The horse's pasture to the East...

Friday, February 26, 2016

TURMERIC, GOLDEN PASTE and the World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I've been doing some research on natural solutions to the process of aging as opposed to the normal "western" method of taking prescribed pharmaceuticals. Mind you, I'm not suggesting you shouldn't take prescribed medications. But I do firmly believe in the old adage that you are what you eat. That's true across the board too; for horses, dogs, cats, all animals. 

This past year I've been experimenting with turmeric, adding it to food in non traditional ways. I love lists, although I don't always follow lists the way I should, but they are a good place to start. Here's a list of the things I've added turmeric to :

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies

2. Stir Fry (We're vegetarians here so tofu or some equivalent is used in place of meat)

3. Soup ( Soup with a potato based broth, soup with a tomato based broth)

4. Brown Rice with Vegetables ( We have a Vita Clay crock pot. John invested in it last year. I highly recommend it. I make yogurt, soup, steamed rice dishes in it. Very easy to use. Easy to clean too. )

5. Salad Dressings

6. Mac and Cheese ( I always add at least as many vegetables as pasta. )

7. Frittata

8. Pie Crust ( Mine is made with real butter and whole grain flours, nice and flaky. Turmeric turned it a light golden color, really pretty! )

9. Muffins 

10. Homemade Dog Food and Homemade Dog Cookies (you have to keep both of these refrigerated)

11. Cocoa and Warm Milk (sweetened with honey)

12. Smoothies

13. Banana Bread

14. Biscuits

15. Golden Paste (for the dogs, cats, horses and us)

I'm not going to tell you that there are any sudden, miraculous changes that magically happen overnight. But I am seeing some possible effects from using turmeric every day. John's joints aren't as achy and when they are it's because he's upped the level of intensity of his daily exercise routine rather than the general swelling and pain he was experiencing.

I'm sleeping better. That statement right there will keep turmeric in our diet. Could be my imagination (ie. wishful thinking) but my hair seems to be thicker, to have more body to it. I haven't changed my supplements or shampoo and cream rinse so I will give turmeric the credit for now. With better sleep patterns comes more energy and efficient use of my time. 

But here's the most noticeable changes. Miniver is getting up by herself, has a better appetite, is going outside to play with Apple and has her smile back! Last year I bought a special sling to help get her up because her back legs were going out on her. (She is part Saint Bernard, part Great Pyrenees and part Bernese Mountain Dog. She weighs an easy 150 lbs. ) And the cysts she had developed on her back either shrank or broke open and drained! 

Apple is young, only two years old, but she has developed this wonderful, sweet breath. Even with all of the gross dog stuff that she finds outside to chew up and roll in her overall breath and body odor is really fresh smelling. A friend of mine commented on it last Autumn when she came to stay for a week. She kept telling me Apple was the best smelling dog she had ever met , a definite selling point for turmeric in my book. 

And our cats, all of whom are over eleven, are acting like kittens. I'm finding toilet paper unrolled and pulled down the hallway, small carpets rolled up and pushed in to walls from cats sliding on them and have watched all of them do "Crazy Cat" runs all over the house. Annie, my smallest and oldest, is jumping up on the table again.

I know. These behaviors are things most people don't want to deal with. But to me they are indications of cats that feel good. And what have they all been doing? They steal the dog's homemade food. Actually I've watched the dogs sit back and let the cats eat from their bowls before they eat. I've started putting small saucers of homemade food out for them now too. And, oh, the contented munching and crunchings in the mornings. 

When I use turmeric it gives off a lovely, almost perfumed, odor. The whole house smells wonderful! It's in the same spice family as ginger. Thankfully it's available in bulk from The Merc, our local coop grocery. I'm going to start buying it a pound at a time.

With all of this in mind I thought I would share some of my recipes with you. I hope you'll contact me and let me know how they worked for you. Wonder of wonders, I'll share going down the list above. Don't hold me to that pattern though. It isn't how I usually do things.


Ingredients :

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup whole oat flour
1 1/2 cups organic brown sugar
2 sticks of real butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp pink sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp real vanilla
1 tsp turmeric
                                                            2 heaping cups chocolate chips
                                                            1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries
                                                            1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans or          
                                                            or walnuts or mix of the two
What to do : Soften butter and smash and mix it with sugar and salt and vanilla, add in eggs and beat until somewhat fluffy. Mix dry ingredients together i.e.. flours, baking soda, turmeric and add them gently mixing them in to the batter. After adding dry ingredients and mixing GENTLY, add in nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips and gently mix again until combined.

