Thursday, March 29, 2007

Daisy's Doings

I know you've noticed, and I certainly had, that Miss PT hasn't been bloggin' as she should. What's that woman been up to? Oh I know she said she was planning on workin' on her book. But was that a ploy? Curiousity got the better of this well breed southern hound, so I paid her a friendly visit.
Did you know that woman has a huge backyard. Great for dogs and children to run about. I had to give it a try. To stretch my delicate legs, and flap the old ears.
And what was that woman doin? She was boilin' sap and indeed she had her book laid open to page 155 on the kitchen table. I asked, "Makin' headway?"
"A little."
"And the sugarin' ?"
"It's the last boil of the season."
"Kinda sad?"
"Yeah. I'll miss it."
"What will you do?"
"Wait for next season, eat a lot of pancakes and I guess I'll finish my book."
"Good plan. And if you get bored, that backyard is great for a good run."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thanks Daisy

You are truly a good friend, full of southern help and hospitality. And your typing skills are improving tremendously. I have indeed been working on my book, (THANK GOD!), and the sugaring. The pan is on to boil and I get to sit and edit. The best of both worlds.

Again, thanks for pitching in with your pearls of wisdom. Next time I find myself hot and bothered I'll go for a nice long soak.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Daisy's Doings

Fleas really get under my gentle southern skin. Nothin' worse than fleas. Well maybe there is, if you're human. And from what I can see, politics is worse than fleas. Both can get you in hot water. But with fleas, hot water brings relief and a chance to soak those pesky devils away. Nothin' better than a good hot soak and some of that sweet smellin' flea soap to make you feel better. Kinda makes flea season worth it.

Maybe someone will come up with some soap for politicians? So them that have the need can soak a good long time and come out of the tub spew'n the truth and settin' the record straight.

Oh and Bambi -- just settin' our record straight; I have one chin not three and my groomer can really put a shine on the old coat. Shall I pass on her number?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Babysitting and Boiling

Never should they meet. For one cannot tend the baby and the pan simultaneously. But thanks to the calming influence of BigMama, the baby slept whilst I boiled. So at the end of the day we have a happy baby, and a happy maple sugarer.

BigMama, thank you. I'll pay you in syrup.

Love, ptcakes

ps Daisy sends her love.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Daisy's Doings

Since ptcakes will be extremely busy for a dog's age rewriting her book, she offered me a weekly spot on her blog. A place where I can spew forth with good old take home lesson dog sense.

I'm Daisy. Born and breed a southern blue hound of sorts, with a pleasant but questionable background, and a love for children and radiant floor heating. No, I don't live with the pt, but as we all know it takes a village to raise a dog.

And that's my advice for today, It takes a village.

I don't mind telling you all, I was a bit hesitant when they told me I was going to be crossing the Mason Dixon line in hopes of finding a new home. Those northerns and their aggression... I questioned their helpfullness and sincerity.

But today during my morning exercise my fears were relieved. I gave a good ol' home town howl when I noticed the Widow Smith's driveway was nicely shoveled. Lord knows that woman couldn't have done that herself. It's nice to be living in a place where neighbors watch out for neighbors.

A southen belle like myself just might have a chance to fit in.

I'm finding my desk

and discovering it is quite a nice spot for finally completing the rewrites on my book.

Today, I'll be handing off my first ever, for real, for real pay, (NO, not really IRS), digital slideshow. Oh I've made, it seems like, hundreds of these productions, but this was the first time someone came to me with a stack of pictures and said, "Can you do this?" Instead of me approaching them and saying, "Look what I can do for you? And hey, I'll do it for the price of the disk and case!"

Two nights ago we reviewed it. Yesterday I burned the copies and watched them all... back to back. Just to make sure they all worked.

I still have two projects on my desk, but they are waiting for Author's Tea and a few more pictures of someone special. And these projects fall in the "FREE" category, so they don't really count until crunch time.

So, as I do the rewriting, cutting down, elaborating, combining, and shifting, I am still chasing that illusive query letter. The pitch, the hook, the bait, that will cause agents to trip over themselves to get a chance to read more of Forever Yours.

I hate writing. But it's something I just can't live without.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

When it runs it pours

According to the Weather Channel the night time and day time temperatures are going to rise tomorrow and that will be it. Winter will be gone, and so will the sugaring season. We had a taste of spring last week, when the night time temperature didn't drop below the mid forties, and the sap stop running. For three days I held my breath, waited and wondered. Was this it? Three weeks of sugaring and it was over?

