And We’re Back

I didn’t really intend to take a blogging break, but it did kind of work out that way. It’s been a busy season for me— a big family gathering involved lots of preparation, then lots of engagement while it happened, then I got sick afterward (predictably), and then the dog went in for surgery number 2 last week. Here’s a picture of him looking pathetic when I picked him up last week:

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And here’s a picture of him last night, when I figured out how to get him in my wagon to walk him around the neighborhood. (Long-time readers may remember that this has been percolating in the back of my head for awhile, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am that I sold him on it even a little bit. And by “sold him on it,” I obviously mean that he pretty earnestly hated 90 percent of the experience, but bore it bravely for my sake.)

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If he loved it, his ears would be slicked back against his head. This is an “is it over yet?” face.

In other news, I have not yet bought the car, but things are going a little better with Mom than when last I blogged. I’ve successfully launched a big project at work and feel better about the stability of my job than I felt at this time when last I wrote. (Whether I should or not is another question entirely.) I’ll probably buy the car later this summer. It’s exciting to have to keep fixing things on the car I drive while I wait, though. Serpentine belt, I’m thinking of you, and please hang in there for another week, wouldya?

I’m looking forward to some theater at the end of the month, which always makes my life better. In June, I went with a friend to see a preview of an opera in development, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It was kind of cool— the librettist and the composer gave the background of the project and students performed (by singing, not by acting) scenes to give us the flavor of the thing, and they talked about what a gift it was to spend a few weeks working with these students, work-shopping the piece. It will debut in Houston for the holidays— what they hope will be a perennial (ostensibly when the ballet is performing “The Nutcracker” and the theater company is performing some variation on “A Christmas Carol,” the opera can be performing this) fan favorite.

We also saw “Troilus and Cressida” as part of the Shakespeare festival. It was a new play for me and for the incredibly well-read friend with whom I attended, and we agreed that it was really well-presented. And also kind of problematic from the word go, when the climax of the play has almost nothing to do with either of the main characters. And their story goes unresolved. But the climax of the play is amazing and it has some fascinating things to say about war and honor and the human condition. Even if not all of those things get resolved.

This month’s theater will be lighter— “The Music Man” and Carole King’s “Beautiful.” I’ve long loved King’s music, and am really excited to see this presentation. Meanwhile, the summer continues to hurtle past at a truly shocking pace.

What else? I’ve done some interesting cooking— made watermelon rind pickles and some variations on sourdough treats (savory sourdough pinwheels were deemed more trouble than they were worth, some banana sourdough muffins with almond streusel were deemed “an interesting cross between a muffin and a cookie” by my mom [I entirely disagree, by the way, that they were remotely cookie-like— she said the crunch of the streusel had her feeling like they were cookie-ish]). I don’t love to bake in the summer as much as I do at Christmas, but the sourdough starter keeps me on my toes, and I made some very popular chocolate chip cookies and moderately popular salted caramel brownies for our guests. (I love my grilled peach sundaes, for summer, and they went over well, too.)

Here are some photos from watermelon-rind pickle making:

I tried them the night I made them, and they were pretty tasty (sweet and spicy [ginger and clove spicy, not heat] and vinegar-y), but I tend to believe that pickles need to cure for a couple of weeks to taste the way they’re going to taste, longer-term, so I may try some more now that they’ve sat a bit.

The house continues to be a delight. Mom says she thinks she’s “allergic” to it, I’m coping with an invasion of baby rabbits under the low deck in the backyard, and with a saga of sprinkler repair and damaged tree-limb damage that makes me more than a little crazy. The grading of the yard, despite real effort, is probably not going to happen this year, Also, just in time for me to sleep on the couch because the dog can’t do stairs, the ceiling fan in the living room that took 10 visits to repair last summer has also quit. And there’s a leaking showerhead in the back and a perennially noisy garage door.

On the upside, we’re getting to know the neighbors (I spend at least an hour weeding my xeriscaped patch every week, and it’s apparently a signal to the neighborhood to come over and chat. You can tell how often I go in the front yard, by that, I suppose.) The problematic administration of our religious education program is being replaced, which means I could go back and teach again, and the guy who couldn’t schedule choir rehearsals such that I could participate has been replaced by someone who was very excited to meet me. I’m hopeful that it could mean more music in my days.

I still can’t face online dating, so I’m not. There’s a line in Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things where she says “The best thing you can do with your life is to tackle the [unprintable word] [unprintable word] out of love.” and while I have no wish to be vulgar, I agree with her. And part of me wants to really go after me sitting on the sidelines of romantic love with this as a really effective weapon. (I’m a treat to be around this summer. I mostly made myself sick after the company left because I used the phrase “I’m paying someone to break my dog’s leg” as a mantra until I couldn’t keep anything down.) But the truth is that I am tackling the [unprintable word] [unprintable word] out of other kinds of love. I am loving my mom to the best of my ability during a season of transition for her. I am loving my poor pup with the unfortunate skeleton to the best of my ability during a season of transition for him. My family in town was an exercise in tackling the … out of loving them. And while I’d really love to be in a romantic relationship, I don’t want to be in one where the guy is doing anything less than tackling the … … out of loving me. We know I’ll show up for him, but online dating hasn’t given me much hope of finding someone who offers me anything like that. So it doesn’t feel much worth my time at the moment. That could change. And I’m totally open to meeting a guy another way. And so I’m having a hard time feeling bad about not prioritizing this.

How’s your summer?



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