Thursday, March 28, 2013

Float On - Inspiration Thursday

I think this song is a sort of contemporary take on the song "Don't worry be happy."  It is originally by the group Modest Mouse, but I quite like this bluegrass take so I thought I'd share that recording.

I don't know about you, but every now and then it seems like everything is going wrong.  Like bad decisions are made.  Like accidents keep happening.  Like people are inconsiderate, self-centered jerks.  Like there are too many "bad days" to be had.

But, as I've said before, I know about blessings in disguise because I've been given many already in my life.  I know there are people who let you screw up, cause accidents in carelessness, say the wrong thing, (be human) and then just forgive, understand, and get on with it as if everything is okay.  Blessings upon those people. I hope to be like them. 

And I honestly believe that everything works out in the end.  If it doesn't work out it is not the end.  That this to shall pass.  That we will all "float on okay" in this river of life.

So, "don't worry.  Even if things end up a bit too heavy we'll all float on alright."

"Float On"

I backed my car into a cop car the other day
Well he just drove off sometimes life's ok
I ran my mouth off a bit too much oh what did I say
Well you just laughed it off it was all ok

And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on any way well

Well, a fake Jamaican took every last dime with that scam
It was worth it just to learn from sleight-of-hand
Bad news comes don't you worry even when it lands
Good news will work its way to all them plans
We both got fired on the exactly the same day
Well we'll float on good news is on the way

And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on alright
Already we'll all float on
Now don't you worry we'll all float on
Alright already we'll all float on
Alright don't worry we'll all float on

And we'll all float on alright
Already we'll all float on
Alright don't worry even if things end up a bit too heavy
We'll all float on alright
Already we'll all float on
Alright already we'll all float on
Ok don't worry we'll all float on
Even if things get heavy we'll all float on
Alright already we'll all float on
Don't you worry we'll all float on
All float on 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Eagle

Living in Montana we see a good number of bald eagles.   Its a blessing of living out here in the open west.  Nary a trip to my mother's passes without seeing multiples.  Rarely a walk on the river fails to yield a sighting.  I've even seen them eating roadkill right on the side of the highway.  But, we don't usually see them soaring over our neighborhood like this one was.  Bald Eagles, in all their might, majesty, and beauty, always make my day.

Oh, what it must be like to be able to soar like that!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Went for a walk yesterday with Matt and my sister, Lisa. I saw my first blossoms of spring for this year and noticed how all the trees are budding out.   Oh, joy.  It is such a beautiful and miraculous season.  Perhaps my favorite of all, in fact.  It pleases my little heart.

Friday, March 22, 2013

PB Smoothies

On a whim one day a few months back Matt put a dollop of peanut butter into the blender with our fruit and soymilk.  It was a pretty revolutionary thing.  We now pretty much always put one in.  It is amazing the scrumptious contribution it makes to every variation of smoothie we make.  Blueberry-Banana-Peanut is the best though.  It tastes just like a milk shake somehow.  Its not much peanut butter--maybe a tablespoon in an entire blender full of smoothie.  But, oh, it makes quite a difference to my taste buds.

Another trick I've found is to just process the heck out of it--for way longer than really needed to make it smooth.  It makes the texture so much lighter and creamier.  It whips in more air which makes it greater in volume--more smoothie without more calories, just more air.  And when the smoothie is this light and creamy I always seem to want more!

Smoothies are such an easy way to start my day with a big dose of fruit as well as a healthy option when I get a sweet tooth--especially that blueberry-banana-peanut milk shake tasting one!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Little Bit of Gardening

I am so pleased by the hopeful promise of little green things starting to grow again--both indoors and out.  The tulips and bleeding hearts are pushing up through the earth in the front beds.  The onions, broccoli, and cauliflower seem to be thriving both under the grow lights in the nursery and in the cold frame out in the garden.  The leeks have just begun to sprout. 

And now it is officially spring.  I think I am ready.

