Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Every Other Night

For some time now we've been going meatless every other night--for several reasons--health, environmental concerns, and, not least of all, economy.  Yesterday when I was grocery shopping, I was delighted to see they had Tuscan kale and pounced on it. Now I had to find what to do with it. As usual, I began by setting out likely ingredients and sautéing some onions in olive oil. I also put some water to heat for pasta (farfalle.)

I'd thought to cook together onions, mushrooms, the kale, and some garbanzos, but I began to think that the garbanzos might overpower the rest of the ingredients and so I put them away and stirred in some roasted cherry tomatoes I had in the freezer.

A bit of salt, some granulated garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Once it was cooked, a bit of the pasta water added to the skillet made the mélange a bit more like a sauce. Glopped onto the pasta and topped with parmesan, it was excellent. 

We are really enjoying these meatless meals--it doesn't feel at all like a sacrifice.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A Day

Early morning--heavy clouds--not very promising...

But there, over yon, there's some sunshine.

As the day goes on, the sun has asserted itself, the sky is Carolina blue, and the clouds are puffy white cumulus,

Late afternoon--the sun has disappeared behind the mountain at out back, throwing our place into shadow which will creep inexorably east. But, oh, those distant horizons!


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Braiding Sweetgrass


I'd been hearing about this book for some while, but you know how it is--so many books, so little time. Then a friend came to visit and put the book in my hands. 'You'll like this," he said, and oh, I do, I do!

Kimmerer is a botanist and a college professor. But braided in with these two strands is her heritage as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of humans and the rest of the natural world.

And her writing! It's lyrical as well as wise. Here she talks of the indigenous gardening style in which the Three Sisters--corn, beans, and squash--are planted together for their mutual benefit:

"At the height of the summer, when the days are long and bright, and the thunderers come to soak the ground, the lessons of reciprocity are written clearly in a Three Sisters garden. Together their stems inscribe what looks to me like a blueprint for the world, a map of balance and harmony. The corn stands eight feet tall, rippling green ribbons of leaf curl away from the stem in every direction to catch the sun. No leaf sits directly over the next, so that each can gather light without shading the others. The bean twines around the corn stalk, weaving itself between the leaves of corn, never interfering with their work. In the spaces where corn leaves are not, buds appear on the vining bean and expand into outstretched leaves and clusters of fragrant flowers. The bean leaves droop and are held close to the stem of the corn. Spread around the feet of the corn and beans is a carpet of big broad squash leaves that intercept the light that falls among the pillars of corn. Their layered spacing uses the light, a gift from the sun, efficiently, with no waste. The organic symmetry of forms belongs together; the placement of every leaf, the harmony of shapes speak their message. Respect one another, support one another, bring your gift to the world and receive the gifts of others, and there will be enough for all.

It's a lesson too many of us have forgotten. This wise and beautiful book is a much-needed reminder.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Beware Hackers

 I received an email from PayPal regarding suspicious activity with my account. Someone was requesting a considerable amount. There was a phone number to call to request a refund and, alas, I called it.

Don't do that. I ended up with someone who purported to be helping me, but the call went on and on and finally I got uneasy and ended it.

Back on the PayPal page, there was a way of dealing with this problem and, indeed, a warning about this very thing.

So, with passwords changed and bank account blocked for the time being, that's how I spent afternoon. Fingers crossed all will be well.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

                 With grateful thanks for Mother Earth's bounty.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Re-Arranging Perceptions


There was a small kerfuffle on a Facebook group I follow. Someone wondered why in the world people would use paper plates for a Thanksgiving feast and, rather promptly, other people told her--disability, rather spend time with family than washing dishes, etc. After major pushback the original poster amended her post to apologize and to say that now she understood.

It reminded me of something I wrote maybe twenty years ago...


It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I’m at the grocery store.  The weather is cold and snowy, and I’ve skipped painting class to get ready for Thursday.  My shopping cart is piled high with raw ingredients – a 20-pound turkey, celery, onions, kale, cranberries, butter, whipping cream – okay, there are two bags of cornbread stuffing and several cans of pumpkin puree and chicken broth, but in my mind, these are raw ingredients.

