Breakfast for Dinner

I’m trying to improve my dietary habits a little at a time, like oatmeal for breakfast, and more walnuts. But it’s hard, since I have an ever-growing stack of recipes I want to try, like these maple-pecan scones. So simple, so delicious! Mix a few dry ingredients in one bowl, a few wet ingredients in another bowl, toast and chop some pecans, grate some frozen butter. I made it even easier by using maple cream instead of mixing a glaze from maple syrup and icing sugar. Somehow, I’d never had maple cream before: it’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted! It’s just pure maple syrup distilled into silken heaven.

I did have oatmeal for breakfast again, and a healthy lunch of salad and soup, and then a scone for dessert. After my feast, Wren did a few tricks just in case I might have a treat for her. And after a day of good and meaningful work, it was time to eat again. I’m grateful for three meals a day when I want that many, and for all the causes and conditions that lead to having clean, healthy, and nutritious food in my home.

For dinner I made The Bear omelette, and while my omelette cooking skills can improve this was a good start. There’s all this fancy technique, from whisking the eggs through a strainer into a bowl, and “constantly stir[ing] the eggs while gently jerking the pan back and forth.” I stirred a little too long to get a good fold but it still tasted great, and was definitely fluffier and lighter than the last omelette I made twenty years ago. The quirkiest part of this dish is the sour cream and onion potato chips crushed over the top. I’m grateful for breakfast for dinner.


The precious clippers and the dozens of other adorable whimsy pieces made this, like all Liberty puzzles, a delight to assemble.

I’m grateful for this lovely puzzle that brightened the past three dark and snowy days, Indoor Summer Garden by Jenny Wheatley.

I’ve never been an oatmeal-for-breakfast person, but in my quest to eat more healthfully I decided a month ago that I’d try again, and I began to imagine a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and maple syrup. Then I started looking for the oats that I was sure were in the cupboard or pantry somewhere. Not to be hasty, I opted to keep looking for my oats rather than surrender to purchasing another canister. So I double and triple checked the cupboards, and over a couple of weeks in several installments sorted and culled the pantry. Still couldn’t find the oats, so I bought a new bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic oats. Finally I could live the dream! And honestly, it’s been every bit as satisfying as I imagined it would be. I add a tablespoon of protein powder and a teaspoon of maple syrup, and feel ever so virtuous eating oats instead of croissants for breakfast. I’m grateful for oatmeal.

Feeling Useful

Wren likes a belly rub first thing in the morning…

I am grateful for feeling useful today. I got a lot of things done, taking care of myself in several important ways from completing important paperwork to cooking a delicious (adapted) wild rice soup, with several short walks outside in between; getting some work done to meet a deadline; helping others in some meaningful ways…

… and finishing a spontaneous knit hat I started a few days ago when I ran out of Sugar and Cream scrap yarn for dish cloths. I used up some other lovely yarn ends, including a sage chenille and two gorgeous handspun wools. I was able to keep going all day for two reasons I can think of, besides being useful: I enjoyed oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, and I threw in some full caff beans with my decaf coffee. It’s hard to know (and it doesn’t matter) whether any one of these factors was more important than others: together, they contributed to a very fulfilling day. So simple, so satisfactory: Feeling useful, just being me.

Gilding the Lily

I was grateful to learn that we can order four more free Covid tests to restock the cupboard for winter here. But a little disappointed to notice that the most recent free tests ordered last month actually expired in August. So a snarky no wonder crept into my thoughts: no wonder they’re giving away more tests, they can’t sell expired tests. However, extended expiration dates for all lots of all available tests (and there are a lot!) can be found here, and I’m grateful I had the bright idea to look up the four lots of tests I have stashed, and add the revised expiration date in red on each box, so I don’t have to look it up again later. One box was so old it wasn’t even listed, so I threw that one away. I have a few months remaining on even the oldest box left.

I’m grateful for a simple, delicious breakfast: Brie-butter spread on toast with a dollop of apricot jam. Double gilding the lily! It feels rich and decadent, and I know that not everyone in the world or in the country or even in this state can afford it, so I’m doubly grateful that I can. And, even so, in dollars and cents it’s not that costly. A tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of brie, a tablespoon of homemade apricot jam, and a slice of homemade bread. Altogether this piece of toast probably cost around a dollar, plus some quality time spent harvesting, cooking, canning, and baking. It’s my fervent hope that anyone reading this is able to afford to treat themself to fifteen minutes of indulgence in the morning with an equally scrumptious delicacy; and further, that they make the time to do so.

And who was waiting patiently in the sunny windowsill for Last Bite?

A Pretty Healthy Day

I’m grateful to have spent a pretty healthy day. I exercised in the morning with some PT and stretches, and then made a salad including romaine, broccoli, pecans and homemade croutons using up an older sourdough heel — instead of turning into French toast! That felt like a healthy choice.

