Sunday, August 31, 2014

Winning and Losing

Now, where did August go? I seem to have lost most of a month. I know it was around here somewhere.

Too true, right? While August is my personal least favorite month of the year...mainly because it is typically too hot to enjoy much outside...I hate to see any month fly by. And this one has certainly flown by at supersonic speed.

Probably the reason it seems to have done a runner (as they say in the UK) is that I have been out of pocket for a couple of weeks, visiting Missy M in GA. As you probably recall, her pups, Ella Rae and Dixie, have been with us since Easter...keeping them safe from the hectic process of packing and moving to her new home in Lawrenceville. Since the fence was in place and the doggie door installed on Abby Grace Drive, the time for them to meet their new home had arrived. 

To sweeten the deal, Missy M scored some ATL Falcons tix for a preseason game 8/23. And since we had long ago (pre-move) planned a trip to Atlanta for a Labor Day Braves game, she said "Mom, why don't you just stay the whole time?" Don't have to twist my arm to travel, now do you? Load up two cars...and five dogs! Road trip!

Knowing I was going to be back in the Duluth area made me bite the bullet, so to speak, and schedule an appointment with my dentist. Yes, Dr. S is STILL my dentist, even though we moved away from GA to FL 12 years ago this month. What can I say? When you find a dentist you love, you want to stay with her, right? Up until a couple of years ago, I just made my semi-annual appointments to coincide with business trips to ATL, and it all seemed to work well. 

Then came Bell's Palsy...and then came the resulting synkenesis that causes muscle spasms in my left jaw, especially when I open my mouth wide or for a long period. Like when you are at the dentist. Bite the bullet, indeed. Groan. 

But I am happy to report that I made it through the appointment without a single spasm. And the X-rays showed NO CAVITIES. Clean teeth, healthy gums, and NO CAVITIES. Did I say happy? I meant ecstatic! Win!!

Of course, I had to put my bike riding on hold somewhere near Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky, losing valuable days. But, I rediscovered walking in the early morning hours, mapping out a couple of routes that got me 1.5 miles daily. While I'll never make it to Disneyland at this rate, I can easily do 30-40 minutes before I start experiencing any of the ill-effects (numbness of my left foot, etc.), that walking causes me, and by throwing in a few stretches for flexibility I can keep in garden-ready shape for my return to HPNC. Big win!

Also, I got to renew acquaintances from our time in Georgia (the five years between NC and FL, in the roadmap that has been our life): lunching with friends and former co-workers (like with KH at Sweet Melissa's in Decatur, pictured; and with JL at the Village Tavern); checking out personal faves like The Yarn Garden in Lawrenceville and Nordstrom at Mall of Georgia (pictured); and making some new friends along the way (more on that in my next post). Win-win-win!

Although Mr. T had to work the first week, he was able to schedule vacation days for the second week...and joined me and the five dogs in holding down the fort while M went to work. I did some unpacking in the kitchen (it will be years before M finds some of her stuff!), and he concentrated on bringing a desk/bookcase combo "vision" that M had to life. Here are some pictures of the final assembly and reveal:

So, while the Falcons lost their game and I lost most of a month, M gained a beautiful...and useful...statement piece in her great room. And I kept moving forward and reestablished my connection to the Atlanta area. Methinks that may come in handy...sooner rather than later...

More wins than losses, for sure! Now, keep your fingers crossed that the Braves are in the W column after their game tomorrow. Toes, too!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Little Rain...A Little Work

I'm sitting here, kicked back and watching the Braves playing the Nationals on TV. Nearly midnight and only top of the 4th. Game didn't even start until almost 11:00. For the second night in a row, they've had a rain delay in Atlanta, this one nearly three hours. And typically when it rains in ATL, it'll rain here in the next 4-6 hours. Just add it to the gauge. 

