Monday, September 29, 2014

Too Fast...

My sister arrived safe and sound early Friday afternoon.  As always it's great to have her here...and the boys are so happy to see their favorite "auntie."  She comes bearing gifts:

For them...


And for me, including this old-fashioned harvest bucket filled with cool squash and crisp juicy apples, pumpkin seed brittle, my favorite Italian cookies, and a rare tea blend with blue Bergamot flowers that I will savor in the chilly days ahead...




















Then for dinner we made the Roasted Garlic soup and Asiago crostini (here's a link to the recipe if you want to check it out.)  We had a great time making the soup together and an even better time eating it with a good bottle of red wine.

Six heads of garlic, roasted for about 1-1/2 hours until soft and sweet...


After adding the other ingredients, making the crostini, and about half an hour later...



The soup was creamy and nutty, sweet and garlicky...the crostini had a little bite (from the paprika--see recipe) and was deliciously crunchy and cheesy. We didn't talk much, it was mostly ummm and yum and omg.

Next day though, when we got to Mom's and did the big hugs and kisses stuff, Mom reeled back after hugging my sister and said, "What in the world have you been eating?" Apparently the side effects to the soup could kill a vampire at twenty paces.  Since my sister and I had eaten the same dinner, we couldn't smell the garlic at all.  It seems that garlic is stronger than toothpaste and Listerine.  Good to know.

In spite of our garlic-ness, we had a nice day with Mom, went out to lunch, talked and laughed and had a really nice drive through the mountains both going down and coming back.

Yesterday, after taking the boys for a long walk in the morning, we drove several miles out into the valley to the monastery cafe/store and bought organic, fresh out of the brick oven bread, and gooey, caramel/pecan sticky buns and almond biscotti--mostly for my sister to take home for her husband. And okay, yeah, I had a sticky bun, too and it was worth every calorie and carb.

We stayed up too late, ate way too much food, talked until we were hoarse.  The boys are now conked out, exhausted from all the excitement, and I'm reminded once again that I live far away from the people who know me best.  Ah well.  It just makes me appreciate them all the more when I do get to see them...

Thanks for the great weekend, sis...



Friday, September 26, 2014

Fun Ahead



Gloomy, foggy day.  That is not a complaint...it's a smile-inducing observation.  The past few days have been cloudy, a bit chilly even, and I couldn't be happier.  Seriously.  The Gates of Hell have closed once again.

Walking the boys to the mailbox last evening, I passed one of my neighbors as she was working out in her garden.  She waved, then said, "We lived through another Summer!" See peeps?  It's not just me...

My sister is coming this afternoon.  She's making her last trip of the year before the mountain passes become...well...unpassable.  Saturday we're heading down south to visit the Mothership, taking Mom to lunch, visiting and catching up. It will be a good weekend.

I took the sunflower photo yesterday--a bright gleam of color in an otherwise dreary day. It's amazing how those two little seedlings have grown in just a few weeks.  This is Ted and he's lookin' good. Survival of the fittest...Darwin would be proud.

So, housecleaning this morning, then my sister arrives, followed by a new recipe for dinner (Roasted Garlic Soup with Asiago Crostini), and at least two adventures--or maybe three--over the next couple of days.

Last weekend in September, dear readers.  Enjoy...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Oh yeah...



I woke up this morning--on this second day of Autumn--to lashing rain and wind.  I couldn't believe my eyes...or ears as the rain pounded the roof.

The dogs got soaked on our walk, I got drenched running across the parking lot to the grocery store, even more loading the car after shopping.  I had rain cascading down my face; I relished each and every drop like it was ambrosia.

It's still pouring and now I'm home and dry, totally enjoying the crazy-wild of the first great storm of Autumn.  It's glorious and wonderful and cool and refreshing and ohmygod exactly what I've been dreaming about for weeks.

So, my word for the day?  Bliss.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Colors of Change

Along the river walk this morning


I love this:  Poetic, evocative, the words still echo down the long centuries. And that first line?  Plots and stories swirl in my head...


A good season for staying is autumn,
there is work then for everyone before the 
very short days.

Dappled fawns from amongst the hinds,
the red clumps of the bracken shelter them;
stags run from the knolls at the belling of 
the deer herd.

Sweet acorns in the wide woods,
stubble around the wheatfields over the expanse 
of brown earth.

There are thornbushes and prickly brambles
by the midst of the ruined court;
the hard ground is covered with heavy fruit.
Hazelnuts of good crop fall from the huge old
   trees on dykes.

                                                     Irish, Eleventh Century


Yes, I love this, but I love even more that it's the first day of Autumn...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dancing on the Deck...

...well, when it dries.

Early this morning, hair sticking out every which way, barely dressed, Jack (gardener/handy guy) pulls in the drive.  He's ready to help with staining the back deck.  I nearly fall over from surprise, and lack of coffee.  It's ear...rrrr....ly.

Before, all bare wood and clean:


(The sun was just coming over the rise behind me--that's the lighter strip in the bottom left of the photo above. Seriously, the dude came before sunrise!)

But at last, ta da, one deck done!


It took about four hours--one hour spent driving back to Lowe's for another can of stain--and though that seems like the project took awhile, there's another section of deck to the left that wraps around the house to the back door, plus two sets of stairs that aren't in the photos.  And frankly, I wouldn't have cared if it took all day as long as it was finished. And it was!

There'll be celebrations down the pub tonight, dear readers.  No matter the pub is the kitchen cupboard where I keep my favorite whiskey...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Stuffage...

I was out in the backyard doing some gardening chores this morning, making a mental list of things that will need to get done soon because, although it doesn't seem like it--100 degree days and all--things really are winding down.  Well, except for two sunflowers that suddenly sprouted on the slope a few weeks ago.  I debated about pulling them out, but then my internal Darwin said to leave them be. Good thing, too.  Today I figure Bill and Ted are about four feet tall and have cute little sunflower heads.


