Friday, August 7, 2009

Sand, Iron and the Way West

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If that black cast-iron Dutch oven could talk, what stories it would tell!


Even Christopher Columbus on his voyages across the sea to the New World listed an iron pot in his manifests. Those first black iron pots or cauldrons were pretty rough hand-pounded pieces.

In the early 1700s, an Englishman, Abraham Darbey, took a trip to Holland to inspect the dry-sand casting method they used to make brass vessels. Improving on this system, by baking the sand molds, Darby produced a smoother finish for iron pots and extended the number of times you could use the molds. Eventually the Dutch oven evolved to add a trio of legs to hold it up over the coals and a flat lid to hold more coals for baking or turned over, as a griddle.

Abraham Lincoln tells us stories of his childhood and sleepless nights keeping the fire going with a big Dutch oven pot hanging from a swing arm in the fireplace and memories of his mother cooking bread and stew in those pots. Lewis and Clark had their Dutch oven on their long exploration journey to the Northwest. The highly prized Dutch oven cookware was even listed in wills. Martha Washington left her prized and well-seasoned cookware in her will, evenly divided between her children.

Can't you just hear the clink clink clinking of the Dutch ovens swinging from the outside of wagons as they heading west. If you put them inside the wagon, the heavy pot bouncing along the rough trail would loosen the floorboards. Hang those pots on the outside. The Dutch oven was important during the massive western cattle drives during their long haul across the west. The chuck wagon was always supplied with a Dutch oven for the cook to make biscuits, stews and cobblers over the evening campfires. Those cowboys were hungry.

Wouldn't it be fun to be a time-traveling mouse, listening to all the stories around the fire, watching what they threw in their pots, how they seasoned their dishes?

September 19th, 2009, Georgetown, Colorado is putting on its first Dutch Oven Cook-off to celebrate 150 years of mining history... and I'm a judge. Oh, no. I am imagining more Dutch oven stories.... hmm.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Dirt Eating Guy

Ugh, not a pretty sight. Luc, coming toward me, big smile on his face, eyes twinkling, and around his mouth a nice ring of black dirt. No, no, no... I don't want a kiss. I'm backing up in my chair to get out of his path. Too late. He jumps on me and gives me a sloppy kiss laced with dirt.

Now why would anyone eat dirt? Mineral deficiency that gives you urges you just can't resist? Was it a dare? Were you just loopy and fell into the dirt on your face? Come on now. What were you thinking?

The campfire's blazing in the pit as it makes it way to coals. All of us are sitting, talking and standing around at our Colorado, Ranger Lakes Campsite. Just finished a great Campfire Stew that my daughter, Diane, made in her Dutch Oven. OMG it was good. There was not a morsel left. She was scrapping the bottom of that pan - everyone wanted more. Luc was pacing back and forth, looking for just one more bite.

I swear he was in constant movement the entire four days of camping. Hiking up the mountain, through rock slides, over and under fences, around the lake. Saw a lot of Moose with babies. He'd come back with the girls, panting, just beat!

Then there was the time, we all took a day trip to North Michigan Lake, just a few miles away. Most everyone was fishing, talking, etc. There were ten or eleven of us milling around. Dogs were jumping in the water after sticks. Lots of things going on. When we decided to go back to our campground and start dinner, Luc was over with Jeremy, my son, looking as though he was going home in the truck with him. By the time I got everything together, awning back up on my small 20 foot RV, put it in gear and started the slow turn around towards home, here comes running toward me, the lady who was fishing on the shore. waving her hands like crazy. I stopped and rolled down the window. "You left someone, he's been running trying to catch the RV or the truck."

What? I've never left anybody before. Face turns a little hot and red in embarrassment. I get out of the RV and ran towards Luc, meeting him in a rush, we hugged and kissed.

Thank god, the rest of the trip went without a hitch... then on the long way home, I had my granddaughter, Olivia, open the closet door and get the bottle of water out for me. Luc was sitting in the middle between the two front seats. Livvy went to the back and laid down on the bed to read. We were going up the mountain, a slow and twisting road to the top of Berthoud Pass, when on one of the turns, the closet door flew open, a table top and a couple of pipes banged, clanged all over the place. I was looking for a place to pull off, Luc was under my feet, shaking, he was so scared. He's right beside the pedals!

