Saturday, September 26, 2015

To Market and Home Again

Not only is the market air-conditioned,
but it's the time of year when life feels even more bountiful than usual.
The market is an inspiring, and deliciously cool place to be.
Now, at home, I am daydreaming of a break in this heat, of rainy days and fall baking.
Hydrangea stem in a milk glass vase.

I'll heat the tomatoes in water, just until their skins break, then toss those (not the water) in a blender with a clove of garlic.

I will roast the Anaheim pepper, 'til it's black, crackling, then wrap it in a damp paper towel until it's cool enough to peel, toss the stem and seeds, the rest goes into the blender.

I have some jalapeños... starting with half of one, I will mince it and add it to the tomatoes in the blender, sprinkling in black pepper and salt, too.
Puree the whole lot, taste for spiciness... maybe more jalapeño?

The cilantro is rinsed, patted dry and roughly chopped, and I'll dice the white onion, add to a bowl, then pour in the pureed tomatoes and peppers.

Quantities and ratios are to taste, and aesthetic pleasure.
Chill the salsa.

Grab some chips.
A squeeze of lime juice is always welcome.
Do you have a good playlist going?
It's good to dance while cooking... while eating is nice, too.

Friday, September 25, 2015

~This Moment~

~This Moment is a Friday tradition, capturing a special moment from the week~

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments, for all to see.

This week's moment was thirty-three years in the making, and one we, unfortunately, were not able to enjoy in person. When I saw the pictures and heard the news that Phil Van Valkenberg was being recognized and honored as a founder, organizer, and spirited supporter of the Chequamegon, Fat Tire Festival, I was deeply moved and very proud of my father-in-law. He lives with purpose and pure intent for the sport and pleasure of cycling. He has worked tirelessly, practically all his life to promote, and secure the future of cycling... founding events, writing books, making maps, advocating for bike safety and trail access, and by demonstrating in his own life a pure love of pedaling. I have had the pleasure of cycling with him, in Wisconsin, and have enjoyed the thrill of the start line (as a bystander!) at Chequamegon (1990 & 1991). His work is inspiring, his passion admirable, and it's wonderful that he is being honored. He really is a living legend!
Gary Crandall and Phil Van Valkenberg (Photo by Tom Kelly)

"Never met anyone as knowledgable and passionate about bike racing than Phil Van Valkenberg.
Great to see him honored for his role in the start of the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival 33 years go.
Thanks PVV, you still inspire us!"
~Tom Kelly

Jacque Lindskoog and Phil Van Valkenberg (Photo by Darlene Prois)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saved The Day

Our plans hit a bit of a snag this morning. Early this morning. And while it was disappointing, we were determined not to be utterly derailed. A Plan B began to formulate and it was all about breakfast. I was very pleased with myself for remembering a really yummy cafe, and so we made a bee line for Cafe 976. Good choice. Nice to have many good vegetarian offerings, as well as traditional brekkie temptations. Bonus: They have good crayons. {Is that an odd restaurant critique?? How are the Crayolas? Not the cheap, second-rate kind that don't color brightly, I hope.} We sat in dappled light, and made light of our situation... our news segment for Maker Faire was bumped for live coverage of the Pope's address to Congress. We said, "We've been Pope-ed." Our breakfasts were delicious, and reviving, and even the drive home was scenic and good.

Geoff and I are proud of Alex and Maria... they weren't too sure about being in a television studio, for a live broadcast, but they prepared, studied, and made new additions and preparations for our Da Vinci Robot's Maker Faire San Diego appearance. Alex is almost finished sculpting Da Vinci 3.0, and Maria is making new images for our robot to draw. Ruth suggested it was perhaps Divine intervention. That may be... we got a call back, by the way, and an apology; the news station really wants us to return with Da Vinci, Alex, and Maria. I wonder if we'd have time to squeeze in another breakfast?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bird House & Barn

It's time for a Farm Report!
7:19 am...

