After a super hot hot hot summer, we are gently edging into autumn.  This brief time is when many of us "fall in love" with rust, orange, scarlet, ochre, vermilion, aubergine and rusted greens.
After all of our sahara-like heat, rain has made her entrance.  
Isn't it amazing how rain, with its drips, drops and splashes, creates a new palette of colors, a new way of seeing.  
On Instagram a few days ago, there was a photo of a woman holding fresh pulled beets from her garden.
The beets were without blemish an intense Chinese red.
Curious, I wrote asking what type of beet they were.  
She nicely replied, I just washed them under the hose.
Duh !
(All I can say is that when I wash beets, under water and with a scrubby brush, they are a dull maroon.)  
Water does change our perception of color, shape and mood.
 Vietnam: five months ago.
Rain Rain Rain...and one of those super soggy rain days found us in a small bus being driven through the many miles of coastal vistas, sharp curves, villages, people on foot, motorcycle or bicycle, fishermen throwing their serpent shaped nets out to sea...
Gosh, I thought, why is it raining right now on this day? I want to see everything. 
Leo Tolstoy suggested,"If you want to be happy, BE."
So happy I was going to BE. Putting my camera tight to the window, rivulets of rain poured down obscuring, obliterating, my view.  
Or so I thought.




Down the road from our home is an Asian Market.
It is a treasure trove of spices, sauces, live fish, 
exotic fruit
 and interesting shaped vegetables, fun ceramics, Japanese candy,

 Lucky Bamboo, 
rice cookers, rice crackers and rice by the barrel full.

Boiled, tea-dyed eggs, wabi-sabi style.
There is nothing not to like.  I even love the fact that the ladies at the check out counter speak very little English! They wrap everything carefully, smile, and use hand signs. 
Oh, they just hired a very young girl who does speak English.
She looked a little overwhelmed trying to learn everything.

Lining one side of the store is an amazing bakery, full of savory and sweet delights.  I am hooked on their bread pudding, egg custard tarts,
and Moon cakes.
There is MORE: a dedicated area with cheesy laminate tables and red plastic chairs, where one can sit and dine on their daily specials.
From high hooks hang sweet crunchy-skinned ducks.
They cook every thing on the premises. We can watch six or so  men, speaking fast Mandarin while working those sharp knives filet a fish or cook "caldrons" of noodles and rice.
Imagine hanging duck next to a Moon Pie!!
And since half of their fish are alive, fighting their way around crowded fish tanks, just choose one, they fish it out, _______ then offer to cook it in the kitchen.  I prefer to buy their fish neatly arranged on beds of ice...and not moving, thank you.
A few months ago, our granddaughter flew from the west to spend some time with us here in the south.
She was totally eager to experience the store. She tried anything and everything. 
She even mastered chopsticks.

Smiling Buddhas and Waving Cats bring a smile to our faces as we leave with our bags of yummy foods to eat.
Thank you for coming along for a little tour of one of our favorites places to shop, dine and buy Lucky Bamboo.
Love having you with us.


al Vero Pesto alla Genovese

Front Porch Basil
Front porch basil. Basil is easy to grow and fits right in with your decorative plants and other herbs.  With our HOT summer we have grown it in large clay pots placed on a lightly shaded porch, next to cadmium red geraniums ! A very pretty combination. The more you cut basil the more dense it becomes. At the very least, pinch off the tiny leaf tops of the longer stems, this encourages thicker leaves.
Last night it actually cooled down. I clipped large stems of basil, enjoying the deep green of the leaves and the strong pungent smell.  Not trusting the bugs in our yard, I washed thoroughly with cold water and left it to drain in a colander.  Tonight would be pesto night.  

Originally pesto was made with a mortar and pestle. (hence, the name Pesto)  Today, many use a blender to make this delicious, rich, vibrant sauce.

Traditional, Genovese Pesto
a very large bunch of basil, two cups packed (I remove the thick stems)
a handful of pine nuts, 1/4 cup
a handful of grated Parmesan cheese/or Romano 
a large clove of garlic
a 1/4 c to slightly more of extra virgin olive oil
a touch of salt to taste.
Optional: buttermilk or cream
Put all in a blender and grind to a creamy consistency…I like it a tiny bit chunky.
Pesto keeps in refrigerator for a few weeks. 
  Serve cold or room temperature over steamy hot pasta.  If your sauce is a bit too thick, add either a bit of pasta water or better still buttermilk or cream.
 Delicious over toast with veggies, pizza, chicken, fish.. Do not cook pesto, allow the heat of the foods to spread its goodness.
TWO shared posts pertaining to food. Hmmm you might think this is turning into
a cooking blog?  Not possible!


Heirloom Tomatoes

Oh, do we LOVE vine ripened tomatoes.  
There was a time, long long ago, before the invention of squirrels, that we grew our own tomatoes.
I still dream of those huge, plump, sweet, juicy, flavor with a punch, tomatoes. 
Now we rely on a great Farmer's Stand down the road.
 Toasted sourdough bread, warm, a bit of butter and mayo, top with thick, luscious tomato slices.
A touch of avocado is nice also and a twist of Himalayan Pink Salt. 
Squish together, wrap in a napkin, and let the juices flow.
Heaven, Heaven I say.

The opening sketch is all about
Linguine a la Olives.
(Sorry I don't make my own pasta, I just draw or photograph it.)
And for the sauce, it is beyond easy.
Heirloom tomatoes or plum, olive oil, garlic, Pink Salt, big pinch of parsley, small dash of dried chili pepper
finally, slice up those Kalamata olives and plunk them in.  
If your pasta went missing in the cupboard, toast sourdough bread and 
lather it on.
I cook just about the same way I paint...just go for it.  More fun seeing how it all turns out!

