Friday, February 24, 2012

The Nature of Angels ~ On Being Aware

Euryops pectinatus 'Viridis'- a reliable wave of yellow daisy like flowers

"Angels are spirits, but it is not because they are spirits that they are angels. They become angels when they are sent. For the name angel refers to their office, not their nature. You ask the name of this nature, it is spirit; you ask its office, it is that of an Angel, which is a messenger. "~ St. Augustine

oxalis escaped into the lawn

"Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers, 'grow! grow!'
~ Talmud

Goldfinch hide by the hundreds in the pine boughs

It is the nature of angels to surround us. To protect us: even from ourselves.
Their only requirement is that we remain aware. And that when we see someone in trouble, we sprout whatever we can in the way of wings.
The fingertips ripped from pruning gloves, green waste bins full of thorned branches, a watering can full of a bouquet of rose hips- the winter rose hard pruning is mostly finished. Tomorrow, whilst the morning air is still, old leaves will be raked to expose ankles to fresh air and the branches will be inoculated. An ounce of prevention. 
This hurdle in the gardening calendar and I take notice of what I have been hurrying by- like oxalis pumping up through the lawn- where these escaped shamrocks will never bloom above the height of the mower. But the bulbs can be lifted and replanted nearby, to kiss the feet of the azaleas.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flying over Loud and Low~ Advice on Friendship

It came in loud and low over my shoulder. So low, I wondered if it would miss the ridge line- just out of sight. Shooting images for a tutorial on plant posture in the garden, I turned the camera towards the roar of a jet engine. Understand. We don't live under a flight path. The flight wasn't in the direction between logical airports.

A commercial airliner- maybe a Boeing- it had no business in the airspace. Or maybe it did and it just wasn't obvious.


 Guess what flew over the following morning while I was downloading images from the day before? The pair of helicopters collectively known as a single name: Marine One. Same flight path, same altitude as yesterday's flying interloper.  A coincidence? I don't know. But I am glad LA Traffic didn't bare the brunt of a presidential visit.  

Life has been very full since I last opened the garden gates to company. We even got a nice drenching of rain. When it was all over, it was nice to see most of the early bloom on the tabebuia still poised on branch tips.

Let me bid you adieu with a bit of wisdom by the African-American novelist and educator, Gloria Naylor

"Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day February 2012 ~ Rain~ Orchids

“Love like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots keeping itself alive.”

― Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Sunset after Rain by Gene Sasse

The cars sparkled from the car wash. The new smart irrigation controller for the sprinkler system installed. It rained, inching Southern California ever closer to a "normal" rainfall total.

Emerald green grass thanks God for the rain and me for the fertilizer. The young coyote thanks us for making so many rabbits grateful for our lawn.  We will have to be careful. Coyotes do not understand the wrath that will come if they mistake our indoor pets out on their daily runs for free-range brunch.

Rest in peace, Whitney Houston. It was a revelation to hear you live as your star began to catapult toward the heaven where you now reside. You begged forgiveness for a cold. If you hadn't mentioned it, no one would have known your vocal chords were in the slightest compromised.  Such is the life of a performer. We who admire your craft took what you gave up for granted. Forgive us our impatience with your imperfection.

The best of who you were lives on through your music and the generation of artists you inspired.  

This month, this orchid is my private performer. She has a twin in a more sheltered position whose bloom is not quite as developed.  

Largely ignored since health issues hit our family last year, the orchids have proven to be quite the troupers. Now that things are settling down, their beauty radiates against a mostly green garden.

Love trinket box by Gene Sasse
Valentine's Day is unevenly celebrated here. My husband was likely on travel through many. How we are treated in the every day more than mandatory gift giving days that are important.

The year my husband bought me a car, Chuck next door teased him on behalf of the husband's union "How are you going to top that?"  This year, we split a pastrami sandwich from The Hat World Famous Pastrami , and I couldn't be happier than if we had flown to the best deli in New York. Presence trumps presents.

The blossoms of Magnolia Soulangiana fill the background

Seen through my living room window, a bird hesitates on the clipped branch of the tabebuia. While, most of the feeders have been allowed to lie empty for a thorough seasonal cleaning, the birds are thrilled with this avian equivalent to a people's protein bar.

Linking to May Dreams Gardens GBBD

Thank you to Good Reads for the quote about rain.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Oven as Art ~Gluten Free Italian Dinner

 "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
~ William Morris

 William Morris was a socialist, a man who renounced the Victorian Age. The irony of his beautiful work. meant to honor an eglatarian better world could only be afforded by the very wealthy.

It took 6 weeks for the extended warranty provider recommended by Maytag to decide it was time to replace rather than repair the range. Their settlement offer was for 65% of replacement value off the lowest price on Internet- that would take another 2 weeks to be shipped.  Which just might explain   why it is the contract that was to be e-mailed that day was then to be mailed within a week and then 6 weeks and is still not here.  I can deal with that next week. For now- the priority had to be replacing the old range and microwave before there was an accident.

2 weeks of every spare moment was spent studying floor models and Internet  reviews.  Then it was time to get the real price between competitors.  Delivery, set up, disposal of the old unit- and extended warranties had to be compared. The least expensive "compromise" model didn't fare so well in the all-inclusive matrix.The $500 extended warranty on one range blew one store totally out of contention.

