Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Harvest update, window dog, and saying no

Whoo-hoo! New camera! No more pink streaks through our photos.

Yesterday, we had a first in our gardening: we picked some tomatoes before they got eaten by birds or squirrels (we're not sure which, but they've gotten several).

And today, another first: Beans! See, we took some beans from our bag of dried beans that we use to make black bean burritos, and we put them in the ground, and we already have more beans than we put in the ground!

We just let 'em dry on the vine, then shelled them for storage. So far we have something like 30 beans. Not much, no, but we aren't finished yet. This is way too exciting. Farmers everywhere would get a good laugh out of the likes of us.

You may have noticed the okra. It's now officially old news. I'm glad The Alpha has finally developed a taste for the stuff, because it's plentiful. I saw ants on one of the plants today, though. Ants... on... plants... not good. Last time, they stole our corn.

And we're not even going to talk about the cantaloupe catastrophe. No, we aren't. Instead, here's a nice early-morning picture of The Boy at his post in the dining room:

He's a good 'un. On tonight's walk, he was actually complimented for his good behavior -- twice -- and for his good looks, too.

In a completely random change of subject, I've been thinking lately about how hard it is to say no to the good things that come your way at the wrong time, or just when there's no room in your life. (Mid-Life Rookie? Will Smama? Thanks for putting the situation into words.) But I'm learning to do it.

In fact, I just took a break from writing this post and sent the e-mail declining to serve on a committee that I really would've enjoyed -- if I actually had the time to show up for it. A few months ago, similar situation: I declined to serve as chairperson of another group I work with. And just a couple of months ago, I declined something exciting but unbloggable. And you know what? Life is still good after having said no.

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Because we're twelve...

... we dragged our spoons through the "Happy Anniversary" written in chocolate around the edge of our dessert plate last night. Because we knew it would be yummy, and because the restaurant was way too fancy for us to pick up the plate and lick it.

... we have always found, and continue to find, amusement in flatulence. Even when we're dressed nicely. No, wait: Especially when we're dressed nicely.

... we will be going out for frozen custard as our supper tonight. Being at once Grown and Twelve is a great combination when it comes to such decisions.

... we must've been newborns in this photograph, seeing as how today, We're Twelve.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five: What You Absolutely, Positively, Can't Leave Home Without

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Singing Owl writes:

We will be at a chaplain's convention when you all are answering the Friday Five Questions. I'll look forward to reading your answers next week when I get home. At the moment we are trying to get the car loaded so we can hit the road, so this will be a simple F.F. This running around madly in order to leave has me wondering: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?

Hmmm... must-haves. Much of it depends on the situation. For example, I must have my The Boy if I'm on a road trip that will possibly permit bringing along a dog. But before this turns into an essay question, I'll move on to the list:

1. Fake Dog. Ask Mid-Life Rookie or anyone else who has roomed with me on any kind of overnight travel. It's a gray-and-white plush dog about a foot high, and was The Alpha's first gift to me (on my 17th birthday -- yes, we go waaay back).

2. Expensive high-tech toothbrush. It helped me get rid of periodontal disease years ago, and now I'm spoiled. I can hardly brush my teeth the old-fashioned way anymore.

3. Mobile phone. And I always stock it with appropriate numbers to coordinate potential meetups, RevGal or otherwise.

4. Curling iron. I'm generally pretty low-maintenance, but my hair is so stringy that I don't feel right if I haven't tamed the ends.

5. Great attitude. Back on our honeymoon, The Alpha and I decided that there was no such thing as having a bad time on one of our vacations. So, if something goes awry? "We're having an adventure!" This approach has gotten us through rainstorms, mudslides, persnickety fellow tourists and more with plenty of good memories.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meme time

I had no idea that SisterFilms read my blog. But I do now, because she de-lurked and tagged me! Hi, SisterFilms!

Here are the rules:

1. List these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.

1. I should be drying my hair and doing other getting-ready-for-work things right now. The ceiling fan is doing its best on the hair...

