Thursday, July 26, 2012

Life never stops surprising me.

I'll probably be back, but shutting down for now.

Monday, July 23, 2012

and on the road.

This weekend, in contrast, we had on probably too much clothing for the weather. Saturday after dinner we took a short run for an errand, which had us chancing upon a hot rod show. No interest on my part, but at least we kept moving up and down the rows and didn't have to actually stop and talk to anyone. We drove back to my house under gathering clouds of a storm that hit later in the evening.
The next day, we took a more meandering route, over a neat old covered bridge. It was a warm day, but cooler once we got into the mountains. I have to say that even though I prefer back roads to highways, it still scares the bejeebers out of me. I look over his shoulder at the speedometer and say things to myself (in my usual demure way) like, "65! Fuck!" I especially hate the part where he leans into curves and I envision my broken body skittering across the pavement. Yeah, so I'm not a total convert.
On our way in, we stopped at a gas station and while I was waiting outside by the bike, this old guy walked up to me and started speaking to me in what could only be another language. Something about gears and brakes being reversed and 650s and CCs and other incomprehensible things. And as I was nodding my head idiotically and saying, "Uh huh," I got the insane urge to pull my older son's trick of yelling all my answers like rapper Lil Jon, "YE-AH! WHAT?! O-KAAY!"
But once we hit the gravel road into the park, we slowed down and the ride became leisurely. In fact, after one stop, we decided to ditch the jackets until we got back to the paved rode. Under that heavy armored jacket, I was wearing a yoga top because of the heat. With my helmet on top of narrow bare arms and shoulders, my shadow reminded me of one of those bobblehead dolls.
Midway around the loop, we parked and climbed down to the creek. See my helmet?  I added a peace sign on the back, so it looks a little more like me. When I showed my friend he laughed and shook his head. I think my pacifist ways baffle him as much as his more aggressive approach to the world baffles me.
In these ancient mountains, it is like stepping back in time. Everything is soft and worn, cloaked in moss and blanketed in mist.
We stayed for a while, just talking and watching the creek roll by. Well, I sat still anyway.  Some of us are a little more distractible and had to get up and skip stones into the water. But we were hungry and left to find a place to eat. I spotted a restaurant and we pulled in and got a table overlooking the creek.
And then home again. People keep telling me I will want to learn to drive a motorcycle myself. Let me tell you clearly - no, I will not. Ever. They freak me out. I question my own sanity for even getting on the back of one.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

On the water...

I've been meaning to write about some of the things happening while I was shutting down the old blog. Like the Fourth of July. Although the temperatures were topping 100 degrees all that week, the humidity was low and it was just beautiful on the lake.  I packed up a picnic and a chilled bottle of vinho verde and headed out.
And again, a few days later. This time it was later in the day, and we forgot to pack anything at all - no food, no drinks, no towels. There is something idyllic about stopping the boat in the middle of the lake, stripping down and jumping in. The water is only slightly cool, so you can float for a long time without getting cold. And afterwards, the  warm air feels heavenly on your skin. But sometimes, I worry that one of the many passing boats is a police boat and I'm just hoping I won't end up in the local newspaper with an indecent exposure charge.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gee, I wonder why?

From one magazine rack at the grocery store:

Diet! Diet! Diet! Diet! And then they marvel that people become fixated on dieting?
What would happen, do you think, if the focus was not on dieting but on healthy food?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And the flip side of my life.

I took Jocelyn's suggestion and piled all those roasted veggies (tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions, garlic) into the blender and ended up with three quart bags of veggie sauce to freeze. It'll be like bringing out summer when it's dreary. But this baby - an Old German tomato - was too beautiful not to be used fresh. It went into a salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, basil and cubes of mozzarella, tossed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Try it, you won't be disappointed.
As I drove to the grocery store after work to get some ingredients I lacked for dinner, I was lost in thoughts of planning the menu. Some guy pulled up alongside me and leaned out his window to leer at me. I was so startled when I noticed and turned to look at him that I burst out laughing. From his expression, I'd say it wasn't quite the response he was hoping for. I was still laughing about it when I got home. I wonder in what universe this tactic might work for a man?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Have I mentioned that I am not always a model of patience?

In the course of my work, I hear complaints. That's okay, it's the nature of my job. But. Sometimes people complain to me that their significant other is sick/out of town/busy/lazy/working late and they have to tend to the kids/do the Christmas shopping/pay bills/take care of yard maintenance/get groceries and cook/generally run a household all by themselves for a few days. At those times, I'm mightily tempted to ask if they have any idea who they are talking to.

Don't get me wrong. I am well aware that I am luckier than many because my kids have a father who has them part-time and is actively involved in their lives. I really feel badly for single parents who are utterly on their own, without a co-parent (or at least local family) to help. And yet, I find the demands of taking care of kids and home solo to be wearying on occasion.  It struck me hard on our recent beach trip. The one I planned for, packed for, paid for. I love going to the ocean, but it was not exactly relaxing for me. Vacation or no vacation, there were meals to be cooked and laundry to be done. I was tired when we got home and went right back into the regular work week the very next day.

