Mountain Sunset Haiku and “Enviation”

purple serenity
soothing summer evening sky
clouds that drift and sigh

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Photo credit: Nancy L.

My friends stayed at Little House in the Rockies last weekend, and one of them snapped this lovely picture.

We get their photos from social media and feel oh-so-happy for them. But we also feel a little jealous because they’re there and we’re not. I like to call that feeling “enviation,” a mixture of envy and appreciation.

Enviation. That’s how I feel right now. I’d like to be on that porch at Little House in the Rockies, looking at that sunset, feeling the mountain air, shivering just a little.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

A Fire in the Fireplace in the Middle of Summer, a Haiku, and Wildflowers

Escaping the Southeast Texas heat for a few days, I’m chillin’ in the mountains at Little House in the Rockies.

Oh, the glory of it! 

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Dusk falling over Palmer Peak

It was 40°F when I awoke this morning (that’s 4.4°C for my international readers).

Oh, the glory of it! 

A little fire in the fireplace was just right for morning coffee and reading. And finding the names of all the Colorado wildflowers I picked yesterday.

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Oh, the glory of it!

Fire is mesmerizing – have you noticed? I sat with my coffee, staring into the flames, and dozens of welcome ideas came knocking, like neighbors with fresh-baked cookies. So here’s a haiku for the inspiration that flames can bring:

gazing at the blaze,
fiery hues, controlled-burn warmth,
flame-thrown ideas

Now to jot all those ideas down before they leave like Thanksgiving guests when it’s time to do the dishes!

But first, the wildflowers. What a beautiful bounty! Here’s a rundown of the bouquet: Bigelow Tansy-Aster, Black-eyed Susan, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Fairy Trumpet, Giant Red Paintbrush, Mountain Parsley, Parry Primrose, Canada Thistle and White Yarrow.

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I gathered this clutch of color in about 20 minutes yesterday afternoon, right before a mountain rainstorm came sweeping through. I hunkered down inside our tiny cabin with a book during the storm, listening to the rain pound rhythmically and peacefully on the metal roof.

Oh, the glory of it!

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The storm is coming over the mountains

I’ve been busy with the camera, so you’ll see posts about hummingbirds and mountains and chipmunks (oh my!) over the coming days and weeks, even as I settle back into the summer heat at Glover Gardens in Southeast Texas.

Wishing you a peaceful and cool Sunday.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

Lordy, Lord Baltimore!

I’m out of town, but the Grill-Meister keeps me up to date on Glover Gardens happenings. My day started off right this morning with his “digital postcard” of this gorgeous red hibiscus with blooms as large as dinner plates:

Lots of blooms on Lord Baltimore this morning!

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It’s the little things.

Did you know? Lord Baltimore hibiscus are a very hardy hybrid that’s quite easy to grow in hot climates. They get frostbitten in our garden in Southeast Texas each winter, but always return the spring after being cut back close to the ground. These low-maintenance beauties get revved up as it heats up, and are super-showy by July when other bloomers are starting to get a little wilty and tired. Go, Lord Baltimore!

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

Epic Seafood Boil Memories from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Last summer, a beautiful little memory-story came to me through a wonderful Glover Gardens reader who liked my poem, my days by the water (via the Glover Gardens Facebook page, shown below).

She said:

I can see it 🙂 Many parts remind me of family reunions in Bay St. Louis.

So of course I asked her to share her Mississippi Gulf Coast memories. And after a while, she did. Now it’s time for me to share those memories with you.
“Awhile back you’d asked me to tell you about some of our Cowand family reunions in Bay St. Louis. …

The Cowands have a long history in that area dating back to a land grant a couple hundred years ago. My dad’s family was 9 siblings with Swedish/Norwegian parents. They lived a block from the Bay and loved every type of water activity. The empty lot they owned next to their house was where rows of picnic tables would be set up covered with newspaper. The feast included crabs caught off the family pier and trash can loads of fresh shrimp purchased off the Gulfport Pier fresh shrimp. They were boiled to perfection with potatoes and 1/2 corn cobs by too many ‘expert’ brothers.

Doesn’t that Epic Seafood Boil sound delightful? She finished the story from the kids’ point of view, which I just love.

My cousins and I played with minnows in the culvert, hide and go seek, and ran freshly caught crabs back to the party … total freedom and good eating in a safe corner of the world!”

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Crabs from Shoofly Magazine’s post about the 2018 Crabfest– photo by Lionel Haynes, Jr.

This story could have been from my own childhood, except that we were further down the Gulf Coast (on the Bolivar Peninsula in Southeast Texas) and we don’t have Swedish/Norwegian ancestry. But the feelings the Epic Seafood Boil story conjure of being completely free, completely safe, completely alive and completely sated still reverberate in my soul when I look back on my days by the water.

