Box 761: Upper NY State edition

The last time I wrote, we were leaving the gentle environs of Canajoharie NY. Dear reader, we were pretty happy about that (please, no offence to any Canajoharians reading this). Then, of course, we drove through a torrential rain to Rochester. An okay hotel that had illusions of grandeur, and with the exception of a few minor points, pretty good nonetheless  (note to Housekeeping: my sheets had blood stains on them. Ew).

We had thought to explore Rochester and spend some quality time in the Flower City, but true to form we lost interest in sightseeing, in the greater interest of getting back on the road. It was a dull day out, and Rochester looked kind of like it was tired.  We ended up driving along the scenic route beside Lake Ontario, but found that it wasn’t particularly scenic…. the Lake view was obscured by trees for most of it. It was largely deserted though, which was great — our very own private highway!  Our destination, we decided, was Niagara Falls. We both knew that the US side of the Falls wasn’t as good as the Canadian, but figured we’d at least drive through the US side, so we could compare.

we wanted to lick the plate

On the way, we stopped for bathroom break.. I feel guilty when we stop and just use the restroom, without at least buying a bottle of water or something. The place we stopped smelled divine — garlic, tomato, fresh dough, oh! it was lovely. Mr. 761 thinks it’s the best pizza he’s had ever. I stuck to basic pepperoni (which they did correctly, with the pepperoni on top of the cheese, so it got crispy). Mr. 761 had steak and mushroom pizza: dough brushed with garlic and olive oil so it was moist and flavorful, shaved steak, crispy/succulent mushrooms, some onion, and just enough cheese. He was very happy. This paragon of pizza making is in Youngstown NY. Looks like a bit of a dump, but they make magic with their pizza.

Talk about dying towns! Niagara Falls NY was not a pretty sight, my friends. It was sad. Full of shuffling people, bench-sitters, and road construction. Every street in the freaking city seemed to be

Whirlpool Street, everywhere!

named “Whirlpool Street”… it just didn’t make sense. They had detour signs that went nowhere, dead ends, and one street that, after dutifully following the detour signs, turned into a parking lot for an apartment building. I tell ya, we’re lucky we got out of there! AND, we never saw the falls. It was a bit surreal, and very cranky-making.

So, we finally found the bridge to the promised land Canada, were waved through customs, and figured we’d do Niagara Falls right — park, wander about, maybe go to the wax museum (tradition, of course).  We didn’t manage the wax museum, because the crowds were horrendous, the prices were overly-high, and it was just, well, kind of sad. Nobody looked happy! It was like, I dunno, the Sad Amusement Park, with Falls. It started to get depressing pretty fast.

We did see this holiday-maker, though. Anyone care to explain the get-up? I saw her up close, and guess her age…. 20? 30? nope. Circa 60, if a day. Fascinating!

Wow. That's all I can say

There’s loads more to write (quilt show with Mr. 761!!), but that’s all for now. We want to go out and enjoy our holidays. Will write more later. Apologies, too, if the photos are a bit wonky — having trouble compressing them.

1000 Kms, more or less

Lake Winnipesaukee, Meredith NH

Dateline, Meredith NH.

Our initial plan was to leave early Sunday morning. We spent much of Saturday waiting. We aren’t good at waiting, and it finally dawned on us that we were allowed to leave whenever we wanted to. A flurry of activity, and we were out of the house and starting down the driveway by 4:15 pm.

In keeping with our intention to drive the blue highways through New England, we took the “scenic route” to Truro, and then set Saint John in our sights as our destination for the evening. It was a pretty drive, gorgeous day with storybook fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky. As the sun went down, and we got a bit crankier, we drove into the outskirts of Saint John. Lots of construction, exits that were blocked, loads of traffic…. arrgh!! On top of it all we felt slightly poisoned by the bag of chips and kettle corn we were eating (and the weird fizzling Skittles we ate… kind of like soap, but oddly entertaining). Crankiness ensued.

