I have used green as a background color on this blog for almost a year. It’s time for a change, hence the blue you now see. Small change–I may look to make bigger changes at some point. For now, however, a little switch up is good for me.
Our new Mac arrived today. We finally have moved from the world of the laptop to the world of the desktop. This puppy is pretty sweet I tell you. Everything seems to work and work quickly. We can watch videos! We can download things zip zip! We can… Well, I haven’t played with it all that much.
I can tell you that this blogger will have some fun playing, however. Once we get the right cable to transfer everything from our old to our new computer, we will be golden. I am looking forward to playing but also to use this new machine as a tool. We use our computer as our newspaper, as a means of communication, to purchase things (like a computer, for example), to write and create, to manage photos. It will be nice to have a better tool than we have had, kind like upgrading to a powerful cordless drill after using only screwdrivers for a while.
So I will get back at it. Play time awaits.
Got a new iPod Touch yesterday. Loving it. I finally figured out how to sync it with my calendar and contacts. I had to call Green Mountain Access to retrieve my password (those folks are awesome!) because I deleted mine by accident, like a D-U-M. Then I could get email. I still can’t figure out why I keep getting the same emails over and over even after I delete them. Weirdness is afoot. Anyway, it still seems to get the job done, just in an overwhelming way.
I downloaded a couple of apps as well. I look forward to using “Planets” once it gets dark. It gives you a view of the night sky, based on your location (I entered my latitude and longitude) and the time of day (er, night) and tells you what it what. The view changes as the clock ticks. You can see when you will be able to see the planets and when the sun rises and sets and the phases of the moon. Way cool. And it was free.
I have a couple of other new apps as well (I did spend 99 cents on one) and I think this thing is just the grooviest gadget to hit the household since the cuisinart. And I haven’t even begun to download music or podcasts. Playtime stretches before me. I just need to put the thing down long enough to make lunch for the children and take them to the library. And sleep. Oh, and have breakfast.
Maybe in a little while…
Recently we ordered a new computer, a Mac. We also ordered an iPod Touch and a printer. We are getting a pretty good deal, if you ask me. If you don’t ask me I still think it is a good deal. It is all sort of free.
How might you get a computer and an iPod and a printer for free, you ask? Like this: Apple has a deal right now for educators–if you order a new Mac you can get an iPod Touch for free. Well not exactly free, but you can get a rebate for the cost of the thing, so it counts as free in my book. So that was an incentive (aside from our aging computer showing some hints of age). When you order a Mac you also can get a rebate on a printer. The rebate is the same as the cost of the printer. We did spring the extra 30 bucks so the printer will be wireless (and host a copier and a scanner) so we are out of pocket a Hamilton and a Jackson at this point.
The computer wasn’t directly free. We have been saving points from our credit card for a while now. We wanted to just use those to get a computer but that wasn’t an option. You can use your points for a lot, but not that. You can, however, use your points for a mortgage payment. They make the check out to your mortgage holder and send it to you to send in as a payment. You can get it for whatever amount, so we got one for the cost of the computer. We pay for the computer instead of the mortgage and it’s a wash.
All three of the items on our order were shipped separately, from different places. The printer was shipped first and arrived yesterday. It came late, at 8:30, right when the children were falling asleep, of course. I met the FedEx driver on the porch and he had three packages. One was some unlrelated clothing my spouse had ordered. Then there were two printers. I asked if he was sure they were all for us. “Yup, the two printers and this smaller package,” was his response. Sure enough, both printers had the right name and address.
Right away I checked to make sure I had not ordered two printers by mistake. I had, indeed, only ordered one. The tracking number was only attached to one. Our order status only reflected one. Apple had made a mistake. So we called. Maybe you would not have called but we felt it would be the right thing to do. Good karma and all that. My wife asked “What if you made a mistake but we are happy with the mistake?” The rep at Apple asked if we would use a second printer. Then, with the answer affirmative, said we could just keep it.
So we had to pay an extra 30 bucks but then we got an extra printer. We may actually be ahead after all this. We aren’t sure what we will do with the extra printer yet. Use it at home? Sell it? Give it to someone who could really use it? Like a nonprofit agency? We will have to decide at some point. That thing is taking up space. And it is a good printer.
The Touch came today and I am taking precious time away from exploring its features to write this. But it is a good story, no? The computer is scheduled to arrive on Saturday. I can’t imagine they would make the same mistake twice. But one can hope, no?
I got home from an all day meeting today about 4:30. I headed right to the kitchen. Last night I was going to make a tomato corn chowder. Then I got working and didn’t stop until way too late. So I planned to make it tonight. And I did. It meant I had to get cracking. And I did. It was, how to say this, tasty as all [insert expletive here].
