Monday, June 19, 2017

Hostas in the Rain







More Asiatic Lilies


 I often take multiple pictures of the same subject from nearly the same angle looking for subtle differences.  Can you see any?






Rainy Day Humps and Bumps!

The Bactrian Camel has humps and bumps...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Romeo, My Love

Isn't this picture just lovely?  My truest friend and constant companion.  My Romeo!
For those new to my blog, here's a relevant timeline that will give you a sense of just how precious this beautiful creatures advent in my life is.

1984 - I lived in Costa Rica and taught high school at Colegio Metódista

2012 JULY - I reconnected with one of my former students on Facebook.  He now lives in Berkeley, California and works for a major bank in their IT dept.

2012 OCTOBER - He shared his participation in a dog rescue organization called "Animal Rescate" that saves street dogs from San José and finds them homes.  He explained that some of the dogs were imported to the United States.  He asked me if I would be interested in adopting such a dog.  I declined.  My schedule makes living with a dog very difficult.  

2013 FEBRUARY - In a new conversation, he shared the pics of a dog that his parents had rescued and that dogs story.  A scrawny little beggar who had shown up in their neighborhood and stayed in hopes of meeting the next door neighbors pet dog who was in heat.  Silly little horny dog!  I commented on the fact that he was a real "Romeo".

The next picture was of "Romeo" with his cousins hanging our in his parent's yard and a fervent resume of the dog's amazing qualities...  Like, what was I supposed to do now?  Without meaning to, I had christened him!  

2013 MARCH - Consultations began on the process of Romeo's emigration to the United States.  It was absurdly easy.  The Animal Rescate clinic managed all of the medical procedures and immigration documents for a flat contribution that didn't even cover the cost of air fare!  You know I gave them more than they suggested.

2013 APRIL - 5 weeks from commitment to adopt this beautiful foreigner I traveled to Dulles International Airport and claimed him as my own.  

As a street dog (stray) the particulars of his birth are a mystery.  The vets in Costa Rica gave his age as one year during their initial examination.  And clearly he was still a pup when he arrived.  The picture is of a beautiful 55 lb dog.  His weight at dis-embarkment was 34 lbs.  So best we can tell, he was born in the mid-winter of 2012.  Thus his birthday is 14 February, 2012.  Makes perfect sense to me!

2017 JUNE - My 5 and a half year old bestest boy ever is the joy of my life.  How amazing this web in which we live.  You never know how one moment in time will lead to another, but you must be open to what is possible.  

Speaking of "Zoo's"

Besides the little plastic animals...The real ones are all around us!
 Getting ready for work on this past Friday morning, I glanced out my guest bedroom window and saw something in my neighbor's garden that didn't make sense.
And then a closer look!  She looks good.  Healthy...perhaps even pregnant.  It's likely given that she is on her own here and not among the little herd that calls our neighborhood home.  

More Little Garden Zoo Critters...

From today's photo shoot: European Red Deer, Sloth Bears, African Wild/Painted Dogs, Clouded Leopards, and a Fennec Fox.  And remember, admission is always free at my zoo!





Avocado Pesto Pasta

 Inspired from a Facebook video of Michael Bolton making this dish, but modified by me, of course!

The Pesto is made in a blender by combining the following ingredients:

1 Avocado
1 cup of shredded Parmesano Cheese
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
1 cup of fresh Basil leaves
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
3 cloves of Garlic
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Once thoroughly combined into a paste, mix with the pasta.  I ended up only using about half of the paste and you can see how it covered the pasta, so use your judgment on this.

Separately I cut 8 oz's of Cherry Tomatoes in half and mixed them with one small container of black olives and one small jar of capers which I added to the pasta once the pesto was mixed in.  It was delicious!
And I served it with Shrimp Scampi.

Happy Father's Day!

Yup.  My Dad!  circa 1975?  It's not from our home at all...and so the location stumps me.  But that's my dad in all his glory.  Cheers!

Another Lily Blooms!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Garden Zoo: Blue Poison Dart Frogs



My Summer Room


Saturday is always cleaning day! So after the bathroom and kitchen were well sanitized and tidied up, I turn my attention to the most important room of the summer--the deck!


Bee Balm!

Over the years as I have gardened and pretty much created my gardens from scratch, I have learned so much. I have fancied plants and worked with them to much success with some and none with others. Yet, I continue to fancy many.

