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life lately, in pictures

May 15th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Spring time is glorious, isn’t it?

Even those intense spring thunderstorms when the sky turns black and the rain comes in torrents, blocking out everything.

{{photo from the StarTribune website. This is the St Paul Cathedral on May 3rd}}

I so love this time of year, when the air is sweet with growth and flowers bloom in abundance, as it’s just about the best that the Earth has to offer. We’ve had a lot of rain recently, which was desperately needed and it has brought out the greenery in droves. My garden is going crazy with both flowers, and weeds.

What else has been going on??

Griffin turned 18 last month, and graduates next month. Yipes. He applied for a passport for a Missions trip he is taking in August. Big growth for my guy. And lots of good ideas on the horizon. I’m pretty proud of that young man.

I took a day recently and spent it at our lake home, quietly watching the water, reading lazily through magazines and taking in the fresh, warm air. I took a few photos there too.

I discovered a USDA certified organic farm only a few miles from our house. I’m incredibly excited to have such a wonderful resource for good vegetables so close to home. From my first visit, I got zucchini, radish, and tomato plants. Then I made a pizza.

Ok, I made A LOT of pizza. We had a week’s worth of really delicious, crusty, chewy and amazing pizza.

All because I received the new pizza cookbook from Jeffrey Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Super easy pizza dough you make, then store in your fridge, pulling out a ball of it as needed. I did enjoy the results, for the most part.

More garden shots……

Those last two were thrown in merely for the “Awwwwww” factor.

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE LATELY??

missing my harmon

November 21st, 2010 | 1 Comment »

This was taken last January, a few months before he died. I kind of knew, somewhere, that it was my last winter with him. And I treasured the time, the cuddles and his kingly appearance, the loud meows he greeted me with, and the way he looked at me with all that love present in his golden eyes. I love Eli, our Mr. Meep, the snugglemonster shedder extraordinaire; he’s done wonders to heal that part of my heart that broke when Harmon died. Still, there are times that I see Eli and I think he’s Harmon and my heart jumps in my throat because I feel, for one split second that it’s all been a bad dream and my old pal never left.

And then my heart breaks all over again. And each time it does, I thank God that I had those 17 years, and that the pain of losing a friend can still be so acute even as you smile and remember how wonderful life was when he was around.

If you’re new here and don’t know Harmon’s story, this is what happened to him. And then back in March, life stopped for a while. And on Easter, we struggled back to life. Finally, we found our redemption. The stories are sad, especially if you’ve ever lost a treasured pet, but I’ve gotten to a point in life where I’ve been able to accept and embrace the pain because it means that I have loved deeply. And there’s never a reason to be sad about that.

crazy highs and lows

October 24th, 2010 | 12 Comments »

Do you ever have one of those days that re-define crazy? Do you ever experience something that both jars you senseless, yet lifts you to the highest high? Ever tried to reconcile the two? It isn’t easy, my friends.

I did. And it was so weird that I can’t NOT talk about it. This blog has never been the kind where I recount the experiences of my day to day life. I don’t post that regularly, but like I said, this day begs to be shared. It’s how I can decompress from something so odd, yet so exhilarating.

Curious? I hope so. Oh, and a fair warning. This day involved swearing, which I might recreate here. You have been warned.

I spent a few days at our lake home, Loveless Lake in Wisconsin, taking advantage of maybe the last of October’s glorious and awe-inspiring weather. I gathered food that I love, my hiking shoes and a few good books and took off. It was nice to get away, and even in the throes of Autumn, with trees stripped bare of leaves and nothing but rust and brown for as far as the eye can see, the lake is still utterly enchanting. Especially when you can capture a sunset like this:

I know!! How amazing is that? And then there was this, but 10 minutes later:

The clouds reflected in the water are stunning, yet this photo doesn’t even begin to capture the true beauty that happened, right before my eyes. I was humbled. I felt small and yet so blessed that I could stand there and see it with my own eyes.

The next day I was excited to be participating in a Twitterview with Joel E. Carlson. Basically, it’s an Interview on Twitter, and Joel does them every week, and Friday is when he likes to talk to a local food lover for Food Friday. I had to be at the computer at 2:00pm, ready to talk food. I’m always ready to talk about food.

But I need to digress. Just a little, because when I was getting my lunch ready around 12:30 I heard a terrific commotion outside under our deck. And lots of terrified squeaking. We have chipmunks galore around our place. I thought a hawk had swooped down to grab one, but stepping outside, I heard even more noise and ruckus going on under the deck, which meant whatever was chasing that chipmunk had to be able to get under there too. We’d seen a stray cat around the property before, and sure enough, she eventually came out with a large rodent in her jaws. I say ‘Her’ because we know that for certain; Mike saw her a few months back and she had a big round belly. But now there was no belly, so that meant there were babies somewhere. I watched her walk off across the back yard, over the road, up a hill and disappear behind a shed about 50 yards from our property. I took my lunch onto the deck, and sure enough, she came back. No chipmunk, thank goodness. She was friendly. And hungry. I did the only thing I could do for her at that time; I scrambled her some eggs. It was all I had and she ate half of them, filling her belly tight. And after some time exploring our place, she went back out and walked off. I half-jokingly said to her as she disappeared “Bring back your babies!!”

