Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If You Clink, You Drink


Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.  ~Oscar Wilde
We clinked, we did drink and we expressed hope for the coming year. We ate and I was in bed by 9:30! Nobody said I'm interesting. It looks as if 2009 arrived without my help, and so we face a day of work that will be liberally laced with conversation and humor. We have to find humor, for the task ahead is daunting. So, tally-ho and away we go!

Auld Lang Syne


For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Old Long Since
So here we are, at the brink of a new year. My poor old cynical, jaded heart is feeling something rare; hope. I don't know what to do with this, so I think instead of doing what I usually would do, fight it, I'm going to go with it. I believe it has been an "Old Long Since" I have felt we as a people would regain our conscience and decency. I have hope. 

So here's to Robert Burns and his poem and to Father Time as he crosses the threshold of an old year into a new, to become the new year baby and start the thing all over again. I'll take a cup of kindness dear, for auld lang syne.


Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

Chorus
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl't in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stoup
And surely I'll be mine
And we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Trials and Tribulations


Ever feel like the planets must be perfectly aligned so as to give you nothing but trouble? I'm sure everyone has, so everyone can relate to this. It has been my life lately and every time I think it can't get worse, well it does!

My troubles started when the skid loader went to a neighbor mechanic in September. He is very good, reasonable in cost and SLOW. He had it for two months before it came back. I am absolutely dependent on it, as I can't get the stalls cleaned without it. Pushing wheelbarrows up a hill to the manure pile left my resume a long time ago. That said, Deb and I had to do it. Mark took time off from work to help when he could. So, it came back and was returned to him 3 weeks later by the male half of this equation, not me. Mark said the neighbor could stop the leak and have it back in a couple of days. It's a good thing I had my cap on because the top of my head would have blown like a rocket otherwise.

It has been a month. Bad enough, but I've had insult added to injury. We had a big melt a few days ago and then a refreeze. The place is a skating rink. I had to make paths to all the areas I need to get to with a wheelbarrow filled with ice melt and grit and lay it with a shovel. This is a lot of area to cover and I would normally have the machine. Next, horses can't get out for the day, but only get an hour or so in small groups, as I have two paddocks that are reasonably OK. Mark has end-of-year tax projections to get to his clients, so no chance of help from him, Deb has a pinched nerve in her neck and can barely move, so no help from her. I can't push a wheelbarrow up the hill if I wanted to because it is solid ice. The stalls are a nightmare and the horses are antsy and I wonder what I did to find myself stuck under this black cloud of misery.

I thought we would get some relief from the ice with the forecasted snow, but it all stayed in central and northern Minnesota. They are getting record amounts, us not so much. But I don't have the machine to plow us out if we got anything measurable anyway!!

I'm having myself a real pity party. Hopefully something good will come out of writing this......anyone reading it will think things aren't so bad for themselves. Anyone, remind me why I thought this life was such a great idea again. : )

I have hope beyond measure that I'm getting my skid loader back sometime tomorrow. My friend Beth is willing to work while Deb is out of commission, so if you hear the Hallelujah Chorus coming from nowhere on Thursday you'll know I got it back and we are slogging through piles of horse manure on New Years Day!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lost In Space


Saturn's Dynamic Auroras


I seem to have life passing somewhere over my head, just out of reach. It just occurred to me, in a concrete way, that we will be changing over into a new year. My feet are on the ground and they do carry me from place to place, but where on this earth is my head?  OK, don't say it, I know I left myself open with that one.

I am older and I have a lot on my plate. The weather is not being kind, the skidloader has been gone for 3 MONTHS and life has not been easy. But, I don't think that is why I can't find my head.

I think the entire nation, and perhaps world, is having a really doozy of a hangover. We are keeping the blinds closed and stumbling about in the dark. A tape plays over and over. January 20th. 

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Crab Cakes

I have made a variation of this for many years. This is something I came up with, so I can't say it is authentic to the coastal region. This is going to be some of this and some of that!

