A Swan Song

Well, not really a song, but a haiku.

I told you in my Earth Day post that I saw some marvelous creatures alongside Lady Bird Lake in Austin. I was alone with my camera in this beautiful setting for a couple of hours, and it was glorious. Mindfulness was easy; my soul was fed by the natural setting.

I think a group of swans did a performance just for me. As I stood and watched, they changed direction, got in position, and swam by in a line. #Awesome. #Haiku-worthy. #Serendipity.

statuesque splendor
swans sailing smoothly past me
synchronicity

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Earth Day 2018, Part Two

This is the second of two Earth Day posts.

I think Earth Day is a cool thing to celebrate. Way cooler than, say, National Jelly Bean Day, which is also today. Who thinks that’s a good idea???!!!

My first Earth Day post today was all sunshine, swans and squirrels, but earth day is about more than loving nature.

main-logoEarth Day reminds me that our world is fragile and needs care, and that I should be an agent for positive change.

This year’s focus for the Earth Day Network is ending plastic pollution. They have a great site; I learned a lot about the size of the problem.  Here’s one example:

Scientists predict that if nothing changes in our plastic consumption habits, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish (by weight).

That’s bad.  How to help:

  1. Reduce your consumption of plastics.
  2. Properly recycle the plastic you use.
  3. Remove plastic that is already in the environment.

If you’re interested, there are lots of great suggestions about how to do those three things in the Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit. The very first thing I’m going to do is to always, always, always use reusable bags when shopping.  Easy-peasy! And I’ll be taking many other steps now that I’m aware of enormity of the plastic pollution problem, like finding products that aren’t in plastic bottles or containers.

Don’t get me wrong – Glover Gardens isn’t about lecturing, posturing or sanctimony, but I’m musing today about the delicate balance between the way humans use the earth and its resources versus the way the rest of our ecosystem partners function within it. And resolving to be more mindful and have a smaller footprint so that my future grandchildren can enjoy the world the way I do.

On a lighter note, I didn’t use the photo below in my earlier happy-happy Earth Day blog post because I thought there was a drone in the background, just above the bird and slightly to the right. It made me really grumpy for a few minutes – “really, a drone in my bird picture, for an Earth Day post??? – sheesh!!” – until I zoomed in as far as I could and realized that in addition to wings, it has a stinger. It’s some kind of nefarious flying insect, but definitely not a drone.

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A bird and a bee, framed by a tree. Not a drone in sight!

Once again, Happy Earth Day.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

Happy Earth Day! Join Me for a Walk in the Park

The first of two Earth Day 2018 posts.

fullsizeoutput_23baI’ve lately lamented on the lack of time for the Glover Gardens blog due to time-consuming springtime chores around Glover Gardens. I shouldn’t complain, though, because every hour spent in the spring garden pays off exponentially as the yard comes into full bloom. More on that soon!

Today is Earth Day, a great day to bask in the glory of our wonderful, life-giving planet. My celebration here in the blog comes in a set of nature photos I took recently during a road trip to visit our Musical Millennial at college in Austin. I was at Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, along the edge of Lady Bird Lake. I was killing time waiting for him to finish a rehearsal for the next day’s University of Texas Jazz Orchestra concert, using my new camera to stalk humans and animals around the park and practicing with the zoom lens. This post focuses on the animals, who were perfect models. Like this squirrel – can’t you just hear him saying: “Got nuts?”

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It was a glorious couple of hours on a sunny, cool afternoon as I wandered through the park. Enjoying  the sights and sounds of nature with only my camera as a companion was tranquil and restorative. Just looking at the photos brings me back there – won’t you join me?

A Walk Around Butler Shores Metropolitan Park

A spirited dog chased a frisbee, over and over. 

She posed for me afterward. She acted just like the men in my family when I make them pose for a picture, resigned and mildly impatient: “Just get it over with!”

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There were turtles all along the water, sunbathing. This one was like me, having a solo day at the park.

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These turtles were having a social hangout. I watched them for ten minutes or more as they watched people gliding by in kayaks and canoes, and gently kicked their back legs to keep their log perch floating in their chosen trajectory.

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A purple bearded iris was opening up in the sunlight.

Birds of all kinds were everywhere, darting about and singing. And seemingly, posing.

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The swans did a whole routine for me, turning into synchronized swimmers. A haiku popped into my head when I was watching them, which I’m saving for a post later in the week.

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Thanks for joining the animals and me on this little excursion through Butler Shores Metropolitan Park. And Happy Earth Day!

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Jasmine, the Calming Smell of Spring

Not much has been happening in the Glover Gardens blog, because so much is happening at Glover Gardens. Spring keeps us busy! Not one to shuck a heavy load, Spring is busy, herself. Look at what she’s done with the jasmine. Our whole yard smells heavenly.