Gerry left this decision totally in my hands.  The GE profile microwave door was well on its 4th repair- each time greater than the cost of a brand new unit. So I said bye-bye to one of the more disappointing purchases of my homemaking career.

Pricing suitable models- campfires were starting to sound real good. Not good enough that when a local vendor met all the criterion- including price- that when they said delivery would be in a month- I had to say no and keep shopping.


Meet Juan Carlos. As I understand it, he is an independent contractor for Best Buy. Not only did I get everything I wanted at a fair price, customer service heard that I was trying to coordinate the arrival and install with my husband's discharge (even when you are getting everything you want- there is still something to stress over).

Best Buy moved heaven and earth to make my install the first one of the day. Juan was professional. clean, gentle with my possessions.

Gerry was concerned when I told him I could not get the same double oven configuration in bisque. The new LG appliances are officially stainless steel- but have ample black trim, cast iron grates and a wide 5th burner to grill off of. Not only handsome- this unit gets an "A" for cooking where the other never got over a "B".

My husband's mother stayed the first few days post hospital with us. Equal parts to be with her son and to have another adult around so his wife has an extra pair of hands. My mother-in-law, being gluten intolerant-  it is fun to play with recipes for someone so unfailingly appreciative.

Tonight I made meatballs with ground turkey- pushed the usual spices down a bit- and replaced crackers with ground Corn Chex. Mixing the eggs, celery and carrots- the mixture was too slippery. So each ball was firmed by dredging each through a bit of gluten free biscuit mix before being dropped into hot oil for 3 minutes. When the entire batch had a touch of crisp to the meaty crust - the deep fried balls waited in a medium lasagna pan to finish baking under a bath of Classico Spicy Red Pepper Sauce.

The rice corkscrew pasta noodles were cooked according to directions. Once rinsed, slices of  butter melted with ricotta and mozzarella cheese. And as there are no pasta dishes that don't love olives- a drained can was stirred in with a generous pour of heavy cream.

Trevor was last heard from on stand -bye. Guess his pasta may be for breakfast. Whenever, we look forward to feeding him - love and pasta.

Exceeding Normal~ Simple Pleasures ~Super Bowl

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. "

Benjamin Franklin

 What sweeter sound is there than the cooing of dove? Look closely in the branches and see what lovely shape is nervously anticipating that the barrel I have aimed at him might not be a camera, but a gun? He needn't have flown off. I wanted to sing he and the family back "It's okay- I cancelled my NRA membership."  

Sometimes I wish I were more like the wind vane. Proudly it goes about its business, without fear of disappointing or disputable errors. 

I must get about during normal hours to capture the V- formations of ducks declaring it time for snowbirds to settle in our mild clime. Not to excuse, just to explain- last week we had the rare opportunity to be with people who normally exceed normal - medical professionals and their support staff. 

Many came to America for an education, then stayed for the greatness of this nation that generously welcomed them. Some have family left behind where there is great strife. Places where nature's nasty side leaves scars over decades; countries that do not hold human life with the same respect as the United States has a long tradition of. 

 As these people cared for my loved one, I promised to pray for theirs.  

The simple mural with a ship and pipe painted like a light house was a primitive salute to the healing powers of an ocean view room. Kenny, our youngest son who lives in Huntington Harbor, had to hold back a bit of a giggle at how the child-like scenic charmed his parents.
pebbles mimic water smoothed rocks

Pebbles on an outcropping roof made me laugh for all the times my knees have suggested trading in my hillside haven for a raked pebble patio.

What beach scene is complete without palm trees?

Never underestimate the power of simple symbolism  in promoting healing.

Now, a  hospital room is not the "normal" place to hold a Super Bowl Party- but when the host can't be in front of his own big screen- his wife goes wherever he is. With pleasure.

"Normal" years, my husband's request for game time food can be summed up by the end result - heart burn.  This year offered the chance for his wife to discover the simple joy of sneaking a single bottle of Cook's Brut Champagne- like is nested in a 4 bottle picnic pack to serve over ice in the ubiquitous Styrofoam cup. 

The crispy bubbly turned out to be perfect to sip with the childhood delight of cheese squeezed onto buttery crackers . I know, there goes any reputation for being a bit of a snob on food and drink. Maybe this isn't as fine a combination as Miranda Lambert holding hands with her husband Blake Shelton while serenading a nation with America the Beautiful or as sublime as Kelly Clarkson's Star Spangled Banner- but it was darn good in the tradition of simple pleasures. 

Gerry is home now. Just a few short weeks and we are wiser and healthier and full of more faith than before how miraculous life hit home with the precision and impact of a guided missile.

 For every challenge- what we have to be grateful is 10 -fold.  As much as I look forward to what his returning to work means as a sign of life having returned to normal, I am already missing his daily around the clock companionship.

Our oldest son is flying in from fly-over country tomorrow. I have reams to write. But my fingers may not be typing. Trevor is a man- the practiced normalcy of writing is far exceeded with wanting his words to fill every cranny of my consciousness.

Time is never squandered when it is used to bond with loved ones.