Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wild food and civilized food

Between storms, the fourth one in three weeks about to arrive, I picked a bit of the bittercress, and a handful of potgrown chives from the patio, dressed them with labneh (strained yogurt with a touch of salt and lemon) and a bit of mayonnaise, and made a very good topping for my supper baked potato.  

Spring greens, probably full of good elements, and tasting good, too.  The chives are especially onion tasting when they're this early.

And, a civilized afternoon tea for Handsome Son who dropped in to get an update on my medical adventures, now up to three doctors at once all intent on finding something wrong with me. No answers yet, just a lot of speculation and questions and testing and waiting..

So HS came over to get up to speed.  It may end up being nothing very significant, but good to be knowledgeable about the organ recital.  

And in the process to enjoy newbaked scones split and spread with lemon ginger marmalade, which he approved.  We demolished the banana walnut raisin bread, too.

Before he left he climbed up to set the time on my wall clock, since the hour changed.  It's battery driven, and will be handy if we lose power, I suppose.  And this new storm is forecast to be damaging, high winds, heavy wet snow.  Well, we'll see if the rest of the tree withstands the upcoming couple of days, or if I won't need to fell it after all...meanwhile the neighbors are weighing in on how much we could save, and persuading me not to fell the whole thing. Everyone's invested in this tree.  We'll see how it goes.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Duncan, playing at dog, and your mental age by color!

Since the departure of his lifelong friend Marigold, Duncan has been struggling.  He's 14, not in good health, and I'm watching him with care.  But yesterday the sun came out and he decided he felt well enough to play with his tennis ball.  

Since he drinks from the toilet, comes when called, and greets visitors at the front door, I think he is actually a black lab, playing the part of a cat.

And, since his human is feeling pretty good, despite a battery of tests happening to her bod at the moment, here's a silly quiz. You can estimate your mental age (!) by doing this color test.  Just fun.  And my own came out at between 20 and 29.  Not sure if this is good, as in youthful, or not good, as in flaky kid...but every result comes with reassuring and flattering comments!

Anyway, go here

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Winter and spring food collide

Made a big pot of seafood chowder this morning as it was snowing.  I use an ancient xeroxed recipe, and I can't find  a credit on it.  But it's very good, and simple, too.  It's Manhattan, meaning with tomatoes, condemned by New England chowder purists.  But it doesn't have bacon, condemned by me as a foodstuff. Winter food.

But, spring trying to get here, too,  I'd also noticed an interesting few clumps of greenery outside with tiny white flowers.

I'm in a wildflower group on Twitter, but they're UK based, and my candidate didn't seem to be in their pix to date.  However, another tweeter id'd it for me.  Hairy Bittercress! Hilarious name. She dismissed it as a weed, but I pointed out that to wildflower fans, they're all wildflowers.  Anyway, it turns out to be edible.

I had to wait till the snow abated and the plant showed up again before I could test this hypothesis.  Since it's growing where for many years I've stopped the landscapers from spraying, it's in clean ground, always a good thing to note.

And I took a little sample and tasted.  Not really bitter, not peppery, but a bit dark, along the lines of cilantro.  I can see people who can't tolerate cilantro not liking this, either.  But I fancy trying it on a sharp cheddar, wholewheat bread sandwich.  That may happen quite soon.  I'm guessing it's best eaten this early in the year, before it really does get more bitter and tough. Also that it's probably a good spring tonic sort of green.

So that's today's adventure in the food world. Except  I did get a new supply of lemons and ginger, ready for the next batch of marmalade.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Reading and other useful pursuits

This book is really worth taking a look. It's an examination of the lives and viewpoints of women as seen through the food they are interested in, or cook, or generally respect and pay attention to.  Very often their lives are bereft of this sort of important aspect, since male biographers tend to just tear out and throw away anything remotely interesting like this, but I digress.

The best three chapters are on Dorothy Wordsworth, about whom I learned a whole lot more than I knew before, Eleanor Roosevelt, whose relationship with food was a bit fraught and reflected the mismatch of her marriage, and best of all Barbara Pym, whose use of food as symbol and social denominator, as well as a source of humor and sly digs, is unmatched.  

Shapiro also gets Pym in a way that male reviewers consistently fail to, seeing all the joy and merriment under the quiet words, and the powerful swipes at male ego, always a good thing!

