Thursday, October 31, 2013

Won't You Come Into My Parlor......

My house outside is small and fair, a riot of green grows everywhere.

But inside is another tale, with shells of turtles and teeth of whale.

Perhaps you'd like to linger here, there's much to see and none to fear.
The walls are dark, the flowers dim, I'm happy that you wandered in.

Maybe you will stay and dine , I've blackened squash there's red, red wine?
That little bone, don't be afraid, the last guest was so glad he stayed.

But no, you have another date,  then Gus will see you to the gate.

My house outside is small and fair, no witches or familiars anywhere.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's Cooking?

Now about that chile....

Saturday morning before I felt for work I pulled a bag of stewing beef out of the freezer. It was chilly out and I had chili on my mind.

When I returned home 9 and some hours later, battered and bruised from a day in ye olde flower shoppe, I was itching to cook.

On went NPR, I poured myself a cold nonalcoholic beer, slipped into my slippers and got out some dried chilies. I had both Ancho and Guajillo. I have no idea what type of chilies are used in the powder form I usually use to season my brew, but what the hell.

I placed them in a hot cast iron pan and cooked them until the skin blistered and they puffed up. Then I covered them with water, brought it to a boil, took the pan off the heat and let them soak for 30 minutes.

As this was happening I dug around in the freezer and found some pork S-man has squirreled away.

After a quick defrost I cubed both the beef and the pork and browned them in small batches in my biggest cast iron skillet.

I diced two onions, 6 cloves of garlic and cooked them in the large pan, then added a big can of tomato sauce and my leftover espresso.

I got out my mini prep cuisinart and blended the softened peppers, with seeds, but minus stems, obvs, with several cups of the soaking liquid.

When smooth. I added this to the pan along with heaping tablespoons of oregano, cumin, smoked paprika and black pepper.

After bringing this to a boil I added my browned meat, 2 cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained and let it simmer away for 2 hours.

On Sunday I put it in a cast iron Dutch oven, added a very large bell pepper cubed, more fresh garlic and a couple of jalapenos from the garden.

This simmered for another 2 hours or longer.

At the end I added much needed salt, lavish splashes of hot sauce, tasted and adjusted. Tasted more.  Tasted again. Finally shared.

My first chile con carne actually using chilies.

Talk about thinking outside the box! Er, can.

I am usually a big proponent of lots of vegetables in my chile, so next time I will make it with zuccnini and mushrooms, carrots and more bell peppers and no meat. Perhaps I will experiment with different kinds of dried chilies.

Anytime I can make a recipe more complicated I'm a happy woman!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nature VS Nuture

We're all tuckered out tonight.

GG and the Lab came over to help with the garden clean up.

Lucy spent every minute flirting with the Lab and Gus spent every moment hiding from her.

The front beds were whacked down and plans for the back berm discussed.

We've been talking about that berm for a year now, ever since Sandy took down the first of the Leylands.

I hadn't realized the hurricane was a year ago until Amelia posted tonight.

I reread last October's posts. So much has changed.

My life began to resemble a country western song after I lost the girl, the dog and the 8 trees.

Wait, make the 9 trees. I almost forgot the fig.

But then I started to play the song backwards and I got a fence, spring came then the summer, my sense of self returned and a growing happiness and enjoyment of time spent alone.

Today GG found a fungus growing on the base of the ornamental plum in a front bed.

I haven't even googled the meaning of this yet.

But dear god, not another tree.

 I'm just getting my groove back.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sex And The City

As you can all imagine, I'm living with a cat with a very swollen head. ( Wonder how that will translate into say Dutch?)

If Lucy wasn't so busy sleeping on the radiator, my purse, the bed she would be jealous of the attention Gus has received.

 She wants me to tell you she can write too. But she's le tired.

Mousing takes it out of a girl.

As does dating.

Break time. Now how do I break that news?  Seriously...

Pros of dating: you get to wear cute outfits instead of work clothes/gym clothes/gardening clothes (though if you saw my garden right now you would think I must have run out of clothes to put on).

You get to go to new restaurants, see shows, talk about yourself and if you're dating someone who was a trial lawyer for 7 years, answer many, many questions.

You get to meet new people and hear their story, and I love a story.

You learn to take the Metro!

Cons of dating: you come home dirty and tired from work and have to take a bath, mess with your hair and put on said cute outfit, when all you want to do is put on your lounge around clothes.

After being gone all day, you just have time to feed the cats before you plunge out into the darkness, leaving them ownerless.
At some point physicality will enter the picture and you have to decide if you want to go down this road or not.

And if not, you have to find a loving way to say it.

