Thursday, July 7, 2011

July's Beginning

It’s been a rough week or two to be able to sit down to blab. The garden suddenly was exploding with produce and that has meant, blanching, freezing, storing, and consuming vast quantities of corn, tomatoes, squash, and beans. I have made gazpacho, cream of tomato soup for my dad (his favorite), corn fritters, corn bisque, squash casserole, sautéed squash, and on and on. When it all happens at once it can get a bit overwhelming because I certainly don’t want any of it to go to waste. It takes too much sweat, labor, and horse manure to get the stuff here. Now the peaches are ripening and the okra is thriving. More freezing and chopping to do. Next is pear relish time. Ah, the fruits of the harvest.

A large black pot of grease sits on my stove top waiting for the crunchy morsels of okra to cook every night recently. The cast iron pot is well used and old. It belonged to my great grandmother and was cast by a foundry in Alexander City, Alabama, who knows how long ago. This foundry cast a thinner gage cast iron than most and is lighter and absorbs heat quickly. I have to wonder how many chickens it has fried, or stews simmered, and what meals it was used to prepare, before the pot made its way to my kitchen. If only a pot could talk…

It is impossible to believe it is now July. The fourth was last weekend, a very nice long and relaxing holiday with little to do besides eat all of the above veggies. By accident we found a watermellon that was perfect and sweet that had grown outside of the garden fence, unbeknowst to us or to the horse who lives in that field. We did fire the mortar I got Mark for Christmas a few times just for the patriotic symbol of the reason for the holiday. The horses are just about bomb proof now and don’t run with too much enthusiasm to the far end of their fields when they hear the ka-booms, but I suppose they feel the need to stay a good distance away in case we might aim at them.

We visited my parents on the fourth and they shared an apple pie a nice friend had given them. They were both decked out in red, white, and blue and the pie was served on red plastic plates. Topped off with a bit of ice cream, it was absolutely delicious. Both of them looked to feel so much better than they had when they were so sick in the recent months and it was nice to chat and share the day, and the pie.

My dad served in the Korean Conflict, way before I was born, and on his wall above his desk is shadow box of all the many medals he won for bravery and valor. One is the French version of the USA Medal of Honor, the Le Croix de Gare, and for what particular thing he did to earn it, I am not even sure. I should ask before it’s too late, and the story is gone. There are many others in the box as well, each one represents a story and they too should be told and recounted. My brother will most likely inherit these baubles, as Napoleon used to call them, and his son after him. These medals are symbols of courage and character, and those traits should stay in the front of our minds, because they so well represent my dad, and all of the other brave men and women who have fought for us so that on this holiday weekend I can sit by my pool with a cool beverage and not worry about invading armies coming down the driveway. Neighbors are a different matter..

Our pool sits in the shadows of surrounding oaks and sweet gums, between the house and the pond, much of the day in the shade, making for refreshing cooler water than our previous pool at another house we lived in. The water at that pool sat in the baking sun all day and by June the water was tepid and useless to cool a would-be swimmer. By august it was a hot tub, but not in a good way. We even went so far as to buy some ice to cool it down but that was a futile effort. So now we put up with cleaning out fallen leaves, all of which find their way, probably several times over, into the present pool and enjoy the being able to actually cool down when the temperature is so friggin’ miserable, and dangerous. It is nice to sit by its edge and watch the passing birds fly by, or watch the several varieties of bats that come out at dusk and perform amazing aerial tricks as they hear the tiny bugs they are busy gobbling up. We have seen Bald Eagles from there, right over our head, and one even stayed for a while and fished our pond, and stood tall in the snag of an old oak across the waters.

For a strange and unexplained reason, when I walk down the stairs to get into the water, the dogs do not even raise their eye lids, as they lay under the various chairs and benches on the deck. When Mark goes to jump in, however, things change dramatically. Suddenly they are up, barking, and studying his every move so they can follow him to the jump in point, then go totally bonkers when he jumps, and intently circle the pool after his head pops up out of “water bowl”. Heidi, the Nazi Shepherd, has fallen in once and takes care now not to lean too far over lest it happen again. Marely, the Yorkie Monster trots around, also barking and nipping at the other dogs with her scissor cut shaggy coat bouncing like she is wearing flannel pajamas. Jack, too, equals this performance and then, its over and they go lay down again. We have tried Dog Whispering to no avail. When it gets too obnoxious a face splash of water seems to quicken the quieting part. Memphis, the Lab, just smiles and seems to think their behavior stupid, and just lays and pants.

Friday night, will be our one year anniversary at the Dauber Gallery, our project begun last year to see what would happen, if more than just a few folks actually got to see Mark’s incredible photography. It has been a quite varied and interesting journey so far, primarily because of the people who have graced our doors, who have told stories, who have taken the time to see and study the work, and have been moved enough to take it home or to their offices. Mark now has works hanging literally all over the world. It is pretty hard to pick my favorite of his because he somehow keeps making even more incredible ones.

So the idea is to celebrate the occasion with friends and folks, have some wine, and play some music. It is a rough job but someone has got to do it. Our band, the Fabulous Moonshine Cherry Band, will ring the halls and hopefully, hail the beginning of a second year of success in the Gallery. Cheers.

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