Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Cogs in a Wheel

Chunky potato, leek and ham soup for lunch yesterday. No cream, just the taters thickening it. Sage in brown butter garnish along with the brown butter. Filling stuff. Mark is meh about soup but he really liked this one. That's a score! It will be a repeat today.


A favorite meal was had for dinner. I love roasted chicken and I really love that everything in done in one pan. The evening light made the color a little off, but I do like the skin dark and crispy. And more bones, more stock. More stock, more soup.

Bob wanted to know how many more small square bales I need so I added up my total to date and it turns out to be only about 200 more. I still need 40 round bales, if they are the 1,100 pound rounds. If smaller I'll need more. I want the big ones, less moving bales to the paddocks. I'll take what I get.

I saw OPEC is going to reduce production by two million barrels per day. Here we go again. We are cogs in a perpetual wheel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

So We Go

Back to basics.

I made a blueberry clafoutis yesterday. I haven't baked in a couple of years, other than bread. The custardy bit looks anemic because I needed to use all the berries, which was five cups. Normally it's three cups, but it is good and blueberry abundant!



I finally made the egg bake now that I am feeling better. Lots of good stuff, including prosciutto and gruyere.



Former Neighbor, Jack, called last evening at 8:30 saying he wanted to come out now. It's a little over an hour drive. Mark had just got out of the shower and we hadn't eaten yet. People who don't live it do not understand life with livestock. Mark had just finished bringing the horses into the barn, getting them fed and watered and then unloading a couple of full racks of hay. Mark said no. Jack was taken aback, he didn't expect that. Because he has no comprehension of how long the days can get. And he and Caroline are night owls. I kind of remember my city life!

It's a pleasure to be enjoying summer's abundance in October. Even the weather has been warm. Today is the last of that, though. Still, it's been appreciated.


So...onward and upward fine people. One more day in the life.


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

I Saw the Light

Frieda was sitting on her piano, the upright sitting position, in profile. She has a pretty profile. I saw the lovely light and the lovely kitty and decided to take a photograph. I messed around with the framing of it too long, when I finally got around to taking that photo, Frieda had left the picture. No tortoiseshell but the light is pretty. The rocking horse belonged to my son, my husband at the time knew someone who made them. I am fond of it.


Former Neighbor Jack didn't make it out here yesterday. Which worked out well for Mark. Hay Guy came with two loads that he and Mark had to unload. It was just before Jack was supposed to arrive when Ken pulled in with the hay. Mark was relieved when Jack called to say he couldn't make it. We need about 400 more square bales for the season and 40 round bales. It's been a dry year, hay is scarce. I need to buy a lottery ticket.

Today I will pick the remainder of the tomatoes. We are coming into normal temperatures for Minnesota in October, so this will be the end. I have enough tomatoes preserved to last a couple of years. I'm going to make salsa verde with whatever green tomatoes I pick. Anything ripe will likely be dehydrated. Thanks Val!

As a note of interest mainly for myself, my sinus problem and the knockout punch it gave me has lessened by a lot. It takes being really ill to appreciate feeling well!

I guess it's off to the tasks, I have a list, one or two will be done. Ah, well.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Parsley Sage Rosemary no Thyme

We have stayed in contact with our immediate neighbor from Saint Paul these almost thirty years. Mark has continued to do his taxes. He drives out here twice a year and it's such a pleasure to see him, even though he is a dyed-in-the-wool trumper. We work at avoiding that topic. We like him and he likes us, so we just push that difference to the side. Which is easy when you see one another about two hours a year.

Lately, I need something to prod me into action. Jack's coming today is the prod. He and his wife, Carolyn, always knew me as an organized person with a clean house. HA!!! I don't want to shock Jack's system. Carolyn told me one time that my house looked like no one lived in it. I'm afraid that kind of organization is no longer in the cards, and that is a good thing. I am not such a tight-ass anymore.

I need company more often. The house could be crumbling around us and Mark wouldn't notice. That man spends a lot of his time somewhere else, even when he's standing right in front of me. I never have to worry about a nagging husband, so it's not really a complaint, just a wonder how two people can be so opposite. In our case it works well. I can't be told what to do and he doesn't care what I do as long as he eats!

Onto another story: Mark just brought in the herbs I'm going to, once again, try to overwinter. The sage and rosemary did make it last year. The sage look bedraggled, it needs some water and also, I gave it a very short haircut a week or so ago.

The ferns got huge. When I bought them in June the fronds didn't cover the pot. One will hang in front of the kitchen window and one will sit on a tall stool in the sunroom. I just gave them a drink.

I have never had luck with basil over the winter, but I'll try again. I haven't brought parsley in but I'm thinking it will do fine.


So, this is my grand excitement. I'm doing some house cleaning, crowding the kitchen with plants, general mayhem. After tomorrow it gets cold. It's near 80 today! I may need to break down and start the furnace on Wednesday. 

