Monday, September 15, 2014

50 Random Questions

So I haven't read through these questions. I'm going to just paste them into the blog and answer as I go along.
Fun, right? No guarantees!

1. Would you rather be twice as smart or twice as happy?
Neither. I'm pretty smart. I'm also just as happy as I make up my mind to be, so we'll call my life the blessing of "enough". 

2. What's your worst habit?
My worst habit? I'm so self-critical. 
Take off glasses. Brush hair. Put on a shirt with sleeves. Maybe get a tan.... maybe some make up.

When I see pictures of myself, I just see what can be improved or how old I am getting. I have to remember that life is for living, not for being so damn vain. 

3. Are you dating?
As a matter of fact, yes. My husband and I have a date night each week- cliche, I know, but it works. It breaks up the week and lets us connect with each other. We don't do much; a movie, appetizers out, stuff like that. And we reserve that time for each other.

4. Do you take shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotels?
 No. I used to but it dries out my hair and my hair is already dry (see Q2). 

5. What is the one thing you'll never do again?
I'll most thankfully never have another first date. I'll do lots of things again, or at least I am willing. I'll paraglide, get more tattoos, eat weird foods. But I'd never give up on G. 

6. Do you collect anything?
Books. pictures of my adventures, memories, electronics, and apparently, clothing. And shoes. I'm a shoe hog.

7. Worst injury you ever had?
It's not something I talk about much. I've broken bones and I've wrecked my feet, I've got some arthritis in my hip and knee. But what hurt, hurt, was when my ex-husband and I were taking martial arts classes and he overdid it on a joint lock. It was a belt test, and he did it wrong the first time. On the second and last try, he ripped the tendons in my right wrist. It made a huge popping sound. That's not what hurt. What hurt is that he blamed me for it. Because I hadn't pretended he did the lock correctly the first time. I still have to be careful with my right wrist. The other students at dojo never got over that though. They didn't trust him anymore. 

I hadn't planned on telling that story. I don't really talk about my martial arts days, but I was a third degree black belt in Kempo Karate. I taught and took lessons for the greater part of a decade. I loved it and I was really good at it. 

8. What is your favourite pet/ animal?
I love most pets. And I've had a few. Dogs, cats, sheep, and a guinea pig.  I'd like to get a few pygmy goats for pets, but that's going to have to wait awhile. I do get along well with most animals immediately. Heck, I was once accepted into vet school. 
Right now, my favorite pet is Eleanor. She's something. And the only cat my husband isn't allergic to. They've grown fond of each other these last three years. 
Best pals

I have more pictures of my cat than of my family. 
In the way of adorable animal pictures, my nephew Joe has the CUTEST pit bull. She is happy all the time. Her name is Leia.

9. What's your dream vacation?
 I'd like to do parts of Western Europe. Or all of it. Maybe a series of vacations. Lots of people want tropics or sun and sand. I don't. I want culture and people and cold weather. Maybe mild weather, but cold is good. I want to spend Christmas in Germany or Austria just once. I want to spend enough time in these places to learn language and get jokes. 

10. Honestly, are things going the way you planned?
Depends on the when you're talking about the planning.  Very little of my life has gone as planned. I have an idea of the direction I'm going. That's about it for now. There is an old man under a mountain and every time I plan my life, he chuckles. 

11. Do you have any tattoos?
Yes, I do. I love them and they have meaning. I contemplated each of them for a long time before I got them. And I've been contemplating a third for some time now. 
One of two tatts

12. What's your secret to lure in the opposite sex?
I don't have one. Although, to lure G, I found that blueberry pancakes work pretty well. And homemade blueberry jam. And a little blueberry behind each ear does the trick too.  And being myself.

Back when I was "luring" men, I wasn't very good at it anyway. 

13. Any phobias?
I worked in a prison for almost a year. As a result, I usually find myself in any room with my back to a wall, just in case. I don't like crowds anymore either. My experiences changed me in some difficult ways. And I have always disliked man-made heights. Weird though, because I don't mind large cliffs in the least. I used to have hyper vigilance, but it's subsided and I feel safe more often than not. 

