Toad in the Hole

I love a supper that makes me smile. Toad in the Hole is best in class on that score. It’s comfort food, too, especially after full days of meetings in offices, meetings in restaurants, meetings at our home. After all that talking, I want to put on my soft clothes, sit on the sofa with Buck and drink a nice scotch with a splash of water, enjoy a warm plate of Toad in the Hole, and go to bed.

my summer of no writing, no art, no music

Sounds pretty terrible, right? I missed the interior thinking, storytelling, and creative connection, but Buck and I have been working hard on a couple of projects that absolutely required our attention and best thinking. And are, in their own way, enormously creative.

We’re a little ways past midstream, so I can’t share yet, but that time will come and along with it, some interesting yarns.

Meanwhile, I did at least snap a few photos over the summer and when I looked at them this morning, that old desire to memorialize them in this space bloomed like the scent of a much-loved and nearly forgotten perfume.

Here, then, some summer snapshots:

Cicada shell on a fencepost.
Fragrant summer peaches, the best in memory. I remembered the old trick of dipping the whole fruit into boiling water for a few seconds. The peel slips off like a snake’s skin.
Some sort of fruiting spores on a mushroom. I don’t know if the spores were opportunistic travelers or part of the mushroom itself. Strangely wonderful.
American beautyberries in the morning light.
A favorite lunch: my friend, Bette’s, bean salad and half a buttery avocado.
Even the hottest summer in memory will moderate soon. Already, the morning temperatures are cooler and the before-7:00 a.m. air has turned from blast furnace to baby’s breath.
Collaborative supper with family: honey-bourbon balsamic glazed salmon, asparagus (half wrapped in prosciutto), cauliflower, and new potatoes.
Black beans, brown rice, salsa, wok-cooked chicken-apple sausage with onions and red peppers, and luscious papaya spritzed with lime.
Sugar snaps on romaine, tuna, and homemade hummus. Favorite lunch #1.
Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burger on romaine. Favorite lunch #2.

pins in the ground, flags in the woods

It has been many months since I saw the first of these mysterious pins in several spots along the edge of the gravel road leading from our home to the gate.

Walking east through the woods toward our neighbor’s old farm fence, I couldn’t miss a plant the flag operation that was launched when we weren’t looking.

Since those spottings, we have attended meetings, met with engineers, striven in vain for timelines, and pondered.

At Longleaf, nothing stays the same.

When Wild Turkeys Return

2019 June 16 ~ Longleaf ~ near Pensacola, Florida

It wasn’t a rafter or a flock, but my heart soared to see two wild turkeys and at least six big-enough-to-fly poults strolling the clearing between house and woods last Sunday.

For years, so many turkeys lived in our hundred-acre wood that I collected enough dropped feathers to share with an artist friend who treasured them as do I. Several years ago, however, the population dropped precipitously due, I conjecture, to coyotes, bobcats, foxes and feral cats. Last year I caught a glimpse of only one lone hen.

It was pure luck that I was able to snap several fuzzy pictures. Two curious does emerged from the clearing, adding to the bucolic scene.

I don’t know the ways of nature well enough to know for sure why the turkeys disappeared or why they have begun to reappear and raise chicks. Perhaps they have been here all along and I have been shuttering myself in the house too much rather than walking the woods and observing as I used to.

Marieke Blokland’s Doodle Faces Lesson

Great fun! This was a lesson from week #6 of Wanderlust 2019, taught by artist Marieke Blockland. I learned a lot and had a blast making this spread based on Marieke’s Doodle Faces lesson. Marieke’s teaching style made for a fun lesson (one where you learn much more than you realized until it’s over!)

I went a little crazy at the beginning of this year (so what’s different about 2019?) and signed up for two art jounal/mixed media year-long experiences: one is the gifted, irrepressible and kind artist and teacher Tamara Laporte’s Lifebook 2019, and the other is the equally gifted and welcoming artist and teacher Kasia Avery’s Wanderlust 2019. Both are phenomenal. They have gathered a remarkable array of teachers for these journeys.

I’ve also joined the Bancroft Collective, a brave and talented group of creative folk who, in the words of founder Georgina McClure (a nom de plume of creative guru Heather Blakey) “have taken up residence in Bancroft Manor because they are passionate about the power of the expressive arts to heal”. At Bancroft Manor, Georgina leads an online Writing for Wellness course.

Am I waaay behind? Absolutely. Am I happier, more creative, learning like I never thought I could at my (ahem) somewhat advanced age, and writing more as I stretch old muscles and find new ones? YES! Oh, yes.

Crack the Dark World Open

I dreamed last night of my long-dead father. One of those rare dreams I’ve learned to call a major gift.

Standing on a sidewalk at a busy intersection, I was waiting for a car or a bus or a taxi or something to take me somewhere. It was crowded. Lots of people. Many of them seemed to know me. They waved and shouted friendly greetings.

I remember adjusting the shoulder strap of my heavy bag that was filled with notebooks and sketch pads, craning my neck to look for my ride, when someone called out: “Wait! Don’t go yet. Your Daddy is coming to see you!”

My head snapped up and sure enough, a man who could not be anyone but W. T. Jones was striding through the crowded sidewalk, pulling off leather work gloves as he walked. His crack-the-dark-world-open brilliant smile went all the way to those flashing bright eyes that never left my face.

Before there was time to think or react or, thank God, wake up, I was wrapped up in those dear arms. “Baby girl!” he crooned, nearly waltzing me around, his joy my sunbeam path.

I awoke then and nearly sprang out of bed with energy and a smile, still feeling that loving affirmation from my sweet, long-missed Daddy.

In the dream, Daddy was slightly heavier than I remembered, still sun-browned with crinkles around his eyes and a light sheen of sweat as though he had just come off the construction site of one of his subdivisions in central Florida, circa 1964, the year his heart suddenly stopped.

Tough blow for a thirteen-year-old to lose her dad. My older brother was sixteen; our younger brother only nine. Mother was fragile and unbalanced. Tough all the way around. The lodge pole of our family structure was jerked away and the roof quickly fell in.

For weeks, now, I haven’t been sleeping well enough to dream, much less to remember a dream. Several hours have elapsed since the dream. I’ve walked to the gate with Lou, fed her breakfast, and brewed coffee.

Cutting strawberries and oranges for Sunday breakfast a few minutes ago, I laughed to realize I was whistling Daddy’s favorite song.

Yellow Slime Mold

Brilliant yellow slime mold on a fallen log. Photo-bombed by Lou. Maybe she was interested because the common name of Physarum polycephalum is “Dog Vomit Slime Mold.” Find a fascinating article on it by Eve Broughton of Northern California’s Lost Coast Interpretative Association here.

2019 May 31 at Longleaf Preserve mid-way between house and gate.
Pensacola, Florida