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You can almost smell it in the picture!
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Our gate is covered with flowers from a couple of enthusiastic jasmine bushes far to its right

I did a little research on the smell of jasmine and it turns out that Glover Gardens is an aromatherapy district! The Telegraph, a venerable UK publication, said in a 2010 article,

The sweet smell of jasmine is as good as valium at calming the nerves with none of the side effects, according to new research.

Thank you, Spring!

 

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Spring is Calling

O Spring,

you call to me ~

with your cheeky ways

and lengthening days,

your budding flowers

and pop-up showers.

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Scentimental Floribunda rose from Glover Gardens

O Spring,

you call the trees ~

with your gentle breeze

tickling soft new leaves,

basking in sun-bright,

peaceful in moonlight.

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Cherry tree at the Jardin des Champs Élysées in Paris

O Spring,

you call the birds ~

tiny nests built strong,

their answering song

guiding fledglings’ flight

in the morning light.

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O Spring,

keep calling out ~

as long as we breathe, 

we’ll keep answering ~

the birds, the trees and me.

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Bright green spring aspen near Little House in the Rockies (Colorado)

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter!

These pages have been silent for a short while; so much has been going on at Glover Gardens that there hasn’t been time to stop and chat with you. I miss that! Once I get a handle on things, I’ll be back.

But I don’t want to miss the chance to wish you a Happy Easter. It was a vivid, verdant and temperate spring day here in Southeast Texas. After church, we were surrounded by family, enjoying a meal together here at Glover Gardens, reminiscing, missing our loved ones who were at this table at Easters past, and still, making plans and looking to the future. Easter is like that, with its theme of rebirth, second chances, faith in things you can’t see.  Whatever your beliefs, I wish you the peace that comes from living in accordance with them.

For your visual Easter basket, here’s a photo of a Glover Gardens rose that the Grill-Meister texted to me while I was at work the other day.  (I love it when he does that.)

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Again, Happy Easter. I hope your spring of 2018 is wonderful.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

Sandwich Wednesday, Bavarian Bistro Series #1 – Der Red Baron

Hello friends!

Panini Time!If you’ve been following Glover Gardens, you know that Sandwich Wednesday is a thing. Ever since our blended family was established nigh on ten years ago, the Grill-Meister has been the Sandwich-Meister on Wednesdays. It might just be my favorite weekday.

A variety of bread-ensconced offerings have come my way on Sandwich Wednesday, and nary a one has disappointed. The Grill-Meister is great about taking requests, and I recently realized that I hadn’t experienced most of the sandwiches he used to produce at his restaurant, the Bavarian Bistro. This phase of his career was before my time, but I don’t want to miss out on the sandwichy goodness. The only Bavarian Bistro sandwich I had experienced to date was the U-Boat Sub, and it was worthy.

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The U-Boat, a perfect party presentation; click here for the recipe

So we decided that there should be a Bavarian Bistro series for Sandwich Wednesday, until I have experienced every sandwich. Lucky me! The Grill-Meister rooted around in his computer and dug up the 15-year-old menu, and let me pick.  The first one was:

Der Red Baron: A triple decker of real breast of turkey, lean corned beef, imported Swiss cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.

Yum!

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The Grill-Meister gets going with the Red Baron makings
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Der Red Baron: a big and beautiful sandwich

So there isn’t really a “recipe”; it is all assembly. The list below is ingredients without specific amounts.

Ingredients

  • Pumpernickel, dark rye or other sandwich bread of your choice, 3 slices per person
  • Thinly sliced turkey breast
  • Thinly sliced corned beef
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • Sauerkraut
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Sliced ripe tomatoes
  • Sauerkraut, room temperature or warmed
  • Thousand Island dressing, mustard, or other tangy condiment of your choice

Cooking Instructions

To assemble each Red Baron, slather a piece of bread with the condiment of your choice, then top with a Swiss cheese slice. Mound a generous amount of corned beef atop the cheese, then add another slice of bread. Repeat with another slice of Swiss cheese, a mound of turkey breast, and a generous dollop of sauerkraut.

Place the sandwich(es) on a panini press and cook on medium high until the bread is nicely toasted and the cheese is melted. (You can also cook in a skillet if you don’t have a panini press – press down on the sandwiches with a spatula to compress them.)

When the bread is toasty and the cheese is melted, remove the sandwiches from the heat. Open them up and add the lettuce and  tomato slices. Serve immediately, potentially with more of your preferred condiment on the side.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

Fiona the Watchful

Because the world doesn’t have enough cat pictures, here’s Fiona on high alert after she heard a very loud and unrecognizable sound. She was hanging out with the Grill-Meister and me during our weekend morning routine, which we affectionately call “Happy Coffee” (more on that another time).