We actually started out the week, hot and dry. On Monday Mr. T headed his car to the DC area for the week, and I got caught up on some work-work. On Tuesday, I coached a group of volunteers at the Blandwood Mansion (historic home and property in downtown Greensboro), helping them learn how to care for their heritage rose garden. We were all exhausted by noon, but thrilled with the results. Here's a pic the Director snapped and posted on Facebook:

Wednesday was a Master Gardening day at the Extension Center, with a Board Meeting followed by a general membership meeting and speaker from the Piedmont Nature Conservancy, who talked about invasive plants. Interesting...thought-provoking...but I think I'll keep my mimosas and butterfly bushes.

I spent Thursday of this week in the garage, having moved my painting project inside for fear of storms (it didn't). The rains didn't arrive until later on Thursday...and they are still with us...and in our forecast for the next few days.

So, what was I painting? I had agreed to get trellises for three climbing roses in the Master Gardener Demo Garden. The original plan had been to build them, but I would be the wrong Adsit for that task. As I said in a Facebook post, I could probably knit a trellis quicker and better than I could build one. When, at a recent meeting of the DG committee, the chair gave the go-ahead to purchase them, I couldn't get to Home Depot fast enough. They had some redwood ones on sale, and I had a coupon! And that new lime green trim paint on the information kiosk was just perfect to add color to the spot, even in the dead of winter. Here are a few photos of the project for you:

As you can tell, I volunteered Mr. T to be an honorary Master Gardener for the day. Planting these trellises would have been near-impossible for me without his help, as he just knows how to do stuff like this. Plus he wagged the 50# bag of Quikrete across the garden and used the post hole digger to dig six perfect holes in some pretty awful soil. We worked in a bit of drizzle and finished just as the bottom dropped out of the sky. Actually, I had wanted to do a little touch up to the paint, but decided that task could be tabled until our Demo Garden Work Day scheduled on Wednesday.

All these activities have kept me out of my own garden, so I wound up having to harvest in a steady shower on Friday. I snapped beans for five innings of the Braves game on Friday, and then I put several bags of beans, tomatoes, and peppers in the freezer before I just had to stop. Here're a couple of shots of the haul:

And now? It's starting to rain again. And I think I hear the produce growing. Ah well, that's life in mid-Summer...a little rain, a little work. And a great feeling of accomplishment, when all is said and done.

For more on how our garden is growing, be sure to check out the latest post on our garden blog ( Click here to go there.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wrapping Up Loose Threads

Let's see...where were we? Oh yes, there were a couple of threads I should really wrap up.

The secret I mentioned a post or two back? Ah well, time to share! You may remember that Missy M made a job change (and move) in May. She was recruited rather enthusiastically by a couple of companies, and she accepted the offer from Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen's corporate office in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody. From everything she had learned during the interviewing process, she thought her best chances for advancement might be in the Peach State.

She was right. After seven weeks with PLK, she was promoted to manager! Her new official title is Learning Development and Innovation Manager. Yes indeedy, proud as punch! On LinkedIn? Check it out: her profile. Anyway, she has hit the ground running...well, when she has actually been on the ground, that is. She's not really sure which time zone she's in most days. Atlanta to New Orleans to Atlanta to Chicago to Atlanta to Salt Lake City to...

In between her travels, she was home long enough for Mr. T to travel to Lawrenceville (at least for a few more days, I have to be specific with my L'ville references; when her house closes in Louisville next week, we can return to using the apostrophe) last weekend to install a doggie door in her new storm door. Getting ready for her babies to move in, don't you know? (But until her schedule can settle a bit, Dixie and ER will remain with us in NC.)

Funny aside...this funny picture (above) reminds us of a Nana/Momma/Edith memory. Once when we lived in Pickerington, OH, Momma returned home with a friend and realized she'd forgotten her house keys. Not wanting to "disturb us" at work, she decided the easiest way for her to get inside was to crawl through the doggie door. Remarkably, she made it! Never underestimate the power of determination, right?

And now, on to that other hanging thread. This one is going to be a rewind rather than a wrap. Remember my bike ride across the USA to Disneyland? It got stalled in March 526.4 miles from home, near Elkton, Todd County, KY.  Well, I realized in a brief moment of panic recently that I'm running out of year! I'd better get back in the saddle-seat again posthaste. 

