Monday, October 20, 2014

Storms and Sun Tea

Last night the predicted storms arrived.  I woke up, sometime before dawn, to rain and wind and the low, faraway rumble of thunder.  One of my favorite things is to listen to the elements whilst snuggled in bed. It must be some kind of primal thing...or childhood memories of waking in the dark, the house quiet around me, warm and toasty under the covers as I listened to the chaos outside.

I've always, always loved a good storm, the wilder the better.  There's just something so raw and scary about the unpredictability, the sheer force of nature, that resonates to my soul.

It's been raining for most of the day--storm after storm--though it's not in the least bit cold.  I have the doors and windows open, the breeze wafting in is warm and humid, almost tropical.

Five minutes ago.  A brief vision of blue skies, though it's raining far across the valley as the clouds roll over the mountains from the coast...

Over the weekend it was still unseasonably warm--82* on Saturday.  I mowed the lawn, hopefully for the final time, and made my last pitcher of sun tea.  Then I tried to drink it sparingly, savoring the unique taste of Chai brewed and mellowed by the sun, because it will be months before I make another batch.

Except.  I didn't restrain myself enough apparently.  This afternoon, and my last taste of sun tea...

Ah well.  I'm ready to make the switch to hot tea, and cocoa.  Definitely.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Abyss Was Deep

I've had a weirdly bad week.  A crisis of faith (not religious) one day, slogging through the Slough of Despond yesterday, then this morning I woke up as Eleanor Rigby.

Like I said, weirdly bad week.

My crisis of faith?  I don't think I have one shred of belief that, as humans, we are worth saving. Honestly.  If aliens came down and took a look...we'd be toast.  Though at the rate we're going, we'll nuke ourselves way before they get here.

I opened my laptop on...Thursday?...and all the despair and horror and crap that makes up our world these days just overwhelmed me.  Normally I skim the news, try to save my head and heart from the torture of details, but for some reason the headlines were graphic and succinct enough to give me more info on the stories than I wanted.

Who decided it was okay to bring the most deadly disease on the planet to our shores? How many women have to be murdered, abused, subjugated and treated like chattel before we say fucking enough already because--believe it or not peeps--men are not superior beings.  And what kind of parent forgets their baby is in the back seat of a car and goes off to work?  Why is it that every day--every single day--some person goes nuts and kills his entire family.  Take yourselves out instead, you crazy bastards, leave the innocent alone. How many wars can we fight?  How many ways are there to kill the environment, living creatures, people?

My crisis of faith dropped me headfirst into the Slough.  I wallowed. I tried to crawl out but kept sliding back down the slippery slope.  The hopelessness was just plain daunting. I stayed off the internet, didn't turn on the television.  I walked the dogs for miles; spent long hours in silence with just them, my books...and whiskey.  By last night I'd gotten a grip...maybe seeing life through whiskey fumes helped in that endeavor.  Whatever. When I went to bed, I felt marginally better.

Then I dreamed.  About love and sex and bone-crushing hugs and sharing a life.  It was so vivid and wonderful that when I woke up this morning, I forgot for a second--just a tiny little second--that it wasn't real.  My man is gone.  There is no love, no sharing, no sex. I'm just a different bloody version of Eleanor Rigby.  Without the Beatles to sing my song.

I'm out of the Slough now, and though I'm still shaking the mud off my boots, the turmoil in my mind has lessened.  I kept my head in the moment today as the boys and I walked through the VA complex, the Sumac and Maple trees turning such incredibly beautiful colors, I couldn't help but smile.

And I learned something.  Smiling is like good whiskey...minus the burn going down.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I was walking the boys at the park on Monday.  Light drizzle, cool air on my face, and for the first time since, I don't know...maybe April?...I was wearing my hoody.  And a flannel shirt, jeans and my boots.  It was heavenly and comfortable and felt so...right.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love my Hawaiian shirts and flip flops, but after six months?  I'm so done.

As I'm walking, enjoying the freshness, dark clouds, totally great crap weather, I was thinking about my plan to head down south into northern California next Spring with my sister on a fact-finding mission.  I'm considering a move to the coast and away from the brutal intensity of inland heat. There are a couple of unfamiliar places I want to explore, and I want to refresh my memory on areas I already know.  This part of the world is very beautiful, with rugged mountains and dense forests that run from the stunning coastline to the Nevada border.

So.  Walking, thinking, wondering about starting over.  Again.  And then this story pops into my head. The whole first chapter was fleshed out before the boys and I got back to the Blazer. I couldn't wait to get home and write out my thoughts.

