Tag Archive | climate chaos

Enough to Eat

I’m grateful for leftovers: veggie enchilada with shredded romaine and fresh garden tomato for lunch today, the last of the cauliflower soup tonight. I’m grateful that I have enough to eat, and a roof over my head, and good friends around the valley and around the country, and everything I need to bake cupcakes tomorrow.

I’m grateful that Hurricane Idalia wasn’t quite as catastrophic as she could have been in terms of human fatalities; though she’ll result in plenty of long-term suffering for millions of Americans along her ongoing path. Supporting my plea argument yesterday, R. Hubbell wrote in Today’s Edition:

         “The effects of human-caused climate change are manifesting themselves everywhere—as should be expected given the interdependence of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land masses, and ecosystems. We can feel overwhelmed if we simply catalog the many ways in which climate change manifests itself. We cannot give in to helplessness. It is never too late to make changes that will benefit current and future generations. The most important thing we can do is to elect leaders who will prioritize the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels…. It is time for all Americans to put climate change at the top of their issues list when deciding how they will cast their vote. Remember that at the GOP debate last week, Vivek Ramaswamy declared that ‘Climate change is a hoax.’ The only hoax is politicians who refuse to address a problem that is an economic and national security emergency affecting the lives of every American.”

Robert Hubbell, Todays Edition, August 30, 2023
I’m grateful for a quiet, uneventful evening walk among the late summer light and the altocumulus sky.

Tragic Garlic Harvest

Feeding Biko chopped romaine is a new thing. I used to give him whole leaves, and I’d toss one to Wren to keep her busy. She wouldn’t come close enough to steal from him. But now, with a scatter of chopped, she sneaks in to steal a crunchy piece from the edge and runs off with it. And she loves it so much she’s getting bolder.

After her strenuous thievery in the morning she must nap hard.

My tragic garlic harvest proves that despite a promising start, planting in the spring doesn’t work. I was happy to get a few decent heads, mostly small ones, and those whose greens died back earliest and completely turned out to be nice fat single bulbs–though I will have to cut into each one and smell it to be sure it’s actually garlic. Don’t know what else it could be given where I dug them up, but don’t want to eat a lily bulb or something by mistake. I’m grateful for the harvest anyway: despite its paucity, it’s still more garlic than the sixteen individual cloves I planted in March, and I learned some things about what works and what doesn’t.

I’m grateful for Amy-inspired lemon ricotta pancakes which I finally made tonight to use up leftover ricotta from our gnocchi zoom. After burning the first few as usual, I got the hang of it. They were delicious. I used a NYT recipe but there are dozens available online that all look delicious. Since my frozen blueberries are buried under frozen apricots, I just broke up a few of the last fresh apricots and then doused the pancakes in real maple syrup. I cooked the whole batch, and froze leftovers in bags of two. Amy said they reheat well. I can imagine popping them in the toaster.

I live each hour, each conversation, each delicious meal, each page I read, physically aware of the climate chaos that rages all around. In this moment, in this place, all is well. In Canada and the Pacific Northwest wildfires rage out of control emptying whole cities; in Hawaii an entire city demolished by fire and thousands of lives lost, human and otherwise. California desert towns are flooding overnight, and maybe some larger cities as well. Another aggressive heat dome locks the central US in record high temperatures. Newscasters naively refer to some of these as “a once-in-a-lifetime event,” which enrages me.

In this moment, in this place, all is well, for the moment. At any moment wildfire could rip through the precious woods where I live. If it does, may I be ready to flee. May I have time to gather my animals and a few treasures, and escape alive. May my neighbors also be so fortunate. May all in the path of climate chaos be saved, I want to pray, knowing it simply is not possible. This keenly felt awareness both paralyzes me, and fills me with gratitude for every living moment of every day.

Warm Windows

It’s ironic that it wasn’t winter but summer that finally lit a fire under me to get back to the ‘warm windows’ drapery project. Twenty years ago when I conceived and began this creative endeavor, it was to cover the sunroom windows in winter to keep the house warm. Climate chaos has shifted my motivation to finish these insulated shades in order to keep the house cooler in summer.

The light was so blinding I had to wear sunglasses as I worked feverishly this morning to measure and cut the insulation for part of two panels, pin the fabric on, and tack them to the window frames. It’s been getting hot inside earlier every day this week, not surprisingly. By Monday we’ll experience highs around 100℉ (which is nearly 38℃ for my foreign friends). Without air conditioning, we rely on opening all the windows for a cool overnight breeze, then shutting up the house during the day to keep a comfortable indoor temperature.

I thought I had finished the appliqués on the Scarlet Macaw panel, until I hung it up. I realized it needs a few pops of warm color lower down, maybe some bright pink or yellow blossoms at the tips of the macaw’s vine, or a big frog in the lower leaves. Other than that, this one is ready for assembly. The heat relief was instantly palpable when it went up.

