Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

img_2732Stuck in between the wonderment of December and the madness of March, February is my least favorite month of the year!

Come February, I am traditionally posting photos of a winter-white landscape, complaining about frigid temperatures, and longing for the color green. I am apt to reread Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” or pull on my boots and trudge to the “way back” to see what havoc the resident herd of deer have bestowed upon our little acreage. I ceremoniously don my very old, very long, black wool coat with massive hood and scurry out to the mailbox to see what is inside. I keep the coat for just such times for it is as warm as it is voluminous – and it cushions my tush against any tumbles I may take while slipping and sliding here along the Cutoff.

This year has presented itself as a rather mild February; record-breaking, if fact be told. Hereabouts, we love to tout our weather records. We recognize weather-versaries, such as the renowned Valentine’s Day Blizzard, and mark in time the largest snowfall, the most sub-zero days, the most snowfall on sub-zero days, the windchill, the chilblains. (okay, I made the chilblains up).

 A February phenomenon.

We have had this year a string of record-breaking February temperatures. We have had temperatures well over 60 degrees (F) for several days in a row, surpassing temperatures   of 130 some years ago.

We find ourselves wandering about in light jackets – or no jackets at all. People are smiling, lawns are greening, trees are budding and folks are out-and-about picnicking, golfing, and otherwise enjoying the welcome sunshine and warmer air.

So it was that the Antler Man and I took a pleasant Saturday stroll around Lake Katherine. It was so crowded that we had to park the car in the parking lot of a nearby office complex. While parking was a challenge, walking around the lake was not, even with families and strollers, dog walkers and couples both young and not-so enjoying the gifts of nature unusual for a mid-February day.

As we walked about, we heard a flock of Sandhill Cranes, deep in the deep-blue sky, with their distinctive calls amid their great migration. A pair of swans preened in the Lake as a family of turtles sat upon logs sunning close to the shore. Further along the winding path, a single turtle positioned himself out on a fallen branch, balancing his protective shell as a gaggle of geese honked away as if in a traffic jam during rush hour.

So it is that this phenomenal February has risen in rank to one of my favorite months – at least so far this year. I say this knowing that many of you are experiencing much different weather, threatening and disastrous, in fact. Please know that my thoughts and my prayers are with you.

Read Full Post »

img_2636

“We walked in so pure and bright a light… I thought I had never bathed in such a golden flood, without a ripple or a murmur to it. The west side of every wood and rising ground gleamed like the boundary of elysium,and the sun on our backs seemed like a gentle herdsman, driving us home at evening.”
-From “Walking” by Henry Thoreau; 1862

Read Full Post »

dscn6796

Cough drops.

All I needed was cough drops.

I parked as close to the door as I could on a recent cold and rainy day. This was one of a few short errands that had me in and out of the car for a few minutes at each stop. Gas station. Cleaners. ATM. The grocery store was on the route and had a pharmacy, so, there I was.

I didn’t need a cart, or so I thought, silly me. One always needs a cart in the grocery store, even if just running in for one item. If nothing else, a shopping cart is something to hold onto when you are navigating the aisles and trying to find your phone, which, at that moment was ringing. Loudly. It is set to chirp like a bird!

Missed call.

I was momentarily stunned by the visual display of tulips, daffodils and orchids in the floral department. I know. It is hard to imagine someone like me sidelined by flowers, but, there I was, soaking in  the radiance of blossoms. I must have admired every petal before recalling my mission as a coughing spell commenced. It abated just long enough for me to wander down the sale aisle where ornaments, candy, paper napkins and doo-dads were reduced. No, thought my reasonable self, head down, Penelope, and off you go to the pharmaceutical aisle.

It was just as I turned right that my left eye caught something moving in between the styling gel, hairspray, and deodorant.

Penelope Pitstop, ace sleuth in the supermarket, off on another amazing adventure.

I slithered down the aisle, muttering to myself,  hoping no one was watching me. I could be wearing ear buds, a Bluetooth, toothpaste, paste wax, or whatever those ear thingies  are called. I could be on a mission of utmost importance.