I guess it started going downhill when we couldn’t decide if we wanted to find a hotel in the downtown or on the west side (to ease our leave-taking the next day). By the time we realized that downtown was probably a good idea, we realized that the exits were blocked by construction and we were then pushed along through a toll that Mr. 761 resented mightily, and into a fairly unsavoury part of the city. Mr. 761 could wax on for days about ineffective signage etc., but I think it comes down to poor research (as in, well, none) on our part. If we’d done some advance planning, we wouldn’t have spent the night in the Country Inn and Suites (“sounds quite swanky, until you realize the country they had in mind was Belarus” said Mr. 761). It was, well, serviceable. One of the tv’s was a bit temperamental (had to warm up), the room had a slight odor, and there was no shampoo, but it was okay. For a late dinner we went to the non existent hotel restaurant Sobey’s down the road and bought a weird collection of food that struck our fancy. We then ate it in the room, with plastic knives and forks we cadged from friendly Steph, the night clerk (who was, oddly, still there at 10 am this morning when we left).

Really, I kind of liked it. No pictures because in my haste to leave Berwick I left my SD card in my laptop, which I didn’t take (Mr. 761 brought his). Dang, I hate when I do that.

Today we (okay, I) slept late till about 8:30. We considered eating the continental breakfast at the Country Inn but it was not appetizing, nor was there enough room for us to even be able to reach the mini-box of cereal on the shelf. I drank an apple juice and we left, waving at the large people in their nighties, smoking on their “patio” behind the hotel.

Beautiful day, happy people. We’ve driven through Maine at a fair clip, but it didn’t feel rushed. We were going to stop in Bangor, but it looked closed today so we continued on to Lewiston/Auburn (sort of a twin city). Mr. 761 had an excellent Best Bitter and an even more excellent “Blueberry Courage” Beer from a little brew pub. Home-made shepherd’s pie and flaky and wonderful fish and chips filled us up.

I found a store and bought an SD card and a better map, and we were off again. We decided

Lake Winnipesaukee from our window

to stop in daylight today, and chose Meredith NH. I’m very glad we did — it’s a gorgeous little place. The hotel we chose, really the first we saw, is called The Inn at Bay Point – one of 4 in a loose complex around Lake Winnipesaukee — a lake which is not only beautiful, but fun to say. The Inn has what we’ve decided is “upscale tourist kitsch”, which is perfect.

Lamps shaped like boats, and comfy sitting areas on the porches and a nice quirky inn keeper. We’re considering a walk around town, but can’t decide. Considering the restaurant

downstairs, but may instead choose room service. Mr. 761 went out and got himself some beer for the room and brought me back the best ginger beer I’ve ever had: Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer.

We haven’t stopped for any antiques or yard sales (saw only a few, the whole way here). Well, we tried to stop at an antique store in Maine, but he took down the Open sign as we drove into the parking lot. Sigh. I’m sure we’ll see more tomorrow.

Am very happy for text messaging today — daughter sent a picture of a dress she got to go to a dance, and it was so nice to be able to see it. It made me a bit sad that I hadn’t been there to help, but even if I were at home at Box 761 I wouldn’t have been able to…. she’s away at work all summer. It didn’t bother me until today, when she sent me that picture, and I wonder now if the fully empty nest next year will be as great as I thought. Something to come to grips with this year, I guess.  I miss you, kid. Have a good time at the dance!

Tomorrow’s route is more blue highways, from here to Rochester NY.

761 Miscellaneous Events

I have discovered that if one does not schedule time for blog-writing, said writing often goes undone.

This past week Mr. 761 stayed up very late talking with a neighbor who’d come to visit (not the nearly-naked one). At around 3 o’clock, said neighbour announced “there’s a greyhound at your door” – something that doesn’t happen every day. Mr. 761 was perplexed, since we have a gate on to our back deck. Apparently the greyhound was clever with his paws, because thrice did he open our gate and look imploringly through the glass at Mr. 761 and our friend.

Perhaps he wanted to join them for a beer? Several had been imbibed previous to our four-legged guest’s arrival, apparently. I was woken up at 4 a.m. by Mr. 761 yelling at the dog, shoo-ing him away, and then calling to me from our back deck, up into our bedroom window.

“Joanie, did you hear that?!

What ensued was the type of conversation where I replied a few times, and then inquired if he knew it was &$@* 4 in the morning? and tried to ignore him thereafter.

