Parsley Gratitude

GasMaskAt bedtime I often review the day and name things I am grateful for. The list always starts with my husband Ed, then meanders through the day’s activities, perhaps including pancakes, a chat with a neighbor, a completed project, a hot bath. But not until today did the list include parsley.

A week or so ago I started noticing a vile smell in the house. It assailed me as I reached the bottom of the stairs in the morning. Opening the refrigerator, I realized I hadn’t cleaned it out in way too long. I worried whether the recent sewage leak in our basement was back.

Ed and I cleaned out the fridge thoroughly. I checked the sewer pipe (no leak). I started sniffing everywhere – the heat vents, under the couch, the attic where we have bats, the trash can, the closets. No source found.

The smell got worse and more pervasive — a nice concoction of rotten onion, dog doo, and vomit – flambé.

When the newly sparkling and baking-soda’d fridge started stinking again, I began to realize something was rotten in Denmark. Perhaps I was smelling normal things, but they smelled “wrong” to me. I had heard of this in people who have temporal lobe seizures, but not in any other context. Could there be something called “parosmia”?

Yes, there could. Apparently, damaged olfactory cells are trying to regenerate, but they’re not hooked up to the interpretation center properly, so they just send out random (and in most cases unpleasant) signals.

Turns out the smell at the bottom of the stairs in the morning was Ed’s coffee brewing. The smell of onions makes me gag. The fridge was putting out the gases of ripening fruit and vegetables. Mint is horrible, including toothpaste.

And, I can’t stand the smell of chocolate! I can’t figure out if this is a nightmare, a dream come true, or just God having a chuckle.

I am trying to figure out what to eat. Ed took all the produce out of the fridge and put it in a cooler outside. He re baking-soda’d the fridge (see why he’s first on my gratitude list?) and it is now bearable. I am eating white bread, peeled potatoes and margarine. I never thought I would miss vegetables.

But parsley tastes great. Picked out of my front yard, it’s crisp and fresh, and decidedly not disgusting.

Parsley potatoes for supper.

I’m so grateful!

Now What? — Redux

NowWhatReduxImageHey – not you people out there juggling school and jobs and kids – I mean you people like me –retired, with a hobby or two but no big obligations. Do you ever have a day where you look up after your morning walk, lunch, and a nap, and say to yourself: “Now what?” I sure do. In fact this blog is named after that feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I like being retired. I have had enough of fulfilling and not so fulfilling work, of dragging myself out of bed on Monday mornings, of being told to “work smarter, not harder”. But I am still figuring out the rhythm of my days.

Today I got a nice reminder of a technique for figuring out what to do next.

I got up early because I had a garden helper coming at 7:30 to help me re-stake tomatoes. That went well, and then I went for a lovely walk in the woods with a friend of 45 years (Hi Gerri!). I was pretty tired after all that, and took a rare after-lunch nap.

I woke up around 3:30 recalling that I had intended to clean up the kitchen and make something with the 10 pounds of tomatoes we had picked this morning. But I felt logy and unmotivated. An incipient headache prevented me from spacing out on the computer. “Now what?” I wondered uncomfortably.

Wandering aimlessly around the house, I realized I really did need to empty the compost, so I grabbed the bucket and headed out to the pile.

And came back an hour later. Emptying the bucket had led to meandering over to check on the pole beans, which led to finding an over-ripe cantaloupe that had to be composted, to pulling up the dead squash vines, to weeding some morning-glories out of the garbanzos…you get the picture. It was cool and pleasant outside, and I felt refreshed and awake.

Back indoors, washing out the compost bucket led to cleaning off the kitchen counters, putting the extra tomatillos in a bag to be sorted (soon?!!), and setting up a toaster-oven-load of okra to roast for supper.

The only down side to this spontaneous burst of activity is that I didn’t put on my bug repellant, and received a few mosquito bites. A small price to pay for satisfaction and contentment.

So my advice to you if you are wondering what to do next is: “How the heck should I know?” But my advice to ME if I don’t know what to do next is: “Wander out into the garden and see if anything happens.”

This week’s new habit to adopt:

              Bring only small quantities of junk food into the house at a time.

P.S.  A big thank you to those of you who, on and off the blog, support and/or join my efforts at self-improvement.

Carrot Conceit

Here is a picture of some carrots that came out of my garden this morning. IMG_4374A woman showing these would say: “Here are some carrots I grew this year. Well, I had a lot of help, of course. They’re kind of crooked, because I didn’t get the soil prepared as well as I had hoped. I accidentally pulled out a couple that are too small, because I didn’t thin them soon enough. I think they’ve probably gotten a bit tough and bitter because I picked them too late in the season. And obviously, they need washing!”

A man would say: “Hey, lookit these great carrots I grew!”

Fellow blogger (I shall call her Marcie) just posted a beautiful braid she made from home-grown garlic. The title of her blog-post is: “Clearly there is room for improvement.” I rest my case. (To see her braid, go here): https://thevalliereblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/clearly-there-is-room-for-improvement/

I am far from a shrinking violet, and toot my own horn plenty. Yet I, too, often emphasize my failings when I blog. (Actually I find myself charming and funny when I do this.)

But not today! Today I am going to set aside self-put-downs, and share with you my utter delight in my garden this year. It’s the best garden I’ve ever grown, and I am filled with joy every time I step out my door. I’m going to make you look at the pictures as if they were my grandchildren, and I want to hear some “Awwwws”!

Enormous tomatillo, tomato and pepper patch this year!
Enormous tomatillo, tomato and pepper patch this year!

 Keyhole sustainable garden. This is its first year, converted from a square garden with compacted soil.

Keyhole sustainable garden. This is its first year, converted from a square garden with compacted soil.

First attempt at growing artichokes (from seed! in Virginia!)
First attempt at growing artichokes (from seed! in Virginia!)
Cantaloupe sprawling on the right, cover-crop buckwheat on the left, and second planting of pole beans in the middle
Cantaloupe sprawling on the right, cover-crop buckwheat on the left, and second planting of pole beans in the middle.
This nearly-ready beauty is a volunteer!
This nearly-ready beauty is a volunteer! (Note carrot leaves just behind.)
I live in a cozy mixed neighborhood. This is what folks walking down the sidewalk past my house see.
I live in a cozy mixed neighborhood. This is what folks see while walking down the sidewalk past my house.
View into the back garden from the side gate. Hydrangeas held up by a repurposed crib I found on the sidewalk.
View into the back yard from the side gate. Hydrangeas held up by a repurposed crib I found on the sidewalk.
Carrot Selfie!
Carrot Selfie! Note red carrot, which matches my magenta T-shirt!