Monthly Archives: October 2013

Squeak!

Excitement! + a little fear + anticipation + pre-occupation = countdown to NaNo

How will I find time to write when I can’t seem to find the time to cut my toenails? 

We shall see….

 

 

AND woot! Only missed one day for NaBloWriMo.  Much better than last year!

Onward!

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Way Back Wednesday – Best Friends

Photo by ali seifert

Photo by ali seifert

Mike watched his setter out of the corner of his eye while he ordered two hot dogs from the vendor. One with sauerkraut, onions and mustard and the other plain. He silently wished Cinnamon would stick his head back inside the vehicle, be a little less visible. He imagined explaining to his boss why his dog had to accompany him on today’s delivery run. Maybe he would understand.

Probably he wouldn’t.

It was so hot. Mike wiped his forehead with his sleeve before reaching out to drop the cash into the vendor’s hand in exchange for the hot dogs. If he were a dog, he’d have as much as he could fit outside the window, too. He caught the canine’s eye as he made his way to the van. Thankfully all the setter did was get to his feet and wag his tail. Mike could see the plume swaying in the shadows inside the van. Cinnamon wasn’t one to bark much.

“Scoot over, Mutt and let me in.” Cinnamon scrambled over to the passenger seat and faced the front as though he were ready to be moving.

“Lunch first,” Mike said in response. “Here you go, Boy.” He pulled the hot dogs out of the sack and put them up on the dash, tore the bag open and spread it like a placemat on the seat between them, and then unwrapped the plain hot dog and placed it before Cinammon. The dog looked at him with huge dark eyes begging for permission, and Mike couldn’t help but smile.

“Go for it!” he said, and the dog did just that. In the back of his mind, Mike wondered if he should have gotten Cinnamon two. Then he wondered how he’d get him water. Later. He’d think about that later. Along with all those other things he couldn’t think about just now.

After folding the paper down around his own lunch, Mike started the van and eased away from the curb. He heard the wet flap of the dog licking his chops and glanced down at the paper bag, which was being thoroughly sniffed for a stray morsel. “We’re almost through, Buddy. Then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do next.”

Then Mike started thinking about her, and found himself caught in that whirlpool that dragged his mind down a deep and bottomless hole every time. How could she be like this? How could a person change so utterly, so completely? And so fast. Almost overnight it seemed. 

They had been married for five years. No, they weren’t the match-made-in-heaven couple that seemed to fill the movie screens. They had married too quickly and had put a lot of work into adjusting to one another over those first couple years. Still, they had built a life together. Mutual respect had been cultivated, as well as tolerance for each other’s quirks. They had their weekly pizza night and full-blown date evenings a couple times a month. Mike recalled long conversations they’d had over Saturday breakfast, often arguing good-naturedly over the op-ed column, and long easy walks through the park with Cinnamon in tow. He had been honestly happy. And thought she had been as well.

Now she wanted out. Not only that, she wanted to take everything with her. Even the dog. 

Mike reached out and buried his fingers in the dog’s coat just below his collar and rubbed. Cinammon turned his big, grateful eyes on him for a moment, and then went back to watching the world go by out the passenger side window. Why on earth was she so adamant about the dog? It wasn’t like they had kids who would miss him. It wasn’t like she was the one who got up in the mornings and walked him. Lately she hadn’t even been taking him to the park in the evenings either. She had been working round the clock, only now Mike couldn’t help but wonder exactly what it was that she had been working at during those long hours. 

The house was negotiable. As was the car, the furniture, the wedding pictures. He was ready to give her whatever she wanted as long as he wasn’t left destitute.

Without Cinnamon, he was destitute.

At the moment the company of the animal meant more than money or things. There was one living, breathing being on the earth that hadn’t turned on him, that gave him unconditional support and companionship, and of all the things she wanted, this was the one he would not even discuss. 

When he saw her this morning, ready to back out of the drive with the animal in her shiny BMW, and Mike had nearly gone berserk. Probably stitched up every thread needed in a case for divorce due to insanity. He stood directly in her path as she began to back down the driveway, and she stopped with just inches between him and her rear bumper.  After which he pounded forcefully on her trunk and saw her lower the window. 

She was just taking him for a walk, she screamed. They had to get used to sharing these things, she said. But nothing could stop him from yanking the passenger door open, calmly calling the dog out and then putting him in the Wentworth’s Uniforms van at the curb, which was sorely in need of a wash he had noted in that odd way that had overtaken him. Details that meant nothing caught his attention like bait. 

“The dog is not going to be shared,” he said, sharply and clearly when she paused at the end of the drive to say something else. “Non-negotiable.” 

“We’ll see about that!” she yelled in return.  She sped away. He climbed into the van and put it in reverse, trembling in relief.  

Mike wondered now what, if anything, she had been up to. Honestly she’d have no reason to kidnap the dog. He wasn’t registered, trained or worth any money, which seemed to be her sole interest these days.

But the sight of her with Cinnamon raised all the jealousy that would have surfaced had she had her lover in the seat beside her. Maybe that’s what he’d seen. Or had been afraid of–that his dog’s affections could be swayed away from him. That he could be utterly and completely alone. 

And so here they were, side by side, Mike and Cinnamon, delivering uniforms across Cleveland, both of them wondering exactly what came next. Cinnamon just seemed a bit more eager to know than Mike was at present.

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Today’s prompt: (March 25, 2004) A cinnamon-colored Irish setter stares out the driver’s side window of a dirty white cargo van. Who owns him?

Savvy Tenant – Soup’s On!

