Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Nights

I have been a slacker about my evening walks lately.   I can always come up with an excuse.   One day it's Too Hot, the next day I'm Too Busy, and on the third day I might just forget.    But every once in awhile I remember to get off my butt and walk around the neighborhood, and then I wonder why I don't do it more often.
 Besides the fireflies, which delight me, the cicadas are deafening this time of year.   I love them, love the idea that these small, ordinary looking little creatures can demand so much attention.    Between the twinkle of the fireflies, and the cacophony of the cicadas, it is hard to hold any stressful thoughts, so the evening walks help me clear my mind.
 Several of my neighbors have a large variety of plantings, and I enjoy seeing what is in bloom.    There are large trees in my area that are still unknown to me, but I am intrigued by the seed pods that cover them this time of year.
The summer is passing so quickly, and I feel like I've missed most of it.    My job takes more than the 20 hours I am paid for, and the few projects I set for myself took more time than I anticipated.  But the kitchen painting project is nearly completed, and I have finally tested several of the recipes sent to me by America's Test Kitchen.   I made Creme Fraiche for the first time, 2 varieties of pasta cooked in wine, and a yummy bean and artichoke dip.  I will be making a potato and shallot galette this week.   If the still-confidential recipes are ever released through Cooks' Illustrated, I will share them here!  

My garden is not yet in full gear, but I have enjoyed some cherry tomatoes and, so far, 3 zucchinis.   I am still expecting a lot more tomatoes, hopefully enough to can.  I planted several heirloom varieties.   And  I am still waiting for more zucchini and the jack-o-lanterns I planted for the kids.   My herbs, as always, are going crazy, so I need to get busy and make and freeze pesto every few days.   The batch I made today was delicious, I froze the bulk of it but cleaned the bowl by wiping it with scraps of bread!

Such a strange life I've formed for myself these days.   Work-days filled with death and grief work, time off full of food and beauty.   I am never far from thoughts of both.   Truly, life is good.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shorn

I have been going to the same person for haircuts since I moved here.   I can depend on her doing a nice job with no surprises.    Today she surprised me.   She remarked that she was planning to do something 'a little different' and I said that was fine with me, as long as it was still basically a bob.   She must have thought I wanted to look like Bob, because my hair is a lot shorter than I expected it to be!

Friday, July 29, 2011

That Special Glow

I hate the really hot and muggy days, but the one thing I love about this hot weather is that we've had fireflies every night.  I make an involuntary grin every time I see one light up, which has made for a LOT of smiles the last couple of weeks.    I don't remember seeing fireflies when I was a kid -- probably wasn't allowed to stay up late enough -- and I never saw them at my 'old' house.   In fact, the first time in my life that I noticed them was during a late night walk in a cemetery when I was in college, which was many (many) moons ago.    But here, this summer at least, they seem to be everywhere, in my front yard, back yard, and across the street at the neighbors'.   I love watching them blink, blink, blink, little happy bugs.

As my sister would be quick to point out, this is more definite proof that I am aging fast.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heat Wave Giveaway!

 When it is hot, hot, hot, and I want relief,  a cool drink and a shower come to mind!   For my Hot Summer giveaway, I decided to combine the two ideas!    My prize is the Philosophy set called "The Cocktail Party."    It contains Seniorita Margarita shampoo/shower gel, and Daiquiri lip gloss.  

You may have noticed, I have given away a lot of Philosophy because I love it.   I use it as shower gel, and shampoo, and soap, and bubble bath, and never seem to get tired of it.    By means of full disclosure, Philosophy has (foolishly) NOT paid me to try their products, for my opinion, and did not provide this prize, which I purchased with my own hard-earned money.  :) 

This prize will be randomly awarded to one of my wonderful readers who leaves a comment before the end of my day on Monday, August 8.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Too Dang Hot!




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dark Nights and Whimsey

I've had a lot of trouble sleeping the past three nights, freezing/sweating/tossing/coughing, getting very little sleep and spiking a fever.   During the day I feel okay, although not terrific.   My sister thinks that my work is wearing on me, that the constant presence of death and sorrow is more draining than I realize.   I suspect a virus of some kind, and I hope it goes away soon.

But my sister has a point.   I remember when I took college psychology and started to see some level of dysfunction everywhere I looked and being sick this week has been a little like that.   I have heard stories from people about how they thought they had a cold and here, a couple weeks later, they've been told that they are dying, a million freakish variations of people who are healthy and busy and then suddenly, almost instantly, incurably ill.    In my job, I sit with them and hear their stories, trying to help them look death in the eye.    Most of them have religious beliefs about death,  although some do not.  But regardless of religion, the diagnosis, when it comes, is always unexpected and the death, no matter how well prepared for, is always an awful surprise.    So maybe those night sweats are my psyche's way of shaking off the pall.

But I'm pretty sure this darned cough is a virus!

On a more whimsical note, I saw the most elaborate car in a Kroger parking lot the other day.   My photo doesn't do it justice, the entire car was decorated like a frosted cake, with bows and rhinestones and pearls.   I would have loved to see who was driving it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Testing

I am on a recipe testing panel and finally received my first top secret recipe, for Spaghetti Al Vino Blanco.    It was easy and (relatively) quick to make, full of wine and cheesy goodness.    I am not allowed to share the recipe until after it is published, but I can tell you that it was good.    I thought it would be for adult tastes only, but found that my 6-year-old grandson really liked it.

This was a busy week at work, and the testing of my skills is a lot harder than testing recipes.   It can be impossible to reach through to people who have shut themselves in with grief and despair, and those times are so sad to watch, but it is amazing beyond words to meet with people who have come to terms with this part of life.   One sweet man told me that it made him feel better just to see how much I hated seeing him in pain over his wife's diagnosis.    So far, my 20-hour week is taking more energy than my 40-hour job used to.   I am still working on getting my bearings, figuring out where to place boundaries, and finding a workable schedule that doesn't leave me feeling On Duty all the time.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Keeping Cool

Above my small counter-top, my kitchen contains old, wooden, very low cupboards, too low for me to position a microwave (or much of anything) on the counter.    For those times when I need to defrost or reheat, I have been using a borrowed microwave, set on a kitchen chair, while considering my options.   Recently, for no good reason, in one of those they-shouldn't-have moments, my son and daughter (in law) got me a brand new microwave, installed the necessary electrical connections, and, today, my son installed it over my stove.    It looks great!   So on this much-too-hot-to-cook day, I've been micro-steaming edamame and reheating my homemade soup, sittin' pretty and stayin' cool.     I am a lucky mama.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Working Hard At Leisure

My 20-hour job is funny; some weeks it is so slow that it takes me seven days to work that many hours, this week I was over my limit by Thursday morning.    So I'm off until Sunday and, although I am exhausted and glad for the down time, on another level it's driving me nuts -- for one thing, there are families at the hospice that I am wondering about.   And for another, being home means that I should be doing something useful, and I have worked hard at NOT letting that useful thing involve cleaning the basement!    So I went to the target range today, and shot fairly well, and stopped at the farmer's market, and went to Toys R Us.   If I can dredge up the energy to find a fishing hole, it will have been a productive weekend that doesn't require me to actually CLEAN something!