Category Archives: Recipe

The Return of the Scorpions (and Other Stories)

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It’s Wednesday evening at 6 pm, and I’m making soup while listening to Lyle Lovett.  I’m always telling people I hate country music . . .  and I’m hoping Lyle doesn’t fall into that category since I love him so.  He sings so many amazing songs, and they always lift my spirits.

So tonight I was singing along with Lyle and getting out ingredients for my soup when I soon realized I’m talking to the vegetables.  “Tomatoes–you are positively squishy! You are definitely going into the soup!  Old onion, you smell terrible.  Hmmm, we’ll have to think about you.  Carrots, you are extremely long in the tooth, but I think you’ll do just fine.  I have my eye on you, red potatoes, haha!  Get it, eye??  I’m sorry, broccoli, I don’t think you’ll be a good choice for this particular batch.  Hope you don’t rot before someone eats you.” Then I made a sad face and placed the broccoli bag back in the crisper.

Should I be concerned about my mental health? I guess I should start worrying when the vegetables start talking back to me . . .  I’m just glad the family is not around tonight so I can chit-chat with my soup ingredients without being mocked.  With two adult children living with us this summer, I have to walk a fine line or else I find myself being teased by my wise-ass kids.  I guess evidence of their snarky humor just shows we raised them right.  (I feel it’s served me well in my own life.)

You may be asking, why is Mary making soup when today’s high temperature was 101 degrees?  The answer is I was feeling guilty about all the veg going bad from the lovely fruit/veg box I picked up at Clark Park a week ago.  What a bargain for only $20, but next time I will most definitely share it with a friend!  I’ve taken some fruit to school for our preschool snack, and gave a huge bag of Brusell sprouts to our friend, Chuck. (We are anti-cabbage here in the Vaughan household.)

In other news is the Terrible Annual Return of the Bark Scorpions.  I take my black light and an old flip flop out back every few days for a scorp hunt, and so far this Spring the grand kill total is 38.   We  had one in the house last week which Hubby decided to kill by squishing it  in a paper napkin. Let’s just say that didn’t go well, and he had a numb thumb for three days.  Another big number in my life is FIVE.  As in, FIVE DAYS LEFT OF SCHOOL!!!!!  Woot woot.  I’m really not sure what I’ll do with myself, but I know I’m looking forward to getting more sleep.

Lastly, I believe it may be time to take a break with Words with Friends since I’ve been playing the game in my dreams.  That can’t be good.  Some of my favorite, long-time WWF opponents have seemingly dropped off the planet.  To me it’s more fun to play the same people (all strangers) day after day.  For example, I try harder after Chocolate Thunder (this is a real person) has beaten me four times in a row!

My (mostly) carrot soup is now happy and is ready to be blended (recipe below).  Tonight I added an old jalapeno and two extra tomatoes.  Goodnight!

Do you Carrot All? Soup
2 teaspoons butter
5 large potatoes, skinned and chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 large carrots, skinned and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
32 ounces vegetable stock
1/2 cup chicken shmaltz

In a big-ass soup pot, melt butter and stir in vegetables. Cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add shmaltz and vegetable stock.  Cover and cook for an hour, or until potatoes and carrots are soft.  (Sometimes I precook the carrots and potatoes in the microwave to speed up the process.) Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

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Spring Break 2018

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I’m feeling very happy this evening because I have only ONE MORE DAY of school before it’s my SPRING BREAK!!!  WOOT WOOT!!!  I love my job, but I’m ready for a week away from our preschool monkeys, er um, students.  I love them, but I think I’ll love them more after a week off.  Truly we have so much fun with picnics on the big playground or picnics in our garden, dancing to new songs, playing with Beanie Babies, playing dress up, crafting so hard, and having special visitors, like Tyler’s pet guinea pig, Mr. Sparkles.  I LOVE HIM! (I meant Mr. Sparkles, but I love Tyler, too.)

