Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Drying Peppers & Pole Barn Memories

Joycie helped me get all our remaining jalepenos from her garden onto strings so they can dry. We hung them on the wall behind the wood stove in the corner of the living room, and they look beautiful. Joycie said she thought they "really go with our house." I knew what she meant; they do.

Stringing them made me cough from the pungent smell... those peppers get ya right in the throat. We wore rubber gloves, so no burning aftermath. Getting those up and knowing we're going to be looking at them for a while is very satisfying. The last time I dried peppers like this we were living in the pole barn, and Joycie was just a baby. Just the 3 of us. I mentioned that to Joycie, so while we strung peppers, we talked about what it was like to live in the pole barn. It was cozy and comfy, and life seemed much more simpler than now. Less bills to pay, that's for sure. Joycie was 4 years old when we built our house, and she remembers that summer pretty well. She also has clear memories of living in the pole barn. That girl always has had a good memory. I'm glad we had those years in the pole barn.

Garden Fresh Goodness

I just had a big bowl of my own version of pasta primavera, and it was wonderful. I'm stuffed and happy.

After work, I picked Sam up at my folks' (Sam gets on and off the bus there), and we made a visit down to Joycie's garden. I brought home butternut squash (currently baking in the oven with butter & brown sugar), and tomatoes, carrots and onions.

I cooked up the onions & carrots with some mushrooms and garlic, added cooked angel hair spaghetti and chopped tomatoes at the last minute, with some parmesan cheese. Lots and lots of carrots. It was just right. Those root vegetables taste so much better when they've just been pulled out of the ground! The carrots were earthy sweet.

Joyce saw what I brought home and went over to check out her garden. Her grampa told her it was probably going to freeze down there on the river flats tonight, so she brought home all the watermelon she had down there. It was a lot of watermelon! We put it all in the pole barn, where it should keep for quite a while. We've been eating it often... it's so good!

She also picked the remaining jalepenos for me, since they won't make it through such a cold night. Most of them have turned red. I'm going to string them tonight and let them dry. All the rest of her garden should be fine through a hard frost. Frost on the pumpkins!

I love this time of year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dreaming in Living Color

I'm from the generation that remembers watching a black and white TV. Color TV came out in the 1950's, which was before my time... but I remember having B&W TV's, and I remember the thrill of my family getting a new, big color TV when I was a kid. I remember NBC's peacock and the "living color" drill.

Also, I remember as a teenager becoming aware of the big debate on whether people dream in B&W or color. Thinking about it now, it was probably an issue because folks for a long time only saw movies and TV shows in B&W, so hey, maybe they did dream in B&W. I know I dream in color. Living color.

When I was pregnant (4 times, though only 2 kiddos), I had the most realistic and horrific dreams of my life. Definitely in color, often featuring blood red. And that's enough about that, because I still don't like to think about those dreams... (I'm not a fan of horror movies either, and never have been... which is why I thought those "pregnancy dreams" were an ironic twist.)

Often, I won't remember my dreams. Then I'll go through a phase where I do, and usually I'm dreaming about crap at work, typical stress-related stuff. The other night I dreamed about a woman I work with, one I don't particularly like... and the feeling is mutual, no doubt about that. Not really sure why, we just don't click. Anyway, I've tried to be nice to her, but she can be a condescending snot. I dreamed that we had just been in a meeting with several other people, and while walking out of the conference room, she took something I said completely wrong, took offense at it and hauled off and slapped me in the face. It was so realistic. And so utterly unbelievable in the light of day.

Last night I dreamed that my dog, Reilly, our privileged inside dog (2 other dogs live outside), pawed at his ear like it hurt. I investigated and, with the help of my daughter, a very able assistant, proceeded to clean his ears out, pulling out some really awful stuff. Lots of it. Definitely in color. (I majorly grossed out my husband this morning telling him about this dream while on my drive into work.) Reilly handled the whole procedure with more than simple poise, but with great cooperation, almost human-like. I took a photo of the ear substance and got on the 'net for some live chat with a veterinarian, who explained in great detail what it was. I didn't know that I knew so much technical vet jargon! Don't ask me now, but in my dream, I was expertly explaining the diagnosis and suggested treatment. And whatever it was, it was very contagious, as I had to then clean out the ears of the other 2 dogs as well. But since they are simple-minded creatures (unlike the esteemed Reilly), I first had to drug them into submission. I think I used Tylenol PM. I awoke thinking, oh good, all 3 dogs are A-OK now. .... WHAT?! As the details of the dream began to come to me, in living color, it put me off my coffee for little while.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday, Monday, So Good To Me

I didn't go to work this morning because we had an appointment at around noon to have an appraisal done on the house (refinancing again to get a better rate). I had meant to go into the office in the afternoon, but the one meeting I had on my calendar was basically cancelled, and it was such a gorgeous day... I just had to stay home. Kev was sleeping (he's on midnights this week), so it was a very quiet afternoon. I have had the French door and most of the windows open all day. There is a cool breeze blowing through the house. Quite cool, actually (nearly cold -- feels wonderful). I can smell autumn coming. The morning was gray & rainy, but this afternoon the sun came out. I grabbed a pillow and a blanket and laid out on the hammock on the front porch with Reilly. He laid up on it beside me, even though the hammock makes him nervous. Such a sweet dog. He kept me warm. At first, he kept sniff, sniff, sniffing, but then he settled down. The sun was shining on our faces, and we both fell asleep for a little while. It was heavenly.

I could have stayed there all afternoon. But I wanted to make potato soup for Joycie, so I had to get up.

