Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Son

Hard to believe (at least for me), but my son turned 27 today - he is now the same age I was when he was born. That's got to be some kind of cosmic birthday, right? It seems simultaneously ages ago, and just yesterday. I remember his squashy little face so clearly, and all the faces in between that one, and the man's face he now presents. So terribly cliché, I know, but how did this happen? I can't be this old, can I?

I remember Jeremy at age 5, in Sunday school - the group was asked if they knew what alpha and omega were, and he said, "The first and last letters in the Greek alphabet". All the grownups laughed, and he was puzzled, he asked me, "Why are they laughing? It's the right answer, isn't it?" Yeah, he was the smart kid, the one who knew all the answers, even sometimes the ones the grownups didn't know. And he suffered for it, too, not only the smart kid, but the ADHD kid who couldn't sit still, couldn't stop from shouting out in class, didn't LOOK like he was paying attention, but still could recite the lesson chapter and verse. I have a picture of him at age 7, sititng in a chair with a bowl of chips, reading Catcher in the Rye. The serious look on his face is priceless.

I remember him wanting to be cool in junior high, and never quite making it.  By the time he got to high school, he quit caring. In fact, he was in-your-face fuck-you, and wore a bright pink fuzzy housecoat as his winter coat in Grade 12, along with army fatigues, silk ties, and weird T-shirts. In the end, he was mentioned in the valedictory speech - a kind of post-hoc acceptance, I guess.

I am very proud of my son: despite severe ADHD, he has managed to get an undergraduate degree, and is now studying for a master's in information management/library science. Despite numerous betrayals by so-called friends, he has stayed kind and forgiving in nature. He's never been embarrassed to say "I love you Mom" in public, and never once asked me to drop him off 3 blocks from school (not that I would ever have agreed to that!)

I guess whatever influence I have had as a mother is mostly done now; he's all "finished", and I must have done a pretty decent job, cause he's a pretty decent guy.

Happy birthday, kiddo.

Friday, November 23, 2012

In praise of cousins

My family is small: I am one of 2 kids, I have 2 kids, my sister only has one kid, each of my parents were one of 2 have to go back to my grandparents to get to a family with more. So even the extended family is small, and because they're all in Germany, and my sister is several provinces away, basically my family is my own 2 kids.

But I do have one cousin, the son of my mother's brother, who despite distance, and irregular email contact, and seeing each other in person maybe once every 5 or 10 years, is FAMILY. I joke and call him my favourite cousin (he's my only cousin), but really, God made a mistake - he should have been my brother. When we do get to hang out, it's like we saw each other just last week.

So, in honur of Amurrican Thanksgiving, and because I didn't post on Canadian T'giving, I am thankful for cousins, especially mine. And I will email you today, I promise.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In praise of animal rescues

I am about to become a grandmother of a greyhound! My daughter and her boyfriend are waiting to get an appointment to view the dogs at Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada. This is one of the most well-organized animal rescues I have ever come across: so far over 3000 dogs have been adopted, and according to the woman who did Rose's initial interview, fewer than 200 were returned. Most of those returned dogs were because of lack of fit between dog and home; all the dogs found new suitable homes, and most of the people were matched with more appropriate dogs also. They really care who you adopt!

Here's the guy I'm hoping they end up with, because EYEBROWS!!

I've always been resistant to the idea of a greyhound, because they are not reliable off-leash. One of the big reasons in my mind for having a dog is being able to go for long rambles in the woods, and in the kind of bush-whacking, off-trail hiking we do, dragging a dog on a leash is pure torture. 

However, the 2 rescue dogs of previous posts are both unreliable off-leash, too; one because he will just up and wander off, the other because he might kill another dog if we come across one unexpectedly. So there I am in the same boat anyway. Maybe there is a greyhound in my future, maybe not, but as Grandma, I will be knitting a bunch of dog sweaters soon!