Do Good Anyway - Inspiration Thursday

Frogs in the Wood, 2012
People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered;
        Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
        Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies;
        Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you;
        Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight;
        Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;
        Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten;
        Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough;
        Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God;
        It was never between you and them anyway.
-- Mother Teresa

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

With My Pals or On The Bright Side

I suppose I am a look-on-the-bright-side or every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining or you've-got-to-make-the-most-of-a-bad-situation or when-life-hands-you-lemons-make-lemonade sort of person.   I figure even when something is going awry there are positive lessons to come from it.  I've had many firsthand experiences with blessings in disguise.  I know they are real.
So, I've been thinking this week about--well, a lot of things--but one thing is that I have decided there are a limited number of good things that can come out of a funeral. 
A sense of closure and peace for friends and family of the departed.  A sense of comfort and relief that someone is no longer suffering, if it was a prolonged illness.  And a chance to be with those you love who are still among the living--a bittersweet reunion of sorts to celebrate life that still goes on despite mutual feelings of loss and pain.
I had never in my life seen a 40 oz beer before.  They were ridiculous.
So, while I was back home for Josh's funeral a couple weeks ago I did make some wonderful new memories to cherish with Alli, JD, Ben, Levi, Jessica, Jason, Shay, Wes, Meagan, Glenn, my dad, and on and on. 
Alli's homemade lava lamp--I know it involved a bottle, alka seltzer and a headlamp, but I am not sure about the rest.  Oil, water, and food coloring perhaps?
For me at least, that chance to share and laugh and cry and play and hug and talk and eat together really helped soothe my mournful soul.   That reunion of love and friendship was healing for me.  I'm not ready to say I have peace about the issue entirely, but without that love and friendship I don't know how it would ever be possible.
Time with friends and family is a precious gift.  Time in this life in general is a precious gift--something that should not be frittered away mindlessly.  Its a shame that so often we need something like a funeral to force everyone to remember that.   

Climbing the Pillar

"This rock I ascended and from it's top had a most extensive view in every direction....after Satisfying my Self Sufficiently in this delightful prospect of the extensive Country around, and the emence herds of Buffalow, Elk, and wolves in which it abounded, I decended and proceeded on...." --William Clark - July 25, 1806

Pompey's Pillar (with the visitor's center for scale)

The signature of William Clark along with the date of his visit carved into the sandstone.

Paddling up river in a replica dug out canoe.
Matt checking out a rather giant tree stump...and pretending to fall into it.
Its kind of cool to stand on top of the rock and look about at the countryside as so many people over so many lifetimes have done.  I try to imagine what it must have looked like before the roads and fields.  I try to imagine all the wildlife.  And I enjoy the open space, the river, the life all around me in this very moment.  History is this moment, too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Curious Lake Adventure

Matt and I both worked late yesterday which meant we had the morning to go on a little adventure.

It was so sunny and warm, hardly seemed like a March day, really.  We decided to take a nice scenic drive out towards Molt, MT and the Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  We'd only been to the reserve once before.
The Big Lake drainage is valuable habitat for waterfowl.  There aren't too many lakes out here in south central Montana so I guess it is a pretty big deal.  The lake's size varies greatly with the seasonal melts and rains and dry periods.  Sometimes it is big.  Sometimes not so much. 
It is like a landscape from another world though when the water is not at its peak.  Like walking on the moon or maybe Mars.  The sky and land are flat and open.  The ground looks covered with snow from a distance as it is so white.  It is white because the ground is covered--and I mean covered--with this strange mat of algae.  Or dried up slime.  Or be honest I am not sure what it is.  It feels like fabric.  Like carpet.  It pulls away from the ground in sheets that are surprisingly solid and durable.  (For the record we didn't pull one up, we just found one that had been already.)  The bottom was green.  And the carpet of it goes on and on and on.
We had to walk across quite a bit of this white mossy plain before we got to where the lake's meandering shoreline was.  Even still (and even with binoculars) most of the birds were too far out for us to ID.  There were hundreds and hundreds of coots and Canada geese though.  That was quite apparent.  The ground was soft and spongy, but not muddy.  It felt quite strange underfoot.  Like walking on...playdough... sort of.    Our tracks were quite evident in the soft earth, as were those of many other critters--though not too many of them human.
We watched a bald eagle soaring overhead with nary a wing flap--just riding the currents.  I don't know that this sight will ever cease to amaze and bewilder me.  It always seems like such a gift to behold their majesty and power.  This eagle even circled low and close over us providing us a wonderful view.  Usually they always just circle higher and away from us it seems--almost never closer.
We also saw immense numbers of horned larks on the drive to and from the reserve.  They were all over the place!  I think their little horned tufts and black eye masks are awfully charming.  They have a lovely singing voice, too.  Almost as nice as that of the western meadowlark, our state bird.

