My cheatin’ heart

I’ve been looking at other houses lately.

The progeny’s father has been in real estate in one form or another since I met him.  He was my landlord at one point actually.  So I’ve had a finger in the real estate pie for a couple of decades.  I also have more than one friend who looks at property porn and shares the especially yummy bits.

I’ve always looked.  It doesn’t hurt to look.

But I noticed the last couple of times that I’m not just looking and seeing a pretty piece of property.  I’m starting to actually think about how I would inhabit the space.  What colors would I paint the walls?  Would I get rid of a table in the kitchen and construct floor to ceiling shelving as a pantry?  Oh, that sea of asphalt around the house is horrible.  It would be so much better if it was gravel or clam shells.

As long as the bones are good I can make the space work in a fun and funky way that feels like home.

Am I really thinking about selling and relocating?

One house is out of commuting range and just a wee bit over my budget but still within reach if there was a good paying job in the area.  Those are about as rare as hen’s teeth in my field so a move is most likely not in our future.  Plus the co-parenting issue.  Yeah, so not happening.

The other property is listed at less than my current house would sell for at the low range and I have a decent amount of equity in the house.  You can’t tap equity these days at my end of the spectrum so it really doesn’t do me any good unless I sell.  So if I sold my current house I could not only buy the other one with a 15 year note and a hefty deposit, I could also pay off a good chunk of debt and my monthly expenses would drop significantly because the taxes would be cut in half on a lower priced house.

And it’s damn cute.  Or at least it could be.

These thoughts are scaring me.

I love my house.  I don’t want to leave it but I’d also like to have things like baseboards, trim around the windows and a stove that isn’t literally falling apart.  The French doors in my bedroom lead out to a roof.  Some of the plugs spark when you plug into them and there’s a recessed light that just doesn’t work for more than a month or so once the bulb is changed.

There’s quite a few unfinished projects and lots of deferred maintenance.

The consequences of being busy and broke, in many ways, for more years than I care to remember.

There are roommates as of Friday.  I’ve put off getting some for an entire year.  That was an accomplishment I wanted under my belt and a raised finger to the doubters.

Yes, I am that stubborn.  It’s served me well during my life.

I don’t need the roommates to pay the monthly expenses.  I actually have those covered.  They’re here to pay off debt and finally finish the house after living here for thirteen years.

I should probably finish moving out of the basement next door while I’m at it.

It’s odd having full control of how the money comes in and out and what to do with it.

I kinda like it.  Control of my own destiny and all.

As much as such things can be controlled that is.

Maybe it’s not that I want to actually move.  Just the thought of having to pack the books gives me the vapors let alone everything else.

Maybe I just need to finish my damn house.

Oh, and keep the coffee shop that’s literally two feet away from getting a liquor license.  Yeah, that needs to happen too.  I’ve got a couple of more weeks to rally the troops and hopefully it makes a difference.

If I can slay that dragon I’d love to stay.  Best to have an escape plan if needed though.

Life is certainly interesting.

In all its permutations.


Cloud walking

Life is rather busy right now.

Not in a bad way.  Just in a “OMFG how is it almost the end of August already?” kinda way.

The days are long but the years are short.

Working steadily on Tome 2.0.  The word count is racking up and the chapter is ready to be edited, amended and then eventually weeded for extraneous words and thoughts.  Someday I’ll even send it out to my writing group and get to lunch with my ladies.  Every day I work on it is a day closer to that.  Even baby steps eventually add up.

The house is looking a wee bit better by the end of every weekend.  Well, it was until the eldest returned home, till at least the new year, and her room exploded its contents across the rest of the house.  She never really got a chance to scale down and store things after she graduated because first she went to the tropics and then she went to the capital.  All those boxes just got thrown into her room because she wasn’t here anyway and at least they were out of my way.

She made good progress over the weekend on moving things where they needed to go.  Even better, she’s willing to do some of the deep cleaning projects that would probably wreck me, at least temporarily.  And plus, I just don’t want to freakin’ do them.  She already laid down on the kitchen floor and scrubbed the baseboards and lower cabinets.  I’ll hit the upper ones when I do the annual reshuffling of the cabinets and then the kitchen is clean and pretty again and ready for a fresh coat of wax on the floor.

Marmoleum is a wonderful thing.

It’s such a pretty blue when clean and shiny.