Hang on! Ada's here to say Good morning, and as soon as I get the morning rolling, I'll be right back here at the computer, with a cup of tea {I hope}. Then I can show you chickens, and goats, and talk about the shade plants where the hens dustbath, and tell you about how much goats love to get their chins scratched. I am looking forward to this... back soon.

8:43 am...

Part one of errands and duties accomplished, now happily stationed at my desk, and editing photographs. It feels like a long while since I share the latest news from the barn. I wonder if you could tell the spring chicks from the old guard. Our newest girls are full fledged hens, and we've even got an egg to prove it!

The goats are well. Of course they don't read the news, so they aren't fretting over the dire warnings of record rainfall forecasted to come in about a month. We welcome the rain, but Tasha and Ada are going to be forlorn and dismayed, come rainy season. If I wasn't sure they'd chew them to bits, I'd get them rain slickers and galoshes. If Ada has a single unsettling thought in her goat head, she only needs to be scratched on her hairy chin to be assured that all is well in the world... her world, anyway!

In Emma Thompson's world, though, things are quite ruffled and flustered. It's a terrible case of broodiness. She thinks the eggs she hoards will hatch, if only the farmer would stop stealing them from under her. Poor Ms Thompson chose the goats' hay trough for her labors of love, and she won't get off the nest. The goats, gingerly, eat around her, taking care not to get their noses pecked. And even during this heat wave, with the nest in full sun, Ms Thompson pants her way through the day, in a metal box. No rooster, no chicks, I assure her. But she'll have none of it, and sits in broodiness and discomfort.

Kamen, older and wiser, knows that while the sun shines, life is better enjoyed free-ranging, scratching, pecking, and dust bathing. Chicken facts, tried and true.

And if it's evening time, and everyone is on the loose, the joy is quite evident. Oppressive temperatures have waned, a breeze is up, the brightest rays of the sun are dropping below the trees, and everyone (except poor Ms Thompson) is out for a stroll and romp. I love this time of day, too. Dinner made and served, homework wrapping up, the boys are usually strolling, too. Geoff and William in the shop, seeing to a dragon head.

Solanum crispum. I've grown rather fond of this plant. I never would have planted one myself, because they're poisonous. My planting policy is make it edible, or terribly beautiful, but never poisonous. The goats, fortunately, are clever enough to leave the potato vine off their menu, and the chickens only peck at the flowers, which doesn't seem to do them any harm. The plant has become an enormous shrub, and the shady refuge of all the hens.

Here you see Ada in front of the vigorous vine. Branches just hang in long arches, making an open canopy beneath, where all the hens rush when they're let out of their run. Beneath are their dug out dust bathing tubs, and loosed feathers.

One of the spring chicks, an Ameracauna. The new chickens love to get up onto the roof of the run, and if I don't coax them down before sunset it's a major undertaking getting them down!

Have you guessed? I love the Wyandottes. I love all the chickens, but these girls... oh my! They're gorgeous, and pretty, and attractive. They posses an air of sophistication, and I guess I've been trying to break into their clique... you know, be one of the girls. It's not happening. You can see they're poised, confident. They have that thing. That self possessed, confidence thing. When I feel like they're too much, I just look at their feet, the funny turn of them, and it makes me feel less humbled by their beauty.

Tasha is stunningly beautiful, too, but she's a girlfriend, she hangs out and keeps it real. Ada, too. Ada gets a little too real. She always has a little belch for me. She nuzzles real close to my face, then erppp-p! She's adorable.

Thompson? Thomson? Tamsyn? This might be Liberty. Only the Opringtons and Kamen cannot get over the 6' high fence. Orpingtons are a bit heavy, and Kamen is a bit small, and old. You'll always find a Thomson or two cruising the garden beyond their own yard, and Mako, too.

The lovely thing about Mako... she loves to be friends, and will come in for a snuggle. Last night I taught her about selfies.

