Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gather Ye Rosebuds

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day, To-morrow will be dying.
-Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Well, actually, the rosebuds (and lavender!) have already been gathered and placed in a decorative jar on my desk so I can see them and reminisce about my flower garden when it's covered in snow in another month.

The red, pink, & yellow miniature roses produce such tiny little pretty petals. When they're blooming I pick a few petite buds each week, along with a sprig of a ferny asparagus leaf, to place in miniature vases on the kitchen windowsill. Every now and then, as the buds in the vase go to full bloom, I'll pluck a few out & let them dry on the sill.

Little by little I start filling the rose jar with dried petals. This year I mixed in some of my lavender for color, too. I like to open it now and then and let the delicate scents of summer perfume the air.

So that olde line from the 17th century poem kept running through my head last Saturday when Ben came down to help Papa & I Gather Ye Cord Wood While Ye May...

Earlier that day, before Ben showed up, Papa had been out in the orchard sampling the apple crop.

He came in the house and said, 'Honey! Grab your camera and come get some pictures of the walnut tree. This is the best it's ever looked in the Fall.'

So we were outdoors moseying around when Ben came to get the wood-splitting party started. He & Jenny-dog ended up moseying along with us, too.

I call this next one the Ben-being-Eli shot...

You've got to click on the pic to truly appreciate that look on Ben's face

Truth be told, he was really just being grumpy at the photographer cuz she kept wanting more and more pictures... and did that stop her? No way José. I went a step further and started in on some live video in the afternoon. heheheh :D

About a half-hour into it in the late morning:

The pine rounds were kinda wet -on what must have been the north side of the standing tree- so they piled up the pieces to dry for the next few days before I wheelbarrow it all into the woodshed. So my job was boxing up any kindling, then removing the punky middles and bark as the fellas split. I stacked 'em up along the south side of the airplane garage so the sun will finish 'curing' them so they'll burn instead of smolder in the woodstove. 

Got some noisy action shots after lunch:

And some quiet, peaceful ones, too =)

Listen for the geese calling:

...and see that goofy camera shy pup (again):

One of the bulls showed up. I fed him apples:

..while the guys took the rack off Ben's truck until next year:

..and chewed the fat for a bit before Son One went home to his cabin.

Then I just had to get another shot of that walnut out back.. the light changed the perspective, doncha know ;)

..and then took one l-a-s-t picture. This time of the lilac & forsythia and the ivy on the elm at the north-east corner of the house:

-The End-
(of a perfectly, lovely, ideal day)

** Credits **
for the inspiration, education, and tutoring of attaching HTML videos

Ben the Beloved 
for helping me figure out my camera's video issues

for providing inspirational quotes 

for feeding my addiction to taking pictures :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Carpe Diem...

...and what better way than with a kayak or a hike!

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. 
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. 
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, 
and the storms their energy, 
while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”  
-John Muir

After a rainy start last Monday the remainder of the week turned into glorious October Indian Summer weather. Wanting to grab every opportunity left to be out in the warmth and sunshine before the winter storms set in for good I 'Seized The Day' with a hike in the Park on Thursday with Peggie.

It was so warm we could have taken the boats but, not knowing just how nice it still was at Manzanita, we'd left them at home and donned hiking boots for a jaunt around the lake. This was my umpteenth time, but Peggie's first, so I was quite excited to share one of my favorite trails with her. She's seen a portion of it since I've brought her up a couple times last month for kayaking lessons, but this was her first trip around it on land!

Since pictures can definitely be worth a thousand words (and better.. since I'm no author ;) this entry will have loads of photos.

When we got up to the Park good ol' Ona was manning the entrance station.

She noticed we hadn't brought the kayaks and, when I told her we were walking around the lake instead of paddling, she suggested a little variety by walking counter-clockwise on the lake trail. More views of the mountain that way.

We parked at the Museum and deliberated on which way to start out. Ended up going with Ona's recommendation, which was way fun for me since so much of the trail looked different coming at it from the 'usual' direction.

Peggie's eagle eye spotted a large trout that was following us along the bank for a bit. You'll have to click on the picture and look real close. He/she/it is coming towards us about a foot or so from the bank in the middle of the picture but near the bottom 1/3:

Okay.. that might be too hard to see unless I could physically point it out so here's another shot. See him?

The rest of the trail produced some fabulous views & close encounters with the flora and fauna:

The water was so perfect, with hardly a ripple, except for where the fish were jumpin'. Watched several fly fisherman performing their poetry in motion moves, dancing their flies through the air. Saw this guy catch and release a big one:

For a little ways we stuck close to the stream feeding into the lake before hiking on up and back to the museum.

I missed not seeing you working there, Abby :(
Oh heck. I think I'll just put a pic in right HERE from last year..
There. Now things seem more normal :)

We checked out the displays, books, puppets, and other cool things at the museum. Then, instead of traveling on home, made a random decision to go hike the Lily Pond Trail since neither of us had seen it. I think this massive burl on the ponderosa pine at the start of the trail is awesome:

First, had to take Peggie to see the cool old Discovery Center building that's just off the path:

And then, over the 'river':

And thru the woods:

To the Lily Pond we go:
Can't wait to go see it next summer when the water lilies will be in bloom!
 The rocky trail with the stunted trees leading out on the other side:

Besides the obvious great beauty of Lassen I really like the tremendous geographic diversity of the landscape. And I still haven't hiked the majority of the trails in this National treasure. But it's on my to-do list... right next to my to-get list with Ken Burn's The National Parks: America's Best Idea :)

I love being a citizen-owner.. Long Live the Park System!

