#OnLeave

We ran out of milks so I put vanilla ice cream in my coffee this morning. I pretended to be mad but in reality I think we can all agree that this is a pretty fun treat. A lady should always have reserve ice cream (vanilla, maple, or possibly chocolate) in the freezer for just such a scenario. Did I mention that we bought a chest freezer? A small one, but plenty big for two middle-aged childfree weirdos spanning time together. We went to this place we called Manny’s Dented Appliances and got one on sale. It fits right in the pantry. Here is what is currently in it:
– gallon of beans
– quart of beans
– two loaves of bread
– bag of cubes of pesto
– bag of cubes of basil and oregano
– quart of veggie stock
– many bags of corn and blueberries
– squash soup
– some bags of rhubarb
If we’d gotten it earlier in the season and if I’d had a more focused summer I would have put a LOT more rhubarb and bluebs in it. I also would have canned rhubarb sauce for winter.

CANNING TALK:
Dudes I have canned twelve jars of tomatoes now and every single time no matter what I do I get this weird separation in my jars, where all the tomato blobs are up at the top, and then the bottom is like four inches of water. The internet and my friend Freddy say that this is normal but it looks like shit and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Anyway I just wanted to express my feelings.

OTHER CANNING NEWS:
Our CSA, for a reason I don’t understand, allows members to go out into the fields and pick whatever they want, and as much of it as they want, for free. Like, in addition to your weekly share. I was so confused by this and checked and double checked but it’s just true. So now every Saturday I literally pick 20 pounds of free tomatoes out of a greenhouse and then I go home and can them.

I’m realizing I don’t want to travel in the summer because it is maximum food preservation time. I missed several weeks of blueberries this summer. Also my tomatoes all got blight and I am wondering how to problem solve for next year. I’m also realizing that I think you either have a CSA or a garden but not both, or else if you do have both you need to have a very focused specific garden. Like I grew all this lettuce but then our CSA share was of course full of lettuce, ditto kale.

So I think next year I will focus on growing novelty tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, shit-tons of basil and oregano, and chili peppers. Let my old man have the rest of the garden zone for his nuts and seeds.

Our chili peppers popped off this year. It’s so fun to have fresh chili peppers in the yard! Just pop out into the yard and snip off a hot fresh cayenne and throw it in your eggs or beans or tacos or peanut noodle bowl or whatever! They are lovely and delightful. We also need to build some sort of a greenhouse.

We went to the best tag sale I have ever been to. It was at a house we have been interested in for a year, because we walk the dog by it every day; it has a huge garden and a homemade greenhouse lean-to and just seems really legit. It turns out it is owned by a real, old hippie. A very tall man with long curly gray hair. He was selling, among other things:
– a filthy, un-tanned sheepskin
– a pair of moccasins his friend made
– a 50 year old cast-iron hibachi grill
– an outdoor woodstove for outdoor canning
– a whole table full of battered African percussion instruments
– a box full of “talking drums” tapes, also Graceland and CSNY
– several large water jugs
– a George Foreman grill
– many women’s herbal healing books from the 70s
– many small crystals, lined up on a piece of cloth
– a book from the late 60s instructing women how to take back the land from capitalism and start their own communes

We got the moccasins, the hibachi, a water jug, an herbal healing book, and a cassette tape titled: “Eye of the Womb: Improvised Ritual Music”

Last week we celebrated summer’s end by tubing down a river! Our young friends made it happen. Many of the adventures in our life now come at the hands of these 25 year olds who are our main friends here. It was truly incredible. It took 4.5 hours and we were all sore and waterlogged by the end. I somehow have gotten this far in life never having tubed down a river before, and I’m so glad I finally got to do it. It was amazing. The river was so wide and clean and quiet, we saw so many huge water birds and also a bald eagle. We had a floating cooler full of beer and people’s t-shirts. We went down some mild rapids and I bashed my knee so hard for about four seconds I thought I’d broken it but then I was fine and didn’t say anything, because last time I got hurt with these friends (t-boned while go-karting) it ended up being really embarrassing. Night was falling when we finally arrived back at the car. Everyone was starving, beyond starving. We all got in our cars and peeled out, then the old man and I got takeout veggie burgers and I ate mine in literally 45 seconds. Then I was sore for three days. It was great.