Selfies, I explained to Mako, are 'a kind of self-expression, a chance to reflect on what you project to the world, show a little You. Too many selfies and you may get labeled something bad, and too few and people might wonder what you're hiding from. Something in between is nice. I like seeing my friends play, travel, express their selves, and sometimes we have to take these matters into our own hands.' And she nodded, amenable to giving it a go.

Mako's selfie. I told her about duck lips, but she thought that was ridiculous.

Chicken lips, everyone. Chicken lips are the new duck lips.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Creating Our Own Affirmations

I love words. I love colors, and images, too. And I remember a few years ago seeing message art, the homey looking signs with uplifting messages about life and love and laughter, etc. Those seemed unique, at the time, even quaint in their gentle way of setting a positive tone. Now, a visit to any big box store, a casual Pinterest session, and I am overwhelmed by a tidal wave of what I call bossy art. Pithy, lengthy, saccharinely sweet, bossy art. "Today Is A Good Day For A Good Day," boldly plastered to a living room wall. Good grief, more like. It's just so... so, shallow, so trite. Banal. Stale. It's become proof positive that you can have too much of a good thing. And it isn't even that any one of the messages is overdone, it's just the sheer quantity of all those signs, pillows, tattoos, adhesive wall clings, coffee mugs, toothbrushes, bumper-stickers, beach towels and yoga mats is too much. Has it reached our t.p., yet? Seems to me, I have seen paper towels with lines of cheery pronouncements deftly stamped in petroleum ink. The long ones are hard to navigate, and instead of feeling uplifted or encouraged, I want to reach for an ibuprofen. The ones I am most weary of have ten different fonts, enough to possibly induce seizures, and every conceivable aspiration, whimsical twirl and flourish ever dreamt of, an exhaustive laundry list of good living assertions. Some make too many demands, I feel chastised, like if I brought that pillow into my home it would censure and lecture me every waking moment: Dream Big, But Play Fair, Be wild, and Dance Like Today is The First Day of The Rest of Your Tomorrows. And Floss. Did You Finish Your Taxes? Love is Good. It's like a beating to the soul! An export factory country across the ocean is churning out millions of these, to reprove and improve us, and I can't take it any more!

When I wanted to buy a carry case for crafting projects, I was dismayed by the choices. Every one of them had something to tell me... how to live, how to love, what to do at the Eiffel Tower, where to keep my dreams and virtues, on and on. Exhausting, intrusive, calligraphied bossy art. I chose the size, and shape case I liked and closed my eyes to the litany stamped on every square inch of it. If bossy art is a cliche, I decided to hit back with another artsy cliche: Decoupage! I have a box full of catalog images I like, snippets I collected years ago, before Maria was born. I brought the box out, and a few other catalogs, and started laying down the Mod Podge! The more I covered, the better I felt. Scissors and sticky fingers, clipping out textures and forms. Soon, I was seeing places I like, colors, shapes, ideas, sentiments, that I chose. I wasn't obsessing, I wasn't trying to make it a signature statement about me and my beliefs... I was enjoying the casual assumption that some pretty images were gathered together for the sole purpose of making this case my own. That was fun. I love the sheep, and the turkey standing by the sled. I love that pretty pictures I've cut and hoarded away for all these years are out of the box, and being carried around, purposefully, for me to enjoy.

Here is my own wordy message, to me: Make your own affirmations, find them in the chard from the garden, in the rainstorm, in beautiful colors, favorite cups and bowls, meaningful moments of the day. I want to remember to let the words and feelings and ideas that inspire me come from within, from being still, from thinking for myself. Yes, I take inspiration in your art, in other ideas, and phrases, but it's a good idea to make room for an inner voice, and new messages. I want to take care that I don't impose a style, or a mandate, on our points of view and emotions. Life cannot always live by an agenda hanging on the wall, we should enjoy the change of phrase, the new season, different expressions. When I am tired of pommes and poires, I will lay down a new affirmation to enjoy~