06 October 2015

food, reprise

Another thing that is back: the pomegranates. I seeded about six of them the other day, which was really too many to eat before the seeds got weird (or so I thought at the time), so I put some of them in a ziploc in the freezer. 

It turns out that I can eat about an entire pomegranate a day this early in the season when they are small, so I could have just put them in the fridge.

Instead, I am, at this moment, defrosting each spoonful of pomegranate seeds by holding them in my mouth until they are warm enough to have flavor when I chew them. It works, I guess.

I probably should have taken them out of the freezer earlier. 


My roommate is making sauerkraut. There is a big jar of cabbage and salt and brine on the counter, and it's starting to smell like sauerkraut. 

I'm not sure I can share my house with the smell of sauerkraut.

I really hate sauerkraut.

04 October 2015

fall cometh

Fall means that the sweet potatoes are fresh again. I had to give them up over the summer, when they started getting stringy and tasteless. But it's fall now, and fall is sweet potato season. I was pretty pleased to start making my walks to the store again to pick up a paper bag of them. 

"Jewels or Garnets?" the woman at the cash register asked. 

"Garnets," I said firmly, because who would eat Jewels if Garnets were available? They are so much deeper orange and more delicious.

Fall means that there is a witch-ghost hanging in the window at the tea place. It appears to be a which hat with white chiffon hanging from it. The chiffon has two black ovals for eyes. It's kind of cute.

Fall means that I put on jeans and my favorite long-sleeved t-shirt this evening, because the dress I wore during the day was not going to do it when the wind kicked up, chill now after a very warm summer.

I was secretly hoping this glorious, hot summer was going to go on forever. We set a record this year for days over 90 degrees F and days over 80 degrees F. It was fantastic.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the leaves were starting to change, even as the weather stayed hot. It's like fall just shows up, no matter what you do.* Sigh. 


* There is, obviously, nothing one can do to keep summer around. That doesn't stop me from trying.

14 September 2015

get up and go

One thing I have learned during unemployment is to get up and go take a walk, first thing. For a while, I tried to keep the walk as a reward at the end of the day, but that does not work. 

First of all, if I don't get done what I intend to get done, I never get outside during daylight. Not okay.

Second, it's hard to get started on real work. If I've gone for a walk, I feel like something has already been accomplished, and it's just about continuing to get things done.

Third - and this is true throughout the western part of State of Happiness - the clouds often roll in by afternoon. If I want to enjoy the sun, I have to get out in the morning. This place teaches procrastination. It teaches you to seize the moment. 

10 September 2015


After completing a job application today, I rewarded myself with a trip out to the garden to pick the ripe sungold cherry tomatoes. Then I roasted them and ate all of them, one at a time, as they arrived at the point of being roasted to perfection. It was pure summer in a pan.

Now I have roasted garlic cloves left over. They are going in my usual lentils and rice mixture tomorrow.

It isn't so much that I forget how satisfying it is to cook. It's just that life hasn't left much time for it these last two years, ever since I left Universe City. 

Do you know what I bring to potlucks now? 

A bag of Chicago-style cheddar and caramel popcorn. 

That, my friends, is a true indicator of my stress level. I used to make elaborate dishes. On the other hand, it's easy and people seem to love it, and many people do not seem to appreciate the amount of effort that goes into actually cooking or baking things.

09 September 2015


So here is a weird thing. 

My shoulder has been hurting - first a little and then quite badly - for about two months. For the first couple of weeks I ignored it (it got worse), and then for over a month I took ibuprofen for it just about every day (it got worse). The most painful things were reaching back to grab something (e.g. purse in the back seat of the car) and lifting my arm straight up to the side.

Ice helped, briefly, but the effects didn't last.

Finally, a week or so ago, I decided no more with the ibuprofen. It's a white substance, and white powders and crystals will kill you (see also: sugar, flour, cocaine, heroine, meth, salt). And it wasn't helping anyway.

Plus I started reading about ibuprofen and what it does to your stomach. Not cool.

So I stopped taking ibuprofen. I was in pain, though.

In order to feel like I was doing something - anything - to help with the pain and swelling, I started taking turmeric. Specifically, I started mixing a teaspoon of turmeric and a bit more than a teaspoon of honey into a paste, and then adding some boiling water. I drink it like a tea, even though some of the powder stays in precipitate and is chalky in my mouth. It tastes, well, not great. I think it would be better if I added ginger or something. But it's tolerable.

My doctor friend S. who used to live in Universe City was in town this weekend and told me that turmeric is one of the only herbal remedies that has actually been proven to do what it supposedly does, namely reduce inflammation. (It also has anti carcinogenic properties.)

I haven't been icing my shoulder at all, due to having a houseguest and some camping. Also  due to frustration that it wasn't helping.