Side button greyhound sweater by Terri Lee Royea, available on

Monday, November 19, 2012

In which my body betrays me, but the skyr is good

Ok, first things first, the skyr worked beautifully and is creamily delicious. It actually has to drain in the fridge for a while, to get rid of the whey, but that didn't stop us from having a quick taste. The only tricky part is maintaining a good temperature while it ferments; our dehydrator that we were going to use as a heat source has up and died, so we went with a hot water bath that worked fine, but needed fairly constant replenishing. A trip to the thrift store (ValuVillage around here, amusingly pronounced "Valoo Villahge") is in order to get a cheap yoghurt maker.

Now, on to the body betrayal - while out walking the dogs, I slipped on a very small patch of ice (trust me to find it!) and fell on my left knee, scraping it fairly badly and jarring the rest of me to boot. Now, on the surface that doesn't sound too bad, just a little klutzy, could happen to anyone. However, this is the THIRD time I have fallen and trashed that same knee, goddam it - the scabs from the previous time have only just healed, and now I have a nice new set forming. And my whole body aches now, my wrist where I tried to break my fall, my neck from a kind of whiplash feeling, waaahhhhhh!!

This is the kind of thing that, when you're young, you laugh, get up, dust off and keep right on going. Now, at 55, my body isn't made of rubber anymore, and I resent the hell out of that. I can begin to see how my mother got scared of moving, stopped going out, and thereby lost her mobility and then her independence. How dare my body do this to me?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In which we make homemade skyr

One of the big pains of flying between Paris and Halifax is that it's pretty hard to get a direct flight - you mostly have to go aaaalll the way to either Montreal or Toronto, and then backtrack. Basically, it adds at least 5 hours to your travel time, and usually more. So Fred and I discovered the joys of Icelandair, which, during the summer at least, flies direct to Halifax. You have to stop over in Iceland, but this is no hardship at all.

In fact, that's why we decided to holiday in Iceland: our first trip was a present for my 50th birthday - Fred flew to Keflavik from Paris, and I met him there. We had a fantastic weekend in Iceland, before both flying back to Halifax together. If you've never been, let me recommend it most heartily! We packed a lot into 3 days: a 2-hour trail ride on the amazing Icelandic horses, a trip to the fabulous bluelagoon, visits to Alafoss Lopi store and Hvanneyri Wool Collective to buy loads of yarn, and many culinary adventures, trying all the local foods. 

My favourite thing ever to eat in Iceland (besides the delicious and hilariously named "meat soup") is skyr. Skyr is like a yogurt, or maybe a fresh cheese, made with non-fat milk. It's creamy and SO GOOD with the blueberries and crowberries that grow everywhere (and you can just stop your car by the side of the road and pick them).

Skyr is not available commercially here at home, so we have to make it ourselves. There are several good recipes online; this is the one we used. We've made it with buttermilk as the starter, and it's good, but this time we have the real thing: Fred brought a small container of skyr from Keflavik airport (made it through customs, even). As is usual with Fred, there are numerous trials cooking: one with just milk, one with added skim milk powder, and one with added buttermilk powder. I'll report back on which one tastes the best soon!

For now, enjoy some pictures of Iceland. It's my favourite place on Earth, I think.

Stone Troll near Snaefellsnes

Viking ship reproduction

Icelandic sheep

Boiling mud at Krysuvik

Random man riding and ponying 4 others

Thingvellir, site of the first parliament ever

Friday, November 16, 2012

In which pleasure is postponed

Never book a trans-atlantic flight with a one-hour stopover on a Friday night, cause firstly, you don't make the connection, and secondly, the next two connecting flights are full. Thirdly, if the two flights are with different airlines, and your ticket on the (very late) final flight of the night requires extra money, neither airline will pay for it. Sigh.

So, since I have to wait till close to midnight for Fred to make it here from Montreal, my son and I had dinner at the pub where my daughter works as a server. Might as well keep the tips in the family, eh? But . now I'm back at home, feeling all unsettled. Not just because of the airport thing, other stuff that maybe isn't my story to tell all over the internet. Fodder for another post, if I get permission to talk about it.

In the meantime, Cats! All the Cats! Because I need them to cheer me up, and maybe you do too.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

O Happy Day!

In which I gladly re-embrace the couples life.

Although not explicitly stated in these pages, you may have figured out that my significant other is not a resident of the same country that I am; twice a year, for 6 weeks or so, he goes home to France to pay taxes, see to his property, kiss his mom, etc.

