More meanderings


I now understand why people pamper cats. It’s because cats are so enamored of luxury that it’s rewarding to give it to them. Dogs enjoy luxury too, but a dog would go through hell to be with his master, whereas cats are not so constituted. Therefore, what better thing can a person do than to pamper his cat?

I write about heavy subjects because that’s how I think. I’m forever absorbed by reflections pertaining to one idea or another, so I will write about it over a period of days, doing both revisions and whole new approaches to the subject. I love to play with words and ideas this way. In fact, it’s the main thing that keeps me going. I also need physical labor, but too much of it seems like dissipation. Trips to the mountains are also good.

Things you don’t know about me:

I bake my own whole-grain crackers. I got my first recipe from an Episcopal priest’s wife, and afterwards baked crackers for the Eucharist each week until a lady who attended regularly got throat cancer and the church went back to the melt-in-your-mouth “fish wafers.” I've continued to bake crackers for myself during the intervening 35 years, but I’ve branched out from the original recipe because cracker dough is very open to experimentation. I name my various crackers after their defining flavor, such as rye, corn, wheat, walnut, cheddar, and Parmesan. Before each of my three shoulder surgeries, I had to bake a big supply of crackers because it would be four months before I could roll out dough again.

I have memorized at least thirty poems including more than one apiece by Robert Frost, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Wordsworth's "Daffodils," Keat's "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," and Heine's "A Maiden Lies in Her Chamber" are three of my favorites by other poets.

I recently planted two clumps of bamboo and five of a variegated grass that grows nine feet tall. I’ve adored variegated grass for years but this is the first I've grown. I wake up each morning and look out the window at my variegated grass, and I smile. I take such joy in plants that I have no words for it. 

I try to get to the Cascades each year before the bears eat all the salmonberries. These resemble blackberries but are orange. They are also three times bigger and three times juicier. They practically fall into your hand when they're right for eating. Once in your hand, they flatten out, because they're hollow in the middle. The bears and I also compete for salal berries, but they grow best in the Coast Range. Once while biking down a logging road looking for berries, Peggy and I surprised a mother bear and her cub (and vice versa). Black bears tend to abandon their cubs rather than fight for them, and this one was already on her way, so I stopped the bike and said, "Oh, Peggy look," but she didn't answer. When I turned toward where I thought she would be, I caught a glimpse of her way down the road, pedaling as fast as she could in the other direction.

 I love wasps. The ones in yesterday’s photo (taken during soffit work) are typical of most Oregon wasps in that they’re so gentle that you can all but touch their tiny nests without fear of harm. I literally forget that they are there even when I'm working next to them. This is a night-and-day difference from the big and aggressive Mississippi wasps that live in nests of hundreds, yet I loved them too. I built the nesting box in the bottom photo for solitary wasps, and I have a bald-face hornets' nest hanging in my den. When people ask if it still has hornets in it, I tell them that, yes, it does, but if they keep their voices down, they'll be okay.

I eat two, 22 pound watermelons a week, all summer and into the fall. I prefer watermelon to chocolate, and that's saying a lot. I also have a weakness for mayonnaise, which I often mix with Parmesan and nutritional yeast and spread on whole-grain crackers.


29 comments:

Putz said...

so many people around me hate cats><<><>cats do so like me and will purr up in my neck and rub against me and sleep on me and sleep across our lab dog duke<><>and he was out in the desert before we met him tute and knew he was to die but meowed so loud and followed us and my wife said <><>he needs someone, doesn't he so now we have him and him has us

ellen abbott said...

I really enjoyed this post. Little peeks into Snowbrush. I think that's neat that you make your own crackers. Not too surprised that you have memorized many poems. At the height of my gardening in the city I described my yard as 'barely restrained chaos. I kept gifts from birds where they sprouted and things I bought and never formally planted, planted themselves. I managed to get rid of most of the grass. I like wasps too and only get rid of a nest if it threatens me on a regular basis or my grandchildren. I know that they will not bother me if I don't threaten them. That's my attitude to all the denizens of the outdoors. Live and let live.

middle child said...

This post shocked me! You have three shoulders!!!??? Well I quess that could be. After all,...my son has three nipples. (truth)
I kinda get what you mean about the wasps. It has been so hot and dry here for so long that when I water my flowers and fill the birdbaths, the wasps come in droves. Makes me happy.

lotta joy said...

I have never baked a cracker. My oven has no thermostat. I keep it at 350 degrees and turn it off when the stove gets too hot to touch. Anything that takes 40 minutes at 450, I get done in 20 (unburnt if I'm lucky)

As for wasps, I've never been stung by one because wherever they are, I'm in a different part of the area immediately and can hobble pretty fast.

Snowbrush said...

I think you guys so much for your delightful comments. It feels good sometimes to not discuss a topic--especially a heavy topic that might hurt people's feelings--and instead write something funny or just try to share a little about what my I do with myself all day.

