hot, happy

The weather has been heavy and hot, the sky presses down on us, and it’s important to find ways to enjoy or escape it. How I stay happy in the heat:

– homemade limeade, skimpy tank top, and dancing around to Harry Belafonte songs.

– fresh crisp sheets at the end of a long hot day.

– an evening at the movies, giggling as Ponyu runs across the waves.

– our dim little apartment, which stays somewhat cool even on a sweltering day.

– the little black sundress I bought at a salvage sale last year, and which I wear at least once a week in hot weather. That was six bucks well spent.

– noticing that this batch of homemade focaccia tastes, feels, and smells so amazingly much better than even the nicest store-bought bread. Well worth turning on the oven.

– tapenade.

– surprising The Fella, home from a late night at work, with a cold midnight supper.

– drawing a cool half-bath, gingerly climbing in, and then turning the faucet all the way over to COLD.

– Watching snowy-cold movies: Fargo, Cold Fever, The Shining.

weather (or not)

After six weeks or more of nearly constant rain, even rainloving me finds it a bit wearying. The past few days, I’ve been kvetching about it.

But here’s where the complaining stops, for the moment at least.

Tonight, I’ll put on my comfiest, raggediest sweater and curl up with a book and a bowl of cream of tomato soup. Usually, July’s scorching heat means I can’t enjoy warm comfort foods. Mmm, tommmmmmatoes and cream.

Today, I got to wear boots! Honest-to-goodness boots, waterproof and warm and up to my knee! My back loves it when I wear boots, and normally by July, I’m resigned to less comfortable sandals.

Thunderstorms! We love thunderstorms.

It’s good weather for cooking, for breadbaking, for making six pounds of wedding cookies, for standing by the kitchen sink gazing dreamily out the window while washing up.

I resolved to stop romanticizing my sun-starved self as a puny tomato seedling struggling to grow without sun, and start thinking of myself as a hydroponic tomato sustained and nurtured by the life-giving water.

(We’ll see how long this lasts.)


Early September. Ahhhhh. New England starts to shift into fall. Leaves turn crisp and so does the wind. Classrooms fill up again. I put away sandals and tank tops and unpack sweaters. Time for tea and pumpkin bread, not lemonade and bitching about the heat.

This sliver of a season has always resonated more for me than the forced festivity of New Year’s Eve, that desperate exclamation point at the end of the winter holidays.

In fact, it feels like the beginning of a new year. And so I’m making my September Resolutions.

Carry the camera more. Some time ago, Elli sent me her carry-around camera. Though I love it, and though I’ve used it quite a bit, I haven’t developed the habit of carrying it around so I can snap anything that strikes my fancy. I’m still stuck in the 20th century mindset, where every shot costs an inch of film rather than a eensy sliver of memory.

Start uploading to Flickr. I have two photos. More would be better.

Write letters. Paper letters! Really!

This year, actually get the handmade Christmas presents made before December 20th.

Get fit. A bit. A bit fit. I’ve been vigilantly working my physical therapy routine, but I’m still too big for my britches, and that’s no good.

Spend less time online. (Sob. I know you’ll miss me.)

Get back into my breadbaking routine: twice a week every week.

Write more. I’m working on a cookbook, and I feel some other work burbling away in my brainpan, if only I would let it bubble out.

Throw a tea party, with fancy china cups and tiny teacakes and fruit and wafer-thin sandwiches. No, have one. It’s wafer-thin.

herbs, onions, tomatoes, and comfort

It’s been raining and dreary here for days, and will be raining and dreary for many more days. I count myself lucky, though; friends just an hour to the south are being rained out of their businesses and homes.

I’m also lucky that my momma taught me to cook whatever is on hand in the pantry, without going out in the driving rain to pick up groceries. That’s exactly what I did last night at her house; we had a comforting but tempting dinner cobbled together from whatever I found on the pantry shelves. Most of the recipes were experiments, and they turned out so well that I wanted to document them here, for future rainy nights*.

soup: cream of tomato with golden sherry
tartines: sun-dried tomato, sautéed mushrooms, black olives, herbed neufchatel, and parmesan on onion herb bread
oven-fries: potatoes and sweet potatoes
salad: mixed greens with chile-spiced almond slivers and balsamic vinaigrette

* The next of these future rainy nights was sooner than you think: D and I had the soup, sandwiches, and sweet potato fries for dinner the very next night. I had my camera (thanks, Elli!) along, and just plain forgot to take photos. Infuriating.

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The wine-dark sea

At about 6:00 this morning, the local WeatherGuy was cheerfully rattling along with his usual predictions when suddenly he was taken by the Muse.

WG: [jauntily] “…so, you can expect to see some occasional light sprinkles, but nothing major, but this afternoon —” [head tilts, eyes glaze, and voice becomes low and melodic] “the sky will grow cloudy… and the sun will dim…” [shakes head almost imperceptibly; face clears and voice rises to normal] “and, eh, temps will drop, so keep an eye on those overnight temps!”

Thanks for the forecast, Homer.

Let an umbrella be your umbrella

Today the skies (or clouds or atmosphere: I’m not too hot on this weather stuff) are pouring rain, or as our weatherman likes to say, “TROPICAL DOWNPOUR!” Who thought of the umbrella, anyway? Brilliant in its way, but curiously imperfect, if only insofar as I now have a stream of rainwater that had collected in the folds of my semi-furled brolly guttering down my leg and collecting in my naughty-Dutch-girl shoe. Excuse me a moment while I drain my shoe.

Ah, that’s better. Also, here you go.

Severe Weather Awareness Week, Needless Paranoia Edition

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the local WeatherGuy gave us a brief report on hail this morning. Apparently hail is common during New England summers, and, since it can be quite large and fall at speeds of up to 100 miles an hour, poses a significant threat to property and people.

(Common? I’ve only seen it five or six times in a lifetime of New England summers. One of those times, I was clonked on the head with a plummeting chunk of ice, and felt lucky to get away with only a goose-egg lump on my head, so I can wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of the suddenness and the danger.)

WeatherGuy concluded with the remark, “So, hail can be quite hazardous and can appear quite suddenly, giving you no warning or time to seek shelter, so, er, keep that in mind when you’re out enjoying yourself this summer.”

Vertigo primavera

One more semester is hurtling toward its close. At this point, I always suffer from something akin to vertigo: my expectations and my backlog of work have climbed to staggering heights, and the hasty plummet is sickening.

Therein is a perfectly good explanation for my absence from these pages. With three papers weighing heavily on me (one is due tomorrow, in point of fact) and thousands of pages to read, I thought the best time management plan was to bugger off for a few days of fun. My weekend included unplanned meetings with old friends, shopping, an afternoon at the museum, a trip to the bead and yarn shop, an evening in the pub with girlfriends, and a long late talk with the dear friend I stayed with.

I also paid a long overdue visit to my much-valued longtime barber; although I moved out of town several years ago, I manage to see her a few times a year, bringing her desperate cases of Hair By Misadventure. Once again, she has coifed me but good.

Maybe is the haircut, maybe is the new shoes*, or maybe is the delirium of academic panic, but I feel gooood. Dangerously, flirtatiously good. A change has definitely hit this small patch of New England: the wind is crisp and fragrant, birds are chirping, green shoots are transformed into great blooms of scent and florid color, bloggers are noticing that their male acquaintances smell really great: it must be spring.

*Expect more on the shoes later — so embarrassingly much more.