Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You cannot read Loss

You cannot read loss, or think about it or know it. You cannot be prepared for it or brace for it and come to terms with it either. 
It just is.
Janice Kenneman

All you can do is feel it.

My Aunt Jany passed away Saturday the 18th of December. It was sudden and unexpected. I had not been close to her for many years and as a child I only saw her occasionally. I always thought she was so .. cool. Calm, collected and reasonable in ways few of the adults in my every day world ever were or would be. I remember her laugh was always a little bit throaty and made her eyes dance. That phrase 'eyes that dance' is utter nonsense when used to describe most people but for her it makes sense.

When I was maybe 11 or 12 I was visiting their house in East Hartford (they had the coolest bathroom in Connecticut) and she wanted to take a picture of me and cousin Nicky, and her daughter Rene all sitting on the couch. We were sitting there smiling like the models we all thought we were and then heard a funny noise above us. We looked up to see a teeny... tiny... bat.

Ever heard three preteen girls screech at the same time?

Aunt Jany laughed for an hour, I swear.

Later, about 5 or 6 years ago, Aunt Jany and I began to email each other. She got up at dawn each day and would sit and have her coffee while she read her emails and the news. I'd chat with her for 20 minutes or so before I went to work. After a year or so I changed jobs and the early morning emails tapered off.

I regret that.

I am so glad to have had you in my life however briefly it may have been.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eat yer weeds!

Always be careful not to gather wild edibles within 50 feet of any regularly traveled road.                       Disclaimer: Poison Sumac is POISON.
The red or staghorn sumac is not the same as poison sumac which has white, drooping berries. Look for the red, upright clusters of seeds on the edible type sumac. These seeds are ripe in August and September....when the white crystals form on the surface and before the autumn rains wash the flavor off.

Edible sumac

Dangerous bad will kill you to death Sumac

If you try any of these please let me know!

The fruit of the staghorn sumac (Rhushirta) was frequently used by Indians and pioneers to make a cool, sour drink. The name staghorn comes from the likeness of the down-covered branches to deer's antlers. The fruit clusters are plucked and boiled in water, strained and sugar is added to give the juice an agreeable lemonade-like flavor.

Take 4 or 5 red sumac seed heads. (Do not wash for the flavor is concentrated on outside of berries.) Cover with water; bring to a boil, strain through a cloth. Add water if necessary to make 2 cupsful.

Combine: 1 1/2 c. sugar 1/2 tsp. salt

Add 2 cups hot sumac extract prepared as above. Cook in double boiler until thick. Beat 3 egg yolks; add a little of the hot mixture. Stir and pour back into double boiler. Cook 2 minutes longer.

Remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter; cool. Pour into baked pie shell. Top with meringue prepared by beating 3 egg whites with 6 tablespoons sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until browned.

Cover sumac with water. Pound and stir for 10 minutes; strain to make an extraction.
2 c. sumac extract
1 pkg. Sure Jell
5 c. sugar
Bring juice, extract, and Sure Jell to a boil. Add sugar and hard boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim. Pour into jars and seal immediately.

Cattail Casserole
2 cups of scraped bud material
1 cup of bread crumbs
1 egg
½ cup of milk
salt to taste
pepper to taste
"…scrape the bud material from the cores, mix 2 cups of buds with 1 cup of bread crumbs, a beaten egg and ½ cup of milk. Then salt and black pepper to taste and bake in a casserole dish in a medium oven for 25 minutes."

Juniper Marinade
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups red wine (Burgundy works well)
4 Juniper berries
1 bay laurel leaf
6 whole peppercorns
1 medium onion, sliced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. salt
4 pinches mace
2 whole cloves
1/8 tsp. thyme
4 pounds meat or game
Combine all the ingredients and store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for at least one day before using. Place the meat or game in a bowl and pour marinade over it. Turn the meat every couple of hours to allow the marinade to penetrate. Marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 days depending on how strong a marinade flavor you like. Strain the marinade and use it to baste the meat every 20 minutes while it roasts. One pint of marinade is adequate for 4 pounds of meat. Serves 8. 

Black Birch Tea
"To make a wintergreen-flavored tea, cut some sweet birch twigs in small pieces and cover them with boiling birch sap. Let it steep for a minute or two, then strain out the twigs and sweeten the tea to taste. Some like to add cream or hot milk…
"Birch Tea can also be made of the red, inner bark of sweet birches, but removing this bark from standing timber disfigures and injures the trees. If sweet birches are being cut down anyway, as in land clearing or limbering, one can gather a supply of this fragrant bark without feeling like a vandal. The bark from the stumps and roots is considered best. Use a knife or a carpenter’s wood scraper to remove the outer, dry layer and then peeel off the red inner bark. It peels best in the spring or early summer. If this is cut in small pieces and dried at ordinary room temperature, then sealed in fruit jars one can have the makings of Birch Tea throughout the year. Use boiling water when birch sap is not available. Never boil the twigs or bark in making this tea and never dry the bark in too warm a place, for the wintergreen flavor is very volatile, and is easily driven off by too much heat."