Next up was the Iguana panel, which needs a lot of decoration with leaves, insects, and flowers. The sunroom temperature dropped another couple of degrees as soon as I tacked this one up. But then it was time for lunch, and then class. So I didn’t get the fourth panel up until evening.

The eyelash viper, a small arboreal snake native to Central and South America, comes in several astounding colors, including vibrant yellow, orange, and green. Back in my wild days I had several friends who captive bred this beautiful species, so had to include it in my tropical project.

With one window fully insulated (the Toucan), and three mostly insulated, I think I’m in good shape for the peak of this heat wave. I can’t bring myself to cover the fifth window until I have at least one other shade functional so that I can let in light when I need it. Also, the fifth window shines onto my breakfast table where I have several bonsais living, and they need the light. I’m grateful to have these ‘warm windows’ cooled off, and also to have the panels hanging so I can stay inspired to continue piecing them and eventually wrap up this unexpectedly lengthy creative effort. There’s another quilted drape to be made for the landing window!

Beautiful Citrus

I’m grateful for this box of beautiful citrus that arrived today from a dear friend in Florida. Four grapefruits, three satsumas, and two Meyers lemons. And I’m grateful for the other box too, with even more. A few of those satsumas were smashed and leaking, but they had a long cold trip.

I’m grateful for these generous gifts and the causes and conditions that got them here. As I think about all the steps involved in their journey from seed to tree to fruit, from High Springs to here, how they made it through or before the ‘once-in-a-generation’ winter storm, I’m considering that roughly 60% of the US population is experiencing extreme cold tonight, including blizzards, and lethal windchill temperatures. I’m grateful I’m safe and warm. I’m sadly aware of those many humans and other people who are not. Wild animals of all kinds, those in captivity, neglected pets, stray dogs, feral cats, and many more are also at risk from this massive storm. It’s tough to think about. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg of suffering across this fragile planet. I’m grateful for people of all species everywhere who make time to be kind, to support and care for each other.


I’m grateful for improvisation in the kitchen. Yesterday, I boiled some butternut squash gnocchi from the freezer, which I made a few weeks ago with last year’s squash purée from the freezer, and topped it with a quick sauce of sautéed onion, mushroom, and garlic, and the last of this year’s arugula, which I blended Bello style with a splash of milk and some pasta water then tossed back into the skillet with the gnocchi and some parmesan to heat through. It was so simple, so delicious! I tried to post last night but was thwarted.

And I got a second meal out of it as a cold salad today, with a splash of mayonnaise and some chopped chives–still green outside despite ongoing winter weather.

In the meantime, as though I needed to eat even more, I tossed together the last of the shredded chicken with a can of Great Northern beans and one of Cannelinni, some onion, one orange jalapeño, chili powder, garlic, cumin, frozen corn, and Penzey’s Arizona seasoning. It was also simple and delicious. I’m sure grateful for eating so well, and as I’ve mentioned before, for finally settling into comfort and competence in the kitchen so that each meal isn’t a challenge of What? When? How?

And I’m grateful that little Wren has been able to settle into comfort, too–do you think she could relax just a little bit more?

I’m also grateful for the hard work so many citizens (including my friend Gina, a hundred postcards above) are doing these last few weeks before the US midterm election. This is a crucial election: Our democracy hangs by a thread, and it’s up to thinking, compassionate Americans to preserve it. If Maga Republicans win the precarious balance in the Senate or takeover the House, we will return to the Dark Ages where rabid religious zealots will determine who has basic human rights (white people, mostly rich) and who no longer has basic human rights (women of all colors, men of color, LGBTQ+ people, children discovering their authentic identities); who lives and who dies by shuttering social security, Medicare and Medicaid and silencing scientific research; who gets educated and who does the educating based on one single religion–wait a minute, isn’t that what even Republicans were pissed off about with the Taliban? And what’s up with the Putin worship, anyway? My old white male relatives, Colonels and Generals in the US Army before they died in the past decade, were as staunchly anti-Russia as every other Republican in their generation.

We are literally in a battle for the future of the planet (politics aside). But if you love anybody gay, anybody trans, anybody who has a uterus and the potential to become pregnant, if you love Nature, wild animals, clean water, reading what you want to read, science, the earth, you better Vote Democratic this November. Better yet, vote early! If you have children or grandchildren, you better take a good hard look HERE at the difference between what Republicans did over their last four years in the presidency, and what Biden has done in just the past two years, and be honest about which party really has your best interest at heart. If you agree with my point of view, will you please commit to reminding at least three people you know to vote Democratic in next week’s midterm election? With gratitude.

Every Breath I Take

The jigsaw peppers are starting to turn colors, making this charming plant even more delightful.

