Tag Archives: summer

O Gardening, How I Love/Hate Thee…

So we used to have a really awesome vegetable garden.  We grew all kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, and even tried corn and carrots.  The carrots were sad, twisted, and bitter, much like some people I encounter on a daily basis, so we decided it’s better to buy them.  The corn was fun to watch grow, and even more fun to watch my Hubby HAND POLLINATING the suckers to make sure everything would come out hunky dory.  The resultant sexy corn had lots of missing kernels and looked a bit knobby, but tasted very sweet, unlike any people I encounter on a daily basis.  We decided that was also better to trust our local farmer’s market for future corn.

We took a pass on a veggie garden for the last few years because of time, weather, and general “ugh, do I really want to dig this all over again?”  But two years ago we built a lovely sturdy raised garden, and put all sorts of good soil in it.  I ordered plants online and lots of seeds, too, and lovingly started our garden.  I had not factored in the resident groundhog, Fred, or the voracious bunnies, or our newly adopted beagle Nellie.  It was an….interesting garden season.  So this year we armed ourselves with chicken wire fencing and garden stakes and whatnot, and felt sure we were all good to go.

 

There is something so sweet about blind faith, isn’t there?

 

We didn’t mail order our plants this year.  In fact, May was such crappy weather we didn’t plant until the beginning of June and used well-established plants from (forgive me, here, because it’s just so shameful to admit) Home Depot.  *shudder*  I try to be a good steward of the earth and take care to note where my food comes from and just who I support with my grocery dollars, but time was short and they were right there….

Here’s the rub:  We have gorgeous beefsteak tomatoes, although I find the flavor not as intense as a true Jersey tomato.  We have plum tomatoes that are great but they like to lay down on the ground as if they’re too exhausted to show up anymore and make it difficult for me to find them.  We have cherry tomatoes that are cheerfully determined to wrestle the plum tomatoes to the ground because they’re showoffs and they want to grab all the glory and attention.

We have cucumbers that grew astonishingly fast, wrapping themselves happily around the fencing and the strings we tied up, blossomed beautiful flowers, gave us three outstanding cucumbers, then promptly died back like something out of a body-snatcher movie.  Three. Lousy. Cucumbers.  Didn’t even get one of those hidden canoe-sized ones.

We have the tallest, strongest, most wide-leafed zucchini plants I’ve ever seen in my life, dripping with gorgeous blossoms (that I really want to fry up) and NOT A SINGLE FRUIT.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  Not one.  Ginormous leaves, incredibly thick stalks, proud blossoms…..and then nothing.  Not one sweet little squash to make bread or frittata or saute with garlic and mushrooms.

 

And that’s it.  That’s the whole garden this year.  It’s now August 29, so I don’t think I’m getting anything else this year, and I have to wonder if I count this year as a success because of the tomato bounty or a failure because of cukes and zukes.

 

IMG_1070

This is what I was hoping for…

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Well, Hey There!

Holy Hannah, can I just tell you how many blog posts I’ve composed in my head and was convinced I’d sit down and have jewels of words just pour out all over your monitor?  Can I tell you how surprised I was to find I hadn’t written any?  I must have the most realistic dreams in the world…..

  1.  July was a very hot month so I found lots of things to either do inside my house with air conditioning, or in my car with air conditioning, or at somebody else’s house with air conditioning, or in a restaurant with air conditioning.  In July I pretty much forgot what fresh air smelled like.
  2. I also celebrated an anniversary in July, and it always amazes me how my wedding day only feels like two years ago, max.  But it’s been twenty-eight, so either I’m the Doctor and I’ve nailed time-travel, or this is a pretty good marriage.
  3. I learned how to can!2016-08-22 22.18.10
  4. Which maybe wasn’t such a smart thing to do since it introduced a new component of humidity in my house.
  5. August was also hot, but I didn’t care because we went on an Alaskan cruise.  Do you know that it doesn’t go much above 80 on the interior passage of Alaska?  Me neither.  Did you also know that it’s a temperate rainforest?  Me neither.  And what are rainforests good for?  Sing with me, kids: H-U-M-I-D-I-T-Y!!!
  6. It was an amazing experience that I am truly grateful for; we saved up for this trip for eighteen months but it still boggles my mind just how expensive it was.  It also taught me a lesson about cruises (this was my third one): limit excursions to ONE per day.  Not because I was overstimulated or anything like that, it was just so redundant.  We went from Juneau to Skagway to Icy Strait Point to Ketchikan, and every single excursion in every single place took great pains to educate us on bears and skunk cabbage.  Go ahead, ask me about bears and skunk cabbage.  I dare you.
  7. I did get to see a glacier.  Yup!

