We’ve now endured several weeks of gloomy weather, wet feet, muddy dog paws, puddles in the driveway, and frizzy hair. We think–with fingers crossed that we’ve survived another summer without a hurricane although the season officially ends the end of November with the exception of the huge storm in 1901 that destroyed much of Galveston in the early days of December. Our rivers are filling, the dam reservoirs are rising, and my garden box is blooming. I now have a red geranium in the Mexican pots at the front door, a few zinnias, and a jasmine. The phlox has bloomed valiantly all summer through drought and sun but now is a mass of blossoms. It was the only one that consented to smile for its portrait–offered here. Perhaps the others will rethink their shyness.
Pawprints: Toby and Dora–the dynamic duo–or Wild Woman with her sidekick have now chewed through the yellow garden hose. I now have three pieces in the yard all about eight feet long. Fortunately they are quite easy to spot–a glow in the dark neon yellow.
January is the time to tidy up things–and today is the day for blog cleanup–and posting of things I had thought done but apparently were still in the draft stage.
Yesterday I picked okra, two small zucchinis, three limes, and surprisingly four cucumbers. I also spied a dozen or more kumquats and the pomegranate is blooming. The weather has been too hot for the tomatoes and cucumbers and zucchinis to set but we have had cooler temperatures and some rain. Okra loves hot weather and I’ve had several good pickings with enough from four plants to share, three jars of pickled baby okra, and several suppers. This year the plants have been short although I did not plant the bush variety. I’m not complaining, okra can grow up to ten feet and require a ladder to harvest. The flowers are quite lovely and similar to Hollyhocks and cotton—all in the same botanical family.
I’m not a Southern girl but I’ve learned to cook okra. One of the cooks at a small hospital showed me how. Cutting it into ½ inch slices is the first step and best done by hand. Okra pods become woody and you can’t tell just by the size of the pod—but you can when you try to slice it and your knife bounces back. After you have a sizeable quantity, you cook the okra in a pan—either the oven or in a skillet with some nice olive oil from California—until it begins to string. Then you either dump it into a pot with diced tomatoes (fresh or canned with Rotel being the local favorite) or add the tomatoes to the skillet, cook just a bit until the tomatoes are warm, and then serve. Some people like some hot peppers in this mix—but I like mine plain. The okra is still crunchy not gooey or slimy. I’ve added sliced baby zucchinis and fresh Roma tomatoes from my garden, scallions and mushrooms from the grocery store to the stir-fry skillet—it makes for a very satisfying supper.
sketchbook with okra used as stamp
All those ends of the okra had to be good for something and so I got out an ink pad and used them as stamps. The clarity was surprisingly pleasing and I think I might play with this motif a bit in the future.
De-cluttering continues with working on small projects that needed binding or labels or a sleeve. I don’t have the energy yet to launch into a new artistic endeavor but it is amazing how much energy was consumed by all those nearly done projects glaring at me from the design wall or the overflowing baskets and boxes in my sewing room. I used to begin each calendar year with a list of UFO’s along with goals for the year. That list quickly became totally overwhelming but now I can see that list shrinking with an empty box or two and a realistic assessment of what I really want to do. I’ve learned that my best time of year is the fall—that is the time of new starts and the winter is the time for reflection and rest.