I’m making a serious attempt to take advantage of having the eldest back for a few months and spending some time playing as well as working with her and her sister.  We went to the park on Monday for the eclipse.  The ranger station had set up a low-key program and had all sorts of eclipse viewers to play with and people brought their own.  It was a good, communal way to share the event.  So glad we decided not to go to one of the two observatories I was considering.  They got thousands of people.  There were maybe 25 of us in the park, including the rangers, and we were pretty spread out.  Just bumping into each other’s orbits occasionally to pass around the viewers or comment on what was happening.

Just perfect for three introverts out on the town.

Then I got to spend the rest of the day all alone in the house until I left for work Tuesday morning.  Finished up a book I plowed through over the weekend and sorted out writing related paperwork for a couple of hours before dozing off on the couch with one of my favorite monster movies.  I didn’t want to watch anything bright after all that staring at the sun and a literally dark movie was the perfect entertainment.

Didn’t even have to make dinner because we had gone out for lunch courtesy of old gift cards and there were plenty of leftovers.

Everyone needs days like these.  Perfect in whatever way works for them.  This is what worked for me.

I’m making a point of trying to write down the good so I can remember it when things swing the other way.  Not that I’m sitting here waiting for the next disaster.  Just that the memory of the brighter days can help us get through the darker nights.

This rambling is no different from canning tomatoes in late summer.

Pop one open in January and you’ve got sunshine in a jar when the snow is piling up outside.

My brain tends to wander a bit when I’m really working on the writing.  I get wrapped up in the world I’ve created and the mind drifts.

Don’t mind me.

I’ll just be here looking at the clouds for a moment.

Mama’s got a new groove

I loooooove music.

I always have.

A world without it would be much darker.

Live music, especially when a venue hits that critical mass of music pouring forth and wrapping itself around everyone in the audience and bringing them all together as one, makes me shiver just to think about it.

I’ve seen some truly amazing shows and have the hearing loss and constant ringing in my ears to prove it.

I try to remember to bring the ear plugs nowadays but only have about a 50% success rate.

My last very fine show was Gogol Bordello.  I’d already seen them once and jumped at the opportunity to see them locally again.  Traveling for shows isn’t in my budget at the moment.

Tears were seriously considered when I realize that I couldn’t sell one of the kids to get myself across the pond this summer to a European festival they were on the bill for.  I wouldn’t normally want to go that far for a show but they were sharing the bill with five other bands I’d love to see live.

Heavy sigh for shows not seen.

So anyways, Gogol Bordello came and we went.  I’d never heard of the opening band but they absolutely blew us both away.

Just two guys, sitting on a stage, making the most amazing music.

I’ve noticed over the years that people have gotten more rude at shows.  Maybe it’s my age showing but I’ve seen better manners in mosh pits.  The thing that makes me want to start throwing punches is when people go to a show and then talk loudly throughout it.  The people in front of us at this particular show came in late and refused to shut up.  They missed an amazing set of unique music to talk about their jobs and who’s sleeping with whom and omg have you tried that new flavored alcoholic drink.

If you want to talk, go to a bar.  If you want to hear music, go to a show.

The amazingness of Xylouris White was perfectly complimented by the energy and music of Gogol Bordello.  I don’t know that it’s possible for this band to put on a bad show.

Oh how I envied the young things down on the floor and surfing the crowd.  My heart longed to be one of them and all my joints laughed at the thought.

I miss the pit.

It was our last show together.  At least it was a good one.

A passing sigh for the path not taken but I will say, this one I’m on now is looking pretty good.

Found in Pintrest hell..

I’ve just got a couple of more slippery rocks to get across and I’m safely on the other shore. Yes, there’s always trip hazards but with the more I make and, equally importantly, the less I owe, the more grit I have to throw down on the slippery parts.

I decided to treat myself recently.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to do that.  I ordered a book I’ve been waiting for since before it came out.  I wanted to get some music as well and there’s so many things waiting for me in my shopping cart, specifically 338 things.

I wanted something new and different so I got this.

I love it just as much at home.

I can’t wait till they come close again.

Keep your fingers crossed.

I’ve recently gotten some very good news on the financial front.

I can’t really go into great detail but it includes a way for me to actually be able to pay my monthly expenses on a regular basis.

I gambled and seem to have won.

The feelings I’m cycling through go from wanting to jump for joy to nearly passing out with relief because I may have actually beat the odds on this particular toss of the dice.

