cooking challenges
November 28, 2011, 11:40 am
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A challenge at Black Cat Cabin is the kitchen.  Although the kitchen offers only the basic appliances; an electric stove with oven, an old refrigerator and a dishwasher.  These appliances are from the 1980’s and were rather low end to begin with.  What is lacking (and I have learned have become very important in my life) are a microwave and a garbage disposal. 

To make matters a bit more challenging, during the move to the cabin from my charming Cape Cod in the city 60 miles away, the box bearing my kitchen tools (CuisineArt food processor, KitchenAid mixer attachments, waffle maker, panini maker and other sundry gadgets) disappeared.  Yep, it made it out of the city house and not into Black Cat Cabin.  How it was lost along the way is a mystery since my friends helped me move and I know nothing was left on the truck.  At this point in my career replacing these items is out of the question.

Anyway, I do have my toaster oven which has proved invaluable. But I have had to remember how to prepare food without the speed of a microwave to do things like melt butter, make nachos or bake a potato in a few minutes.  Everything must be heated stovetop, in the oven, or served cold.  That means a bigger mess to clean up and more energy used.

Sometimes I lack the energy to deal with the time or hassle of cleaning up.  Remember, there are mice in the kitchen so everything must be cleaned up before going to bed to discourage the little buggers.  So sometimes I simply don’t eat because it is too cold to eat something cold and too much work to prepare something in the oven or on the stove and clean it up and I have eaten enough nut butter to sink a battle ship.

My mom plans to give me a microwave for Christmas and a couple of attachments for my mixer which should dramatically change our lives.  

This affords a greater appreciation for the little things.


A Vortex of Forward Thinking
November 22, 2011, 2:17 pm
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I think I “get” Charlottesville now.  It is a place of forward thinking as seen through the people who live here, the policies of the city and the feeling of sophistication without pretense. As another non-native phrased it to me shortly after my arrival here, “It’s like Connecticut in the heart of Alabama.”

Upon reflecting on the origins of this hotbed of relaxed intellect, I thought of Thomas Jefferson.  He was a man of bold forward thinking for his time, flawed, yes (as are we all), but a brilliant inventor, writer and lover of beauty. He was a creative thinking man who set the tone for this community by starting a fabulous University (you read it here first, I actually said UVA is fabulous- a long standing president for my disdain of the place now broken.  I have come to terms with UVA and it’s preppy-ness and come to admire its higher principles of offering a well rounded education whether or not its students take advantage of that.  Of course VCU remains the superior ART SCHOOL).

The debate begins with the question: Did Jefferson start the trend or was he simply attracted to the area because of the fabled vortex of knowledge and healing that already existed here?

As I meditate, experiencing connection to the solid ancient hills nearby I think the latter is true.

Spanky in the sunlight
November 22, 2011, 12:29 am
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There was a chance for snow Friday night here at Black Cat Cabin but the morning revealed only a thick frost on the flattened grasses in the back field giving the illusion of snow in the early morning light.  From my bedroom window I watched warm sunbeams light up the field during a morning meditation practice.  The house is so completely still in the early morning, perfect for emptying the mind.


Spanky, the big white gelding, was standing in the field, his body perpendicular to the line of trees at the east side of the field, his head facing away from the house.  As the orange and yellow hughes of dawn crept over the now naked treetops, his side body was washed in light.  He must have also been meditating because he stood perfectly still, nary a twitch of his tail, just soaking in the sun, teaching me to just BE.


The white of Spanky’s body against the glimmering white frost accented by clear morning sunlight and crystal blue sky made a stunning mid-autumn visual that made me grateful to be here in this place.

Zen Deer vs. Honda Civic
November 15, 2011, 9:46 pm
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It was a weekend of adventure around here.  Friday night I went to the American Shakespeare Center to see The Importance of Being Ernest (which was great!) and on the way home from Staunton at approximately 10:30pm on Interstate 64, I hit a deer.  It was horrible, yet serene.

The deer, a four or five point buck, was simply standing in the middle of the highway, stopped apparently as it was crossing the road by -you know what’s coming- by the headlights of my car.  Other cars were close enough behind me in all lanes that all I could do was swerve slightly to the left to avoid as much impact with the front of my car as possible.  It was all so oddly calm.  I knew there was not much I could do at 75 miles an hour without causing a major accident.  I realized pretty quickly that I would just have to hit the deer and hope for the best.  I knew there was a chance that I could be killed or seriously injured, my car totaled and others in cars behind me hurt as well, yet I felt relaxed.  What would happen would happen and I would just have to go with it.