One good Nor'easter answered my prayers and the sap started running like a viral-infected nose on a cold winter's day. All smiles, we collected 15 gallons of sap before school and I gathered another 10 this afternoon. With the temperatures expected to drop into the 20s one last time tonight, tomorrow should be the last day of an excellent run.

Sugaring is good for the soul. Time slows when you're boiling. There is a lot of waiting, and thinking and breathing. Every session refutes the old adage that a watched pot doesn't boil. It does. Especially when fired with a dual propane burner.

We'll be boiling both Saturday and Sunday afternoons/evenings.

Happy Spring everyone!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"I wanted to send you a cake."

Two weeks ago the UPS man graced my doorstep with a package. I hadn't ordered anything, but it was addressed to me. Inside was the cookbook, Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings. Without looking at the invoice I knew it was from my old time, elementary, and junior high school, friend -- Ruthless. I smiled.

We were an unlikely pair. She was always the tallest and biggest girl in the class. Although not tiny, I was one of the smallest. Our houses were not close to eachother, so when we'd walk home from school we'd walk a middle route. Just so we'd have more time together. On occasion her grandparents drove us to school in the back of their pick up truck. Ruthless and I rode shotgun; hanging out over the open bed. Bouncing about and laughing; the good old days. When we played tackle football in my backyard, (boys against the girls), she was my grid-iron protection, while I nervously executed the quarterback dance behind her. And it was at that first game after her family moved to Arkansas that I got sacked, for the first time. My knee twisted, torn cartilage, torn ligaments and a goodly amount of water on the knee. It was the end of a glorious career, and I thought due to distance, the end of our friendship.

Then five years ago, through, Ruthless sent me an email. "Remember me?" Of course I did. How could I forget my entire offensive line? Since then, at least once a week there is an email exchange. Checking in on family, work, passing on lastest and greatest recipes we've fed our families, and the success or lack there of, of our latest dieting attempts. Last fall, we found out we were both going for our motorcycle licence. Two friends, separated by time and a thousand miles -- breaking into the biking world together. No planning... it just happened.

We've been there for eachother, despite the miles. An email brought the horrible news of her son's death. Through many emails I sent my prayers and blessings. Emails announced the birth of the little ones. Gifts soon followed. However, despite being in touch electronically, we have yet to meet; have that cup of coffee. Though there were several close calls, when illness or weather canceled vacation plans. I still have hope.

In the mean time we send packages. Heading south is maple syrup, Stella D'oro delights, Christos salad dressing, Girl Scout cookies, Mountain Man treats, and Cains mayonaise. Heading north -- unbelievably great honey, local artistan candles, homemade cookies, and fudge.

After checking out the cookbook, I sent off an email of thanks. "It's one of the most beautiful and interesting cookbooks I have ever seen. Thanks."

Her reply, "I wanted to send you the Two-Ton Bittersweet Chocolate Fudge Cake on page 243 and this seemed the easiest way to get in to you."

Ruthless, like you, the cake is priceless. Thank you.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

What do you do when it's St. Patrick's Day with 10 inches of snow, a broken plow and defunct snowblower?

We're not Irish, but we love this day. We celebrated by having all Irish fair at home. Good music, Guinness, colcannon, the most wonderful soda bread, steak and kidney pie, and later -- watching The Quiet Man. It's a family day for us. We have very few of these days during the year.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Fault

All my fault, sorry, sorry, apologies all around.

But the season was in danger, and some serious praying was in order.
So I did it. Asked for just enough sap to give me another gallon of syrup. Sixty gallons of sap -- no more. But in order to get sap, the trees needed a bit of cold. So, there you have it, a Nor'ester. So far, six inches of snow on the buckets. Big, big flakes, nice for ushering another sap run. And maybe some excellent sledding as well.

Be still my heart, we're sugaring again. And I'll be praying for a nice long warm spring next, promise.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sugaring In the Rain

You know the tune...

I'm sugaring in the rain.
Sugaring in the rain.
What a glorious feeling.
I'm happy again.

With the pan at full boil.
And a roof over my head.
I'm sugaring, sugaring in the rain.

Do, a, do, do,
Do, a, do, a ,do, do, do...

Do, a, do, do,
Do, a, do, a ,do, do, do...

I'm sugaring, YES, sugaring in the rain.

