Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jam Today, Gone Tomorrow!

The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today. Or so would Lewis Carroll, in his book Alice in Wonderland, have us believe.
Not so on Bliss though, we are firm believers in jam today!
Black berry (bramble) jam in fact, as there are lots of ripe berries at Bliss at the moment. We have a thorn less black berry which makes for easy and damage free picking ( look Ma no scratches!). And jam making is easy, very easy when you have one of these nifty kitchen gadgets:
a bread making machine. Yep, that's right, this handy gadget is good for making bread; you just chuck in the ingredients and the machine does the rest. The only other thing you have to do, is eating the bread while you enjoy the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread in your home. But, like I said, this handy little machine also makes jam. See? Programme number 13 is for jam making.
So in went the handpicked berries, the sugar and the lemon juice, programme 13 was selected, then the start button was pushed and 125 minutes later the jam was ready. The only thing left to do was pouring the hot jam into squeaky clean glass jars.
Et voila, 3 jars of home made black berry jam today!

I love black berry jam and like having a croissant with it, it is so yummy! And I also like to put a spoonful or two in some yogurt, or on some piping hot pancakes, mmmmm delicious! And of course, having made the jam by the sweat of your brow, slaving over a hot stove (not!) makes it taste even more delicious.

And there are more ripe berries at Bliss than just the black berries; loads of elder berries, ready for picking.
But not today, they will have to wait because we're going away on holiday, to Denmark and maybe also Sweden this time. So cheerio, and I'll be back before you know it!

Sam (left) with his daughter Pippa

A heartfelt thank you to all my garden blogger friends world wide for all their kind words, e-cards and support. I miss my Sam more than I can say but all the hugs, love, understanding and sympathy you have showered on me, does help, so thank you all!

Gardening, like living, should be fun. It can't be much of the time, but we can do our best to make it so. It is that intangible something which immediately proclaims that behind the scenes there is an original whose guiding hand has created something ephemeral, yes, but with the magic of a sunset.
Christopher Lloyd

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sam, a Life

You curl the silence of your sleep,
one velvet paw curved like a shell
scooping an intrinsic substance
to cover your eyes.

I watch you in your world
and I grow wise.

You are a silver flash
that singles itself in shadows.
You carve your domain
from fence to house
then gather the rooms about you
for your own.
Each of your days is a world.

You do not look back on yesterday
nor do you anticipate tomorrow
You live the present intensified
in its own way,
and trust my every circling of your world.

Ruth Munch, A Certain Wisdom

Today would have been his 17th birthday but unfortunately Sam passed away a few weeks ago on the 8th of July. I haven't blogged about it as it has been too painful to do so. I miss my sweet and loving boy so very much.

Sam was born in our home on the 14th of August 1990 in a litter of 5 boys. I had not intended to keep a kitten myself this time but Sam proved to be irresistible. See what I mean?
Here's a pic of Sam and his 4 brothers when they were about 10 weeks old, aren't they absolutely adorable?
From left to right: Camelot's Sweet William, Perry Winkle, Sam Bucus, Dandy Lion and Holly Hock. Can you tell that the Ruskie breeder (moi) is also an avid gardener?

Sam grew up to be a very beautiful Russian Blue, both inside and out. With his eyes, that resembled those of a baby seal, he wound me around his paw. One look and I was reduced to a puddle!

Sam won a lot of prizes at show and charmed the pants of anyone who ever met him. He was a bit of a lady killer as well, both with the ladies of the human and of the feline persuasion. For a few years he was at stud and sired about 150 kittens in 3 different countries. As a stud Sam was never kept separated from our other cats but was a fully paid-up member of our cat family.

As an entire male he sprayed a lot so he wore stud pants with nappy when he was in the living room and kitchen. Outside in the garden and in his own room he could spray to his heart's content and I would do the cleaning up afterwards, a bit of a job I can tell you. Here's Sam with some of his offspring, 3 bouncing baby girls!
After Sam had done his bit for Queen and country, not to mention the Russian Blue breed, he was retired and became a full time pet.
Sam was the firm favorite of many of our visitors as he was the first one to greet our guests with lots of purrrrrrs and cuddles. With his exceptionally sweet disposition and considerable charm Sam was a great ambassador and promoter of the virtues of the Russian Blue breed.
Sam enjoyed the company of people and other kitties in equal measures. He didn't like to be alone and he never was. He always came when I called him, I taught him that at a very early age. One time at show he made a spectacular escape by jumping over the head of the steward ( a very tall guy) who was standing with Sam at the judge's table so Sam could be judged. I had never seen such a jump before or since. After Sam had made his escape he was at a loss what to do until I called his name and he came running and jumped straight into my arms purring like mad. Above a pic of Sam with his grandson Merli(j)n who's even bigger than Sam and Sam never was a small sized Ruskie. Nope, when Sam was in your arms, they were filled to overflowing with one big loving, purrrfectly sweet and cuddly boy. It was a joy to pet him as his coat was unbelievably full, soft, silky and luscious.
Sam was a bit of a globe trotter and went with us on many a holiday abroad. As long as he was with me, everything was right in his little world. Sam had a lot of cattitude and was at times a bit of a handful but also such fun to be with. Never a dull moment with Sam!
Sam was an incredibly good acrobat and he was able to do things in the climbing and jumping department that defied belief. He was very strong but very gentle with it. He always allowed me to control him and all the time I've been aware that he was the one who gracefully allowed me to do so. My boy was the full 12 pounds of twisted steel and sex-appeal, no doubt about that!
Sam enjoyed being outside the garden and was often there as he not only loved to be in the garden but also loved to do a spot of gardening himself. He used to help me with the weeding: I would pull out a weed, he would sniff it, then bite it and then would graciously allow me to discard it. It took forever to weed like that, but oh what fun it was. He was also very good in digging holes so I could put the bulbs in. When he was still an entire male he helped by distributing his own special brand of grow-more in the garden.
All his life Sam enjoyed excellent health until last year when he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. With the help of a special diet and lots of extra helpings of TLC, Sam's life was a good one until the very end when my vet put him to sleep to prevent suffering and my darling boy died in my arms very peacefully at home, surrounded by all those who loved him.

