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It’s a lazy Wednesday morning.  I made the puffiest of puffy oven pancakes for breakfast, and instead of having coffee with a little cream, I’m having hot milk with a little coffee.  Still delicious, but in a different way – I haven’t done a very good job of drinking up my milk this week and tomorrow is my turn to drive to the farm.  So the pancake used up some and the hot milk with coffee is using up more.  Pudding might use up most of the rest.  I’ve had a little cold for a week or so, which makes delicious cold raw milk not quite as appetizing as usual.

I finally took 150+ photos off my camera and I think I’ll post them slowly – I was just reading a post at Penni Russon’s blog about having blogger’s block (I particularly liked her comments on sadness and google searches), and either I have it, too, or I’m just lazy.  Or I’m out of the habit.  Either way, I miss it.  So I’ll try to jump-start myself with photos.  And more talking about books, of course.

Here’s a photo of the trail Bronwen and I hiked on our mini-break – conveniently photographed while on a coast drive the next day.  Yes, it really does go up and up and up.  But it was lovely at the top.

I’m reading Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s The Home-Maker, which is sort of painful to read but fascinating.  And I’m convinced the characters will become much happier before too long, so the pain is more bearable.  I think it would be funnier, too, if it didn’t in some way tap into my own fears about my desire for neatness and order.  Reading about slightly OCD behaviors loses its funny when you can imagine yourself doing some of the same things.  At any rate, I might need to take a break and read another YA novel – there’s a pile waiting for me.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

And my on and off participation in the Sunday 7 Kicks continues.

  1. See above.
  2. See below.
  3. Sophie is getting married today.  Or, probably, is already married.  Either way, thinking of her.
  4. New skirt.  Call me shallow, but it’s light and twirly and perfect for warm summer days.
  5. Warm chocolate bundt cake with vanilla ice cream.
  6. Stack of books to be read.
  7. Coffee with friends.

The blueberries, of course!  It was pure bliss to walk back into the bushes after vespers and have them plunk into my container (and my mouth).  Most aren’t anywhere near ripe, but enough to stand and pick and eat and lean into the bush.  JOY.  I ought to have brought my camera, but how was I supposed to know that it would be a picture perfect June evening, warm with a little breeze and the sun setting?  The perfect evening to sit on the rope swing and lean back and soak it all in?  Excuse my rapture, but these are the days you dream about in the dead of winter.  The ones that seem impossible when your skin hasn’t felt sun in weeks, your windows can’t remember the last time they opened, and you don’t even have bare feet in the house.   So I’m trying to make a point of appreciating.

Which reminds me that a certain young lady recently received a copy of Chrysanthemum (I always hear Anne Shirley’s voice in my head when I write that word) and, according to her mother, has started using the word appreciate.  As in, she finds a shirt and asks if her sister used to wear it.  When informed that it doesn’t fit her yet, she’s still too small, Q says, “when M grows and learns to appreciate this shirt, then she’ll wear it.”  Ah, my little Chrysanthemum.

Also in the appreciating realm, I would really appreciate it if the kids across the street had a babysitter instead of being left to run and scream and play in the restaurant driveway.  They even have an inflatable bouncy thing.  Surely if their parents can afford a couple of shiny SUVs, they could afford a babysitter.  Especially on nice evenings when they have outdoor seating.  Who wants to hear the owner’s kids wail while eating a nice dinner?  I sure don’t, and I’m not even paying them good money for my meal (the last of the beets, some wilted lettuce, oil & balsamic.  So gourmet.)

More blueberry rhapsodizing to come, I’m sure.

Where did all this dill come from?  I don’t even remember having dill last year.  Kate?  Did you have dill?  It’s taken over a whole corner of the garden bed.  And, hiding under the billowing dill, dozens of tiny tomato plants.

Yes, the same plant that I didn’t think we had any of and so went out and bought a starter at the plant sale.  Sigh.  I tried thinning them out a little bit, moving them from amongst the dill over to the other side, but I know it will just turn into a mass of barely supported tomato one day.  Do I line them up along the fence?  Dump them in the dark of night into the neighbors’ beds? Tomato season seems eons away, but I’m reasonably sure that I’ll wake up tomorrow and have bushels of tomatoes that need canning this instant.

Not that I know how to can.

The mints are thriving, of course, and the million tiny things that will hopefully be gorgeous flowers, and there’s something else that I hope is basil, but that could be wishful thinking.

I’d much rather rearrange the spontaneous seedling garden than work on Subject Analysis and Indexing, wouldn’t you?  Or make potato salad with some of that fresh dill, I’d really like to do that.  Or make that crisp.  Or write up my thoughts on The Changeling.  Or read The New Policeman.  Or go for a bike ride.  Or clean the bathroom.  Or fold my laundry.

