It was the summer of superfluity. It started out with too much rain, and when I say too much, I mean, I was on craigslist daily, looking for a good deal on an ark. California is in a severe drought because all of their rain clouds got lost and ended up in Ohio. In our state, the farmers suffered from too much precipitation – they couldn’t get fields planted, and/or, once they did, the plants in low-lying spots were drowned. For the organic farmers, the rain caused a bumper crop of weeds, which quickly overtook the main crops. Local pools were empty, picnics were being endlessly rescheduled, and any events that couldn’t be rearranged required a soggy hopefulness, extensive rain gear, and a generous supply of towels. Somehow, we muddled through.
In the midst of these soggy circumstances, my daughter and her husband returned from their Central America mission adventures and settled into our guest room/computer room. It’s a small room, so the computer table quickly filled up and was hidden for months under piles of make-up, wardrobe accessory items, books, health-food supplements, and other odd, sundry bits and pieces. (I blame my prolonged lack of creative writing accomplishments solely on this unfortunate circumstance.) In addition to the discomfort of the small house/tiny room tight squeeze, there’s also only one full bathroom (i.e., shower!) in our house, and none of us girls like the basement toilet, so that led to some rather indelicate situations, on a daily basis. Not to mention a need to be flexible in attention to one’s own personal hygiene habits. And just when we had come up with a livable working plan, all five of us drove up to Minnesota to converge on another one of my daughters and her family. Eight people, all packed into a cute, but small, house – two bedrooms, with an added bedroom and bathroom in the basement (thank God for those additions!). Toss in three dogs, two cats, a very small kitchen, and no dishwasher, and my house was looking like a palatial estate…well, except for that one full bath issue. Let’s face it, overcrowding was a main theme for us this summer.
Shortly after we returned from that sojourn, it was time for the middle child to move out. Her hubby had been hired as a teacher at a high school not far from here, and it was time to rent a U-Haul and shut down our short-term storage business. Suddenly, the computer reappeared, along with A LOT of space in our storage room upstairs. Honestly, I didn’t even know we could fit that much stuff in that room. We hauled box after box out to the truck, along with some recently purchased thrift store furniture items. Then, my husband and I spent an afternoon helping them move into their apartment, on the top floor, on a hot day. It’s times like these that I am grateful for the affliction of exertion-induced asthma. As soon as a comfortable chair was situated in the apartment, I turned on the AC and supervised.
Just to keep myself from getting bored this summer, I planted a couple of tomato plants. Those cute, innocent little plants that I picked up from a local farmers’ market morphed into stage props from the Little Shop of Horrors! I am talking monster plants! They were pulling down the tomato cages, and I had to resort to tying them to our fence. I was concerned about the neighbors’ children and small pets being sucked into the depths of these bloodthirsty bushes. There was so much foliage on the plants, I had to search carefully for long periods of time to find (and then plot out how to get my arm in for harvesting) the ripening fruit. Luckily for me, they didn’t start to ripen until the local climate returned to it’s normal, hot and humid discomfort, and that was just about the time we got back from our summer travels. Suddenly, I had tomatoes coming out of my ears. I gave a lot away, and still came up with enough to make and can two batches of salsa. And, in case you didn’t know, it takes a lot of tomatoes for a batch of salsa! But I had decided, come hell or high water, that I was going to be a good steward of the harvest, so not a one of those tomatoes went to waste. At this point, my plants (which I eventually trimmed back, like overgrown trees) are still loaded with green tomatoes, which were just starting to get an orange tinge when the cool snap hit. I might end up with enough ripe ones to make one batch of pico de gallo, but after that, I’m thinking I will soon be trying some fried green tomatoes for the first time in my life!
Still in my summer stupor, I went to a market last week and bought a bushel…I said, a BUSHEL…, of apples, “seconds” they’re called, to be used for making applesauce. When you come home with a GIANT pile of gnarly-looking apples, with soft spots here and there, you can’t wait around for a few days before you begin working on them. The bad ones need to be cut up, cooked, and put through a food mill ASAP, before the bruised, rotten spots spread and/or fruit flies take over your house. I did most of the fruit the evening I got home from market, then filled my fridge to overflowing with containers full of the cooked-down remnants, until I could finish up the remainder of the fruit. This weekend I cut up and processed the rest of the apples, then prepared and canned 24 pints of applesauce.
Just as I was completing the final stages of the canning process, something snapped inside my head. I began to babble in unintelligible gibberish, and my cats all ran for cover. I stopped and stared at the calendar for a good, long, while. Suddenly I realized, it’s September, summer has zipped by in a flurry of tightly-packed activity, and I am thoroughly worn out. I decided it was time to write a long-overdue post for my blog, and then settle into my recliner with some chips, salsa, and applesauce. And I might just stay there until I run out of all three.