Thursday, January 29, 2009

What if we all gave a dollar?

There is a family in Georgia that is auctioning everything they own on ebay. They need the money to cover their childrens' medical bills. What if we all donated a dollar? Everyone... for much less than the price of a cup of coffee that tests our powers to make decisions: decaf, or caf, lait, or American, grande... or 55 gallon tank with a straw. What if we decide to give instead?

They are not asking for money. They're asking to sell their stuff. But I'm saying, just a dollar... Think about it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mitten Tree

Every once in a while you get a present that kind of takes you by surprise. This year it was a mitten tree from Nana. "Thanks, Nana," and then wondering just how it will fit into our home. Well Nana it fits in fine. And we use it for more than mittens. Take a peek. What do you see?

swim suit, swim hat, goggles, boots, scarf, gloves, hats, wool socks and of course, mittens

Snowy Quiet

Plows rumble past. Their blades muffled by their loads.
Children sleep on. Their breathes roll between dreams.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No school tomorrow!!!

YEAH! We're all home. We all get to sleep late.

Like Mice

Like mice that gnaw through cardboard and cloth, my to do list shreds calm and contentment.
Like mice I should build a warming nest in the comforts of shredded tasks.
Instead they flank my world. Ranks of soldiers; marshaling through my days and marching through my nights.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I woke up this morning, wondering just where the weekend had gone. Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be days for stepping off the fast track. Not my weekends; for they are more of the same but taken to the next level of frantic. I can't look ahead to change. There is none in the foreseeable future.

From Eat, Pray and Love --- "Sei una trottola." I am a spinning top.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baby Socks

Three done, one to go. A friend is having a baby girl and I've been having fun knitting baby socks. If I sit and do nothing else for a day, I can finish one sock. Still it usually takes me the better part of a week.

... hope the test results are correct and she's having a girl...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Michelle Obama

Recently, and it would have to be recently, I saw a news video about the Obama girls and if they can have a normal childhood in the Whitehouse. Mrs. Obama impressed me with her answers during the segment. She said, and I am paraphrasing here, "The Whitehouse staff and I are going to have a chat. The girls will be making their own beds."

The importance of making one's bed; the importance of being held responsible for one's own being and for others. Mrs. Obama could easily give her girls the easy way out, and for the next four, maybe more, years let them be pampered and slide away from their personal responsibilities. Afterall there is a house staff to pick up their dirty socks and bus their dishes, as well as make their beds. But her answer tells me she is focused on raising children that will be held accountable, and learn that despite their Pennsylvania Ave. address, they will learn responsibility.

We all can't live in the Whitehouse, but shouldn't all children be given the same opportunities and education? All too often we try to give our children more than we had. We try to insure their lives are better, more pampered, with more stuff and better bells and whistles. But is this good?

From what I can see, all we have done, as a generation is to raise the level of entitlement in our children. More often than not I hear, "GIMME," rather than, "What can I get for you?" More often than not, dishes are left on the table, or in the sink. The younger set need to learn to wash them. Or at least put them in the dishwasher. More often than not toys are left out in the yard getting ruined by the weather. Children need to learn to pick them up, for they will not be replaced. Sometimes having too much is not a goodthing.

Mrs. Obama seems to get this. As a mom, she has caught my eye. She has my attention. As the First Lady the greatest service she could do for this country is to be a mom with responsibility on her agenda.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thank you bazphotogirl

Bazphotogirl paid me a welcome visit today and dropped off a CD of photos from last year's Maple Sugaring season. Bazphoto is wonderful photographer. I love her eye. So today I am featuring one of her photos that represents the absolute delight of the upcoming season.

Bring it on.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Eat Pray Love

I love this book by Elizabeth Gilbert. Right now I am eating her way through Rome, and thinking I'll make some homemade pasta this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First and Last

Yesterday I made my first batch of yogurt: plain nonfat. I love this stuff with homemade maple granola. In this combo one cup of the nonfat yogurt weighing in at 89 calories, is balanced with the high calories of the other, a quarter cup being 140 calories. Together they are a great lunch. I followed the yogurt recipe at this site but there are tons of them out there. One thing I did differently, is I strained a bit of the whey off after the incubation period. I like my yogurt less soupy.