Mulled Sumac
4 cups sumacade
4 whole cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 lemon
freshly grated nutmeg
Put the sumacade in a saucepan and add the cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. Add the slices of lemon peel and juice of the lemon. Heat the mixture over low heat for 20 minutes. Do not let it boil. Pour into glasses and add a little grated nutmeg on top. Serves 4 to 6. For a winter warm-up, try adding 1/2 ounce of rum.

Dandelion Coffee
1/4 cup dandelion roots
2 tsp. chocolate bits
2 tbs. rum
Collect dandelion roots from healthy plants. Wash and scrub roots to remove all dirt. Dry the roots thoroughly and roast in a 250 degree oven for 2 to 4 hours, until they are brittle and dark brown inside. Grind them and use the powder to make a 4 cups coffee. A drip pot with filter paper works well. Add chocolate and rum to serve after dinner. Serves 4.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dating 2.0

A rainbow seemed a good choice to begin this post with. Hopeful, bright and colorful. 

Lately I have been really busy so it may seem like the worst time ever to be thinking about dating but, it turns out that when I am busy ... I think about it the most. It would be nice to have someone to talk to at 11 pm when I am finally done with the day. Also, it would be nice to not always be the odd one out. Not that I mind terribly but it would make tables at restaurants more, you know, even.

So I guess the first step is picking a site.
Plenty of fish?

The second step is writing an ad.
This.. could take awhile. Any help would be appreciated!

The last step is choosing some photos.
(thanks to Peter this shouldn't be too hard.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Still here, still thankfull

I'm too busy to write, really. Tonight though, I am going to the very first Holyoke writers meet-up and I am feeling inspired in a ragged way. My favorite way to write when I do not have time to write? Lists, natch.

Things I am thankful for

1. Cold pressed coffee (Thanks Maggie and Nancy)

2. More friends then I can recall in an academy award acceptance speech.

3. Kids who wash dishes and water gardens

4. White out tape

5. Fancy foot lotion and socks

Things I could really do without

1. Paper logs

2. Another meeting

3. Invader Zim cartoons on Netflix streaming

4. My lab partner

5. My lecture professor who seems to have checked out of the class so .. actually I guess I am already doing without him.

Things I want

1. Naps

2. A new car antennae and someone to fix that for me

3. A washin' machine and a hook up

4. 2 thousand bucks

5. More naps

Things said recently

1. "Spiders are good luck, unless they eat your face off, then.. they suck." -Nick

2. "Well SOMEONE got some sun." -work friend in an angry tone.

3. "Excuse me, I have a business call" -Zak

4. "Can I sit on your lap?" - Helena

5. "OMG There is a huge Zucchini under there!" -Rachel

Fourth of July plans

1. Cook out on Friday, then fireworks!

2. Saturday: Yoga, laundry, block party meeting.

3. Sunday: Yoga... nap?

4. Monday: Werk

5. Homework! Every day.

Whats new with you?! ... is anyone here?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Extra! Extra!

So.. I blog for the Masslive Parenting Project now. But I probably can't swear there so don't worry! I will still post here.. at least whenever I want to write bad words and call people names.

Check me out here and leave comments! Maybe then I will one day get PAID to do this. :o)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Less then Plastic Resolutions

This is one of my favorite photos from 2009. We were at my cousin Nicole's place, a nifty restored old house on the Westfield river. We took a picnic lunch and the kids (I took a personal day from work) and went swimming. In 2010 I want more days like that care free happy day.

I resolve to take compliments better. I will not shrug them off, deny them or make excuses. I will accept them gracefully.

I will say yes more often. To myself, to my children, to my friends, to handsome men in hats and too chocolate cake. Mostly to the cake.

Which bring me to the obligatory "I will lose 20 pounds this year" resolution. Blah, I have a woman's hips which works out well because I am a women. So.. more salad, yes. But also, more cake. More Sushi too! I'll stop saving that treat for special occasions.

I will learn at least two of the following.
Making Sushi
Book binding

I will buy less, use less, consume less and throw less away.

I will smile more. At you.

I will be less judgmental. Seriously. Who the eff am I?

I will dedicate more time to my art. Whatever it may be.

I will do what the boys want to do more often. Hiking, biking, playing Guitar Hero, eating at gross Friendly's and maybe.. just maybe.. letting Nick take a girl to the movies. (But probably not, who am I kidding?)

Mostly though I resolve to make the best of 2010. I will not kneel to any circumstance, I will not give in or give up. Like compliments I will take each little crisis and calamity in stride, with a smile and never forget that.. this too shall pass.
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