Happy trails.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Relics

How different children looked in the 1950s. Can you imagine seeing a little girl like this now? No. Photos of children are excellent in showing societal and fashion change from era to era. This is my cousin, Marie. She was eleven years older than I was and one constant in my life. I was perhaps three? Marie looked like her dad, nothing like my mother's family. Marie died from a rare condition I no longer remember the name of. That was in 2012, two years after my father died. I still miss her.


Another relic. This radio was in the basement rec room for as long as I can remember. 
 

My memory is that it was my dad's. Perhaps he got it after WWII. He spent the entirety of the war in the Navy and was discharged after the war ended. It used to work during my childhood. I brought it home and cleaned it up in 2020. It does not work now!

The basset on top of the radio was a kind, thoughtful gift from a friend who is a gourd artist. Who knew such a thing existed? My much adored Howard died in 2017 and I was devastated. Barbara took a photo from facebook and made a gourd Howard for me. I call the print on the right Psychedelic Howard. He would not be amused.

I have a quieter than usual day ahead. Mark has gone to Stillwater, which is on the eastern edge of Minnesota along the St. Croix River. On the other side of the river is Wisconsin. His sister lives there and family is getting together. A brother living in Nebraska is in town. It will be a long day for him.

So I'm home with a deaf German Shepherd who has decided her calling in life is barking and two cats, one who doesn't think I deserve to live here, the other is on the fence. It's a toss up as to whether I do something or plant myself in the throne chair and listen to a new book all day. I'm cutting myself a break by calling it even chances, we all probably know that's not true!

While sitting here at my desk I have decided what's for dinner this evening, so one thing accomplished. I never know where inspiration will appear, it usually comes from seemingly nowhere, why would a quiche pop in my brain from what I wrote in this post? I'm not going to try to figure that one out.


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Mothers. Cooking. Life.

My mother was not a good cook. She made a couple of things well, actually very well:  a top-notch lasagna and simmered-for-hours red meat sauce. Those were really good. But, no one over-cooked meat better than she did. No one. She hated cooking, so...it was  not on her list of things to care about. I didn't learn from her, other than to stay out of her way.

I married young. I spent the first year out of high school earning as much money as I could. Then one year in college. I married at twenty. I didn't know how to just leave home. I'd stayed with friends the summer I graduated high school, but that was almost a mortal sin, not to be repeated. So, I found a guy and got married. Kate had told me before I became engaged that if I didn't get married soon I would be an old maid. She told me when I was thirteen it was a good thing I was smart. No man would ever want to marry me. She then said it was a good thing my brother was good-looking, because he sure wasn't smart. He found out, when he enlisted in the Navy, that he was dyslexic. He was always smart. 

Of course, I married someone my own age, the last of seven children. Spoiled, used to having people jump in to pick up whatever mess he got into. He also had a problem I didn't understand until later. He was an addict and an alcoholic. I thought he'd stopped the drugs and I didn't realize the extend of the alcohol use until I lived with him. I loved his family, especially his mother. She was probably the kindest person I had known. My mother couldn't stand her. Of course she couldn't. As everyone knows, that marriage was short, but I was out of my parents house now.

Well, that wasn't my initial point! I tend to go with stream of consciousness. 🤷



Back to cooking. I could do basic cooking, nothing to write home about. I did make the lasagna and spaghetti sauce once in awhile, but cooking was not my thing. In the late '70s I bought the book on the lower right. It was a higher level than I was at but not overly complicated. As you can see, I used it! Then I bought the second one when it came out a year later. I found meal preparation to be enjoyable. I didn't have much free time, but when I did I enjoyed cooking. When we moved to Summit Hill I made good friends with some really fine neighbors and we would take turns having dinner parties. I then bought the book on the left. This book teaches French technique. From the most simple, which is always the basis for the next step, to hair pulling, why am I bothering, complexity. Although I wouldn't take that on now, back then I had more time and a willingness to learn. Also, an acceptance of failure. This book gave me a foundation.

After we moved to the farm I became crazy busy and cooking went on the back burner. Fourteen hour days in a barn will do that. The past fifteen or so years I started showing interest again. Not complicated French food. Simple rarely from a recipe food. Standard Americana and Mediterranean food that I can just throw together. But it's easier to do, I think, because I allowed myself all the frustration of learning the fussy business of a French kitchen.

A favorite recipe was given to me by an elderly Italian woman I knew when I worked in Occupational Therapy. She was a patient and I adored her. She gave me her recipe for manicotti. I still have it on a recipe card. Signora Mancuso's Manicotti. I have an English Pasty recipe from the head of the department. Her mother came from England and it was her recipe. These are things to be treasured.

