Saturday, July 25, 2009

Score One for Me

A. had a high school reunion last night (yes, he just had one last year, as well--long story) and I am not horribly hungover and sick this morning. Apparently, I can learn.

Also, I am not expected to haul myself to Syracuse for The Great New York State Fair to watch interminable numbers of sheep parade in the show ring. At least not yet. That fun is still to come.

Friday, July 24, 2009

'Tis the Season

The heated battle between me and the garden produce has commenced. Every day is a battle of wits between me and the everlasting zucchini. Or cucumbers. Or beets. Or whatever. Except it's only my wits involved here, since, as far as I know, vegetables don't have wits.

Or do they? That would explain a lot.


When you have a garden as big and productive as ours, meal decisions are actually easier. Because, you see, I don't have unlimited variety all season long. Instead, the vegetables come in waves, and whatever is overwhelming me on any given day will be incorporated into dinner. Which is why we had stuffed zucchini and green beans for dinner last night. And why tonight's dinner will include broccoli in some form. And tomorrow will involve a cucumber salad, almost certainly.

Some people might find it boring to have to use the same ingredient in such large quantities in a short span of time. But I think it's the opposite. There's only so much sauteed zucchini you can eat, so you will eventually be forced into trying ever more recipes that use it.

It's not for everyone, this sort of cooking and eating. It can get to be almost nerve-wracking at times, when that huge bag of greens is threatening to spoil and I just don't feel inspired to cook with them. At such times I get sulky, thinking to myself, "I don't have to cook you, greens. You're not the boss of me."

Then I get a grip on myself, because I think talking to vegetables is a bad sign. But this is what gardening will do to you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let the Harvest Begin

I scared myself yesterday when I ventured into the garden to work for the first time in, uh, a week? Two weeks? Who can remember? Too long, in any case, because the tomato plants were sprawling all over the place; the green beans were suddenly big enough to pick; the jalapeno plants had multiple peppers on them; the beets, TWO WHOLE ROWS of them, were the size of baseballs; the broccoli had produced yet more side shoots; the cucumbers had gotten out of control entirely; and it was past time to dig up the garlic and shallots.

I could blame the incessant rain for the fact that I had let the garden get into this state. Or I could just admit to laziness. No matter! To work!

First I tied up the tomatoes. This took a LONG TIME, because the rain has caused the tomatoes to bush out to alarming proportions. Also alarming? The sheer number of tomatoes on those plants. See, none of them have started ripening. And if none of the fruits ripen, the plant doesn't get the signal to slow down production. Assuming all those tomatoes DO ripen at some point, it's gonna get ugly in my kitchen. There will be sweating, and cussing, and eventually--lord willin' and the crik don't rise--a whole lotta canned tomatoes to get us through the winter.

But I won't think about that now.

Next I dug up all the garlic and hauled it into the shed to cure on the dog grooming table. Hey, I use what I have. After that, I pulled up the shallots and put them in the shed, too, on makeshift tables constructed of boards over trash cans. Trashy-looking, but effective.

You may recognize the shed as the scene of the deer butchering last fall. The shed gets a lot of use.

When I planted the shallots, I thought I hadn't kept enough for seed and I wouldn't end up with a very big harvest this year. That would have been true, had the shallots not grown to GARGANTUAN SIZES. I have enough shallots.

Then I went inside and washed my hands and had some water, because I had been working for a couple of hours and I was hot. Hydration is an important part of gardening. You heard it here first.

Next, my trusty canvas bucket and I advanced upon the cucumbers. It was scary under those vines. I swear to God, I JUST CHECKED the cucumbers a couple of days ago. Some were getting about right for picking. Two days later, I had several that had already grown TOO big, and many, many more that needed to be picked right away. I ended up with about six pounds of cucumbers. Then I picked the first green beans (yay!) and cut off more side shoots on the broccoli. We harvested the actual broccoli heads a long time ago, but the plants continue to produce smaller side shoots. I think this is the third round of side shoots we've harvested. A. is thrilled, big broccoli lover that he is. (That's very heavy sarcasm--he hates broccoli. Almost as much as he hates cauliflower, which is ALSO growing in our garden! Lucky A.)

This is cut off at the bottom because I am still using the busted camera. Because I'm too cheap to buy another one.

At this point, I took a break for lunch. Then I considered the cucumbers. There is only one possible use for six pounds of cucumbers.

Good lord in heaven, how I love dill pickles.

