Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year - Gott Nytt Ar!

As the year comes to an end, I want to thank you for visiting, thank you Danni for encouraging me to start my blog, thank you Cindy and Carol for commenting all the time, thanks to my friends who are following my blog, and a special thanks to those of you who have signed up as followers.

Many thanks to Barbee, who introduced me to some wonderful blogs in Sweden and Africa. From there, I discovered blogs from my hometown of Stockholm, Sweden, and also from London, England, where I lived when I was young. Now, as I spend much time alone in my desert canyon in California, discovering these blogs is precious to me. I can see the potential for making new friends, learning new things, sharing information, recipes, gardening tips, and discovering new worlds and old. Oh, that Swedish shabby chic and country white -- how delicious to visit blogs like that! 

I especially love your comments, thank you; it's so much fun for me to read them and to know that you have been here to visit.

To my Swedish friends and family: I promise I will try to figure out how to get that Translator Widget added to my blog.

I'm looking forward to new blogging adventures in 2010 and I hope you will come to desert canyon to share them with me.

Most of all, I want to wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

This is the Blue Moon of December 2009 -- I just had to take a photo since it happens so rarely that there is a full moon twice in the same month.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Look What's Cooking!

Chop, chop, chop could be heard from our kitchen early this morning. First the onions were chopped and sauteed, then green onions, celery, and parsley
went into the pan
and then in the gumbo pot, already full of goodies, my husband calls Poor Man's Gumbo. Poor Man's Gumbo is made of whatever left-overs you happen to have on hand, but our left-overs from last year were pretty rich if you ask me: softshell crab, crawfish, regular crab, Louisiana hotlinks, other sausages, and ham.
After a while it's time to make the rue
under the watchful eye of Soldier.
Made from the leaves of the sassafrass tree, Gumbo File is added right before serving to thicken and add a delicate flavor to the gumbo.
And then we stuffed ourselves for lunch - the crawfish added an unusual flavor to the gumbo and it was delicious. Unfortunately, the photo of the pot of finished gumbo kept uploading upside down and since I just had this wonderful lunch, I'm too full and happy to try to fix it. So here is another picture, not as good, but I think you get the general idea that if you like this sort of thing, there is nothing better, really.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas -- God Jul!

Here is a Jultomte to wish you God Jul and Merry Christmas! He was made by my grandfather, probably about 100 years ago, from pipe cleaners, yarn and some other things. He is one of my most treasured little friends and it wouldn't be Christmas at our house without him.

My grandmother embroidered the most beautiful table cloths, runners, and other decorative things for the home all her life. She was very accomplished and I have some gorgeous tablecloths that look just as fine on the back as they do on the front. I have tried my hand at this craft and I can assure you that mine do not. She was well into her 80s when she made this Christmas table runner for me. The craft work is just as good as when she was young. I remember my grandparents at Christmas and these things bring to life all the Christmases we used to spend together when I was a child.

Christmas is all about family after all and for me it is now complete with husband and puppy Samson up here ready to celebrate with me and the rest of the pack.
My best wishes for a wonderful holiday season to all of you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Congratulations Rolling Dog Ranch!

Hi again, it's me, Princess!

Today is a happy day for us dogs! Mommy told us that her favorite animal sanctuary, Rolling Dog Ranch, won the grand prize of $20,000 in a contest where people went in their computers and voted for their favorite sanctuary every day.

What better way to show how HAPPY I am than with a few ROLLS of my own?!

First I dive in -- head first in the snow:

Then I roll over one way....see all the snow on my face?

Then I just roll around for a while, happy to know that something really, really great has happened to some good people and the animals they are working so hard to help.
Mommy says we have to thank all the people we know who voted for Rolling Dog Ranch. I say, we have to thank EVERYONE: Thank you very, very much!

Mommy has blogged about Rolling Dog Ranch before and told her friends and us dogs that it is a beautiful place where two people, Steve and Alayne, are helping animals that are blind, deaf, have cancer and all kinds of other things wrong with them. They are the last chance for the animals they rescue because often people don't want animals with special needs or they simply can't afford all it takes to take care of them.

I know I'm a lucky dog to be healthy and happy here. But there was a time when I was abandoned and lived on my own for a long time before daddy rescued me. So I know what it's like to be abandoned, lonely and hungry....I just couldn't imagine being all that and then blind or deaf too.

So congratulations Rolling Dog Ranch, all us dogs and our mommy here in our desert canyon are very happy that you won the BIG prize! We know how much it will help all the animals you care for.

You can read the blog from Rolling Dog Ranch by clicking on it in the sidebar under mommy's Favorite Blogs.

Posted by me, Princess!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Icicles and Stormy Wheather

Earlier, when I looked out my window, this tree was glittering in the sun. It was so pretty I had to take some photos. It's very cold and stormy outside today, so  I took the pictures through the window. Of course I didn't capture all that glitter in the tree, but there was no way was I going outside. I still like the picture so I'm sharing it today. As you can see, it snowed last night. What you can't see is the terrible storm that's howling through the canyon right now. It's making whistling noises at the windows and Angel thinks someone's out there. She has been barking all day at an imaginary whistling somebody. She is such a good watchdog, always on the job. I just hope the storm will blow through by nightfall so she and I can both get a good night's sleep.

