Exploring

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I’ve never seen a goose poop mid-flight, but can you imagine?

How about that for a beginning to mark the end of 2021? All told, it was a pretty great year for us, thank goodness. Not that shitty things didn’t happen. Nearly six hundred family homes are mere ashes after burning rapid-fire near my childhood home. People we care about died (one from COVID) and got brain cancer, while others got married and had beautiful, healthy babies. Two had successful surgeries! Relationships ended and others flourished. Good and bad, how life always is. There’s probably a more eloquent saying for that, but I’m too lazy to look at the moment.

Two of my favorite people, hanging out for Christmas! We spent three nights at my parents, where Greg and my dad laughed and played ample pool while sipping adult beverages. I did not document my mom and I making tamales, some of the best ever, or us eating them, but I assure you it happened. We also listened to holiday songs, watched movies, admired the glow of Christmas lights, and played Farkle with my Aunt Mari. All the good things. Y-E-S, yes!

Juniper played and played in the yard of my childhood, and, as always, how fun it was to see the place of my burgeoning imagination run riot with her joy.

Shuttling about, we spent a grand evening at Michael and Mary’s, and another under the twinkle of holiday lights and the roar of laughter with our dear, dear, Andie Card. On the afternoon we went home, we stopped by my cousin Stephanie’s for treats and conversation and to see Stella grow stronger and stronger. An abundance of riches.

Yesterday, before the snow. Last night, after first noticing the arrival, I dashed onto the porch in my bare feet and shouted with glee. We awoke to several inches and it continues to fall. My word, how long in coming that was. Here’s hoping we get heaps and tons more this 2022.

And finally, the last of the 2021 food photos. For our holiday treats, I made: biscochitos (and created my best iteration, yet), peanut butter fudge (also my own recipe, which tastes like a PayDay!), toasted walnut fudge, cherry mashers (thank you, Joanna Gaines, though I used butter), red chile pecan brittle, butterscotch potato chip shortbread, peppermint slice, and brownie cups (peppermint chip and not-so-plain).

Our New Year’s Eve meal was zoodles with a fabulous Italian sausage and mushroom red sauce (homemade, duh!) and extra cheesy garlic bread. We live large!!

Here’s hoping this is the year we really bust through COVID and make every sweet dream come true! HUGS…

Night Out

Tuesday evening, before the wind literally turned much of the city upside down, we went out to dinner. It had been ages and in the works for days, and by the time it arrived was very much needed. Greg, so early in the week, had already had a rough time at the virtual office. Nothing he couldn’t handle, but still distressing and annoying.

We went to Mood for tapas, which was quite lovely, really living up to its name, soft glow and sparkle. Our server was simply the best, keeping it light and knowing the right moment for everything. We enjoyed adult beverages and great flavors and relished the fact that a whole host of other people were doing the cooking and clean-up. Hell yes!

After dinner, we strolled in the crisp of it and admired murals, cheerful downtown neon, and sweet twinkle lights. We stopped into our favorite chocolate shop to grab some Firework bark for a dear to us treat: add pop rocks and smoky chile powder to chocolate, and oooh la la! It lives up to its name, yes ma’am. Like a Depeche Mode song, we just can’t get enough.

Though it didn’t feel quite normal, it was as close as we’d been in a while, and oh how grateful I am for those moments.

You know I can’t resist them…

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Farmer Greg + tomato + kohlrabi
pork shoulder steak + spiralized zucchini & carrot + veg galore + peanut dressing
Uncle Lyle + Aunt Bev, with L O V E

The front garden gives and gives

Who goes there?
Raccoon methinks
B a l l o o n s ! !

Mud! Juniper’s toes! My Maine Coone socks! Hello Paris…

blue tepary
scarlet runner beans: one and all
S I X pounds of prickly pears wild harvested and processed!

Home grown tiny canteloupe…flip fantasia
With a sincere nod to US3’s FAB song!

poblano
fennel + chicory + ground cherry + kohlrabi + tomato
tomato
big + little
harvest
Breakfast “Ramen” – zoodles + egg + bacon + jack cheese + green chile + chicken broth
pico de gallo with our own tomatoes and cayenne pepper – huzzah!

Good Tuesday to you, dear reader! What eye candy here today, and what luck to find it all in front of my lens.

