Tuesday, November 28, 2017

You Don't Have to Read This, but I Have to Write It.

When one's life is a daily pain, one withdraws into oneself.  There is no need to burden others, because they cannot share your weight. and they cannot really understand unless they have also opened a parcel and seen the same daunting burden and carried it in their life.  This heavy amorphous sorrow is firmly attached and if torn away you will go screaming into black midnight blinded by tears because you become even more helpless with foolish understanding.  What a frightening feeling to realize that no one can help.  What a horrible feeling to realize you are not alone and your pain pierces the hearts of those you love.  And to protect others you begin a list of secrets ... lies of omission.  What a helpless feeling to realize that the pain is caused by someone you love more than life itself and you may use up what little power you have in that relationship before the carrying journey is over in so many tragic ways.

I have always loved stories of  mystery, drama and love.  I have been willing to fall into the escape of movies and books and sometimes even music.  Now, when in the heart of the turn of the story/movie or crescendo of the Opera Seria, there is a sharp blood drawn reminder of some weakness/misery of one character that pulls me back into my reality and as if in a time warp I crash again to earth and I collapse in tears.  I become a cloth that has been  thrown.

I cannot accept sympathy of others, because my life has been so rich and lucky and unearned.  Even now I watch the news and realize my pain is just a splinter among those who flee war, slavery or starvation.  But I do now feel a filial relationship in the great migration  of humanity looking for answers to  "What's It All About?"

(Sorry this is so enigmatic.  But it is what it is.)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

That Busy Time Before Thanksgiving

Return to my house on Sunday, I was greeted by this in my driveway.

It looks like a skinny trunk but that thing was at least 12 inches across at the base. I held my breath 
and drove on in and parked the car in the garage.

The pine tree had been dead for a year or two as can be seen by the fungus on the trunk. I later was concerned I could be trapped at home if the tree fell overnight in the winds and went out and moved the car to the end of the driveway to pick up hubby from the airport the next day.

Picked up hubby from the airport on that Monday. Busy holiday rush travel had already begun and I hated the traffic.

We were very busy the next day, but the day before Thanksgiving the tree made its demands by falling further.

Hubby got out the chainsaw and wedge and safety gear and I got out the camera.

We were able to get the heavy part tree fall away from the driveway.  Then we tied a rope to the base of the remaining snag and pulled and pulled and pulled across the driveway until it was all the way down and mostly unsnagged.

Rewarded with firewood for next year after it ages.  While pine is not the best, I do get our chimney cleaned annually for safety.

Nights have not yet been super cold, so only a few fires in the fireplace.

While others were preparing Thanksgiving desserts and side dishes, we were being "woodspersons."  Have a good day today whether you celebrate this holiday or not.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

When Did You Throw In The Towel?

Since I have been alone, I have filled my days with errands and goals and now come to the end of the list. The next list is holiday shopping and I have no immediate desire to work on that right away.  I will not be entertaining as my daughter has insisted she be the center for that.  It  is OK as it saves me a lot of work and  I figure in years she will have reached my time in life and have a better perspective.

Today and yesterday I stumbled across an old Netflix e-mark that I had on that popular series "House of Cards."  We had watched the first and second year and then for some reason forgot to continue to watch..actually I thought it had been on another pay-per-view site.  I am old, what can I say?

Anyway I spend about three hours each evening catching up.  At first I felt guilty.  I had concerns about watching a show that has a star with a recently exposed despicable background.  There is that important question.  Can you admire the art of someone who has been revealed to be evil?  This post is not about answering that question, although I would really appreciated your opinions on that.  The show involves many people who will be paid residuals and who are talented, and therefore, I do not feel guilt.  The writers, the directors, the co-actors all deserve admiration of their work.  I also have realized with this Congress and this President, the story is not that far fetched.  The headlines of today are pretty good in melding with plot points on this series.

