodies for fellow cloud-gazers can be found here, here, and here. :-)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Canine Cavorting


The question our dogs are always asking (besides, "Hey, are you going to finish that food?") is...

Josie and Willow winding up for a rumpus...

Josie likes to bop Willow with her paw...

Or put her paw on Willow's head and leave it there!

Ooooh, what fearsome beasties!
Fear not girls...
I won't reveal what creampuffs you really are!

Want to hear what their rumpus sounds like?
(Willow thinks her vocals add ferocity)
"The Sound and the Fury"
(or is it "The Sound of the Furry?")

If Tess thinks the roughhousing is a bit much,
she breaks it up and insists on a group hug...

We all wish you a FUN weekend,
and remind you to play hard
and hug tight! :-)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

If Airlines Sold Paint


Buying both airline tickets and paint in the past few weeks has brought this "many a truth is said in jest" joke to mind more than once. Written by Al Hess, satirist and owner of a travel agency in Utah, it was first published in Travel Weekly on Oct 15, 1998 (which explains the nostalgic paint prices!) ;-)

If Airlines Sold Paint by Al Hess


Buying paint from a hardware store...

Customer: Hi, how much is your paint?

Clerk: We have regular quality for $12 a gallon and premium for $18. How many gallons would you like?

Customer: Five gallons of the regular quality, please.

Clerk: Great. That will be $60 plus tax.

Buying paint from an airline...

Customer: Hi, how much is your paint?

Clerk: Well, sir, that all depends.

Customer: Depends on what?

Clerk: Actually, a lot of things.

Customer: How about giving me an average price?

Clerk: Wow, that's too hard a question. The lowest price is $9 a gallon, and we have 150 different prices up to $200 a gallon.

Customer: What's the difference in the paint?

Clerk: Oh, there isn't any difference. It's all the same paint.

Customer: Well then, I'd like some of that $9 paint.

Clerk: Well, first I need to ask you a few questions. When do you intend to use it?

Customer: I want to paint tomorrow, on my day off.

Clerk: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is $200 paint.

Customer: What? When would I have to paint in order to get $9 paint?

Clerk: That would be in three weeks, but you will also have to agree to start painting before Friday of that week and continue painting until at least Sunday.

Customer: You've got to be kidding!

Clerk: Sir, we don't kid around here. Of course, I'll have to check to see if we have any of that paint available before I can sell it to you.

Customer: What do you mean, "check to see if you can sell it to me?" You have shelves full of the stuff, I can see it right there!

Clerk: Just because you can see it doesn't mean that we have it. It may be the same paint, but we sell only a certain number of gallons on any given weekend. Oh, and by the way, the price just went up to $12.

Customer: You mean the price went up while we were talking?

Clerk: Yes sir. You see, we change prices and rules thousands of times a day, and since you haven't actually walked out of the store with your paint yet, we just decided to change. Unless you want the same thing to happen again, I would suggest you get on with your purchase. How many gallons do you want?

Customer: I don't know exactly. Maybe five gallons. Maybe I should buy six gallons just to make sure I have enough.

Clerk: Oh, no sir, you can't do that. If you buy the paint and then don't use it, you will be liable for penalties and possible confiscation of the paint you already have.

Customer: What???

Clerk: That's right. We can sell you enough paint to do your kitchen, bathroom, hall and north bedroom, but if you stop painting before you do the other bedroom, you will be in violation of our tariffs.

Customer: But what does it matter to you whether I use all of the paint? I already paid you for it!

Clerk: Sir, there's no point in getting upset; that's just the way it is. We make plans based upon the idea that you will use all of the paint, and when you don't, it just causes us all sorts of problems.

Customer: This is crazy! I suppose something terrible will happen if I don't keep painting until Sunday night?

Clerk: Yes sir, it will.

Customer: Well, that does it! I am going somewhere else to buy paint!

Clerk: That won't do you any good, sir. We all have the same rules. You might as well just buy it here, while the price is now $13.50. Thanks for flying -- I mean painting -- with our airline.


And so on that comical note I must now resume painting my ceiling, thus far successfully resisting the urge to decorate it with wingéd cherubim and naked dudes (in case you were wondering, Alicia ~ lol). No, I fear I'm just a boring, paint-splattered roller of flat, white, zero-VOC latex on ceilings that seem to go on forever. Perhaps I would be more inclined to paint elegant Renaissance murals on my basement ceilings if I were this sort of painter instead...

Although this interminable ceiling project makes me relate far more to the painting's subject than to the painter! ;-)

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"