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…

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.


While Wren gets to know a new friend, I’m grateful to enjoy a patio dinner with old friends and meaningful conversation.

I’m grateful also for this lovely Becker’s White butterfly on the salvia, and for the Seek app from iNaturalist that allowed me to identify it.


Wren and I had quite an adventure today, and I’m glad we did because tomorrow it will probably be raining all day. And tomorrow is the day I’ve declared to be Wren’s Birthday! We don’t know exactly when she was born, but we do know she was born into her new life with me last year on April 25, and that she was allegedly two years old then. So tomorrow I’ll be grateful for one year with Wren…

Today, I’m grateful for many, many things, and perhaps chief among them is helping. After all the gratitudes of the day, late tonight I had the opportunity to help a friend in need, and that feels as good as or better than the big adventures and the sensory pleasures of the day.

We found a sad trail of beautiful feathers along the canyon rim, the drifted remains of a northern flicker. When I spotted the first feather I was delighted, a molted gift; finding the second feather I suspected foul play; at the third feather and beyond it was clear that the flicker had met its demise, and the only thing I can imagine spreading its feathers far and wide was a midair attack by a falcon or other raptor. All told we gathered a handful of feathers, and left a few below the rim.

find two feathers?
The sky was amazing, quite the shapeshifter…

And it was soothing to return home to the tamer pleasures of the yarden. I was also grateful to get my permanent crown, which happened to arrive at the dentist quickly and be ready to replace the broken temp, so Wren bravely stayed home alone while I dashed to town for the quick fix. I was grateful for the helping hands of the dentist and his kind and capable technician. I’ve chosen to spare you the sight of the crown in my mouth and trust you are grateful for that.

I am also grateful that I read about and ordered this nifty bug catcher-magnifier last week, so that when I went in to shower after the trip to town I was able to safely capture the scorpion who had crawled up the drain into the bathtub–and magnify her 5x–and then help her outside. This handy item is sold as a toy, but doubles as a humane tool to remove bugs from inappropriate places and return them to appropriate places, like, anywhere besides my bathtub. This is at least the fifth scorpion to climb into the bathtub this winter, which equals the total of all scorpions in the house in all the years I’ve lived here. A new normal?

The Last Grapefruit

Even the Kitchen Ants liked the grapefruit. I’d left a few seeds from the next-to-last grapefruit in a tray overnight, and was astonished to find the ants carving out the cut ones in the morning. I left them there for a few days til the ants had finished with them, before sweeping them into the compost.

I’m grateful for some Easter ham that ‘got give to me’ by a neighbor. Even though I’m mostly vegetarian, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make a few grilled cheese sandwiches with leftover ham.

I’m grateful for the grapefruits that Kathleen sent me from her yard tree in Florida– for Christmas! I’m glad I savored all the citrus she sent, and especially the grapefruits. She planned to send more but the state suffered a deep freeze and all her fruits were lost. At least, that’s what she said.

I’m especially grateful for the Last Grapefruit, which I used tonight to make a grapefruit-poppy seed cake. I guess I made the glaze a little bit wet, but the cake is delicious nonetheless, with zest and juice in the batter, and more juice drizzled into poked holes while the cake is still hot. It’s got a bit of bitter bite to it, maybe I squeezed the pulp too hard, but that tempers the sweetness just right.

I’m grateful for a lot more today, also. For waking up alive, for sunshine and running water, for Honey Badger, for family, pets, meaningful work, hearing the first meadowlark, and a body that still moves pretty well all things considered, to name just a few.

A New Kitchen Trick

If only pictures could capture scents. I love when I walk through the sunroom and a beautiful aroma stops me in my tracks, leads my nose to it. This morning it was this front orchid, whose name I’ve long lost. Like other fragrant orchids, it pulses its scent on its own schedule and always takes me by surprise.

I’m always grateful to learn a new kitchen trick. I saw on Instagram a hack to use up the last bit of peanut butter in the jar by adding soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, minced garlic, sriracha, and some warm water to make a tasty peanut sauce. I’ve cleaned out two mayo jars since then in a similar way, adding to the last few tablespoons instead of trying to scrape them out. Today I threw in a tablespoon of Penzey’s Peppercorn dressing mix, some Greek yogurt, a bit of oil and vinegar, and a dollop of maple syrup, and shook til it was well blended. Then I doused this random mix of romaine, pickled iceberg, sauerkraut, almonds, bean sprouts, chopped white onion, and a few cubes of Havarti, for a delicious lunch salad.

