Monday, September 22, 2014

The Last Day of Summer

Do you realize that's what today is???  We didn't get a Summer (and just now I hear migrating geese honking by) and now it's Fall?  Not fair.  This morning it was cold enough for me to see my breath when I stepped out to nab the hummingbird feeder so I could refill it.  I know it seems way too cold for those little birdies but they say to put out the feeder for at least a week after you see the last hummingbird, and we're still seeing them every day.

That hawk I saw early yesterday hung around.  In the afternoon I was washing dishes before making supper and it landed on the fence and just posed.  Of course as soon as I put the camera down a squirrel came along the top of the fence for a stand-off.  I'm sad to say that the hawk was the one that backed down and flew off.  *sigh*
 


When I was getting my mise en place together before cooking the French Onion Salisbury Steak for the freezer and had a mittful of parsley to chop (although that's basil in the pictures, it was a different recipe but it's the same idea) I thought I should share my method of chopping or mincing herbs.  See, they always seem to get away from me when I try chopping them on the board.  I read a tip a few years back that has solved my problem.  I snip off the herb-y parts into a small plastic glass and then use my kitchen shears to cut them up in the glass.  Plus you can get every little bit of the herbs out of there and into your skillet or pot without dropping some on the floor during the transfer.  (I get a little messy)  I think it's a genius solution.


That Salisbury steak recipe is a bit labor-intensive but it's pretty easy and, man, are the results worth it.  I'm going to have to make sure to hide some of the frozen ones so that's not all Durwood eats next week when I'm gone--to THE CLEARING to write and commune with nature for a week in relative isolation, not that I'm eager to go, you understand, but I said I'd go and I've paid my fees and, okay, I'll admit it, I'm so eager it's nearing unbearable.  But only 5 more days to live through and then I can fling my crap into the back of the car and drive away.  Away!  Away!

We had cod for supper last night.  I sauteed some onions, celery, and red bell pepper then put the cut cod pieces on top of the veggies, salted and peppered, added a couple of cut up tomatoes, squeezed on half a lemon and tipped in a couple tablespoonfuls of white wine, clapped the lid on the skillet, turned it down to simmer and cooked it as long as it took the broccoli to steam in the microwave (about 6 minutes, or until the cod was white and flaky).  You can substitute mushrooms for the tomatoes too, if that's what you like or have on hand.  It was pretty darned good.  The reason I'm telling you this is because I learned a long time ago that the combination of lemon and wine overcomes any fishy taste or aroma from less-than-expensive fish.


September 22--Nigeria, Court of Benin, Edo Peoples, Hip Ornament, Portuguese Face.  The man at the door was very tall and stood perfectly still.  His skin was the darkest brown and his voice was deep and dark like the best chocolate.  Clara watched him from under her eyelashes as she sat in the waiting room of the embassy.  When he had asked her what she was there for she stammered that she had a letter for the Consul.  She almost kept talking.  His dark black eyes bored into her and it took all her control not to tell everything she knew about the letter and how she had been sworn to secrecy.  She even thought about telling him about stealing apples from Mrs. Mason's orchard when she was eleven but got control of herself and sat down.

Did I tell you that DD called the other day and she and DIL2 are coming here for Thanksgiving?  Well, they are.  Isn't that great?  We're so excited, we haven't seen DD since March and it's been since last October that we saw DIL2.  I keep trying to convince them to move closer but it's like I'm talking to a pair of independent grownups.  Sheesh.  But YAY!  We can't wait.

Gotta find some breakfast and get ready for work.  It's Monday again, also payday.  Yay for payday!  Yay for Monday which is the Monday before I run away to The Clearing.  Five more days.  Ahhh.
-Barbara

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Think My Brain's Turned Off

Or maybe the incessant blow of the furnace/ac fan is filling my ears and my head so that the sibilant sound of the air in the vents is all that registers.  Once again I turned everything off but the fan is merrily spinning, even after our emergency service call yesterday.  Grrr.  I will be so glad when we get the right chip installed and this foolish cooling/heating system and its attendant digital commander are right and settled.  Fixed, even, that'd be good, fixed.