2. A friend recently sent me a link to some dialects of my home state. I took one tiny linguistics workshop a very long time ago, and I remain enthralled at the differences in communities, even now that we're such a mobile and media-driven society. (Is it "barbed wire" or "bobwar"?)

3. Sometimes I feel like the only English major out there who doesn't really care for Shakespeare all that much. Anyone else?

4. This meme wouldn't be complete without a dog reference. The Boy jumped off the back of the couch Tuesday night and pulled something in his left hindquarter area. He hollered for a minute. It was scary. I'm still a little worried about him, but he's getting around just fine and one of my friends says it's happened to her dog before. Nothing looks swollen or out of place, and he doesn't seem to be hurting, so we're just keeping an eye on him.

5. I wonder how many people would keep a cold pack on their dog's hindquarters for 20 minutes after such an occurrence. I think our household might be in the minority there.

6. I'm being taken to a schmancy restaurant this Saturday night. Something about being married for a dozen years or some such. Oddly, one of my favorite things about this steak joint is... their Steakhouse Salad.

7. I don't watch much TV, but I'm hooked on this show. Holly Hunter's character hasn't learned lessons as quickly as I would like her to, but of course that's part of what keeps me watching.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

No time to play along with this one. But, if you decide to play, let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sweet, sweet St. Casserole....

Love my St. Casserole. Mean it. I just recently got a reminder of how much and why.

When I returned from Church Nerd South Central (Jurisdiction, that is), what was waiting for me but an envelope from the Animal Adoption Society. The letter inside began:

Dear The Typist and The Alpha,
St. Casserole has made a memorial donation to the Animal Adoption Society, Inc. in memory of your dog Cub.

And, in the next paragraph, something special I didn't notice until re-reading it this evening:
"Each animal is prayed/neutered..."

They really are quite a lovely organization, aren't they? I mean, if I were being neutered, I'd want to be prayed, too.... sorry, couldn't resist (I am an English major after all, Rach).

Seriously, I do very much appreciate St. Cass and the volunteer organization to which she donated in my sweet girl's memory. We were out walking The Boy this evening and I noticed I felt out of place. The Alpha had the leash, which is normal, but I was on the wrong side of him. I walked half a block feeling funny until I realized and shifted my position to his left. At that point he said exactly what I was thinking: that I would've been in that spot all along if Cub had been there. She always, always walked to The Boy's left, with me holding her leash.

Three months, and we still miss her. There's a hole in our formation, and we aren't eager to fill it. We'd rather have the hole right now, thanks.

It helps very much to have friends like St. Casserole with us, acknowledging that yes, there's still a hole, and there's going to be one.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Alpha's trip swag

So, The Alpha was part of a really nice mission trip last week. Destination: Eclectic Mountain Town. And their non-work time included the requisite tourist-trappy Christian destination. The gift shop on premises contained this Rubikesque wonder:

Rubikesque. Not quite trademark-quality stuff for $1.99... but at that price, The Alpha simply couldn't resist having one of his very own.

And then, his t-shirt of the week... front side:

(The outlines are really white, not pink... still haven't replaced the rickety camera.)

And a favorite quotation on the back:

So, there you go.

Prayers, please

So I called my sis to sing "Happy Birthday," only to learn that her day was quickly shaping up to be one from Hell. Some people have annoying days and call them that. My sister's days from Hell aren't about a ruined manicure or a missed deadline. Because of her life's situations, they are closer to actual Hell than the bad days of many people I know. Please pray for her.

Hasty random update

  • Cooked the garden's first mini-mess of corn-meal-coated, pan-fried okra last night. I think it tasted good, but my taste buds are still dulled from the lingering sinus problems.
  • Today's my sister's birthday! I'll have to call and sing.
  • Back to work today after half a week of full-time church-nerdery.
  • The Alpha returned from the mission trip just a few hours after I returned from Jurisdictional Conference. Very good report, the youth had many learning experiences, and The Alpha returned with a couple of interesting souvenirs (I'll provide photos later... maybe after we shop for brand-new digital camera?).
  • Been mistaken for clergy frequently over the past week. It used to rattle me, but now it's just more amusing. Mainly because after years of intense discernment I've concluded I'm not called in that direction. And, thus, not headed in that direction. Besides, the church needs empowered laity. I are one.
  • I feel like there's one more thing that needs to go on this list.
  • Any idea what it is?
  • Okay, I give. I have to leave for work.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Late night for the church nerd

I've been at South Central Jurisdictional Conference since Wednesday afternoon. Just after 10:00 tonight, we finished electing the 3 bishops needed to fill the vacancies of those retiring. The third one elected was from our delegation. Quite the rollercoaster these last two days. I'm really too tired to be good at writing anything right now, but we are in recess until the Episcopacy Committee makes assignments and I'm enjoying the free wi-fi that we don't have in our hotel rooms.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Which Jack came over to play

I think our digital camera is really on its way out sooner rather than later. This photo was one of three that I had to coax it to take, and sadly, it's the best one I could get with both dogs visible. You see, The Boy met a great new friend today -- Jack, a 16-pound terrier-beagle mix, who is absolutely adorable. And the two of them played very well, and we hope to find a time when they can romp around together again soon.

They had a grand and wonderful time.

They sniffed and jumped and rolled and sniffed and play-postured and chased and sniffed.

But you wouldn't necessarily guess that from this picture:

They were actually playing beautifully at the time this photo was taken. It just so happens that the very, very delayed shutter on the soon-to-be-ex-camera caught my sweet little The Boy in a most unflattering moment. And the red-eye problem doesn't help, either.

So, here's a quick and grainy video I took immediately after that shot to prove that yes, they really were having a blast.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lesson in okra management

(For the first six or so years of my life, I thought it was "okrie." That's how Memaw always said it. And she always cooked a "mess" of it. And she grew it in her front yard, down by the corner stop sign, and nobody thought anything of it. Besides, she was the neighborhood association.)

We only have a few okra plants, so I'm not sure we will get a full mess of okrie out of our garden. But we did learn today that, with our tightly-packed planting area, you can miss some things until after they've grown past the right size for picking. Case in point:

According to our nifty little book and the back of the seed packet, this one is about the right size for harvesting. But that wasn't the one we saw that got us started picking. It was this one:

This one, it turns out, is a little bigger than recommended. We could've picked it a few days ago, but it got ahead of us.

And then there's the one we didn't see until we really started rooting around the stalks between the tomato plants. We wonder how on earth we missed something this big:

According to our limited knowledge, this one is past its peak and likely to be tough. We wonder if they mean that for the people who boil okra, not for people like us who plan to cut it up, shake it in cornmeal, and pan-fry it.

No, these three do not constitute a mess of any kind. That is, unless you squish them up and get the slime all over you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tonight's supper

What you see here: slices of two yellow squash. Squash that grew here in our backyard. In suburbia.

We dunked the slices in egg, then in flour and seasoning, then pan-fried them. This, Internet, is the absolute best way to have squash. The Alpha, normally not a squash fan, ate his full share of this batch. (My grandmother might've called it "a mess of squash" rather than a batch, but we might not have had enough to qualify as a "mess." It was plenty for just the two of us, though.)

Also note the wooden fork being used to turn the squash, which was carved by my father-in-law. Nifty, eh? He does spoons, too. We keep telling him to start working craft shows, but he won't do it.

We may only be on a fifth of an acre, but we're trying to live closer to what little land is available. And this evening, the results were yummy.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday night assortment

  • Pray for Heather, whose dog Bubba was stung by a bee or wasp and died this weekend. Young basset hound. I thought eight years was bad with losing Cub... Bubba was only two and a half.
  • I have a sore throat. I hope it goes away rather than inviting other strange symptoms over to play. I was sick last month. I don't want to be sick again this month.
  • Time really seems to be flying lately... or is it just me?
  • Talked with fellow RevGal Zorra this evening. Always a treat.
  • Photo for your viewing pleasure:

Both dogs, on the floor in The Alpha's study (hence the action figures in the background), with me being a good girl and having my devotional time. No dogs were hurt in this photo -- The Boy just prefers strange lounging poses, and he doesn't care if his paw is in the way. Our girl had about a month left when this picture was taken. Most of me is glad I didn't know that at the time.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Holiday Guest Blogger: The Boy

Hi, it's me. The Boy.