As you can see, Angel's nose is sore and red. She has Discoid Lupus and has been treated with Tetracycline and Niacinamide for a couple of years. Right now, I'm trying some homeopathic meds and they seem to be working just as well. I'll definitely write more about Angel's nose and her treaments in future blogs. I'm getting very interested in these homeopathic remedies as an alternative treatment since the other medicines can cause liver failure eventually.

Now I'm off to start one of these.......

both to keep warm right now and even more necessary if the storm causes a powerfailure. A few years ago, we all (me, the dogs, and the bird) slept in front of the fireplace during a horrific storm that left us without power for the entire night.

Hoping it's not too cold where you are and that all your holiday chores are getting done in the season's spirit of fun and joy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Sunrise

There is a budding morrow in midnight.
John Keats

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Shopping Trip to Town

For a while now I have wanted to give my friend Carol a visual image of the more modern areas of town. We e-mail each other all the time and I tell her about my shopping expeditions and now I want to show her that part of town. I don't know if this will be boring to others, one K-Mart pretty much looks like the next, after all, but if you like, please come along.

Today, I got up early and packed up my trash to take to the dump, which is on the way. As I drove along the road to town, I noticed that there is still some snow in the mountains to the south. Snow around here comes, but doesn't stay long at our 4,000 feet level. At the higher elevations, and some of these mountains are above 7,000 feet, the snow, once it comes, will stay until spring.
When I got to town, I enjoyed seeing the Christmas decorations everywhere
and the "official" Christmas tree outside Veterans Hall.
This is The Bank of the Sierra -- such a pretty name for a bank, isn't it -- where I made my first stop.

Then I drove west to K-Mart where I buy my Glucose tablets (I use them to treat low blood sugars), dogfood, and some other things.
I enjoy driving on the back roads in town -- no traffic! I drove through the increasingly crowded streets of Beverly Hills for over 30 years to get from my house to work at UCLA. What a peaceful and wonderful difference this is.
I soon reach Save Mart where I shop for groceries. In the corner to the right is Blockbusters. When I first moved here, I didn't have TV reception for a couple of years so I spent a lot of time at BB, where I befriended some very nice young people who worked there and always gave me great tips on good movies to rent.
This is the main shopping street with two large grocery stores, several banks, drugstores, dry cleaners, laundromat, bookstore, even a Starbucks. And a Big 5 sporting goods store is coming in the spring.
I believe there are three traffic lights in the center of town and a couple on the other side of town. This is the second light I had to stop at today. That's Walgreen's drugstore on the corner.
I stopped here to drop off a library book.
After a stop at a gas station, on my way to the post office, I passed this building that houses a wonderful German bakery.
I picked up a parcel at the post office. It is from Rachael and I know what's in it: Rachael's famous and fabulous Peanut Brittle!! My husband loves it and so do I. He'll be munching on it all through the holidays, happily! I'll munch some too but have to be careful with goodies like that. Thank you Rachael, so much! What a wonderful Christmas present!
After that I'm done and head home. This is a view of our canyon at the stop sign off the highway exit. Looks like a moon landscape this time of the year, don't you think?
I hope you enjoyed this trip to the shops and malls of our mountain town.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Swedish Yuletide Traditions

Santa Lucia Day

Today, December 13, is Santa Lucia Day, when light is celebrated in Sweden.

November and December are dark and depressing months over there and through the ages it has been essential to celebrate light in one form or another during these months of darkness.

When I was a child (see photo), the daughter in the family, wearing a crown of candles, would bring coffee and Lucia buns (lussekatter) to her parents in bed. And in those days, the candles were real! She and her court of younger siblings would sing the old song, Santa Lucia, in a translation that celebrates light coming to this dark season. I'm sure this tradition is still kept in Swedish homes. With battery operated candles, no doubt.

The celebrations continued in schools and there was a Lucia parade through the streets of Stockholm in the evening, ending in City Hall.

The original Santa Lucia was a Sicilian woman who became a saint and is always presented with light in some fashion or other in art and literature. How she came to represent the queen of light in far removed Sweden is an interesting story or speculation too long to tell here.

ADVENT (ad'vent) n. [< L. ad, to + venire, come]

In churches all over the world, Christ's coming is anticipated on the four Sundays of Advent. In Sweden, we light a candle on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. This is how it works: On the first Sunday in Advent, you light the first candle. On the second Sunday, you light both the first candle and the second candle, and so on. Today is the third Sunday in Advent and these are my candles in the dark hours of early morning.
As I did this, I remembered my family and how exciting it was for me to anticipate the holidays as a child: Opening a new window in the Advent calendar each day, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, the secrets, the whispers, the smells, and the wonderful time we used to have at Christmas.

