Kiss The Fiddler

Ramblings, moments of humor, random thoughts, experiences, insights, simple wisdom, and whatever else I feel like sharing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Early Winter Hike

Hiking in the winter is one of my favorite things to do. 
Not only do I have one of the best 
hiking buddies ever,

He's cute.  
He adores me. 
He holds my hand. 

He makes me snow angels . . .

But there are so many different 
ways to see things in winter. 
It's not always just grey

Sometimes it's so stark that the color gets 
blanched out of it. 

Winter is the perfect time for hiking!

Remember, anytime you venture out,
tell someone where you're going
and when you plan to return. 
Take a minute or 2 to 
plan ahead. 
It could save your life. 


Christmas Morning Joy

On the night of Christmas Eve, 
Luken slept with us in our bed. 
This was for our own sanity 
(and safety).

When we let him get up
at such a time we were sure there would be no more sleep
(still prior to 6:00), 
he ran into the living room 
where our tree is 
and shouted, 
"Santa brought me big boy legos!
Santa brought me big boy legos!"

And, indeed, Santa had. 

About the time Luken successfully pulled the ribbon off the legos, 
he noticed the Christmas sock he'd so carefully laid out the night before. 

It had CANDY in it!  
Now, you might recall that
Luken is on the GAPS diet. 
No sugar! It's a big deal.  
Kara made him special candy out of 
honey, peanut butter and salt. 
He was so excited!

Then there was the excitement of
unwrapping the gifts.

The football that I picked out for him
at the Sharing Tree event was a hit!

"Can I kick it now?"

The monster trucks are a favorite too. 
He told me they'll be the first thing
that he takes to school to share
with his friends. 

Kara enjoyed her gifts from Luken.
(And so did Luken.)

Thanks to many kind folks, 
there were lots of cool gifts
for Luken to open.  
This "!yellow!digger!" was from the 
shoppe owner at Big Sky Toy Room.
Thank you!

Yes, I know that Christmas isn't all about opening gifts. 
But let's face it, when you're four years old, 
or when you parent a four year old,
Christmas is all about opening gifts. 

I hope yours was as fun as ours was!


Monday, December 24, 2012

More Blessed!

My family has been struggling this year.
We're outta money and nearly outta energy to figure it out.

So, in November, I signed Luken up for the local Giving Tree program.
When I picked up his things last week, there were 3 outfits, a pair of shoes, socks, a set of flannel sheets and a giant box of mega blocks.  I was blown away.  I wrapped up the things that are appropriate for him and wrapped up the rest for cousins.

The other day, Kara and I went to the local toy shoppe to try to fill in the gaps in Luken's Christmas with the last of our cash.  I carefully choose something I thought he'd love and choose something for his cousin as well.  I chose 7 dollars too much stuff.  When the owner suggested I put back the cousin's item I said, "No, that's for the cousin.  Put this back (indicating an item for my child)".  When we got home, Kara pulls a neatly wrapped box from her sack.  I asked her what it was and she told me that the shoppe owner had given it to her for our son.

And tonight, when we got home from church, there were 2 boxes on our front porch.  Neither Kara nor I had ordered anything from Amazon so once Luken was in bed, we peeked inside.  The boxes were full of wonderful gifts that Luken is absolutely going to LOVE!  Selected and shipped to us by a family who struggled last year.  Somebody helped them out and now they're "paying it forward".  I am completely blown away!

The lesson in this for me - Let go of control.  It's all going to work out.  I am so blessed!  It's not about the gifts.  It's about the people, many of whom I don't even know, stepping up to help some random gal and her family.

Thank you!


boxes are full of wonderful gifts that he's going to love! And they're from a family who struggled last year. Someone helped them and they're paying it forward. I am absolutely blown away! The lesson in this for me - Let go of control! It's all gonna work out. If I could be sure that it wouldn't give me a migraine, I'd cry. I am so blessed! It's not about the gifts. It's about the people, many of whom I don't even know, stepping up to help some random gal and her family. Thank you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

So Blessed!

Today was pick up day. 
The day when all the hungry people
in the valley
arrive at the designated location
to receive their 
Christmas food box.  

It's a big day. 

