June 28, 2009

Taken Away Ones

We sang in church this morning: "Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt Redman ... which brought about thoughts on current happenings with their emotions ... and too, memories ...

Blessed be Your name Lord: in the land that is plentiful ... When I'm found in the desert place ... When the sun's shining down on me/ When the world's all as it should be ... On the road marked with suffering ... Every blessing you pour out/ I'll turn back to praise/ When the darkness closes in Lord/ Still I will say/ Blessed be Your name ...

The part that brings me to tears is "You give and take away/ You give and take away/ My heart will choose to say/ Lord, blessed be your name." The memory?

Years ago, I had a friend die of cancer. Her son Eric and my Dawson were friends and they'd done a lot together - Ruth taking them hiking, rollerblading, hunting insects, and creating together. Randy is a great father to Eric and Rachel and eventually started dating, but said he couldn't find a sweet woman. When Monte had ripped his hamstring and found out his massage therapist was a single mom and a sweet woman, he had them arrange a date ... and they're now happily married. At their wedding they had this song sung. I was near the front and saw young Rachel singing along and crying, and of course I cried, and I still cry, thinking of that moment's emotions.

Thoughts? This week Michael Jackson and Farrah Faucet died. I didn't didn't think I new much of Michael's music, but as the news is continually playing his songs I'm realizing the history I DO know. And I used to love Farrah Faucet's hair, wishing mine could be like hers.

Current happenings? At the same time as their deaths, Bill's brother died suddenly in the night. Heather was called, and Bill notified thru the Red Cross. So Bill flew into Denver yesterday morning and will be in the States several weeks. Heather, Will, and him are leaving tomorrow morning, driving to California to help Bill's dad settle all the details of death/funeral arrangements. And too, Bill will need to see how his dad, whom his brother was living with, is handling life. Then they drive back here and Bill back to Iraq till January. And Heather and Will resume their staying here the rest of the summer before returning to Texas.

June 25, 2009

Father's Day?

Travis had asked what he might give Monte for Father's Day and I said he'd probably say "he doesn't need anything other than having you visit or write a poem/song". Since Travis couldn't come our way, we decided to visit them Monday, so Heather, Will, Monte and me drove up early morning, and Dawson with Splarah came a bit later. I brought sourdough starter and made us our second breakfast before starting to work.

Travis's goal for the day was to mud their bathroom. My goal for the day was to replant a lot of their garden that got ruined by hail. Monte's goal for the day was to build them shelves in their pumpkin colored loft room.

By the way ... Travis and Sarah are pregnant. Sarah miscarried several months ago, but this time she's over the initial hump ... before telling people. So there's definite goals of things to be done before the baby comes in January.

They had bought a foreclosure several years ago and it's almost done. It was gross! - chain smokers and animal smells, so everything was removed and we went thru gallons of Kills paint! Yucky cabinets and linoleum removed. Travis did hardwood flooring for most of it. He's slowly been redoing the stair railings - there's three levels. Their bathroom is the last big thing to be done, and it was gross too! First off, a terrible design. They've removed walls, moving the door, covering closed an unnecessary doorway into their bedroom, so it's now a big open room with lots of potential. They need to tile the floor, get a new toilet and cabinet with sinks (the old cabinet, sink, and toilet can go to making a bathroom in the basement).

This is the third summer we've helped them put in their veggie garden. Last year we made the board beds so their little dog knows her boundaries. I still had 'extras' in my greenhouse I've been doling out to friends, so Sarah and me replanted tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra. I brought seeds I still have and we replanted pole beans, lettuce and spinach, basil and dill, and chard. It'll be an experiment: let's see how a 6/22 planting works. The thyme in the walkways shows NO hail damage! and luckily their cherry tomatoes and grapevine next to the house got no damage.

Heather helped a bit with the weeding and planting too, tho mostly caring for Will and resting. Splarah helped Travis with the drywall mudding. Dawson and Monte working together were able to finish the shelves in one day.

A Father/Family fun day together, ending with Dairy Queen blizzards as it was starting to rain, and then we drove home.

June 24, 2009

Summer Solstice and John the Baptist Day

It's six months till Christmas! This is the day the creators of the church calendar chose for John the Baptist's birthday so we'd remember him and his story and his message for our soul's benefit.

AND it is full blown summer with earth's bounty, nature is breathing out all its extravagance of warmth, plants and color. In comparison to Fall and Winter, my soul relaxes and has less concentration. Inwardly I'm in more of a day-dreamy state.