14.  Do you bite your nails?
No. They are usually too long and I need to trim them. 

15. Do you ever count your steps when you walk? 
I usually record my steps with a fitbit. Mine recently died and I haven't replaced it. I hate guessing. I like to keep around 12,000-15,000 steps a day.

16. Heels or flats?
Sneakers, boots, and flip flops, thanks. 

17.Have you ever stolen a street sign before?
No. Is that a thing?

18. Do you always smile for pictures?
I don't like my smile much.

19. Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing?
No, is that also a thing? 

20.  Do you miss anyone right now?
Yes. Old friends in Oklahoma and my sweet old dog who lives a very happy life back in OK with some friends and their 4 kids.

21. What's your favourite colour?
Probably black. Maybe red.

22. Do you want kids?

23. Are you patient?
No. My brain tends to go a million miles an hour and I have a hard time slowing down for others. 

24. Can you swim?
Yes, I am a strong swimmer. Or at least I was. I haven't been swimming for a few years. I both love and hate swimming in the ocean. I love the salt water; hate the yucky jellyfish. 

25. Tea or coffee
Both.  Coffee- hot strong black- in the morning and tea in the afternoons and evening. 

26. What do you wear to bed?

27. Ever used a gun? 
Yes. I'm a pretty good shot with a .22 open site rifle. And I've used a thirty ought six for hunting. I've shot pistols. I'm better with a rifle. But I don't enjoy it. One of my acquaintances had her home broken into a few years back. She had two little babies in the house under the age of 5. She killed one of the people and injured a second. The third ran and was caught. It was the worst experience of her life. She wasn't charged or anything. It was just awful for her and her family. They moved out of state and sold the house. I can't bring myself to own a gun for that reason. But make no mistake; I have every other kind of weapon and know how to use it. I have them stashed about the house. 

28. Do you sing in the shower?

29. Are you stubborn?
About some things. I'm a good compromiser. 

30. Are you lazy?
No.  Too much time being inactive makes me depressed. I have to do stuff.

31. Can you change the oil in a car
I have done it before, but not on Gs car. On an older Ford truck, probably. 

32. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
A couple months ago. I have a friend who is incarcerated. I like to write him letters. I'm good that way.

33. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?
Not that anyone would want to see this, but how much money are we talking? 

34.What is your favourite food?
Or maybe fresh crab pulled from the bay. Or tomatoes from the garden. Or stuff with cheese on it. 

I like food.

35. Do you still watch cartoons?
Sorry, I don't have time for that.

36. What movie(s) can you watch over and over again and not get bored?
Constantine, I think. And perhaps a few Sandra Bullock movies.

37. What superpower would you have for one day?
I would like to read people's minds. Probably for one day only. 

38. Whats been your favourite age so far? 
Every day I wake up. I didn't like my youth. I didn't get to be much of a child and our house was often angry and traumatic. I liked my 30s and I like my 40s so far. I'm 41. So I guess maybe I like today.

39. How old are you?

40. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
I've made so many mistakes. I would save myself so much heartbreak and so much pain. I would say "Go find examples of unconditional love. Copy them." I would tell myself that in the future, I would learn to accept who I am and what I am and that these things are not just enough, they are good. And that I am good too. It took me far too long to figure that out. Maybe some people never do. 

41. If you knew you would die in one week, what would you do?
I'm not sure. Maybe visit my family. Visit the ocean. See some friends and dance with them. Kiss my husband more. Write out the story of my life. 

42. What celebrity would you trade lives with?
Oh good lord, no. Just no. You couldn't pay me to be a celebrity.

43. Do people ever take you seriously?
Yes. It's the perks of being me, of being a professor. 

44. What happened the last time you cried?
It was about six months after my grandma died, so a few years ago. I hadn't cried about her death. She was close to all of my sister and me. I had a dream about her and told it to my friend V who was also my roommate at the time. She simply told me that my grandma is gone and there was nothing I could do about it. It was one of those great heaving sobs that you can't stop. V always seems to know just what to say. I have a sniffle from time to time, but I'm not really a crier.

