Tag Archive | orchids

A New Kitchen Trick

If only pictures could capture scents. I love when I walk through the sunroom and a beautiful aroma stops me in my tracks, leads my nose to it. This morning it was this front orchid, whose name I’ve long lost. Like other fragrant orchids, it pulses its scent on its own schedule and always takes me by surprise.

I’m always grateful to learn a new kitchen trick. I saw on Instagram a hack to use up the last bit of peanut butter in the jar by adding soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, minced garlic, sriracha, and some warm water to make a tasty peanut sauce. I’ve cleaned out two mayo jars since then in a similar way, adding to the last few tablespoons instead of trying to scrape them out. Today I threw in a tablespoon of Penzey’s Peppercorn dressing mix, some Greek yogurt, a bit of oil and vinegar, and a dollop of maple syrup, and shook til it was well blended. Then I doused this random mix of romaine, pickled iceberg, sauerkraut, almonds, bean sprouts, chopped white onion, and a few cubes of Havarti, for a delicious lunch salad.

Why didn’t I have another cheese sandwich? Ack. The Kitchen Ants ate holes in the bread bag. Most of that last beautiful loaf was full of ants… I had sliced it, and they were deep into every slice. I live in peace with the Kitchen Ants, who mostly lay low, but the past couple of weeks they’ve been marauding any crumb I leave on the counter or in the sink. So, as usual, I’m grateful to them for motivating me to keep up with the kitchen, and (as E.O. Wilson invites us to) I marvel at their super skills when they do show up. I thought I’d done a great job putting the kitchen to bed last night when I came in this morning and didn’t see any ants on the counter…

…but then I noticed some on the mottled granite and saw with horror their trail to the bread bag which I’d set on top of this cookie tin. It never occurred to me that they could make holes in the bag, but sure enough it was still zipped shut, and after I dumped it into the compost bin I saw some tiny holes in the bag that no one else could have made. Oh well. I imagine their regular food supply has been flooded out and they’re starving. I’m happy to share my crumbs with them, and I’ll figure out an ant-proof bread solution for the next loaf. I honestly hated to take the antfull bread a hundred ant miles away from their home, but didn’t want to leave it out closer to the house where Wren would have eaten it all.

Who is that sitting in my chair?

Lucid Dreaming

Honey Badger’s orchid, which bloomed non-stop for almost five years until it quit last summer, is blooming again!

My new lucid dreaming practice got off to a great start last night! I read this article in Lion’s Roar before bed and, recognizing that I already had some of the preliminaries under my belt (or covers) already, I fell asleep after meditation with the refrain This is a dream fading in and out. I woke at five, way too early to get out of bed in a cold house, so I meditated again for half an hour. After that I rolled back to sleep. The next thing I knew…

I was puzzling with the Bad Dogs at a small table that I assumed was in my house. I toppled onto my side laughing hysterically at something, and how great it felt to have that long and hearty a laugh! Then I thought of Rocky dog and laughter softened into tears. I woke up and the room was unfamiliar. ‘Where am I?‘ I asked. I was at their house but of course it wasn’t, and I saw a huge patio outside the window with a dozen small cafe tables and chairs. I was the first outside, and there at the edge of the verandah was little Rocky! I called and as he ran over to me I thought It’s a dream so he won’t have any substance, but he was solid: I got to rub and squeeze and love on him. As I did, I saw him also at the edge of the verandah again, and then him again, and again, all around the patio, there were a dozen Rockys all at once.

Then he left and we sat at a table where there were three desserts at each of our place settings. A large bowl made of whipped cream and filled with a chocolate sundae caught my attention first, and partway through eating that I tried the rice pudding. Then the sundae had disappeared from the plate. Oh, that’s because this is a dream, I realized.

And so the dream went, my awareness that I was dreaming slipping in and out of the dream itself as I struggled to make my way home. First I couldn’t extricate my car from a parking space someone had blocked in, so I borrowed a scooter, but where to put Wren? So I imagined her on my lap since it was just a dream, and kept trying to adjust the handlebar height to an adult’s size. The scooter disappeared a couple of miles from home on top of a ridge, as did my phone. In the chaos of numerous other dead dogs (including Mocha, Brick, and some of the Florida catahoulas) appearing, disappearing, and romping around me, I found another phone. Despite insane difficulties with using it, I made a couple of calls to unlikely exes to ask for rescue, and here it was very helpful that I remembered it was a dream, as I could simply end one call and try another. All the calls ended after senseless smalltalk before I could make a rescue request. The last call was so frustrating that I laughed and said ‘This is just ridiculous!’ and I decided to walk the steep trail down and back up with all the dogs, and then I woke up.

