Friday, October 26, 2007

Brillant...Just Brilliant!

Have you seen it??
It's very brilliant!
It's a full moon tonight. It goes by the name of the
Full Hunter's Moon. It's easy to see why. With the leaves falling off the trees and the deer fattened up, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped,
(remember, it's harvest time!), hunters can easily see the fox, deer and other animals which come out to glean. Hunter's use this lunar light to their advantage.
So take your camera, your sweetheart, yourself...
go sit a spell... and maybe you'll fall under the spell of the brilliant full moon this month. I'll meet you in the moonlight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not Taken For Granted

How human nature it is to go through our days...assuming tomorrow will be pretty much like today. I do it. You might, too. It's human nature to.

But every so often, we are shaken from our routine. Events happen to remind us, often harshly, that what we took for granted yesterday is not in our world today.

Such an event happened to my daughter's and my world this morning.

Her band teacher passed away after being in a car accident on the way to work this morning.

He would have been 27 years old next week. He leaves behind a wife and a 1 year old daughter.

He also leaves behind an entire high school in mourning, students in disbelief that their much-loved teacher is never lifting his conductor's wand again to lead them through such beautiful music, parents trying to console their children at his loss, while wiping their own tears away, and a community who goes to bed tonight without one of its finest members.

Two summers ago I made the decision to buy my daughter a new clarinet for her high school band classes. I had no idea as to what to look for when purchasing such an expensive instrument. I emailed Mr. R... telling him of my plans and asking for any information he might suggest to help me make a purchase that would serve my daughter well. I will never forget his kindness and the email he sent back. He started out by saying such kind things about M... and how excited he was that I was doing this for her music would improve with such a purchase. He then gave me sooo much information ... models to look for, manufactures, reeds, materials that were good, and not-so-good. I printed his email out and took it with me as I shopped; using it as a guideline and checklist for what I needed to get.

I found the perfect clarinet for my daughter - all based on Mr. R's suggestions. When M first played her new instrument, she was almost in disbelief that she could make such a beautful sound from a clarinet...and she had a renewed passion and excitement for her talent! I emailed Mr. R to thank him so very much for his help in my purchase. I thanked him for his time. I thanked him for his support. I thanked him for being my daughter's teacher and for helping her strive for excellence and for nurturing a passion for music and performing in her. I thanked him.... sincerely ... and from my heart.

I am deeply saddened by Mr. R's passing. I will miss that man. Watching him conduct the band during their concerts was always entertaining. He was a slight man physically, but his passion and talent and love for his students and profession were never more evident than when he stepped up onto the conductor's podium... wand raised. He would lead those students through numbers that honestly, if you were to close your eyes and simply listen, you would think you were listening to a professional band playing... not 50 hormone-ridden, braced-teeth teenagers. Afterwards, as we applauded loudly with pride and joy in our hearts, he would humbly step down off the podium... wipe his sweaty brow, and extend his arm gracefully to his them all of the praise, accolades and applause that they so richly deserved.

My daughter saw him last night at a restaurant which was hosting a fund raiser for the band's trip to California in April. As always, Mr. R was giving of himself for the betterment of his students.

Eighteen hours later.... he was gone.

You know why I write this post tonight. You've heard it before. Call it a cliche'... but how true it is... to tell those close to you that you love them. To say 'thank you' to someone. To tell that person 'I'm sorry'... the one you've thought of saying that to, but just quite haven't. And perhaps I write to say that if your child has a teacher in their lives whom you appreciate.... tell them. If all you do is scribble a 'Thank you for all you do for my child.' on a scratch piece of paper... do it. While you have the chance.

Mr. R.... God's speed ... and may Heaven behold the most beautiful of music tonight.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Quiet Time

Have been a bit quiet...
happens after doing parent/
teacher conferences...
it's a blustery day... as Pooh would observe...
want to 'nest'...
make something good for dinner...
comfy pj's
is it cool enough for a fire?
had some financial and social freedom yesterday...
felt good... but also felt strange...
might be a quiet week ahead...
remembering Mom...
a reflective Autumn, indeed...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Court, Coffee and Celebrating!

So, what is one to do when a dear ya-ya must appear in court due to a minor traffic mishap??

Why, celebrate, of course!!

And we did! With a feast that even that elusive little spirit, Fall Fairy, would be proud to partake in!

But business first. Beloved ya-ya had a date in traffic court this morning, and she was not going alone. So the three of us met up at the court house bright and early. After passing through security (the underwires in our bras cooperated by NOT setting off the alarm) we proceeded to Court Room #5. We were here for support and justice, so we sat ourselves down up front! The 'pretty in pink' court clerk was immediately caught off guard by the support we effused for our dear ya-ya and our lack of fear or intimidation. She quickly excused herself from the room; leaving us and some trembling defendants to occupy ourselves for the next 25 minutes. Us ya-ya's bantered light-heartedly about gardens, flowers, fall and other topics of merriment; much to the bewilderment of others in the gallery. No mind. We were here to support our girl and make it an easier experience for her. As court time drew near, Miss Pink reappeared; obviously having spoken with the judge to inform him of the powers-that-be in the front row. When said judge entered, we didn't even have to rise, as it was obvious...da girls were loyal only to one. Within 3 minutes of approaching the bench, our dear girl was given her sentence... driving school at the wonderful price of less than half of what the fine would have been! The judge sensibly realized that he needed to go light and respect the force of the 3! Wise judge! Less than 10 minutes after court had begun, the force of 3 were out of court and on our way to celebrate!!

Pumpkin-spice coffee - check
Fruit salad - check
Savory Pumpkin Quiche - check
Mimosas - check

A passing of gifts from our girl - a token of thanks for supporting her (from yelling 'hello' to her as we drove up to court to making mention of things that one should not mention in a court of law).