However (and there’s always a however, isn’t there?) the magic bond between me and my sleep was broken. I started registering sounds, and activity downstairs. I also noticed a very strong odor of yet another visitor.

SKUNK. Weird that it sprayed so close to the house, we thought.

I got up. Met the canine visitor, and asked Mr. 761 if he smelled skunk. He said yes, but

Adorably goofy face, for a dinosaur/dog hybrid…

was more concerned with the citronella that the poor dog had been sprayed with (it had a citronella collar for the invisible fence it had breached to come visit us). We made a bed for it in the mud room, and went to bed. I got up again about 20 minutes later when I heard it nosing into the dog food bin that we keep in the mudroom. I removed that from it’s prodigious reach, and returned to bed – about 5 a.m. at this point.

I got up in the morning (Mr. 761 was feeling oddly “delicate” and so he stayed in bed for a while longer) and took photos of the dog and put a notice on Facebook. Through the magic of social networking we found the owner and the dog was returned by noon. What finally dawned on us, though, was that it wasn’t the odor of citronella that lingered in our house, but that of skunk. My house still smells like skunk, in places where the visitor dog (later discovered to be named Cappuccino) had lain.

Mr. 761 has been doing a lot of laundry, and we’re trying to air out the place as much as we can. I had to throw out a rug, and am fighting the necessity of throwing out another.. .I like it, and can’t remember where I got it. It’s the perfect color for the room it’s in. I am hoping that the pong of skunk will dissipate if I spray enough febreeze in its direction.

is this dog laughing at me?

What I can’t figure out is why it took me so long to figure out that the dog had been sprayed by a skunk. It’s funny – I washed the dog’s face and haunches where Mr. 761 had pointed out citronella stains (what? how stupid are we?) and still didn’t figure it out.Perhaps we didn’t want to admit it. Perhaps Mr. 761’s ability to make logical conclusions was impaired, but what’s my excuse?

Regardless, the dog’s owner was very happy (though she looked at me sideways when I discussed the citronella collar spraying her dog ha ha ha!).

It has been a great week so far. Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s lovely to have friends over for dinner and to have Mr. 761 home. It was great to see our friend Dennis twice in one week – you’re always a pleasure to have over, Dennis. We miss our kids, but saw them both this week, briefly. We’re gearing up for some social events today and tomorrow, and then off on a 10-day road trip to Ontario. Life is good.

And with that said, I’m off to buy shoes. Can it get any better?

Thanks for all of your comments to the blog. I really appreciate them, and like to know that people are reading.

Noise and Pylons, Call of Duty and Springrolls

This has been a fairly busy week. Mr. 761 is home, and quite diverting company. The sound track to the week has been the construction going on right outside the house. The

That used to be my driveway

town is replacing sewer mains or something, and it’s a big job.  The road is blocked off with pylons, and I’ve striven to be nice to the Pylon Guys. When this all started, the Pylon Guys were pretty eager and perky on the job. As time passes, they become less so. When it rains, they don’t even bother with the middle pylon — they mostly just sit in their trucks and smoke. Sometimes they put the middle pylon in and jump to get it so you can drive by. Other times they wait until you stop and then they lumber over, to make sure you have a purpose to go past the pylons. Living here counts.

So, Mr. 761 and I had Erica in the car and… well, I’ll let his facebook entry tell the story:

Mark Hey, guy at the end my street who’s job it is to move the traffic cone at the “local traffic only” sign during the sewer construction: could you pick up the pace a bit? Yes, your lawn chair in the shade looks mighty comfy but when you see me driving towards you (for the 3rd time that day), you can assume I want to get …to my god damn house and get up off your ass before I come to a complete stop.

[…] I just figure if you’re going to be a cone mover, you should try to be the best damn cone mover you can.

Perhaps Mr. 761 takes these things too personally?

Aside from the Cone Guy’s lack of professional pride, the other issue is the noise.  At first, they were at the far end of my road, and it was kind of lovely — only local traffic coming through during the day, so no loud trucks etc. Then it got closer. They blocked my driveway (without telling me before hand by the way — Mr. 761 drove across our lawn to get out), they dug a giant hole, they filled the hole. Then the next day they unfilled the hole, did more work, and moved down the road a bit. It’s all very complicated and I’m sure they know what they’re doing but the only really quiet time is when they’re all having lunch (seems to start at precisely 12:05 every day).