My son is a fine dining chef. He says he blames me for his career. I tell him I never worked in a professional kitchen. He started that as a teen when he went to work at a local pizzeria washing dishes then moving onto the line. When he went off to college he ended up working part time in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant and the rest is history. 

If we like what we do, we tend to put the time into learning and improving. Because even in frustration, or exhaustion (long days in a barn), underneath, we like it. We receive pleasure and a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of worth. This is a universal truth. Say I. 




Friday, September 30, 2022

Life is Good

I made this ragu for dinner with roasted tomatoes and shredded zucchini from my garden. It simmered in the Dutch oven for six hours.  I love braised food.


I got to play whip cracker yesterday. Mark told me he needed to finish two trust account returns by Friday, that he only had a little left to do but he needed to stick with it. So, he proceeds to come into the kitchen to tell me this or that and I kept shooing him back to his office. Several times. Dude.

I'm beginning to feel better, finally, although I still get some jaw pain. It's been a long week. I did make stock Wednesday and with it chicken soup for Thursday's lunch. I put the remainder of the shredded zucchini in the soup and it was delicious. Other than the ragu, that has been the extent of my doing much of anything. Too late for Mark to return me, my warranty ran out decades ago. 



I bought a smoked pork shank. Next soup on the menu will be potato, leek and ham soup. With plenty of sage. It's really nice weather but even so the feel of autumn is in the air and soup will be had.

It's a busy day ahead, lots to do and I think the only way for me to succeed is to get off my duff and do it. What an amazing and, lately, foreign concept.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Trickle of Time

I keep seeing Jon Hamm on TV. In a commercial for Progressive Insurance and also promoting an upcoming movie. It is weird for me, he could be the twin of a man I was engaged to marry in the 70s. Except that man would be about seventy-five now. I remember when Mad Men was on the air, I never watched it, but saw the actor at that time and was startled by the strong resemblance. Someone from the past that I've had no contact with for forty-three years is on TV, or at least his doppelganger is. I think because I'm in my waning years it has a more profound effect than it did with Mad Men, although it was strange then, too. 

So, I scroll through photos sometimes to give me post ideas. I had just seen Jon Hamm on TV as I was scrolling and came upon this photo  of me taken in 1978. My relationship was fraying by this time, but would limp along for another year.


Then I saw this one, taken forty years later. Et Voila! I had a post. In the top photo I was divorced with a young child, still seeing the man I had planned to marry but had told at this time I couldn't marry. He hadn't given up yet and either had I entirely, although one foot was out the door.


Then as I scrolled I came upon this photo taken in 2018, forty years later. I had been married thirty-seven years to the man I had met when he offered to help me raise the top on my MGA as it started to rain one summer evening. We both belonged to a ski club that played volley ball at Como Park during the summer, the rain had started and everyone was going to our after-volley-ball-haunt. I barely noticed the guy at the time he helped me, but he seemed to hover every time the club met after that encounter. Mark was not my "type", yet in the end he was the type I needed. I was a force and Mark didn't care. I shouldn't say that, he did care. About me. As I was. He enjoyed my rather large personality.  I also drove him to distraction, but never away.

Time passed. Persistence on his part made me see the kind person behind the awkward, nervous, nerdy man who decided he wasn't going to give up. He told me he wouldn't give up. If I had told him to get lost, he would have. He wasn't quite a stalker! In the end, I found the man I needed, the man who took me as I am and never tried to change me into something else. 

There is little to recognize between the young me and the not young me. I don't think there's an actress that would surprise the man from decades ago, thinking he was seeing a ghost. If we passed one another in Costco we likely wouldn't recognize each other. The resemblance I see is from long ago, a blurred memory. It isn't an unpleasant memory, no. Not unpleasant to remember youth, even turbulence in that youth. It's a memory.


 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Have I Mentioned Tomatoes?


 have had a lousy few days of sinus issues. It's truly amazing how that can knock the wind right out of a person. My time has been in bed or in my over-stuffed chair I have humbled named the throne chair. I have been plowing through audiobooks, my extreme gratitude to the public library system.

I had a burst (ha!) of energy and decided to dry some more tomatoes and I will bring some of the whole ones to the freezer after lunch. I'm dehydrating some yellow plum tomatoes and will make Pesto Giallo. I have no idea if there is a pesto called that but it's pesto and it's yellow! Maybe Pesto Oro? We had a light frost overnight so Mark covered the two heavy producing tomato plants with sheets. I don't recall ever doing that before. By this time the plants are mostly done for the season.

A positive for me is Mark needs to go to the post office, which means he will pick up fried chicken from the deli. Cooks night off! 

I will leave with a photo of our lovely tuxedo boy, Black McCool.


He and his brother, Tabs Hunter, were part-time house cats until Keetah moved in. They were too skittish to be inside with her. When he was born I mis-identified him as female. Mark kept telling me he had to be male because all he did was whine. He was right!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Down. Not Yet Out

I have been under the weather. I was out of bed two hours in the morning and three hours in the evening yesterday. Mark has had to fend for himself where food is concerned. I have to pull it together today before the stew meat I took from the freezer spoils. Needless to say, there was no bread baking or clafoutis making.

