Friday, September 26, 2008

Brothers & Birds & Fleas & Cedar Shavings...oh, and Coffee!

Isn't this a cool photo? This is a Sharp-shinned hawk and the hand that's holding it is that of my younger brother. It was taken at a place called Bonney Ridge up near Mt. Hood here in Oregon. My brother volunteers there during the migratory season when these beautiful little hawks are traveling south from Canada. I'm not sure how they go about capturing them but I do believe it's thru the Audobon Society so I'm sure however it's done is safe and ethical for the birds. The birds are tagged and their physical statistics are taken down...then the birds are released back in to the wild. At least I think this is how it goes. He told me about all this when he visited last Saturday, the day after I'd come home from the hospital, and I wasn't exactly what you'd call clear-headed and following conversations very well. Maybe it was the mentoring program he's also involved in during the summer that's thru the Audobon Society. No matter which it was, my brother has a good heart and does what he can to educate kids or to help researchers when it comes to bird and wild life. In fact, right now he's down somewhere in the Bodega Bay area of California, going out with researchers on boats to tag Great White Sharks that are right off the coast. Later in October he and his wife are flying down to Ecuador and will take a trip into the Amazon River basin to photograph bird life. Last year they were in Uganda. They went to one of the famous gorilla reserves. And another side trip was to the capitol city where they met a young girl they sponsor thru one of the charities...I want to say "Save the Children" but I'm not sure that's it. Because there's a lot of political and civil unrest in that part of Africa they weren't allowed to travel to the village where the girl and her family lives. Instead, a sponsor of the charity brought the young girl, her father, and a brother to come meet my brother and his wife. least with whichever charity it is they give money to, the money really does go towards helping children. We've all seen those commercials on TV that tear at our heart strings, showing all these needy children, and we hesitate to send money because we're never sure if it's truly used for them or for feathering some 'fat cat' character's pocket. It's nice to know at least one is true to their word.

I had a really nice 'girly' day with my adult daughter today. Since I began caring for my grandsons, starting with Dylan 2 1/2 years ago, my life has been centered around taking care of the little ones and I've sacrificed most of my face-to-face social life with friends and time spent doing fun things with my kids. Dear Hubby and I have managed to sandwich in things together on Saturdays but even we don't have much leisure time together any more thru the week. Since the nite of my surgery, I've managed to have some quality time separately with my son, my daughter-in-law, and my daughter. And it's made me realize how much I've missed it. My son stayed with me for an hour and a half after my surgery and we talked like we haven't in a long, long time. I had a chance to catch up with my daughter-in-law at breakfast the other day. And today was such a relaxed day with my daughter. We'd finally had to resort to a flea bomb in the house today and needed to be out of the house for 4 hours so my daughter and I got that set off, then took Chloe dog out to the groomer's at PetSmart to have her shaved down to her birthday suit, trying to get to the bottom of all her scratching and chewing. Since I de-flea-ed a couple weekends ago, we haven't seen many fleas at all on her or around the house but poor Chloe has still been so miserable. I'd ordered some Frontline flea killer online and that arrived today so we were able to dose her with that when she got home. While she was being groomed, my daughter and I went to Barnes & Noble at Lloyd Center mall to pick up a book she'd ordered that had come in. We went downtown to where she works so she could pick up next week's schedule. Then we went to a Subway that is a little more lounger-friendly than most are...they don't bug you if you sit there and the booths are relatively comfortable. I bought her lunch. We picked up a book at the library that had come in for me. We picked up Chloe dog. And we stopped at a feed store to buy a big bag of cedar shavings...20 pounds for $12.95. The groomers at PetSmart had told me that outdoor fleas HATE the smell of cedar and to try to help control the ones that literally attack Chloe dog when we take her out to potty we could either put the shavings in the flowerbeds at the front of the house or sprinkle them all over the grass. I opted to sprinkle them so now our front lawn looks a little strange but as I stood on the sidewalk tossing out handfuls of shavings at least 4 or 5 fleas were jumping off the grass on to me, trying to get away from the cedar! So hopefully that will work. Especially after all the work and effort we've put into de-fleaing our house and our dog!

A while back I went out to lunch with my good friend Ivona and I wrote a blog entry about it. She'd told me that one of the best meat marinades in the world is coffee and that you can take the cheapest, toughest cut of meat, marinate it in coffee in a crock pot, toss some dry onion soup on top of it, and cook it all day. It makes the meat so tender it falls apart. I thought "Yeh, right", but I went home and tried it because I've grown tired of having tough roasts no matter how long I cook them in my crock pot. People, it really works!!! Doesn't matter if the coffee is cold or put the roast in the pot, toss in a cup of coffee, let it marinate for half an hour, flip it over and marinate it on the other side for the same amount of time, add the dry soup mix, and cook it on low. I always add a couple of small cans of whole potatoes, too. And those roasts are drop-dead delicious. I experimented and tried it with pork roast. But instead of dry onion soup, I drizzle a cup of barbecue sauce over the top of it just before cooking it and Dear Hubby and my daughter say my roasts, both beef and pork, are to die for now. Imagine!! With the price of food what it is now...well, I never have been one who can stand to waste food and it just kills me to toss out most of a roast because it's tougher than shoe leather. Since preparing mine the way Ivona serves hers I have not had one tough roast. I guess the juices in the pot make excellent gravy, and dark and delicious. I can't prove any of that because I have no sense of taste but I have used the leftover juices for au jus for French Dips and it gets good reviews from Dear Hubby, too.

What a good day it's been. A gorgeous sunset out my windows here on the couch. Chloe dog curling up next to me. Life doesn't get much better than this.


Jane Doh ! said...

That coffee thing sounds so good Kris, I'm going to have to try it. Glad you got some Mother ,Daughter time....that is so precious.

Have a great weekend.

Mike S said...

Coffee does indeed work wonders on a roast. For the fleas, when I lived in Florida they were a real problem & a friend told me to feed the dogs a little garlic for repellant. Amazingly, it seems to work. Up here they're not as much of a problem due to the colder climate.
Nice to have 'face time' with the kids, no matter how old they are.

Judy said...

Glad you are enjoying your recovery!

I'm sure none of your readers are as dense as I am, but I have used coffee in gravy for years now. One time, for a large family gathering, I inadvertantly added vanilla coffee. There was maybe, oh, a quarter cup left in the pot, and forgetting that the pot was vanilla...

Just let me say, NOTHING will remove that vanilla flavor. NOTHING. I tried it all.

My children will NEVER let me forget this one.

Melissa B. said...

So did your brother get a HAWK to land on his hand? I think I'd be a tad afraid! BTW, don't forget my Silly Sunday Sweepstakes tomorrow--I've got a sweet snap for ya. Remember, it's all about Sharing the Caption Love!

Greta said...

I've tried the trick of adding a bit of instant coffee granules to gravy to give color and, really - it did the trick and no coffee flavour!