All this kindred reminiscing about seaside living made me curious to find out more about Bay St. Louis, which I have somehow missed in my many Gulf Coast travels. (What’s up with that???)  

A surf around Google shows that Bay St. Louis, est. 1699, is a really cool little place. There’s a Crab Festival! There’s a Frida Kahlo Festival! There’s a quaint downtown and a historic cemetery (with lots of Cowands in it, by the way) and a white, sandy beach – oh my! I’m not just speculating on this coolness, by the way: Bay St. Louis was listed at #4 on Expedia’s 2018 of Most Beautiful Towns in America.

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Photos from the Expedia article: Left Via Flickr/Andrew
Top Right Via Yelp/Angie T.
Bottom Right Via Shutterstock

An excerpt from the Expedia writeup: “You’ve heard being by the water is good for the soul and Bay St. Louis is the perfect place to test it. Surrounded by the bay and marshlands, this pretty little coastal town is a sailor’s delight. Stroll to the marina and listen for the sound of sailboats creaking against the dock, or build sandcastle masterpieces on the shore at the end of Main Street.”

Yep, Bay St. Louis is definitely on my Must-Go list. Below are some other charming images that I found in cyberspace; maybe you’ll put Bay St. Louis on your list, too!

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From BSL Shoofly Magazine; 2017 Crab Fest photos by Ellis Anderson
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From My Mississippi Coast
The harbor at Bay St. Louis from Shoofly Magazine
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Courtesy of Edward Depew’s blog

Resources

Soon, I’ll publish another Epic Seafood Boil memory, a spicy one from my own family history.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

with thanks and credit to my dear reader for sharing her Cowand family story!

The Jazzy Sounds of Summer at Glover Gardens

The summer months bring a welcome flurry of sound to Glover Gardens. Our Musical Millennial is home from the University of Texas where he’s studying Jazz Composition, and is busy writing, playing, recording and mixing new tunes. Other young musicians who are home for the summer drop in late at night and carry their instruments upstairs to the cluttered lair where the keyboards, amps and computers wait to come alive.

I love it.

Music, laughter and earnest debate about how to ramp up and tweak their collaborative creations drift downstairs to the Grill-Meister and me, and I know that all is right with the world.

Here’s the newest offering, Familiar Territory.  It was written by another musical millennial, one of my son’s frequent recording and playing partners. It’s posted in my son’s Bandcamp site where you can download it for just $1 or stream it for free. (I have a bet with him about how many purchases this post might stimulate from loyal Glover Gardens followers, but hey, no pressure!)

It’s a fun tune to listen to, and was obviously fun to record.

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Thomas Wenglinski and Joel White

Watch this space! These two are planning to write and record enough new material for an album before heading back to their respective colleges. And there’s an upcoming gig at Cezanne in Houston on July 14, for any of you locals that want to hear them live.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

(cover photo © Mallory Frenza)

Rabbit, Run!

Nature is all the entertainment we need here at Little House in the Rockies, our little cabin in Central Colorado. It’s a wonderful getaway from the busyness and frenetic pace of everyday life, an oasis of mindfulness.

This morning, our entertainment was a rabbit, a cute little Peter Cottontail who hopped up to enjoy the seeds the careless birds were strewing from the feeder.

He was a shy little thing.

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He hopped away when I approached with my camera, but I caught him mid-jump.

Bunny Rabbit, Mid-Hop

Rabbit, run! (No reference to the John Updike novel intended; well, not much, anyway.)

It’s the little things.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

 

Haiku: Simple Pleasures in the Mountain Air

the simple pleasures
of mountains and hummingbirds
feed my hungry soul

The haiku above sprung into being because the Grill-Meister and I are back at Little House in the Rockies for the Memorial Day weekend, where absolute peace and tranquility abound. The aspen trees dance in the gentle breeze with their young, bright green leaves, and birds of all kinds sing their unique odes to spring. The mountains we can see from the back porch still glisten with snow on their stately and imposing peaks. It is impossible to be grumpy here. Nature is a restorative and sustaining force. (This is a common theme here in the Glover Gardens blog.)

Life is good.

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The hummingbirds are visiting early this year
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These pretty little trees are everywhere
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The zoomed in view of the mountains from the back porch; “purple mountains’ majesty,” indeed

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

Backyard Haiku (for NaHaiWriMo)

Spring is breaking out early at Glover Gardens, and the backyard is like a bird sanctuary. I have a new DSLR camera that I am learning how to use, and have taken to carrying it with me as much as I can when I’m outside (weekends only; I have a corporate job with a long commute).  I am not good at schlepping the camera around yet and marvel at how pro photographers lug around all their equipment, ready to seize that great photo op when it appears. There are so many peripheral skills that they have to support the primary one of knowing what would make a great photo, and how to use their sophisticated equipment.

