Friday, August 31, 2012

Fly Fishing

Any day in the stream is better than a day at work.

Our last Saturday at the cabin was proof of that!  The day before we had been invited to fish on a friend's private land.  We couldn't wait!  We had never fished it before, but we knew it would be beautiful.

Unfortunately, Friday night, it rained and rained.  And in the high country, it rained some more.  The river was higher than it had been in a long time.  And it was muddy, muddy, muddy.  We knew we wouldn't catch anything.  But it didn't matter.

We donned our waders, put together our fishing equipment, and went down to the water.  It was more beautiful than we had expected.  A striking rock cliff came down on the west side of the river, and it was obvious that there were some perfect pools for fish.  I couldn't wait to get onto the water.  The pictures are of Don and me in the muddy water . . . isn't it picturesque?

Don and I both had a chance to practice our casting, we had the opportunity to see some gorgeous water, and the cool weather with sunny skies made for an exquisite day.  Two hours later Diana arrived to pick us up, and we were happy and grateful we were able to fish in such a pristine place!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chokecherry Jelly

When we were at the cabin, the chokecherries were ripe, so I decided to make some jelly.  In the past I had added some crabapples to it, but this year I didn't.  I won't make that mistake again.

The jelly was beautiful.  Dark red.  Lovely.  Our ten-year-old neighbor helped me make it, and we had a great time.  But then I tasted it.  YECH!

It was so bitter and left such an aftertaste that I couldn't stand it.  Interestingly, Don and the neighbors didn't notice the aftertaste.  They liked it just fine. A friend told me it is the tannins in the cherries that make it bitter.

That's when Diana reminded me that tannins are also in coffee (YECH!) and wine (YECH!).  No wonder I didn't like it.  I can't stand coffee and wine, either.

Next year, if I happen to be around when the chokecherries are ripe, I will again put crabapples with it to neutralize the tannins.  I know I will like it better, and the others won't mind the change!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bras, oh my!

I had the opportunity to dog sit Bella this past week.  She is always so funny!  She loves to be with me, which reminds me of Sepster.  She rides in the car and stands on the console, just like Sepster.  She is excited when I come home, excited to see her family . . . she is just a fun dog to have around.

Today (Tuesday), I picked her up at her house and brought her here.  She walked into my bedroom, and immediately started barking.  I couldn't imagine what it might be that was causing her to bark . . . the bed was made, there wasn't anything on it, I didn't think we had a burglar.  I walked in to see what was disturbing her so.  She was barking at the bathroom door.  What could it be?

And then I saw it.  It was a very scary thing.  I had hung my bra on the doorknob to dry.  And Bella was going crazy barking at it.  I tried to take a video, but by the time I got it turned on, she had decided that although that thing hanging on the door was big and scary, it didn't move, so she was safe.  Phew!

Wish I had the video to share.  Instead, just imagine!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ipo, Ipo Everywhere

One of the rarest treats of the Holy Ghost Canyon is the existence of the Holy Ghost Ipomopsis, an endangered flower.  Some years have been rather grim, and at times we thought we were going to lose the plant.

Last year, the Forest Service created an area where they planted numerous Ipomopsis flowers.  They are trying to increase its population, as it only grows in certain areas, mostly road cuts on the north side of the Canyon.  When we were there in July, we were not optimistic about the prospects of a good flower year.  Despite good rains in April and May, June and July were so very dry that many plants in the canyon were crispy.

Imagine how pleased we were last week to see an entire hillside of Ipomopsis.  The plantings on the hill bloomed, and we had more plants than we have ever had before.  Additionally, we had some growing in places on the road where we had never seen them.

Finding the new Ipomopsis plants was truly a joy, and I am hoping they continue to proliferate. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Di!

We should have known when she was little that Di would love to cook and bake when she was an adult.  She had a kitchen with all sorts of contraptions that she could make meals with . . . her favorite was the cupcakes.  Remember the Fisher Price cupcakes that had a cupcake holder and icing pieces that could go on top?  We would sit in her room and pretend to eat cupcakes and have tea.

She also loved to play in the Tupperware.  Sometimes she would crawl into the cabinet and sit inside it.  As little as she was, it wasn't too hard for her to do.

