Monday, November 20, 2023

On Life, Labs, and a Lodestar

My husband travels a lot in his job, though not as much worldwide since COVID changed the dynamics of meetings (there are still those calls from the Australia facility at weird hours but they're a great bunch and I don't mind). But he is still often away from home, and Lorelei Lab and I have our own routine, especially during winter. After coffee is brewing and I'm showered and dressed, she gets playtime in the yard or a walk, once it's light out. After work, evenings are quiet, with a few chats with friends on the phone or the computer, and a cup of tea while she sets up watch by the back door, hoping, against hope, that "Dad" will come home early.

Last night she was expecting him, but work extended his trip another week so it was only with a little coaxing that she left her position by the back door and came and laid by my side with a huge sigh.  But God willing, he will be home.  
We get to expect such things, the sound of a car in a driveway, perhaps the phone call from a child or grandchild that they too made it home safely with the giant load of clean laundry they did at your house, or most of the contents of your wallet. But I only have to look at a flag carefully folded into a triangle on the mantle next to three spent rounds, and a couple of small wooden boxes with a dog toy on the top to be reminded, that getting home is never a guarantee.

It makes me cherish what times we have, all of us, my female friends who run the gamut from a beautiful blond with long blue-tipped hair to an author/equestrian who crafts her creativity from a small homestead out west to an African American minister who grew up in the inner city. All completely different women, but all alike in what we have overcome; the fears we have vanquished, and all having lost too suddenly, and with little warning, someone we loved, that sharp edge of horizon that suddenly vanished like an illusion.

The young don't seem to comprehend such moments, not the youth of childhood which knows no pauses and introspections, the world one large play station, but the "youth" that when I was a child, I would have considered "ancient". That time of life when you are busy with your own young children, jobs, parents, subdivision turf wars, and the constant undercurrent of needing to be liked, acknowledged, clicked on, hit on, and validated by people that 30 years from now you won't even remember the names of.
Don't miss it. At all. Especially those moments of boredom, of bone-searing weariness from wearing four hats, of dissatisfactions that could be relieved by only the rashness of staying out too late, having one shot too many, giving up a job or a relationship, like a bird leaving the safety of a comfortable perch for no other reason than you "felt like it". Only years and more than one empty bottle of regret put such days in their perspective.

You wake up one day, to an empty bed, a silent phone, and a cold house, and it's as if you'd suddenly heard a whisper, a soft cryptic uttering that cuts deeper than any rogue tool in your shop can, one of your mortality.  But instead of being something to fear, it's a way to savor your day, whatever it brings. It may bring a day of doing little or doing a lot, but it doesn't matter. What matters is the little scratching made on paper, of fingers on a keyboard, of a clear undistanced voice across the phone from another soul who needs your support, your wisdom, your ear, as they count their own days.
I had a meeting with my tax guy, getting ready for this coming year, and as always, he lifted an eyebrow at my 15-year-old truck and said, “You still live there”, noting the address in an old working-class village in the city. Like always, I didn’t say anything but smiled, and he said, “You know, you’re a millionaire, you could live anywhere?”  I just shake my head. I’m happy here in my fixer-upper with my elderly Veteran neighbors, writing a check any dang time I feel like it to support an animal shelter or the less fortunate, no desire in the world to live in one of those overtaxed, glass-walled, neat and orderly homes that blot out the sky, as cozy as a dental lab.

 No thanks. I smile and pour another cup of good coffee, drinking it not because of a pounding head of a late night, but because it simply makes me feel right with the world.  I look out an old window, the aged glass, milky with frost, coalescing a view that is as old as time, a sound, a whisper, murmuring from outside of time, a time as old as an ancient tree, the smell of the forest here in the middle of a city. A view as old as a hundred years ago, or maybe only ten. 
On the worn rug, lies an old yellow dog, her head on her dad’s slipper, left underneath a table. Her comfy dog bed is disregarded, it's not the most comfortable setting but one in which she is secure, knowing that he will come home, living unaware that it’s so very fleeting, that time that waits for us all, as inescapable as lodestar. 

Outside stands a hundred-year-old spruce tree, one of what used to be more than half a dozen, reduced to just two due to blight, age, and storms.  It has survived, it endures; it has its inevictable part in the memory of this place even when it too is felled.

Thursday, November 16, 2023


That look you get when you sneak into the kitchen to eat the leftover Halloween candy you squirreled away only to find out your spouse ate it already.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Waffle Hunt

The waffle detection device in the house has just gone off.

 Is it the steam rising - or the smell of  dried wild blueberries in the sourdough  batter.?


Friday, November 3, 2023

Elderberry Gummies - Tasty Immune Support We All Enjoy

Every winter I get some elderberry gummies as elderberry is a natural way to boost the immune system. But they were getting EXPENSIVE.  I knew I could make my own, and I did with the help of the free tutorials from Farmhouse Teas (a homesteading family in Central Oregon).  I have been a customer for a long time, starting my kombucha making with their tutorials, and enjoying all the many teas they offer (my favorites are the High Desert Hibiscus Herbal Tea and the Herbal Sugar Makers Not Coffee(R) which I have on days I want the depth and richness of coffee without the acid and the caffeine.)

I got everything I need to make my first batch,  gummy molds, a dropper, cheesecloth for straining, and some very high quality grass fed gelatin (their instructions also include instructions for making this vegan with Agar Agar powder.)  There we SO easy to make, just mix some of the the elderberry mix with water, bring to a boil, let it simmer to reduce to about a cup, cool slightly, whisk in honey and gelatin, warm it for a few minutes on low to dissolve the gelatin and place in the silicon molds.  After 30 minutes in the fridge the bears just pop right out.
No corn syrup, no white sugar, no chemical ingredients, no dyes.  Healthy immune and anti-inflammatory goodness from elderberry.  Most elderberry syrups in very small amounts are not toxic to dogs and elderberry tinctures are reported to have anti-viral property so I personally give my dog a single gummy as a treat, but always CHECK WITH YOUR VET FIRST for ANY DIY nutritional supplement or treat.  

Elderberry Gummies
2 1/3 cups of Water
8 Tablespoons Farmhouse Teas Dry Elderberry Syrup Mix (that's 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup Grass-fed Beef Gelatin (or Agar Agar Powder)
1/2 cup Raw Honey

Add the water and dry Elderberry Syrup Mix to a small pot on the stove. Bring water and
mix to a boil. Once the mix is boiling, turn the heat down to a light simmer and simmer the dry mix until the liquid is reduced in half. (on low this was 30 minutes for me). Strain the dry mix through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a clean container and let cool to room temperature. Check the syrup temperature with your thermometer and make sure that it is no warmer than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add the raw honey and whisk to combine. Add the Grass-fed Beef Gelatin or Agar powder and whisk in evenly.

Place the pan back on the stove and heat on low just until the gelatin dissolved and then turn the heat off and remove from the stove. Remember not to get it too hot and keep the heat down away from boiling. It should only take a minute or so on low heat.

Using large droppers place the herbal elderberry syrup gelatin mix into your molds of choice. (I used 3 of them total, the first two pictured here.)

Place the molds in the refrigerator and let them chill for about 30 minutes or until firm. Remove the gummies from the molds and keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-14 days

My batch made about 7 dozen mini bears.