Tall Husband and I could not resist this perfect four-foot fur tree at our local nursery. I made iced sugar cookies (bunnies and dogie bones) for decoration. You may notice that some cookies are missing from the lower branches...Scooter and Skipper loved "trimming" the tree.
In the early Spring of this year, I dug small holes in the earth, along an ugly chain link fence. Into each small hole, I carefully placed a seedling that I had nurtured indoors. Then, the dogs and I stood there, dreaming of a fence of magnificent sky-blue morning glories. Well, I really don't know what dogs dream of, but I felt wonderful that morning. I felt as if I had just conceived and knew that, in a few short weeks, my babies would poke their tiny green heads above the soil and burst into glorious flowers. I would see them each morning from my bed. But no detail ever escapes Tall Husband's notice, so I told him I had planted flowers along the fence, lest he mistook them for weeds. Then I very carefully told him not to tell our lawn man to pull anything from around the fence.
Tall husband* must have only heard the word, "pull," as he later gave instructions for the lawn man...one could not call him a gardener...to "pull out all the thorny vines that grow along the fence." Later that evening, I got the bad news, "You may not have any morning glories growing along the fence." His defense was that Juan* does not speak English well.
Have you ever been so angry that you were afraid to let that anger loose in the world? Yes? Then you know why I only shrugged and walked into the next room.
The other morning, I was standing on the second-floor, screened porch of the guest house, watching the morning sun come up. Then I saw it. At the very top of a bare tree, gently dancing in the breeze, was a lone morning glory. It was as though that little seedling had known to climb a tree to get out of harm's way.
Since that first sighting, the other flowers have become brave enough to come down from the tree and grow along the fence. So, each morning I open my bedroom blinds to take in the heavenly blue of those beautiful survivors.
Tall Husband was walking Scooter and Skipper this morning when he spotted a scrap of old newspaper dancing in the breeze. The headline piqued his interest...something about Roosevelt and Hitler. He brought his find back to the Bungalow. We were amazed to see the date on the reverse of the front page, Thursday, August 14, 1941! Just goes to show us that we cannot escape history and that there is always peril in the world. Also, I am reminded that a people must be intelligent enough to learn from history. And as Roosevelt said,
Mother Nature, did you think it cute to give me those little blond hairs on my elbows? Oh ya, I spotted them in the mirror the other day when I was brushing my teeth. I also noticed the peach fuzz on my cheeks and chin...not glamorous at all. And I always wanted big boobs, but at my age? Where were those girls when I could have used them at twenty? You were so kind to my face in my youth. Never did you let a pimple near my lovely complexion. But now...did you think they would distract from those wrinkles which you so deftly left with me when I wasn't paying attention? I have noticed more and could go on, but I think you sense my displeasure with your handiwork. When I asked that I always look like a Georgia Peach, I think you did not understand...or perhaps you have a wicked sense of humor. Well, I am not laughing, Big Mama.
Armed with a favorite recipe for Anise Seed Pound Cake, a new bunt pan and Spanish anise seeds found this morning at a local spice shop, the guys and I whip up a delicious cake.
The fragrance brings back a Sunday, long ago in the medieval Spanish village of Chinchón...sipping strong coffee and eating local, hot anise bread with Tall Husband. I breathe in the pungent anise and I hear a passionate flamenco played on Spanish guitars in the distance.
Skipper (left) and Scooter
And the aroma of warm cake has the Guys dancing too.
Anise Seed Pound Cake
1 cup unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons anise seed
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bunt pan with a cooking spray that contains flour. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and add sugar. Beat for 10 minutes at high speed. The mixture will be light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in flour and salt, do not over mix. Stir in anise seed until evenly distributed through the batter. Spoon batter into the bunt pan and tap pan on counter a couple of times. Bake for about 45 minutes, testing with a toothpick to determine when the cake is done. Cool in the pan before removing to a cake plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Eat your cake with your favorite person and/or dog(s). Can you hear the Flamenco guitars yet?
Maggie the mannequin is wearing a usagi (Japanese for bunny) hat.