I’ve held off applying for other jobs and selling the house and other Major Decisions that really would have fucked with my life on a daily basis. I like my job and my house and my life.  Yes, there are ongoing improvements to all of the aforementioned but generally I’m pretty damn satisfied with the status quo if the financial end is taken out of the equation.

The family members who I’m willing to take financial advice from have told me to dump my house, repeatedly.  But then where do we live? Rents around here, even in the low rent districts I escaped from, are in the same range as my mortgage for a whole lot less space.  Why trade equity for ephemeral rent?  Yeah it would be nice not to have to worry about snow removal but that’s not worth losing being able to paint the walls any damn color I fancy and drive holes in them as well for hanging 101 things.

I was recently berating myself for not applying for a particular job on the way to work one morning.  It’s a beautiful site and I’m more than capable of doing the job and the staff are wonderful human beings.  It would be a pleasure to work there.  But it’s 33%  further away than my currently already somewhat long commute.  I’d be doing only one part out of the many aspects to my current job and while trying to juggle that many balls is disconcerting at times, I also thrive on the chaos and variety.

By the time I reached work I came to the conclusion that while that job would have been a very different and interesting path to take, a. I never even applied to the job, let alone was interviewed for it, let alone was offered it and b. if I take a job like that I’d be saying goodbye to finishing The Tome.

Ah, The Tome.  After chucking the first 97,391 words and then walking away for a while because the rest of my life was in chaos I’m finally back to it.  Character sketches, outlines and all.  Those are evolving documents but they’re pretty fleshed out already which is a shock for a pantser like me.  I’ve broken up the outline by each of the five main characters and I’m doing a blank page rewrite individual by individual.  I figure it’ll be easier to keep the voices in my head straight that way.  My writing group suggested that I write it like each chapter is its own short story.  I’m not quite doing that but there are strong elements of a stand alone piece to each section.

I’m more than 10,000 words into the first chapter of the first character.  Probably about 3/4 of the way through that chapter’s arc.  That’s damn fine progress considering everything else that’s been going on.

The last year has been about deciding what I’m willing to suffer for.

What is important to me as an individual, a curator, a writer and a mother.  I guess The Tome is one of those.  Yes, the financial security of a better job would be wonderful but I think letting go of this particular dream isn’t worth the cost.

Not at this time at least.

Two grants have come in at work and that means extra hours and if a third grant comes in, which seems reasonably hopeful, this boon will be for two years.  Other ideas in the works will go towards debt reduction.  My financial picture can be radically different in three years if the stars align properly and I avoid lifestyle creep.

And believe it or not, it’s not just about the money.

I’ve had my current job for twenty years this fall.  We have made so much progress over the years and now I’m really on a roll and pulling the collection together.  Progress is slow because of financial constraints but there’s been enough time to see change, however incremental.

I don’t want to have to walk away before I’m ready.

I want to finish my book.

I want to live the life that I choose, not one I’m forced into by circumstances beyond my control.

Deep breath in and out.

Prepare for the worst.

Hope for the best.

Keep writing.

Down in the District

Spent a recent birthday weekend in the nation’s capital due to the generosity of Dad #3 and his lovely wife.

It was an especially wonderful gift as I got to see the eldest for the first time in months.  She’s interning at a museum in one of their conservation departments.  I was worried that she’d spend the summer doing tasks she already knows how to do but while she may be doing some of that, she’s also learning new and interesting skills.

Maybe she’ll be willing to spend a bit of time to teach this old dog some new tricks.  It’s nice to have grown up my own little professional resource.  She’s not in the exact same field as mine but there are enough areas of overlap that we can understand what each other are saying.

It was good to see her.  She’s obviously doing well and enjoying her time in the capital.  She’s taking advantage of the opportunities she’s worked so very hard for and seeing what she can while in a new city.

It was good to have the eldest as a tour guide, she was able to steer us to what we wanted to and should see in a relatively painless fashion.  It was also interesting to go to a museum with such a wide variety of people, ages and experience.  Being a curator I can’t help looking around and seeing what works, what doesn’t and what I can draw on for inspiration for my own site.

Sometimes it’s the subtle things that detract from a visitor’s experience, like the cars that desperately needed waxing.  So many fingerprints even though there were stanchions.  I’ve seen better finishes on privately held cars at amateur car shows.  Get in some car enthusiasts as volunteers and those beauties will shine!  Then again, I understand the kind of wrangling and managing volunteer programs require.