There is was. Again.Under the shelves.

I tiptoed, in my galoshes, slowly, step-by-step, and there is was, looking at me as if hearing the call of my phone, then quickly crossing the aisle and ducking under another row of shelves.

Aha. Playing hide-and-seek are you? Be careful. There’s a clerk over yonder, stacking shaving cream and men’s deodorant. Actually, she didn’t see the bird,. She was eyeing me with a measure of suspicion. Sometimes I wish I had an invisibility cloak. 

I tiptoed around, following it; not a mouse (thank goodness), but, a sparrow gathering tidbits under the shelves. In and out she slipped, from magazine to cleaning supplies, under the peanut butter and over the canned peas. If she keeps this up, i muttered, she’ll end up in the meat department, but, no, there she was in produce, before the next round of hacking coughs sent me back to what I came for.

Humming Peter, Paul, and Mary’s rendition of Keep Your Eye Upon the Sparrow (Wish I Was a Single Girl), I grabbed the Luden’s, paid for my purchase, and hoped the little, lost sparrow found her way out of the grocery store and back to wherever she nests, humming my way back home.

I hope all is well with you and yours.

Read Full Post »

pumpkin-pie-spice-cookbook. . . that’s what Thanksgivings are made of.

I tried a new recipe this Thanksgiving and thought you might be interested.

It comes from a charming little book that my dear friend Kathryn gave me. “The Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookbook” by Stephanie Pedersen is a delicious morsel of a book laden with recipes for appetizers, soups, chili, gratin, crostini, sweets and more. The common ingredient is the aromatic mixture known as pumpkin pie spice.

Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and mace, each an exotic culinary treasure on its own, all blend together to become a welcome addition to our spice cabinets; pumpkin pie spice. Stephanie Pedersen’s words evoke this mixture’s essence in her introduction by writing that “these ingredients create a symphony of flavor and aroma so powerful, so deeply comforting, that the world smells like a special occasion.”.

Pumpkin pie spice is, of course, most commonly used in pumpkin pie, but these spices are often employed on their own in gingerbread cookies, pumpkin bread, holiday lattes, etc. Just opening a jar of any one of these spices awakens one’s taste buds and calls for baking to commence. Opening a jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice intensifies the sensory sensations. “The Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookbook” is a tasty compilation of recipes using this “symphony of flavor”.sweetspicy-fruit-dip

So it was that while I was resting, with my foot elevated, I thumbed through Ms. Pedersen’s little book in that way those who love all things culinary entertain themselves by reading cookbooks. This treasure had been languishing on a countertop easel amid pumpkins and gourds and a seasonal candle.

I did not thumb far. I was barely into the first chapter on appetizers when this recipe for Sweet Spicy Fruit Dip caught my fancy, and I decided to make it on Thanksgiving. The ingredients were procured, the KitchenAid employed, and in a mix and chill, this sweet and spicy fruit dip was done.

An orange colored dip is cause for a pause and a question. “Uh, Penny, what is this?”. There was some hesitation over the pumpkin dip, but, that first bite is an intriguing creaminess when first encountered, followed by a lingering after taste of the pumpkin pie spice. Pita chips, crackers, and pears took turns being dipped and I do think some of us in the spicy mix that our own family and friend are enjoyed it. You might as well.

I used canned pumpkin instead of pumpkin puree. This makes quite a bit of dip that holds up well for several days.

Other than in pumpkin pie, do you have a recipe using Pumpkin Pie Spice?

Are you employing any new recipes this year?

 

Read Full Post »

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

 John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In

img_1376(This tree reminded me of the Whomping Tree at Hogwarts, taken from the inside of my car. I’ve had enough whomping lately. )

Still hobbled from my recent fall, long walks in nature have abated while my wanderlust has not. I miss my rambles, especially in this season when the trees  paint the sky with the russets and amber and crimsons of Autumn and fallen leaves create tapestries of color at our feet.