The period of time immediately following the end of my marriage five or so years ago will be etched in my mind forever. Renting and furnishing a house, realizing that every single household chore that had previously been divvied up between two people was now solidly on my shoulders. I suppose buying an old house in need of a crazy amount of work nine months later didn't help. But I did it. Hauled off load after load of junk, stripped all the wallpaper, painted every room, tore down sheetrock. What I absolutely couldn't do, I hired out.  For the rest, I learned to tile and plaster and wire in ceiling fans and to use a table saw and a drill and a chain saw. I dug up badly placed shrubs and learned how to landscape, planted a vegetable garden, bought a lawn mower. Things that had normally been my husband's responsibility were now mine. Worrisome noise at night?  Mine. Yard work? Mine. Taking care of car malfunctions?  Mine. Negotiating to buy a house and getting a mortgage? Mine. Dealing with electricians and plumbers and a variety of service people? Mine. Even arranging for someone to take me to and from the surgeries required by a little run-in with cervical cancer?  Mine. Every purchase, every decision, every everything. Through it all I was being watched by two pairs of big, anxious eyes. I had boys who needed to know we were going to be okay. That I wasn't going to fall. I flat didn't have the luxury of getting lost in grieving or feeling sorry for myself.

And all of it has to be done when I'm not running my business. I go off to work in the morning and come home to hear, "When's dinner?" And stacks of paperwork are set aside for later so that I can cook. Because in addition to seeing my patients, I also serve as the office manager for the practice. Which means electronic billing and accounting and taxes and paying the office expenses. Again, I'm lucky. I love what I do and I'm glad to be able to serve this poor Appalachian community. I don't mind not making a ton of money as long as I can pay my bills and send my kids to college. But loving it doesn't mean it's not difficult, time-consuming work.
So I have become a believer in blessing-counting. My health, my kids, my friends, my career, the lovers who have made appearances in my life, all the things I've discovered I'm able to do. Lucky. But when someone tells me their partner isn't quite pulling their weight, I have to force myself not to roll my eyes and say, 'Blah, blah, blah." Which I suspect wouldn't be all that therapeutic.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gardening Update.

I know, strange to do an "update" on a reincarnated blog. Nevertheless: The squash plants are now spilling onto the lawn and producing far more squash than I need. I've even left some in a bag on my neighbor's front door handle. And because the plants are so full, squash hide and grow to monstrous proportions if I'm not careful.
The tomatoes started coming in as well, but got thrown by the long dry spell followed by several heavy rains. One on the other side of the house appears to have given up the ghost.
This is the harvest from this weekend alone. Several varieties of tomatoes (Glacier, Japanese Trifele Black, Sweet 100s, Old German), patty pan squash, sunburst yellow squash, and a piccolino zucchini. Actually, there was another one of those zucchini the size of a football and I pitched it into the woods.
I decided I would try to use it all up.  Some of the squash went onto the grill tonight.  Everything else went into the oven to be slow-roasted. The tomatoes I halved, de-seeded, and tossed in olive oil, fresh basil and oregano, salt and pepper, and crushed garlic. Squash were sliced and coated in the same mixture, but without out the garlic and with balsamic vinegar added. And then because the oven was on anyway, I sliced some sweet onions and tossed them in olive oil, and added the remainder of the bulb of garlic, still in its papery skin.
200 degrees, for several hours. I read that the tomatoes can be kept in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for a few weeks. I'm guessing the onions are the same and maybe a slightly shorter fridge-life for the squash. The house smelled like heaven while everything was roasting.
I also harvested the potatoes. The yield was frankly disappointing. My guess is that I need to start them much sooner so they can get more growth in before the heat hits - which was unusually early this year. I got only a few Adirondack blue potatoes. and more of the Mountain Rose. Both had skins and flesh the same color. And before everyone starts in with the Pota-Toe jokes - I often work bare-footed and when I took the photo, I decided not to crop out my foot to provide a little scale for these very small potatoes.
I grilled about half of them for dinner the other night, along with some squash and tomatoes and Swiss chard I'd picked earlier. And because I found fresh figs for sale, I grilled salmon with them and a glaze made of marmalade, grated ginger, pepper, and a little wine. I guess it's becoming clear that this blog is unlikely to change a whole lot outside a little personal caginess?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How about we start with a walk?

We've been getting a lot of much-needed rain the past week, and the kids and I drove through a storm to go for walk this afternoon. We walked four miles along the greenway trail, while I annoyed them by stopping periodically to take pictures. But hey, I was the one with the car keys.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The blog is dead. Long live the blog.

I began my old blog in 2006 as a way to keep up with family. And then, something surprising happened. People I didn't know started showing up. Over time, I became more open about my life as I worked my way through a separation and divorce and dating and relationships. And I started gaining local notice, something I did not want. The blog morphed and jumped URLs a number of times in an attempt to protect my privacy. Finally, I went fully underground, making the blog private and restricting it to invited readers. But I lost something in the process - I've found that I miss the chance visits from around the world, and the evolving community that can only come from an open blog. During my recent blog hiatus, I made a decision to lay the old blog to rest. Sort of. I'm not deleting it, because I want to keep the posts. But I'm not transporting them here as I have always done in the past - those old posts are going into hiding. This one will have the same blog name, same avatar, same identity, but stripped to the bones and reincarnated.
I am going to do my best to guard my privacy a little better than I have in the past. Blog-rolling and following are absolutely fine, though. Those of you who have been along for the ride so far, I only ask that you please not use my real name or location in comments.  Other than that, I welcome you and whoever I pick up as passengers along the way.  No map, no itinerary. We'll just see where the new journey takes us.