Friday, July 31, 2009

Winding up the month...

July simply slipped away on us~ blink twice and it was over.

The heat has broken for the time being, which means a pleasant weekend ahead; we’ll be celebrating Chris’ birthday (47 years old and doesn’t look a day over…48), attending another wedding (nothing for 3 years, now every third weekend we’re attending one), and hopefully spending some time with my knitting group~ work has really been getting in the way lately.

Some significant things have come up~ I’m just not ready to blog too much about them

b As of last night, the merger is off; I’m still processing the information, so I’m not certain how I feel about it yet~ could be a good thing in the long run.

b Jessica is soon to be homeless again; I know how I feel about this, so I have to let it go and turn it over to God.

b My former husband is getting married again. Surprising would be an understatement~ five years ago, he stated emphatically “Never again!”(his second marriage was horrible), but that was before his mother died. I wish him all the joy and happiness a good marriage can bring.

b We’ve begun the process of buying our own house; this is a dream too dear to my heart, and my nature too flipping superstitious, to share much here~ although prayers would be greatly appreciated.

b I quietly joined Weight Watchers this week~ very personal stuff for me, so enough said.

The garden faired pretty well through the last heat wave~ I have a steady flow of cucumbers, the occasional zucchini that makes a surprise appearance- seemingly out of nowhere- but the tomatoes, beans, and lemons are a bust this year. We are still waiting for the first Persian melon to be ready, but I’ve found 3 more in various stages of development~ I’m very excited to try my first home-grown fruit, though I’m a bit worried about the vine taking over what little backyard we possess.

I’ve taken my next steps into home canning~ we were gifted with bags of apricots and peaches, so I’ve been attempting low-sugar jam. The results have been mixed, but all tasty~ the pantry shelf and refrigerator are sporting pints of colorful goodies for the family, from soft apricot preserves to basically peach syrup (not that anyone is complaining that much). I’m looking forward to apple season and perfecting my chunky applesauce~ the last batch only made it to early January.

All this old-time domestic activity is a constant source of consternation and humor for my mother~ she cannot understand how a child raised in Berkeley in the 70’s, by progressive, liberal, and feminist-leaning parents, finds such fascination and contentment in homey activities like gardening and knitting. I think I pushed her over the edge when I voiced my interest in raising backyard chickens~ there was a significant stretch of silence, either from stifling the urge to laugh or struggling to form a polite response, before she could reply “Your grandmother would’ve been proud.”

I think that’s almost the nicest compliment I’ve ever received.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer lumbers on...

July has brought milestones, twists, celebrations, and goodbyes in the Garden.


Sam enrolled in community college (my baby!) and is looking forward to his classes (though not the hour bus ride each way)


We attended the reception ball for two of our fellow dancers on the 4th of July


video



but missed the fireworks while having dinner with friends


The negotiations for the merger continue, so things are still a bit unsettled at work~ I do my best to focus on still having a job in a state with 11% unemployment.


The garden is beginning to produce after a very slow start



we've been enjoying Armenian Curl cucumbers



and the occasional crook-neck or zucchini squash


four tomatoes were planted this year, though only one is really flourishing



and we'll have our first Persian melon in the next week



Poppy peruses the bush beans



but Dahlia goes straight to sampling the grapevines



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Yesterday morning, I sat down to read Thursday's paper with my cuppa, and the day came to a screeching halt. As I was flipping through the pages, a face in the obituaries caught my eye~ curiosity turned to shock when I realized that it was Doug, my first boyfriend. Thirty years rolled away and I started to cry; I was fourteen, he was eighteen, the brother of my friend, and we met at square dancing. He gave me his class ring, which I wore proudly on a chain around my neck, and introduced me to Motown, flea markets, roller coasters, and escargot. He hurt my pride, rather then my heart, when we broke up, but we remained friends nevertheless. Doug was like that~ fickle, funny, and a friend to everyone.


It was a God-thing; the memorial was being held that afternoon in the Bay Area and I had a floating holiday coming to me. I was able to attend, paying my respects to his family and saying goodbye to the sweet boy of my memory; the most poignant thing for me was seeing his dance shoes next to his photo. A good number of the former Young Rebels (our teen square dance/clogging club) were in attendance; we spent the dinner renewing friendship and sharing memories from a lifetime ago, parting with email addresses and pledges to get together for a reunion event.


