135: A walk in the Rockies

This is a placeholder.  A time for me to get caught up with myself, life, the universe, and everything.  But you can also think of it as a break from winter.  A chance to get away, and go back to August of 2010.

Walk along the path, surrounded by mountains.  The sun is warm.  The air is fresh and clean, being carried in by a steady breeze.  The grasses are dotted with spots of color, wildflowers in bloom.  Up the path a ways is a bench.  Have a seat and watch as the clear, shallow, chilly waters of the Colorado River flow by, reflections of the trees and mountains rippling on top.  If you sit long enough and still enough, perhaps elk will stop by.  Mothers with their babies.  Or a lone stag with large antlers.

(Elk.  Rocky Mountain National Park.  Colorado.)

Just relax.  Enjoy the views, the scents, the sounds, the sensations, and the flowers.

 


126: The Marmot

(Marmot.  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  August 2010.)

I asked this marmot to step in as a placeholder of sorts for me and he (or she) has graciously agreed.  I need a little break from my usual rambles and long blog posts.

The break will give me a chance to catch up on email, read blogs, leave comments, and all kinds of other good stuff.

Today’s outdoor time will take place late in the afternoon.  M and I are going cross-country skiing at a nearby park.  I’ll take the camera along in case I have time and light to hike around a little after we ski.  Even after taking the ski lesson, I am not confident enough to bring the camera along while I’m on skis.

P.S.  After doing the post about spacing and handwriting (see This and that), I’ve read a few other blog posts on both subjects.  I particularly like Quinn’s post, Bye-Bye Handwriting.

For a sample of my handwriting, click here.  It’s an old post at my other blog, Bountiful Healing.


114: Fruitful Friday

(Behold!  The Citrus!)

I was making up a batch of flavored water this morning and decided to use the fruit as models before tossing it into the pitcher.  I am having a great time with food photography.  It’s fun.  It’s food.  I get to eat it when I’m finished.

(Undecided.)

I’m not at all sure about this shot with the apples in the background.  I like it.  But.  Well, I won’t tell you what the “but” is because it is entirely possible my impossible standards for myself are messing up this shot for me.  Rather than color your view, I’m going to keep that “but” to myself and see if you see what it is that is bothering me about this picture.

(Behold!  The Citrus without lots of Ps processing!)

Today’s Outdoor Fun

Snow.  Cold (20’s).  More snow falling.  Skiing.  Me falling.  More snow on the way.

That pretty much sums it up.  I need to get my legs ready for a 90-minute cross-country skiing lesson I’m taking next week.  I will probably be out skiing every day for the next few days.

Since the scenery outside looks the same as it did yesterday, and since I was on skis (not the ideal place for my camera to be), I bring you Colorado mountain photos instead of the usual snow and pond pictures.

(We have to make our way through Denver International Airport first.)

The photos are from our August trip to Colorado to visit with M the Younger and Merdi.

(Somewhere on Trail Ridge Road.  Rocky Mountain National Park.)

After all the whites and grays of winter, it’s nice to rest my eyes on some color.  You might think neutrals such as white and gray would be more restful, but no.  All that white outside makes me squint.  A lot.  Even when the sun isn’t shining.  And when the sun is shining, watch out!  It’s almost blinding.  Sunglasses are a must.

(Wildflowers in the fallen trees.  RMNP.  Colorado.)

That’s it from the Bogs for today.  Have a great weekend!


73: Of ice and minks

(Today’s sunny day photo:  Lake Irene.  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.)

It feels warm outside today.  It’s in the 30’s, which feels considerably warmer than the 20’s even if it’s only a matter of a few degrees.

(A pair of blue jays.)

The birds have finally found the bird seed scattered about in different feeders and they are chowing down.  We had a variety of birds at one of the feeders including a woodpecker and a couple of cardinals.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

The surface of the pond is almost completely frozen over now.  There are a few wet spots at the edges still.  If the ice stays uncovered by snow for another day or so, it ought to be excellent for ice skating.  I don’t think that will happen.  There is a snow storm to the west of us making its way here.  We’re supposed to get a few inches of the white stuff overnight.

I saw a mink today.  He was running across the pond on the thin ice.  He made it the whole way, too, from one side to the other.  He’s a cute little guy although I wouldn’t want to tangle with him as mink are said to have strong jaws and sharp teeth.

(Willow on ice.)

I hope it doesn’t snow too much.  We have a quick trip south to make tomorrow.  Our exquisite granddaughter, Emma, will be performing in a Christmas dance recital.  Snow here is no problem.  The roads are plowed and salted frequently and well.  But once we get an hour or so south, they get stupid about clearing the roads.  It’s as if we’re in a totally different state.

