Wet

Well, here we are at the end of another month, with no indication that August will be any better than the months which preceded it. Yet there is still so much to be grateful for, and I remind myself of that every day.

Today my grocery-shopping trip to Aldi took place in the rain. Lots of rain. Every drop of rain in the summer here feels like a gift. Not to mention the fact that nature waters my garden for me!

The rain finally slacked off and my friend Robin came over for tea. It’s been a while since she was able to come two weeks in a row, so that was quite a treat.

I’ve been very slowly sorting and putting away some of my mom’s things that I brought back from Tennessee. It’s quite time consuming to incorporate her sewing notions into my own rather formidable stash. And of course, some things I will pass on to my daughters.

I made pizza for the men tonight. I still have to make two different pizzas, because we are trying a dairy-free diet for Jasper which means using the “fake” cheese on his pizza. He appreciates the effort, though, because otherwise he wouldn’t get pizza at all.

 

Independence Day

Today was, of course, our second Saturday in a row. My hardworking husband chose to do a lot of yard work, including digging and installing a new hose line in the yard so I’ll have a spigot near my garden. He really hasn’t liked me dragging the long hose all over the yard. And of course the new setup will be more convenient for me too!

I did some sewing work and mostly tried to prepare ahead for this evening’s supper. Lina arrived at lunchtime and then spent quite a while outside in the hot sun keeping Walter company while he dug the water line. When he found he was missing a couple of parts he needed, the two of them went up to buy the parts—and also to stop by the snow cone place for a treat!

Meanwhile, Jasper was gone all afternoon having an airsoft battle with his friends.

As the afternoon wore on, we “seasoned” the new grill and then I could start using it. I had been marinating the chicken for about 24 hours and that takes longest to cook, so I put that in first. Later I added sausages and corn on the cob:

Not bad for our first meal on the new grill! I also made (hot) German potato salad and cauliflower salad to go with our meal. Spencer and Jade came over to join us and we didn’t do anything special except hang out as a family and then eat watermelon for dessert. I got out some sparklers but no one wanted to go out into the heat and light them, I guess. We’re pretty low key around here.

Chaffleburger

This morning I headed up to Lowe’s needing to get a sprayer for the garden and also looking for tarragon plants, which Google said they had. Google lied. After also looking at Home Depot and doing more research, it appears the earliest I’ll be able to even order tarragon again will be September. (I ordered some in March and the order was finally canceled this week.)

Jasper and I had a hard time getting the sprayer to actually spray, but I did eventually get my cucumber and squash plants sprayed with a baking soda solution—which was washed off by the torrential rain we had a few hours later.

I had planned to make the guys hamburgers for supper, but of course Jasper can’t have regular hamburger buns. I went to a health food store while I was out this morning, and they did have gluten-free buns, but I balked when I saw the price. So instead I made him a couple of chaffles to use as his hamburger bun. He was skeptical at first but ended up really liking them! In fact he wants to learn how to make them himself. I have one of those little Dash waffle makers that I reserve only for gluten-free foods.

We had our critique group and writers’ group meetings online again this evening. I am ready to meet in person again. But at the same time I am so thankful for the technology that has made these online meetings possible.

And I finally finished the art project I’ve been working on. The one I wanted to have done by last Friday. . . .

Busy Weekend

While I was too busy to write, the summer solstice passed. I got to see at least a little of it on the live feed at Stonehenge. Sometimes I love technology!

Saturday morning I took off to visit a friend who had offered me some produce from her garden. She had moved from where she used to live so I was very grateful to have GPS to guide me. I’m sure I never would have found her rural property on a map!

She is also grieving the very recent loss of her mother, so we visited and caught up for a while. And I brought home a box full of garden goodness!

I stopped at Hobby Lobby on the way to pick up a few last supplies for my current art project. I had hoped to finish it over the weekend but that was kind of a hilarious miscalculation.

Lina arrived Saturday afternoon, and she and Jasper took their dad up to the fancy snow cone place for a Father’s Day treat. A little later we met up with Spencer and Jade at Brigitta’s Hungarian Restaurant for an early Father’s Day dinner (Brigitta’s isn’t open on Sundays).  The food there is so good and Mike and Brigitta are so kind and friendly. I had the cabbage lasagna and it was delicious and keto-friendly.

Back at the house we had a couple of Father’s Day gifts for Walter before Spencer and Jade left.

Sunday morning Jasper was gone before we got up as he has started helping on the tech team at church now. I made a nice breakfast for Walter and Lina and me. I like to have a nice breakfast on Sundays because it’s my only breakfast of the week.

After church I had a couple of things to get at Walmart before I could come home and have my much-needed Sunday afternoon nap. Lina made my birthday cake while I worked on the rest of the food for my birthday dinner. My actual birthday isn’t until Wednesday, but we celebrated on Sunday since Lina was in town.

This year I deviated from our family’s classic birthday dinner choices and went with seafood. We made grilled salmon, garlic shrimp scampi, garlic parmesan Brussels sprouts (yum!) and Greek salad. I had already made homemade ice cream to go with the cake. And I made a little keto mug cake for myself since I couldn’t eat the other one.

Every speck of seafood and Brussels sprouts was eaten! The meal was a huge splurge for us because seafood is so much more expensive than chicken, which is what we most commonly eat.

After the dinner we had a family Zoom call with the most attendees we’ve had in quite a while. Paisley put on quite a show for us until she got tired and cranky.

This morning I wrote a flurry of notes before inspecting my garden and confirming my suspicions that we’ve been invaded by powdery mildew. Tomorrow’s project is dealing with that. At least we had some glorious rain today and are expecting more tomorrow.

I also spent some time organizing my new jewelry box, a birthday gift from several of the kids. I don’t have anything of value (except sentimental) but it has been squirreled away in various little boxes and plastic containers, which means I often forget what I have!

For supper tonight I cooked the spaghetti squash my friend Cheryl gave me on Saturday. Jasper had never had spaghetti squash and was very skeptical—although also fascinated by it. I was glad to have the option since it is gluten free! And I heard no complaints once he had doused it in sauce and cheese. My husband also liked it.

And finally, I have started a new knitting project. After knitting several rows—and several thousand stitches in the round, I realized that despite my best efforts to avoid this calamity, my stitches were twisted. Meaning that I was knitting a moebius strip instead of a flat border. So guess who had to pull it all out and start over?,

Juneteenth

First of all, happy Juneteenth everyone! I know it’s not widely celebrated in other states, but it’s more of a big deal here in Texas.

Today being Friday, I went grocery shopping and splurged on some half-price salmon which we will have for my birthday dinner this weekend. I also stocked up on gluten-free stuff for Jasper. I was actually quite surprised and delighted to find him some gluten-free donuts.

I worked on some art and writing projects, and made regular and gluten-free pizza for supper. I haven’t missed at all having to make two versions of various things—but of course I’m happy to do it if Jasper ends up feeling better.

Jasper ate supper early so he could go with a friend and demonstrate in support of racial equality. They went to a location where demonstrators have been gathering but no one joined them, so it was just the two of them with their signs being either cheered or insulted by the passersby.

I also got some work done in the garden and in fact I bought some worms and added them to see if they are as helpful as people say. And it looks like cucumbers are going to have to be featured in this weekend’s menus!

Voyage and Recovery

You might have gathered by my silence that I had a busy weekend, and you’d be right. Saturday my primary goal was to make a great farewell dinner for Lucy and Tanner. Tanner had been away at another family wedding for over a week, but he returned in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, with mere hours to finish all his Alaska packing.