Back then she made many different wild dishes though I no longer remember the names she gave them.  The imagination on this girl was incredible, and it was fun to watch her mind work.

Now she makes things like salted brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and chicken soup.  She tries new vegies and dishes, and with her creative mind, she is always experimenting with other foods.  I still love her imaginative mind and the things she thinks to do.  Happy birthday, my sweet!  You are a joy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ninety Somethings

Our trip to the cabin was particularly notable in that we had some very special visitors.  First, on Sunday, my Aunt Ruth (pictured right), her son, Chris, and his wife, Kim came to visit us.  Aunt Ruth had been to the cabin as recently as 2008, but cousin Chris had not been there since sometime in the late 60's.  I have a picture of him when he was 15 or 16, sitting at the table with us, right before the pack trip.  I won't embarrass him (or the rest of us at the table) by posting it, but I thought this current picture was particularly good of all three of them.  

Aunt Ruth is the youngest ninety-something I have ever met.  She still drives Meals on Wheels, sometimes taking the routes that others won't take because the weather is too bad.   Fifty years in a row, she still volunteers at the hospital.  She puts out the church newsletters and bulletins . . . every week.  She takes her recycling to Explora in Albuquerque so that the children can use them in their art projects. She bakes cookies until she finds the perfect recipe; she makes stuffed hearts for people who have had heart surgery; she makes all sorts of toys and other items for people who are in crisis.  She is indeed an amazing woman!

Then on Wednesday, Don's Uncle Rod Simpson, and cousin Sherry and her husband, Mike, joined us for the day.  Uncle Rod is another very young 90 something . . . but he is a year younger than Aunt Ruth, so he can't be the youngest 90 something.  Anyway, he continues to amaze us all, not only for his traveling and activity, but also for his astute financial knowledge.  We sat on the porch, talked and visited, and then went to Frankie's for lunch.

Unfortunately, Uncle Rod's eyes were closed with both pictures, so I picked the best one of every one else.  (From left, Diana, Mike, Don, Sherry, Rod and me.)  This is at Frankies, where we had all just finished some delicious Green Chile Stew.  Yum!

Don and I are so very lucky to have such wise and awesome relatives.  And having the chance to be with both Aunt Ruth, Uncle Rod, Chris, Kim, Sherry and Mike was the best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Second Ride

After having such a successful ride, Emily mentioned that in the early mornings, she would see a baby coyote in the meadow on the golf course, and she invited us to go along.  Although 7:00 a.m. is might early, Diana and I were bright-eyed and bushy tailed - despite the fact that we were a little sore from the ride the day before.

I again rode Ranger, and this time Diana rode Amaretto.  The ride was short - 45 minutes maximum.  We saw two more deer, but unfortunately, no coyote came to play.  We were quiet; we looked and looked.  Emily's dog, Private, looked too.  But we did not see the coyote.

It didn't matter.  Having never been on the golf course that early, I hadn't realized how peaceful and beautiful it could be.  It had rained the day before, so there were dew drops on the trees.  The air was cool, the sky ice blue.  I am very grateful to Emily for showing me that I could still ride and horse and enjoy it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Has Hell Frozen Over?

After a trip to Spirit Lake a few years ago, I swore I would never ride horses again.  My knees hurt, my rear hurt, my back hurt.  For several days, I couldn't walk.  It wasn't worth it!

But while we were at the cabin, Emily Ley told us about a two hour ride during which we might see a bear.  The day before she had seen a bear track, so chances were good we would see one.  OK.  I was in.

We left the Tererro General Store at 9:00 a.m. in search of bears.  I rode Ranger, a very good horse who kept up well, didn't trot (another thing I hate), and was very responsive.  I knew from the beginning it was going to be a good ride.

First, we saw two deer.  I wonder if there was a fawn around, but we didn't see it.  Then a few minutes later a pack of coyotes began howling and howling.  We never saw the coyotes, but we surely heard them.  We began to see signs of bear - torn down oak trees, acorns all over the ground.  We saw several bear tracks. 

But no bears.  I think I should have recited my "Let's go on a bear hunt" song . . . maybe then we would have seen one.

