Waiting at home…

•September 7, 2018 • 2 Comments

Ode to Santa’s Christmas Tree

•December 24, 2017 • 9 Comments

In 1999 I wrote this story as a Christmas gift to my late Father-in-law.  On Christmas night, two years ago, I lost this beloved man to a battle with cancer.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of his death and the day that we in America, recognize the day of Christ’s birth.  It is my hope that each and every one of you will reflect upon the Promise of all that He has brought us.  We are all blest beyond measure, we may not feel that we are, but each of us will come to realize a moment in our life when that ultimate truth reveals itself.  Have a very wonderful Christmas Eve, and a beautiful Christmas Day.  Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward All.

It began the Friday

after Thanksgiving and would continue throughout much of my young life.  Little would I know that it would become a gift, one to be treasured and reflected upon as my youth would generate into my older years.  To this very day this treasure sits patiently, tied with memories far more grand than words can merely tell.  Today I would like to share my gift in hopes that I can hand you a part of me that I deem so special.  Special, because of who gave it to me, and special because you remind me so dearly of the goodness of this man.

My Grandfather was

a simple man.  He collected pennies in a coffee can above his desk.  He worked a gentleman’s hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.  An auto mechanic, skilled in his trade simply by a love for cars and all that entailed this “wondrous” invention.  I never saw him study his trade, I merely saw him tinkering with hands and fingernails embedded with diesel, or car engine oils.  I’d many times witness a grown man’s sense of “wonder” as he pondered over some piece of an engines inner workings.

Yet this gentleman

captured more from his modest life than simply a love of car engines.  He held the respect of many of his peers, yet it would be years later before I would truly understand the depth and the reasons he was so valued.  Earlier this Holiday Season (which always begins for our family with the beginning of Thanksgiving), I found myself soul-searching as I reminisced over those who are no longer here on Earth to share these moments with me, and likewise have not (in my mind), yet been introduced to my beloved family.  Those of you that are a part of who I am on this place called, Earth.  Anyway, onward to my, “Ode,” may I capture a spirit and relate it to you in honor of my, “Santa”.

“Yes, it’s Thursday,

and Grandma has once again managed to cook the goose and prepare the plum pudding.  There’s bread dressing and mashed potatoes, gravy and freshly made cranberry sauce.  Pumpkin pie, mincemeat too (the real thing, made with venison stewed with raisins and brandy), relish trays and glasses of wine at each setting.  Including the children.  It was a tradition, and whether my folks preferred it or not, one will never know.  My Grandmother was not heavy into spirits, but the holidays meant a time to revive some of her time-tested traditions.  Her Mother and Father were native to France; the northern region.  Wine was a sacrament to the dinner tale at such festive times.  Today would be no different.”


It was time for

Grandpa to eat heartily, not because food was ever lacking from the table.  It was a time to stock himself with the nourishment that would sustain him over the next few days.  They would be busy days, hard days, long days and could possibly be quite cold and perhaps a bit concerning.  For every year, the Friday after Thanksgiving met that he and several of his cronies would venture up into the Colorado mountains for their annual trek.  Their mission?  Christmas trees!  They would spend the Friday through Sunday, not only cutting trees, but hauling them from the mountains and loading them onto trucks for a trip homeward.

Once home, the trees

would be “sized’ and placed into height arrangements out behind Grandpa’s garage.  After they were sorted, they were moved inside of the garage and placed according to height.  Then the pricing began.  (the most special of trees, those with height and favored beauty, considered to be the finest, were placed to the side.  (One tree belonged to my Grandmother, the others were gifts to local churches.)

Appropriately, the wood

burning stove in Grandpa’s garage would become less stocked over the next few weeks.  Heat would bring the sap to the forefront of the pine, moisture content would be compensated.  If the trees were to hold well for buyers, then it was the duty to keep them at their freshest.  Daily, folks came to buy their trees.  Some would travel the fifty or so miles south out of Wyoming.  Others would travel from Boulder and Denver.  Was it the beauty they came to expect, or perhaps the visit to see my Grandfather?  In my youth I simply thought there was no other Christmas tree salesman.  If there was, did I notice him? or them?  No, I never did.

Sales would be brisk

throughout the weeks before Christmas.  I have no idea how the monies were split, but common sense would tell me that it was divided equally amongst those faithful cronies that made those yearly treks into the snow-covered wilds of Northern Colorado .  Yet there is still the ambiance of something that occurred every Christmas Eve.  This is where my Santa, arrives before Midnight and delivers something far more grand than brightly wrapped gifts bearing expensive trinkets of joy.