The doors opened at 10:30 
but like many others, 
I was waiting in line just after 9. 
It wasn't too cold.  It was windy. 
And everybody was happy.  

We shared stories,
ups and downs.  
We recalled Christmases past 
and talked about our hopes for the future.  

By the time the doors opened at 10:30, there were probably close to 75 
people waiting excitedly in line. 

They let us in, 3 at a time.  
Santa met each of us at the door with a hug. 
After we got checked in, 
a coupla high school classes 
and several pairs of missionaries
were there to carry our box and bird
to our car for it. 

Have you ever seen hundreds of frozen turkeys in piles like this?
I haven't. 

And I bet by the time they closed their doors this afternoon, 
every single box and every single bird
had been given away. 

After I picked up our Christmas food box, 
I headed to a local church
to fetch Luken's Share Tree goodies.  

I was welcomed into the church by 3 girls handing out cookies.
In addition to a giant black trash bag of gifts for Luken, 
I got to pick a few other gifts for my family. 
I chose a brand new football, 
a very sort blanket, 
and a new backpack.  

Every table had cookies and ornaments on it
and we were encouraged to take as many as we could carry. 

The kitchen smelled of several different kinds of hot soup. 
I had some cheesy potato and it was perfect for warming me up.

All the helpers there were kind and warm and happy.  
I wish I could better depict what I was part of today.  

I feel so, so blessed.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Snow Babies

Coupla days ago, 
we got about 5 inches of snow.

It was so pretty on the branches
on the roofs
on everything.

A clean new blanket. 

So, what's the first thing one must do?

Well, eat the snow, of course!

I have to admit that Luken comes by his
snow-baby-ness naturally. 

I can't blame Kara. 
She's all about getting things done. 
Like shoveling. 

But me, 
well . . . 

Yup, I'm a snow baby.  
And I'm sure that's where Luken got it.


And, when you're finished eating it, 
there's always enough left to play in.  

Lucky us!

Have fun out there!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Must Destroy!

Belle is a hoot!  
She loves to go hiking.
And she loves sticks. 

Today, she decided she really had it in for this poor stick. 

I'm lucky to have such great entertainment, eh?


Small Town Christmas

Every year, the little town down the road
from our little town
has a 
Christmas celebration. 

The thoroughfare is closed off
and everybody comes out
to walk down Main Street
singing carols.

When the procession gets to the center of town
(marked by the town's only 4-way stop), 
a great cheer rises into the air
and all the lights of Main Street
come on at the same time.


All the shoppes are open.
People stroll up and down the sidewalks
happy and sharing jokes and treats.

After the "parade", the highlight of the evening,
for Luken anyway,
is the "sleigh" ride.

There is a warming fire near the street and people line up
near it to wait their turn. 

The wagons have seats of hay covered in old quilts
and are decorated with bells and lights.

Beautiful Clydesdale horses pull the wagons. 
The same pairs of horses each year. 
They are gentle and slow and warm
And all decked out in their finest yokes
with bows and lights and bells. 

This year, it was cold.  
And windy.
Friendly strangers snuggled together under the quilts, 
singing carols.

In spite of the cold and wind and snow,
we stood in line twice
and enjoyed two
hay rides. 

We all had a blast!
Can't wait to do it again next year. 


Friday, December 14, 2012

Nests are cool!

Bird nests are so nest.  They're so different to me. 
Some, like this one, are delicate. 

We think it came out of our blue spruce tree.

It's probably been there awhile because it's lined
with Husky hair.

I wonder what kind of family used to live there. 

I wonder if they successfully fledged out. 

I'm glad they shared their old home with us,
even if the wind did knock it onto the ground years after
they were finished with it. 


Slower is better, I'm learning

Well, slower is better for yogurt making anyway. 
Tends to make the yogurt feel smoother in the mouth
and be nice and tangy.  
You can't rush tangy.

We start with a gallon of full fat organic milk.  
Raw is best but it's hard to find in the winter.
So I buy milk that has been very lightly pasteurized. 
More good bugs this way.

Dump in all into a large heavy pot.
A big soup pot works well. 
You're gonna need a candy thermometer 
and something to stir with that's wooden or silicone. 

Set the heat on lowish. 
And stir. 