    That’s Hubbard Glacier, and when I saw how close the ship got and how incredibly cold the surrounding air was, I figured I’d finally found a place to live in the summer. But alas, regulations and rules and all….

  8. My knitting has been in drips and drabs.  I made a shawl to bring with me on the trip but didn’t use it much.  I’ve started two other shawls (because why not) and a couple of baby bibs, because many people I know are into the whole procreating thing.  It’s so easy to knit baby stuff, I keep forgetting.
  9. I started orientation on my new job, where I am alternately exhilarated at the thought of teaching college and appalled at the thought of teaching college.  Classes start September 7th, so if you don’t hear from me after that…..No, that’s not a fair thing to post because after all, I’m pretty bad at posting on a regular basis.  So if you see a post after September 7th and I don’t mention my job, maybe just figure it’s best not to talk about it.
  10. Like that’s ever stopped me before.
bean

I do that too, but for all the wrong reasons.

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Drip….Drip….Drip….

They say it’s the first day of summer.

 

I say I’ll be back outside in October.

 

popcorn

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Re-Entry

I have been on adventures!  I have seen many things, tasted wonderful concoctions, breathed different air, and generally enjoyed myself.  In fact, I feel spoiled.  (Not like the cantaloup on the kitchen island that seems a might fragrant.  That’s a different kind of spoiled.  Friends, keep your comments to yerselves.)  I almost forgot that I am not who I was, and seemed well on the way to a different me who is.  (Tea and Sarcasm and Incomprehensible Sentences.  Yep.)

First thing: We went out to a German restaurant because they advertised a bacon fest.  Did I ever tell you that we all massively love bacon?  I wish desperately I could have loved it there, but the service was abysmal and the food was not at all “fest.”  It was more “tired and I don’t give a damn.”  The good parts were sitting outside on a nice evening and having some pretty tasty beer.

Never knew I had comic book fists for hands.

Never knew I had comic book fists for hands.

Night time photos on a phone.  Just like the pros!

Night time photos on a phone. Just like the pros!

The second thing: I gave away all my teaching materials to my dear friend who is having some issues and is in a bit of rut right now.  It was a great feeling doing that, not only because it freed some necessary space in my house (hello, basement floor!  How YOU doin’?) but also I was not sad when I did it.  Hear that?  Not sad.  Not nostalgic.  Not bitter.  Not wishing.  Not regretting.  Just…..there.  Happy to see all my good materials go to a good home.  It is done, it is over, and it is settling well within my soul.

Third: My dear dear friend of almost 25 years invited me to spend a few days with her, so I grabbed my go bag, threw in some additional stuff, bought her a present, and drove to Indiana.  Never been there.  (Huh.  Guess I can’t say that anymore now, can I?  I’m a travellin’ girl…..sing with me!)  It was a long drive from my home in New Jersey, across the very wide state of Pennsylvania with its gorgeous hills and trees and farms and interesting names of towns, across Ohio which wasn’t quite as pretty or hilly but still held my interest, finally into Indiana which has lots of corn fields but still so pretty.  I hit a pretty severe thunderstorm right around sunset so the driving was slower than the 80-85 mph I had been doing (What?  I was just maintaining the flow of traffic.  You don’t want me plowed over by a double 18-wheeler do you?) but as I cautiously came around a bend the clouds must have shifted.  The shiny wet roadway at dusk was blazing with the crimsons and pinks and oranges and purples of a summer sunset and the sky colors met the road colors and I literally gasped out loud.  I was so thankful to have experienced that intense moment.  My friend showed me Notre Dame (and that grotto and chapel is so lovely) and Fiddler’s Hearth.  I want to physically move Fiddler’s Hearth to New Jersey and bring the band, Kennedy’s Kitchen, too.  What a fab night of food (Scotch eggs!), beer (Belhaven Scottish ale), music (Celtic and Irish and moving and beautiful and spirited and amazing), and friends.  Add wineries, Silver Beach, shopping, laughing, heart-to-heart talks…you get the idea.

