Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fish fear me

I went fishing this morning, my very first time.    I signed up for a local class and went on a river trip today with my teacher and two classmates.   Two hours of fairly solid casting.    When I got home I was (to my surprise) exhausted from the combination of activity and fresh air, I guess.    I got to put into practice everything I learned about casting in our classroom and "grass casting" session.   This is how it worked for me:  cast, walk over slippery rocks until I got close enough to un-snag my fly from seaweed or rock, repeat.   At least I didn't fall in several times like one of my classmates did.   There were tons of fish, we could see them through the very clear water, but we scared most of them away.

This is definitely a skill that will take some time to learn.  My cast is so lacking in power that  little red damselflies stayed on my rod for the ride the whole time.     I am convinced that the bubbles on top of the river were from fish laughing at me.   I could see them doing it.     It would be an understatement to say that I am not good  yet at keeping my line tight.   I kept forgetting to keep the tip of the rod down.   I got into many tangles, and was an embarrassment, I'm sure, for any fisherman to be seen with.   

But I loved standing in the middle of the river.    We fished with both wet and dry flies and I had hits on both, but enjoyed the dry fly the most.   I had several strikes and was able to watch the fish actually take the fly and then swim away (my line was too slack), but only landed one enormous fish -- it must have been all of 3 inches long.     The fish looked as stunned as I was so I was able to easily unhook and release it, which had been one of my big worried.    If I ever go alone I will definitely flatten the barbs on the hook to make it even easier to remove, although that will also make it easier to lose them, I guess.    We picked up rocks to look at nymphs and such, so we could match our flies to the food sources.  My (very kind) teacher said I am really getting the hang of it but maybe need a little practice.   It was fun but I think he might be right.   For sure I caught more seaweed and trees than anything else.   It's a good thing I don't need to feed myself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Different strokes

I just got back from my 3-day trip to Atlantic City.   I'd never been there and I feared the worst -- but it was fun.    The boardwalk was tacky, of course, but it was also cuter than I thought, and the atlantic ocean is always beautiful.    All my dears came true -- I ate too much, drank too much, and gambled too much (I paid for most of my sister's winnings with my losings, I think!).    But on our one day on the beach,  we got beach chairs and an umbrella, a new experience for me -- I  could have sat there all week!   Not many shells, except lots of broken clams and mussels, but I found dozens and dozens of mermaids' purses, some of them quite large.    (I'm holding one up for the camera, it was as long as my hand!)  Many of them were intact but I found a couple smaller ones that were open on one side, indicating that the tiny skate had already hatched and escaped.   My sister and her friend were not impressed, but I was thrilled to be able to add them to my collection!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Denydrating with my new toy

No point in adding a photo because, I promise you, dried and wrinkly doesn't look any better on an eggplant than it does on me.   But eggplant dries BEAUTIFULLY -- time will tell if it also rehydrates into delicious vegetable curry when the time comes.  Blueberries get super tiny and chewy, but are delicious.  Green peppers chunks dry into bits that I will add later to soups and stews.  I am still working my way through the garden, so there is plenty more to try.    But the biggest success so far -- thank you Little Black Scrap Cat for suggesting it! -- is peach leather.    Peaches are delicious, but this fruit leather is AMAZING!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lucky me!

I got the sweetest card in the mail from Little Black Scrap Cat  -- and now I have a new framed picture on my wall!   Love it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spuds and the good stuff

Some not-good things happened today, but for now I'm going to focus instead on the many nice things that happened instead.    I have a sneaky feeling that the not-good stuff is only going to get not-gooder (which is to say, worse), and there will be time enough to dissect it later.

I harvested one of my potato pots today and uncovered quite a few russian banana fingerling potatoes (which are pictured along with the usual harvest assortment of delicious tomatoes).   My grandson expressed surprise when he saw how they grew along the root, and my granddaughter, watching me pull them from the dirt, announced that she was only going to eat grocery store potatoes, NOT potatoes from farms or gardens.    I pan-fried a few in a little olive oil and thought they were delicious.  As usual with a successful harvest,  I wish I had planted more.   But maybe next year I will plant a variety that looks more like those planted by our local growers, so they will have the more familiar "grocery store" look!

Speaking of my grandkids, they spent the night last night, our first since I've been in this house.   We spent hours doing little art projects, painting birdhouses and making fingerprint pictures.   (With Care Bears DVDs when I needed to just SIT!)   Cookies and sleeping bags and endless games of bad guys and heroes.   I had so much fun, although I was soooooo tired when they went home.   I never feel younger, or older, than I do with those little bundles of energy!

I got a surprise package in the mail from one of my former coworkers today, too -- a dehydrator to preserve some of my summer fruits and veggies, and to make jerky if I get ambitious.   What a sweet surprise, it is so nice to be remembered and it will be fun to try this new (to me) technique.   I'll stop at the farmers' market today to find some local fruits and try drying them first.   I hope the farmers still have some berries to sell!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What a day

My friend Dr. Cranky had his 80th birthday yesterday.    Another friend of his, a lovely and gentle woman in her 70s, and I decided that we should have a small party to commemorate the occasion.   We learned, not for the first time, that no good deed goes unpunished.   Dr. Cranky went berserk when his (dying) brother phoned from California to try to wish him a happy birthday because the call came just as Dr. Cranky was readying himself to give a few "remarks."   He berated the gentle woman who answered the phone for F-ing up his day, and generally spent the next half hour in tantrum.    He was finally persuaded to give his remarks, a rambling diatribe that criticized women and extolled his own family.  When he was finished, his only son (in from out of town for the event) challenged Dr. Cranky on the factual basis of some remark.   They celebrated the occasion by shouting Fs to each other and the universe.

