Kittens

These are the new ones—sisters Charlotte and Emily. Named, of course, for the Bronte sisters who gifted us with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Char and Em are mine to keep—a birthday gift from a son (with my guidance). They bring me joy and delight, scratches, purrs, and tiny hisses at the dog.

Charlotte and Emily

Charlotte and Emily

Char

Char

Em

Em

Pumpkins and Peppers and Dogs and Cats

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Before all the red and green of Christmas
before all the white of snow—
I want to bask in the fire of peppers
and sunset caught in pumpkins’ glow.

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Update:
Sadly, in early fall, we lost the Old Dog, Cerveza. He laid his head on a pillow, looked around one last time for his boys, and went to everlasting sleep.

Just days ago, Clive went to sleep in a laundry basket beside my bed and never awakened. I miss his orneriness and his comfort and courage.

Row By Row

A community garden highlights the divergent tastes of those who call themselves gardeners. The tomato graces most plots (but not all), but there are so many designs and plantings.

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I planted turnips, so I could have turnip greens. Unfortunately, the variety I planted has prickly, inedible leaves. So what to do with all the turnips? I learned to add one to pasta sauce for a little zip, but this was my favorite discovery:

Turnip Hash Browns

Peel equal amounts turnips and potatoes (new or fresh red potatoes do not need to be peeled)

1 ½ cups potatoes
1 ½ cups turnips
1 small onion, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Mix ingredients together
  • Drain or blot excess moisture
  • Heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil in skillet, add turnip mixture
  • Spread evenly in skillet and cover
  • Lower to medium heat and cook until browned—about 7 minutes
  • Remove lid and turn mixture
  • Do not cover–allow to brown evenly adding oil if necessary—make sure potatoes and turnips are cooked through

Serve sizzling

 

Inch By Inch

The square of dirt looked daunting in the chill of April. Would anything grow? At first, it was rather pitiful.

The Beginning (My Plot in Foreground)

The Beginning (My Plot in Foreground)

I planted potatoes, beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips from which I got a lot of turnips, six beets, and nothing else.

Planting Day

Planting Day

Other things fared better. Enough green beans to share—I roasted mine with garlic and olive oil—yum! Five heirloom tomato plants are still producing a bounty.

Things Are Growing

Things Are Growing

Lots of hot peppers—jalapeno, red and gold cayenne, green and red chili will make their way into every sort of meal over the next months. Cucumbers freshen salads, and my favorite yellow summer squash shares its buttery goodness raw and cooked. And I got one yummy watermelon!

In Spite Of Thieves

In Spite Of Thieves


Oven Roasted Green Beans
These are great roasting on a bottom oven rack when you have something else cooking

1 pound green beans (Remove stem ends and strings)
6 cloves fresh garlic—thinly sliced
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

  • Spread green beans on a large cookie sheet and sprinkle liberally with olive oil.
  • Scatter garlic slices and salt and pepper generously
  • Bake at 350-375 degrees for 30 minutes and stir, add 10 minutes cooking time if needed
  • Beans are done when the garlic is roasted, and dark spots begin to appear on beans

Make them a little crunchy for a finger food, or use less cooking time for softer beans
Lots of variation—add crumbled bacon or hot pepper flakes

A Summer Of Gardens

I love community gardens! Are they new to you? In some ways, they work like their sisters, allotments, but several gardeners share the space. For me, a small fee covers water and a season’s use of garden area.

Gardeners share expertise, seeds, tools, produces, and sometimes plant diseases.  College students and professors, men and women, young and old gather at the garden hoses. It is a diverse group of personalities brought together by the love of digging in dirt. While some garden to supplement their food pantries, others donate their bounty to retirement home kitchens or food banks for those struggling to support families.

We fight plant diseases, drought, heat, snow, floods, and thieves. Yes, thieves who browse the plots and help themselves. Such was the fate of my watermelons earlier this year. It hurt my feelings to have the openness of our plots betrayed. I made signs warning any  future thieves.

Melon Thief Compost

Melon Thief Compost

Watermelon Fire and Ice
2 cups watermelon chopped into small cubes and seeded
2 hot peppers minced (hot and green make a wonderful contrast–jalapeno, Anaheim, etc.)
½ small onion diced

Drain watermelon in colander to remove excess juices
Mix ingredients gently (somehow mushy watermelon does not work well)
Chill thoroughly and serve with corn chips

 

Nature All Around Us—The Week Of The Flood

Backstreets and Alleys is an adventure in learning to see nature  in everyday experiences. The ordinary is extraordinary. My back yard, an alley, city streets all contain the wonder of nature normally reserved for grand mountains or magnificent sunsets. We just need to learn to see.

This week, my little city, indeed the entire state, is experiencing the devastating magnitude of nature.

The smell of mud and dampness. Rotting vegetation and livestock mix with raw sewage.  Poultry, cattle, and hog feed lots wash clean as the manure joins the stream. Unflushed toilets, unwashed bodies, damp clothing.

The taste of salty tears—brackish and boiled water.

Sounds of sirens, helicopters, and heavy equipment. Emergency broadcast notifications scream across television airwaves. Doors stick and refuse to open or close without a slam or bang. And after the roar of wind and waters, the quiet. Highways closed—traffic silenced. The railway tracks are washed away, so no mournful lullaby of passing trains in the night.

Everywhere dampness–soggy newspapers, sticky surfaces.

The largest helicopter evacuation since hurricane Katrina. As of yesterday:

- 200 miles of affected area, including 17 counties
– 17,494 homes damaged, 1,502 destroyed
– 5 people confirmed dead, 1,253 reported missing
– 11,700 people evacuated
– 1,872 people staying in shelters

These images:

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