Look!  An official sign and everything!

Look! An official sign and everything!

Lots of candles.  Lots.  Apparently once this place caught fire.  Wonder why?

Lots of candles. Lots. Apparently once this place caught fire. Wonder why?

Very chapel.  So whisper.

Very chapel. So whisper.

Or, as I now call it, Mecca.

Or, as I now call it, Mecca.

Ignore that lady ignoring them.  They did.  Spectacularly.

Ignore that lady ignoring them. They did. Spectacularly.

Pretty.  I think anyone can succeed with sunset pics.

Pretty. I think anyone can succeed with sunset pics.

Fourth: Took my girls to Pennsylvania Amish country again and we did our usual bout of overeating, overlaughing, and overshopping but it’s one of my favorite things to do with them.  We stay at a quirky little bed and breakfast run by the two nicest people and it’s a slice of pure bliss to be there.  (Except for the beds.  The beds are, how shall we say, a bit punishing on the back.  Please see previous post.)  They tried to convince me to bring home a second dog so Nellie won’t be bored.  I’ll let you guess how that conversation went, except I’ll give you a hint: NO.

Fifth: Fishing with Hubby, where fishing was plenty but catching was not-so-much.  Well, catching and keeping.  Seems the regulations in New Jersey keep changing and now flounder/fluke must be 18 inches for keeping.  The sea bass I kept catching were great, except the season ended June 15 and won’t start again until October.  The shark Hubby caught was adorable and I was all ready to name him but the mate on the boat threw him back before I could decide between Bobby Darin and Dyson.  (Get it?  No?  Neither does Nellie.)  He has a spectacular sunburn on his neck and I had enough equilibrium problems that this was probably my final party-boat trip.  (This aging thing does have a few drawbacks.  Then again…)

Seventeen and a half inches.  Before we throw it back, we'll pretend it's a score.

Seventeen and a half inches. Before we throw it back, we’ll pretend it’s a score.

Bobby.  Or Dyson.

Bobby. Or Dyson.

I think I would say August has been a successful month.  Of course tomorrow is supposed to start a week of 90+ temps and humidity, so there’s no telling to what depths I may sink.  (Oh, fishing analogy.  I get it.  Subtle.)

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A Love Letter to August

July is dead to me; August is my new love.

July was so glaringly bright and sunny it actually hurt my eyes to be outside.  The grass looked like an overexposed photo, the wind smelled old and tired, the leaves couldn’t be bothered to rustle, the birds gave a half-hearted attempt at singing, and the dirt in the gardens looked like cracked leather.  Nothing pretty.  Mosquitos were everywhere and so were wasps and yellowjackets, but even they were too hot to build their traditional nests under my deck railing.

Ahhh, but August!  The skies are a crystal blue like a baby’s clear gaze and the air has an underlying sweet scent to it.  The leaves are happily tossing about, the grass looks like grass again instead of wheat, and the gardens are looking like gardens instead of scenes from a scary movie.  And the birds!  They are singing like mad and hopping all over the yard and being very friendly to those of us happy to venture out onto the back deck again.

I’ve even stirred myself a bit this August:

The farmer’s market every Saturday morning just up the street from me is a great place to be.  Everything is just bursting with promise and beauty.

