‘Tis the season of Garlic Scapes

This morning there was an event in my garden- the garlic scapes were ready for harvest.  What is a garlic scape?  It is the flowering stalk that appears about 2 weeks or so in June before the garlic is mature enough to dig.  It’s always a bit of a miracle to see it mature since I planted it way back in November.  We ran out of our garlic about two months ago so it is exciting to know that soon we will have fresh garlic to enjoy.

This is where it gets a bit complicated.  There are 2 types of garlic, hardneck and softneck.  Hardneck garlic is the only type that produces scapes. They have, as the name implies, a long hard neck or stem.  they have fewer cloves but the cloves are huge.  Softneck garlic has soft stems.  They are the type you see in braids.  Their bulbs can get huge with more cloves but they are not as big as those of the hardneck. Generally, they don’t store for as long as hardneck either.  They are impressive and make great gifts

My garlic bed- back right

I grow both kinds, Susanville, a softneck variety, and Musica, a hardneck variety.  Any type you grow at home puts the tiny store-bought garlic from China to shame in terms of flavor and size. (Why we import that inferior garlic from China is a mystery to me!)

Garlic scapes have a mild garlic flavor.  Tonight I will brush them with olive oil and place them on the grill with other vegetables to serve as a side dish.  This is my favorite way to serve them. I also sauté them and add them to everything from eggs to stirfry.  Look for them now at farmer’s markets and specialty grocery stores for a special treat.

Garlic Scapes

Amid the crossing linear foliage

I spot them

heads nodding

shyly on slim necks

stems curving

with gestures of

graceful  ballerinas

First harvest

Artful are these scapes bearing

buds like slender crane’s bills swaddling

garlic flowers

unlikely harbingers of the fiery bulbs

maturing beneath the soil

waiting for my shovel to bring them

to the light of day

to the warmth of my kitchen

to dance in the food at my table

Susanville garlic

For more about my garlic hobby see my post The Art of Growing Garlic

Flower Power

My Dublin Bay roses bloom every spring capturing my heart. This year they seem so profound that I had to write a poem about them. I dropped my shovel, and my pruners and ran inside to do just that so as not to loose my inspiration.

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The Color of My Roses

In late spring their blooms bid me

hello and farewell several times a day

my Dublin Bay roses that climb

the walkway arbor

a red, so delicious, so powerful

they command my attention

reaching deep in my passings

Crimson, carmine, call it what you will

this red

the color of passion, sin , life, of death

this red

the color of shame, of pain

 the color of the blood in my veins

this red

that captures the eye of the hummingbird

that warns the prey of the predator

this red

the color of royalty, and courage

this red

the color of love

All of this in

this red

of the roses that climb

the walkway arbor

Simple pleasures

I also blog about sustainable living at onesweetearth.art.blog

Standing at the Crossroads of Should and Must

What is the metric of decision-making in our lives?  What bearing do we follow?  How do we hear our inner guidance among the cacophony of others? How does one approach risk?  Navigating one’s life is tricky business.

Artist/author Elle Luna addresses this very topic in her recent book “The Crossroad of Should and Must, Find & Follow Your Passion.”  I was listening to her interview on the Beyond podcast and perked up my ears.  I don’t think I have ever heard anyone address this issue in such a concise way. Rather than head vs heart or gut vs brain she defines the quandry as what you SHOULD do VS what you MUST do.  This could be as huge as choosing a profession to choosing to take a break and read for 30 minutes, or should I finish this blog post or go out and work in the garden? (I chose the former.)

I purchased the book and have been very pleased with both the content and its presentation, a mixture of type, Luna’s illustrations, handwritten text, and memorable quotes in a recycled tag board binding.  It’s a quick reference to navigating the yearnings of one’s soul.

Age has made that process easier for me to distinguish between the voices of head and heart as I have the luxury of looking back over decades.  Still, it is always nice to have a guidebook when you have lost your way.  I’ve added it to my bookshelf alongside The Artist’s Way and Austin Kleon’s books.  It’s worth a read- especially if you’re a creative type.

Check it out!

