Have a wonderful holiday time, everyone. See you when the dust settles.
Do you recognize this lonely bird? He’s working hard, pecking at the bark of the Douglas fir, hoping to find some insect hiding inside. It was a bit far to zoom the camera and hope for a clear picture of him as he moved so fast, his beak working like a mini jack hammer, but maybe you can see how far he has dug into the bark. Must be something really good in there.
But what a surprise to find out today that he is lonely no longer! Yes, he has found his true love. She’s working hard too and he’s keeping an eye on her.
Notice the vertical white streak on his wings. I’ve learned that this is the only species of woodpecker to have the vertical white stripe, so that’s a positive identification for the red-breasted sapsucker.
“Do you like redheads?” she asks coyly.
“My favourite kind of girl. Would you like to go to the Christmas tree party with me? There are always lots of hors d’oevres at tree parties. You just help yourself and pick away at the food.”
“Sounds delish! Where’s the party?”
“Over at Anneli’s. Her place is for the birds. Always lots of guests at her parties. No fly-by-night birds invited in the daytime.”
“I’d love to go, as long as I’m home before dark. I’ve heard about her parties. Things get a bit owly there after dark.”
These delicious cookies are supposed to look like logs, but when you have help to make cookies you don’t criticize a little aberration in the shape of the “logs.”
Also, I think it’s encouraging to others when you hear that, even though the “log” shapes turned out a bit unorthodox, the taste of the cookies is “more-ish” (as my father-in-law used to say, when a food made you want more).
The incredibly easy recipe is below the photo.
The Admiral’s Yule Logs
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans, or hazelnuts, or….)
Mix butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, dates, and nuts in the usual way, and in the order listed. Have some shredded coconut in a shallow bowl or plate. Drop a teaspoonful of the dough into the coconut and roll it around to coat the lump of dough. Then, using the coconut to keep it from sticking to your fingers, roll the dough into the shape of a tiny log, about the size of your little finger. When the logs are shaped and coated in coconut, place them on a buttered cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until brown. (325 if oven is too hot.)
The depth of snow on the railing shows that this snowfall is only beginning. A couple of hours later, it is already about three inches deep and the flakes are still coming down. It doesn’t take long for the ground to be covered, and much of the usual food supply for birds to be hidden from sight and suddenly unavailable to them.
Every surface, coated white
Food for birds is out of sight.
Feeders overflow with seeds,
But be careful, hawks have needs.
All the creatures need to eat
Just don’t offer songbird meat.
“Hey! Who put that white stuff on my back?”
At Christmastime, I bake gingersnaps. The Captain’s mother, the Admiral, always made gingersnaps for Christmas. It was my job to take up the flag, as it were, and carry on the tradition. I’m getting better, but they’re never as good as the Admiral’s. One thing she always did was to make a gingerbread man from the last bit of leftover dough. As I made the gingersnaps today, the last bit of dough looked to me like the shape of a deer’s head, so I cut out the rest of its shape. Then I still had enough to make a gingerbread man. This year my man has a broken leg so I gave the gingerbread man an aircast boot and two crutches. He looks a bit ghoulish but I’m sure he felt that way in his first days of hobbling around, so maybe it’s appropriate.
If you’re feeling inspired to make gingersnaps (and why wouldn’t you feel inspired after seeing these? – If I can do it, anyone can) the recipe follows:
Put in pot and let come to boil:
1 c. butter
1 c. molasses (I like fancy molasses but the other kinds work too.)
½ c. brown sugar
I let it boil for about a minute, stirring all the time. Remove from heat. Put in bowl. Be careful. The boiled syrup is VERY hot.
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 – 3 ½ c. flour
*Candied ginger pieces can be added to the dough. Also grated fresh ginger root may be added.
Cool in fridge for a few hours or overnight. I divide the dough into four pieces and then cool it. Otherwise it becomes a challenge to roll out as one big piece. The dough will be quite hard but don’t give up when you roll it out. Slice or cut with cookie cutter.
No need to butter the cookie sheet as the dough is buttery enough.
Bake at 350* for 8 minutes.
The cookies freeze well so it’s easy to haul out a few when friends drop in.
How often have we heard the expression, “A blanket of snow”? But how warm is this blanket? NOT VERY!
A chilly blanket settles down
On every surface in the town.
The hills and valley shiver too,
Of drivers there are just a few.
Daring shoppers venture out
Their cars and trucks slide all about.
We’ll just get used to all this snow
And then the rain will make it go.
The sun is doing its best to warm up the ice blanket but I think it won’t be successful today. More snow is coming before the usual rain is back.
The weather has been crazy here for two months. Rain and wind, wind and rain, repeating ad nauseam. Ruby, our springer spaniel is a brave dog, unless it’s windy. Objects without wings flying around, lawn chairs sliding across the deck, branches dropping out of the sky – these things freak her out.
She won’t move farther than two feet from me. I have to do my hair curling leaning over her as she plunks herself down on the mat in front of my feet and won’t budge. I move over a few feet and so does she. It drives me crazy.
Emma is still too naive to be afraid, so when they are outside doing their business, Emma comes back when I call her. Ruby could be anywhere, cowering, or standing stiff-legged and catatonic until she is dragged back into the house where she drives me crazy with her anxious panting.
In the morning, I had put the dogs out while I had a shower. I looked out the bathroom window just before stepping into the shower, and the dogs were by the kennel. The door had blown shut on it so they couldn’t get in. They have mats by the back door in the covered area outside the laundry room, but Ruby hides in her doghouse in the kennel if it’s cold or windy.