Yesterday, I noticed a strange lack of pain in my arm, despite having worn a backpack the day before, which usually makes it flair up. I didn't want to jinx it, so I didn't move my arm much, but last night I tried, just once, to lift my arm up to the side past shoulder level. It worked. Not only did it work, but there was only a moment of stiffness and pain at shoulder level, instead of it getting caught there.

I tried again, again gently, this morning. Even less pain.

I don't want to make any assumptions too early, but this is sort of freaking me out. Modern medicine totally failed me in this instance. But turmeric might work? As a skeptic who tries to keep an open mind (or maybe more of an open mind that tries to be a skeptic) and who generally thinks the scientific method works quite well, I am surprised. In a good way, but surprised nonetheless.

04 September 2015


The other day I was stopped at a stoplight. I was the second car back, behind a red Prius. This was the sort of light where there is a lane to turn right and a lane to go straight - no lane to turn left, because the cross street is one way. The red Prius and I were stopped in the lane to go straight.

The light was green.

Notice that I said that we were stopped, even though the light was green.

The red Prius was waiting for all the oncoming cars to turn left in front of her.

Now, I believe that it is an established principle of driving that if both directions have a green light, the driving-straight cars have the right of way. That was day one of driver's training.

The light turned red before all of the oncoming left-turn cars had turned, so we sat through a red light.

When the light turned green again, the red Prius lady continued to allow all the left-turn people to proceed in front of her, as if they had the right of way.

I finally honked.

She looked back at me in her mirror, then back at the oncoming left-turn cars, and continued to let the left-turn drivers go in front of her.

I honked again.


She did not proceed through the light until all the left turn drivers had gone, and then only about three or four cars from our direction made it through. 

I really don't understand. It's like the rules of the universe were suddenly reversed. It's like backwards day. It makes no sense.

I'm still confused.

30 August 2015


I awoke to rain, a couple of nights ago. Real rain. Hard rain. 

It rains a lot here, but rarely does it pour. It mists, mostly. You will be damp if you are out there long enough, but it's mostly by osmosis, not patter. It seeps into you. The rain does, and also the cold.

But it was pouring the other night, and the wind blew almost violently through my open windows. 

There was lightning, off somewhere. This is probably the third time in my eight years in State of Happiness that I have seen lightning on this side of the mountains. We live in a sheltered valley, and the weather fronts generally do not collide here in such a way as to cause lightning. I've seen lightning at the coast, and lightning over the mountains, but rarely lightning here.

And then there was lightning close by - blocks away, maybe - and roaring thunder. 

In the moments after the nearby lightning strike, a couple ran out into the street, dancing and shouting in the rain.*

It was 4:28 am.

I got up, finally, and closed the windows most of the way. It was too late for the rug by the window and the duvet that I had folded next to the bed. They were already wet. I spread the duvet out on the floor and went to close the bathroom window, too. 

All night and the next morning, I kept hearing sounds as if there was someone walking in the house. My roommate is out of state, so I couldn't think of who was making the creaking noises, save the wind.

In the morning, I found the little diamond window in one of my closets open, blown by the wind because I hadn't secured it, and blowing the closet door in its frame. Mystery solved.


* When I was in the Mitten earlier in the month, there was a huge storm Up North where we were staying. It had been threatening all day, but when it became clear that the storm was really on its way, my mom got in the car to go find my dad, who was jogging, and the rest of us were inside the cottage when we heard a huge crack - it wasn't clear if it was wind or thunder - and the lights went out.

The wind started raging. My brother ran out onto the dock to secure the boat, and my sister and sister-in-law and I ran out to grab the plastic chairs and toys from the beach. 

We all made it back just before the real rain started, with the accompanying lightning and thunder.

We were safely inside, watching the storm, when we saw the neighbors tootling along in their boat, heading back toward shore. They anchored the boat in the shallows rather than tying it to their dock.


It was just about intolerable to watch their flirtation with death. I don't even bite my nails, but I wanted to nibble on my fingers from sheer nerves.

At one point, lightning struck out in the middle of the lake. And they were still there! In the water! Calmly covering the boat so it wouldn't get wet! The boat which was made to be in water!

"We can't even help them if they get struck by lightning," we kept saying. "We can't go out there. You can't help someone if you put yourself at risk of dying, too. Even calling paramedics wouldn't help. No one in their right mind would go out there in this weather."

We finally resorted to yelling, from the safety of our cottage (they couldn't hear us), "Leave the boat! Go inside! Save yourselves!"

Finally they finished up and WADED SLOWLY BACK THROUGH THE WATER instead of heading straight to the dock and running for their lives. 

The anxiety of it all took years off my life.