Hello and welcome. I stopped blogging after a decade and four months because I believed I’d had my say. Closing down and moving on was the thing to do. I did. I chilled, I did new things, read a small stack of new books, drew a lot, read a slew of blogs, cooked up a storm and worked on being the best me possible. Here I am again in a knitting frame of mind, hoping we can hang out, share our stories, create together and learn from each other. And while we’re at it . . . bring on the yarn if you are so inclined.
If practice makes perfect . . . How long does it take?
BTW, those little chopstick rests make great brush holders. The little spoons (?) are perfect for mixing watercolors. So does the little sauce trough. Too bad they can’t make me proficient in watercolors. Still I practice.
I have over thirty unpublished posts waiting to see the light of day, yet here I am riffing on another thought that demands release. Another drawing wants birthing and watercolors are patiently waiting for their turn. Indigenous Continent wanted equal time, so I read until I couldn’t stand it. Lights out happened a little after two this morning. Life is so good. Being free to do what you want, when you want, and how you want is beyond good.
We are downsizing so each room is pretty much a mess. Blessings spill out all over. Looking at all the things we own makes me realize how good we’ve had it. When I was a girl I dug charcoal from our wood pile. Today I have so much charcoal I will never run out. My drawing paper was brown paper bags; today I have more than I will ever use. My first watercolor was beautiful red clay soil mixed with water; an inexpensive set of Prang was as well guarded as a queen’s jewels. I coveted my uncle’s carpenter’s pencil. I could not imagine how it should be held, what the drawn lines might look like either, but the very notion of a pencil not being round blew my mind. I wanted one but was afraid of the magic it surely held. When I ate blackberries, beets, peaches, or any colorful fruit that bled, I imagined the juice brushed across white sheets of paper. Lined notebook (binder) paper annoyed me because the blue ruled lines got in the way. These days I have sheets and pads and rolls of all the papers I could not afford as a young child/consumer/artist. Coveted expensive pastels cry out to be used! I cannot use them fast enough but there is comfort in knowing every color I might need for my next portrait waits in my studio. It seems wasteful because if I died tomorrow . . .
I finally have all the books I could ever want. My parents lit a desire to read that never waned. After a Caesarean birth, I asked for magazines in lieu of flowers. Forget about not being able to read because my eyes could not focus; knowing there were books on my bedside table was proof that all was right in the world.
I believe the books we read reveal more about us than we know. When someone is being interviewed in a news story and there are books in the background, you can bet my focus isn’t on the words coming out of their mouth. And don’t let me see a title I recognize or own! Kinship! Instant kinship! I do the same with television shows and movies. yes, I know they’re props in such situations but someone chose those titles. Which says a lot about the set decorator.
The books in my photo are in accidental order. They’re stacked there to be returned to the bookcase outside my bedroom door. The raspberry beret is from Paris. My daughter found one in a cheap second hand store, and loved me enough to buy it just for me, per my request. I’ve worn it. Inside. In the back yard. I cannot lie and say I listen to Prince sing when I wear it however much I wish it were true.
Now. What you see are titles you probably do not recognize, feel an urge to read or even wonder why anyone else might want to either. I wonder what they reveal about me though, my books of revelations. Heck, looking at the photo, I wonder what I might think if the titles belonged to someone else.
Reading the African cookbook is akin to eating what looks like comfort food until you come across something that looks, smells and tastes odd–different from anything you have ever eaten before. There is comfort in learning about the foods, flavors and history of the foods my ancestors brought with them from the motherland. Food connects us to our homeland. African Americans like me and mine have no umbilical cord to the Motherland. Food and fragments of language and even myths are often all we have. Ancestry offers clues that need fleshing out. Being told that West Africa pops up in our DNA is not proof of origin. Migrations and slavery placed many of us in West Africa, but does not mean it is our home on the continent.
Serpent in the Sky is more special than I realized until recently.
This is only day three of the Blogtober challenge but forget I did do. Thinking about it all day didn’t help me remember my promise to do a daily post. Not at all. It took taking a break from watching all those British home bakers make messes for Sports Relief. The moon winked at me when I reached up to close the blinds. The pale orb reminded me of the photos from the day before, and here we are.
Two neighbors have their side and back yards lit up like they’re signaling ET–it’s just that bright. Not as bright as Old Man Moon though. He outshines them all, even when he’s half full.
It wasn’t even dark when I took the shots with my iPhone so I am pleased and proud to have captured this view. The actual sky itself took my breath for a moment too . . . Well, there went my short-lived bliss. Big Dog is warming up. I wonder what he might look like when the moon has reached his full girth and lights up the night like a flashlight? Big Dog is a stray white pit the boy next door lured into their backyard and into the house for keeps. White moonlight on white fur has to look pretty awesome, huh?
He and I had a meet and greet day before yesterday. I walked over to the crepe myrtle for a look-see. BD saw me through the fence slats, and I guess he felt he had to earn his keep, so he roused his big self and came closer to the fence to bark at me. In greeting maybe? All it took to assert dominance was a single “Sit!” And it was all over. Obedience earned him a “Good dog.” Peace was reigned.
Hello, Old Man Moon! I see you. Do you see me?
I discovered an abandoned palette from another attempt to teach myself watercolor. The colors and paints are still as fresh as they were the day I closed the lid. Sadly enough my skills are not. Hopefully, daily drills and exercises should remedy that. No matter. I still have great expectations. So. I was late inspecting the back forty this morning, but am glad of the delay, otherwise I might have missed the op to interact with this little guy. He could have died because the jar hips made it impossible for him to escape. There have been too many discovered belly up or dead because they explored places with no exit. This guy, my catch of the day, ended up as a catch and release. Such a lovely outcome.
I discovered Pepin’s book about the chicken yesterday thanks to the NYT. Jacques is still one of my favorite chefs to watch and learn from although I do not own a single copy of his cookbooks. He is out of my league palate-wise, so there’s no way I’m willing to shell out thirty dollars, plus tax and shipping, just to read chicken anecdotes. Bluff and bluster has not knocked me off this fence I’ve straddled. Cookbooks should not be so expensive. Check out Historic Heston Blumenthal if you think I’m being a Chicken Little. Who pays a hundred and a half dollars for a book that weighs as much as a small child? And the recipes aren’t for the faint of heart home cooks in Texas. The art and the details of British cookery do it for me. The book is too beautiful to ever be found in a kitchen.
Ahem. Jacques signed and reserved a copy of The Art of the Chicken just for me, yes? Surely he did! But in case he forgot, there’s no way JC should be guilted into buying it as an early Christmas gift. Why should I expect him (or someone else who might love me) to pay for a book I refuse to shell out some severe cash for myself? Believe me. “This is a first!”
In my defense, I know I will never cook or eat stewed chicken feet, necks-gizzards-livers and heart stew, or any dish that includes chicken heads . . . Wait. “Chicken heads” sound like a painting, right? Not so “chickens and snails.” My grandmother’s chickens ate snails! Wait! Is it a dish or another painting? Chicken crackling and pate don’t do it for me either. I wonder if people eat cocks combs. How might Jacques cook a comb? Sauté, deep fry or stew? Back to cock and snails! Is time to turn the page while still asking, “To buy, or not to buy? Oh, my!”
I could not pass up this little curiosity. It grows just about the spot where I discovered the little ‘un. The details! Oh, the details! The blooms usually begin as a sweet pale cream; no more lovely purples, sadly enough. Fingers crossed it’ll produce little red legumes though.
So. A flash of green, a downward glance, a gasp and I was all teeth and gums. This young anole was stuck in one of yesterday’s specimen jars.
The little guy was so calm, exhibited zero anxiety, and seemed to be as curious about me as I was about him.
