Friday, August 31, 2007

I Didn't Know They Like Garlic!


End of August From the Garden

The pickings are anything but slim. I knew the raised beds would make a difference, but I had no idea how great it would be.The tomato plants are higher than my head (not too hard since I'm all of 5'2".) The eggplant bushes - advertised as "small" - are about four feet tall. The Armenian cucumbers are laying siege to everything. I've given away tons of them.

The grapevine must have been inspired by all of this fecundity because, for the first time that we've lived in this house, it has actually produced some grapes. The bunches are small and the grapes are pea-size, but, oh, are they tasty. I think I will prune it properly this fall and hope for some real production next year. More Armenian cucumbers, patty pan squash, eggplants, assorted tomatoes and grapes.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Fishin' Was Good This Year

I think there must be something to be said for climbing dangerous cliffs to trout fish. There's not a whole lot of competition. The fisherfolk caught their limit every day, and most of them were good size. Nothing better for breakfast than fresh trout.

The Kidlette, the Twin and the Engineer

Kidlette's 15 inch trout

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm Addicted

Okay, I admit it, I'm addicted.

I tried to resist for a couple of years. I just said, "No!" repeatedly, but it had been a very long, very bad day and I was stuck in Detroit at 1:00 in the morning, in imminent danger of being kicked out onto the street. My defenses weakened and I mentally succumbed.

After flight delays and screw ups, after being in airport purgatory for hours and being routed all over the country trying to get to a family funeral, I said to the Engineer, "Yes, I will get a cell phone."

I called it "My Leash" from the get-go, and tried to use it as seldom as possible.

Gradually, over the last five years, it has become part of my life. I carry it with me almost all of the time. All of my friends know my number and a whole lot of my business is done on it. I have left the standard TMobile ringtone for all calls except for the Engineer; his calls are announced with "Ride of the Valkyries." I have it set for vibrate first, then ring.

Tonight I was sitting at the picnic table after finishing dinner with my phone in my shirt because my outfit had no pockets. It had slipped over to the left and ridden up funny when it went off. The buzzing was a stimulating experience. I think I said something like, "Whoop!"

That was when I realized I was addicted. When you have to get cheap thrills by carrying your vibrating cell phone in your shirt, you are surely hopeless.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Best Trade Show Gimme Ever

I think everybody likes a gimme. The image of an overall clad farmer sucking a wheat stem with his DeKalb gimme cap on his head is iconic. What a promotional ploy -- give a person something of slight value but everyday usefulness with a logo emblazoned on it and you've got a walking billboard.

That's why I figure some of us go to trade shows. To get the gimme stuff. Something for nothing makes folks' toes curl in delight.

At the trade shows I've gone to, and I suspect most trade shows, the big gimme item is pens. Self-stick note pads are good too. I got a very nice microfiber lens cloth in a little pouch with a clip from Pictureline -- that was totally cool, it stays clipped to the point and shoot camera's case. Another time I got a little Mag flashlight with (I think) Hewlett Packard on the side. A bandana with chili peppers and Schlumberger -- nice, but I don't get the connection between peppers and oil field services. An insulated Nikon coffee cup which the Engineer appropriated. Lots of bags of assorted merit -- everything from cheesy plastic and paper to non-woven fiber to very nice nylon. Some of the nylon ones have become grocery and book bags for me.

But the very best trade show gimme of all time, the one I use the most, is my Compaq laundry bag. I never travel without it.

Sachi likes it too.

Thank you Compaq.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fried Veggies

Okay, I know that raw, unadulterated veggies are the best for you, but sometimes a person's got to stray from the path of healthfulness. And when you pick the first patty pan squash of the season, you have to celebrate with fried squash.

Peaking through the squash plant today, I found two 3½ inch diameter patty pans -- my very favorite squash -- so tonight was the night. I picked two of the Turkish eggplants and an oddly shaped Armenian cucumber as well. The recipe came from Epicurious.com.

I only bread and fry veggies a couple of times a year and had never tried the methodology used in this recipe. The vegetable slice was first dredged in cornstarch, then dipped in egg, then dredged in fresh bread crumbs. Unlike my usual dip-it-in-milk-then-flour technique, this one somehow kept the crispy coating from flaking off. I'm a convert, cornstarch first from now on.

