The Carrot Cake I made

I made some changes to my cousin’s recipe.

I made one round layer.  Parchment paper is back in vogue for good reason. Trace the bottom of the pan, cut out the tracing.  Set that aside. Grease and flour the pan and put the paper cut-out in the bottom.    For the rest of the batter I made cupcakes with paper cups, the store bought type.  I’m not ambitious enough to create my own.  I do spray the cupcake cups with cooking spray so the papers can be peeled away.  I hate it when half the cupcakes or muffins stick to the paper and  go to waste or I  scrape away the cake with my teeth when no one is looking.  Forks are never around when you need them.  Cooking spray works like a charm.

Cut the oil to one cup.  For spices 2 tsp of cinnamon, 3/4 tsp each of ground ginger and nutmeg.  3/4 tsp. of salt, 1 3/4 tsp. of baking soda.  I grated up 2 1/2 Cups of carrots (organic: who can stand the taste of fertilizers and pesticides?), of which I made easy work of using my food processor.   It is the same little processor my Ex gave me thirty years ago.

Oops! I was clean out of brown sugar so I made my own.  Here is a good link for a how to:   http://joythebaker.com/2010/08/how-to-make-brown-sugar/   I made it in my stand mixer and did have to scrape the sugar down the sides of bowl.  Took a little elbow grease but I got’er done.

I used 3/4 Cup of chopped walnuts, only one cup of raisins and 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla, Mexican or Bourbon vanilla.  I likes it strong. And I likes to drink my booze on those rare occasions of indulgence.

For the frosting, I admit it to be a flaming red light food.  I bought some cream cheese frosting in a container, told my husband he was in charge of the frosting.  I forgot to remind him to hide it from me.  Let me just say, it wasn’t worth it.

The cake and the cupcakes took longer to bake than the average cake(s).  Utilizing both the toothpick test and testing the top of the cakes to spring back when touched lightly guaranteed doneness.  It is the OCD in me.  All were allowed to cool on racks for 15 minutes before a sharp knife (what Native Americans called Andrew Jackson) inserted along the interior side of the layer to loosen it.  The layer was placed upside down upon a cooling rack. Pan removed, the parchment paper was then peeled away and the cake allowed to cool.  No, I didn’t scrape the cake crumbs off to taste.  I have grown up a bit.

I tend to get carried away when I fill cupcake or muffin cups with batter.  For those that overflowed unto the top of the pan I did run that same sharp blade between the pan and the overflow.    The cupcakes were then tilted a bit on their sides to continue to cool completely.

This whole baking extravaganza took place on Christmas Eve, two plus weeks after my hubby’s original request to concoct a carrot cake.  It was my Christmas present to him;  he celebrates the occasion like a heathen, he just doesn’t.  I do enjoy Christmas, and I have learned these 17 years of us together to go about it lightly, protecting my own feelings.  My expectations are nil for his voluntary outward participation.  He got cupcakes and a batch of  Dory Greenspan’s World peace Cookies (A chocoholic’s answer to cocoa withdrawal).  I will allow you to look the latter up, it is in her Cookie Cookbook.  There is a sweet little story on how she named the recipe.

May your cookies gently crumble, your carrot cakes taste yummy, and let Peace prevail on earth, good friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Tabatha,

I found your “farm animal” catnip toy yesterday.  For the first time since we parted I was able to smile.  It was fun to remember you carrying it around the house while you spoke in tongues and looked for us in your anxious moments of separation.  You were so cute, embarrassed to be seen in a desperate moment of needing humans.  Not the usual look of one of God’s most successful predators. It’s been cleaned up and I took a needle and thread to the hole in its back where you chewed through to get to the nip.

The catnip in your backyard has begun to flower.  You did an awesome job getting the seed from one little plant spread around last year.  Catnip is coming up EVERYWHERE: in the raspberry bushes, under the deck, between the deck stairs, in my ice plant, the purple cone flowers, the dianthus, spirea, everywhere.  Some of the stalks are so tall you could have found shade behind them or a new hiding place from those obnoxious Magpies who had the nerve to visit your yard in the first place. You did yourself proud, it is a shame you aren’t here to enjoy your bumper crop.  If you could work some magic, send somebody by who could use a little pick-me-up, just so long as it is not a mountain lion.

