Hope you are well, friends!
Mini and I went to hear Christopher Moore last night. My only regret was that I didn’t coordinate Finny’s latest visit for this talk; holy hell — is this author funny! (One of of Finny’s favorites too.)
Someone in the audience asked him, “Were you a stand-up comedian before you starting writing?” He said he wasn’t. He intended to be a horror writer, but his characters just ended up being funny people. His latest book is set in Venice, with influences of both Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare. And of course, a lot of Italian history. So not only is the guy incredibly smart, but he can tell a story in a way that had everyone in the room snorting.
And then he took a lot of cracks at Arizona, including it being “A dry hate.” And the local chihuahuas participate in a “dry hump,” and most of these jokes do not translate on my little blog, but were hold-your-sides funny in person. It was a great night, and I’m so glad I got to go with Min, who truly loves CM.
If you haven’t read his stuff, start with Lamb. It is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Also — it was incredible to be at a venue with that many people clamoring to hear one of their favorite authors. LOVE IT!
I love this dragon boat, and the others in the Tempe Town Lake marina. I swear, my feet could walk the path around that lake with my eyes closed after the last few months. Nelson needs little direction. We walk and walk, watching the light change on the water as the sun climbs on the eastern morning horizon. The fish flop and feed on the edge of the water, rising and falling from the surface. Birds take shelter in the shade of the bridges, craning their necks toward the heat of another Arizona day.
These morning walks help me focus — moments of silence other than the sounds of nature. Life has been so unexpectedly busy lately. Work comes in waves; I am happily swimming into tsunami, with an addition of staff and the kickoff of a large county-wide project I’ll manage. I’m attending conferences, speaking at events and continuing my fairly ridiculous role of being the poster child for public health. I come home many days so brain tired, and deliriously happy this is my career.
And, as it seems, my dance card fills in waves too. I’m dating someone new. In that excitement, priorities shift. I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks, but I have spent time lingering in the sun, holding the hand of a very kind man. I haven’t edited those last 20 pages of my novel, as I have promised friend/editors — but I have booked flights and bought hiking gear for trips this summer. I haven’t looked at my knitting or sewing projects, but I have been throwing together ridiculous outfits for golfing outings and dinners. These are delightful distractions.
I think of my grandmothers — Maxine and Astra. I wonder if they are in cahoots in heaven, working together on my behalf. I can see their influences, and on a really good day feel them too.
So, I don’t have any new sewing or recipes to share. I don’t have any major progress on my writing. There are no international travel photos of late. But I do have a big smile on my face and a skip in my step.
Oh, how crafty did I feel making homemade chicken stock this week? I let it simmer over night; I awoke to the entire (small) house smelling of onion and celery and savory deliciousness. Of course, I’m always low on tupperware. It never seems to fail that I do not have the right sized container I need in the moment. Ah, why not freeze all that strained chicken broth in mason jars? Look how pretty! This will be perfect to use for that Easter risotto!
What happened was more like this: Easter morning I pulled the broth out of the freezer to find the tops had lifted and bent. Frozen broth was all over the freezer. I over filled the jars and when they froze, they expanded. I was lucky only the large jar cracked, rendering the broth unusable. I was unlucky I didn’t realize this until I went to make the risotto and was 4 cups short. Gah. Thankfully, I made it work. I also made Thomas Keller’s roast chicken for dinner, which looked beautiful, but was of course under cooked. The internal thermometer and my meat thermometer failed me. We were able to eat some, but most of it went back in the freezer to be used for the next round of stock, which will not be frozen in mason jars. At least the pantry was successfully tidied up. And egg-free birthday cupcakes delivered and enjoyed without any complaints. Minor victories! I’ll take them. What are you cooking this spring? ~K
It’s been a couple months since I moved back into my little home in Tempe. Friends and family walked on egg shells for the first few weeks. I could tell they were being gentle with my heart, trying to carefully ask the obvious: was it weird?
Yes. It was a bit strange to be back in this place, a home I bought a decade ago. It was odd to have Nelson, here, in a home where I long avoided getting a dog because of the small space. And it felt peculiar to be single, sleeping in the middle of the bed.
This house has some ghosts, but they are kept at bay by the tidal wave of good memories I felt opening the front door for the first time in years. How many meals have I served from that tiny kitchen? Hundreds, easily. The patio, with worn furniture long since needed replacement, has hosted birthday parties, garden parties, bridal showers, baby showers and an HOA-illegal bbq or four. The walls were once turquoise and my grandma’s hide-a-bed was the first couch.
Today, the bones of this place are the same, just a decade older. There is some wear and tear, but also the inherent sense of home you cannot buy, found in the creak of the front door, the chickens singing across the way and ever-present basketball game happening at the neighborhood park.
I have my own ghosts — memories I don’t want to unpack, and some regrets too. Don’t we all? But more than anything, I am relieved, thankful to be living here, in my own space that I figured out a way to maintain. I feel good about who I am, the work I am doing, and the life I am leading for the first time in far too long.
And if it took moving so many times to find Nelson, the journey was well worth it.
It’s nice to be home.
Old McDonley’s farm is coming along. The tomatoes are green and growing like weeds. The squash are blossoming in giant beautiful orange blooms. I’ve noticed more bees and hummingbirds hanging around lately.
Also, my favorite plant whisperer was here this weekend to provide ample advice. Let’s just say the harvest is going to be a wild success. And I need to stop watering the squash plants top-down. Squash leaves no likey water.
Finny. That’s who.
The Finny/Donk 2014 weekend was delightful. Lots of sun, pool time, reading, gabbing, brunching, street tacos and laughing. Nelson adores his Auntie Jess and was rather confused this morning when she wasn’t around to “face cuddle” him. And yes, I’ve said it before but you cannot be too grateful for great friends. This friendship is about as sweet (and spicy and spunky and loud and profane and funny) as they come.
Love you, Finnberg. Come back soon.
Things are happening in the garden. Really, really good things. (And some bad. But mostly good!) Remember how I lost those plants to the mean dogs next door? Well, they did produce four small green tomatoes this week.
More importantly, I made my first batch of homegrown basil pesto this week and it was fantastic. And! The squash are happening!
And thank goodness Finny is on her way to Fenix because the same darn fungus that killed all of my squash in Golden last year is showing up on my leaves this year, 1100 miles south!
Any other gardeners seeing this? ARG. I will not use Monsanto-sponsored anything in this garden. Give me your best organic solutions please.
My friend Tony owns a hot sauce company and let me tell you — the stuff will haunt you. It is so hot and so delicious, if you are anything like me — you’ll want it on just about everything.
He is also a former Marine, a chef, and a giant softy. He wouldn’t want that last part on the Interwebs, but let me tell you — this man has a heart of gold. Also, he loves animals, especially his vizla puppies.
His birthday was last month and with everything else going on, I didn’t get him a gift in time. So, what do you give a man who prides himself on his culinary skills and his love of bacon?
And a custom apron: