Expert Texpert Choking Smoker Don’t

Today, lots of people are making Seven Layer Dip for a party celebrating a televised spectacle in which enormous grown men beat the crap out of each other and smaller white guys make a mint. Between the misogyny and the dripping testosterone, it’s bad news for women all around, but that’s nothing new. You know what is new? I’m physically able to do stuff all day again.

Come here often, sailor?

We can’t keep meeting like this.

Perhaps you remember that five years ago, I had hip replacement surgery and made recovering from it my job. I ate with healing in mind. I exercised and did physical therapy with great seriousness while telling jokes for months on end. And then, two years later, I did it again. The physical therapy place should have a wing with my name on it. I felt a million percent better and have gone on with life as if none of that ever happened. Sometimes I forget how limited my life had become, how dealing with pain sapped my energy and strength, how few things I could do in a day because arthritis in my hips made sitting, standing, lying down or anything in between exhausting.

Perhaps you remember my grandson Panky is whip-smart. He has not had it easy with school systems designed to push ordinary kids to graduation day and administrators who are scared of smart kids. One day it dawned on me he should spend time with the smartest kids and adults used to the quirkiness of smart kids. He should go to space camp. Once I thought of it, I began scheming about how I could make that happen.

I would need a part-time job. Then one came to me: the bagel place in which Pete works three days a week needed someone to bake cookies and cakes, mix compound cream cheeses and generally clean for 4.5 hours on Saturdays. I started work five weeks ago. At first, I moved through what I had to do, didn’t think much about it and suddenly, I’d been on my feet for five hours. Five hours! I didn’t know I could do that. And then I did it again the next weekend and the next.

The new, the old, the perennial.

So many intersections, so few red lights.

Apparently, I can do that now! But this weekend, I did a few different things. On Friday, I set up croissant dough, because I can! Yesterday, I did the complicated rolling and folding after working at the bagel place. I smoked eggplants in the backyard smoker. Today, Pete and I rolled out and folded pain au chocolat. I whipped up baba ghanouj. We baked off the best pain au chocolat of our illustrious careers, which is to say the last year. This afternoon, Pete and I made breakfast sausage from scratch and stuffed it into natural casings. You should see me standing atop a kitchen ladder, stuffing raw pork into a hopper. Ridiculous! But, even a year ago, I couldn’t have done all this in one day, even with good planning.

Progress in life takes different forms. In my case, progress takes the form of cookies and sausage and space camp. Five years ago, I could not have imagined it.

 

 

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The Killer Awoke Before Dawn

What are you looking at?

After a cold spring and a wet summer, we worried this might be the Year Without Tomatoes. Fortunately, the farmers are finally bringing them in. These roasted heirloom tomatoes will taste like sunny summer in darkest winter.

Seriously, grow some food yourself, buddy.

Sunday’s backyard harvest: potatoes, a cucumber, a hot pepper, green beans. I’d planted early, the squirrels ate everything, then I planted again, so in August, I’m gathering in July goodies.

Promises In the Dark

I spent my day rolling out and refrigerating croissant dough, and I am bad at it. But I am going to practice, practice, practice until I bake things both tender and flaky and have biceps like a linebacker.

Go home, snow, you're drunk.

Stubborn snow is stubborn about leaving.

For the time being, our chickens will be the only ones in the neighborhood on the outside of pastry.

Ride Upon Your Mystery Ship

Our backyard squirrels are smug. Yesterday, I went out to feed the chickens and found the squirrels, fat and insolent, smoking cigarettes and dancing like Jets and Sharks. I clapped my hands and told them Officer Krupke was on his way over. They were skeptical, but moved on.

Seedy!

Now’s a great time to lay out your seeds, check dates and plan your garden. You are gardening, aren’t you?

Seed packets have sell by dates. You can plant seeds three years after the sell by date, but after that, you might as well toss them into the bushes and let the birds nibble. Although, if you have chickens, those are birds, and you’re not afraid of feeding them. So. Be brave and plan a garden. If you live in a tiny apartment, mesclun greens can be grown as houseplants. Your squirrels will not be smug.