For once in my life I am at a loss for words.

What would Carrie Bradshaw do?

I ask you. I asked S-man but he has no ideas. Sigh. But then he made a delicious almost encrusted halibut for dinner so he's forgiven.

Could this blog get any more personal? I think not.

 The Author and The Sleeper

Monday, October 21, 2013

Flowers In The House Of Fur: October 2013

Well hello there. I'll be your host today.

Jane's had a busy week what with work and "dating", so I told her I've got this one.
It's not like Lucy and I don't know how to take a picture and stick a few flowers in a vase by now.
It's not rocket science people.
And who's craftier than a cat?

The story began when the tall man who lives in the back room and keeps his door closed when he's not home cause the room isn't "cat proof"  (like what room really is?) went on an adventure and brought back a mess of fish and shells.
Jane was all ohohoh about the shells, Lucy and I were a wee bit more interested in the fish...
Unfairly, she, Jane, got both, dinner and some shells.
So today she was being all cute, putting flowers in one of the shells when Lucy brought a dead mouse in the house.

We figured if she liked fish she would love mouse, and we were right! 
It was clearly a big hit because she was screaming with happiness and jumping around.
I don't know why she didn't take a picture of it...
After an appreciation ceremony that involved gloves, a broom and dustpan and a plastic bag or two, Jane got back to work, hands trembling with excitement.

When we bring leaves and bits of mulch inside they and we get cleaned up. When she brings them in they become an "arrangement". Lucy thought it needed a little zip so she placed a bowl of quince persimmons nearby. (Thanks for the correction on the proper name of the smelly fruit. It kind of doesn't matter now because I knocked it over before bedtime anyway. Where was I supposed to sit?)

Maybe Lucy found a bit of that fish in there too, because she couldn't seem to get her head out of the bowl.
Then Jane put a little mustard jar on the windowsill by the sink where we'll be sure and knock it over while we're bug hunting.And it will be our fault?

How does it go? Once a mistake, second time a choice?
There's another vase too but quite frankly I'm getting bored by all this and it's very tiring with the constant spell check. I'm a cat for god's sake, not an English student.
I suppose I'll come around and visit you all tomorrow since I've gotten so involved.
Don't worry I'll bring something with:-)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Flowers? In The House?

God. I thought I'd never get back here. I seem to spend all my spare time riding the Metro. Either going into the city for dinner or just riding, girding my loins so to speak, so I can go into the city. On occasion I take it home from work, I take it to go shopping, or I take it just to continue the desensitization process.

Sometimes it's quite pleasant, as if I were just sitting on my couch and when I get up and walk outside I'm somewhere new.

Other times, when I'm using new stations, really BIG stations like the Pentagon metro, or switching trains at metro center or exiting a new station and find myself inching upward on an enormously long escalator, hanging on to the rail, while a steady stream of people race by on my left side, I'm faintly traumatized.

But I keep on keeping on.

I am rewarded for all my labor with delicious sushi or tickets to see David Sedaris, interesting conversations and rides home (thank god).

There is a rather daunting announcement made before you board  informing you that the doors on a train don't work like an elevator door. So if the door closes on your arm, it will remain closed. Now that would make for a very uncomfortable ride.

So I think I deserve a treat, well, another treat, so how about some Flowers In The House this coming Monday?

I would like nothing better then so sit quietly at the computer and visit you in your lovely homes via the WWW.

Of course if you want me there in person, I can come. I just put 20.00 dollars on my Smart Card and if I remember to keep my wits and limbs about me I'll be able to give you a big hug when I get there.

Are you going to raise the stakes again? Last time it was S-man doing an arrangement. What can I do to sweeten the pot this hand?

I could offer you a delicious roasted beet salad with quinoa, goat cheese, oranges and toasted almonds......

Think about it.

10:12 PM: And the Government is back in business.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Where I Stare Fear In The Eye

If you're tired of reading about my various neuroses, for the love of God, turn the page immediately.

If not, read on McDuff.

I don't know who, if any of you, know that I suffer slightly from claustrophobia. I say slightly because I can do so many things comfortably now that used to cause my heart to race.

Riding the metro was still a big no-no for me.  Locked up in a speeding car, rushing through the underground, packed elbow to elbow with a pack of strangers was strangely unappealing to me.

And then I visited Boston. I did not come with a list of mental allergies, so Steve from AnUrbanCottage had no reason to fear my fears.

He took me on the El. Two ways, back and forth. And I survived. More that survived. I thought to myself, I could do this.

And yesterday, running around, first into DC to get a haircut, ride over courtesy of the shop driver, a 5 minute bus ride back to Virginia and then, da dum, the question of how I would get across Arlington for My PT appointment.