I tried to find a recipe but just couldn’t scrounge one up. That was probably for the better. It would have taken me longer to keep referring to a book and then half forgetting what I just read as I chopped garlic. Here is what I did:
- Sauteed three small leeks in about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil in a large pot and then set that aside
- Cut up two medium size carrots (small cubes), a couple pounds of red potatoes (cubed), two sweet peppers (diced) and sauteed all that in the large pot in about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil
- Added four cups of water and two teaspoons of salt to the pot and brought that to a boil
- Removed the pot and then removed a couple cups of the potatoes to keep them in chunks, then pureed the rest in a food processor
- Tossed three small tomatoes (OK I used the one weird large tomato I picked yesterday that looked like three small tomatoes attached at the hip), diced, along with four cups of corn I had removed from the cob (already cooked) into the pot.
- Heated the tomatoes and corn gently for about ten minutes, then added the chunks of potatoes and the puree
- Added a teaspoon each of chopped fresh oregano, chives and thyme
- Added a cup of whole milk
- Topped with freshly grated black pepper, heated for another 10-15 minutes (stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom)
- Ate it up
The children chowed it, even my son, who has been pretty picky lately. I have to admit, and my wife said this aloud, it was worth the hour spent preparing. The vegetables and herbs were all from our garden or from our CSA. Even the milk was local.
Item two was making the base for coffee ice cream. I whipped that up while the soup heated and stuck it in the fridge.
Then I went out with the kids and picked basil. We have more basil than I can handle. This is first year that the basil has really just grown. I clipped it pretty well not long ago and it really grew back well. I cut 12 cups of the stuff with my eager children who lost interest when they decided to mow the lawn with their scissors. They didn’t get all that far on that project.
I made three batches of pesto (it is supposed to get pretty cold the next couple of nights–basil doesn’t like cold), froze two and popped the other in the fridge. By now the children were off to bed with their mother, and I tried not to make too much noise with the food processor. They did fall asleep eventually, even after the delivery truck woke them up. Late delivery.
I just polished off the small bowl of ice cream from the batch I made after the basil was stored away. I probably shouldn’t have coffee ice cream this late–it is made with coffee after all, which people drink to stay awake. But I had to try some. What kind of cook would I be if I didn’t taste what I made? Plus, I didn’t have that much.
I waited to eat the ice cream after I had cleaned up everything (except the ice cream maker bucket–that thing was way too cold to wash). Cleaning too far too long. I was ready to be done when the counter was still covered with dishes. My wife still is healing from her sliced finger, otherwise I am sure she would have offered to do all the cleaning. I cook, I clean, I eat. All after a day at work. Not bad, eh?
I picked some more tomatoes today. You can see the one on the right is a bit mis-shapen. It looks like three tomatoes in one. On the vine it seemed even more so. I wasn’t sure if I was picking one big old fruit or three, or somehow two. But, like all things, it was connected. I have not sliced into it since the photo shoot (laboriously shot with sharp detail and vivid color in my kitchen studio, as you can see) but I look forward to learning how sweet it is. The variety is called Cosmonaut Volkov. I’m pretty sure it was developed in Russia, but that’s really just a guess.
The object in the middle is also a tomato. That one is a different variety. It is called Crimson Sprinter. Supposedly it will ripen in about 60 days after transplanting. It was around 70 days from gently easing the tender plants into the ground until I was blessed with this perfect, red, juicy, sweet and delicious globe of loveliness. Not bad. I ate my first of these two days ago. Bring me more.
The third object is just my glass of seltzer. It comes pre-flavored with lime. Isn’t that convenient? No need to cut an actual lime to flavor the fizziness. The seltzer is nestled comfortably around ice. I had considered creating a gin and tonic but, really, I was just too lazy to cut the lime, not to mention pour two liquids into the glass. My wife cut her finger on a 10-inch chef’s knife yesterday afternoon and, although she is healing up nicely, I have to wash all the dishes for a few days. With all that labor, I don’t have time to be slicing limes. Or tomatoes for that matter. Slicing will have to wait until tomorrow. Once I polish off this beverage, I’ve got some work ahead of me washing out the glass.
1. I have been thinking about coffee ice cream. I am ready to make it. I just need a little time to whip together some cream and sugar and milk and eggs and coffee, and Voila! Frozen confection.
2. Tomato corn chowder. We have lots of corn left over from last night and I need to use it ASAP. And now we have tomatoes. Save a little of that cream from making the ice cream, add some fresh herbs and some other tasty bits and Voila! Soup for a royal family.
3. Some bookshelves. We have tons of books and I love to read and the good tomes are all still packed into boxes. A post and beam home has one drawback–much less wall space. That means less room for art and for furniture and for shelves. So our books sit unread. With a little creativity we can fit in some bookshelves.
4. An orchard. Well maybe not an orchard on the scale of, say, one that sells fruit to markets, but a small one, with lots of trees to give us peaches and pears and apples and maybe even something more exotic, like walnuts. And some more blueberry bushes. And maybe some grapes. That might mean a lot of work, I understand, but apple pie and peach ice cream and grape juice…
5. Some poems. My writing has been limited to blogging and work, at least for the most part. I should be tossing out some more creativity.
6. My wife happy. I know one can’t really make someone else happy, but let’s face it, someone trying sure can make a difference. Not that she isn’t happy, but one of my favorite things in the world is to see her face glowing with joy or laughing with abandon. Seriously. Seeing her happy makes me happy. I love that woman.
7. I also want to make some kindling. Winter will be here soon enough and having a big stash of kindling on hand makes things a lot easier. If I can make it soon enough that it will dry before we need it, I will be ahead of the game. For years we had an supply of dry leftover lumber bits but that ran out two winters ago. Now I have to gather and split to get the fire going.
8. A will would be good. We have put that task off for too long. We did talk with a lawyer at one point but then that morbid responsibility fell off the list. Time to put it back on.
9. I need to make myself stronger. I have been running and biking and that just plain old feels good. I need to keep that up, and then get to a point where I can really get out there and fly. Who doesn’t want to fly? A long run, or a run in the middle of a snowstorm, or a zoom down a tree-lined path, those are like flying. I want to fly.
Making things is about being creative. And isn’t creativity a form of flying? That is really what I want. I want to fly.
Had a good harvest day yesterday. We picked our first tomatoes yesterday–three Crimson Sprinters. The Cosmonaut Volkovs should be ready later this week. Before we know it we will have more tomatoes than we can handle. If only I could get them to be ripe earlier.
We also ate corn last night for dinner. We got it from the farm in Richmond, Conant’s Riverside Farm, where we used to get it a lot, until we moved to Hinesburg. This is our first time eating corn from there this summer, since my daughter and I were passing by there yesterday afternoon. That corn is quality stuff. One of these days I will try again to grow sweet corn. Popcorn is growing well in our garden but it won’t be ready for a while.
We need to keep on it or things will get overripe. Another warm and sunny day today–we won’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, just how to prepare it. With the leftover corn from last night, and all the tomatoes on the way, a corn tomato chowder may be on deck for tonight. Plus maybe coffee ice cream. Who would say not to that?
My family went to a Vermont Lake Monsters game tonight at Burlington’s Centennial Field. We had a good time. There was plenty of action and we all had free Chessters frozen treats, thanks to my employer. We watched Champ, their mascot, dance around with the usual mascot antics. Unlike the last time I went to one of these games, with just my daughter, the kids thought Champ was a bit of a hoot.
On our way home, long past the children’s bed times, my son let loose a rather foul smelling burst of gas. It meant the windows were open for a while. And then I got thinking. What if the guy in the Champ suit laid one of those? Where could he go? Nowhere, that’s where. No tacos before game night, that would be my rule. Good old Champ.
It’s back to work time for this boy. No more lounging away the summer days on a ladder with a paint can in one hand and a brush in the other and beads of sweat dripping into the eyes one can’t wipe clear because of the protective rubber gloves. No more happy encounters with cucumber beetles who wish to share their produce with those who live inside the house. Alas, it is back to Excel spreadsheets and phone calls and eventually, talking with students about their promising futures. Starting yesterday, my brain had to rev up like a DVD just inserted into its cozy drive. I think it is still spinning.
I did not break a sweat as I prepared for the upcoming academic year. I went to meetings. Sometimes I break a sweat at meetings because I have to present or I have to be responsible for enough that my armpits drip. Nervousness they tell me. My friend Spike refers to that as squirreling. No squirreling today. I didn’t even break a sweat when I blasted out the house for a quick bike ride before prepping dinner. It was raining.
Did I mention dinner? I baked up a summer vegetable gratin again. I had to wait a couple of days from gathering all the ingredients as we had family engagements the past two evenings (last night we posed for family photos–it’s nice to have someone just tell me where to stand once in a while). Think fresh tomatoes, three kinds of summer squash, potatoes dug up just two days ago, parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. All baked together into a bubbling and steaming delight. Two words: Ooh baby. My daughter ate it. My son would not. We fed him oatmeal.
This job I’ve got means working at home, often evenings, sometimes weekends. Already I am thinking about what I might get done as my spouse tucks the children into bed. I resisted actually doing anything so foolhardy this evening, however. Instead I read about ten interesting deserts (one in Brazil is littered with lagoons when it rains) and a list of weird allergies (people really can be allergic to water, apparently. And sex.). Then I decided to bust out the old blog and get cracking.
I hung out with a friend recently who said that she never reads blogs because all they are is a bunch of people boring anyone who happens to stumble across them with repeated fannings over their boyfriends or overly detailed descriptions of their new puppies foibles. I tried to tell her she might be able to find something that caters to her sense of humor or to her modern and refined wit, but she was skeptical. Certainly I wasn’t going to point her here.
Did I tell you about my new puppy? My sister-in-law’s kids are so in love with it. And the way it wiggles its little hiney. SO cute!
Anyway, summer is still here. It is in the 80’s for Christopher’s sake. Two days ago it was 91 degrees and the air was pretty much saturated. It felt like Florida, where my electric bill would be like ten times what it is here in Vermont since I would pretty much be required to have an air conditioner running at all times. I did wish we had an extra fan the other night. We let the children use them and just sweated into the sheets. Now I have to wear pants in this heat. I just can’t bring myself to wear shorts at a school. Maybe I should when it gets this hot, however. But what difference would it make? I will either distract students with my balding pate glistening with rills of sweat, or I will distract them with my Discobolos-like calves.
I can’t win. Not in this heat.