From the top: the garden is going like gangbusters, with super delicious ripening tomatoes, of a variety we cannot remember, drat. The kohlrabi hollering go big or go home!

After struggling a bit with the middle age S P R E A D, Greg and I joined Weight Watchers. It’s been a few weeks, and though the pounds aren’t exactly flying off (damn slowing metabolism!), we are losing weight and feeling truly great. It is actually FUN, and we are enjoying the challenge. I am spiralizing like a mad woman: zucchini, carrots, butternut squash!

We visited Bev + Lyle’s graves weekend before last for the very first time. Her colorful personality called for a rainbow of roses. We’ve had more death in the family, and I’ve felt a little heavy about it, truth be told. I pore over pictures and replay Super-8 style memories while pondering the gossamer connections of blood kin and my chosen family, each binding me to the wider world. Like planting small seeds of comfort that will one day bear beautiful fruit.

In a super cookbook from the library, Living Within the Wild, I found the recipe for Breakfast Ramen. Theirs uses actual ramen, which is NOT worth my points on WW, so of course I zoodled! It also calls for nori rather than green chile, but come on, green chile was made for this dish! I will definitely be making it again.

This past weekend was the Balloon Festival, and we awoke early Saturday to wade through giant puddles and trudge the mud of two evening’s blessed rains: all to watch the launch from our favorite perch on high. The mist veiled hills a bonus gift for our labors. Every year we expect a crowd in our viewing spot, and every year we are gratefully spared, reveling in our own good luck AND company to watch each wonder of gravity rise and rise and rise.

It is prickly pear season, at last, at last. I cannot believe my good luck at finding the local patches of beautiful fruit, waiting to be turned into wonderful juice. The spiny jabs worth it in the end.

More glory in the garden as the harvest gets to go, go, going. We experimented with cantaloupe! While it is among the best we’ve ever tasted, it is not nearly worth the water or labor for the three adorable fruits produced. The ground cherries, peppers, beans, zucchini, and tomatoes are quite a different story. The blue tepary and scarlet runners an excellent introduction to beans for drying, so we will plant much more next year, taking out the strawberry plants that do so very little. How life presents a body with ample opportunities to learn!

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It rained and thundered much of the night, and we awoke to the hush of fog. Our drive to the grassland slow and deliberate, scarcely a car length ahead visible to our eyes. But it was warm, and countless unseen larks, scaled quails, and other birds sang in praise of morning. Turtles and frogs hopped along the roadside. Cows!

Then, as if it had been one shared dream, the fog lifted. We watched this hawk (a Swainson’s, I think) and another and another and another set out for breakfast, eyes steady on the plain.

The best surprise of the grasslands was learning about the canyons, places of respite for the weary bodies of my Comanche ancestors and any other body willing to make the journey. Countless more birds, and a billion insects to our party of three, all humming and buzzing, chirping and singing.

Most noticeable was the void of human sounds. We heard not one car, nor plane, nor voice, save our own, for hours, a sensation wholly magical and awe inspiring.

Then, on our roundabout drive home, we stopped at Bent’s Old Fort, a meticulously detailed recreation of the original. How fascinating to gain a clear glimpse of life in this place, some 180 years distant.

A banana cupcake with banana frosting, part of a set made Monday. A very fine end…

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Saturday morning, sipping our coffee, I got an idea. I’d been wanting to visit the Comanche National Grassland for some time, but being in one of the most remote regions of southeastern Colorado, it isn’t exactly on the way anywhere.

So, I began to think aloud with the hubster. Why not just head there, TODAY? Sleep in the car? It might be extra cozy, but the three of us could most certainly fit. Yeah, yeah. But where exactly would we park the car to sleep? We checked the map. What’s nearby? Springfield. Hmmmm. And then Greg is on the phone with the kindly fella at the Crawford Motel. There is a room! Dog friendly. Alright, already. Let’s shower and go, go, go!

It was a glorious drive of long views, windmills and turbines, grain elevators. Clouds. Sunflowers. Every splendor of the beautifully flat half of my native state.

Springfield was quiet, and the park was within eye-shot of the motel, complete with nesting vultures, at least twenty-six tucking in for the night.

Oh, and Watson’s BBQ in Eads, well worth a stop and stretch of the legs!

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