Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We are not at home this week. . .

Where we are it's sunny and warm and full of interesting and new things to see and do.  Any guesses?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Canning peaches

Once a month work takes me over the mountains to Wenatchee for a meeting.  It's a 3 or 4 hour drive, but through mostly beautiful country and when you finally drop down in the valley you are surrounded, just surrounded on all sides, with fruit trees.  Apples and pears and cherries, of course, for which the area is famous.  But also peaches, nectarines, and apricots this time of year. 

I still sometimes think about Liam's first peach; what a miracle it was to him.

Every year I buy more peaches than we can eat and every year we put up peaches.   Despite all this practice I'm not that great at it. They tend to float and they can get a little mushy at the top.  Maybe next year I'll try hot packing them.  But, no matter what they look like they always are a welcome bit of summer sun in January and February when it seems like, in the words of Jim Weiss, "the sun has forgotten the way to our neighborhood."


This year Liam helped.  He peeled most all the peaches and helped to pack them into the jars.  He washed the lids and the rings.  And he helped put the finished jars away.  A little bit of summer, on the shelf.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pet Parade!

My mother was kind enough to lend us her SWD and join us in the pet parade today.  Liam was so excited; he has been talking about the pet parade for approximately 100 years. 

I cut and hemmed a blue dog coat out of one of my stash of goodwill tee shirts that are around for just this sort of thing.  This morning  Liam decorated the paper feathers and arranged them.  Presto -- SWD to peacock.

After the feathers were done we hustled over to pick up grandma and grandpa and get lined up for the parade.  Word to the wise: if the parade starts at 10:00 and the costume judging starts at 8:30, you really do not need to be there before 9:45.  (We were there about 9:15; grandpa went to get coffee.)

The pet parade is a local institution, sponsored by the newspaper.  It's very small town and fun.  The rotary band leads the parade and the bag pipe group walks at the end.  In between there are line-ups for large dogs, small dogs, and floats.  My favorite this year was the big golden dog  that was dressed as a lion. 

At the end of the parade we got to enjoy another local institution -- feather guy -- dressed like a blue cat with pink feathers today.  Feather guy is at every event and dances to whatever music happens to be around, or if there's no music around he just dances.  Also, the newspaper people handed out ice cream.

In other news, we went from wishing for air conditioning at 94 degrees yesterday to wondering if it is okay to turn the heat on inside during August at about 68 degrees today.   I have to say I prefer today's problem to yesterday's by far.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weekday dinner and table

I'd like to say that the kitchen is always neat, but the reality is it's a hard-working room and too often shows it.   This is typical.  The floor needs sweeping.  The table crowded with Liam's craft supplies and assorted projects in progress.  Various bits of paper and odds and ends.  Today it includes a snow globe Liam just. had. to. have. from a garage sale this weekend and which hasn't found it's proper place in the house yet.  (Why do they all play it's a small world?)  Crumbs, always.  A potted plant. 

And, most nights about 5:30: dinner.

Tonight, green vegetable stir fry.

We eat some version of this dinner at least once a week, and more often twice.  It is the easiest thing ever and I can reliably have it on the table 20 minutes from walking in the door from work.  Faster if I've remembered to prep the vegetables in advance, or chop the ginger and garlic on Sunday night and put them in a jar in the refrigerator with some oil to cover.  (Which happens about 1 week out of every three if I'm lucky.)

Take any relatively crunchy green vegetable, we most often use green beans or broccoli or both.  Asparagus is good too.  Trim and clean.  Chop up a good amount of ginger at at least two large cloves of garlic.  Heat a pan with a little oil (we generally use coconut), saute the green vegetable for 5 minutes or so with a splash of tamari.  You can add onion, carrot, pepper or any other crunchy vegetable at this time.  Liam likes it when I add carrots.  Sometimes I add mushrooms about three minutes in.  Liam likes that less.  Once the vegetables have brightened up and started to cook add the ginger and garlic and heat for a minute or so (Don't burn them!) and then quick, quick add about a quarter cup of water, turn down the heat, and put a lid on the whole thing to steam for about another 5-8 minutes.  If you're going to add tofu, or spinach or something like that, add it right after the water, before the steaming.  Then, take off the lid, turn up the heat, add another splash of tamari and some fresh basil if it's summer and you happen to have it around, taste to make sure it tastes good and is cooked, and you're done.  Pass hot sauce, sesame seeds, and sesame oil if you like at the table.

I most often make this with vegetables only (no tofu) and serve it with rice.  I have this idea that we mostly get all the protein we need and then some, and mostly do not get all the vegetables we need.  Very occasionally, if I'm worried he hasn't had enough nutrition in the past few days, I'll cook a piece of salmon to go next to this for Liam, or a scrambled egg.

Fast. Healthy. Loved by five-year-olds.  What could be better?

Monday, August 13, 2012


A few weeks ago Liam and I and the vegan were on the way to my parents house to watch the landing of the 2012 canoe journey (Really, you should click this link, it is an amazing thing and was a privilege to see.) and we stopped at an estate sale.  By "stopped" I mean we followed the signs at least 15 minutes out of town to a little lake were the estate sale people were dismantling the contents of this house / life out onto tables and boxes and piles, and marking everything with masking tape price tags. We were there on a Sunday afternoon; everything half price.

