Well. Here we are, mid to end July and I have hit that summer depression. Why? Because it's a million degrees outside and my garden really sucks. That's why. (Plus, work is painfully slow, which does not help my outlook on life).
The bright side though is that I am not going to be canning hardly anything (if even that). In hindsight, that's really disappointing. But there is nothing I want to avoid more on a hot week is to spend it canning green beans. Oh well. There is always next year... and hopefully the point of my life when I am an elderly garden sage. I'll save my canning moments for her, at least this year.
My garden is really disappointing. My sunflowers are short. I don't know why. I have 9 tomato plants and only one of them has fruit on it. I don't know why. (Although it probably has to do with the soil). My pepper plants are finally growing, but barely. They've only gained a couple of inches since I planted them in the early part of May. I don't know why.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Monday, July 20, 2015
The problem of living far away from relatives is that you don't really get to know them. Okay sure, you know them and you've grown up with them, but it's different then living close and sharing every day life together. For me, Grandpa's passing made me mourning the fact that I did not know him very well. For example, during the memorial service, I learned some things about him that I did not know, like how he dropped out of high school after 2 years because he didn't want to take typing (and, well, the real reason was that he just wanted to be a farmer). I learned that he didn't install running water into the farm house until he married my Grandma because she was "used to such things."
All this makes me really wish there was some way to bend time and have a chance to "meet" our older relatives when they were younger. I would like to see my grandparents when my Grandpa met my Grandma when she was a student at Hesston College. I would like to know what my parents were like in the 20s (and maybe borrow some of my mom's cloths). And when I am older, I would like to do the same for my niece, nephews and my kids (if I ever have any). I would pay big money to be able to see and interact with little Sanford, running around with my uncles on their parent's farm, tying goats to wagons and racing them down hills.
Ever since going to the Planetarium in Chicago and learning that my friend, Jilly loves space, I've kind of been obsessed with it myself. (It also might have to do with the fact two really cool space things recently happened. First, Jupiter and Venus were recently seen in the sky, seemingly side by side. I actually got to see that when I was flying back from Chicago to Wichita. It was magical. Secondly, NASA's new horizons probe finally made it to Pluto. And we learned that PLUTO IS AMAZING! Yeah, outer space is nuts).
All this to say, sometimes it feels as if human lives are like planets, orbiting past each other. We only see parts of peoples' lives. We get to be with each other for a small a window of time, before schools, jobs, families, life and death spins us off in a farther direction. For better or for worse.
I would like to believe that parts of our friends and family are carried with us, long after we leave each other. With family especially, I hope that it is woven into our DNA so that each generation leaves only their good attributes with the next generation, whether we know it or not. Thus, my grandparents are a big part of who I am, even if I don't always realize it.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
I went to the Newton Farmer's Market this morning only to come away empty handed. That is maybe the first time in my life that has ever happened. Usually, farmers market suck me in like no other. Not today, friends. This gathering of farmers sweating under Kansas' grueling sunlight was really quite sad (as was their semi-empty tables).
So far my experience this year with the Newton Farmer's Market and my own annual attempts to grow things isvworse than usual. We had a really weird, hot then cool and wet spring. Then more intense heat but with whole weeks of temps dipping back into the 60s. (Don't get me wrong, I am happy for that, but my tomatoes, not so much). My pepper plants have barely grown an inch since I planted them back at the beginning of May. As I've said, it's been a weird season. No wonder the Newton Farmer's Market has been on a struggle bus.
I've been really working on trying to be less OCD in general, but especially when it comes to gardening. I can be very obsessive about it to the point of it stressing me out and causing me so much anxiety that I have to take medication. Not this year. That's been my goal anyway. Actually, so far I've done better than normal. Sure, I still have my moments but for the most part, I'm okay. What will happen will happen. (And maybe I will not do any canning this year and that might be a glorious relief). It's also a million degrees outside again. It's not like I am itching to get out there. The best thing I can do is to not look at the neighboring plots around mine at the community garden. How do they get their tomato plants to look so lush? How in the world are squash bugs NOT EATING YOUR SQUASH?! I turn green with jealous rage. See? It's best if I do not even go over there unless I am in need of an onion.
I am determined to take some soil samples this year up to the the county office to get them analyzed. I am convinced that the horrible Kansas soil is my main problem. Since I am now in a rental with a massive garden space in the back, I am excited to ditch the Bermuda grass filled community garden for, hopefully, less grass green pastures. But I kind of want to know what I am getting myself into before next spring. Now, I just need to remember to actually do that...
Even though the farmer's market has sucked, I have been able to get some local produce from here and there. My friend, Amy and her family are off on their annual summer exodus from Hesston. Before leaving, she told me to help myself to their garden. So far, the only thing that's been ready has been basil, but I am excited to "help her out" by eating her produce. (That is, if I can get enough gumption to face her evil chickens. Turns out, I am semi-terrified of chickens).
