Monday, June 26, 2017

At Home, Low Key Productivity

It's 1:00 p.m. on Monday.

I prefer s-l-o-w Mondays; more than any other day of the week, Monday is the day that I most need to be quiet and undemanding.

I never schedule appointments on Mondays if I can help it. I don't plan to grocery shop, either. The only errand I expect to do on Monday is to go to the library with the boys. We usually go earlier rather than later, but since the library is only open late on Mondays and Tuesdays, those are the best days for us to go because should we decide that cocooning all day Monday is necessary, we can still go after supper (even if it is late because the guys ride their bikes). Tuesday evenings are already booked, so Monday it is.

Lately I've realized how productive my Mondays actually are. Today I have done the following, all before lunch:
  • Tended the milk kefir, the goat milk kefir, and the water kefir, and washed the associated dishes.
  • Made smoothies for J and I to have for breakfast, and washed the Vitamix.
  • Put a jar of sun tea out in the sun to brew.
  • Brought in the dry towels from the porch, folded them, and put them in their respective pool bags.
  • Directed T in getting the day's laundry started.
  • Came up with breakfast for the dogs since we didn't have enough kibble.
  • Started a health log for J to document the things his doctor wants tracked.
  • Baked banana muffins, and washed the associated dishes.
  • Cooked 18 eggs in the Instant Pot so that we'll have them for the next week, cooled them, dried them, put them away, and washed the Instant Pot dishes.
  • Drafted a basic plan for this week's meals.
  • Chose the meat for this week's meals, and took it out of the freezer to defrost.
  • Started rice for lunch, and also started defrosting salmon.
  • Drove to the doctor's office to pick up lab orders for J, and made his follow up appointment while I was there. (I tried to do this Friday but missed them closing the office by 5 minutes.)
  • Cooked the salmon, along with reheating broccoli and alfredo sauce to go with lunch.
  • Checked the library accounts to see what is due today.
It seems I don't really mind doing things on Mondays, they just have to be things that I can do at home, and can't be huge tasks like mopping all the floors.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Zenith

Happy Summer Solstice to those in the Northern Hemisphere, and Happy Winter Solstice to those in the Southern Hemisphere!

It's the summer solstice for us, and so our summer rhythm begins to take form.

I wake early, and make the bed unless it's a sheet washing day. If Papa is still in it I leave the task for later, but in summer he is often out of the house early for a morning bike ride. I dress, which this time of year means pulling on a light, floaty sundress.  The dogs and I make our way to the front of the house.

I drink a glass of water, slip on sandals, and walk the dogs around the block. I need the sunshine as much as they need the exercise. It takes only 10 minutes or so, unless we decide to go around a second time. This is the coolest air I am likely to feel on my skin all day. Depending on who is awake and who is home, I may have human company on my walk as well.

Back in the house, I tend the kefir and prepare smoothies for breakfast. Then I sit on the porch and listen to the birds. Sometimes I take out the newspaper or a book, sometimes Papa joins me and we visit before he heads to work, and sometime I just sit. Once finished, I bring in the pool towels that have been hung to dry on the porch raining, and put them in their respective pool bags, ready for service again.

I tidy the kitchen and front rooms. Once everyone is finished with showers I start a load of laundry, and I bring in any clothes that hung outside overnight. I finish my daily chores do any weekly home keeping chores as well. If necessary, I begin the main meal preparation, and also chop fresh fruits and vegetables for snacking on.

Chores completed, I bathe, and wash my hair if it's a hair washing day.

Usually this is all completed before 10 a.m. After that we might do errands, such as going to the library or stopping by the produce stand. If not, I'll choose a less strenuous task to work on, like paying bills and filing paperwork, or tidying in the craft room. My goal is to complete most of my non-creative chores before noon.

Then it's lunch with Papa, and after that we either head to the pool (if there is an evening bike ride scheduled) or hang out. If we stay home we might read, create, or visit with friends. It's the perfect time to knit cotton dish cloths, plan meals, or work on a scrapbook. It's also when I do any mending that might be needed. The boys might watch history or science programs, and this summer they are doing some practice assessment tests.