We had roast pork tenderloin (and, yes, there was enough left over to provide the meat for MockMexican tomorrow), bruschetta with La Brea whole grain bread and tomatoes fresh from the garden, and fried patty pan squash, Turkish eggplant and Armenian cucumber.

I admit it, I get weird every once in a while (actually, frequently), but I really like cucumber in stir fry, so I thought I'd try it. It was not offensive, it was... bland. I think if the breading was spicy it would be nice because the texture and moistness of it was good, just not much flavor. The eggplant was the least yuck-o eggplant I've ever eater. The Engineer dubbed it aubergine and ate all of it with relish. The patty pan was heaven.

Surprise, surprise!

One of the things that goes to Idaho every year is a fully stocked bar. When the fisher folk get home in the afternoon, they clean their catch and their own filthy bodies then it's toddy time. The Engineer takes orders from Gramma then the Twin's Wife and the Kidlette (a nubile and adorable girl), then the Twin. Occasionally he even asks me if I would like something. The Twin's Wife is a vodka martini drinker (two olives, please.)

The Engineer took her order the first afternoon, got out his silver shaker (I said full bar) added ice, vodka, vermouth and shook it up good. He poured it into a martini glass over the requisite two olives and gave it to the Twin's Wife. It looked lovely.

She drank it, but with a rather odd expression, and asked for another which the Engineer produced with a flourish before heading outdoors to fire up the grill.

She sipped her second martini, made a face and said, "This tastes strange. Does 100 proof vodka taste different than regular vodka?"

She sniffed the bottle and passed it on to me.

I sniffed the bottle and said, "It sure doesn't smell like vodka."

Kidlette took the bottle, sniffed it, then upended it and chugged about half of the contents.

Gramma and the Twin's Wife practically had heart attacks right there.

Kidlette staggered theatrically, then announced, "It's water."

Only thing we can figure is that one of the contractors working on our basement drank the bottle dry and refilled it with water at some point after New Years when the bottle had been opened.

The Engineer was not a happy camper. Fortunately, it being a full bar and the vodka being a partial bottle, he had brought a second, unopened bottle.

(P.S. I'm very pleased with the way my digital martini drawing came out.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

See the Amazing Expando Man!

Watch as his stomach enlarges to engulf everything on the table!

Watch as he eats meat, potatoes and vegetables!

Watch all hopes of any leftovers disappear in double time!

**********************

I bought a three pound chuck roast and cooked it in the crock pot today. Why such a big pot roast? I know the Engineer loves pot roast, so I wanted to make sure I had enough left over to make MockMexican on Friday.

Who was I kidding? There's enough left for a sandwich. After eight years of marriage I should know better, but he continually astonishes me.

Guess I'll cook a pork tenderloin tomorrow and hope there's some left from that to combine with the bit of beef. I'll have my MockMexican with veggies only.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Notes From the Home Front

Kitsu's whisker pad is healing well. No infection at all and the hair is already growing back. I was worried about leaving her alone with her boo-boo, but fortunately the kitty sitter is a vet tech. That does give me a certain feeling of security.

Sachi had a big surprise tonight. Don't know how it happened, but she ended up in the swimming pool. She came wailing up the stairs again (the cat door opens in the basement), with Kitsu trailing her. Every inch of her except the top of her head was soaked. I caught her and used three towels drying her. She did not appreciate it; she growled at me.

Being in the swimming pool must have inspired her to mighty feats of strength. She exited the pool at the deep end, I could tell by the big puddle of water and the broad streak that ended at the cat door.

Her fur is dry now and very fluffy.

Picked a couple of normal sized Armenian cucumbers and another zeppelin when I got home. Those jobbers grow fast!

The Turkish eggplants are starting to color up. I hate eggplant, but they look so cool I had to plant some.

It's amazing how many shapes and colors eggplants come in. They're beautiful plants. Too bad they taste like fiberglass insulation.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Heading to Idaho - Wednesday 8-15

Pencil and paper blogging - so much less flexible than composing on the computer. I write more slowly than I type. I can't cut and paste or rearrange things on a whim. Nor do I have a spell checker.