My boy has lived a happy and charmed life from start to finish, something to be eternally grateful for as so many other kitties (not to mention humans beings) live such miserable lives.
Addendum: this beautiful artwork of Sam, in all the stages of his life, was made by the very talented Helen Groeneveld in honour of all things Sam. A heartfelt thank you to Helen!


If life were together forever
And death an unreal thing,
How would we be able
To ease the suffering?

If all our thoughts were selfish,
Decisions left unmade,
Dark memories would haunt us,
The pain would never fade.

If living is a burden
And dying a release,
Then do the necessaries
And let me rest in peace.

Pat Milner

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Fascinating Read

this probably won't be. I've been tagged by Bev from Bev's Colorado Garden some time ago to reveal 7 random things about myself. I finally found the time to do so. Consider yourself warned!

Here goes:

1) I have been very fortunate to have lived in houses with gardens all my life. When the weather is good I'm usually outside in the garden. Even when I was a baby I was always outside, weather permitting. I need to be able to go outside, to commune with mother nature with my feet firmly planted on Terra Firma. Putting me in an apartment on the 3th floor (or higher) would very probably drive me crazy.
Having a cuppa tea while reading a book in the garden with a cat on my lap, that's very much me!

2) There is always room for one more plant. No matter how jam packed the garden is, I always find room for more plants to bung in.
There's always room for one more plant or kittycat!

3) As a child I was fascinated by nature, I loved being in the garden my dad had created and I loved the wild flower meadows and the forests too. As a young adult I was too busy with other things and I temporarily misplaced my love of gardens, wild flowers and trees. My cats Chuck, Wendy, Babooshka and Emma were the ones that made me aware once again of how much I loved to be in the garden, putting my hands in the sun warmed soil and smelling the wonderful scents of the garden. They lured me outside time and again, and showed me how much fun it is to be in the garden with the sun shining, the birds singing and by having a close look at all those little miracles that you can find there.
Wendy (left) and Chuck (Persians/Longhairs) in my very first garden.
Babooshka (my first Russian Blue) on the stairs with stencilled blue roses in the background.
Emma (Russian Blue) who shared my love of wild flower meadows.

4) It was through my love of cats that I became a vegetarian. They made me aware of how special each and every one of them was, and as the next logical step, how special dogs, birds, fish, bunnies and all other animals were. When I fully realised how special each and every living being was and what a precious gift life was, I decided to become a vegetarian. And after that it was only one small step to start growing my own veggies, fruit and herbs.
Delicious fresh tatties and sugar snaps straight from my potager on my plate.

5) I'm not easily frightened but there is one thing to scares me very much: depths! You know how some people claim to be afraid of heights? Well not me, because I can look up at the highest mountain on earth and not be afraid at all. The problem starts when you put me on top of that mountain and I look down: Gaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! So it's depths not heights!
Dolly Daisy about to climb to the top of the walnut tree. She's not afraid of depths or heights!

6) My love of white roses was passed on to me by my paternal grandmother. I remember very little of my grandmother as she died while I was still very young. But this has been her gift to me and I feel connected with her via the white roses.
Glorious white roses in the white garden in June.

7) From the age of 9 I loved to play with dollhouses and as my parents never gave me one, I turned cardboard boxes into dollhouses and made dollhouse furniture out of match boxes and such. Later, as an adult, I studied interior design and architecture. It's really not surprising that I love to create beautiful rooms, both indoors and out. I'm nuts about Gustavian furniture; it is just so beautiful, elegant and very no nonsense at the same time. It is also very suitable for where I live as for a big part of the year the days are short and on the gloomy side. So having light coloured furniture in the house really helps to brighten the place up.
Lovely Gustavian furniture, but not mine I'm afraid!

A million spermatozoa,
All of them alive:
Out of their cataclysm but one poor Noah
Dare hope to survive.
And among that billion minus one
Might have chanced to be
Shakespeare, another Newton, a new Donne -
But the One was Me.
Aldous Huxley, The Fifth Philosopher's Song