My fence looks weird, doesn't it?  Like a snow break/fence. Interesting effect of the blazing sun and harsh shadow.

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I did a little test strip on the deck--one whole step actually--so I can see how the new stain is going to look.  And whew!  I really like it.  Now, if I could just find the Goldilocks Moment: not too hot, not too cold, I might actually feel like progress is being made.

After checking out the stain, I straightened my prayer flags, a task I do every day.  It's sort of become a ritual for me.  Because the flags are silk, very wispy and wonderful, it hardly takes a breath of air to move them, which means they're often wound around and around the cloth tape they're attached to.  I unfurl each flag, spend a moment thinking of peace, compassion, love, wisdom, strength--whichever flag I'm touching--and imagine those prayers and mantras floating on the wind.

Today I see that the green flag has a long rent, and a few others are showing wear after two years of sun and wind, rain and storms, though overall they're holding up pretty good. Besides, that's the point of the flags really: as they fade and get tattered by the elements, they become part of the universe.

The green flag represents water.  I find it a bit startling that the first flag to show such wear and tear is the green when the entire region--southern Oregon/northern California--is struggling through unprecedented heat and a severe drought.  There are 400 mantras on each flag...I wonder how many have been used up after such a summer?


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I have a bird bath in the front yard that I've had to fill way more than seems necessary of late. Course, it's in full sun during the hottest part of the day, so for weeks I've been thinking it's just nuclear-intense evaporation.

Ha.

As I'm writing this post, I catch movement through the half-closed blinds that look over the front garden.  I should have known...

Very crappy photo, through the blinds, the window, the deck rail and twenty feet down the yard. The Evaporators...Mom and little spotted kidlet...


When I took this shot, it was just wafting over the 99* mark on my thermometer.  Click on the photo and you'll see how hot the deck rails are; the heat waves are rippling over the metal like liquid.

Okay, I'm heading for a nice, cold glass of Lambrusco now, peeps.  I've got a new book, a full bottle of vino, two napping dogs and most of the weekend ahead.  That totally works for me...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Irony, A Geek and Brian Bosworth

Yesterday afternoon I went to Lowe's and finally settled on the color for the deck stain. The back deck has been power washed and though the front still needs to be cleaned, I decided to forge ahead with staining the back since the temps were supposed to be in the low 80s for a few days. My plan was to start this next phase of the project on Friday, when my gardener/helper, Jack comes.  I was really looking forward to getting part of this epic chore out of the way.

Do I find it ironic then that I woke up this morning to find there had been a most ferocious rain storm during the night?  The first rain in weeks?  A storm that nobody saw coming? My deck is now soaked. It will be at least four days before I can again attempt to stain the wood. By the weekend it's to be back into the 90s.  Too hot to stain.

And on that note...August was the hottest month in recorded history, across the globe. On Sunday it was 101.5* in my part of the world.  In mid-September. I'm so deeply, seriously, agonizingly sick of the heat and humidity.  Worst Summer ever.  I definitely need to head north.  Far, far north.  Igloos and icebergs and snow-capped mountains sound about right.

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The printer guy came this afternoon.  Just prior to his arrival--because what could be more fraught?--I was on the internet when suddenly I lost the connection. I fiddled with the internet access button, then rebooted the router.  Twice.  Nothing.  After a few more tries, I disconnect everything: router, modem, computer, everything.  I'm on the edge of hysterical laughter because the guy is coming any minute and I have no working machines. More dinking, no internet, no connection, but just as he pulls into my driveway, it all miraculously comes back online.

Holy crap.  I can't take the drama, people, I really can't.

After I explain the last two days of my printer issues, he sits down, taps a couple keys, and the frigging printer kicks out a printed page.  My jaw drops.  I begin sputtering in utter disbelief. Turns out I most likely fixed the problem myself when I disconnected all the electronics. Ken said sometimes the router will glitch, or the modem will forget how to talk to the internet, or stuff just gets scrambled and all it takes is a total reset to get Tron back into the game.  He set me up with a separate IP for the laptop/printer so they can talk even if there's an internet issue, which I thought was cool.  Or, wait.  Maybe it was the printer/modem?

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I got my flu shot earlier this week.  I was in Walgreen's and as they were very quiet and no one was at the pharmacy counter, I decided to get it over with.  As some of you know, dear readers, I have an absolute phobia for needles.  If I think about getting a flu shot, I never will. However, if I can trick the inner fearful kid and just do it, spur of the moment, I can get the deed done with a minimum of fainting, nausea and/or making a spectacle of myself in public.

The pharmacist is Brian Bosworth.  Or his doppelganger.  A giant of a guy who could have been Bosworth's twin. I'm tall, he towered, all muscles and hugeness.  The syringe in his hand looked like a small toy.  I follow him into the It's Gonna Hurt room, sit down and try to relax as he swabs my arm. He's commenting on my shoulder tattoo, chatting about the different strains of flu, until finally I can't bear it.  If he's trying to calm me, the opposite is happening.  The wait is killing me.  I'm all tense, expecting the jab at any moment, but no, on and on he talks.  Finally I say, "Oh man, just get it over with!" and he stabs me in the upper arm like he's just harpooned Moby Dick. I flinch, squeak and feel the burn shoot down my arm. I'm pretty sure the guy doesn't know his own strength, but at least the pain helped me to focus: didn't faint or throw up, though I might have staggered a bit when I left...

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The sun is beating in the windows now, rain clouds long diffused, leaving behind a hot, sticky mugginess.  It's so hard to imagine chilly air, visible puffs of breath, a cold nose, while still under the influence of that wretched orb.

Ah well.  This too shall pass.  Right...?