After working awhile at the computer, I chose to take Wren for a walk down to the reservoir instead of taking a nap — a healthy choice for both of us! I am embarrassed to admit that I have never walked the Indian Fire loop on the west side of the reservoir. I don’t even know how long that nature trail has been there. But with my new pass, I’m exploring my own backyard State Park for the first time since I worked there for a few seasons many years ago.

The trail is about half a mile, looping low then high along the steep slope, which was just a hillside above the confluence of a few streams a hundred an fifty years ago when it was inhabited by Native Americans. I’m grateful that the synopsis the park offers of the events preceding the reservoir’s construction is told with some sensitivity in the trail guide.

I am grateful for the perspective that this reminder gave me. I’d heard about the fire as the Utes were driven away from the area, but I’d forgotten. This history sheds new light on some of the burn-scarred ancient junipers in ‘my’ own piece of the mesa: I’d always assumed they were lightning strikes, but it seemed like a lot. Now I’ve revised my interpretation of these old trees, half-burned yet still living like those noted along the park trail.

Little Wren enjoyed trotting along through fallen cottonwood leaves, while I enjoyed the views. I’m grateful all over again today for the reassuring volume of water in the reservoir going into winter.

The upper half of the trail includes a panoramic overlook and some stone benches, where we caught our breath for a few minutes before heading for home. And that was the end of the healthy part of our day.

For my evening snack, I sliced thin the remaining heels of sourdough and baked them to make melba-like toasts, to go with the double decadence of Brie-butter spread. Why make Brie any more buttery than it already is? Well, why not? So simple, so delicious: shave the skin off some Brie (while it’s cold), and let it come to room temperature along with an equal amount of butter, then just whip them together until blended. Beyond indulgent.

Wren and Food

Wren and food, Wren and food… the themes may get old to some, but they don’t to me. I am always grateful for this surprising little bundle of cuteness and laughter that found her way to me when I needed her, and I’m always grateful for delicious food. I’m grateful that at my age I have finally settled into a comfortable, efficient flow of providing myself (and now Wren) with mostly healthy food without the old stress and struggle that used to accompany eating.

Yesterday’s simple cheese sandwich included Havarti, B&B pickles, mayo, and lettuce.

There were many years during which I ate only because I had to to keep going; I didn’t pay much attention to what I ate, and often found myself just shoving some sort of food in my face at the last minute, often junk food. Ok, yes, I still eat a bit of junk food, like these ‘natural’ cheetos and goldfish amended with poison fish spices, and usually a small bowl of dark chocolate M&Ms after lunch; but otherwise, I eat pretty well in general. This is a pretty big accomplishment for me, but no need to go into all the reasons that’s so. And the main reason I’ve been able to learn how to feed myself is slowing down with mindfulness practice, and discerning where to place my attention.

Wren accepts my leaving her on the chair when I must return to the desk…

I’m grateful for my little bonsai-lunch table in the sunroom. I intended to have a dining table in there for many years before I finally managed to arrange the space to accommodate one. I still only get a small wedge of it to myself but it’s sufficient to my needs: placemat, plate, glass, and kindle. It’s a joy to eat breakfast or lunch in there among the plants and colors in cold or windy weather, whether or not the sun is shining. Today’s cheese sandwich included cheddar, lettuce, dill pickle relish, mayo and tomato chutney.

And tonight’s snack was leftover deep-fried cauliflower with a quick Hoisin-based dipping sauce. Last night, with leftover oil in the fryer from the artichoke hearts, I made crispy cauliflower with honey and hot pepper, drizzling it with delicious Tupelo honey sent to me by a dear friend in Florida with a secret source, and sprinkled the fried florets with homemade paprika. As sometimes happens, I ate it too fast to take a picture. My life is simple these days, and I am content: I’m grateful every day for Wren and food.

A Grateful Attitude

I love murals. It’s been a long time since I’d been in GJ before last week, then I was there again today. I hadn’t seen this one, which decorated the flat grey wall in front of the meter on 5th Street where I parked for five minutes to dash into The Hog and the Hen for a Fowl Play sandwich after a morning of appointments. I’m grateful for a grateful attitude as I began this long day. Grateful to Neighbor Cynthia for the portable compressor that enabled me to bring a low tire up to safe pressure, grateful to Neighbor Mary for coming to check on Wren in my absence, grateful for light traffic and few delays, grateful for patience more than once during the day, grateful for a quick in-and-out at the dermatology office to get stitches out, grateful for a jovial neurologist and a fascinating series of tests that revealed nothing wrong with my central nervous system; grateful for getting some errands done on the way home including voting and mailing some important cards.

The day was tiring, but without a grateful attitude it would have been grueling. The sandwich lacked cheese, but included Turkey, Brie, Apple Chips, Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber, Pickled Red Onion, Cranberry Aioli, on Thin Ciabatta. I asked for no cucumber and extra aioli, and while it was delicious, it simply wasn’t big enough. The apple chips added a surprising crunch. There was a moment on the drive up there through the high desert, with the window down and the radio playing The Eagles, that I felt as carefree and light as I did the first time I drove across the country through a continually unspooling novel landscape. I used to love to drive the back roads. Now I’m grateful for a fleeting nostalgia now and then, and solid sense of belonging to home.

