End of Summer Haiku

Summer’s grace moves on

Cool nights come, blankets needed—

Fall is on the way.

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The Lucille Ball Syndrome

The Crankee Yankee is borderline diabetic, so we are being careful about what to eat and what not to eat. He is doing all the right things, and we are trying out new recipes featuring the foods that are good for him (and me; I am NOT making two meals!). So I tried a soup/stew recipe from the Diabetes Self-Managment magazine that featured acorn squash and turkey meat balls. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Well, it wasn’t. It was completely tasteless, except for the turkey meatballs which weren’t too bad. I swear I could have eaten a plate of fresh dirt and it would have been tastier. Bad enough that it had no taste, but it took a lot of time to make. I immediately went into the Lucille Ball Syndrome: when something went south and she would open her mouth and cry “WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!” Quite frankly, I think that those of us who try to do something and it goes south should just take a leaf from Lucille’s book and just go “WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”

Even the Crankee Yankee, who, bless his forgiving heart, will eat anything that I make, wasn’t a fan of the bland stew. He says he is going to try making it himself using some other ingredients. Good luck with that; it’s a crap recipe as is. There are just somethings that don’t work, and this was one of them.

Again: “WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”

 

Too Many Cucumbers and Peppers!

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention tomatoes; at least once a week I collect the ripe ones from our garden and make spaghetti sauce. It’s easy to make, and even easier to freeze. As for the cucumbers, I’ve made “refrigerator pickles,” and of course one of our favorites; sliced cukes and tomato salad. Just slice them up, and top with a generous glob of mayo.

But still there are tons of them left over. So I found a good *tzatziki recipe (you know, that delicious white sauce they put on gyros). The good thing is that it uses up a lot of cukes. The bad thing is that, having made the tzatziki, it only keeps in the refrigerator for a week. So just know that you will be eating a lot of it. It’s great as a dip and as a sauce over sliced meat and/or vegetables.

Then there are the peppers. We have a gracious plenty of them, and some are large enough to make baked stuffed peppers. I have to admit that, as a kid I wasn’t a fan of them, but now I do. So there’s one way to use up the peppers.

*Here’s the recipe for tzatziki if you’d like to try it:

Ingredients:

10 oz. cukes (one medium)

1 garlic clove

1 T. chopped fresh dill (do NOT use the dried stuff)

18 oz. Greek yoghurt

1 1/2 T. white wine vinegar

1 T. olive oil

1/2 t. kosher salt

Sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Peel the cuke, cut it in half, then scoop out the seeds. Grate the cuke, then place the shreds in a fine mesh strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (don’t ignore this step, or you’ll have a runny unappetizing sauce). Sprinkle with kosher salt, then let stand for at least 10 minutes to drain any remaining liquid.

Mine one garlic clove and chop one tablespoon of fresh dill. When the cuke is ready, mix in the garlic, dill, Greek yoghurt, 1 1/2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, and stir.

Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours. It keeps up to one week in the refrigerator, so eat up. To serve, drizzle the tzatziki sauce with some olive oil, and you can garnish it with olives and a sprig of dill.

 

 

The Friends Who Make Our Lives Better

My friends are the bedrock and blessing of my life. I have known some of my dearest friends since kindergarten as little girls. And then there are the friends we gather as we grow up and live on our own. They too are part and parcel of our lives.

Friends are those who become part of our families, our lives, our hearts and our total being. Friends share in ways that make our lives richer, fuller, better. It doesn’t matter if we have known each other since childhood; a good friend is a good thing no matter how long or short we have been friends.

Ever notice when you meet someone for the first time that you get that ‘aha!’ feeling? That usually means that you feel a connection; a possibility for a new friend. If you have ever read the “Red Thread Theory,” it all makes sense. The Red Thread Theory is this:

From Wikapedia: “The Red Thread of Fate, also referred to as the Red Thread of Marriage, and other variants, is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend. According to this myth, the gods tie an invisible red cord around the Finger of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation as they are “their true love”.

I also believe that the Red Thread Theory is about friendship as well. There are people who come into our lives and make us better; more loving, more kind. A dear friend is a blessing, a gift, and a joy. How lucky are we to have such friends?

 

 

A Doe and The Great Cat Escape

Yesterday morning I happened to look out of the window onto the beautiful green space across the street from us. Usually I see rabbits, squirrels and birds, but this morning there was a lovely doe walking around! We figure that she came up from around the river, and decided to take a walk on the wild side. We watched her until she turned and went on her way home. Now that was a great way to start the day!

Which brings me to the Great Cat Escape. As the weather gets cooler, especially at night; we put cat shelters in the garage and under our back porch. Generally we make them out of Chewy’s boxes and fill them with warm blankets or towels, topped with the “*cat mats” we like because they keep the cat warm all night.

I had just finished a new one, and was trying to get it out of the basement before any of the cats were around; when they hear the door opening, they like to see the outside and sometimes make a break for it. Bailey, who used to live with Mom and Dad, has a habit of escaping when he has the chance. I was having trouble getting the new cat bed out and Bailey saw his opportunity and ran outside.

Bailey being Bailey didn’t get very far, and hustled right back into the house. I think he likes a walk on the wild side now and then; but he knows what side his bread is buttered on. Even Scooter, our rescue of a few months past (he had been outside on his own for over two years), isn’t too interested in going back outside. He knows he’s got a good deal inside now. And so does Bailey.