Tonight is the last sleep without him! And I am almost too excited to write (it will be short, haha). We get to be apart just long enough to really miss each other, and then it's over. Maybe that's the ideal way to have a relationship.

Anyway, bet you all can guess what's gonna be going on tomorrow ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Riding, Part the Second

After the glorious Remembrance Day weekend we had, with 2 fabulous rides out on the trails, we were faced with cold rain and wind. Luckily, our boarding barn does have a nice indoor arena, so weather is not really an issue. However, there's always something depressing about going indoors for the first time, giving up the freedom of the woods for going around in circles inside.

But, there's also something to be said for the discipline of an indoor ride. Because you can only go round and round, you have to make a plan and work on something, pick a skill to improve, or teach one to your horse. Funnily enough, tonight Murphy seemed to enjoy the arena; he certainly had plenty of energy and was responsive to my cues. Maybe he enjoyed the security of indoors, given his history with riding out. Whatever the reason, it was a really good ride, a nice warm-up to the winter season of working on skills. My daughter Rose and I talked about maybe doing a hilarious little pas de deux dressage thingy - I say hilarious, because it will be. If you're lucky, there will be video, and it will be available to view here. Wait for it, O Faithful Reader!

In the meantime, enjoy these few pictures of my darling Murphy, and think about what joy you may get in serious and disciplined practice of something you love, as compared to "just messing around". Maybe the knitters among you might think of the difference between knitting a quick but pretty stockinette hat, versus completing a complicated Aran sweater. Something like that, yeah.

Just like a very large dog

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Day Job

In which I discuss the importance of motivation

Although I am a wannabe farmer, in my day job I work as a speech-language pathologist in the school system. It's a job I love for many reasons: the obvious and facetious ones of having summers off and getting snow days, and Christmas, and March break; but also the truer, more deeply satisfying ones of being able to help children, and spending most of my time concerned with language and communication, true loves of mine.

When I was a toddler, growing up as a child of German immigrants, my first language was German; I picked up English from the neighbourhood kids as we played. One of the stories of my childhood was how, when I tried to ask my mother for some juice in English, I said, "Can I have some saft?" Now, the German for juice is "saft", pronounced "zuft" - but I asked for "saft" - how the 3-yr-old me knew to transpose the phonology of German "zuft" to English "saft" was pretty damn cool. I kept wondering about it, and when I grew up, I chose a profession that would allow me to indulge in more wondering of the same nature.

Anyway, here I am, an S-LP with 5 schools in my caseload, 3 elementaries, one middle school, and a high school. Lots of kids to take care of - from the lispers and the stutterers, all the way to the kids with autism and the non-verbal kids, and everyone in between. I have mixed success with all my kids - some make enormous progress, others, not so much. I can point the finger at parents, and say, if only they'd practice more with their kids. Or I can say, it's just not in them, they can't do it. (Notice how I'm not saying, it's me? ;) )

But I keep getting example after example that indicates what I really need to do, is make a giant needlepoint wall hanging, that says, "MOTIVATION" in huge and fancy lettering.....and then, of course, I have to figure out ways to motivate them.

Case in point: a 5-yr-old girl with a /t/ for /k/ and /d/ for /g/ substitution - you know the ones, "I saw a titty-tat eat a tootie"....4 weeks of therapy with not a lot of progress, when all of a sudden, she sees the gum in my bag. "Can I have some dum?", she says. "Not till you can say 'gum' properly, and stop calling me dumb", I answer. So she's giggling away, but I swear to god, within 5 minutes, we not only have /g/ established at the sound level, but she's asking me properly for "GUM", and I have to fork some over. Not only that, but by the end of the session, she's got word-initial /g/ all over the place, and I see a whole month of progress in 30 minutes. Motivation.

But my favourite motivation story of all time concerns another kid with a /t/ for /k/ - 2 years of therapy, he can say the /k/ words while in therapy but absolutely no carryover into conversation at all. However, this kid has multiple behavioural issues (not a great family life) and is prone to epic tantrums, requiring numerous adults to hold down a relatively small 6 yr old....One day, I walk into the school, and there he is, in the office, being held down by 3 adults, in full-blown meltdown, and I hear him screaming, "COCKSUCKER!!!! MOTHERFUCKER!!!"

And me? All I can think is, wow. Nice /k/ sounds, dude.

Motivation. It's everything.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Don't throw that away, 2.1

So in our house, as I've mentioned, we throw nothing away; one of the ways we accomplish this is through composting. Our town actually has municipal composting available - if we wanted to, we could throw all our organic garbage, as well as things like boxboard, into a big green bin, and have it collected with the regular garbage. But oh no, not chez Casa Karen and Fred: here, we compost our own stuff, for our own garden.

Our bin out back is a miracle of decomposition - full of worms, wood lice, ants and other bugs, insulated all around with styrofoam; that sucker keeps cooking throughout our Nova Scotia winter, even unto minus 20 degrees Celsius. Every spring, we (and by we, I mean Fred, bless his heart) dig up the garden, and fill it with glorious, rich, crumbly compost. We struggle with excess shade, and a pretty short growing season, but by damn, our soil is second to none. The potatoes and tomatoes this year were pretty amazing, and I even grew some window boxes of flowers in pure compost - non-stop blooms all season.

The garden in Davayé

Not a garden; the view towards Vergisson, after a storm

In Vitry, it's even better - the giant compost heap gives birth to bags and bags of soil, which are transported to Davayé, where there IS lots of sun, AND a looong growing season. The tomatoes there were epic; this year, alas, I did not go, but next year I will be there,, and I will eat my fill.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Playing catch-up

One more post today, to get back on track: here's some urban farming -

My partner's house in Vitry-sur-Seine (suburb of Paris) is an anomaly along his street - these are houses with stone or stucco fronts, clay tile roofs, and those ordered, tidy, geometric gardens that consist of a gravelled yard with severely pruned roses, or window boxes filled with geraniums, or a strategic palm tree in lonely splendour.

Fred's house, on the other hand, sticks out like a sore thumb, or rather, it vanishes from sight behind the tangled jungle of his tiny urban farm. The front yard, which is maybe the size of my living and dining rooms, has a pear tree, an apple tree, a cherry tree, a row of red and white currant bushes, and a goldfish pond, in addition to ivies and yew trees. The back, which is even smaller, is host to a giant fig tree, grape vines, a hazelnut bush, another cherry tree, a plum tree, and a kiwi vine that threatens to overrun the city. On a swelteringly hot Paris summer day, this backyard is an oasis of shade and cool.

The current harvest is fig jam and dried kiwi; other times there have been cherry ice cream, currant jelly and more. The climate in Paris is so much milder than here in Nova Scotia - no fig trees for us here, we'll have to give global warming a little longer. But it's a great example of what you can do in a tiny space. These are mostly mature trees that not only provide food, but also are busy fixing carbon dioxide, proving a comfortable micro-climate, and providing a haven for birds, salamanders, bees and other critters.

Not our garden, but funny all the same
There's also a huge compost pile, but that's actually so big, it's a topic unto itself, for another time.


Eleven days in and I'm already falling down on the job, but there'll be 2 posts today to make up for it.

Today is Remembrance Day, and although I won't be going to a ceremony, I will be thinking of all those who died in all the wars, soldiers and civilians alike. My parents were German immigrants, so it's awkward for me - my dad was a bomber pilot for Germany in WWII, my grandfather fought in WWI, even my mother was a member of the Hitler Jugend (to listen to her describe it, it was like Girl Scouts, with a little propaganda thrown in). These were things never discussed in my family, so I never knew where they stood on any of the issues. Here's what I do know:

My mother had her ancestry traced back 4 generations, so they could get the "pure Aryan" designation; apparently there was someone named Sara, but they called her Klara, to make it sound less Jewish. I have thosse papers still. My dad never spoke of the war to me, except to say he was drafted and had no choice, but he did get drunk twice, once with each of my ex-husbands, and they have some of the story, but they never shared. My grandmother told me of being horrified by the news of the concentration camps when the war ended, saying that they really didn't know....

