robins

February 29

I love that today is a leap day- it seems like a special pocket of time.

Outside, the cheery trills of robins are balancing the soft dreariness of grey sky on the verge of rain. This afternoon, the sun shone and lit the pink cherry blossom and warmed the rug. In the morning, as on all mornings here, sea gulls dotted the field like sheep.

This past week there were some glorious spring storms, erratic wind/rain/sun and all colours in the sky. I dug out my paints. I finally bought an umbrella. Days were segmented by cappucinos, africanos, earl grey and herbal teas. Our rabbits are molting winter down. The daffodils are nodding bright heads.

I hurt my back by lifting a bin incorrectly and have spent the past few days feeling like a century has been tacked on to my years. It's easing up now and I am so glad. (That icy-hot stuff is so weird!) How easy it is to take health for granted.

I'm including the recipe for what I wish I was making right now. I like to make and freeze a batch of these cookies to have on hand - a gift to our future selves.

Chocolate Apricot Pecan Cookies Adapted from Leslie Mackie's Macrina Cookbook. The original recipe does not call for pecans, so feel free to leave them out. 

In a medium large bowl, stir together with a whisk then set aside: 1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour 1 c all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp finely ground espresso beans

In a medium small bowl or in a KitchenAid mixer, cream until light and fluffy: 1 c butter, softened 1 c good raw/brown sugar such as panela-rapadura

Add eggs to creamed butter and sugar one at a time, mixing well, adding vanilla with second egg: 2 eggs, room temperature 2 tsp vanilla

Add dry ingredients and stir to mix until flour is just incorporated. Then stir in: 3/4 cup dried unsulphured apricots, chopped 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and cooled, roughly crushed by hand 8-9 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Let dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour before scooping and baking cookies. Or scoop then freeze dough to later thaw and bake whenever you need a few cookies! Makes about 16 cookies. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. 

evening song

There was a long-drawn sunset this evening, all golden rose with children throwing frisbees in the park, a few wisped curls of cloud in the sky. As if it had been a nice sunny day today. But I wasn't fooled. This morning it was overcast and muggy, the kind of weather that makes you feel prickly. At lunchtime it was still hovering between clearing up and starting to rain. So I cleaned the house. I must confess that I am the type of person who would rather move furniture than mop the floor. Yesterday I shoved coaxed the fridge across the kitchen, and immediately vowed to never let it return. Now, instead of looming mismatched beside the stove and blocking two entryways, it fills the weird corner. This afternoon I stepped into the garden. We have doors that autolock. Most of the time I remember this, and stuff a key in my pocket or prop the door. I shut the door behind me. Oh. I spent the next three hours weeding. I could have gone over to my landlord's house for help, but stubborn pride joined forces with the fact that I'd been wanting to be out in the garden all day, but busy house tasks had kept me from it. And the weeds were really bad. Our salad greens, though gaining height, were dwarfed by volunteer thistles. I have to say it was a peaceful way to spend the afternoon/evening. At times, the only sounds besides my internal chatter were the wind strumming conifer needles and the robins' morning and evening song that transports the sun. Once, a nuthatch scritching bark, crows laughing. The neighbors and their children and their dogs. At the time I had stepped into the garden, I was thinking of changing into shorts and a tank top. By the time Jeremy came home and found me I had swatted a mosquito and was shivering a little.

A year ago at this time, I was up in northern Alberta for work. There was still snow on the ground when I arrived, and then the boreal forest set about showing me how it does spring. Extravagantly, teemingly, gloriously. I wandered around, aspen-struck (swooning over the sea of trunks of my favorite tree to paint), with my plant and bird ID books in hand. Magpies lived in my backyard. Seven of them, and they were loud and playful and curious. Here are some photos from then and there...

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pleasing results

I've been eating the same dinner for four nights now. This has worked out beautifully with early bedtimes and switching the contents of two rooms today (a disastrous-looking event with pleasing results). This meal started as a soup on Sunday and leaned heavily towards appetizing sludge as I scraped the dutch oven this evening. It's lentil, potato and leek based with onion and carrots and minced broccoli greens (or some kind of brassica leaves  from the farm market- but shh because Jer doesn't know that I added them). Because it turned out a little bland, we swirled pesto in (yum!) and added some slices of cheddar (also always a good idea) and I poached eggs to place on top of mine. We're also consuming six-day sourdough bread. The bread was meant to be two days from feeding the sourdough but life got busy and it waited in the fridge. I finally got around to baking it yesterday and it seems to have turned out fine, with a complex sweet-nutty-sour flavor. We've eaten one loaf already. I love where we live. At dusk the full moon loomed behind cherry blossoms on the hill. Earlier in the day out the same window, I saw the morning sun illuminate a field of frosted grass. A robin on the fence was beginning to trill. I've always felt that robins are emblems of spring. On the opposite side of the house, out the kitchen window juncos and chickadees were hopping about.

I haven't posted for a few days because I have been very focused on going to bed. Not a lot has changed. Zephyr managed to get onto my desk which was quite a surprise for me (she just nonchalantly surveyed my papers, lamp and jewellery supplies). She just came trundling down the hallway at full speed. Quite a handful, this bunny. Seven is more active and seems much more confident and better balanced so we think her medicine is working. In other news, Jer pulled some kind of hair creature out of our tub drain and unclogged our sink drain with vinegar and baking soda, earning him a home handyman plumbing gold star.

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today

Birds that sing before dawn, the fading of darkness not yet begun. Through dark branches, a robin, rosy breast glowing soft as morning stars in inky blue. Turquoise streaks creep into the sky from the east. Today, a good day. I spoke with a beloved friend on the phone. I walked down the street with bare arms, venturing into the kind of shop that gives you tea in marimekko mugs. Work was a pleasant blur involving galettes.

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