Archive for the ‘everyday’ Category

The past holiday weekend was a bit of a mini-vacation for me. I worked the Market on Saturday, which meant today was Day 3 of my three-day weekend. The weather was hot, but DANG, has it been glorious to be away from the office. I’m not exactly looking forward to heading in tomorrow…but I’m not dreading it, either. That’s something.

Some photos from today, just a few minutes ago:

This is Mongo, a little black bunny who lives in the neighborhood.

Mongo is not fond of the paparazzi. At all.

Seriously, you guys.

That’s cool. I’ll take photos of the neighbors’ chickens instead.

What do we want? COMPOST! When do we want it? NOW!

NOT a rooster, OK?

Altogether, it’s been a satisfying last few days, and I’m squeezing the last bit out this evening while Jim does some heavy lifting for the grad students moving into our now-in-CHGO  friends’ house behind us.

Speaking of backyard living, you can access my most recent IMBY segment, “Crooked and Uneven: The New Black” for listening any old time you like. It’s about gardening with found and/or very cheap objects and how not having the stuff to create a million-dollar garden means total jack these days and should never be an excuse, which I was trying to make it into. I like to use this Nikki McClure image for inspiration:

Photo by Flickr user Meeldientje

Seriously. This is my current mantra as I wonder what’s next, as I try not to be lazy because, well, the million-dollar garden isn’t happening: Use what you’ve already got to make something awesome.

And with that, dinner.


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It’s July-hot here in central Illinois on this Memorial Day weekend with a hot breeze. Hot. As in it’s-90-degrees-at-noon hot, with at least 6 more degrees to go. I did the garden tasks early (watering & weeding, plus replanting of sunflowers and cucumbers because we have a slug/squirrel problem) while I had my (hot) coffee and now I’m holed up in our air-conditioned indoors, watching a replay of Lilly’s soccer game from yesterday. The grocery store is my next victim. I feel wholly unproductive, but will soldier on and buy groceries and make pesto for dinner, even though it’s May.

Fun: My friend and former co-worker Millicent Souris, with whom I recently reconnected, is coming from Brooklyn to visit. She’s hitting the road in a couple of weeks to promote her new book, which is about pie, and will be all over the place. Here’s the book:

Hopefully we’ll be setting something up locally for her, but she is also coming to help me learn how to poach eggs perfectly every time and maybe we’ll make biscuits like the ones she demonstrates in this video. And probably a pie crust. I’m really excited about this because, well, I had no idea that Millicent was working in food – was kicking ass in food, actually – and could be that person who could tell me, in a most no-nonsense way, what to do with a leg of lamb. This is actually a real question I have: What do I do with this leg of lamb that Cathe from Seven Sisters Farm made me take that one time I was there for IMBY? She’ll be here in mid-June.

Here are some recent photos that are sort of descriptive of life around here for the last few days, taken with my phone and with a DSLR.

Calendula about to bloom, taken with a new (to me) lens.

Drawn by a young woman at the farmers market who was frustrated at having to wait in the heat to perform on her ukulele. All the market’s performer slots were taken.

Lettuce in my garden.

Last year’s pea/greens bed is fallow this season, but a volunteer persists. I think zinnias are going in here after the pea vine is done.

Local artists Deathtram slaying the audience at the first-ever CU Flea yesterday. Our pals Millie and Cole are the founders of CU Flea and it was slamming.


94 degrees now. Welcome, summer 2012.

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Yesterday, it was almost 60 degrees, which is unusual for this time of year. Our few inches of snow melted, leaving huge puddles and little rivers in the streets and what I call The Brown Ugly in its wake.

Last night, or rather at 2 AM this morning, it was still 60 degrees and we had a cracking thunderstorm with sump pump-inducing rain. Again, not the usual for this time of year.

The wind came this morning and dried the puddles and the rivers, though The Brown Ugly remains. The wind also brought the cold front, dropping the temperature from 51 degrees at 8 AM to 27 degrees at 5 PM. Now it actually feels like January, but we’re back to March-ish temperatures by the weekend.

Since the snow and the puddles were gone, I snapped a photo of the interior of my water bottle instead.

Photo a day #17: Water Bottle

The bottle’s been through the wringer. It replaced my old green one, which was left by accident in the ladies’ room at the Indianapolis International Airport after a trip to Tampa in August 2009. I still feel kind of bad about the stir it almost assuredly caused.

