Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Update

There are some things about me that may seem disparate. For instance, I am an English professor, and I love teaching and writing and writing about teaching. I also really enjoy watching Seahawks football. Yeah, I know. Great game last night against Denver. I'm not sure I love the new overtime rule and I think that the Broncos have a legitimate gripe; if they had won't that coin toss, wouldn't I be grumpy about it? Yes.

Anyway, this morning I put the final touches on my junior-level global literature class, since school starts back up on Wednesday. I thought back to the weekend that was and had to laugh at little at myself and the crazy identities that make up who I am.

My sister Patti came to visit. I enjoy her company. I like that; it's easy. We have a great relationship and as my husband tells me, we 'get' each other in a way that nobody else does. He hardly got a word in edgewise as we talked family and life and kids and jobs and so on.  And, of course, we went to the Fair in Yakima, to watch the stock car and sprint car races.
Patti and I got ready separately, both choosing red shirts with jeans and a ponytail. And we had bought the same jacket. And socks. From the same stores, even though we're 3.5 hours away from each other.  It makes me smile to think of it. We like many of the same activities too- gardening and canning and so on.  It's pretty touching that she has saved seeds from the squash she grows every year.  In the 1990s, our grandpa sent her some squash seeds and said to grow them. She and her husband grow and eat that squash, the same stuff Grandpa raise and which we grew up on, every year even though he died in 2010.  She loved the apple butter I made last week and I sent her home with some.

She also talked about her job and career and I realized that I have no idea what she actually *does* at work. I know the name of her company and her title and some of the projects she's worked on. But the technical thingies and doo-dads? Nope. No clue. That realm is outside of mine. I'm willing to bet that she has a whole slew of life experiences that I cannot fathom. She's ex-Army, knows how to make eye glasses, and can successfully steer and navigate large and small boats.
Likes Apple Butter

Looks like her sister 

G went with us to the races. Patti's husband is the pit crew boss for a sprint car team. I've written about that before.  This time, his driver was driving someone else's car and the engine blew halfway through the second heat. So my brother in law joined us in the grandstands with my nephew. It was a good time, even though I wore my contacts and had to rip them out of my eyes and be blind all the way home because of all the dust. We had a running joke about which of us would go home with beer spilled on us. It was me.  A lady behind me spilled her beer down my back during an exciting portion of the race. It's ok though; she was really nice and very apologetic and it turns out that she's a high school reading teacher.

G went along, not just because he had to, but because he enjoys my sister, brother in law and nephew. It's nice that he participates in my family whenever the opportunity presents itself.  And yesterday, he hooked up an antenna to our television so we could watch the game yesterday.  For someone who doesn't *like* football, he knows a lot about the game. And about getting reception on a tv with no cable. And lots of other stuff too. Currently, he's reviewing my syllabus and proofreading for errors. He is also allowing me to bounce ideas off of him for the class since he's read almost all of the readings we're about to undertake. There's still a lot I don't know about him and I kind of like that.

I think of the life we live together as a part of me that is still emerging. It's not always graceful, and sometimes I'm pretty ham-handed in my choices or too restrained in my self-advocacy, but we will keep working those things out. Every day we choose to do nice things for each other and to appreciate our relationship. And you know, thats a pretty easy thing to do.

This is a nice man.
I sometimes think that I live in two worlds; one in academe where I feel comfortable talking about rhetoric and discourse and the frightening trends in higher education among my colleagues. Where I get to teach amazing students who may or may not have realized how important good writing and good reading are or who are discovering a love of literature. A world where I get to present my work at conferences and meet interesting and really smart people and become more inspired.

The other world is just as welcoming. Part of it is just spending time with my family. Enjoying a Sunday afternoon on the couch, watching the Seahawks in a close game, eating snacks and yelling at the tv.  Making pancakes and talking about how Patti and I are turning into our grandma and her twin sister, Verline and Earline.

I think both of these identities are my authentic self, even though they don't seem to go well together. I assure you though, that my experiences as a person out in the world feed directly into my classroom teaching and interpretation of literature. After all, my nephew gets excited about reading and art museums and still races dirt bikes and has been driving since I can remember- and he just turned 14. He also exists in a rural school but isn't opposed to having his auntie hug him in public or to say "I love you too!" My grandma was a school lunch cook and a life-long avid reader. She loved romance novels but during a trip to my house, she also borrowed some of the books from my literature classes and enjoyed those too.

I read once that we each have three self concepts: the one we desperately hope is true, the one we fear we are, and the one we actually are. I hope that my "hoped for" self more closely resembles my actual self. Lots of things influence our identities, like education, life experiences, mentors and sometimes just the luck of being in the right place at the right time. It's a luxury of growing up and growing older, that we can choose to reject and accept what defines us.  I don't think that's disparate at all. I don't live in two worlds, I live in lots of them, and so do the people around me. It's these layers that are important. To be multi-faceted and to grow intentionally in ways we had previously thought unattainable. It's good for the soul but it also makes us better people, keeps our brains and thinking more flexible and staves off death by ego.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Geeking Out

I know I am a total dork and that this will rat me out, but I have a confession to make. 

I love course planning. 
Love it. 
Getting all professorly in anticipation

I ordered books a few months ago. 
Now I'm planning daily activities for four classes. 

The philosophy department is right next to English
I've got a regular Eng 101 class. Easy as pie. I love teaching one section of writing. It's online.

There are two Intro to Lit classes. We're reading some fun stuff, like Oleanna, A Raisin in the Sun, and some short stories. We're also reading some challenging materials like Waiting for the Barbarians and Innocent Erendira. Also lots of fun. These are my face to face classes.

And then there's my most challenging class: a Global Perspectives in Literature course. It's junior level and every single reading is tough. I'm throwing students in the deep end and hoping they swim. 

That one is online. It's going to be the class I have to pay the most attention to. 

I love, love, love this. And I can't wait until the start of the quarter next week. 

In Washington, most of the colleges are on a quarter system and start late in September. In the 1880s when the state began, schools did not commence until after the harvest had finished. We're still doing it. 


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...