It turns out this was the same little lake that I lived on briefly when I was just out of college and working for the first time.  So long ago.  Vegan said, I remember hearing when you were living out here.  You were with . . . then.  Yeah, I remember; long time ago. . .then we moved to that house in town and you moved into the garage apartment.  Right, and I parked the sauna in the back yard.  Yeah; I remember that sauna, you were with . . . then.  Right, she married someone who sells cars. 

These estate sales are strange to me.  I think, where are the family / children / friends / who are meant to take custody of this stuff?  I look around and wonder who went first, the husband whose tools we are sifting through in the garage or the wife, whose measuring cups we are sorting through in the kitchen.  I wonder what year they took that vacation to Yellowstone and brought this book home.  When they last looked at all these slides or listened to all these records.  Whether they bothered to put up all those Christmas decorations in recent years, or if they'd just been in the box.

These grandmother's flower garden hexagons were stuffed in a zip-lock bag on a table with holiday napkins, random guest-type towels, and assorted other stuff.  They weren't on the sewing table, which I had already rummaged through for notions and dressmaker's paper.   Twenty dollars, except I paid ten.  I wasn't going to take them home but ran back in to get them at the end.

I didn't realize until we got to my mother's house how many there were.  Twenty-five, about.  All hand sewed.   The needle and thread were still in one of the blue ones, almost done.  The hexagon template tucked in with the work. 

So I guess I'll try to pick up this work in progress and do my bit.  Finish the blue one.  Find some cotton and cut the white hexagons and start putting it together.  Find out if I'm capable of these seam allowances which appear to be all about one-eight of an inch.  Crazy straight and even.  I'll need to track down a thimble.

I wonder if she loved the sewing or if it was a pain in the ass to her.  I wonder why she put it down; and who rolled it up and stuffed it into the zip-lock bag.  How it came to be unfinished.

Yesterday on the way back from a dinner something the vegan and I decided to try to drive back to his house through the forest.  So in we go and up, up, it's all managed land, a mix of what passes for clear cuts these days and deep woods.   Down and around following the line of some creek or another, out onto the gravel roads, and then up again, skirt the top of the peak, and start to work our way around the next hill.  We take the downhill road, getting dark now, but we're close.  It's a less traveled road and we go through tunnels of branches, leaves and sticks whacking the car on all sides.  Then, just in the twilight: tree across the road.  And us without a chainsaw.  We turn around.  Go back to the last fork.  Take the uphill road this time; a mile to a dead end.  Turn around and head to the next fork back, debate.  Try the downhill again.  Find ourselves following a different creek bed, down a ways and through a campground.  It's dark now; the sparks from the fires make a surprising light.  The vegan says, you know, I think this is Porter Creek.  We're going to come out of the forest not eight miles up the same road from where we went in.  Except two hours later.   And we did.  Drove home on the main roads and watched for meteors.  

Will's birthday today.  I have a long day at work up north.  We'll get take out, and GG and GoGo will come over, and I made two very small yogurt / tea cakes.  One vanilla chocolate chip, because Liam will like it.  The other lemon with rosemary because Will would have liked it. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

In which Liam and my mother make the same face

We took a lot of pictures at Liam's birthday at the end of June.  Lots.  And GG was kind enough to volunteer to come to Liam's kid party and take pictures there, so we have lots of those too.  I've finally started to go through them all, and my favorites so far by far are these funny shots of Liam and my mother making the same face, not once, not twice, but basically in every single picture. 

So funny. We also took photos with his other grandparents, GG, GoGo, Grandpa.  He is so blessed and lucky to have these people love him so very much.

I am reminded that a month and a half ago when these pictures were taken Liam was going through a very grating "I must wear PJs all the time" phase AND insisting that they be fleece, footed PJs even though it was trying to be summer.   He seems to have pretty much graduated from that now, or as he likes to say "Mommy, I've retired from that."  Although, really, he does still love to wear PJs, I just put all the footed, fleece ones away in the top of the closet until fall.  Chose your battles.

In other news, we took the last of the pea plants out just in time to plant more in hopes of a batch for the fall.  I have officially declared myself serious about getting rid of the slugs and garden snails after they ate two of the five broccoli transplants down to the stems and one of the brussels sprouts.  Except for my remaining hopes of tomatoes, and a few cucumbers coming on, we seem to be moving directly from the spring garden to the fall.  The slugs and sails also ate all three plantings of green beans and most of the zucchini flowers so...you know.

Thank you for all your kind thoughts and intentions for Lisa.  She died that Monday, going on two weeks ago now.  Her memory will be a blessing always.  Later that week I found out the spouse of a dear friend of mine at work was dx with surprise stage 4 lung cancer and is not responding to chemotherapy.  (She got bronchitis last year but got better; she is in amazingly good shape but how strange she started to get out of breath hiking; she got -- finally -- a chest xray; there you have it.)  He is a scientist and a biologist, like me.  (Sort of, at least, I was when I went to school and I'm still wired pretty much that way.)  He said: she's probably going to die soon.  You can see straight through his eyes into his heart when he says it; watch as everything starts to go upside down.

So, so fragile.

Sending much love to dear Kate today (and always, but today especially).   Thinking about Will's birthday coming up on Monday.  Always to correspond with the Perseid meteor showers.