Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Diva Challenge: Circles





I decided to do this week's Diva Challenge as a true meditation; no noise or distraction, with healing thought focused on someone special. The challenge was to use a circle as a string. The compassionate meditation was for my friend, Joey  who has to say goodbye to his best friend, Dakota the Boxer Extraordinaire. Dakota has been an amazing friend, always ready with a smile and snuggle. You will be sorely missed friend. My tears , thoughts and prayers are with you Joey T.

Thanks again for the wonderful challenge Diva, an the opportunity to spend some time in quiet contemplation.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

The One Where I Wax Poetical About Fiddleheads

This time of spring in Wisconsin, it's all about morel mushrooms. Folks hunt them in the woods and jealously guard secret spots where they grow in the leaf litter. But where I come from, the Northwoods of Maine, this time of year means FIDDLEHEADS!

A fiddlehead is the edible frond of the Ostrich fern.  It grows near streams and other wet areas and is picked as the first, spring shoots break the ground. They are still curled up in a spiral that looks like a 'fiddle's head' . There are many ferns that grow in the woods and some of them are poisonous, but the Ostrich fern can easily be differentiated by it's grooved stem and the brown papery substance that covers it's curl.

I think fiddleheads do grow in Wisconsin but they don't eat them here. I live in the city and don't have access to growing grounds.  I am fortunate to have some frozen ones when I go home to visit and on occasion have scored some cans of 'Bell of Maine' fiddleheads that hit the spot after a long time without the real thing, but I haven't had fresh fiddleheads for at least 20 years or so...until yesterday!

My Mum, who apparently loves me dearly, sent me a box of fresh fiddleheads in the mail! Emerald treasure! After  a quick tutorial on the phone with Mum on how to clean and freeze them, I set to work. First to get the brown paper off. Everyone has their own method for big batches. I remember, as a kid, batches being put in the clothes dryer to remove the chaff and or a blow dryer bring used. Friend, Billy Lane, apparently can assemble parts from the hardware to make and official 'fiddlehead cleaner' but I'm not sure what that it exactly. The vision in  my head of the possibilities (most involve a car battery, some welding rods, a leaf blower  two hex wrenches, and copious amounts of WD-40 and duct tape)  is entertaining though.  For this batch, or 'mess' as they are called I attended to each and every one personally, unfurling it and gently sloughing the paper away.

Here are some are with the brown paper removed and the stems trimmed. Well, most of the paper removed. That stuff is like tissue paper and the fiddleheads were damp which made for some fun trying to remove it! It's worth every moment spent. 


Once the paper is removed you rinse them in 'three waters'.  That is the exact term my mother used.; you put them in clean, cold water and 'schwizzle them around' (another Mum instruction) and drain the water and repeat two more times. 

I blanched a couple of small messes and froze them, then cooked up the rest. By this time it was going on 8:30 but I didn't care. I put a serving in a cereal bowl, added a pat of butter and a bit of sea salt, turned off the TV, closed my eyes and just savored every bite. 

Oh. My. Dog. Delish.  People describe the taste as a cross between asparagus and mild mushrooms. To me they taste like the stream, the woods and Maine spring breezes...like home. Wicked good, Deah!

I highly encourage you to try them if you ever have an opportunity. You can get them on-line in the spring. They are spendy but worth it. Or if you're in Maine, you can check in with the FiddleHead Warden, Gerald Jackins, and he will let you know when the Episcopal Church Fiddlehead Supper is and you can sample Fiddlehead Quiche. Or you can get a canoe and try your hand at picking your own; just don't ask anyone where their secret spot is!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Memorial Day

I've been thinking a lot about the postings I've been seeing on Facebook about not 'celebrating' Memorial Day. Memorial Day in Wisconsin means getting the camp opened up, going to BratFest, taking the tarp off the pool and grilling out. It's celebrated as the official kick off day of summer.  But the more I read from veterans, and the more I think about the losses in my own life, the more I am tending to agree that Memorial Day should be just that; a quiet day to reflect and give thanks for the people in our lives who have gone on ahead.

I have a little ritual I on the birth and death dates of those I hold dear.  I write a note or sometimes a long letter, depending on the circumstance, then I take it outside in a fireproof bowl and burn it, hoping that the smoke will carry my gratitude and thoughts to wherever they are now.   I like the idea of setting aside an entire sacred day to turn off the phones, unplug the computer, maybe take a walk in the woods and reflect on bountiful blessings of the past. I'll have to get a much bigger bowl for my letter fire; there are so many people who have loved, taught, encouraged and cared for me. Folks I sorely miss and hope to see again one day on the next leg of this journey.