And, on other topics, as they say in the news, since my dear cherry tree is shortly to be no more, after friends with chainsaws visit soon, I will have no shade at all on the patio, and my little cherry sapling, planted as a successor, is about the diameter of a pencil, not much help yet.

So I thought, what can I build?  cheap, easy to construct, not involving heavy machinery, can be collapsed and put away out of season?  and particularly, do I already have the materials around?

And it came to pass that my thoughts settled as they often do, on pvc piping and canvas. 

I've built several frames and doodads from the piping, for weaving and spinning and knitting, and they can all be dismantled. As you see, they're all in this crate, along with the leftover piece of canvas.  I also have two ten foot lengths of pipe, which used to be curtain rods, until I replaced my windows and thought I should have something a bit more sophisticated in their honor, and got actual grownup curtain rods installed.  I knew I'd find a use for them sooner or later.

So I have the makings of a nice little shade thing I can build to shade me on the deck while I read, at least that's the plan.  You can attach the canvas easily with special pvc clips, which I have, and I probably have the corner joints and the t joints I need.  I know from two seasons of using the awning I made from this canvas that it is a good heatblock.

Plenty of time for this project, since a third nor'easter is expected to arrive this week. I looked at a number of youtube videos, mostly involving Big Saws, and Men with Tools, and women who talked so quietly you couldn't hear them and then forgot to actually show how to do the assembly.  And ones with background music that completely drowned out the speaker.  So I thought to myself, self, you are on your own here.  Just make a drawing or two on the back of an envelope, if you can find an envelope, and go from there.

So that's in the near future for Boud.  This shelter will match the awning I put up out front when the weather gets warmer.  So I'll have the set.  Watch this space.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Report from the second nor'easter...

I don't think we signed up for two nor'easters in one week, but here we are.  And for the benefit of blogistas aware that I've been in the midst of it (!) and surrounded by power outages, snowdrifts, downed trees, live wires on roadways, etc., I'm now fine.  Pure whiteout for several hours yesterday, high wind, zero visibility.  Paths dug out three times.

Lost power, and heat, for eight hours, but I managed to find my survival blanket, everyone should have one, and made up a warm place on the sofa with that and two regular blankets, warm as toast, accompanied by kitty Duncan, who objected to the shiny survival blanket until I covered it with a regular one.  It was an adventure getting the blanket open.  It's packed down to the size of a postage stamp in the emergency kit, and is not anxious to be unfolded to the size of a large blanket, particularly since it was already dark when I found it.  But we prevailed.

Neighbor had stopped over to lend lantern and flashlight in case my own weren't up to it.  And to give cellphone number in addition to what I had, in case anything happened during the night.

Earlier in the day, while making soup just in case, good idea as it turned out, and lemon ginger marmalade, just because, I thought of taking pix of the old cherry tree, just in case.  Another good idea.  Most of it came down in the course of the day, very sad sight.

 She was a lovely tree, gave shade, food for bees, birds and squirrels, lovely scent in blossom time.  

I was glad to have the soup, since my stovetop is gas and I could light the burners with a match and get hot food after the house went cold.  And a nice snack of homebaked bread, labneh and lemon ginger marmalade helped with the spirits.

 Here's the unboildownable stage, and the container in the background, sterilizing in boiling water

 And the result is one container and one extra

Here's the cook's privilege, homebaked wholewheat, homemade labneh, and a nice helping of the marmalade.  No need for pectin in this, just cooked the cubed fresh ginger and the lemon slices, and a couple of lime slices, down until all tender, in a syrup of sugar and water, and it jelled itself.

Power returned during the night sometime, but the local police department is still out, no internet, posting updates on road closings, which are numerous, from a smartphone. Emergency number working though.  

Temps in 40sF will help melt the masses of snow burying my car, and I hope for a bit of help with that, too.  It will need to be moved for the plows to finish clearing. 

A bit tired today, after all the drama yesterday, and now in daylight see that the falling tree knocked the young cherry tree sideways so I hope that's something I can remedy once I can get out there and do something about it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Exciting storm, like Sandy but with snow...nonetheless she persisted

Today was exciting, but I can report that Handsome Son is home from work safe, and with power, and I'm home, with power, after a wild day of high winds, blizzarding snow, alternating with torrential rain.  Soaking wet birds frantically at the feeder getting fuel for the weather.  My car was buried under snow then washed clear again at least twice that I observed.

