Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hiatus of Unusual Size, Part I: The Garden

Hi all - been a while. Distractions abound. I'm trying to get back into the swing of it - I haven't had a blogging hiatus like this since I started this up in 2011. Time to regroup, which may happen in fits and starts, but I'll do my best.

What's been distracting me? Well, you know. Life. My next couple of posts will feature a lot of backlog, and mostly pictures, as I find it easier to get a post going when there's an image to go with it.

First: the great outdoors. Earlier this summer, Spousal Unit and I decided to make good use of our fire pit. We proceeded to buy a ton of logs from the grocery store. You know, the paper-wrapped ones they sell next to the coolant and motor oil. (That should have been a clue.)

One night, Spousal Unit didn't just put out the fire: he hosed it out, dumping the ashy water onto our yard. We ended up with dead grass and weird mushrooms.

(Not quite a fairy ring.)

So that's gross and disturbing, and we're never buying chemically treated logs again. Turns out they sell regular firewood at the grocer's too. Thank goodness.

That's the less-than-pleasant stuff out of the way. (Aside from the hornets in the shed, but everyone has hornets in the shed, don't they?) Our backyard flower bed continues to amaze us with its beauty and ever-changing hues. I didn't know sedum did more than turn green, but apparently, it does.

(The bees love it.)

There are mums and hostas and something that is probably a weed, but it's pretty so I don't care.

My garden has turned out really well for being the first year. The basil was amazing, and we even got lots of good carrots. Next year, the tomatoes need some breathing room, though.

The last task of the season (aside from herb drying and pesto/sauce making) is to Trim All the Things. The backyard bushes are unwieldy, and there's some kind of fake rose bush out front (meaning it produces thorns, but no roses), so that has to go. Apparently I have to wrap it in plastic wrap in order to avoid a lashing. (I don't remember where I heard that from, so if anyone has better suggestions, I'm all ears.)

After this season, zinnias are my new favorite flowers. After lilacs and alstroemeria, of course.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Greens and Wild Things

I've been romping around the garden a lot lately. This might look like a forest to you, and it is. But what is this, a forest for ants? Yes actually. These are my carrots. (Dear ants, kindly ignore my previous invitation and leave my carrots alone. You're far too bitey for my liking.)

My tomatoes are making huge strides. I was kind of terrified that they would all make it and I'd have to make enough sauce for a small Italian village, but the first two have rotted before ripening already. So we're good.

(I might be the only gardener who roots for tomato death.)

This corner is my whole edible garden, but the plot is five times this size. Maybe I'll fill it with more than weeds next year. My three basil plants are enormous, the oregano's coming along nicely, and the parsley is still piddly. Please note the tiny pink statue, which is awkward and terrifying and really good at keeping the rabbits from eating all my noms.

She's the female version of St. Fiacre. Except she's not also the patron saint of Parisan cab drivers.

My snapdragons in the front yard are ginormophone and super sassy, the way snapdragons should be.

Then there's this guy.

Cindy the ostrich!

After romping around the garden, I went to the zoo last weekend, where lots of critters stared us down.


I allowed them to stare right back. It was only fair.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Joys of a Kitchen Bigger Than a Breadbox

Our CSA through Circle M Farm has started up again, and it's been amazing. Every other Thursday when we pick up our box is like a delicious, strange Christmas - after three years, Spousal Unit and I are still surprised at some of the stuff that graces our kitchen.

This year, we finally have a fridge big enough to house the fresh greens and produce. In past years, our tiny apartment fridges barely fit everything, and the tails of greenery would spill out of the sensitive crisper drawer and even hang out of the fridge door. Cramming everything in like that sometimes meant things went bad more quickly - there was no room to set a glassful of fresh herbs. 

The benefits of our house keep surprising me. I've never needed more than a stove and a sink and a handful of fresh ingredients to cook great food and enjoy doing it. But it's a little more fun when you can move the teapot to a different counter instead of a different room to avoid oil splatters. I have more room to dance while listening to music as I cook, so it feels like my joy is bigger. (I have more counters to clean too, but I'll take it.)

And who wouldn't be happy to clean counters that held such an amazing spread?

Some of the more interesting things here: new beets, horseradish root,
milkweed pods, nasturtium salad, lemon balm ... Okay, it's all interesting.

The white flowers are elderberry blossoms - wonderfully fragrant and edible! Edible flowers are so much fun. Circle M provided a recipe for elderberry blossom fritters on their website, and I couldn't wait to try them. I've had an aversion to frying things in oil ever since I burned my armpit while making tempura (I've sucked it up in the past to make egg rolls), but I was too excited about this to worry much. Medium heat proved perfect on my electric stove.

They turned out perfectly - nothing burned, nothing undercooked. With a dash of powdered sugar, they looked like a fantastic reinvention of funnel cake. The stems were excellent temporary handles.

I set out a ramekin of mixed berries (also from the farm - blackcaps, strawberries, currants, gooseberries, and mulberries) and some syrup, unsure of how I might best like these. But I didn't even touch the syrup. The berries, slightly mashed with a dash of milk, were just the right accompaniment for the floral symphony.

Meals like this are why the futuristic dinner in pill form would be an awful invention.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ancient History

Lately, I've been going through boxes of stuff from my former life (a.k.a., pre-Spousal Unit). The nostalgia is like crack. Musty-smelling crack, but still addictive.

