Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Ok, I did pledge to keep my blog going—but I never promised I would update frequently!  However, my recent half-hearted thoughts about jotting a few thoughts here and there were finally sprung into motion today by a fairly terse request by Gentleman John of Going Gently…and nobody can say no to John Gray.

So, let’s talk about promises, shall we?  Spring is a season full of promise, is it not?  Some of promises kept…



The galliardia has returned once again with its spectacular sunset blooms.


…and some not.



They promise storms and rain every day, and it mostly passes us by.


For the most part, though, the promises are still just that—promises.  I’m very excited by the garden this year, since it looks so neat and clean right now.  Is there a promise that I can keep the weeds at bay for once?



In the front from the left you see Miss Chef’s parsnips, (which I promised I would not weed, and which promise I have not kept), my three bean plants and the peas.  In back is the garlic, the bolted and flowering radishes and the short carrots.  In the wayback is the broccoli, which has mostly produced small, early-flowering heads.  Still, there are two or three plants which have not formed heads yet, so there is a small promise of better harvests to come.

The peas, which did not flower until this past weekend, are finally showing some promise of a good harvest.



And it’s about time, because the cherry tomatoes, at least, have been looking promising for almost a month now.  Peas are supposed to come way before tomatoes, so I’ve been a bit baffled by this disorder.  Things seem to be straightening themselves out now, though.


There are two heavy clusters of green cherry tomatoes, slowly growing in size and still showing no signs of red.  I have faith, though.  No promises that we will be able to harvest them before the dog does.  And the beefsteak tomato, while displaying promising flowers, has yet to set fruit.  Odd, since they live right next to each other in a small bed.

We had a good flowering on the blackberry bush, and while there is quite a bit of fruity promise here…


…we have yet to protect the berries successfully from the hungry summer birds.  We shall see…maybe this year will be different.

No worries up front, though.  Rising above the now-quiet phlox by the mailbox, Miss Chef’s dramatic lilies are getting ready for their annual show.



And lurking behind and beside the galliardia is a veritable army of sturdy green stems…


…which promise to erupt into a small sea of brown-eyed susans.  I don’t believe I actually planted them; they were most certainly spread here from the big patch in the backyard.  They are insistent, invasive little buggers, but their reliability and long blooming season are welcome in the landscape.

And how about a Rosie update? 


You may remember many moons ago we were struggling to find answers to her inconsistent incontinence.  Well, we’ve ruled out infections, tumors and even Cushing’s disease.  So now she is on a twice-daily “pee pill,” which she gobbles down eagerly after each meal.  The vet is still trying to get the dosage right, so we’ve been going in for blood pressure checks of all things!  For the curious, they do this in a manner similar to human doctors, but the cuff goes around the “shin” of her back leg. 

Rosie is a very good patient and earns lots of praise, petting and treats from the staff.  I think they recognize her name now, and always seem very happy to see her.  I do love it when a new vet tech puts her hands on Rosie for the first time and says “Oh!  How soft!”

Anyway, the pee pills seem to be working, so far.  Very promising, indeed.

As I look forward, the coming weeks promise to be as busy as ever.  Since even the school will be off, I am using a couple of vacation days around the Memorial Day holiday this weekend, to go visit my parents.  The day I return, a young cousin from California—whom I’ve seen only once since he was a wee baby, sitting on my teenage lap—is arriving for a brief stop on his tour up the Atlantic coast with his girlfriend.  If I recall correctly, he is now comfortably over six feet tall, with broad shoulders, so I don’t expect any knee-sitting this time around.  I only wish I weren’t teaching, so I could spend more time catching up. 

And then, in late June, comes another milestone—the 20th reunion of my college graduating class!  Our school—Miami University in Oxford, Ohio—was large enough that I don’t expect to remember most of the class, but four friends and former roommates and I shall be gathering (some with husbands and children in tow) to find out just how old it will make us feel to retrace our footsteps.  I haven’t been back to campus for about 19 years, so it promises to be a shock, as well as a literal walk down memory lane.

Maybe I shall take some photos during all this excitement, and share them with you, eh?  No promises, though!

Oh, and because I would feel that I’m letting you down on an unspoken promise in regards to appetite…here’s a picture of the chicken I roasted on the grill last night.  My first time doing it without Miss Chef’s help, and I have to say—it does taste as good as it looks!



So, in closing, I promise I will be back…but no telling when!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Why Haven’t I Been Writing?

It has struck me a few times as this weekend approached that nearly two weeks have passed since my last post.  Normally if I don’t write something at least once a week, I have a nagging feeling of needing to get it done, of wanting to focus on some aspect of my life or some event and elaborate on it.

Lately, however, that drive has been missing.  Sure, life’s been a bit hectic, with teaching and Miss Chef spending every free moment either grading or working on her own MBA coursework.  But I’ve still been humming along in the garden, obsessing over temperature and rainfall, and celebrating the first shoots and harvests.  Rosie has still been alternately amusing and frustrating.  There have been minor victories over overgrown beds and happy successes in the kitchen.

I was standing at the counter this afternoon, picking mint for Miss Chef, when it struck me that this evening would be a perfect time to sit down and compose some paragraphs.  “It would be nice,” was my thought.  Not, “I need to.”  Why, I wondered again, do I not have this burning desire to express myself in writing these days?

And it struck me immediately—I’m no longer lonely.

It was last September that Miss Chef finally quit her restaurant job, ostensibly leaving her weekends free.  But it wasn’t more than two weeks before she was in Chef Luca’s kitchen several times a month, and only shortly after that that Chef Adam was asking her to come in and help.  Soon it was the holidays, during which both chefs needed all the hours she could spare.  And then January 16th, when Miss Chef got the life-changing call about her mother.

She came back at the end of March, and we both jumped into a new semester of teaching.  She still wanted to work at the restaurants when she could, to keep herself busy (and make up for lost income during her time away from school).  But things must have slowed down a bit lately.  Though she worked Friday night for Luca, and has agreed to work Mother’s Day brunch for Adam, it’s been a few weeks since she’s worked a Saturday.  Enough weeks that we’ve eased into a comfortable, relaxed weekend habit.

Of course, most of the weekend, she’s on the couch or at her desk, staring at a computer screen or shuffling through student papers.  But she’s still here.  We don’t have to rush to get through Saturday morning market, grocery store and other errands to get her home in time to shower for work.  I don’t find myself trailing listlessly from couch to kitchen in the afternoon, immobilized by guilt and a mental chore list weighing me down.

With Miss Chef home all day and night Saturday, there is more possibility in my days.  I might spend all afternoon working outside.  Or I might spend it, as I did last week, cooking for us both.  Either way, it is comforting to know she is right there to show off the neatly weeded bed, the exhumed zen fountain or the brightly colored spring rolls I’m working on.

After twelve years of lonely weekends, I can now truly appreciate every hour together, no matter what we’re doing.  Or not doing, as the case may be.

~☼~  ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~ ~☼~

Nevertheless, I am not ready to drop this open journal.  I still want to keep track of my days for my own self.  At this point, I think the easiest way to do that is to see what I’ve got in my phone’s camera.


Ah, the first galliardia bloom.  There are several open by now, and a mass of brown-eyed susan plants rearing up beside them.  I’m looking forward to another colorful show by the front walk this summer.



I had trouble getting a good picture of these white irises out the back door.  But seeing Rosie’s shadow next to them reminds me that she’s been keeping me busy too.  She had her annual checkup last month, and I talked to the vet about her increasing incontinence.  We talked about a couple of options, and they took a urine sample to double-check she didn’t have any infections.  That led to a second sample, and a possibility of Cushing’s disease—fortunately, that test came up negative, so this week Rosie started on what I will refer to as her pee pills.  I hope they work.  We’ve already had to tear up the warped wood laminate tiling in the entryway, and haven’t figured out what we’ll do to replace them.  It will be awfully nice if it doesn’t get worse, and Rosie can go back to being a (nearly) perfect pet.



The broccoli started forming tiny heads a couple of weeks ago.  However, most of the heads are growing loosely instead of tightly bunched, and one has already flowered.  So today I harvested a couple of others that were starting to show signs of bolting, and they are now simmering in Miss Chef’s curry on the stove.



All three of my bean seeds sprouted, and the plants are growing slowly, almost shyly.  It has been cool and cloudy all week.  Even the peas (in the background) are hesitant to climb and flower.  I took this picture of my biggest bean sprout last weekend, to send to a friend I shared my seeds with.  I had a few days’ head start on her, and I had joked about having a bean-growing competition.  She hasn’t sent me a picture back, so I don’t know who’s winning.



Yes, the first tiny green cherry tomatoes emerged last weekend, too!  I usually grow the yellow Sungold variety, which is as sweet as a cherry.  This year I planted Cherrygold, which is a red variety which Carl (the farmer I bought it from) said has a bit more tomato flavor.  The beefsteak variety I planted alongside has flowered, but isn’t growing any fruits yet.  I’m wondering if I need a second plant for cross-pollination.  I’ve begun re-arranging the basil in my mind, to see how I can fit another plant in that bed.



The aforementioned spring rolls.  We had found a completely random cilantro plant growing in the backyard, nowhere near the garden.  I plucked it the morning before the lawn was mowed, and decided spring rolls would be a great way to take advantage of this serendipity.  It was also a great way to used up the last of the chicken Miss Chef had smoked earlier in the week.



Thursday evening was the mid-term exam for my tiny, motivated class.  When I arrived early to see if I could catch a student who’d emailed me with a question, I found the entire class in there with the door closed, studying together.  The board was covered with their review of the verb endings they’d learned so far.  I haven’t started my grading yet, but I have hopes that they did better than a typical class.



That night I got home from class early, and wandered out to play in the garden.  These two radishes became the first harvest of the year.



And this was today’s “second harvest.”  You can see the broccoli that flowered, and some that didn’t.  The purple blooms are from the chives.  That’s parsley on top, and just a bit of basil under the chive blossoms.  The rest of the colander is filled with mint and lemon balm.  Besides the turkey curry the broccoli is swimming in, Miss Chef is also planning on making a mint pesto.

And that brings us to tonight.  I am sitting in our office, typing away, and she is on the couch playing something on the Kindle she inherited from her mom.  RadioLab is on in the background, and Rosie is keeping an eye on both of us from the living room floor.  Neither one of us has touched our schoolwork, but what the heck…we’ve got all weekend.