So there you have it; we sometimes have our moments of intrigue and adventure. Of course it was only a doe and a sneaky cat, but we’ll take our adventures where they find us.

*Marunda thermal self-heating cat mat. You can find them on Amazon, and they are wonderful, especially for elderly cats or outdoor cats.

The Things I Can’t Do Anymore

Whether we like it or not, age creeps up on us all. All of a sudden we find we have to be more careful going up and down stairs, or bending over too quickly to pick up a pencil, or eating that last slice of pepperoni pizza at midnight. And the list goes on; all the stuff we used to do with no trouble at all are in the past.

Now this doesn’t mean we need to just sit quietly in a rocking chair, putting our dentures in a glass and reading a book with extra-strength reading glasses and a magnifying glass. Let’s just say that there are some things we need to do, and some things we need to stop doing.

For example, going up and down stairs used to be literally a hop, skip and a jump for me. These days I am very careful to put my whole foot down carefully, hang on to the railing, and pay attention. That last bit is crucial; we need to pay attention to how we walk, use the stairs and so on.

Trust me, this certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s just being careful. Here’s my short list of stuff I no longer do (because I will probably hurt myself):

  • no running up and down the stairs; in fact, no running at all—WALK.
  • no eating spicy food right before bed
  • no more jumping right out of bed; go s-l-o-w
  • no standing on my head
  • no more climbing trees
  • no more *hula dancing
  • no more trying to do everything at once
  • no more trying to do everything every day
  • no more worrying about things I can’t change (this is a tough one to break!)

These mornings I don’t get out of bed until I’ve done my back exercises. I don’t rush any longer, either. My saying these days is “big deal, so what, who cares!” There’s no shame about letting go of some of the things we used to do; it’s just a matter of what works for us.

And here’s the thing; just because we have to leave some things behind, there are always new things that we can do. Here’s my short list of new stuff  I do instead of those things I have had to leave behind:

  • More pond walks
  • More cooking and bakine
  • More easy exercises
  • More reading
  • More writing
  • More time with friends
  • More time with the grandgirls
  • More attention to our six kitties
  • More appreciation of everything every day

…and I’m working on more. I’ve learned the hard way that it makes no sense to mourn the past and wish I was young again. What does matter is being “in the Now.” As what was famously said in Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail,” “I’m not dead yet!”

*Ah, how I hated to leave that one! Years ago I had shoulder surgery and shortly afterward I tore my rotator cuffs. At the time, I wasn’t working, so I didn’t have health insurance, so I couldn’t get more surgery. Hula involves the arms and shoulders (and of course, hips and feet), and I found it was just too painful to keep my arms up.

At Last, a Walk Around the Pond

My favorite walk around the pond is about 3,000 steps away from our house (yep, I counted every step; without a fitbit!). I’ve walked it in every season, and each time it surprises me with blue herons, ducks, cormorants, swans, a huge turtle, a muskrat (Muskratty Von Muskrat) and his lady friend, and once or twice, a few breath-taking bald eagles drifting lazily overhead.

Due to some medical issues, I hadn’t walked the pond in quite a while. So I went to visit it yesterday, and it was as lovely as always. The sun was bright, there were some fluffy clouds here and there in the beautiful blue sky, and there was a nice cool breeze blowing. As I got to the pond, a blue heron came soaring across the pond and, with a loud grawwwwk! it landed in the bullrushes just a few feet away from me. What a gift!

The jewel weed flowers were out in all their orange-y beauty. Before the flowers emerge, they have a one inch bud; if you gently squeeze the bud, the seed will pop out like a jack-in-the-box. Also, all the silvery milkweed floss was out in the wind; each little “flyer” carries a tiny brown seed. Wherever the seed lands, it will eventually become a full-grown milkweed stalk.

The reeds are slowly changing their green color to a silvery green, and there are still some pink rambler roses to be found along the path. Black-eyed Susans dot the path, and there are lovely purple lupins and bright yellow Indian paintbrushes everywhere. I looked for the little turtles who, during the warm weather, like to bask in the sunshine near the reeds; but they were not to be found.

The same with the frogs. It maybe that they and the turtles have already tucked themselves down deep in the muddy bottom of the pond where they will sleep until Spring awakens them.

Always when I walk around the pond, I feel my grandmother (whom we all called “Ba”) near me. It was she who taught me all about the shy creatures that peopled the meadow behind her house, and all about the birds she loved so well. She told me how to care for the birds in winter; that’s when they need all the fat and protein they can get. She would have my grandfather cut up a few small logs; he would carve out scoops in the wood so that my grandmother could fill them up with peanut butter and seeds. She also made suet balls and hung them in the tree branches. And each winter, the birds fed well from my grandmother’s hand and heart.

As I walked along the pond, it was as though she was with me, reminding me to watch for the birds, the hawks, the blue herons, the geese, the ducks and the bald eagles. The pond is a gift and a blessing; anything that bothered me before setting foot on the path just melted away. Walks like this is Nature’s way of telling us to slow down, to appreciate, to enjoy and to be part of the miracle. And boy—there are lots of miracles to see!