Oh, the colors....

Oh, the colors….

We visited the Sussex County Fair and it was fun to see all the animals:

Ya big ox.

Ya big ox.

Who you calling a big ox?

Who you calling a big ox?

And she KNOWS she's fabulous!

And she KNOWS she’s fabulous!

I wanted to bring all the little sheepies home with me...

I wanted to bring all the little sheepies home with me…

Except this one who was eating the chair.

Except this one who was eating the chair.

Hubby said she must have needed iron in her diet.  *rimshot*

Hubby said she must have needed iron in her diet. *rimshot*

And I squeeeeed over the baby goats.

And I squeeeeed over the baby goats.

Beautiful landscaping demos.  Can you see the koi?

Beautiful landscaping demos. Can you see the koi?

Mmmmm.....someone give me $20k so I can reproduce this at home.

Mmmmm…..someone give me $20k so I can reproduce this at home.

This was an unexpected sign.

This was an unexpected sign.

And my favorite: my knitter friend won a blue ribbon for her gorgeous doily!

And my favorite: my knitter friend won a blue ribbon for her gorgeous doily!

Tonight we’re enjoying barbecued chicken and tomato salad.  Tomorrow’s to-do list is already giving me the willies, but for tonight I’m as relaxed as a sleepy cat and as contented as a …. well, something contented.

Pardon me, the deck is calling….

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It’s My Time

Oh, yes, it is.

This weather we’re experiencing now in New Jersey is DA BOMB.  It is crystal clear blue skies, big white fluffy clouds, clean-smelling air, and temperatures that quicken the blood and put roses in your cheeks.  Who could NOT love this weather?  Seriously, I do not understand sun-worshippers in the slightest.

I don’t get putting on a bathing suit, first of all.  It is a latex material (read: rubber bands) that doesn’t glide onto your body like normal clothes: it has to be pulled and tugged and jerked and readjusted a hundred times just to cover all the bits it’s supposed to cover.  By then, you’re already dripping wet with sweat from the exertion of it all, but now there’s the schlepping of all the things needed at the beach:

  • Cover up to cover the bathing suit that just cost you 35 minutes of your life to put on;
  • Sandals or flip-flops to negotiate over the long trek of hot sand, and really, how effective are those things at either walking or keeping your feet from the blazing temperatures of Hot.Sand;
  • Lotion to either keep you looking a normal shade of skin or an oil that will leave you looking like a well-basted Thanksgiving turkey;
  • Sunglasses which only marginally cut down on the squinting required;
  • Towels of every shape and size, to encompass the sitting, the wrapping of wet hair, the drying of wet bodies, the one to keep dry to brush off sandy feet before getting in the car and invariably gets wet anyway;
  • Snacks and/or lunch: must include sandwiches because it’s tradition but shouldn’t be because no matter how well you wrap them they’re going to get sand in them (and why shouldn’t they since sand is in their name), fruit which nobody will want because it’s drippy and juicy and messy and where do I put the pit or the core?  (Of course, these problems are solved by bringing frozen grapes, but let’s face it, you’re the only one who’s going to eat them.)  The drippy and messy argument kind of gets forgotten when there’s ice cream available, isn’t that funny;
  • Money to purchase said ice-cream;
  • Something to DO; how can anyone just sit there and do nothing and sweat while doing it?  So how a bout a magazine, which is rendered useless because of the glare from the sun; playing cards which will get sand and water on them; knitting, which adds some interesting texture to the yarn when a piece of seaweed accidentally ends up entwined in the mix; a book which is less glare-y than a magazine but still ends up damp, sandy, and induces naps;
  • Beach toys, like buckets and shovels and blow-up balls, flotation devices, those skimming things that look like baby surfboards, and for the really adventurous, a kite;
  • Spare bucket or bag to put the fifty-seven seashells you’re bound to bring home.

What do I do at this time of year, and what equipment do I need?