Yesterday, torrential rain squalls off and on all day.  I spent a fair bit of time thinking about the story, debated starting something new before finishing the serial. Then NaNo strolled down a neuron pathway and meandered to the front of my brain and I knew two things immediately:  I was going to write this woman's story, and I was going to do it for the NaNo challenge next month.  So I signed up. What better way to spend November than by losing your mind, right?

Connections.  Weather, wanderings, writing, and full circle...

My new mattress topper is holding up perfectly.  Over a month and it's still as lofty and cloud-like as the first night I slept on it. This morning I woke to a chill in my bedroom accompanied by the ferocious sound of pounding rain, but the pleasure of burrowing beneath my duvet, enveloped in the warm and cozy topper as the weather howled and raged outside was just so incredible, I seriously didn't want to get out of bed. Maybe ever.

Probably a good thing then that I have the dogs...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Movies and Musings

This has been an...oh I don't know, introspective...kind of weekend, I guess.  Songs, movies, the perfect sentence in a book, have been enticing me to ponder and mull.

Friday night, cozy on the couch, dogs snoring away, book in hand, low hum of white noise (television) in the background. Opening my book I glance up at the screen and see 47 Ronin, (Keanu Reeves version) is just starting.

Absolutely no idea in the world why I set down my book and turned up the volume...and then got completely absorbed.  The movie was about honor, and doing the right thing even knowing there's no way to win, brotherhood and sacrifice.  And heartbreaking love.

Near the end--in more ways than one--I'm blowing into a soggy Kleenex, tears rolling, heart swelling with an odd sort of pride at the strength and bravery of these men, the real 47 Ronin, because of course the movie is based on actual events.

At about the point where I finally realize things aren't going to turn out well here, Kai, one of the Samurai, tells Mika, the woman he has loved all his life:

I will search for you through a thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes until I find you again.

Oh man.


After much nose blowing, throat clearing, and more wine, I take the dogs outside, stare up at the stars and reflect...on the nature of love, what honor really means, and the cost of owning it.


Saturday night. This time I'm really going to read.  I reach for the remote to find a music channel on the television just as Fast and Furious 6 comes on.

Okay, you know what happened next, right?  Yeah, I watched the whole movie, every car chase, explosion and annihilating crushed-by-tank scene.

Except, know what? This might have been an action film, fraught with violence and danger, but it was also about honor and doing the right thing, brotherhood

Two movies that couldn't be more different--

And here's exactly why I've had a pensive weekend: two stories, two widely divergent cultures, three hundred years apart and yet...

47 Ronin/Fast 6

Band of brothers?  Check
Weapons?  Check
Martial Arts skills?  Check
Honor without question?  Check
Man's love for his woman?  Check

I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time to see both movies this weekend. I love that honor hasn't become a cliche, disappeared or died, that honorable men can stand together and not hesitate to do right.


I also love getting up early on beautiful autumn mornings to mist and mountains...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bugs and Bounty

My post yesterday was very short because what I'd planned to do was show some photos but in the mysterious world of Blogger, the photos wouldn't load.  I wasted way too much time and effort, even using two other browsers, to no avail...hence the quickie post before my frustration grew large.

Today everything works fine.  Glitches, nanobugs, solar flares...who knows what the problem was.

So. Let me finish what I'd started yesterday...

Remember this?  It's the harvest basket of squash and apples that my sister brought me a few weeks ago when she was visiting...

All the exotic and unusual squash are edible, though I've never eaten any of the ones in my basket. Tuesday, whilst rummaging through the varieties, one very cool name on a little sticker made me smile, so I decided to try it for dinner.

Sweet Dumpling.  How did this odd looking plant get such an endearing name?

I cooked it like I do an Acorn squash: wedges with a butter and brown sugar glaze, which gives the squash a wondrously nutty/caramel flavor...

The Sweet Dumpling tasted much like an Acorn and was delicious.

Earlier in the day, I also realized I had to do something with the large apples. I'm not much for just eating an apple.  I prefer them in stuff, like pies and salads and crumbles. Or best, apple butter or sauce.

I decided on applesauce.  I got three small jars out of the four apples, and promptly ate half of one jar before dinner and the other half with dinner.  I added honey and a dash of maple syrup to the mix while it was cooking and, oh yes, this is definitely the perfect way to eat apples...


Bill and Ted have big ol' flower heads, now bursting with little seeds.  I'm hoping they will keep maturing so I can hang the heads in the pines for Winter bird food.  I love that Bill and Ted showed up on their own, dug in and are thriving.  