I got a Skype call just an hour ago, from my husband who is on the other side of the world.  You remember that, right?  Anyway, they were just evacuated from their hotel  due to an earthquake.  Do you realize there have been at least two major and many minor earthquakes recently?  No?  Well, he is safe and he sounded very calm.  His good friend, who is in his 80's, is with him on this adventure.  See?  Life is not over unless you throw in the towel.  I hope that I am that interested in adventures in my 80's.  Even if you find you do not get to see your 80's due to some crappy quirk of fate, let us hope your warrior side kicks in and you squeeze out the juice of  the life you have been  given.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cold and Hot?

North of us got their first freeze and we are 34F this morning with no frost on the grass. Everything still looks the same outside the windows. But I slept in. I am alone ( I keep reminding you) and I woke up around 6:00 A.M. and read a little in bed. Then I turned off the lights and snuggled back down into the soft flannel sheets and under the light downy quilt and drifted back into blissful sleep for several hours as dawn slid into place. It was the cold outside that makes me lazy and slothful inside. I love pulling up those blankets and not having an agenda set by an alarm. I have worked hard (not as hard as many) for this time in my life and I am thankful for this morning.  I eventually made a pot of decaffinated coffee but returned to reading "The Forest Lover" by Susan Vreeland.  (It is the life story of the Canadian artist Emily Carr based on her journals.  She lived 1871-1945 and lived in the Northwest with the indigenous people much of that time and with great discrimination by her culture.)  The writer brings me to cold and rainy British Columbia as I remain so warm as I snuggle back into bed with a warm cup.

Now for the hot:

For those of you who know about Scolville scales with hot peppers, you may remember the big deal when Habaneras became a fad for cooking.  They were not a condiment for the faint of heart and kept their level at the height of heat in pepper cooking.  They were rated as 250,000 to 577,000 on the scale.  Well, hubby got seeds from our daughter for the newest pepper, the Carolina Reaper, which he planted this summer.  This pepper is rated as 1.6 million(!) and has held the world record since 2013.

We (daughter, hubby and I) chopped some of them for testing.  (When green they have no heat at all!)  

I took one of those tiny red pieces and put it on the end of my tongue and I died.  I spit it out, but the heat kept on.  My daughter also choked on the heat.  My grandson (pretended) it was not bad at all.  My daughter put it in some vinegar for taking home and adding to whatever.

While they are extremely beautiful, this is killer stuff.

I have no big fondness for super hot food, although I do like my chile with a tiny bit of bite.  Researching I found there is a new pepper accidentally raised in Wales that will challenge the Carolina Reaper.  It is called Dragon's Breath and is 2.48 million on the Scoville scale.

I have read that eating lots of hot food does kill the taste buds over time and may be the reason that people who regularly eat hot food (Indonesians) find most food in the U.S. too bland.

I will also leave you with this caution:

"Concentrated capsaicin, found in the Dragon's Breath and other extremely spicy peppers, can trigger the immune system to go into overdrive. Capsaicin activates the proteins found on nerve endings, and those proteins can mistakenly interpret capsaicin as a signal of extreme heat entering the body, Live Science reported. The result? Reactions like anaphylactic shock, severe burns, and even the closing of one's airways are all possible, experts warn. So this extreme pepper is nothing to mess around with."

Monday, November 06, 2017

A Late Harvest of Gold

Late September and much of November are harvest times here at my house. Hubby has planted several persimmon trees outside. They are slow to ripen and, if you know anything about persimmons, the Hachaya type is astringent to eat if you do not wait until it is soft as jelly on the inside. We grow both the Hachiya and the Fuju which can be eaten before it gets soft. It is the round one that can be eaten over a longer time frame.  Early it is more like an apple and then it ripens to a juicy pear.  Its Latin name means "wheat of Zeus" or "God's pear" and "Jove's fire".

I like that I have ripe Kaffir limes and Meyer lemons to add to the recipes.

When hubby is here he makes persimmon freezer jam and persimmon bread. Since he is not here that task has fallen to me. Trying to get the accurate recipe, particularly for the jams, is hard because the persimmon has to be scooped out into measuring devices before you can find out exactly how much pulp you have for the recipe. It cannot be left out in the air for too long as it turns cloudy and brown.