When Summer Solstice or Midsummer Night's Eve rolls around I always think, "Oh yeah, John the Baptist Day is here" and I remember his messages. Amid the abundance of summer's growth and fruiting, John was simply clad, and lived in the wilderness. Amid summer's heat and brilliance, John speaks of repentance and urges us to be introspective. He reminds me to look inward and be awake to the universe's mysteries.

While the external landscape calls me into all sorts of activity, I need to not forget or neglect the deep, rich and resourceful landscape of my inner soul.

I drew up a circular calendar visually showing the rhythmical, seasonal living, for my remembering. I added the seasonal progression with colors of the rainbow around the circle. As nature has its seasons and moods, I too have internal seasons reflecting the path of my soul. I call it soul breathing.

Summer Solstice is a breathing out time as nature is the exhale of the earth with the leafing out and bright colors. Summer has lot of growth and external activity. But internally it seems I kind of fall asleep, which is partially why I'm not posting often ... I'm in this dreamy summer state.

Fall absorbs the summer activity back into the earth. With fall we 'come down to earth'. We wake from our dreamy state. Autumn's 'trial by fire' with its fall colors brings an inner fire, bringing a warmth for the darkness of winter ahead. The clarity of my mind restores in the fall and along with it a new internal vigor and freshness.

Spring and Fall equinoxes are a balance of light and dark and seem to bring more busyness. From Winter's rest Spring brings new life, warmth and color. Winter is a breathing in, both externally and internally. As the natural world withdraws into the earth, we draw into the warmth of the house. Inwardly I'm very active with thinking, reading, pondering and creativity. It feels like a time of rest.

John began the announcement of the coming of the Kingdom and the Lamb of God, and said, "Prepare the way of the Lord","repent" (change my thinking). A reminder in the midst of summer's madness not to stray from the path, keeping my feet on solid ground; and keep my soul in balance in life's busyness.

"He (Jesus) must increase; I must decrease."

The days are now growing shorter leading to winter and a birth.

June 20, 2009


Today has been a cloudy day and now rainy all afternoon. For years Heather has been the main harvester of rhubarb, so since she's here, she harvested a bunch this morning and this afternoon we got it cut, bagged, and in the freezer - freezing 31 heaping quarts and 28 heaping pints.

When we picked out this site for our home to be built on, rhubarb and chokecherries were already here. They could be 100 years old. An old homestead foundation was here along with an outhouse and a smokehouse. I think the hitching rail is still standing.

The rhubarb had seeded way out into the meadow. We kept the ones to the back close to the chokecherries and aspen grove and woods, fencing in a space for a garden. A guy was here bulldozing a road into our site and the area for putting our house. He pulled back the sod from the garden area for us. That was 25 years ago - the longest home I've lived in.

Monte saw that we were going to be at the rhubarb for a long time so jumped in and helped us a lot! Will sat by watching when awake.

Look under "Recipes" to see my Rhubarb Custard Pie and Rhubarb Crunch recipes. I also use frozen rhubarb for making Rhubarb Aid which all guests have liked.

June 19, 2009

Story from Monte

Three men were hiking through the forest when they came upon a large, raging, violent river. Needing to get on the other side, the first man prayed, “God, please give me the strength to cross the river.”
Poof! God gave him big arms and strong legs and he was able to swim across in about 2 hours, having almost drowned twice.

After witnessing that, the second man prayed, “God, please give me strength
and the tools to cross the river.” Poof! God gave him a rowboat and strong arms and strong legs and he was able to row across in about an hour after almost capsizing once.

Seeing what happened to the first two men, the third man prayed, “God,
please give me the strength, the tools, and the intelligence to cross this river.” Poof! He was turned into a woman. She checked the map, hiked one hundred yards up stream and walked across the bridge.

June 18, 2009

CS Lewis Quote

"I believe in Christianity
as I believe that the Sun has risen,
not only because I see it,
but because by it I see everything else."

June 15, 2009

Sourdough Pancakes

I just ground more rye flour for the sourdough starter I began almost two weeks ago. I've not had sourdough around for several years and we've been missing it - primarily for sourdough pancakes - our favorite!

I have a cookbook called Alaskan Sourdough I got years ago, though it's currently packed in boxes with most of my cookbooks in the garage because we dismantled a wall that the bookshelf was on almost two years ago, opening up the kitchen and great room more - and I'm seeing what I can't live without. I google recipes now and look on FoodNetwork.com, SplendidTable.org and find most anything I want. Like I googled sourdough pancakes and the first entry was from that Alaskan cookbook of mine.