Nature.  You've just gotta love the power, the beauty, in always finding a way...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Last Hurrah

Still overwhelmingly hot--yesterday edging over 100* and today high 90s--but the latest weather forecast has the temps dropping into the mid-70s by Sunday.  And maybe rain by next week, though I think that's just a clever ploy to prevent people from going nuts. Sadly, way too late for me...

As it's apparently the Frigging Summer That Won't Die, I'm going to have one last hurrah for my dinner tonight, a sort of picnic-style affair with my world famous potato salad (hey, it was loved in Scotland and famous counts), sweet & sticky pork ribs and bourbon baked beans. The salad is already made, the ribs are marinating, and yummy goodness is on my dining horizon.

Then I'm going back to dreaming about Kodiak pancakes with raspberry syrup and maple sausage links while winds howl around the house and rain runs in torrents down the driveway. And more dreams of chili bubbling away in a cast iron pot on a cold Sunday afternoon, cornbread and honey balancing the hot spice; pasta and garlic bread as the snow falls; Irish stew and biscuits after a freezing, mile walk to the mailbox.

Oh such wondrous dreams...such flights of fancy.  Dreams so hard to believe in today as the heat builds and humidity rises.

Monday, October 6, 2014


After walking the boys this morning, I had to take Ozzy to the vet for his semi-annual heart checkup. Every time I hope he's improved enough to drop even one of his five meds. He's just a wee dog but has to take eight frigging pills a day.  To say I worry about what's ahead for him doesn't come close.

The place is mobbed.  I'm glad I have an actual appointment because nearly everyone in the waiting area are drop-ins.  Bad weekend for critters it seems.

So, long story short.  I tell him Oz has been doing this weird cough thing and after an intense listen to his heart and lungs, the vet whisks him away for a chest x-ray. Back in twenty--I paced for fifteen--to hear that his heart has enlarged a bit more and is pressing on one of his bronchial tubes--hence the coughing.  My own heart expands with every frantic hammer blow as I wonder what this means.  Then I wish the doc wasn't such a good guy as he shares each and every problem with me as I stare at the x-ray. Ozzy weighs ten pounds.  His heart looked nearly as big as mine and I could see it squishing stuff in his chest.

I hate knowing this shit.  Now I can't look at my boy without imagining his Frankenstein heart or his bronchial tube looking like a collapsed subway tunnel, or his tiny little ribs keeping it all in.  Dammit.

Anyway.  Sorry...I said long story short, didn't I??

Bottom line:  He has to take a cough syrup-like concoction.  Whatever happens over the next few days will determine where we go from here. I guess the stuff is supposed to do something for his tubes--relax or shrink or widen?--unfortunately, the vet was explaining whilst I was frozen in horror looking at the x-ray, a quivering dog in my arms with a heart as big as mine.

It sucks, getting old.


On the way home, I decide to stop for a coffee after the bad news and the vet's bill so pulled into my favorite drive-thru.  I like all the baristas--they're funny and goofy and really nice twenty-somethings. I'm handing my money to the girl and she notices the bracelet I wear on my left wrist.  I love this bracelet, it's cool, handcrafted in Tibet and the beadwork is amazing.  I've got several bracelets on my right, but only this one on the left.

She hands me my change, then takes my hand and turns my wrist so she can see what the beads spell out.

Frowning, she says, "What's a tibbet?"

I blink.  What?

She shakes my hand back and forth like I'm a dolt, then says again, pointing at the bracelet, "Is it a whale or dolphin or something?"

Free Willy blazes across my frontal lobe. I thought she was kidding and I start to laugh but immediately realize she's looking uncomfortable, wondering why I might be about to laugh at her.

Biting my tongue, because really, it's totally unacceptable to laugh at someone when they're genuinely clueless, I twist the bracelet around my wrist--showing first the word FREE, then the Tibetan flag, and finally TIBET, all spelled in beadwork, and I read, "Free Ti-BET.  You know, that country over by China."

Another frown, then she grins.  "The place where the Buddha man came from.  The one who's always smiling."

My tongue is sore.

"Yes, and my bracelet is saying to Free Tibet from China, so the...ah...Dalai Lama can come home. To Ti-BET."

She nods sagely.  "Yeah, that's the Buddha guy."

I nod back, smile, and drive off. I get across the parking lot and can't help laughing. Oh come on...tibbet???  That's definitely funny.  And I needed the humor after the vet stuff. We won't look deeper into this odd conversation to question the American educational system, or the fact this young woman is in her third year of college. I'm serious.



Moving on.


Another reason I love Fall, especially while on this mountain: The mists begin to wind around the hills and dales in the valley below the house.  I can watch them slither and undulate, crest and fall like otherworldly waves.

Up early this morning, dawn just breaking...

Even a Monday can have some redeeming value...yeah?