Hubby and I dithered over vacation destinations and settled on San Diego.  I almost booked us to Cabo (cheap this time of year) and found out it’s a hot destination for ASU fraternities and sororities.  GOOD GRIEF!  I would have been sooooo mad spending our money to be in the middle of a scene from Girls Gone Wild!  The last time we were in San Diego, William was in a stroller (now he is 20).  So likely 18 years ago. It’s a five-hour drive, and I’m enticed not by the beaches (California beaches are terrible compared to our beloved Puerto Penasco, MX beaches), but by the seafood and breweries!  I’m calling our trip a “brewcation.” I’ve mapped out our favorite craft breweries—we’ll visit Stone, Ballast Point, St. Archer, and Coronado Brewing Co.  I’ve booked us a whale watching trip one afternoon.  I’m skeptical if we’ll really see a whale, but the boat has cocktails and snacks, so I’m all in!

The best thing is we’ll come home mid-week, and I’ll still have four free days before going back to work.  I plan to get some stuff done around the house and do some hiking and see friends.  On Friday night, William returns home from college for his Spring Break!  I miss him sooooo much.  (We all do.)  We’ll have him for a whole nine days—LIFE IS GOOD!

I’m getting the laundry done so I’ll have all my clothes to choose from to pack for our trip.  It’s going to be about ten degrees colder than here, so brrrrrrr that it will be only in the mid-60’s and cloudy every day . . . but don’t you just know most tourists will be wearing sun dresses and flip flops.  And I will want to wear sweaters and boots, because 65 and cloudy is COLD.  We desert dwellers are an odd lot, this I know for sure.  Our new-ish clothes washer sings a beautiful little ditty to announce the load is done.  I thinks it’s the greatest thing ever, and I need to know if there is a job called “Appliance Composer,” and if so, how does one get that job?  How many man hours did it take to create the 25-second melody?  Did several musicians spend weeks dreaming up the perfect tune?  Did executives in pin-stripe suits solemnly sit around a conference table while said ditties were presented and chosen?  To me, the whole thing is very curious.  I have questions.

And now I have to share with you the YUMMIEST recipe.  It’s currently in direct competition with broccoli soup for my favorite lunch dish.  It’s Creamed Spinach with jalapeno peppers . . . and it’s absolutely heaven on a plate.  I found the recipe online and changed several things.  For one, the original recipe called for evaporate milk.  WHAT???  I substituted regular milk, and it was great.  It occurred to me you could skip the oven and do it stove top to save time, but I think baking it gives it a better texture.  ALSO, it only made enough for maybe six people.  Next time I will double it to have leftovers.

CREAMED SPINACH WITH JALAPENO PEPPERS

2 12-ounce packages frozen leaf spinach
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced fine
3 cloves garlic, minced fine (I often use the stuff from the jar–don’t judge)
1/3 cup whole milk (or half and half)
1/2 teaspoons each salt, and white pepper
8 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, cubed
1 jalapeno pepper, minced fine (add another pepper if you like spicier)
1/4 cup bread crumbs (optional)

Cook spinach according to package instructions, saving the spinach water (I use a Pampered Chef microwave steamer).

In a medium pan, melt butter, then add the flour to create the roux.   Add onion, cooking for about five minutes.  Add spinach and remaining ingredients, stirring over low heat until mixed well.

Place in a greased 9×13 casserole.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Cheers,
Mary

 

 

Soup Days

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By Golly, it’s been a long time since I posted anything here.  To be honest, I was plumb tuckered after all of the many wedding festivities!  Hubby and I hunkered down for a good two weeks, only making last-minute plans with friends.  What wonderful memories we have with friends and family from the wedding weekend!!!  Thanks again to everyone for their well wishes for the young couple.  Pat &  Sam’s wedding will go down in the books as one helluva party!

But now we are back to our usual busy pace, very happy and productive. I’ve planned a Spring Break trip for Hubby and I to San Diego, and both of us have spent approximately a bazillion hours looking for cheap flights to London for a summer vacation to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  If you fly to JFK first, the flights are reasonable, but then you risk missing connections which adds stress.  I’m sure we’ll figure it all out.  I heart London so much, and we will spend a few days there before renting a car to tour (drum roll, please!) . . . WALES!  Wales has amazingly beautiful countryside and a rich history; you can’t swing a cat without hitting a castle.  Right now I’m revisiting a novel I read in my youth about Welsh history called Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman.  At 704 pages, I’ve assigned myself 50 pages a day so Hubby can also read it before our trip in late June!  It’s so good that it’s hard to put down.

I’ve spent way too much time googling stuff the past few days and giggled while viewing my browsing history.  Here’s a brief list:

  • Dulse Seaweed butter–a chefs secret weapon (can’t wait to try it)
  • Black Panther movie trailer (looks good)
  • Cheddar Broccoli Soup recipe (YUM!!!)
  • How tall is Charlie Barnes? (never did find that–he tours with Bastille)
  • List of the busiest US airports (Atlanta, LAX, then Chicago)
  • Phoebe Buffay’s fake names (just couldn’t remember Regina Phalange)
  • What is motor boating?  (er, umm, that’s what I thought it was–too much time reading weird stuff on FB lately!)
  • Henry Plantagenet family tree (to assist while reading a historical fiction novel)
  • 24 Things Not to Miss in Wales
  • SOOOOOOO much flight pricing!!!!!!!!

I’m just INTERESTED in stuff, you know?  Now I’ll give you the soup recipe.  I changed it by adding two potatoes and decreasing the amount of cheese and butter and flour.  My family thought it was delicious!  I love to make soup.  I find it homey to have a large pot bubbling on the stove, filling the house with yummy aromas.  My daughter bakes to relax.  She must’ve had a really stressful week since she made three different types of macaroons on three separate days this week!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
5 cups broccoli, chopped small
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)
4 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and white pepper to taste
one teaspoon chopped garlic

Get out a big-ass pot.  Melt the butter, adding onions and sauteing until soft. Stir in half a cup flour to give the soup some legs to stand on.  Add in chicken broth and milk, then the carrots, potatoes, and the star of our show–BROCCOLI!  Reduce the heat or else the milk will foam up into a huge cloud, which will spill all over your stove top and be a nasty mess.  (This happened to a friend—not me, of course.)   I simmered everything for maybe 45 minutes, testing the carrots with a fork for softness.  When all veg are tender:  add salt, pepper, and garlic, then stir in the cheese.  I used an immersion blender because the potatoes were still in chunks, and also because it’s a fun toy that I rarely get to use. Plus it scares the bejeezus out of the cats, which makes me laugh.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boogers, Band Aids, and BVDs

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As most of you know, I am a preschool teacher.  This job is perfect for me because a) it does not involve sitting in a cubicle at a desk b) there are lots of snacks and c) we have nap time every afternoon from 1-2:30.  My job this year is to assist my lovely lead teacher, Andrew, while together we teach our class of Three Year Olds everything from letters and numbers, to manners, to how to say sorry, and explaining in a Very Patient Voice why even though it IS so much fun to watch a plastic lizard fly across the room, it’s not a safe thing to do when it lands on a friend and makes them cry.  It’s a very nuanced job, with lots of action.  I would not be wrong in stating that every week we have blood, sweat, and tears (sometimes theirs . . . sometimes mine).

Today started out cheerily with Music Class, everyone’s favorite.  During the ten minutes in which Jay taught us the Halloween song, Five Little Pumpkins, I was handed two boogers, two used band aids, and helped one poor friend whose BVDs had rolled over several times at the top (OUCH).  I chuckled thinking about how fun it would be to have a “Mary Cam” attached to my forehead so you could smile along with me when a small friend sings Juice Box Hero in the bathroom or another friend insists their shoes are on the correct feet—even when they are not.  I am in love with every one of my students and am excited to see how wise and caring they’ve become in just seven short weeks.

(This just in from Wikipedia: BVD is a brand of men’s underwear, which are commonly referred to as “BVDs.” The brand was founded in 1876 and named after the three founders of the New York City firm Bradley, Voorhees & Day (thus “B.V.D.”). The term came to be used, however incorrectly, for any underwear in the style popularized by BVD. The BVD brand, originally produced for men and women, is now produced solely for men by Fruit of the Loom.  I knew you’d want to know.)

In other news, I made the most delicious, mouth-watering stew over the weekend.  Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon (not easy to spell) was a cinch and is melt in your mouth.  I found the recipe online and made it easier by taking out the deglazing of the pan (is that EVER really necessary??).  I think this beef stew is company worthy.  Serve it with crusty bread and a big salad.  (Can anyone tell me why we can’t call them crock pots anymore???)