Now you may be thinking, that guy was under your feet? Yep. Luc is my long-haired Chihuahua!
Now you know, as Paul Harvey use to say... "the rest of the story."

P.S. Oh yes, when we did find a pull off, it led to the most amazing waterfall in the deep pines, wildflowers everywhere. We never would have seen it had it not been for the closet door fiasco! Is there a moral to this story? Agh, no! It's just a story to make you smile. Thanks for being here.


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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When the Lights Go Out in Georgetown

TV's droning on in the background. My fingers are flying over the keys of my laptop. I'm trying hard to get photos to Alice via E-mail. Poof, TV goes out, all the lights on the deck go out, my lamp next to my chair goes out. Is it my imagination, or did it just get utterly quiet? No traffic noise. Absolutely dark everywhere except for the neon kind of light from my laptop that just went to battery. I get up slowly make my way to the deck door to look out. Man, the lights are out all over Georgetown. It is dark. I can barely make out the houses across the street. I can see two tiny headlights lighting up the road far away. Nothing more.

Where are the flashlights? Not where they usually are. Oh, damn. I remember that I used them all on the camping trip last week. They are in the RV way out back... in the very dark. Okay. I know I have candles, yep. there's one on the piano. I've got my hands on it. Now the matches are in the kitchen closet. It's here... I'm a Helen Keller now, feeling my way to the shelves, around the bread machine, over the blender. Yea! Finally the big box of kitchen matches are in my hand that is not holding the candle. Found the dining room table. Strike that match on the side of the box, a lovely spark, then the flame. Lighting the wicks, a tiny area lights up, but enough so that I can hold the glass container and move around the room, finding other candles, lighting them. I've got light.

Over to the window, I still see no other lights in any of the nearby houses. The lights are still out over the entire town, but now a full moon is making its way over the black mountain tops casting white shadows over the lawn, deck and outside furniture. The cushions are turning into weird patterns. Are they moving? Come on. Who knew that there were white shadows. Okay, maybe grey, but it's definitely lighting up my RV, some of the big boulders, pine tree branches. Oh...

You know... I'm getting a little scared. There's not a soul around, and there's no sound. Well, I'm guessing it is after midnight. I can't even hear my little dog, Luc, but get the sense of movement as he follows me around. Or... gosh, I hope it's Luc. I'm very scared now. Imagination on overtime. My dusk to dawn soft up-lights are gone. It's dark. I'm waiting for the lights to come back on. It's dark. Now my little Luc jumps onto my lap as though he knows I need a warm body, no matter how small.

Waiting as the candles burn down and get dimmer. Okay, I'm going to bed. This is silly. If the lights come back on, I certainly don't want all the lights on all night long. Let me guess... I think the back porch light was on, is the switch up or down for off? I do switch off the lamp by my chair. Funny, switch off when there is no light on. I wander through the house trying to figure what was on, turning it off.

Up the dark stairscase and one more look outside. Boy, what a perfect take over for some evil genius. Seriously, fighting my beating heart. Talking to myself now. Finding my nightgown hanging in the closet, pulling back the covers and climbing into bed. The stars are really bright in my skylight. I gather what comfort I can from their beauty and slowly slip into sleep.

Bright lights blasting, the ceiling fan is going full blast. I'm up. Yep, all the lights are back on, stairway lights, the TV is droning on again as I go downstairs to turn everything off and back into my bed, snuggling in.

All is well again and I... have had a wonderful adventure in the dark.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

End of the Day

A wall of windows peak toward the southern skies in my house. Although I tend not to even notice the view, it's always there waiting for me. Out of the corner of my eye, a movement catches my attention, and the very frenetic hummingbirds, dip and whirl around each other vying for position on the many feeders.

Tonight, I just happened to glance up and in the twilight, an unbelievable color bathed everything as though you were looking through rose colored glasses. Intensifying the greens of the pines, the ochre and umber of the rock, and most of all the incredible blue of the sky. The clouds slowly turn from light orange, to amber, to pink, and then finally a perfect raspberry rose. It reaches into the deepest joy of my soul and adds a dimension of calm and happiness.

