I have just returned home after doing this afternoon’s errands. Today was the day to set up all the missing links for my move down the hill from Jerome High School to 432 S 6th Street. Deposit paid, insurance proven, lease signed. The new space is mine. I even bought an “ugly” work sink from Habitat for Humanity for twenty bucks. In the next few days I will pick the magic day for our move, sign up the vets to help and secure a rental truck.
As I drove around town I was struck by the circles I run in. On one end of 6th Street is the Cottonwood Library. Three years ago I was busily putting the finishing touches on my book, It Happened in the Cottonwood Library Parking Lot. I posed for a picture in late July there with my dear friend Patty Gilson. She took one look at the concept photo I had, clicked two pictures and the cover was set. One of my stories in the book, “Ditzy,” about a man who finds a dog advertised on the bulletin board at the library, features a jog down 6th.
Perhaps a new book is in order, Driving on 6th. In addition to the library, the recreation center, and the county mental health offices, all of which were mentioned in my first book, the police station is on 6th. That is where I had to deliver Baruch when he was quarantined for ten days after nibbling on a man. The mortuary where I picked up an American flag for Patty’s husband’s funeral is on the street. I go to the senior center on 6th once a year to have my taxes done. Top Hat Liquor Store is on the corner of 89A and 6th. Across 89A is Juanita’s a fabulous Mexican dive where I eat frequently.
And now I will be hanging out in Suite C of Appliance Junkies, George’s collection spot for washers, dryers, fridges, microwaves, and stoves. Don, a dumpster diver extradordinaire, will be treasure hunting regularly in the back lot! He got in trouble digging through the dumpster at the high school in Jerome. This one will be more friendly!
I enjoyed my year and a half up in Jerome. I went up there looking for adventure, looking for an answer to my question, Am I really an artist? I hung out with artists up there, learned the lingo, tried out the lifestyle. I met Sue, my website designer there. Don blew into my life while I was up there practicing art.
In Jerome I tried out ways to share my art. I quickly got my pieces into three galleries, where nothing really sold well. I drove from Jerome to the Village of Oak Creek three times a month to try to learn to work in an art gallery. For me, that experience was frustrating because most of the merchandise featured, and selling well there were touristy crafts. My assemblages did not speak to the tourists who wandered in.
For the past few months I have been affirming I was ready, with my improved assemblages, to find a space where my art could be featured as art. I have wanted a space where I could set up individual pedestals for some of my pieces so they could sing solo. Many on them out-shout each other when crammed onto shelves as where they need to be placed in more touristy venues.
My new location is in the hub of Cottonwood activity. So many of my friends have told me, “I would love to come see what you do, but….” They do not make the five mile curvy drive up the mountain into Jerome. My studio in Jerome is on the second floor of the high school. For those of us educated in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, we remember the wide stairs we had to climb between English and biology classes. Those stairs are even more intimidating fifty years later. I understand the hesitation many of my friends feel as they contemplate visiting me. Now they will not have no excuse. My studio is right between lunch at Juanita’s and the post office. Ace Hardward, where I visit frequently, and where I have made so many friends is less than a quarter of a mile away. Everyone is nearby!
In the next six weeks I will chronicle the steps I move through as I transition from Jerome into Cottonwood. My first challenge will be organizing the mess I have made with my supplies, boxing them up and bringing them down the hill. Don is already designing a sign on a very special piece of Cottonwood bark. Our large supply of beaver sticks need to get gathered up and brought down. Don has a number of ideas for decorating the front space as a showroom. My magic wand tree, its branches a survivor of a lightning strike which Don watched, will be taking up residence in a corner of the new space. This blog will feature a few stories as the time unfolds.
And, mark your calendars for mid to late September. There will be a grand opening, a big party. I hope you can come!
Planning summer menus brings two things to mind. One is the heat. You want to eat, but nothing merits standing over a hot stove, cooking. Appetites come and go, but nothing cooked, and therefore hot, seems to appeal. “Keep the food light,” everyone says.
The other experience that comes to mind in summer is the produce aisle groaning under mounds of watermelons, ripe tomatoes, mangoes and peppers. Roadside stands open, peddle sweet corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This is the time for celebrating the abundance of the soil.
Summer is not the time for stews and pot roasts. Fresh produce does not need extra cooking time to impart flavors. Over-cooking tomatoes or sweet corn (and that can happen in mere minutes) destroys the magic taste of their fresh harvest.
This summer I have turned to cold soups for most of my meals. If I need to spend more than ten minutes total time cooking over a stove it does not get made. Many of the soups I have played with require no cooking at all.
And, I have learned that the best time for cooking in the summer is in the morning. For me, my kitchen window faces west and it gets hot in the afternoon sun. But, universally, kitchens are cooler in the morning. And, by getting all the food prep done early allows you time for a spontaneous swim or a sunset walk before dinner. And, these soups have enough time for chilling.
These soups, garnished with slivered ham, shrimp, cooked chicken, or grated cheese become full meals. I have discovered crema at my Hispanic grocery store. Richer and not quite as tangy as sour cream, its lushness contrasts nicely with every soup I present here.
A note on my recipes. I scan the internet for recipes similar to whatever my craving-of-the-day. I note possible variations on the theme I have selected. I then turn off my computer, and work from intuition on the soup I am creating.
I then turn to creating my soup. I assemble all the ingredients I have decided I will use, and lay them out in the order I think I will be using them. Measurements, as I come to the ingredients are approximate. Before I return the ingredients to their storage places I write down what I used. This is how I have come up with these recipes. Feel free to experiment as you replicate these soups.
Note: I use no meat, nor meat broths in these recipes. I wanted to keep them vegetarian, and therefore most enjoyable for my friends with all their eating habits. All these soups are gluten-free. Only the potato-leek soup is not paleo. They are all healthy! Eat and enjoy.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"