And of course it was my storytelling prof who extended the deadline, not the cataloging prof.   Which doesn’t mean I don’t still need to practice my telling of Daniel in the Lion’s Den for the world’s most demanding Sunday school class tomorrow.  Practice?  I meant learn.  There’s a reason I picked a story I already basically know.

Is it summer break yet?

I may not live in a small town, but my goodness, sometimes it feels like I do.  Saturday morning saw me and the mom meeting up at my library’s plant sale.  So of course I knew everyone there, and snagged a lavender and rosemary and some kind of succulent and a nifty purple-ish green houseplant for the roommate’s birthday.  Oh, and a tomato, but that happened at the Waldorf school sale, across the way.  It was a regular plant sale extravaganza.  Now, time to sit back and see what all those random things in the garden turn into.  I’m 99% sure they’re not weeds, but beats me what they really are.  The “let things go to seed” method of gardening.

Sunday afternoon found me and the mom, again, at the farmer’s market.   It was the first day of the season, and we peered into every booth and examined every vegetable (okay, there weren’t many vegetables yet).  We got beets, cukes, a few gifts, renewable energy, local-ish pork sausage, and local sheep’s milk feta with herbs & olive oil.  Oh. My. God.  I’m looking forward to lunch so that I can spoon some of that squishy heaven over pasta.  All the cheese vendors were sample-happy, which was quite to my liking.  There was also a lamb stand, which I’ll have to scope out next time.  Of course, I ran into a few more coworkers and knew the musician performing.

I feel an itch to bake a crisp with last year’s frozen fruits, but I might need to lay my hands on some rhubarb first.  There are beets that need roasting, and cups of coffee that need drinking, and A Northern Light to read.  Not to mention two more stories to learn and a heap of dry cataloging theory articles to read.

*Robert G. Ingersoll – thanks, Quotationary!

I’m being taunted.  All I want for Pascha is a little lamb.  Sure, cheese and eggs and ice cream and all those things would be nice, too, but the lamb is really calling out to me.

Today, as I walked to the grocery store, I saw a woman crossing the street with something large & pinkish & wrapped in plastic over her shoulder.  Hmm, I thought, what could that be?  It looks suspiciously like a dead animal.  A slaughtered, skinned, ready to be cut up and cooked animal, and she was walking towards a restaurant.  A pig?  A goat?  Her van gave me the answer – it was a lamb.  She was carrying a fresh lamb across the street and all I could think was…I want some lamb.

Not a whole lamb, mind you.  I’d go for a roast, or some skewered chunks, a chop…

I have to pat myself on the back, though, because apparently despite my erratic cooking & eating habits over the last several weeks, my body hasn’t gone crazy craving anything.  Usually by this time I have a solid hankering for eggs, and sure they sound good, and even that lamb hankering – that’s more for the taste than a “give me protein NOW” thing.  I guess all those beans paid off.

Lamb Fest 2007: my place, Sunday the 15th.  Barring my being invited to a lamb brunch this Sunday, or lamb’s appearance on the potluck tables at church, it will be a lambless Pascha.  To make up for that, I declare Thomas Sunday as Lamb Fest 2007.  Come on over.

Today, I peeled and roughly chopped eight onions.  (It was kind of sad, all those onions with their lives cut short.)  Then I helped cut 60 pounds of salmon into single portions.  (I wasn’t really sad about that part, just looking forward eating it tomorrow.)  Then we dredged the salmon through a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, massive amounts of garlic, and herbs.  Then we piled them high in bus tubs to await tomorrow morning and the oven.

This is how we celebrate the beginning of our salvation.

I feel a festal troparion coming on.  If I weren’t listening to Josh Ritter, I’d be composing one right now, in the tone of the actual Annunciation troparion (tone four).

Today is the beginning of our salvation

And the end of the lives of these salmon…

Yeah, you so don’t want to hear the rest.

Now I’m home, and the vegan cupcakes are the oven.  The music is up loud, the sky is grey, and it’s back to church in two hours.  If you fell into a time warp and appeared in Lent, you would know the time of year from the fact that it’s almost always time to be going to church.  Church yesterday, today and tomorrow?  Check.  It’s Lent.  Which is not to complain, especially since I usually seem to stumble upon enough grace to get along with the eclectic company at church.  In fact, I often seem to embrace socialization.  It’s, um, weird.

Which is not to say that the young ladies of the church did not cut out of the soup supper last night and go get Thai food instead.  Not at all.  We just had a different variety of socialization in mind.

Also, why is it that when I’m in line at the grocery store (purchasing coconut oil, canned pumpkin, two apples, muffin cups, and salsa) and the clerk teases me about salsa cupcakes, I take him literally and say something inane, instead of going along with the joke?

As Kate so aptly puts it, this plumber leaks half and half.  Or raw milk, as the case may be.  It is Day 2 and I am drinking coffee with milk.  Forgive me Lord, for I know not what I do…or rather why I couldn’t manage to drink up all my delicious delicious bacteria-ridden milk before I set sail on this sea of the fast.