I have to be in the kitchen more and for longer now that summer is over and fresh vegetables are pretty much off-menu. Well, unless one doesn’t mind imports. We are a rock’s throw away from Mexico but you couldn’t prove it by the awful avocados we get. They are the ones picked green and shipped from too far away. They do not ripen. They rot. The taste is disgustingly watery and bland. We toss more than we eat; even the seed is black and dying. I have given JC the directive “Do not buy any more.”
Store bought guacamole is disgusting. Water is added. I wasn’t born eating the dip, I don’t need it to stay alive, and there’s no guac addiction riding my back, so I’m good. Speaking of manipulation. When did you notice limes from Mexico no longer have seeds? I remember when they grew wild in Jasper. As I’ve mentioned, we used the fruit as ammunition in our after-church battles with siblings and cousins. They were grenades. What I wouldn’t give to have a lime tree now. JC had to destroy the larger lemon tree. Citrus scale dictated we murder it. I noticed white flies on some of the jasmine’s leaves next to it but they seem to be dying on their own. Drought and excess heat bring their own specific problems. There’s always something, huh?
The red peas appear to be thriving though. Two of the four plants are twining their way to greater heights. One twines horizontally after latching on to the little plane tree that grows in JC’s big blue strawberry pot. I gave the larger plant an assist with a bit of cotton string. Both produce more than one pea pod now, so here’s to recall. I remembered the cane tripods from my raised bed bean growing. Some plants love being heads above the rest and the payoff is increased productivity.
The little red pea fascinates me to no end. Obsessed am I? It was the same with pinto beans. One spring I rescued and planted a few Mama had discarded after she’d cleaned a bag earmarked for dinner. To this day I think she gave me good ones just because she loved me. They were gently watered and tended. You cannot imagine how happy I was to be graced with a mess of green beans.
Mama cooked every pod just for me. In our family you shared everything. If I had a bag with ten Sugar Babies, I had to give each sibling two. But those green pinto beans were all mine! Mama cooked them with bacon, added little red potatoes, topped the dish with a pat of butter, and I had a side fit for a queen.
In our college biology class we did an experiment with gibberellic acid and peas. The professor claimed the title of “The Dewey Comptom of the Southwest.” He assumed we knew who Dewy was, and it just so happened that I did. Can you believe I used to watch the farm report on weekends? Not because I was interested, but I watched because there was nothing else on tv. I learned a lot though.
So. We had to form teams, sow pea seeds, chart their growth with stats and sketches. Midway, we applied the Gibberellic acid, noted our observations in glowing details and submitted our findings. I earned an A for my efforts.
Fast forward to the present and here I am again. Each day I check my four pea plants, jot my observations in my journal, take photos daily, and here I am. Hopefully someone who loves peas will find the little red pea as much of a delicious novelty as I do. I want to tell you about picking peas soon.
The little red pea has quite a story. They are relatively new to our neck of the woods but the world probably knows how good they are. Africans seem to have known and eons ago. They’re good for us and good to us. Did you know the plants add nitrogen to garden soil? I sowed a questionable bag of beans mid-spring to the depleted soil in my raised bed–fingers crossed.
I don’t recall how I discovered them but Anson Mills sold me my first bag ofSea Island red peas. You have to buy four bags or they won’t give you the time of day. Other sellers are willing to sell you a bag at a time and some sites even offer recipes. Wikipedia offers interesting reading as well about the heirloom Sea Island treasure and convince you to buy the four. They’re not expensive. You might want to see what the Ark of Taste has to say also. See? You don’t have to take my word alone about why we should give peas a chance.
I don’t think I have ever shared a recipe here before but perhaps this is the time. Too many cooks offer recipes that ruin the pleasure that comes from cooking food without overdoing it flavor wise. K.I.S.S is still sound and sage advice. Natural flavor is always best. But every cook thinks their dish is the best. I’m not making that claim. My aim is to share a simple way to cook an amazing dish that even a beginner can master. If you can cook black-eyed peas, you can cook any pea–fresh or dried.