Anyway, we got back after two hours, without a hurt knee, a hurt back, or a hurt rear.  I was a little sore the next day, but nothing like before.  I have to say - it was an enjoyable ride!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Verdant Farm, part 2

I have missed the farmer's market the last few weeks, but on Wednesday, I was able to go again.  I headed straight for the Verdant Farm booth, as I knew they would have something unique and different.

About a month ago, I purchased a squash called a pattypan.  I had no idea how to cook it, so it sat on my counter for awhile.  Wednesday I asked Dana for directions.  Following her instructions, I sauteed some onions and garlic, put the wedges of squash in it, and when it was nearly done, added some tomatoes to it.  A little salt and pepper later, and Dana was right.  Delicious.  I did have to take the wedges out of the pan and cut them smaller so they would cook before the garlic turned black, but I will know what to do next time.

This week, they had a new melon.  I wish I could remember the name.  It looks somewhat like a watermelon, but Dana says the flesh is green and tastes a little like cantaloupe.  I can't wait to try it.

They also had some beautiful yellow tomatoes.  I bought two, which was a huge mistake.  I should have bought ten.  They are wonderful.  I used one in the pattypan dish, and its subtle taste and fleshy meat made the dish.  I hope they have them again next week, because I will buy many more.

Their cucumbers were perfect; the onions huge.  I love shopping at Verdant Farm!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A REALLY GOOD recipe!!!!

One of the miracles foods that showed up when my kids were little was Magic Shell.  I loved that stuff!  Pour it on ice cream and it hardens, just like a dipped cone!  I bought more than my share of Magic Shell, but as the kids grew (and I grew . . . fatter), I quit buying it.

In early August, my subscription of Cooks Illustrated arrived.  I love that magazine, as it not only has good recipes, it explains the science behind them.  At the very beginning of the magazine, however, are  questions from people like me.  One of them was how to make a homemade Magic Shell.

On Thursday, Susan and I decided to try the homemade recipe.  The key is coconut oil.  Luckily, Dillons had some, and although it is expensive, I think I can use it for other things, so I bought it.

Taking 4 Tablespoons of coconut oil (I had to melt it for about 20 seconds in the microwave to make sure I had 4 Tablespoons), and 3 ounces of chipped semi-sweet (bittersweet) chocolate, and a pinch of salt, I melted it in the microwave for a minute, stirred it, and melted it again.  Another stirring and it was done!

We had to try it, of course, which we did.  Awesome.  We then tried it with milk chocolate chips, but we wouldn't recommend it.  Too sweet.  The bittersweet chocolate was perfect . . . and so we now have the perfect answer for dipped cones.  Yum.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Friend, the Double Gold Medalist

In high school, through my friend, Anne Turbett, I was introduced to Cathy Carr.  Although Cathy was younger than Anne and I, she was friends with Anne's sister, and we frequently hung out together.  She played volleyball on the school's team, went to football games with us, and generally was a part of our group.  And she was so much fun . . . funny, low key, relaxed.

Sometimes, she couldn't go with us because she had a swim meet.  We knew she was a talented swimmer, but it didn't keep her from participating in all sorts of school activities.

Before I returned for my sophomore year at K-State, I had seen that Cathy had gone to the Olympic Trials and I had heard she made the Olympic team that went to Munich in 1972.  Communication was much different in those days, and we had to rely on newspapers for our information.  Coverage of a girl from Albuquerque was slim in Manhattan, but my mom told me she made the team.  I didn't know when she would be competing, however, so I tried to watch the coverage as often as I could.  (Back then, we only had the nightly updates . . . not round-the-clock coverage like we have now.)

One night, I had an opportunity to go on a blind date, but I turned it down, just in case Cathy was swimming.  I went to the informal at the Kappa house, and with a variety of other girls (and their dates) I was glued to the television.  As they announced the swimming in the breaststroke, up came Cathy's name.  She was in the finals!  I jumped up, screaming and yelling, "That's my friend, that's my friend."  We couldn't hear the announcer, I was yelling so loudly!  As I recall, the other people in the room were only a little annoyed with me . . . but I didn't care.  This was my friend.