"so many people around me hate cats"

I suppose this is because cats don't go out of their way to affirm a person's importance. In fact, they appear to go out of their way to make a person feel unwanted, except at meal time, of course. Actually, Brewsky is pretty affectionate, but if he moved a little more in that direction, I would like it better. As it is, if you want to cuddle him, you either have to hold him while standing (on his back is fine), or get down on the floor with him because he won't cuddle for long in my lap or in bed.

"At the height of my gardening in the city I described my yard as 'barely restrained chaos."

I'm sad to say that there isn't much in way of outdoor plants that I really want to grow. Grass and bamboo are about the only two, although I often look admiringly upon euonymous, hibiscus, cotoneaster, pyrancantha, hellebore, nandina, elephant ears (maybe you call it Colocasia), and crepe myrtle. As for veggies, I wish the heck that okra would grow in Oregon, but the summers are short and cool. For those who don't know, it's a kind of hibiscus that shoots up to maybe eight feet tall. By golly, I WOULD grow okra, though more for its looks than its fruit, although I like that too. I'm 90% more into indoor plants because they're easier to care for, and they cheer me in winter better.

"when I water my flowers and fill the birdbaths, the wasps come in droves. Makes me happy."

Oh, how sweet of you to say that. I would just love to give you a hug about now. It IS wonderful to see them enjoying a drink. BTW, today, I lucked out and saw about a two foot king snake in my compost.

"As for wasps, I've never been stung by one..."

I've been stung twice this year, but that was only because I stepped on wasps while barefoot. Here--and probably where you are in Florida--if you hike woodland trails in fall when the yellow jackets are irritable as hell because, it appears, their year is almost at its end, you will sometimes get stung repeatedly before you even know that you stepped too near their nest. I'm really astounded that you've never been stung because I remember my first time, and I doubt that I was more than three or four. I think they hurt more when you're little, plus I didn't know what was happening or why at first. I had seen the yellow jackets covering the ground, but I didn't know they would bother me as I walked around barefoot under that pear tree that had littered the ground with its fruits.

Snowbrush said...

P.S. "cats do so like me and will purr up in my neck and rub against me and sleep on me"

Well, I just guess that cats are good judges of character, my friend, at least in your case.

Snowbrush said...

PPS for the four who have already read this. I just remembered a story that I thought worth adding to the paragraph about bears: Once while biking down a logging road looking for berries, Peggy and I surprised a mother bear and her cub (and vice versa). Black bears tend to abandon their cubs rather than fight for them, and this one was already on her way, so I stopped the bike and said, "Oh, Peggy look," but she didn't answer. When I turned toward where I thought she would be, I caught a glimpse of her way down the road, pedaling as fast as she could away from that bear.

Sissy said...

Ah, Snowbrush, a little bit of Personal. I like, so I hope you will continue being Personal.

I wish you'd share your recipes and method of making crackers. Never made the first cracker yet. Those in the picture look worthy of a Cooking Prize;

btw, what is that in your last picture?

I don't fear bees, yet I have healthy respect for them and their space. Three stings in 27 years and then only because I wasn't alert is a fairly good track record. In a post of the past I 'think' I wrote of a weird encounter, a woo woo moment - 2 in fact! - with bees. Yeah, really a Woo Woo enlightenment. I loved it. Then there are the dragonflies that woo me.

Now to hell with those mosquitoes. Seems my chemistry has changed this year after being avoided for twenty-some. I've itched and scratched this one bump all night long! Bears? I feel Peggy and I might be near kin. I'm cautious too; can't pedal a bike nor fleet of foot now, so.....

I like this post; just full of you.
Give me more!

PhilipH said...

Verrry inte-resting Mr. Snowy (to be read in a Gestapo-like accent).. verrrt hinterestinggg.

Now you vill pliss give us ze full recipe ov der crackers!

Vee haff vays of making you speak meine freund - oder you vill notlike us any more. Und if there is any hashish in der recipe vee vill be heppy, but not too much.

Talking of cats, I heard a truly shocking story of scientists sewing up the eyelids of newly born kittens and keeping them sightless for ten weeks or more. They wanted to monitor brain function or something to see how these poor creatures reacted to not being able to see.
At the end of this 'experiment' the kittens were destroyed. One of the most disgusting and shocking cases of animal experiments I've ever heard. Sickening in the extreme.

Snowbrush said...

"I wish you'd share your recipes and method of making crackers."

I will do that, either here in the comments section or in a separate post.

"btw, what is that in your last picture?"

That's the solitary wasp box that I wrote about in the next to the last paragraph.

I'm so sorry, Sissy, that your invisibility potion has worn off so that the mosquitos can find you now. Let's hope it doesn't do the same with wasps and bears.

Philip, you are WONDERFUL with that accent. I couldn't have written that, but then maybe I haven't heard as many French people speak English as you have. Ha.

"One of the most disgusting and shocking cases of animal experiments I've ever heard..."

I don't take it that the kittens were in much if any physical pain, so I would actually see it as less shocking than many experiments, all of which together don't come close to the cruelties of factory faming. I don't mean to defend such experiments, but to say that they are the mere tip of the iceberg, and that our buying habits create the rest of it.