And stir. 

And stir. 

And stir.  You need to make sure the milk doesn't scorch.
So you kinda gotta pay attention.  

And . . . 

When the temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit
(yes, I had to look up how to spell that one),
you're ready to think about the cultures. 

Don't add them yet, the heat would kill them and that'd be sad, right?

The cultures are the things that make the yogurt sour and yummy tasting
instead of just tasting like rotten milk. 

Cultures can be the scrapings from a kind of yogurt you like. 
They can be an entirely different kind of yogurt altogether
(maybe goat milk for an adventure).

Or they can be your favorite probiotic capsule.
It should be a good quality one and kept in the fridge (doh).

One of the joys of making your own yogurt is that you can have 
more than the 3 or four strains of live cultures that 
usually come in comercial yogurts.  
So, be creative.  See what will grow.  See what you like. 

Keep checking the temp of your milk. 
You can place the pot in a sink of cool water
to more quickly reduce the temp. 
The longer the milk stays at the higher temp, it does something to the proteins and is supposed to give the yogurt a different texture.  

I usually let mine sit covered on the stove for awhile,
checking periodically to make sure the cat hasn't found it
or  . . .  

Anyway, when your heated milk has cooled to 110 
degrees Fahrenheit,
it's time to add your cultures.  
Gently stir them in.  Remember, they're living things.  Be nice to them.  

Now the fun part.  
More waiting. 

I pour the milk with cultures into a slow cooker. 
Put the lid on. 
And cover it with a towel. 

The milk needs to stay kinda warm (warmer than room temp) for 
12 to 24 hours.  
I achieve this by turning the slow cooker to "keep warm" several times throughout the day. 
Only turn the slow cooker on for a few minutes at a time
or you'll scorch the yogurt.  Yucky. 
Keep the slow cooker covered with a towel to keep the heat in.

You'll notice the stuff gets thick.  
Gross!  Oh, no, that's yogurt!

After 12 to 24 hours, you're 'bout done. 

You can use it as is, the more you stir it, the thinner it'll get.  
You can call this a probiotic drink if you want. 

Or you can strain it through a cheese cloth or dish towel
(I use a clean dish towel). 
Just pour it in, (over a strainer, set over a kettle)
and tie up the corners. 
I hang my yogurt blob on a kitchen cupboard handle
for a coupla hours. 

That yellow stuff that drips out is whey.  Save it.  
It's good for you.  Drink it in tea, juice, water.  
You'll come to think it's delish!

Anyway, after a few hours, scrape the yogurt out of the cheesecloth. 
It'll be nice and thick and creamy. 
Store it in a glass container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  

From a gallon of milk, I usually get 2 quarts of yogurt. 

There, now ya know.  


Friday, December 7, 2012

Look How High!

I was in the kitchen preparing food for my child when I heard, 
"Mommy, I need you."
I knew he'd been out in the back yard with Kara so I wasn't too concerned. 
Again, "Mommy, I need help!"

Okay.  I wash and dry my hands and patter outside
in my sock. 
On the deck, I look over, and a little up
and see my son, higher than deck high
in a tree, still climbing!

"Wow, you climbed way up there!"  I say.  
"What do you need help with?"

"Mommy, I need help getting down.  I am stuck so I climbing higher."
Indeed.  I couldn't reach him from the ground. 
I couldn't reach him from his plastic climbing toys. 
I couldn't reach him from the lower branches. 

"Luken, stop climbing!"

"Mommy, hurry up.  It's getting nighttime and then it will be dark and I am cold.  I am not a bat like Stellaluna.  And I am not a bird.  Can you get me down?"

"Yes, Love.  Don't be afraid.  I'm going to get you down.  You stay where you are and I will help you."

Luke and I worked together to get him down out of the tree. 
 He remained calm and I talked him down. 
"Put your foot behind you and reach it down. Good. 
There is a good handle branch nest to your shoulder.  Grab that with your hand. 

Step by step he did what I told him to do until he was down far enough
I could reach him by standing on his climbing structure. 
By the time I had him in my arms, his little body was shaking.  
I could tell he was scared.  I knew he was cold.  
I gave him a big hug and took him inside for a warm bath where we talked about safety. 