Yeah. I’m sure by now you see where this is going. But wait, and keep reading. Because it gets really weird, I promise.

By now, it’s 2:00pm and I am on Twitter, talking with Joel. I hear something though, outside our screen porch. A crunching of leaves, and it’s too steady to be a squirrel. I go to the door and look out, and there is Mama Cat sitting with a tiny gray and white kitten. Upon further exploration, I find another kitten under the steps. Bear in mind, my Twitterview is going on at this very moment. I need to be on the computer and be focused and a whole world of cute had just showed up at my door. Mama brought her babies inside and led them straight to the plate on the floor with the remaining eggs. Which they ate while she watched. I’m Twittering, trying to keep an eye on the babies, and even running outside trying to see if maybe there were more. Seriously. How weird do you think it was for me? Likely it was weirder than anything you could conjure up. I was so darn glad that this Twitterview wasn’t being conducted through video. How would THAT have looked? Sheesh.

But hey…. it’s not over yet.

The interview ended, and I contacted the closest animal shelter because, you see, this isn’t the first cat we’ve found abandoned around our lake home. It’s the third. In fact, earlier this summer we found a male cat, in all likelihood the father of this litter because he was gray and white like one of the babies. So I call the shelter and tell them I am coming with a Mama Cat and two babies. I boxed them up and got them in the car, and in my distracted state of trying to find the street to turn on once I got to town, I made a horrible mistake.

F–k!!  And double f–k, like pounding my hands on the steering wheel F–K!  I couldn’t believe it. I felt so stupid! For reference, and why the double F-bomb is even necessary, folks I have NEVER had an accident in my entire 30 years of driving experience. None. Nada. Zip. I have never even been in a car that was involved in an accident. Double F–K!!!! Aaaargh! And here I am, in small town America, Wisconsin to be exact (in a car with Minnesota license plates) and I just plowed into a woman because I was looking for an animal shelter to try and help these homeless babies. Who were so stinkin’ cute that just moments before the accident I remember thinking “I want to take their picture!!”

Yep. Double F–K! I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had been given a citation for being certifiably insane.

But I guess if there is a good side to an auto accident, it was the fact that I was able to react enough to swerve and avoid hitting her head-on, potentially damaging the car so badly that we would need to tow it from SmallTown USA to our service garage 60 miles away. Because I drive an Audi. There was not a foreign service station anywhere within a 50 mile radius of where I was because these folks are from the Heartland through and through, born and bred pick-up truck people. They do farm chores, haul wood and boats and they don’t do Audis. I crushed the left headlight and the side panel, decimating the washer fluid reservoir but otherwise sustaining no engine or radiator damage. The fender was pried away from the tire and I was able to drive off. That is, after being delivered to the animal shelter with a box of cats in a squad car. A squad car, people. And for the record also, that was the first time I have ever ridden in a squad car. And I carried cats on my lap. Cats. In a box. In a squad car.

Well, if that wasn’t weird enough- and believe me, THAT was way weird- it got weirder.

Mike had come to my rescue, jumping into his car at home and driving to where I was, and by the time I arrived back at our lake home, he was there and I was able to wrap my arms around him and let the tears flow over what I’d done to my beautiful car. I’d been able to control those tears up until then, but could hold out no longer. He helped me gain a better perspective though; no one was hurt, thank God, and it was just a car. And I saved three lives in the process. So we sat down on our screen porch and I was telling him the story when I heard the unmistakeable sound of a tiny cat meowing.

You really didn’t think the story was over, did you?

Sure enough, our neighbors, who blessedly happened to be there, had found three more kittens.

((Itty Bitty Kitty Rescue Committee))

Don’t let my smile fool you. I was a sloppy, freaked out mess- puffy eyed, pink cheeks and nose messy. But look at those baby faces! How adorable are they? The sad part was, they were all much too thin. It was clear they were in a pretty dire situation. The gold and white kitten was so emaciated that I could feel every bone in it’s tiny body. And I think that the stuff around their mouths was dried blood. But I won’t go there….. (remember the chipmunk?)

Mike and I had no idea what to do with these little creatures. The shelter was closed, and wouldn’t re-open again until noon the next day. I had a wild hair to call the officer who assisted with my accident, who had kindly driven me and my box of homeless cats to safety, and she contacted the shelter and made arrangements for us to bring the kittens there- so back to SmallTown USA we went- where they were placed in a night drop cage. She assured me that a volunteer would be along shortly to get them reunited with their Mom and siblings.

