Sunday, February 16, 2014


As we age, Jerry and I find ourselves afflicted with softening hearts....not that either of us have ever been particularly hard hearted (except when it comes to flies and ants), but just that we tend to make things easy for whatever little critters come our way.  In our part of the apartment complex where we live, there are two cats who appear to be strays (not particularly feral, but cats who don't seem to belong to anyone, adult cats without "necklaces" that might identify where they live, and more telling, with somewhat dirty fur.  Thus far we haven't been able to befriend them, but at night we put out some of our own pampered cat's Science Diet dry food and a bowl of water, in case they (or even a possum, who also live around here) need a snack in the middle of the night.  Some mornings the "pebbles" are gone; other mornings they remain.

Why we share this story with you is that the sparrows and the house finches have now discovered the cat food, and they arrive every morning on our porch, ready for breakfast.  As we watch them grab a "pebble" in their beaks, haul it out onto the porch and use their beaks to take a bite out of the food, we are amazed first of all that they even find Science Diet for Cats appealing, but that their beaks are strong enough to eat big chunks out of it.  Who would'a thought?

All I can say is that feeding them this way certainly leaves less of a mess than giving them birdseed.  Cat food doesn't have leftover hulls.  However, since we are unlikely to stop feeding them, due to the softened heart syndrome, I'm going to replace the Science Diet with a less expensive dry cat food.  I trust the birds won't know the difference.

This next picture is a corner of our property.  The window with the bottles peeks into my office (the second bedroom) and the adjacent wall is the east wall of our living room.  The greenery is a combination of pink camellia and a baby bougainvillea.  The hanging pots hold geraniums, and the beautiful flowers on the right which look like poinsettias are, in fact, the results of a Christmas gift to me several years ago of a small poinsettia of a new variety.  We have never kept our poinsettias, because they grow tall and leggy and are really not very satisfactory.  However, Jer popped this one in an empty space at the end of our little garden, and we are amazed at what has happened to that plant.  It has never stopped blooming in the two years we've had it, and we are SO pleased.  He says he's going to prune it shortly; I hope he knows what he is doing.  So far, so good!

A number of years ago I was invited to lunch at my daughter's mother-in-law's house.  She is a superb cook, a professional one at that, and she had a salad that day that had the most delicious dressing on it.  She said it was balsamic vinegar boiled down to where it was thick and sweet.  It was really, really good.  I always intended to try making some, but just never got around to it.  Before Christmas this year we went to dinner at a fine restaurant with my daughter and her hubby - and for an entree I ordered a simple salad of tomato and mozzarella cheese.  On the plate were 3 slices of heirloom tomato, four slices of the cheese, a puddle of  basil pesto at the bottom of the plate and a puddle of brown "stuff" at the top.  That was it.  Bites of tomato and cheese dipped in these puddles were simply to die for.  I mentioned that I didn't know what the brown stuff was, and Brian said it was what his mother had used for that salad I liked, and that it was available at Trader Joe's market and called "Balsamic Glaze."  Needless to say I shortly made a trip to the nearest TJs and there it was!
The instructions on the label say it can be used for all kinds of things, including drizzled over desserts.  I've almost gone through my initial bottle of glaze; I'm eating tomato and cheese salads whenever I can find a big ripe tomato and this glaze is now a a staple in my kitchen.

Try it!  You'll like it!  (Who said that?  Some advertisement in the early days of TV?)

And just in case you all missed the saga of the rock, here's a picture I've kept on my camera since I visited the rock at its permanent home at LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Arts on Wilshire Blvd. in LA.  This rock was harvested from a quarry a couple of miles from our house here in the boonies, taken on a  long two-day ride from here to there back in January of 2011, and placed so that people can walk under it.  The rock had its fans and its detractors.  Is it art?  Some say yes and some, no.  The whole thing was funded by private donations so no one could say that the city was spending big money foolishly on something that came out of a quarry.  But still people picked at it.  Myself?  I walked under it, around it, touched it, and discussed the meaning of it with my cousin Nancy.  Because Jer and I quite often drove out to see it as it sat in the quarry waiting to make the trip (it had to wait long enough for the installation setting to be built.) we felt a proprietary interest in it.  The rock was moved 6 days after I had emergency gall bladder surgery, and on a bitterly cold night in January the rock, on its long carrier, drove on the first leg of its journey into LA.  I tried my best to last until it came by where we were sitting near a freeway overpass that it was going to have to traverse, but I was too recently out of surgery to last that long.  We went on home and tucked ourselves in bed.  But when the rock finally made the turn onto the overpass, we heard the roar and the horns honking and the cheering that accompanied it.  I had to settle for second best, but when I walked under that rock in LA, I looked up at it and said, "I know you!"  And when I saw this picture on my camera today, I had that same feeling of ---- well, of a tiny bit of ownership of it.  We knew it when....!

1 comment:

Olga said...

I use lots of balsamic vinegar--red and white. The salad sounds delicious and somehow very California. I dress my salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar almost exclusively and then throw on some fresh herbs.
Interesting post today. Mike always tended to the bird feeders. They were routinely raided by chipmunks, squirrels, and raccoons. One time a fox. Our neighbors even had bears at the feeder. I don't know that I will continue the tradition on my own.