45. Who knows you best?
My sister.

46.  Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?
Door closed. It's a small bedroom, and it's my husband's closet.  I actually have a dressing room. Yes, I'm that person!

47. What is your song of the week?
Scarborough Faire

48. Last person you kissed?

49. Best thing to eat for breakfast?
I don't eat much breakfast right now. Probably my Saturday thing with G: sliced cheese and fruit. Then some physical exercise outside.

50. Does anyone know the password to your email?
G does. You never know what might happen. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Dang. I missed Wednesday and the HodgePodge. Ah well, story of my life.  Maybe next week. So today instead of a hodgepodge, you get random Thursday Thoughts.

On Failure
I saw a meme the other day that said something like "It wasn't wasted time if you learned something". It reminds me of the failures I've accomplished.  I'd rather call them near-wins. A few weeks ago, I interviewed for a dream job. Great location, work I would love, and a place G would love to live. I came in second place.  At first I was feeling pretty low; it's hard not getting what I want.  Second place is first loser, right? And when I say "at first" I really mean "for a week".  But then I reconsidered. Five years ago, I never would have even applied for that job. I almost got it.  So I'm going to keep trying. I'm ok where I am, and I love teaching English - it seems to be its own reward. But I'll keep trying.  I've got another publication next month, and I'll keep writing. These things are key. I have a really nice acquaintance who just took his sommelier test.  He did great on theory and some other part of the test, but not as well on the blind tasting. So he didn't make it this time.  The cool things in my opinion from a distance since I'm not affected are that he took the test in the test in the first place, that he'll know more for next time, and that lots of people supported him getting there.  That test is expensive, and I bet if he crowd funds it again, he'll get even more support. Because there is no doubt in in my mind that I can reach my dreams and that he can reach his too.  You should see what he does in his community, to help fight hunger and homelessness. We nearly won, both of us. I'll try again if you do, buddy.

On Names
My blogger buddy, Nonnie's Random Thoughts, made a comment about all the names I use. I like my monikers but realize that they can be confusing. I get confused sometimes myself. So just so you know.... Antoinette and Mindie are both legal names. My last name is also real if you know what it is. And yes, it's French and yes, I know what it means. My immediate family calls me Mindie, with the exception of one niece who playfully refers to me as "Anti-Onette" since I am her aunt. In my professional life, I also use Mindie. However, many of my friends and all of Gs family call me Antoinette. I prefer that name.  It helps me online to differentiate between professional and personal writing. I like Antoinette for my blog and I like the way it sounds when said out loud. As for my blog- I'm a Wild Okie, but since I've moved back home to Washington, I'm much more idle and find myself in an idyllic, pastoral setting.  Hence, Idyll Wild. They're all me. I like the idea of playing with identity and online presentation of self. Not in a false way, but in a multi-faceted way.

September 11 and Emotionally Charged Dates
Today is September 11th, the anniversary of the attacks. I have a hard time writing about events I am emotionally invested in, and they are often not timely discussions. Today I'm going to try to speak frankly about this.
I was teaching Organic Chemistry labs at Oklahoma State University the morning of the attacks. I didn't have cable and didn't know about the events until I got to school.  My first thought, after the shock, was "those poor people".  My second thought was "I'm in Oklahoma. I hope nobody retaliates against my Muslim friends for this."  Maybe that's terrible, and Oklahomans are generally nice people, but when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Building, some yahoos shot up the local mosque. They had childcare there you know. A playground enclosed around a fence and all, so it's not like the perps didn't know.  OSU was/is a big oil and petroleum research school, and lots of students come from Arabic speaking countries to study before taking their knowledge home to the petroleum fields.  Since this is a span of years, they bring their families. Many of the women wore conspicuous burkas, abayas, and hair coverings after their custom.  I talked to all of my non-white friends and cautioned them to lay low. If there was backlash in our community, I was unaware. My friends and their friends were all ok.
I was vehemently against beginning a war on such flimsy premises. Not that what happened was minimal at all- and devastating and changing and harmful to the American people.  We lost our innocence that day, as a nation. People at the university were against war too, but that didn't stop us as a nation from exacting revenge in an ongoing war that we're not even close to cleaning up. Nobody wins in war. Hurting a whole people because they hurt you. I don't know.  And each person killed sent a ripple we are still feeling; a feeling that will be carried through our generations.  To live in such times, to lose the feeling of security, of trust in our own government as they passed a thick Patriot Act and created Homeland Security, to have our own government take away our freedoms in the name of security. I'm not sure it was the right thing. It was also the day I stopped being able to believe things on the news.
I don't even know that I'm right about this. I can't take my thoughts and memories out of context and so they are jumbled.