I felt better this morning but it was short. I haven't had sinus problems like this for several years, it's probably the dust accumulation I have in the house. My back has made keeping up difficult. It's so unlike me.

We are having lovely autumn weather, although we sure need rain. 


I hope to feel better soon.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Carpe Diem

Goodbye Summer


Hello Autumn 


May autumn please remain with us for awhile.

The son sent me a text asking if he could come to lunch today so we could see his new-to-him truck. He had asked last Saturday and I had to say no. Mark was on a restricted diet due to a scheduled procedure and he was on high anxiety alert. I had to say no again because of something my mother passed on from her to me; terrible sinus problems. The kind that causes eye-watering jaw, tooth and ear pain. He's going to think we don't want to see him, but the timing has been off. As much as I love the fall season, my sinuses do not. Maybe next week, if fate will give us a rest.

Today will be quiet, as are most days now that I think about it. I'll putter around as much as I can and remind myself small steps lead to the goal, just slower. I took the double coat scraper to Keetah yesterday and got a plastic grocery bag full of hair. I love German Shepherds but not their shedding. They rank at the top for that. I put a little coconut oil on her afterward, which she hates. It has to be the smell of it. I should try shea butter. I learned the coconut butter thing on a GSD group site. It isn't greasy and helps the coat. I've put it in the food, but this one gets a stomach upset from that. The suggestion of applying directly to the coat helps. 

One more bit of bah humbug. I've started using a cane again. I saved my father's adjustable cane when I cleaned out the house. I'm glad I did. I don't need it for steadying myself but it helps me stand upright. The pain I have is a pulling sensation with burning in the upper back. This causes me to bend forward like one would with spinal stenosis. Using the cane at a slightly higher place than normal helps me stay more upright. I do not like using it, it's cumbersome, and being in public with a cane changes the way people react. I am suddenly a tottering old lady! Inconvenience and an ego deflate should not be enough to keep me from attempting to help myself. Or so I keep telling me. 

May you stand tall, be brave and grab the day.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Rain Tomatoes and French

We had a beautiful autumn day yesterday. Today it is 53 F and raining lightly, rain is welcome. Hopeful for rain all day, we need it.

Yesterday I picked.....40 lbs of Roma and yellow plum tomatoes! It's like these two plants are on steroids, I have never had so many tomatoes on one plant, ever. There's at least half that amount that will be ready to pick tomorrow. Both plants are simply loaded but most that are still green won't have a chance to ripen. I've been freezing them whole, now I'm going to start drying them. I think I will be able to keep the son in tomatoes this winter, if he wants them. I have offered pickles, we will not use 18 qts. I have Neighbor Bill to thank for those cucumbers. Yesterday I roasted all the tomatoes he recently gave me. It's about over now. This is around the corner.



My wish, which the weather gods care about not one whit, is that we have a lot of snow and a cold, but not miserably cold, winter. I'd like it cold enough to kill the weeds that have been showing up in the last few years but not cold enough to put us in the poor house with heating costs. Is this too much to ask? We do need moisture, so I'll settle for snow.

I plan to make bread and a blueberry clafoutis this weekend, but this is dependent on my getting the clutter I have turned a blind eye toward put away. I've slipped into ennui and I think I have resided there just a little too long. One of us is wearing out our welcome. With that said, to the trenches. Maybe I'll be thrilling lookers with food photos! a Bientot, mon amie. (I had four years of French. I found out I'd lost it when I ran into someone years ago from a former French colony, told him, in French, I spoke French and then proceeded to stand there like a fool not understanding him at all. A sure sign of, use it or lose it!)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Tomatoes Hay Propane

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway.
Neighbor Bill strikes again.


He stopped by yesterday afternoon with these lovely maters. He said he's been giving (pawning off) on anyone into whose door he can insert a foot! I still have two plants producing wildly but with the temperature change and shorter days that will stop soon.

We will be having many meals with a tomato base over the winter, I have more than usual processed and in the freezer. I believe I will be happy with myself as I'm paying so much more for everything, mostly propane and hay.

Speaking of both.....Mark is unloading hay with Ken, who works for my longtime hay guy. No round bales have come in yet, which makes me a little nervous. It's been a bad year so hay prices are up for more than one reason. Yesterday I decided how much propane I will contract for the season. All of those tomatoes will keep us out of the soup kitchen line.

Ah, well, I just finished a book set during the dust bowl and the California migration. This book brought me back to when I reread The Grapes of Wrath at least a decade ago. Greed and cruelty are eternal. I guess that's why my thoughts went to soup kitchens.