Wren scoping out a possible future campsite at the state park where we walked this afternoon.

It may sound like a failure of a lucid dream because I really didn’t control anything in it; but to me, it was a shining success. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve experienced that ‘knowing it’s a dream’ lucidity. I never got invested in the frustrations of the dream, resting in the subtle awareness that it was just a dream, and I let go and allowed it to play out, until I had had enough. By then the sun was peeking over the mountains, and I woke with a light heart, a smiling face, and my little dog cuddled under my arm. Maybe not for others, but for me living well at this point is all about learning how to die well, without regret, fear, or clinging. Lucid dreaming, like every other aspect of mindful living, takes practice. I’m excited for whatever opportunity my sleep tonight brings.


Wren is as happy to see Dr. Leigh as I am. I’m grateful she works on a Sunday. Town was empty; there was no one at the gas station so it was easy to fill up. I’m grateful I can afford to fill up, and that I have a car to fill up…

I was so grateful when I first learned that relaxation is a skill that we need to practice. I’m grateful to have various means available to facilitate my relaxation practice, including a gentle chiropractor with a magic touch.

I’m grateful I could come home and relax with a quick pizza, small homemade crust from the freezer and some random toppings. I cooked down a dollop of plain sauce with a mix of dried herbs and garlic slices, sliced some red onion, martini olives, and the last of the summer’s spicy dill pickles, and topped with shredded mozzarella. Baked to perfection! After lunch I enjoyed a nearly perfect homemade creme brûlée, relaxing with a sense of great satisfaction that I finally ticked that recipe off my bucket list.

I spent a little time relaxing outside with the cameraphone, finally managing to get the moon halfway decently with iPhone alone. I’ve figured out the technique, and identified a challenge with rural living. I’m supposed to focus the camera first on a streetlamp, that’s what the tutorial said. My patio light isn’t bright enough or far enough away to lock the exposure and focus accurately to capture the moon when the lens is turned on it. There was a light cloud cover, which helped; the other night it was so bright the camera captured only a blinding white circle. I’m grateful I get to relax both outside and inside my house.

Relaxing after the moon shot with a bitters and soda, garnished with a slice of rangpur lime. I’m grateful this special little citrus fruit made it from Florida to my kitchen to remind me of the tricks our memories can play–you learn something new every day!


I’m grateful for the mental exercise of this gorgeous puzzle that occupied my free time for the past ten days, a record long time from start to finish. It was so challenging in so many ways, and I’m finding it challenging even to write about it. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of the process, and noted my thoughts along the way, and I just haven’t found the hours it will take to do it justice in a post. But I intend to! I’ll have to start right after lunch to avoid getting to normal blog time and finding myself too spent to do it. Maybe tomorrow! I’m grateful tonight, after a full day, for resting.

Meanwhile, I’m grateful today for orchid blooms coming on again as they do each winter. Here’s one of the first, a little one I pulled from a pot it outgrew. I’d been saving this hollow log for months until the right orchid happened along. This looked pretty tragic when I put it in there, but it immediately revived and after only a few weeks in the log it started a flower spike, and has now graced me with its first blossom.

And, I’m grateful to have my desk back! I normally leave a puzzle up for a couple of days after I finish it, but it’s been ten days without my desk, and using the computer on the sideboard or my actual lap was getting uncomfortable. So after photographing each bird card in the puzzle this afternoon I broke it down. It’s very gratifying to spend time with all the pieces again disassembling the puzzle, remembering how puzzling some of them were along the way, recalling the satisfaction of finding matches, or simply delighting again in the whimsy pieces and the genus of the cut designer.

The Tropic Bird was one I gave a lot of attention to searching for its subtle colors. One thing I love about it and many others is how the bird is the juxtaposition of the image of the bird on one position with a whimsy piece of the bird in a different position; here, diving in the image, and rising in the puzzle piece. That’s just damn clever!


Just a bit of color in the indoor garden this winter.