So I think my family was like many of the time, with their heads in the sand, perhaps willfully, perhaps not; afraid to take any action. I can say that although some of the most shockingly racist things came out of my mother's mouth, in practice she was extremely kind and generous to all around her. She was interested in different cultures, and would often ask people bluntly where they were from (especially if they looked "different", oh dear) - but then she would usually be able to astonish the person by actually knowing where their little corner of the world was, and being able to discuss some of the history.

....when I started this post, I had no idea I was going to end up here, but it's not really surprising, I guess; my thoughts about this time of year are always laced with guilt by association. And I wonder what I would have done, in that situation - I like to think I would have stood up for what was right, but in that culture, in that time, would I even have known what was right? I really hope so. I really do.

Anyway, I am remembering today, difficult as it is.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Today, my daughter moved out to her new apartmen that she is sharing with her boyfriend. This is actually the second time this has happened; 4 years ago (god, or was it 5?) she went off to Concordia University in Montreal. She came back home to finish her last year here at Dalhousie, but now she's flying the nest for good.

I've made a lot of jokes about how happy I will be to get my craft room back, and how great not to have to drive her around, AND to be able to get rid of her cat (bringing my household total to a much more manageable 5, haha). And don't get me wrong - all these things will be wonderful; my house is pretty small for an extra person and cat (especially one who has ALL THE CLOTHES!!!). And she's only moving in to town, about a 15 minute drive away. But surprise surprise, I'm going to miss her after all.

I've never been that mom that mourns her children's increasing independence: no sobbing at the school bus stop that first day of kindergarten, no boo-hooing at high school graduation. From the very moment of birth, when they draw their first unassisted breath, our job as parents is one long, gradual letting go. I have celebrated all those moments, which culminate in this one: setting up her own household.

My baby is all growed up - Imma go cry now ;)

This is Taco, who no longer lives here

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wine, and other things

More to come later, but for now, here's the wine from November 5th:

Salvaged grapes bubbling away in the jug

View of Vergisson in the background

Vergisson and the vineyards of Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne

Ok, let's talk some more about wild fruit harvests. In previous posts I have mentioned crab apple jelly, the neighbours' ornamental quinces, and Fred's gleaned grapes for wine. In addition to all the usual berries of field and forest, such as blue-, black-, straw- and rasp-, here's one you may not be familiar with:


This is a popular ornamental tree around here, and usually the yield of fruit is quite heavy.. It makes a lovely jelly that has a slightly bitter, astringent flavour, making it suitable for serving with meat, just like cranberries. Free for the taking, most times. 

A related species (Sorbus domesticus) grows in France; Fred and I found a magnificent specimen in Davayé, full of fruit.

Thr fruits are much bigger, and taste so astringent that they are inedible; however, allowing them to over-ripen (basically, to partially rot) results in a sweet, pineapple-y flavour. This process is called "bletting", and yes we did try it (what's one more rotten thing among so many?) and yes, it doestaste like pineapple. 

I would like to bring home a few seeds, as the tree is an endangered species, but this is frowned upon, alas. We'll have to stick to rowans, which are also an introduced species, dammit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chapter 7 of NaBloPoMo

In which I sit and stare at the computer screen, stuffed full of coconut cream pie (me, not the screen) and try to force my brain to think of something meaningful to say. Obama won in the US; for this I am grateful, because that country influences my own to a degree much greater than I would like. But I don't want to talk about that: I am election'ed out, and there are plenty wiser people out there who are more worth listening to than I. There's wet snow/hail/sleet ticking against the window, but I don't want to talk about that either: there willl be plenty of time to moan about the weather in the next 6 months.

Want to look at some pretty pictures with me? Sure you do: 
These are some of the birds (and rodents) our backyard is host to in the winter:
Raucous blue jays
 Very blurry shot of a rare-ish visitor, a red-bellied woodpecker
 downy woodpecker:
 and pesky red squirrels:

 Putting peanuts on the deck is instant cat TV!

We have discovered that if you want lots of birds to visit, put out peanuts. Peanuts will attract most anyone and it's especially fun to see a jay try to fit 2 or even 3 at once in its beak.