Fall is here! Well, in the US, fall is here. 🙂  I forget the global connection we have these days.  Isn’t it interesting how we tend to think the way things are were we live is the way they are everywhere.  Now there’s a blog topic.

Anywho, the air is a bit sharper and it is definitely time to fill your apartment with warmth and yummy smells.  Here is a recipe for one of my favorite soups.  My family loves it, too.

Photo by Bev

Photo by Bev

Sausage & Tortellini Soup

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups beef broth
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 large carrot, sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
10 ounces cheese tortellini
salt and pepper
fresh grated parmesan cheese

  1. In a large saucepan, cook Italian sausage until no longer pink. Drain sausage well on paper towels and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of drippings from saucepan.
  2. Add onion and garlic to saucepan. Saute until translucent. Return sausage to pan; add beef broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrot, wine, basil, and oregano.
  3. Simmer until vegetables are tender, 40-60 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini and cook until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle into individual soup bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Notes: If you want a soup with a few more veggies, the original recipe called for a chopped bell pepper and sliced zuchinni.  My family isn’t fond of either, so I leave them out.  In fact, why not get creative and add other veggies of your choice.  Also the wine is optional; it adds a nice depth of flavor.Also if you want dinner ready when you walk in the door, brown up the meat ahead of time and throw everything except the tortellini and the Parmesan in a crock pot and turn it on low for the day.  There’s nothing quite as inviting as walking through your door to the smell of soup just waiting for you to dig in. Throw in the tortellini to cook while you change clothes, or cook it up separately and rinse it briefly to stop the cooking process (or so I’ve been told), and toss in it the hot soup.

Back to Butterflies

I heard another interesting tidbit about a very common butterfly the other day. It’s worth sharing, just to prove there are still things out there to discover, right on our own planet.

The painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) is very common and perhaps the most widespread butterfly on the planet.  Wikipedia says that it is commonly used in classrooms to demonstrate for children the life cycle of a butterfly and shows up frequently in science fair projects.

So what makes this little run-of-the-mill butterfly discovery-worthy?

First, here are some fast facts about the Painted Lady:

  • weighs .04 ounces, with a brain the size of a pin head
  • is found on every continent except Antarctica and South America
  • is known for a distinct migratory behavior
  • has a strange pattern of flying in a sort of screw shape
  • it takes six successive generations of the butterfly to complete the migration from Europe to Africa and back again
  • weather impacts their migration pattern, hence global climate events such as El Nino may affect their migratory behavior
  • European butterflies use favorable wind currents to fly at a rate of around 30 mph to travel up to 9,300 miles annually (Monarchs travel about 6,000 miles on their migratory route.)
  • research seems to indicate that the butterflies use a solar compass to guide their journey

Secondly, until about four years ago, it was thought that the European Painted Lady simply died out when the weather got cold because no one witnessed the southern migration. However, scientists at Rothamsted Research used entomological radar, while Butterfly Conservation encouraged volunteers to report sightings, and it was discovered that these butterflies migrate at an altitude of more than 1,600 feet, for the most part invisible to humans, to their African destination.

What amazing tiny travellers!

We still have so much to learn about the world around us.

For further reading:

Quote for the Day

In anticipation of NaNo:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Calvin Coolidge

 

Concerning Opinions…

Photo by quil

Photo by quil

  1. Opinions aren’t facts.
  2. Everyone has them.
  3. If you share an opinion, you have invited the listener to share his/hers.
  4. If you want a listener to respect your opinion, then the you must respect your listener’s right to have his/hers, whether or not you agree with it.

You may feel strongly that a person’s opinion is provably wrong–in the realm of fact rather than opinion.  That still doesn’t grant license to be disrespectful, whether or not s/he wants to change.

It’s never wrong to be kind and considerate.

In my opinion.

My Baby Loves Me

Here is my surprise for today from my hubby:

IMG_0928

It’s been a good year, though I didn’t plant a wide variety of things.  Some carrots and Thai Dragon peppers came up of their own accord, and my chives and Swiss chard never died last winter, but you sure can’t see much of the chard now for the overgrowth of tomato plants.

But I’m not sure who gets the greatest delight from those little patches of red shining through a mound a green tomato vines–me or my husband.  He comes in and tells me they are there, but he’ll leave them for me to harvest.  Unless he thinks I can’t reach them, which happens.  Or unless I take too long to get out there and do it myself.  Then he’s kind enough to take the job on himself. 😉

My tomatoes don’t seem to know it’s almost time to quit.  They went crazy this year. Not only my Juliet (which variety for the second time has proved to be a vigorous producer) but also my Amish Paste, Big Beef, Better Bush, Jet Star and another that by the time it landed at my house was only labeled “Container Tomato” have all done amazingly well this year. I haven’t made much salsa, but I sure did make a bodacious batch of marinara.  And the little ones I have been known to pop like candy as I pass by the bowl full.

The plants took over the walkway between my pyramid bed and the fence bed, even though I tried to contain them in cages this year.  It’s sort of hidden behind the pepper plants here, but hubby ended up sliding an old chain-link gate underneath the entwined plants and getting them up off the ground so that the bugs wouldn’t get to the tomatoes before we did.  We didn’t seem to have trouble with birds this year.

Tomatoes Gone Wild!

Tomatoes Gone Wild!

Obviously the peppers didn’t do too badly either (serrano, chili, jalepeno, and mucho nacho stuffers). My cayenne had a close encounter with a weed whacker. (No, it wasn’t me doing the whacking…) and I’ve left the onions sort of take over that one spot because frankly, I love the flowers.

The surprise sign is the mark of a successful growing season and a loving hubby. Win-win!