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Get out your slow cooker.  In a large pan, cook five slices of bacon.  Using scissors, cut cooked bacon into small pieces and place them in the slow cooker.  Without cleaning the bacon pan, brown the beef for a few minutes so the beef chunks are browned on all sides.  Dump those into the slow cooker.  You are done with the pan.

Into the slow cooker, place the remaining items. Cook on medium for six hours, or until the beef is tender.  Bon Appetit!!!

  • 5 slices bacon
  • 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut to 2 inch chunks
  • 1 cup red cooking wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • small can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons thyme
  • 8 Medium Carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound potatoes, cleaned
  • 8 ounce fresh mushrooms, sliced

Cheers,

Mary

Home, Then and Now

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It is 7:30 pm on Sunday night, and I am in the middle of cooking my mother’s famous lasagna recipe.  It involves making your own bechamel, and it is the best lasagna I’ve ever tasted.  I seem to remember that she found it in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine which seems hard to believe, but you must remember that in the late 1960s and the early 1970s Julia Child was on tv encouraging housewives to venture away from meat loaf and pork chops.  I’m not going to share the lasagna recipe here because lately I’ve found it hard to amaze my dinner guests, which is not surprising when the NYT and Epicurious send us their best recipes on a daily basis.  Better, sometimes, to reach back in time and return to the classics.

Tonight I was so happy chopping onions and garlic and stirring pots and singing along with Florence Welch and then it occurred to me that WHOOPS I’d forgotten about the pasta. Our stove is awful and takes forever for a burner to heat, so now I am in a holding period waiting for the ziti to cook.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I am making my mother’s famous lasagna recipe using ziti, simply because the lasagna noodles located on the top shelf (way in the back) were so petrified they quite possibly may have been purchased during Obama’s first term.  You see, our cupboards are very deep, and I am short and cannot see to the back.  And I’m lazy to fetch a chair to look into the bowels of my cupboards.  I hope I gain back some of your faith when I tell you I used fresh oregano from our backyard garden in the meat sauce.  That’s about all that’s left growing in this tremendous heat. That and a basil plant that has quadrupled in size during the few months since I bought it at Trader Joe’s.  I completely forgot it was there and am sad thinking about all the days when I could have had Caprese salads.

I’m making this complicated lasagna recipe so Hubby will have comfort food when he comes home to an empty house each night during this coming week.  William and his friends are off camping up north in the cool mountains, and tomorrow I get on plane to see my aunts and uncles and cousins in my hometown in northern Illinois.  I have not been in three years and am so excited to see my family . . . and to see and feel and smell the town where I was born and where I lived until I was ten years old.

In my dreams I ride my bike down the streets of this little old town.  I go through the squeaky screen door to hug my grandmother and then at other times, I have coffee with my Aunt Linda and my cousin Bridget.  In my dreams, memories of my young self get tangled up with the reality of the older self I am now.  Because I am the oldest of three, I keep the childhood memories of this place for all of us.  I tell my brother about driving to Grandpa Koppen’s house when a tornado was coming, our mother shouting at us to roll down the windows, we will be there soon!  Our own basement was mud walls and big spiders, and grandma and grandpa were just up the street with a lovely finished basement complete with pool table and full bar.  I say to my siblings, don’t you remember when we lived on Grover Street and Aunt Linda and Uncle Bill and Matt and Bridget lived just twenty steps from our own front door?  Their dog, Arfrang, was so cute and was always jumping at their screen . . . and their spunky little cats, Amos and Andy, were so fun to chase and pet.  Remember Thanksgiving and Christmas at grandma and grandpa’s when we would sit at a fancy long table in the dining room?  Then after dinner the men would smoke and drink, and the women would do dishes and talk in the kitchen.  So much laughter, and I remember it all so fondly.  I try to keep this place of my youth alive for us because I am the oldest thus have the most stories, and this is the place where we were born.

I could share here many more childhood memories from my small town in Illinois, but a big storm is moving in, and I’d rather watch that through the window than continue driveling on here.  We have lightening and huge storm clouds and a rumbling of thunder in the distance.  We so rarely get weather here in the desert; this storm is a treat.   As always, thank you for reading my words.

