pickle pickle

I made pickles yesterday!

I also made pickles on Monday, but I’m going to tell you about the time yesterday, because it was momentous.

I’ve been doing canning projects with my mom for a few summers now. She’s the real expert – I’m still learning. Actually, I hadn’t made pickles all by myself before this week. (!)

Something scary about a HUGE pot of boiling water, and dropping things into it.

Anyway. My mom is out of town this week, and my garden is producing a lot of cucumbers. Way more than Joshua and I can eat by ourselves. Because I now have a photo on my iPhone of my mom’s incredible bread & butter pickle recipe, I decided to make pickles all by myself.

So I went over to my mom’s house and stole all of her canning supplies, because I really don’t have any. I went out and bought my own jars, and I used all cucumbers from my own garden. About 5 pounds of them! It was incredible!

Everything worked just the way it was supposed to. I did make a bit of a mess doing it, but sometimes that’s part of the fun. Most importantly, none of the jars broke and ALL of them sealed! So now I have six jars of pickles that were made all by myself with cucumbers from my own garden!

This really feels like a rite-of-passage. I’m all grown up! :-)

 

P.S. – I returned all the canning supplies, washed and dried. If my mom wasn’t an avid reader of my blog, she would probably never have known.

can’t help the way I feel

Joshua made me a lovely mix-CD with songs from Ingrid Michaelson‘s newest album, “Lights Out“, and miscellaneous Colbie Caillat songs of which he approves (Joshua is very discriminating when it comes to music, and will not buy any songs that focus on negative emotions or contain profanity, among other things – I feel very protected).

One of the songs, Colbie Caillat’s “What Means the Most“, contains the line, “I can’t help the way I feel.” Sometimes a song gets a little fuzzy, and we can’t understand some of the lyrics, but this line stands out clearly. I can’t help the way I feel.

I find this very interesting.

I so totally disagree with this concept. One of my pet peeves is emotions and the control we have over them. I used to say (often) that I didn’t have any emotion; that I was stone cold and didn’t feel anything. In exploring my softer side, I have since discovered that I do, indeed, have many emotions. I just have a lot of control over them. Sometimes I have too much control, and don’t allow myself to feel anything when I really should feel something.

However, in our culture, it seems to me that we are raising a generation of emotionally-irresponsible adults. Children are told all their lives that emotions are something that happen to them. We can’t help who we love (because love is an emotion), we can’t help the way we feel about something, we can’t control depression (except with pills).

This is ridiculous.

Emotions are mind games. We can rise above, we can beat them down, we can banish them from our minds and spirits. We CAN help the way we feel. That’s how people who have been married for 50+ years do it: on the days you wake up without a shiver of love in your heart for your spouse, you CHOOSE to love, you CHOOSE to stay and care. Colbie Caillat would have us believe that we can shrug and say, “I can’t help the way I feel.” No wonder over half the world is divorced.

I cannot remember a time when my emotions overran my more rational, logical side, so I cannot help those of you who are being overpowered by the beast. All I can say is, it can be done. We most certainly can help the way we feel. It is difficult at times, but it CAN BE DONE. Emotions are not something that just happen to us. Emotions are things we can harness and control and release when the circumstance demands it. Emotions can be put to good use.

Don’t let your emotions control you. Help the way you feel.

deer me

Joshua and I were honored to be invited to dinner at an older couple’s house this past week. I say “older” in the most respectful way possible, basically just to indicate that they are two generations ahead of us.

One of the primary reasons we were there was to enjoy what we might call “hand-shot” venison, like we would reference tomatoes from the backyard garden as being “homegrown” and sweaters as “handmade.” You know – Mike went out to the 54 acres he leases and shot the deer himself. And then lugged it by himself back to his gargantuan pickup truck. While he is completely capable of processing the deer himself, as well, he chooses to outsource that to a mom-and-son (?!) team in the area.

Isn’t that SO cool?

I mean, even if you’re not into the whole hunting scene, the idea of being able to do all of this is mind-blowing.

The venison steaks Mike and Mary Anne prepared for us were also delightful. I could definitely get into venison.

By the way (and this is kind of an aside), but did anyone other than my family grow up reading that children’s book, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel? And isn’t it HILARIOUS that the steam shovel’s name is Mary Anne?! Even more so because this Mike, that we visited, is definitely the same kind of can-do guy that Mike Mulligan is. We toured their adorable home, and much of it was made by Mike, fixed by Mike, and/or improved by Mike. Mike made the deck with his bare hands (and maybe some tools). Mike made the mantel. Mike *moved the door of their laundry closet* without leaving a trace.

I told Mary Anne that she is a blessed woman. :-) The thing I like most about Mary Anne is her ability to keep conversation flowing without a single hiccup. It makes talking to her so easy, and I get easily panicked by trying to make conversation with difficult people.

I think that what made our time with Mike and Mary Anne so special is how easily we are able to connect with them, and they with us, even with the age gap. They are totally wonderful people, and their stories and life experience are unparalleled. The air is always filled with a lot of laughter when we visit.

Now we’re talking about a nature walk in the future. :-)

guidance

Heads up: this post may be slightly controversial, but if you’re still reading my blog after all this time, I assume we’re on the same page of music. :-)

So remember how I told you that I have a garden now? My garden is still one of my greatest joys. My mom says it gets yucky and buggy and yellow and dried-up-looking in August, but we are both enjoying our respective gardens right now, when things are lush and green and bearing beautiful FRUIT (you may be thinking vegetables, but it’s technically FRUIT)!