At the Crossroads                                                                          

I choose

having tasted the straight, well-traveled road of should

and the starvation that came with it

the unmapped one calls to me

a winding path fraught with obstacles

marked with warnings

I have only my compass

traverse unknown terrain

and stumble often as

scars collect on my body

brought to skinned knees

by vista after vista

but I am satisfied with my choice

and despite injuries

I revel in the challenge

my curiosity sated with memories

feeling fully alive

on this road I’ve taken

and that has made all the difference

Check out my other blog, onesweetearth on sustainable living

Photos by author- most from the book At The Crossroads of Should and Must

Honoring the Earth on Earth Day 2021

I live ten minutes from Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey.  The order of monks that reside there have been so gracious to share the trails of their large natural area with the public.  It’s a treasure- one of the few places left closeby where one may take a quiet ramble in nature. I set off solo early in the morning for an Earth Day hike.  It’s pleasant with friends but by oneself you have the opportunity to notice so much more and the birds and other wildlife are much more willing to present themselves.

The main Guadalupe Loop is a steep one- about 1.5 miles up.  At the top of the mountain is a primitive shrine to Our Lady Of Guadalupe where visitors can meditate, admire the view, and leave offerings- Catholic or not.  It’s the kind of a hike where you can leave with a storm in your brain and then come down with head full of sunshine. 

It’s good to remember where we come from especially now- the earth needs our attention and love more than ever.

Here is a poem I wrote along my hike…

Continue reading “Honoring the Earth on Earth Day 2021”

Cat Gratitude

Hurtling towards the spring equinox I awoke to the sun in my eyes this morning.  It’s been months since that’s happened.  Yesterday I made an appointment for my second Covid vaccine.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Soon I will be able to resume somewhat of a normal life.  Camping and river trips are starting to appear on the calendar.

As with everyone else – it’s been a rough go through this pandemic (and everything else).  If I were going to give a speech at the “Covid Survival Awards”  at the beginning (while holding my covid 19 virus trophy) I would have to thank my two, now 7-month-old tuxedo kittens, Zoey and Zander, and their baby mama, Zinnia (“Mama Z”) for unwittingly helping time to survive this time.  Their endless antics and purrs have helped to keep laughter and smiles in my life.  I’m sure many of you out there feel the same…

Zander’s Gift

He is the fraidy one

but this morning he chose me

popping up on my quilted lap

his purr inviting me

to cradle his sweet body

love his ears

and the soft fur of his belly

with my hands

In this simple encounter with a cat

I breathe deeply

inhaling our mutual contentment

savoring that for a moment

all’s right with the world

Zoey, Mama Z, & Zander

Zoey top, Zander left

Artwork by the author

See my other blog about sustainable living at onesweetearth.art.blog

Bandit’s Last Ride

It was no surprise.  Bandit, our little red cattle dog, age 17 had been declining for months.  Like any elderly soul, we dealt with his incontinence and difficulty walking.  We put a doggy ramp on the porch stairs but on his last days put a sling under him to help him outside.

I’ve written about Bandit before in other posts- Stroller Dog and In the Company of Another Old Dog. I’ve loved all my dogs but he was exceptional in so many ways.  When his arthritis got too bad I  had altered a jogging stroller and a bike trailer so he would not miss out on our outdoor excursions.

The day before Bandit took his last breath, we carried him out to his beloved stroller.  I took him for one last ride down our favorite country road to the rushing creek swollen by the recent rains.  Even in his declining state, I could see the pure delight in his face as he took it all in.

We buried him out in a quiet corner of the yard under a big pine tree.  I fashioned a cairn in his honor to mark his grave and hung his collar on top. Bandit basically died of old age, wearing himself out by living well.  If we can only be so lucky.

We borrow the souls of our four-legged friends.  At some point, we have to let them go.  Their passing leaves holes in our hearts but in return, they give us such love and fond memories.

Goodbye Bandit

Rest In Peace

Jan. 16, 2021

Bandit’s final resting place
Continue reading “Bandit’s Last Ride”

My Words for the New Year 2021

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.  That concept sounds so burdensome.  Instead, I have a personal tradition of picking one or more words to aspire to live by for the coming year.  I revisit these words from time to time and check in on how I’m doing.  (Writing them on the bathroom mirror is a very effective strategy.)

My words for 2020 were acceptance and focus.  I almost wore out the word acceptance with the pandemic and political matters and it’s unlikely I can ever truly accept the damage of the forest fires had here in Oregon this year.  Climate change is unacceptable and is something I will always fight against.  Thus it has been a mixed bag with that word.  FOCUS has been an ongoing challenge for me but I am happy to report that I am BETTER!  Being a creative soul I am forever distracted by my thoughts and every shiny thing that comes along in my day.  Now though, I am more aware of my distractions and am honing a system to keep me on track.