If you’ve been following Glover Gardens, you’ll know that I’m observing National Haiku Writing Month (#NaHaiWriMo) and posting one haiku per day in February. I started late, and it is a little more difficult than I thought, but I’m going to see it through.  Fortunately, the backyard at Glover Gardens is a source of inspiration for me.

joy in my backyard:
Mama Cardinal ponders life
while I sit and watch

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Mama Cardinal looks all around
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Checking me out to see if I’m a threat
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Perched above the feeder to survey the surroundings (is it safe? is it safe?)
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Finally, crunching on a seed
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Looking at me again before going for that next yummy seed

Life is good, for Mama Cardinal and me.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Comfort Food Alert: My Beloved Da Corradi in London has the BEST Spaghetti Carbonara

I still think of myself as a little girl from a small town who is constantly surprised by her life, and sometimes find it hard to believe that I have a “favorite Italian restaurant in London”. In my 20s, that sentence would have been alien to me; I didn’t even make it to Europe until I was 34. This post is about that favorite little restaurant, and its fame-worthy Spaghetti Carbonara.

Da Corradi in London

 

It’s Not Just My Opinion

Da Corradi’s carbonara was fantastic!

I think that was the best Carbonara I have ever had.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with fresh ham is the best you’ll ever eat.

IMG_0857Online reviewers of Da Corradi, a tiny, family-run Italian restaurant in London’s Mayfair district tucked back in the Shepherd Market, agree with me about their Spaghetti Carbonara: it’s the best.

My TripAdvisor review from way back in 2010 when the Grill-Meister and I visited was titled Marvelous – so good we went twice in one week, proclaiming:

The Spaghetti Carbonara is the best I have ever had – even compared to the same dish in Italy.

Best Carbonara
I’m pretty sure they serve this in heaven.

It’s true. I’ve never had a better carbonara, and I’m fairly sure I never will.  It’s that good. Just the right balance of rich creaminess from the egg and cheese, saltiness from the ham, and al dente spaghetti, with a liberal sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.  Close your eyes after taking just one bite and you’ll expect to find Northern Italy when you open them.  I try not to eat heavy food like this very often, but there’s never even a question that I’ll order anything else at Da Corradi. The only question is how much of it I can consume, and the answer is always: more than I thought!

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This pic of the Grill-Meister and me in 2010 reveals that I almost finished my carbonara; I’d like to dive in and take a bite right now
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One of my companions had a marvelous pizza on a visit last October, but I stuck with the carbonara
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Big chunks of ripe tomatoes with garlic and spicy basil atop crunchy sourdough make a tasty and authentic bruschetta appetizer

The food at Da Corradi is hearty-homestyle rather than Mayfair pretentious, and the prices are very reasonable. More reasons to keep coming back!

The Peeps are as Fun as the Food is Good

The staff at Da Corradi are a big part of the overall experience.  They’re cheeky and flirty (in a family-friendly way) and their banter with each other betrays an affection and respect that is charming. They collaborate to ensure that your experience with them is fun, filling, and fulfilling. You don’t exactly have a waitperson, you have a wait-team.

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This wait-team duet kept us in good spirits on a recent visit
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We posed together, a couple of blonde ladies; she was pleased to be featured in the Glover Gardens blog and pretty sure I would make her famous : )

A Celebrity Hang-Out (or Hide-Out?)

In its 40+ years of serving great Italian food, Da Corradi has attracted a lot of admirers beyond this Texas gal and the online reviewers I quoted above.  The wall overlooking the tiny main floor dining area sports photos of celebrity diners who must enjoy the carbonara and cheeky charm as much as I do. While high-end Mayfair is swarming with tourists and beautiful people, Da Corradi’s exact location within Shepherd Market is a little off the beaten path, a perfect place to avoid the madding crowd. Shepherd Market’s web site says, “This unique little enclave is tucked away between Picadilly and Curzon Street, in the heart of London’s Mayfair. A hidden gem known for its wonderful relaxed village-like atmosphere.”

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They Trust Me, They Really Trust Me!

I am blessed with a wide network of friends and foodies  in many locales across the world who feed me, enjoy sharing a restaurant meal together, send me their food pictures for the blog, and give and take restaurant recommendations.  I love love love it when someone trusts my choice of a restaurant; it’s like setting friends up on a blind date and having it work out (only better because there’s no chance of divorce or blame). It feels good to influence where someone has dinner halfway across the world…just call me the restaurant matchmaker!

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My Houston friends; seeing them there makes me long to visit again
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My Norwegian friends; they both had the carbonara

Life is good. And so is the Spaghetti Carbonara at Da Corradi in London.

Resources

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens