August ’11 was…

Why is it that when the days and long and the weather is nice we gravitate towards “chick lit” and “beach reads” and other torpor-inducing dribble? I’m being harsh. Not to the authors but to myself. It seems like this summer had me submerged in silly. See for yourself.  These are the books I had within my reach. First, what I predicted I would read:

  • Daughters of Fortune by Isabel Allende. Allende’s birth month is in August so reading this made sense. Read in three days.
  • While I was Out by Sue Miller. Something I picked up while I was on the island. Read in two days.
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Got extremely bored with this.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Read in one day and scared the bejeezus out of me.
  • Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer. I’m still reeling from this one. Only because in it I recognized a relationship I wrecked. Hard to read about yourself sometimes. It got to me – so much so that I plan a “confessional” blog about it on the other site. Just need to drum up the courage to write it…

Now for the books I didn’t plan to read yet picked up along the way:

  • Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. Read in a few days. This was decent. I just wish it wasn’t all about finding a fine man and getting laid…
  • Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m thrilled this was on the Challenge list simple because it made me go back to Natalie’s version of “Land of Nod” and really listen to it. Beautiful.
  • The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. I read this one during Hurricane Irene -only a few hours. I needed something simple to keep me company while I filled water bottles and worried about the ginormous maple outside my picture window.
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. Probably my least favorite book of the bunch simply because I couldn’t understand the morality of the heroine of the story. The scene where Becky lies on her resume about speaking Finnish made me cringe. I was embarrassed for her.

I was able to snag one book for LibraryThing’s Early Review program: Call Me When You Land by Michael Schiavone. This had the potential to be something special. I really liked the storyline. It was the basic character development that had me reaching for more.

So. That was August. Not really impressive. No nonfiction. Nothing to set the house on fire. Maybe September will see something special.

Too Good to Keep

I don’t care what anyone says. Summer officially started this weekend. To hell with the calendar. I’m ignoring the meteorologists, too. Summer wasn’t summer until the sun came out for more than an hour. For the first time in weeks I was able to weed the garden and the walk without dodging raindrops. I finally took up those giant prehistoric looks growths growing along side the driveway. I tackled the ground cover problem, too. Redistributing the gravel that has slid down the hill. This is Hilltop, after all. I moved rocks until my sun-bared arms ached. It felt good. I got in the pool for the second time this season and actually took a few strokes for the first time. Maybe I’ll learn to swim for real. It felt amazing. We got more of the back of the house painted. The gutter guys came. Progress is progressing.
Inspired by the weather I decided on a grill dinner. Pork marinated in lime, garlic, cilantro, and cumin. But, that wasn’t the best part of the mean meal. The salsa/salad was. Try this for yourself – play with the ingredients and measurements:

  • chickpeas
  • black beans
  • grape tomatoes
  • grilled corn
  • red onion
  • avocado
  • jalapeno
  • cilantro
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • champagne vinegar
  • sea salt
  • tri-colored fresh cracked pepper

Throw everything into a big bowl and let marinate for a few hours. Any ingredient can be left out or substituted for something else. Think about it – red beans instead of black, how about rice? Vidalia instead of red onion, scotch bonnet instead of jalapeno, red wine vinegar instead of champagne…these switches aren’t a stretch, but the options are limitless. Then, to really blow your mind, there is texture. Mince everything small and you have a blended salsa, puree it and you have a killer sauce for grilled chicken. Leave it super chunky and sprinkle it with tortilla chips and you have a great side salad. Add lettuce and grilled beef (sliced paper thin) and there’s a whole meal. I love meals like this.

This weekend felt like a holiday. We worked around the house and enjoyed the sun. Grilled on the deck and savored sweet cherries for dessert. Danced around the living room to Coldplay drums. Later, from our living room window we paused a movie to take in the second fireworks display of the holiday. Bedtime brought a book to bed with me. But, before long my eyes grew too heavy. Sleep came easy. A perfect ending to a perfect day to good to keep.

You Got Sun

How many times can people point out the obvious before you want to either bite their heads off or say ‘No Sh!t Sherlock’ which I guess is one and the same… I can gauge my level of tolerance by how soon I start counting things. When I start noticing just how many times something is brought to my attention I know I’m near my annoyed stage, soon to be moving onto my pissed off stage. Scary, but true. It’s like counting to ten before dishing out the punishment to a small child. “If you don’t cut that out before I count to ten! One…two…” Yup. I’m childish. I count.

On my 6th day in California I got the “you got sun” comment 27 times. 27 times. Sometimes more than once by the same person, punctuated by an oohing sound, as in “oooh, looks like you got sun.” You would think I would know how burnt I was by the flame red parboiled look of my taut skin, the faint stingingsensation I felt whenever anything brushed my shoulders….but, no. People still felt the need to point out the obvious. You. Got. Sun. As if I wasn’t embarrassed enough by the fact that the SPF 50 I slathered on earlier had no effect. As if I wanted to be this burnt. I like my skin. I like not having cancer. Lamenting and tsk tsk-ing over my overexposed epidermis only made things worse. It’s not like I went for the singed look on purpose. It’s not like I was enjoying my new look.

Yes, I got sun. Now leave me alone. Go away. But, hey. Hand me the aloe before you go.