You know what? Last night there were splosions outside. The thumb-havers said something about KaBoom Town, but I didn't care. I don't like splosions. I hid under the bed.

The Alpha and The Typist thought they'd fixed things so I couldn't get under the bed. They keep having to re-fix, though. Because of things like thunder and splosions.

And the electric toothbrush. They say it's not for me, but I won't ever believe that.

I hear there will be a little bit of Coming Over today. And there was some mopping, and The Alpha brought out the growling carpet monster with the headlight. (I don't like it right along with the splosions and the electric toothbrush.)

And I think The Alpha is messing with the grill right now. I like the grill. I like to sniff around under it after they're finished. I like to see if they drop anything meaty.

I hope Winston doesn't Come Over. He's scary. The Typist keeps telling me I'm a Big Brave Dog whenever he comes over, but she is Wrong. She says he's little, and I can take him, but it doesn't matter that he's little. I can't take him.

Maybe Frodo will get to Come Over again soon. I like Frodo. We even rode in the car together to the Dog Park and were nice the whole time.

Hey! The other night we went out for custard. I got a Puppy Cup. It's an off-menu item just for me.

I have to go help with the grill now.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Of gardens and gone-ness

I like squash. It's crunchy when raw, delightful when thinly-sliced, lightly-floured and pan-fried, and we are growing some in our backyard. Moreover, The Alpha doesn't particularly like them, so he only had one bite of Squash One, pictured below with Cucumber Two:

(If you click for the larger image, they're pretty close to Actual Size.)

I ate Squash One raw, sliced up and sprinkled with a little bit of Greek seasoning (no, not made with actual Greeks). Now I have a tummy ache. I hope it's just my body freaking out because I ate something so fresh and good for me. This reaction hasn't happened with the cukes, though, and they fit the same two categories, don't they?

Seems that our squash yield won't be quite match the stuff of legend. Most of the plants aren't doing too well. We may have another squash to harvest tomorrow or Thursday, but after that it'll be a while. The good news: the cukes appear to be gearing up for some serious bounty. So much so that The Alpha might attempt pickling a few.

They are the pickling variety, but not because we planned to pickle them. It's because they're the kind my mother used to grow, and thus the kind I like to eat -- chilled, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise with just a dash of salt on top.

Today it's been exactly two decades since my mother died. Some years, it's a tough day. Hasn't been so bad this time. I realize there's no way I'd have a garden in my backyard if it weren't for The Alpha -- it's his project. But it still helps me feel a connection to my mother, whose plants all followed her to the earth (the rest of us aren't so green-thumbed). I faintly remember my dad bringing some of the last produce from her last garden back to cook at my grandmother's, his mother's, house (I never went back to our little house myself, using my supposed tender age to my advantage and letting adults clean out the temporary dwelling that was supposed to be allergy-free and make her well, but didn't). I think I at least helped with eating it. I think there was eggplant, which we would have sliced up and fried like yellow squash. And probably tomatoes. Because there were always tomatoes. I had not yet acquired a taste for them at twelve, though.

But now we have tiny little green tomatoes on huge plants that I didn't realize would be five feet tall. And when they turn red, if the bugs don't get them first, I'll help eat them. And then later we hope we'll get to really enjoy that cantaloupe (if it didn't get cross-pollinated and decide to taste like a cucumber... the cucumbers don't taste like cantaloupes, so that's something!). And then okra. And maybe beans, if they ever flippin' DO anything... meanwhile, The Alpha is already considering expansion for next year... root vegetables.

So, I don't really know where I'm going with this post. I'm just sayin'.