And the Answer Is..

The toilet broke. Of course, it's now considered all my fault because I laughed in fate's face in that last post and asked "what's the next thing that's going to happen around here?" Now we know...

Fortunately, Mr. T had kept the business card of the guy who had installed the new hot water heater "just in case." So see...being prepared for whatever is going to happen next IS a good idea, right? Not that we could have imagined needing a plumber again so soon...but regardless, we were ready.

Missy M is currently holed up in the guest room (aka: my bedroom), propped up with multiple pillows, keeping her foot elevated per Dr's orders, and securing her two dogs. I managed to herd my three houndz out the back door and lock the doggie door when I saw the utility van backing into her driveway at 7:58. The plumber had said "between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m.", but I knew I had to be ready before that. I set my alarm for 6:45 so I could be showered and dressed early...and so I could have the dogs fed. Unfortunately, my first cup of coffee was only halfway finished when I saw them arriving. Sigh.

Can you count it as your second cup if you never had a chance to finish the first? Ahem.


Just to prove to you that we are making some positive progress around here, let me show you a picture of the brand, spanking new central AC unit. Ta da!

She's a beaut...and after a little hitch on Day Two that can only be attributed to a poltergeist in the basement (don't not even ask...:), she's humming along like a dream.

Ok. Time to release the houndz! Less than an hour into the house call, and the diagnosis has been made and the surgery performed on the wax ring of the toilet. Don't know what that is? Don't ask! It's done...write the check...and try to get the house back to normal. Whatever the heck that is these days.

"Normal" is normally difficult to achieve, especially when so many things are going awry. But I have latched onto my lifeline, here just like at home, and my answer is: a garden. Missy M has the nicest area on the east side of her house...all fenced and protected...that we call her Secret Garden. And there, you will find two lovely raised beds, one 8 x 4, the second 8 x 5. She had drawn up her planting plan for 2012...and then she fell, of course. Well, I took her fabulous plan...and tried my best to bring it to life.

The Right Garden, which Mr. T prepped a couple of weekends ago, is, in general, tomatoes and peppers...with onions, carrots, basil...and four watermelons at the very end, so they can run toward the fence. I got it planted last week, and things are growing right along.

The Left Garden needed a bit more prep work, which Mr. T did this past weekend, and it is now hosting strawberries, squash, cucumbers, eggplants, melons...and the tuteur that her Daddy built for her a few years ago. It will support the pole beans planted at its base...Kentucky Wonder, of course. There are also bush beans next to the strawberry bed. I put the final seeds in the ground as the sun went down on Sunday. And per plan, there are marigolds everywhere.

See what you think...the first picture is of the planted Right Garden; the middle pic is showing the Left Garden au naturel with the planted Right Garden in the background; and the last shot is of the planted Left Garden.

Everybody say "ahhhhh..."

OK. Back to the present. Now that we've settled down a bit, I have begun making a pasta salad. Since I got the plants in containers a week or so ago, Missy M's cherry tomatoes are producing up a storm here on her deck. I've been harvesting the ripe ones, two or three each day, and I now have enough to work with.

I have a Pasta Salad recipe I really like that I got from a Mount Carmel Auxiliary cookbook, when I worked in Columbus, OH. How many years ago was that, you ask? Let's see...I worked at Mt. Carmel '91-'93. Wow! Nearly 20 years I've been using this recipe! Amazing!!


I did my best on the recipe...more or less from memory, and using what I had on hand and from the gardens. One of the banana peppers came with a pepper already on it, so I harvested it. And, I raided the Salad Garden (which is on the west side of the house, nearer the kitchen door) for fresh oregano and basil, since Missy M had already gotten her herbs, salad greens, carrots, and onions in before The Fall.

The question now is...what should I do while the Pasta Salad is chilling? Missy M is back in bed, enjoying a needed rest on fresh linens. The dogs are all, more or less, between barking at noises that might mean a return of the plumbers. Should I go pull weeds in the garden, or do a load of clothes in the basement...or, (as our pediatrician told me long, long ago) "sleep when the baby sleeps."

And the answer is...


More-or-Less Mount Carmel Pasta Salad

1/2 box Penne Rigate pasta, prepared per box instructions
Packet of Italian Dressing mix, prepared (or 1 cup bottled dressing)
Fresh oregano
Fresh basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes (more or less), sliced in half
1/4 large onion, finely diced
1/4 large green pepper, finely diced
1 hot banana pepper, finely diced (opt.)
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
4-5 small carrots, finely diced
Fresh broccoli, steamed and washed with cool water
1/2 package turkey pepperoni, quartered rounds
4 oz. provolone cheese, small cubes
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup Dijon mustard, more or less (I like may prefer less...:)
Fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Prepare pasta per package directions. Drain, then wash under cold water to cool.
2. Prepare Italian dressing per package instructions, adding as much fresh oregano and fresh basil as you like.
3. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients. Add cooled pasta, Italian dressing, mayo, and Dijon mustard.
4. After mixing thoroughly, chill for several hours.
5. If a bit dry (since the pasta will absorb the dressings), add more dressing(s) to taste. Enjoy!


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