the Each Week, One Beast project: week 9

Cooper's hawk on a branch of Siberian elm. This week's beast is very dear to my heart. The Cooper's hawks of South Side have been my companions since we moved here. Most years, we find a nest early in the season - they are big and built of coarse sticks, constructed before the leaves come out, so pretty easy to spot. There have been years when things went awry and the eggs smashed on the ground, and years when we watched as many as four chicks go from cottonball stage to fully fledged, soaring the thermals above the city. Now is the time of year I look for a pair staking their claim to a scrappy little piece of Scranton woods...

Plus a bit of this and that: Prints of the first seven beasts are now available in my Etsy shop! And I'll have some work at the divine boutique Freedlove, 532 Spruce Street in Scranton, for March's First Friday, 6-9pm. I'll be hanging out there for the evening, or at least until I get very sleepy, and would love a visit. You might not recognize me, because just by osmosis, spending a couple hours in Freedlove will have made me fashionable. Or so I'm hoping.


Eating my way out of winter

Birds began singing weeks ago, and to me, that marks the start of spring. I love this time of year, for the needy desperate craving for warm weather and outdoor industry, but also for the respite of true dark wintry days that, in all their depressing gloom, offer a few more hours to catch up on winter crap.

Last summer, we grew three kinds of flour corn in our little city garden - Painted Mountain, Abenaki Calais, and Hopi Blue. Since then, a mason jar of each variety has sat on the kitchen table, the colors being too pretty to shut away in the pantry. On Friday, we took our corn to the farm of some friends, and ran it through their awesome grain mill. The first cup of Painted Mountain went into a yogurty batter, and then into the wood cookstove, and then into our bellies as really yummy, beautifully speckled cornbread. We ground the Hopi Blue into meal, too, and had some in pancakes for breakfast the next morning, along with wild blueberries left from summer foraging. The Abenaki Calais we ground a little coarser, into polenta.

I made a tart with our very own whole-entire, rind-and-all, except-for-the-seeds Meyer lemon, and that was also delicious. Meals last week were built around our own roasted tomatoes, sweet (oven)dried tomatoes, herbs, black trumpets... Sausagefest done and happened, so our freezer is stocked with chorizo and friends. Bacon, too. Oh boy. Bacon. We have teas from chaga, reishi, and chamomile that we harvested ourselves, and a freezer still partly full of berries, blanched green beans, breaded eggplant, pesto, chicken-of-the-woods, and whatever else is lurking in the avalanche.

So that's that. We've just been eating. And I'm feeling good about what we put up last season. After giving up the gardening business, I had more time to grow food, collect food, draw pictures to trade for food, and preserve food, so between what we stored and the staples that come on the truck with Matt's bakery supplies, we haven't had to go to the grocery store much at all this winter. Except for blocks of frying cheese and avocados, because taquitos with guacomole is, like, fifty percent of our diet. But we grew the salsa.


the Each Week, One Beast project: week 8

Tufty goat on a windy day. Goats - what can I say? I really want one. Or better, a set of six, no two the same, but kind of coordinated.


A little love from the baker...

...for the crusty-hearted.


A hiding game

After my parents' two antique cats died within months of each other, my mom decided it was time for a brand new cat. This cat, she said, should be generously proportioned, for the purpose of covering a whole lap. Not just a part of a lap. And so, necessarily, the cat would also be the type to enjoy a lot of lap-sitting. With this brief shopping list, Mom went to the pound and returned home with Charley, who now spends a good part of each day sprawled across Mom's lap, or sort of slumped backward in the crook of Dad's arm, while reading on the couch. He also, you will notice, has a favorite, mustachio-print pillow, and he is so well camouflaged in front of it that you practically can't even see him!


the Each Week, One Beast project: week 7

Bodhi on the sofa. I feel a tiny bit guilty calling this week's beast a Beast. Because look at him! He's so sweet! He is a family member (Matt's brother). Here are some things he enjoys: the great outdoors, bagels, belly rubs, peeing on things in the wild, burger-size baby porcupines that fit in your mouth just so, and his sofa.


the Each Week, One Beast project: week 6

Red-breasted nuthatch. A favorite tiny beast. If you hear a very tiny honking coming from a fir tree... it might be a red-breasted nuthatch! If you're lucky.


White is the new black

A relatively warm morning, and the new snow is light and crystally like mica flakes. A woman came out and asked if I'd fallen... It took me a moment to realize that if you point your camera at someone else's sidewalk, it is assumed you have litigious intentions. This bummed me out more than it should have, perhaps. That old "SEE, this is why I never leave the house, everyone else is crazy, I am so misunderstood!" feeling.


the Each Week, One Beast project: week 5

A cat for Louise. My grandma, who is very old and ailing, loves a nice cat: a small, sweet, inquisitive and affectionate cat. One who is a tidy size for lap sitting. Grandma doesn't have a cat, so this one is especially for her.