And yes, I did get a photo of them……

So the day ended with me and our neighbors daughter (who was mostly responsible for finding the other three babies) saving the lives of six creatures who would have all surely perished with the coming cold weather. I just shudder to think of it, that poor Mama, who was barely even grown herself, trying to do what she could for five babies, living under a shed and eating rodents to survive. And November right around the corner. And my car…. well, it’s all cosmetic damage really. A blessing in disguise because I know that it could have been much, much worse, for both the car and for me. As Mike said while holding me tight, soothing my pounding heart  ”I can handle a wrecked car but I wouldn’t be able to handle a wrecked wife.”

Truer words were never spoken. All of it turned out well. For car, and for cats. Oh yeah- and if you’re interested in reading the transcript of my chat with Joel, please go here to do that.

unveiling my passions

June 27th, 2010 | 8 Comments »

It seems like this past year has put me in contact with a large number of very passionate people; people who love what they do whether it’s their chosen vocation, their family or a particular cause. Being around them is almost addictive. There’s a glow, a determination and a sense of joy in them when they discuss what they love, what drives them and makes them soar. I love seeing it, being around it and sharing in it as well. There’s plenty in my life that I feel strongly about, aspects of it that bring a deep sense of peace to me, that fill me with happiness. I bet you think I’m talking about food, don’t you? Well sort of, but it’s only one area of my life that I’m passionate about. My friend Missy, who writes the blog The Marketing Mama, is sharing her passion and asked for others to chime in and play along. I can’t imagine a better person to share a passionate and engaging conversation with; Missy is one of the amazing women I’ve been blessed to meet and connect with this past year through our blog networking group. She’s got a strong finger on the pulse of life around her, a smile to light up any room and a wicked sense of humor.

So, to join in on her expressions of all things we love and hold dear to us, allow me to share these simple aspects of my life that bring me an immense amount of joy and make my heart swell with gladness. I’m not one to climb to the rooftops to shout out what stirs my heart, and I’m not one to push a cause or a lifestyle or anything so subjective. For me, it’s the little things that make my life perfect.

Like Delphiniums.

This year, whether due to the copious rain that has drenched our area or just the maturity of the plants, these Delphinium that are growing in one of my garden beds have simply exploded with blooms. Deep blue and so beautifully shaped, the flowers are stunning and I just can’t get enough of their beauty. I love my flower gardens, and the way that Nature just works itself out in multitudes of color, shape, texture and time. There are days that I walk through my yard and am stunned by what’s going on, not to mention humbled that my hands did this kind of work. It isn’t much, but it’s mine. And it’s one way I can share a god-given gift with others.

Then there’s these guys.

Someday is entirely possible that I will qualify as a crazy cat lady. I am crazy about cats, and these two in particular. Eli, on the left, has been a godsend into our lives. Losing Harmon was the hardest time I’ve gone through in recent memory, and Eli came along just at the right moment, full of love to give and hungry to be loved back. Bustopher is happier with a friend, and our hearts are healing from our loss.

There’s Loveless too.

It’s a perfect sanctuary from the hectic pace of life and I do miss it with all the work I’ve been doing this summer, but recently I spent a blissful nothing type of day there, sitting on the screen porch watching the rain fall on the lake all day long. That may not sound like fun to most, but it was a much needed day off from work, and from life and I needed it like pure oxygen. It’s a place that lives in my very core, that I love beyond description and wish I could bring every single one of you there for a day just to see it and enjoy it.

I’m passionate about my family too, as any Mother would be. Watching my young man grow, mature, change and embrace the life he’s leading is a beautiful thing to see. He has some amazing roads ahead of him to explore and I can’t wait to see where his life’s journey takes him. He’s polite, kind, warm-hearted and generous. He’s funny, corny, silly and smart as a whip. And the boy LOVES his food.

Which brings me, rightly, to what I am most passionate about each waking day of my life. You knew we’d get there, didn’t you? It’s not hard to be passionate about food these days, with the Farmers Markets bursting full of the fresh bounty from the Earth. How can you NOT get excited about fresh strawberries?

Or a delightful poached egg over fresh baby zucchini sauteed with garlic scapes?

But it really goes beyond just the freshness and far beyond what time of year it is, as it’s much more about how your body feels when it’s nurtured with good food. There’s nothing more to it than that. What goes into our bodies has a huge effect on our well-being, our ability to learn at school or to do our jobs properly, to keep us sharp and focused so we can concentrate, to help our immune system be as strong as possible so we can stay healthy to enjoy our lives. I’ve seen enormous change in my own life from the foods that I eat, and notice immediately when I’ve been slipping away from the right path and eating too much junk. If there’s one area of my life that I could talk about all day long, it’s definitely food, diet, cooking and consumption. It’s my blood, my life and what God gave me to give to others.