I am amazed and horrified at the maple tree's precipitous lurch into Autumn.  There's barely a hint of green in the leaves, they're all red and orange and the canopy's thin.  Almost all the other trees in the neighborhood are stubbornly clinging  to their chlorophyll.  Good job, guys.  When I stood on the porch this morning to take pictures I heard a piercing cry and the local Cooper's hawk swooped into the branches of the maple but of course I could only see a piece of its belly and in just crouching down to get a better view I chased it off.  Drat.  So imagine a hawk sheltering its brown and white self in these garish leaves.

Did you realized that lilies of the valley make berries?  Me neither but look at the little orange ones nestled there among the leaves and ferns.  Trust me I got right down there to make sure the berries weren't from some intruder plant, nope, those are from the lilies of the valley.  Amazing.

Today I'll be whipping up another batch of French Onion Salisbury Steak (the most popular of my investment cooking meals) to portion out and freeze so that Durwood will be able to have some when I'm away next week.  Oh, yes, Durwood's feeling that much better and I get to go to The Clearing after all and I am so excited.  I might just spend part of today packing, or at least thinking about packing.  Maybe I'll start making a pile of things.  I could do that, yeah, I could.

I didn't write last night, I was tired and I couldn't stop hearing that blasted furnace fan, maybe I can block it out tonight.
--Barbara

Saturday, September 20, 2014

An Exercise Day

I slept until almost 8:30 this morning.  Ahhh.  I couldn't believe my bleary eyes when they crept open and squinted at the glowing green numbers across the room.  8:25, yay!

I decided to do Wii Yoga this morning.  My knees were not fans after the fact.  Then after some breakfast I mowed the lawn because it looked like rain but it was too long to leave.  No rain fell on me but my knees weren't fans of mowing either.   (they don't like yoga, they don't like walking behind the mower, what DO they like? tell me that.  they don't like me sitting around so much either.)

I refilled the platform feeder after mowing and the bluejay grapevine must have been on high because as soon as I started putting the nuts and seeds in the feeder I heard the jays raucous cries from down the block.  As soon as I got inside they began their attack, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker came too but only for the blink of an eye.  We wondered what was in there that might interest them so we can be sure to put more of whatever it is in.  There's the double suet feeder always there and filled but maybe they like seeds too, or maybe that bird's trying to be part of the bluejay gang.  (these bird pics are from a couple years ago, I wasn't fast enough today)

After lunch I went downstairs and whipped up some cocoa butter & aloe lotion since I was at the point of whacking my current bottle on my hand to get enough to smooth on.  Tsk.  That's why I make my own, so I don't run out, and I had let my supply get that low.  My knees didn't like me clomping up and down the basement stairs either, by then I was thinking they could just get over their selves.

Oh!  When I went out to mow I closed up the house and turned on the air conditioner so Durwood could breathe while I mowed.  When I came in I didn't think it was cool but then I was all hot and sweaty from mowing.  Then when I came up from making lotion I realized that it REALLY wasn't cooling, in fact, it was 79 in here.  So I called the people that had installed the new air conditioner on July 5 and had been at the house last Monday to fix the fan that wouldn't turn off and insisted that he come back TODAY and get the *^&%$ thing fixed.  He did.  Seems they got a bad batch of chips a while back and when he was here on Monday he didn't have a good chip to replace the bad chip so he got one from another service guy but that one was a bad one too.  Today he wired it around the chip and will come back later with one of the not-bad chips and really fix it.  There was no charge--and there'd better be no charge for the (hopefully) final fix.  Grr.  At least it's cool in here now.

September 20--Attributed to Pottier and Stymus Manufacturing Co., Armchair and Side Chair.  Kate really didn't want to sit in the chair that the professor offered her.  She thought it looked like an old and incontinent cat had lived in it.  The silk fabric of the seat was shredded and the gilding was peeling off.

Once again I've managed to put this off until night.  Where did the morning go?  Oh yeah, I slept, then did yoga, then mowed the lawn.  Time for yogurt and a cookie.
--Barbara

Friday, September 19, 2014

In Which I Am A Good Employee

I am a good employee because when Mrs. Boss called the other day to ask if I can work part of today I didn't hesitate to say yes.  *pats self on back*  I don't remember why she needs the day off, maybe she's in charge of some meeting or something at her secret society, but I get to work today for part of the day, not all day so I don't miss Friday Night Knitting, but I'll get a little boost in the paycheck and I always like that.  Plus it's a cloudy day so I might as well sit inside at work, right?

I finished the second soya and cotton hankie washcloth last night.  (it needs blocking)  This pattern amuses me, I like that it looks like something fancy but is for washing your face (or other parts that need washing), proof that utility can also be pretty.

The leaves are turning colors.  Out of all the trees on the block ours is the most turned.  *sigh*  That's not a good sign.  I called the city arborist last week and I don't know if he's had a chance to stop by yet.  We haven't gotten a note which he said he'd leave for me so maybe I'm not the only person to call for him to check out a tree.  D'you realize that next week is the Autumnal Equinox?  That means that summer's officially over.  Bah.  The mums are starting to bloom too (see?  I told you they would even after I cut them back when they tried to bloom in July).


I was going to resist but I'm putting yet another hummingbird picture on here.  This little lady has spent the morning visiting each and every crook and feeder in the yard, even peeking over the downy woodpecker's shoulder at the suet.  Pretty soon all of the hummingbirds will be gone south so I'm taking pictures of them while I still can. They're so tiny, how do they survive on even these sort of chilly nights?

September 19--Unknown Artist, Locomotive on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  Celeste tried to wedge herself into the corner of the seat so she could sleep.  Darla sat across from her, bolt upright and fast asleep, but Celeste couldn't hold herself still like that.  Each time the train car tipped and swayed she did too.  She had rolled up her jacket to use as a pillow and braced her feet on the armrest on the aisle.  She knew she should have taken off her shoes but she was afraid they'd slide away under the seats and be lost, then where would she be when they arrived.

Eh. Time to get myself dressed in something other than my jammies and cobble a lunch together.  Later, dudes and dudettes.
--Barbara

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hummingbird Central

Our feeders have been very popular with the neighborhood hummingbirds lately so I made sure that they were all full this morning.  We were amused to see one of the hummingbirds checking out the oriole feeder with grape jelly in the cup.
 
I picked what may be the last of the tomatoes this morning and saw two more gorgeous blooms on the nasturtiums.


I forgot my knitting yesterday when I went to work.  Thank goodness I have a dishcloth project in my car at all times in case the bridge goes up when I'm on my way across town.  I won't be forgetting today, no sirree bob.

 That new doc of Durwood's called again this morning just to see how he's doing.  Wow!  We are so happy with him and we were very worried that the replacement doc wouldn't measure up to the last one but it just occurred to me that we've liked each successive pulmonologist better than the last one.  Hopefully this one doesn't leave anytime soon.  Durwood's feeling tons better and that's a relief.  The magic of modern medicine gets the credit, that and Dr. Callaway.

At Durwood's urging I cancelled my cancellation of my week at The Clearing yesterday.  Now I'm toddling off to the woods to work on my writing in a place without Internet or reliable cell service, no TV, no radio, no work.  Nothing to do but have writing time for a whole week.  I can not wait.



September 18--Claude Monet, Cabin of the Customs Watch.  Julia B had always loved the cottage.  It nestled against a cleft in the bluff along the west side of the bay.  When she was a small girl Granny Eileen had lived there and Julia B's summers were filled with bread baking in the early mornings, berry picking in the late afternoons, and fishing off the dock whenever Granny felt the need for some of what she called "peaceful meditation."  Julia B learned that meant no talking, just fishing.  Now she herself lived in the cottage on the bluff, had the sunset and storms as entertainment, and she was partial to "peaceful meditation."

I've done my morning stuff in reverse order today and I don't know if I like it.  I had lots of time to fill the feeders and look at the hummingbirds flit around and the bluejays make off with all the peanuts in the platform feeder.  Those bluejays come in like gangbusters, squawking all the way, nab a nut and zoom off before I can even pick up the camera.  I'm off.  Working today.
--Barbara

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

He Has the "Key"

Sept 17 -- key
Key, that's today's Photo A Day theme and Durwood has a new key for me to take a picture of.  Never fear, I have a key for that new vehicle too, in fact, I have two keys for that vehicle since I have the valet key in addition to the other key key.  The valet key was the hidden key and I know that because it is covered with duct tape glue.  I'll get some gloves and the Goo Gone to clean it up later and do it outside so that Durwood can keep breathing.  I'm thoughtful that way.

It's chilly outside in the morning now.  *sigh*  I love it when it's chilly outside in the morning.  The coleus is as happy as it's ever been, the sedum's blooming, the apples are ripening, but the early spring bleeding heart is collapsed from the chilly night.  Guess that means it'll soon be Fall.  Which also means that the "W" word and the "S" word aren't far behind.  Guess it's time to call the snowblower and mower fixit guys to come pick them up... no, wait... our neighbor LJ offered to do the regular maintenance for them, but the mower needs a fixit guy, I think, because the self-propelled part's been a little balky this summer so it better go to the shop instead of into LJ's garage.
 