Also yesterday the girls finished up the last of our maple granola. When I reached into the refrigerator to get the maple syrup for making more of that oat and fruit goodness, and found none, I asked, "Where is it?" "Gone," was the sheepish answer given by the two piggies chowing directing out of the granola tin.

We are down to our last quarter of maple syrup that I had pushed to the back corner of the upper most shelf in the cabinet. It's some of the first syrup we made last year, and therefore some of our lightest, not our favorite. Still, usually we are out of syrup by August but this year we made it right up until the start of the next. I'm delighted.

There is anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks until the sugaring season starts. All this wonderful snow and cold is ushering a season of greatness. Last night as we laid down for bed, the man asked if I thought the season would start around Valentine's Day again. I thought not. All this cold weather seems to be lining us up for a more traditional start in March. We will see. The taps, and buckets are ready.

And one more thing: Just in case you ever wondered what you could do with all those hand knit wool socks, when they are not warming your feet. I found this site next to my little one's bed.

Snow globe warmers... all I could think of was Jan Brett's book The Mitten. Good stitching, still thank God we don't have a bear in the house.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Day

Today is his day; our day; our nation's day. Still I am quietly reserved. Today, I won't be dancing in the streets, like I imagine at the start of every school year. Today I might watch, I might listen, but I will read at my own slow pace his address to the country. Marking his words. Highlighting the promises.

As a nation we must be careful not to raise Mr. Obama too high on that Presidential pedestal. For I would hate to see him get hurt and our hopes dashed when the wheels of government hold this juggernaut of a nation on the old boy steady as she goes course. But, maybe he is the one who can save us. Time will tell; a month, when all our trooops are home. Six monthes when the financial markets show signs of turning around and unemployment continues its steady decline. A year, when the homeless are few and homes are filled with families. Many who now live in their cars or in shelters. Longer... when local governments receive enough federal assistance to cover the federally mandated programs that drain local finances.

In a year, at the State of the Union Address -- just show me signs of positive change, and I'll be dancing. For now, I'll be a wall flower waiting for the current tune to change.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear Holly

You were a real love chicken. Our walks in the woods will never be the same without your guidance. Rest easy, girl.

Martin Luther King

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

What's your calling?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We played outside. Pretending we were at the beach. Burying ourselves in the snow. All the fun without any of the chafing.

For Me...

photography is all about light, lines, motion, and emotion. One of my favorite movie lines is, "I see dead people." When taking pictures about town, I see shapes and spaces, lights and darks. On a recent trip to the compost bin I noticed the sunlight squeezing through the fence pickets. I was reminded of my physics lessons where I learn about the wave and particle properties of light. Here, in my backyard, I had a stunning example of light's wave properties. (Last winter I had a fantastic lesson on supercooling.)

Light wave or particle, its absence or presence, is what makes the picture.

It's snowing today. Perfect for taking pictures. Perfect for skiing. Perfect for playing. Perfect for a cup of tea, and knitting baby socks, cooking dinner and working on a sudoku. Just perfect.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Cheese Stands Alone

Making cheese is another art that I've been thinking about trying. To the point where we have scheduled an afternoon for the troop to come over and make pizza from scratch. Well, in order to teach them about making cheese, I'd better be familiar with the process myself.

So, Monday I ran my first experiment and had limited success. At first the curds didn't hold together well. I emailed the source and with insight into the power of rennet, was urged to try try again. Which I did today: Cheese making attempt two. And it went much better. No whey and curds flying in 360 spray, covering every flat and vertical kitchen surface. No curdy sludge squeezing through the openings in the colander. Being who I am I took pictures at every step...

The curds and the whey separating nicely.

The straining of the curds from the whey. I found this colander? or is it a jelly strainer at the parish yard sale. What a find.

After microwaving for 30 seconds more whey is released from the curds and the curds are becoming more pliable. Repeat microwaving and kneading cheese a few times.


Beautiful Cheese... an ounce short of a pound from a gallon of whole milk.
Bring on the Scouts, I think we are ready.