You Never Know

You never know what will happen over the course of the day. You wake up, a plan in place, and sometimes you navigate from morning to night via a straight shot and other days you wander.
Yesterday was for wandering.

A surprise trip to a pediatrician's office where all the children get dressed in their Sunday best to see the doctor. A coffee in the car with friends closer than family. A chance meeting with a woman who described herself as handicapped because she never learned to drive. Now later in life, she stays home, where she cooks, cleans, and crochets the most beautiful baby sets. Next week we'll help her tackle ebay.

During the noon hour, I recorded a music class at local school. Never have I seen students work so hard at singing. At dusk, the chance to hold a newborn. Less than a week old, she slept in my arms. Giving me a brief gift of new motherhood.

Whether you look for them or not, our days are full of gifts. Gifts we give and gifts we receive.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Too Warm for Sugaring

In my four years of sugaring I have never seen it this warm. Don't get me wrong, I loved being outside yesterday with just a sweatshirt on. (This is a family blog -- you know what I mean... no hat, no mittens, no seventeen layers of outer wear.)

Today the weather channel calls for even warmer temperatures. Almost capri weather. It will chill again over the weekend, so the season might not be over. My girls asked if we were going to pull the taps. "Is the season really over mommy?"

"Only the trees will tell."

Maple syrup yield so far, just a tad over one gallon; all of it fancy ginger ale in color. The books, and our vast four years of experience say, say that the color will darken as the season goes on. So I have hope.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Early morning quiet
has a life of its own.
Breathing softly.
Blanketing the sleeply,
while embracing those awake.
Bathed in the stillness.
Ears perked, but not hearing.
Lips sealed, not talking.
Heart beating, but still
In the silence.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fifty Ounces

It struck me as funny -- how we keep track of the maple syrup yield; like gold, by the ounce. Fifty ounces from today's boil; about 88 from the last. Jars of golden delight line the kitchen window sill.

Much the same way my children wait for Santa, their birthday, and the Easter bunny, I have been waiting for warmer weather. All last week, the wind and bitter, bitter cold kept me tucked in. The same way it kept the sap from flowing. I ventured out into the backyard only twice to rehang buckets. They must be at the ready. For when the temperature shifts, the sap will start flowing again. And it did.

This morning I collected 15 gallons of sap from our twleve taps. With the ten gallons left from before the freeze, it wasn't quite enough for a full day. But the weather was warm; perfect for maple sugaring. So we did. It was another great day, with the promise of many more this week.

Of course, nothing is real without worry. And I worry about the temperatures getting too warm, and the trees leafing out. Marking the end of the season. Only time, temperature and the trees will tell.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I hope it's a good one, so far from home.
And you got a million and one or two cards.
Today is your day. Come home safely.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rosary Beads

I'm a little confused here. I have been for a while. And life being what it is, I pushed off this confusion, that is, until yesterday. Yesterday, when I finally got a chance to read Sunday's paper, I noticed a picture of a woman wearing what she eluded to as her fashion, her mark. She was wearing black tights, plaid shorts, a shirt, sweater vest, a 70's hair style and a large set of black Rosary beads. The beads were dangling around her neck with a necklace and the copy read, (and I'm paraphrasing), I like to wear layers of jewelry. My confusion -- since when are Rosary beads jewelry? So I yahoo'd "wearing Rosary beads." I found out I am way behind the times.

Britney Spears and David Beckman got in trouble several years ago for wearing Rosary beads. The Catholic church in Ireland issued a comment stating the wearing of Rosary beads was insulting. And I have to admit, when I read that, I was insulted. My whole life, and long before I hit the scene, my family has prayed using Rosary beads. So to see them hung around the neck of a pop icon was disturbing. Now, if they were wearing them so they could meditate on the Hail Mary or the Our Father, then all the power to them. But I suspect not.

I have several pair of Rosary beads. For a while there, whenever a parent or grandparent traveled anywhere, the children would get a new pair of Rosary beads. Ireland, Turkey, Israel, Hawaii, Canada -- I have a pretty big assortment. Still my favorite belonged to my great great grandmother. It is a simple string with knots tied for the beads and small metal cross. I carry it with me all the time, but in my purse. It's longevity in my family, in our faith, keeps me grounded. The image on the cross is almost completely worn off. I imagine it has felt the warmth of many prayers and intentions.