I noticed that people gravitated towards the objects they could touch and interact with.  The car from the Chicago ‘L’ c.1950 that vibrates and you can actually enter and sit down on the seats was very cool.  People spent more time sitting in the train car then they did reading the well crafted labels that are everywhere.  I can’t really say much about that though because unless I’m looking for specific information I tend not to read labels either.

I took 309 photos in less than three days.  It’s good to be able to review after I’m no longer hot and tired and see what’s worth picking and choosing for my own site and side-work.

This item struck my eye at the time while I standing in the museum, buffeted by fellow visitors, for its banality.  It’s something that was produced by the millions and while I didn’t have these exact product packages in my medicine cabinet and daily satchel, I did have a descendant.  Think of it as going to a family reunion and seeing your Uncle Charlie’s brilliant blue eyes in a grandchild of his.  It’s the same flash of recognition even if the exterior is slightly different.

When I look at the photograph now on my computer at home what I see is everyone that was necessary to get something as simple as an adhesive bandage box to that place on the shelf where I saw it along with literally millions of other visitors from all over the world.

So, how many people did it take to get this item on the shelf?

My eldest cleaned it.  Someone else designed the case it’s in, another built it.  Someone else moved it to that place, actually probably several someones from the truck driver to guy who provided gas for the truck.  How far out do you want to take it?

But at minimum there are designers and curators, lighting people and electricians, carpenters and handlers.  Conservators and administrative staff.  Those who raise and give money.  And don’t forget, the person who actually donated the object.

Such a tangled web we weave just to get this one item on the shelf.

In my own professional universe I perform the duties that in a larger institution would be assigned to several staff positions.  I’m a curator, collection manager, registrar, art handler, basic conservator, photographer, photograph archivist, basic IT support, educator, interpreter, grant writer, project manager and other duties as needed.

I never realized how small and light bats were until I had to remove a dead one from a piano on display in the historic house.  Just where is that in the job description?

Small sites like mine run lean (on money) and light (on staff) so I’ll take preformed ideas that have been developed by institutions with more staff and time to innovate and run with them anytime.  And I’m thrilled when someone does their own twist with an idea that I helped bring to life.

Ah, the hamsters are churning on their little wheels tonight.

Not that we ever have a shortage of ideas in the museum field, no matter what your position or responsibilities.

Always plenty of ideas but never enough time or money to implement them all.

We visited three memorials before leaving.  I understood now why the eldest made comments about hating the tourists.  So many people, so little understanding of why these sites existed.

The Lincoln Memorial and those for the Vietnam and Korean Wars are not places for selfies or a quick run through just so you can check it off of a list.  They are places to remember the cost of the freedoms that we enjoy and the national events that tie us all together no matter when our families arrived on these shores.

So many names.

As it says on the Korean War memorial, “Freedom isn’t Free.”

It’s our job as citizens to make sure that the sons and daughters of this country are paying that ultimate high price for the right reasons.

How can we know if we don’t understand where we come from or how we got here as a nation?

This is why the work I do matters.

It’s good to get a reminder occasionally.

In the time to boil water

The progeny are away with their father on vacation so even less cooking than usual is going on these days.  The fact that we are now well into a typically thick and hot summer in New England doesn’t help.

The cereal supply has been restocked so that’s always an option but even that’s not too terribly appealing these days.

Who wants to eat when the temperature, relative humidity and dew point are all the same?

Digging through the freezer the other night, hoping for inspiration, I found some frozen pasta I’d picked up cheap at a local market.  They often get close-outs and upcoming expiration dates from other stores and items are priced to move.  So I bought a couple of these packs of pasta and threw them into the freezer where they patiently waited.

If I’m going to bother to cook it’s not going to be something as simple as cook pasta, drench in sauce or butter, eat.

Nah, that would be too easy.

I caramelized some onions in a generous dollop of butter and then added in some prosciutto, also retrieved from the freezer, and cooked both until the onions were nice and brown and the prosciutto a bit on the crunchy side.  This would work well with bacon as well.  Just make sure you cook it first in a separate pan to keep things from getting greasy.

Threw a splash of cream with a bit of grated Romano cheese into the saute pan and then into the cooked pasta and dinner was served.  It’s not a full Alfredo sauce, those are for the depths of winter.  This was just the hint of one.