BratFest if going on Saturday and Sunday.The pool, the garden and the grill can wait until the weekend after. This year I'm going to 'commemorate' Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring Weekend

We had an awesome weekend last weekend. The weather was beautiful and we went to garage sales on Saturday morning in a local affluent neighborhood. Not much success in the treasure department as they all had their stuff marked at retail prices! But as we doodled around, we came across a house with Silky Chickens. 
This is Steve.
And these are Steve's babies.....

I think 'Steve, has some 'splanin' to do !

Steve is a little camera shy but here is is pecking around the garden.



From the back he looks like a Muppet!

Dropped by the farm for a visit with the new guy, Wilber the potbelly pig. 
I sat in the side pasture with him and had a cantaloupe and strawberry picnic followed by a nice belly rub. 

Mick the Llama...




and his buddy, Thor, had just gotten a bad haircut the day before.
And were being all 'Drama Llama' about it,



Winnie the pig and I took a stroll around the fence line. I hadn't had much time to get to know Winnie but she accepted me right away. She stayed right by my hip and I kept my hand on her back the entire way. She got warm during our walk and proceeded to tip over her water dish, roll in it and then come snuggle me...'cause friends share doncha know. 

Nothing like communing with the feathered and fur babies to make your day!




Monday, May 05, 2014

Diva ChallengeL Carole Ohl (CTZ)'s Tangle "Tink"

Went in to work this morning. Sore throat. Went and got a rapid strep test-positive. Crap. So I was back working from the home office from 10:00 AM on. By 4 PM I was exhausted so evening plans I had for a meeting and errands got put on hold and I put myself of the sofa.  I just sat and doodled the entire evening away and tried to ignore the fact that I am gargling glass and my head if filling up with Dog know's what!  

First up at bat was the Diva Challenge. It was to use the tangle 'Tink' which is the kind of tinker-toy looking design. I decided to do it on a precut bookmark this time around. I found them when I cleaned out a craft drawer.

When I found the bookmarks, I also found my rapidograph pen and some gift tags. It was a match made in Heaven. 
Then I ran out of tags so it was back to the bookmarks. 
And more bookmarks (The one on the right is the one I like best.)

And more bookmarks...

Actually, I found the top two in the package with the blank bookmarks. I had forgotten all about them, but I did the bottom one tonight.

So, in spite of feeling like absolute crap, I feel like I accomplished something even if it was just doodling. It was relaxing and distracting and easy enough to do whilst on a metric ton of cold meds and antibiotics.  Thanks for the challenge that started it all, Laura!

Friday, May 02, 2014

May Day

Yesterday was May Day and it was a pretty stellar day despite the rain and gloom. I'm thankful for yesterday because the wheels fell off today pretty early and I've been riding the rims, showered in sparks, ever since. But that's a story for another day.  

My work sponsors a wee Farmers Market in the summer and the first one of the season was yesterday. There were baked goods, jams, jellies, honeys, wool, spring flowers and the early lettuce and spinach. One lady was selling berry boxes of wee cukes that she had grown in her greenhouse. Look! There's even a blossom still left on one! Oh. My. Dog. are they good! I sliced some last night to go with sandwiches.  Just the ticket. A little taste of FRESH green after a long, hard winter.



I had been thinking about May Day all day and remembering how we used to make tissue paper baskets and put candy and dandelions in them when we were kids. We'd hang them on someone's door, ring the bell and run. If they caught you, they got to kiss you.  (My tactic was to knock on the door and then sit right down 
and wait in the 'puckered up' position! )  

One of my sweetest memories of  Daddy was the year that I was home sick on May Day and didn't get to participate in the basket fun. Daddy put a dandelion in his old fishing creel and hung it on my door. Best May Basket I ever got! As I recall, he wasn't that hard to catch either!

My coworkers and I talked a bit about it at work; about how sad it was that that tradition had gone by.  Then when I got home from work, there was a May basket on our front door!!!



What a sweet surprise! At the end of our street there is a preschool and the kids had left it on their walk. They didn't leave them on all the doors. I think we got one because the kids like Ben. We always stop and say hi when we are walking by. I'm sure he barks to them when they walk by the house. I actually got tears in my eyes I was so touched! We'll have to think of a nice way to thank them. 


 This week has been a bear. We've been running ragged and it doesn't really slow down again until after the weekend. For 10 minutes or so at a time, before bed, I've been working on a Ben Kwok template for a spot of sanity and calm before trying to sleep. Notice I said 'trying' , Anyway, I finally finished it last night. It's not shaded because it is a test for a larger one I want to do. Just testing out the patterns. I like the fins, but not the body but I have another couple of ideas.

At any rate, that's all the news that's fit to print around here. I hope you all had as happy a May Day as I did!