The house has been terribly quiet. We miss your persistent whining, snoring in your sleep, and the occasional swear words uttered when you found yourself underfoot.  I haven’t hit the deck stumbling over your speed bump of a body lying on the dark rug in the dark night.  I secretly crave the feel of your silky fur on the skin of my feet or to find one of my slippers in some off location.

My free time has opened up.  I no longer have you plunking yourself down in the middle of the floor for one of the 30 or so daily massages you squeezed out of me.  I find myself ready for the day on time or even early.  Yet I would give my tail to see you again shoot up the stairs like a bullet, run to that favored spot to fall over, and give that look which said, “Well, what’s the hold-up?”.

Both of us are terribly sorry you had such a rough go as you began to ‘pack-up’ to leave.  Rand saw the changes in you before I did.  Truthfully, I wanted to hide behind a curtain of denial.  You had stopped playing with thing on the end of a string and showed zero interest going outside with me in the mornings.  You had stopped cleaning up the dry kibble we left for your overnight munchies.  The last of it was thrown in the trash, I know you wouldn’t have wished that awful prescription diet on any of the neighborhood cats who had the nerve to hang out or pass through your yard.  I did you a solid. 077.JPG

You were a great cat, Tabatha.  Unlike most of your species, you loved unconditionally, especially when we ate ice cream and with the exception of our feeble attempts to clip those talon like claws.  There was rarely a time when you were not willing to show love to us, generous with your head bumps, one of my favorite ways to be woken up.

We miss having you hold us down in our laps, greeting us at the door when we come home to then fall over on your side in submission following with  a steady murmur of purring.  You left us with many happy memories.  We are grateful you chose us, sorrowful at your passing.  The place you reside in our hearts is yours to have forever.

All our love,

Janet and Rand

 

 

 Breathe above the water (For Tabatha)

Inhale exhale eyes closed

An insect jets by

Hummingbird hovers

 we face-to-face

Wings circle eight

My hands move in kind 

Keep me afloat in a pool of dreams

Time Remembered 

My tears for you

Who could never know

Opening my eyes 

A cottontail leaps 

Across the meadow  

Of tall grass and aspen trees

Beauty in motion 

A doe stands tall 

Leaving the field of wildflowers

She springs to life 

I am alone knowing 

It is time to set you free.

Things to do today

  1.  Cat:   a) Medicate b)call in for refills c) feed  d)make appointment for a sonogram.   Sounds simple enough, right?  One week of poking stuff down her throat, it is no small feat with a cat of whom 3 people are needed to clip her claws.  She stopped eating on her own a week ago; now we are using an urgent care food forced into her mouth with a syringe.  The way my Tabatha aka Toots aka Sweet Pea II  fights, there is going to be another load of laundry to do as a result of the drama.  She and her sister rescued us after we lost our Maine Coon, Buster aka Bud aka My Boy lost his short life to cancer.  Toots deserves the best we can give her. That includes the sonogram although her $300 blood test came back in the normal ranges and her mouth (where many problems start) indicate the need for feline dentistry.  One whiff of her breath assures me my intuition should not be ignored.  But I’m not the Veterinarian, just the one paying the bill.
  2.   Plants:   They need repotting so they can thrive and provide the herbal remedy they are intended for.  That is all I’m going to say about that.
  3. Be here for the internet Technician coming to fix our intermittent internet outage.  If the issue is not that of the ISP,  its the modem.  Another intuitive/work experience guess that is going to cost.  I’m a woman and not male so the willingness to be listened to is equivalent to nil.  I’d best not get started on that diatribe…
  4.  Send you a ps.  to the ps. email I sent last night.  When the internet is “fixed” again.

I’m going to do the ps., skipping over #2 and 3.  I often write when the muse pushes me.  Today I feel like I’m being propelled to do ps. by the muse driving a steam roller.

More than once in the past week I have read and heard the philosophical thought  it is truly virtuous  to do something good yet not advertise the effort.  There is something I believe you may be worthy of knowing as it only involves myself on a minor level.