Every Christmas Eve

at 8 p.m., an unusual “hustle and bustle” of traffic filled the garage.  Northern Colorado had, and perhaps still does, a large number of migrant farm workers.  In a region known for feed corn and wheat, their work hands are in great demand.  Their monetary means were/are meager.  Their Spirit of Christmas though, is as grand as yours and mine.  These folks knew simply by word of mouth (I know it had to be this, no advertisements announced this event, and none of our family knew their native tongue), that Christmas trees were available to them.  These trees had no pricing, no expectations, no reciprocal requirement attached to them.  They were a gift, a treat, a “Thank you,” if you will.  I wonder if they knew my Grandfather was, Santa?  Would it take them the many years it took me to realize it?  I don’t think it really matters.  I believe Santa knew just exactly what he was doing.

Dad, I made this Christmas tree for you in honor of my Grandfather.  I believe you deserve this.  I didn’t head up a mountain, trampling through snow to find it.  I learned from a 13-year-old Girl Scout* how to make it, but I learned from my Grandfather the value of what it symbolizes.  He’s not here for me to thank, but you are, and there is treasure you behold for me that is simply as grand.  I know and trust your word.  I understand that a handshake coming from you is worth more than a written contract, and more importantly, I value the expectations you hold for your children.  

*A tree crafted of ribbon pieces tied to a dowel.

Margie (Warden) L.



A Journey Unfolds…

•August 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Wild Mustang Grapes


Begin the Process to Yeast Conversion



Do Not Wash Your Grapes…


Wild yeasts exist on the surface of grapes.  When preparing a grape starter, use organic grapes.  Also, when creating your starter (this is sometimes referred to as, Mother), organic flour is preferred.

I gathered a small batch of grapes while walking thru our local park one morning.  Once home, I went to work Googling how to begin a starter using grapes.

The grapes were squeezed and placed into a clean mason jar, covered, and allowed to sit for four days.  Removing the lid, it was obvious that things had become lively.  Note photo #4 in the first row.  Fungi and mold had begun their work on the grapes.  It was now time to skim the surface and discard the mass (relatively easy, it peeled away from the juices, seeds and remainder of the skins, and was discarded into the compost pail).  Next, I poured the mixture into a small strainer and separated the skins and seeds from the juice (once again dumping the discards).  I measured out my juice, a mere three tablespoons, added three tablespoons of water to it, and enough flour to make a heavy paste-like consistency starter.  Mixed thoroughly, and covered with a tight wrapping of plastic wrap, this sat, untouched for approximately three days.  (Time variance depends upon temperature, wild yeast activity and a little bit of luck.)  Some people report that they see activity, bubbling of yeast, at one day.  I saw very little and opted to push my parameters.

On the third day I noted a very active culture.  I removed half of it (tossed the remnants into the compost pail), and replenished the starter with more water and flour.  I continued to dump and retain for a period of about three weeks.  NOTE:  It is not necessary to discard the take-away, it can be used in your waffle, pancake or any other pastry items.  Simply convert by using Baker’s Math (Google, it’s out there, and it’s REAL!).

Into my fourth week, I began discarding less starter and adding more water and flour.  NOTE:  Flour weighs approximately one half the amount of water.  Keep this in mind.  You will want to ALWAYS add twice the amount of flour to the water ratio.) The speed and consistency of the build were determined by how quickly the starter began to bubble, drop and rise.  (Don’t be fooled, this is not a difficult process to learn and is easily explained in detail by many resources.  I will also be happy to explain further, just zip me a note in your reply.) Also, at the fourth week, I began adding more flour than water, opting for a thicker, and heavier build.  This allows for a stronger sourdough flavor.

Is it baking day yet?  Nope!  ( I’ve been baking sourdough bread from a seed starter for several years and have grown accustomed, as you will, to “flying by the seat of my pants,” or as others might say, “winging it!”)  It was time to appropriate for a recipe that could convert for those trying this for the very first time.  I went back to my all time favorite bread baker, Peter Reinhart, and referenced his book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. 

I chose to retard my dough, twice, overnight, this allowed for a continued enhancement of dough flavor, and some time for me to plan my days around when I wanted to bake.  A firm starter was compiled using a measured portion of my starter, a percentage of flour along with a designated amount of water.  These were mixed together, lightly sprayed with oil, covered in plastic wrap and allowed to ferment for about five hours before being refrigerated.



