Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Garlic harvest & garden therapy

On the left, your basic soft-neck garlic. On the right, the hard-neck types. In the center, person who seeks solace in the garden.
Banks continue to fail, including Home Valley Bank in Grants Pass last week. Home Valley Bank! Our rental-from-hell continues to suck big wads of money from our retirement. I don't understand the "economy" and usually think our family is "safe," but the sucking sounds are getting louder and closer. What to do? Get to the garden. Harvest the garlic.
PK hung some on the pegboard near the solarium to dry.

The rest is curing in the garage.

We had a great crop this year, planted in October 2009 and harvested just a few days ago. Most years we pull the garlic in June, but this year we were still having winter in June, so the garlic got a reprieve. This is our largest crop ever.  I wonder if garlic could repel the bad economic forces down at the local bank the way it scares vampires away? It's something to think about out there amidst the finches and swallows and bluebirds and butterflies and bees and flowers and earthy aromas and ripening tomatoes and eggplants and beans. I'm going out there right now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tourist territory 3 - Southern Oregon coast, and getting there

My niece Lisa feeling the power of a Pacific Ocean sunset on her first visit to the Oregon coast.
 My sister, niece, mother and I spent two days and one night traveling to the ocean from Grants Pass and back in early May. This post is by no means an exhaustive list of what to do and see. But it's what we did and what we saw and it was good. Very good.

First, traveling from Grants Pass, let's stop at It's A Burl in Kerbyville, which for the first three decades of trips en route from the Rogue Valley to the Oregon coast, I dismissed as "too tacky."
The owners live in this house, which is behind the store fronting the Redwood Hwy.
 When entertaining visitors a few years ago, however, we stopped and marveled for more than an hour. It's a Burl is worth your time no matter who you are.
Visitors can also see the "factory" and the burl storage area, and tour several fantastical tree houses and so on. It's free. Stop there. I'm not kidding. It's worth an hour, at least. Moving on, we reach the redwoods...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Today's take

You're not looking at radishes amidst all that green, but beets. Big fist-sized beets. The traditional magenta-colored ones are on the right and the scarlet harlots on the left. Having eaten both varieties two days running, I vote for the traditional. They're still saturated with color after cooking and oh-so-dripping-with beety sweetness—earthy. dense. stick-to-your-teeth beet-sugar flavor. The bright red beets turn pale and yellowish with cooking, although still delicious. But I'll go for the color and all those antioxidants purportedly stashed in deeply colored veggies and fruits.

In the basket, what's left of the spring broccoli and peas. In the background, a big wad of chard, with much more to come and a lot already in the freezer. Tonight we devoured all that chard for dinner. We had a little help from son, Chris, who showed up unexpectedly, as is his wont.

Chard recipe alert!
First, chop some of the colorful stalks. Saute in butter. Five minutes later, add the ripped-up (or chopped, if you must) leaves, then some minced garlic and sweet onion. Cook in olive oil and butter until the chard is soft but not mushy. About five minutes. Salt, pepper, and pepper flakes to taste.

And in the foreground,  sweet onions thinned from rows planted too closely.  Not far from this lawn scene, grow baby zukes, ripe cherry tomatoes, tiny cucumbers, bean shoots wrapping around anything that gets too close—weeds, onions, your ankles, if you linger. And then summer's later glories - tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, gathering strength from the finally-here warmth. More garden photos, if you choose.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Portland Blues Fest extravaganza

Dawn Welch and her son, Josh, rockin' out to Little Feat, Portland Blues Fest, July 5, 2010.
Click on the photo to see it full-sized.
Yahoo! Four days of music, dancing, and carrying on. In the meantime. My mind wanders to home. To my mother, age 93, who, I hear, has called my sister five times in one day to inquire about my whereabouts. To our sons, one a proud new and sleep-deprived father, the other an insane kayaker who appears to be on the cusp of making a living as a professional athlete. To the new (one and only) grandchild, Mr. Noah. To the garden, the cat, and the summer that is half gone. Even deep into a separate reality, the mind wanders.
Percussion and bass are at the heart of Little Feat. Here's one of the ban's two drummers rockin' out.
But great music, as usual,  takes me away and twirls me around and around and around. I'm not at all alone. Portland is vibrating with great dancers,  and they have inundated the Blues Fest, especially the Front Porch stage, which is pretty much devoted to dance. For the first time ever, I lose confidence in my own dancing and become self conscious—a shocking development.  I learn that Portland has a rich dance culture. Not "on the stage" dancing, but people who go to clubs or to dance classes or music festivals to do their spectacular thing. They have arrived en mass and are a joy to watch. (I actually got to dance with two fancy dancers. I guess they sensed my longing.)
I regret I didn't get photos. I was too in awe. Too jealous. Too old. And not in possession of the camera or the will or the ability to capture the moment. These were magnificent young people (for the most part) full of intricate rhythm and fancy moves and throbbing with life.
I soon got over it. Great bands like Little Feat and Galatic and Curtis Salgado (wow!) restore life force, and I was soon one with the musical moment. Isn't that what live music is all about? I'm am restored now, back to the elderly mother and writing deadlines and the overripe peas and the blueberry plants stripped of fruit by a "well meaning" neighbor, and the bigamist cat that has deserted us for his other home and more accommodating mother, who lets him sleep on her pillow and lick her hair.
I'm way better off for having been immersed in rhythm and dancing and friendships for a brief but renewing getaway.
A few more photos from the weekend.