This December I mulled over what my new words would be.  I wait to see what will bubble up to my subconscious and pick the ones I resonate with the most.  So drumroll..  my new words are:

Commitment–  I allowed myself this year to go “fallow” and dabble in a lot of creative pursuits.  Now I am ready to synthesize what I’ve learned into specific avenues.

Generosity– Give more of my time, talent, and money to others

Focus – This word remains on the list as I need more work with it.

Let the year unfold!  What are your words for 2020?

and my poem for you this New Year

A Toast for 2021

It’s the season of new

the Earth has spun through the heavens

and arrived at the place we call the beginning

a bookmark we humans have put in the order of things

the New Year, the first day of the first month of the 21st year of the 21st century

All is new, yet all the same

a cycle in a continuum of millennia

yet a comfort that we have a fresh start in our minds

Shall we proceed then with our new slippers

virgin calendars full of exotic pictures

day planners devoid of marks

and forge on with gusto?

for we have been given another turn

a blank canvas to paint another 12 months upon

Let us mix up our palettes with new intentions

hope, faith and the unseen circumstances that will surely find us

stroke, splash, and drip with abandon

make your marks with love, touching others with color

bringing forth new memories

painting this Earth a brighter place

Check out my other blog onesweetearth.art.blog on sustainable living.

The Darkest Night is Just Before the Dawn

We have arrived at the Winter Solstice, the tipping point where we in the N. Hemisphere mark the point where the earth will begin to rotate back to the sun’s full exposure. The Winter Solstice marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year.  While our modern calendar denotes it as the first day of winter, I and others from the time of the ancients mark it as the return of the light each day forward, bit by bit.  It is a time of hope and new beginnings – like a solar New Year. 

In a couple of hours, a few friends will gather at my home, take a walk, circle around a bonfire, sharing readings and thoughts.  We will also toss into the fire the things we are hoping to leave behind.  There are plenty for this year 2020 that I don’t even need to mention.  As we turn the corner in the heavens, let us heal from these disasters and let the fires of hope burn bright.

Happy Solstice!

Winter Solstice at Midnight

It is fairy dark

You can see their

Tiny torches in

The moonless night

Seeds stir

In their slumber

The earth turns on its axis

toward the light

The blaze of the fire

lights the shadows

hope burning bright

in our hearts

Sky Dance

Some of you may have witnessed this event called a “murmuration” of starlings- thousands of starlings swirling through the sky in a grand, seemingly coordinated performance. If you haven’t, do watch the video included with this post. I have noticed them more this year than in years past.

With technical photography, scientists are understanding more about the phenomenon. I think its one of natures “trade secrets.”

Murmurations

I am not fond of starlings

But in late autumn

Sometimes they crowd in the treetops

In a chirping chorus

Like a reunion of relatives

With an abundance of news to share

Who knows what stirs these rather uninspiring birds

To gather in in such a cacophony

Then on queue as if the din is too much

They rise from their perches to find positions

In an undulating dance that wafts over harvested fields.

They dip, swirl and twirl as one body

Thousands of avian forms performing with

Ballet grace in the sky

I pause from my walk to watch with reverence

A celebration?

A spiritual rite?

Scientists still don’t know quite how or why

A mystery

But I know magic when I see it

Alanna also blogs about sustainable living at onesweetearth.art.blog

Why I push My Dog in a Stroller

My dog Bandit is now 17 years old. He walks like a very slow wind up toy that sometimes tips over. The things that keep him going in life are his pain meds, love of food, and our stroller walks. Most of the time it’s local but on occasion he gets to the beach or on mountain trails. The stroller functions as his wheelchair. We are an item as we walk down the local roads. Often we are greeted by smiles and waves as people drive by. Then I get a lot of puzzled looks like “why is that woman pushing that 45 pound dog in a stroller?” Small children are often filled with a combination of delight and confusion.

I wrote this little poem to provide some insight…

Stroller Dog

I  missed our walkabouts

His cattle dog body

All worn out

So I bought him a stroller

That saw four children grow

Then fixed it up

So he could go

But instead of being side by side

I happily push him in his ride

By orchard, vineyard, fields of clover

Sheep and cows, up hills and over

His old dog face now young and free

I know he’d do the same for me

Up the lanes he would be panting

coasting down I would be chanting

“Good boy, good boy!” with so much glee

and he would say…

“Thank you, thank you for loving me.”

Young Bandit age 5
Bandit also has a bike trailer!

Alanna also blogs about sustainablity at onesweetearth.art.blog