The Hichiya is hard to pick because the ripeness makes the fruit as soft as a globe of jelly.  Touching the fruit for this softness as well as noticing the translucence in the fruit are the clues for picking.  But you have to hold it like a soft-shelled egg.

There is another problem in identifying those persimmons that are only half ripe and hoping that they can be used in a few days.

Then there is the basket of those that were harvested by mistake or fell that must sit in my kitchen and give those fruit flies their best days while waiting for ripening.  (It is hard to have a glass of wine in the evening without having a fruit fly go up my nose!)

I followed a persimmon freezer jam recipe exactly the other day and made three containers of freezer jam.  Unfortunately, they did not set!!  This is the problem with this fruit.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.  We will use it on toast anyway.  It is also good with vanilla ice cream.  And because it is not cooked it maintains its flavor and vitamins.  According to one website "Persimmons are low in calories and fats - they provide 70 calories per 100 grams. This fiber-rich fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin A and good source of Vitamin C and contains a range of antioxidants and minerals. But as with most fruit, you should eat these in moderation because it contains fructose, which can be harmful in excess amounts."

The flavor?  Maybe someone else can explain, but it is sweet and delicious and one of my favorite jams.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Silence of the Limes

I wrote in an earlier post that I am alone until the 22nd of November.  Hubby is on the other side of the earth.  Those of you who are divorced, separated, unwed or suffered the loss of your partner may have gone through the first of the transition of living alone a long time ago.  My life partner is not a quiet soul.  He fills the house when he is here.  Even if he is down in the basement in his office I can hear his voice on the phone through the heat register in my bedroom.  While he always looks for reasons to "run errands" he is here much of the time.

Now the big house is really quiet.  No pets and a quarter mile from neighbors on either side.  I cannot get good radio reception unless I carry a laptop from room to room, so I keep TV on in the background in the mornings.  I don't really watch it.  In the afternoon I play music, although my cable company has majorly destroyed my amplifier/speaker setup and it takes me some time to figure it out each time!

Anyway, late in the evening when all noises are off and I am finally in my warm pajamas and reading by the light from my end table I find myself listening carefully.  Do I hear a scratching in the ceiling over my head?  Have the mice moved in again?  I strain to hear the Canadian geese down on the river, but it is just a lone Mallard because the geese have not yet returned.  Eventually, I fall asleep.  Out of the blackness of the night, I am jerked awake but not sure why.  I hold my breath and listen.  I freeze as I tune into anything that makes noise.  I can even hear the creaking of the refrigerator in the kitchen, but nothing else sounds out of place and I fall back asleep.  The next night I have the same event, only this time while I am straining to find out what is wrong I hear a loud thunk.  It comes from the kitchen and I at first wonder if a thief is making a midnight snack.

I throw back the quilt and without a weapon in hand (ever the optimist) I head into the kitchen.  I turn on all the lights.  I scan.  No one is there.  No animal is hiding in a corner or behind a door.  Then I see the cause of the sound on the floor.  Thre are two of them, small and round and each the size of a golf ball.  They are surprisingly heavy for there diminutive size.  They are kaffir limes.  They have ripened and are falling from the tree at will.  I soon will have 40 of them!

Kaffir limes are knobby and odd and small.  They have a very interesting and almost floral fragrance to compliment their strong lime taste.  The leaves from the tree are used in Thai cooking as the flavor holds up to strong spicy dishes.

I have three citrus trees (a small citrus orchard) that get moved into the house every fall and returned to the deck each spring; a Calamondon, a Meyer lemon, and a Kaffir lime. (The Meyer is struggling as it was severely damaged when purchased, but it is hell bent to catch up to the other two.  It has eleven lemons and almost as many leaves.)

I have been told it is not a true lemon, but I have no idea what that means.  These lemons are bigger than store bought and will indeed make a much louder thud when they fall in the middle of the night.  (By the way, both of these always fall in the middle of the night!)