Crawford State Park

I’ve camped in a lot of state parks across the country over the years, and found them to be reliably clean, safe, and interesting; sometimes surprising and gorgeous. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to see so many natural gems in so many states. And I’m grateful that one of Colorado’s state parks is just a ten minute drive from my house.

I’m grateful to have known the man whose vision led to the first trail in this park, John Barcus. He worked hard as a volunteer to get the first leg of the trail built. The most recent leg is still under construction, but in the past few years the trail has been extended from the main parking lot on the peninsula, through both campgrounds, and all the way around the south end to join the west shore day use area.

Wren and I got our Colorado State Parks pass yesterday and took our first walk on the trail, from the Peninsula to Clear Fork Campground and back, close to a mile altogether. We’d been meaning to do it all year! But finally the time was right. I’m grateful to the state for offering an amazing deal on a parks pass: When you renew your car registration online, you get the option to purchase a Keep Colorado Wild pass for $29 instead of the regular parks pass for $80.

We were greeted at the entrance window by a cheerful neighbor who first gave Wren some cookies, then put the registration in a little red envelope to set in the window for access to any state park, no decal necessary. What a deal! Then we set off down the trail. It was a perfect, mild fall day. I had to stop every ten feet the whole way so Wren could sniff and pee.

I was grateful for the level, easy trail; for the views of the lake, the dam, the mountains, and a gaggle of Canada geese; and I was grateful for the little bench under the tiny juniper. I was grateful to see so much water left in the reservoir at the end of the irrigation season. In recent years it’s been nearly dry by this time of year.

It felt so good to walk an easy trail out in the sun that we went back today, and walked another bit from Iron Creek campground around the south end until we hit thick, untamped gravel that I didn’t want to wobble through. I was ready to turn back anyway.

At the very south end of the trail we crossed a bridge strong enough to contain a herd of bison, which seemed like a bit of overkill, but I’m sure they had their reasons.. The railing was as tall as my forehead and I had to rest my phone on top to get a picture.

The views from the west side are even more beautiful than those on the east side, with the West Elk Mountains beyond burnished grasses, rushes, thickets, and spent milkweed pods. I’m grateful for easy, affordable access to the new trail around Crawford State Park.

No-Buy November

I’m grateful for a lot today, including the beautiful healing of my Franken-forehead, my morning Telesangha meditation community, the meaningful work I get to do to support teachers and students of mindfulness, the animals wild and domestic who share my life and land, heartfelt conversations with friends about important things, a washing machine in my home that has worked without a hitch for almost twenty years and a Honda car that’s nearly as old with a similar record… I’m grateful that I’ve forgotten a lot of the heartaches that I’ve learned from in my life but hopefully not the lessons. I’m grateful for the cutest little dog who tries but just can’t be any cuter.

And I’m grateful for variations on a theme: the Cheese Sandwich. Today’s was grilled in olive oil and butter, with cheddar, spicy dill pickles, and tomato chutney, on homemade sourdough. I’m grateful that I’ve learned to play with my food in the best possible way. And that I’ve learned to put up the harvest of my garden, trade with others, and freeze and store enough food that I hope I won’t need to buy groceries for this entire month. I set myself a challenge to buy nothing this month, in order to get a clear picture of what I actually need v. what I simply want, as I continue to deepen my effort to simplify. I’m grateful for the trial of No-Buy November.

Cheerful, Tender Care

Where’s Wren?

I’m grateful today for all the support from friends and professionals as I had another basal cell carcinoma removed from my face by Mohs surgery. There were neighbors ready and willing to come check on Wren throughout what was a long day that might have been even longer. There was the friend who offered to chauffeur me and invited Wren to come along with us. There were messages of love and well wishes from friends throughout the day. There were people I could share photos of my Bride of Frankenstein forehead with, but I’ll spare the general public that image. There was Dr. Weber and his assistant Molly at Mountain West Dermatology, who do a superb job with this delicate and precise surgery; and there were the office staff who are always cheerful and friendly with a bonus today that many wore Halloween costumes. And there was my best little dog Wren, who was calm while she waited in the car with Auntie Rosie and excited when I reappeared, and who was up for anything including a stroll down Main Street.

I was so grateful today for Rosie’s cheerful, tender care of me and little Wren. After I was released from surgery, she drove us downtown so I could buy lunch. We were diverted off-course from our walk to the bagel place by this gleaming market-deli across the street, The Hog and The Hen, which predictably offered a lot of pork and chicken sandwich varieties, as well as possibly every kind of candy in the US. We ordered and ate outside in the sun. Grand Junction downtown celebrates sculpture in a way I’ve not seen elsewhere. All along Main Street are whimsical, dramatic, poignant, or beautiful sculptures, and the ambience has only improved since the last time I strolled it years ago. This adorable Pigano in front of the market tempted many passersby to plunk its functional keys. I’m grateful that what could have been a distressing day was as companionable, pleasant, easy, and fun as it could have been.