            In the checkout line, I study the tabloids; I have only the vaguest idea who Jen and Brad are so I turn my attention to the shopping cart ahead of me – paper plates, plastic cups, pre-made pie crusts, a can of lemon meringue filling (I mentally taste the artificial flavoring and my worst fears are confirmed as six jars of pale brown gravy slide down the belt.)  There are two large bags of frozen broccoli florets and I silently congratulate the benighted shopper for not having succumbed to the lure of the canned green bean, mushroom soup, and canned fried onion casserole.  But I am inwardly appalled at the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner with such uninspired ingredients.  Then the cashier says to the tired-looking woman, whose groceries these are, “Big family Thanksgiving?” 

                 A beautiful smile illuminates the weary shopper’s face.  “Yes, we’ll all be together,” she replies softly, as though caressing each word.

                     Her happiness is transcendent and suddenly my perceptions swing around in a dizzying 180-degree shift.  It’s not always about the food.                                                                        


Monday, November 21, 2022

Cookbooks Worth Reading

A visiting friend and I got to talking about cooking and cookbooks. I showed him my latest darling--a Gullah-Geechee cookbook that, aside from tempting recipes, offers a glimpse into that particular Low Country culture.  And then I realized how much I love cookbooks that present a culture or way of life through food.

I've read and re-read Rick Bragg's book and blogged about it HERE.

Edna Lewis's lyrical prose takes us back to the rural Black community of her childhood, with menus and dishes suited to the seasons and their celebrations.

I inherited these two from my mother--who made good use of both. Clementine in the kitchen is full of classic French recipes, suitable for the American kitchen. It's also the story of the Beck family in France, pre-WWII, their amazing cook Clementine, and her adjustment to America and its food when she accompanied the family back to New England.

Cross Creek Cookery is a glimpse at old Florida before it was ruint by The Mouse and way too many people. Hushpuppies and tangerine sherbet and all manner of good things to eat.

And one more good un HERE.


Saturday, November 19, 2022

More From Grumpy's Workshop

Suitable for hanging on a tree or can stand alone.

Tiny birdhouse ornament, figured maple and black walnut.

Black walnut box with turquoise resin inset.

Pencil holder of ash with blue resin inset.

Another black walnut box with resin inset. If any of these look like holiday gifts to you, pm me for prices. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Josie Leaves a Trail of Mess

There was no school Thursday, and I spent the day with Meema and Grumpy. By the end of the day when it was almost time to watch a video at five o'clock, Meema said I had to put my mess away first. There was a lot of it, in The Room, in the living room, and in the dining room. It was Everywhere!

In The Room, it was Dolly's birthday. (She is turning seven.) All of her friends came and brought her presents. The presents are in the green basket.

Also I bounced. I have a lot of energy in the morning and bouncing is something I love to do. Meema doesn't fuss too much as long as I don't land on her feet. She really doesn't like that.

My Castle people wanted to come into the living room for a change.

I fixed a really pretty place for them.

I did a lot of painting. Meema drew me a mermaid and a unicorn to paint. The mermaid is Ariel with red hair and nice brown skin. I really like the way I did the water.

I took a break from my painting to have lunch with Grumpy.

This is the unicorn. When she is finished, there will be blue sky all around her. I paint very carefully.

Grumpy brought up some more stuff he made in his shop.

The little gnome is my favorite. I think Grumpy will give me one for my Christmas tree.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

A Tricky Subject

A sad thing happened yesterday (when I'm writing this.) Justin came to pick up Josie and said there would be no school Thursday because of a death. The school's beloved librarian died Wednesday after a cardiac event a few days earlier. School is closed so that counselors can meet with the faculty to help them with their own grief and to suggest ways of talking to the students about this loss.

Josie will be with me tomorrow and I will certainly follow Justin and Claui's lead in talking with her--if that seems to be something she wants to do.

She hasn't experienced this sort of loss yet. Pets and farm animals have died, and she has accepted this, as far as I can tell, philosophically.

I have no doubt that many parents will be assuring their children that the librarian has gone to be with Jesus. This isn't an option for me--the best I can do about death is to say no one knows for sure what happens but that our memories of the person keep them alive in our hearts.

The gone to Heaven/a better place/be with Jesus is no doubt comforting--maybe telling a child this when one doesn't believe is no more harmful than encouraging a belief in Santa Claus. I don't know. As I said, I'll follow Justin and Claui's lead.

But, please, none of the 'God needed her' stuff. She had a child in fourth grade. Whose need was greater?