Human beings are filled with ironies. For example, when a deer falls down a well or gets stuck in quicksand, you invariably have people who would gladly shoot it for fun if it were free spend hours and hours working their butts off to save its life.

"Und if there is any hashish in der recipe vee vill be heppy, but not too much."

Cook with hash. It's an oil, so it might disappear right out of the recipe making for one disappointed baker. However, if your aplomb with accents comes from hash cookery, I suppose I should try it.

Myrna R. said...

So nice getting to know you better. You have such loving sides - multiple facets
like a diamond.

Charles Gramlich said...

I like watermelon a lot too, though I don't eat nearly that amount. I also don't do a lot of whole grains. They are not kind to my intestinal system.

Robin said...

Hmmm....so much to comment on:

I am so impressed you bake! Now that I am single....I don't do it much! I love a man who can cook!

I am NOT surprised you know poetry...but, I am surpirsed you know the Keats (one of my favourites - but no surprise there) and the Heine! I am happy to learn more about you!

I love, love, LOVE the photo of Brewsky asleep under the comforter.
He is SO ADORABLE!!! (And so right at home.....)

Another very interesting post!!!!

Love to all 4,

♥ Robin ♥

Snowbrush said...

"You have such loving sides - multiple facets like a diamond."

Why, thank you, Myrna.

You're surprised that I know Keats and Heine, and I'm surprised that you're surprised given that Keats is a staple in high school literature. I don't remember how I came across Heine, but I think he too was in a literature textbook.

I'm glad you liked the photo of Brewsky. It was taken in Peggy's bed, which is one of four places that he likes to nap.

Love to you too, Robin.

Marion said...

Great post, Snow. I love your Brewsky. Cats have never forgotten that they were once worshipped as gods. Never. LOL! I love plants, too, and watermelon. I have some amazing Lemongrass that grows as big as pampas grass. If you ever want a clump, let me know. I'll send you some. I planted 5 little clumps in Spring and now they're so big I can't even wrap my long arms around them and they're as tall as me (5'11"). Plants keep me kicking some days...along with my cats, or course. :-)

Aaaaack, giant thunderstorm brewing. Talk to you later. Gotta run and hide. Tee-hee....xoxo

Kendal said...

Cool post Snow,thanks for sharing this stuff about yourself. I tried making some beignets a couple weeks ago, big fail. I followed the recipes exactly, refrigerated them over night. But they were just to heavy, and they wouldn't cook all the way through. I may try again, this time use regular yeast instead of rapid rise. I'm normally an excellent cook. I've been doing it my whole life, but this is the first time I failed on something lol.

As for cats, we have three, and I love being able to spoil them. I grew up with cats and dogs, but I'll go for a cat every time.

The Bipolar Diva said...

I'm so down with the crackers and watermelon! Count me in!

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

It is the details that are so fascinating... I do wish you would share your cracker recipe!

Mim said...

Do you know Soulbrush? if yes, go see her post on memorizing poetry.

The Tusk said...

Well done, I viciously critiqued you in your last post looking for atfention. Much prefer to wallow here in admiration of your achievements. I have the hankering for a ginger ale. Reading a gardening encyclopedia tonight and finding it very light and learning how much viewshave changed since its publication in the 1960's

Joe Todd said...

Thought about making crackers,allergic to cats,Think bears are neat,wife makes Teddy Bears,Love berries and fruit but chocolate is a weakness of mine..Always enjoy your blog.Got lucky on the western trip..wasn't to hot..monsoon rains cooled things off.. Really want to get to your part of the country some day.

All Consuming said...

You're a many of many talents Snow. Crackers eh? Fantastic. And you are crackers as well so it makes sense. I like crackers but have never made any so I'll be checking out your recipe, and adapting if if needs be vegan-wise. It'll make a nice change from biscuits I reckon. It is a warm and light-hearted post and I've enjoyed reading it xx

PhilipH said...

Still no recipe for the quackers Snowy.

Nicht gut! Seer schlect! Raus, raus! Schnellen zie bitte!

edifice rex said...

I thought I was the only person in the world that liked to eat mayo on crackers! I generally dislike mayonnaise on most stuff but like it on crackers for some reason, although I don't partake of it much anymore.

Vagabonde said...

Well Snowbrush I always thought you were a bit weird, but now it is confirmed – someone who does not like chocolate and rather eat two 22 pounds watermelon a week! Gracious!
I’d like to see your cracker recipes – are any from Georgia? I thought when I came into the state that someone said it was a cracker state, so I presume they have a good recipe here, no?

Joe Todd said...

A blog for you to check out:; http://authenticallyliving2012.blogspot.com/

Wine in Thyme said...

a lighthearted moment from the Snowbrush. Thanks for sharing. I especially like your taste in poetry and berries.

The Elephant's Child said...

Such a complicated man. Thank you.

A Plain Observer said...

I like cats because they demand to be treated right or they'll hide from the abuser.