(Ice bubbles.)

Today’s instructions for my upcoming birthday fun are to AVOID ROUGHAGE.  I don’t know why they put it in all caps as if shouting it at the patient.  This seems like a relatively easy thing to do, one would think.  But if one is an almost-vegetarian whose diet is mainly roughage, well, it’s harder than you think.

(The last of autumn’s colors frozen in the pond.)

My daily diet is usually something like this:

  • 6-9 servings of veggies and fruit (heavy on the veggies because I’m not much of a fruit eater but have tried to fit in more seasonal fruits this past year)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups of whole grains.  Brown rice is a staple around here but I do try to mix it up with other grains such as barley, oats, and quinoa.
  • 1 cup of beans or legumes
  • An ounce of nuts or seeds
  • Fish or tofu as the other proteins but every now and then we’ll have some other meat if the occasion calls for it (turkey on Thanksgiving, for instance).
  • Eggs, usually for weekend breakfast.  Very moderate amounts of cheese.

As you can see, most of my diet is made up of roughage.  I gave up the white breads, white rice, white pastas, etc., several years ago.  I like cheese (a lot!) so I doubt I’d ever make it as a vegan, but otherwise I don’t include much dairy because I feel better without it.  The same is generally true when it comes to wheat products.  I eat them, but feel better when I don’t.

(Snow clouds above the white pines.)

Now I’m being instructed to eat the things I normally do not eat (and that we are all told we should not eat — such as white bread).  Doesn’t make much sense to me when you consider what the ultimate results of all these instructions are supposed to be.  Maybe there is a doctor out there who can explain it to me.

(Ribbons, lace, and sequins.)


In a mood (14)

(Lone tree in the distance.  Red Rock Canyon.  Colorado Springs, Colorado.)

I stepped outside early today, about a half hour or so before sunrise.  Not that there was much of a sunrise to speak of since the weather didn’t change overnight.  Clouds, rain, mists, and the occasional break from the rain and mists continue to be the norm.  Rumor has it that the spinning low will move out tonight and tomorrow will be bright and sunny.

The world looks and feels different during the twilight hours.  It’s not quite dark, yet not quite light.  The camera doesn’t capture it well.  It’s probably not the camera’s fault but that of its user.  I fiddled with manual settings just to see what would come of it since none of the pre-sets were working well for me.  Only one photo seemed to almost capture the light of that time of day:

It’s a reflection of the neighbor’s house in the pond.  I often feel as though the house looms over that part of the pond, perhaps because it is so big.  Or perhaps because it wasn’t there when we moved here and even after a few years of living with it as part of our scenery I am still not used to it.  It’s one of those McMansions that sprung up when people were still living large and spending money like crazy.

The other photo I like from this morning is one of the asparagus ferns with raindrops scattered over them.  The droplets remind me of diamonds or ice.  But let’s not think about ice just yet.

I have some photos from our Colorado trip I put aside for another day and today feels like another day to me.  They will go well with this post, I think.

(Windmill on the plains of Colorado.)

Tomorrow I will be hopping on a train to take a trip back east.  It’s been decades since I’ve been on a long train trip.  I love traveling by train.  If I could, I’d travel by train whenever and wherever I travel outside of walking distance.   I suppose it’s possible that nothing is outside of walking distance if you have the time and energy for it, but I’m hoping you’ll know what I mean.

(Silo on the plains.)

I have to get up early, around 3:00am.  That means I have to make sure I’m packed and ready before I go to bed tonight.  I don’t want to be rushing around trying to find things that early in the day when it’s likely I’ll still be half asleep.

The reason for the trip is a ceremony at the hospice where my mother died.  They (the folks at hospice) call it a “life celebration.”  I’m trying to think of it in positive terms, as an opportunity to, well, celebrate Mom’s life.  Still, going back to hospice for the first time since Mom’s death is going to be a little rough and rocky emotionally.

(Storm approaching.  Rocky Mountain National Park.  Colorado.)

The traveling presents a small dilemma, maybe, in terms of my 365 commitment.  I am sure I will be able to get outside for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.  No problem there.  But I am not sure I will be able to blog about it daily.  I should have internet access.  I am not sure I will have the time.

(On the mesa near Boulder, Colorado.)

It will be a quick trip.  I’ll be coming back on Sunday.  Sunday might be the hardest day to post as I won’t be getting home until 10:00pm or later.

(Somewhere near Colorado Springs, Colorado.)