I had a date in DC for dinner after PT and I vaguely hoped I would be able to hop on the Metro like any ordinary Jane and ride on in. But could I or would I? A taxi seemed more likely and more expensive.

This was my chance to practice. A very long escalator ride brought me to the very depths of Hell. The train I needed was one more floor down. Well I sure as hell wasn't going back up that escalator, so I rode down to the third circle, took a deep breath and a picture, waited 4 minutes and got on the next train.

10minutes later I disembarked and rode up a much shorter escalator a new woman. Truly. An empowered, emancipated woman, eyes brimming with tears of gratitude and the need to get a Starbucks and text everyone I could that I had just ridden the train.

My friends were amazed. You would have thought I had won an Olympic gold.

And then I rode the train into DC to meet the lawyer/mommy for dinner.

How was the Metro, she asked innocently.

Considering I hadn't ridden it in 20 some years, it was pretty damn good.

How funny to hold on to fears as if they were a security blanket, when maybe we provide our own security and don't need that tattered scrap to sleep with any more.

I was very tired, I was very merry. I had gone back and forth all night on the ferry metro.

Thank you Steve.

 xo jane

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Death By Chocolate

So I made that chocolate ganache tart. Mostly so I could show you a picture but also because S-man was so enthusiastic about the idea.

And yes, it was easy to make and full of chocolaty goodness.

But don't take my word for it.

Go ask Jackson.

Before it was even out of the pan, Jack has put his mark on it.
His sister Parker got the first piece.
He waited none too patiently for his.
He took his first bite.
Finished it in no time flat.
After asking for a glass of milk "I need some milk Mommy", he moved into her lap and went after her piece.
With gusto.
 Now tell me this tart doesn't rock.

It ended as so many evenings do, everyone covered in chocolate and crying.

But that's how we roll.

xo jane

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Year Of Living Dangerously

I will now attempt to pull a rabbit out of a hat or failing that tell you about my blind date.

Or rather my experience with internet dating. It's exhausting. It's exhilarating.

When I was walking to my favorite coffee shop, picture here a sunny, unseasonably warm October afternoon, Zumba music blasting in my ears, all happy after PT, I had a moment of "What if she doesn't like me"? And then I thought, wait a minute sister, why don't you wait and see if you like her.

It's not like I'm going to get voted off the island if it's not a Match so to speak.

So I calmed down, sang along and got there early. I walk too fast.

I hung about till an outside table finally vacated, set up shop, took a pic to Instagram, replied to comments on my last post and text Shelley.

Then I put my phone away so I wasn't sitting there all hunched over with bad posture and a double chin. Know what I mean?

She arrived, got us come coffees and we got down to the business of talking. She talks as much as I do. That's lethal, maybe illegal.

2 hours later we hugged, parted ways and I hurried home to whirl about in a Julie Andrews/Sound of Music fashion so happy was I to be home with two hungry cats in my own little house.

I have heard of people who set up 3 dates a night.  Jesus.

Will I do it again? Yes. Will I meet her again? Yes. She's smart, funny and originally from Boston, currently furloughed, single parent of an 8year old child.

All well and good but I was looking for someone with a dog. And a shovel. Hum a few bars of "we've only just begun" here?

I know, I know, when I started this blog it was all gardening and food and flowers. Now it's angst and cats and internet dating. Stick with me, I'm cooking on Sunday.

If you didn't come to dance then what are you here for?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When I'm Alone

S-man is off on a 36 hour adventure with a buddy that involves massive amounts of food, 3 fishing poles, a net, a sleeping bag, alcohol, a kayak, barrier islands and big fish stories.

I had just read somewhere that we are our truest selves when we're alone.

If this is correct, my truest self reads outside until it gets dark while eating an apple slathered with peanut butter. Arranges some flowers, makes a huge mess, sweeps then mops the kitchen floor.

Runs the vacuum cleaner in the living room, toasts a piece of bread, tops with mayonnaise, avocado, mozzarella cheese, basil and eats it in two gulps. Then throws in a load of laundry.

My truest self seems to like to wear a sawed off pair of sweats that hits oh so not becomingly at the calf and a shrunken tshirt.

My TS is answering emails from people on Match wondering what books I have read recently and what I cooked for dinner.

Tomorrow I'm meeting a virtual stranger for coffee after physical therapy.

I'll be in gym clothes and have a messy hair thing going on after my neck and shoulder massage.

Looks like my TS is coming with.

Love me, love my truest self.

I'll take a big breath. You cross your fingers.

What does your TS get up to when you're all alone?