When I felt flush I used lump crab meat, about a pound. Otherwise I use, gasp, canned. 2 - 6 oz cans.
a couple of stalks of celery, chopped fine
medium onion, chopped
bread crumbs, this is something you need to do by feel, not too wet or dry. Start with 1/2 c and work from there.
about 1/2 cup mayonnaise. I actually use Bite Back Tartar Sauce, which has jalapenos  and horse radish. If using mayo, I'd put in some hot pepper sauce, but I like this a little spicy.
when in season I'll add some chives.
        
Saute the onions and celery in olive oil until onions are translucent. Combine in a bowl with crab, bread crumbs, mayo and salt and pepper to taste. If you are using lump crab, stir gently so as to not break up the crab meat.  Form into cakes of the size you wish and put on a baking sheet and chill for at least an hour. From experience, this works best, as it sets the cakes.

Have a dish of flour, a dish of bread crumbs and a bowl of beaten eggs (2-3) Dip the cakes in the egg, coat with flour and then bread crumbs. Put into a hot skillet with oil. I use olive oil because I like it, but vegetable or grape seed would be fine. It doesn't take long for them to brown. Remove to platter when they are browned on each side.

I like the Bite Back sauce, but flavored mayo (lemon, basil, tarragon, etc.) is good. Or regular tartar sauce. Mark eats them without any kind of sauce.

This is good with canned crab, but great with lump crab. Leftovers make a great sandwich for lunch, on a nice roll or a sourdough bread.

So this is a MN crab cake!

Ice Age

This is the result of a 40 degree day on Friday. Melting snow turning to ice when the inevitable happens.........temperature drop. Now we are covered in this mess. I didn't get horses out yesterday because huge areas of their turnout look like this. All areas around gates look like this. Smooth hooves and ice don't mix well. We had snow in the forecast for yesterday, but it didn't happen, so I get to spend the day laying down as much deicer as I can. Yesterday I had to put down footing from the indoor arena all over the area of one of the sheds that has two mares in it. They couldn't get out of the shed or to their water. I put calcium chloride in the arena footing so it adds grit and melt when I spread it on ice. This is just one more reason for rejoicing that you don't live here!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Newest Member Of The Exclusive Club

No, I wasn't chosen as the latest member of Obama's Cabinet. Not yet anyway.

Newest nutcracker. My mother gave this to me. She was worried I would already have it, but I told her not to worry, They are often so alike, but somewhat different. I don't know how I got on this kick. It used to be old, fine bone china tea cups, from England only. I guess I ran out of room, so I went to something I only pull out once a year. I think all the 'boys' welcomed him aboard!

Reality Bites


It's back to the real world for me today. Life in a cocoon was so pleasant, but the barn doesn't take care of itself and Mark has work to do that does not involve my horses. Deb is enjoying a couple of days off, so it's all me.

It was nice to play Lady of the Manor for a day, drinking bubbly from a crystal flute, wine from Waterford and eating souffle. But the truth is, I'm more closely related to the Worker in the Barn! And, if the truth is told, I would quickly tire of the leisure, but I sure enjoy it when it presents itself.

So, back to work.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Photographic Chronicle, Or Why Mark Has To Wait Before We Eat

Because I Washed It!
I bought this is 1978 in an antique shop. I had it wired and have taken it with me everywhere I have gone. It is very beautiful and a big pain in my butt.

My Elderly Father
I can't post my mother because the photos I got are not good and I would be mad if I were her if they got put online.
Howard Loves The Wood Stove
Christmas Day Lunch
Romaine Souffle
Cava Brut
Fruit With Cream
Christmas Dinner
I am getting better with the camera, but I still have problems. The foreground is out of focus and the background is in focus. I'll get it right someday. Lessons would help. It was good anyway!

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

The New York Sun - 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? 
Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I won't be my usual chatty self for the next couple of days, as I am up to my ears in preparation for company as well as my usual barn chores.