Anyway, I planted cucumbers at the start of the season. Cucumbers are produced on small green vines that grow long and wind all over the place. They have these lovely little tendrils that reach out and grasp onto anything near them, directing their growth. They have little yellow flowers that turn into long, spiny cucumbers.

Obviously, the plants start on the ground. They start off as small little plants with two leaves. They look unassuming. Before you know it – and it can literally seem like overnight – they are almost a foot long, laying all over the ground.

As I carefully picked up each of my ten or twelve baby cucumber vines and propped them up on the trellis (where they latched on by the end of the day with their little tendrils), I was struck by how many analogies there are in gardening.

Our culture today would have us believe that children know best. We’re not supposed to tell them no, we’re not supposed to discipline them, and we’re always supposed to keep them happy. Nothing should be hard. Nothing should make them cry. We should never impose our will on them.

If I were to allow my cucumber vines to have their own way, they would choke some of my other plants. There would be one word to describe my garden in only a few weeks: chaos. And isn’t that the state of so many homes in America (and perhaps elsewhere) today? Chaotic. Out of control.

Some parents think that children can have their own way and run wild until a certain age. Say, 13. Or 16. Or 18. Then, all of the sudden, these children (or, young adults, rather) are expected to abide by a certain code of ethics. Their supposed to be responsible adults. It would be like trying to train my cucumber vines to climb my trellis after they’ve wound around my zucchini plants and choked out the basil. It’s impossible to do without killing the plant.

So when the plants and the children are small – very small, we train them. We gently direct them in the way they should go. When a plant is young, all I have to do is prop it up where I want it to climb, and it does just that. When it’s mature and coiled around things it shouldn’t be touching (like the bunny fence), then we have a problem, and I will have to cut off some of the plant to bring it back to where I want it to go.

Doesn’t this sound reasonable?

the post about my birthday

It has officially come and gone – I am now one-quarter of a century old. (!!) Hurray!

Isn’t it kind of odd to get to an age you thought about as a child? I don’t think many young girls think about turning 50 or 70 or anything venerable like that, but I think a lot of us thought about being 20 and 25, and probably hoping we’d be married by then and maybe have a baby (or two, or four, depending on the expediency of said marriage). Myself, I think 25 is the oldest age I ever thought about. Now, of course, I’m thinking about 30, and 50, and 75, but that’s because important people I know are turning these ages.

So here I am, married, in a beautiful house that is bigger than I thought I would have in my second year of marriage. I don’t have any kids, which I’m sure would surprise my child self. I have traveled more than I thought I would. I am way more into food than I used to be, and I don’t see that passion going anywhere, so I hope to be an amazing chef with an adventurous palate by the time I’m a foxy 75 (was that inappropriate?).

Because this was a big birthday, I had a big birthday party. My parents hosted 20 people celebrating my birthday at their home for a one-long-table, sit-down, totally-vegetarian dinner out on their screened-in porch. My mom and I cooked everything, and my sister Mary made the place look like we were stepping into Anthropologie. It was beautiful, with twinkle lights and paper lanterns and spring cotton tablecloths and white candles. The food was delicious and fresh, with a farm-to-table style.

The previous night, my husband took me to Carpe Diem for drinks, as is our tradition. In 2012, while we were only engaged, he took me there as a special treat on my birthday. He actually had a different place in mind, in the same strip, but it was closed. In fact, it is still closed. So Carpe Diem has gotten our business three years in a row now, and I hardly think we would switch. Tradition, TRADITION!

It’s still not over! The perquisite dinner out with my in-laws is happening tomorrow, and I hear they have a stack of presents for me. (!!!)

connection

Well, I think it’s high time SOMEONE did a post about it.

I mean, what is it, some kind of *Internet secret*??!

Ha! Not anymore! <maniacal laugh>

A few weeks ago (I actually don’t remember the exact date), my brother officially got himself a girl.

I would say, “Her name is Laura,” but that reminds me of that opening line from Barry Manilow’s Copacabana, which begins with, “Her name is Lola.” And since Peter’s Laura is not a showgirl like Lola, we don’t want to draw any comparison there.

SO.

Back to what I was saying.

Laura is absolutely fabulous. I like her so much, and I liked her from the moment I first heard about her, let alone met her. She’s so sweet, and genuine, and easygoing, and regardful (yes, that is actually a word). To top it all off, she is quite lovely!  And, unlike some of us former-Squicciarini girls (me), she is exceptionally photogenic.

Peter can be very headstrong and very stubborn, so I don’t think it would matter to him at all if we (his sisters, his mom, etc.) really didn’t care for his girl. But, as we like to say (often), “We love Laura!” In fact, one of my sisters even went so far as to say that she likes Peter, but she loves Laura. :-)

Laura fits right in with us (probably because she’s so laid-back, easy to please, and unruffled – we can be a little intense), so I think I can speak for all of us current- and former-Squicciarinis alike when I say that we really, really hope Peter marries this young woman.*

If I were Southern, I would probably say something like, “Pete, ya dun good.” I can’t say I saw you with someone this tall, but it’s obvious that it was always meant to be this way. :-)

 

*Although, if he doesn’t, I guess I’ll have to do something radical and dramatic like DELETE THIS POST IMMEDIATELY. Peter! Please don’t do it! She’s a gem!