Male horned lark.  You can just barely make out his little horns.

Female horned lark, after fluffing herself up a bit.
A storm looked to be rolling in from the distant mountains and the morning was fast becoming afternoon so we had to head back to town.  But, we decided that we're going to try to visit Big Lake more regularly--watch the full range of the seasons and migrations and to enjoy a peaceful stroll is a place of such quiet, remote and strange beauty.

Smooth and Creamy Peanut Squash Soup

This soup is our take on another recipe from the Peanut Butter Planet cookbook I've mentioned in the past.  The original recipe called for canned pumpkin.  I DO have a couple cans of pumpkin in my cupboard, but I also still have many, many winter squashes in the basement to eat so we did a little substitution for fresh squash instead.
Smooth and Creamy Peanut Squash Soup

1-2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet pepper, chopped
1 hot chile, seeded and minced
1/2 pint tomato sauce
Many cups of squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (I don't know how much...just use your best judgement)
4-6 C veg stock
1/4 t dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 C peanut butter (or more if you want.  The original recipe called for an astonishing 3/4 C!)

Heat the oil in a large pot.

Saute onion, peppers, and garlic until softened, about five minutes.
Stir in tomato sauce, squash, stock, and spices.  

Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer on low for 45 minutes until squash is cooked.
Stir in peanut butter and puree the whole pot with an immersion blender (or in small batches in a regular blender if you don't have one).
Adjust seasonings if desired and let simmer another 10 minutes.

We ate our soup with some pan-fried polenta "fingers" on the side for dipping! 
It was a very satisfying and yummy soup on a brisk winter day.  Not to mention a rather striking golden orange color.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Montana Pineapple Update

You may remember that almost a year ago not I posted that Matt and I were attempting to grow a pineapple in our house.  I was admiring the pineapple the other day and thought perhaps I'd share some of the progress we've been making.  No fruit yet, but there are indications that we're on our way.

First, the thing has gotten huge.  Go back to that other pineapple post and look at how itty bitty it is in the little 5 inch green pot near the end of the post.  Now it is in a 10 inch pot and that pot overfloweth.  The original leaves (i.e. the ones on the top of the pineapple we bought at the store and rooted) are still very small, and a little worse for wear, but all the new growth is long--very long--probably approaching two feet each in length.  They are a lovely green.  Each of the leaves (so we read) are associated with one of the scales on the pineapple fruit itself.  So, we're happy to see it putting out so many good looking leaves.

Second, the leaves have developed some serrated edges, another developmental milestone in the life of a pineapple (again, so we read).

Aren't those little serrated edges neat-o ?!?
It may still be another year before it fruits, but it seems to be developing in the right direction.  We have a second pineapple which we started in the autumn of last year.  It is still quite short and smooth leaved.  All in due time.... 

It has been a pretty cool little project, I must say.  I am eager to see what the next step in its growth will be.  How long the leaves will get.  What it looks like when it blossoms. 

And its so easy, too.  Its just a houseplant and I treat it just like my philodendron and mother-in-law's tongue and all the other houseplants.  But, we're hopeful that it is a houseplant that will one day blossom into a piece of edible gold.  Pretty cool, I think.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Year's Time...Already?!

I'm really trying to be happier today.  It is only going so-so though what with fresh tears every time I check my email, answer the phone, or log on to facebook--or so it feels to me.  That and I am trying to do my taxes---yeesh....not my idea of a good time at all.  Isn't there some cliche about death and taxes?  Huh, what a coincidence.... 

In any case, my morning was off to another weepy start. 

But, then a kind soul reminded me of some really good news to celebrate and rejoice in today.  And that is that this very day marks the one year anniversary of signing the papers on our new home.  Of owning a place to call our own.  Hooray.  Can it really be a year already?!

While we have lots of dreams and plans for improving and fine-tuning it into our ideal vision of home, we are very, very happy with little place.  The bright light from all the windows has made the houseplants healthier looking than ever.  The garden provided more precious food bounty than we should have hoped for in that first year and the prospects are even greater for the years to come.  The basement has been an escape from both the heat of summer and chill of winter as well as given us the space to set up a seedling nursery for our garden, a beer brewing area, a tie-dye workspace, and food storage.   We've seen many species of bird that never visited our old home (though I am still waiting to see if we get goldfinches as we used to).    We've enjoyed having the extra room so we feel comfortable in having multiple house guests at once.  I am overjoyed at having a craft room where I can spread out and work on all my various projects.  And I've got my hammock strung up between two pine trees swinging in the breeze in the front yard.  Life is good at the new house...which soon enough I'll have to stop calling "new."

