Friday, October 31, 2008


Off in the distance, through the trees, comes the first faint howl in the gathering gloam. In her spot by the fire, the cat's ebony ears flicker at the sound. She looks up, intently staring off into the darkening day, before stretching and padding silently to the window. Standing on her hind feet she delicately savors the night wind before slipping through the sliver of open sash. The howl comes again, lingering as if frozen, floating above the forest then the hills take up the wail, echoing it forward into the valleys. It is closer now....

Happy Halloween, my friends.

To see other skies, check out Skywatch

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My World--Dead Boy Bridge

Not far from my house there is a long haunted road that twists its way through the woods. There are lots of creepy stories associated with it, one of which is the dead boy that lives under the bridge. If you pass by and aren't careful he will come out and chase you. This has never happened to me, Thank God. I met a man at the hawk watch the other day who has lived on the north end of Clinton Road for 30 years. He said you are suppose to throw money into the iron-stained water for his benefit. The money disappears. I had never heard this twist on the tale. He also said he heard that it was a live boy living under the bridge. Either way, dead or alive, I would not be living under the bridge. It looks like it is about to fall down. Are there haunted parts of your town?

To see other part of the world check out "That's my World" meme

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Witch Hazel

I was out to dinner the other day, and the topic of conversation fell to trees. I am not sure how we got there, fall leaves maybe. Anyway, I was telling my scary tree story, you know the one about the tree with the screaming face over by the dead boy bridge…. What, you don’t know about that tree or the dead boy bridge? Goodness, Ok. I’ll come back to that.

ANYWAY, the scary tree story led to a discussion of Halloween images-- crows, haunted houses, ghosts, witches, dead, gnarled, twisted branches raking a leaden sky, dusty tinctures with ancient peeling labels…people that go way overboard in decorating their houses and lawns. You get the picture. After everyone had named all their favorite iconic Halloween images and gossiped about their neighbors, there was a lull in the conversation. I offhandedly mentioned that speaking of tinctures, I have Witch-hazel growing on the property and although it is a leggy shrub, it could fit into the creepy tree category. Astonished by the lifted eyebrows and blank stares I started to tick off it unusual characteristics.

It has small snaky yellow blossoms in October when all other trees bloom in Spring.

It spits seeds for long distances rather than letting them fall to float on the wind.

The inner bark has long been used to brew a tincture to ward off skin ailments and relieve pain.

Its branches were and maybe still are used as dowsing rods to find water or minerals underground.

It is a rebel, grows wild in the woods….

The flow of conversation turned to Witch Hazel from Bugs Bunny abandoning the plant to conversational oblivion.

I like Witch-Hazel and I do have lots of it growing at the top of the property and it is in its glory right now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin Pecan Bread

You know how some days just cry out for baking? Well, it is gray, rainy and 40F here. And I happen to have pecans in the freezer and a can of pumpkin in the pantry. This recipe is from one of those little paperback cookbooks that are at the end of the checkout line at the grocery store. I have made it umpteen times. It comes out perfect every time, freezes really well, stays moist. Makes a great gift. It makes 7 mini loaves, if you prefer ( I've donated them to charity fundraisers). Gotta go, I just heard the timer!

Pumpkin Pecan Bread

2 1/2 c. flour
1c. whole wheat flour
3 c. Sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 c. oil
2/3 c. water
4 eggs
2 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350F. Grease bottom only of 2 bread pans. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine both flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well. In a medium bowl, combine oil, water, eggs, and pumpkin. Mix well. Add to flour mixture; beat for 1 minute at medium speed. Fold in pecans. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool on wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Pillsbury, Fall Baking Cookbook, 1988.

Monksville Reservoir

I have to drive over Monksville Reservoir everyday on my way to work. With the recent spate of freezing temps, the heat vapors have been dancing on the surface; glimmering in the sun. It has been this way all week. (Remember it has been in the 20s on the mountain.) Yesterday I decided to pull over and try to capture the rising mist.
Here's another one.