I wish everyone a lovely, happy holiday. May you be blessed with love and family and some joy.

See you soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Drifts

What Wind Does To Snow




Now, for the daily misery report. The thermometer at my back door had us at 17 below zero this AM. The wind last evening and into the night was of gale strength and had to be at least 40 below zero. My misery index was reaching the top. We have a heat wave of 10 - 12 above predicted for tomorrow, yippee! I think I'll have another cup of coffee and a cookie now. Tell me when it's spring. But wait until mud season has passed, if you please.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Write My Eulogy Now

cause these cookies are killing me. OMG good! I modified a recipe I found online and I know I've died, and gone somewhere  that has cookies that melt in your mouth goodness. I decided, I guess, that I'm not nearly fat enough.

Okay, Here It Is

I cut the recipe in half, as I didn't have enough chocolate to make the full recipe. Shortening would give the cookies a nice texture and probably add to the taste, but I won't use it, so I tried more butter.

3 sticks of butter softened
call for - 1 cup of Crisco shortening - I used extra butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar - I used raw sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp vanilla
7 cups flour
1 1/4 tbsp baking soda
3/4 tbsp salt
24 oz chocolate chips - I used a 62% cacao bar, broken into pieces
I added nuts to the recipe, I had a partial bag of pecans and of walnuts. I broke them and added them in. I think for the halved recipe I had about a cup.

OOPS! I forgot: 
Cream together butter & sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, soda and salt. add chips and nuts. Drop by golf sized scoops onto ungreased baking sheet.
 bake @ 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet and remove to wire rack to cool an additional 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hell Isn't Fire, It's Ice

Yesterday we had high winds and snow. The air temperature was not bad, around 20 degrees, but it started to slide by the afternoon. Mark and I hustled to get the animals in as the wind and snow whipped us like a lash. The beasties were so anxious to get out of that weather, they nearly threw themselves into the halter. My old lady, Sun Spot, had been in one of the sheds overnight with my beautiful mare, Babe, but Spotty has lost weight and needed to come in. I brought her in a couple of days ago and threw Secret out with The Babe, which worked out. But, my Babe is not very smart and Secret is not Spot, so Babe stood outside in the wind and was freezing over. Mark and I had to get wind-whipped as we brought the two mares into the indoor arena for their own protection. Mark had to bring a heated tub in and carry pails of water to fill it and bring them hay. Some horses just would not make it if left to their own devices. 

Today we have an air temperature of 15 below, but it is the windchill that is the killer. We have 40 below zero winds. Remind me again WHY this state got settled. I guess I understand the Swedes and Norwegians that make up a large percentage of the population, but what the heck is the excuse of the pioneers that settled east of the river in Saint Paul. The British, Irish, French & Italians? They had to arrive in the late spring or early fall and thought they found a temperate climate and by the time they realized different, it was too late.

I don't care how long we live here, this type of cold is hell and shouldn't be allowed. There ought to be a rule or law or something that could make this stop. 

Mad Stallion
Topper has been without Ben for a week now. He decided to be mean to Ben, so Ben is gone from Topper's paddock. So now I have an angry stallion. Tough. It's only Dec., so he has no excuses, hormone-wise. A mad stallion makes an interesting photo, though. Especially engulfed in snow.
Geldings Shooting The Breeze
Just a bunch of boys from the hood hanging out in the snow. Ben, on the right, happy to be away from his psychopathic 'friend'. Poor Ben.
Old Silo, Old Barn. New Snow
Blue Spruce and Snow
Spruce Trees and Blowing Snow

BTW

Stopping to smell the roses yesterday was a good thing. Jeni and I have a good dinner and a great talk. It was uplifting to see her glow and gush over riding a cutting horse on a cow. She was simply spilling over with joy. She still wants to ride one of my boring dressage horses, but I don't think that will compare to the speed and excitement of a horse locked onto a cow!

Anyway, it was a good thing to get out and be involved in some else's life for an evening.

