Sunday, June 22, 2008

As passes Spring, so passes two Golden Girls

She had been swimming with us a couple days before. We knew she was slowing down and attributed it mostly to arthritis and the searing 100 degree heat, somewhat unusual for this time of year. She was spending more time indoors, enjoying the air conditioning.

Tuesday my golden girl refused to get up and turned away from food, although she was still interested in drinking water. She'd been out a little longer the day before than we'd intended, perhaps she was suffering a heat stroke.

Wednesday morning there was no improvement, so we took her to the hospital and blood work showed her glucose way down and her liver enzymes higher than they'd ever seen. Her liver had stopped functioning, probably due to liver cancer. We brought her home and I held her in my arms. She passed at 3:40 p.m.

Utah was the last of my dog family representing my long life lived elsewhere. She was 13 years old. Yes, there still is the husky wolf who never fit into that pack. Our other two dogs acquired here miss her companionship. She got along with everyone. Memories come flooding in, too much to write here.

The heat has been getting to me, too. I'd been thinking about cutting my hair and letting it go grey in an acceptance of middle age. With the curls stretched out, it just made the 10 inches required for a donation to Locks of Love. I've only had really short hair twice, both as a form of grieving: The day John Lennon was shot, and the day of my divorce from a youthful marriage that wasn't working out.

It took about twenty phone calls to find a salon with an opening on Saturday afternoon, and it was two hours away. My husband was supportive. About two blocks from the destination, a huge lightning bolt zapped from the sky close to our car, which sent the traffic light into blinking mode. The salon was in darkness, and the stylist assured me she couldn't cut my hair in the dark. I reminded her that scissors weren't electric, and that I had made a half-day round trip just to get this done. Candles were brought out, like a solstice ritual. The ponytail was snipped.

It did not turn out like the picture I brought with me, but I'm glad it's gone. It's like feng shui for my head. I'm also glad it's going to be a gift to some child, who needs some gold. Gone is the tug of weight on the back of my neck. But now I feel like I have a hat on top of my head. Guess I'll get used to it with time. This morning my neighbor let out a gasp as I took off my hat in the garden.

So, two Golden Girls have to Rainbow Bridge, and the other into the next phase of life, whatever that is. At least hair can grow back. Utah, you hold a special place in my heart, and I miss you greatly.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chocolate's cousin and eat your greens!

Here's a sweet little flower that's in the chocolate family. It's called Mexican Mallow (Hermannia texana) although it's not really a mallow at all. It's an endemic, meaning it's found only in my part of the Hill Country. Actually, I've not seen it anywhere other than my own property. I love the bright orange petals, which never unfurl any farther than pictured, and the way they hang. The seed pod is very sculptural, too.

The flower seems to like the drought, and has proliferated in the short grass prairie, even sending some scouts across the creek into the oak-mesquite savanna. It's very interesting to observe our property divided in half by a creek, where each side has an almost entirely different collection of forbs. A visiting geologist once put forth the theory that the creek is actually a fault line.

We have been reworking our drip irrigation system to even out the pressure between the various gardens. The San Marzano paste and Chadwick cherry tomatoes are laden with green fruit, peanuts are up, and eleven kinds of melons and winter squash have a nice start. We have our first head of cauliflower and the blackberries are starting to ripen. The bok choy has taken a hit in the heat and will soon become salad for our sheep and chickens, but the amazing chard just keeps on keeping on.

I made a delectable dinner the other night for some friends of chard, raisins, and walnuts sauteed in brown butter tossed onto whole wheat linguine, and topped with Parmesan. I think chard has become tied with kale as my favorite vegetable. I am amazed at how few people (or restaurants, for that matter) cook greens which provide so many nutrients. Most people tell me they just don't know how to cook greens. The secret? Wilt them with garlic sauteed in some olive oil.

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