And there was extra drama, of which I was unaware -- next door neighbor trying to take friend to hospital for scheduled major, six hour, surgery, found as they came out to his car, at 6.30 a.m. that it had a flat tire.  Frantic attempts to get alternate transportation, and a message on my voicemail, to borrow my car, but my phone was off.  

I switch it on when I wake, and by then they'd sorted it all.  Another neighbor got a ride to work, lent him her car. I got in touch with him, and instructed him never again to wait, just to come in, he knows  where the key is, and take the car keys.  Told him where to find them, and he agreed that in the next emergency he will do so.    Can't think how his friend felt, hard enough to anticipate surgery, without finding this sort of obstacle, with shrieking winds and rain at that point.

Sooo, waiting to hear how she did.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, after a major battle with this computer, partially sorted, but watermarking didn't take at all, and there are other screen display issues, resulting in trying to post blind, big blank white rectangle squarely on top of the place where commands happen...managed to upload pix of the really good scones I baked today, as a kind of displacement activity, to stay calm in what was a huge storm.  

Many outages of power, live wire on roads, roads closed, flooding, cars conking out because their electronics failed in even fairly shallow water.  Wondering if my old cherry tree will survive, but that's minor compared to the people.  Neighbors safely home from work, I see lights on.

Anyway, I went back to the Solo recipe book, whose writer now follows me on Twitter, evidently quite chuffed about my bean soup blogpost, and this time made what she calls biscuits, but I know as scones.

 First time I made the real thing, since there are a few processes to go through, rubbing butter into flour, etc., and for this one I had to mince rosemary (my own homegrown, on the twigs in the freezer, heavenly scent as it thawed) and cube butter and cheese.  But, so worth it.  Flaky, lovely. And it made more than the number she suggested.  I used a small glass to cut them, don't have a cookie cutter.

She recommends peach compote, but I didn't have peaches, and did have apples in the freezer, and that, since there was cheddar  cheese, made a good combo. See the lovely blue bowl in the background waiting to be filled.

You can peel off the little skirts of cheese if you want to be more fancy. 

 And here's an afternoon tea fit for a queen! Probably better than what they get at Buckingham Palace, I hear she eats cornflakes for breakfast, clutches pearls..

There are now half a dozen, scones, not cornflakes, in an airtight container in the fridge, and another half dozen in the freezer, for the next lucky invitee to afternoon tea.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Storm prep, soup. And a new cookbook

Always interested in new cookbooks just because you never know what great stuff you will discover, and I came across this one

She's an interesting person aside from her cooking cred, really high energy and off the charts smart.  The way she mentions quite casually some of the work she's done, and you think, whoah, she's good. Worth reading her intro.

I looked through and found this soup recipe that I could just see doing right off, particularly since a nor'easter, high winds and rain, is scheduled about now.

and did.  I will say that she's perhaps a little bit old school in that she talks about pouring the soup into a blender, rather than doing the safer thing, use your immersion blender.  And a lot of her recipes are lovely, but they literally make one serving. When she says solo she means it, aside from the occasional whole chicken for several days' use.   I tend to think that if I'm going to all that trouble, I may as well double or triple it and have a little something in the fridge for another day.

So that's what I did with this.  Used three cans of beans, all white, just what I had handy, increased the recipe liquid and the lemon juice.  But I didn't add the salt, since it tasted salty enough to my taste. This comes out creamy, and if you really like cream soups, it might suit you to skip the lemon in favor of cream to add in.  I think if you don't skip the lemon you may get cream cheese when you do the blending, lemon creating curds in cream. 

And if my food stylist had shown up, she could have snipped a few fronds of the new chives growing on the patio and scattered them artistically about, but she didn't, and this bowl is now history.  The next couple might get a chive treatment, though. Note the chunk of wholemeal bread to go with. The golden color comes from the chicken broth.

And there are a few other recipes worth a try in this book.  It's very appealing to read, lovely photography, done by a real food stylist. Some rather exotic ingredients I'm not sure about obtaining, but it's worth learning about them.

Just to catch up with world events, Feb 16 was my wedding anniversary, 1963, do the math, it's too many fingers and toes for me. Then February 27 was my forty-first birthday as a US citizen. Still working to do my bit to save it and help it all I can.  Full of hope that we can recover from our present trough and come back better.  And finally, it's St David's Day, leeks ahoy to our Welsh blogistas, and it's White Rabbits anyway.