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Mature and circumspect Fiona; she rules the yard (during supervised outside play time)

Fiona is a rescue cat who was found huddled in the hood of a car at a nearby mechanic shop, very frightened, dehydrated and severely undernourished.

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Fiona when she joined our family; the vet said she was about half the size she should have been at her age, guesstimated at 12 weeks

Fiona’s rescuers, the owners of the car shop, saw the signs from our desperate search for our missing cat, Scout (who was never found), and called me. Their message was this: we have a scared, abandoned, almost feral kitten who needs a home, and since your cat is lost, would you like to come over and meet her?

The rest is history.

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She has me wrapped around her little paws

Fiona has been with us for 7 years now. She’s in charge of the house here at Glover Gardens, a fact that the other cat, two dogs, numerous fish and both of us humans don’t dispute.

But let’s help write the next chapter for some other fine animals – please consider adopting a rescue animal when you get your next pet. There are many excellent organizations that take on the special commitment to make a good life possible for homeless animals.

logo_apaOne of my favorites is Austin Pets Alive!, an amazing example of how an innovative mindset and an ever-growing group of very determined people can save furry lives and connect them with loving homes. Their mission: “to promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals.” I can get behind that! Also, Austin Pets Alive! has a special place in the heart of many Houstonians because they stepped up and took in thousands of displaced Houston pets during the floods in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. So did many individuals across our state and beyond – one friend in Louisiana fostered 8 or more dogs after the storm! Anyway, here’s to humans who care about animals, and to the animals themselves who deserve a happy life with a forever family.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

Cameras and Trees and Sunsets – Oh My!

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Nikon d3400, a starter DSLR that’s just right for me

I got a new camera for Christmas, the first one ever that has interchangeable lenses that detach and rates a case instead of rambling about in the bottom of my purse like my previous little point-n-shoot models. A respectable camera. A DSLR.  I’m the family historian and photographer and have always been a shutterbug, but a very uneducated one. I didn’t even know what DSLR meant until I looked it up recently. 

So – I have a lot to learn! I’m very excited about this new journey and wish I had more time to spend on absorbing the basics, but for now I’m mostly using the automatic settings.

I’m sharing all this to set up a photo for you. We had a snow day here in Southeast Texas in January, and then the sun came out at the end of the day. I took a very chilly walk about the neighborhood with my brand new camera and took photos of everything and nothing, just to play with the zoom lens. I was looking through my photos just now and found this one from that day, and it made me happy.

Trees and sunsets make me happy in general – how about you? They embody the reassurance of renewal; they speak to me through their beauty. Indulge me for a moment.

The trees are saying, 

Sure, I lost my leaves for the winter, but don’t worry, I’ll get them back! I’ll grow a big canopy for you to picnic under come summer. I’ll be here for your future grandkids to climb.”

The sunset chimes in.

I’ll only be around for a few minutes – enjoy me! I’m here to remind you that while today was challenging, another day is on the way. My partner, the sunrise, will be here before you know it. Use the coming darkness to rest and reflect, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

Trees and Sunset

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

 

 

Sunshine Blogger Nominations and Q&A

One of the Cool Kids (I got the chain letter!)

How fun! I was nominated for a Sunshine Blogger award by the A. Joann blog“The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.” Cool! It isn’t a huge thing, just an opportunity to connect and pay it forward. I’m in! What happens is that I will answer the questions from my nominator, and then nominate some more folks and ask them different questions. It’s kind of like a more positive and transparent version of the chain letter of old, and I’m ok with that!

Questions from A. Joann for Me

Here are the questions and my answers.

  • How do you stay up-to-date on current issues in the news?

nprpolitics_red1400px_sq-6bc03b536409ec88fd8d3abb637b560e93865bad-s300-c85I have several devices – a personal phone, a work phone, an iPad…and I subscribe to Apple News on all of them. It doesn’t discriminate; any public news source is available through that feed. I check it a couple of times per day, usually the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. This keeps me confident that if there’s a nuclear war, I’ll know about it just about as soon as anyone else. I also have at least two hours commuting to work in the car each weekday, and my radio is permanently set to NPR – Morning Edition on the way to work and All Things Considered on the way home. I also have a son in college, a sophomore at University of Texas, and he makes sure I know of any current outrage. : )

  • What is one goal you have for today?

My goal for today – or any day – is to figure out a way to stay positive no matter the obstacles and challenges that come my way. And to do it without being annoying, and in the hopes that some of it rubs off on others (without being annoying – did I say that?).

  • How often do you write your posts?