The picture in Sunday's paper wasn't the first time I'd seen someone wearing Rosary beads. Last year, while doing the pick up at school, is when I first started noticing this habit. I thought the children were keeping their beads close, as a show of their faith, and just in case they felt the need to pray. And maybe they were. But probably they weren't. And now, I'm smiling -- for maybe, from this simple act, their faith will grow.

Wouldn't that be interesting? What if, instead of being insulted, when we saw a person wearing Rosary beads we said a prayer for them and for us. We would take their choice of jewelry as a sign to offer a prayer. Think of all the extra praying that would be going on. All that goodness coming from a religous faux par. Maybe it's God's will after all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Maple Syrup

The girls were out playing at 6 AM. By then I had added 20 gallons of maple sap to the pan. Half in, half out -- the boil was very much ahead of expectations. It must've been the shed, and keeping the pan relatively warm and out of the wind. With the doors wide open and fans in the windows, most of the steam found it's way to the outdoors. Or as I commented to an expert sugarmaker, "It didn't look like I'd hit them with a fire hose." Still I'm thinking about installing a ridge vent.

In the end we have 3/4 of a gallon of maple syrup. Some of the most golden maple syrup I have ever seen.

The weather has turned cold for the next three or four days -- a reprieve before the next run. I'll be ready.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Talking to your teenager

Want to talk with your teen? Break through that hormonal veneer? I think I have found the key: homework.

I can't tell you how many heart-to-heart and how many not so heart-to-heart discussions have resulted from the request, "Mom can you help me with this?" It starts with quizzing for Spanish, health, science, or general help with math and moves on to life. It's the perfect open door into their lives. I love it. And I've relearned, and in some cases, learned so much in the process. For example, during the section on Islam we had more than one discussion about our own religion and God. Spanish test review sessions always result is groans over my total lack of pronounciation. Of course, that's good. It let's her know I don't have all the answers. Science is lovely. Lately the topic of conversation is covalent, and ionic bonding. While running errands we had a wonderful conversation that lasted well into the night, with drawings on how and why different atoms share their electrons. But my favorite subject is math. I can count on at least one request everyday for help. And it's not do this for me. It's a truly help me with this, and don't give me the answer.

Two days ago, we spent an hour looking at the problem. I could solve it the old tried and true college way -- but couldn't set it up within the framework of Algebra I. We called in the big guns. Problem solved. And yesterday, while having friends over for a Game Day she asked me for help later. I said, "Ask the boys. They can help you." After all they are in high school and college. It was nice to see them all huddled over a book. I didn't mind sharing the fun. With a quiz today, I knew there would be more than enough to go around. And there was. After the guests had left, the book was brought out again. She sat on one side of the dining room table working away and I was at the other knitting. Just waiting to respond for a request for assistance.

But I tend to take it overboard. It is my nature. Last Friday, at pickup, she wasn't in the car five minutes when I asked, "Got any math homework?"

Her reply, "Mom, you're weird."

My reply, "Yeah, I know." It's always nice to reminded just where I fit in.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Monday is the day

For me, Monday might as well be Santa's Christmas, my birthday, and the 4th of July -- all rolled into one. I have been looking forward to Monday since last Fall. The waiting, the anticipation, the sleepless nights of worry, all pointing towards tomorrow, Monday. Every year there is no better day.

I know I won't sleep tonight. I'll be up at 2, then 3 and finally with the alarm at 4. Then with one quick flick of the trusty butane lighter -- the boil will start. The first of the season, with hopefully many to follow.

Today, the sugar shack will be cleared of everything not needed. The prewarming grill will be set up outside. I even thought about filling the pan today so that it truly will be a quick flick of the lighter.

Since last Fall, I've dreamed of coffee steamed by the fresh scent of maple. Of waking the girls with the announcement, "We're boiling. Get up. Get dressed and come outside for breakfast." I know they have been waiting for tomorrow as well. For three days I've sent them out to tend to the buckets without me. And they head out bubbling over with joy and cooperation. We have a new tap this year and the tree is quite a producer. We will have to return to the neighbor with a generous portion of maple syrup.

Be still my heart. Tomorrow is the day or days.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Emergency Room Land Speed Record

One hour. Enough time to check in, knit two 64 stitch rounds on the second sock of the first pair I have ever made, and get one three quarter of an inch head laceration examined, washed, and dressed.

It was the little one. This was the third fall for her hospital chart. The nurse looked at me and said, "Boy, she's accident prone." I laughed. It wasn't until now that I realized she might have been suggesting otherwise... Not that there is an otherwise. She is my very active, verbal, and humorous one.