And so I have. I rode 11.1 miles today, taking me from Elkton (Todd County) to the west side of Fairview (Christian County), KY. Was it easy to get started again? Actually, I was surprised at how easy it was...kinda like riding a bike...hahahahahaha. No was easy. But I do not remember sweating as much in March as I did today! Whew! I have a long way to go and a short time to get there...but there's no time like the present to get (re-) started.

I did a bit of research and learned that I am riding in a region of Kentucky called the Pennyroyal area. Or, as some are known to say, the Pennyrile. As settlers moved through this area, they noticed an abundance of the herb pennyroyal (, a member of the mint family which is touted to be a good mosquito and tick repellant. I don't have any pennyroyal but have heard the same about lemon balm, which I do have. I hope it served them better than my lemon balm serves me. Ahem. 

Fairview, the town where my ride ended today, is described as a census-designated location (no longer a real town?), known as the birthplace of Jefferson Davis. There is a "351-foot obelisk (which) marks the birth place of...the elected president of the Confederate States of America, the group of 11 southern states that seceded from the Union at the start of the Civil War." There are 19 acres, a museum, a gift shop, picnic shelters, playground, and an elevator to top of obelisk. I have arrived too late for the annual Jefferson Davis Birthday (June 3, 1808) Celebration. 

I'm not the first to remark on the fact that two of the major players in the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were born in the same state: Lincoln in Hodgenville and Davis in Fairview, Christian (now Todd) County, Kentucky. Lincoln eventually settled in Illinois, becoming more connected with the Prairie state than the Bluegrass state. Likewise, Davis moved early in life to the Mississippi Delta, becoming thereafter linked to the Magnolia State. Still, they began their lives just 155 miles apart. Plus, a third member of the two couples at the head of states, Mary Todd...who would become Mrs. A. Lincoln...was born in Lexington, KY. (Varina Howell Davis was born in Natchez, MS.) Interesting, don't you think?

So, to wrap up this wrap up, as we head into the last full month of the Summer, Missy M is off and running. And I am off and riding. It's all good!


* Bike Ride Footnote: To bring you up-to-date, in case you are just joining me...

My plan to get/keep in shape for gardening this year is to ride my stationary bike. Because I always need a reason to do something...or at least to continue doing something, I have decided on a program based on a distance of 2600 miles...which is the distance from our house to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, as Google-mapped using the (beta) Bike function. I started 1/3/2014...stopped for a 4-month extended break...and am continuing the saga today. 
BTW, I am tagging all the posts about my ride "Where in the USA is Patricia" on my blog, and #WhereintheUSAisPatricia on Twitter. While I won't be blogging about my ride on a daily basis, you can check my Twitter Feed over there in the right column for daily updates on my ride and location.

Happy pedaling!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Let Me Eat Cake

Every year on your birthday, you get a chance to start new.

– Sammy Hagar

For several years now, I have started each birthday off right by getting up to see the sun rise. Mr. T has also made my 'day special by taking a vacation calls, no email, no texts. Today, the traditions continued. 

We had registered an inch of rain in the gauge overnight, and the lingering, low-hanging clouds threatened to put a stop to my new start. Still, we got up at 5:00, brewed a pot of coffee, and headed to the park on Oak Hollow Lake near our house. Sunrise was posted as 6:16, and even if the sun was a bit tardy in breaking through the clouds, we were there on time. Here's what we saw when we arrived:

Oh my goodness! It was a gorgeous beginning for my "new" year. Fresh, clean, and even a tad on the cool side...well, as cool as one could hope for in mid-July. I probably took 50 or more photos. Gotta love digital photography, right? Here are just a few more for you:

The pic (above) is probably my favorite...even if I have to give credit to Bell's Palsy for that left eye wink...;-)

We followed up our early beginning with an early breakfast. This year, we chose the Moose Cafe at the Farmers Market. And, yes, before you ask, I most certainly did have country ham. The slab they served me was so huge that I brought half of it home...along with two of the bodacious biscuits they serve. I'll enjoy my birthday a couple of days.