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

...quite possibly my most favorite quote of all time.

John Muir - 1907

Monday, October 10, 2011

Any Day Spent In The Wood Pile Is A Good Day

..and today was no exception; a truly awesome autumnal (cool
word, eh?) day in October!

Boy howdy, how I love stacking our winter's worth of firewood. Especially on a gorgeous day like today. The scent, the sight, the feel of fall; the leaves, the wood pile, the wind-fall apples on the back lawn & in the orchard...it all is just down-right mood elevating! Even though my morning started out with a migraine, a chilly house, and no electricity (crews are replacing a power pole directly across the valley) things just kept improving.

Before I did anything else I built a fire. Without the ceiling and stove fans being able to run, and no storm windows in yet, I knew it would take quite a while to get the room temperature up above 55 (brrr) but I had to make a start :) While the kindling caught on and the fire started to crackle I lit the gas range top in the kitchen, boiled some water, and made my morning's hot cup.. Teecino laced with cocoa, Torani's sugar-free classic Irish Cream syrup, and a splash of both almond and whole milk.

I was going to bake bread & pie and fix some computer issues the desktop was having but the power company changed that plan. Couldn't vacuum or do laundry either. It was overcast and drizzly this morning, making for an extremely dark & dismal living room and kitchen with no power for lights, and, in contrast, rather bright and cheery outside despite the weather. So after tidying up a bit I decided to put on a heavier jacket and see if I couldn't manage to dodge the raindrops while stacking wood.

It actually felt warmer outside than in this old drafty barn-masquerading-as-a-house (not surprised in the least, are you kids?!) and the leaves on the trees seemed to light up the whole outdoors.

As I uncovered the woodpile and started loading the wheelbarrow the rain tapered off to almost nothing.. a sure sign from God that I was meant to be out there ;) Further evidence were the enchanting calls of several gigantic flocks of geese flying just at treetop level back & forth up and down the creek, and the big black bulls that were grazing peacefully in the pasture to the south.

Click on the pic to see two of the bulls behind the wood
Jenny-the-dog-faced-girl was thrilled to see I was coming out to play and proceeded to prance and dance and race around both me and the wood yard. She especially liked it when I gathered up some apples from the lawn and tossed 'em to the bulls, chumming them 'til they were up close and personal. 
Click to see the apples on the lawn that became bull treats :)
Remember how our little pigs used to act all nonchalant until the cattle were up by their fence-line then suddenly bark and charge them, sending the big critters thundering away? I still get a kick out of watching our goofy dog and the cows play the same game, except, unlike the pigs, the dog don't bark. Funny animals!

The power never came back on until 2:00pm so I ended up staying outside and got the whole pile stacked. I couldn't have been happier, both about the wood getting done and having a great reason to avoid the indoor chores and be outdoors most the day =)

However! I did want the lights back on so I could see to make that soup I've been planning to try. And it all worked out. It was simply delicious. I cut the recipe in half, since it's just Papa and I, and didn't think we'd need a week's worth of leftovers. Boy, was I wrong. I would've liked to have had enough for lunch every day. It's that tasty.
yummy pic directly from pioneer woman's soup post
While I was tearing kale and sauteing sausage & onions Abby called to chat, Papa drove by and blasted an *I'm almost home honey!* on his air-horn, and Ben and Adam drove in with 3 cords of pine rounds to fill the spot I'd just cleared away by the wood-splitter.

Ben had spent the weekend partying with UnclE and the boys in Klamath and Roseburg, Oregon and drove back to California this morning so he and Adam could get this load for us.. hip hip hooray!

These are ginormous rounds - I can't muscle them around at all
So, even though I miss the tremendous help you kids have always been for getting the obscene amount of wood we need processed to survive the cold in this big old place, know that yer ol' mammy is happy as can be that she can still split and stack her own self =)
Only 6-8 cords left to go! ..horrors :-/

Extra note: Just in case any of you try out that soup in your own kitchen here are the 'half-a-batch' ingredient changes I did that may appeal to you, too:

-Two big long kale leaves (mine were approx 12" long & I didn't use much of the 'bones' down at the base)
-6 small sized red potatoes
-3/4 pound sausage; half of it bulk Italian & half just plain Jimmy Dean bulk breakfast sausage
-1/3 c or so of chopped onion (Abby/Eli.. use a couple green onions if you prefer)
-A scant 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
-2 c chicken broth (or 2 tsp bouillon plus 2 c hot water)
-2 c whole milk (use low or fat free for fewer calories)
-Splash of evaporated milk, since I had no cream (worked great-no canned milk taste)
-omit oregano and black pepper.. plenty of seasoning already in the Italian sausage
-using half broth instead of mostly milk/cream gave it a lighter base, which I prefer...
-only simmer (gently) for 10 min after adding the torn kale pieces; you don't want those tender greens getting over-done!