Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little anniversaries

Today is the 1st anniversary of the day I finally Had It Up to Here with my apartment manager and decided to get the bleep outta there. Ah, memories. Have I mentioned that the incompetent twit no longer works there?

Local veggies headed my way

So I just joined (or will have joined, once I get my check in the mail) a community supported agriculture project with a local farm. For $600 you get a crate of fresh vegetables once a week. For $375 you get a crate once every two weeks. If you sign up and pay the whole fee before April 1, you get a 10% discount.

A half-share (the 1-crate-biweekly option) is described as meeting the "produce needs of one vegetable-loving person or a family who consumes only a moderate amount of vegetables." I figured 1 crate every two weeks would be plenty. They give this huge list of the sorts of things the grow:
Here is a list of crops you can expect through different parts of the season:

Sample Early Season: Spring Greens, Lettuce, Spinach, Radishes, Scallions, Peas, Kohlrabi, Bok Choy, Asian Greens, Cilantro
Sample High Season: Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Carrots, Corn, Summer Squash, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Swiss Chard, Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, Potatoes, Fennel Bulb, Beans, Melons, Kale, Eggplant, Basil, Dill and other Herbs.
Egg Corn, Eggplant, Garlic, Carrots, Arugula,

Sample Late Season: Beets, Carrots, Spinach, Potatoes, Onions, Celeriac, Broccoli, Rutabaga, Winter Squash, Leeks, Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Various Herbs

Sounded intriguing (What's egg corn? What do I do with a fennel bulb? Is celeriac a relative of celery? I sure hope these things get packed with labels on 'em). Sounded healthy. Sounded like a challenge to eat more than just carrots, cucumbers, corn, lettuce, and tomatoes. So I bit the bullet, wrote out the check, and joined.

I have a feeling there's going to be a biweekly feature on the blog this May through November involving a photo of all the stuff in the crate. And probably a plea for recipes/suggestions/ideas about what to do with the contents. For example: Mom says chard is good cooked up with olive oil and garlic.

I figure that $335 or so is a lot to pay up front, but it'll be worth it. It's all local, organically grown produce. It'll make me eat healthier ('cause if I pay that much for it, I sure am gonna eat it). So it looks like I'm taking on cooking this summer as well. Need to learn more of that for Thanksgiving anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2009

And my little heart went pitty-pat...

Holy crap!

Mom just sent me this email:

How would you feel about Ditter and Stretch coming over for Easter dinner?

I stared at it for a few moments (whoo! Feel that adrenaline rush!) before replying:

Over where?

It sounded like there was gonna be some sort of Easter confab (editorial update: wrong word. Apparently that's a conversation. I meant: shindig, do, gathering, partay) at my place. The hell? Last I knew, Mom and Dad were coming to pick up Lolly and me on Good Friday and taking me back home with them. I remember asking if that wasn't a terribly long schlepp, and she replied that it was no worse than the drive to the bus stop to pick me up.

I am totally unprepared for company. I'm planning to host Thanksgiving, and it looked like this email was cutting my prep-for-company time from eight months to three weeks. Gaaaaah!

I followed it up with a second reply:

If you mean over here, this is how I would feel: stressed, panicked, unprepared, under furnished, and guilty if I said no.

I'm not ready for people. I don't have enough furniture for people to all sit on something without some folks getting a kitchen chair. I said I'd host Thanksgiving, and that's what I've been shooting for -- eight months from now. I've never hosted a dinner party, let alone a holiday function, and I'm freaking out right now just thinking about it.

Did you already talk to them about it?

Too antsy to wait for an email back, I called her.

Yep. She thought they were spending the weekend with me, gonna play in my garden, stuff like that.



I couldn't figure out how she got that idea, and told her so. She mentioned something about a phone conversation we had recently, where we mentioned getting pavers for the garden when they came down, and I said, "Yeah. And I remember thinking, we're gonna do all this on Good Friday?"

So. They're staying home and hosting Easter. I'm gonna do Thanksgiving--I've invited my sister, her hubby, and her in-laws. Don't know if they'll come. Gulp. Need more chairs if they do.

I should buy more chairs anyway.

C'mon tax refund, mama needs to go furniture shopping!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A reader's meme

I lifted this meme from Average Jane:

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest? Jane Eyre, though not the same copy. I keep reading that story to shreds.

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?
Current Read: Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, by Stephanie Barron
Last Read: The Archivist, by Martha Cooley
Next Book: Magical Thinking, by Augusten Burroughs -- unless something else catches my eye.

3. What book did everyone like and you hated?
I was significantly underwhelmed by The Bridges of Madison County. I didn't see it as romantic at all. I was impatient with him and irritated by her.

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
Not so much that I'm telling myself I'll read it, but that I despair of ever finishing it: A Suitable Boy. I keep picking it up and putting it down. And it's so long between attempts, I usually have to start over. It's good, but it's l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g. Oy.

5. Which book are you saving for “retirement?”
Well, I have to learn French first, but one thing I'd really like to do is read Les Miserables in its original language. Dunno why, I'm sure there are plenty of good translations out there. I just want to read it in French.

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
I wait 'til the end.

7. Acknowledgments: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
I like them if they explain who the people are being thanked. If it's just a list of names, I tend to move on.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
Can't think of anyone.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?
No, not really. Now, ask me that about pieces I've embroidered, that's a different story. For example, the pillow top I was working on during the long drive back from my cousin J's wedding in Virginia. NASCAR radio was on, I was embroidering in the back seat (roads were well-paved, car had decent shocks, and it was a blunt needle. And my small-hand coordination's very good). I've never finished the piece, 'cause every time I look at it I hear nnnnnnnNNNNNYOWMMMMNNNNnnnnnn in my head.

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
My aunt gave me the whole "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, in hardback, one book every year or so, until I had them all.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
I've been doing for my aunt's grandchild what my aunt did for me. I think the next one I have to get her is The Long Winter. Need to check on that.

12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
Most of my childhood books are packed away somewhere. I haven't seen them since we moved out away from the Philly area when I was 17. I hope they're still in good condition. Somehow or other Northanger Abbey missed getting packed up with everything else. I got that

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?
Nope. I still don't like The Red Badge of Courage, and I can't see "The Big Two-Hearted River" as anything but a fishing trip.

14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
Found a photo in one I bought at a used book sale--old black and white photo of a woman holding a baby. Nothing written on the back. I don't remember what I did with it. If Look at Me had been around at the time, I would have scanned and posted the photo there.

15. Used or brand new?
Either. Both. Gimme!

16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?
Eh. He's all right. Some of his stuff is really good, other works not so much. I think he answered the question himself when he wrote books under the name "Richard Bachman," and they didn't sell until he leaked it that they were his.

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
I have learned to treat the movie and the book as separate. Other wise I get irritated with what I see as liberties taken with the way the story is told once it's put on film.

18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid?
The Woman in White.

19. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
My mom's taste and mine seem to coincide. Though my friend G's pointed some interesting books out for me, too. Another one on my list, either after Magical Thinking or before, depending on my mood when I get down with what I'm reading now, is one he recommended called When Languages Die.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jumping the gun a wee bit

So I've been doing Weight Watchers online the past couple of weeks. I can't tell how much I've lost (if anything), 'cause I can't find my bathroom scale. All right, no, I haven't looked for it. I'm afraid. I'll weigh in when I see significant differences other ways. And even then I'll only do it because I'll need to know how many points I should be using in the WW plan (the smaller you get, the less points you have for food).

I was feeling smaller this morning, so I tried a pair of jeans I haven't worn in months. They fit! Huzzah! I decided to wear them to work.

To tell the truth, they're a little snug. Sitting isn't uncomfortable, but I hope I don't drop something today--I bent over to tie my shoes this morning and nearly knocked myself out from lack of air. I probably should have waited another week.

But still! I'm in 'em! Woo-hoo!

In other news: the research on Thanksgiving dinner has begun. We start with napkins. Can't decide between the fleur-de-lis and the diamond pocket napkin fold.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I'm a grown-up!

You'd think, wouldn't you, that buying a townhouse would make me feel like an adult. Or maybe turning forty? Nope. You know what did it? Using the 1040 long form for my taxes, complete with a filled-out schedule A and schedule B.

Except for the year I had jury duty (and couldn't find a space on any other form but the 1040 long form to declare the $14 bucks or so that they paid me to sit around before being dismissed with thanks), I've used the 1040EZ form. One side of one sheet, very little to do except report what I made, what my tax should have been, what they took, and what they owe me.

This year? What I make, what I paid in state and local taxes, what I paid in property taxes, how much interest I paid on the mortgage, how much I paid in private mortgage insurance premiums...subtract that from what I made, along with the usual exemption I get every year (my head is beginning to spin, how about yours?)...two hours of math and form-filling later, it turns out the IRS owes me close to $800! It used to be between $300-$400.

Holy crap.