Wednesday, July 30, 2008

That's the way....


I think I mentioned earlier today that I'm a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit stressed out. Well, it's getting worse. I know I'll get the things done that I need to do, but I've been left feeling absolutely wrung out. I've been on the edge of tears all morning, and a couple of times have even tipped over that edge.

No weeping or anything. Just a quivery voice, a need to look down, lump in my throat, and then a few tears have escaped onto my salmon-colored shirt. I put out a few feelers to friends just to vent a bit, and set my chat status to "woe-is-me."

---><--- This close to tears That's what my chat status says. A friend of mine that I don't talk to often, a friend who lives just far away enough to make visiting enough of a pain that it doesn't happen, a friend of mine whom I've not seen in person in over a year----this friend saw the passive "be nice to me" cry for help. Sweetheart, he is. Gave me a bit of "Tut Tut, turn that frown upside down!" attention, and then we commiserated a bit. All of a sudden all my stress and all my "Waaaaaaaaaaaah!" emotions turned around and focused on this friend. Y'all, you could hear my internal soundtrack change from The Smiths to KC and the Sunshine Band.

Poor lad didn't know what had hit him, but he rolled with it. "Stew, it really HAS been a long time since we've seen each other. I miss you! And we're both SO STRESSED!! We should really do something STRESS REDUCING!" (There's history there. It's not an out-of-the-blue offer/suggestion.)

Gotta love subtlety. And hormones/weakness.

The one seriously interesting bit here is that this is the first time in AGES that I've interacted with a man and considered him as a *man* rather than just another person. I wonder if the stress put a chink is some armor I wasn't even aware I had.

Decapitated Chicken

That's me. The day after tomorrow I leave at the asscrack of dawn to head up to the Great Lakes State for some R&R, good birding, and familial bonding.

Somehow, though, every single type of deadline possible is also this week, both at work and in my personal life. I have so many things to do that it's been keeping me awake at night, with all the to-do's running through my head over and over. What if I don't remember to do X before I leave? What if I can't get in touch with Y person? What're these other unexpected time-consuming work tasks that have a deadline while I'm gone? Must do! Must pay rent! Must document all car problems! Must water neighbor's garden by hand with her cistern water and free any Brown Thrashers that managed to break through the netting to get to the sweet sweet blackberries and then can't find their way out! Must make homemade fruitsnacks with a handful of blackberries and two dozen underripe peaches! Must do sinkload of dishes! Must deal with housemate pas de deux! Must clean out car! Must complete and hand over certain things best not to mention here but that take way too much time and are inordinately important and that are due before I go! And that I just found out about yesterday! Must pack ahead of time because I'm going straight from work Thursday to Chapel Hill to take my car in and then spend the night at Emily's so she can get me to the airport at said buttcrack of dawn! Must prepare my bathroom for new roommate to use before old roommate leaves! Must harvest and figure out how to take produce on the plane! Must get medicine refills, because I might run out, but who knows if I can because of the damned health insurance limitations?????????


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Putting things up

Oh dear. I'm inundated with produce. None of it purchased.

This is what I've done so far:
pasta sauce
refrigerator pickles
cucumber kimchee
zucchini cake/bread
green beans, blanched and frozen
tomato confit
baba ganoush

Now what do I do with a few kilos of peaches? I'm thinking I'll freeze them. I also have access to blackberries for the next 5 days or so.

I've also been kicking ass at house cleaning this weekend. Dog-bringing Roommate moved a bunch of her stuff in yesterday, so I wanted to get things ready and make room. Not just for her, mind you, but because this is an excellent opportunity to get rid of crap and find places for things.

I've cleaned out the freezer, many of the kitchen cupboards, and my room. The bathroom is damn near germless, and I hauled a bunch o' crap out of the extra room. As I moved things around, I came across my camping kit--a largish plastic file box that contains things like a first aid kit, smore's sticks, a waterproof matches container, etc etc. It also had MY SIBLEY'S FIELD GUIDE in it, along with two other NC bird guides. Oy. Glad I waited to replace it.

My phone's gone missing, as of last night. I used it midday.


Back to the grind. Feels good to get things accomplished.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Chuck looks like my dog. Uncannily so. Occasionally it makes me cry--like right now. We got her when I was five, and she was put down my freshman year of college.

I wish I had a picture of her.

Chuck helps, though.

Look one last time before you go in, but you'll still miss it.

Why, yes, it is bigger than my entire forearm, thanks for noticing! Unfortch, a cuke this size is *not* what you want. The skin and seeds were more comparable to those of a cantaloupe than a pickle. I peeled it, cored it, separated the seeds out to save, realized that it was a hybrid and I can't save the seeds, and then made another jar of refrigerator pickles.

Then I hauled out the other 50 cukes I have on hand, and made some fresh cucumber kimchee. Note: Brine 1" chunks of cukes for an hour. Drain the liquid off, and lightly rinse off some of the salt. Cram as many as you can into a quart jar along with copious amounts of: 1) hot peppers 2) garlic 3) ginger 4) onions. Let stew for a couple of hours. Then put in a slog of white vinegar so you can pretend it's fermented.

Nom nom nom nom.

Eat only when you are alone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

80ยบ is cold?

I'm thisclose to lopping off the feet of some knee socks. I'm in bed, wearing a tank top and shorts, and while the rest of me is very comfortable, my lower legs are freezing. So are the tops of my feet, actually.