So, the din is considerable. And dust, oh lots of dust. As I said, though, the noise abates at 12:05. Or does it? What I get once the infernal groaning, creaking, back-up-beeping and digging stops is this weird background noise. What is it?

Xbox.  Call of Duty. That’s what.

Mr. 761 is now the proud owner of very expensive but very much appreciated wireless

Ah, the sweet sound of silence!

headphones that allow him to kill people and be killed in peace. My peace. I love him, I’m very happy he’s home. But if I hear that annoying game one more time I’m going to… um, well, I don’t know what I’ll do.  But I won’t be happy.

I don't get it. Really I don't (note the blood splatter on the top right hand corner of the screen). Blech.

There’s a whole crazy process to Call of Duty (COD) in our house. There are rules if there are two players (no screen watching!), and it takes at least 4 hours at a sitting. I find the whole thing repellant — the blood splattering, the cheers when they “kill” someone…. the hyper-reality of the look of the thing. Mr. 761 plays it laying down, for some reason.  There is a total focus when they are playing the game, which can go on for hours — many hours — at a time. It appears that by sitting in a room together and playing this (on separate parts of the screen), staring forward, my husband and daughter are having some sort of quality time.

I don’t get it.

Spring Rolls

Today I made my take on Vietnamese style spring rolls for lunch.  I was at the store looking for curry paste, and my daughter saw the rice paper that you need for the rolls on the shelf. I’ve never seen them like that, and fell in love with the packaging. This happens a lot, especially with asian food products for some reason.

They’re in the “foreign food” section of my local Superstore, and aren’t expensive. There are a lot of them in the package (enough to make 60 rolls). They’re low calorie, gluten free, and don’t require cooking.

I love food that’s wrapped in something, and was bored with pita, and tortillas, etc. so this is a great alternative. It’s dead easy to do — drop one paper in warm water for 4 minutes or so, take it out, wrap your filling in it, and cover with damp towel until all completed.

Ours were made with left over slaw from the night before (kholrabi/cabbage/onion/red pepper/radish with sesame seeds and almonds… see previous post from 24 July 2010), some pre-cooked shrimp, bean sprouts and some cilantro.

Loaded, but not rolled yet. It's on a red tea towel, hence the funny color.


If you can roll a tortilla, you can do this. Try to use fillings that have contrast, because you can see through the paper once it’s wrapped.

Vermicelli would be good, and I kicked myself once I realized I had a bunch of tabouli salad that I could have put in there too.

These were generously filled, and we each had only 2 or 3 and were full. You want generous ones, because otherwise the all important food-to-wrap ratio would be off.

We dipped these in peanut sauce that Erica created. It will be impossible to replicate that sauce (in a pinch you can mix hoisin sauce with peanut butter, and add a pinch of crushed peppers).

I loved these. They were bright and refreshing, but filling. They’re pretty, like little  jewels wrapped in Isadora Duncan’s white scarf.

They are the opposite of Call of Duty.

More Places My Husband Hates (and a few he Likes)…

"Put it on my list, Joanie"

I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s post — it got more “hits” than any other post I’ve written. It will definitely be an ongoing thing, but I have to wait for the pearls to drop from his lips, so I thought I’d revisit some of the places he’s discussed with me in the past.

In no particular order, some of the places on Mark’s List of Places he Hates:

  • Morocco: “I went to buy a scone in the market, Joanie, and one of the raisins on it flew away.
  • Disney World
  • Egypt: “I went to the pyramids. I was underwhelmed. What the hell have they done in the last 2000 years?”
  • Canadian Tire
  • Casinos (“Reno, the saddest town in the world.”)
  • Camping: why would someone want to sleep outside when they have a perfectly good bed at home, or a hotel?
  • Picnics: food and the outdoors do not mix. This is a fairly firm rule.
  • Church: he does not believe in a “great big invisible magic guy in the sky” or a “sky pixie.”
  • Bathtubs: does not like to have a nice long soak “in my own dirt? why would I do that?
  • Sudan (this deserves a post all of it’s own, someday)
  • Spain
  • street names in Hawaii: “every street basically has the same name… a collection of h, w, k, and a’s  in random order in a four-syllable word with a lot of superfluous letters.”

Oh dear, I can’t go on….

Though apparently “the whole UK has issues” too.

Places He Likes

He likes a few places too.  A few probing questions got these answers:

Germany: “Great place; Everything worked. I ordered food in a restaurant and got pork… on a bed of pork!

“Every bar there is like being in a pirate movie!”

Gibraltar: “Joanie, every bar is like being in a pirate movie.”

It’s a start, right?

Places My Husband Hates (“Put it on my list, Joanie”)

"Put it on my list, Joanie!"

Well, hate is a fairly strong word. But he’s a guy with fairly strong opinions. He works in Kandahar, and has to travel quite a bit. He has strong opinions about the places he travels to, through, and away from.

He sends me pithy comments about these places, and I find them pretty funny. Even when he’s not trying to be funny, he is. His brain works in a way that makes me laugh, and even when I might not agree with him, I see his point. Because he’s a rational man, on top of it all.

He hates places because they’re dirty, or dusty, or boring, or too old, or not old enough. He does not suffer fools at all so sometimes a place will be tainted by his dislike of the people there.

But all of this hate isn’t from his being an essentially hateful person — far from it. It all stems, I think, from his concern that the world isn’t organized the way he thinks it should be. People aren’t logical, and this confuses him. He’s speechless (almost) when faced with people doing, or living in, places that don’t make sense.

He is comfort loving, which means that when faced with a place that isn’t comfortable, he of necessity doesn’t like it. But if that lack of comfort comes from a nonsensical (to him) reason, then he moves to hating it.  On the other hand, if there’s comfort, but no soul, it’s probably also on his list.

Today’s note:

After another sweltering walk around Dubai’s ostentatious ugliness, I’ve decided that the only word to describe this place is “horrible”. Best thing about it is it ain’t KAF.
Add it to my list Joanie.

Joan There’s always the diamond souk… you could stay nice and cool in there for a while.

Mark While the thought of haggling with sweaty muslims appeals to me no end; I’m afraid the lure of my air conditioned 5 * hotel room complete with cold beer is overwhelming.

That, and it’s part of his schtick. He has always aimed toward being a curmudgeon when he gets older. I think he’s on his way.

He’s an atheist, a rationalist, a logical sci-fi  reading (“it has internal consistency, Joan”) comfort-loving smart-mouthed guy. I have started a Facebook page here – it may turn into a blog eventually, I’m not sure. All I know is that I want to keep these comments in a safe place, because god knows I’ll have to look them over when I try to plan our next trip….

That said, there are some places he does like, and Box 761 is one of them. He’s home tonight, so I may not be writing as much for a while.

Authenticity & Animals

Had a good day. Slept in (after getting up at 6 with the dogs, we all trooped back to bed), had a leisurely time reading the paper and puttering around the house. There’s nothing nicer, is there? Clean kitchen, calm happy animals, fresh coffee, a tidy perfectly un-read paper waiting to be laid open and savored. I ate yesterday’s slaw (click on calendar to the right of your screen, or scroll down) and found to my delight that it’s even better the next day.  Ah. A perfect Sunday.

Met someone in person today who I’ve talked to on Facebook for a year. We’d never actually met in person. What was great was that we didn’t really have to introduce ourselves and the conversation was easy and familiar and really pleasant. We have a lot in common and I really enjoyed my day. Thanks for coming by, and lets do it again!

My father can’t quite figure out Facebook, and thinks it makes no sense. Some people think that it distances people from one another. I disagree — it can allow you to hold people at a remove or  create false intimacy, but the other choice is that you can be real, and make it a tool for communication.

It’s the same choice you make every day of your life — to be authentic, or not.

Anyway. Now my evening is coming upon me and I have no plans more complicated than reading and trying to ignore the nonsensical argument the next-t0-naked next-door neighbors are having at present (something about the barbecue, I think). I’m a little worried about his cough, it’s getting worse.

To be fair, they’re actually fully clothed today…..