I have insomnia, the kind that lets me go to sleep but won't let me get back to sleep.  It's been crazy the last few months, since the funding was cut for my last position.  Worrying has always been a hobby anyway.  I do the regular things- cutting out electronics before bed, good exercise, eating well, avoiding caffeine after 2 p.m. I sometimes do gentle yoga before bed and take Benadryl intermittently so that I can get a good night's sleep. My cat wakes me up between 2:30 and 4 for a drink of water and some food. If I don't get up and do this, she's often throwing up half an hour later. At 18, Eleanor takes a lot of medicine for her little tummy, her thyroid and her arthritis.  I'll pretty much do anything to keep weight on her and I'm sure that doesn't help with my sleep cycles.  Sometimes she wakes me up just hopping up to cuddle and many is the time I wake up to find her snuggled next to me.  Last night though, last night I went to Nirvana got a good night's sleep. After two days of very little, I zonked out for almost 9 hours. I'm feeling pretty great today! Eventually, this will calm down. I'll get back into my daily routine since I've been off work for the last two weeks, and all will be well.

I'm looking forward to school starting. I love fall and I love teaching Freshmen.  I know this isn't a popular thing to say, but getting a bunch of kids fresh from high school in their first days of independence is awesome.  They'll try anything. They want knowledge. They'll voice opinions and sometimes learn things they didn't know.  Teaching literature even to older students gives me the same feeling.  Humility. I feel small and honored to have a place in the growth and development of others and I often learn just as much as they do. Teaching makes me want to be a better person.

That's it.  That's all my thoughts today.  I need to get back to creating syllabi and planning daily activities for the next 10 weeks. And I'm going to make time to take pictures of autumn in the Northwest, whatever form that may take.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday HodgePodge

Today's quick and dirty post is inspired by Nonnie at Nonnie's Random Thoughts. She borrowed the questions from Joyce.

It's not stealing if you give credit, right? Of course.

1. What's something you wanted to do this summer that you never got around to actually doing? 

It's still summer break for me. We don't go back to school until September 23rd. I have a couple of weeks off to work on personal projects, prepare my syllabi and maybe go visit family once more. It's been a good summer so far!

2. Share a favorite memory of your own back-to-school days as a child. 

I remember in third grade we were in Port Angeles, and on picture day my oldest sister did my hair.  She told me not to smile in the photo so I didn't.  But I also got to borrow another sister's pretty white dress with a blue ribbon.  The effect is a little disconcerting.

3. What's one chore or task you enjoy doing "Old School"? 

I like walking to school. I live less than a mile from the university where I teach, so I like walking to classes, especially in fall with all the leaves and crisp autumn air.  It makes me happy.

4. Share something you've learned in life through the "school of hard knocks". 

Be careful who you trust and whose opinion you let matter to you. Let the right people in though.

5. As a child, did you mostly bring or buy your lunch for school? What was your favorite thing to find in your lunchbox? 

When I first went to elementary school, it was sandwiches and thermoses of milk in my awesome C.H.I.P.S. lunchbox.  It was yellow and had Ponch and John on it.  I loved it. In junior high I went to the cafeteria and my grandma worked there as a lunch lady.  I loved her so much. I can't even tell you. I miss her every day. Lots of people do, I think.  She was a great soul. 

My grandma, Verline Marll, with one of her many great-grandchildren. 