This is Blogtober and ’tis the season for cooking dried legumes. I discovered the October challenge while reading a blogger’s post this morning. Seeing as how I have never done such a challenge, I figured why not. And here we be. A post a day cannot hurt. Right? Wait. . . Aha! I found it. I discovered the challenge here at Coastal Ripples. Read on. Oh! And check out this sister when you get a minute: Words From the Diva.
Now. I’m learning that not all red peas are equal. Not all red peas are red. The “pink/beige” peas alone are not as flavorful. Even a smoked shank or thick smoked bacon/lardons cannot change that truth. The reds add a more defined flavor and color to the others, consummating the marriage.
Geechie Boy Mill sells a twenty-four ounce bag of Sea Island red peas too. Amazon sells them for thirteen dollars and ninety-five cents. Ouch. I bought two bags from Marsh Hen Mill for six dollars and forty-nine cents a piece. I’ll share my findings tomorrow.
Ever increasing food shortages dictate regrouping. More people are cooking from scratch now, which is a good thing–meaning old school cooking will save the day. I have grown okra, Brussels sprouts, collards, tomatoes, and almost every veg we love, in clay pots or a single raised bed at one time or another. All you need is good soil. I’d have grown chickens for eggs but that’s a bit extreme. A neighbor keeps chickens and we grew to hate that rooster that needed stewing just to shut it up. It was loud, intrusive, and even more annoying when it escaped.
A meal of any protein that’s delicious “gravied,” red peas, rice, and corn bread keeps a body full for longer periods. Growing up, we rarely needed in between meal snacks because we ate well. The combinations of protein, complex carbohydrates and . . . There I go. I don’t mean to “teach” but what I learned about nutrition has never changed. A balanced meal keeps a body full longer because the food is processed at a slower rate.
Here’s to seasonal cooking, shared recipes, and the wisdom of giving peas a chance.
to be continued . . .
“The less you move, the more you see,” he said.
I would date the New York Times, if I could. Well, I suppose I do already. We hang out every day for at least an hour at the start of each day and several times throughout the day. In some books that’s dating!
Nonetheless, ‘”The less you move, the more you see,” he said,’ is from a fascinating piece about leaf miners and the like aka gallers. Imagine having the gall to infiltrate and set up a home or nursery on a tree’s leaves, laying little critters that create galls. Some insects know nothing different, but yet do I wonder how such small creatures know which trees to invade. Was the tree programmed to be future home to such beings?
It seems every living thing has an enemy/predator, and are like the old boll weevil, just a lookin’ for a home. The oak in the front yard became a nursery to the wasps that make the galls that had the gall to invade it several years ago. It took a friend in England to educate me enough to stop me from having the tree chopped down, uprooted and removed.
I really do like that “the less you move, the more you see” declaration. It is simple and true. Today is a prime example in case you’re interested.
My daily clocking around the backyard is part of my routine. I am always eager to see what’s new out there, and bought cute-hardly-worn boots for the rainy season. I’m like the US Postal System that way; neither rain, sleet nor snow will keep me from being nosy. Lightning will! However, there are rare days when the examination is cursory. On average days I forget; food can burn, tea will grow cold, a meal is abandoned, and time is forgotten because there is just so much to see, note, photograph, or even harvest. There are jars of cicada shells, dead insects, lichen, seeds, bits of wood, dried flowers, shells and other remarkable bits that speak out. I look, I see, I save; I examine, draw and paint. My pea plants fascinate me no end. You’ll see.
We do see more when we stop and let our eyes do the walking. Even more shows up when I look at the images uploaded to iPhotos. There’s usually something I almost touched–something that does not encourage touching but deserves notice.
Like the little caterpillar hiding in plain sight. I discovered it just as I cropped the photo. Surprised, I grabbed my phone, rushed downstairs, and out the backdoor to capture both. I’m so used to there being just one. you’d think I know better seeing as how this is their season. And there’s no way one could have stripped so many plants overnight.
I like lentils. Have cooked them for years. My mother never cooked them. I doubt she ever ate them. She would enjoy them though if she’d had the chance. Mama liked a lot of things, ate things I would never even consider but that’s only because I learned to know better. Okay. I was born a picky eater.