So, today (Tuesday is when I’m writing this; I don’t know when I will post it, as I don’t have internet in my home, as well you know. I am typing this in a Word document) is officially my first day of being on leave, as it is the first day of school. My poor old man got up this morning, put on his coat and tie, forgot to pack a lunch, asked me if I could remember my copy code (I told him somebody canceled it for reasons yet to be explained to me) because he no longer has copy privileges even though he is teaching college students 4-credit classes at an R1 university (the 26th floor of the library used to be reserved for adjuncts and they had free printing but now it’s all closed and locked, probably to make room for another 36 3-D printers no one needs or uses but that some Associate Vice Chancellor can promote as an example of how she “increased innovation” during her brief tenure before being named CEO of Kraft Foods) and popped off to work, god bless him. While he was gone I had a real Grizzly Adams day. I finished a draft of my book conclusion, but then it was only eleven a.m., so I built a fire in the yard and roasted an eggplant, some zucchini, and two red peppers. When my old man comes home I will serve him baba ganoush and a good local beer in a chilled pewter mug, and listen to him complain.

Now it’s the next day and I’m in the coffee shop, researching night sweats. If anyone reading this is a scientist can you please help me? I’ve been to specialists and they just tell me to sleep with a lighter blanket. It someone tells me to sleep with a lighter blanket again I might burst into tears. The deal with these night sweats is: I don’t think they’re hormonal/menopausal! Because THEY ONLY HAPPEN IN THE WINTER. It’s like the moment the angle of the sun changes and it starts bending toward fall, the sweats come back, and get worse and worse throughout the winter, until spring comes, and then they completely stop again. It is really such a bizarre mystery. Obviously my first thought has been “Vitamin D” but I’ve been taking massive amounts of it and it doesn’t make a difference. Does anyone have ANY thoughts on this? Please ask your scientist friends.

So yeah, I’m on leave!! And my baba ganoush turned out great, smoky as hell.

On Friday I’ll be finalizing the feminist/neoliberal/world-building reading list with my reading group, and I have not forgotten that months ago one of you asked me to post the list, and I will!

I’ve got a lot of stuff in the hopper and in the pipeline, in terms of writing. A lot of writing and revising on tap, which is the whole point of being on leave. I’m very excited.

I’m thinking of reading Huck Finn again

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4 Responses to #OnLeave

  1. Meg says:

    Me too with the winter time night sweats! And when I mention this to doctors they say: “Well, you must be using a thicker blanket in the winter – don’t use those thick blankets.” I FEEL YOUR PAIN and would ask that you please pass on to me any solutions you uncover in your research.

  2. Eileen says:

    The tomato canning problem is normal. This is one of the reasons I like to make thick sauce and THEN can it. Also we def will use sauce over whole tomatoes any day. Con: of course then you have to wait four fucking hours for the sauce to cook down BEFORE you can and process it for 40 more minutes, which is untenable in Real Summer. I made 6 quarts of tomato sauce a couple weeks ago and it was immensely satisfying.

    Yes to CSA or serious garden. Or get to know what your CSA does and doesn’t grow, and then plant what they don’t. I am only growing sungold tomatoes, bush beans, and scarlet runner beans, because everything else we want comes in our box (also kohlrabi which I for one do not really want). Even herbs which I hang up and dry. PSA: DRIED HERBS.

  3. dv says:

    My night sweats have mostly gone away now that I am not drinking much alcohol… and I am also not using a comforter like I used to :( When I need an extra layer, I use an afghan blanket that maybe allows the heat to be better regulated because it has holes? I used to sweat so much.

  4. erin says:

    Yes, reading list! I’m looking forward to it.

    This may sound silly, but have you researched PubMed at all re: night sweats? Take advantage of some science librarian at your school and have them help you navigate a search (MeSH terms, etc.). Maybe worth a shot.

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