Friday, November 14, 2008

If you can...

You really need to make these. I had to use the word 'need' because Chocolate and Want just don't go together as well as Chocolate and Need.
I don't have the typical supposedly female addiction to chocolate. I don't generally need it. Or want it. But IF I need and want it, watch out. Bring on the ice-cold moo. Er, I mean milk.
See the third photograph? Yeah, that one. See the top of the brownie? How it's crisp and flaky looking on the top and densely chewy looking on the bottom? Oh. My. Goodness.
They were SO good.
Grab a bowl and a wooden spoon, here's the recipe:
Hope Farms Brownies
1 2/3 C sugar
3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) butter (real butter, not that "one molcule away from plastic" stuff)(oh, and softened)
1 oz (one square) of unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp heavy cream, or 1/2~n~1/2, or milk
2 lg eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C baking cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325* - grease a pan (don't use butter to grease a pan - it will be absorbed by whatever you are baking - use non-stick spray or shortening...)
M-kay. Melt square of chocolate in metal bowl over almost boiling water. Cream butter, sugar and cream together. Add melted, but not HOT, chocolate. Mix well. Add eggs, mix well. Now the vanilla (oops, yeah, it's ok if you spilled some extra in there...)
In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir into chocolate sugar mixture. Combine well.
Attempt to pour mixture into greased pan. Lick fingers. Lick spoon. Ponder whether or not you would get too much chocolate on your chin and forehead if you attempt to lick the bowl. Decide the evidence would be overwhelming and wait for the brownies to be done.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until done.
Decide that chocolate is now officially a need instead of just a want. When brownies are all gone and husband wants one, blame the toddler.
I made these a couple weeks ago. They didn't last 24 hours.

Off The Grid

For some reason I want to type the words, "The old man and the sea" but, just isn't so. It's more like, the old man and the earth. All the bushes around this house? Blueberry bushes. Then grapevines. And some fig (a dozen or more?) trees. Oh, and let's not forget the apple, pear, and so on. There's some grafting of different fruits on one tree going on here too but I forget what/how.
This house, he told us, was out in the woods somewhere, and moved to this location. He's owned it and the land aound it for oh...about 35+ years.

I can't tell how old he is. At first glance, if he were in any other setting, he looks like a homeless man. But it isn't so. He's far from homeless. He's rich, if anything. Maybe not in the sense of gold bars, or stocks and bonds, or even cash in a checking account. But, I'm reminded daily, to never judge a book by it's cover. Wealth, by any name, can mean a myriad of things.

I wondered who he was, and where he was from the first time I saw him. He doesn't drive a pick-up. Or a car. He rides a bike.

As an aside, this tree is a Holly tree (bush?). It's the largest Holly tree-bush I've EVER seen. He said it's been there since he was a kid.

Yes. I said he rides a bike.

And to church every Sunday too, and near as I can tell, rain or shine.

In an effort to keep his identity somewhat safe (since when is anyone's identity 'safe'?) I'll call,.... Mr. P.

I've only talked to him a handful of times, and I've always gotten the feeling he's a bit shy which could also be construed for anti-social, or the unlikely 'snobbish'.

But that's not the case either.
I must admit, as we stood there talking with this man, my eyes drifted to the shirt, which not altogether too terribly tattered, was missing a button or two. His jeans looked like they could use a good wash and his sock feet in loafers that were nearly too big looked second or even third hand. I almost started to feel sorry for this man, and then I realized, that his wealth could not be measured. Then, I started to feel sorry for myself. Not in the traditional way of "poor me" but in the way that I began to recollect the waste that I've allowed or the missed opportunities to connect with someone in a non-tangible way.

It seems also that there are not many words necessary with these photos. But then, you might start to wonder if it was really ME posting this. As opposed to someone less wordy. So I have to just prove to you by these here unnecessary words that my identiy is safe. For now.

This is his parents' house. I suspect they're long gone, but he and his brother seem to be the caretakers. And, incidentally, where this gentleman farmer keeps his blueberry harvest. How do I know this? Ah, because he has given us blueberries, not once, but twice now.

I learned, and since forgotten most of them, a good many things that day. Mostly I was struck by his vocabulary and the knowledge he has about the land, and trees, and the mafia. Did I say that out loud? Oh, well, he read some books - and was telling us about the basic story line. What got him started was a hat that a friend of mine was wearing. It says "GodtheFather" in letters akin to "Godfather", and that's all we needed for a conversation starter. But enough about that.
Mostly what I learned is that this man needs nothing. His contentment is virtually tangible. It was an honor to spend time with him.