Fear not, Monday's attempt didn't go to waste. I incorporated it into a ricotta spinach pie and the girls say it is a keeper. I love making things.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm thinking about bees

For about a year now I've been thinking about harvesting honey. We eat a lot of honey between cereal, tea, salad dressing, and making mead -- which I admit takes the majority of it. Still, having our own hive would be nice. Not to mention great for the girls and local scouts and students who would more than likely benefit.

I love going into the classrooms and teaching the students about Maple Sugaring. I love it when their eyes get saucer-wide when they realize you don't have to live in Vermont to make syrup. I love taking the tally after the taste test: Which do you like best light or dark? Last year we got the opinions of 124 students. Their overall winner is the dark; mine too. (The last jar in our cabinet is a very light syrup from last year.)

Over the New Year I had the opportunity to do a taste test between Vermont and homemade pure Maple Syrup. Both were dark, so I didn't think there would be much of a difference. There was. The Vermont best was peppery. And our own was buttery and seemed sweeter. Both had good maple flavor but the Vermont made had a stronger maple sense that lasted longer on the tongue. Both tasted great on pancakes. And isn't that what counts the most?

But back to bees, here is the link for a starter kit. I'm still thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Winter's Affair

All Terrain
Old Sole
Always there
-- my winter boots

All Terrain
Always there
for me
-- my husband

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is it love or is it something else?

This is our Pleco kissing, cleaning, or trying to ingest his aquarium mate. Is he sending us a message? More food or this will be you? Or is it... if we feed him more food, this will be us. The little darling has put on well over an inch and a half in length since we got him a year ago. His glass walls are sucked clean daily, and despite reading on the web that these lovelies don't eat their swimming and breathing tank mates, since his arrival, I have had a very difficult time keeping other playmates alive for any length of time when they are given no choice but to share his living space.

Our pleco...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Last day of the liturgical Christmas season

We undecorated today. The tree, the creche and all the decorations in between, all but one are put away. What remains is the leg. And on that, the question was posed, "Is it your intention to leave that in the front window?" Do I have to answer now? was my answer.

The leg will stay put for a few days and then it will be retired until next year. So with the living room cleared we sat down for a rip roaring game of Monopoly "The Christmas Story" style. The leg lamp illuminated our play as we urged each other through Triple Dog Dares. I was lucky enough to purchase a bb gun, but missed out on the Major Award -- the Leg Lamp itself. Still a good time was had by all, on this last snowy day of Christmas.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's All Greek To Me

Before Christmas, while cruising the local liquor store for beverage suitable to share with beer loving family, I happened upon a bottle of Retsina. Playfully I pointed it out to the man, who loves Greek food. Truly who doesn't? He picked it up and suggested we have Greek one night. Well, tonight was that night. The cookbook is upstairs. I can't recall the real names of these dishes but I spent all day making pureed eggplant with garlic, pita breads, tomato olive feta and onion salad and a casserole composed of eggplant and lamb -- covered and baked with a cheese sauce. All day in the kitchen -- every inch of the table and counter, every pan and almost every dish is dirty.

As the pitas were baking the man said, "I didn't think it was going to be this involved."

In the end, he loved the food. And the girls at least tried it. We'll be having leftover Greek tomorrow and the next day, and so on....

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It's the Oddest Thing

It's the oddest thing to be surfing around the web and find yourself being mentioned or quoted on someone else's blog. Someone that you don't know. Someone you've never met, even for the briefest of time. But somehow something you've typed or posted made an impression and voila the internet makes that connection.

That happened to me. Last night while cruising I found myself reading myself, and quoted as being myself at Two Blocks to Tango. And of course I do it here. I am forever linking to the Bosky Dell Farm where Mary has taught me so much. Most recently she has lit the fire for me to make cheese. And we will. The supplies are ordered and the Girls Scout troop invited over to make pizza--completely from scratch. Some girls will make cheese. Some will make sauce. Some will make the dough. At least that is the plan for now. I am very excited about this. (If we fail... which I doubt we will, no worries, we live right next door to two pizza places.)

I have linked into Charity at All Things Hold Together. The girls and I followed her soap directions and made Christmas soaps for family and friends. (Charity's were much prettier, but we had fun and the soaps were well received.) I have even sent friends to both these sites to read entries about all sorts of topics from parenting young boys to maple sugaring.