We are what we wear...in this, as I walk the dogs, I am not grandmother. No, I am Usagi a Japanese Warrior without a master, without fear (as I swoop down to pick up the dog poop.) Those bunny ears fill me with the same magic that I felt as a child of six. Way back then, there was a cartoon kid in my bubble gum wrapper named Bazooka Joe. He had a cape and could blow gigantic bubbles with his bubble gum. As Joe knew nothing about aerodynamics, his bubble gum and cape propelled him through the sky in search of adventure. So, with a doll blanket tied around my shoulders and a giant bubble of Bazooka gum plastered against my face, I would jump from the porch stoop, fully expecting to be airborne. Each time I knocked myself silly, landing on the ground or in a shrub, I got up and tried it again. To think of it...that's pretty much the way I have gone through life. Joe, what kind of a life lesson was that!?
This beautiful little antique was supposed to be a pencil sharpener for the dance card of a nineteenth century French lady. However, when it arrived from my favorite brocante source...
...the design did not appear to be that of a functional pencil sharpener. Par exemple, it did not sharpen pencils.
So, I asked a house guest, a Dutch engineer, to have a look at it. After manipulating it for a very few minutes, he announced that I have a cleaver candle wick trimmer. We tried it out on several candles around the Bungalow...voila!
I do believe the Dutchman got it. What do you think?
My Daughter Misha is on holiday in the South of France. I love the smartphone photos she has been sending of the grandchildren and all the sights. Isn't this shop adorable? From a French car show, she sent a photo of an antique Bibendum, to which I responded: "I have been lusting after a Bibendum." Immediately she volleyed with a photo and asked, "Is he O.K.?"
Bibendum photo by Misha
Is he O.K?!! The Bibendum she found is the most adorable French version of the Michelin Man one could ever dream of." By the way, how did she do that?Did she have the little fat guy up her sleeve?
The Kid is good...so I sent her another message, "I am lusting for a French Bastide." I can't wait...gotta go check my e-mail.
As the Texas Summer is hot on our heels, Tall Husband and I are up with the proverbial chickens each morning. Our mission? Walking our two dogs, Skipper and Scooter, who refuse to poop in the garden. So, equipped with ice water, dog bowl, Martha Stewart doggie-poop bags, hand wipes, and so on...we head out of the Bunny Bungalow. I would like to tell you that we choose the route but the truth is, the dogs have us leash trained. If you have never walked a dog, you haven't experienced the whole social milieu that surrounds the dog world.
First of all, the pooping part is only an incidental act for our Scooter and Skipper. The real purpose of the walk is high adventure. The two little characters frantically sniff their way through the neighborhood, on the lookout for squirrels, possums, cats...and failing that, the pee of other dogs. Upon finding a fresh spot, they take turns hiking a leg and leaving a contribution, but only if they know and like the dog who left that wet spot on the trail. When we reach the gate of a favorite canine pal, they each hike a leg and leave what Tall Husband calls a message..."Sorry we missed you; catch you later, Me." When they do encounter a pal, there is, immediately, butt sniffing. One must get that out of the way first. This ritual is followed by high fives, executed with fancy foot work and excited vocalization, as they slap their front paws together; Meanwhile, we owners exchange cute dog stories and our dogs' names, but not usually our own names. Consequently, we know all the neighborhood dogs by name but know each other by Henry's Mommy, Iggie's Daddy, or Foxy's Pop.
Gotta go, 'cause Scooter is insisting that it's time for the afternoon adventure...in this heat?! And Gryf has her Mom at our front gate.
French, antique school slate on which I have drawn a whimsical rooster to amuse myself between dog walks.
Photo by Misha
Click on photo to enlarge, then you can even see the shoelaces in the tiny shoes!
You have to see this cake. A friend of Misha's made this "Bon Voyage" cake for their friend, who is leaving them to live in Columbia. Such an expression of friendship and creativity makes me believe that there is hope in the world...or at least, that creative souls are in the world, and isn't that the same thing!?
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