Friday, September 30, 2016

Can of Beans Herb Harvest Salad

My sage bush out in the yard never dies and deer don't eat it; and in a freakishly sunny spot next to the house, a rosemary bush year-round provides aromatic needles for my cooking. I had my own basil leaves, frozen, from last year, and parsley. And I had a can of beans and not much else, because I'd just come home from four days away. So I was overjoyed to find a recipe that used what I had on hand. It's really tasty if you're harvesting herbs:

I gladly share my sage with everyone.
Warm Cannellini Bean Herb Salad (serves 2)

1 can white cannellini beans (also called "white kidney beans")
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped, or put through a press
3 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
handful of basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
4 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup oil-cured black olives

Drain and rinse the beans; dry them on a clean dish towel. In a large saute pan combine the olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Warm over very low heat for about 4 minutes or until the garlic and herbs release their aroma. Add the beans, salt and pepper to taste, and toss very gently. Over low heat, cook about 5 minutes until the beans are heated through and have absorbed some of the flavors of the olive oil. Off the heat, add lemon juice and toss very gently.

Place on serving platter and surround with the black olives. Serve immediately. (I like to serve it on lettuce.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Installation

"They'll be there between 9:00 and 1:00," the promiser had promised, and I waited, bags packed, because when the deed I'd paid $800 for was finished, I was leaving town. At 1:00 p.m. I called the promiser and said, "I was supposed to get a garage door installed today," and at 1:01, I am not kidding, the truck drove up. It was like conceptual art.

There was only one laborer. For his electric tools he had a 30-foot yellow cord that just barely reached through my front door and into my bathroom, where the three-prong socket nearest the garage is. We were both relieved it wasn't farther. I asked, "How long will this take?" "Couple hours," he said. I couldn't imagine how he'd dismantle the old wooden garage door alone, and disassemble the pulley tracks and put up new ones, and install a new door, but couldn't watch; I stayed busy to keep my mind off the ticking clock: The later I left home, the later I'd get to where I was going: 10 p.m.; then 11 p.m.

Finally, at 3:30, I went outside to ask how it was coming, and he was heading toward the house, coiling up the electrical cord, and he said it was finished. He'd left some dirty fingerprints on the new white door, and a swipe of blood (must have cut himself) and carefully wiped  them away and showed me how the door can now be lifted practically with a finger, and how it locked, and not to fling the door upward with all my strength until a couple of weeks had passed, and gave me a silver sticker from his company that I could put on the door or not, and call the number on it if anything went wrong.

Well, it just knocked me down with a feather, the whole event. "It's beautiful," I said. "Where's the old door?"

"There." It was in his truck bed, its four sections stacked; each section had simply been unscrewed from the other, and that's how he took down the weighty garage door. And put up a new one. I had to leave right after that, but I almost wished I could have stayed to admire the new door until I got my fill of it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Huge Rodent and Me

My neighbor said that a prairie dog, and she saw it, dug up her pretty plants, and I said "I'll shoot it." But she persuaded me it had the same right to live that we did, and I said I was just teasing because I don't shoot defenseless animals unless they bother me.

I'd never seen a prairie dog on this property, maybe because they can't dig here much; the soil is one inch of loam on top of six inches of clay on top of sandstone. Prairie it's not. But I did notice things happening: Bricks I'd carefully piled around the onion/flower beds had tumbled over. I found a pair of Green Cracking Russula mushrooms in the lawn and hoped for more because they're edible, and when I looked for more I found them like this:
I scratched my head. Squirrels do bite on these things, but chew the tender parts to shreds, no. And then I was sittin' workin' and I saw (now, it looks like a Loch Ness photo, but I swear it's genuine) in my yard a prairie dog, a cross between a rat and a squirrel, except much bigger, and in prehistoric times they were man-sized. They know this, having discovered skeletons in 2011:
Image source: A site interestingly called (Does your ex-boyfriend look more like the figure on the right, or the figure on the left? Either way, you have my sympathy.)

I took what photo I could of the prairie dog. It must have been around here quite a while because it knows my temperament and the extent of my patience for large rodents who chew on my mushrooms. As I turned the doorknob to go outside and get a better photo, it turned tail (it's a black-tailed prairie dog) and fled.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Change of Season

Always there's a September dawn that isn't a summer dawn, and its clouds are like this: purplish, like bruises, but with holes for powdery light. Not chilly cirrus clouds, they're still cumulus--but different. They don't drift or sail. They part and ponder, commanding attention and my silence. We are facing something. I keep the windows shut at night now. The air dries out and the linoleum on the floor turns cold. Often when this day comes I feel sad: The summer left without me. But it's better to say it this way: I left and moved on, without summer. Took this photo down the road at the horse farm.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The 50-Year Vacation

Ordered some old books and from one of them fell a glassine bag of color negatives: 12 images in all, taken with a 2-1/4-inch camera, a type now extinct, already passe back when in college I bought a used one. These photos don't have the date anywhere, nor does the envelope, but they document someone's beach vacation in a place where there are palm trees (shown in another negative). I hope they had a wonderful time and remember their vacation fondly. In these delicate negatives it's lasted half a century.