Almost, but not quite ready to bake!  The firm starter is removed from the refrigerator and allowed to come to room temperature (approximately one hour, maybe longer, depending upon kitchen temperatures).  Now cut the firm starter into ten small pieces.  The remaining ingredients: flour, salt, and additional water are then measured, combined, along with the addition of the pieces of the firm starter until all are thoroughly mixed.  Move the dough onto a lightly floured counter top and knead by hand for twelve to fifteen minutes.  It should pass the windowpane test (The Kitchn has an excellent tutorial here.)

Lightly oil a large bowl, placing your dough and covering it with plastic wrap.  Allow it to ferment at room temperature for three to four hours or until it has nearly doubled in size.

Gently remove the dough and divide it into two equal portions.  Mine came to 22 ounces each (I cheated, using a baker’s scale, but one is not necessary…just eyeball it the best you can).  Shape it into boules, batards or baguettes; I chose boules, they simply are the easiest shaping method for me.  Now mist the shaped pre-baked dough with oil, or gently rub with an oil of choice.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap, being careful to leave enough room for expansion, but not open to air.  Place the covered items into the refrigerator.

HINT:  I opted to use a large cookie sheet, first placing a piece of oiled parchment down, setting my boules atop, sprayed, with room apart, onto the sheet,  I then topped them with a sprayed sheet of parchment before covering them lightly with plastic wrap before they went into the refrigerator.  


The Journey’s End


Wake up!  We’ve arrived and we are ready to bake, ALMOST!  Remove the dough from the refrigerator (Do not remove the plastic wrap just yet), and allow the shaped dough to sit for approximately four hours before you bake.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  (The preferred method of baking is to add steam to the oven right as the loaves are placed.  To do so, take an old roasting pan, set it one shelf down from your baking shelf.  Have it in the oven as you are preheating.  Once the bread is placed, pour a cup of hot water into the pan.)  BE CAREFUL, STEAM IS NOT ONLY DANGEROUS TO YOU, BUT WATER SPILT UPON OVEN GLASS WILL CAUSE THE GLASS TO SHATTER,  LAY A HEAVY BATH TOWEL OVER THE FACE OF THE GLASS BEFORE POURING.  THIS PROTECTION WITH SAVE YOU HEARTACHE AND MONEY.  Trust me, I know from personal experience.  An alternate method of steaming is to use a spray bottle.  Once your loaves are placed, spritz the sides and back of the oven with water.  FIVE MINUTES into baking, lower your oven temperature to 450 degrees.  At ten minutes, rotate your loaves 180 degrees.  Close oven and continue to bake for ten to fifteen minutes.  The internal loaf temperature should register between 185 degrees to 195 degrees, Fahrenheit.



Allow bread to cool for 30 to 40 minutes before slicing.  Also, do not store baked bread in plastic wrap, but rather, place it cut side, down, and cover with a towel.  Sourdough bread is treated differently than sandwich breads.  Enjoy!

“All that glitters

•December 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

need not be gold”


Officers DOWN!

•July 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Another shooting, another ambush, more funerals to come.


Don’t stand and dare say to me, “Black lives matter,” and tell me that this is the motto we should accept. My son-in-law, nephew, best-friends son, are all law officers.



Heartbreak never wins the day…

•June 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Hope, love, prayers,  and the thought that we never walk alone in our hour of need is the promise that helps us endure.

Stand with me in sharing a random act (or acts), of kindness in honor of those who have been affected by the multiple tragedies in Orlando, Florida.  It matters not how you reflect your selflessness, with whom, or even, what.  It may even be a gift of gratitude to yourself, that pat-on-the-back.  In the next 24 hours, let your light shine.  Let us give Orlando our best.


We Talk About Everything that Affects the Mentally Ill but Eugenics, Why?

•March 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Please note the original blog title.  I found this via Robert Goldstein’s blog.  Original submission comes from,  Truth-out

Some things in life we chose to ignore, others, if we are truly filled with humanity, we must not.

Art by Rob Goldstein

Vanished                                      Vanished

From Truthout:

“In many communities, jails have become the only option for police confronted with a person in mental health crisis in public…

The reason behind this is obvious: the virtual shutdown of the nation’s public mental health care system for which Dorothea Dix fought. From 1970 to 2002, the per capita number of public mental health hospital beds plummeted from 207 per 100,000 to 20 per 100,000…

The plan was to dismantle large, often punitive mental institutions and replace them with community-based facilities that would have a more patient-centered ethos. Unfortunately, these closures took place at a moment when neo-liberalism was on the rise. In the name of fiscal responsibility, most states simply did not replace mental health institutions. In many instances, jails became the quick fix to handle poor people who had mental health crises and no access…

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