December 23, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here and getting colder by the day, brrrrr. By December 26th the high may be only 3 degrees above zero. Yuck! But it's nice and cozy inside, and filled with the scents and sights of Christmas and Yuletide!

Today I made a crock pot full of my easy-peasy Beef Burgundy, made with a soup can full of sweet red wine (to rinse out the soup can, of course), and four other ingredients: beef (this pot I used beef already sliced in the package for beef stroganoff, and then cut the long thin strips into bite sizes), a can of Golden Mushroom soup, an 8 ounce package of whole button mushrooms cut into halves and thirds (depending on cap size), and a packet plus a little extra of a second packet of dried onion soup/dip mix. I also added a generous helping of ground pepper, dried thyme and dried - and aged (a year and three months, yikes!) of whole basil leaves that I ground up in between my fingers. Then the pot cooked on the "low" heat setting for 4 hours, with only one stir half-way through. The scent permeated the house and even managed to waft out to the street - wowsers - guess I need to get some additional insulation in these 1956 walls! My mouth was watering by the time I made up my first dish (over on-purpose a bit dry mashed potatoes) and gobbled it down, then had half a second dish as well! Now I want a nap.

I have my dark chocolate covered Queen Anne brand cherries (a Christmas must!), Beringer White Zinfandel wine, plenty of new fuel for my gel fuel fireplace and a host of Christmas movies to watch. Best of all, Solstice is done and we had a bit of sunlight day, late this afternoon. Every day, although it is not noticeable right now, it will get lighter a few minutes earlier and the Sun will sink below the horizon a few minutes later each day until the Summer Solstice on June 21. The worst is over, except for the bitter cold of January and February. I think I will go visit my friend Isis in Las Vegas in March - that always perks me right up :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all, and may the Season's blessings shower you with good fortune for all of 2018.

Jan

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Celebrating Earth Day and the March for Science with Crow Offerings

Hola everyone!  Wow, how time flies.  I must catch up -- someday...  For now, the kitchen/dining room is more or less finished.  The cabinets still need to be painted out, the backsplash removed and replaced with the porcelain marble look subway tiles I purchased last year, the cabinet hardware replaced, and new countertops purchased.  And the woodwork needs to be painted - probably black.

Today is Earth Day, and also today all around the world are Marches for Science.  Science and respect for Mother Earth go hand in hand.  In my home state here in Wisconsin, fourteen (14!!!!) separate cities/towns are hosting Marches for Science and Earth Day combined.  Thousands of people have turned out in Wisconsin alone.  Wisconsin, I love you!

There is also a huge March for Science and Earth Day taking place today in Washington D.C.  I am glad to see people standing up for what they believe in and exercising their Constitutional First Amendment to peaceably assemble and exercise their freedom of expression.  No hate involved, only a love of our planet - and a deep love of knowledge along with the acknowledgement that without science, without the quest for knowledge and the application of what we call the
"scientific method" of reasoning things out and working out how to solve a problem, we would all still be living in caves, folks.

I DO put my money where my mouth is.  Along with monetary contributions to various environmental organizations and hours doing postings elsewhere highlighting the dangers of the proposed Trump budget that would totally cut funding, for instance, for NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that funds research into how to better predict weather patterns and such things as hurricanes and tornadoes, along with support development of new and improvements "weather" satellites, oceanography exploration, mapping and surveying, etc.) - and talking with people about the easy things we all can do to help make our world a cleaner, safer and more beautiful place for all of us and for our descendants (RE-USE, RECYCLE, REPURPOSE, RE-IMAGINE), later this month I'll be working with a volunteer group to plant flowers along a stretch of boulevard in my city (as well as taking pride in keeping my property pristine and pretty year round).

We can ALL do things to help our Mother Earth, and support continued research and scientific discovery, too.  Many of  the bloggers I read and fans out there have gardens, for instance.  Every garden supports hundreds of thousands of little critters that we never even see, every single day of their existence.  Each and every one of them serves a purpose on our Mother Earth.  Of course, our lovely gardens also support all of the wildlife and birds that we do see and so enjoy.  These are in addition to the bountiful harvests that our veggy gardens can give us, the shade our wonderful trees can provide for us (as well as homes for our wildlife friends), and the undeniable beauty and fragrances of flowers, blossoms and blooms throughout the season.

My favorite times of day are after going to bed at night, with the window cracked open just a hair, and listening to the hootie owl when he arrives well before spring, singing his subtle song; He either sits in the ornamental cherry outside my bedroom window, or perches up on the rain gutter. I fall asleep to his HOOT, hoot hoot hoot, hoot - HOOT.  And in the very early mornings, especially this time of year, the birds begin their serenading in the pre-dawn, about 4 a.m.  The robins seem to be especially melodious this year.  I hear the through a half daze of sleep, revelling in the softness of my bed, the warmth of my coverings, the peace, the tranquility.  The OH SO RIGHTNESS of it all.

I've been meaning to post an updated photo of current contributions to beauty in the world deposited by my loving crow families in my bird bath over the years, several new ones since I moved into this version of Maison Newton in July 2014.  Geez, almost 3 years ago already, and I'm still unpacking boxes, LOL!  Take a look:


Collected through the years in the bird bath from grateful crows, who believe in paying back a favor with a pretty shiny thing (I've fed families of crows for years, along with about half the squirrel population in Milwaukee County), the following:  From the former Maison Newton of the big and much treed backyard, the "gold" bracelet with inset brown glass stones (one missing); the single die; the yellow doo-hickey, which I think is from an electrical something or other; and the rounded smooth white stone in the upper right hand corner.  From the current and much smaller backyard Maison Newton - a new haul:  The crystal bead - and where that came from I've no idea; two bottle caps (ahem) - crows like local brewery brands in Milwaukee (Miller Beer); the smaller quartz-flecked stone in the top row, center; and the piece de' resistance -- what I call the "Pyramid Quartz Crystal" stone, that has the shape of a deteriorated Egyptian pyramid from the Giza Plateau!  The Pyramid Quartz Crystal showed up about 2 weeks ago or so.  I figured it was a tribute from the crows for feeding them during the long bout of winter from December through the end of March.  They like to surprise me :)

the Pyramid Quartz Crystal is hefty, so it must have been one of the big Alpha Male Crows who delivered it to my birdbath.  I can hear them when they come, and I will always open up the patio door and throw out handfuls of peanuts in the shell (they LOVE peanuts!).  And every year since I've been here, the crow offerings have appeared in due time -- usually in the spring.  Like a Crow-Human ritual, perhaps.  Hmmm...

Celebrate today!  Enjoy our lovely Mother Planet and all of its glorious beauties offered to us so freely each and every day.  And remember that in order to protect it, in order to continue to grow and prosper and live safer, healthier lives in the 21st century and beyond, we need to keep learning, need to keep researching, need to keep studying, and need to keep asking those questions and searching for those answers.  We need - science.