I made two of Lucy’s very favorite things—the Tex-Mex “sombrero dip” and a chocolate layered dessert that was the specialty of a Sri Lankan friend of ours back in the day. I also made a big salad using as much of my garden produce as possible, including nasturtium leaves and flowers. I’ve got plenty of nasturtiums, which I planted because they are both pretty and edible.

Spencer and Jade came over to join the fun, but I didn’t have much chance to visit because I had to shower very early if I was going to be in bed by 9:00. (For reference, most nights I don’t end up making it to bed until about 1:00 a.m.) I didn’t quite finish loading the dishwasher, but sleep was more important so I took some melatonin and made it to bed before 9:05.

I didn’t have much hope of actually being able to sleep, but somehow I did have several stretches of actual sleep before my alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. Lucy and Tanner were already up. While I heated water for tea, I also finished loading the dishwasher and got it started. I also downed an energy shot, about which I had some misgivings, because for me caffeine on an empty stomach is not always a great idea.

Lucy did a great job of engaging me in conversation all the way to the DFW airport, which we reached at about 6:00. The sky was lighter but the sun hadn’t risen yet. She and Tanner got all their stuff out of the car and we said our goodbyes before they headed off to check in. I was pulling out of the airport by 6:30.

From there I drove to the northeast side of town, watching the sunrise, until I reached a particular Cracker Barrel. From 7:00 till 9:30 I sat in the parking lot trying to sleep. After having that energy shot plus a large travel mug of strong tea, sleep turned out to be more of a dream than a reality. I think I did doze off for ten minutes a couple of times.

At 9:30 I went into the restaurant and secured a table, where I was soon joined by my lovely daughter Mercy. Her husband Daniel works the night shift so was home sleeping, but the two of us had an enjoyable visit over breakfast.

After saying goodbye to Mercy, I headed farther south to visit my friend Joanna one last time. After waiting for almost a year for their house to sell, she is finally going to be able to join her husband in South Carolina this month! So I am very happy for her but sad for me. She took me to an Indian restaurant where I had some delicious pepper goat meat.

To be honest, by late afternoon I was kind of amazed that I was still awake, but I figured I’d better take advantage of it and get on the road. I had a lovely and highly caffeinated drive home and was very happy to see my own house with the flag flying in honor of Flag Day. Iarrived in time to make supper for my husband (Jasper was at a church event). Still not used to our reduced household.

We had a family Zoom call in the evening and got to see cute little Paisley showing off her dance moves, and her daddy Flynn showing off his facial hair.

After that very long day, I felt I deserved a slow morning today, so I slept in, enjoyed my sauna time, and started on my to-do list in a very leisurely fashion.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was getting to walk on the track in the gym for the first time since early March. Still having a lot of leg pain, but I managed. I have missed the monotony of walking round and round—not for its own sake, but because if I’m doing something monotonous, my brain tends to shift into a higher gear that can be very helpful for working on stories.

And finally, the part for our ailing washing machine arrived today, so maybe soon we’ll be back to doing laundry normally!

Humdrum Friday

Today being Friday, I went grocery shopping this morning. I noticed that quite a few items at Aldi are limited now, with signs telling you how many you can buy. Very sensible, and the shelves were relatively well stocked. They also had a guy stationed in the cart return area, sanitizing carts.

This afternoon Lucy and I ran some errands, including picking up Jasper’s new prescription at a drugstore that is not open to walk into, but you can go through a drive-through or get them to bring your prescription out to your car.

I made a fancier-than-normal supper, consisting of pork chops, cheese-stuffed zucchini boats, and fried plantains. The plantains were kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing because they had some really nice-looking plantains in Aldi this morning—and Lucy and Jasper really love them. And today when I was checking on my garden, I found my first cucumber ready to pick!

I’ve worked a little on one of the curricula I promised to publish, and am realizing it’s going to be more work than I thought to get it to where someone else can easily use it.

Parting Shot:

My new pink lilies are blooming.

