Monthly Archives: May 2012

I smell roses and bake cookies

When Mr. Glad and I drove north to visit some of our children and grandchildren last week, I didn’t expect to bring home anything to blog about. After all, I have posted plenty of pictures of these places before, and we weren’t planning any outings beyond the immediate neighborhoods.

BUT we hadn’t seen this part of the country at exactly this time of year, and nature with all its surprises called out from every direction, “Look at me! Have you ever seen anything like this before?” No, I’m sure I hadn’t!

We stayed at Pippin’s homestead and were shown around by Scout who rarely tires of exploring and at the same time chatting with himself and/or whoever is around about every discovery.

Some things we took notice of together were the birches in the back yard, and what I think was a moth working the lilacs. I took a long movie of the whirring creature but in it his wings are still moving too fast to see clearly.

Squaw Carpet (ceanothus)

The Squaw Carpet I’d seen at other seasons of the year was in bloom this time. It was covered with pine needles, in the forest just outside the back yard. Off to the right in that photo above is the new garden fence that will keep the deer from eating all the yummy vegetables.

Bright Walls of Water are protecting the tomatoes from frost, a prudent precaution since it snowed here as recently as the day before we arrived.

In the front yard next to the road I found this lovely vine blooming. I had never seen one before, but a little research tells me that it’s a pink honeysuckle.

Golden Celebration

For Memorial Day we drove farther north to Pathfinder’s home in southern Oregon. Right now they are having an unofficial flower show all over town, featuring rhododendrons and roses.

My favorite was in their back yard, a prolific yellow rose with the sweetest scent. I wanted to set my chair up close and drink deeply.

Mardi Gras

When we took a walk around the neighborhood Scout kept the group at stroll speed while he discussed the cattle with his mother and found a red yarrow bloom to inspect.

backyard rose
In the Neighborhood
Something like a broom ground cover was definitely more constant in its brilliance than the sun was that partly cloudy day.
Back at the cousins’ place, there was a wealth of (also yellow) equipment to work with, and a dog to peek in on.

The big kids were playing with Scout, or playing a card game with Uncle Professor, or watching some grown-up boys practice their knot-tying. We grown-up girls kept the food bowls full and did a fair amount of rose-smelling. I was introduced to Annie’s new doll Elizabeth (for whom I have not yet sewn any clothes).

I had made some cookies for the occasion (recipe below), which got scarfed up during the appetizer course. That was a good thing, because Auntie Iris had prepared a dessert finale for our event that included brownies, and an ice-cream cake designed to please the littlest member of the family.

All present seemed to love these cookies that Pippin planned and I baked, with a little Scoutish help. I remembered just in time to take a picture, when all but four had been eaten.

Chewy Lemon Cookies

about 4 dozen

1 cup (salted) butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
4-5 teaspoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
about 1 cup powdered sugar for rolling

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add vanilla, egg, zest and juice and beat well again. Mix in all the dry ingredients except the powdered sugar. 

Put the powdered sugar in a bowl. Break off heaping-teaspoon-size pieces of the dough and roll into balls, then roll the balls in the powdered sugar and place on lightly-greased baking sheets. They will be flattish. 

Bake at 350° for 10-11 minutes, until starting to brown on the bottom edges. If you use insulated cookie sheets they may not brown very much but they should still be chewy. Cool on racks.


Maui Diary 9 – Bamboo Forest

I hadn’t read up on the hike to Waimoku Falls, so until we entered the middle stretch of the trail I was unaware that a bamboo forest was even in my future. Just after we passed the giant banyan tree we started to notice the bamboo; at first the growth was not too imposing, and sunlight shined through.

The green walls became thicker and higher as we walked on, and the individual stalks larger in diameter, blocking out the light.

Depending on the soil and climate, the species of bamboo and the age of the rhizome clump, the stems of this grass can be narrow or wide, but they always emerge from the ground at their full thickness.

The growing season is only three or four months long, at the end of which the the stalks have reached their full height, and begin to harden. In five to eight years they decay from fungal and mold growth and die.