It was a sleepy, hot day. I’m grateful that it wasn’t as hot here as it was in other places in the west where people I love are suffering from the extreme heat wave; and where people I don’t know are suffering from the extreme heat wave. I’m grateful for the illusion of stability and peace that I dwell in these days, savoring the beauty and ease of this moment, knowing that nothing lasts, everything changes, what I’m grateful for today may not exist tomorrow. Meditating on the certainty of impermanence, reflecting on the precious gifts of this life I fell into and created with every choice I made along the way, takes my breath away sometimes. But mostly, these days, it makes me grateful for every breath I take.


Little erosion…
Medium erosion…
Big erosion…

I’m grateful for erosion. Without it, we wouldn’t have canyons. Imagine that. None of the drama, beauty, adventure; no more of the unique habitats, microclimates, and endemic creatures of canyons… like the adorable canyon wren with its unmistakable song (be sure to click ‘Listen’ in the link). No Grand Canyon, no Black Canyon of the Gunnison (pictured above), none of the other fabulous canyons around the world. Not that I’m a huge fan, and not that it will be feasible for much longer, but no hydropower dams which admittedly provide electricity and irrigation water to a lot of humans… Besides forming landscapes, erosion can also benefit the planet by distributing nutrients…

I realize that I’m in over my head, because as I search the internets for benefits of erosion, I find a 10:1 ratio of articles about “why erosion is bad and benefits of erosion control”: Not many specifics about why it’s good. It depends on your point of view, I guess. For certain, erosion doesn’t play nice with human efforts to control the environment, and the more intensely we have tried to shape the planet to our will, the more we have decided that erosion is a problem to be reckoned with rather than accepting it as a natural force of evolution. So I’m gonna be grateful for it anyway, because of canyons.

A peppertastrophe today as a result of yesterday’s deluge, perhaps. The main trunk of the huge, healthy scorpion pepper broke! None of the peppers have entered their final ripening stage, and they won’t ripen off the plant until a certain trigger point is reached with the perfect combination of daylight and temperature. I’m grateful for equanimity and ingenuity. I was disappointed but shattered as I might have been a few years ago, and immediately set about trying to salvage what I could.
After a few efforts to stabilize the plant in water I was grateful to find the perfect rock to hold it in a bowl. I’ll figure out something more stable and permanent tomorrow if it doesn’t drop dead, and try to limp it along hydroponically for a few more weeks until the peppers start to turn yellow.
And in kitchen successes, yesterday’s dilly beans above, and today’s bread and butter pickles below. I’m grateful for another precious day alive in this beautiful world.


Grateful for garden goulash for lunch. I gathered all the scraps from pickling dilly beans and freezing spiralized zucchini this morning, tossed them in a pan with bacon grease and a chopped tomato, and cooked up veggies for Wren’s food for a few days plus a lunch wrap for me. So simple, so delicious! And making the most of food scraps.
A good dollop of the veggies on top of cheese, avocado, and mayonnaise, on a tomato tortilla rolled up for lunch.

I am grateful for the deluge that blessed us this afternoon in the valley, on the mesa. It poured for a good forty minutes, nourishing the drought-stricken land. Both patios were underwater and pathways were streams. I’m not the only one who stopped what I was doing (reading) and gawked at the downpour. I’m grateful to live among people who appreciate this gift from the storm gods; to know that my friends and neighbors also paused in their everyday lives to marvel at the glory of this rain.

It wasn’t quite a Hundred Year Flood like they got in Moab last weekend, a desert town a few hours west of here; nor was it like the five Thousand-Year Floods that have occurred in the US this past month. And maybe this particular rainstorm wasn’t a direct effect of climate chaos like the record-breaking floods in Dallas, Kentucky, St. Louis, Illinois, and Death Valley since July 26. Maybe our storm was just an extra heavy monsoon rain, but it was definitely unusual for this area in recent years, and most welcome. I’m grateful it didn’t last much longer, because it actually could have overflowed the patio into the front door. As it was, and rarely happens, wind and rain came from the east for part of the storm, melting adobe down the living room window. I’m grateful that all the other sides of my house got stuccoed years ago. I’m grateful I had the presence of mind this time to go outside and squeegee the window while it was still wet, so tomorrow I’ll only have a few streaks to wash off instead of a curtain of dried grit.

After the storm I wandered around the yard assessing erosion, and hunting for Biko. I was kind of worried he might have gotten caught in a puddle and drowned. As cold as it got so suddenly, he might not have been able to move if he’d been tucked in somewhere water was flowing, which happened to be most of the yarden. There are half a dozen places he tucks in for the night this time of year; he could have been anywhere else, too. I started my search in the dog pen where he hides in the dogloo or the dog house when he senses rough weather coming. But the ferocity of this storm caught us all off guard. I circled the yard checking his other hidey-holes, and found him under the lavender-cotton by the top gate.

