I’m so grateful for colors! My life is full of them. No blank white walls in this house. Everywhere I look, inside and out, colors and more colors. I’m grateful for my friend who introduced me to a new word when she described herself as ‘a colorist’ — and I’m grateful for her wonderful blog where she shares the colors of the world when she travels.

Continuing to enjoy the puzzle ‘Canoe of Fate’ today in between work work, housework, and yard work. Here are some more details of whimsy pieces and images. Note the deer pieces making up the wolf image, and the wolf whimsy piece upside down right above it.

Six feathers above, and one of them in place in the feather headdress below.

More whimsy in the garden, and the birch tree turning yellow with pendulous catkins, flowers that will hang on until they open in spring and release their pollen. As I sat outside for a few minutes this afternoon, soaking in all the colors, I thought of a painter I admire whom I haven’t spoken with in a long time, so I looked up her number and called her out of the blue. “What a lovely surprise!” she exclaimed, and I was grateful to have an easy, happy phone call reconnecting with her.

Liberty Puzzle’s designer had to have had Peter Pan in mind when he drew this lovely little piece. As for what Roy de Forest had in mind with the faces below, who knows?

I saved these two figures for near the end because I love the color bubbles in them, and it was fun to find their hands touching in dance when they fit together.

They ended up fitting into the top edge and so hang upside down in their dance. I really enjoy that moment when two large sections I’ve been working independently suddenly show how they connect, when they’ve been building right next to each other for hours. The star below brings together the dancers and the canoeist.

Losing Growths

Grateful for a quiet day, for groceries, and for seeing this handsome buck in the yard. Looks like he’s dropped some of those awful growths, with only a couple remaining and not bad scars. I’m grateful for losing growths!

Fun with Birds

Morning coffee has gotten very exciting recently with all the bird action. A Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay flies from the Gamble Oak with an acorn as a hummingbird sits serenely in the next tree. The young oak is another beneficiary of the wet winter/spring, and consequently also the jays.

Lots of young hummingbirds zipping around the yarden now, sipping from the prairie salvia…

…the red salvia

…the purple whatever it is in this pot…

These hummingbirds are all juveniles and/or females so I can’t say which species any of them are. It’s hard to catch two in one frame when they chase each other away from nectar, but that’s my project for coffee time this week. I’m surprised I haven’t seen any males the past few days, but maybe this happens every year and I just noticed it this time. Maybe the males leave town early. I’m grateful for fun with birds on this first morning that feels like autumn.

Spam musubi

I’ve been thinking of making this for Boyz Lunch for a couple of months, and today was the day. After guidance from my Pacific Rim Family earlier when I made musubi with tofu, I finally had all the ingredients to make the traditional Hawaiian treat: sushi rice, wrappers, and Spam. Spam has a sorry reputation in the US, but elsewhere in the world it’s considered a perfectly fine meat-food, like pressed turkey and beef jerky are here. I’ve never had a bite of Spam in my whole life, until today, and sadly it’s likely to be my last indulgence: Not because it wasn’t tasty, it was delicious; but because I’m fundamentally a vegetarian these days. Only as I sliced it did I have qualms, but from then on it was just ‘food.’

Once I browned it in the pan and then caramelized homemade teriyaki sauce on it, it looked and smelled quite appetizing. I had pre-torn the seaweed along perforated lines, and laid it shiny side down as instructed in this recipe, then used the musubi mold to shape and press the cooled rice. A heavy dash of Furikake seasoning over the rice, then topped with the sweet and sticky Spam, and rolled into a tidy package.

The nori sheets torn to size for the musubi mold result in a one-inch wide extra strip of seaweed, and guess who thoroughly enjoyed eating that?

The plate was completed with a toasted slice of broccoli forest bread, and a salad of roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes with a little onion, and fresh yellow pear tomatoes in a romaine leaf. Nothing on the plate necessarily went together, but the Boyz were happy with it all. The unequivocal star of the meal, though, was the Spam musubi. Once again, for the fiftieth time, lunch rated in the Top Five. For dessert, the last of the date bark disappeared.

I went to toss paper napkins in the outside trash bag and spied this gorgeous unknown insect. I posted the image on iNaturalist and got an ID within two hours: a tree cricket! I never did hear tell of such a thing! I shared the photo with a few friends before the ID, and so shared the result. Ellie found this wonderful video of a tree cricket chorus, showing their transparent wings in action. Mary recalled an episode of Big Bang Theory (S3E2) featuring a heated wager over the difference between tree crickets and field crickets. I’m grateful to know what’s been making the magical racket outside these recent nights. I thought they were just regular old black crickets, but am enchanted with the bronze head and shiny green body of this tree cricket, subfamily Oecanthinae, genus unknown.

