Spring is doing its best to vanquish winter here on Cinnamon Ridge. Snow and sunshine are dueling for supremacy, but the snowbirds are starting to return and the air is tinted with that wonderful fresh scent that tells us warmer days are on the way. Our squirrels and chipmunks are still deep in hibernation mode, and the grey squirrels, which don’t hibernate, are too smart to hang around here and tempt the feline persuasion. Miss Spring is behaving like a flirtatious teenage girl, winking at us and flashing a sunny smile one day, then pouting and burying us in snow the next. I’m planning my first walk in the woods soon and I’ll be watching for budding trees and the earliest wildflowers.
My cats are so excited to see warm days, and they sit for hours watching for any signs of movement. They are so eager to hunt again that they sometimes practice on each other’s twitching tails. This makes for serious disagreements at times, as you can imagine. A few days back Sam, forgetting the filial respect he owes his mama, pounced on Peppy’s twitching tail and the two of them got into it. The noise brought Buddy, one of our Australian Shepherds, tearing around the house to see what was happening. Peppy dove under the porch swing, but Sam took one look at the approaching enemy and let out an unbelievable burst of speed as he charged across the open space toward the trees. His tail the thickness of a baseball bat and every hair standing on end with indignant terror, he threw his whole heart into keeping well into the lead until a friendly tree should afford escape. Buddy gave vent to his glee with a series of breathless yips and performed such prodigies of springing as I wouldn’t have believed him capable of! I yelled for Buddy to stop and hurried toward the edge of the deck, but he paid no attention to me. I regret to say my husband was of no assistance whatsoever during this chase, because he was all but doubled over laughing! Sam scaled a tree in something under one one-hundredth of a second and from a safe perch ten feet up spat down vile maledictions on Buddy’s head. Panting and tongue lolling, and feeling that the sport had been all in good fun, Buddy abandoned the chase and happily trotted back to me, while Sam glowered slit-eyed at both of us, obviously holding me personally responsible for the whole thing.
Sissy is still as inquisitive and brave as ever. She “helps” me do everything, whether it’s in the office or outside. Yesterday, as I cleaned our new Traeger outdoor grill and smoker, she was right in the middle of the operation, poking her moist pink nose into everything. Needless to say, her little nose was smudged black by the time I was finished with the weekly cleaning chore, and then, of course, she wanted to give me kisses and share the smudges. As for bravery, all of our other cats flee when I turn on the noisy hand vacuum to clean the hopper. Not the Queen of Cinnamon Ridge. Sissy is right there, literally my right-hand assistant as she keeps tapping my wrist with a tiny paw. She’s not one whit intimidated by the roar. Peppy, who considers herself to be the Big Mama, is still protective of both younger cats, even though she is much smaller than either of them. I think her hard start in life stunted her growth. Nonetheless, she’s a beautiful cat, with a sleek and fluffy coat, looking totally different from the thin, scraggly new mother kitty she was when I first adopted her. She adores her kitty treats and has a good appetite. Sam, in addition to being a peerless tree climber, has become my “talker.” When he comes in from his outdoor adventures, he tells me all about his day. He’s firmly convinced that anyone who can perform such miracles as opening tin cans of cat food can understand every single meow. It’s very cute...and flattering, since he always chooses me as his confidant.
Buddy and Tililli returned from the groomers looking absolutely darling with red-and-white checked scarves around their necks. The neckwear was so charming that I wish I could have left it on indefinitely, but it will have to be removed before the dogs go for their evening run. Any form of neckwear, including collars, can be deadly in a forest. Dogs can get hung up on brush, and with so much wilderness to search, we might not be able to find one of ours if that happened. As a result, though licensed, the dogs wear no ID tags. Buddy does have an ID chip, however, so we know we will eventually be called if he disappears. Some of you regulars may remember that a while back he did just that, and had a wonderful time while he scared all of us to death!
Sid and I are enjoying our new Traeger, mentioned above. It was our joint Christmas gift to each other, and I think it’s one of the best purchases we ever made. Prior to the Traeger, I never barbecued anything. In fact, I lived in terror or being left to barbecue something by myself. When the Traeger arrived, I approached it as if it were a coiled rattlesnake. Did this thing bite? Was it sitting in its package just waiting for some idiot (like me) to make a mistake?
Slightly reassured after a careful perusal of the owner’s manual, which intimated that a child could operate it without disaster, I opened the accompanying cookbook and decided to make a stab at it. My first attempt was hamburgers. I couldn’t believe how good they were...and this is from someone who was not a huge fan of barbecued anything. From that moment on, I’ve been totally into Traeger cooking, and now my family laughingly calls me the Barbecue Queen.In all my life, I’d never cooked ribs on the bone that didn’t come out as tough as shoe leather (even though they tasted good), but on the Traeger my ribs emerge melt-off-the-bone delicious.
My grandson Josh laughed his head off when I made Beer Can Chicken. You sit a whole chicken over a half can of beer — which Josh describes as sticking the can up the chicken’s bum. Pretty funny, I admit, especially to a young boy, but he quit laughing when he tasted it. He gave that recipe the compliment of silent and rapid consumption. It’s delicious! My second chicken was cooked with pineapple juice instead of beer, and you should have heard the blissful sounds my family made when they tasted it. I must also mention that meatballs cooked on the Traeger are absolutely divine. It lifts them from mundane fare into an epicurean delight.
I am hard at work on Quincy Harrigan’s story, and smiling with every word I type. I think it will be a very special treat for all of my readers.
I got an i-phone 4S. For days, I wondered if it was a curse. Has anyone else experienced the bewildering sharing that occurs with i-cloud? Initially I thought it would be the greatest thing since the invention of popcorn because all of our devices could share information. Well, let me tell you, I had no idea how much information would be shared. My personal and business email accounts were shared on every device! All my reminders were also shared.
It was an information overload nightmare. My husband was getting birthday reminders from my bulletin board on his phone, and he had no idea what they were. My phone was going off when it was time for him to take his noon medication. He was getting alarms from my phone. And Kate’s calendar was telling me it was time to shampoo the carpets, or clean the oven, or descale the coffee center. Looking back on it, I can now laugh about it, but at the time, it was a crazy nightmare. After a short talk with someone at my cell phone company, I was able to turn off much of the sharing, so sanity has finally returned to Cinnamon Ridge.
My grandson Joshua, the family techie, had a lot of fun with Siri, the i-phone voice assistant, asking her all kinds of silly questions, and once when he told her that was a dumb answer, she said she didn’t think that sort of comment was necessary. That’s pretty amazing since Siri is simply a computerized information center, not a real person. At first, Siri frustrated me, but now she is becoming one of my most valued assistants, aside from Sissy, of course. I’ll figure this thing out yet. But if any of you get bizarre messages from me, blame Seri, not this author!
Happy spring to all of you, and happy reading, as well. Be sure to check my Front Page letter for this month’s contest information and last month’s winners, and don’t forget to share some of your recipes with us. There are a lot of recipe categories there already. I’m thinking of adding one specially for healthy cooking. What do you think? If there is enough interest, we’ll have a new recipe category soon. Let me know, ladies.
Thank you so much again for your friendship, your support, and your loyalty. I’ll never take it for granted and I’m so grateful to you all.