Why didn’t I have another cheese sandwich? Ack. The Kitchen Ants ate holes in the bread bag. Most of that last beautiful loaf was full of ants… I had sliced it, and they were deep into every slice. I live in peace with the Kitchen Ants, who mostly lay low, but the past couple of weeks they’ve been marauding any crumb I leave on the counter or in the sink. So, as usual, I’m grateful to them for motivating me to keep up with the kitchen, and (as E.O. Wilson invites us to) I marvel at their super skills when they do show up. I thought I’d done a great job putting the kitchen to bed last night when I came in this morning and didn’t see any ants on the counter…

…but then I noticed some on the mottled granite and saw with horror their trail to the bread bag which I’d set on top of this cookie tin. It never occurred to me that they could make holes in the bag, but sure enough it was still zipped shut, and after I dumped it into the compost bin I saw some tiny holes in the bag that no one else could have made. Oh well. I imagine their regular food supply has been flooded out and they’re starving. I’m happy to share my crumbs with them, and I’ll figure out an ant-proof bread solution for the next loaf. I honestly hated to take the antfull bread a hundred ant miles away from their home, but didn’t want to leave it out closer to the house where Wren would have eaten it all.

Who is that sitting in my chair?


Things did not go as I expected them to tonight. I heard there are massive solar winds that could be affecting digital things this weekend so maybe that’s what happened.

For the past 13 weeks I’ve planned my weekend entertainment around a new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15. I briefly resented having to pay an extra $25 for it on Amazon Prime, but I’ve done the same for a couple of other seasons so I followed the same advice as I did before: If it gives you pleasure just go ahead and pay for it, you get to watch as often you want. I rarely watch a Drag Race episode more than once recently, because there are so many new ones available between the US and international shows.

So I bit the proverbial bullet and paid for Season 15 and have been enjoying settling in at the end of a work week on Saturday nights to relax and watch just one hour of consummate drag, practicing open mind-open heart all the while, expanding my horizons…

I tuned in tonight and it wasn’t there. I called Amazon support. They said it was ‘not yet available,’ with no date scheduled. I was incredulous. How could they not give me something I paid for? I thanked Lula for her time and good work, hung up, and pursued another option. Jumping through a few hoops I was able to watch the episode for free on MTV, with ads. So I extended my practice to watching what a large chunk of the populace digests every day but is alien to me by choice–the commercials made me so sad. What a world!

An extraordinary cheese sandwich! Grilled provolone and cheddar on homemade sourdough with pickled iceberg lettuce, roasted red peppers, homegrown sprouts, and olive-caper mayo. A lunch to remember–and repeat tomorrow!

Before all the Amazon-MTV first world drama, I had tried to simply stream the PBS special celebrating Joni Mitchell’s finally getting the Gershwin Prize in a special concert filmed at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The space was filled with music world glitterati, DC nobility, and a few startling political faces–what right do these people have to honor Joni Mitchell?! They deny basic human dignity to millions of Americans by promulgating cruel, narrow-minded, hypocritical legislation, and then think they deserve to be here? Who let them in?

My judgments ran rampant but under control for the first hour or so, generally eclipsed by the joy and beautiful music abundantly on display. No ads to make me sad, and Annie Lennox, Brandi Carlisle, Angelique Kidjo, James Taylor, Graham Nash and more to lift my spirits and celebrate an icon, a time, a world view suffused with love. But I gasped and grasped the remote to turn it off when that traitorous liar Kevin McCarthy was introduced to bestow the award on Mitchell. I wouldn’t watch it, couldn’t watch it, it was just too much to dignify that figurehead who represents the antithesis of all that Joni’s career has stood for. How could anyone there have applauded him?

Thus began the Amazon-MTV-Roku-iPhone-Bluetooth technodrama that unfolded over the next half hour before I finally got to stream three-quarters of the Drag Race episode. Some pearls of wisdom adorned the usual glam, glitter, and gossip, as when Sasha Colby said, “Just be a joy to be around, leave your ego at the door…” Suddenly the streaming froze–the solar winds won–after five techno challenges in a row I threw in the towel and turned off the outside world and went inside myself.

Here, I find Wayne Shorter crooning his saxophone, and images from the amazing early spring day I just lived through. Some I caught on my camera phone, and some live only in memory: a spotted towhee pecking through leaves under the lilacs, sandhill cranes calling overhead as I split kindling on a cloudless afternoon, mindful conversation with friends…

I’m grateful I spotted this harbinger of Spring, the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell. I texted the picture to a butterfly expert friend in Toronto who ID’d it and said, “They overwinter as adults in cracks and crevices and pop out when its warm enough. A favourite of mine. Don’t get to see one very often.” Me neither! This is my first. Very exciting! Highlight of the day! A little tattered… they only live 6-10 days in this adult form, and typically inhabit wet woodlands, moist marshes and pastures. One point for wet weather. And then, day softened into evening inside the kaleidoscope… I’m grateful for perspective.