On another note, sort of; my day is planned around tomatoes. I think I'll roast them, the kitchen can use a little warming from the oven. Bread making season is starting. I love making bread, it makes me feel warm and safe for some reason. I received a photo from a friend of a German dessert he made. I couldn't tell what it was, thought maybe similar to a clafoutis, but it is made with yeasted dough. This is a long way around to saying it made me think about making a clafoutis. I have frozen blueberries, so maybe some weekend baking, bread and  dessert. Oh, my!

I think enough of my mind rubble. Off to the tomatoes.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Not All Forms Fit the Mold

Mark's office for the past seventeen years.
Yes, he is a tidy man.


He left his firm after it was acquired by a regional firm based in Wisconsin. They had a completely different corporate culture which was not in alignment with his own. So, he packed up his large client base and became a sole practitioner. 

Over these years his clients aged, as did Mark. They sold their business, in some instances they died. It says a lot about Mark that he retained clients throughout his long career. Those remaining go back with him over forty-five years.

I was prompted to write this by a question I am asked; when is he going to retire. He is semi-retired and spends much of his day doing what had been my work. He likes it. He grew up on a dairy farm and likes animals and physical work. He is also a man of intelligence and well-honed skill. He enjoys what he is doing, his work of his long career and his work with what were my horses, now our horses. 

There seems to be a box one is supposed to go into after a certain age. What if you have no interest in that box? There is no interest in living in a condo. Nor going to Florida or Arizona for the winter, god help me. I have thought about living in Grand Marais, which is far northern Minnesota! I guess that explains the "no thanks" to Florida and Arizona.

Preconceived notions. 

Well, then. It's a cool, partly cloudy day. At the moment this old thing has a little energy and may actually do something productive with it. The aforementioned old man has taken Keetah for a long walk, turned fourteen horses out to pasture, fed Keetah, fed himself, cleaned the barn and now retreated to his office. I think he's got this.

Monday, September 19, 2022

HELLO MONDAY.

HOW YA DOIN?



It's a Monday Monday on my patch of earth. It's a Monday from hell for Mark, clear liquids all day. Then a procedure tomorrow. Mark doesn't do well without food. I'm going to feel guilty eating, but not that guilty, I'll do it anyway.

After tomorrow we have a stretch of autumn weather. I appreciate that. Everyone and thing on this place appreciates that. I got the sliders I ordered from oofos. They are helping my feet which in turn must help my back. Hopefully I will be able to be on my feet a little more. Mark wants me to go to the Mayo but that is difficult for us, having horses and a dog. I'll figure it out if I don't see improvement in a month.

I know I've mentioned I save the woody bits of asparagus to make soup. It's a process and if I didn't have the time I wouldn't do it. But I do. I have it in the Instant Pot with veg scrapes, some chicken bones and water. It has to cook a long time to break down the fibrous stalks. Mark can have the soup tomorrow, he's supposed to take it easy on what he eats for a couple of days after the procedure. He's got homemade chicken stock for today. I roasted a chicken last evening for Mark's last meal, for one day, so that will be available for him tomorrow, too. Poor dear man.

I'm watching Frieda watch the birds with a hunters intent. She will lay at the back door, chirruping as they flit in the dogwoods, knowing she can take them. Murderous little tortie.

That's all the excitement around here. A man yearning for food, a tortie yearning for birds and, well me, making soup.




Saturday, September 17, 2022


My one foray into camping. 1987 in the Black Hills of South Dakota.



 
I may live on a horse farm but I have never, ever been outdoorsy. My son wanted to camp so we borrowed the gear and did a few days in the Badlands and the Black Hills. I was there as a kid but we had a trailer. And I was a couple of years away from my diva persona at that time! I went to the shower building in my cotton, large floral print robe carrying a blow dryer and a makeup bag. 😄 

Things have changed, I went from heels to farm boots and baseball caps, but I have never had any form of desire to camp. I didn't have it then. I was taking one for the team.

I talked to the son today. He bought a Ford Expedition yesterday to use for camping. His wife won't sleep in a tent so they are going to put a mattress in the back of the vehicle. She likes camping, just not the tent. The son is a wilderness camper, so this is a compromise. When I was scrolling photos I saw this and thought about how it was his first time camping, never knowing he'd become one of those that treks out into the unknown with a tent. I know I'm his mother, I was there, and know he didn't get switched at birth. Anyone seeing this photo of his mother camping would not believe he turned into Grizzly Adams.

Friday, September 16, 2022

A Moment of Memory and Lament

I had posted this photo when I first returned to the blog. No one was reading then, so I can post it again and not be redundant.

These items are all from my great-grandparents on my father's side, the Hurds. I managed to acquire things belonging to his family from the grandmother before she died and then from my parents home after Kate died. My mother's personality disorder caused alienation on both sides of the family, which makes the fact she ended up with so much of his family's possessions strange. I guess my grandmother had affection for my father despite my mother.