Isn't it true in life, we sort of get caught up in our own mind and really the beauty that goes on all around is just not seen.

Crispness of early morning.

My sister in Northern California stays up late and gets up late. For me, I'm light sensitive and awake when the sun comes up. Makes it really hard to call her in the morning for I'm in Colorado and one hour later. From 6 am until 9:30-10 am, I'm watching the clock tick slowly around. I'm afraid I'll get busy and forget to call her and sometimes I do. Then when I can't wait any longer, I'll call only to find, yes once again, I woke her up. She's grumpy when she first gets up. Damn! Oh, well.

I'm happy when I get up, my little long-haired Chihuahua, Luc's tail is wagging, and he's smiling too. Sometimes, if I don't just jump out of bed, he'll come up and give me a quick, dry lick. Always makes me smile. We have our routine. Potty first for both of us, make the bed, open the drapes and windows, get dressed (me not Luc,) down the stairs, dish out Luc's dry food with a little hot water to make it softer, espresso machine engaged. Then with coffee in hand I'll read for a while by the bay window or turn on the computer to see my Twitter world, check my E-mail and Facebook. Sometimes I'll turn on the TV for the news. Then out to water my plants, tiny green lawn and let Luc do his sniffing, and other necessities. I'd say poop, but one of my friends tells me I'm obsessed with that word. My favorite swear word is, sh#%! Maybe I'll use the word, Ka Ka. Ha.

Here in this narrow valley surrounded by mountains at 8,500 feet, the sun rises in the West. I mean I watch the sun catch the top of the mountain to the west first then slowly light up the mountain downward. The sun doesn't hit my south-facing deck until after 10 am. The early morning air is crisp and wet, sometimes just plain cold. It smells green to me in the morning. In the afternoon heat, the wonderful smells of pines fills the air as the sap rises in the huge trees around my house.

When I first moved to this small town, I was walking around the lake, tears dripping down my checks, despondent about moving from my horse farm in Oregon and my life there, thinking what a bad mistake I'd made by moving here. Thunder started over the mountain and a few huge drops joined the ones on my cheeks. Turning to get back to the house, I looked up to see a light show in progress. The setting sun has turned the tops of the mountain a golden rose color under the dark gray storm clouds. Thunder was roaring and lightning was flashing in a wild and furious dance on the mountain top that I'd never seen before. Then I knew why I was here. My soul has always lived here in the mountains around Georgetown, Colorado. I'd just come back to reclaim it.

Only one of my friends is an early riser like me but she has to go to work early. So I'm into enjoying myself and my dog for hours before anyone else gets up. Now I'm really excited because I have this blog and can talk to you. Thanks for being there for me.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Dinner at the Peck House

Tonight I had dinner with another "Foodie" friend. We were talking about food, of course. I told her that it was so great because we remember events by the food that left an impression on us. We find it fun to talk seasonings, cooking methods, taste. Most people would not understand. Our conversation was as juicy as the steak and in some cases just as rare. From politics, to twitter, to forwarded e-mails with misinformation that just make us mad.

Then she told me it wasn't the food, nor the conversation that she enjoyed as just being in the company of others. Company. Now that's an interesting word with so many different meanings. Haven't you heard that the English language is one of the hardest languages to learn?

I'm assuming that she meant friendship, companionship, a state of being together, not a corporation, business, firefighter, theater troupe, ballet group.

Here is another diversion. Company can mean visitor, guest.

Makes me wonder. Aren't we all visitors to each other's mind or someone's guest in their life?We certainly have very little shared time. Most of our time is spent within our own mind. Even asleep, we dream within our own mind. Maybe that's why we crave a little time with another mind, conversation that leads to other ideas. More interesting than with just ourself.

Now tomorrow when I have leftovers from the Peak House, if you can call that delicious steak - left overs- memories of conversations, the full moon just peaking over the mountain, will come flooding back in a warmth of friendship and sharing. Yes, I may just be a visitor or guest in your mind, but thank you for having me.

video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbzQGbh3mvU