Do resorts still have beach cots? Nowadays everyone lies on towels on the sand.

The books were from the late 1950s. Not only were there negatives, but tucked between other pages were 2 report cards, one from 1957-58 and one from 1961-62. I love these kinds of strange treats. Eye-openers for sure. More about them later.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Chokin' His Chicken

So I go to buy a pound of barbecue and. . .

No, that's not how this begins. Rather, this town has a scarecrow contest every October and all the local businesses create, dress, and put on the street their own life-sized scarecrows, all very fanciful, and then the townspeople vote for their favorite. The post office's scarecrow is dressed like a postman. The bank's scarecrow is a woman in a garden hat watering a money tree. The gym's scarecrow rides an exerbike. Some are so elaborate that the owners cover them like mummies in plastic when it rains.

As the pumpkin lattes, pumpkin beers, and pumpkin snickerdoodles come out, so do the scarecrows, and the barbecue place took its scarecrow out of storage and this is the first I've seen of him--the swine! So I thought I would overshare. He reminds me of someone I used to know. The expression on the chicken's face is precious, so here's  a close-up.

I'm so grateful I moved to Missouri where there's barbecue and humor.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Home Improvement

It's not my house (it's rented) so I don't improve it. Has been my home for 15 consecutive years on October 1. Thought I'd celebrate by improving my daily home life.

This doesn't mean interior decoration. I'm "adecorative," if that's a word. My focus is elsewhere. Like, on my vertebrae, now 15 years older than when I moved in. Vertebrae first disqualified me from mowing the lawn with a push mower. Some years ago one of the two wooden garage doors (measuring eight feet by nine feet) I permanently shut; after wet weather it was hard to lift and a few times I wasn't able to stop its downward momentum so it slammed the concrete, one time shattering a window.The landlord replaced the window with glass that made that door even heavier. I gave up and now use only the other door; it's identical but a bit lighter.

Lifting and lowering got dicier with time. I considered leaving here solely because of the garage doors. It got so I had to raise the door using two hands and shoulder muscle I built at the gym especially for that. A recent soaking rain brought the door's weight into my danger zone. I felt it. (There's no electricity in the garage for automatic openers.) So then I lifted and lowered only once a day: morning and night. Birds flew into the gaping garage and couldn't find the way out, and, panicked, threw themselves at windows and died there.

The fault lies not with the garage door or landlord but with me, so I chose as my 15th anniversary gift to my home a new garage door, without knowing how the heck to get one. It involves people. Went to Lowe's, saw the millwork guy. He showed me samples and colors of steel doors and sent full-time garage-door installers to my house to measure. Lowe's priced the project at $830. People I told cried out at the horrible expense. True, the garage is not my property but my vertebrae are, and I decided they were worth it, because slipped disks or crushed bones cost far more. The new door will be installed within the next two weeks.

Now for home improvement all I needed was a handle to help me out of the shower. I'd been using the towel bar just outside of the shower for balance and one day pulled it out of the wall. (The landlord repaired that.)  How the heck to get one? Would somebody have to drill? No: For $11 at Walmart I got this cool suction-type handle that latches onto and grips tile. Undo the latches on the back and you can move it. That, now, is my own property. Home improvement is so satisfying.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day

Labor is beautiful.
"A job is the worst way to make money." Let me second that. For 20 years my day job actually paid me LESS take-home every year. They instituted a shocking parking fee (half a month's take-home), taking it out of our paychecks, then decided I had to pay part and then one-half of my health insurance (both benefits had been free). They kept taking out and taking out. When anybody complained we couldn't live on our salaries and 1.5 or 2 percent raises the bosses told us to get a second job. I did. And a third job. At one time, with spouse unemployed, I worked seven separate jobs: webmaster, freelance webmaster, freelance editor, night school teacher, guest night-school teacher, freelance writer, and jewelry crafter. (The bosses asked me why I didn't show up at the department's evening events.) I diverted 16 percent of my day-job check into a 401K; wasn't nobody gonna do it for me. For three years I paid my dying spouse's health insurance at an extra cost of $4000 per year. Now I was really stuck with that job solely because of insurance. After 11 years the comptroller decided to downgrade my job and salary from Level 9 to Level 6. Finally in 2010 I was laid off with a nice severance so I wouldn't sue them for age discrimination, and right there in front of the two lead-bottomed bosses (who had a cellphone out on the table in case I got violent) I went into ecstasies. Being laid off was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I set up my own successful business, have an awesome regular freelance gig, teach online, have passive income from stuff I wrote years ago, and make much more money than when employed in a "job." My job is to stay in my cabin and write all day. I'm insured by Obamacare. I employ an accountant, a housekeeper, and a man who mows the lawn. Happy Labor Day. I'm working today because I love my work.