Starting on the left: My Poetic License, from high school English teacher Mr. Poss, famous for things such as throwing his keys at the PA system during class interruptions and reading us the "cease and desist" letter from a magazine sick of sifting through bad teen poetry. Definitely one of my formative teachers.

Star Wars Bedsheets. They're for a twin bed, though, so they're currently useless. Doesn't mean I'm getting rid of them, though!

My Softball Glove, from when I played catch as a kid. I can't remember if it was too small for me by the time I joined the middle school softball team.

Mission T-Shirt. In the '90s, there was this thing where a school bus was decked out as a space shuttle. Teachers interviewed for a crew, and kids were "hired" to visit schools decked out as imaginary planets. It was the best thing ever. I was a radio journalist and got to be on the radio for it (you'll be shocked to hear that the DJ kept making me get closer to the microphone because I was so quiet).

A Care Bear and a My Little Pony. I had a serious obsession with these things. The pony one lasted much longer; I still have all of mine. I also just sent Brave Heart Lion through the wash (his poor, poor mane ...).

On the Care Bear is a Packers Superbowl Hat from the '90s. The basement is too far away right now for me to go see which superbowl it's from, so you'll have to live with the mystery.

Dr. Friedeck's No Cavity Club T-Shirt. I found a lot of old shirts in these boxes, but this is one of few that doesn't fit me anymore. I can still wear shirts from fifth grade (and did yesterday, in fact), but this one must be from third or earlier, pre-growth spurt. Dr. Friedeck's office had a Big Bird that disguised a helium tank (I think it was at least five feet tall), and I often got balloons after the appointment.

And last, A Porcelain Tea Set. I was such a little shrimp when I played with this, but all the pieces are still there and in the original packaging. I don't think anything's even chipped. The packaging's a bit of a mess, though; I used to tear pieces of the styrofoam off and pretend they were food.

Monday, June 16, 2014

More Funk Than a '70s Prom

It's been a rough couple of weeks. There have been Reasons, certainly, but it all seems to have had a greater effect. Readers might have noted that I haven't blogged with any frequency lately, and I also haven't worked on the novel in ... two weeks, I think? That's unheard of for me. On top of that, I haven't been knitting. 

This too shall pass. So here are some pictures and a vague attempt at shaking some of this off.

Some good stuff has happened. The poppies in the backyard bloomed. 

I had fun with my hair.

Some friends got married in spectacular fashion.

(There was even chair dancing.)

We celebrated Avatar Day, this year by watching season one of The Legend of Korra in anticipation of season two.

"Happy Avatar Day Father Lord." Thought I was being clever, but apparently we did this last year too.

I got to see my nephew again for the first time in nearly two months. He has teeth! And the most expressive little soul-stare.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Things I Say to My Cats That I Shouldn't Say to a Kid

(At least, to one who understands language.)

I don't think I need to emphasize too heavily that there's swearing ahead ... .

If you weren't lying on the floor like an asshole, then maybe I wouldn't have stepped on you.

You JUST ate. You're not good enough to deserve more food yet.

If you keep whining, I will never feed you again.

No, I'm not letting you outside today. Or tomorrow. Or ever.

If you wake me again tonight, I'm going to lock you in the basement for the next six hours.

Stop licking my hand, you horse's ass.

Maybe if you behave, I won't get rid of you.

Get off my pillow or I will throw you across the room.

Look! It's the neighbor's angry dog. You should go outside and play with it!

Stop peeing in your cage. We're only going to the doctor. (For some reason, I imagine this being said by Brock Samson of Venture Brothers.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mailbox Treasure

Last week, I ordered several books that are out of print on this glorious invention, the internet. This doesn't have nearly the same soothing effects of wandering about a used bookstore for several hours, though it does have better end results (if your goal is to actually get the books you want, which is not always my purpose in such heavenly realms).

The nice side effect of ordering books online is the excitement to greet the mailbox at end of day. Rather than flyers that might (but never do) have coupons for things you need, piles of bills, and bribes that would turn on you later if you were dense enough to take them, there might be a package with your name on it and, within, brilliantly arranged bits of tree pulp with just the right ink upon the pages. It's even more exciting when they're books you've wanted for years.

For example, the only one of five that I've received so far is Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Pictures From the Gone World. I love his unusual arrangement of words and the false cheer in his cynicism. My favorite poem in this book is "The world is a beautiful place," which, contrary to its first line, is not the kind of poem you should necessarily read first thing in the morning.

I also ordered Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind, mostly because I'm looking for a single poem of his - the one that piqued my interest in his work years ago. Unfortunately, all I remember about it is there's a tulip in it somewhere. That's not terribly helpful to me, especially when his works are so numerous and nearly every poet writes about flowers.

At some point in college, a friend introduced me to Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book by Shel Silverstein. I provided a dramatic reading on the spot for everyone in the room, and it was delightful fun to read aloud. But don't let Silverstein's typical nature and the colorful cover fool you: this is not a children's book. Unless you want your kids to throw eggs at the ceiling, cut your hair in your sleep, and have nightmares.


On Saturday, I suddenly remembered that Monday (yesterday) was not a mail day here in the US. I got incredibly sad, and as Monday felt a lot like a Saturday to me, I kept eyeing the mailbox each time I walked in the front door. And then I remembered all over again that no post would be coming and my world crumbled around me.

But I can't wait to get home today. Hopefully another bit of well-arranged tree pulp will be waiting for me.
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