Not addressed yesterday were the multiple jalapenos and the huge beets. Since I don't have any tomatoes yet, I can't use the jalapenos yet for salsa. Last year, I had jalapenos AFTER my tomatoes were done with the heaviest production. I can't seem to get the timing right. But the jalapenos can wait for a bit. The beets, however, really can't wait anymore. They'll be pickled. Probably today. It's going to be a messy, messy job, but that's my penance for being such a bum with my gardening chores and letting everything get out of control.

Constant vigilance, my fellow gardeners. Learn from me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Groomed Are You?

A long time ago, I read some random, trivial "study" that asserted the average American woman uses something like 25 products on a daily basis as a part of her grooming regimen. Well, I think it was 25. But I can't really remember, and I can't find the study online now. I remember thinking that seemed awfully high, though. So I counted how many I use.

Don't worry--I wouldn't tease you by bringing this up and then not detailing for you every single thing I use. Because I know the meaningless minutia of my life is all that keeps you going some days.

So. On days when I shower, which is generally every other day if I haven't been performing some kind of nasty manual labor (no chorus of "ewwwws" out there--Americans bathe too much), here's what my list looks like:

1) Shampoo
2) Conditioner
3) Body wash
4) Soap (just for my face)
5) Shaving cream
6) Lotion (fun fact: my Louisiana mother calls this "cream"--must be a pseudo-French thing)
7) In the summer, lotion with sunscreen for my face
8) Deodorant
9) Mousse or gel
10) Hairspray (I would dispense with those last two entirely if I didn't have curly hair with a tendency towards Janis Joplin poufiness if left untamed)
11) Concealer (if I have, ahem, blemishes)
12) Face powder

And that's it. It seems like a lot when it's listed, but still. That's only about half the average.

Low maintenance. That's me.

What's your Number, duckies?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sometimes My Own Ignorance Depresses Me

I consider myself a pretty intelligent person. I think I have a fairly broad spectrum of knowledge. And yet, I did not know that every computer doesn't automatically have wireless abilities.

That is, I didn't know this until Sunday, when A. and I were setting up his brand-new computer and I couldn't figure out how to access the wireless network on it. It was not until after a call to the customer service center of our Internet provider and a confusing discussion with a lady who had a strange accent and yet was curiously named "Jane" (SURE) that I discovered it's because our brand-new computer did not come equipped with wireless capabilities.


And then today, when the dude came out to install a couple of phone lines, I found out that actually, our old computer doesn't have wireless capabilities either. I assumed it did, because I had the wireless network installed last week and the installer did not mention that he had actually hardwired the old computer in with the wireless router. Thanks, dude. But today's very helpful installer hooked us up with a USB adapter, so we are now fully wireless and have two computers online. Yay.

A. is counting on me to act as his office manager for this law practice he's setting up at home. I think we can all agree he's in trouble.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Should Just Give Up

Even when I DO manage to take a photo, I still can't post it half the time. This time I took a picture of my new computer desk. See, A. is setting up a home office, so he needed the big desk, purposely made to hold a computer. Which left me with the MiL's father's desk. It's a nice wooden desk, but it is old and small and not meant for a computer. To add to the fun, I'm probably the last person in America with a non-flat screen monitor. It's a little crowded on the desk, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, I took a picture, so you could see. But I can't find the cable to connect the camera to the computer, because all the junk that came out of the old desk is just strewn about the study and that cable could be anywhere. Foiled again.

Maybe I'll manage to clean up this mess today and find the cable and post the picture tomorrow. Or maybe this is someone's way of telling me that no one really cares about my new (old) little desk and my monstrous computer and maybe I should find something more worthwhile to post about.

I'm guessing it's the second one.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gettin' Antsy*

You know the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, where the grasshopper spends all summer messing around, refusing to get ready for winter while the industrious (and frankly, a little annoyingly smug) little ant scurries around preparing until winter is upon them and the grasshopper has nothing and has to beg for mercy from the self-righteous ant?

We're ants. I know this because I spent some hours last week prepping food that will be consumed this winter and A. spent much of yesterday splitting wood and beginning The Woodpile.

This is about three days' worth of wood. If we're lucky.

I'm not gonna lie--it's a little depressing to already be working on the woodpile. In July. Intellectually, I know we still have at least two more months until we'll be building fires, but psychologically? The sight of that woodpile just makes me feel cold.

It doesn't help that this has been an amazingly cool summer anyway. It hasn't really felt much like summer at all. So I will try to put the inevitable coming winter out of my mind and instead try to will some hot weather into being so I can at least have some ripe tomatoes before the end of summer is upon us.

My dreams are modest.

* HAAAA! Geddit? Ants, antsy? Yeah, never mind.