I love that Luken is adventurous.  I love that he tries new things.  
And I'm proud of him that he realized he needed help. 
And even more proud that he remained calm enough to let me help him.  
I have an amazing kid!  


Lonely or Luxury?

If anybody tells you that marriage is easy, always peaceful, smooth sailing and blue skies, they're lying. Plain and simple.

I've been married to the woman I love for 10 years now.  It's been good.  It's been hard.  It's been up and down and down some more.  It's been scary.  It's been a place to come home to.  It's been work.  It's been some blood, salt and tears.  It's been comforting.  It's had blissful moments.  It's been teamwork.  And right now, it's hard.

Due to old habits that no longer serve us well, and to circumstances, some under our control and some not, I find myself in a position in my marriage I never thought I'd be in.  Should we split?  That question has loomed heavy for weeks now.  Many tears have been shed.  Thoughts on the topic go round and around.  Pros and cons.  How can we do this to our son?  How can we do this to each other?  I still love her.  I want to work things out.  I will find a way to make it work.  I hate her and want her out.  No, really I care so deeply for her that it hurts me to see her hurting.  Wait, or do I hate her?  I don't know.  One thing for sure is that both of us need some space.

So, Kara is moving out of our common bedroom and into the guest room and library in our basement.  She'll have to ask to come in to my room.  I have to ask to enter her room.  That kind of feels nice.  My own space.  (And when I say "my own space", realize that I share it freely with 2 large dogs and 3 cats and a very active 4 year old boy).  So, my own space is well, mostly a space with out my wife.  Which is good sometimes.  And sometimes sad.  And sometimes lonely.

Tonight we went as a family to a small town Parade of Lights. It's basically the entire town shows up to have a good time in the cold and sing and play and heat cold hands near crackling fires on sidewalk corners.  There are hey rides and a singing parade and the reading of "the Christmas Story".  We had a good time.

And then we came home and puttered along toward bedtime.  That's when the issue came up.  Luken wanted me to read to him in his bed.  Okay, I often do that.  And then he wanted Mom to read to him in His bed.  Also okay.  Then he made it known that he was worried about Mom sleeping downstairs all alone.  So, with a bit of coaxing and a lot of me telling him that I'll be just find in my bed by myself with the cats and dogs, Luken decided he'd like to have a sleepover with Mom in her bed downstairs.

I feel happy for him.  And excited.  Sleepovers are fun!  And, as I remember so fondly from my growing up, sleeping with a mom is so sweet and warm and special.  And, as much as I'm happy and excited for Luken, I feel lonely.  He's usually in the room next to mine and I can hear him breathing at night.  I get up and go to him when he can't find which way is up.  I welcome him into my bed after he has a nightmare.  And, while I'm looking forward to a full and uninterrupted night's sleep, I miss him.  Ya, okay.  I miss Kara too.  But anyway . . .

Just my thoughts in the snowy quiet under my pile of cats.  See, how can I really be alone anyway?



I call Luken "Little Bear".

Today, during a thoughtful moment, he inquired,
"Mommy, if I am your Little Bear, then who is my Big Bear?"

"I don't know," I said.  "Who do you think your Big Bear is?"

More thought . . .

"Mommy, will you be my Big Bear?"


Thursday, December 6, 2012


I am devastated!  
This angelic cherub
has just announced
"I don't love you."
"I only love Kara Mom."
"I would rather pick my nose 
than sit with you."

This cherub!  My son. 
Hates me. 

And my heart is crushed. 


I'm laughing so hard I have tears
running down my face.  

He'd rather pick his nose . . . 

It's a good thing that sarcasm is my first language. 

And it's a good thing that I'll love him 


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Peaceful Moments

They happen.  
And when they do,
I cherish them. 

Mostly though, 
I cherish this sweet boy. 
I am so lucky that he chose me
to be his mother. 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Hiking Buddy

Our family likes to go hiking. 
We often go to the same area.
There are several different trails where we go. 
After 4 years of hiking in the same area,
Luken really knows his way around these woods!

For his age, I'm impressed with how far his little legs can go. 
And I like how there is always something new and interesting to see. 
But best of all, I like my hiking buddy.  

Never hike alone!