Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years

My most popular post of 2011?  Actually a post written on the eve of 2010 called
Another New Day:

Arbitrarily it is the end of a year and the end of a decade. An ancient Roman-based calendar obliges us to consider tomorrow January first as the demarcation of a new year: 2010. For weeks (or months) we will continue to write 2009 on our checks, not ready to give up the old year, not ready to embrace the changing times as the years zoom away from us.

The date marks no change of seasons. We are in the midst of winter and winter will continue into the new year. There is no high holy feast to observe, no pre-calendar pagan rituals harking us back to a holiday mood. There is no reason tomorrow should be anything other than another quotidian sunrise and sunset. Another ordinary day.

Yet offices are closed, tomorrow there will be no post, and everyone goes about today with good wishes and cheerful greetings. The midnight sky will be interrupted by fireworks and dropping pickles, apples, roses, crystal balls.... each timezone will countdown to this one instant, this thin line between two ordinary days on a calendar, a separation between old and new.

We go about with Hope brimming over, Expectations and Good Intentions leading our way...This year we will do better. This is the year. Everything will be different this year. Are we deluding ourselves? I don't think so. Somehow, even though it is just another ordinary day it is still a day of promise.

Anne of Green Gables says "Tomorrow is always new with no mistakes in it -- yet." we are never more aware of this truth than at the new year. Tomorrow the whole year will be New, with no mistakes in it -- yet. Despite our best intentions the coming year will fill up with mistakes big and small. But for right now it lies ahead of us level and clean like the blanket of new fallen snow outside my window. What tracks we will make through that unbroken white! For now the expanse lies clean at our feet.... 10...9...8...7...

When morning comes remember, every day begins fresh and new and blank waiting for us to make something of it. Will it be a holiday? Will it be a day when we wish each other well? Will it be a day when we spread a message of Hope? We get to choose -- all year long.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

For unto us a Child is born...
In case we couldn't understand why the Lord God on His throne would bother with us.

For unto us a Savior is given...
In case we didn't know how much our Omnipotent Creator loves us.

And His name shall be called Emmanuel...
In case we didn't realize He is always with us.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Least of These

You've seen those birds, right?  The ones in the dried flower department, made out of mushrooms and lichen.  The ones that look like this little guy.
For almost twenty minutes my little mushroom bird flitted from one weedy herb garden bed to another, feeding on seeds while my zoom lens tried to capture a good photo through the glass of my back door.
And then my mushroom bird flew away.  Last night my sister helped me identify my feathered friend, we looked through the field guide and after much consultation over warblers and finches dismissed all of those possibilities when we discovered the Least Flycatcher.
The range is right, the markings are right, the size is right... Meet Empidonax minimus the smallest eastern flycatcher.

Friday, October 28, 2011


What's better than peanut butter on apple slices?  Peanut butter and mini-marshmallow apple smiles.  :)  The four year olds just want to eat them; the five year olds want to put on the "teeth" for themselves.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The West Gate

I'm pretty sure this will be taken as a sign that I've read too much Tolkien, but my first thought when I saw this small arch shaped rock formation?  "That looks like Durin's door, the west gate of Khazad-dûm."  (Translation: a magically-sealed arched-rock door into a long abandoned underground city built by dwarfs, one of whom was named Durin.) 

I was tempted to wait for moonlight to see if the special mithral inscription would show up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What I Did This Summer

Off and on all summer I have been working on this pair of box-weave knit socks in a soft alpaca yarn.  Somehow the first one was so much fun to knit but the second one took FOREVER to finish.  They are finally done now and just in time for the toasting of toes in these cooler nights.

These apples are from a pick your own orchard I found a few hours drive from me.  Why are they not my own apples?  Well, remember that groundhog?  She turned into three groundhogs.

I set the trap and caught one; it now lives in a nice meadow in the uninhabited realms of national forest.  Then I set the trap again. 

The trap caught another animal almost right away.  Thing is, groundhogs aren't black and white striped!  I had caught a skunk.  I dressed in my oldest grubbies, covered myself with a trash bag, tied my hair inside a grocery bag, and armed myself with a wire coat hanger so I could hook the latch open without getting too close.  There will NEVER be photos of that moment. 

I managed to release the skunk without getting sprayed but I haven't dared to set the trap again.  Thus the groundhogs have had free reign in the garden and orchard this summer.  The conveniently short dwarf apple trees have been completely relieved of harvest by the giant groundhog who stands on her hind legs and bends even the higher branches down to eat the fruit.