So if that isn't enough to celebrate, I just don't know what is.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Presidents Day calls for action chez Boud

So today being a late winter day, and the mood being a bit meh, I thought it would be good to do some action here at home.

Watch this space.  Here's this year's potato crop-to-be.  A bit early, but we'll see.  I planted a small potato from the store which is already sprouting, and if previous years are anything to go by, eventually I'll have a nice little harvest of new potatoes. And you'll see in the little black planter behind this one, the new shoots of chives coming through. I already sampled them. Spring tonic!

And here's a great idea.  You know how, if you shop online, you get all these boxes, really upsetting, because you've now got more to recycle, or if that's difficult, toss.  I hate this.  Wasteful. Need to at least give them another use. And I recently found out about this new idea.  The GiveBack Box.

The way it works: when you get your, say, Amazon, box of stuff, you repack the now empty box with items you want to give away to a local thriftie or other charity.  You download and print out the mailing label, postage paid if in US, and you ship it off out.  When you sign up, which is easy, you give your email and your zipcode.  This enables the participating firms and charities to direct your box to the nearest participating agency. 

You can go to https://givebackbox.com/worksDetail

to find out more. I'm trying this out right now.  It will work for everything that isn't fragile, which I will continue to ferry to the thriftie, not much of a hardship, since I usually cruise around there while I'm at it.  But this will keep my car off the road a bit more, good for the air quality.

This may only work in the US right now, but it's a good idea, and maybe it does happen in other blogista countries too.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Midwinter fed up of cold and not seeing neighbors comfort food

As with a lot of neighborhoods, winter, even in a friendly place like mine, is when you rarely see the neighbors.  Nobody's outside having a nice chat and swopping cuttings and gossip.  The news everywhere is terrible, and I can only do so much activism. It's not so fun.

But comfort food does help.  I have a go-to soup that's easy to make, makes a lot, and never fails me.  It's just mixed vegetables. One big can of diced tomatoes (in season it would be fresh, but oh well), two or three cans of different sorts of beans, big chunk of parmesan cheese rind, garlic, onions, basil pesto, tomato paste, bit of curry powder, salt, chicken broth.  No recipe, really, just follow usual procedure for soup.  It's great, makes a lot if you want to, and you can freeze it.  This week it's cannellini and pink beans.  I like to use the stick blender toward the end just to break down enough to have a nice texture.

And it's good now and then to have a simple chocolate cake.  This is just that one everyone has, named crazy cake or something like that, I don't like that name, maybe we could call it easy chocolate cake, very simple stuff. Just flour, vanilla essence, cocoa powder, oil, baking soda, salt, warm water. I add in half a cup of crushed walnuts. And finish it with a water icing of cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar, water.  Note the cook has already tested this one.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Happy New Lunar Year

With the compliments of my local Asian Store

Happy New Year!  and to all the dogs in our blogista households, this is your year, fellers!  First Westminster, now this.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dolliver Kennels, another triumphant Westminster

Another Westminster, and this year NameMe, the wrangler of the Dolliver Kennels, assembled the Irish Setter, Wire Haired Terrier and Whippet to announce our new winner.

Meet GCH Dolliver Kennels Bunchafluff Bichon Frise, kennel name Fluffy, Best in Show at Westminster, Dolliver Kennel Division, 2018.

Again we have a winner onsite, and NameMe says I knew he was a winner back when he was just a little bit of lint.  And now look at him.  Great partying tonight chez Dolliver Kennels.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fat Tuesday, with a shout from Westminster and the Dollivers

So today being Shrove Tuesday, as well as Day Two of Westminster, the dog show, that is, there was quite a mob in the kitchen, the Dollivers all crowding in to take part in the Making of the Apple Pancakes, 

and the purebreds of the Dolliver Kennels being restrained by wrangler NameMe, from diving into the batter and helping. The dogs are plaintive about not getting their due lately, so we let them in here.

The recipe is from the Durham Cathedral Library collection of manuscripts, and is comparatively recent as these things go, from the eighteenth century.  So, since Durham Cathedral is part of my home territory, it seemed good to celebrate that as well as the day.

The tradition dates from the custom of fasting during Lent, which starts tomorrow, and required that you use up all your eggs and butter ahead of time. Pancakes are the result.  Mine will go with honey, not with the traditional lemon and sugar, though, except maybe I'll do one with lemon and sugar, just to be friendly. 