No-Fail Easy Easy Cheesey Potato Soup Recipe:

In a large pot, dump a 32-oz. bag of frozen southern style hashbrowns (diced potatoes) and 2 14-oz. cans of chicken broth, then fill with milk until potatoes are covered and then a little more. Stir in 1 10.25-oz. can cream of chicken soup. I always grate some onion into the soup. My kids claim to not like onions, so if I grate it in (as mushy juicy onion they can't see), somehow they love it. Cover & cook on medium low heat, stirring often, until the potatoes are done. Cut up small chunks of Velveeta cheese and stir into the hot soup until cheese melts (don't boil it). I usually use, oh, about less than half of a 32-oz. size, depends on my mood. Some days I feel more cheesey than others....
And... ta da! That's it. Couldn't be easier. My family eats it like it's a dessert or something. Joycie will have it for breakfast tomorrow, too, no doubt... My girl loves potato soup.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Save the Best for Last

Except if it's toast. Then eat the best piece first. There is a little pizza joint near us, and it is a privately owned business, not any franchise. They sell the best pizza, as well as a bunch of other stuff. Bread sticks, cheese sticks, subs, soups, coney dogs. All yummy. All better than any of the major franchise joints in town. And they are about the only place around our area, without going all the way into town, that you can get that kind of good food. They also sell homemade cinnamon rolls, pies and bread. The other day while picking up an order for bread sticks to satisfy a major craving of Joycie's, the pumpkin pie sitting there looked too good to pass up. It was good; not great, but good. But the loaf of bread that came free with it was excellent. I cut it into thick slices and toasted it. Mmmm... And my sweetheart of a hubby stopped by the grocery store on his way home this morning and picked up a few things, including apple butter for me. I love apple butter on thick, homemade toasted bread. I especially like the heel. Ate that first. Mmmm...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Weekend Work Ethic and The View From My Neighborhood

Kev is on midnights again, and he's working midnight-12's this weekend. He didn't sleep long enough yesterday... he always says, "I couldn't sleep any longer." Then he took Sam to the football game. Got home around 9:45 pm, which was not long enough to get some more sleep before he had to leave the house around 11:00 pm, but long enough that he fell asleep in an awkward position on the sofa. Poor man. Got home this morning around 8:00 am very tired, and proceeded to watch the news on Rita back & forth with hunting shows until about 9:30 am. At which time I woke him up to go to bed. Insult to injury is that he's downstairs in the basement sleeping on one of the sofas because supposedly the kids and I are going to be very, very busy upstairs doing noisy housework.

We've decided to refinance again to get a lower interest rate and wrap in the funds we need to put in an outside wood stove/hot water heating system (which costs about ten grand, but should pay for itself easily within 3 or 4 years). And so we have to get the ol' dusty house ready for an appraisal on Monday. Yuk.

But here I am reading blogs and blogging, and the kids are watching a tape of the season premier of CSI Miami from last Monday. Somehow when Kev is home and sleeping, our drive to get any kind of work done drops to nearly nil. When Kev's home and working (if Kev is home & up and around, he's usually getting something done), it makes me work harder.

I spent too much time watching the TV news on Rita, like Katrina. I feel so bad for the folks whose homes, lives, families have been so thrashed. My best friend lives in Dallas, and she called this morning to let me know she finally was able to have a phone conversation with a good friend of hers that lives near Houston. This whole thing lately is just crazy. Everywhere I turn are relief efforts donation requests, and I think that's admirable. But I admitted to my best friend that I haven't donated one dime to Katrina, nor will I to Rita. Sounds heartless, but it isn't. Not to me. So many, many people are stepping up to the plate and donating for those disasters, but I & my husband made a decision two years ago that any extra funds we have for charitable contributions will all be directed to our local school district, specifically the elementary school our son currently attends. We live in a very rural area, and our district has 3 elementary schools, 1 middle school and the high school. We get less funding from the state per student than our richer, in-town neighboring districts. Our elementary school didn't have enough money last year to purchase all the supplies they needed, and were rationing copy paper at the end of the year. Much of our elementary school's population are children from lower income families. We've decided to take care of our own backyard first. We don't have enough money to spread it around the world. I'm truly glad there are people that do, and I'm proud of America's response to the disasters. Those children are getting help. I want to help the kids that live in my neighborhood.

We live close to a pretty wealthy, upscale city. Not a huge city, but a lot of money in that town. Most of those people have no idea of the squallor that so many kids live in out here in the country. At our elementary school, they can get a new backpack, clean clothes, a warm coat, boots that fit, shoes without holes, shampoo and combs, even a haircut. Makes a big difference in their daily lives. When they are wearing a pretty new shirt and a cool new pair of jeans, they feel better about themselves. I love that. I love being a part of that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cool Morning Air

I love this time of year. I love leaving my window open during the night and breathing in the cool (and sometimes cold) night air. I love waking up with a light cool breeze on my face and inside the covers all warm and comfy. I usually sleep with at least one leg outside the covers, and that leg will be freezing, so I pull it in under the covers, snuggle up to Kev and warm up... ahhhh.... I love listening to the night sounds and waking early, hearing the night sounds turn into morning sounds.

Slightly less pleasant this morning by the smell of skunk, but hey, that's autumn in the country. Haven't investigated if it was a run-in with either of our cats or the dogs outside. That can wait...

Been so busy lately, with school starting, Joyce in basketball, Sam in football, many extra hours at work and handling the ripening produce from Joycie's garden. Nathan built a new computer for me, and I've hardly had time to play with it! Even my digital camera has been mostly abandoned of late. Busy, busy. At least we're into cooler weather; I had gotten so sick of the heat. Doesn't seem right watching a football game in hot, muggy weather.

Got a nice little respite this morning. Kev on a day off (part of his work schedule, as he starts midnights tomorrow night), and I have an evening meeting (teleconference) with my cohort in California, so I decided to go into work late (and just work a 10 hour day today). Kev and I have gone through 2 pots of coffee together. It's a good morning.