Maybe some day, I'll have time and energy to really dig into gardening. But for now, I am doing what I can. At least I have delicious onions to eat and the occasional flower to pick. (Although, I must confess, that this sunflower is a volunteer that came up around the community garden compost pile. I have a couple of sunflowers coming up, but it turns out that caterpillars love sunflowers. So that's also been a struggle).
Sunday, July 5, 2015
So it might surprise you that I actually like the 4th of July. Not because I am patriotic, but because I love holidays, especially in the summer. If there is ever a reason to break away from the mundane and celebrate, I am for it. That's why I love birthdays so much. The 4th of July is no different, especially since it's like the only day in the year where I get to eat a hot dog.
The weather this weekend has not been bad. In fact, I had my AC off all day on Friday (which, by the way, was a day I did not have to go into the office!) The temp is pretty killer right now, but we got lucky and had a very nice weekend.
Because that was the case (and because I had the day off), I was able to get into my very sad looking garden for a little bit. (Oh gardening. You will never cease to frustrate me. I really, really, really need to get my soil analyzed). But let's focus on the bright side, I did manage to harvest enough green (and purple!) beans for supper. That's a win!
Saturday evening, Levent and I were invited to go to his friends' house for a 4th gathering. We cooked out, had cocktails, and played lawn games. When the end of the evening came, we all packed up and headed to North Newton to watch the fireworks. Everything about it was delightful, including the cool breeze.
|this peach basil moscow mule was awesome|
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Chicago will always be my first love. Well, as far as cities go.
Growing up in Illinois, Chicago was my first experience of a big city (and the site of many, many field trips). It wasn't until we were practically all grown that my sister and I realized how incredibly cheap it is to take the amtrak train from Bloomington to Chicago. (It's like $14 one way). Leah and I have spent several day trips in Chicago, mostly spending our time eating (because, seriously, Chicago is so tasty).
Chicago is also my favorite city because it is the only major U.S. city where I've lived for any amount of time. Sure, my time there was really brief. (1 month in the neighborhood of uptown for orientation for Radical Journey and then 3 months in East Garfield Park when I was the cook for DOOR Chicago). It was really during my experience living in Uptown that my view of the city expanded. Part of our orientation was learning how to get around in a new place. Thus, our teams spent many hours riding the L and the bus, learning how the city is on a grid, and as long as you know which way the lake is, you really cannot get lost. That September in Uptown continues to be one of the best things I've ever experienced in my life. (Although, let me just say that learning to get around in Chicago was nothing like learning how to get around in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. I never did master riding the Kombis).
Okay sure, the only times I've ever been in Chicago for more than just a day have been in the summer or fall months. That is when the city is at its best. It is beyond lovely. (I think I would really want to live there if it was not for that dang winter and lake effect thing).
Regardless, I still love Chicago in all of her shapes and forms, jewels and harsh realities. Plus, Chicago is maybe the only city in the world that I feel like I have mastered the public transport system. Meaning, my travel anxiety in that city is extremely low. This means that I can actually relax and enjoy myself. If I get lost, I can figure it out. That is a big deal for me. I was a little nervous as my Dad took me to the amtrak station early Monday morning that I forgot what I learned all those years ago as. But as soon as I was on my way, all my doubts cleared. 2011 was the last time I was there. Things were different. But it did not take me long to brush up on the CTA.
Simple. To see my ultimate bestie and her husband, both of whom are my favorite people to travel with. (They just moved back from Bolivia and are in the States until August when they will move to Qatar. So making the effort to go see them was a super high priority. It also was super convenient that Lucas' sister lives in the city).
After they met me at Union station, we walked over to Greek Town to have brunch at Meli. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon at Adler Planetarium, had supper at The Brazilian Bowl and topped the day off with cupcakes from Molly's cupcakes.
|This is a significant find. I have now found this exact graffiti in 4 different places in the city now.|
On Tuesday, our main goal was to spend as much time outside as possible. After all, the weather was divine there the entire time. (I went from 98 degree days in Kansas to suddenly being in a world of highs of 78. I was in heaven). So, we decided to have breakfast up in Lincoln Park/Lakeview (I am not exactly sure which neighborhood we were in) at Aje Cafe before heading downtown to do all the touristy things.
|I was expecting very little from this tiny coffee shop. But it was my favorite meal all day!|
My favorite part of Millennium Park is actually the lesser-know "stream" area. (I don't even know the name of it). I love putting my toes in the cold water. So refreshing!
We ended our time at DMK Burger Bar for "lupper" before I had to start the journey back to Kansas.