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Monday, September 2, 2013

The Holiday Weekend So Far: Oh Ha

For those of you who don't live in the USA, this is a holiday weekend. Today is Labor Day, meant to celebrate workers, and ironically observed by giving everyone the day off. In short, a 3-day weekend. Huzzah!

I had big non-plans for the three days. I've been feeling really fried, and I could use a vacation on a beach somewhere (hopefully complete with a cabana boy and drinks with little umbrellas in them). Since that wasn't going to happen, my plan was to just give myself the gift of three mellow, relatively work-free days. No writing, maybe a little gardening and light jewelry making, but otherwise, just relaxation. Early to bed, sleep late, fire up the grill, have a glass of wine.

Can I just say: OH HA.

First of all, anyone who knows me could probably have predicted that I wasn't going to be able to just sit around and do nothing for three days while my to-do list was staring at me. So I started on Saturday by doing my usual weekly light cleaning--clear The Surfaces That Accumulate Stuff, sweep up enough cat hair to make another cat, tidy the kitchen, things like that. Which somehow turned into a marathon 4+ hours of deep cleaning in the kitchen, which finally just got to me. [In part, I blame the fact that I've been helping someone with a really messy house pack up to move. That always makes me a little psychotic about my clutter and mess, which is comparatively minimal.]

Then at around 4 PM in the afternoon, we got hit by the mother of all thunderstorms, complete with torrential downpours and house-shaking thunder-boomers. Those who know me well know that I am not one of those people who enjoys a good thunderstorm. (Rain storms, yes, I love to listen to the rain. Powerful electrical storms...not so much.) Besides feeling vulnerable to the wrath of Mother Nature, there is something about the way that storms affect my nervous system that makes me downright twitchy. I can tell about an hour before a storm hits if we are in for a bad one. This one hung over my house for about four hours...which didn't do much for the relaxation plan, as you can imagine.

When it started, I turned off my computer as I always do. During the first hour, when the storm was the most violent, I was sitting in the living room when I heard a weird crackle-pop-sizzle sound with a clearly electrical flavor to it. I rushed into the dining room/office (which is next to the living room and only separated by a half wall of cupboard bookcases) and checked the computer, but didn't see anything or smell burning. Went back into the living room, and a minute later, heard the same thing. I still couldn't see an issue, but I unplugged the entire power strip anyway. Twitch.

Eventually, the storm passed and I turned the computer back on, wherein it became quite clear that the sound I heard had been the router being fried. It still turned on, and all the lights blinked, but none of the other devices in the house could talk to it. My Wi-Fi was now Wi-Fried. Did I mention it was practically new? Le sigh.

So a chunk of Sunday was spent breaking my "I won't have to leave the house" plan and running to Office Max to buy a new router (why do they have so many choices? WHY?) and then installing it, and re-connecting it to the laptop, the tablet, and the Roku, all of which had to be done individually, of course. On the bright side, A) I was able to do it by myself, which is good since my computer guru brother in-law is busy getting ready for the school year to start and B) everything else seemed fine--computer, modem, etc. As far as I can figure out, my poor router threw itself on the electrical grenade and saved the rest of the equipment. So RIP, little router, and thanks. (As for you, power strip/surge protector, what the heck were you doing while this was happening?)

Then, since Sunday was supposed to be the only day of the three without rain, I went out to the garden despite the 85 degree heat and 90% humidity (not to mention the swarms of hummingbird-sized mosquitoes who were clearly completely unimpressed by my herbal bug spray, which normally works quite well) to harvest my soy beans.

If you've never grown soy beans (also known as edamame when they are grown for eating fresh, as opposed to drying), they're incredibly easy. Like any other bean, you basically throw the seeds in the ground after the last frost is over and then just ignore them until they are ready to be harvested. They tend to all mature at about the same time, so I always plant two different varieties with different maturity dates. [A note: deer and woodchucks LOVE soybeans, so if you have those critters where you live, you will want to put these behind a fence.]

Naturally, since this is the garden year from hell, ALL the soybeans matured at the exact same time, leaving me with this:
That's a lot of soy beans. I still have to strip the bean pods off the stalks (a tedious job usually done on a bunch of newspapers in front of the TV), so that's on today's agenda. Luckily, they freeze well. Fresh soybeans are really easy to cook too. Simply toss them in boiling water for 5 minutes, then pop them out of the pods. The Japanese eat them as a snack--they just salt the whole pod, then pop the soybeans out of the pod into their mouths. I do that on occasion, but I also like to throw them on top of salads, into light summer pasta dishes with fresh tomatoes and basil, or mix them into potato salad for an extra crunch. They are full of protein and have a lovely nutty taste.

I did get to harvest a few other things while I was out there fending off the bugs and dealing with the ragweed (it is VERY hard to garden and blow your nose at the same time, just sayin'). Tomatoes of various sizes and colors, the last of the broccoli side-sprouts (which are the perfect size for tossing into salads and pasta), a couple of sad cucumbers (NOT a good tomato or cuke year), some beautiful eggplants, and some fresh parsley and basil. Check it out:
Pretty, eh? I did finally get my BBQ that night--organic beef ribs from the Farmer's Market, grilled eggplant, corn on the cob, and onions, along with lettuce and some of those tomatoes topped with basil. This is the best part of having a garden--eating the freshest, tastiest produce in the world.

As for the go to bed early/sleep late part of the plan...not so much. Another storm hit this morning at about 3:45, the bright almost non-stop flashes of lightning waking me up to discover that the storm had brought me a migraine too. (Thanks storm, seriously. Frying the router wasn't enough for you? Stop trying to be such an overachiever.) There have been intermittent rumbles all morning, although the sky is now clearing at last. Let's hope it eventually takes this dratted headache with it, and that it is done for the day, not just circling around to have another go later.

Okay, enough of this. I hope you are doing something fun and/or relaxing with your weekend. I'm off...those soy beans aren't going to strip themselves. Now I just need to decide if I am going to watch a romantic comedy or start watching Lost Girl on Netflix. Which is better soy bean shucking fare, do you think?

Oh, and not to be a tease...but I Know Some Stuff you don't know :-) Which I can't tell you about, but will when I can. Stay tuned...


  1. Tease!

    Sorry about the storms. Feel free to call me if necessary: remember that!

    And your basket o' produce is Bee-You-Teee-Fulll! And very yummy looking, although I'm not a big fan of most eggplants, I do like the smaller ones. Especially Asian eggplants.

    Hope today is more restful. REST, you silly girl!

    1. Skye, I thought about you, believe me, and if you had been online, would have IM'd on the laptop (unplugged, of course). But they say that even portable phones aren't safe to talk on during storms--something about electricity arcing, I guess. So no calls.

      I love the little Asian eggplants, and the beautiful little lavender Fairytale ones...just the perfect size to split in half and grill.

      And sadly, Monday was thunderstorms on and off all day. I'm more tired now than I was when the weekend started, alas.

  2. What a gorgeous colorful basket of yummies! Sorry about the storm. We had a real doozie here and I spent a few days on clean up duty. We had over an inch of rain in one hour and tremendous flash flooding. In the desert that's unheard of, and it broke all records.

    Hope today is more relaxing for you. I might take in a movie. Or not. : )

    1. I hope the unexpected torrents didn't make too big a mess, and that you got some blooms in the end :-)