6. Football season is upon us, which has me wondering- how big of a sports fan are you (not just football)?  On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being "I scream at the players through my television screen" and 1 being "is knitting a sport?" where do you fall in fandom? 

Oh, I'd say I'm about a 3.  I like the Seahawks, and have since childhood. They are a symbol of my geography.  I like Seahawks memorabilia and watching games at a small neighborhood bar. I can name two players. I also like the Mariners and have gotten to see one of their games live. It was fun.  But mostly? Yawn. 

7. Share a favorite quote you think might inspire students of all ages at the start of a new school year. 

I have lots of these! Just keep in mind my two professional interests: English composition and social justice. 

Admit it- you laughed!

One of my classes bought me this and they all signed it. 

I'm not sure what I'm inspiring here, but I like this. 

Ok, this has nothing to do with anything. But I sent my friend Greg a unicorn headband and he sent me this picture. It's not called "Wednesday Hodge Podge" for nothing.

Surely, this is the most inspiring.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

I love that we are careening towards fall.  I had to close the windows today because I was too cold! I know we'll still have some hot days and a few above 88, but autumn is right next door and I love it. I love the slowing down of the world. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

I love Labor Day.  It means that fall is on the way! The air smells more crisp and the mornings creep in more gently.  Soon it will be days of soup and hearty bread, staying in and maybe evening turning on the heat someday.  I can dream.

With fall comes a motivation for me to settle in for a long winter's nap.  To do that, I have decided this is the year of canning. So far, G just loves the blueberry jams I make him.  My sister keeps him supplied with strawberry jam from her garden, so this year I went up to Leavenworth to pick organic blueberries and put in some preserves for him.  That's another post and you can check it out here.

I visited my sister Patti last week (she lives West of me) and my sister Mickie a few weeks before that (she lives on the eastern edge of the state. Truly I'm in the center of the state. From my visit east I got two boxes of apples (which I've previously written about), and my visit west yielded 4 zucchinis, or 20 lbs. And here at home I've been growing a little patch of basil.

First was the supposedly easy work of making apple jelly. I couldn't get that stuff to come out right. It made lots of jelly, but even after a second round of boiling and extra pectin, it's just on the jelly side. In hot weather it's syrup.

Mint extract from my garden. I murdered two grown mint plants for this.

Eventually it thickened up, just not a whole lot.
At least there's lots of it. Like a six pints and a dozen 4 oz jars.

Then it was on to today's adventure.  First up: Pesto.

My thought was to make and can some pesto.  We don't have a big freezer, though I'd like one (hint, hint).  So I thought I'd freeze some pesto and can the rest in a water bath.  I've been anticipating this for a long while, and today was the day of THE GREAT BASIL HARVEST OF 2014!
Yeah, that's some basil!
G graciously helped me to pick all the leaves from the stems.  There were no bugs; mostly because there aren't many bugs in our town but also because it's basil.

I have so much basil that there are still plants outside.  They will be used...
What would I even use leftover basil for? Glad you asked! 
Our dinner the other night was caprese with homegrown basil. The tomatoes and cukes are local and it was delicious! 

The result

I don't have a recipe, just ingredients.  Have I mentioned that I love my food processor?  Yes, yes I do. Just basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil and a little lemon until it tastes right.

Here's the thing though.  I looked online and you shouldn't can pesto.

All of it is in the freezer. Mr. G isn't really happy about that part, but it's not like he doesn't get to eat it! I think he will live.

Then it was on to virgin territory.
 My sister Patti grows zucchini and lots of other veggies at her house.  It's easy to deal with all the fresh food and she cans a lot of stuff.... pickles, jams, relishes and jellies. You wouldn't believe how much food grows in her garden.  Sometimes I think her motto is:

Anyway, if you look at the picture above, you'll see three of the four monsters she sent home. They total about 20 pounds of zucchini.  I'm sure she'll get another 100 lbs AT LEAST from her garden this year.  But what to do with all that zucchini (besides give it away!)? 