So what are YOU passionate about?

Missy got a good response to her call about passion. See what my friends say about their own passions!

Missy

Kate-Madonna

Suzi

Cindy

Monika

Jenny

Update on Harmon

November 18th, 2009 | 14 Comments »

Thanks to those of you who still ask about Harmon. It’s been two months since he was diagnosed with cancer and really, he’s doing pretty good. It’s surprising to me, joyful and really a bit scary too.

I’m afraid that I could get complacent about him. That I’ll forget that anyone even uttered the word ‘Cancer’ to me, or that he could well have a ticking bomb inside him that could burst forth one of these days and swiftly remove him from my life. I did prepare for it, and process it and felt like I at least got to a place of good reckoning. I am at peace. But for each day that he lifts his head in his customary chirp of greeting, that he settles in to snuggle against me in the morning as I sip coffee and surf or climbs on my lap when I sit down in front of the television for a movie or show, I have to remind myself that it’s one more day that is gifted to me that I never expected to receive. I have to remember that I am not promised any tomorrows with him, or even a ‘next month’ kind of scenario. I listen to his breathing. I feel and stroke his chin for any suspicious lumps that might indicate a resurgence. I note his stiff, old-age gait and the amount of time he sleeps and wonder about him. I wonder constantly. I hold him as much as he’ll allow, and to his credit, he seems so much more tolerable of being drawn close to me than at any other time in his life.

And I am more tolerable of indulging him in the foods that are usually forbidden in a feline diet, mainly anything off our table. Harmon has always had a taste for people food, with thanks to me, but lately, as I have watched his former bulk shrink to being almost non-existent, I’ve felt that to slip him a few nibbles from my plate isn’t such a bad thing. He has, of course, taken this to his full advantage. Harmon is a true gourmand. He enjoys all manner of people food, not just the normal aspects of our diet that one would expect a cat to enjoy, like meat or cheese. He eats legumes, and seems to have a particular love for them, well, unless they’re highly spiced lentils. He does spit those out. But great northerns? Black beans? Pintos? Chickpeas? He eats them all. He loves cauliflower too. Go figure. And peas, corn and green beans as well. He’s more adventurous than my teenager when it comes to food he hasn’t tried yet either, willingly accepting it and showing us his most baffled expression if he’s not so certain whether it’s to his liking. Is this guilt driven, my slipping him the good stuff? No. It’s more like my wish for him to be happy, to put something in his tummy. Although his ample belly and squishy pouch is still evident, there is no more intense reminder to me of the state of his health than the fact that his spine and rib bones, once sheltered in his former bulk along his back, are now clearly visible and sharply defined. Petting him is emotionally painful, to feel those old bones. If his time with me were to end tomorrow, the last thing I would be concerned about was sharing the grand tastes and flavors of life with him. What a way to go.

So there it is, for now. He’s well, apparently, and is quite content and happy. He is in no pain that we can tell, unless you count his old-age stiffness. He eats like a champ. He still purrs his trademark rumble, and snuggles in at every chance he gets. I’ll take it. And for as long as I can. Every day with him is a gift.

 

A very Merry Christmas to all and a huge Thank You!!

December 24th, 2008 | 1 Comment »

cats-at-christmas-001

You’ll notice the orange fluff to the right of this photo- that’s Harmon, trying to get in on the Christmas action by the tree.

So it’s Christmas- again. We have lots of fun family time planned for the next few days and I hope you do too, if you indeed celebrate something this time of year, whether Christmas or Hanukkah or anything. I hope you do celebrate, raise a glass of cheer and see smiling faces all around you. We all deserve, and need that.

The Fur-Boys say ‘Merry Christmas!!!’

cats-at-christmas-005

There’s one little box of new toys under the tree for the cats, as is the norm each Christmas for our catnip addicts. New toys are always appreciated, and often fought over. We need to be fair and make sure there is an equal share or we might see trouble.

Griffin, at 14 shows some excitement for Christmas, but it isn’t the same as when he was, oh maybe 4 or so. He likes getting gifts but he loves the food more, and better yet, hanging out with family. That’s the best part for him. Last night he surprised me before heading to bed by crawling- as best a 130-lb boy can manage- into my lap and snuggling with me, listening to me reminisce about my most favorite Christmas memories of him when he was little. I would have kept him there all night except my leg started to tingle. And to think he once fit perfectly on my forearm.

We continue to get great snow, and the landscape is beautifully white and very Christmas-like. I’m enjoying my cross-country skis, taking twilight excursions through the park near our house. It’s great for de-stressing.

My wish for everyone is to have a wonderful Christmas, and I want to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart for your comments, visits and feedback. Words cannot express how much I appreciate your readership and support. Enjoy the holiday! I’ll see you all soon!