Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chicken Days and Movie Nights

Movie Under the Stars moved inside.

Mosquitoes won that round.

Mosquitoes were the only thing wrong with our movie night. All the rest was quite wonderful. We watched "Julie and Julia" But first we ate, and talked, and shared, and ate some more. I was determined to have a good meal before, during, or after watching this movie, because watching Julia and Julie cook and eat never fails to make me hungry for delicious food.

I made a pot roast, and red potatoes seasoned with herbs de Provence, and I fixed the Dutch salad again. Max lit candles, and I brought out the beautiful Provence napkins my mom gave me from her barge on the Rhône visit to Avignon. Good food is a blessing, but if I want to enjoy really good-delicious food, I find that it is always improved when taken with friends. This was achieved by inviting over Anne and Adam for dinner.

We were just opening Anne's copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", when we were joined by Patricia, then Michael, and they brought fresh peaches that had been simmered in their own juices... what a perfect dessert! More guests arrived and we talked about cooking, recipes, inspiration, sharing. I think our next movie night definitely must be a potluck! I am surrounded by good and generous cooks. I was hearing many inspiring ideas. "Inspiration" is my favorite part of any cookbook, so I think real live cooks sharing their art and skills together is best of all.

The highlights of this summer, so far, seem to revolve around movie nights, and these chicas of ours. We love our chicas. They are still slipping out of the side yard. I think I have deterred them from the garden beds, but they love to squeeze under the gate to forage under the mock orange.

None of us can tell Zelda and Trudy apart anymore. We tend to call both of them Zelda, or the princesses. Zoe is definitely not a hen. He is now being referred to as Zoeltar. Temple and Tesla, the hat wearing Polish sisters, are as goofy looking as ever. Puff. Puff is as puffy as ever. In all her pictures, she looks like a small ball of gray feathers.

Betty, deep in the woods, the Silkie Princesses, Zoeltar the crowing usurper is in the center, and that gray mass on the right is Puff, the smallest chica.

There is definitely no telling Zelda and Trudy apart. Equally cute. Equally funny. Equally sweet.

Temple and Tesla are very easy to distinguish from each other. Explaining why makes me feel like a very soft hearted farmer. Tesla is messed up. Her left shoulder is Quasimodo, and her neck has more turns than a goose neck lamp. Her feathered head has a bald spot... feathers are finally filling in. Maybe she should be culled, or cured, or cooked, but she is a happy chica, and keeps up just fine, so I love her... I love her freaky-feathered fowlness, and I let her be. No harm, no fowl. <-----that was a pun!
Around Zelda-Trudy's head she has blue skin... it's like blue bellied lizards, and very pretty.

Betty is trying to make sense of Tesla. If it's true, birds of a feather flock together, then Betty must wonder what in the world Tesla is!?

What Miriam says about the Chicken Channel is true... I can watch it for hours!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Current Events

First of all: Happy Summer!
No one in So Cal was sure it would ever arrive, but finally the sun has burned off the marine layer, and it is summer at last. The sky is blue. The temperatures are rising. Our thermometer says "77˚ F," which is hot compared with the very low temps and rain of last week.

It's not always a popular thing to admit, but I like the marine layer, the May Gray and June Gloom. Scorching heat is alright for zukes and melons. Mmmm... maybe for swimming too... Alright, I admit it: Even I am happy to see the sun, feel some heat, and get this season warmed up.

Zomersalade met geitenkaas

I found the recipe for the salad Alex and Tamsyn made. And I made a small version for my dinner... crisp, cold salad is a summer pleasure.

A few notes: I decided that "rucola" could be "arugula," and then I decided that Trader Joe's mixed greens with arugula = just what we need.

We bought two different sizes of goat cheese, and what I did not realize until later is that one of the goat cheeses had honey in it (no wonder I was inhaling it like it was oxygen at the peak of Mt. Whitney.) So yummy. Goat cheese with honey = just what we need.

Tamsyn and Alex were very careful about following the recipe as it is written, but I did not peel the nectarines or measure anything when I made my personal salad... either way works. Both ways were scrumptious. Even with regular goat cheese, instead of the honeyed one.

When playing farmer I find that there are always tweaks and adjustments that are necessary. Maybe it is because I am an amateur farmer, an unprepared farmer... whatever. All the chicas have been sleeping in the original picnic table coop conversion, and cruising around in the side yard. The trouble is they escape the side yard, and they pillage the veg beds. Chaos! Anarchy! Woe, the poop deck!