Thanks for reminding me, Rebecca.  I needed that bit of joy today.

And here is to many, many more happy years here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

There Is No Title For This

I'm in a rather melancholy, introspective mood, be warned from the start.  I got one of those phone calls on Sunday, you know, where someone has to tell you that a friend you'd always expect to be there....isn't anymore.  Poof just like that.  No warning.  Just gone.  These things always make me become so reflective.  On life and death and the grand questions of what it all means, this life, and what is the truth of what we become.  And more intimate matters of my heart like the quality of friend that I am and how to decide priorities and know what to do...there are so many paths, so many opportunities, so many does one decide and know that that particular path was the best way to spend that precious time we've been given.  Is it possible to never have regrets, unanswered questions, things left unsaid or done?  I'm rambling, I realize.  I don't expect any answer.
Josh, on a Saturday drive.
I am just terribly sad and want to work things out, get it off my mind maybe, by putting it down somewhere else.
Josh and my sister, Lisa.
Sunday when I got the news I was just too shocked.  It didn't sink in, really.  But, progressively, as my mind works it over...  When did I see him last and what did we do?  Kicking myself for not getting his address sooner so that he could be on my list of people-who-get-postcards--I'd made a mental note to ask him for it while I was on vacation last week, but now realize that I thought of it too late.  I've been remembering this and that, like how he gave me my very first bird feeder and thus started me off on the hobby of which I now cannot imagine life without.  Or how the only time I ever really played a poker machine was at the Depot so I could hang out with him while he worked.  I hung out at the Depot so much, in fact, because both Alli and Josh worked there.  Playing Take 2 and Photo Hunt, making up fake histories for all the other patrons with my sister, Lisa, eating criss-cut fries and scotcheroos, smoking cigarettes, and laughing...a lot.  Or how trying to go anywhere with him was just impossible because he knew just about everyone and so was constantly getting stopped to chat every few the fair was the total worst, you really couldn't get anywhere!  We even had "Josh Time" which was to account for the fact he was always late because of this popularity problem.  "He said he'd be here in a half hour, but its Josh Time, so...probably an hour."  Or how about that fair where he ate somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen fresh-dipped corn dogs in one day.  Or how he was the person I called to come pick me up from jail the one time in my life I got arrested (for underage drinking).  He saved my day.  Or how we always teased him about driving his "old lady car," and he would just say that the seats was super comfortable because they were designed for old lady bodies.  Or that Christmas that he gave me a 36 piece floor puzzle of horses which had a recommend age of 3 years and up.  I was sort of like, what the heck Josh, why did you give me a kid's toy?  But he just told me it was because he knew I liked animals so much and he thought I'd like the art.  And you know, it is really pretty art and over the years I have done the puzzle probably a hundred times or more with my niece and nephew.  At one point it was the only kid's toy I had.  So, it came in very handy...even if it seemed an oddball choice at the time.  But, then again, for graduating college he gave me a screwdriver...with a pink flowered handle.  He gave Alli one, too.  I still use it all the time though.  Oddball, and yet right on the money.    How can Josh be dead?  I almost feel like it cannot be.  He was so young.  Just Saturday he was posting about his awesome lunch on Facebook.  It seems wrong.  ....but I know it isn't.
Ethan and Josh on Sundheim Bridge
I work through these memories and thoughts and I am pervaded with a deep sadness.  For Josh and all the good times we had, of which we'll have no more.  But also, in a more generalized way, for the good times I miss having with all of my friends, like Josh, Alli, Val, Meagan, Glenn, Chantz, Cody,  Chris Dietz, Jessica, Shay, Derek, Charlie, Zach, Shelley, Chris, Jimmy, Ethan, and so many others I shouldn't have even started to list them.  We had a wonderful, big crew back home and I am grieving for that part of my life, too, I think.  Its come to my extreme attention how much things have changed since I left.
Lisa and Josh.
I miss my friends and the closeness we had together then.  I've heard it said that high school is the best days of your life.  I don't necessarily agree with that, but, those friends....I think those were the best friends of my life.  I don't seem to make friends quite like that as a grown up.  There isn't the collective history and shared experiences of life from grade school and Sunday school all the way up through our budding adulthood to bind us together.  As children and young people we had no distractions from our play and fun together...except maybe school and a part-time job flipping burgers or something.  (But even when I worked at McDonald's almost all my co-workers were my friends so it was still mostly like hanging out!  And in school I was still with them most of the time, too.)  But, now, there are children to care for, meetings, jobs, higher education, moving across the country, and so many other things that get in the way of making such a deep connection with new people and which make it harder to maintain it with old ones.   I guess it was easy to be closest of friends in school days because that was all we had to do with our time, more or less.
A group shot on the patio at my mom's place in Sidney.  My sister Sarah, Shelly, Rachel, Me, and Josh in the back and Ethan, Val, and our exchange student, Marj in the front.  Oh, and Herbie, the best cocker spaniel I ever knew.
Don't get me wrong.  I've made great and dear friends at college and here in Billings, in general.  I love them and wouldn't trade them for the world.  But, still, its not the same.  Most of my college friends have moved away.  I don't know about them--and they don't know about me--in the way I do about these Sidney folks.  We know each other in the now or in one limited snapshot of time.  But, I think I kind of miss the knowing each other in history, too.  My Billings friends are great fun.  We laugh a lot, too.  We go to concerts and have clothes swaps.  I have them over for dinner or board games.  They have taught me so much.  But, I am not so sure our lives are as deeply intertwined.  And I wish they were.
Me, Josh, and Lisa.
I feel a little hole in my heart for my old friends and the way we used to be together.  And there is not much to do about that.  Life goes on and change is a part of it--good and bad.  It is inevitable, and, really, I am thankful for it or it would be a boring, dreary place otherwise.  We are blessed with endless opportunities to change, grow, learn, and love.  And all that changes everything.  Which is a good thing, I understand on a intellectual level, but, still, I cannot help but feel a little heartbroken.  We're all growing apart, too.  So, Josh is gone and that is final, but is there anything to do about Alli and Val and Derek and Chantz and all those others who are slipping away from me year by year, too?  I just don't know.  Maybe that is just how it goes.  But, I just love them, and the memory of them, so much I don't want to believe it.
Josh and Alli, on one of the support pillars at Sundheim.
So, for now, I will cherish those memories of old and try my best to appreciate and live fully now with all the joys that I have been given for this segment of my life.   There may always be looking back, but there is certainly looking forward, too.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Simple Woman's Day Book for March 1, 2013

