I’m grateful for yet another day of beautiful, mild fall weather which Wren and I could spend outside puttering in the garden, tidying up the yarden, before another winter storm blows in overnight. Already clouds are massing above, obscuring the waxing moon; there’s moisture in the dark air. I’m grateful to have some of the firewood stacked dry under the shed roof,
I’m grateful that the green tomatoes I brought in weeks ago are ripening so well! I pulled them out of the brown bags to finish on the counter before turning them into sauce. After a hard day’s work inside and out, Wren is grateful to rest with me.
I’m grateful for the steady wisdom of Robert Hubbell weekdays in my inbox: for his optimism, criticism, research, references, compassion, and wisdom. I can’t recommend his newsletter highly enough for all Americans who believe in democracy, equality, and true freedom. I also admire and am inspired by and grateful for pastor John Pavlovitz who promotes true Christian values of kindness and inclusion. And I’m grateful for Jessica Craven, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, the J6 Committee, and so many other voices on the national stage speaking truth in the face of corruption and lies; and for the thousands of door-knocking, phone-calling, postcard-sending activists in my community and yours who are putting their precious time and energy into spreading the news that if Republicans win next week, we all lose. If you follow this blog and you are not an advertising troll, you probably care about many of the same things I do. Please trust me on this: it is imperative that every one of you votes. It’s going to be a close election, and there will be nasty fallout with Republicans across the board refusing to honor the results if they lose. We have every reason to be hopeful, as Hubbell says often, and no reason to be complacent.
I’m grateful for FedEx Ground, which I learned a lot about yesterday when a package got delivered to my yard gate. I’d been trying to update my delivery preference by phone or online for a month, after a 50-pound bag of animal food got left at the dropbox at the top of my driveway. It’s a bitch for me to lift that much anymore, much less into my car from the ground and then out of it again into a wheelbarrow. The dropbox is there for when the driveways are impassable in winter, but somehow that specification got lost over the years. But I wasn’t successful with the online or phone intervention, so when drove out last week just behind the FedEx truck and saw him pulled over a mile later, I pulled up behind him. He was courteous and friendly, and happily agreed to deliver to my yard gate from now on.
So I walked out to thank him when the truck pulled in yesterday, but it was a different driver, and she said, “It said dropbox but I didn’t see one so I hope it’s ok to bring it down here.” I was delighted and grateful, and explained again that it was an obsolete instruction in their route notes. Then we fell into a delightful conversation in which I learned that she and her husband bought the route–who knew? It’s a FedEx Ground thing–and it’s now their family business, she is the mother-in-law of the regular driver, she wasn’t planning to drive but it’s hard to find a driver applicant who can pass a drug test or has a clean driving record, five of her family now drive the routes from Cedaredge to Somerset, and so on. We ended up talking about raising meat animals with non-GMO feed, ethical eating, the challenges of gardening in this arid climate, and more. She was in no rush, which was refreshing, and she ended our visit by thanking me for supporting her family with my business.
I’m grateful for this kind of random interaction that illustrates for me, lest I should forget, the value of being open to authentic connection with strangers, and recognizing the interconnectedness that permeates all our lives. Other recent examples of this potential for meaningful connection out of the blue include developing a virtual friendship with The Hungry Traveler, and meeting an online mindfulness friend in real life today.
Today I’m grateful for any tomatoes at all. I planted half as many as last year, and they did less than half as well, so I found myself with a decent early crop of ripe tomatoes with which I made a couple of small batches of salsa, and with big expectations for a future which did not come. Yet. Last week I picked all the good-sized green tomatoes because I was nervous about a potential frost, and they are sitting in brown paper bags ripening, I hope. Meanwhile, the basket of ripe tomatoes grew smaller by a fruit or two a day as I was too occupied with other obligations to process them. When I finally got to it today, I roasted them with a couple of paprika peppers and an onion from the garden, as well as a store-bought garlic head. Then I ran them through the food mill to remove skins, and got a delicious thick marinara-ish slurry–but only just over a pint. Last summer I canned quarts and quarts of sauces and salsa. You just never know what you’re gonna get with a garden. I’m grateful for the domestic adventure a garden provides!
My guilty pleasure. I can’t think about where it comes from. Though I do buy local ‘happy pig’ bacon when possible, and otherwise the most ethical available. Which isn’t very. This is why it’s a guilt trip for me; and an indulgence.
When I want bacon I manage to automagically separate the food from its origin as a sentient being. My mind disassociates. Today I’m grateful for the first batch of homegrown jalapeño poppers. So simple, so delicious.
One of today’s kitchen projects was to combine both batches of fermented peppers and blend them into a hot sauce rough draft. I’ll ferment at least one more batch of yellow, orange and red peppers along with a carrot or two and a red onion from the garden, and then blend all these phases together before bottling. It was naive of me to think the various pepper varieties would all ripen at the same time, and I’m grateful for allowing things to be as they are and adapting my plans accordingly.
Another of today’s kitchen projects was spicy dill pickles. I made six half-pints and for the first time in my nascent canning career made a dreadful mistake. Not the first mistake I’ve made canning, but the first time I’ve made this one: I screwed one ring on crooked so the lid wasn’t held down and didn’t seal. Somehow, though, the jar didn’t fill with canning water: the pickles smelled fine, so I reset the lid and stuck the jar in the fridge. I’ll test it in a couple of weeks, the recommended time for pickles to steep before tasting. If it goes bad, oh well, compost. I put a tiny red Jigsaw pepper and one slice of orange jalapeño in each jar, along with a quarter teaspoon of dill seed.
After a busy day in the garden and kitchen and a couple of short walks, I lay on my back on the chaise for toes-up time. Little Wren had to investigate so she jumped up on my belly and coming close, cocked her head: What are you doing? Do you want me to lick your face?
This little yellowjacket didn’t want to budge from the base of a chimayo pepper, so I let her stay, happy to share sustenance. She won’t eat much, the pepper will ripen and soon join the harvest basket. Just a handful of yellow beans, jalapeños and a few other peppers this morning, but enough new arugula to make another batch of pesto. There are still loads of green tomatoes and unripe peppers to come, but with this cool spell everything has slowed down. I’m grateful for a rainy day predicted tomorrow. I’m through teaching on Thursdays for awhile, and love the prospect of an empty day in front of me to catch up in the kitchen, and hopefully to start a pet project on the computer that I’ve been procrastinating on for years. We’ll know more later!
I’ve read about cabbage steaks and finally decided to try some. I had a couple old pieces of sourdough bread, and plenty of chickpeas on hand, so I made this, and wow! Next time I’ll use less salt, but otherwise this was a delicious and healthy dinner. I burned most of the croutons but that was just as well, who needs the carbs. Chickpeas roasted to perfection, and the mild seasoning with cumin and coriander went well with the lemony mayo dressing. I chopped up the leftover roasted cabbage, grated a carrot into it, and put in the fridge for coleslaw for the week.
I’ve been grateful this week for lots of rain to nourish the earth, replenish the aquifer, water the garden. And I’ve been grateful for plenty of sunshine and busy pollinators stocking up before they slow down, perish, or leave for winter.