Speaking of musical interludes, we’ve been enjoying instrumental jazz during lunch, largely Miles Davis, but today I found a jazz clarinet album on Tidal that had us all feeling dreamy. We spent several interludes in companionable silence, eyes closed, leaning back listening to music, sun warming through the umbrella, cool breeze… It felt like summer in a way nothing has felt like soft relaxed summer in a long time. Then Philip noticed that Wren was dancing with her ears to the music…

Winding Down

Today’s cheese sandwich included mayo, of course, romaine, avocado, Sandwich Sprinkle, smoked Gouda (a cheese I am just now truly falling in love with), and apricots. I’m grateful for every lunch I get to eat a cheese sandwich: so simple, so delicious!

I’m grateful that the apricot blessing is winding down! It’s been –is being– an extraordinary year for apricots at Mirador. The east side of the tree looks like it’s about given up all its fruit… but the west side still has plenty to offer! However, at this point even many fruits within reach have been pecked by birds on their tops or far sides, and so while I may still be able to harvest a few more, I’ve pretty much surrendered the season. A couple of baskets remain in the kitchen to be turned into jam or frozen, but within a couple of days I believe that apricot harvest will feel complete. It’s been a fun ride!

Though little Wren buries herself in towels or the bedding during a rainstorm, she quickly runs outside when the storm has passed, to enjoy with me the gorgeous aftermath. Note the slowly ripening peaches on the next tree up for harvest, another banner year if I can get to them before the rodents.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, apricot upside-down cake is brewing. I’ve never made an upside-down cake, honestly never understood the appeal until quite recently when Deb shared some homemade pineapple upside-down cake. Hmmmm, I thought, this is actually quite tasty. And so when NYT threw this recipe my way in its ‘Many Ways to Use Apricots’ feature, I saved the recipe, and baked it tonight.

While I’m immensely pleased with the outcome, I haven’t tasted it yet. The blessed rain postponed my dinner plan so I’m saving the cake to serve with coffee tomorrow. Instead tonight, I zoomed with a friend and student as we sipped cocktails together and discussed impermanence, non-attachment to outcome, and the infinitely unfolding path of mindfulness practice. I’m so grateful for every little bit of my life; even more so when I remember how fleeting and fraught with uncertainty it is. I’m grateful for gradually learning how to hold everything, just as it is, the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows. And the ten thousand apricots.

My Little Friend

Native ricegrass and broom snakeweed light up in morning sun on our Breakfast Loop walk.

I picked more apricots this morning after our walk and before meditation. There are inevitably some that fall to the ground as I’m picking, and I’m happy to share with the deer, with Biko, and with Wren. She loves her fruits and vegetables and is a very good influence on me.

She’s learning to leave the pit, just like the does do. It’s important to make sure, since it contains trace amounts of arsenic, and eating a bunch of pits could poison her.
…the face of satisfaction…

I’m so grateful for my little friend. Some days I just cannot believe my good fortune in finding her. If ever I were to forget to practice gratitude, one look at her making the most of her little life would be enough to remind me to give thanks, every living moment of every day.

A store-bought tomato, even organic, just can’t compare with homegrown or local farm-grown, but I couldn’t wait any longer to try this simple suggestion from NYT food section: I grilled the bread in butter and olive oil in a skillet til it was golden on both sides. The article (Sandra!) said to mix grated cheddar into mayo to spread under the tomatoes, which I did, but I also mixed some mayo into the last of the mushroom gnocchi stuffing and spread the toast with that first, then cheddar-mayo, and then tomato slices. A few jalapeño cheese puffs and a small bowl of last year’s bread & butter pickles, and I had a lunch that was so simple, so delicious!

Stuffed Gnocchi

Even before coffee I picked three more baskets of apricots in the cool morning air, using the step stool to reach some of the higher, riper fruits. Up at the very top the birds have left only pits on stems. Topaz has added my coffee and kindle time to her morning routine, settling in for a cuddle as I read for the past few days. I’m grateful she’s becoming more affectionate in her middle age.

I was chasing this western tiger swallowtail butterfly all around the pot when little Wren strode through. Getting a shot like this makes me ridiculously happy. If this were the only image I had to show for today I’d be very grateful.
But then I got this one and was doubly delighted.
Potato gnocchi stuffed with mushroom-cheese filling…

I’m grateful tonight for so many things, including Zoom Cooking with Amy: Gnocchi Ripieni edition. We both started yesterday, making the dough and filling ahead of time. I only got as far yesterday as baking the potatoes, which I scraped from the skins and refrigerated, then grated cheddar on and baked the skins for a snack with Penzeys Chip & Dip seasoned sour cream. What a great instant dip! So simple, so delicious!

This morning I mashed the cold potatoes and added flour, salt, an egg, and a few dashes of fresh nutmeg to make the dough. I also sautéed the mushrooms, and after they cooled blitzed them with the cheeses to make the filling.