I'm A Bette


mm.bette_.jpg

I took an online quiz (link below) and I'm a 'Bette'. I'm impressed! Now if only I had that voice.....

You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me
    • * Stand up for yourself... and me.   
    • * Be confident, strong, and direct.   
    • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust. 

    •  What I Like About Being a Bette   
    • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.   
    • * Give me space to be alone.   
    • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.   
    • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.   
    • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.
      
  • What's Hard About Being a Bette  
    • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to   
    • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence   
    • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it   
    • * never forgetting injuries or injustices   
    • * putting too much pressure on myself   
    • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

    Bettes as Children Often
    • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit   
    • * are sometimes loners   
    • * seize control so they won't be controlled   
    • * figure out others' weaknesses   
    • * attack verbally or physically when provoked   
    • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

    Bettes as Parents   
      • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted   
      • * are sometimes overprotective   
      • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid


Cheery Me, Or How to Win Friends And Influence People


Okay, this is how I feel on many days! What's old is new again. In my younger years I was a high-strung, anxious and mercurial person. Somewhere around forty I mellowed out and discovered anxiety and worry were just borrowing trouble. For nearly two decades I have been a steady-eddy. You can count on me. I've had a barn roof collapse from the weight of snow on pregnant mares, trapping one, I've had horses die, horses seriously injured, mares have foaling trouble. I had to raise Zing when his dam died at birth and I had five other foals plus around thirty horses to care for. I did it, no worries. Well some, but steady-as -she -goes.

High-strung anxiety is creeping back in. I notice some moody behavior. If I'm going to regain my former temperament, is it too much to ask that I also regain my former figure? I think it's only fair. I'll keep the gray hair and the sagging skin, but how about the Fates taking the fat? Hmm, bargaining. Wouldn't that be a good trick if you could get away with it.

The trouble with my getting up on my toes is, I have 'hot' horses and the two blend like oil and water and someone won't come out of that combination well. They would put their money (or hay) on me. I would have to agree with them. I've gotten fat, but they still outweigh me by a bit. So, the only thing to be done is, turn off the radio, the TV and stick my head in the sand for awhile, maybe ten years. When I pull my head out of the sand, or as I have been known to say about people who don't pay attention, out of my butt, it will be a brave new world. Of course, there's always Valium.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pressed For Time....Filled With Thoughts

I'm really busy right now. Work in the barn without, once again, my skid loader is added work. I found out two days ago parents and son are coming over here for Christmas Eve. I have no groceries in the house, for us or for company, I need to spruce up the house some. We had the handyman out, which took time from my day (but he always gets a lot done!). I should be getting something done later today but I'm having dinner with a friend instead. I've learned, a little late, that it really is important to stop and smell the roses.

I have so many thoughts in my head that need organization before trying to put them in print. Bailouts to Wall Street investment banks versus loans to auto makers. Dick Cheney admitting to authorizing torture with a so-what attitude. Talking heads on the cable channels discussing said torture as if it's 'normal'. Bush saying he doesn't know what the Iraqi journalist's 'beef' is. The financial and moral decay of our country. I don't mean moral decay as the religious right frames it, but probably more the way Jesus would have framed it. Pardon me for evoking his name, but I think about this a lot lately. Avarice and cruelty have become the standard of our government and to a large extent, our population. I am so muddled in my mind and worried we, as a country, have gone down a road from which there is no return.

I need to stop paying attention to what is going on. I have turned all of my hair gray, so I don't know what I have left to display my distress in an outward way. I've gained more weight, so if that is how it's manifesting itself, I need to stop it RIGHT NOW!

Oh, and to be an equal opportunity fatalist, Rick Warren invited to Barack Obama's inauguration. What a slap in the face to his base. Think of Bush inviting Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. 

Ok, I'm done now.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Okay, I see it's Thursday again and I'm supposed to be thankful. I decided to do this because I tend to have a curmudgeonly personality. So, this forces me (I need to be forced!) to reflect on what is good in my life. Sometimes I struggle. Again, I'm always happy to hear what others are thankful for, it helps me to realize the sky hasn't necessarily fallen (yet).