A new blog listing on my right hand side bar is Happenings on the Hill. I hooked up with this blog via a comment left at the Bosky Dell Farm. Most of the blogs I follow are written by moms, but I can't ignore the fact I read Cardinal Sean's blog, (I want the job as his photographer.) and those of local photographers BazPhotogirl, (who is also a Mom) and ALB, who generally makes me laugh. Then there is MyBackYard. I love reading about her extended squirrelly family. BTW: MBY I put birdseed in our birdbath so our gray furry guests can gorge themselves.

There are other blogs listed to the right ----->. I splash down in each of them just about weekly. Catching up with old friends. Finding out what's going on locally. All good. All fun.

A recent news report stated that iPods, XBoxs, Facebook, myspace, (you get the drift here), has reduced our social interacts to key strokes. And maybe so, for there are somedays I do wish for face to face chatting over a long cup of coffee. And on those days, FB will have to do. But I've watched how FB has taken some fairly shy teens and hooked them into a larger safe and supportive (parentally supervised) social networks. So, as with all things in life, there is good and bad. Last night I learned of some good, and made a new blog acquaintance out in Oregon who, like me enjoys writing, gardening cooking and photography, reported this morning she has a new puppy. I am delighted for her.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Making Cheese

Now that the holidays are over, I can set my sights on those projects I've been putting off, like making another batch of beer and trying a hand at cheese. I already have a batch of Limoncello maturing. And over the holidays made a pretty good maple syrup based Kahlua. I've also been going through my library of cookbooks and finding old world recipes to try. Tomorrow the forecast is for snow. If we are snowed in, I might just cook a duck for dinner. Or I'll make a huge batch of chili. Maybe I'll do both. All the while trying to finish up knitting a baby blanket. Popular knitters opinion says I have 2 rows to go... I say maybe 25 or 30. I want it to be long enough to wrap up the baby.

Over vacation I barely touched my banjo. It was not propped up next to my chair, but tucked away, safe from the holiday madness. Tonight, while the middle one read to me and the little one knit on her bookmark, I quietly practiced. It was one of those Ah-Ha moments.

Green toes

This past July, after World Youth Day our group made a two day stop over in Hawaii. The pilgrimage continued with discussion sessions at the beach, and daily Mass, but we also took the time to let our hair down with a Luau. For the festivities I picked up a flowery dress and matching green polish. Being a traditionally non-dressy, no make up or paint type of person, I was going all out for the event.

Over the many months of showers, sandals and swimming, only two small flecks of green adorn my toes. I look for them in the shower, asking, Are they still there? Did we really go?

Truly, I don't need two small chips of toe paint to know my life was changed forever. But it does suggest that I can let my hair down every once in a while.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back in the saddle again...

I know a lot of parents were delighted to have the vacation over, but not me. I like having them home, close by, and within arms reach at all times. They grow up too fast. Hence, over the vacation, I found myself doing everything and anything to drag the feet of time.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

If it's 9, 10, 11, noon, 1, 2, 3...

Today I could set my watch by the child that has to be taken where... 9 skating, 10 bank, 12 track, 1 Brownies, 3 sleepover. and it's time to gather the year end reports for taxes, etc... I am up to ears in receipts and paperwork. I'd much rather be out on a walk. Or getting my very sore back rubbed.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Last night as we walked to church I said to my oldest, "This is the end of World Youth Day. The pilgrimage, the year, we worked so hard to reach will be over in a few hours." She was silent. I didn't pry into her thoughts. Being a teen, sometimes that is best. I know she had a life changing experience in Australia, on pilgrimage. On that snowy walk, God's grace is enough.

At Mass during the homily the local priest said that God is timeless in our lives, which are so centered on time. How interesting that I would mention the end of a time to my daughter just moments before.

This priest is from Africa. I don't know his name, nor his country of origin, as we are visitors to this parish. But when I asked why he was here my relations said, "There are a lot of priests in his home country. Coming to America is their missionary work." Their missionary work... I have never thought of any African country being in a position to be offer a mission. After all the U.S. is a power house in the world. We are a rich country that supposedly is a dominating world power -- a force. Are we?

It looks like the poorest of the countries in the world might actually be the richest.