Sunday, September 28, 2008

Making Friends

I made a crop of salt dough mice this week to send off to distant places. I put them on a plastic nursery tray to dry. My golden retriever, discovered them this morning. She has a fascination for small animals. She will sit for long periods watching the my fish swim around the fish tank. (She also likes to follow the cursor as it moves around a large computer screen.)

On her way through my office this morning she bumped into the drying tray (retrievers are especially good at bumping into things). When she saw the mice, she must have realized that the mice were staring back at her. So she sat down to study them.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Big Sur

The drive up the coast from Cayucos to Big Sur was foggy in places so we couldn't see the drop from the edge of the road to the ocean... a good thing. At least we could see the yellow line between lanes.

However the sun was out at Big Sur. The recent fire had burned down to the edge of the road on both sides, but it is still a beautiful place with some huge redwoods. Many of the trails are closed while they evaluate and clean up after the fire. The rangers sent us down to Andrew Molero State Park to walk the trail to the ocean, which is still open.

The beach is full of rocks being polished by the waves. As the waves recede, the rumble of the rocks sounds like an audience applauding. We made a couple of announcements about our hopes for the upcoming Presidential election and waited for the applause, which came on cue.

After our 2-mile walk, we were hungry for lunch, so we consulted with Henry to see if he'd join us. We needed to find a restaurant that would welcome mice. As we approached the River Inn Restaurant, we noted that the sign read "Country Food." That sounded hopeful.

Turns out it they had excellent food. Dave had an Angus burger on a delicious ciabatta bun with sweet potato fries on the side. I had a carrot ginger soup that was absolutely the best balance of those flavors I've ever tasted. We were too full to try their famous apple pie (made there since the 1930s). Later we were sorry we hadn't tried it. Oh well, next time we'll eat fewer fries so we can try the pie.

After lunch we went for a walk in the redwood part of the forest. Henry came along thinking maybe he would find Rosemary. We tried not to dash his hopes but we didn't think there was much chance that she'd show up.

Okay, what do I know about the ability of Starlight mice to communicate over long distances. This was a very exciting moment for both Henry and Rosemary!

As Rosemary shared the stories of her adventures with Henry, we could see that he was meant to stay in the forest with her. So we said goodbye to them and headed back down Highway 1 with an empty glove compartment, but the sun was out and we were happy to know that we'd done our part to help re-populate the forest.

I am no stranger to the reproductive power of mice... ever since my purchase of two pregnant mice back when Michelann and Shaun were young. That experience turned into a marvelous lesson in exponential mathematics. Within months our laundry room was filled with aquariums containing baby, adolescent, and adult mice. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get the boy babies separated from the girl babies fast enough to prevent new litters of happy healthy baby mice. Eventually we found homes for all of them in the wild hills of the San Marcos Pass.

So I was not terribly surprised when I arrived back at the condo and opened the freezer the next morning to get some challah for breakfast.

Looks like we'd brought along a pregnant challah mouse without realizing it. I expect more Starlight mouse adventures lie ahead.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Waiting for Updates

A Hitchhiker

You can imagine my surprise when I opened the glove compartment of our rented car to find a Starlight mouse sitting on my map to the condo we are staying in. We were almost to the turn-off so I needed to think quickly.

I used our cherry tomato basket to keep this little guy in the glove compartment while we found our way to the condo. He doesn't look too happy about this.

However, once we got to the condo, he cheered up a bit. His name is Henry. He was particularly fond of Rosemary, the mouse who jumped from John's plane into the Big Sur Forest. He didn't want to be left behind on our visit to Big Sur so we agreed to take him with us.

The next morning when I opened the curtains, I found him resting on the balcony railing. We decided to take him with us on our visit to Cambria that day. We are staying in Cayucos, which is very close to Cambria.

In Cambria, we visited my favorite herb garden and shop called Heart's Ease.

I was barely out of the car when I spotted Henry sitting on an ornamental garden swing... just his size.

He insisted that the Welcome sign was meant for Starlight mice because otherwise why would they have a swing just his size?

I tried to explain that this was a whimsical garden ornament... but then what is more whimsical than a Starlight mouse sitting on a garden swing?

It was easier to let him stay on the swing than to try to convince him not to come into the shop.

The shop is filled with dried herbs for seasoning as well as fragrant potpourri mixes you can buy by the ounce, cosmetics, books, seeds, and lots of lovely gifts.

Behind the shop is the garden with winding paths, butterflies and flowering plants and herbs for sale. It takes at least an hour or two to visit this shop. All purchases packaged and tied with sprigs of a fresh fragrant herbs.

Luckily it was lunch time when we finished and right across the street is Robin's Restaurant. Robin's offers a changing selection of deli salads as well as healthy tasty entrees. I chose a selection of three salads: Asian calamari, eggplant, and snowpeas with asparagas. Fortunately for Henry, I couldn't eat it all myself.

After a stop at Harmony (population 18) to buy some pottery, we went back to spend the rest of our day in Cayucos.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rosemary Meets Rosebud

My friends Anne and John Wiley flew to Monterey on Labor Day weekend. They took some Rosemary Mice with them on the trip. As John flew over Hearst Castle (Citizen Kane's aka Rosebud's home), Anne gave Rosemary a chance to look at the Castle from above.

Apparently Rosemary became so excited when they were flying over Big Sur that she jumped from the plane. John says, "We were alarmed at first, but then realized she would survive the leap and do quite well among the other critters repopulating the recently-burned forest. We held the other three Nancy gave us all the tighter so they'd finish the journey with us."

Dave and I have plans to visit Big Sur this week. Wouldn't it be amazing if we saw Rosemary in the forest?

Rosemary Mouse Sighting

Guess what? I discovered a Rosemary Mouse sitting on my cutting board this week! I think they are breeding.

Actually, I've been making vegan challah for the co-op (an egg bread without eggs...), and using the scraps to make challah mice, birds, and hedgehogs. This week when Dave and I were forming the Rosemary Potato Bread and Buns, we had some leftover dough so I made Rosemary Mice!

When I made a delivery yesterday to the Breast Cancer Resource Center, they were just putting together a platter of cheese and fruit. We added a rosemary mouse. Now who could look at that and not laugh? I can visualize these mice spreading to cheese platters across town.

Since we always have a little dough left when we loaf the breads, we may find our freezer filling up with Swedish rye mice, Anita's black bread mice, Rustic white bread mice, and multigrain mice as well as Rosemary Mice.

Rosemary mice meet to discuss breeding plans.

The Story of the Rosemary Mice

The first Rosemary Mouse was discovered in my friend Kathy's kitchen in Ojai, CA. Not a good marketing story, but too funny not to share. Kathy lives on a hill in Ojai. Sometimes her cats bring in mice to play with... because after all, they are well-fed well-bred cats who don't actually EAT mice.

On a recent visit, I'd taken Kathy some of our Starlight Bakery Rosemary Focaccia. A few days later while cleaning her counter top, she noticed some mouse droppings. This led to a thorough cleaning of everything in the kitchen, including the drawers and cabinets. She applied herbal deterrents to any space that might harbor an undoubtedly pregnant mouse.

When the job was finally done, she rewarded herself with a bowl of soup and a piece of Rosemary Focaccia. Tired, but satisfied, she took her dishes to the sink to wash up. There on the cutting board were more mouse droppings... the cutting board she had used to cut her slice of Rosemary Focaccia. Then she looked a little closer and realized that the mouse droppings were actually just bits of rosemary that had fallen off the bread.

In the end she had a good laugh and a really clean kitchen.