She got a recipe from Food 52 for zucchini butter. I didn't follow it exactly but it worked pretty well. If you try this recipe, just remember to take the seeds out. They don't say to but it's a good idea.  I used more butter and fried it a bit more. I used shallots and salt and pepper.  And did I mention how much I love my food processor? I do. Thanks again for getting us one, G. 
The hardest part truly was just in wringing out the grated stuff. I put it in cheese cloth and squeezed the bag. I ended up having to lean on it over the sink.

One of several pans full

I ended up with 5 pints of butter (which is much more like relish) for 10 lbs of my zucchini.  I like it. I can eat it on toast or by itself.  Pretty good stuff. But it took forever, so long that I only used half of my zucchinis.  Clean up was a pain!  I'll do the rest another day.

I love that these few things aren't commercially raised and that I know their sources- my garden, my sister's garden, an apple tree in Eastern Washington. It makes me feel more connected to my family.

I'm going to break down and buy some apples this week.  I know, I know, but I want apple butter and I'm running out of trees to raid! Also, G is working his way through the blueberry jam. I'm going to hit up Leavenworth one more time and make him a second batch.  Confession: I love that jam almost as much as he does.

So happy Labor Day, friends. And happy beginning of Autumn. I'm so excited for cooler weather and sleeping more soundly.

What's your favorite thing about Fall?
Maybe that's another post entirely...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

You Will Live Long Enough To Wear Me

I've been wanting to write lately and find myself drawing back from the keyboard.  I don't want to turn off my readers. I'll just apologize in advance for some things I've been carrying around on my chest. I'm going to make myself ill if I don't write it out.

There is so much going on in the world and little of the news is good. The events unfolding in Ferguson, MO are awful. For the first time, Amnesty International has sent human rights advocates to a U.S. location. There are riots and at least two dead now, with people and journalists being gassed and first amendment rights violated.  Schools are closed.

Last week, an environmentalist used the word "Fucked" to describe how much trouble we'll be in
“If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere.."

There were 20 earthquakes in Oklahoma today. We're heading for another dust bowl.

And Mork from Ork died.

A little girl, age 8, was tased in South Dakota.  Police say it was justified because she had a paring knife.

Water is becoming dangerously scarce. 

And the middle east is all up in crazy, dangerous arms.

Ten miles from here are wildfires that have burned over 12,000 acres. They're contained but won't be out until the heavier fall rains.

ISIS is dangerous, and we need to help people that they've cut off in a canyon and who ISIS are trying to starve out. And ISIS is beheading people. Find your own link on that one. I just can't.

Putin is making power plays and land grabs and I'm not sure if he is following the will of the people or if they want to join him and I'm not sure it's all black and white but I'm pretty sure he isn't so hot on human rights issues either.

Mostly I want to curl up in my bed and pull the covers over my head and wait for all of this to be over.  Maybe breathe into a paper bag for awhile.

I have rage fatigue. As someone who devotes her life to educating others and caring about issues of equity and social justice, I am exhausted. As a white person who would like to be a better ally, I'm out of ideas. I'm blue in the face from talking about white privilege to people who simply do not believe in their privilege and who think the people of Ferguson, and all of those other non-white people shot and killed or harassed or otherwise harmed by a system of oppression, should just "get over it". We shouldn't get over it.  We should deal with it, white people.

Anyway, I'm all worked up; verklempt, to borrow a yiddish word.

And that's just the stuff outside of my personal life.

So I need a moment, an interlude, to focus on something positive.  Human rights and human suffering matter. They matter a lot.  But I need to concentrate for a minute on my own mental health before I go on with the fight.  Which means one thing:

Gratutide list.

Just a list of 20 things I'm grateful for today. Hey, it's what I've got.