Dish up with a side salad or veg and some good crusty bread if there’s any on hand.  What could be faster or better?

Perfect for a hot summer night hiding in the air conditioning thinking of cold winter nights to come.



Short timer

My youngest has always loved all things small and fluffy, children included.

She barely remembers my last cat, Zoobie.  My only memory of the two of them is the youngest standing over the cat’s corpse where she’d gone to sleep on top of the heating vent and didn’t wake up and the youngest screaming in my ear as I’m kneeling next to my dearly departed friend, “Is she DEAD YET?!”  She was little so she can be forgiven.  She hated the cat as much as the cat hated her and only one of them was getting out alive.


When he and his came they also brought a cat, a sweetie who only wanted to love.  She was a good cat for the youngest but she wasn’t her cat, born and raised, and the cat left with those the youngest looked on as her second father and only brother.  They didn’t bother/have the opportunity to call and let us all say goodbye when it was finally time.


And then the bunny got sick.


We were just coming up on the anniversary of two years of life with bun.

I’d never had a rabbit but the youngest wanted one for a couple of years, read up on them and was ready to take on the responsibility of an animal.  We got one from a shelter.  She was probably just under a year old when we got her and hadn’t been properly trained or socialized and with us being novice bun wranglers, it was slow going on making up for lost time.  But there was progress and she wasn’t especially difficult we were all just hoping for and working towards better behavior and socialization.

She was a much more interesting pet than I’d ever imagined she’d be.  I’d had a guinea pig for a short time as a kid and been expecting something like that.  Those memories weren’t especially fond ones either.

So we ended up with this nine pound rabbit living in the main public space of the house in a huge two level condo right next to the tv.

Life with bun was much, much different.

She had a personality.  She could recognize behavior patterns and act appropriately.  She knew when she’d been naughty and caught doing it and wanted the absolution and reassurance of a pet and a sorta snuggle after apologies were made.

For some reason she also inspired multiple nick names and even little jingles.  The eldest would wiggle Clementine’s ample bundonk and sing “super bun bun, super bun bun” to a funky beat.

She came with the name Clementine from the shelter but we hardly ever called her that.  I don’t think she even recognized it.

We called her Super Bun, Clem, Clemmy, little baby angel (that was also the eldest’s contribution) and then there were the times she was bad (like when she chewed through the electrical cord of the bestest heating pad in the world in literally a second) and she got called things that children shouldn’t hear.

I call this one fluff meets fluff.

She ruined the aforementioned heating pad, at least one iPhone cord and some cord for one of the game systems.  There was always hay to be found in the oddest of places all across the house and then there was the POOP.

Rabbits are eating and pooping machines.  It is literally what they live for.  Be prepared for this before getting one.

But we all loved her and I think in her own bunny way she loved us.  She certainly knew she was safe with us.  There’s nothing in the world like the trust of a prey animal feeling safe enough to fall asleep in your presence.

The first time Super Bun got sick and stopped eating was during the middle of a blizzard followed up with 2″ of rain that immediately froze.  They closed all the state roads and the city had a travel ban.  I couldn’t get out of my driveway because I just couldn’t shovel all that in one day and the damn bunny was inside the house dying while I’m making the attempt.  Managed to scrounge up safe passage to and from the vet er and 2 hours and $350 later I’m syringe feeding a thoroughly pissed off bunrito four times a day and antibiotics twice.

Fun times for all involved.

She recovered.  I’ve never been so happy to hear the almost incessant chewing of hay.  It becomes background noise that’s missed when it’s gone.

After he and his left I starting coming home to an empty house three nights a week.

It was nice to have the bunny to come home to.  She reacted to my presence because me coming home from work meant dinner and freedom to roam outside the condo.

It was nice to be welcomed.

Then she got sick again.

Back to the vet er because this time it’s a Sunday on Memorial Day weekend and they’re the only ones with dedicated exotic vets anyway.  So another $280 and back to antibiotics and syringe feeding.

I loathe the smell of Critical Care as much as she seemed to hate the taste.  She never did like bananas and I never managed to get the other flavor.  It was on the list, just hadn’t had that critical balance of available funds and having enough left over to get to the wants  after the needs had been fully taken care of.

Right now I’m seriously struggling with the latter let alone the former.

She didn’t get better so back she went to the vet and after many phone calls and tears the decision was made to end her life.

Economic euthanasia is a horrible thing.