Sorta cool, huh. I wonder if this phenomenon has a name? Anyone know?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wait, that's not a dog

My sister has always been a dog person. (Or so she claims.) So how is it, that when a fluffy stray kitty showed up on her back deck with messy eyes, she felt compelled to try and doctor it? Many treatments later and, a long story, short, meet George! And yes, he is lying on her bed. Isn't he the cutest pudding pie?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Apple Snob

There it is then. Out in the open. I have favorites. We all do. Mine is the juicy, sweet, tang of a firm-fleshed Crispin. I get them from a local orchard; the grocery store does not sell them. (Do not be confused with Honey Crisp which the stores do sell; they are not the same thing.) When they are in season I eat them a lot. More than that, I hold off buying any fall apples until the Crispins are ready in mid-October. They are the BEST eating apple. Of course you can cook with them, but why? One drawback, is that they are HUGE. So you might want to share. My favorite afternoon snack is a sliced Crispin with a nice sharp Irish cheddar cheese.

In terms of cooking, I usually use a combo of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious for pie and McIntoch for crisp.

Do you have a favorite apple?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn Leaves

Hoo-ey! The Leaf-peepers were out in full force this weekend. The fall foliage normally peaks around here the second weekend of October, but since we had had no wind or rain, this weekend the trees were still in their glory. The weather was crisp, sunny, dry. Perfect for a fall day in the country.

You know how you take things for granted? Oblivious to the beauty around me, I tried to turn left onto the main drag to go to the grocery store yesterday but all I could finally do was turn right and go with the flow. Car after car was filled with families going north. Intent on driving north to turn around and come south again to do my errands, I too got caught up in the fall color. It was spectacular! Abandoning my errands I drove to some of my favorite haunts. Enjoy the pictures.

One of the joy and sorrows of living on the mountain is the hordes of city folk that come to recreate in the woods. I hope you were one of them. If you haven't been out to see the fall foliage c'mon over. It will be over soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Petition for Preemies

Do you know someone who had a baby too soon?

I just got an email from friends whose baby came at the end of September instead of October. It turns out Richard the Third is fine and they only had to stay at the hospital for a week; but many babies have to stay for months in the NICU, struggling to breathe, fighting for life.

It is happening more and more. According to the March of Dimes, 1200 babies will be born prematurely TODAY, everyday.

Premature birth is a growing problem. The March of Dimes has put out a call for all of us to sign their Petition for Preemies. It urges the federal government and the new administration to increase research support into the causes of prematurity and expand access to healthcare coverage for pregnant women.

Won’t you take a minute to sign and pass it along? If you have a blog will you post something? Increased awareness of the problem is key to starting the conversation.

Blog Action Day on Poverty


The Rubies of Summer

I have gardened for years and it is a joy planning what to put in the three large gardens. I can provide for four families, but, even at that, what do you do with the extra?

I had decided to downsize.

Every conversation with me somehow turns to the garden and in talking with a family friend who helps with the local food pantry, I found out, “They would gladly take any overflow.”

There was re-planning and a new excitement, what would they like?

Over the growing season with no rain to speak of and abundance of bugs I ended up with mostly tomatoes. Big beautiful Beef Steak tomatoes. I hand picked each one inspecting all for imperfections. I wanted who ever received them to know that they, like the tomatoes, were important. I am a firm believer in giving the best. I can keep the ones that have a bad spot and needs to be eaten soon.

If you are going to give it away make sure it is as nice as possible.

It is hard enough to go to a food pantry, without getting fresh vegetables that aren’t fresh.

I got a call from my son the evening after my first delivery; a neighbor of his had received a large tomato in his box of staples and was showing it off. David took one look and knew where that tomato had come from. “Mom, you donated tomatoes didn’t you? I knew that they were yours!”