1. G. En toto. He makes an ordinary day awesome and the bad times bearable.
2. My old cat is still kicking. She's responded well to my adjustments to her medicine and is doing great.
3.  We have a roof over our heads and food in the fridge.
4. Canning.  I do love making jams and jellies.
5. The hot summer is almost over! Bring on the 80 degree days.
6. That means fall is coming.
7. Went to the doctor today. I'm going to live.
8. My asthma isn't terrible. Even with awful wildfires, I've still been able to breathe.
9. I get to walk to work
10. Lunch with G at least once a week.
11. I woke up yesterday. I was going to write more than that, but that'll do.
12.  Yesterday when I woke up, I had a cute little kitty all snuggled up with me with her head on top of my head.  Of course, today when I woke up, she'd turned around and repeated.
13. Air conditioning. We have a little window unit upstairs.
14. Books.  My book order is coming for my fall classes. I can't wait.
15. I was stuck in I-5 traffic around 4:15 today and a nice man let me merge ahead of him.
16. I gave a homeless lady a few dollars today and she called me "sister".  I nodded my head in agreement.
17. Sitting on the front porch and talking while a cool, lazy breeze plays with my hair.
18. Living in a town where it's safe to walk places alone.
19. Good friends to talk to. Old friends and new ones and friends I only know online. Some friends I'm even related to by blood.
20. I'll probably wake up tomorrow, and I probably won't get shot at, and I will probably have clean drinking water. And I will most likely have clean clothes to wear too.
21. Teachers in Ferguson are taking to the streets to help clean up. Community members are feeding the kids who normally get free and reduced lunches. After a night of looting, all seems quiet in Ferguson (as of ten minutes ago, anyway). And G was really nice and gave me over a thousand songs for my phone, so all the way to Seattle and back, I listened to the Rolling Stone's "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

Ok, that's more than 20. I feel better. I'm not letting any of that stuff go, mind you, but I do feel better.  I may have to do this tomorrow too.

I am reminded of a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, called "Arabic Coffee".  I find it comforting, the way she writes and how she makes something outside of my personal experience feel like home. There is comfort there, but also hope. 

Arabic Coffee
It was never too strong for us:
make it blacker, Papa,
thick in the bottom,
tell again how the years will gather
in small white cups,
how luck lives in a spot of grounds.
Leaning over the stove, he let it
boil to the top, and down again.
Two times. No sugar in his pot.
And the place where men and women
break off from one another
was not present in that room.
The hundred disappointments,
fire swallowing olive-wood beads
at the warehouse, and the dreams
tucked like pocket handkerchiefs
into each day, took their places
on the table, near the half-empty
dish of corn. And none was
more important than the others,
and all were guests. When
he carried the tray into the room,
high and balanced in his hands,
it was an offering to all of them,
stay, be seated, follow the talk
wherever it goes. The coffee was
the center of the flower.
Like clothes on a line saying
you will live long enough to wear me,
a motion of faith. There is this,
and there is more.

(from Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Columbia University Press, 1992)

I'll leave you with that thought tonight... a motion of faith.  I like that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer Adventures

I've been a traveling, working, fruit picking fool of late.
I have so much to catch up on that I'll first write a bit, then just splash in a BUNCH of pictures.

Last weekend (not this last one but the one before) G and I went on one of our hikes.  I'd bought a new book on Pacific Northwest berries and was eager to see what was out there for us to pick and prepare. Canning season is upon us, after all, and even though it's much more common to just buy a jar of jam at the store, I get a kick out of picking and canning my own stuff.  I can also control what goes into it.

I filled a little pack full of tart summer apples and used some mint from my garden to check out one of the recipes. The neat thing about my berry book is that it works in small batches.  A cup of this, a cup of that, and a cup of this makes about a pint of this... that sort of thing. I love the mint apple jelly I made. I'm going to have to make some more.  Oh, don't worry, there's lots of apples out there for the stealing gleaning. 

Fresh Mint

tart summer apples

Not a lot of juice, but they were free..

The ingredients

Ta da!

Last Friday, I went to Leavenworth with my good friend Joy.  I love my women friends! I am lucky to be surrounded by women who support me and who let me support and build them up too.  Anyway, Joy and I went up to Leavenworth and picked blueberries at a small farm called Roots. Nice people. Their son owns J5 Coffee downtown. We got almost 14 lbs before the heat drove us out. Less than 10 miles away is the Carlton Complex fire, so there was a heavy scent of smoke in the air. We still enjoyed ourselves and walked around their flower gardens too.  The owner said that if there was an award for most determined pickers, it would be us! 
Smoke from the Carlton Complex fire

Flower garden

See the bee?