Then, we dashed back home to feed the pups and get ready to head off in opposite directions for a bit: he had some errands to run, and I had a date with the DMV. My license that I got when we moved back to NC in 2009 was I needed to pass the road signs test as well as the eye exam. The first was a piece of cake (no pun intended); the second, a little more taxing. The signs are the same as they were five years ago; my eyesight? Hardly. The good news? I was able to pass with my glasses (although I had passed last time without the specs). So, yea! The temporary certificate (below) will hold me until my new license arrives in the mail.

I think I have shared this story in the past, so forgive me if I'm repeating myself. Know where I was exactly 45 years ago today? At the DMV! Actually, it was the Highway Patrol office (not the DMV), and it was in Tennessee (not NC). But it was my birthday, and it was a Wednesday. How could I possibly remember what day it was?! Well, I got my license on the first possible moment I could (16 was the age then), and the THP office in Lauderdale County was only open on Wednesdays. So, as I reported on Facebook, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."


After a nice meal out at the Liberty Tavern near High Point University, we had one more birthday tradition to uphold: cake! One of Mr. T's errands had been to make sure a chocolate cake with white icing followed him home, as you can see in the picture. Unfortunately, the candles failed to make an appearance. Not to worry! We checked a kitchen drawer and found a suitable substitute. Hiding in the back was the chunky pair we used on Mom's 91st. Turn the 9 upside down, and what do you get? Why, a 6 of course!  Perfect...if you don't try to actually light the "wrong" end!

Light the fire! Sing the song! Blow out the candle! Pour the milk! Cut the cake! I don't care how old I get, I will NEVER tire of the traditions.

Nor of the cake, when you get right down to it. I will never tire of the cake.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the Music!

Yes, Three Dog Night had it right. Today is a day to celebrate! Here's a snap of the wallpaper border I am looking at while writing this post...and celebrating The Free Life! The flag is out on the pole on the porch, and I've got my red, white, and blue on...and my star-spangled earrings in. It's that kind of day.

Happy 238th birthday, USA! Even with all our issues, I wish only the best for this wonderful country of ours. Looking good, Lady Liberty! At a mere 138 years old, you are still a beautiful symbol of this experiment in "a democracy in a republic."

Years ago, when we moved to HPNC for the first time (1994-1997), we spent one of my favorite Fourth's at the National Park that commemorates the revolutionary battle fought at Guilford Courthouse, located in Greensboro, the city that was named for the hero of that battle, Nathaeniel  Greene. The Park Ranger read the entire Declaration of Independence, not just the part we typically memorized in civics class (you know..."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.") Want to hear a moving version of the reading of the Declaration? Follow this link to NPR's traditional recording of a multitude of voices, reading one of our country's freedom documents in its entirety:

All those voices...all those accents! Only in America, right? Only in America. And whatever you feel about the man, I happen to agree with President Clinton: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

And what is currently right in my own, personal America, you ask? Well, the weather for one thing. It took a hurricane named Arthur to blow through the Outer Banks to bring our Piedmont some gorgeous weather in his wake. Mid-80's, low humidity, Carolina blue skies. Couldn't script a better day for the local festivities called The Uncle Sam Jam. Bands, food, and fireworks at Festival Park on Oak Hollow Lake. Sounds great! Wish we were there...

Actually, there is no "we" here in HPNC. Only a "me." The Mr. T part of our "we" is spending this Holiday weekend in Louisville with Missy M, doing the few repairs required by her buyer's inspector; she's hoping to close on the KY house in three weeks. He planned his work-week to be in Roanoke, which is his closest dealership...still 7 hours away. He got there the day before M (who couldn't leave GA until Thursday...more on that in a sec) and was able to check-off all the indoor tasks while she was driving her own version of the day-long trip. They are spending their Independence Day cleaning up the yard and gardens, dividing some irises and daylilies (hey, it's genetic, right?), and packing up the remaining "stuff" (a friend of hers took most of the staging furniture, which leaves some pantry items, towels and linens, a blow-up bed or two, and the porch and patio furniture.) They are determined to get all the stuff in two cars...and have drafted Lillie Pearl PTC, who can be transformed into a cargo wagon by removing her back seats, to help accomplish their goal. We shall see...

