Friday, July 6, 2012

Some Catching Up

So, it wasn't so nutty that I just sat around in my pajamas for an entire month and actively chose not to blog.  It actually felt like the opposite of lazy.  It felt like mass chaos all the time.  Well, except for the weeks that the French Open was on.  And the weeks that Wimbledon was on.  Okay, so basically for the 12 days between the tournaments, it was busy.  It seems only right that I catch you up on a few things.

1.  The Garden - I am actually pretty pleased with how things turned out.  And given my overwhelming need to control everything and everyone, I have been able to look at this first summer season as a great experiment.  Had some failures:  got tomato herpes, got round, orange cucumbers (?!), got squash borers, and had some deer damage.

We also had some great successes:  had bees, had some squash before the borers hit, had green beans, had LOTS of tomatoes, as in way more than I can eat (as in I become the tomato Unabomber, wearing dingy clothes and dropping off unwanted baggies full of the things), had LOTS of tomatillos (we're swimming in salsa), and finally, just before everything got pulled for high summer, had pickling cucumbers, and had a fair pepper yield.  And above all, I learned a lot of lessons.

But the best part has nothing to do with gardening.  The best part is that S, my little one, who is not always the first one to volunteer for hot, sweaty work or really any work at all, has become my right-hand farmer.  She's got a great eye for which tomatillos were ready to pick and was always willing to help or harvest or water.  Her enthusiasm and joy got me through on those days when it was just too hot, or too much trouble, or just too much period.   It's been a real gift to get to spend that kind of time with her, the kind of time that will hopefully lead to her having her own garden some day. Or at least will keep me from locking her up in her room for rolling her eyes.  Or arguing with everything I say.  Or not emptying the dishwasher after I ask.  Five times.  But I digress.

2. The Pantry - Looking back over the last month, my fallow period, in the words of a dear writer friend, I do realize that I might have been really busy doing exactly what I set out to do with this project.  With the time required by the garden, and the time required to put up food whose origins I can trace to my back door, maybe I wasn't so much not writing, but brainstorming!  Yeah, that's what we'll call it.

Anyway, it seems like at least twice a week, I would have so much produce that I had to can before it went bad.  Now, I love canning, especially when it comes with a group of friends and some cold beer, but I'll tell you, I wasn't necessarily prepared for twice a week.  Those folks who had to can to make it through the winter were not fucking around.  With all my own produce and some plums that a friend brought and a couple of pounds of organic strawberries on sale, I've put up gallons of tomatillo salsa, quarts of tomato salsa, sweet-hots (cucumber and jalapeño pickles that are the best things in the world.  On goat cheese.  All I'm saying.), pickle relish, jalapeño jelly, plum jam, strawberry jam.  It's fucking 10 o'clock at night, and I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow morning.  And I'm still canning.

3.  The Project - Well, I'm proud to say that we haven't fallen all the way off the wagon.  We are still not eating out when we are in town although I have gotten caught a once or twice six hours out from our last meal.  It's been an interesting dilemma:  do I literally starve my kids to make a point?  Isn't that just as bad as feeding your kids fast food?  I'm not sure what the answer is, but we haven't ever cheated with a full meal.  We did, however, one day a couple of weeks ago, have to buy a snack at a convenience store.  Not sure where, but it did amount to some food that hadn't come into our possession in an approved way.  I think it was some nuts and some peanut butter crackers.  Admittedly, those are both items that would have been in our house or even our car had I gotten my shit together.  But I didn't.

4.  The Miracle - It's been a tough summer for G.  A super-hard worker and awesome kid, she struggled with math in middle school, which put her behind a little for high school.  And because she has mean parents, she is taking Algebra II this summer.  Yep.  That's right.  Summer school.  And not just summer school.  Summer school in the subject that you hate the most.  Not only that, but she missed camp and an opportunity to go see her friend play softball in Colorado, where we spend most of July.  Things are sucking for her right now.

That said, she's been a real trooper.  She hasn't complained much and has even formed a pretty good relationship with her teacher, which will be helpful next year.  During all this, she turned 16.  Which meant that she had earned a dinner out.  At a restaurant.  Of her choosing.  But, as awful and miserable as most of her summer has been, the kid chose to eat at home.  Can you believe?  Now what she chose to eat were some insanely expensive steaks, but they were worth every penny, and we had a wonderful time.

So, this crazy experiment that has made her so miserable, this attempt to recalibrate and reset our eating priorities may, just possibly, have caused the teeniest, tiniest shift in her eating choices.  And in the rest of ours as well.  I'm almost afraid to say it out loud.

This just might work.

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