Cheers,

Mary

 

Mercury in Retrograde

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What a crazy week it’s been!  Facebook friends advised, “Be kind to yourself because Mercury is in retrograde,” and wow, that is advice I certainly needed this week.

This is going to sound untrue, but I swear with my hand on a stack of Bastille albums: Monday night was the first time I’ve ever slept alone in our house.  REALLY!  Hubby is on a business trip to San Luis Potisi, Mexico and having a grand time being wined and dined by the locals (and also doing some business during the day, I presume).  He’s certainly gone on business trips before, but I always had our kids here with me.  This week William is at college, Eve is on vacation in Spain, and Patrick is in Tucson on business. It’s been very peaceful, and I’ve been happy to get those last steps on my step counter (I’ve been aiming for 15K each day) dancing to loud music in the kitchen without anyone raising an eyebrow to the noise or my terrible form.

I’m not really alone:  We’ve adopted Eve’s cat for the next six months while Eve is away for an out-of-town job, so I have four cats and one dog for company.  So much easier to live with pets than children, though their Spring Shedding certainly has caused much sneezing and vacuuming.  They are adorable, and the initial hissing and chasing has calmed down.  It’s only been a week; soon they will be BFF’s.

I took Ruby in for a teeth cleaning on Tuesday and got a call mid-day from the vet explaining that the bill would be doubled because she had two rotten teeth needing extracting.  She was a sad mess the first night, but after 24 hours, she was doing very well. I’m eager to look in her mouth, but I like having fingers so have not tried to peek (she is very growly when I want to examine her).  Why do we always end up with such expensive pets???  Ruby is such a good girl; she is worth every penny.

I had two fun days subbing at my school with lovely young teachers who never make me feel old and are always so welcoming.  The kids are adorable, hilarious, hate nap time, and wake up all warm and snuggly.  Best job ever.

Back to Mercury being in retrograde:  Each day I’ve forced myself to drive the 20 minutes north to our house near ASU which we are prepping for sale.  All renters and Eve have moved out, yet they left behind a full household of belongings.  It’s overwhelming.  We’ve had ten different people live there over the course of 7 years, and each person left a little something or other that now I have to find a place for.  The walls need painting.  We need new carpet.  Tomorrow I will fill my car with paint cans and other haz mat items and take them to the Tempe Recycling Center.  I’m hoping students in the neighborhood will be happy to get free old couches and bookcases and chairs and a kitchen table, and OMG, I’m trying so hard to remain calm.  FIRST WORLD PROBLEM has been my mantra this past week.  Each day I’ve filled my car with boxes of stuff I think our daughter will still be able to use (pots and pans and silverware and room fans and lamps and her bed etc., etc.) because to buy all new is pricey.  Our garage is filled to the brim, as is Eve’s old room upstairs at our house.  I’m placing no blame on anyone, and I have no regrets. Stowing our college-aged kids away from our own home was good for them and for us. Out of sight and out of mind is one of my favorite mottos.  Please send me positive energy since I have a lot to do there before we can list our charming little built-in-1955 house for sale . . . and hopefully we will find a new owner who will love this house as much as we have.

With Hubby out of town, I’ve not cooked at all. He’s leaving Mexico at 4am tomorrow and arriving here at noon.  He’ll likely be hungry.  I always have leftovers or cold cuts and right now . . . nada!  I planned tonight to make a favorite recipe, chicken with red pepper cream sauce with pasta, but ACCKKKK, what I thought was an almost-full jar of marinated red peppers in the fridge was actually a jar of maraschino cherries.  I honestly considered it for a moment—sort of like sweet and sour chicken (?)–but YUCK.  I can’t let the poor guy arrive home with nothing in the fridge but approximately 100 bottles of condiments and no real food.  Eggs are always good, right?

It’s all good: I’m smiling after a fun happy hour with good friends this afternoon after work and am now listening to the soothing music of Brandi Carlile.  Tomorrow Hubby will be back from his business trip, and William will be home from Flagstaff to take his best girl to Prom.  Life is good.