Growing up I was overly fond of calf’s liver. Mama always smothered it. Oh, yum! I hated rice but every Southern cook serves smothered liver with rice. Yuck. I never ate rice until after I was married. Too many days it was eat rice or leave the dinner table hungry. You learn to change your ways. Mama’s friend who served me my first rice with cheese turned the tide for me. So, I cooked liver for my family in the early day. Smothered. Daughter loved it. Now she would sue me for child endangerment through food, if she could. She wears out the lord “offal” every chance she gets. It is only natural that she would seeing as how it rhymes with “awful.” And no, she did not have an offal/awful childhood. She learned to abuse the word in culinary school.
My siblings and I loved healthy food because it was the only food we knew. Farmers, relatives and friends kept us well-vegged when Daddy was away overseas. It was country food though. The good people who looked out for us were good to our long-widowed grandmother too. She accepted hog intestines, livers, hearts and whatever else she used to make hash, pig’s feet, hog heads (Where did you think hog head cheese came from?), and tripe. Just typing those parts filled the air around me with the sweet grassy scent associated with those innards. It happens every time I cook beef. Too often I cannot eat the beef dish I’ve labored over because of that lingering smell. Our sense of smell is often like a transporter–whisking us back in time. Weird, huh?
Tripe still freaks me out. It is hard not to gag over the memory of little-girl me trying to eat a piece of that fried chewy, stringy cow’s stomach. Children are too young to know better but what we don’t know can’t mess with our heads. Or our gag reflex. Mine developed a response to tripe after watching my aunts clean a galvanized tub full. That pale, fragrant and alien-looking organ taught me why adults made us go outside to play when dinner was being prepared. I attribute my decades of vegetarianism to some of those memories, coupled with what I learned when I had to cook and feed my own family. Single me rarely cooked extensive meals that required dressing and cleaning proteins. Wifehood and motherhood changed all that.
Cleaning a chicken still makes me gag, but at least I know it’s clean once I’m done. I have never and will never eat chicken skin though. Mama ate mine when I was young. Telling me I could not leave the table until I’d eaten it backfired. I simply sat until I fell asleep in my chair until Mama picked me up. Meatless meals have never bothered me; the old anemia that plagued me since childhood is only a memory these days. Home Economics taught me more than how to keep a clean, well-ordered home, sew, budget, and care for my family.
So on to the lovely lentils. I’ve only known the green, red and brown little peas and do not recall the first time I cooked them in soup. They were a major hit though. The recipe was my own cook-it-as-it-calls-out. It has changed since the early days but the basics remain the same. Lentils, celery, onion, carrots, garlic and bouillon. Better Than Bouillon is the best. I use lardons when there’s no leftover shank bits and stock for flavor. Flavor matters! Chopped parsley goes in at the end. Served with dollar corn cakes will get you hugs and kisses and all kinds of accolades. I never have to wash the dishes after a meal of lentil soup and corn cakes.
Lentils are so easy it’s scary. Two cups of water to one cup of cleaned and washed peas will get you across the finish line every time. Well, almost. I cooked French lentils today for the first time, and stood scratching my head at the start. The cooking directions were basically the same for browns but the thirty to forty-five minute cooking time rattled me mentally. How could such tinies require more cooking time than red peas? Well, guess what. They took longer. Okay, in truth, the package said thirty to forty-five “or until done.” Ahem.
They looked weird. Who knew French lentils were patterned? It’s a good thing I uploaded the photos to my BigMac, otherwise I might have missed how
pretty interesting they are. Details do matter. Still and all? French has never been a language I needed to learn. I am not overly fond of French culture either, but I dated a Frenchman once. Ours was an underwhelming relationship that left me wondering if it was my dancing and cooking that attracted him instead of my charming personality. His acerbic wit was a plus for sure. He said my best friend reminded him of Big Bird. He was right but that didn’t lessen my guilt every time I saw her. Yes, she was taller, she had a lovely nose, large brown eyes, and she tended to hover in a solicitous fashion. Dang.
