...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


segment from Rumi, Form is Ecstatic

I saw a segment of this poem in an e-mail newsletter from Heartstone Herbal School.

The poem, Form is Ecstastic, is by Rumi.
... A gardener watches the

sky break into song, cloud wobbly with
what it is.  Bud, thorn, the same.

Wind, water, wandering this essential
state.  Fire, ground, gone.  That's

how it is with the outside.  Form
is ecstatic.  Now imagine the inner:

soul, intelligence, the secret worlds!
And don't think the garden loses its

ecstasy in winter.  It's quiet, but
the roots are down there riotous.

oil on canvas
Laurie Riccadonna


 I hope your roots 
are down there riotous!

And that spring comes quickly,
so the raucous and riotous business of life
can start happening above ground!


 Today it felt like the snow 
wanted to start melting...

And the sun was shining,
and it made me so happy that
I started planning and dreaming more.

I don't know about you,
but I'm always happiest 
when I'm dwelling in that liminal space
where so many good things 
are possible.

Let us  
keep our fingers crossed 
that sap will start to flow 


FYI:  If you want to know more about herbs and their green wisdom
or making your own lotions/salves/balms 
or making your own mead and herbal beers,
you should definitely check out Heartstone.
Kris and Tammi are fantastic ladies!



Sorry for being a slacker on the blog lately, people.
I always have a reason for my slacking 
(well, Boo would say I always have a reason for everything... and she's right!)

Sometimes my time away from the blog is because of stress or being busy
and sometimes it's just being "busy" relaxing and having fun.
Thankfully this time, it was the latter!

It's been winter vacation at school 
Valentine's Day
my birthday!

I could do separate posts about all of those things,
but in the interest of getting back to being busy-having-fun,
I'll share some highlights:

Valentine's tulips
 Boo working hard making a deep dish Valentine's quiche...
still decked out in Carhartt overalls from the morning chores!
 Well, who needs an apron when you've got your Carhartts?

a dozen eggs from The Littles
caramelized onion + zucchini + cheddar + raw milk/cream + butter crust
= best quiche ever!

Boo said:  "Eat your hearts out, you dumb vegans!"

Now, now. Don't get all feisty about the vegans again, honey.

And after enjoying a bite... 
(She just can't let it go, can she?)

"Don't those vegans know that modern chickens need to lay eggs?  
That it's a biological imperative?!" 

"Why don't they simply support good farms and still enjoy one of nature's perfect foods?"
 "Don't they know that humans have been eating eggs since the dawn of time for a REASON?!" 

(wait for it... my personal favorite:)

"Don't they know that their brains are going to suffer from being vegan?
Just what we need - more morons in the world!"

But Boo, most vegans don't know they're being stupid.
They think they're making good choices for animals, for their health, and the planet,
and perhaps all of those "good choices" lead to them to feeling and acting morally superior.
Just let them have their alternative quiche made with soy oil crust, soy milk, tofu, and  soy-cheese.
What harm is it to us?

"Alternative my @$$!  That abomination cannot be called a quiche!"


"All that soy... OY OY OY!
Don't they know that soy has hormone disrupting properties?
anti-nutritive properties?  phytates?!
That it should only be eaten in moderation, in very specific (fermented) forms, if at all
That's it's a big money-making scam for people to think soy is a health-food 
when it's really basically a waste product?!"

Whatever, dear.  
People can eat anything they want.  
As evidenced by the multitude of inhumanely raised animal products, 
countless chemicals and preservatives...
and the ubiquity of trans fats and GMOs in the American diet.

Can we just enjoy the most amazing totally UN-VEGAN quiche ever, please?
After all... the more vegans, the more butter and eggs and milk and cheese for us! 
Mmmmmmmnnn.  Cheese!


"Well, I'm sick of those vegans always preaching to me at the co-op
about how their diet is the best...!" 
Well, dear, the world is full of all kinds.
If I think about it for a second, I'm pretty sure I know someone else 
who is very preachy about their way being the best.

(clearly goes over her head)

"I never met a healthy vegan!   They're all pasty and pale!"

(phew...! are we done?  um, no...)
"My grandparents lived well into their 90's
and they ate eggs galore!
And chopped liver and kishka...
schmaltz up the wazooo!!!"

(barely a pause)
"And don't even get me started on the raw food people!"
"You know, I once went to a party 
where they shredded a bunch of carrots and called it tuna salad!
Can you believe that bull$#*@?!"

"And the worst thing wasn't the awful stinky durian fruit 
that they ship all the way from Malaysia -- like that's so good for the planet...!
It was that the growth of their children was seriously stunted!
They were like 10 years old and 3 feet tall, poor things!"

(oh, I bet there's more...)

"And then there are the people I met that made their DOGS be vegan...!"
"Their poor, poor dogs!!!"
"Animal abuse!  Child abuse!" 
"They're all meshuggeners!"
The quiche, the quiche... show it some respect, please... 
before you make me meshuggenah! 

Let's eat in peace, shall we?

Well, that quiche was so damn good -- she shut her pie hole right up, and enjoyed every bite!

 Truly her best crust ever.
Flaky, buttery, divine.

She thinks the secret was mixing the dough by hand
(not using the mixer, which kneads it more than it should be kneaded.)


For dinner, we weren't that hungry (that quiche sticks to the ribs all day!!!)
 so I made something light and simple.
I wanted to make something with lots of beautiful red color...
Local, seasonal, and beets are the reddest thing going.
I found this recipe: French Peasant Beets on Food52.

 served with
Probably one of the most gorgeous cheeses ever.
It has a subtle blue-ish flavor, not overpowering, but still very much there.  
Just be forewarned if you're not into the blue family.

a generous drizzle of balsamic at the end was definitely the key to elevating the dish.
A good balsamic does wonders.  For real. 
Another un-vegan delight.

