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CSA: Week Fifteen

The veins of collard greens

Summer has come to an end. Last Friday was the final weekly share pickup, the contents of which are below. There's going to be one more share in October so I'll save my wrap-up for then.

Assorted
September 24, 2009

Restless Farewell

Take it easy, good buddy

Friday night was Digby's last night with us. On Saturday I packed him up with all his stuff and drove him through beautiful New Jersey to a suburb of Philadelphia, where he hitched a ride to greener pastures in Wisconsin. He is going to a place that must seem like heaven after living with us for the last few years—a quiet house in the woods, an armchair of his own, twice-a-day walks through town and country, and someone to cozy up with at night. Still, it was a decision that took us a long time to reach.

Over the course of the last seven years, we have tried everything with Digby. We have been through two trainers, obedience classes, two kennels, special collars, air horns, marrow bones, peanut-butter filled Kongs, and the Dog Whisperer book and season one DVD. We have tried to change him to fit our family and change ourselves to fit him but neither side could do it. Digby is a dog that requires a lot of exercise and attention, is indifferent at best toward children and an echo chamber for the stress in his environment; we are a family of five with barely enough time for each other, including a toddler that likes to harass the people and animals around him, living in a house often filled with shrieking, crying and various child-related catastrophes.

Over the course of our lives, we became incompatible with Digby and that was a difficult truth to accept. I felt like we would be letting him down, reneging on our commitment, but ultimately I realized that we weren't doing either side any favors by trying to power through the tough times. He was stressed out and unhappy, which made us even more frustrated with him, and the kids had almost no bond with him at all. So he's in a better place now, where we can visit him once in a while, and hopefully the distance will restore some fondness to all of our hearts.

Farewell for now, old friend. I hope you're happier in your new life than in the one you had with us.

September 16, 2009 | Comments (2)

CSA: Weeks Thirteen and Fourteen

Spotted like Jacob's cattle

It's getting late in the growing season (next week will be the last regular pickup for our CSA) and I'm surprised that we're not feeling more vegetable fatigued. Vegetables are great and all, but two grocery bags full every week? I think the good people at our local CSA are mostly responsible for that, having planted a wide variety of crops and being conscientious of the volume they were producing and the schedule. We had a consistent supply of the basics around (scallions, onions, basil, greens, peppers) and something new in each week's share.

The one exception has been eggplant. I am only a recent convert to eggplant and if you had asked me two months ago how I felt about it, I might have regaled you with stories of grilled eggplant and eggplant marinara pasta that I have enjoyed, but now I'm ready for a break. Despite how healthy and wonderful of a vegetable it is, it's still something that I need to enjoy in moderation, which I define as something less than once a week. We're going to give some eggplant parmigiana a try this week and see if a spoonful of cheese helps the medicine go down.

On a more positive note, I am getting used to having the heartier greens (Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, broccoli raab, etc.) on a regular basis. The collard greens were last week's pleasant surprise. I had had them at restaurants before but they were mostly boiled to exhaustion and stewed in a garlicky oil that overpowered most of their flavor. We cooked up a batch over Labor Day weekend that was fantastic, though—quickly blanched and then sauteed with bacon, onion and a little vinegar—and the perfect accompaniment to the hickory-smoked ribs.

Week Thirteen

Week Fourteen

Assorted
Sugar baby!
September 14, 2009

Summer Vacation

To get the full impression, view this while smelling a handful of fresh thyme

This summer was the first in a long time that felt like a real break—fewer commitments, less stress, more relaxation. At first I attributed that to Veronika having started kindergarten and while that's definitely part of it, all of the things that have begun to ramp up already in September are reminding me that our lives are becoming increasingly tied to the school schedule. The upside of this, which I'm choosing to focus on, is that summer actually felt like summer and that was a nice change.

The centerpiece of our summer was our trip to Austria and Croatia, two weeks for me and four weeks for the rest of the family. The best and yet most boring thing I can say about it is that it was exactly what we had hoped it would be. The additional two weeks that Dinka and the kids were there provided much more time to spend with family and took the pressure off of our visits and our schedules. (Can you imagine spending a month on vacation at three and five years old? It must have felt like a year to them.) Plus we took a week-long vacation to the beach (Cres, Croatia) while we were already on vacation, which was filled with beautiful weather, salty water, tanned shoulders, great food and happy kids. We couldn't have asked for anything more.

Hopefully our pictures will provide the best sense of what the trip was like and, like this warm Labor Day weekend, give you one last chance to feel the warmth of the summer before we head into fall. The vacation pictures on the kids start here and my album is here:

Summer Holiday '09

Plus a couple of bonus panoramas for a more immersive experience:

Sunset on the road to Valun (larger version of the above)
A day at the beach (featuring the new boat!)

September 05, 2009

Five Favorite Synthetic Smells

In order of preference, with respect to Merlin:

  1. New sneakers
  2. New car
  3. New tires
  4. Gasoline
  5. Sharpie
September 03, 2009