I also made a lot of cookies over the summer for various functions.  These I took a picture of because they were bunny shaped cookies, whereas most of the cookies I make are simply that round lumpy predictable cookie shape.  Very edible and not necessarily un-photogenic, but somehow the bunnies just seemed more photo-worthy.

... And We're Back

Summer is drawing to a close and morning comes with veils of fog.

Sorry about the lack of posts this summer, turns out dropping my laptop was not the best thing for it; but let me just say I love being able to use a coupon on top of a discount to a reduced price (plus a store credit) to purchase my spiffy new computer for less than half price -- even though it meant waiting a couple months for the new laptop.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hot Enough to Fry a Groundhog?

So imagine my surprise: I go out the back door, turn to go down the basement steps on my way to check my laundry -- and there he is. Chuckie. Splayed out on the cool of the basement steps my resident woodchuck refused to yield his position.
I actually had to find a long stick, go around the outside edge and poke him in the hind end before he reluctantly moved. (After I took photos, of course.)

The really disturbing part? A second groundhog was spotted munching in the orchard at the same time. One groundhog might be tolerated -- it's hot, the gardens not doing that much to worry about protecting it from a nibble here and there, and I wasn't really feeling all that up to groundhog transportation right now. But two groundhogs means a breeding pair, means baby marmota, means it's time to set the trap after all.

Monday, July 11, 2011

There and Back Again

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

- JRR Tolkien

Thursday, June 30, 2011


At the foot of the cliffs they found themselves standing in cool shadows with a light spray sometimes splashing their faces, and there the Shepherd bade them stand and look up. There stood Much-Afraid, a tiny figure at the foot of the great cliffs, looking up at the great, never-ending rush of waters as they cast themselves down from the High Places. ...
Once over the edge, the waters were like winged things, alive with joy, so utterly abandoned to the ecstasy of giving themselves that she could almost suppose she was looking at a host of angels floating down on rainbow wings, singing with rapture as they went.
She gazed and gazed, then said, "It looks as though they think it is the loveliest movement in all the world, as though to cast oneself down is to abandon oneself to ecstasy and joy indescribable."
-- Hannah Hurnard Hind's Feet on High Places

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Finds

This Friday I found a view. A view that I first saw in a photograph hanging in a local art gallery. My photo lacks the dramatic light of an approaching storm, but I love that I found the same spot -- that I saw God's handiwork laid out for myself. (And I sort of also love that I didn't pay $250 for my picture of that spot.)

I also found an overlook where no buildings, no rutted scars, no power lines -- no trace of humans could be seen in the valley below -- unless you went all the way across the narrow ledge and craned your neck and then you could see one little white spot that was probably some one's house, but that really doesn't count.

... found out my friend Heather can tame butterflies. This beauty crawled right up onto her finger and posed for a picture.

... found rhododendron in bloom,

...and rooted in the cleft of the rock.

... and found trees. Old trees forgotten in a ravine and left to grow, their trunks too large to span with our arms, dead and fallen, live and hollow, standing, being, dwarfing us as we hiked the small winding trail.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes... ~Psalm 96:12b-13a

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a brazen little woodchuck moved in under your garden shed? I was planning on trapping him like I did with the ones last year... and then he sublet to a skunk.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dandelion Pancakes

To begin with pick a bucket full of dandelion flowers. Taraxacum officinale known to most people as just another weed in their lawns was actually brought over from Europe to the Americas in the early 1600s because of it's dietary and medicinal value to the early colonists. That's right, the common dandelion was introduced to North America on purpose.

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of dandelion greens -- rich though they are in potassium, calcium, and vitamins A and C -- I'm just not that keen on the greens. But I do love a good dandelion pancake.

While we could include the green bracts of the flower, I prefer to just pick out the fluffy yellow flower part. I think it makes a nicer pancake. I use about 2 cups of fluff for roughly 8 pancakes. (Some people have been known to make 12-15 pancakes with the same amount of batter I use to make 8. I mention this so you will know in case you are one of those smaller pancake type people.)
Mixed the flower fluff together with your favorite pancake batter:
You can see the yellow dandelion in the batter before it's cooked but once the pancake is to the "smother with maple syrup" stage...
...all you're left with is a subtle spring flavor and the goodness of warm dandelion pancakes. YUM!