I watched “The US and the Holocaust,” as I mentioned before. We still wonder how the French could have been such weenies. How could they have been so limpwristed? Heck. How could they have done most of the cruel things they did to other people? Especially slavery. And some of the descendants of those very enslaved people fought in a war to help save their sorry asses. Now they’re reverting to their old ways??? Their election headlines are unsettling. Water sinks to its own level, right?
So. Back on track again. I chose French lentils because daughter, the chef is all over them. She might have left a bag the last time she was home, pre-COVID. Goodness knows I never would have thought to try them had she not. They foiled my attempt to cook them according to standard methods. Thank goodness for enough sense to read twice, cook once! I had to read the package! Twice. Googling them never occurred to me until after the soup was done. It did not matter though since they are delicious. Dang! Foiled again! The little bitties retained their shape, quite unlike regular lentils. Cook longer, enjoy more? Fingers crossed. ‘Tis time to make corn cakes and a small arugula salad.
Have you ever wondered why autumn is called fall? I did. Just now. And I told myself it’s called that because leaves and flowers and fruit and even some vegetables fall to the ground in exhaustion at the same rate and time every year. Well, it’s either that or Mom Nature lets things like apples fall to the ground so humans won’t need to dig out a ladder, risking life and limb to reach the fruit. She also uses it as a signal that good things are ripe. And all we have to do it pick ’em up.
I wondered why we fall in love. It began in childhood, back when I learned grownups do not like being asked questions they have no answers for. Falling in love ranked right up there with, “Who is God?” Or “Where do babies come from.” “Why can’t I stand and pee, too!” My daddy thought he’d shut me up the day he signed on the dotted line for a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. It worked. I grew up believing everyone read their encyclopedias. My parents had fewer headaches.
The bits about fall sound made up, right? That’s probably because they are. They’re either made up, were skimmed off the top of my head, or are quite possibly recalled facts conjured from all the facts being juggled inside my mind. Only goodness knows at this point, seeing as how I raised our daughter on made-up fairy tales and stories about her, and little girls like her because they had none. Things have changed, but she listened and memorized our stories; when the time came she stepped out into the world like she had place in it. And she did. She does.
I attribute her over-the-seas trips, that began with Greece, to all those stories/fables/lies. She visited temples and places she’d read about and seen in films (Thank you Shirley Valentine!”); there was the food too. All the Greek food we ate at festivals and at home tasted even better in their homeland. Her visit to the UK and France was as natural as traveling from Houston to Dallas. All the French lessons paid off. Poor me; I’m still working on mastering English.
I had my own dreams of living at least a year in my favorite foreign countries though, back when I believed the world was welcoming. I was going to go on my own too. So. I set out to learn Italian. It should have been Spanish seeing as how Mexico is as “foreign” as it got. The expanse of our US lured me instead. We have everything in varying degrees. There are mountains to climb, the Grand Canyon begs to be explored; Alaska is still a thrill; we have caves here in Texas, and people from around the world come to me. I have neighbors who are Asian, Hispanic, African, middle Eastern, Jewish . . .
In an aside that’s worth mentioning, I watched “The US and the Holocaust.” I cried but I learned a lot. One thing that stuck in my head, aside from the horrors was from a clip of a person who was so afraid their country was being “taken” from them. The poor soul exclaimed in stunned awe, “We’re not changing them. They’re changing us.” Horror of horrors!
There are people who believe their way is the way. And we all know it. But, the only way? The world won’t work until we work as a collective. Every culture has much to offer. Try to imagine the good we could do if we worked together while respecting and loving each other. May we never stop being horrified by the evil and ignorance that exists. May we be moved to see others as the extended family that they are.
People hated Jews because of their speech, their dress, the food they ate, how they worshipped . . . Those same people forget how they appropriate from every culture they come in contact with, and are better for it. And isn’t America supposed to be this great melting pot? Melt a box of crayons and pay attention to what what happens. Moving on I am.