Some of my successes have been:
Phlox--(so much so that I have to keep them corralled in a specific plot that I am thrilled with, but am also always pulling up others from elsewhere in the garden!)
Celandine Poppy--(a consistent friend in early spring)
Ragwort--(still ascending)
Soldago Goldenrod
Tiger Lily
Bleeding Heart
Monk's Hood
Fire-cracker Lysimacia
St. John's Wort
Coneflower
Japanese Anemone

Some that were strong, but faded away include:
Purple Loosestrife--(good riddance!)
Foxglove
Lithodora
Butterfly Weed
Goat Spurge
Lupine
Cleome


And then there are some like Bee Balm (Monarda) that I have wanted for from forever and tired time and again to no ultimate success. (I have neighbors with amazing beds of the butterfly, honey bee and even hummingbird magnet blossoms.) Then last year I planted a set of them again in the lower raised bed of the circle's garden. They did fine. Never bloomed. grew to a height of about 2.5 feet, then died back in the fall. Oh well, I thought. And now this!? They came back like gang-busters! And they are in at least three colors: Carnation Pink, Deep Pink and Purple! I am so happy.





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Hot Buddha

Even record breaking heat doesn't cause Buddha to frown.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tomato & Broccoli Gratin

 The recipe from the latest edition of Cook’s Illustrated magazine titled “Best Summer Tomato Gratin” inspired this meal.  After reading it, I sort of did what I always do--my own version!

Ingredients

3 cups of Italian Bread, cubed 3/4 inch
2 cloves of Garlic, diced
1/2 of an onion, diced
1/4 of a Green Bell Pepper, diced
9 good sized vine ripened Tomatoes, cored and cubed 3/4 inch
1 smallish head of Broccoli, chopped
2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of black pepper
6 oz, Fontaine Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Olive oil

I cubed the bread the night before and left out loosely covered to dry out.  Then I toasted the croutons on the stove top with some olive oil and set aside. 

In additional olive oil (maybe a Tbsp) I sautéed Garlic, then added Onion and Green Pepper, then added the broccoli and stirred it around for about 2 minutes.  Next I added the chopped Tomatoes along with the sugar, salt and pepper and mixed covered and lower the heat to simmer.  Every 2 minutes I stirred the mixture and covered for a little over 10 minutes.

In my casserole dish I combined 2/3's of the croutons with 2/3's of the Fontaine cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.  Then I began spooning in the Tomato/Broccoli mixture and folding in with the croutons until about 2/3 of it was combined.  Then I pressed the mixture down and more loosely added the remaining croutons followed by the remaining Tomato/Broccoli mixture.  I topped this with the rest of both cheeses and baked at 350˚ for 45 minutes.
After finishing this plate of this dish, there was only thing left to say, "MORE, please!"

Romeo: Deck Lover!



Roses


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Proof

Went to Olney Theatre Center tonight to see "Proof". It's a multiple prize winning drama about a family racked with genius and loss and the younger of two sisters finding a better place for herself in the midst of both. Elegantly written and beautifully performed this evening. It's on stage through June 18th and I would urge anyone looking for a wonderful evening of theatre in the next week to get tickets.

The anchor of the cast is Dawn Ursula as the Catherine, the demented genius's Ggenius daughter. She works the various moods of Catherine with an effortless commonness that immediately makes her real and compelling. Craig Wallace plays the father, Robert, who is dead though most of the play appearing in flashbacks and as an apparition in the first scene. I saw Craig earlier in "Fathers Come Home from War, Parts 1, 2 & 3".  It took me awhile to make this connection as he played the role of a happy dog!  Great actor.  Aakhu TuahNera Freeman played Claire, the older sister. She is the responsible one, the one who makes the hard decisions from afar or just ignores the problem--every family knows this one well, and Aakhu plays it with a conviction that makes the times she lets her guard down all the more poignant. And finally the protogée, Hal, is played with tremendous sincerity and humor by Kiko Eisen-Martin. All in all one of the best ensembles I've seen all year.


It was open-seating and shortly after I sat down on the end of a row, a trio of African American women sat down next to me. An older women directly to my left and two younger women beyond her. My row-mate and I soon struck up a conversation. She was Sylvia Bryant a retired Montclaire County New Jersey public school administrator who was a guest of her younger daughter and her daughter's friend for the play. We soon were chatting like two old friends about DC (She'd just moved here after her husband's death and her retirement), Philadelphia (her husband was from there), the theatre (both the DC scene and her life long second vocation as a dancer--and she might have been edging up to 70, but let me tell you this, the girl still had the legs for it!) She shared her impressions of her new home here in Olney and peppered me with questions about my job and role as a Staff Development Teacher in Montgomery Country Public Schools. We talked about racism and some of the work her new little church in Sandy Springs, Maryland is doing to combat it. The only thing we didn't do was exchange phone numbers...and now, I kind of wish we had.