This uses apple slices, and since I seem to be on an apple thing these days, I made the apple frittery type pancakes.  They were pretty edible, but not pretty enough for prime time.  I'm currently baking the rest of the batter and the apples as a clafoutis.

Also reseasoning the two bigger cast iron pans which have developed a couple of hotspots.  This accounts for the less than pretty pancakes, and requires scrubbing with kosher salt, rinsing, baking dry in the oven, then oiling.  Then hoping the seasoning will hold up.  I don't use the two bigger ones as often as the baking dish and the little egg pan, and they do like to be used a lot, so that's probably what's up.

So they're baking along with the clafoutis.  This is getting perilously close to those hairbrained ideas about poaching salmon in the dishwasher, or sizzling steak on the hot engine of your car..

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Paleo cookies, few ingredients

So I needed a little something to go with afternoon tea, and decided to go with Elizabeth Barbone's paleo cookies.  Not sure why they're called this, since I doubt if the ingredients were available to paleo people, but never mind.

If you want to try them, go here 

Of  course, I didn't follow the directions, largely because I didn't have a couple of the four (!) ingredients in the house. And since it's sleeting, and icing and snowing and inventiveness is better than getting frozen and wet, I looked around.

Not enough almonds available to make 1.5 cups of ground almonds, so I used part almonds and the rest walnuts. Ground them in the coffee mill. I never buy the ready ground flour, astronomically expensive.  I don't grind them all the way to flour, since there's a hairsbreadth between getting flour and getting nut butter, so I leave it a bit coarse, fine for cookies.

And I didn't have maple syrup, so I used jaggery, the Western version, which is molasses half and half with honey.  Lovely organic molasses and excellent pure wildflower honey.

And here they are. This is one of those recipes where they say you can get more cookies than I actually did out of the ingredients. But they look okay to me, and they're ready to show up with their pot of tea in due course.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Marigold memorial

The vet's office sent their condolence card, complete with pawprints, and signatures and wishes from everyone in the office. This was beautiful, and the pawprints just about did me in.

Not my usual style, but so lovingly done, who could resist.
Update on Duncan: he seems to be seizing the day and attaching himself to me at all times, being an only cat.  Eating just fine, too. So perhaps he's handling it okay.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

White Rabbits! Catkins opened up ready for the month

White Rabbits!  Suddenly it's February. Yesterday I noticed that it was after 5.30 p.m. and still not dark.  That crept up.

And yesterday the catkins I brought in to force broke out and here they are, all ready for the month.  Tomorrow's Candlemas, when you start chucking away candles, always thought that a bit premature, but there you go.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Not your mother's Proust

I just came across this the other day had no idea that A La Recherche du Temps Perdu had been translated into graphic novel format.  This is Volume One, not sure if any more are out.  It's a highly labor intensive work.

I thought it probably caused an outcry in France when it came out, but in fact I find it a really good idea. Those of us whose misspent youth involved reading the original in French, swimming happily in the prose with only the least notion of the architecture of the work, are thankful for this version.

It makes the underlying structure very clear and much more comprehensible, all to the good.  And the graphics are very sensitive to the meaning and movement of the work.  It's amazing how well this works.  Very high level graphics, very good translation.  I really recommend this if you haven't come across it yet.

And, to jog your memory, this is the novel where Marcel Proust tastes the madeleine 

and his entire limbic brain opens up to cascades, waves, oceans, of memories triggered by the sensation and the taste.   

But there are also some amazing observations of nature and relationships, which you have to stop and think about.  

This is why the original is so hard to get through, because it keeps on stopping you dead to think before you can turn the page to go on.  It's the milk train of novels.  Then when you get back on the train, you are a bit disoriented about where you are in the journey.

Awaiting my reading pleasure, Muriel Spark, Frances Brody, all good company. But first to finish the journey of Proust.  You may have noticed that my own drawing is in abeyance for just now. Not for lack of trying. But it takes more emotional stamina than I have right now, because of dealing with the loss of Marigold.  But in a few days, it will return.  I will feel right again once I can draw.

Monday, January 29, 2018

First snowdrop of the year

What with losses, reorganization of the household around one cat, and various other more normal things, this has been an exciting few days. Not improved by the sewer company, whose employees, though willing and friendly, have zero information but tons of confidence.  No emergency, just a billing snafu.