We met a few other guests at Dr. Cranky's favorite restaurant.   We had tapas and sangria (I had LOTS of sangria) and chocolate bumpy cake from Sanders.   Although better behaved, Dr. Cranky made clear that he was to be the center of every conversation.   After the longest 2 hours I've spent in awhile, people practically stumbled over one another in a rush to say their goodbyes and get to the exit.   It was then that I realized that I didn't have my car keys.    I mentally prepared myself to find them in the ignition of my locked vehicle, and walked slowly to my car, working out in my head how to get help  unlocking the car and what to do while I was waiting.    But - miracle of miracles -  as the car came into sight, there were my keys, in the passenger door, right where I had obviously left them when I went back for the cake.     It was not a good day, but it sure could have been a whole lot worse, and I was grateful.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sad fairy tales, one in a series

Once upon a time there was a little girl.   She was beautiful and spirited and bright.   Her parent treated her badly, screaming and swearing and hitting.   Many bad things happened to her, inside and outside the parent's home.   As she got older, it turned out that she had a mental illness.   As she got older still, she became a heroin addict.   One of her many suicide attempts nearly worked and she went into a coma.   The parent was so surprised.   She had been estranged from a parent for several years but he flew to her side and swore that he would love her forever if only she survived.   She did survive, but was brain damaged.   The parent told her he would move to be near her to help her.   He continued to scream and swear.   He told her he had sacrificed everything for her.  But he loved his new city and made lots of friends.   He was very busy.   One day, by golly if this were not purely fiction it would have been today, she called him and told him she had injected a bad drug into her hip, she was sick at herself and disgusted because she had feared it was a bad drug when she got it, but wanted it so badly that she injected it anyway.   Now she had an abscess the size of a softball, was in terrible pain, and could not stand up.   She explained that she did not call him last night because she knew he was busy with friends, but wondered if he could take her to the hospital some time today.   She said she wanted to ask them if they could put her into a rehab unit, since she had been on a waiting list for months and there hasn't been a bed for her.   He told her that he wasn't going to be inconvenienced because she was stupid enough to stick a needle into herself and that she should call someone else.   She called another parent in michigan.    The other parent listened to one in a long series of sad, sad stories, and hoped that she also called EMS when they hung up.  Later she called from the hospital.   They were doing surgery on the lump but they couldn't give her much pain medication since she is a user.   "They are going to cut open my a**," she said, "and I told the doctor to please make the scar in the shape of a heart.   But why," she asked, "was I less scared when I was beat up, or when I had a gun shoved in my mouth,  or when I went off a third story building, than I am now?"  "Remember to ask the doctor about rehab," the other parent said.   Later she phoned again,  sounding happier than ever, the surgery over, and the limited pain meds in full effect.

If this were not a fairy tale, I would cry.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I saw a corny, country-decor sign with buttons on it in a store the other day.   Not my kind of thing at all, but it stopped me in my tracks anyway.    It said, "A year from now you might wish you had started today."

It reminded me of the argument that tipped the balance when I was trying to decide whether to go to law school.   I was in my 30's, and I kept telling myself that it was a ridiculous idea, that I would be nearly 40 before I got my degree.   And then someone said to me, yup, and you will be nearly 40 if you don't get it, too.   Sure enough, I was 37 when I finished, but I got a degree that helped me support my children and myself as they were growing up.    Thirty-seven seems so very, very young now.

So I've started making mental lists again, of things I will wish I had started.  Getting my health back by eating better and exercising: check.  Meeting new people: check.  Pushing harder to set up some trips with my sister, my kids, maybe my biggest brother: check.  Cleaning my house and getting the basement organized?   Not nearly as likely. 

It hasn't exactly got me moving yet, but it's got me thinking about it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Feeling old

Bobby Hebb died today.  He was 72.    When I was a kid still in high school (and as innocent as a 3 year old), he was the first black person I ever talked to -- imagine such a world! He serenaded me with his new hit "Sunny" in a hallway in Cobo Hall in Detroit at a "mod wedding" put on by Dick Clark.  I was so flustered.   Unless you are my age, you can't imagine what a reckless experience this felt like;  I didn't know whether to be flattered or horrified, or whether he was just making fun of me.    A more worldly girl, a more confident girl, would at least have gotten a photo!    As it happens, my only witness was my little sister.   My gosh, that was such a long time ago, and it has been years since I even felt a glimpse of the girl I once was, the girl with a world of open doors in front of her.

Out of sight

My birdbath has been covered in birds this week and I love watching them.   When the birdbath is empty, I wonder why.   There are usually several species at a time splashing and preening and cooling off.   It was hot again today, so I was surprised that none of my feathered friends had come to visit this evening.   When I looked outside, I saw a juvenile broad-winged hawk sitting on my fence (thank goodness for the internet!).    He was watching the birdbath, too.   Mystery solved.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

We have a winner!

I used a random generator to pick the number of a commenter in my July bloggy contest and the winner is . . . Little Black Scrap Cat!    I will mail her an assortment of Michigan products this week -- enjoy!   I wish I could send you some tomatoes, LBSC, I am picking them faster than I can eat them!

Thank you all for your comments and visits!