The Alaskan sourdough is made from potato water and sugar and flour (maybe yeast initially?). I've never made sourdough using milk like some recipes use. The current recipe I'm using is from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. She claims the best results for sourdough starter are obtained from rye rather than wheat flour. And that's fine with me since we consume so much more wheat than any other grain. Her reasoning is because rye contains a lower phytate content (don't ask me what that means cuz I haven't researched it so I don't know).

Start with mixing 2 cups rye flour and 2 cups water and cover the bowl with cheescloth and let sit out on the counter (I've got my bowl covered with a dish towel and rubberband). Each day for a week add another cup each of rye flour and water, then it's ready for bread, which I've not made yet, and may not get to make, as the demand for the pancakes rules! and I don't have enough starter left for bread.

So, from the Alaskan cookbook-
Sourdough Pancakes
Start griddle heating.
Mix together:
2 C starter (I've been using 4 in a 2 quart pyrex bowl - it'll bubble up so bigger is better)
2 Tb sugar (double)
1 egg (I've used both 2 or 3 and either works)
4 Tb oil (double, using 1/2 cup, and I'm using olive oil)
1/2 tsp salt (double)

Mix together: 
1 (2) tsp soda
1 (2) Tb warm water
and fold into batter and let set a bit to rise.
Using a ladle, pour the pancakes to cook on an oiled griddle.

They are best with maple syrup. I often cook up berries or old fruit, adding in any old jams needing to be used up. The fruit syrup is good with yogurt (I always have homemade on hand, look for my recipe). Leftovers are good. I haven't done it lately, but I used to spread leftovers with almond butter and raspberry jam, roll them up, and put in a sandwich baggie for a quicky meal when running errands.

The Alaskan cookbook tells historic stories and its said a special place was always made in their cabin/home for their starter and that they'd rather live a year without their rifle than without a sourdough starter. I also found it interesting that a ball of starter could be stored in the midst of flour in a flour sack, like if you were crossing the prairie in a wagon. Think about it ... no stores, no yeast (except for wild yeast, and that's another story that I have from my own experience) you'd sure love biscuits and bread rather than just crackers or tortilla like flatbread all the time.

June 14, 2009

Hail! etc

OK ... we just had the hail - like I've never seen! I was sitting in my wing-back chair pulled close to the east window so to better see the beauty, drinking my tea, when the rain began, and then the hail. Watching the hail balls bounce out of the green grass was unreal - like a cartoon. And the hail got harder and harder to where it looked like a fast-speed movie of falling snow - unreal again. 'Twill be interesting to see what survived and resurrects ... like I'm seeing sparse flower petals drooped and hanging on for dear life, but most of them gone. Lots of bowed over stuff.

I'm also posting a picture Monte had taken of Will on his iPhone and I emailed it to myself as we were driving home from church.

I'm smelling wet pine and cedar ... there is wet wood in the greenhouse and it was leaking a bit ago. The gutters have finally cleared themselves of the abundant hail and are draining properly and not overflowing everywhere, probably ruining flower beds.

I'm thinking of farmers, feeling just a tad of what they must feel after such storms ... and their livelihood depends on what's growing and might be destroyed in one fell swoop!

Consuming Happenings

Some people have asked where I am? Well, I am currently sitting outside right now as I write/type looking out at my beautiful environment: what I've created and what's naturally surrounding us, i.e., lush (for now) meadows, evergreen woods and aspen grove. Lush because we've been getting lots of moisture. it's been cool, not quite summer yet. Cool? While most of you are experiencing close to 100 degree days, our highs have been close to 70 and nights around 40. Birds are a big piece of the scene for me. I'd be hearing them anyway, but I've created a wonderful habitat for them that they seem to love and frequent.

My landscape architecture schooling is finally getting to show it's results in my home setting and especially now having an electric fenced yard. Finally getting to see what plantings look like when not destroyed by critters - primarily elk! It's satisfying and relaxing now to see the elk outside my domain. See them relaxing too, bedded down in the lush meadow? Their antlers are in velvet right now and not fully grown. Antlers are the fastest growing ... (I forget - help Monte).

This is the busiest time of the year for me, that's why I've not been writing. I'm still planting. Mother nature has done weird twists with the extra moisture. And then us messing with mother nature ... Like the hot tub we put in this past winter. We bulldozed into the hill so it would be nestled into the hillside. Good thing Monte walled it in with a drainage tube and gravel, but the flower bed and rock work Dawson got ready for me around the tub area collapsed and is still oozing with a slow running stream. I guess better now than later with lots of stuff planted. It's so easy (and cheaper) to dream and order lots of bare-root plants in February and have them come in the mail. But what if mother nature butts in showing me I'm not in total control?! Some things survived sitting in their wrappings in the cold garage and finally got planted when the snow was finally gone and are now leafing out - so I know they are alive. And some things I had to pot and let sit in my greenhouse and are now sitting, still in pots, outside awaiting some areas to get finished for planting.