Yes I recognize that it’s only a pet.  My grandmother would have been horrified if she’d lived to see one of her grandchildren with dinner in a cage in the house like a member of the family.  I know the horrible things that are happening in the world because of lack of imaginary bits of wealth that you can purchase peace and prosperity with.

Pain comes in many flavors and it’s tough to watch your youngest drink it down but there’s no way out but through.

She made me proud and I told her so.  She stayed through the end and after.

If your life has to end what could be better than to be pain-free and surrounded by those you love and who love you as you drift off to sleep?

A couple of weeks afterwards we donated all the perishable bunny keeping supplies to the shelter we’d originally gotten her from.  There was about 40 pounds of litter, 10 pounds of two different kinds of hay (I’d bought her favorite oat hay during her final illness to tempt her into eating.  I knew we were in trouble when she only ate a piece or two and ignored the rest).  There were also brand new toys and other appropriate things to chew, I even gave them the pumpkin stem I’d saved and dried.  She loved those things.   It felt good to be able to give them this gift but the rosy glow didn’t last long.

Of course we had to walk around the shelter and see who was there.  Get in some pets and conversations if nothing else.

Her name was Pixie and she was this tiny little rabbit with the cutest little ears and she was only six months old and wanted to go home with someone to love her ever so badly.

The youngest was good.  She didn’t even ask.

I’ve gotta finish paying for the first bun before we get another one. We also have to be able to budget for its food and care.

Damned if I can see when that might ever be possible again.

Yeah, just freakin’ great for the ego and tottering self-confidence.

It’s so quiet when I come home now.

I really do miss the sound of her chewing on orchard grass day and night.

Long live the Independents

The youngest and I spent the afternoon and a good part of the evening shopping about a week ago.

We don’t do that often.  We needed supplies.

It was two weeks until Connecticon.  There was work to be done.

If I don’t get to run around like a goober dressed as a Browncoat toting weapons I’ll live.  I’ll just wear an appropriately nerdy tee-shirt.  Lord knows I have an ample supply to choose from.

The youngest will probably cry if her costume isn’t ready.  She’s 12, it’s understandable.

If she was 16, constructing the costume would be her problem, but she’s 12 so it’s mine.  Not that she’s not willing to help. She just doesn’t have the skill set to bring her character to life.

Lilligant from Pokemon

I guess that’s what moms are for.

My interpretation of Lilligant’s headpiece. Craft foam, wire and a whole crap ton of hot glue.

We’ve been talking about what she wanted to dress as since last year.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it until I started.  I can research and think all I want but I figure out how to do things by figuring out how they don’t work and then I finally get to a viable idea.

Thankfully there are lots of images, ideas and tutorials on the interwebs.  Can’t imagine how I would have done all of this without some guidance.

I’ve spent practically every free moment for the last two weeks working on one part of our costumes or another.  Lilligant is done except for some quick tacking down with a needle and thread.  Mine is done enough except for a coat of clear on my gun and a tee-shirt that needs a logo stenciled on it.  And I need to change the buttons on my coat.

No biggie.

Spent a whole $6 for the pair.

Just kinda in a crafting zone.  Listening to a lot of music and watching movies that I haven’t seen in years.  Scrounging from the fridge and freezer and puttering around from one task to another.

At a good point for this close to con.  Haven’t really had the time to have fun with it before.  I like this.  It’s fun.  Fun is good.

After the miracles of paint.

It’s the Fourth of July so I actually took the day off from work like a good American.  I don’t get paid if I don’t work but I have a month to make it up somewhere.

Worked on cosplay crafting and even started rereading an old favorite when on break.  Then I closed up the house and dug around for the traveling chair and walked around the block and into the field and sat down with the city to watch some fireworks.

In a field full of people and families I found a bit of empty space and planted my chair and sat back and watched the show.  They were pretty good.

Once they were done I folded up my chair and headed back.  Helped a lady over the guardrail when her companion abandoned her and hustled away once he was over the fence.  She said thank you and I was happy to help.  Just glad that I still can.  That was enough human contact for the day.

Home in five minutes, surrounded by so many more people than are usually walking these streets.  Ducked into the house and headed for a quick shower.  Washed off another haircut and a day of sewing, ironing and painting.

Love taking a shower at the end of a summer day.