The deer must have felt the same way.  It was completely still.  No indication of fear whatsoever, as if it was asking to be killed.  It just stared right at my oncoming car nary a twitch of the ear.

The passenger side headlight part of the car made impact with the deer’s chest and front legs.  I didn’t see any of it, it happened so fast.  From my observation in the rear view mirror all I could see was a flurry of white deer chest fur and some headlights swerving in the night.  A lack of screeching noises from behind led me to believe that the cars behind me managed to escape serious impact or injury as well.

It was too dangerous to stop and really what could I do?  I thought about those fine thin legs and how they must have shattered like kindling when the car hit them.  I hoped the deer had died instantly and that everyone behind me had truly avoided harm to themselves or their cars. I was grateful to be moving along in a functioning vehicle as if nothing had happened, the only indication of the incident being the sick sounds of bits of deer or plastic car parts clunking on the pavement as the wind from the automobile’s movement flaked them off.  Grateful to be unharmed.  Puzzled by the total zen trance of the deer all the way to the end.

I said a prayer for the deer, apologizing for taking it’s life.

I thought about my friend Jackson and how he would know how to butcher that carcass on the spot for some fresh venison.  He would have stopped.  He would have been prepared.

Someone told me that it if you hit a deer in Virginia it is illegal to stop and take it but anyone behind you may have it with impunity.  I don’t know if that is true or not. It is a shame to be so wasteful.

I could only see the broken headlamp and crunched fender under the dark blanket of night.  The next morning provided a clearer assessment.  Damage to the hood, fender, side panel, passenger door, scratches on the roof from antlers, a bit of fur embedded in the wreckage, a single spot of blood splattered on the windshield like a bindi.

“The car might be totaled,” said my friend who had come to pick me up for a Saturday road trip.  Oh well.  I need a new car anyway for my new lifestyle though the Honda has served me well.

The bindi blood drop refuses to be cleaned off with wiper fluid and regular windshield wiper action.  Each time I notice it I feel a little sad.

My daughter, after hearing the tale, said that she hopes that when she dies she is calm like that deer, zen if you will.  Me too- for both of us.  Staring into the light, unafraid.




Moon fire
November 11, 2011, 4:09 pm
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This morning I woke up early.  This is normal for the first week or so after the clocks are mercilessly changed.  I wake up more than an hour earlier (which is more than an hour than my body clock tells me for some reason) and want to go to sleep a little later than my normal body clock time (which is just kind of weird). Changing the time regardless of the season, spring or fall, just messes with me.




This morning I woke up at 4:07am.  I mean just woke up, wide awake.  No reason.  Nothing troubling me or anything.  Just woke up.  The moon was shining in the 3 foot square, diamond shaped window.  The window’s bottom corner sits about ten feet from the floor and directly above my bed on the west side of Black Cat Cabin.  Almost full if not completely full, the moon was quite bright and at just the right angle to send silvery beams across my bedroom directly into the shale stone fireplace that makes up part of the opposite wall creating a spotlight effect in the space where the fire actually burns.


It was a poetic visual gift for an early riser.

November 7, 2011, 12:04 pm
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This morning the back field is dusted with frost.  Surprisingly it is only the second frost so far at Black Cat Cabin- at least that I have witnessed.  There is also a grayish mist floating about but nothing too serious.  The sunrise is also a steely wintery grey.  I missed the golden hughes I guess because the clocks have been turned back in order to have more sunlight in the morning.

This abrupt change irritates me twice per year.  I see no sense in changing clocks.  Why not just change the time you do stuff?  Animals and farmers simply follow the patterns of the sun.  They stir when the sun comes up and end their work when it sets (except for nocturnal animals, of course, though I think Jack the resident burrow eats both all night and all day).

People should be more in tune with natural patterns.

I prefer light in the morning because I have evolved into a morning person but the reality is that mornings will just get dark as the Northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun anyway.  Changing the time just prolongs the agony and then screws it up for us morning people in the spring when we finally do get light in the morning then change the clocks again taking us back to A.M darkness.

Oh the follies of modern civilization; changing clocks like we can control time!

Mid- Autumn Musings
November 4, 2011, 2:38 pm
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Clouds and drizzle with a bit of wind.  That is the weather today at Black Cat Cabin.  It would make for a gloomy day but the wood stove is fired up and driving away any damp chill that might have crept into the house this morning.  As I attempt to focus on my work, a playful wind is blowing golden leaves from the tree in the front yard over the recently painted roof to cascade over the sunroom and dance downward past the west window giving me a full view of their shameless swirls and flourishes.  It is amusing that with so few trees near the house that I may enjoy this display.  It won’t last for long, though.  There is only one deciduous tree close by and it is November already.