I bought a ton of cream to make creme brulee to finish off a french-inspired evening,
but Boo had gone ahead and made some buttercream sugar cookies.

 topped with a dried sour cherry!
and um, definitely not vegan.

 We don't like to eat artificial coloring, 
so Boo used dried beet powder for the frosting

(it's tasteless, and works like a charm for making pink!)

Huck likes to apprentice in the kitchen.
He's always right there whenever we're doing even the littlest thing.
 He's especially fond of me because I'm messy 
and I drop a lot of crumbs!

Speaking of crumbs,
my birthday breakfast request 
was for some coffee cake with extra crumb topping.

I spent the morning playing around with my fancy schmancy new camera lens.
I'm a total dud, but I should be able to do some great things with this baby.


rosmarinus officinalis

(it's surviving the winter indoors for the first time ever! yippeee!)

  air plant

 calithea lancifolia
aka rattlesnake plant

I took a bunch of random shots around the house:

It's Peter Rabbit, of course.

and a fairy tea set...

a snack of marcona almonds.
so good!

moon calendar,
from Misha
along with a beautiful piece of sandalwood from her trip to Hawaii
and a yummy bar of soap from her partner, Dana.
(thanks, M + D!)


I can see how once I learn more about this lens and how to use it well,
I'll be able to take some truly great shots in the garden
of insects and plants, especially.

It was also fun to take some portraits of the dogs.
Huck is happy to have his photo taken.



My birthday flew by so quickly, but I cherished every moment.

Some days, everything feels like a gift.
Including the sun shining
and anything warmer than 30 degrees below zero with the windchill (!)
and health and
and love, always love,
and breathing easy.


After all of that camera time,
I got a massage! 
And then played in the snow with my sweeties:

 We had plans to do a little xcountry skiing,
but didn't really have time before dinner at Just a Taste.

My 5-year-old niece
sang Happy Birthday to me,
and forgot the last line,
but it was adorable
and she calls me 
"Aunt Ducky!"

I came home to a really special dessert made especially by Sasha.

a blood-orange tart adapted from the Chez Panisse Dessert book!
 so bright, the flavors burst and pop
against the luscious, silky custard.

I love a dessert you can roll around in your mouth.

(Sorry vegans.  Any substitutions would be a total exercise in futility,
unless of course, you actually enjoy being disappointed...)
 candied kumquats in the center
surprisingly good!
not too tart... just right!

I make the same wish every single year.
Not going to tell.

Is there anything more beautiful than freshly whipped cream?

 and I'm not trying to boast about my gifts or anything of the sort,
but I am really excited and wanted to share how beautiful this felted wall / door hanging is
that Sasha made me.

Each piece felted, cut, sewn, strung, hung
the amount of love and time and energy she puts into her gifts is so touching...

 I might keep it on the door for awhile
and then might hang it from the ceiling for awhile
It has such a Calder-esque feeling,
and like it's moving,
so I might just keep changing it up.
That's what it's all about in life.

Celebrating love.
Appreciating beauty.
 And having a good laugh
(at the vegans expense.)

Just kidding.
I'm sorry vegans, for having such a razz on you today.
I promise to play nice next time.
Even if I am eating bacon.


snow day mitten repair clinic and bird-watching

Well, we definitely can't get back to the garden just yet, folks.
I'm not even going to dream about it today, 
because the garden is buried several feet deep with snow,
and I may as well just enjoy what is.
So, after a long bout of winter chores this morning, 
it was time to kick back, relax, 
and enjoy the snow day off from school / work.   

Snow days mean staying warm by the fire...

and after all of those morning chores,
it was great to warm up wet boots, hats, socks, and mittens.

Upon inspection of my favorite mittens,
it was clear that they had seen better days, 
er, better years..!
Thumbs and fingers were poking out.  
Yarn had worn thin in several spots. 
They were no longer doing their job 
of keeping my hands warm and dry. 

So, what better way to spend a snow day than by the fire
having a mitten repair clinic?

That's what we've been up to today.
Well, not exactly "we" because 
I'm not the "mittie" repair lady, 
but I've been observing the work-in-progress.
This winter I've gotten into the habit of doing a read-aloud while she knits away.
It's really fun to do a read-aloud by the fire.  
I highly recommend it.

If you've never read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, I highly recommend that, too.
There's a sequel that we're onto now, The Rosie Effect.  
Both are great stuff.  Lots and lots of laughs.

Now I have some even funkier patched-up mittens!
Warmer than ever before!

It almost would have been easier to knit another pair of mittens!
But I really love the wacky piecemeal patching approach.
One of a kind...
Just like my little lady!

Another great thing to do on a snowy day is to watch the birds.
They really feed heavily around storms and during cold spells.

Some make it to the feeders...

while others go for seed that has fallen from the feeders above...
This morning I saw a little junco standing at the edge of some ice on the pond,
drinking from a thawed part.
But before I got my camera, he was gone.

It's fun seeing birds dip their faces in the snow to eat / drink it. 
Check out this snowy-faced cardinal:

I love watching birds crack down on sunflower shells!

This female cardinal blends beautifully into the branches of our willow bushes...
What a gorgeous tail feather fan!

and here she is again:

Bigger birds like bluejays and woodpeckers have been eating suet like crazy.
The squirrels have helped out, too!

We've got to get out there and give them some more!