He was a little muddy and very cold, but I rinsed him off in a puddle and brought him inside for the night, quite relieved to have found him.
After all that excitement, I prepped cucumbers and onions to chill overnight for B&B pickle making tomorrow.
And then Wren and I walked up the driveway just before sunset…
…returning to the yard just in time for another gorgeous spectacle.


A possibly better shot of the sleeping sunflower bees taken by the husband camera rather than the iPhone. I’m grateful for a computer upgrade that has allowed me to process the husband’s photos again after a software drought all summer.

I’m grateful for some time with my husband camera over the past weekend, and for the flowers blooming in the yarden. Not so many nor so profusely as in past years, but still plenty for the birds and bees that are here. It is alarming that I haven’t seen several species of native bees that were common a couple of years ago. But I’m grateful for the few bumblebees and honeybees I see, and for the sunflower bees. And for this red-bellied wasp. Too tired tonight to look her up, and can’t remember if I know her name. We all know how that is.

Grateful for the wild cleome (Rocky Mountain beeplant, an old favorite) that seeds itself. I pluck the easily identifiable seedlings early in the season where I don’t want them, and let them grow where I do. I always let plenty of them grow for the bees and hummingbirds, all of whom love it.
Grateful for a thriving snapdragon crop for the bumblebees and sphinx moths.
And grateful for the red salvia the hummingbirds love, and the hummingbirds who love it.

The Pedal

I’m grateful that the new pedal for the sewing machine works! It’s not perfect: it doesn’t want to stay plugged into the back of the machine. But I braced it to stay put, and got some projects finished yesterday. The fifth and last panel for the sunroom curtains (which I started twenty years ago) is together, the one on the left with the eyelash viper appliqué. Only one curtain is actually assembled and hanging, and now I have four left to finish decorating and sew onto the Warm Window lining. Originally I planned these to insulate the five sunroom windows from winter cold, but as our winters became increasingly mild (along with some major distractions) I kept putting it off. Now I’m motivated to finish them, and another shade for the landing window, to insulate the house from summer sun and increasingly uncomfortable heatwaves. I’m very grateful that I’m fortunate enough to have an adobe house whose temperature remains relatively stable season to season, year to year; knowing full well there are millions of people who don’t have this kind of protection as our climate becomes increasingly unstable.

The first thing I sewed with the new pedal was the gown-curtains. They’re not fancy or fussy, with some rips and raw edges here and there, but they’ll do the trick of mitigating hot sun in the east and west windows in summer, and tempering the cold in winter. And finally making something out of that gown? A priceless feeling of accomplishment.
Here I am in the gown in college, on the way to a costume party with my page, Brian. It was only fair that he was my servant this year, since I was his slave the year before that…

I’m grateful to have these old photos to prompt memories of fun times and special people. But I’m thinking about digitizing just a few special images and throwing all the rest–all the loose photos in boxes, all the albums from childhood, from generations of ancestors before me, from the Colonel’s Army days, from my mother’s last year–just throwing them all away. They take up so much space. And after I’m gone, who will want them? Do I even want them? There’s a certain discomfort in looking at them now, especially those that cover my life. I’m no longer that person. I no longer know Brian, or almost anyone else from my past. I found in looking through the album that contained these two pictures, in looking at these two pictures, that much more than happy memories comes up: memories of embarrassing moments, emotional wounds, longings unsatisfied, choices made, chances missed, a melancholy retrospective. I don’t want to look backward at what and how my life was. I don’t want to think about that girl or her angst. For every fun or happy moment, there were hours of anxiety and dissatisfaction. I didn’t know who I was or what really mattered to me. And none of that past matters now, when there is so little future left.

I want to look forward, not backward. Who am I today? Who do I want to be tomorrow, if I get there? I’ve found contentment in the simple life I lead, close to the land and the wild, growing food, listening to birds, watching clouds; cherishing each day on this beautiful planet even as I witness its unraveling. Finding gratitude and joy in the smallest things:

Baking Aunt Clara’s biscuit recipe, and eating one warm out of the oven with the first taste of apricot jam…
Serving an amuse bouche of blue cheese-stuffed portobellos for Boyz Lunch…
…trying a new recipe with eggplants from the garden, stuffed with a peanut-spice mixture and then steamed in a pot of same…
… serving the Boyz eggplant, stuffed squash blossoms, and a bowl of garden zucchini and orach with créme fraîche and parmesan, along with biscuits, and chocolate chip cookies… enjoying their enjoyment of the food and our time together, and deriving deep satisfaction from serving a meal grown mostly in my garden.
And, of course, I’m grateful for and find meaning in giving a good life to this dear, comical little creature.