Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Last day

Today was the last day of my yearly work contract--my first year at the elementary school is finished! I'm so pleased with the job and the environment, as you all know. I go back to start the "new" year July 8th. For the next 10 days, I'm on vacation!

Or should I say, "Staycation"? It's too damn hot to go anywhere. Today it got up to 99 degrees with a heat index of 108, thanks to the humidity. Going outside at any point, day or night, is just unbearable at the moment. The humidity hits you like a suffocating wet blanket. Check out these temps:

But looking on the bright side...

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Summer hours

This has been a nice summer so far. Since I go to work two hours later this time of year, I'm able to get up, start the coffee, and take a good walk with Gregg and the dogs. When we get back, I sit on the porch with a large mug of coffee and enjoy the birdfeeders and garden for a half hour or so before I have to hit the shower and get ready for work. It feels luxurious to have all that time in the morning! 

And work barely feels like work right now. It's only 6 hours a day, and the only other people around are the principal and the custodians. There's not much to do. I've already put in work orders for summer classroom repairs, organized and prepared to fill the teachers' supply requests for next year, and cleaned up my desk and the files from this past year. Occasionally I answer the phone or fill a records request from another school. And that's about it! I listen to podcasts or music to help pass the time. I'm going to miss this laid-back pace (and the hours!) when school starts back. And having Fridays off is another great perk to working through the summer. 

Well, not quite all the way through. Wednesday is my last day next week, and then I'm off until July 8th. Hooray! 

Summer break means more time to spend in my garden! 
Here are some pictures I took in it recently.

Here's one for the Marco fans out there. Pretty flowers, pretty bird.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Pickles and jam

What do you do when your garden is producing an overwhelming number of cucumbers? Learn to make pickles!

Spicy brine!

This is a recipe I found for sweet and spicy refrigerator pickles. I hope they turn out okay! Anything is better than wasting food, right? 

After finishing these three big jars of pickles, I started looking at a big bag of fresh cherries I'd bought on sale at the grocery store the other day. Since the pickles went so well, I was inspired to try cherry preserves!

Yesterday I watched an episode of the new season of Bridgerton while I pitted the cherries, then followed a recipe I found in a canning cookbook for jam. It was just cherries, lemon juice, sugar, and powdered pectin.



I got six half pints of jam, and processed them in a boiling water bath so they'll be shelf stable. There was enough left over to fill a small ramiken for tasting. 

I made some toast to try it, and it's delicious!

As silly as it is, I'm ridiculously proud of my preserving efforts this past weekend! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

A special day

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary! Eighteen sounds like such a good, solid number, I think. In some ways it doesn't seem like that long ago that we got married, but when I think about everything that's happened since then, all the highs (and lows) of life that we've experienced, then it feels like almost a lifetime. I've never for one moment regretted our decision to marry. Gregg often says it was the best thing he's ever done, and I feel the same way. How many people get to be just as in love (actually, more so) after this many years? We both consider ourselves incredibly lucky!

Today being Wednesday, we both had to work. My hours were the same as always, 9-3, and Gregg services three law office aquariums on Wednesday evenings. He's on his way there right now, in fact, and should be done around 7 or 7:30. Despite that, it's still a very happy day, and we'll do some more celebrating with a nice meal and champagne when the weekend gets here. 

In lieu of going away somewhere, we decided to spend the money to buy some furniture we've been wanting for a long time instead: two comfortable armchairs for our living room. We've been looking for chair ideas online for months now, and then last weekend we visited every furniture store in Florence. On Monday we finally found two chairs that we love, at a nice local store, and they delivered them yesterday. Just in time for our anniversary!

They're really well made, and very comfortable. Those were our main two requirements. You can't really tell in this photo, but there are lots of subtle colors going on in the fabric. Creams, grays, tans, and even a little bit of pale grayish blue. The fabric feels really good to the touch. Oh, and they swivel! We plan to buy a new, larger tv and mount it on the wall across from them, and with the swivel we'll be able to watch tv, or spin around to talk to anyone sitting elsewhere in the room, or turn to face the fireplace in winter. That was an unexpected feature, but I love it. We're both so pleased with our new chairs!

So, happy anniversary to us! As I said on Facebook this morning, a good marriage makes all the difference in life.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Garden update

The 2024 garden is coming along, but it looks like it's going to be a disappointing year for tomatoes. So far there are only two or three tiny tomatoes out of 12 plants. For some reason they're just not setting much fruit, and several of them have yellowing bottom branches. I thought at first that the yellowing was from too much rain a couple of weeks ago, but now I'm beginning to wonder if some sort of disease has struck. After pulling off the yellowing branches, there's still lots of vigorous green growth, but not many flowers. Who knows? At least the cherry tomatoes (in a different spot in front of the porch) seem to be doing well. We'll see.

One of the (very few) small tomatoes that's finally forming. That one is a "Mortgage Lifter".

You know what's NOT disappointing, though? Cucumbers and beans! We're getting two or three cucumbers per day, and on Monday I picked the first rattlesnake beans (sent to me by Ms. Moon, thank you Mary!) and cooked them with our dinner. They were so tender and delicious! And there will be more to follow soon. As for the cucumbers, I'm eating large salads everyday for lunch (and sometimes dinner, too) and I still can hardly keep up. I guess I should either attempt pickles, or else start giving them away.

First harvest of beans!

Today's cucumber haul.

Poppy by the bean trellis this afternoon.

The cucumber vines. I'm growing them in large pots. 

We'll soon have peppers! They're planted in front of the tomatoes and doing well. At least something is! 

The borage is about to flower! This is my first time growing borage. I sowed the seed directly in the bed in front of the porch.

And finally, the volunteer zinnias have popped up all throughout the bed, around the borage and sprawling cherry tomatoes. We'll have zinnias very soon! The bees and butterflies will be happy.

The only other thing of note is that the melons are sprawling all over the end of the raised bed, and have tons of flowers, but so far, no baby melons. I'm trying to be patient.