This was my great-grandfather Hurd's secretary. My grandmother, Blanche, gave it to my parents a few years before she died. Blanche had four sons so I don't know why to my dad.

I got to know Blanche a year before her death. I started driving to her house to visit. She always had spumoni ice cream, even though she was a Type 1 diabetic, and I loved spumoni. She was a refined and regal woman, she had lovely things and she started giving some of it to me, such as fine porcelain demitasse cups and sterling silver spoons that went with them. Most were from her parents, she was an only child. She also was a once divorced woman, unheard of in her time. She had some privilege in her life. She let me choose books from her library, figurines from her cabinets, just lots of different things.

I did a family tree on Ancestry a few years ago. Both sides of my father's family came from England, but both sides had been in America forever. I stopped looking when I got to the early 1700s. I didn't know my father's family. I knew some of my mother's family in my early years, but they all took a hike, other than one cousin and my grandma. The grandfather died when I was four. Biologically I have a large family somewhere, but in reality I grew up in a very small family. Now, it's my son and I.

It's startling the amount of damage one person can do to the lives of many. Of course, that person couldn't do it all alone without the cooperation of the other person in the equation. My family isn't unique, but it's mine and it's what I know. Over the past two years my small family has been navigating the turbulent waters of healing. It's a journey to be taken in small, steady strokes, not expecting arrival at the destination anytime soon. 


I had no intention of writing this when I sat down. As it came out of my finger tips, I let it flow. Excuse my indulgence.
 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Yesterday was mild and breezy. It finally felt like a soup day. 

So soup we had. The flavorless squash worked really well in soup, so now I know what I can do with it. There's a lot of squash.


Autumn is in the air. I'm picking tomatoes in large amounts daily, but even so, it's autumn. Don't you love this time of year? Nice, temperate days, cool crisp evenings. Soon to be lighting a fire. I so enjoy the slow, cozy feel of this time and the winter to come. Part of my DNA may come from the hot and arid Sicily, but one wouldn't know it. I surely must be from the fjords of Norway. Yet, I'm a non-Northern European Minnesotan. In the lingo of my land, go figure.

I'll leave it at this. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something

I watched this documentary on Prime. I knew and liked Harry Chapin's music but I have to admit I knew nothing about the man behind the music. I had no idea he was an activist deeply involved in an attempt to eradicate hunger. That he seemed to be manic in his commitment. I had tears running down my face by the end. I openly admit I cry over absolutely nothing since I had a brain injury, but I was crying out of sentiment and not a weird brain thing. I also admit to being a documentary geek and have rarely found one I didn't see value in. If you have the chance, watch it. There have been and still are people of exceptional heart and quality among us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Best Fellow

DLKS KORITHIAN
Shaka
1988-2009



My first Arabian. He was an opinionated fellow; a difficult, talented horse. When I first met him and mounted, he immediately dumped me. Unceremoniously put me in the dirt, butt end first. Now, most people would have walked away from that. I bought him.

He and I spent his years with trainers. It turned out he was a Grand Prix capable horse. He was absolutely bubbling over with athletic talent and mind-your-manners attitude. Any trainer who needed to dominate did not last long with him. 

The year he was working on Prix St. Georges he developed a debilitating condition called carpel meta carpel syndrome. It ended our dressage journey. It had been a heady trip, one we both enjoyed, as long as trainers behaved themselves. 

He had come to love me, so I was allowed to ride him while making mistakes. He was tolerant of my ignorance. I was the only exception to his rule. Prior to our understanding he humbled me regularly. No horse could do that sideways Arabian move better than he could. Now you're in saddle, now you're not, never knowing what happened in-between. I loved him like crazy. I never could be ordered about, it doesn't surprise me I adored a horse with the same traits.

His knee was getting bad enough that I knew he wouldn't be able to make it through winter, but I was having a hard time reconciling myself to what I knew I needed to do. He didn't let me down, good boy, he died Thanksgiving evening, releasing me from the pain of putting him down.

There are things I regret as I look back on my life. Shaka-laka is not one of them. This was one of the most wonderful periods of my life, being owned by him.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Memory

I came of age in my teen years during the late 1960s. A time of turbulence, wonder, amazing music and culture change/shock. I was a nerdy kid, a bookworm, a square peg in the round hole of my surroundings. I had my rebellious period in the second half of my senior year. I had acquired enough credits to graduate. I really didn't need to behave. I would get a diploma anyway. I didn't behave. I got my diploma.