Sat down at my desk for a few and pulled back the curtain to watch the people going by and lo and behold fireworks start shooting off down the main street about a block away.  They were amazing.  And they even finished up with a bit of a finale which included strings of Ladyfingers on a chain link fence like I haven’t heard since my Fair Haven days as a disaffected youth.

It was a great show and made this an even better day than it already was.

Thank you unknown neighbors.

Now I’m just typing for a few and then I’m going to go do what I always try to do on this day.  Watch the very fine young Mr. Smith save the planet with lots of gratuitous explosions and destruction.

What better way to celebrate the day?

The only thing that would have made it better would have been a steak with some sautéed baby bella mushrooms and caramelized shallots.  A Nor’easter for cocktail hour and then a nice dark beer with dinner followed up with a cigar and a few fingers of whisky around a fire in the back.

Too bad the mulberries are falling making the backyard a hellhole of bugs both small and large, bitey and not.

And the steak, beer and cigar aren’t in the budget.

I’ve got the whiskey at least.

And lots of fireworks.

And the peace and quiet to enjoy them all.

Happy independence day indeed.



Saving grace

I get paid once a month.

It probably would be a challenge for most people to budget out an entire month on one check that comes in somewhat randomly.

It’s even more interesting for someone like me who is dancing on the razors edge between modest comfort and financial ruin.

My definition of modest comfort being in the black and still having enough left for gas and maybe a bit of monthly fun.  Right now is a much different story but I also recognize that compared to the rest of the world, let alone the rest of human existence, I live a life of luxury and leisure.

Sometimes it really sucks to have the long view.  Smacks your problems right down to size.  Still a bit of a reach for me to completely stomp them into oblivion though.

I eat alone three days a week. I tend not to eat much those three days. It’s just too much bother unless there’s something quick and easy.

I try to cook enough on the weekend so that there are leftovers but that doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes they disappear over the weekend.

Towards the end of the month, pickings get slim. I buy most things in bulk so the budget goes quick.  Don’t get me wrong, there is always food in this house. I just don’t want to have to cook any of it.

Cooking during the week takes too much time after I’ve worked a long day unless I’m really in the mood and I’m usually not.

Cereal is good.  Quick, easy and not completely horrific for me depending on what I fill the bowl with.

Only problem is that the youngest is about to hit a growth spurt and is eating everything that’s not nailed down.  People always tell me that boys are the worst about cleaning out a kitchen and larder.  They haven’t met my little piranhas.

The little wench ate all the cereal.

Stood in front of the fridge the other night stumbling for something that wasn’t going to take too long.

Stocking the freezer to the rescue.

If you don’t already know the joys of what can be done with a whole roasted chicken then I would recommend you learn as a general life skill.  As one of my favorite authors said, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

One of the best parts of the roasted chicken is the stock made with it and stock freezes wonderfully.

I try to always have on hand two sizes of frozen stock.  The larger one is for making a soup or risotto.  The smaller for making a quick couple of bowls of yum.

Last nights variation on a theme was frozen tortellini in broth and a cheese and cracker plate that used up the last of a couple of sleeves.  Cheddar and wheat crackers and I dolloped some fig spread on the black pepper water crackers.

An apple would have gone great with this but she ate all of those too.

Dinner was ready in less than 15 minutes.  Perfect.

When I end up with extra I drain out the tortellini as soon as I fill my bowl.  The quicker they cool down the quicker they’ll stop cooking and the more likely they are to stay al dente.  They also dry out a bit which is good because it helps them hold up when you put the leftovers away.

I don’t like mushy pasta.

Good thing the youngest isn’t here otherwise she’d probably have eaten the leftovers by now, potentially mushy pasta or not.

It’s going to be interesting to see how tall she ends up.

Her sister is shorter than me by a couple of inches and hasn’t grown in ten years.

I’m wondering if she might end up taller than me.  That’ll be a new experience.

They are my angels, even when they descend like locust.

A walk through the herb garden

At work we have a lovely little herb garden that is carefully tended by a dedicated group of volunteers.

We are able to do so many things because of the time and efforts that our unpaid helpers contribute on a regular basis.  They help us move forward and even though there are plenty of volunteer related horror stories out there, for the most part people are well intentioned and do the best they can for the good of the organization.

I only hope they know how much we appreciate them.

Enjoy the garden.

lamb’s ear
Interesting that everything that’s currently blooming is purple.
walking onion
The smell of the lavender followed me back into the office from brushing up against it.