I added a new link onto my blog roll today — Confessions of a Closet Artist. Beautiful photography, and it’s clear that her inner artist is out and doing great things.

Tomorrow Mr. 761 is home for a month of leave from Kandahar. He’s home one month out of every three; it’s actually a pretty good schedule. This will be the first leave that he’s had in a year and a half that we’ll be alone for most of. The kids are both out doing their own thing this summer — university and working/staying at the local military base respectively), so we’ll have the place to ourselves. Weird, but nice. Like anything it will take a bit of an adjustment, but it’s good practice for when the younger goes away to culinary school next year. My nest is already half-empty, but for him it will be new — he’s been in KAF through all of these changes in the past year and a half. He’s been home for one leaving the nest, but not really for the continuing reality of that empty spot… it’ll be good for him to acquaint himself to it.

After weeks of oppressive heat/humidity, everything is clear and lush and greenly cool today. Birds are darting all over the yard, and I couldn’t get my camera fast enough to take a photo of the little wee bird who likes my front stoop. So here are some photos of the animals who live indoors at Box 761:

Flowerpot. She's orange and sits in windowsills, what can I say?

Bo. If cats had mugshots, this would be his (check out the fangs)

Henry. The sweetest dog. He's "sensitive".

Memphis. Retired service dog, enjoying retirement very much.

Things I Love About Mr. 761

Eight years ago today, I married the love of my life. Yesterday I wrote a little love letter to him; today I wanted something more informal….

Things I love about Mr. 761 (in no particular order and by no means an exhaustive list)

  1. he’s a very funny guy; the type of funny that sneaks up on you, the kind of funny that happens because he’s way smarter than the average bear.
  2. he’s pretty quirky. As a result he’s pretty accepting of my quirks.
  3. he smells good.
  4. he’s very handsome.
  5. he’s a geek.
  6. he’s honorable.
  7. he hasn’t lost trust in people, even though sorely tested
  8. he was born to be a father.
  9. unlike me, he’s not a whiner.
  10. he knows that being in a war zone is no excuse for not sending flowers to his wife on their anniversary (see below) ♥
photo of 24 red roses with greenery and baby's breath

24 anniversary roses

I had to take that photo with my blackberry — I seem to have mislaid my charger for my camera. This is a common issue in my house, and no doubt Mr. 761 would consider it one of my “quirks”.

It is not. Gremlins move things when I’m not looking. It’s very mysterious and I intend to look into this one day soon.

An Anniversary at Box 761

Up to now, I may have given a somewhat incomplete picture of Mr. 761. You know where we met, that he contributed to my love of garlic sandwiches, and that he’s working in Afghanistan at present.

Incomplete, no?

Mr. 761, right after we first met

We had our first date in April 1999 and have been together pretty much ever since. After about six months of my declaiming that I did not want a “serious thing”, I moved in with him, and we married in 2002. Tomorrow we’ll have been married for 8 years, and he is, without a doubt, the love of my life. There are very few people in this entire universe who can delight me so thoroughly. He’s driven by a sense of honor and duty to his family that makes the difficult seem possible, that makes us all feel safe, and that makes being with him easy — he’s steadfast and his mother raised him right.

Don’t get me wrong — he’s as imperfect as the rest of us; but he’s perfect for me.

Gifts  Received at Box 761

Tied for first place are him and the kids. I’ve written before about how I had never seen myself as that sort of woman — the kind who had a husband, kids, a normal life. Out of a slippery combination of arty snobbery and well, fear, it just never seemed like I would have/want those things. It was too bourgeois, maybe? Out of my reach? Not sure. Whatever it was, he was so unproblematically accepting of the whole alien concept that I went along with it and liked it.

I could write whole dissertations on those kids (and probably will, eventually). One of them helped me to find my life’s purpose, the other has challenged me to become a better parent. They’ve taught me to hang on, and to let go.  I’ve become a better person,  a person with dimension and shape and yes maybe a little wisdom. They drive me crazy sometimes and I definitely wish the younger would learn to put things away and the older would answer her email, once in a while, but on the whole we have managed to raise some really great people.