The summer following graduation I and two friends rented an upper floor apartment in a four-plex in an iffy area of St. Paul. We were in full teenage zeal. I can't call those the halcyon days exactly, they weren't actually peaceful, quiet times, but we experienced freedom of a sort new to us and we embraced it. Along the way, a friend asked a favor. Would we provide a place for her cousin to stay? The sixteen-year-old boy was from Chicago and had run away. Of course we would. How exciting! He was a quiet, nice boy and we took to him like eighteen-year-old mother hens. We found in conversation that our guest was from a family that was perhaps a little deeper than any of us could comprehend fully, which made it even more interesting. His father was a boss in the Chicago mafia. No joke. There had always been rumors about our friend's family being connected, but it was just something floating around, not sitting in your living room.

The boy got a phone call not too long after moving in with us. It was a one-sided conversation, with one syllable answers from him. His father had someone coming to pick him up and would be there in minutes. He hadn't been given notice, I imagine so he couldn't rabbit. A black sedan, either a Lincoln or Caddy, pulled in front of the building and two men got out. There was a knock on the door, I answered. Two men in dark suits and fedoras, Fedoras!, asked for the boy. He went into the hall, came back to get his things, ashen faced, and they left. That was it. We were a combination of terrified and thrilled, as only teenage girls can be.

With all the crazy things we did that summer, all the unleashed freedom we had, the memory that is etched in my brain is this one. A sweet young man, a large black sedan, two imposing, well-dressed men in fedoras. A cliche if ever there was one. Yet, not. As real as everyone in that space. I hope that boy did not grow into a Michael Corleone, but rather took a different path to a gentler life.  

Friday, September 9, 2022

Life in My Lane

The result of drying tomatoes for the entire day yesterday.
Pesto Rosso


I got these two jars and a small plastic container, which is plenty. I'll see as I approach the end of tomatoes if I do more.

We got morning rain with more supposedly on the horizon. It's 58F, a huge change from the prior days of the week. Today is Philly Friday at the deli. Mark picks up a sandwich and we split it. I make creamed cucumbers and it's plenty. Gone are the days of each eating a whole one.

I'm making a beef brisket for dinner. This is always an occasion. I don't really know why, but it is, like it's really special. I guess it is. They are expensive for a tough cut, it takes a long time to cook and then, if done properly, is delicious. After so much experience I don't worry about it being done properly but I may eat my own words.

I am enjoying the preservation process this year. My physical restrictions aren't improved but I'm a bit brighter emotionally. I feel accomplishment, a sense of purpose, growing, storing food to sustain us through a Minnesota winter. The last time I felt I had accomplished much was when I turned the family home into a welcoming place for the young man who bought it. Eight months of labor but the place did shine. Then I crashed. I feel I've dusted myself off and am rejoining the living. Sort of, let's not get carried away.

So....I guess I'll roast some tomatoes, put a bag of vegetables together for Mark to bring the son when they go to the game and finish listening to my book. I see the next one is now available. 

In closing, a new era is beginning in Britain. I see there is a video of Charles, now King Charles, flipping off 45. I think he'll do alright. 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Summer End, Bounty Continues

The sum total of yesterday's efforts.


One jar went in the refrigerator, one in the freezer. I now have five jars frozen. I am a jar collector. I have a cupboard where I store my collection, all sort of jars. I also save the good deli containers, those that are made of durable plastic. Since my pickles are fermented instead of canned I can use those containers for them. I use them for so many things. I have lots, I just cannot bear to recycle good containers. When my son one day will need to clean out his mother's house he's going to think I maybe went mad. A hidden hoarder like my mother was. Only neater.

Today I foray into the world of dehydration. I'm going to do tomatoes for Pesto Rosso. My air fryer was one of the better impulse buys I've made. I bought it in 2020, the year I spent eight months clearing out and fixing up my deceased mother's house, the place I grew up. It was a eighty-five minute drive one way and the last four months I was doing it six days a week. I was home, it was evening and I'm in the kitchen, exhausted. Emeril came on the tv hawking his air fryer and I knew I needed it, so I sat down with my phone and ordered. The next day, when I was clearer of mind, I regretted it. Impulse buying is a trait I acquired from my father. It turned out to be a good decision after all. I use it all the time and now I'm using the dehydration function. One time Robert's genetics worked for me.

Neighbor Bill stopped in thirty minutes ago with bags of green beans and a whole lot of tomatoes, lots of Romas, I will dry those. He and I spent the half hour solving the problems of the world. He's the only one for miles around who isn't a Trumper. He's as delighted to have us as we are to have him. He also is happy I am willing to take the tomatoes off his hands. Mark is going to a ballgame on Sunday with Matthew, I will send some tomatoes with him.

That's my story for today. I need to get busy if I expect to get those tomatoes done. Whatever am I going to ramble on about when I'm not preserving the bounty?

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

More of the Same

Baby, it's humid outside!


I picked tomatoes and the zucchini from the old water troughs and came in with sweat streaming down my face and the hair at my neck soaked. I am sure I have exclaimed my intense dislike of humidity maybe once or twice?