I think the male hummingbirds have migrated but the females, the tough ones of the crowd, are still here and still fueling up for their long future flight.  Do you realize that some of these tiny fliers cross the Gulf of Mexico in one, non-stop, 18 hour flight?  So, no, they don't migrate on the backs of the geese, as one myth says, these tough little birds make it all on their own.  I lucked out again this morning and had the camera in my hand and turned on when a chubby little female hummer landed for a morning drink.  They're so tiny and so fierce I am constantly enthralled when they stop at our feeder.  Two of them were chasing each other around in the apple tree the other day and it looked from where I sat like they should have bonked into branches and knocked themselves out but they didn't.  There's probably lots of open space in there behind all the leaves and fruit where there's just bare twigs and stuff, but it sure looked crazy

seeing those eensy, weensy bodies zipping around in there.

September 17--Jean Baptiste Greuze, Study Head of a Woman.  She had a scarf tied around her head to keep her hair from tangling in the wind that blew in through the open door.  The house had been shut up for so long that the stale air felt heavy like it would make a sound as the fresh air shoved its way in and forced the old air out.  Jean had to use both hands and lean in to turn the old key in the rusty lock in the front door.  She had waved a broom over the doorway and around in the entry foyer to chase away any spiders and sweep away the webs.  Mr. Gilbert, the agent, wasn't paying her enough for her to take any chances that spiders might get down her neck.

Okay.  It's like I have a new husband.  Buying that van seems to have been a catalyst for him to shuck the last of his high altitude, we hit a deer and wrecked my beloved van, malaise and start on the road to recovery.  Whew.  I'm getting my old Durwood back, just a bit, I can see him twinkling out at me from those amazing blue eyes.  Thank.  God.  Time to kick-start my day.  Ta-ta!
--Barbara

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Know What Makes Durwood Happy


A new Chevy Uplander!  I googled "used uplander" when I got to work yesterday and found three of them within 30 miles so I emailed the link to my car guy, he went to look at the closest one on his way back from the auto auction, struck a deal with that salesman, and carted it back to his lot up on the corner.  So after Durwood's nap today we bopped up there, took a test drive, and BOOM! he had a new van.  A new-to-him/used 2008 van all shiny and new looking with all kinds of doodads and geegaws.  A DVD player!  4-way adjustable power seats!  Remote auto-opening sliding doors!  And it's red, dark red it's true, but red so he gets to have it.  He's happy.  I think he absolutely hated not having a vehicle even though it's taken him until today to feel up to driving again but now that's he's on the road to recovery (fingers crossed) he's got wheels again.  It was a wrench to have to "total" the old Uplander.  He loved that thing, so even though he said he didn't "need something that big" I knew he couldn't resist if I found a used one for a good price and in good shape.  I hit a home run with this one, maybe even a bases-loaded home run.  (my great-grandpa was a baseball loving guy so I know a little about it)

It was pretty quiet at work yesterday so I got a bunch of rounds done on the next Vintage Hankie Washcloth.  I really like this pattern and am having fun making them in crazy colors.  Once school starts people somehow decide that diving season's over even though this time of year is when the water is the warmest.  Although with our non-summer the water never really warmed up like it has in the past, so I guess I can't blame people if they stay out of the water.  I guess, but it sure makes it quiet at the dive shop.

September 16--Vivienne Westwood, "On Liberty" Suit.  The thought behind it puzzled Becca.  What had the designer been thinking when she turned the peplum of  that red windowpane plaid suit into a bustle?  A bustle!  When every woman in the country already thought her butt was too big she makes a bustle to make it look bigger.  Not one American woman, not even the skin-and-bones ones, not even the slaves to fashion would wrap themselves in red plaid wool and then attach an entire extra posterior to their posterior, not even in the name of the great god Fashion.

Okay, it's full dark and I have spent the whole day chasing around to doctors and car lots and post offices and pharmacies and nail salons and I finally had time to blog.  Now it's almost time to go to bed and I bet I won't have a darned thing to blog about tomorrow morning.  I'll just have to make something up.  Don't think I won't, I write fiction too you know.
--Barbara