Other happenings? Company: after the nephews of one of the last posts we've had a Norwegian guest and then Monte's geology partner Stan, and of course, lots of Dawson's friends, and then Heather with Will are here. So more cleaning (more organizing - going thru stuff I've not looked at for years!) and cooking. Heather's in the guest room, so we moved a dresser in there and I cleaned out the closet (think about what that would mean sister dear!). I set up the laundry room as another guest room with our nice air-bed for other guests that'll be occasionally coming.

The garage is clean now with Dawson having made a workshop under Monte's office deck, so the treadmill could have a final resting place, out of the laundry room and into the garage. Dawson and friend Nick finished the house siding out back. Dawson and friends took down rotting dog kennel and cleared out the whole area to that side of the house (wood piles, etc), moving his old ferret house (housing his old large fish tanks, gerbil stuff, and my garden stuff) down to attach to the old chicken coop. The coop will never house chickens again and is being cleaned up for storage of a differing 'beast' - occasionally used junk. Dawson and friends have been hauling rocks and dirt to finish back landscaping. They've had to put down boards at times since the wheelbarrows would sink in mud made from the oozing hot tub hillside.

Heather's enjoying being here. She's using my laptop, since it's accesible, and maybe that keeps me from writing a post too - but no, not really, I'm just outside mostly, tho I am outside now, but writing a post. Having come from hot Texas it's a bit cool for her, but she's liking it better than the humid heat. Summer will come here too soon. We'll typically jump from Winter/Spring weather to Summer heat - which for us averages in the 80's-90's.

Dawson just came out having awakened and is opening out his tents to air and dry, telling me climbing Pikes Peak yesterday was the hardest climb him and his climbing friends have ever done. Why? Because of the snow still on the ground in places. Well duh, what did they expect this time of year?!! The mountains are still getting snow (we've come close still)!

So current life is getting used to the new patterns of summer activity and having a Grandbaby around. It's good he's not crawling around yet - that'll be a new house reorganization come the holidays when Heather plans to return again for a spell. (Oh a bird just scared me, landing on my laptop and scared himself!) So the new season of life? being Grandparents.

June 3, 2009

Historical Discovery

This is from Monte's brother:

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year,
New York scientists found traces of copper wire
dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion
that their ancestors already had a telephone
network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks
that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a
depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story in
the LA Times read: "California archaeologists,
finding traces of 200 year old copper wire, have
concluded that their ancestors already had an
advanced high-tech communications network a
hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers."

One week later, The Town of Hill Journal, a local
newspaper in Wisconsin, reported the following:
After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture
near Town of Hill, Wis., Ole Olson, a self-taught
archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely
nothing. Ole has therefore concluded that 300
years ago, Wisconsin had already gone wireless.

June 2, 2009


It's raining today, so vegging out from my heavy gardening endeavors. My older body needs time-outs these days to recoup. My last post mentioned company: two nephews with the one's newly married bride, along with Travis and Sarah. Travis took pictures and I like this one of my boyfriend - I love my husband!

Monte is flying out soon to Austin and driving with Heather and little 4 month old Will to Evergreen. Heather will be staying here at home for most of the summer - getting out of that TX heat! Being here, I will definitely get pictures!

Our neighbor has let us use their water for our lower garden and we share the garden with them, tho they've not used it for several years. I've been planting more fruiting bushes and trees. Asparagus and rhubarb are there. It's got a 6 foot fence to keep out the elk. I'm doing more veggies up by the house now. WELL ... this neighbor now has kids. Heather nannied for them before she married. Now that they want to garden this year, Monte and me spent the other morning putting stakes by all the bush/trees and decorative fencing around the lower plants like strawberries, so the little running bodies don't trample things. As I was weeding, planting, and trimming things the other day, I could hear little kid voices wafting up from that garden, a pleasant sound. They are very pregnant with their third - all miracle kids having spent thousands to get pregnant (and some of us praying). 

Heather will have a nice summer!

Dawson has definitely begun summer vacation with a constant flow of young people here. Sunday evening I walked into the kitchen to find two young ladies I don't know pulling out groceries for supper, for them and others coming - I did not know about this happening! I think the plan was to cook over a campfire and hang out there, but when it gets cloudy here, it cools off dramatically at 8000 feet! - and it had started raining. So Monte and me vacated to our bedroom to watch a movie and they played games into the night. I was so glad the following morning to see that they had cleaned everything up - that's nice!

Later ...
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