I do hope that won’t be the end of it, but too often it takes events like this to bring us together again.



Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Now I know what a muffin feels like...


Looks like the whirlwind that is my life has died down for the time being, for which I am quite grateful.


I’ve been putting in 50-hour weeks, taking work home, & generally ruminating on whether or not I’ll still be employed come January. Add to the mixture unrelenting early summer heat (four of the past eight weeks have seen temps from 95° to 115° F) and a barely functioning A/C at work, and you have me, dragging my abused carcass home every evening, shedding all unnecessary clothing, and collapsing into a chair for some mindless television watching or in front of the computer playing a totally addictive FB game. Doesn’t that sound like so much fun?


Good news has come along~ all indications are that our institution will remain viable, albeit under the control of another company, and the employees have been assured of their continued employment. Well, 99% assured~ I’m told the language of the agreement is necessarily ambiguous to allow for weeding out unsuitable staff members. So now the real work begins~ six months or more of reporting, investigating, sorting, transferring, logistical planning, and extensive interviews, before I can settle into a new work environment and team. I am cautiously optimistic about the opportunity, though it’s tough for most accounting-type geeks to embrace wholesale changes to our routines.


So, amid all this stress and uncertainty, we have managed to have a little fun. My mother surprised me by changing her plans and attending Sam’s graduation after all; I believe a little bird, in the guise of my older brother, let her know that I was really quite upset about her missing this important family event (even though I would never say anything about it). She was at her charming and lucid best, sharing anecdotes and photos with us all~ here is a shot of my parents together, more than 45 years after their divorce


 



They’ve seen each other only about a dozen times over those years, usually at a big family event (I think the last time was after Sam’s birth), and have always been friendly~ I think they had a good time together, with no spouses or responsibilities, to indulge in walks down memory lane.


We had an open house BBQ the evening of graduation, very relaxed and low maintenance, with the family and most of Sam’s friends drifting in and out,



 



 


until they headed off to the Safe and Sober Mystery Night, sponsored by the Senior Parents’ Club. There are no pictures of the event~ no one wanted to risk their cameras around the go-carts, bumper boats, & mechanical bull~ but this is what remained of Sam the next morning


 


 


Poor puppy had been going full bore for most of eighteen, emotionally charged hours, after coming off two weeks of finals; I believe he slept about 12 hours Sunday, as well as all of the drive to and from Yosemite on Monday.


Chris and I managed to have an afternoon alone on Father’s Day~ Sam was nursing his annual beginning-of-summer-vacation cold and opted to stay home. After breakfast and church, we drove east into the valley, stopping first at Lavender Hollow Farms; I had been telling him about it since the Garden Club outing there last spring and we lucked out that they were still opened for the season.


 



We wandered about, Chris poking his head into every open door he could find, and left with a couple plants to start building our collection; someday, when we have a house of our own, I’m going to plant a bank of lavender, in all shapes and sizes, both for the fragrance and the beneficial bees that will come to work in my garden.


 


 


We followed the road along until we reached Oakdale and the famous Cheese Factory. Whenever we’ve driven by in the past, it’s either been on our way to an event with no time to stop, or on our way back to town, when all we want is to get home. This time, we were ready for some lunch


 


 



Instead of the “loaf of bread, jug of wine, and thou”, we opted for a round of foccacia, a tub of pesto quark, and a bottle of sasparilla, since we were driving and it was getting a bit warm


 


 


seated in this park-like area, with the petting zoo animals as company.


We poked along home, stopping at roadside farm stands (scored 20 ears of sweet corn for $2.00!) and admiring the fruit-laden apricot orchards. It was probably Chris’ last relaxing weekend until September; his busy season is in full swing and he’s currently on six days a week with a short staff.


Speaking of relaxing, it’s time for me to toddle off to my recliner and work on my knitting; I have a cardigan two-thirds done for myself and need to cast on some cotton washcloths and market bags, as well as a child’s sweater for a new-to-me charity project, Warm Woolies. Hope you enjoy a cool, comfortable week~ it’s not looking good around here, but at least the A/C is working again!