Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Counting Down and Catching Up

It's been a busy several days, and I don't really have the energy or inspiration for a normal post today, but I thought I'd just write a few notes to assure everyone that I am, in fact, still here :)

Matt and I spent Friday driving out Highway 30 to Astoria, exploring little towns along the way, and then across the Astoria Bridge into Washington. We spent the weekend at a lovely beach house on Willapa Bay with a group of Matt's awesome college friends and had a nice reunion. We walked on the beach, ate about five pounds of saltwater taffy, and had some really good meals (I introduced everyone to homemade tortillas- I made about 25 of them on Saturday night for our taco bar!). It was a really nice time, but I arrived home exhausted!

Now Matt is sick with some kind of a sinus infection, so he's laid up for a few days (hopefully not more!), and the weather has turned to gray and rain, which is making me a little lethargic. So I'm trying to keep up my energy so I can get some cooking done tonight as well as packing and keeping up with everything at work. We are in the middle of interviewing candidates for my position, and it is turning out to be a rather frustrating process. I'm also hitting up against the emotions of realizing that I'm leaving my job for good, and that I will very soon be saying goodbye to all my loved ones (except M, of course) for a long time. Eighteen days till we leave!

Anyway, my goals for the evening are to cook up some soup and green beans and rice (enough for dinner and for lunch tomorrow), call Mom and Dad to work out details for this weekend (they will be visiting us all of the long weekend), and maybe get some photos and decor packed away to go into storage.

I will make every effort to be back later in the week with a more upbeat, useful post. Happy September to you all!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another Summer Meal

Last week Matt and I decided to use some of the water buffalo meat we got a few weeks ago, and made a tasty meal of spaghetti in fresh homemade sauce. I don't like most conventional tomato sauces (but love fresh tomatoes in any form...), but when sauces are made fresh and there are no tomato skins involved, I do enjoy them.

I chopped a handful of fresh oregano and marjoram from the garden, as well as a handful of our sungold cherry tomatoes to add to a salad. We fried up half a pound of the water buffalo burger with about five cloves of pressed garlic and half of the herbs, plus a pinch of salt. The water buffalo meat is delicious! It is deliciously oily, but seems to be lean at the same time. We approve.

Once the meat was cooked, we added a small can of tomato paste and a cup or so of water and the rest of the herbs, and let it cook down and even out in texture.

The spaghetti was served with a ceasar salad with fresh nasturtiums from teh garden, and a glass of Merlot. The whole meal took about forty-five to cook. Hurrah for fresh, nutritious meals!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade Travel Sewing Kit

It begins! I actually got the first real packing done last night. I have a box filled with winter blankets and flannel sheets, ready to be stored, and packed a suitcase with all my winter clothes and shoes (well, most of them. I know there are still some hats and scarves around somewhere, I'm just not sure where). It feels nice to make a small dent in the work, in spite of Matt's belief that it should all be done in the last week or so :)

Also in preparation for the trip, last week I put together a travel sewing kit to take along. We anticipate a fair amount of farm work, which in turn means I anticipate lots of tears and loose buttons and patching. Since we are certainly trying to get by on a very small amount of belongings for our trip to the southern hemisphere, I hope to be able to make the clothes that we take last us the whole time, even our work clothes.

My little sewing kit consists of 10 straight pins and three sewing needles of various sizes and strengths, pinned through a small piece of flannel, which is wrapped around a bit of cardboard to keep everything in place and prevent fingers from being poked. Also included are a number of safety pins, my seam ripper, Matt's grandmother's sewing scissors, small spools of white, black, and gray thread, a small skein of wool for darning socks, a thimble, and a little ziploc bag containing a darning needle and a small assortment of buttons.

It all packs nicely into the mesh bag that my multitowel came in (incidentally, this is a product which I would recommend to anyone, regardless of whether or not you are traveling), which keeps everything together and compact. It can actually be rolled into a package about the size of a standard glasses case.

The countdown is really beginning- we arrive in Auckland in less than four weeks!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In the Garden This Week

Last weekend I checked to see if my garlic had cured after two weeks of hanging up in the shade outside my back door. To test it, I cut a couple stems about an inch above the garlic head. When you squeeze the stem and no moisture is present, it is fully cured- and it was! So I took down the braids, cut off the tops, re-tied the tops of the braids tightly, cleaned the heads a bit, and trimmed off the roots.

With several heads in the basket in the kitchen for this week's cooking, the rest are hanging up in my storage unit in the basement, which is cool and dry, as opposed to my sometimes very humid apartment.

With some good summer heat and daily waterings, the garden is coming along nicely. The onions are probably as big as they are going to get, and I will harvest them as soon as we've used up our last couple store bought ones. The kale is the same batch that I planted in late February, and it has been producing wonderfully for almost five months! As long as it gets picked regularly, the leaves just continue to grow back. This is the Dwarf Scotch Blue variety, and I really love it.

I also discovered that the cucumber plants given to me by a coworker are, in fact, summer squash plants! I don't mind a bit, but it was a little surprise, after not paying too much attention to them, to find that the yellow fruits I thought were going to be lemon cukes were in fact crookneck squash! Having never grown lemon cukes, I didn't pay attention to what the plant looked like. Now that I think about it, had they been cucumbers I think they would have been more vine-like and actually climbed their trellis!

I'm rather amazed that my pepper plants are still alive, and now producing a few peppers! They had such a hard time of it, what with being attacked by aphids and then enduring six weeks of cold, rain, and mud as soon as I transplanted them into the garden. But here is a Hungarian Wax pepper, almost ready to be picked, one of three on this plant so far:

All of my tomato plants are loaded with green fruit, I estimate that within the week I will have my first ones gaining some good color. These are Brandywines:

We currently have Sungold cherry tomatoes out our ears. I've been picking a good batch almost every day, and there are so many more green ones on the plants:

The nasturtiums, as always, are going crazy, and we have them in all of our salads.

It took awhile for my flowers to get going (the ones that survived the spring), I love this shot of my big cosmos bush in the late afternoon sun:

My hanging geraniums are still flourishing. These plants are about 3 1/2 years old now, and I don't ever want to part with them. I love how red and dark pink geraniums seem to glow, even without light directly on them.

Here is the tangle of spearmint, nasturtiums, and sweet peas against the house:

And some beautiful pink sweet peas:

I think this week will bring the pulling up and curing of the onions, small as they are, so we can eat some of them before we move. I will also need to pick a big batch of kale, and probably make some crispy kale for dinner tonight or tomorrow. I also have several loads' worth of laundry needing to be done, so that will have to happen tonight. I've finally finished all my gift projects for the summer, so will turn to mending a few things for the trip and putting together the small sewing kit I will take with me. I went through my closet last week, pulling out all the clothes I am going to get rid of, or am on the fence about. This week I will try and do the same thing with my shoes and all the clothes in my dresser. We did get our visa applications in on time, I checked the tracking on the FedEx website to confirm that they were received at the BUNAC office in Connecticut yesterday morning! We also gave our 30 days' notice on the apartment, so that is taken care of. Whew- now that all the big purchases and bureaucracy are out of the way, it is time to turn to packing. I predict this will either happen a little bit at a time, or all in the last two days before we leave! We'll see...

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Wedding Gift Reveal!

I talked to brother Tighe last night, and he and Lisia have finally opened their wedding presents (they moved two weeks after the wedding, so didn't bother opening anything until it was time to unpack at the new house). So now I get to show you what I made for them!

Tighe and Lisia like vivid but muted colors and simple designs, and I wanted to give them something that was nice to look at but also practical. I decided to try my hand at making an embroidered tablecloth and napkin set, and it actually became the first major sewing project I've done on my own! Here's the fabric (100% cotton) and embroidery silk I picked out last winter:

(You can click on all the photos to enlarge them)

This is when I was cutting out and pinning the seams for the tablecloth. I put the leaf in my own table and used it to determine the size, while making the sides long enough that it can be used on a round table as well. Basically this is three wide strips of fabric sewn together lengthwise. It was HUGE, so I did all the cutting on my living room floor:

Sewing the miles of seams and hem (this was the piece of sewing during which my sewing machine demonstrated its need for a tune-up by tangling the thread around the bobbin about every six inches. My dismay and frustration were, I have to admit, expressed by throwing my seam ripper at the wall the fifth time it happened, and then bursting into tears when I couldn't find the seam ripper because it ricocheted into the open closet. Ahem.):

The tablecloth in my sewing basket, partway through the embroidery:

I worked madly to get it done, wrapped and hidden before Tighe & Lisia's visit in June. Matt took this picture of me embroidering in the backyard the day I finished it:

Ironing. Ironing, ironing, ironing. I don't have an ironing board, but use my table, covered with a large bath towel and a cotton sheet. You can see the embroidery on the tablecloth here, outlining the four corners of where a table runner might be placed:

The final product was 8 napkins and one tablecloth, although I think one of the napkins didn't make it into this photo:

Finished! Wouldn't you know it, when I finally spread out the tablecloth, completed, I discovered that, despite all my careful measuring, I had managed to embroider one of the tablecloth decorations about six inches off kilter from the rest. I hadn't noticed because the whole thing was so huge I never saw it spread out until it was done. Arrrg. But then I remembered my mom telling me that there is an Amish tradition of always creating an error in a piece of work on purpose, in acknowledgment that nothing humans make is perfect. So there is my error, though not intentional. Besides, I knew T & L would appreciate that it has character.

Here's a close up of the embroidery on the napkins. Unfortunately the camera didn't do well with the lighting, and the colors don't show up quite right. The green is a pale spring green, and the orange is a muted rusty color. I love the purple-gray. Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that I used leftovers of this fabric for the lining of Maya's birthday bag.

The two purple napkins are smaller than the rest. Their size was dictated by the dimensions of what was left over after the tablecloth was cut out. They are about 10 inches square, and the rest are 13 inches square.

I wanted to wrap the gift in a unique way, and I don't like the waste created by wrapping paper and ribbon, so I bought a big square of a cool batik fabric and washed, ironed, and hemmed it. This way the wrapping can be reused in whatever way the recipients choose, and does not just get thrown away.

I really did have a great time making it, and along with all of its character, it definitely has a lot of love sewn into it. I worked on it intermittently for six months, embroidering most of the napkins during down time at work, and fitting all the hemming in wherever I could in the evenings and weekends. I am very pleased with how it turned out, and glad to hear from Tighe that they really like it and hadn't noticed any of the mistakes yet! My hope is that it will last them many years (I gave it to them with a lifetime warranty for repair), and that many happy meals will be eaten on it, through long years of happy marriage.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Failure of Attitude

I'm in the process of trying to rearrange and revamp my mood and attitude at the moment. I have been finding myself overwhelmed and complaining, and I don't really like it, and I know it's wearing on Matt, which is not fair to him. I need to sort out my thoughts and redirect myself into doing things that make me feel good about myself, even if life is stressful at the moment. Let me vent and complain here for just a moment, and then I'll be done.

See, summer would be busy anyway, without preparing to leave the country and the chaos that is my job right now. But with those two things in addition, although I wouldn't trade them for anything, I am feeling absolutely swamped. My work, although there are only six weeks left of it, is taking on epic proportions. We have unprecedented numbers of refugees arriving to be resettled by our office (16 individuals scheduled in the next week alone, and now we just got word of a family of seven Cubans that will be coming as well), while at the same time we have two case managers on extended vacations, one leaving to have a baby at any time, and our program manager in Bosnia for two weeks for her father's funeral. The staff who would normally be second-in-command is on vacation for another two weeks, so in my boss's absence, myself and the two remaining case managers have been put in charge of the office and the resettlement program, and one of us must always be in the office during business hours. In addition, the three of us are taking on extra duties to cover until things return to normal at the end of the month (well, normal-ish- that's when we'll be hiring my replacement). So we're operating with about half the staff we normally have while handling unheard of numbers of arrivals, and all that is on top of me scrambling to complete all kinds of checks and paperwork surrounding the arrivals, coordinating volunteers to help our two remaining case managers set up apartments and take new arrivals to their orientation appointments, and receiving and sorting the applications for my soon-to-be-vacant position. I've received 80 so far, and the posting will be open for another week. So I have plenty to do, and while I love my job and am very very glad to be given extra responsibilities and to be involved in the hiring, I am having trouble keeping my head above water.

Just for a little extra stress, we are also still waiting on one last document (requested weeks ago) to arrive that we need to send in with our passports and visa applications, which have to be to the BUNAC office in Connecticut no later than Monday. Dealing with the bureaucracy of obtaining and submitting official documents in a pain in the $&#, and it is making us both edgy as we are only a few days from our application deadline and may have to shell out big time to overnight FedEx our applications to make the deadline.

I haven't seen much of my friends lately, as they are all just as busy as I am, and I want to get as much time with them as I can before leaving for NZ. So I think it's time for me to re-prioritize, figure out how to see my buddies (or at least talk to them on the phone), set something of a schedule for packing so my brain doesn't go into panic mode, and figure out some ways to make my brain and body relax a little, so I can do my work well without sapping all my resources. I know I've been stressing Matt out by my own being overwhelmed, which puts him a foul mood, which then puts me in a foul mood- it's a vicious cycle. So I am going to try and not let things overwhelm me, and realize that Matt is right when he says that we can pack and store and move out in the space of two days if we need to. I am such a planner that I wig myself out by anticipating how stressful things will be, and Matt goes the (possibly more sane) route of not planning things, and just cramming it all into as little time as possible, so that the stress is limited to a matter of days, not weeks. We're both exhausted and cranky already, so it's time for me to just let go and relax for awhile.

I don't like complaining or stressing myself out. I do it way more than I should, and it doesn't feel good. So I want to break out of that, and just do my work at the office and at home without complaining. I remember my father saying at my grandmother's wake a few years ago that he had no memories of her ever complaining. She was a fantastic woman who lived through the Great Depression and World War II, through her parents dying within 13 days of each other and leaving her in charge of three young sisters, and later she lived through my grandfather's death, spending 25 years without him before she passed away. If she, who I am named after, can go through all that without complaining, I really have very little right to complain about having too much paperwork to deal with and not finding time to pack for the trip of a lifetime.

I'm done now. I will go find my old optimistic self, wherever she is hidden under all my current grouchy wonkitude. I am going to let it all go, hopefully get my visa application in on time, and then relax and enjoy the upcoming weekend, which happens to include my 26th birthday! This should be a time of celebration and happiness, and I aim to make it so.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

As it is the height of summer here, Matt and I have been eating a lot of these:

Matt and I love cucumbers in most forms, and these simple "flash pickles" (my friend Rosa's term) are a nice tangy variation.  I don't like the flavor or consistency of store bought pickles at all, but these just taste fresh. They're so easy it's ridiculous. You just peel and slice as many cucumbers as you want (this jar is two good sized cukes), and put them in a jar. I add about one part vinegar (I like rice vinegar or cider vinegar best) and three parts water, and a pinch of salt. Put a lid on and shake them a little, then chill in the fridge. If you want to make them "to go," just throw in a couple ice cubes and take them with you. I'm not sure how long they keep, as we tend to eat them within a couple days. If they last more than a day, I usually pour out the water/vinegar mixture and refill with just water, or I find the pickles get a little sour for me. For a variation, add thinly sliced sweet onions to the jar.

It's hard to believe there was a time when I didn't like cucumbers...

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Matt and I spent today on the road. As with most of our trips this summer, the theme was touring small town Oregon. We have been hemming and hawing about a dream that we both have in the back of our minds, the same one people have dreamed for 170 years: of a farm in the Willamette Valley. If we do decide to do this, it certainly won't happen until quite a few years down the road, but we can still dream, right? So we've been making it a point recently to drive through small towns in the valley and find potential areas we might like to live near in the future. In early July we took a trip that involved a loop down the Santiam River, and visited Lebanon, Sweet Home, Scio, and Stayton. Today we decided to explore the area south of Portland and east of I-5, which was all new territory to me.

After a late breakfast, we packed some food and made cups of coffee for the road, and set off at about 11:30. We drove south through the suburban sprawl past Oregon City (the true end of the Oregon Trail- there is so much history there that you can almost feel it in the air), and south to Canby, Oregon. It's all great farm country, and along Highway 99E it is full of berry farms and nurseries. The highway parallels I-5, and that country is much more developed than we like, but still beautiful. We always get off the highway and drive through the towns to see what the back neighborhoods are like. My favorite today was Aurora, Oregon, south of Canby. It was founded in the 1850s as a Christian cooperative community, and original auction house and church hall remain, and beautiful old houses everywhere.

We drove to the outskirts of Woodburn, and then turned southeast and drove to Mount Angel. Mount Angel is home to a Benedictine monastery and convent, founded by monks from Switzerland, and the town keeps up a "Bavarian Village" persona, which is slightly kitschy, but also means the small downtown is very attractive. Here is the town Glockenspiel, which chimes on the hour, with music piped out and moving wooden figures representing the history of the town: a Bavarian tuba player, a nun and a monk, a Kalapuya Indian figure, etc.

(Click on the photos to enlarge)

And the police department:

And the beautiful church of St. Mary's Parish, built in 1910:

There was a wedding about to start when we got there, so we didn't get a look inside, except a glimpse of the gorgeous stained glass. I love that the spires are so tall that we could see them well before we entered the town.

We were ready for a bit of a break, so we ate our picnic lunch in the little gazebo at the center of town.

We packed our food so we wouldn't be tempted to stop somewhere and spend money buying lunch. We brought along ice water in our water bottles, hard boiled eggs, some homemade cucumber pickles (I'll post the recipe later), a few tortilla chips, ginger thins from Matt's aunt and some cut up cantaloupe for something sweet, and some great beef jerky that we found last weekend at the Washington County Fair. It's made by Bakke Bros. company, who are in Salem, Oregon and use all local meats in their jerky and are mostly transitioned to using only pastured meats. They make a million different flavors (all of which we sampled at the fair!) and are really nice guys to boot. Their website/online store is here.

After our lunch break we drove to Silverton, which is a really nice little town but touristy, and then turned northeast and drove through some gorgeous land to Molalla. Molalla is definitely a farm town- feed stores, western wear shops, and tack sold everywhere on the main street. I was getting a little zoned out (2 PM, just ate lunch, and I was doing the driving as Matt has been having some pain in his right foot), so we stopped at the city park and spread out our picnic blanket in the shade, and I dozed for a little bit while Matt read The Encyclopedia of Country Living (idyllic, huh? :).

After my power nap, we ate a little more and continued our loop northeast to Estacada, into the foothills of Mt. Hood and out of the open valley. We didn't much care for Estacada itself, but the drive from there back to Oregon City on Highway 224 was beautiful, if very curvy. Matt knew of a fruit stand at a highway junction just south of Damascus, Oregon, so we stopped there and explored the little country store. They had a little nursery and gorgeous flowers in addition to tons of local produce.

We bought two local sweet onions, six Maryhill peaches, a big bag of local green beans, some local spinach, two ears of local sweet corn, and were pleased to find that they also carried some good local meat products at a very good price. We got a good sized package of bacon for $5.99 and a pound of water buffalo burger (!!!) for $4.99-- that and all the produce for less than $25! The bacon is from Mt. Shadow Natural Meats in Dufur, Oregon, about 25 miles from where we bought it. It is advertised as "No Feedlot" but does not specify that it is pastured...The buffalo burger is from Springwater Farms just down the road in Clackamas, Oregon. Obviously growing water buffalo in Oregon is an experimental thing, and they are not grass fed (they prefer other forage, apparently), but when else will we have a chance to see what they taste like?

We made it home around 5:30, worn out but glad to have seen all the territory that we covered. We do have mixed feelings about all the driving, as it is not so kind to the environment, but there is no other way to get around that area in the time we have available to us. I am very pleased that we saw so much beautiful country in so little time, and that we took along what we needed and didn't spend anything extra besides a third of a tank of gas (the groceries are a standard expense for us). It was a little surreal to come around a bend and see downtown Portland right across the river, and the big metropolis in front of us after spending all day in rural Oregon.

Now we've been home for a few hours, put the groceries away and rested a little with a cup of tea. I washed the dishes, and now Matt is sauteing some of the spinach with my homegrown garlic and steaming some green beans for dinner.  I'm feeling very at peace, pleased with our explorations and the simplicity of many of the communities we visited today, and enjoying the feeling of accomplishing so much on a Saturday, and having Sunday ahead of me for home chores, packing, and finishing up some sewing that has been sitting in the basket for too long.

I hope you are also having a good weekend and enjoying the simple things and good food with the ones you love.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Loose Ends

This week one of my goals has been to go through the three boxes in my basement storage to remember what is there, and to at least pack all my winter clothes for storage. I accomplished the first task on Wednesday night, which felt very good. I found one box was full of all my holiday lights and decorations, so I don't really need to do anything with that- it will be stored as is. The other two boxes contained a completely random assortment of things- an old calendar that I had been keeping, thinking I would use the pictures to decorate; my old soccer cleats and shinguards; some pieces of decor that I don't have room for at the current apartment; and, oddly enough, about $3 worth of New Zealand currency! I had forgotten I had it, left over from my last trip. So now it's waiting on the mantle along with two travel combination locks, to be packed for the trip. I also found the wallet I want to take to NZ. It is larger and more practical than the one I am currently using. Everything else was either packed back into boxes to be stored, or put in the big box that is now in our living room, labeled "JETTISON." Right before we leave, we'll invite all our friends to come look through the things we are getting rid of, and give the rest to a secondhand store or put it out as a Free Box.

We are only waiting on one document to arrive by mail, and then we will have everything we need for the final step of our visa paperwork, so we can send that all off and rest easy. Because BUNAC has already accepted us into the work program and we have no foreseen obstacles in our way, it is highly unlikely that we could be denied our visas, so I'm not even going to worry about that possibility!

Another thing we are currently working on is eating our way through what is left in the cupboards and freezer, and not buying large amounts of anything. It's a major change of habit as I'm used to buying everything in bulk. But we want to get the most for our money, and right now that includes not having to get rid of food we've already paid for! What we don't eat we will give to friends right before we leave. Some things, like spices, we can store while we are away, but most things won't last nine months in storage. Almost all of my hard-earned garlic will be given away, which is hard to think about, but it also feels nice that so many of my friends are already clamoring for it :)
Any tea, sugar, or coffee we don't use I will donate to my office. Right now the things in most abundance in the cupboards are cornmeal, popcorn, whole wheat flour, and nutritional yeast. Luckily both Matt and I can eat our weight in popcorn dressed with olive oil and nutritional yeast! I will need to do some baking to get through the rest. We have dried beans, lentils, rice and pasta in small amounts, but we shouldn't have a problem making those into a few nice meals. As for the 2 years' supply of baking soda and salt, I think they would be fine stored long term in tightly sealed jars- that's how they have been in my cupboard for several months now. Does anyone out there know?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Let the countdown begin: 7 weeks till New Zealand!

I've reached the point where my brain is surging into overdrive all the time, trying to figure out exactly what needs to be done in order for us to get to New Zealand in one piece with everything we need, and with all of our arrangements in the states taken care of. So much to think about: moving out of the apartment, packing for the trip, pruning down belongings, storing almost everything we own, paying for storage, transitioning out of my job, getting lots of time with friends and family before we go, and on and on and on. Add to that the fact that we will be out of town three of the four weekends before we leave, and on the fourth, my parents will be visiting! I have a feeling that the 13 1/2 hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland will be something of a relief- after weeks of busy, we will have nothing to do but sit. (Plus, I'm kind of a geek who loves to fly- I really enjoy long haul flights. Is that weird?)

Packing for a trip is one thing. Packing for an 8 month trip while also moving out of an apartment and leaving the country is quite another. I was talking with my friend Lydia the other day, about how if the apartment was bigger, we would be able to set aside one room and put all of our "to store" stuff there, while we set up another space for the "to New Zealand" pile. However, we don't even have the space to sort things easily! My fear is that I will be packing up stuff to store while forgetting that a certain item needs to go on the trip, and then create more work for myself by having to dig through all the boxes trying to figure out where I put it. I am thinking about making a list of every individual item I plan on taking to NZ, so that as we're packing, I can separate things with a little more ease of mind. Hmm. We're really not taking much with us to NZ. We'll each take a large backpack, and one large suitcase between us, for 8 months! Since we plan on having a vehicle while we are there, we can take more than we would if we were just backpacking around and hosteling, but we still don't want to take too much.

A few things are already out of the way: I sold my surfboard last week, and my old digital camera as well. We are going to buy used surfboards once we get there, and sell them back before we come home. The board I had was nice, but not exactly what I want anyway, so I figured if I sell it now, I have a little extra cash for the trip. I was happy to get $272 (I know.Random.) for it. As for the camera, mine ate through batteries like crazy, and Matt has one small digital camera and a larger, nicer one as well, both of which we are taking, so mine was expendable.

Storage is another matter. Payment is taken care of: since I am refusing material presents for my birthday (any new belongings would have to go into storage anyway), my parents will be paying the cost of storage for my birthday present. I may have to get a storage unit, but I'm hoping to be able to dole things out between friends and then rent some garage space from another friend for the rest. I would feel much more comfortable with that.We'll see what happens in that realm.

At work, I am pretty deeply involved in the hiring of my replacement, of which I am very glad. My job description has changed about 75% from the time I started this job in February of 2009, so I am the only person who really understands the position, and there are so many little details of bookkeeping and everything that it is important for me to be involved in deciding who we hire and training that person. I am very happy to do it, because I feel very invested in this position, which has basically gone from "Program Assistant" to "Liz's Job." I will be doing the initial evaluating of all the applications we receive (we anticipate at least 150) before they are passed on to my supervisor, and I will be doing the interviewing with my supervisor as well. I have been writing a manual for the position as well as a training checklist, so hopefully the transition will be smooth and healthy.

One of the things I am saddest about is leaving my garden. I have seen that plot of land go from grass and sod to a bountiful mix of tomatoes, cabbages, flowers, peas, and everything in between. I will be leaving while the tomatoes are still producing, and before I ever get to see the winter squash gain much size. I am not sure if I will get to eat any of my own cabbages or not; that remains to be seen. But I am also glad to have left my mark, to have made it easier for the next occupants to plant a garden there, and to have made the soil and air healthier by planting a variety of things. I purchased and installed the compost bin, Matt built the trellis, and I planted all those beautiful daffodils and tulips, which will hopefully still be blooming 15 years from now. The rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and mint are perennials and hopefully will be enjoyed for many years. I like knowing that, while I leave behind my own work, it is there for many someones to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Signs of Summer

Signs of summer around our small (and slightly haphazard at the moment) home:

A jar of Matt's delicious homemade lemonade, ready for drinking.

Hydrangeas in the bedroom, from the bush in front of the house.
Fresh guacamole!

Sweet corn from the farmer's market for dinner twice this week!

Peaches! My favorite fruit in the world, finally in season!

A fresh, luscious salsa! Only the tiny yellow tomatoes are from my garden, all the other ingredients are from the farmer's market.