Friday, July 25, 2008

"The storm came up so very quick..."

Originally uploaded by 3Birds
Marchette Chute was writing about a Spring Rain but yesterday's summer storm also 'couldn't have been quicker.' After a week-long heat wave (the first one this summer) Baltimore was expecting storms. All morning and for part of the afternoon I waited impatiently for something to happen. Dark clouds threatened, then dissipated with nary a drop of rain and the air grew heavy and still. I sat on the couch under the ceiling fan feeling sorry for myself. The children were quarrelsome, the house untidy, and everything and everyone out of sorts. Finally, the sky grew darker and the wind picked up. I hurried out to my porch to watch and listen as distant thunder rumbled and rolled, then crashed above us like waves on the shore. I heard the rain softly pattering for a few seconds before a rush of wind brought the deluge. All of this happened in just a few moments; after delaying it's entrance half the day, this storm was in a hurry!

Folks rushed by with newspapers over their heads; one man walked sedately along until lightening crackled alarmingly close-by. "Holy Fuck!" he hollered, sprinting down the street and around the corner. A small white butterfly struggled through the air, settled on a dogwood leaf, then fluttered madly back into the storm for a moment before sheltering on my porch f or the duration. As quickly as it came, the storm passed, the rain stopped, and the sun shone.

My children came out to stomp in the puddles and rescue earthworms, and I checked the basement and garage for flooding. We had another storm later that evening before the cold front moved on through, leaving us with glorious sunshine and (more importantly) low humidity. It won't last, but just now I feel as though Baltimore summers aren't nearly as bad as we make them out to be.

dinner tonight: fettucine with tomatoes, garlic, and basil, topped with parmagiano

Monday, July 14, 2008

Originally uploaded by 3Birds
I bought this last Fall during our semiannual jaunt to the shore. The colors remind me of the sea, sky, and sand, and the red reminds me of the terns and laughing gulls that I watched while the children played on the beach. I've been wanting to try my hand at some Fair Isle knitting, and I think this will be the perfect yarn. It's an alpaca/merino blend, delightfully soft, so the designs will be muted rather than crisp, which I like. Since it's my first attempt at this kind of colorwork, I think I'll do a simple scarf rather than the seamless circular yoke sweater I'd originally planned. Of course, Finch would be absolutely gorgeous in these colors, but I've never knit anything for myself, and it's awfully nice yarn for a kid who will grow out of it within a year.

I'm also working on my first lace project using Lorna's Laces "Helen's Lace" in 'Tahoe' a gorgeous mix of blues and purples. The lace pattern is super easy but even so I've had to use stitch markers and a fair amount of concentration. I can listen to podcasts but not watch television while I'm working on it, so I do need to cast-on a hat or dishcloth or something to knit while Justin and I watch our Netflix dvds.

Dinner tonight: grilled chicken thighs, roasted potatoes with olive oil and rosemary, steamed favas with lemon vinaigrette

Friday, July 11, 2008


Originally uploaded by 3Birds
I don't know if I'll ever get over my amazement when vegetables grow in my garden. Herbs and flowers delight me, but I take them more or less for granted; I expect my patch of thyme and lavender to spread a little more each year and to attract all manner of buzzing, flying things with their fragrance. I know that the few tiny little basil seedlings I pot out in May will season my pasta throughout the summer and well into the fall. I know that the rosemary will come back each year, along with the sage, marjoram, and oregano, and that my scented geraniums will have a growth spurt as soon as the weather is mild enough for them to go back outside. I know that my flower garden, a riotous mix of native perennials, old-fashioned cottage garden flowers, and sundry urban 'weeds' will bloom and fade all season long. I'm glad and grateful for all this, but I experience it as a nice but normal part of the annual cycle.

My vegetables are quite another story. My backyard faces north and is shaded on the east by my neighbor's tall evergreens. A tiny corner on the far end of the yard, effectively the southern exposure of our gardening shed, is the only place I can grow vegetables out back. The space is about 3 ft by 8 ft, and gets the morning sun by 11am, which isn't ideal, but it seems to work. Even if I had an ideal space, I think I'd still be amazed at how incredibly quickly a tiny seedling turns into a great sprawling cucumber, squash, or tomato plant. And the cucumbers and squash! One day bright yellow or orange flowers bloom and then fade. The next day, a tiny green knob begins to swell just behind the spent bloom. By the 4th or 5th day, I note with surprise that the cucumber or zucchini is nearly ready to eat. After this, I try to check each day because a zucchini can assume mammoth proportions faster than you'd think, and cucumbers are nearly as bad/good. And then, the really amazing thing happens: more flowers bloom and fade, more little green knobs begin to swell, and before you know it, you've got yourself a veritable crop!

Two days ago, the children played outside while I tidied the porch and garden. We harvested a couple of zucchini for our lunch. I sliced and sauteed the zucchini in olive oil while the children snipped some marjoram for seasoning. We tossed the zucchini and marjoram over some pasta, squirted a little lemon juice over it all, and devoured it while watching the catbirds fight over the birdbath. We cleaned up the lunch dishes, then sat on the front porch to watch a quick thunderstorm. The baby napped in my arms while Wren read to us from the hobbit. The children played all the rest of the afternoon while I tidied the house and worked on some knitting. Robin ran in to tell me that the cucumbers were huge, so we harvested them and made Mark Bittman's "Quick Pickled Vegetables" with them to go with our supper. After supper, the children caught lightening bugs and we all took a quick walk before settling in for the baths, books, and bed. This was a day to hold onto, to be grateful for, and to remember when I'm tired, frustrated, stressed, angry, or depressed.