Drop teaspoon full lumps on to a greased cookie sheet about an inch and a half apart. You will be able to cook 12 to 16 cookies on each sheet. Cook them for 8 to 10 minutes at 375 degrees F . I cook mine for nine minutes because my oven has a tendency to be a bit cool. Cookies will be golden brown when finished.

Gently scoop them off the cookie sheet on to a cooling wrack. Cookies will be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Don't be afraid to play with your recipe. You could also add raisons, walnuts, almonds, chopped apricots, dried blueberries. I've even grated in a carrot or some zucchini before. My kids and most of the children in the neighborhood grew up eating my cookies and came back for more too.

I'll add more recipes with each post. Enjoy the cookies! Now you'll be able to tell everyone that chocolate chip cookies are good for you!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, laughing

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

STAR TREK VOICES and JAZZ AND RIFFS ON THE WIND or How I sniffed the box...

Sometimes I freeze. It's my Right Brain Introvert side. It's just easier to stay in one place and think about the things I already know and understand than to push myself, even a little, outside my own boundaries. I just want to repeat the familiar, find comfort in the known patterns rather than the unknown. 

I hear this Star Trek voice that says, " Failure is not an option. " although failure, repeat, wash and rinse, and failure one more time is what it's all about as an artist. You've heard this so many times by now that it's become cliched, but there are great piles of junk in every artist's studio they will never let the world see because it didn't work, did not express whatever statement the artist was trying to make. Experimenting with new materials, pushing the boundaries to see what will happen and then watching it all collapse in on itself is normal. All you ever see in any exhibition is the end product beautifully displayed with perfect lighting and background music to set the stage. 

It's taken me a good long while to realize that I understand horses because they live, a majority of their lives, on the right side of their brain. I call it horse time. There is no clock, no definite schedule, no itinerary except being in the moment and surviving, existing. It's the perfect Zen "BE". That place of "BE" is where I have to find my way back to when moving outside the comfort zone and back in to the creative zone. Like a horse I have to skirt the issue, move around the box first, before I step inside. I need to sniff it, taste it, experiment with the doorways before I realize I'm not going to die because the box contains me and then, horrors of horrors, moves and shifts under my feet on it's own!

I know I'm mixing too many metaphors here but then again even my writing is an experiment. I play with the words, throw them in to the bag, toss them around, shake them out and wait to see where it takes me. The essay that almost won my ticket to my nearly ideal place was like that. I kept writing one jumbled up essay after another, editing, rereading, editing, washing and repeating before I, literally, tore them up in to pieces and started to put the best bits together to say what I really needed to say. With John and Valentina's help I put an entirely new essay together, made up from my other stories, sat here and cried because I was so afraid, and sent it off. 

Letting it go was like stepping back and allowing my toddler to stand up, fall down, bonk himself and then, knowing he might hurt himself, standing back and letting him do it again. For his confidence to grow I had to wait for the knocks and bruises to happen. I was my own toddler in this case and a whiney one at that. And I did get banged around a bit but here I am, still breathing. Course my basic nature hasn't changed that much. I'm still ready to run that quarter mile without asking questions or looking back when something spooks me. And even when I'm in familiar territory I still need to do my own approach and retreat to get myself close enough to sniff and taste the next step in to or outside of the box, depending on perspective. 

With that in mind I am going to copy my essay in to this post, to let it breath on it's own one more time. Time to move on. 

Comments From the Pasture

 They come to me , a force of their own, as they fly across the length of the pasture, long legs beating a rhythm, jazz and riffs on the wind. When they reach me, they stop in a line of color, brushing my soul with theirs, letting our hearts synchronize one to the other. They lead me through every day of my life, and they are perfect, each in their own right.

     We all get to the middle of that place in life where we ask ourselves if we're on the right road, if we’re walking the path that fills our heart. Sometimes we never complete the answer. But we ask it. It's one of those rites of passage. 

     I'm a late bloomer, probably because I've worked so hard at keeping the 'child within' side of me alive. I'm an artist. For me to be creative I need to live in a horse-time kind of world, where clocks and bills and schedules are irrelevant, at least while I'm in the studio or sitting here, writing.

     I have three (plus one) muses in the pasture. Each of them brings a gift to the stage. Apache's is healing, power, focus and great presence. When he stands next to you, you feel the Earth rotate, and time stands at attention, waiting. He grounds himself and any other who visits, with his barrel-shaped body, stout legs and great heart.
     When I am with Apache, my American Bashkir Curly, I hear bells, huge, slow moving, powerful hosanna bells that ring with a clear bass, telling me that change is natural, inevitable and easily faced as a herd. 

     Lucky, Mr. Hollywood, is my tall, leggy, sorrel Fox Trotter. He's the one who captures the hearts of all the little girls who come to visit. His conformation is nearly perfect, coat like red silk, with huge, soft brown eyes that see you quietly, honestly. Shy, and an introvert, he prefers to stand behind me, waiting to be introduced. Lucky calls to me every day when I walk out to the barn, even when grazing at the far end of the pasture. His voice is a lovely deep baritone, operatic, rich, expressive. And when we ride he carries me carefully, gently. Maybe his name should have been Sir Galahad. 

     Never least of the three, there is Stone, my sturdy little American Mustang. His color was perfect for the environment he came from, speckled in brown and dark grey on a light creamy grey coat with dark Prussian blue legs and haunches. He's my horse of a different color, with his slightly Roman nose and large soulful eyes. He has endured great loss with a stoic presence, watchful and ever vigilant. The day that he connected with me, at last releasing some of the fear and pain he carried, I cried. It was an overwhelming wave of sadness, making me catch my breath with its honesty. He needs a herd, a partner. He shows it with his willingness to move with me gracefully, in sync and elegant. He gives his heart fully without regret, inspires me with his wildness and natural integration with the world he lives in, always adjusting to his present.

     And then there is my "plus one” : Willow. She came to me an orphan, much too small to be without her mom. I took her without looking back, knowing very little about donkeys. She needed me, I stepped up. I've been there before, learning along the way to be a "parent". When she was ill, we nearly lost her. She came back because I sat on the ground, holding her and calling her back. 

     Willow brings laughter and attitude. When I am not there she is boss lady of the pasture, stomping her tiny hooves, shaking her head, pinning long ears to show her ire. She pushes her bubble of energy out in front, moving everyone who gets in her way. No predators in our pastures! She sets the rules and trains all of the dogs who've lived with us to always respect her space and her herd. And she's so small she walks under Lucky, stopping to rub her head on his belly. We call them the Alpha and the Princess.

     I keep a stack of barn books that record our days together. The games we've played, the events and accomplishments, the rides and worries are all there. Ideas for paintings, drawings, stories and essays are on those pages. They pop into my head while I am breathing in the mysterious world of horses. 

     I am obsessed. And I am entranced, captured, held by an image they give to me. They are the music in my days. I am an artist, a horsewoman, a storyteller and a prisoner of their hearts.

     We are impermanent here. Before long, we will be forced to pack up and go because we don’t own the property we live on. We need a new home, new pastures and fields on which to write our story, tales which will intertwine with the stories long embedded in your land if you decide to entrust us with its stewardship. We feel ready for a new beginning in Virginia. We will bring our energy and enthusiasm, but also our respect for the needs of the land and wildlife, mindful of Nature’s long-term health and it’s potential to bring joy and peace to many generations. We promise to be good listeners, gentle farmers and caretakers, and a resource for the whole community, freely passing on what we were taught by our elders, our horses and the land itself.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Well, bummer, I didn't win my ranch. I was in the top ten entries out of 3700 people but they canceled the contest. Not enough entrants (they needed 5000) to make it worth their while. That close! I was that close. 

Sometimes it's like that. Whatever I'm working on is a near miss, close to the top but not quite there, almost in the pocket and it bounces off the rim. Just about finished and I loose the original draft or five pages from the middle. 

I can't decide whether to feel like this (Put your finger on your lips and make a buh...buh...buh sound!) feel like I've bitten in to more than I thought I could handle.
I admit I had a mini melt down about it. DANG! I really thought I had it in the bag this time. I was going to save the day, walk in to a turn key ranch with a rental house for extra income, barn, arena, studio/shop with running water, electricity and even a bathroom. I came that close to heaven. And the last shot from center court with the buzzer going off bounced off the rim ... again. 

I think I've got those February Blues, the middle of Winter Blahs, the Phooey Balooey Crud, the Grey Sky Doldrums. 

Kind of hard to keep my perspective when I get such a huge near miss. Sometimes I just want the "giant Mommy" to bring me cookies and milk and say, " There, there. It's going to be OK. You can try again. You really were that close. Not your fault the contest was canceled. Now eat your cookies, brush your hands off and get busy. Time is a wasting. " 

Maybe all I need is a change of perspective, or maybe a friend to stop by and listen while I talk it out. 

Or maybe just someone to chew on for a while. Oh well. No worries.

Life is ...