After chasing my lost youth via the delicious medium of avocado toast (millennials know what's what!) yesterday, I wandered homeward along Buffalo Bayou. It's a couple of crow-flown miles, but I managed to stretch it to twice that long by following the curves of the bayou and by finding art and nature to explore as I went.
And because I discovered the once well-worn paths I was on were closed still due to flooding. If you remember much about Hurricane Harvey's hit to Houston in August, you'll remember that the bayous, especially the city's principal one, Buffalo Bayou, overran their banks for days and weeks. Although the water long since receded, many of the paths are still covered in debris, and there are areas waterlogged because of all the shifting soil. The dog parks close to the restaurant where I ate my toast are still buried. A couple of the pups I passed gave me looks that clearly read, "we're supposed to be able to go off leash around here, you know."
I know, puppers. I know.
The art along Buffalo Bayou Park has survived, and it was nice to get up close to much of it as I walked through the gray and brown and green landscape. The Wortham Fountain - or The Dandelion as I always called it growing up - is fun to circle, even on a day too chilly to get close enough to be hit by the spray. And the Tolerance statues (the bodies are constructed of alphabets from around the world) are great to explore up close, instead of my usual glimpses of their large graceful forms as I drive past.
Once I reached Glenwood Cemetery, I ducked in through a side gate to look around. I've lived near it for about 18 months now, but have never really explored it, other than glancing in while walking by the bayou. Turns out Gene Tierney is buried there, and Howard Hughes, and so many well-known figures from Houston's arts, business, and governmental history. Plus, it's super-pretty. I'll be heading back to explore more deeply when the weather gets a tad friendlier.
Yesterday, I just headed up Sawyer Street to home. I always enjoy the street art in this part of the city. I often get stopped at train tracks here, and get to contemplate the colors and patterns, but walking beside it and realizing the scale and vision of the creators is even better.
I hope you've had decent enough weather to explore some beauty around you lately, too! And if you can't get outside, may I recommend you settle in at home with a nice plate of avocado toast?
Writing Let the Good Times Roll was a challenge, and not just because I transformed Chloe from antagonist (in Eye of the Tiger) to main character I spent every moment longing for Cajun food, and for New Orleans.
(Well, I wrote part of it while visiting New Orleans, so I wasn't longing for much then. Except for more hours to explore and eat and walk and talk and eat and eat and eat. Lucky me!)
As I do for all of my books, I created a Pinterest page full of the images that inspired me for this novella. Before you check it out, a warning: you will long to visit New Orleans for yourself! (As an alternative, read Let the Good Times Roll!)
IRISH SODA BREAD
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats & a bit more to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
(optional: 1 cup raisins or currants, rinsed in hot water & patted dry)
2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten lightly
Into a large bowl, sift together 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the whole-wheat flour and 1 cup oats, plus caraway seeds and raisins. Add the buttermilk and egg and stir the mixture until it forms a dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it, adding in as much of the remaining 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour as necessary to form a manageable but sticky dough.
Halve the dough, form the halves into round loaves, and put them on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the loaves lightly with additional oats, dust them with flour, and bake in the middle of a preheated 350° oven for 30-35 minutes, or until they are lightly browned.
Cool on a rack before eating. I mean it! Cool first, then eat! (Add Irish butter, lashing of jam, smoked salmon, or other toppings as desired.)