Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fall's Final Fog?

I was out of bed at 7:30 a.m. and outside enjoying the exquisite fog not too long thereafter and I took my camera along for my morning walk. First I admired the neighboring farmer's mailbox standing at the end of his lane, rising sun as backdrop, gnarled old maple as frame.

The picture doesn't look particularly cold but I recorded a low of 30 and it hadn't risen past freezing as I shot this. About a quarter way back the lane, I turned and looked back towards S. Clayton Road and had my breath taken away by the Mockabee Farm (now owned by Coffman's) standing still in the enveloping fog. What a pretty picture the silo and barn make in their silky garb!

Nearing Sam Cornett's home, an aspen that stands by itself at the edge of a field, bare but for the fog wrapped about its branches, seemed particularly haunting in the muted light. To add another note to the scene, behind me - perhaps a quarter mile off - a lone cow was bellowing, as though the whole world had come crashing down upon its bovine shoulders. A ghost might as well have been flitting about in the mist!

Finally, as I completed my walk and again neared Pinehaven, I took a wide angle shot and then cropped the top and bottom strips from the picture, leaving only the panorama of fog-enshrouded trees. Our house - unseen - is about a quarter of the way in from the right edge.

I might have slept longer on such a misty morning - the warm electric blanket felt especially good - but I'd have missed what will surely be the fall's final fog. And that, dear reader, is not to be missed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pinehaven Coffee Cake

When we got home from the library today Mom said that she had considered making a coffee cake yesterday but decided against it. She was too tired. Of course once the bug is in my ear, I'm hungry for coffee cake!
"I'll make it," I said. And so I did.
The house now smells of the sweet scent of baking. Cinnamon lingers throughout Pinehaven.
This particular recipe, distilled from several others, has become our own. And here's how to do it ...

Pinehaven Coffee Cake
2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening (we use stick margarine)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
3/4 cup cold coffee
chopped nuts as desired (we like black walnuts)
Combine dry ingredients except for soda and baking powder
Cut in shortening (the resultant mixture will be lumpy)
Hold out 1/2 cup of this dry mixture for the topping
To remainder, add soda and baking powder; mix thoroughly
In a small bowl (or measuring cup), beat egg into coffee (just use a fork)
Combine this liquid with the flour mixture
Pour into 9" square greased pan
Sprinkle reserved dry mixture on top; add nuts as desired
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (use a toothpick to test if done; it should pull out dry)
This is excellent with a nice cup of coffee! A note: before this is baked, the batter in the pan seems fairly slight. But it will double, so don't be worried!

We Three

Every year about this time I take our annual Christmas picture. Mom includes a copy in the Christmas cards she sends to out-of-town relatives. We figure those who live close get to see us fairly often and we don't want to put them through that any more than we have to.

Myself, 60 (l), Mom, 84 (m) and Dad, 85 (r) have managed yet another year here beneath Pinehaven's wonderful (and now dry) roof. We take the picture if for no other reason than to see for ourselves the decline that another year has brought to our fragile frames.
While Mom and I have been well, it is Dad who has been having a tough time of it. In the last week he's been fighting a urinary tract infection and the burning and pain has just about driven him crazy. He told me that last night he didn't get a minute's sleep. "I just watched the clock," he said.
That said, I suppose none of us have too many years left here. We'll enjoy - to the fullest - the time that we do.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I'm always trying to get at something from a slightly different angle. Offbeat, I suppose, and sometimes even a little crazy. Have a look at the picture below and make a guess at what's going on before scanning down the page.

Pretty clearly it's a picture of trees and clouds, perhaps even sunset clouds lit by the setting sun. Or is it a painting by Monet or some other French Impressionist?
Now have a look at the picture below ...

That's the picture as I took it, right side up. It's a picture of a row of trees at the north side of our yard as reflected in the rainwater that collected atop our burn barrel at the edge of the garden. Besides the white reflecting clouds, you're seeing the orange rust that's on the surface of the metal lid. That's responsible for the "sunset" quality of the shot.
I like how the pastel shades are somewhat prominent and the picture takes on a surreal quality, even other-worldly.
This is simply another angle one may use to view today's rainfall. It created the surface by which Pinehaven was transferred to 19th century France.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Good Bowl of Soup

It's not a cold fall day. Far from it. It's 64 degrees as I come back upstairs from my lunch. Today's menu: homemade potato soup!

Mom makes delicious soup - vegetable, bean, chili, potato - and every recipe is without a speck of meat. I became a vegetarian in 1968. My parents followed in 1980. And at first Mom thought cooking without meat would be difficult. Not so.
Have a look at the potato soup I just had for lunch. It's made totally from scratch and garnished with sprigs of homegrown parsley (we grow it on the north side of the garage; it seems to take to the shady spot).
A good hot bowl of soup is perfect now, even before the cold weather comes.

Friday, November 13, 2009


It is mid-November - or so the calendar says - and we are still enjoying our daily walks at the Farmersville-Jackson Twp. Park as though it was a month earlier. The air was warm (62), the air was still and I enjoyed the sight of the pines reflecting in the tranquil water.

This deciduous tree near the ponds north edge doubled itself in the pond's surface.

And this lovely view beneath the pines which line the western edge of the pine suggested a nice place to lie down and take a nap. The pine needles and scattered cones looked positively warm in the golden rays of the setting sun.

While we (Mom and I) were driving to the pond for our walk, I noticed two sundogs, points of rainbow colors on either side of the sun. Slight cirrus clouds provided just enough water vapor for the prismatic action. I hoped to photograph them but like all ephemeral things, they were gone by the time I arrived and parked the car.
It is better that way. What we cannot quite grasp becomes all the more dear to us.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Sunset

With sunset an hour earlier, I was still out walking as the sun went down yesterday. Coming south on Clayton Road, I happened to look eastward towards the cell phone tower (which is itself east of Venus Road and just north of our house), and the moon was perfectly behind it, as though the top of the tower had a halo.
When I got back, I grabbed my camera and walked back up the road but by then the moon had moved quite a bit higher. Nevertheless, I found a spot which pretty well illustrates what I saw had the moon been just a tad lower.

At the bottom of the picture, the rusty-red glow of a still-to-be-harvested field of soybeans stands there in the orange sunset, highlighting the deep shade even more.
Then, as I approached home I turned westward and shot our property silhouetted by the sunset itself. You can't see it in the picture but the sky over head was a brilliant clear blue as the air cooled into the upper 40's.

This looks like a good shot to put summer to rest. The deciduous trees, now bare, ready themselves for the bitter days ahead. They cannot be far away.