From "Woe" to "Go" in Less Than a Week

What a beautiful way
to begin my day...
Oak Hollow Reservoir
What a beautiful morning!  I was up early, mainly because the Houndz are like Arizona and simply refuse to participate in The Changing of The Time.  Food into their bowls...bowls on the floor...by 8:00 a.m.  While they were eating, I slipped on a jacket, slipped my phone into the pocket, and slipped out the back door.  I grabbed my walking stix as I headed through the garage and was off on my very first morning walk since the time and the season had changed.  I selected the route that took me down to the lake, and I'm so happy that I did.  Check out that picture I took (left).  Could there be anything more perfect than a day that starts out looking like that?!

Hard to believe, but this time last week, I could hardly move without misery.  My back.  'Nuff said.  Lost almost a week of my life to the pain...and to the fog that the pain-relief pills put me in.  Mr. T was "in town," for which I was ever-so-grateful, as he stepped right into the fray to keep things running smoothly.  He's supposedly taking a few days of vacation, but he's putting in lots of work hours:  work-work as well as home-work. 

This happens every year at this time because Fuso's vacation "year" runs December 1 - November 30...I know, I know...seems goofy to me, too.  The upshot is that he gets 5 weeks of vacation a year plus a couple of personal days (yeah!); he can only carry-over 5 days from one vacation year to the next...no personal days (boo!); and he always, always arrives at November 1st with 15-20 days to "use it or lose it." And, if you check the calendar, there are only 20-22 working days in the month.  Sigh.  It's the nature of the beast.  So, he ends up "declaring" vacation days in November and still working those days...'cause he cannot NOT answer his d*mn Blackberry.  So, tell us how you really feel about this, Patricia? Ahem.

Anyway...

Elmo and Gus...
Supper at 5:00, in bed by 6:30
My back is better, thanks for asking, just in time, too.  Mr. T's off to a New Dealer Installation in VA he'd scheduled earlier (forgetting about that whole November issue).  Dogs are still on Summer Time, as they say in the UK, going to bed with the chickens (see photo, right, of Gus and Elmo last night) and getting up with the roosters.  And, I'm making up for those lost moments as fast as I can.

Yesterday, I put nearly 60 miles on Lillie Pearl PTCruiser as she and I jitneyed all over Guilford County with Master Gardening volunteering activities.  I had a Speakers Bureau presentation on Containers for Curb Appeal to the Sumner Garden Club at Rehobeth UMC mid-morning...but before that could happen, I had to get to the Extension Center way-the-heck across town to pick up the projector.  Then, after the presentation (which went very well...I love this group of gardeners!), I had to backtrack to Burlington Road to return said projector for its next engagement.

While at the Ext. Ctr. the second time, I got to chat with a couple of EMGVs who are conducting the interviews for next year's class.  One of them is also a knitter, so she and I got sidetracked on my second favorite topic (well, this year at least...:); we're trying to make a yarn crawl happen sooner rather than later.

As soon as I got home, I received an email about volunteering as a mentor, and I responded in the affirmative.  Less than an hour later, I learned that I may get TWO interns to mentor.  How exciting!

New Fish Tank...
Getting it ready for goldfish
I spent the rest of my afternoon working on my fish tank (left).  I'm in the process of setting up a small, 10-gallon tank, getting it ready for goldfish.  I have missed my pond...and my fish...so much since we moved from Missouri to NC.  The back yard here just doesn't seem to hold any possible sites for a pond, so Mr. T's created a fountain on the deck to give us the soothing sound of moving water.  But fish can't survive in it, so I had to go with Plan B. I'll probably let it run for a few more weeks before I add fish...just to make sure all's well.

Today, I'll catch up with laundry...and decorate for Thanksgiving.  While Mr. T was changing the clocks...and the smoke alarm batteries...this past weekend, he also brought the boxes down from the attic.  I didn't do anything really for Halloween...just put the lighted pumpkin in the window...and I found that I missed it.  So, even though Turkey Day may be a bit difficult for us this year with one chair at our table vacant, I still want to make the house...and especially the dining room...festive.  It's tradition...and it's comforting, too.

Tomorrow, I'll attend my first MG Board meeting.  As an incoming committee chair (I've agreed to co-chair the Speakers Bureau Committee next year), I've been invited as a guest...so, all I have to do is show up and eat my tuna sandwich...and listen and learn.  That, I can do!

And, next Wednesday, is the Annual Meeting...and we of the Guilford County EMGV Class of 2011 graduate!  Since I've completed my classroom hours and my mandatory volunteer hours, I will get to exchange my temporary nametag for a permanent one.  Woo hoo!!  I'm all a'twitter!  Seriously, it's been a long year...but I don't know how I would have gotten rid of that Little Black Raincloud of anxiety and grief without having Master Gardening to focus on...and Master Gardeners to lean on.  I should be giving "them" something.  Honestly.

Pear Tart... and Vanilla Ice Cream



You may have noticed that I didn't mention "writing my novel" in all of the above activity.  Well, no.  Apparently, I must not be destined to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, good intentions to the contrary.  When you are flat on your back in bed, just having taken yet another round of pain pills and muscle relaxers, it's difficult to be creative...or, just to hold a laptop and type.  Then, when you get up and going again, it's difficult to write...when you have so much lost time to recover.  I agree with a cousin of mine who observed that November wasn't exactly the best month for this challenge.  Maybe she and I should move ours to say, January?  At least we'd gain another day for writing that way!

This weekend, when I began to feel like a Human Bean again (as Momma used to say...:), I made us a pot of Brunswick Stew, along with a Pear Tart (photo, right; recipe below).  This was a new one for me, and it turned out to be a nice treat...especially topped with some vanilla ice cream.  Plus, it was pretty, don't you think?

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Pear Tart

1 unbaked pie crust
5-6 ripe pears (the riper, the better)
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves)
2-3 T. cold butter, cut into chunks
Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle (opt.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray a tart pan with Pamr. Line the pan with the raw pie crust dough, and crimp the edges.
  3. Peel and slice all except one of your ripe pears, enough to make 4 cups of thin slices.  Add lemon juice and toss.  Add flour, sugar, and spices and toss.  Pour into the crust-lined tart pan.
  4. Cut the remaining unpeeled pear into quarters. Remove the seeds and stem.  Slice the quarters into thin slivers of pear, and use these to create a decorative topping to the tart.  Dot the top with butter.  Sprinkle with a dusting of cinnamon-sugar if desired.
  5. Bake the tart for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden.  The filling will thicken even more as it cools.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 30 min.
  6. Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream.  Yummy!
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adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cook BookCountry Pear Tart

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