Talk to your local food pantry and see if they can handle fresh vegetables and if so next year throw in an extra plant, or three. Next year I will be trying again. Beans, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and of course Big Red tomatoes, the rubies of summer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Feline Reception

When I walked in the house the kitties were all waiting in the basement; they know the sound of the garage door opening. I could hardly wheel the luggage without running over furry feet. I abandoned the luggage and hustled up the stairs to have a petting session. (There are 4 cats, so this requires the sofa.) Winkie jumped on my lap immediately, Tonka threw himself at my feet and Oscar nudged my hand with his head. The only one who remained aloof was Bourka. She sat politely and watched. When I finally got up to pet her, the kitties milled about my feet tripping me as I walked; following me from room to room, herding me to the kitchen for treats. It is good to be home.

As much as I travel, a good pet-sitter is critical. I have been using the same service for 8 years. They come in twice a day when I am gone, alternate lights, bring in the mail and in a pinch have watered the tomatoes. I do not worry about the cats. Should there be an emergency, Sandra is a vet-tech at the local animal hospital. The only problem is sometimes, my travel schedule conflicts with their vacation. I know they need vacation like the rest of us, but there is no back-up, which is hard. The neighbors are not cat people and none of my friends live on the mountain. I do have good friends that are willing to drive for 20 minutes to feed them but that is asking a lot.

I am glad to see their furry little welcoming faces, even if they insist on herding me to do their bidding.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Heading off to Arizona, the land of the gunslingers. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ornamental Grasses in Fall

One of the beauties of fall is the seed heads of the ornamental grasses. I grow a lot of grasses because the marauding herds of deer do not eat them and I love how they sway and shift in the slightest breeze. Most of my grasses are planted out by the road to capture this effect. Grasses are also tolerant of the salt and grit that is thrown on the roads in bad winter weather.

I selected my grasses not only for their shape or height or leaf but also for their seed heads. Let me introduce you to Moudry, the Black Fountain Grass. Most grasses have a beige or tan seed heed so I was thrilled when I found Moudry tucked away in a corner of the nursery. It is reliable, reproduces well yet is not one of those wild crazy beach grasses that go everywhere. It has long blades and a lovely shape. And I love the soft black bristles of the heads. I stroke them every time I walk by. Perhaps that is why I have seedlings everywhere in Spring.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Raking leaves

When is the last time you actually raked leaves?

I rarely hear the scrape of a rake on the chill autumn air anymore. Once a sure sign of fall, it has been replaced by the roar of the leaf blower. Yes, I know raking is back-breaking work, but there is something nostalgic about it for me.

As kids, we played endless games involving raking the leaves into long lines and gigantic piles. We would jump in the leaves, roll around scattering them to the winds, then rake them up again. No doubt encouraged by the adults in the family, we spent long hours on the weekends breathing the fresh air and tiring ourselves out. Eventually the leaf piles would get burned. There was nothing like the smell of burning leaves. And the danger and excitement of it.

One of my favorite games was to rake the leaves into a blueprint of a house. We would make rooms and doors and windows. We had to come and go through the doors of our make-believe house. Stepping over the "walls" was not allowed. We would argue over furnishings and create fake dinner parties. Sometimes we would actually make leaf neighborhoods with different styles of houses.

I don't see kids playing in the leaves anymore. The lawn services come, blow them all into bags and haul them away to the recycling center. Pity really. Some brilliant architect could get his start by designing leaf houses.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Worrisome old cat

whew. We dodged the bullet.

Miss Bourka went to the vet this morning and was diagnosed with a UTI. I thought for sure she had something dreadful. Instead, she has to take pills twice a day for 10 days. The doctor also said she was in remarkably good health for a 15 year old cat. She is a skinny old thing, but still hanging in there. I hope to have her for a while longer.

Wallowing in puddles of light,
ill health does not deter
the enjoyment of the sun's warm caress
on old bones.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The colors and the beauty of the dying day never ceases to stop me in my tracks. There are many beautiful skies from around the world at Skywatch.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Check out Wordless Wednesday for more interesting and fabulous shots!