They will head on down to Georgia tomorrow to unload at M's new house in Lawrenceville...from one L'ville to another L'ville. She closed on it last Monday and has been getting utils hooked up, garage door installed, shades put up on the windows, etc., in the few hours she has available in the evenings after work. Her furniture arrives on the fourteenth. Speaking of work...apparently, things have gotten interesting for her at Popeyes. Oops, I will have to save that until another post. I know a secret...I know a secret...


I'm here in HPNC, dog-sitting the Drool Gang. That means, among other things, Fourth of July or not, NO FIREWORKS! Dixie and Ella Rae are both terrified of loud noises, and the absolute LAST thing I need is for either (or both!) of them to make a mad dash down Wesseck. So, while my neighbors gather at the park on this side of the lake, I'll have "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Sergeant York" playing on TV (it's my Joan Leslie celebration, I suppose...since she is in both of these patriotic golden-oldies), probably way too loud, to cover any external noises. Not really a hardship...I would be watching regardless. And I can always turn on the Capitol Fourth...and mute the fireworks portion, I guess.

But, it is a birthday, after all. And I do love my traditions. Our traditional fare on the Fourth includes ribs, corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, potato salad, and usually watermelon. Just because it is a party of one,'s still the Fourth! So here's what was served (replacing the watermelon with blackberries, and adding some grilled zucchini...because that was what the garden was giving...:-)

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans. Celebrate!

[...and to my UK friends...we will now return to our regular posting...;-)]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bell's Palsy Update: Day 730

Subtitle: Living With My New Normal

Two years ago today, my life took a sudden and irreversible left turn, veered off-course, and headed down a bumpy side road to my New Normal...which isn't a town in Illinois. The left side of my face appeared to be sliding off my skull, giving me the appearance of having suffered a stroke. I was diagnosed with a condition known as Bell's Palsy...and nothing has been the same since.

[If you need a refresher course, begin at this post and read forward: ]

You may recall the Urgent Care doctor said "this may last 15 days, a month, or the rest of your life." At the time, I chose the first I had a choice in the matter. Unfortunately, it seems I actually got dealt the latter. Looks like I got a modified version of a life sentence. Sigh

While the nerve (AKA: cranial nerve #7) has regenerated and the feeling and most functions have been adequately restored to the affected side of my face, I continue to deal daily with some lasting effects: jaw pain, spasms (especially when I am tired or stressed), involuntary/uncontrollable eye tearing and movements and sensitivity to light, and some lingering speech and vision problems. These can all be attributed to a condition called synkinesis, which you can read more about here, if you wish:

My own good doctor had encouraged me to take a longer view of the recovery period. He said that it can take "up to two years" for patients to recover from other neurological events (such as a stroke...which thankfully, I did NOT suffer), so why not give it the complete 24 months? Tink! Pop up timer is out, Doc. Recovery period is over. It's official: I'm no longer recovering from Bell's Palsy...I'm living with the effects.

Truthfully, it could be worse. Many who live with BP for life never get feeling and function back to the point that I have. And many who do get "feeling" back, get it in the form of constant and excruciating pain. I'm one of the lucky ones here. The pain and spasms I have seem to be well-managed by a daily dose of a nerve pain med called Neurontin (gabapentin). That, and a Biotin tablet, are the only meds I need, thankfully. I have ordered my new prescription lenses for my sunglasses (following the last cataract surgery), and those should help immensely.

But, that doesn't mean I am happy with this New Normal. I hate when my words (particularly those beginning with P, B, F, S, or a double-consonant sound) get trapped and then tumble out in a tangle. I hate that my left eye winks involuntarily when I eat, drink, or sip through a straw...and nothing I do can control it. I hate that my left eye is so sensitive to light and tears up with regularity. I hate the jaw spasms...which hurt, to put it plainly. I hate that I am so sensitive to medications that I just have to give into the effects of the gabapentin every night...and it takes a couple hours in the morning for me to "get going." 

People are trying to be kind when they say things like "oh, I wouldn't worry about can't really tell there's anything wrong." But I can. What I am experiencing feels wrong to doesn't feel normal to me. I remember Normal from two years ago...and this ain't it. My New Normal. Have I told you how very much I hate the term "New Normal?" 