I bought my first computer for the spell checker. I had delusions of being a writer, but my typing was execrable and my spelling was worse. I figured a computer could compensate for a multitude of sins. I now type and spell better than I ever thought I would, but I'm still not published.

Ah well, keep working at it and maybe one of these days...

The drive from Salt Lake City to Boise takes about five hours. The Engineer insisted we leave at 6:00 a.m. He is insane.

We drove up I-84, what my Beloved calls "The Empty Corridor." For the most part, that description's pretty accurate. I nod off a whole lot, the vibration of the truck makes my head fuzzy. I did look out the windows (bug spattered though they were) a good bit of the time. As the sun was rising, I was fascinated by the pink virga and, a little later in the day, the angel staircases.

I first noticed angel staircases when I was a little kid. I never asked my parents about them, I simply saw them and, with the faith of a child, knew what they were. I guess most people simply call them sunbeams, but to me that does not do them poetic justice.
Someday I hope to take a truly fine photo of the phenomenon.

Transcribed from my pretty green notebook.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Home and In Need of a Shower

Packed up our stuff this morning and cleaned the cabin (I had bathroom duty as usual), ate breakfast at the Sourdough Inn, then headed for home. It's a seven hour drive, so it was 6:00 by the time we got back to unload the truck and put stuff away. Then I had to scrounge something from the freezer to defrost to cook for dinner.

Now the Engineer is tucked snug in his bed and I have a couple minutes to sit down in front of the computer (with a purring Sachi wedged between the keyboard and my chest doing the happy cat march) and catch up on a few things. I received a very exciting e-mail from a friend who'd fallen off the face of the earth a couple of years ago. I've got to e- her back and let her know how glad I am she's well.

Then the shower. I really need the shower.

I was good while I was gone, though, and put pencil to paper all four days. I will transcribe those paper blog entries and post them when I have the time. I'll post a few pictures too. But first, the shower.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Garden Bounty For Idaho

I picked lots of good things from the garden today. It's amazing what a difference having raised beds with rich, friable soil makes. Sure wish I'd done this a few years ago. Armenian cucumbers, sugarbaby watermelon, purple and wax beans, 6 kinds of tomatoes, 3 kinds of peppers, basil, mint, orageno, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, chives, sage and tarragon.

Most of it, except for the overgrown Armenian cucumbers and the sugarbaby watermelon, has been packed to travel to Idaho tomorrow morning. The Engineer says we have to leave at 6:00 a.m. This does not make me any more inclined to believe he is anything other than insane. I'm pretty much ready, though. I've already packed Harry Potter.

I plan to sleep while he drives.

Home Again For a Day

The trip to Michigan went pretty well though getting there seemed like it was going to be problematical.

I left two days before the Engineer so that I could spend some time with my Dad's younger sister and her family. They have dogs and he's never learned to cope with canines, so it's best to keep them separated for the most part.

The plane boarded as scheduled, then we sat there at the gate. And sat there. And sat there. After about a half hour, the pilot came on the speaker system and told us we were delayed due to "The Annunciation."

This, as you might imagine, piqued my curiosity.

So we sat at the gate for another half hour and I kept looking for a heavenly light or, at the very least, a dove. Didn't see anything, didn't hear any hallelujah choruses.

There was another announcement about "drain mast heat" and a possible bad circuit.

Half an hour later, the pilot told us it looked like a wiring problem, they were going to have to turn off the plane, and that we should disembark.

Dang!

We all got off the plane and milled around at the gate. Those folks with connections in Detroit were more than a little perturbed. I called my Aunt and told her not to hold dinner for me.

The airline must have figured we needed to be placated, so they announced that there would be food vouchers given away several gates down the terminal, so we all hustled down there and stood in line to scan our boarding passes on the one working scanner. Upon reaching the head of the line, I was rewarded with a computer printed coupon for $7 at the airport restaurant of my choice, so I walked into the only one between me and the gate and put in an order, only to hear my flight called for reboarding.

Murphy rules.

We reboarded in double time, the plane taxied out and the pilot announced we were first in line to take off.