My late father-in-law built a family cabin so his children and grandchildren and on and on would have a nice place to go to in the mountains of Colorado.  I am married to the youngest of his children, the one he designated as Custodian (which has been confused to mean Janitor, handyman).  The title was meant as someone to oversee its use and care.  When I fell in love with him, I fell just as deeply for the ideal of the cabin, a family place, the  inclusive idea of family.  My siblings have ‘dissed’ me, and why I have given the place 110%, the idea I might be welcomed into his family.

My own father did the best he could leaving a small inheritance with the rental properties he built,  not leaving any debt for us to cover.

Built by hand, by their own hands.  Something the two men have in common aside that the youngest of their children are married to one another.  Oak, my late father-in-law, made a record of the cabin’s progress in photographs.  The pictures are in a photo book at the cabin which seems only to collect dust.  A dear friend of ours came up to the place last weekend and she too, fell in love with the place.  Rand, my husband, showed her the photos and told their stories of how Oak put the place together.  Oak was a retired Air Force Colonel who worked at a hardware/lumber store to fund its construction so his children would not be burdened with any debt.  It is a place outfitted as best described as eclectic.  Somethings have been replaced such as the mattresses dating back to who knows how far back but long enough some of his descendants chose to sleep on the floor instead of those awful beds.

Oak built the cabin in two locations: on its site and in his backyard.  He prefabbed structural components, took them apart and then drove the pieces and parts uphill 50 miles to put them back together permanently. Oak’s brother Paul helped out too, because that what those brothers did.   Rand was a teenager during the process and was more than happy to help out.  My husband has been infatuated with Architecture and construction since he was knee high to a toadstool.  When other siblings showed they were put off at their dad’s insistence they lend a hand to its completion, maintenance. They felt it was their entitlement to simply chill.  They still do.  What they do not see is their contribution would be/would have been a contribution to their own offspring, their own legacy.

Oak, as per the stories I have heard from his other sons and daughter-in-law was an alcoholic, mean, abusive man, overlooking anything positive about him.  For them the cabin is a place of  bad memories.  They have every opportunity to make new ones.  Oak died in 1996 yet they choose to hold on to their anger, often directing it at me, the outsider.  I would love for them to hear me out, to let me tell my own story of who I am, who I was made from and what I have done in my life and for the place.  On my nightstand at home I have a reminder for the nights I wake up tossing and turning in frustration; the note tells me to remember the others direct their anger at me because that is what they choose.  It’s not me it’s them.  They not only give me the silent treatment; during the past seventeen years of loving my husband none of them have taken a bit of interest to find out anything about me.  I would bet everything I have none of them know where I moved from to Colorado, or even where I grew up.  Not having had children there will not be any grandkids to be share my tales and adventures.  It is their loss, however I doubt they will ever have an inkling to what they missed out on.

My intentions are not to throw a pity party.   What I hope is you will take away with this an insight as to the love that has gone into the place.  I digressed, I fell not just for Rand and the cabin, but the idea of a family cabin, family.  I threw myself at the place, joining Rand in his efforts.  Circumstances in the past few years got pretty ugly, and I fell out of love with the cabin.  I’m working to regain my love, slowly it is coming back.

It has been said and I have tested it myself, if you truly love someone or something you have to be willing to let it go.  If it is meant to be, it will return to you.

With all due respect,

Janet

ps.  The tall chest of drawers in the cabin’s larger bedroom holds sheets and towels.  Of course they are there for the family’s use. Oh, and the beds sport new mattresses that are so very comfortable I wish I had them in my own home. Forget about sleeping on the floor.

Blowup doll

I am not a blowup doll

Not in a box at a shopping mall

Won’t wait for you against the wall

Can’t look amazed when I’m appalled

For I am not a blowup doll

I am not a maid et all

Won’t clean this place from wall-to-wall

Change the sheets and leave them neat

As if you think you are discrete

For I am not your blowup doll

I’ve eyes and ears, a brain in all

I live I breathe and Even bleed

A heart you broke assuming me

Nothing more than a blowup doll

Adventures with Giraffe or are we great yet?

Please excuse me, I couldn’t help myself.