1. I'm thankful for propane in the tank, really thankful!

2. I'm thankful for my wonderful old barn and its ability to stay above freezing no matter how cold it gets outside.

3. I'm thankful for stock tank heaters and heated water buckets, although not so thankful for the utility bill I get as a result.

4. I'm thankful my diesel truck starts in subzero temperatures.

5. I'm thankful I don't need to be out on the road during rush hour when we have snow and ice.

Peaceful

Even though cold!


Everyone who lives in mild climes, these photos are for you to feel the 'spirit'. We had some light snow a couple of days ago and it looks light and sparkly. More snow on the way tonight, so we are guaranteed a White Christmas. Too bad it's accompanied by very cold weather. I saw this AM that Christmas day will be below zero.

We reached 5 above yesterday and it felt like a heat wave! The handyman came out and put the tarp over the north door in the indoor arena, put the tarp over the north door of the cold barn and hung a gate. We were waiting for it to warm up!! Supposed to reach 20 today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Know, I Know.......

More dogs photos! Firstly, I love my puppies and secondly, I'm kind of busy and don't have time for more involved thought. Cute dogs are easy.
This is what they do most of the day and why I moved the ugly dog sofa to the kitchen. I get to look at them being lazy dogs while I work! The big dog, Atlas, doesn't lay on the dog sofa, he is a floor dog, so I don't get the sleeping/lounging photos of him.

Gracie Greyhound is having a problem, she's losing weight and we don't know why. As a greyhound she doesn't have much to lose. She went to the vet yesterday and hasn't any obvious physical issues, such as tumors or gland problems. Blood was drawn and the results will be available later today.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


My Sofa Slug, Howard, is very tired.
He loves those pillows!

He's a lap dog in a 90# body. I didn't want one that got this big, but he decided to be Super Basset!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Courtesy Of Jean L.

'WINTER'

a poem by Allen Cantrell...

'Holy CRAP, it's cold and I hate winter!'

The End

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hello Minnesota!


A fine MN morning greeted me. -15 on my thermometer. I haven't listened to the weather, so I don't know the official wind chill, but from the experience my face had walking from the barn, I'd say somewhere in the -30/-35 neighborhood. We didn't get the snow some areas did, it reached 40 degrees yesterday so our precipitation came as RAIN. You read it right, 40 degrees yesterday and -15 today. Gotta love a place with those type of temperature swings! No wonder we are all half mad.

On a positive note.....I love my old barn. 40 degrees, downright balmy. Everyone is tucked inside, happily munching hay and oblivious to the happenings outside. The horses that live in the shelters only peek their noses out the door, watching as the dumb two-leggers struggle to get them their hay. So, all is well on the farm. Warm horses with plenty to eat. Life is pretty good!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Tree, Here You Are For All To See!


Joyeux Noel Mon Amies Tres Bien
et
Tout Le Monde

I think this is all I remember from six years of French, but it sounds so lovely in French I couldn't resist. Whatever language, the sentiment is the same. I wish you all a joyous holiday season. 

Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

This is absolutely the best pumpkin pie I have ever made. It's light and fresh tasting.

If you decide to try it, use the Pate Brisee crust, it adds a lot to the pie and is simple to make.



Pate Brisee

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbs granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled & cut into 1 inch pieces

1/8 - 1/4 cup ice water

Place flour, salt & sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles course meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8  cup water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. Add more water if necessary, but don't process more than 30 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes.
After the dough has chilled, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 13 inch circle. Fold in half and place into pie plate. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Filling

3 large eggs

2 cups fresh pumpkin  or 1 15 ounce can

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and place on a large baking sheet. Bake for 46 - 50 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust has browned @ 375 degrees (the center will still look wet) A knife inserted about one inch from the side of the pan will come out almost clean. Serve at room temperature.