When we got to the end of the runway, the wind changed. The plane crunched to a ponderous halt and the pilot announced that we would have to turn around and taxi to the far side of the airport for a different runway. Perhaps events like this are the real reason they don't let passengers carry flammable materials or pointy objects on the plane...

We lucked out, though, someone started laughing his butt off and the rest of the cabin joined in. That must have been what was needed to lift our jinx, because we taxied to the far runway, then soared into the air for a smooth flight to Detroit.

Naturally, the Engineer's flight on Friday left as scheduled and arrived 15 minutes early.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dang Big Cucumber

In fishing when you talk about the one that got away, nobody ever believes you. They have faith that you are exagerating.





In curcubits, when one gets away from you, you have proof of the size.





The question is, "What the heck am I going to do with it?"

August Is Going To Be Erratic

This is my month for traveling. I'm leaving tomorrow for Michigan to visit relatives and in-laws. Both the Engineer and I grew up in Michigan; we lived across the street from each other in high school. Whenever my Mom baked a pie, he and the Twin would show up on the front porch with big grins of anticipation. In fact, I dated the Twin in high school and the Engineer in college. Before the Engineer and I got married, his Mother asked me if I was sure I was getting the right one... (I've never questioned which one, but sometimes I question my sanity for getting married at all.)

After getting back from Michigan, we have a one day turn around, then leave for Idaho and that famous 100-year-old trapper's cabin. While the cabin does have running water (pumped straight out of the creek beside it - we don't drink it) and electricity, there is no phone service, either land line or cell, so no computer connectivity. I have to go to a full day seminar in Logan, Utah the day after we get back, the next day a friend of mine from North Carolina is coming to stay for a week. She's a good enough friend that even the Engineer hasn't had fits about her coming with the house still unfinished. She will be sleeping in the room that currently houses my computer, so there will be no late night blogging the week she's here.

Anyhoo, those are my pre-excuses for about three weeks of probable silence. I did buy a pretty, pale green notebook with white flower silhouettes on the cover to try to inspire myself to do a little pen and paper blogging for transcription upon my return. We'll have to see how that works out.

As an aside, Sachi isn't the only one who's had a rough time of it lately. Something got hold of Kitsu yesterday and took a patch out of her whisker pad. I suspect some small creature she tried to catch objected. Hope it got away.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Poo-poo Pants of Trauma

The cats get locked in the house every evening, hopefully by dusk. I don't want them running around outside in the night, it's too dangerous -- not just cars and perverse humans, but we have coyotes in the area.

Sachi is more of a home kitty than Kitsu, she's usually in the house already when Kitsu finally decides it's time to come in.

Tonight though, Kitsu came in and no Sachi.

I went outside and called. I came inside and called. I rattled the crunchie bag and poured food into the dish. I looked in the tool shed and the spare room and the cupboards. No Sachi.

I hate it when I don't know where the cats are.

I was owned by Esmerelda for 20 years and Handsome for 10, they both died after I moved to Utah. I've adopted and lost two more cats since, Pandora and Brianna. I don't think I could stand to lose another. I love my cats, they're my kids.

It's 1:00 in the morning and Sachi just came in. She came wailing up the stairs from the cat door. As soon as I got near her, I could tell by the smell that she had poo-poo pants. Which means something bad and scary happened to her. I washed her back half and checked her out thoroughly. Found no physical damage. Then I gave her cat cookies to apologize for the bath and let her know I still love her. She's sulking in the cat tube now.

I wish I had magic powers to keep my cats healthy, happy and safe for long lives like Esmerelda had. I don't want them to ever to experience the poo-poo pants of trauma.




Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tree Trunks







Chapter 2 -- The Pie Part

I'm a pretty darn good cook. I'm a little scattered, though.

I decided Tuesday that Wednesday's dinner would be sausages with pinto beans, left-over coleslaw with julienned Armenian cucumber added and spoon bread with fresh cut off the cob corn in it. Then I found out I didn't have any pinto beans.

I don't do canned beans. I buy dry beans and cook them for hours because they taste better and I know what's in them.

So no sausages and beans for Wednesday dinner.

