Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cherry Basil Soda and a Challenging Kitten

Thabo Lama (silent h folks) might like cherries just as much as I do. I can't get anything done in the kitchen with this little guy around. He is into everything and he wants to eat anything other than his own kitten food. He grabs food right out of Tina's mouth, popcorn, chips, cake . . . He clamors for anything humans eat and turns his back on his own food. One day I roasted a turkey. Thabo sat at the foot of the oven for three hours while the turkey was in the oven and then guarded the turkey cooling in a window sill like it were his job.

All of this might seem quite amusing. I will admit it is a part of his personality that makes me laugh, watching him scamper across the counter every time I open the door of the fridge getting as close to the food source as possible. However his crazy eating habits went sour about a month ago when he started eating fabric including the crotch out three pairs of unders, a few pairs of socks, one of my favorite napkins and put bilateral holes in the arms of my P.J.'s. While it solved the "clothing on the floor around here" problem it was not amusing. Additionally he lost some weight while we were in Europe. We just can't seem to keep him past the 4 pound mark.

Back to the cherries. My friend Shauna posted a recipe for Cherry-Basil Soda a few days ago. Being completely obsessed with Cherries I made it immediately. Never mind it was the crack of dawn and I just happened to have a few pounds of fresh cherries in the fridge. I could hardly wait for the syrup to steep. When I passed the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer some of it landed on the counter. The challenge was on, who was going to get more licked up me, or Thabo. Once I got the syrup into a jar, Thabo stalked the jar and made endless attempts to get it open. It was funny and sad all at the same time.

The Cherry-Basil soda, pure bliss! Nothing could top this summer mocktail. The combination of cherry and basil is simply genius. Conceptually the recipe is a base for an endless source of mocktails. You can find the recipe at Sauna's blog: .

Back to little Thabo Lama. Thank goodness he is sweet as the day is long and I simply adore him. His food issues are challenging indeed. Just when we think we have made some progress we find ourselves taking a few steps back. Many have suggested just letting him eat what he wants. At one point even our vet considered this option. Cats need an essential amino acid called Taurine which can only be consumed in appropriate amounts in cat food or a supplement. Without enough Taurine Thabo would be prone to a host of serious medical conditions. So we considered a supplement which would mean cooking for him every darn day. However when our vet went to program his nutritional needs into the program provided by the supplier of the supplement they refused him. He was too small and vulnerable to meet the criteria for getting the supplement. Many have suggested we just keep him out of the kitchen, remove the triggers so to speak. We do put him away when we eat but I can't keep him contained all day. He lives in the kitchen, with me and that is that. I am not putting him away all day so I can cook without his trouble making. I like him too much.

Cheers to a challenging cat with some Cherry-Basil Soda!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lessons from the Fight of the Turquoise Bee Apiary

Year two of beekeeping is now well underway as are the lessons. These bees have so much to offer, not just the products of the hive but in their everyday lessons.

One of the many surprises of this journey for me has been the friendship of my beekeeping partner Paula. When the idea of keeping bees got inside me I didn’t know how physically demanding the work would be. As it turns out, I could not do this without Paula, physically or emotionally. I am thankful each and every day that Paula is on this journey with me. Our partnership is perfect in every way and perhaps for me, it is the lessons of the bees that have allowed me to collaborate in this endeavor.

I am a go at it alone kind-a-gal. I like to be in complete control of my every breath, especially at work. I am not a team player. I never liked group projects at school. In the kitchen, stay clear please. I don’t want anything other than my own efforts to impact the outcome of anything. I am not particularly proud of this characteristic but it is somewhat bittersweet. I am sure it is because of this dominating quality that I am so very successful at managing my Celiac disease. What other significant medical problem can you think of that an individual can actually completely control by what they put in their mouth. I love total control, being in charge of making the plan, executing the plan and getting the results, on my own, just my terms.

Enter the honeybee, or more specifically the colony where the collective efforts of all are completely interdependent. Without the collective work of the socialized colony, nothing would get done. Their engineering miracle is achieved by the collective work of thousands of bees. Building comb, collecting pollen, nectar, tending to the queen, nursing the larva, guarding the hive, all of it completely dependent on the work of the colony. No single bee or handful of bees could make this happen. They are in a constant state of communication with each other, directing forgers to the pollen, water and nectar sources through wing motions and dancing. The hive is made up of 30,000 or more bees, living and working together. There is overwhelming evidence of organization and harmony in the hive that one can hardly look past the lesson of democracy. Collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building, the honeybee has much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision-making. I think beekeeping should be a required hobby for all of our politicians! As for myself, I am watching and learning and I think I have become a slightly better colleague, paying more attention to those around me at work and pitching in when I might otherwise be serving my own purposes. It is a small step and I have a long way to go but these bees have taught me a great deal about working together. I am not saying I am ready for a group project yet but I am less about my own agenda, which is good.