A Simple Woman's Day Book for March 1, 2013

Outside my window... it is a beautiful winter day.  I am really looking forward to the walk home.

I am thinking.... that any musical by Rogers and Hammerstein is pretty great.  We went and watched a performance of South Pacific on Wednesday.  It was wonderful.

I am thankful dear friend Meagan not being more seriously injured in her fall yesterday.  She broke her wrist and had to have surgery, but it could have been so much worse, especially since she's got a bun in the oven.  I am disappointed that I don't get to spend the weekend with her as a result though.  Oh well, things happen!  At least she is, more or less, okay.

From the kitchen... comes a fresh batch of Peanut Szechuan.  After blogging about it yesterday I couldn't stop thinking about it.  So I had to make some more.  It is so spicy and good.

I am wearing...  a daisy dress my mother made many years ago for my sister, with a long sleeved black shirt and black leggings underneath.

I am creating... a charming piece of embroidery on a tea towel, another knit bonnet, but in black this time, and a dress.

I am going... a 60th birthday party for one of my friends tonight.  I am quite looking forward to it as they are musical folks so I am sure it will be a lively and enjoyable evening.   

I am reading... The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, and Uppity Women from Medieval Times by Vicki Leon.

On my mind... that I've gained a bit of weight over the winter.  Too much snacking, I think, and not just on apples and carrots!  It amazing how much of a difference 10 pounds can make in how I feel and how my clothes fit.  I don't care for it.

Around the house... its a bit of a wreck.  We have so much unpacked from our trip as we have just dumped it in a couple piles in the living room and kitchen.  But,

One of my favorite things... how few people live in Montana.  Its fantastic. 

A few plans for the rest of the week... go to said birthday party, haul off some recycling, fill the bird feeders and find a place for my awesome new bird bath, fix the garage door, go birdwatching, unpack in an effort to tame the wreck.
A small window into my life...
Birdwatching at Riverfront Park.
 This format come from the Simple Woman blog.