Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sweet Summertime

Here's the bullet - this summer really is a lovely one.

It's hot, which stinks. It rained a lot, and now there are a lot of mosquitoes, which also stinks. But here's the good news...

We have this amazing blessed life. We are really so blessed. Right now, in this moment, we are alive. We are here with the people we love. That is so huge. Doesn't get any better. Plus - 

The garden here grows like weeds. 

In fact, just about everything we drop in the ground just gets up and running, flowering and growing, with very little attention from me. I love that.

Meat grows well here, too, if a little more slowly than the last batch of Cornish Crosses. Freedom Rangers rock - they don't drop like flies in the heat, and they go outside on purpose to play. Today they are hovering near their fan, but occasionally a few will venture out into the heat in their fancy new yard. They are sucking down water like it's nothing. I'd get them an AC, but that seems extreme for food.

Third, batik scraps make excellent clothing. I also made a seersucker dress using the same pattern (Simplicity 2373, minus bias tape trim, which I got for a buck recently). It is too hot for clothing to touch my skin - unless it's light and cotton! 

Fourth, this is SALAD SEASON!  I’ve been trying some new-to-me salads out this week – perfect timing. I make a lot of modifications to recipes I find on the internet, or I create things all on my very own. Anything to avoid heating up my kitchen.

There’s a Chickpea Salad that I created out of my very own head after tasting something sort of similar when my father was in the hospital. I like mine better, of course. Recipe at the bottom of the post.

Then this Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad – you may note that there is bacon in this, on the blog of the woman who says she does not eat pork? Well, I am not the only person who lives in this house, and some other residents like bacon. This is locally raised bacon from Wells Tavern Farm. It comes pretty dear, but their pork is the only pork I will allow in the house. I left out the kale on this one and went with just sprouts, which I happened to get a deal on. 

This is a new one for me - a lovely Lemon Green Bean and feta salad – delicious! I left out the agave, and used oregano from outside my front door.

And this Quinoa Salad with Apricots and (NOT) Pistachios? Love it. But with pepitas, not pistachios. And I was out of mirin, so I used pomegranate molasses. And I left out the mint and the paprika.

Fifth, I was all ready to head out on an airplane to fetch home a tiny baby BooBoo (a girl BooBoo I thought), but then God (you can call it what you want, for me it's God) stepped in and handed us Bradley.

And Bradley is amazing. He's clever, obedient, loving, and about as loyal as... well... as loyal as Yoshi. If you have food, you are his best friend. If you have head rubs, you are his best friend. If you have a frisbee, a ball, or a swimming pool? You are TOTALLY his best friend! But he's all dog, like a dog should be. Head on your knee, soaking wet and muddy paws all over my car, chasing the cotton-tailed bunny around the chicken house three times before you can catch him DOG. And we adore him. At six o'clock this morning my bedroom erupted in bedlam - the joyful sound of two dogs playing riotously. There they were - the snotty, spoiled Shiba and the down and dirty All-American Golden Retriever - bowing, jumping, leaping as if they'd been brothers forever. He's the yin to the yang. Or the yang to the yin. Either way, he's the balance point.

He is not a dog I would have chosen. I said that to my vet. I generally avoid adult dogs as re-home/rescue prospects. They can come with so many issues. Bradley either has no issues, or he has issues that so totally fit in our family that they just blend in with all of our issues and make one big happy issue. I also never choose widely and easily available breeds. I also avoid any breed that has ever starred in a movie. Yup. Now you know. I am a total dog snob. Mongrels can be awesome, and if the right one came along we'd be buds for life. But in lieu of the perfect mutt, I choose purebreds, and I choose them carefully. I usually do a ton of research, match personalities against our own and against any dogs we have in the home, and make a choice that benefits everyone. Because I am, as we all know, TOTALLY in charge of the WHOLE WORLD, and this is THE most effective way to exert my all-knowing POWER over...

Oh, sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah. So. It turns out that my "all-knowing amazing" skill at dog selection? It wasn't necessary. Because God gave us Bradley. I was looking in the wrong direction.

Truth is, I do not have the time or energy or mental fortitude to handle a puppy right now. At least not the way I do puppy - have you seen my dog's blog? Puppy here is a total focus, 24/7/365, lifestyle thing. It lasts for about 12 months or more depending on the dog - in the case of a big dog, it's usually more. I would have thrown myself in, and done it, too. But it wasn't what we needed right now.

My vet said I got very, very lucky. My vet said "He's amazing". My vet said "It's not about who they are on the outside. It's about who they are on the inside." My vet is smarter than I am. 

Thank God for grace and gut. I knew the minute I saw him, spinning in circles in the front yard of his former home, with Yoshi obnoxiously growling and snapping under him, that he was ours. I went with that gut feeling, and we agreed to a sleepover to see how things went. Twelve hours later I wouldn't have let him go back for anything. Two weeks in, and he and Yoshi are raising hell around my bed at six in the morning - roughhousing, playing, living - and all I can think is "What did we do before Bradley came here?"

Look around you, take a long deep breath and breathe it all in. It's summer. It won't last forever, and it doesn't have to. Tomorrow can take care of itself. Be in the now, because that's where it's at my friends. Now is where it's at.

MMO's Summer Chickpea Salad

1 big (29 oz) can of chickpeas (or 4 cups rehydrated, cooked chickpeas)
1 bunch scallion, chopped fine
1 red pepper, chopped fine
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon parsley
Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

Combine last 6 ingredients in large bowl. You can be fussy and start with the acid and spices and then add the oil slowly, whisking to emulsify, or you can just dump and mix. I've done both and it tasted the same either way! Add drained and rinsed or cooled and rinsed beans, scallions, red pepper and cranberries. Mix well and eat - although it's better a few hours later!