So, I decided to upgrade the shark cage for permanent living. At the lumberyard I scavenged to pieces of fifty cent wood for roosts, and I bought a sawhorse to hold up the nest box.

I have always wanted to own a sawhorse.
For twenty years or more I have tried to dream up a good excuse to purchase one or two of these. I love their sturdy, ready to work posture, and their rugged versatility.
My excuse might be somewhat flimsy, but I am in possession of my very own little burro.

Now in the shark cage there are two roosts, and two nest boxes, and a very helpful burro.

And everyone seems to be settling in to the more spacious abode.

Betty is the matriarch. No doubt about that.

If it looks like a rooster.
And sounds like a rooster.
Could it still be a hen?

Oh, Zoe.
Remember our little chica? How petite and feminine she was? How hen-like?

And this one.
This one likes to bump chests with Zoe and Tesla.
Very cocky.
Very disconcerting.

Temple. Et tu, Temple?

We are missing Alex. Happily he is making the most of his time and opportunities while staying in Oregon. We enjoy hearing from him.

Max hung out with his buddy Lucas. William found new shorts he likes. Maria is looking forward to a swim. We are going to have another movie night soon. Geoff got outsmarted by a gopher... there is a battle impending. Joe has been loving his garden excursions, especially when he slips under the gate and goes galloping through the ivy. The ratty-rats are as amusing as ever.

Now you are current.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Coming and Going

Sometimes there is so little going on I have to make things up and construct fantastic lies just so I have something to blog about. It's true. It's onerous and burdensome too, so you would think when life gets genuinely busy, and really interesting, I would be taking advantage of the plethora, and blogging frequently. Blogging eloquently and descriptively with all of this fresh and factual material at my disposal.

A lot has been happening. People coming and going, fun gatherings. Even the sun made a long overdue appearance. Our days and nights have been full.

For example: We had a visit from our dear friend, Tamsyn.

At the risk of sounding like one of those highly emotional and sentimental people, I actually combed the archives for "Tamsyn" pictures and posts.

And now? Well, now I am very emotional and highly sentimental. We've known Tamsyn a long time. We were neighbors at the TreeHouse, and we did things together like our families camping together, and hanging out. Even though we saw her in January, two years ago, I still have not quite recovered from them moving away.

Sweet, good looking, smart kids.
But check out that salad!
Alex and Tamsyn were headed to a Sky Consortium party at Isaac's and they needed a dish to share. I am getting kinda lazy these days, and I thought "chips and salsa, or cold cuts." (These admissions are getting embarrassing.)

Fortunately, I kept my ideas to myself, and Alex and Tamsyn took a more interesting and tasty route. Inspired by the match-up in the final game of the World Cup, and feeling sympathetic toward the losing team, they decided to look for a Dutch recipe.

I can't find it! I will get a recipe link in here, because the salad turned out wonderfully delicious.

They were in the kitchen crumbling goat cheese, and cooking nectarines on the griddle, mixing a lemon and walnut oil dressing... and the whole time I was just listening to them and feeling like it was a typical day in the TreeHouse, when they all played and cooked, camped, read, explored, and laughed together... and it was as though no time at all had passed.

Weren't we blessed? All those great times the children shared, we shared. I miss them... those opportunities and experiences were wonderful.

I cannot say more. I am overcome with emotion and sentimentality.

As though to emphasize how quickly time passes, Tamsyn's visit was very short. And much to our dismay not only did she leave, but Alex did too! Tamsyn is completing her California visit with other friends, and Alex is in Oregon on an adventure of his own.

And Maria? Maria is one heartbroken little girl.

It was hard enough that her big sister Tamsyn was coming and going so quickly, but seeing Alex packed, and leaving without her was downright devastating.

Geoff and I loved hearing their voices... Alex, Max, Tamsyn, William, and Maria... all of them laughing and talking, playing together. The house is quieter tonight, except when Maria is crying, or insisting I explain how I could have forgotten to get her a plane ticket too?

He called me last night to describe the flight delays, and the wild ride on the twin prop plane that wasn't too much bigger than our family van. He said he was going out to walk by the water, reminding me that it was still light out where he is, up north.


Time does pass. And these comings and goings are good, even necessary, and unavoidable, actually. But they do get one emotional and sentimental.