I found this photo of my mother and father, circa 1939, wrapping Christmas presents.
Finally, I unwrapped my Straw Goat, a symbol of the goats that travel with Jultomten, the Swedish Santa, and help him deliver gifts on Christmas Eve. At least I think that's what they do. You may be surprised to learn that in Sweden, one of the homelands of the reindeer, Santa travels with goats. But that he does, according to folklore and tradition.
In my childhood home, this goat would sit underneath the Christmas tree. Since I'm expecting puppy Samson for Christmas, I put my goat up high where he'll be safe and can oversee the festivities.

This goat has been with me for many, many years and was looking rather raggedy. My friend Carol, who is very good with her hands, suggested I wrap him in some fine new red ribbons and this I did. I think he looks rather proud up there, don't you?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Snowstorm, A Snowdog, A Happy Old Swede!

The Samoyed traveled for centuries across the Russian tundra with a nomadic tribe of the same name. And Samson took to the snow immediately. Here he is experiencing his very first real snow storm.

Let's go for a walk!

Let's play!

Who said I was low maintenance?

As the sun rose from behind the eastern mountains on the day after the storm, some interesting cloud formations appeared.

There are some cattle in this photo, but you can't see them. They seemed no worse for wear after the storm.

Yesterday, it was 9 degrees outside and the INSIDE of our bathroom window was covered in a sheet of ice!! I've never seen anything like it before. How you can build a house in the mountains without double-paned windows is beyond me.

As the huge blizzard of late fall 2009 traveled East, a pack of coyotes wandered by outside my window and I was a happy old Swede, a bit cold perhaps, but happy that winter is finally here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Appreciating My Husband So Much

As I write this, there is a blizzard outside, a fire in the fireplace, something good cooking on the stove. This is the end of a week where my pioneer woman idea has been tested a bit and where I ended up truly appreciating my husband for all he can do and fix and cook!

Earlier this week, I finally decided to bake the zucchini bread I had tried to get to for the past month. The recipe is an old family recipe I got from my friend Carol.

So early one morning I made a fire, put on a morning TV show to keep me company, told the dogs that I'd trade them a walk for some good zucchini bread, pre-heated the oven to 325, and got started. Here is all the stuff:

This bread took a long time and a lot of work to prepare. With no electric mixer, I stirred and stirred until my arm got numb. When I was finally done, I poured the mix into baking dishes, opened the oven door and was about to put the dishes in when I realized that the oven was cold. Ice cold! I fiddled with it, tried this and tried that, but nothing worked. I called my hubby in L.A. and he told me to do what I had just done. I tried it once more, but no luck.

How I missed my man. He told me he'd be up here ASAP and when he came home Friday, he fixed the oven first thing. "Just some wires," he said.

This is the zucchini bread (photo uploaded upside down). It was a bit thick and dry, probably from not being baked right away, but it tasted good. Thanks, Carol! Then my husband had the great idea to cut a slice, butter it, and put it in the microwave for one minute. And suddenly it was moist and delicious and so much fun to share with our friends who came over yesterday.

My first unfortunate event happened the day before Thanksgiving when the plumbing went. Before I had a chance to tell my husband, he arrived here to surprise me. So no tools!

Oh, well, just another test of my pioneer woman spirit, but not much fun, that's for sure.

On Friday, I got some of this to help clean the pipes:

and my husband came back with his tools. He was able to borrow a snake from a friend out here, who brought it to us. Many thanks for that to our friend.

After a day and a half of hard work, my hubby got everything in working order.  I'm so grateful...some aspects of pioneer life get old pretty fast.

It snowed last night, melted during the day, then earlier this evening the next storm moved in:

The dogs are loving it:

More about our adventures in the snow later.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Sleep is...sore labor's bath
balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course.

William Shakespeare

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Morning Serenade and a Featherbed

This morning, I was awakened at 3:00 a.m., courtesy of a pack of coyotes outside my bedroom window. My pack soon joined their pack in a serenade of the wild and the tame.

This photo was taken last year.

I checked the thermometer as I let the dogs out....18 F and cold, cold in the house too. So I quickly went back to bed and snuggled under my wonderful featherbed, a gift from my friends Carol and Chuck. I will be forever grateful! Why I have no central heating is a story for another time, but I have my thick, thick featherbed and my old dog, Angel, to keep me warm, while my husband is away. I sometimes think of all the birds that gave up all the feathers and I feel bad, but when it's this cold....well, I'm grateful. And I dream I'm in the Alps as I snuggle under my featherbed at night with my book and my dog.

Of course, I have heaters placed around the house, a good one in the bathroom ceiling, and I have my fireplace. I also have the sun to keep me warm in the winter. Living so close to nature here, I'm often surprised. That the sun will keep you warm should not be surprising, but the power of it continues to amaze me. There is a huge difference between sunny days (no fire in the fireplace required) and overcast days (a fire is a a MUST). My husband installed a glass-paned door to the east, so the warmth of the sun begins there. By mid-day, it has worked its way to the south and sunshine streams in through the large living room window, where it stays all afternoon.

Fortunately, since it's so hot here in the summer, the sun is too high in the sky then to come through the living room window for very long.

Well, I didn't go back to sleep, so I had my breakfast in bed, then got up and dressed like this and took the dogs for a walk.


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