Thursday, August 23, 2007

Summer's ending

The end-of-summer spiders have arrived, and are spinning their webs everywhere. I wasn't aware of this phenomenon until a few years ago, when I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that described it; ever since then, I watch for their return and that becomes the first indication that summer is on the wane. There are lots of other signs that autumn is approaching around here - the leaves on some trees are beginning to turn, many of the plants in our yard are slowing down and/or stopping entirely (I've been clearing out piles of lily-leaves and dumping them on the ever-growing compost pile in the back yard), the pear tree is laden with fruit and the grapes are ripening as well.

We started our vegetable garden in early summer, and I wondered if we'd get much of a harvest from the things we planted. I saw the first cucumber on that vine yesterday, the tomato plants are covered with fruit (not yet ripe) and it looks like we'll have more carrots than we can use. I'm not sure about the eggplant and zucchini, though. And we've been picking yellow grape tomatoes from one of the plants we put in a big pot on the back deck - those are just wonderful.

I'm beginning to understand why harvest time was such a huge thing back in the days when folks lived and worked on their own farms, and depended on those farms for their food even though my experience is on a very small scale. I've prepared and frozen a dozen containers of pesto, made with organic basil from our weekly box of veggies (our subscription is with Winter Green Farm, a wonderful CSA that delivers to the Portland area) and with basil from our own little herb garden. I froze a huge bag of garlic (also from our veggie box), and won't have to buy garlic in the supermarket for months and months. I'm researching all kinds of information on freezing veggies and herbs so we don't waste any of these delicious veggies and fruits, and so we can enjoy them in a few months, when locally grown summer produce isn't available. We already have a dozen or so freezer bags filled with blueberries and strawberries, and I anticipate adding a lot more produce to our stash before summer ends.

Of course my experience is nothing like the lives of real farm folks. I'm quite aware of that, and don't mean to imply that it is. But I began thinking about this whole issue while I was cleaning the basil yesterday, so I thought I'd ramble about it here today.

Oh, and the pesto was killer! I'm so glad we'll have some to enjoy in the dead of winter.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cat Update

It's been a while since I've posted about our three kitties, I know. Life has been - um - just a bit hectic for the past several weeks, and I've barely been able to feed and cats and keep the litter boxes emptied, much less write about them. But things seem to be settling down again, so here's a quick update.

Sam and Caruso have reached a detente of sorts - I've even seen Caruso sit patiently while Sam grooms him (something Harley rarely, if ever, does). They're not yet what I'd call 'friends', but they more than tolerate each other.

Caruso and Harley, otoh, have a much less friendly relationship. This morning, I saw Harley crouching under the dining room table, glaring at something in the sunroom (which turned out to be Caruso). She waited until he scampered into the living room before venturing out to the food dish in the sunroom. I suppose it's good that she's no longer actively hostile towards him, but my fantasy of having three cats sleeping together with us on our bed is clearly just that - a fantasy. Hopefully, Harley will be comfortable enough with Caruso to come back and join us in the living room, though; I miss that.

So - it's not perfect yet, but it's getting better.

Caruso's newest activity is to curl up and nap on a pillow in my lap whenever I'm sitting on the sofa in the living room. It makes reading a bit difficult, but I sure love that he's comfortable enough to sleep on my lap!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Minnie Driver rocks!

Last night we heard Minnie Driver at a local music venue, and I gotta say, the woman can sing. I've been a big fan of her acting, and we both loved The Riches (and can't wait for the new season to start). Neither one of us knew anything about her singing career, but she sounded terrific when we listened to a cut from her album online and decided we'd spring for tickets.

I'm really glad we did. Her band was great, she's got a terrific voice, and the material she writes is pretty damned good, as well.

If you get a chance to see her perform, do it!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Zack and Emily

Yesterday, Zack's dad took Z&E on a sightseeing ride up to Mt. Hood (one of the myriad 'must-see' places in and around this beautiful city). He sent me this photo, taken during their wanderings.

I had to share it here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

And the beat goes on...

Zack and me at Fatapples restaurant in 2004 (spring break)

I got a week's respite from non-stop visitors (which was nowhere near enough) and my son's beloved, Emily, arrived in Portland last Monday, to await him and his dad, who were driving here from Minneapolis. Zack and his dad made it here on Thursday; David helped them unload the contents of Zack's truck and the trailer they'd rented for the overflow that didn't fit in the moving pods, and Zack joined Emily here that afternoon. The pods should arrive on Monday, and they'll be ready to move into their first home together -- here in the beautiful Portland area!

We haven't lived in the same city for twelve years, since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and Zack remained in New Jersey with his dad. That was the single most difficult decision I've ever made, and the most painful, but looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, it was also the right decision. Zack and his dad have an enviable relationship, built on mutual love, trust and respect. And despite my having moved across the continent, Zack and I have managed to build a solid, loving relationship, as well. For years, we talked on the telephone twice a day - once when he got home from school and again right before he went to sleep at night. That routine changed when he went away to college, of course, but we still spoke at least once a week while he studied at MCAD. I have a raft of regrets at not being around to watch him grow up, day by day, but the single thing I missed the very most was not being able to hug him on a regular basis.

But now I can! Yes!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Life is fragile

So I was sitting at my desk, adding the names of all the cities I've visited to my Facebook profile, when my cell phone rang. It was my beloved son, Zack, calling to tell me that he and Emily were fine, that they hadn't been on the bridge over the Mississippi River that just collapsed.

I, of course, had been blissfully unaware of the disaster until he called, and am grateful beyond words that their planned trip OVER THE BRIDGE THAT WENT DOWN was delayed by enough time that they were nowhere near the bridge when the disaster occurred. (Thank you, Zack, for calling to let me know you guys were okay!)

Ever since then, I've been thinking about how incredibly fragile our lives are, how we can be safe and well one instant and then - poof! - gone in the next instant. Just ... gone.

I'm really bad at living in the moment. I spend my days either regretting something in the past or obsessing and worrying about the future. Intellectually, of course, I know crazy it is to live like this, but it takes an event like yesterday's near-miss for Zack and Emily to slap me upside the head, get my attention, and remind me how important it is to pay attention to the here and now.

Forgive the somewhat smarmy advice, but take a moment to tell someone you care about that you love them. And a hug wouldn't be a bad thing, either.