My not-so-profound thought for today: feed the birds; it makes them happy, and then you are happy too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't throw that away! 2.0

One of my many obsessions is an inability to stop collecting houseplants - I have only to see one at the grocery store, marked down to bargain-clearance prices and languishing for lack of sun and care, to instantly feel so sorry for the poor thing that I have to take it home, love it and squeeze it and name it George. My windowsills are crowded with African violets, ivies, philodendrons, all the standard species, but lately I have discovered a new and exciting version of this fun game: growing your own from things in your kitchen!!

Like the little cuties below - those are baby dragon fruit cacti! Super easy to germinate, too, just eat the dragon fruit, save the seeds, plant, and apparently almost 100% germination.

I also have a citrus tree that is almost 4 feet high; I can't remember what kind of citrus, all I recall is randomly poking some seeds in amongst another plant. By the time they germinated, I had forgotten what they were, but it's one of either lemon, orange or grapefruit. Here is another, this one a clementine:

(You knitters might recognize my shalom sweater :) ) I'm also trying my third pineapple top - not having a lot of success yet, but I'm not giving up. So much potential life in tiny seeds or discarded leaves or roots or stems - I feel guilty every time I throw them away. Cue Monty Python's "Every Sperm is Sacred" here, I guess, how stupid of me. And I am pro-choice all the way when it comes to humans, and I'm all over the whole spay/neuter your pet - BUT WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE PLANTS???????

Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't throw that away!

A post more in keeping with the intent of this blog today, about a wild harvest and using up everything:

My darling SO, he of the "bake crackers in the car" adventure, is an evil genius for using up, or fixing, or re-purposing,  any and everything - seriously, nothing gets thrown away around here. He does most of the cooking in this house, and I have learned the hard way always to ask "what's in this?" before taking the proffered bite -remember that slightly rotten milk? or the mouldy cheese? Yeah, you're eating it. I have to say, it's all  been good, and we haven't died yet. But it's the idea of it sometimes, amirite?

But the subject of today's story is slightly more appealing - in the village of Davayé in Bourgogne, there is an agricultural college, where you can learn to grow grapes, make wine, raise goats, and make cheese. Some vines there are still hung with grapes, a little too old for the harvest, maybe? Well, today they were "re-purposed", shall we say, and are being turned into wine. Fruit gleaned from the field that would otherwise be left to rot, turning into free wine. Whether it'll be drinkable or not is another story. Fred's fingers are stained prurple from the grapes; a few years ago, so were his feet, because he just had to try the old-time "stomp on the grapes" method.

Me? I have my eye on everyone's front yards, where the ornamental quince bushes are now leafless, exposing a surprisingly large yield of fruit - quince jelly! and chutney! Pretty sure that will be edible, at least.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trail Riding

In which Murphy and his mom are very brave:

Ravelers know me as murphysmom; the Murphy in question is my beloved horse, whom I have known for about 14 years, and whom I have been privileged to call my own for about 6 years.  When I was a little girl, I had the typical little-girl obsession with ponies, which resulted in many pretend epics involving me and numerous intrepid steeds, but I was never able to fulfill that dream.

Until I had a little girl of my own, that is. We began riding lessons when Rose was 4; now, at 23, she is quite the accomplished horsewoman. I, on the other hand, am still just an intermediate rider, an ok, so-so, kind of equestrian, because when there was only so much money for lessons, it went to Rose, of course.  But Murphy came into my life at a crucial point, when I was despairing of ever really being a rider, and he made my dream come true. He is the kind of horse who knows when his rider is uncertain, and rather than cruelly taking advantage of your ignorance, instead kindly makes sure you are safe, and teaches you something into the bargain.

So I owe pretty much all of my skill to Murphy (and to my coach, Cheryl, and to Rose as well, for her lessons). But over the last month or so, I got to teach him something, and learned that maybe I'm a better rider than I gave myself credit for. The barn where Murphy boards has access to a network of trails, which is something I always wanted to do, but Murphy would never go beyond the first field onto the country road that led tot he actual trail. He would stop, and spin around, and flat out refuse to go forward. So for many years, I just didn't try - it was too scary.