Wasps are working hard in the garden gathering fennel.

Wren took a break from her hard work in the garden today to accompany me to Garden Buddy’s house for a produce exchange. She was able to get acquainted with their big dog whose head is about the size of her whole self. We all sat in the shade and visited for a little while, and I enjoyed the view of all the suns on their old cabin ruin. I’m grateful for the bountiful sunshine today, and overall mild fall weather. In this moment, all is well.


The wild winds this spring have torn down many limbs in the forest, and I’m sure some whole trees, but I haven’t rambled the deer trails since last fall so I am just beginning to discover the changes. This morning I was grateful for rambling with Wren and Topaz, starting off on the Typewriter Trail but veering onto a deer track at the bottom of the first hill, then heading southwest. A freshly broken limb blocked the trail which of course didn’t stop Wren, though I walked around rather than under it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve simply wandered the woods as I used to with two dogs and two cats. Those were the halcyon days, and I’m grateful that I recognized that at the time. How everything has changed in two years. Sometimes it truly feels like living in the end times, and I won’t be surprised if that turns out to be the case. Whatever happens next, I’m keeping focused on doing the right thing in the moment. Often that is simply bearing witness to what’s left of this astonishing, spectacular, living planet.

I am perpetually grateful that I made choices going back three and four decades (or six, or lifetimes) that caused me to end up here, living among these ancient junipers, at this precarious time.

And I’m grateful for the tiny, ephemeral delights that each day brings, like the swooping sound of nighthawks, a cool evening breeze, the first fingerling zucchini, and a tiny predatory beetle on the coriander.

Putting Away Christmas

Cousin Bill joked about how different it felt to put his Christmas decorations away at the end of January than at his habitual New Year’s ritual… It wasn’t too soon, or too late, it was just the right time. That’s how I feel. Even later, though, I’m putting away Christmas in the middle of February. It’s the longest I’ve gone. Much as I love the ancestral decorations (and a handful of new acquired over my lifeline) I’ve put away Christmas pretty late for years, grateful for implicit luxuries, but always by the end of January. At least that’s how I remember it.

I may not get very far tonight, I’m reminiscing, communing with my little things. Catherine Ingram counsels us to love who we love, and love our lives, and love our little things. Garden Buddy mentioned that very thing this afternoon in the context of what brings us joy. We sat in her garden of stone-rimmed beds and yard art, sharing a brief cloudy interlude in an otherwise balmy day. We are both growing weary of enforced hermitude, yet are not eager to relinquish it, skeptical of the alternatives.

Garden seeds arrived! A sigh of relief, winter’s end’s in sight. It’s been a strange one, as have most recent seasons. Case in point: The shower drain hasn’t come close to freezing this winter (a good thing), but this is the second scorpion who’s climbed up out of the tub drain. Itsy-bitsy spider only this time it’s scorpions the rain washes out. Spiders have free reign in my house, they do such good eating flies, and most of the widows stay outside. But this scorpion has to go right back where it came from, back to the leaf litter under the birch tree. It’s much milder outside this year, and also drier, than what used to be normal. Even as it’s been a colder winter inside, but longer sun in a rising arc warms the house earlier each day, and I have enough power now to run the floor heat while it’s sunny. So life’s gotten a little easier.

I’m grateful for this littler orange scraper, which has also makes life easier. It’s come in handy for a lot of things, but most of all for finally solving this kitchen dilemma. For years it mystified and aggravated me why the artisan who built the copper counter didn’t finish it with a rollover edge, instead crafting a lovely rim a half inch higher than the surface. This makes it impossible to sweep crumbs off into a hand or compost bucket. A similar glitch was built into the edge of the sunroom pond by a different artist, this an unchinked valley between the wall and the stone floor, leaving a ragged stripe of concrete foundation showing. I asked that fellow many years later why he’d done that, it makes it so hard to sweep or vacuum the dirt up.

“So you wouldn’t have to,” he said sparkling with logic, “because it would collect in the crack.” Had the cabinet maker brought similar reasoning to the raised counter rim? Both ‘solutions’ make it far more complicated to clean: a woman would never have designed these features.

Speaking of crumbs on the counter, these lemon shortbreads were worth the wait for butter for the glaze. So delicate and lightly tart and softly sweet. I’ve been grateful today for sharing them, too; and for kindnesses and compassions that have come my way, softening the rocky inward trail.