I write in bursts. I’d like to post every day…but no, that’s not possible. I have a very rewarding and challenging corporate job that keeps me very busy during the week. Three days a week is my realistic goal for writing, but even that isn’t possible sometimes. I tried to post every day during National Haiku Writing Month (once I joined up) and didn’t quite make it. However, on weekends, especially if it is raining, I can bank several posts for later release. And I am a writing fiend on business trips, because of the down time in airports, the lack of responsibilities in the evenings and the free time on weekends. This is one of my favorite travel finds / travel posts: April in Paris: Rue des Martyrs.

  • What food is your least favorite?

There’s no question. I have ranted about this many times. Beets! and alligator and mayonnaise.  Check out this post if you’d like to join the beets discussion.

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  • If you were to pick a famous person to travel with, who would it be and why?

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Langston Hughes’ poetry was/is brilliant

Gosh, that’s a hard one! Does it have to be a famous person? I like traveling with my son to see the world through his eyes. But if it does have to be a famous person, I’d like to check out the world with Langston Hughes, because his poetry was so beautiful and moving and I’d love to pick up his vibe, vision and inspiration. Or Sam Houston, a truly interesting historical person whose story is anything but predictable. (I wanted to name my son Sam Houston but his father objected.) Or maybe Emmeline Pankhurst, the British suffragette, so I could learn from her drive and dedication, or Laura Ingalls Wilder, just to hear her tell all those Little House stories. Or the Gershwins, just to listen.

  • What (or who) inspires you to exercise?

Nothing inspires me to exercise for its own sake. Nothing! But – I love to work in the garden, walk in a Paris park, crew on a sailboat or chop-chop-chop doing my own sous chef work. Does that count?

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From a Paris garden, in the spring of 2017
  • What was the last thing you ate?

My 87-year old German mother-in-law had us over to dinner and made a pork roast, “potato balls”, and sauerkraut and sausage. We also had an appetizer that I put together, a goat cheese and herb ball surrounded by smoked salmon atop vodka-dressed arugula, and crowned with caviar.

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  • What is the best color for a car, and why do you think so?

I don’t care about cars in the least. Whatever color is the cheapest.

  • What movie would get you to sit down and watch it again on a rainy afternoon?

OMG, there are so many! My Dad and I used to watch old movies together, and they are my go-to relaxation tonic. How to pick? There could be one of the Thin Man collection (see photo below), or one of the ten Fred and Ginger movies, or a thoughtful, meaningful treatise on social injustice like To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite movie) or Gentleman’s Agreement, or a lightweight musical comedy with a classic American songbook musical score like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or American in Paris.

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  • What flowers do you think have the best fragrance?

Jasmine? Roses? Gardenia? Golden Dewdrop? All of which I have in my back yard, a couple of which are shown below.

  • What is the most rewarding aspect of blogging?

The connections! The unexpected connections… wow.

I have heard from someone in Australia who knew of my grandfather and has some geophysical historical information to share with me. He found me because of this post about my grandfather, I now have several 70-year-old photos of my grandfather in his professional life, as a result.

I have made friends who have helped me to look at, unravel and translate emotionally confusing parts of my past; not directly, but simply through listening to and absorbing their life philosophies.

I have connected with folks who have a similar culinary outlook to mine, and learned so much from their more diverse experiences with ingredients. I’ve found some wonderful recipes, and have rejoiced when people tried one of mine.

I have interacted with lovely people who, like me, are curious, love to travel, love people, and love to connect. I’ve taken their travel advice, and shared a bit of my own.

My Nominees

I’m putting forward some nominees for this Sunshine Award, although I suspect that several of them don’t participate in these kinds of activities.  No worries (although I think your answers to my questions would be fascinating)! And the nominees are:

  1. Storyteller
  2. Pleasant Peasant
  3. Glasgow Gallivanter
  4. Loving Leisure Time
  5. Keralas Live
  6. Recipe Reminiscing
  7. David Bruce Blog
  8. Julie H. Cares
  9. Rhapsody Boheme
  10. Bill Waters Haiku
  11. Love Traveling

My Questions

Looking forward to your answers – here are my questions.

  1. What advice would you give to your younger self?
  2. What’s your favorite food memory, a meaningful meal that you will never forget, and why? What was so special about it?
  3. If you’ve experienced a time when everything stood still for a moment, and you realized in that split second that you would remember this event for your whole life, what was that time?
  4. Where do you want to travel next, and why?
  5. Who inspires you?
  6. Why do you blog?
  7. What’s your favorite book?
  8. What skill have you always wanted to master, but haven’t yet started on?
  9. In one sentence, what is your life philosophy?
  10. What do you want to do tomorrow?
  11. What is your favorite dish to cook, and why?

It’s About Community

The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.  The rules are:

  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

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Thank you for nominating me for this Sunshine Blogger award to the A. Joann blog. It took me a few days to respond, but it was really thought-provoking and fun. You rock!

© 2018 Glover Gardens