I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  In the meantime, I’ve set up a few auto-posts to take care of the daily posts and I’ll post when I can.


If it’s Monday…

(Exhibit at the Holzwarth Historic Site, Rocky Mountain National Park)

… it must be laundry day.  Well, maybe not for you, but for me it is definitely laundry day.  The washer and dryer are going, the wind and sun are drying the stuff hung on the line, and I’m trying to fit in other chores in between.  I hope to get out to the garden later today to do some clean-up in the asparagus bed.  We’ve had some rain over the weekend and last night which makes it a good time to pull weeds as the ground is not as hard as concrete, a condition it has been in during most of the month of August when we had very little precipitation.

I have a bone to pick before I get back to the chores.

Over the weekend I was listening to The Splendid Table, a radio show on NPR, while I was prepping tomatoes and peppers for a big pot of vegetarian chili.  There was an interview with a woman, Kim O’Donnel (you can read about her in this article) who, through re-tweeting (on Twitter, of course), sparked what she called a Canvolution and Canning Across America was born.  In the Mission Statement on the website, it states:

Canning Across America (CAA) is a nationwide, ad hoc collective of cooks, gardeners and food lovers committed to the revival of the lost art of “putting by” food. Our goal is to promote safe food preservation and the joys of community building through food. We believe in celebrating the bounty of local and seasonal produce and taking greater control of our food supply. Together, we can.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I think this is a fabulous idea.  I love it.  Food preservation is a wonderful thing.  You not only walk away with a sense of accomplishment but you have all of this tasty, delicious, nutritious, and locally grown food put away for the winter months.  I am all for it, and if this sparks a big interest in eating locally and preserving food safely, fantastic!  Kudos to all those involved.

What bothered me was when, during the interview (and I see it is also in the mission statement), Ms. O’Donnel stated they were committed to the revival of the lost art of putting by food.

Lost art??  Since when??  I have been canning (preserving, putting by) food for decades.  Friends have been canning (preserving, putting by) food for decades.  My mother did it.  Visit Hilgert’s Farm Market when they are in full swing and you’ll find hundreds of people who preserve the harvest by canning and freezing.  I suspect a visit to the midwest of the U.S. will turn up thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people who can and freeze and dehydrate and pickle and ferment (sauerkraut is being made now) and find all kinds of ways to preserve their food.  Young people, middle-aged people, old people.  We’ve all been doing it or learning to do it.  Last year I taught my daughter-in-law and youngest son how to can.  I can’t speak for people in other parts of the country but I’m guessing there are still plenty of folks out east, down south, and out west (in other words, people all over the country) who can and freeze.  People I know in Europe and Australia put by food every harvest season.

When did the art of putting by food get lost??

Perhaps it got lost in the cities or out west or, I don’t know.  But it was never lost here.  Those of us who live near where our food is grown, those of us who want to save some money, have long known that buying fresh food in bulk is a good way to go but only if you’re willing to do the work to preserve it in some way.  A bushel of tomatoes for $16 is a great price but not if they are left to rot.  Therefore, you must find a way to preserve them.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I want to wish all of those involved in Canning Across America much success in their canning endeavors and I hope it leads to more and more people buying more and more from their local farmers, or growing their own food, and safely preserving and enjoying the fruits and vegetables of their labors.  I did enjoy the interview.  I am so glad someone is getting the word out about “putting by” food.


Connections

(Holzwarth Historic Site, Rocky Mountain National Park)

One life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on, until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we’ll never even meet.

~ Mary Kay Blakely

An interesting side-effect of all the canning and freezing I do at this time of year is that I not only feel a deeper connection to the land I live on and the community I am a part of, but I also feel part of a long line of women (and some men) who have spent the latter months of summer and the early months of autumn preserving the harvest.

It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine what it must have been like trying to keep food around well into the winter months without the modern appliances we have now.

The reason I preserve some of the harvest is to save money since I am no longer working outside of the home.  But I also do it because I like opening a jar of tomatoes in the depths of winter, when the world outside of my door is covered in snow and ice, and getting a whiff of summer as I sniff the tomatoes to make sure all is well (and not rotting).

Yesterday I finally finished up canning the tomatoes.  I’m thinking of heading over to Hilgert’s for another bushel of them as tomatoes are something I use a lot of in cooking.  They go into soups, stews, chili, pasta sauces, and probably plenty of other things not coming to mind at the moment.

(My freshly canned tomatoes, in their jars and ready for winter.)

Which reminds me…

I made a risotto the other night as part of my adventures in cooking.  It was fabulous.  I’ll share the recipe with you soon.