Most of the people I encounter at my place of work are really fine to be around.  All of us are there for the animals.  The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has 700+.   The favorite are the Giraffes.  We have sixteen of them, the largest population of Giraffe in North America.  They have a face one cannot help falling in love with, unless of course their tongues, a purplish black muscle and the gluey slime coming off of it strikes you as repulsive and you allow that to rule your ideal of the world’s tallest mammal.   The tongue was the impression I was left with for years until I have gotten this wonderful opportunity to work around them.  Now I am fortunate to have a moment or two each day to watch them.  I have come to know when four in the afternoon is approaching without looking at my watch (yes, I still wear one).  The herd, then outdoors are starting to cluster further from the lettuce baring humans and closer to the entrance to their barn.  When they go indoors they get fed, some more.

Their faces are adorable.  When you are nearby in the barn or outdoors they approach easily and with a large-eyed look that says one thing:  Do you have lettuce for me?  Most of our visitors feed them one small piece of Romaine at a time.  Yesterday I had about three cups of romaine hearts in my cupped hands.  None of them showed interest.  They can be picky.   One of the herd turned their head just enough to pick up in their extraordinary peripheral vision the best part of the lettuce awaiting a taker.  In one swipe of their great tongue they took every little bit of it .  We were both happy.   I smiled and he or she chewed with their head straight up in the air.  Just as quickly as they licked my hands clean two or three other Giraffe were at the railing with a Muppet like look that said, “What about me? Where is it?”.

Yet we still have some misunderstandings.  It is not uncommon for a visitor to drop their smartphone over the side into the Giraffe area.  I like to give the humans the benefit of doubt, however one such visitor had something close to a child’s melt-down when I had the unfortunate task of informing her she would be able to get the phone back after 4pm that day, some five hours later, and the phone most likely would not be in the same condition it was before it fell to the ground.  Others had witnessed the phone biting the dust and informed me not to feel bad as she was standing on the railing leaning out as far as possible to get a photo.  Maybe even a selfie.  Probably a selfie.  Fortunately the phone was retrieved before one of our precious giraffe stepped on it and crushed the glass creating a very troubling hazard for the animals.

Yesterday was smartphone free, however a youngster threw their red balloon into the area and the parents thought it ever so cute.  I haven’t had a chance to ask the animal keepers exactly why it’s a problem.  I know balloons inflated in their area are a very bad thing.

Visualize one stepping on it, the baloon burstng (doings like a gun, yes?) and the herd getting spooked. You take it from there.

Also dropped was a plastic milk bottle which by the time I saw it and reported it to the keepers was splintered at its base, creating another potential problem for the Giraffe and the keepers.  I haven’t mentioned it,  working around their feet is dangerous.  One kick of a Giraffe hoof is powerful enough to take off the head of a lion.

A sippy cup dropped in the elephants’ outdoor enclosure became of dire need for a visitor to regain.  Yup.  A sippy cup.  I want so very much to say, “Give it up, toots” but I do what I can to help them.  The Elephant keeper I spoke with over a radio had a bit of exasperation in their voice as they asked, “Does the person know it may not be in the same condition as before it was lost?”.  I understand why animal people may not have a great deal of patience with all of us humans.

I’m rained and snowed out of work today which is just dandy.  As I was exiting the Zoo grounds after work yesterday, the battery light came on my auto dashboard.  The drive home was even longer than usual as I realized it could very well be the alternator.  Oh monkey poop.  I’ve got it on a charger so I can get it to my favorite mechanics.  It probably is the alternator and the battery.  I had charged it up this morning and took it for a spin around the block.  Lo and behold in the middle of the street was a plastic shopping bag and a green plastic bottle inside.  My first thought:  Free mouthwash.  Free Palmolive dish soap.  I did a quick U-turn, opened my car door to retrieve it and saw an empty Gin bottle.  Most likely some alcoholic had guzzled the whole half liter down and threw out the evidence in the middle of the street before they got home.  What I wonder is who they think they are fooling?  Not many mouthwashes are Juniper flavored.  And what I also wonder is why people fool themselves into such a sense of self importance. Throwing trash on the ground makes no difference to the rest of us ?  Like that million dollar sippy cup left on the ground with no consideration for the animals and nor their caretakers safety.  Oh turning yourself into a giant selfie stick so you can show the world however small it is and that you spent a day in the presence of giraffes.

Excuse me.  I couldn’t help myself.