Joy and me!
Those mountains are usually stark and clear

Berry fields

Half the haul

Dem blueberries tho!

That afternoon, I headed for Dayton, Wa to help my sister move. G stayed home because he worked on Friday and because Eleanor is so old and she needs medicines twice daily that we can't easily find a sitter for her.  I know, I know.  But what are you going to do? 

My sister's daughter is 3 now, and really chatting up a storm. She has great manners, saying please and thank you with no reminding.  She goes to daycare where she has learned to count and say ALL of her colors in Spanish.  I am over the moon about it.  I love how she doesn't even really try hard to recall the names. Pretty awesome.

Moving is hot and dusty work. I'm a bit bruised and there may still be an antique bedspring stuck in a spiral staircase. But the rest is moved out. I bet I could've gotten that rail off but it was over 100 degrees and people don't tend to have air conditioning here.

Anyhoo, after the work came the good stuff: visiting. I love visiting my relatives. There are quite a few as my Grandfather's Grandfather, Christopher Marll, homesteaded in Columbia.  Grandpa had 6 siblings and Grandma had 9.  Yeah, lots of relatives.  You have to do a genealogical chart before you get a date in Dayton.  If you're me that is.  Reason 6,748 that I married G. Yes, this reason isn't even in the top 1,000, but I still enjoy it. My aunt and uncle live at my grandparents house now that they have both passed on. They completely remodeled- something that was long overdue.  It looks wonderful and homey and they retained all of the touches that remind any family member who has a memory of before just who lived here and how much love lived and still lives in this place.  Uncle Steve is farming and Aunt Karla is quite busy keeping him in line and keeping them afloat. I saw four different relatives just in a short stop out to their place. Neatest five acres in Columbia County.

My uncle also has this old brown Ford that was my grandpas.  I keep trying to get him to sell it to me and this time we pinky swore that when he was done with it, I could buy the old thing.  Shhhhh!  Don't tell my husband.  That thing guzzles gas.
Wheat for miles. This is during a little storm

Out Patit Road

After the storm

He looks more like my grandpa every time I see him.

As I often do when I'm in Dayton, I snagged my old friend Orinda and we went to coffee.  We went to school together, 6-12 grades, though she's been in Dayton since she was born.  Ori is the heart of the class of 1991.  I think people just sort of fly into town, find Orinda to say hello, and then go about their business.  She's neat, too. One of those people who just makes you feel happy from hanging around them. Like she's made of love and it floats around in a little halo around her head.
We were "dragging the gut" and ran into Del and Krystle Avery. Del went to school with us and he and Krystle got married a few weeks after graduation.  They're a neat, fun couple and have two awesome kids.  Carrie- on the left- is Del's "little sister", and she happened to be visiting from Alaska.  Mini-reunion!

I couldn't leave town without snagging some apples. I can't sleep worth a crap when I'm away from G, and in general I've got some pretty bad insomnia, so after 5 hours of sleep, I got up on Sunday morning and zoomed over to my cousin's house.  With another relative (we're not that stealthy, nor am I unwanted, I just wanted to be considerate) I picked all the good apples I could reach from an old golden delicious and scooped the rest from the lawn into the trash.  My cousin doesn't like doing that part so that's the courtesy I extend for stealing his apples! I sent him a text too, that said 'Please don't shoot me! I'm in your yard picking apples! Let me know when you get up."  I think he got a kick out of that.  But seriously, let country people know it's you before you go fruit picking on their property.  Good advice right there.


Amber waves of grain

I was happy to see everyone and happy to come home to my husband and cat.
He makes me want to sing Pharrells "Happy"

There are wildfires about 15 miles from Ellensburg, and the smoke is faint because the wind is blowing it away from us. For now.  But I still had a happy reunion and was back to work this morning.

This week? Maybe I'll get some blueberry jam made. Maybe a little apple butter, though golden delicious aren't the best for it.  I'll take some pictures for y'all. :)