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I’d like to thank the academy…

I missed the Oscars this year. I’m not the biggest fan. I have never attended a party for the Oscars like folks do on occasion. But I do enjoy the inventive dresses and the sincerity of gratitude in speeches. I like watching folks have fun and it generally appears as though they do. That, and not watching commercials leaves me rather out of touch with any movies that have come out in the past however long and they show nice clips of each film. It’s like a fashionable comedy show full of trailers and gratitude.

But I missed it this year. Only the backstage cameras were streaming online for free. We have had cable television twice before. For three weeks back in 2006 wherein we watched one movie and cancelled the subscription, and for six months twelve years ago when it was included in our rent payment and we couldn’t afford any other form of entertainment most of the time. We had an antenna for a few years, but the roof on this house is so very high and well, #becausebabies.

I’m rambling.

I won an award. The friendly and thoughtful NovaScotiaRoots awarded me a prize. As a result, I am honored and am to answer ten questions:

1) Favorite flower
Pride of Barbados became my favorite flower in August of 2003 behind a Taco Bell in Phoenix, Arizona during a gasoline shortage. I was fortunate enough to have my camera handy and mindful enough to use it that day to capture this photo.
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I didn’t learn its name for eight years.
It’s become quite popular in the past four years and can be found in many landscapes around Central Texas these days.

2) Favorite veggie
Oh, man. Really? Ummm…that’s hard. To eat? I don’t know that I can choose. To grow? Also…eesh. I like them all! Let’s pretend I chose one and move along.

3) Favorite garden picture (insert it if you can)
This isn’t my garden, or even a garden really at all, but each May in parcels of the valley around where I spent my teenage years there are fields of red clover to take the breath away and replace it with an awe of the magic in the world.

Red Clover near my folks’ house

4) Favorite season
Summer in the Pacific Northwest. The fields are brown, the trees are green, the air is hot and dry all day and crisp and cool all night. The streams gush with melted snow and the music is always perfect for the windows down on back roads.

5) Biggest defeat in your garden
Growing non-veggies from seed. Herbs and flowers have a much steeper learning curve and I’ve yet to take the time to study. Thanks to a the lovely and talented author of Palm Rae Urban Potager I have a new toy book to play with read all about such matters.
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6) Biggest challenge in your garden
Climate. But that is probably pretty common, no matter the climate. I suppose unless it’s soil. It gets hotter than hot here, for longer than long. “Full sun” means “morning sun” here and with the heat comes the need for water through a constant drought. Hot peppers need shade cloth before July is over simply to stay alive. They won’t produce again until September usually if I can keep them alive through the summer months.

7) Your next big project
I’m six months into my first big project at the new house. Time moves differently with a little one and what I previously would’ve been able to accomplish in two weekends will take the better part of a year, I think. The project? Building the vegetable garden.

8) Your gardening partner you are most grateful for
For all of the tough questions, this one is a no-brainer. My DH is the best gardening partner I could ask for. He’s full of great ideas, solid instincts, and is no stranger to hard work. He was the main caretaker for the garden all last year spring when I was pregnant, arranged a weekend of garden building for my birthday this year, and helps me remember to keep the sprouts alive these dark winter days. Yesterday was our twelfth anniversary. He rarely gets me red roses (not to say he rarely gets me flowers, for that would be an untruth.) But sometimes, and he knows just when, they really hit the spot.
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9) Your favourite quote
As a bit of a quote-a-holic, this is also a tough question! I have a few that I keep handy to remind me of what I find important. I’ll share some of those:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
― Walt Whitman

Ok, I must stop here, because if I don’t, I’ll be posting quote after quote as though I were planting them to thin later.

10) What are you grateful for?
It’s interesting you ask this. I’ve recently taken on a personal challenge to be consciously grateful (and somehow put that gratitude forth) every day. I’m grateful for the health and happiness that there is in the world, and the patience, hope, and healing where there isn’t health or happiness. I’m grateful for blue skies when they come and rain that is deep and short. For earth to dig in and songs to sing. For my memories and my future, my family and my friends, and all of the wondrous creatures that make up this beautifully weird world we live on.

Putting up harvests, eating our colors, and late fireworks.

I’m going tomato-picking again tomorrow! Last harvest was a few days ago. Any guesses how many pounds we’re up to?

These went to DH’s mother, the freezer, a giant batch of pico, and some grilled peppers.

I learned on a Victory Garden episode a few years back about dehydrating unusual things. One of those things was zucchini. The idea being you can dehydrate zucchini, carrots, and other things in season, store them in the pantry, and then when the winter doldrums set in and you’re needing to make soup – voila! You have some summer sunshine in your soup.

I have yet to make the soup, but am starting on the dehydration experiments. My first batch was actually dried last year, and is still in tact – dry and happy.

It’s a handy way to store some of that summer squash excess a few of you in cooler climates may be in the throws of. I cut these about 1/8″ thick, laid them on a cooling rack (like for cookies) and left them in a rarely-used cupboard, forgotten. Last week, we had a few too many squash in the fridge about to turn. I took out the mandoline, set it on the “paper thin” setting, and went to town. 24 hours in our turned-off gas stove later and…

I’m not sure how these will reconstitute in a soup. They’re nearly translucent, and I’m thinking they may simply mush when they hit the soup this winter. Only time will tell.

What about what we’re eating now? We’ve been playing more with the mandoline and making fries! We’ve made beet fries from some Chioggas, which also just came in the mail in the form of seeds to sow soon! I didn’t grow any of the tubers in the pan below, but perhaps someday.

Here we have some organic sweet potatos – orange and white, and some blue potatoes as well. Can you just picture that same pan with some Chioggas in it?

And, after all the worry over how the summer would be this year after last year’s insane heat and drought, we’re having a nice (and surprising!) July. The thunderstorms that passed over our heads week after week last year without letting loose a single drop (only to unleash on the midwest and cause horrendous floods) are unzipping their buckets of water almost every other day these days.

For being drought tolerant, this spongy-leafed sprawler sure puts on a show with regular watering.

These are blooming just outside our garage door. The very same door we propped a ladder against to climb on the roof and watch the fireworks two weeks ago for Independence Day. A little delayed reflection of the explosions in the sky.