And THIS, my faithful readers, if you're still with me, is Mr. P.'s GRANDPARENTS home.
Is this or is it not, magnificent?!?!?! I mean, WOW! Original. Unpainted. HUGE. I know I'm not supposed to covet anything, (please forgive me Lord) but......this house, is incredible. And empty. But not for sale. Most likely it will fall into the proverbial black hole which is commonplace around here.
Old "homeplaces" don't get sold. They get passed down, but see, our (or at least my) generation is on to bigger and better things. New tract homes. New BMW 530i's. New shoes. And Rolex's. Hence, since this is 'just an old pile of board and beams' it sits. Alone. Unused. And severely underappreciated.
I saw something poignant a few months ago and I wrote it down. (yes, I know - unusual anti-fieldmouse behavior) it says; A house is built with board and beam, and a home is built on love and dreams.
Home Sweet Home.
p.s. it's really making me mad that I can't figure out how to align my text without it sliding unreadably down the right side of the photographs. Grrrrrr.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How To Handle Stress

This has always entertained me to a ridiculous degree. When I worked full time it seemed funnier. Now that I am the mother of a three-year-old, they don't seem so far-fetched....and actually, I've done some of these things....

  1. shove 39 marshmellows up your nose and try to sneeze them out
  2. use your Mastercard to pay your Visa
  3. pop some popcorn without putting the lid on
  4. when someone says "have a nice day", tell them you have other plans
  5. find out what a frog in a blender really looks like
  6. forget the diet center and send yourself a candygram
  7. make a list of things to do tht you've already done
  8. dance naked in front of your pets
  9. put your toddlers clothes on backwards and send him off to preschool as if nothing is wrong
  10. retaliate for tax woes by filling out your tax forms with roman numerals
  11. tattoo "out to lunch" on your forehead
  12. go shopping. buy everything. sweat on it. return it the next day.
  13. pay your electric bill in pennies
  14. drive to work in reverse
  15. relax by mentally reflecting on your favorite episode of the flintstones during an important finance mtg
  16. refresh yourself: put your tongue on a cold steel guardrail
  17. polish your car with ear wax
  18. read the dictionary upside down and look for secret messages
  19. bill your doctor for time spent in the waiting room
  20. braid the hairs in each nostril
  21. write a short story using alphabet soup
  22. lie on your back eating celery, using your navel as a salt dipper
  23. stare at people through the line of a fork and pretend they're in jail
  24. make up a language and ask people for directions
  25. tell your friendly neurosurgeon that you are here for a brain transplant

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We all have stuff. You know, stuff. Like, well. Stuff.

Ever see the movie Home for the Holidays - with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. and that really hot, er, uh - handsome man who plays Robert Downey Jr.'s friend? (what IS his name...I wish he lived next door) (not really) It's directed by Jody(ie?) Foster. Not that that means anything to me, but it has a nice ring to it. Plus it might impress someone that I know who directed a movie. Made, like - 15 years ago. Or more. (huh? wha?)


When we went back to SoCal we cleaned out the retired UPS pup trailer. (pup suddenly sounds like a pet name for an inanimate object. I might have to employ that here at Hope Farms.....maybe the gate needs a nickname....) Twenty Seven feet by eight feet of glorious


Stuff in boxes.

Stuff in bags.

Stuff stuffed in bags and then in a box. Stuff bulging out of bags. Stuff High. Stuff Low.

This reminds me of a story I need to tell you, it's called, "shit has followed us here", but that's for later.

Back to stuff.

The good news is: it's done. The stuff has been eliminated, sold, trashed, given away, "on loan from God" (I'll get to that later too) and some of it, was packed into 12 boxes, with a total weight of 565 pounds (!), put on a pallet, shrink wrapped (by my ever-so-patient-and-accomodating husband (THANKS HONEY! Muah!) and labeled with a weigh-bill. Or, bill-of-lading. Or, manifest. Or, truck-driver's instructions. Whatever you want to call it is fine with me.) and sent HERE!!!!!

I even told the broker that it was being delivered to "Hope Farms", so as to eliminate the $75 "residential delivery" fee. (what? well, I could see that if I lived in a condo. Or a tract home. Or, a neighborhood, period. So, ok, I get it.)

It came. It got dropped off. And I hand trucked (with my ancient wheel-barrow/handtruck/toddler-hot-rod thingie) (hey - maybe that's what I need to assign the coveted nickname "pup"!?!) all 12 boxes to the back deck (see this post)(and then, remind me that I need to download and then upload the finished pictures of said deck) and then......I left them there.

Only for a few hours. Then, I commenced to jump headfirst into knee-deep S-T-U-F-F. It was like Christmas, except, I had seen this stuff before, and there was no ribbon tied on so tight that it hurt your fingers to untie it. Stuff, glorious stuff.

So now that chapter is written and the door is closed on the California stuff. It's now North Carolina stuff.

All that to say, no matter where it is, stuff is still stuff. More interesting and important stuff tomorrow. With pictures (which always makes pointless boring posts MUCH more interesting....)

What is this leisure time of which you speak?

my grateful button