French was never on my short list but I was all into the UK. British English was as good as another foreign language. Learning it helped me as I backtracked my ancestor (on paper), the Scotsman’s path from his homeland to the US. Nova Scotia called to me like it knew my name. I dreamed of New Zealand before I could locate it on any of my National Geographic world maps. I collected those things like some people collected antiques. I still treasure them, and even have a star map. A sky map! My daughter had it laminated when she did time at Kinko’s. It hung on my wall for years until I rearranged my room in such a way . . . Okay. I needed the space for something else. Besides, I’d pretty much memorized it. Most especially, the Hubble photos are so much more exciting. Back to fall though.
Houston is almost always evergreen during our fall and winter months. That’s changing. You can’t tell it now but the fig leaves are yellowing. The crepe myrtles and brown, sad and totally without flowers. The lone iris curled into a fist and has brown tints and yellow leaves. The pomegranate leaves are yellowing as well, as if they are spent from producing so much fruit. No fruit but they did help clean the air.
The little mystery tree is in full bloom; her flowers are turning a sad dingy white. I said her out of bias? Or do I still rely on lessons learned that have served me well? I do know that most willows are either male or female, with rare exceptions where both male and female flowers grow on one plant. I found this online: “Weeping willows are dioecious trees; they are either male or female and both have catkins that contain the flowers.” Here’s hoping it is correct. There’s this too: “A catkin is defined as a scaly spike of flowers of one sex only. Willow plants have flowers of each sex on separate plants; there are male willow plants and female willow plants.”
Back to fall one more time. The photos are of a little branch that fell from a tree that grows in JC’s strawberry pot. It discovered it where lay on the patio like an offering. How could I leave it to be tossed and carted off in the leaf bag? It deserved being appreciated and photographed, blogged about and admired. Here’s to the beauty of fall. The fallen? The falling!
I am obsessed with these little darlings. Their progress and survival is measured and duly noted every day. I dream of sowing enough to feed us year-round but it might never happen. My raised bed’s soil is dead; it barely sustains the wild morning glories that tried to take over. JC and I both like the little peas that grow in such unusual pods so much so that I cannot help but wish I could grow my own. Dried, they cook in twenty minutes. Season with a shank and you may never want pintos again. Great peas are measured with several yardsticks: cost, flavor, ease of cooking, and overall nutrition are primary.
I forgot to measure the days it took for the first fruits to be born but one farmer says ninety. It did not take these that long. Four plants yielded a single fruit. They do all the work, up to and including deciding when to consider themselves ready for harvest; they dry on their own while still on the vine. Even if one is careful the little peas always open and drop where they hang. These are not the peas I picked and shelled in my youth.
My family thinks I’m odd because I have the nerve to wear a windbreaker, or a light jacket and a head covering when I venture outside to explore my domain. They never see what attaches to my hair, clothing, shoes etc., and considers itself invited to cross the welcome mat as a visitor, or even a lodger, once safely inside. Too often, geckos race to cross the threshold and make it indoors ahead of me, only to be discovered weeks later, desiccated and curled up along a baseboard. Deader than old dust.
Little eggs hatch, grow up and fly across the room they grew up in, namely my bedroom. Ladybugs love my room. Ladybugs bite. One bit my scalp! Do not be fooled by their cuteness. Red ants drop from the towering willow onto my scalp too. Theirs are the cruelest and most painful bites of all because they land weightless and without fanfare. They don’t bite fair.
Spiders love the kitchen window sills and door frames. Live and let live unless they outgrow their welcome, act in a threatening way, or jump. I do not like jumping spiders. We played with huge tarantulas when we lived in Oklahoma. They leaped too. Probably because we tormented them. Kids do some dumb things. But that’s another story for a later date.
Knowing inchworms are not harmful did not keep me from panicking just a little bit when I saw all that green moving on my arm this afternoon. My immediate though was, “Not another gecko!” Their little baby gecko tails look a lot like an inch worm in my peripheral vision’s imagination. This one moved really fast, and we know geckos move fast too. So fast it’s easy to harm such little things when one tries to catch and release them.