This is the first batch of basil to become pesto. It's Italian large leaf. I cut the two plants down by a third, I'll do the Genovese basil this afternoon. This pesto will be made with walnuts, I have some pignoli left, but have you seen the price that stuff? It's almost doubled since the last time I bought it so I'm going to save what I have left to garnish. 

The squash I planted, the one with no flavor, has produced like squash is inclined to do. I'm going to try making soup with it. Perhaps I can get enough flavor through seasoning and let the squash act as a base. I don't want to throw it out. Friday is going to be a high of 67F so that's a good soup day.

On a political note; a poll came out yesterday showing Governor Walz has a 18 point lead over my personally disliked Scott Jensen. Things can change, but I think it won't. Walz is leading in the entire state, other than western Minnesota. Minnesota's economy is strong, the state is doing well. There has been a rise in certain crimes, which is happening across the country. Walz is being blamed for that, but Joe Biden is being blamed for gas prices, so there you go. People who don't want regulation suddenly think gas prices can be regulated. I can't be all pesto and tomatoes!

It's now afternoon, time to start processing that basil. I don't like doing it. I love basil but the scent in large amounts is overwhelming and spends the day residing in my nostrils and the taste permeates my palate. The struggles I endure.



Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Things

They certainly helped!


I realized in the last few years I had spent my life in a state of depression but it was so commonplace I didn't realize it. Not until my brain injury escalated it. It's a good thing it's more acceptable to talk about it, instead of hiding in shame. That's why I stopped my medication, I thought it was a sign of weakness, that I was strong and could shoulder through. It took me awhile, but I got over that nonsense. Odd, I had no intention of this being a topic. I was scrolling through photos, saw this and suddenly it was where I went. Linear thinking.

Today will be a getting things in order day. I placed a pick up order at Aldi, Mark needed to go to town so he said he'd get the groceries. He also said he pick up dinner at Papa Murphy's as long as he was there. Then he said he'd stop at the deli for Taco Tuesday. I don't have to cook a thing today! I made the right choice in this guy!

I've decided to put the roasted vegetables in the food processor and then freeze them. The next few days are going to be uncomfortably hot which doesn't sound like soup to me. I'm going to make more pesto tomorrow and cut and freeze sage. It freezes very well. It's now getting to serious preserving time of year. I am hopeful I won't need to buy any tomato sauce/canned tomatoes this winter, no pesto either. I also process basil in olive oil and freeze it in ice cube trays to add into sauce. Next best thing to fresh! This is more than I have done in about five years, a good sign. 

I guess that's about it from Casa Sandra. May your bounty ripen, your day be hopeful and your life well-lived.

Monday, September 5, 2022

If It's Monday....


...it's laundry. Such a life. A man I almost married used to say "such is life without a wife". He found one. I decided it wouldn't be me.


This will become roasted eggplant soup. It's a cloudy day, 73 F, so my mind went to roasting some of the vegetables for soup. I made and froze stock a week ago, I don't know if I'll make the soup now or freeze this when its done.


I got a disappointment today. I was on a horse forum during the 2000, it was local and I met a lot of people in person through it. There was a political forum on there which was quite active. The horse world is probably more right leaning in general, although it does depend on the discipline. One person I got to know and who bred a mare to one of my stallions, became a friend. I got an email notification from Facebook that it's her birthday today. I went to FB to wish her happy birthday and saw posts that set me back on my haunches. I never doubted she was more than likely Republican, based on the horse world and where she lived, but she spent a lot of time on the political part of the forum and was a reasonable person. Something happened. Conspiracy theories. Anti-Covid vaccine, talk about being lied to about Covid deaths, Covid not being anything other than a mild flu. The whole gamut, just run down the list. Chastising we idiots for not doing our own research and then putting up links to the extreme fringe. Something profound has happened and it scares me. I became sad, we had been casual friends for several years and I remembered her fondly. The chasm is wide and deep and it seems there isn't a bridge that can span it.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Lovely Day. Lovely Day. It's a Lovely Day

This photo came up in Facebook memories.
I had captioned it:
 I bet you didn't know my son is a member of the Soprano family.


No one has ever told me I shouldn't laugh at my own jokes, if someone has....I didn't listen. I still laughed when I saw it again! His nonna was every inch a match for Olivia Soprano, which probably took some of the funny out of it for him. Not me. 😀

They married July 2015, neither having been married before. They were in their 40s and with the long hours he worked we had reconciled ourselves to his single life. It turns out her twin sister had been one of  his roommates in the late 90s and somehow he was connected with Kelly. The rest, as is said, is history.

It's beautiful day, I finished what I hadn't completed mowing yesterday this afternoon. Mark picked up deli fried chicken and potato salad for dinner. I'll make some cucumbers and it will be our picnic. I'm going to search for travel documentaries. Mark said we should watch them as we aren't able to travel like we once had and it's the next best thing. Once in awhile he has a good idea.