Saga, involving several emails, long fruitless wait on the phone, listening to stories of how wonderful a company they are, finally busting them on Twitter, which did get a quick, if uninformed response, companies hate to be embarrassed on Twitter, anyway it was about a check I sent that never cleared my bank.  I have two accounts.  One check cleared, one never made it. Except the day after I complained, suddenly it was processed....hmmmmm.

This was in the middle of their claiming it never arrived, and demanding that I send images of front and back (how? if it never arrived..) and failing to help me get into my website account.  

I pushed until their IT admitted they had failed to enter my second account on my section, finally did it, and then had no idea how I should navigate to get in...eventually I broke through all their defences, their Twitter helper having no idea how to enter a nickname, their FAQ silent on the issue, what it was,was it assigned, should it be created, etc., their IT just leaving a voicemail saying just sign in, yeah, got into the accounts, found both are up to date.  Nothing lost at all.  

Then comes another email, saying I still only sent one check, they couldn't tell me for which account, and still wanted info.  I pointed out rather astringently that it was up to them to search their own accounting at this point, since both checks cleared, were correctly processed, and why were they still working off information from weeks back, huh, huh?

I will definitely post to Twitter a full accounting of this if I get one more email demanding I do something, when they are the folks being paid to do it...folks, no use being nice if you know zero about what you're doing.  Especially to someone already close to the end of her tether.  We're done here.  

This is the same company that, when I tried to switch to direct debit a while back the last time they failed to process a check, put me through numerous screens to fill out with info, until finally admitting that direct debit had not been implemented for my region yet..that's why I'm still writing horse and buggy checks.

But, as always, Nature has a remedy: out on the patio, the first snowdrop put in an appearance, just the bud.  So welcome. She knows what she's doing. Nature gets the job done!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Succulent propagation the ultimate slow motion calming hobby

I keep my succulent nursery on a west facing bookcase under the kitchen window.  That way it's in bright shade, I see it every morning while the kettle boils and I'm feeling as low as I usually do in the morning.  They are a little stab of pleasure, seeing how they're slowly, slowly, coming along.

Propagating succulents is not hard, but very very slow.  They are perfectly willing to reproduce, but on their own time.  First you carefully take off a leaf from a parent plant, mine were a bit of gardener's larceny from the plants next door, then you leave it alone for weeks.  That lets it scab over at the stem end.

Then you rest it on top of a mix, whatever works for you. I've found no difference between potting soil and coco fiber, supposedly the great stuff.  Weeks go by, then you might see a microscopic plant or root starting at the stem end.  And you leave it alone again.  

These are the first ones I started, months ago. The big leaf is the aloe next door to it, shoving its way in.  I had bloodwork done Friday and the tech was amazed to discover I use aloe in the kitchen for burns.  She promptly decided to get one herself. I asked her how often she gets medical advice from her patients!  She's a terrific hemo tech, no problem at all with my tiny thready veins, and she's interested in new ideas.  She's good.

Anyway, back to echeveria. Once it finally starts to be big enough to see, you still leave it alone, very little watering needed, since the baby plant is getting moisture from the parent leaf for ages.

These I started from fallen leaves off the parent plant.  The leaves are starting to wither as the baby plant takes the moisture. Notice almost every one has grown.

And during the winter, they get a bit leggy, echeveria, that is, and I twisted off a rosette from the top of a parent plant which I'm fostering for the winter.  See here, the baby on the left doing well, while the parent in the middle, nothing daunted, has put out a new rosette on the scab of the old one. And all the fallen leaves I rested around them have started new plants.  By spring this will be a visible arrangement.

And, either you get all excited and engrossed about this or, as a friend of mine recently commented, after bending double to get close enough to see the tiny baby plants, you're easily pleased!  Well, I am.  In the larger scheme of things, it pays.

Friday, January 26, 2018

After sad day, chop wood, carry water

First day of being without Marigold, one kitty breakfast served, and Duncan looking around for the second dish so he can swipe some.  Me automatically leaving room for Marigold next to me, or on top of my book,  on the sofa while I read.  Oh well.  Great thanks to everyone who posted, called, texted, emailed, notes about Marigold. And particularly those who did it a second time to see how I was doing.  That was so very helpful. Not just animal lovers, either.  Some people who would never have a pet really came through, too.  Anyway, you can't know how much it's appreciated, so take my word for it.

Meanwhile, since it's winter and it's good to Be Prepared, I made an all purpose amount of ginger lemonade.  Very good for all kinds of ailments, as well as being just a nice drink to have around.

