Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cooking Frenzy!

After reading my one e-mail and the daily comics, I was possessed of a spirit of cooking.

While I ate my breakfast of black bean chili with rice, I had a vision of using up the leftovers in the fridge -- a half a small cabbage, some hamburger, and some basmati rice to make golumpki meatballs while an enormous slab of ribs baked for lunch. Oh, and macaroni salad.

The ribs were thawed in the microwave before I was done with my pint of tea; I cut them into individual portions and seasoned and browned them while the oven was heating and while I mixed the leftover rice, the small pack of ground beef, and cabbage into meatballs only slightly smaller than tennis balls.

Bernie woke and came out to the kitchen to observe the pressure cooker with the golumpki-meatballs chattering in the pressure cooker, and the vat of boiling water for the macaroni, the Cuisinart full of chopped onion, celery, and pickle, and the pot of cooling boiled eggs and its compadre, the container of freshly-made barbecue sauce. "Looks like the Mad Scientist's lab to me," he said, blearily pouring his own coffee.

Yes. I was COOKING, baby, and I have to say that it felt GOOD to be using the leftovers efficiently and making good stuff happen. The food was scrumptious, all of it.

It's not really the point of this post that the food was good. The amazing event is that I wanted to cook. I wanted to tear myself away from the computer and do something with my hands other than format on a keyboard. There was a JOY in cooking stuff, a SATISFACTION in creating delicious dishes, an INTEREST in the world that has been hard to find in the past three years.

Yes. I like this feeling.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Lay-Off Week Project

This space has held, in the past 12 years, a couple huge, aphid-infested photinia bushes, a purple potato-bush shaped into a tree, Mexican bush sage, calla lilies, tomatoes, spinach, chard, daffodils and tulips, a pink bougainvillea, lavender bushes, purple lantana, and a lot of weeds.

Not all at the same time, of course.

I've been itching to clean it up and re-purpose it once again, and this time, Bernie had an idea that really sparked my interest.

"Let's do three raised planters," he said. "They'll be easier to weed, and they should look good there."

I found my shovel and removed every weed, loosening the soil and pulling the weeds, lifting the daffodil bulbs and the persistent calla lily bulbs. (I love callas, but they simply cannot be trusted -- they multiply like rabbits.) Bernie pulled out the last roots of the Mexican bush sage (we've been trying to get rid of it for two years) and built a prototype of the planter.

The planters will hold, in winter, onions, spinach, chard, lettuce, and maybe a few turnips. In summer, cucumbers, squashes, and nasturtiums.

We put down a pre-emergent to keep the weeds between the beds in check, and covered that with soft cedar bark. (Easy on our normally bare feet.)

A geranium in the white pot to the left seems to look on in interest -- after all, removal of the bush sage liberated an irrigation emitter that properly belonged to the geranium. And in the background on the right, the stuff crawling halfway across the walk is a spider plant colony whose origin we can't recall.

In point of fact, whoever it was who dropped a piece of spider plant on the ground has deliberately wiped the incident from their mind so as to be able to pass a lie-detector test.

The planters look good from both angles. It was a successful project.

Our reward will come later, with veggies in season; and also came that day, with our chairs under the tree and a mister going to cool us as we sipped wine and surveyed our handiwork.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baked Leaves

It's the mid-July heat wave, hot enough to cook the leaves on my Japanese maple -- about 104.

The weather service says that it's unseasonably hot, but I can't remember a mid-July in 20 years when the temps didn't hit a hundred and some more.

I think what they meant was "unreasonably" hot. We got in the pool for a while, but the water has warmed quickly and was barely refreshing.

The AC is running, which is annoying to me, but the evening temps just have not been cooling. Somewhere around 5 am this morning, the outdoor temperatures made for good sleeping. I got up at 6 and came indoors to open up all the windows and let some cooler air in. Tonight we closed up the tent and have opted to sleep inside.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I Won't Regret It Tomorrow, No Matter What

I suspect that tomorrow I'm going to be dragging around like a semi-salted snail.

The horses were loaded in the trailer and off we went to Woodward Reservoir at 10am. We rode on the roads, we rode in the water, we rode back to the trailer, had lunch, and then set off again to ride in water and on the roads again. I dragged home at 6pm, sunburnt and smiling.

We saw tall white egrets and great blue herons; flocks of red-winged blackbirds and gaggles of geese; coots and mallards and buzzards ... the air was cool coming across the water, which reflected a cloudless blue sky.

Oh, I'll be sore, but I'll still smile.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Benefit from an Icky Task

Shoveling up dog crap is not my favorite activity of the day, but with two large dogs in residence, well, it just has to be done.

Sunday evening, some hours before we were to sleep in the tent, I scooped poop -- not wanting to wake up in the night and say, "Wish I'd taken care of that before nightfall."

While I was scooping, this amazing insect showed up, flitting about the north side of the house, landing on the irrigation-sprayers. I dropped shovel and ran for my camera. Braving the horrible plague of flies we're having this year, I stood with the lens focused on the sprinkler head and waited.

Bernie found the correct nomenclature, but to me it was just this astounding white-ass dragonfly, the likes of which I had never seen in my life. According to the internet article Bern read, this dragonfly shouldn't even be in this area. Maybe it migrated here, hearing that there was such a surfeit of flies this year.

The photos I took were well worth the three blistering fly bites I'm medicating as a result.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Tired Old Sore Ass

Today, Cathy the Mad Horsewoman asked me this question: "Why is it, that when the horses are carrying us, and they do the walking, that we are tired after our rides?"

I don't have an answer for her. We rode for nearly two hours today, and I was exhausted at the end, my "end" truly sore, my back weary, my legs and arms and shoulders begging for reprieve. Dink was tired -- lots of yawns when we were de-tacking -- but I was dead, and very glad that there were leftovers for Bernie's and my lunch. ( I was dead, and zombies do love leftovers.)

Leftover barbecued chicken and potato salad ... blissful.

Then a protracted session with Photoshop to repair and replace some graphics ... bleah. Now I'm really tired.