I can't abide the idea of my toes being constrained, though. If I jerryrig something to remedy this odd malady, I'll take a photo.

It's because of the fan.

OK, here we go:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

When other people blog

Lazy Stew!

I'd planned to blog my very fun Thursday evening watching the VH1 Classic's "Rock honors the Who" with Cristin, but I just haven't gotten around to it. Fabulously, Cristin did the evening much more justice than I ever could. And the photos! You've gotta step over to Cristin's blog to see the goodness of the pix she took.

Check it out.

Additional observations:
• I introduced Cristin to McVicar, which had shots of Roger Daltrey's bare butt. I saw it at the Eastown theater* with my wonderful stepmother, who took a 10 year old girl to a midnight movie because she loved the Who.
• The musicians' commentary on Squeeze Box, my standard karaoke song, has vindicated me. I get made fun of for liking the song. NUH UH, baby! Sting likes it! So does Joan Jett! And Billy Idol! HA!
• I used to know all the lyrics of all the songs. That is no longer true. However, thanks to the magic of Google, I was able to sing along with everything anyway.
• Cristin does a damned good job of keeping her house cat-dander free. I slept over (very responsible of me) on her couch, and didn't have even one moment of breathing problems.

*No longer a theater--I think it's a church now, which in GR makes all sorts of sense.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Remember how last week that guy came to my house and I called the DOJ on him?


Apparently the press picked it up, and someone's coming by to film me this morning. Beer + Sleeping over at Cristin's (kitties!) = how the hell do I get rid of these eye bags??

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

German Queen

Between the glare and the not-so-focusy focus here, you can't really make out the size of my monster tomato. 800 grams. 1.75 pounds. HUGE.

We've had almost six inches of rain in the past two weeks, and it really shows in the garden. I've been getting about a pint of Sungolds every day, and just recently I picked five eggplants. I have purple, red, yellow and (so far) green peppers, and the beans are finally coming along, though they haven't yet fruited.

Even with that rain, though, we're still in a moderate drought. I petitioned the rental agency to install gutters on my house, so that I can get a rain barrel (O Happy Day!). I hope they pull through. There's been some water damage in the house this year, which sounds to me like justification enough.

I found out that a business near my office has been hiding a mini-grove of peach trees. I picked one up off the ground this afternoon, and it was sweet, fragrant and juicy. Interestingly, the flesh was white. Hm.

Dinner time. Caprese again. Sigh. Isn't life rough?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bad alarm sales scams make good neighbors

Last night a guy showed up on my doorstep wearing a uniform of sorts, including a logoed shirt and lanyard with a photo ID. He was selling, erm, "giving away" alarm systems, because "We're all concerned about crime here."

Actually, dude, we're as much concerned with scammers who prey on people's sense of security.

I observed his name, badge number, physical description and emailed out to the neighborhood listserv about it. Many of my neighbors responded and encouraged me to call the police. I did, but they didn't seem very interested. They said they'd send out a patrol to take my statement, but they didn't.

This morning, our community association president passed this message on to the listserv:

Folks on the Partners Against Crime (II) listerv are posting messages about this company coming door to door in their neighborhoods. This update was posted on the PAC2 listserv last night...

> The NC Dept. of Justice is already investigating these alarm company scammers and actually has APX before a review board right now. There are about six different security companies involved in these scams and they're working with the states of VA and SC to obtain information and press charges. Under investigation, these companies have to provide proof of their company background, financial information, proof of training, etc. Based on the scams and the deceptive practices, they are going after them for felony charges (false practices) and criminal warrants.

Once the state is able to press charges, they will issue a cease and desist order so the company cannot operate anywhere in the state. If they continue to operate, it will be taken to the Superior Court and a restraining order established.

What they need to help build the case against these companies are specific complaints from residents. Paul Mason [City of Durham] got Mr. Liggins from the NC Dept. of State who was pleased to receive additional information/ complaints to help him build his case. If you've had experience with ANY security company selling door-to-door with deceptive practices, excessive pressure, ANYTHING that doesn't seem right about them, please forward the information directly to Mr. Liggins of the NC State Department of Justice: lliggins@ncdoj. gov.

Within six minutes of forwarding my complaint to the DOJ, I had an email back. Within 15 minutes, I had a call from the investigator, who was leaving Raleigh to cruise the area looking for this guy and to bring me a formal written complaint to file.

Dude. That's service.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Providential Oddities

This afternoon I had a meeting at my local senior center, to get trained on how to ask companies to donate to one of the organizations that funds my workplace.

As I was leaving, I saw a table of women crocheting. Something overcame me, and I sat down with them and just started chatting. I hauled my hook out of my purse* and asked if they had any extra yarn to play with. For about 20 minutes I learned about these ladies and their various crochet meet ups. Monday and Wednesday 1-3 p.m. at the senior center and fourth Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the IHop. They showed me how to properly (EW THERE'S A CICADA!) start your first row and assured me that my meathook-like grasp was a perfectly fine way to hold a hook. They called my technique dainty, in fact. I lamented my problems with following patterns, and they were excited at my freeform approach. It has a name! It's called modular crochet**. I told them about my bag making and my felting, and they absolutely lit up with joy.

I put in a volunteer application, and I hope to stop back by if I'm ever in Durham on a Monday or Wednesday from 1-3. Thanks Lorlene, Hazel and Miss Mary Rita.

I miss my grandma.

* I know. They laughed at me, too.
**Hilarious URL!