Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday: Early morning moment

We have a large and sweeping Littleleaf Elm tree that butts right up against the deck, spreading leafy arms over it and the roof of the house. Last week, it was very windy for several days, and on one of those days, an old nest fell from the tree and onto the deck, behind the glider. It was a huge nest, loaded with scavenged items that were no doubt collected from our neighbors decks and yards: shoelaces, shreds of plastic grocery sacks, twine, bits of rags, tangled weed whacker line, and lots of small twigs, leaves and grass for good measure. It was a neat object unto itself, so none of us moved it, but sort of studied it from its vantage behind the glider.

On waking up this morning, I heard a rustling noise on the deck, and peered out to see a huge squirrel examining the nest, shaking it as if it were a Cracker Jax box, hoping a surprise would fall out. Around and around, the squirrel turned and shook the nest until it gradually fell into separate hunks. The squirrel dropped the nest, picked up the largest hunk (which contained a lot of weed whacker line and shredded grocery bag material) and ran up the tree in a flash. Is he readying for winter, recycling nest parts for his own snug home? Time will tell. Those few moments made my day, and it hadn't even really begun yet.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday: A Good Read

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I am loving this book! It's rare that I find a book I can't put down, but this is one of them. If you have ever had your heart broken (and who hasn't) this will touch a chord.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday: Pumpkin Bars

What's more wonderful than waking to the smell of cinnamon and baking?

Claire made Pumpkin Bars as her celebration of the season. The recipe makes a large batch, so she left a plateful at home and took the rest to work with her today.

They are fabulous!

Claire's Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
16 ounces pumpkin
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine everything in a bowl and blend thoroughly. Smooth batter into an ungreased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan, then frost with:

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
4 cups powdered (10X) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until blended. Add 1 cup sugar, blend, then add vanilla and salt. Blend in remaining sugar and beat until creamy, about 5 minutes. Frost cooled pumpkin bars.

Makes four dozen pumpkin bars.

Saturday: Zoom zoom zoom

Yesterday, Kent was installing a catalytic converter on my car, so I was without a vehicle. It was also the afternoon for my knitting group at Central Market. Claire had gone off to school to make up some missed work, so the only vehicle left was the Miata.

I can count the number of times that I've used it on one hand. And I know exactly the last time I crawled into it: Memorial Day weekend, when my sister-in-law Debbie and I needed to grocery shop for Liz's graduation party. Kent had disappeared with my car on a mysterious errand, and again, Claire was gone with the Toyota, so we were left with the Miata. But the shopping had to be done, so off we went. You can't imagine the ridiculousness of trying to cram $350 in groceries into every nook and cranny of the thing and still manage to shoehorn two people into it as well. There was no option but to put the top down and stack bags on the back deck a foot high. Great visual, isn't it?

Anyway, I slid into the drivers seat yesterday, did my usual mental refresher course on exactly where the gears are, and took off for knitting. On FM2222, a great thing happened: I began to enjoy the drive in the dratted car. The weather was so fine: In the low 70's, sunny, perfect blue skies, and no wind. It was glorious.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday: A good day to start

Here in Austin, the hot weather is beginning to ease, and the days are growing a bit shorter. I am thrilled to welcome cool mornings and deliciously chilly nights. Yesterday, I hauled out the down duvet. It's pure bliss to slither under that weightless downy cloud and feel the heavy night air from the open window on my face.