One other thing that I’ve had since I met him — so long now that it seems like I’ve always had it — is peace. Life isn’t always peaceful here at box 761, in fact it’s often downright drama-filled (quadriplegic with stomach flu, anyone? Ex-wife issues, court dates, bills to pay… the same old stuff of life). What I mean by peace is that without realizing it, something in me unclenched. I spent my 20’s worrying about my boyfriend’s affection, about whether or not he was unfaithful, or a liar, or god help me, “out of my league” (ha ha ha ha ha ha). I spent a lot of energy on that sort of thing. Now, I can sail serenely past all that because I know that he loves me and I love him. I know that we want the best for one another, and that we’re grown ups. It’s all very simple.

Another gift I’ve received is time. Lately I have a lot of it, along with the space to use it in. Thank you, so much, my love — I know the price you’re paying for it. As for space, I guess we all know how much I love Box 761.

We’re a good team. I like to think that I’ve given as good as I’ve got, and that his life has been as enriched by this as has mine. His economy is different and he measures these things somewhat differently than I do (less esoterica, more concreteness). What I do know is that it’s impossible to think of us not together.

So, my love. Thank you for our wonderful life together, and know that I’m thinking about how quickly these  8 years have passed.  I am looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together.

Happy Anniversary.

Garlic Scapes, I love you 761 ways….

How pretty are these things?

That little beauty to the left of the page is something called a “garlic scape”. I had managed to live 45 years on this planet without ever hearing about scapes. One day a few weeks ago, a facebook friend wrote rhapsodically about it being time for them, so I looked them up. Then I mentioned them to a friend of mine who always seems to know about these things, and she delivered a bag of them to me the very next day.

What I’ve discovered is that a scape is merely the stalk of the garlic that has been harvested before it gets stalky and firm. This apparently helps the bulb to develop, and gives us scapes — the less pungent forgotten sibling  of what we know of as garlic.

What other vegetables haven’t I heard of? I find this mildly concerning — that at my advanced age I discovered something new. I’m a bit humbled by it, but notice that many people have responded to my newly knowing comments about scapes with “…um, what?” Makes me feel better, somewhat.

Today I sat for a while, pondering the scapes. I put them in a vase to keep them orderly, and considered just keeping them that way — so pretty and funky and curly.

Then I made Pesto. I’ve never made scape pesto before, but looked around and found some recipes online, and then just ignored the recipes and made my own. Turned out nicely, too.  Here’s how you do it:

Lovely! I have learned, though, that eating a teaspoon of it right from the jar is not recommended...

2/3 cups roasted pine nuts and about 2 cups of roughly chopped garlic scapes (flower bits off).

Whiz in food processor, then drizzle about a 1/2 cup of olive oil in, add some salt and pepper. Throw it in a bowl and add about 1 cup of parmesan, put in a generous tbsp of roughly smooshed cumin seed.
Air tight container, lasts up to a week refrigerated.

Pasta, tossed with the garlic scape pesto:

photo of sunlight glimmering off the gorgeous green pesto tossed in pasta


It’s kind of a funny thing, making that pesto. I  made about 2 cups of it — that’s a lot of pesto. Usually, I have a few other people in the house with me to share. Right now, though,  Mr. Box 761 is in Kandahar working, my youngest daughter is working/staying at the Cadet camp (for 7 weeks!) and my oldest daughter is taking summer courses at university.

I’m alone with my pesto.

In a week, though, Mr. Box 761 will be here for a month of leave. Certainly there’ll be some left for him to try while he’s home. This is a man who wooed me with (amongst other things) garlic sandwiches… (don’t knock ’em — they were delicious).

Recently I’ve been watching a lot of ridiculous television and last night I watched several episodes of a show called “Millionaire Matchmaker”. Quickly, it’s a show about a yenta in Los Angeles who sets up millionaires (usually men) with women who want to date them. The matchmaker is quite a character, and it was her brassy boorishness that drew me to the show — she’s really oddly charming, and so completely invested in her character. Fascinating to watch. These shows seem to go on in marathons, so last night I watched three shows in a row. By the end of it I could have wept — the cavalcade of hard young women, eager “cougars”, lonely narcissistic “millionaires”…. oh, the humanity.

I’m so glad I met my husband the old-fashioned way: drunk, in a bar.