The rest is history.  Cathy set a world record while winning a gold medal, and later in the games, she won a second one.  Her world record stood for two years (although during the Beijing Olympics one of the announcers sent me to Google because he said that Cathy's record was bested just that year.  I thought he was wrong, and indeed he was . . . but it was fun hearing her name again!)

What is amazing about Cathy's victory is how unassuming she was.  We knew she was a good swimmer.  But none of us had any idea of how good she was.  Apparently others didn't expect it either, because in the Wikipedia article about her, it appears as if she was the pleasant surprise of that Olympic games!  I am not sure anyone expected it, except perhaps Cathy, and she kept it to herself.

Sports have become so all-consuming for current athletes.  They train year-round, they lift weights, they eat special diets.  I know Cathy trained and worked hard, but she always had time for other things.  She always took time for her friends.  In a games fraught with horror and doping scandals, she was a very bright spot in an otherwise very sad era.

I lost track of her, though I did find some information about her.  I am trying to contact her, but so far have had no luck.   When I drive by her family's home (the soft green now repainted) in Albuquerque,  I think of her fondly.  And every time we have a summer Olympics, I remember how fun it was watching my friend win a gold medal.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Bunny Nest

Don and I had been watching the bunny nest with interest.  The momma was always watchful, and on occasion we would see her at the nest, presumably nursing her babies.  And then . . . Babs found the nest.

It must have been blind dumb luck that she found it, since she can't hear or see.  But Tuesday afternoon her nose led her to the nest.  She had just begun to sniff it when we saw her, so we were able to keep her from harming the babies, but every time she went outside, she eventually ended up over at the nest.  (I thought she might forget about it, since dementia seems to have set in, but no chance.)

Wednesday morning, I went to the nest to see what was going on, and all that is there is a hole in the ground.  All of the rabbit fur and soft material was littered on the yard, but the babies are no longer there.  Although it is possible that a cat got them, we didn't hear any squealing (which we usually do), so I am hoping the momma decided Babs had gotten a little too close and moved them to another nest.  I suspect in a week or two, we will see baby bunnies hopping around the yard.  At least I hope so.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Moral Dilemma?

Today I noticed a brown patch in our yard.  For some reason I thought it was a spot where Don had repaired the sprinklers.  Nevermind that there wasn't a sprinkler around . . . I didn't notice that.

A few hours later, Don came in to tell me he found a rabbit's nest while he was pulling weeds.  He said it was right in the middle of the yard . . . yep, right where the brown spot was.  He was poking at the dead spot, trying to figure out whether we had grubs, when suddenly the hole began to squeal.

What to do?  The rabbits are indeed a nuisance.  But I couldn't let Don kill them.  It just wasn't right.

So in the near future, I expect to see baby bunnies frolicking in our yard, eating my plants and driving Babs crazy.  Oh well.  The price of doing the right thing . . . or what I think is the right thing!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Women in Sports

I know Title IX was a controversial law when it passed.  I know Title IX changed funding for all colleges and universities.  I know that some men's teams suffered because of Title IX.  But I still believe it was the right thing to do.  Especially after watching the women compete in the Olympics!

Today I am watching the women's volleyball team play China.  These girls are amazing!  I was a decent overhand server at one point in my life . . . for the times.  But now?  Oh my goodness.  I was also a decent blocker, but my jumps look like baby steps compared to these women's leaping abilities.

When I played basketball in high school, the game was comprised of six ladies - two on defense, two on offense, and two rovers.  Why?  Because the full-court game was too "hard" for women.  We didn't even have a basketball team with games after school.  We had to go to "play days" on Saturdays.

Young women like my sister, Katie, who was a legitimate athlete in her own right, consistently suffered the inequality in women's sports.  But it was women like her who paved the way for today's girls.  What I noticed when I was at The Independent School was that the girls who played sports were well-rounded.  We offered an equivalent number of sports for boys and girls, and although it stretched our resources to the max, I would not have done it any other way.  The opportunities for both genders provided them with a legitimate upper school experience.

I am grateful for the women who paved the way for these young girls.  I pray that today's athletes will take the time to find out how hard it was for their mothers and grandmothers . . . it wasn't always this way.  And for Title IX, I am grateful for that!