But last month Rose and I decided that would take our horses on the trail, and see what happened. Her horse is pretty cool with trail riding, and I was hoping Murphy would just follow Katie. The first time we tried it, we got as far as the road, and the refusals started. Strangely, instead of being scared, I felt exhilarated - I let him spin around, and then we went juuust a little bit further forward, and turned for home. Success! I felt - I won the argument, I didn't fall off, and I wasn't scared. So for the next few weeks, we did the same thing, always a little further, and only turning around when it was my idea.

Today, we made it!! All the way down the road to the trail in the woods, for a whole hour, and, while not completely relaxed, Murphy was calm and willing, and went in the forward direction! A beautiful day in the woods, on my horse, with my daughter for company. Murphy learned that there are no equinivorous beasts on the trail, and I learned that I can so ride, I can ride for realz.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Contemplative Day

The soggy Friday gave way to a grey and damp Saturday, wherein I have mostly sat upon my arse and knit. I have begun Ankestrick's Organic sweater, in one strand of a fuzzy green mohair and one strand of a 50/50 merino/angora blend, both yarns from This is my first go at a saddle shoulder, and it's requiring more of my attention than usual. But I think, if I don't fuck it up, it will be beautiful.

As I knit, I watch the critters roaming around the living room - my little band of rescues: Louie the geriatric mutt, who came to us via SHAID animal shelter when his owner died, and who still has trouble remembering not to pee on the carpet; Vinnie the dog-who-would-be-awesome, were it not for his habit of trying to eat other, smaller dogs; Oliver the tuxie cat, who can cuddle one minute and savage you the next, Russell orange-boy with his cauliflower ear...there are more cats in the house, but that's all I can see right now. Everybody has their issues, and truthfully they drive me crazy at times, but I love them anyway. Let me show you my babies:

 Louie, elegantly crossing his legs
 Vinnie, looking for his tennis ball
 Oliver, relaxing
Russell, loving on a colour-coordinating scarf.

Maybe y'all have guessed that today I don't have much to write about, but there is peace and satisfaction in a day given over to not much at all. Tomorrow will no doubt be a more happenin' time, but today I'm glad to sit and knit, and love the critters.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Soggy Friday

Today's rain has leached out most of my brains, it seems; also, November is a bad month for harvests, wild or otherwise, but luckily, I have a pretty large backlog of things to talk about from the summer.

My partner, Fred, is a polyglot free-lance translator; one of his clients sent a recipe book for raw foods (hence, not a "cook book" per se) to translate from Dutch to French. One of the recipes was for a non-baked cracker, made of ground flaxseed, whole soaked flaxseed, a little soy and maple syrup, and a whole lot of garlic. Basically you spread this goop out thinly on a tray, and let it dry at a very low heat. But our oven has been on the fritz for many months (and it's surprising how little we miss it) - so my enterprising darlin noticed the car sitting in the brillliant sunshine.....and, since a picture is worth a thousand words, behold: how to make crackers in a car, in summer sun:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quick, write something, it's November 1st!

Ok, to avoid massive shaming on LSG, I am writing my first entry of the month, to be followed, hopefully, by a post every single day for all of November. Laziness, I have it  :)

Anyway, in terms of the urban wild harvest, we have a nice haul of crabapple jelly from a great wild tree, more black trumpet mushrooms dried and ready for winter, and th last of the garden tomatoes, still green but starting to ripen, on the window ledge.

There's also a bottle of pretty decent homemade bitters on the shelf - like Jaegermeister, but better: Take one bottle of brandy, pour into larger bottle, and add a handful or two of wild mint, a few snippets of basil, rue, and horehound, some coriander seeds and a little caraway. Seal tightly, stand the bottle in the sunshine for a week or so, and decant back into the original bottle. Take as a digestive after dinner - so good!

And, the curbside haul has been impressive these past couple of weeks - rescued from the land fill are 2 sets of solid pine shelves, which will take up residence in my soon-to-be craft room (when my daughter moves out in a week, yay!); 8 maple dining room chairs to accompany said daughter to her new apartment, and a wooden rocking chair for me. Nice, huh? I will have to stop soon - just because it's awesome and free, doesn't mean I NEED it in my house! It's hard to reconcile my wannabe-minimalist with my collector persona.