Remember, don’t crowd the mushrooms! I just learned this wisdom recently and since then have added mushrooms to the skillet a few handfuls at a time, waiting til each batch cooks down a bit before adding the next.

Once we had our zoom drinks made, we quartered the chilled dough, and rolled each quarter, then chopped it into 15 gram rounds. A half teaspoon of filling in each, then pinched them closed and set on a tray to chill in the fridge for fifteen minutes, as we continued chatting while shaping and filling the rest of the dough.

When the second tray was filled, we swapped out trays and cooked the chilled ones in batches in boiling water until they floated. (Later I put the second tray in the freezer, and will bag the gnocchis tomorrow, to pull out and cook for next Boyz Lunch.)

As my second batch boiled I drained the first batch and kept them warm over the gnocchi water. Then we sautéed them in butter and olive oil, and at the end I added a couple tablespoons of the hot starchy water to the skillet and swirled to make a silky sauce. The recipe calls for “a pinch of parmesan.” Whoever heard of a pinch of parmesan? I grated a generous amount and topped the bowl, then we sat down to dine together.

I’m grateful for every chance I get to cook with my precious friend.

The Cheese Sandwich

Wren enjoys a morning nap as I drink coffee on the patio.

I’m grateful again today for the cheese sandwich: I’ve truly become addicted, not only to the cheese sandwich but to exploring its infinite possibilities. Mayo with Penzeys’ sandwich sprinkle, Havarti, potato chips, lettuce, apricot halves and mustard on homemade sourdough. Crunchy, creamy, tart and sweet: so simple, so delicious. I thought twice about the apricots but concluded Why not?

I’m grateful to be able to share the bounty. Yesterday it was the old doe reaching for low fruit; this afternoon it was the tragic buck picking up fallen fruit under the tree.

This evening the old doe had her brave fawns out grazing in the new green grass next door.

I’m grateful every day of every year for this beautiful apricot tree as it steadfastly lives its own life, whether or not its able to provide fruit for the rest of us in summer. It offers flowers reliably each spring, followed tender leaves that start out the blush-tinged green as its ripening fruit in conducive years; its leaves transform to yellow and fall, and it rests and rejuvenates in dark winter bark, year after year. It doesn’t ask for much: We tend it with water, occasional food, and skillful pruning, and it gives and gives.


Awwww… it was three years ago this month that my precious Ojo’s life was ended by a mountain lion… He was such a special cat. And I guess it was a banner apricot year in 2019 also, when this was taken. I still miss him. I’d give up all the apricots forever just to have him back with us.

My view of the Supermoon last night. I’m grateful for living in the country where I can step outside and experience a wild, natural nighttime. After a night sky break, I came in and made dessert for today, yogurt-lemon curd popsicles.

Continuing to eat down the meat in the freezer, I thawed a couple of lamb shanks overnight and braised them in red wine and vegetables, then reduced the broth and shredded the meat, made a biscuit topping, and baked a delicious lamb pot-pie. For my first pot-pie ever I was real pleased with it.

The Boyz loved the pops but I think they were more trouble than they were worth. Philip tries to warm the mold so we can pull them out. Next popsicles will be simpler.
My little baromewren had a rough day: during lunch a neighbor was shooting so she sought refuge in a corner of the patio; this evening we were blessed with a thunderstorm including actual RAIN, and she’s been huddled in a pile of towels in the laundry room since before sunset.

After Buddha School and Bibliofillies zooms I got outside just in the nick of time to pick two baskets of fruit before the storm rolled in. I gave away most of what I picked the other night, but quickly replenished the stockpile. From now on for a few weeks it will be all-apricot-all the time: lunch, breakfast, cocktail… and anywhere else I can think to use them. I’ve pencilled in Saturday to make the first batch of jam.

Laugh at Myself

I was so grateful this morning to see the first praying mantis this summer, a young European mantis, according to iNaturalist. I accidentally swept it off a pepper plant with the watering wand as I dislodged some grasshoppers. Hope I didn’t interrupt its meal or its hunt, but I’ve no worries for its future as there are a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand hoppers for every mantis.

I’m grateful, with a hearty laugh at myself, that Jimbo the Drag Clown from Canada won RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars Season 8. Her final competitor at the end was one for whom I experience an irrational and totally subjective aversion.

The Earth’s climate is rapidly approaching or has already arrived at Tipping Point; political chicanery and corruption are at an all-time high in this country, and white nationalism is on the rise around the world; everyone suffers from something, and most of us are suffering right now with anything from heatstroke to war to plantar fasciitis. And I’m grateful for a TV show that gives my attention a vacation once a week, an escape into an alternate reality, where I can appreciate human creativity and laugh at myself.