A Birthday Dinner

So, anytime we have a birthday dinner, it usually means spending the day in the kitchen, because typically my kids don’t choose easy meals. Today I made two loaves of bread, cut up and marinated nine pounds of chicken, made tzatziki sauce, tabouli, falafel, and Greek salad. Then I fired up the grill and grilled some of the meat while frying the rest, because I didn’t have enough room in any one place.

Mercy arrived late this morning, on her own as Daniel wasn’t feeling well. Lina arrived soon after and the two of them went out for coffee to celebrate Lina’s birthday (which is actually on Wednesday).

My hardworking husband had to work all day, between doing floors at the daycare center and fixing a pipe leak in the lawn at the property he maintains.

Spencer and Jade joined us for our big fat Greek dinner—chicken gyros with all the aforementioned trimmings.

Lina had made her own cake—German Baumkuchen. It is a grilled or broiled cake and hers has 21 layers!


It looked beautiful and I’m told it also was pretty tasty.

When not cooking, I finished three more masks today, bringing the total to 20. There are 7 more on my “to make” list—and then I hope I’ll be done.

Baking & Sewing

Today was a stay-at-home day, although I did have to go to Walmart for supplies this morning. I made banana bread this morning while the “real” bread dough was rising, and then later of course I baked bread.

Most of the day, though, I alternated between writing chores and sewing chores, with a little bit of envelope making thrown in too. I am doing some very tedious revisions on one of my manuscripts and I can only work on it so long before needing a change of pace. But I’m not complaining! I am so thrilled to have time to write again!

I got the rest of the face masks I plan to make cut out and have been working on them in between doing the other things. By the time I go to bed tonight I should have five more done. Just want to make sure everyone is covered because we are hoping to go to church tomorrow, and they want us wearing masks.

We had some rain today, but not nearly as much as predicted, so my husband was still able to mow the yard.

Tanner left this afternoon to go to Austin and spend some time with his family. I assume he arrived safely because I haven’t heard otherwise. He and Lucy are still waiting on word from Alaska.

Meanwhile, I guess those masks aren’t going to finish making themselves . . .

Grief is Capricious

Fortunately, I am old and experienced enough to know that grief is not linear. But still, it’s impossible to be ready for the unexpected, isn’t it? There’s no warning when something is about to trigger your deep feelings of loss and grief.

This afternoon, I had to drive to a nearby town (almost an hour’s drive away) to pick up a fabric order. I flipped through my CDs and picked one to listen to on the drive over. The one I picked was by a musician I used to enjoy listening to and talking to in bygone days at the Renaissance faire. I love his mellow voice.

But here’s the thing: he died two years ago. When his voice came through the speakers in my car I found myself overcome with grief—not just for him, but for my mother too. Hearing his voice forced me to remember that he was gone, and remembering that forced me to remember that my mother is also gone now, and therefore my reaction was far more intense than I would have thought possible just from listening to a CD that I have always enjoyed. These moments of deep sorrow come with no warning at all.

Despite being ambushed by grief, I couldn’t be sorry I was on the road again, even if it was only for an hour. After all the driving I did up until this crisis hit, it became normal and I have missed it.

When I reached JoAnn’s, I was very glad I had ordered my fabric online, because otherwise I would have been standing in line for at least half an hour waiting to get fabric cut. Despite the rules publicized on the website, the store was very crowded and it was impossible to stay six feet away from everyone.

I had also planned to go to Half Price Books, but when I saw the long line of people waiting to get in, I changed my mind. I thought I’d just drive down the road and go to Barnes & Noble—but they are still closed. All I wanted was some note cards, and I ended up getting them at a drugstore.

After the beautiful drive home, I made pizza for the family’s supper. I got a tip from a friend this morning that Kroger had whole wheat flour, so I stopped there to get some on my way to Aldi for the regular grocery shopping. Even though I now have yeast, I am still using sourdough as much as possible because the sourdough needs to be used regularly.