Fall colors are peaking late this year, giving us one of the most colorful November I can remember. The trees are putting on a brilliant show, but, this late in the season, the color is likely to be short-lived. I was anxious to take a drive to take in the colorful leaves – so, I did, on a misty, moist midmorning this past week. The silver lining behind the broken footed cloud is that it is my left foot that has the fracture. I can safely drive with my right foot.

img_1285

I meandered like a lazy river along the leafy lanes of the Arboretum. For the most part, I was alone, able to stop the car, roll down the windows, and take photos to my heart’s content.

Winding lanes and panoramic vistas

img_1303

greeted me at every turn.
img_1333

All-in-all, it was a luscious, leafy escape into nature’s grand, golden, glorious goodbye.

Where have you escaped to lately?

img_1373img_1342

Read Full Post »

1 9 5

mccook-libraryIt was my first time behind the wheel after “The Fall”. Apprehensive, I mentally mapped out a route along roads less traveled with destinations that didn’t require me to get in and out of the car.

Bank – ATM – ✔️

Drive-up postal box ✔️

Coffee – ✔️

Library – ???

My library card had expired a month ago. I needed to renew it. To do so, meant going into the library.

I live in a city that does not have a library. Sad, I know, BUT, it is a very nice city that tries to treat her residents well, and does so in what I feel is a rather nice way. To own a library card, we must buy one from another municipality. My city, however, will pay half of the charge, up to $100. That means, if a neighboring library sells you a card for $200, the city will reimburse for half of that. Not a bad deal at all.

For many years, I have purchased my card from a small library with a healthy tax base in the next town over. It is the library where I was ‘mullioned” a few years ago. They are such nice folks, recognize me, and are part of a very large library system, which allows me library privileges in a very large inter-library loan system.

Most of you know my love of libraries, and how I often frequent them.

I have a “library habit”.

The librarian told me she could renew my card, but, the fee had gone up. She suggested another library, equidistant from our house, that was offering my city and another a card for $100. (which means it would end up costing me $50).

Of I went, down the road, to a charming library, nestled in a small but established residential area that was surrounded by thriving industries and major expressways. I parked on the street, closer to the entry than my own back door. Doors automatically opened and I was greeted by non-other than the head librarian, who asked if she could help me. I assured her I was fine, in spite of my very fat boot, and said that I was interested in getting a library card.

This library, dear reader, and this librarian are everything a library should be! Not only was I welcomed with open arms (and a handshake), but, I was introduced to another library patron, Betty, who lived in my own city, and invited to come to a once-a-month coffee hour at the library.

My maiden voyage, after The Fall, was going pretty well – until . . .

. . . no, I stayed on my feet. It was while one of the librarians was entering my information from my expired card. The head librarian had just handed me a welcoming tote bag, and filled it with all sorts of useful items and the library’s brochure, as she offered me a chair to sit on. The registrar asked a few questions, then, casually said “it looks like you have some outstanding fines“.  I could not imagine what fines they might be, but,  I did remember returning a few items last month a day late.  I asked how much I owed.

One ninety-five!

How could that be? Surely I would have received a notice for such an outstanding fine, either via email, phone call, or, gasp, the U.S. Postal Service. I was flummoxed, fretting, and forlorn, for sure!

The registrar kept entering information on her keypad. I wondered if she was tapping out code for “felon in library – owes bigly” (sorry, I couldn’t resist that).

I endorsed a personal check for the library card fee, handed it to the registrar, and asked who I should make the check out to for the fine, calculating how I was going to square such an unexpected deduction in my checkbook. There HAD to be a mistake, but, one should not leave such outstanding debt dangling like a hanging chad (sorry, again). If I didn’t ante-up, would I be arrested? abandoned from libraries for a millennium? book lice sent to monitor my every page turned?

Oh, don’t worry. You can pay it anytime?“.

Are you sure? That’s a big fine. Can you check again and tell me which library I owe the money to?

She noted the items: two books, an audio, and I could remit payment another day.

Just that for $195.00?

We stared at each other, for a moment, maybe two, and then the registrar replied, aghast, “Oh, no! I wasn’t clear. That is $1.95!“.

It is good, is it not, to have a good laugh, even at one’s own expense, on a maiden voyage in a medical boot while renewing a library card?