Today’s rescue was smooth and totally without stress. I simply nudged the little thing, (while it was busy measuring the length from my forearm to my jacket’s cuff), onto the bit of discarded lettuce where it seemed happily stunned for miraculous seconds. Satisfied that it was alive and happy, I gently placed it atop a shaded spot on the patio table close to a bottle-cap-sized puddle of water. Near the peas. Ouch! Inch worms don’t eat peas plants, do they?
What? It’s only me. I do feel like I am being revitalized, albeit slowly, with more than a fair share of stumbles, false starts, and outright stops. Long COVID is the worst foe I have ever battled in my life. Unable to figure it out, I imagine it being an alien life form we still know so very little about. It is a cloaked shapeshifter. Oh, never mind! I’m just sick and tired of being sick and tired. You’ve heard it all before though. So, moving on I am.
I went outside today after having been glued to my desk chair and bed for longer than I care to think on. Looking is often as good as being there. “Doc Martin, “Downton Abbey,” “Leave it to Beaver” (until I saw the cookie jar), and a title that eludes me at the moment, sustained my sanity when I wasn’t asleep. The steroids messed with my vision, making reading impossible. Staring through the panes of the kitchen door had been enough. And then I saw the little white bodies winding across the grass beneath the great willow.
Thank goodness for rubber boots! They hadn’t been worn since winter, but since I didn’t want to warp my felted clogs, you’d better believe they were called to service, quick-quick. They still feel great, too. I was able to stand on one foot again without needing a chair to pull them on while sitting. A clear sign that my balancing problem could be righting itself. Yes!
While I wish I’d used a camera, my phone usually does a good enough job. Translation: Taking a camera off the top shelf, checking batteries and settings is still just too much to deal with right now. Not much has called from my domain aka the backyard these days anyway. First there were months of drought. Lately there’s been daily rain and thunderstorms to compensate. No, I am not complaining. I am grateful for every drop. I love weather. And most of the storms are mere spits of water that don’t even register on the window panes–and are overwith in five or seven minutes.
Everything that was sere and threatening to die is evergreen. Only the crepe myrtle protests. All the water is killing them. The leaves are brown and curling. They are weighted down with buds though.
This mystery gift did not flower in the spring. It decided to wait until now just to confuse me. BTW, Man City just won in the match against Aston Villa. Who knew I’d ever watch a soccer match? It’s part of what I seem to do a lot on a Saturday afternoon this year. And last. Learning by watching I am.
Things like this happen when you let your guard down. I am grateful that they seem to prefer just the jasmine. My flowering pride is mainly jasmine though. It’s ages old, grown from a small potted plant whose perfume transforms a Texas night unlike anything else. It is invasive but we’re not complaining.
The white flowers make it easy to pretend they’re little ghosts caught playing “red light, green light go!” Nothing has the allure of jasmine, so it pains me to have to kill most of it to cure it. Not that whiteflies aren’t deadly enough assassins. Jasmine always resurrects itself soon enough, however. I hope it snows this winter. Maybe snow will kill every whitefly and their eggs!
The drought brought its own blessing. One being no mosquitoes. Then came the rains. The bloodsuckers are as stealthy as ninjas now. No offense intended for ninjas! Those in the know say they’re a new foreign variety that hitched a ride on cargo containers.
We cannot forget the ants now, can we? They were absent during the drought, having gone so deep underground one could easily imagine they’d dug all the way to China. But, alas, the ants, too, have risen from the dead. The cursed crawlers invaded the kitchen trash receptacle almost every day last week, no matter what we threw against them. Once they establish a trail, leaving markers in their wake, it takes the equivalent of TNT to get rid of them. I learned a lot from watching them over the years, and resent Hollywood trying to convince us they’re all cute and lovable. We will not be brainwashed by animated movies. Ants are nasty, vile, dangerous creatures that eat dead things. We don’t want them in our home, the scavengers!!! They’re getting larger by the year, y’all.