Ah well, it is what it is, as Ziva, one of my favorite characters on NCIS, says. Meaning: just deal with it!

Or, in my case...just live with it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

All That...and a Bag of Chips

Feet up? Check. Iced tea in hand? Double check. Whew! Can I just say what a week this has been?!

It's been hot. Really hot. Hot, hot, hot! Mid-90's every day this week...and it doesn't turn Summer until Saturday. And humid...don't forget the humidity. It's the kind of week that you'd like to take up permanent residence over the air conditioner vents. But, there were too many places to go, things to do, and people to see.

First thing Monday morning, Mr. T and Missy M (who is spending her weekends with us) headed to Charlotte. She was flying out to New Orleans (via Detroit, if you can imagine!), for the week, and he was dropping her off at the airport on his way south to Greenville, SC.

Tending the gardens occupied the first couple of days for me. Much is required during this time of the year, as you can probably imagine, with all the warm season crops in. The difficult part is the constant and oppressive heat. We expect this in August, not June. (I've posted an update about the gardens over on our garden blog, Gardening with the Giants. Click here to go there.) I usually try to follow my maxim of "Noon or ninety, whichever comes first," but I'm afraid I couldn't tow that line this week. Too much to do to give up a half-day.

I headed out to the Extension Center on Wednesday for our Master Gardener annual picnic, taking along a pasta salad that I dubbed "Going to the Garden Party Pasta Salad.*"  The theme for the picnic this year was Eating Local, with NC BBQ and sweet potatoes taking center stage. Many of the ingredients in my pasta salad were about as local as you can get, since they had indeed come straight from our HPNC kitchen garden, harvested on Tuesday. Even the lemon that provided the juice (see recipe below) came from my Meyer Lemon tree on the deck! Here's a snap of the finished product...and yes, those are nasturtiums on top. Yes, they are edible. 

Did I tell you it was hot this week? O. M. G. It was hot at the picnic, too. But we had a grand time together, topped off with the release of 50 monarch butterflies to mark the dedication of the Pollinators Garden and the new Monarch Waystation. More photos for you:

Thursday was all about catching up with paperwork, housework, and laundry. And on trying to reload my body with fluids...and salt. After sweating bullets at the picnic, I was craving salt, big time. I fairly attacked a bag of baked BBQ potato chips...even though they are not my faves. Did the best I could on all counts, since I had a fun day on the docket for Friday.

We had planned an EMGV Advanced Training trip to the J. C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, and we weren't going to let a little ol' heat wave get in our way. We were participating in the Landscape Color Field Day, as guests of the Arboretum and the North Carolina Commercial Flower Growers Association. Oh yeah, Master Gardeners live for stuff like this! Still more photos for you, with a few of my personal favorite flowers:

Meanwhile, Mr. T had been to DC and back (I know...he started in SC...what can I say?), just in time to head back to Charlotte to pick up Missy M on Friday evening. What was she doing in NOLA, you ask? Well, she went with several new colleagues to do their in-store restaurant training at a Popeye's there. Of course, you can't go to The Big Easy without a few taste-tests of your own, can you? Here's a shot she sent of Bourbon Street from their restaurant and a pic of her last dessert at Cafe du Monde...the New Orleans Classic, beignets. 

All of that beings me back to another weekend...back in the gardens...and back to the reason I've got my feet up and my hand wrapped around a cold glass of iced tea. With another bag of salty chips in the other hand. What can I say? Gotta get ready for another hot week ahead, don't you know?