The darkest and dankest part of the trail was also the smelliest. Being more of a monoculture than the rain forest of the Pacific Northwest, it had nothing like the delicious aroma I drank in when visiting there. I tried hard to make a place in the olfactory regions of my brain where I could enjoy the aroma of rotting bamboo in deep layers, but I finally gave up. Because I didn’t like that odor, I also didn’t care about finding descriptors.

Signs along the trail told me it wasn’t a true monoculture. Not even counting the small and microscopic plants that were probably growing somewhere, an occasional red-orange flower on the ground revealed that an African Tulip Tree was blooming prodigiously up closer to the sky where I couldn’t see.

When I saw a knobby tree trunk beside the trail, the contrast was such a relief I spent quite a while trying to capture it.

And as we neared the falls, the canopy opened up enough again to reveal a wealth of other tropical plants.

The trail we hiked was in the southern area of Haleakala National Park, a large territory that also includes the summit of Haleakala Volcano, where we had visited at sunrise just a few days previous. Two fingers of parkland extend to the ocean on the south of Maui, and we were climbing within one of those fingers.

When we arrived at the 400′ high Waimoku Falls my powers of concentration were challenged. I think that it’s because waterfalls are constantly moving that they are impossible to focus on in the manner that my slow mind prefers. I get restless.

So I looked around and found an African tulip blossom that had worked itself into a streamside niche and a picture reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy. It held its position long enough for me to think about it and become attached to it. So glad to have a camera.

Then we walked back through the bamboo, feeling as though we were on another planet. We wouldn’t have been surprised if a giant panda had dropped down on the path ahead. But soon we’d come to the end of our strange tunnel and within an hour I was at the wheel of the car guiding it along the loop that would wind back to our home base.

Maui Diary 8 – Durian, Soursop, and Rambutan

ice-cream bananas

The Ono Organic Fruit Farm was a laid-back place after all. We were a half-hour late for our tour of this farm south of Hana, and it didn’t really matter; others were even later than that. So the staff gave the second part first, to those On Time, and we tardy folk just had to stay around longer if we wanted to walk around to see and learn about the trees and bushes.

The main event was the fruit-tasting, for which we sat on an open-air porch before a table spread with a collection of tropical fruits. The young married farm interns chose one after another of the fruits and cut them into pieces to pass around to our group of twenty or so, giving us commentary all the while about the business operation, the agricultural practices, and what they knew of the individual species.

Being the daughter of a fruit farmer myself, I was full of questions about the cultivation or the fruits, many of which the fairly green farmers weren’t able to answer.

That was o.k. There were plenty of other specific things and facts on which I could focus my mind and my camera, and in this case, with those particulars being so strange and new, it’s was terribly stimulating.

This farm makes most of its income from bananas, including the more commonly found Williams variety, of which the kind we eat here is a type, and also the Red Cuban Bananas and Ice Cream Bananas. But oh, what a lot of other goodies they grow.


I was intrigued by the soursop, which is a plant related to the chirimoya and the pawpaw. It was tasty but not overly sweet, and had a sherbet-like texture. In fact, it is used in tropical climates to make sherbet or refreshing drinks.

We were told not to eat the seeds, so I picked several out of my chunk of fruit, very smooth and black seeds that begged to go home with me, so I put them in a scrap of paper towel in my purse.

Later on I’m pretty sure I transferred them to my suitcase, but by the time I unpacked back home in my bedroom, they were nowhere to be found. I’ve been sad ever since, but Mr. Glad is actually glad that I’m not planting a tree for nothing. It wouldn’t be for nothing to me, but it certainly would be without fruit.

Scooping Passionfruit

We ate some of the passionfruit shown above, and later bought jars of lilikoi jam that had been put up just that morning from a variety of passionfruit grown there on the farm. The red fruits in the foreground are Surinam “cherries,” a pretty sour, but juicy, experience, not anything like a true cherry.

Those mangoes they grow on Maui might have been our favorite fruit of the trip — they seemed exquisite compared to the Mexican ones we are used to here. I always love coconut, and the pineapples we ate on the farm and elsewhere on the island were the Maui Gold hybrid, low-acid and amazingly sweet.

rambutan or dragon-eye fruit

One time years ago I had read a long article about durian fruit, and always took it as a given that no one would ever even gently suggest that I eat some — but there it was right in front of me, an opportunity to overcome my stodginess and pretend to be a daredevil. Trying strange foods is not my idea of fun, and durian may be the strangest of all.

ornamental pineapple

You may know about durian, that in several countries of the world it is illegal to carry it on public transportation, because of its aroma — or stink, as it seems to those who get physically ill over it. Other people get downright addicted to the fruit, and travel the globe following the durian harvest.

cacao fruit

I ate it and survived. In case my readers have the chance to taste durian sometime, I won’t say too much about it, except that it did not seem like a fruit. It was not juicy; it was soft; it had sulfuric components….The interns said that the piece we sampled was fairly mild tasting. It didn’t make me sick, but neither do I have any interest in eating another bite.

I thought the fresh cacao seeds would be bitter, like the roasted beans, but it was more pleasant than that, a vaguely chocolatey and unsweet, soft crunch.

Maybe because our tasting had begun late, the walking tour afterward seemed to pass way too quickly. I was constantly lagging as I tried to get pictures of macadamia or cashew or breadfruit trees.

One common tactic of organic farmers is to interplant different crops, so that pests and diseases don’t spread too easily. Here at Ono Farms coffee bushes often grow in the shade of banana trees.

Our visit was all close to the ground, but on the wall above the heads of our hosts was this aerial photograph, showing how bananas were planted years ago to spell out the name of this place where our senses were flooded with tropical flavors. The growers were right when they named their farm: in Hawaiian Ono means delicious.

Maui Diary 7 — Hana

Hamoa Beach

Before we ever saw it, the town of Hana had taken on a mysterious and romantic identity in my mind, a sort of personality created out of the scattered facts and sayings gleaned from books and friends, such as:

Hana is remote, reached by a long and winding, narrow road… The residents like it that tourists find it troublesome to get to… Many stores only take cash, and businesses close early… There’s not much night life… The beaches are black, or red-and-white, or the usual white/grey, but always mythical… It rains most days on that side of the island.

No doubt I also connected the sound “hah-nah” to that other geographical name that resonated not only in my ears but in my soul: Hoh. That was another moist place we visited, a river and a forest that teemed with life and constant change, and which I found soothing and exhilarating at the same time.

We reserved a condo in Hana for one night so that we wouldn’t have to hurry back to our home base on the South Shore as soon as we reached this destination. Good thing, because as it was, our experience of Hana was too short for comfort, and bittersweet.

Lisa St. Aubin de Teran said that “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.'” I don’t mean to be superficial; I always long for plenty of time to get to know a new person or place to some degree higher than a Casual Meeting. Hana must think I am a flirt; I hope I can go back and demonstrate otherwise.

We arrived in Hana in the afternoon, and missed visiting the famous black beach because we were late for an appointment (oh, that is so un-Hana-ish) on the other side of town. But we had our own lesser black beach that we could see right off the deck of our room. In the picture above you can barely see it on the other side of the building, a little dark strip.

Spider Lily

At dusk we walked on those steep slopes of black gravel, and the wind blew my hair every which way as rain began to fall. Quite a lot of rain fell in the night, and we could hear it along with the pounding waves, through the doors that I insisted on leaving open so that I could feel the magical Hawaiian air.

In the morning we packed up and went early to Hamoa Beach — there are those soft-toned exhalations again — where the sky and sea looked dark and coldly unfriendly like our Northern California beaches — but beyond the colors, there was no likeness at all. Mr. Glad walked out into the waves and swam in the warm water to his heart’s content, while I waded and dug my toes into the so-soft sand. I took pictures, and noted that the Spider Lilies here looked fresh and perky compared to the ones on the sunnier side of Maui.

For a little while it seemed that we were the only people on Hamoa Beach. On the beach, yes, but there was a surfer out beyond the breakers. He caught my eye when he stood up on his board, a muscular brown islander guy (surely the same hunk I had seen on a postcard), and let the surf bring him all the way in.

On The Most Beautiful Beach in the World, wasn’t that just the perfect scene enacted for our delight? When he carried his surfboard out of the water I told him, “Watching you ride that wave completed my experience of Maui.”

“Is it your first time on the island?” he asked. Then he extended his hand to shake mine and said, “Welcome to Maui!”