As I may have mentioned, it's been pretty stormy around here lately—tempestuous, even. Yesterday's storm was one of the bigger ones and knocked out the electricity to our block, and it was also later in the evening then they tend to be so we noticed. It was fun to walk around after the torrential rain had slowed, and watch the glow of candles and flashlights moving around in the neighborhood's houses. Less fun was lying in the hot hot bed knowing there was wonderful cool air outside but not having any electro-mechanical means of pulling it into the room!
What with all the thunderstorms—literally at least one almost every day for the past week and a half, and more forecast every day as far as the fine folks at Weather Underground are willing to predict—we've become a little blasé. Thunder that once would have sent us scurrying for cover we now ignore completely; otherwise we wouldn't be able to get anything done! Today I walked the dog and weeded the garden while two separate storms grumbled away on the horizon. When you've just heard what the thunder sounds like when the lightning hits within a mile, the 20-mile distant storms don't seem so bad.
I only feel bad for the folks who want to go swimming in public pools. If they're only allowed to go in half an hour after thunder is last heard, that doesn't leave much of the day!
I was going to call this post "ripe strawberries ripe", because really, when you want to write about strawberries what choice do you have?! But the autocomplete tells me I already wrote that post sometime last year. So no clever title; I'm too tired to think of another alternative after all the hard strawberry work I put in today.
First, I drove practically to New Hampshire to lovely Parlee Farm, where I picked eight quarts of oh-so-ripe strawberries. Then Leah and I turned two of those quarts into jam (it comes out to two and a half quarts of jam, if you're counting at home). What are we planning to do with the remaining berries? I don't know, do you want any? Act now, due to their advanced state of ripeness they won't be around long! Next year I think I'll do this picking thing a little early in the season. But we must have the jam, and lots of it! Last year I finished the few jars I managed to make before summer was even over, which is kind of not the point.
What about our own strawberry plants, you may be wondering? Don't worry, they produced fine. In fact, I think we got four or five quarts all told, if not more, which at market prices is a value of about $30, so we're doing alright for that initial five dollar investment. The only problem with what we picked at home is that all those berries either got eaten right away or went bad in a similarly short time-frame. So none were preserved in any fashion. Next year, though! Although right now I'd be happy not to see another strawberry for a little while.
I am, largely, in favor of independence. It's much better than the alternative, certainly. We celebrated our country's ancient freedoms this year with meat, which is traditional, and with sparklers, which had to stand in for more weighty artillery. Also strawberry shortcake.
Earlier we visited Concord's Picnic in the Park and took part in some athletic contests—specifically, a three-legged race (disastrous), a sack race (I came in second), and a wheel-barrow race (finally, sweet victory!).
The whole thing was much fun, and very old school. The founding fathers would be proud; or at least, our 19th century imagining of them would be.
Three barbecues in three nights, eh. We start to forget that food can be prepared any way other than grilled, and that it is possible to have a meal without beer. Sadly, only one of the three featured wiffleball. The only problem I have with all the outdoor eating parties is the quantity of meat involved; I ate more in the past three days that I did in the three months previous. My stomach isn't really good for it anymore. I suppose that part I could get used to (again), but I don't particularly want to. So it's back to veggies for Monday, and back to work again after an extra long weekend. If we can remember what that is.
For the forth of July (and even into the fifth... scandal of hippiness) Dan wore a shirt that I had shipped to him when i lived in France. The text on the shirt reads:
La liberte ne se donne pas, elle se prend.
Loosely translated, this means: Liberty is not given, it is taken.
Or more taughtly translated, it means, Lady liberty is not given, she is taken. which you have to admit sounds a bit more sexy.
Anyway, it was far into the evening when i realized he was actually wearing that shirt with calculated appropriateness to the holiday. Also, how jolly that i had sent him that shirt as a present! I win the wifeing contest!
"Tell me," I said to Dan, "When i sent you that shirt from France, did you say to yourself This girl is a radical like me and I must marry her?"
"No. But I thought it would be good to wear on the 4th."
"You're so romantic."
Today I made real jam, for the first time ever. It perhaps wasn't the best choice of days to do so, because the process involved boiling water on all four burners of the stove simultaneously; the breeze coming in the the window from the 90° temperatures outside felt wonderfully cooling. I understand all the more now why folks in the old days, who had to cook and make preserves no matter how hot it got in the summer, had kitchens detached or removed in some way from the rest of the house. Leah wished that my jam-making was detached, certainly, instead of ten feet from where she was trying to work.