All kinds of containers and paraphernalia waiting to be filled and labeled.
Simple syrup with fresh ginger chunks (I buy ginger root from the Asian store, peel and chop and freeze it, keeps for ages just fine), sugar and lemon juice, again I squeezed it fresh and I froze it.  Bring to boil, then let cool, add in water in which I've had fresh lemon slices steeping in the fridge, my usual drink.  And leave the lot overnight.

Then decant into one carafe for the fridge and several more containers in the freezer. Each with a cargo of lemon slices and ginger chunks.

And it's time for another pot of soup.  I needed to get finished with the lemonade since I needed that pot for the soup.  

This time it's carrots, kidney beans, scallions, onions and garlic,  seasoning was turmeric, home mixed curry powder, salt.  Packet of chicken broth beads.  I usually saute all the seasonings, including the chicken broth beads, for a couple of minutes before adding in the vegetables, and liquid.

Special tip to cook: before shaking down the packet of chicken broth beads check whether you had already torn it open.  Or be ready with a brush and shovel.  Mentioning this for a friend.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Marigold left us today, very quietly, comfort food later

Marigold left us this morning early, peaceful.  The vet's office was very considerate, vet herself in special purple scrubs, not usual color for her, and the table was set up with a pink blanket.  All very respectful and kind to both of us.  

And I found that while I was with her, they burned a candle outside in the reception area, with a notice explaining a euthanasia was happening, and for everyone to keep their voices down. It was a very good touch.  Vet left me for as long as I wanted with her after she died, after covering her body and leaving her head for me to pet.  Couldn't talk, but I did thank Marigold for all those years of sterling loyalty.

I do think rescued animals know what we did for them, and never fail to thank us.  So I was glad to be able to give her a peaceful easy death when she was ready. 

Hard day.  Next door neighbor gave me a hug when we met as I got home, and put away the carrier for me on the high shelf in the storage area I can't reach.

Next order of business, comfort food.  

Apple crumble, with oatmeal topping.  Seen here with the cook's privileged first slice already dealt with. I don't use a recipe for this any more, other than to check the oven temp. Plenty of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, sumac in the fruit, fruit macerated then the fruit into the baking dish, liquid reduced in small pan, and poured back over.  Topping of molasses mixed with white sugar, melted butter stirred with oatmeal and oatmeal ground to flour.

This is a kind of all purpose food.  Good as dessert, good, since it's oatmeal and fruit, as breakfast, too. Keeps up a person's strength.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Last Day for Marigold, 2002-2018

Marigold, our beautiful sealpoint Burmese friend, is sleeping on the sofa right now, on her last day.  Tomorrow early I have to say goodbye to her.

She declined dramatically in the last little while, and is now in advanced kidney failure and needing dental surgery which can not be done in her frail health.  So rather than drag her along miserably with pain meds, antibiotic shots and various other ideas the vet suggested gently, I think it's kinder to let her go.

She came to me as a dumped stray, and all attempts to find her owner failed, so, since she was going into her first heat, I had her spayed, by the vet who said, if you spay her, keep her! don't give her up.  You did your best to find whoever "lost" her.  Same vet I'm taking her in to tomorrow, to bookend her life.

I brought her initially to Handsome Partner Andy's home, when we were a couple with two homes, and his Dalmatian, KC, took to her as if she were a puppy, grooming her with a massive tongue, leaving her soaking wet with love!  KC was in her last years then.

then when we had to join our households because of Andy's declining health, my cat Duncan joined the the group, and to our amazement, they formed a Gang of Two, playing and wrestling and  keeping each other occupied all day long.

She was Andy's therapist when he came home from the rehab, seen here, first day home, worn out and sleeping in his chair under the afghan I made for his return

and kept guard over him for years, up till the moment he was dying, then she came and sat with me, and has never left me in the six years since.

So she has a lot of history in this group, and has more than repaid anything I ever did for her.  Just the pleasure of seeing such a beauty around the house was a lift.  Aside from seeing her regularly stand off Duncan, more than twice her size.The RBG of kittens.

Hard to say goodbye, but better than trying to extend her life beyond what her body seems to be able to tolerate.  She's been signalling to me that she's ready.  The only thing is that I'm not.

 Remains to be seen how Duncan adapts to the loss of his partner in crime.  He's also aging rapidly, now 14 and with health issues. We'll see.