Dewey Decimal is still used in libraries, or adapted for modern-day usage, but, that one distinctive decimal point is the one that can cause chaos.

Off I hobbled,  with all of my goodies, a new book, and a smile over my faux pas . I’ve needed a bit of an adventure, and I had one, once again while in a library.

Read Full Post »

img_0781

Goji berries, rustic outdoor furniture, antique carts, solar panels, country charm and ingenuity; all this and more at Cherry Lane Farm, which was opened to visitors as part of the McHenry County Farm Stroll.

img_0753

Trudi Temple is a well-recognized gardener, entrepreneur, author and speaker, especially in the Chicagoland area. I have had the pleasure of touring her private garden in the western suburbs, reading her inspiring book, “Trudi’s Garden; The Story of Trudi Temple”, and, like many of you, I have ordered from Market Day@, which Trudi established.

img_0681img_0690

Cherry Lane Farm was our first stop on the Farm Stroll, and we were one of the first visitors. We parked the car and followed a path that meandered through a woodland garden, which was cloistered inside a handmade waddle fence. Bird houses dangled from stately trees and perched upon tree trunks.

rustic-wood-bench

Age-old benches and found objects, heirloom plants and new introductions abound on Trudi’s farm; a living testament to what hard work, creativity and sustainability can yield.

img_0685

We wandered the paths, some under the multitude trees rooted on the property, others leading to the vegetable garden, or the wide pasture where a wind turbine was generating energy. We sat in a magnificent gazebo – surely a haven for family and friends. With all the nature and creativity that surrounded us, what impressed me the most was the evidence of the far-reaching visions of Trudi Temple. She is a remarkable woman whose respect for nature continues to grow and instructs all who find their way to Cherry Lane Farm.

windowssalviagrasses

A barn houses plant materials that Trudi uses in arrangements, as well as a shop for antiques, books, dried floral arrangements and other delights. An outbuilding is creatively sided with reclaimed windows of different sizes and shapes. Inside sit long tables, for workshops, I assume, and a patchwork of quilts adorn the walls.

heirloom-tomatoescold-framered-cartflowers

It was such a pleasant day.

girl-statue

We bumped into three members of my garden club, all in groups of their own and all pointing or asking if we had seen this or that, enthusiastically sharing what they had discovered. Even strangers were friends for the moments in time at Cherry Lane Farm. It isn’t often that a piece of land and a crop of buildings is so lovingly developed  that it creates such a wholesome sense of place.

solar-panelsevergreenhydrangea

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

ChicagoNatureNow!

Your Connection to Chicago Nature

The Pioneer Girl Project

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl

Juliet Batten

Author, artist, speaker, teacher and psychotherapist

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Mike McCurry's Daily Blog

Creative information about Real Estate and Life in the Western Suburbs of Chicago

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

Thoughts about writing and life

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

mirandasnotebook

Your Guide to a Stylish Life

Apple Pie and Napalm

music lover, truth teller, homey philosophy

Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth

My Chicago Botanic Garden

A blog for visitors to the Garden.

Living Designs

Circles of Life: My professional background in Foods and Nutrition (MS, Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, RDN, LDN) provides the background for my personal interests in nutrition, foods and cooking; health and wellness; environment and sustainability.

Women Making Strides

Be a Leader in Your Own Life

thekitchensgarden

farming, gardens, cows, goats, chickens, food, organic, sustainable, photography,

Middlemay Farm

Nubian Goats, Katahdin Sheep, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Novelist Adrienne Morris live here (with humans).

The Cottonwood Tree

Exploring the Life, Times and Literature of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Book Snob

FOR DISCERNING READERS

teacups & buttercups

An old fashioned heart

Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Analysis and reflection from someone endlessly fascinated with Louisa May Alcott. Member/supporter of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, the Louisa May Alcott Society and the Fruitlands Museum.

breathelighter

Reducing stress one exhale at a time ...exploring Southern California and beyond

Kate Shrewsday

A thousand thousand stories

Blogging from the Bog

musings from and about our cottage in the West of Ireland