  • My legs to walk among the fall flowers and leaves;
  • My camera (or phone) to records a particularly stunning example of such;
  • Comfortable clothes;
  • That’s pretty much it.

Hands down, this is my time of year.  Here it is, Monday, and I’ve already done two loads of laundry and put dinner in the crockpot (pork shoulder with cranberry chutney, if you’re interested) and haven’t broken a sweat.  I’m not even breathing hard.

Yeah, this is TOTALLY my time.  Enjoy!

 

Woo Hoo!

Woo Hoo!

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Walking

Today I returned to walking.

 

This is a big deal.  A very. big. deal.  I have mentioned my sloth-like existence previously, and I love Love LOVE not waking up to the usual 5:30 a.m. alarm during the school year.  Summer is a weird love-hate thing with me.  Sometimes I lust after it, and sometimes I just want it to go away and be October all the time.  Sometimes – oh, never mind, I’m fickle.

 

Hurry up, tea, finish brewing.  I’m dying here!

 

In any event, about five years ago I was walking every morning, and I grew to love that early morning summer air.  So amazingly different from the usual blast furnace/wet towel in the face/choking syndrome I usually experienced when I arose from my slumber, already hot and dreading the day ahead.  This was different.  There was a stillness and a sweetness that made my lungs go oh hey, now, we can deal with this!

 

So I started walking around my neighborhood.  I live on a fairly busy street, but walking one block over there are no traffic sounds.  I had my phone playing my tunes (and did you know that Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons’ December 1963 is the absolute perfect walking tempo?) and my new sneakers with their glaring, white, never-been-worn-before newness shouting to the world hey the newbie is walking!  It was just as I remembered it before: the same flat streets (yay for no hills!), the analysis of my neighbors’ landscaping efforts (and mentally rejecting or copying looks), the fervent hope I don’t run into someone I know who wants to walk with me and engage in conversation (not that I’m unfriendly but I need all the oxygen I can get),  and the realization that it doesn’t take much for me to sweat.

 

I walked for forty minutes.  I hear some of you laughing, saying forty minutes is nothing, walking needs to be done much more than that to make a difference.  And to you I say nanny-nanny-ding-dong, it’s forty more minutes of activity than yesterday.

 

Good heavens, can that tea brew any slower?

 

Tomorrow is Saturday.  The real test will be whether or not I get up on Saturday to walk.  Or maybe I’ll walk again after dinner tonight, see if those cool breezes come back.  Or maybe I’m a one-trick pony.

 

Tea is done!  I’m outta here.

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Thursday is Musing Day. Maybe A-Musing, too.

Today is the first day in forever (I’m so accurate and precise in my daily existence) that we have opened the windows and enjoyed fresh air instead of air conditioning.  It was a shock to my ears to ear ambient noises of tree leaves rustling, cars wooshing by, birds screaming at me to fill the feeder.  Totally turned around my bad mood.  Not that I don’t love air conditioning – I am not a pioneer or Amish or anything resembling toughness – but I love real honest-to-goodness cool air.

 

I was in a bad mood because of a particular situation I’m going through, and I decided (as one does) to address the mirror as if I was speaking to the parties involved.  This turned into quite a tirade as I indulged in the luxury of speaking my mind without interruption and getting all the facts (the facts, I tell you!) out and having the truth on the table.  I even went so far as to anticipate the other side’s answers and to illustrate with raised eyebrows and incredulous stares that they HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.  This is clearly a holdover from the days of my youth when I made up plays and cast myself in all the parts.  In my head.  With costumes.

 

In any event, I got myself into quite a mood after my shower and it seemed like I had set my course for the day when I got my first indication of today’s weather.  That one sweet fragrance of summer air that has an underlying scent of morning grass coupled with a cool (if brief) whisper of cloud-like softness against the brow.  Heaven.  I might actually venture outside to sit on the deck and commune with the two rabbits and the groundhog that have adopted our yard…a groundhog that my daughter has insisted on naming Gary which is utterly ridiculous.  

 

He totally looks like a Gregory.

 

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