 I don't have a particularly great track record, but do have fun!


Gift from the Sea

Many sunsets ago, I read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's
thought provoking book, Gift from the Sea.
It is one of the books from my "reading life" that I treasure, read time and again, and settles well in my heart. 
"I walked far down the beach, soothed by the rhythm of the waves, the sun on my bareback and legs, the wind and mist from the spray on my hair.  Into the waves and out like a sandpiper.  And then home, drenched, drugged, reeling, full to the brim with my day alone; full like the moon before the night has taken a single nibble of it; full as a cup poured up to the lip.  There is a quality to fullness that the Psalmist expressed: "My cup runneth over."  Let no one come--I pray in sudden panic--I might spill myself away!

"Spill myself away."  Isn't that what we, women, do on a near-daily basis? 
Spilling over, two small words with intuitive significance.
The opening of Questions.
Why do we long to be by water, a river, pond or ocean?
Why do we collect talismans: stones, pebbles, driftwood, shells?
What is their mystery; their hold on us?
Do they remind us of a few days, a week, where we didn't Spill Over?
Self-nourishment. Solitude. Repetition. Infinity. Sanctuary
These are the most arresting of shells. Full of fascination, imperfections, yet strong, protecting, a house for guests of all kinds.  Room for all.  Yet tucked deep inside is a place for me-ness, space, solitude, sanctuary.

These shells remind me of a poem by Rumi.  The Guest House.
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing
And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.

I have found ever so many perfect, flawless shells. They rest upon shelves, tables; in gleaming glass jars and vases; lovely pristine gifts of nature's handwork.
However, in the end, I prefer gnarled and misshaped shells with infinite imperfections, flaws, life's markings that tell the whole story.  
Such is life with its dings and dents, imperfections,  flukes, disappointments--they add to my many blessings, the true picture of my journey.

So I roll along, tumbled, tossed by life's
turbulent waves, knowing that but a few feet out is the
calm I seek.  It is there.

A gift to You...feel free to print.



Conundrum: we live in the south, we drink pale lemonade, fans in each room gently circulate the air, bookcases are bent with the weight of other's words, 
 green vines coil and twist around white porch columns, bees and birds hum ballads with their busyness
despite southern proclivities, I flit and dart about like a hummingbird, skittering here and there, looking for a place to land, rest my wings and reconnoiter. 
Something is off base with this mental image of southern charm and sleepy rivers. 
I search for the SLOW in Slow- Down Time?  Those cherished moments where I can wrap my mind around one thing only and be content. 

Check: I have new paintings. Check: filled a hard drive with summer's photographs. Check: battered "Idea" notebook brimming with blog post ideas. Despite available choices, I suffer from Brain Scatter!
No kidding it is real.
 Last night I had this crazy idea to "spontaneously" choose a photo from the thousands, post it, then figure out something to say that might be a smidgeon interesting.
  Decision made, easy peasy...now just do it but first lets dream on it.  

Spontaneous photo #5609...
Tomato Tasting Day in Charlotte
Into the Honda Accord went the GrandK's, Trader Joe plastic bags, one dollar bills and coins, and the ubiquitous sunscreen. We are heading to a real honest to goodness, old fashioned fruit and veggie market. Despite the oppressive heat the market was a bustling beehive bursting with sagging wood-slab tables laden with the bounty the neighboring farms provide; people stretching over landscapes of green onions to reach the "right" one (always furthest away); energized children, skin glistening with sweat and chocolate ice cream dribbling down their chins; a few "oldsters" sitting in any shadow of shade  available listening to live music and then the always LONG line to the French pastry chef.  No I am not kidding.  There is a bonafide French pastry chef/accent and all.
This particular day was a bit unusual, the lure of a honest-to-goodness-tomato-tasting-contest beckoned us. Two tables were draped in patriotic red plastic cloths, a ribbon of styrofoam plates, and cucumber "stands" holding the official name of the tomatoes. Table #1: LARGE exotic reddish-purplish tomatoes, pale pink tomatoes, finally grocery-store red tomatoes. Table #2: held itty bitty tomatoes, which in turn were labeled; toothpicks in place for tasting; and a reference sheet and pencil stub to mark one's choices on.
This was a "serious" contest, folks, for the best ever tomato!  

Jabbing a toothpick into thick-diced tomatoes we were rewarded with a variety of tastes. Sweet-what-I-have-dreamed-of-all-summer tomatoes caught our attention.    

We didn't  stay around to see who the GRANDE DAME of TOMATOES was...  But amongst our family we pretty much came up with the same two or three choices.  

Back home, the reward for our hard work was an afternoon picnic of farmer's bread and tomatoes.



Whenever and Wherever there is a Market, it is a FUN DAY!
Sharing a few pictures from our trip to one of three
 local markets, a few Saturdays ago.   
Have you noticed when walking through the overflowing stalls with its pyramids of fruit and veggies, tilting crates and baskets, dodging people with colorful plastic bags overflowing, lingering to touch and smell: if we look up one immediately notices that everyone has a smile on their face!!
Open markets just bring out happiness...(unless your child knocks down a crate of oranges) and joy. 

A bit of our bounty...new to us herbs to try, fingerling potatoes..and beautiful yellow blossoms.
No spilled oranges, but strawberries will do.  
Pretty gorgeous, even more luscious...not a sad berry in the bowl.
One elegant bloom, actually potted lily, heads up ready for her photograph.

No kidding, these  delicious temptings are straight from the market.  One glistening glass case filled with authentic French pastries, one distinguished baker, accent and all, tempting us with little complementary nibbles.    

It was a Fun Day.
Next post: exotic, foreign market finds.