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Photo a day #16: Morning


Poached eggs are THE BEST, especially when done right (which is, chez B-K, like capturing lightning in a bottle). Three things matter: the egg, the temperature of the water, and the cooking time. I always have great eggs on hand, but the other two criteria are not always met. I do, however, always follow Joy of Cooking‘s recommendation to create a “swirling vortex” (that’s probably not the term they used, but it’s the one I like saying in my head in the morning when I make the eggs) in the just-below-the-boil water. Then I close the lid and, usually, lose track of time.

I love eggs, so screwing up the poaching isn’t a big deal. They’re still so good. This morning’s slightly messed-up eggs were eaten with spinach from one of the farms I’m visiting today and a tiny bit of grated Parmesan and some fresh-ground pepper. It’s January and the spinach is sublime.


I need to spend some time dumping audio onto my laptop, taking some test shots with the DSLR (woefully underused due to my fascination with Instagram, plus I only have one lens and could really use another), and prepare some questions for later today, but my mind is wandering to the garden, and what I’d like to plant this year, and the fact that this year is the year I can finally eat the asparagus I planted, and all the things I’d like to preserve this year, and all the things that went to waste last year. From there I wonder what home season extension in our part of the Midwest would look like, real season extension for home gardeners. From there my mind wanders to the pruning and espaliering of the apple trees against our garage that has to happen, the mess in our garage, this project, which would allow me to successfully start onions inside (I don’t think it’ll get made in time for this season), the condition of my garden tools (not critical, but getting there), what the garden/yard will look like when we have our Annual Dessert Potluck in July, host a dinner in August, and have the 2nd Annual Cornhole Tournament in September. Will it look good? Will I have kept up with things? Will Jim & I have made any new trellises? Will there be pollinators? How about rain? Too much? Too little?

Best for now to dump audio/take test shots/prepare. Chop wood, carry water.

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Olden Times

Me. A leaf pile. A lollipop. Maine. Early 1970s.

I can see both of my parents in this photo of me, and my daughter, too. And my nephew.

We were living in Maine when this was taken. Maine happened between Florida and New York, I think, and we lived in a variety of places – a house, an attic, our VW bus at a campground (my favorite). My father was trying to make a living as a musician.  My parents were awfully young at the time – if I was 4 or 5 in this photo, my parents were 24 and 25, with me and my very toddler brother in tow. They spent my young childhood walking the line between doing their thing and making sure we were safe and having a good time. I can relate.

Eventually we left Maine. I might have started kindergarten there, but then we moved and I finished kindergarten in New York. Then we moved back to Florida. We lived in a house in Winter Park and my father went to work every day, like other fathers, and the bass guitar was quiet.

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Cody's dad, Dan, used to call me "Lisa Lip Prints".

Just about every morning, I head to the Great Green Satan or the Carb Palace and get a big-ass decaf Americano. The GGS is right down the street from my office and the CP is very close to Lilly’ s school, and usually, due to lack of any real routine in the morning, I don’ t make coffee at home.

[This is a travesty and a waste, I know. And yes, I drink decaf. It never tastes right when I make it at home. It tastes much better when someone else makes it, but I can always tell when they’ve accidentally given me “real” coffee, because it tastes so good.]

Is coffee shop coffee great? No. But the hot cup in my hand as I enter my office is a bit of a talisman, warding off bad vibes and smoothing entry into the day even if the vibes are good.

I’m trying to get into a better routine in the morning. The Newly Resolved don’t seem to be taking over my gym in the early morning, so I’ve been trying to get there on the regular, but I’ve also been trying to get more sleep. I’m constantly at war with myself about how to deal with mornings. I read something recently about stopping the arguments with yourself, about just shutting out the devil on your shoulder that tries to talk you out of a decision you’ve made. It’s amazing how often I try to talk myself out of things that I’ve already decided to do, especially if they involve me getting up at 5:30 and I’m not getting paid.

In other news, Lilly received a report card over the weekend that was so mind-bogglingly awesome that I’m not quite sure what to do with her, except be grateful that she’s such an all-around excellent person, not just student. And Cody – I’m not sure what he’s up to, but I know he’s been working hard and wants to travel some more and still takes great photos and we’re seeing him this weekend and I cannot wait.

My kids.

Lilly & Cody on our wedding day, August 2000

Lilly and Cody in FL, February 2011

I couldn’t possibly love them more.

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It’s because of laundry, another slide presentation that has to be prepared, groceries, vacuuming, putting the sheets on the bed, dinner, seed order-making, stuff like that.

But here’s a photo of today’s sky, per the January Photo A Day Challenge.

Parking lot sky, about 2:30 PM today, Urbana, IL

More tomorrow.

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