Out to the English garden we go!!

But just a moment...
Our girl has one more gift to give...
one of herself....

For our gal is an artist and has captured the spirit of 3 in paintings... one for me and one for our other....

Colors from our trip on Tuesday...hues of Autumn, leaves of change...
Brush strokes of love and 'always'...

A hummingbird chatters and sings of the beautiful weather... a cat (who shall remain nameless) climbs up the tree and then looks befuddled at us... train whistles lazily drift on a slight breeze... sunlight dapples flagstone, pansies and petunias...

...yes... the force of 3 is a powerful force....always

Savory Pumpkin Quiche

1 baked pie crust
1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
3 leaves sage, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
5 eggs
1/2 to 2/3 c. half-n-half
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
Cool baked pie crust slightly. In saute pan, brown bacon. Drain all but 1 T. of bacon drippings, saute onion and garlic in drippings along with bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme and sage. Remove from heat to cool. In bowl, mix 5 eggs, half-n-half and bacon mixture. Add pumpkin and mix well. Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Quiche is done when knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

*I made this recipe up for this morning, so I've only made it once, but it was very good. If you like a bit of cheese in your quiche, I would suggest adding 3/4 cup of shredded swiss (or provolone or monterey jack) to the egg mixture.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Falling into Autumn

Delicious Autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird
I would fly about the Earth
seeking the successive autumns.
-George Eliot

Oh yes! It's that time of year when I make my annual trek up to a secret place in the woods....a place of red maple trees, green pine boughs and all the natural beauty that a forest provides!

I first found this place about 7 years ago on one of my jaunts running the roads of this state. It's definetly off the beaten path, up on the rim, tucked way back into the forest. As I was driving along this dirt road, a brilliant patch of red, flame orange, crimson...all these autumnal colors just jumped out from the browns, greens and beige of my beloved forest! I pulled over, hiked down a slope and stood in a secluded grove of maples...dressed in their autumnal finest! I was amazed for I had not seen colors like this since living in Ohio....29 years earlier!

I found Autumn in Arizona !!

Since that day, I have returned each year to just 'be' with the closest thing there is to Autumn here. Over the last couple of years it has evolved into a wonderful trek with my ya-ya's...N and R! And yesterday was our day to celebrate the most favored season of all!

Camping chairs set up.... picnic baskets opened and goodies laid out....

coffee bar set up.... magazines and books unpacked....

blankets and quilts unfolded....

slow, deep breaths taken...

ciabatta turkey sandwiches with provolone and sun-dried tomatoes, chips, humus, chicken pate, pumpkin gingerbread, gala apples, caramels, chocolate

a toast to Autumn and all of its splendor!!

And a little gift for you - a bit of our autumn celebration...enjoy!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Time Began in a Garden

It's 'Fall Break' here...and the flowers at the garden center have been calling me....

so I gave in...

and went to see what was for sale....

oh my!

a rainbow of colors...

soft pastels, gentle hues,

pinks, purples, yellows, creams,

and all the soft blends inbetween...




some sage

and some sweet Johnny-Jump-ups!

Rise and shine this morning!
Pumpkin-spiced coffee and pumpkin gingerbread, warm from the oven, with my ya-ya, N....

then out to the garden...

As my lawn was scalped earlier this morning, bits of grass floated in the air, landing upon everything... softly revealing what was to be invisible. Mr. Spider, sitting in the middle, is not amused that he's handi-work is now apparent to all!

A snail vine settles into its new home...

As a sundial so poignantly
reminds those who glance...

...time began in a garden...

an English
Garden reborn....

and a garden sink adorned in such finery!

must she ??!??

Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh! But for October

It was incredibly hard this morning to get up for work. Sure, it was Monday, but that wasn't really why. Here's why...

It was cloudy....

and the first day of October.

It should be a law that if the first day of October is cloudy with rain likely, then everyone gets to stay home and bake oatmeal raisin cookies, knit a little while watching Martha, drink coffee with honey and cream, read your fall magazines, make a pot of Pumpkin Corn Chowder in your flame orage Le Creuset dutch oven and watch the gray sky softly smile upon you.


But it's not a law... and I had to go to work. Crum...

But returning home had my little autumn spirit all a flutter with plans of creating my yummy Pumpkin Corn Chowder.

*now, don't you all go wrinkling up your nose all snooty like and sticking out your tongue and muttering "Yuuuuck!" Just put your tongue back in, smooth out that nose of yours and give me a minute...

This recipe is one I developed and it just simply never fails me. I take it up to the cabin in the woods. I make it in a crock pot. I make it on the stove. I make it on the weekend. I make it when it's cold.

Pumpkin Corn Chowder

1/2 pound bacon - chopped

1 big onion, chopped

1 clove garlic - chopped finely

4 stalks celery, chopped (but not too small!)

1 1lb. bag frozen corn

2 bay leaves

1 T. dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (that's right..nutmeg..and don't leave it out!)

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper (I use mixed colors of peper in my grinder - pink, white, black and green)

1 - 32 oz. carton chicken stock

1 can evaporated milk (not the sweet stuff!)

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

Brown bacon in dutch oven until a bit crispy over medium-high heat. Drain off fat. Add onion and cook until tender (about 3 minutes). Add garlic, celery, corn, rosemary, bay leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper (careful with the salt because the bacon and stock have salt in them, too) Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add stock and pumpkin. Stir gently to combine. Add evaporated milk, stir. Cook over low heat for abut 30 minutes until warm. (Do not cook over high heat or the milk will curdle.)

Now, I wanted you to see what it looks like...
not the MOST photogenic, but OH, SO YUMMY!
Let's celebrate Autumn!!