But despite the discomfort the jam seems to have been a success (it better have been!!). All four jars sealed up the way they're supposed to, the product is already jelling well, and the congealed foam I skimmed from the top is delicious. Up next: pickles!!
Weeds choking the older part of the garden (where I planted too closely to weed easily), striped cucumber beetles attacking the cucumbers and squashes, and now deers getting inside the fence and destroying all the lettuce, half of the pea plants, and the tops of four or five tomato plants. They even uprooted one of the lettuces; how's that for vindictiveness! The gate, I can now assure you, will never be left unlatched again.
It's all very discouraging of course, but will I let this setback stop me? I will not! In fact, I will show how little I care for their destructive efforts by continuing the expansion I began last weekend. The manifest destiny of the garden will not be denied!
a view of one of the casualties
I recall at least one previous post in these pages about the depredations of deers, if not several—they have been my constant adversary, after all—but I can't find an example via the google. It has previously been very useful for similar tasks, but the text of the squibix family blog seems to have been removed from its index. I suppose that means I have to make my own search function now, because there's no way I'm reading back 1000+ posts every time I want to refer to something. I can barely bring myself to read my posts the first time around!
I am opposed to power windows. Last night when it started raining I ran to shut the windows on my car, and then in my haste to deal with other things that needed to be dealt with and get back into the house I left the keys in the car. Yes, this means that I didn't even turn off the electricity, or whatever it is that lets the windows go down when the engine isn't running. So naturally the battery is dead today. How did I discover this? Well, when I couldn't find the keys this afternoon when I wanted to go out. The car is always the last place you look.
So no real problem, I didn't really want to drive anyways. Biking is much nicer. Except not this time, because I ran over a tiny sliver of glass (not unlike the one that got stuck in my finger the other day) that put a hole in my front tire. The air came out slowly enough that I was able to bike, with some difficulty, up the hill on the way home, but by the time I reached the downhill portion I had to get off and walk. That's just not nice.
However, as Leah traveling much greater distances than I today, coming back on the train from New York, I'm happy to let her have all the transportation luck. It matters more when you're beyond walking distance from home, I think.
After giving so much derision to The AB company for creating Bud Light Lime and writing this ridiculous press release, I was amazed when I tried the beverage at a party last weekend and found it to be, remarkably, really good. Well, actually, what happened was I took a sip and laughed out loud, because it doesn't taste like beer as much as it tastes like sprite. But then, there's something so delicious about alcoholic sprite, with the slightest taste of beer. It's so much lighter than say a hard lemonade, a with the added bonus of making you look like less of a pussy.
So you win Anheuser-Busch. You've finally managed to make a beer that I will consume. Like other "playful, outgoing men and women," I will enjoy this drink "Whether reclining poolside, playing a friendly pick-up game of volleyball on the beach or mingling at a rooftop party in the city." Or actually, sitting by the computer and finishing my work, like I'm doing right now. But who's keeping score.
Leah made me go into the liquor store and buy a 12-pack of Bud Light Lime. I was ashamed. "That's stuff's really good, isn't it!" said the cashier. I was obliged to admit that yes, despite the fact that I laughed when I first saw the commercials for the stuff and subsequently made fun of it on my blog (I actually didn't tell him that bit), it was actually quite drinkable. The drink of the summer, he called it, although I was relieved to hear that Sam Adams Summer Ale is also popular. I also managed to keep myself from telling him, "this is actually for my wife. She's waiting in the car." Even though it was totally true!!!
*for this week.
We don't do anything exciting here, but there are folks out there who do: for example, I point you to Cara and Alan's blog, in which they are relating their summer adventures in and around (and on the way to) Bozeman, Montana. They haven't posted anything new for a couple days, but I just read all the old posts for the first time and there's some good stuff in there. Cara is a professional journalist and editor and English teacher, so you can be sure the writing will be a little higher quality than the questionable product you find here!
It hasn't rained in too too long here, and the pond is starting to run out of water. So I did the noble thing and left my car windows open this afternoon, and it had the desired affect: torrential downpours! Fortunately, it was hot and breezy enough after the storm that I just opened all the doors and things dried out very nicely. Then it rained again! Haha, just kidding. Well, actually it did, but I was clever and closed the car up when it started looking cloudy again. So everything ended happily.
This morning I picked a bunch of raspberries, and now they're jam. Not as much jam as I would have liked, perhaps—I wanted to make two batches but my reckoning was off and I was short of both raspberries and sugar. Still, with the pickles I also made that's a total of two gallons of preserves in one day, which is fairly respectable, I think. We may make it through the winter yet!