Cheers,

Mary

Skeeter Hawks

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Summer has come early to our town in the desert.  We’re ten degrees over the norm, which means temps in the 90s.  Ugh. When you live in a place where it’s pretty much unbearable to be outdoors for six months of the year, this early summer is terrible news. We’re sadly pulling from our gardens lettuces that have too quickly gone to seed, spinach that has turned bitter, and every day I’m picking nasturtium bouquets to leave at friends’ doors because the high temps makes them crumpled and brown and I don’t want them to go to waste.  We’re also experiencing an invasion of “skeeter hawks” which, though harmless, float about the bright lights in the kitchen and whip our house cats into a frenzy.  I find their long legs and slow flight graceful in a weird sort of way.

I’ve had two stressful weeks trying to clean up our rental house near ASU where our daughter lives with two friends. (I wrote angry posts about this, but deleted them.)  For the past few years, we’ve been busy with our own lives and also cognizant of giving the kids their space, so the list of stuff that needs cleaning and fixing over there is long.  Hubby would say to me on a Sunday morning, “I think I’ll go over to Eve’s and do some work,” and I would say, “I’m sure they are sleeping in and do not want you there.”  So the place is a mess.  We crunched the numbers and (hip hip hooray) have decided to sell this sweet house built in 1952.  After the tenants leave in late April, we likely have a month’s worth of work to do.  I hope someone will be thrilled to have this charming little house so close to campus.  Our family has sentimental attachments to this house which we’ve owned for seven years, but our goal is to make sure we sell to someone who will love it as much as we have. (The only thing I absolutely hate about the house is bright red, plastic-fronted kitchen cabinets from IKEA, which were installed by the architect who owned the place before we did.)

About four weeks ago, I told you the house next door would be going up for sale due to divorce.  I hesitate to talk it up too much to anyone I know because we may not be the best neighbors.  Hubby’s method of relaxing after a long day of work is to watch tv; mine is to dance or sing to music in the backyard.  I swear I never play music very loudly, but hay fever has adjusted my voice to a definitely nasal tone.  Add in the bouts of sneezing that can last up to 15 minutes, which sometimes causes Ruby the Wonder Spaniel to bark incessantly, and Cosmo our Elderly Siamese to yowl.  In the big picture, I firmly believe dancing in the back yard is better than taking a daily mood-enhancing pill, something I’ve never done.  Plus the dancing is good exercise.

Excuse me for a moment.  I must go look at the sunset.

FIVE MINUTES LATER:

Oh my word–that was amazing.  The clouds looked like a long swath of fuzzy pink cotton candy . . . and then the colors deepened and it looked more like a scarlet wool blanket. Now I can see thought the front window that it is violet/gray overhead, with scarlet down at the horizon.  Well done, Mother Nature. Well done.

Life is strange.  For the first time in many years, I find myself with too much free time.  I thought of the word “tumbling” the other day, and it’s an appropriate word to describe my days in which I find myself wandering from room to room, finding something to clean or put away, then responding to my phone or emails, then tumbling upstairs for laundry, then tumbling outside to run an errand or two.  For awhile I had friends lined up to walk with most days, but lately people have been busy with Spring Break vacations, and I feel a bit neglected.  I use the word tumbling because I feel a profound sense of being off-center, with maybe a bit of dizziness;  a definite blurriness of focus.  Close your eyes and remember being a child doing a somersault.  Yes, that’s it.  Tumbling.

I’ve been reading too much (most recently Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, then Vivan Howard’s ten-pound tribute to her hometown in NC with lots of recipes, Deep Run Roots), and watching too much tv (Rectify‘s amazing latest season on Netflix, and rewatching for the millionth time the first few seasons of Gilmore Girls), and cooking too much (I made this carrot cake recipe in muffin form for breakfast and for dinner, and we enjoyed the Creamy Mustard Chicken recipe from the New  York Times, which I can’t access now because I’ve used up my freebies for the month.).

Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and sister-in-law.  They are good listeners, but Paul always says, “Mary, you need more stimulation than anyone I’ve ever met.” I know I’m not good at being alone.  I know I’m a bit spastic.  I’m trying so hard to relax into early retirement or a break from working–whatever we want to call it–to find peace in the quiet of my world.  Now that I think about it, I’m much like those early summer skeeter hawks, floating about without much purpose, simply enjoying family, books, garden, pets, and the fabulous desert sunsets.

Cheers,

Mary