But I had some left-over sockeye salmon in the freezer. Ooh, quiche! Salmon, cheese and onion quiche, crusty Le Brea French bread (if your local grocery store carries Le Brea, you owe it to yourself to try it, it's the best!) and oh, I don't know, some kind of vegetable. And since I needed to make a pie to take to Idaho in a couple of weeks, I'd stop by the produce stand and buy some berries, make enough pie crust for quiche and pie, then freeze the resulting pie. Am I brilliant, or what?

Then Wednesday morning I got all wound up in The Great Potty Hunt (see yesterday's blog) and having lunch with my pregnant friend. I also took my Wacom Intuos digitizing tablet along because her employer's letting folks ask for the tools they'll need for the coming year and she has to do lots of computer drawing in her job -- she makes newsletters among many other duties. The Wacom was the hit of the office. Everybody had to come in to her cubicle and try it out -- even the big boss, so I think she has a lock on getting one.

Running late, I rushed about my errands and swung by the grocery store for a bag of pinto beans (I had this faint nagging feeling I was forgetting something, but it wouldn't come into focus) and the produce stand for berries. They had beautiful, big blueberries Wednesday.

I got home about 5:30, put the beans on to soak for the next day, picked over and washed the berries (made a few of them disappear in the process -- yum!), then got out the stuff to make crust with as the Engineer was pulling into the car port. I put the salmon in the microwave to thaw and started sautéing the onions, then opened the fridge for the eggs...

Oh, crud! I only had two eggs. That's what that nagging feeling was at the grocery store.

This was not going to work. When I make a quiche, I make a large and robust quiche that takes over an hour to bake. The salmon had already been broken into small pieces and there wasn't enough for a whole meal in any case.

"I'm going to the grocery store for a dozen eggs," I announced. "You're not going to have quiche for dinner, you're going to have a frittata." Out the door and back to the store I went.

The frittata was very good. It's just like a quiche except no crust and it cooks one heck of a lot faster. We had French bread, so who needs crust.

I did bake the blueberry pie after dinner. Kind of a shame to have to freeze it instead of eating it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Potties and Pies

Hmm... I seem to be stuck on a poo theme.

I have a friend who's pregnant and due the end of September. She's the one who thought I got my "hoo-hoo" pierced when I went to Koi Piercing Salon. I don't work with her or know her family or other friends, so no shower invites, but that's okay, I'm not real big on giggling and sticking bows on people's heads. I wanted to get her a baby present anyway, so I did.

Perhaps I shouldn't admit it, but when it comes to baby gifts and wedding gifts, I have preferred presents. For weddings, I like to give high quality knives: 1. You can always use a good knife in the kitchen and 2. It's something a man can appreciate too. I always include a penny and a little note to keep it with the knives so they won't cut the person who uses them. (You have your superstitions, I have mine.)

For babies, I give potty chairs.

I know it's going to be a good long time before the unborn needs a potty chair, that's why I give them. Everybody gives the Mom stuff for a newborn. Cute little sleepers, little pieces of pastel flannel cloth I don't know the use of (I've never been brave enough to have a baby myself), baby bath tubs, rattles, bonnets, wee booties. All stuff to use in the first few months of Baby's life. Then Mom and Dad are on their own. Well, down the road, they're sure as heck going to need a potty, so that's what I give 'em.

And, oh, the choices you have these days. It took me a while to decide, there was one with Elmo on it called 1-2-3 Learn With Me Potty Chair, but I couldn't see it as anything but Tinkle Me Elmo.

The one I really wanted, saw it on Amazon.com, was the Peter Potty Toddler Urinal. What a hoot! Nobody in town seems to carry it, though, so I ended up with the Smart Rewards Potty that says hello when baby sits down, congratulates him when he "Makes a deposit," and has real flushing noise and dispenses star stickers. Wowzer!

So I bought it and wrapped it all up in paper with cute little animals on it and a blue bow (It's a Boy!), and went to lunch with my friend. You can tell she's gunna be a Mommy (besides, of course, the bushel basket she's carrying around in front of her), because she went all gah-gah over that silly little toilet.

Chapter 2 -- Pies

I think I'll post that tomorrow. Getting the pies too close to the poo just isn't too appetizing.