Here’s the problem: a few years ago I got pretty good at making substitutions.  I had my vegan waffles and my tofu vegetable stir-fry and my soy ice cream and soy milk on cheerios and all that.  I know how to be vegan.  But it involves two things I’ve come to more or less loath: soy and vegetable oil.

Obviously, I prefer the flavor of my cow’s milk and my butter and my free-roaming chicken eggs (not to mention the cows and the chickens themselves), but I can eat the other stuff.  I won’t turn up my nose at some soy milk or a muffin made with hydrogenated vegetable oils.   But I have recently become against them on principle.  Especially the vegetable oils.  Oh Lord, the oils.  So, do I give up my principles for Lent?  Or do I give up my favorite food group, baked goods?  Or do I invest heavily in coconut oil?  There must be a way to be 1) Lenten 2) healthy and 3) bake without 4) eating people.

(Follow my reasoning here: margarine = people; therefore, margarine = animal product; therefore, good Orthodox Christians do not eat margarine, especially during Lent.)

Now that I’ve lost most of you, I’m off to replenish my store of honey for the tea-drinking season ahead.

But please, tell me what to eat.  Man cannot live on tea alone.

Who needs to make breakfast when you can just nibble on the extra pie crust dough?

Like Bronwen,  I do a little bit of a freak-out over pie crust.  Actually, that’s not true.  I just don’t make them.  I can’t remember the last time I did.  I’m not good at that whole “creating a circle and then transferring it to pie pan and tucking in ends nicely” thing.  It’s not that it’s hard, it’s just that it never looks terribly pretty.  Anyway, it’s just the base in this pie, there’s no top, so I don’t feel too insecure about how it looks.

Also, I love rolling pins.  Maybe I’ll ask for my own for Christmas.  I did a barter with my mother to obtain hers.  Actually, what happened is this.  She demanded that I bring over my chairs (to seat the 16+ people attending).  She wanted them on Tuesday.  Why, I do not claim to know.  I compromised by bringing two over last night.  Then I stole her rolling pin.

What do three siblings (aged 25, 21 and 18) do when they haven’t seen each other in two months?  Retreat to the 21 year old’s room, light every candle in the room (10?  15?) and chuckle gleefully about ritual sacrifices.  Then they make hot cocoa and discuss the flavor of the milk (raw – slightly gamey these days).

My pie crust is currently cooling by the window.  Why is the window open in November, you might ask?  A preventative measure against the super-sensitive smoke detector going off AGAIN.  Because I am too lazy to investigate the oven when it is cool to find out what keeps smoking.

I am assembling my ingredients on the counter, TV cooking show style.  Perhaps I will soon start narrating my culinary endeavors, like the person who wrote the New Yorker article on cooking shows.  Except I don’t watch cooking shows.  I listen to NPR.   “Now, we whisk together our dry ingredients.  We’re slowly going to pour in the milk, and then gently heat it on the stove.  Whoops, there goes the smoke alarm again!  No need to panic, folks, we’ll just wave a towel in front of it for a minute.  Would someone mind opening the window?  Yes, you over there in the front row, thanks.  Okay, crack an egg and let it slide in…”

I just rode my new bicycle to my milk-dealer’s house, which is six blocks down and three blocks over, not very far at all, to return an empty jar and pick up a fresh one.  Which is slightly terrifying, carrying jars of milk in a backpack, in the sense that ‘what if I fall over, if I am forced to a sudden stop by a car pulling out of a driveway or because of my incurably wobbling starts, and the half gallon of milk is shattered, leaving shards of glass and pools of milk, perhaps mixed with my own blood, and I am bruised and wounded and must get myself home as the unpasteurized goodness flows down the street, lacking only a drizzle of honey to stop me from being escorted to heaven?’  Because these are the things that go through my head when I throw one leg over the bike and push off.

Thankfully, no.  The ride was as smooth as an incredibly bumpy, perhaps paved in the early days of the last century, road can be.  There are smoother streets certainly, but they involve trickier street crossings, more stop signs, and more pedaling down congested streets.  Congestion makes my heart rate soar and while that perhaps results in better exercise, it often leads to increased wobbliness.

But.  I love coasting down the street.  There is nothing like it.  Or the thrill of a incline (down, not up).

While I was conducting my milk-dealings, the children inspected my bike, declared it to be used (duh) and put it into every possible gear, asking questions I couldn’t answer and showing off the features of their own bikes.  Oh, to have the inexhaustible (but exhausting) enthusiasm of children.

Speaking of the benefits of being 25 (the bike was my birthday gift, have I mentioned this?) I recently got a letter from my auto insurance agent which contained the delightful phrase: “your premium for the current policy period has been decreased by a total of $104.70.”  I am now a proper adult in the eyes of the automobile.

February 2023

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