*Going to the Garden Party Pasta Salad Recipe

1 box Tri-Color Rotini pasta, prepared per box instructions
1 large bottle Creamy Italian Dressing
Fresh oregano
Fresh basil
Fresh chives
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup Dijon mustard, more or less (I like may prefer less...:)
1 cup green peas, blanched
1/2 large red onion, finely diced (save the rest to thinly slice for decoration)
1/2 large green pepper, finely diced
1 hot pepper, finely diced (opt.)
4-5 small carrots, finely diced
Fresh broccoli, trimmed and washed
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, small cubes
1 small jar pimiento pepper, drained and diced
Fresh ground pepper and seasoned salt to taste
Nasturtium flowers, onion rings, and more fresh herbs for decoration

1. Prepare pasta per package directions. Put prepared veggies in a colander, and pour hot pasta and water over top to "cook." Drain, then wash under cold water to cool.
2. Combine Italian dressing with fresh herbs, adding as much fresh oregano, chives, and basil as you like, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. I even add a bit of Ranch Dressing, for added creaminess. Reserve 1/2 of this mixture for later.
3. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 of dressing mixture with other ingredients.
4. After mixing thoroughly, chill for several hours or overnight.
5. Since the pasta will absorb the dressing, add the reserved dressing and more seasonings to taste before serving. Top with edible decoration, such as nasturtium flowers, fresh herbs, and thinly-sliced red onion rings. Enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Glug, Glug, Glug

Let's begin this post with a picture, shall we?

OK, that...along with the title of the post...should give you a big clue where I'm going. We are treading water here in HPNC! If the present trend continues, I'm going to have to figure out just what a cubit is.

Since Sunday, we have logged nearly 4.5" of rain in the gauge. Read that again: 4.5 5 days. Plus we have had temps in th high 80's and at least one 90-degree day, with humidity levels that are oppressive at times. Makes me want to celebrate whoever invented air conditioning!

Now, several of those inches of rain arrived via severe thunderstorms. The one on Tuesday was a corker! As you can see from these pictures of the windmill in the Way Back...or as we call it, The Derrick, we were left leaning when the rising sun revealed all. Can you also see that the winds lifted the canopy on one of the swings, tipping it back and over (center, left of first pic). Thank goodness it missed the back "temporary" fence by several whole inches. Had it taken out the fence, I would have been rounding up pups for hours!

There were also small tree limbs and branches littering the landscape, like you see in this shot of the front walk. Don't know if you can make it out, but that limb has been long-dead and the object of a great deal of woodpecker attention. It has also survived many thunderstorms and high wind situations over the five years we have lived here...until this week. 

But the funniest photos are to follow. Have I shared with you how very much Winston loves water? Loves. It. In almost any form, apparently. He has no problem with a walk in the rain...none whatsoever. And whenever I have to water the garden? Well, he's there before you can say "Jack Splash!" He drinks straight from the hose, and he WANTS me to spray him. I call it "watering Winston." 


With all the rain, our Kitchen row garden resembles a rice paddy, as EMGV friend JA noted on Facebook. We have created these wide, raised rows, making the corresponding "aisles" wide...and deep. Whenever we get this much rain, the aisles fill up with the run off from the you can see. That's Dixie walking gingerly along the bean fence on Row 3.

So, Wednesday I got up to another clear, clean morning that followed a terrific downpour. I headed out to the Way Back to check on things, with four dogs in eager attendance. Before I could say "Jack Splash," Winston was through the knee-deep (to him) aisles. 

As I posted on Facebook, I'll let the pictures tell the story:

Good golly, Molly! So what to do? I turned on the faucet, because even though the last thing the garden needed was more water, I knew he would immediately stop playing in the mud baths and come to the sound of the sprayer.  He did. And I hosed him down in the Rondell, which is high-and-dry and covered in mud to be had. And he did what every wet dog has ever done: gave a great, big shake...slinging muddy water everywhere, including my glasses.

And then he ran back to the mud baths. 

OK, I got smart and did what I should have done in the first place: dragged the hose into the back yard (from the Way Back), lured him (and the others) to follow, and shut the gate behind them. Then I watered Winston once again. He loved it. And he shared his pleasure with another great, big shake.

Of course, when I tried to hose down Ella Rae, Abbie, and Dixie...who all had muddy paws...they immediately ran away...acccckkkk, water! We might melt!...right up the deck steps and into the house. Good golly, Molly...indeed.

Duche$$, who was observing all of this activity from her usual spot on the deck, gave me that look of "I told you not to get any more dogs. Can we take them back now?"

Gotta love'em!