I’ve been indulging in movies again recently. There was a time when I considered I might be a professional movie reviewer, another time I thought I might make movies or write one and get nominated for an Oscar, and then the time when I was falling in love with another movie buff and I imagined our life ahead enjoying movies together til we were old and grey. He chose someone else, and the other options didn’t pan out either, and all of that is okay. I couldn’t be more content with my life now.

One reason for the resurgence is that I’m not going to the theater occasionally for a specific movie, and now there are so many great new movies showing up on streaming services PDQ instead of having to wait a year til they play out the theater circuit. Last year I watched many of the Oscar nominations before the awards; this year I haven’t paid attention to those accolades, but have been following the recommendations of friends to choose my viewings a couple of times a week. Last night’s movie was a sure Oscar contender.

It is absolutely beautiful in every way possible. If you have a cat in your life, it’s a must see. Even if you don’t, it’s exquisitely worth your time. I’ll let the trailer speak for itself.

“The world is full of beauty… and it’s up to you to capture it, Louis, and to share it with as many people as you can.” So I’m sharing this bit of beauty with you. Thanks, Deborah, for sharing it with me. Here’s an interview with director Will Sharpe, but save it til after you’ve seen the movie.

Another visually stunning film I watched this week is “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” I found some of the dialog hard to understand more from the audio characteristics than from the language, and a little trouble keeping some of the characters straight because it’s been forty years since I studied the play; but, a worthwhile evening’s entertainment nonetheless. Thanks, Sarah, for recommending it.

Food, Again

The morning started well when I got a shot I’ve been hoping for for a long long time: two hummingbirds midair. It was with my camera-phone instead of my husband camera, so it’s not a great image, but certainly captures the drama of their territorial nature as they protect their food source. I’m grateful for a telephone that can live in my pocket and capture a photo like this! Unheard of even a decade ago, much less when I was first meeting the big wide world forty and fifty years ago. I’m grateful that I get to spend an hour in the morning before the workday begins, out in the garden with growing, living things.

Then it was time to cook Boyz Lunch. With the rattlesnake pole beans simmering in oil, ginger, parsley, black mustard seeds, and the first paprika pepper harvested…

…an organic whole chicken roasting in the oven (in a wonderful non-stick pan from Food 52: I was skeptical but it’s been well worth the price)…

…and mashed potatoes and sliced tomatoes from the garden, we feasted! I’m grateful for all the food enjoyed today, by me and others I provide for, and for the opportunity to prepare a feast for my friends; for the hard work in the garden paying off, and for the joy that cooking brings me.

I’m grateful for little Biko, who is just about 22 years old, in the prime of his life, and always eager for something green; and grateful to offer John the joy of feeding him lettuce from the garden.

Orchid interlude

I’m grateful for this lettuce-leaf basil, that grows so prolifically in a pot, with leaves so huge they really could be used as lettuce, as Amy pointed out, and will no doubt show up on my next BLT instead of lettuce. Maybe tomorrow.

And then it was time for Zoom Cooking with Amy. We started by making the pasta dough, and then the no-cook sauce, and while those were resting we enjoyed martinis together. Then we rolled and shaped the strozzapreti, and assembled our meals.

So simple, so delicious: chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic, a bit of olive oil, resting to meld the flavors.
We laughed about how we made The Big Lasagna last year, rolling the dough by hand, taking hours! We are both grateful to have mechanical pasta rollers now! I’m grateful for the KitchenAid attachment I was given ♥️.
I’m grateful for any cooking tips, and read recently that to keep pasta from sticking together it’s best to remove it from the water with a slotted spoon, rather than dump it into a colander.

And then we tossed the cooked pasta with the tomato-basil-garlic sauce, sprinkled with parmesan, and sat down to enjoy our dinner together. I am always and forever grateful for zoom cooking with Amy.

The Food Chain

Not food, for us anyway, but just a delicious color.

I picked two cucumbers, one way ahead of any others, and one more for enough, and made a quick half-pint of refrigerator pickles, with a perennial onion, dill, and coriander from the garden, some kosher salt, and the leftover brine from yesterday’s dilly beans. I’m grateful for food from the garden, as it begins to come into the kitchen daily at the beginning of this harvest season.

I’m grateful for food in general. I don’t take for granted that there’s always enough in the house to feed me and the animals; I know for many people that isn’t the case. I’m grateful for the conditions of my life that, for the time being, ensure that we have food; knowing that this could change with a moment’s misfortune. I’m grateful that I can buy avocados, bacon, croissants, and mayonnaise at the store. What a remarkable time and place to live in, where all these foods are delivered from near and far to a nearby supermarket, filling aisles with choices. I know there are many places in the world where this isn’t so.

I mixed up these store-bought foods with the first cherry tomatoes and some late lettuce from the garden, and created a gourmet sandwich that filled me for the day. So simple, so delicious! I’m grateful for my own appreciation of food, a simple yet essential pleasure, and to live in a community that values food. I’m grateful to know where most of my food comes from, and to think about where the rest of it comes from, knowing that the food I enjoy relies upon the efforts of many people to make it onto my table. I’m grateful for the root sources of food, the plants and animals, and all the plants and animals and other living things that their lives depend upon. I’m grateful for the food chain, the food web, that results in food on my table.


I knew a guy named Tom, once, who lived with a progressive friend. Tom put a shapely tree trunk in his bedroom that fit perfectly from floor to ceiling. He also converted part of the back deck into an orchid room. Some orchid connoisseurs go to great lengths to provide optimum humidity and other climatic particulars, and Tom was one of them. We lived in north Florida at the time. I was impressed with his collection; though they were the first living orchids I’d ever seen (outside of decapitated corsages) so I was no expert, there were a lot of them on many shelves, of different colors, foliages, growth habits. He impressed upon me what great lengths one had to go to to keep them thriving; he assured me it was difficult. He knew the scientific names and cultivars of all of them. It was greek to me. He was smart, and cute; I think he found me wanting. I was cautious and constrained, and thought him too short; he moved on. I’m grateful, though, that he introduced me to orchids.

It took decades before I got my first orchid, but after that I collected one a month during a difficult year, and gained a reputation as an orchid whisperer. Since then, all of ‘my’ new orchids are rescued or rehomed. When Connie, who had even more orchids than I, moved away she gave me her collection of ten or so. They’re mostly still alive and blooming, along with most of my originals or spawn of from 15 years ago, and a few more gifts and adoptions. It turns out, they’re not that difficult at all, at least the most common grocery-store variety of genus Phalaenopsis. I’m grateful for all the orchids that have come my way, for the beauty and the lessons they’ve brought. (Caveat: I’m sure there are good ecological reasons not to support the orchid ‘industry.’)

I’m grateful for the indoor garden in winter. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but that doesn’t make me any less grateful every day.

I confess, I haven’t learned the genera of all the orchids I have. I did know more of them at one time, but have forgotten for lack of use. They all seem to do just as well in my dry house in western Colorado as any of Tom’s did, or any of the other orchid collector’s I’ve met, who sold them for a nursery, and had a good-size greenhouse in her suburban DC backyard. Her collection was suffering some fungal plague or other pestilence, and looked over-crowded and overly humid. I simply watch for what they need: if their leaves grow very dark green, they might want less light; if they get pale, they need more. Don’t let them dry out completely, feed them now and then, clip off bloom stalks a third of the way back. Keep them in a saucer, water with tepid from the top, mist them when I can or rinse leaves under a soft stream or spray of tepid tapwater; repot them now and then.

Most of them get indirect southern exposure most of the year; I rotate a few blooming ones out of the sunroom into the kitchen or living room just so I can enjoy their flowers. When they fade I trade them back into the sunroom; all year long there are usually at least two or three in bloom, and it seems to keep them all happy. The Phalaenopsis I call Cynthia has bloomed non-stop for more than three years since she gave it to me to babysit for awhile. I am grateful for this orchid, and for the one called Fred which he gave me on my birthday a couple years ago, and for the one called Jere from which I’ve shared several offspring; for Shawn (because that was the name on the pot when Connie gave it to me), which I just divided for the first time last month, and for all the Connies including a couple of exotic varieties; and for the two newest Christys, who are still acclimating in the east windowsill and haven’t settled on a spot yet. And for all the others.

My very first orchid, Lava Glow, still grows though reduced to a core of just a few new leaves. Others have been divided and shared through the years. I count at this time – I just counted, to be sure, and have more than I thought, twenty-three orchids, of which six are in bloom and several more budding. I am grateful that there are always orchid flowers in my house. I’m grateful for moderation in orchids as in all things, grateful to be able to nurture a few beautiful creatures in exchange for their contribution to this house, grateful to be alive in the same world with orchids.

I am this morning and everyday grateful for the Ancient One, who lives near the canyon rim.