By mid-afternoon I'll start to think about what we can have for supper. Rice and miso soup, muffins and fruit, hard-boiled eggs and toast ... we've already had our big meal at midday, so we keep the evening meal light. Some nights it might be as simple as popcorn and watermelon, or even just ice cream or sorbet.

Depending on the evening, we either go to the pool or the guys have a bike training ride. We're usually home from all of that by 7 - 7:30, and then we eat a late supper (after showers). If there's time we'll kick back and listen to a record album or play a game, or perhaps take the dogs around the block again if it hasn't been brutally hot. Around 8:45/9:00 p.m. I slip back out onto the porch with a glass of ice water to enjoy the last light of the evening, when the blues deepen and the silhouettes of the trees gently fade away.

Finally it is time to brush my teeth, wash my face, say goodnight to my boys, and climb into bed with a book or magazine.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On The Cusp Of The Summer Solstice

The summer solstice (Northern Hemisphere) will occur tonight at 9:24 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, so I am going to dig in my heels and say that today is not the first day of summer. If we wait until tomorrow we can go for shaved ice with T once he returns from bike camp.

It's hot. I don't mind, really, except I need to remember to put on sandals if I intend to walk outside on pavement. The official max temperature was 102° yesterday, with a forecast of 106° for today, and 107° tomorrow. The A/C kicked on before 9 a.m. today, and that's with it set to 80°. Even set at 80° (82° overnight) it ran for 9 hours yesterday. I expect it to run for at least 12 hours today.

We could try to do without A/C. I grew up without it, and scientists say it is nearly 8-10 degrees warmer now than it was then (okay, those number are for 50 years ago and I am talking about 40 years ago, but still, it's hotter), but we could make it work. People have to, because not everyone can afford housing with A/C and/or the electricity to run it.

So we'd adjust, getting up earlier and then estivating during the hottest part of the day before taking advantage of the slightly cooler late evening hours.

The biggest question on a morning like today is To bake, or not to bake ... because baking heats up the house, but not baking might result in insufficient snacks and the wasting of bananas that got so ripe they weren't even fit for the freezer (too soft).

I baked.

In the middle of baking the power went out, then tried to come back on, then went out again for about a full minute. Just long enough for me to wonder what I was going to do about muffins in the oven (which, although it is gas, doesn't run without electricity). I had clothes in the washer as well, but those I could have finished in the bathtub, so that wasn't a big concern. More worrisome would have been the food in the freezers and refrigerator. Oh, and the A/C.

The power grid struggles to provide all the necessary power to the region on hot days. They ask us to cut back, and we do, not running the vacuum, washing machine, or dishwasher in the afternoon, and keeping that A/C temperature bearable but not frigid.

It's days like this that I remember that some day we are going to install a solar system, one we own, not leased. Preferably before the federal tax credits expire. I'd prefer a system with a good battery bank so that we can use our own power even after dark.

We're talking about window awnings, too, as we know our house used have them (the tracks are still up). The front of the house faces mostly west (perhaps we could say WSW) and the front rooms get very hot in the afternoons. The sun is welcome in winter, but less so in summer. Overall, someone was thinking when they built our house: the side of the house facing south is mostly protected by a nice carport.

The muffins have been baked, the laundry is hanging, the vacuuming is finished. It's time for a bath, I think. Then, on this last day of spring, we'll do our errands/appointments and then hide inside the house, away from the smog and heat. Come 9:24 p.m., I'll welcome the first night of summer with a cold drink on the porch, my feet up, and the porch fan on high. It will be cooler in the house, but I'd rather spend the moment outside anyway.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Shopping In The Refrigerator, or How I Avoided Costco This Week

If I had my way we would go to Costco once a month with a carefully planned list and then not go back no matter what. How hard can it be to plan out how much toilet paper, peanuts, dates, maple syrup, and frozen fruit we will need for a month? Or how many eggs and whether or not we need toothbrush heads? However, I live with three men (one middle-aged, two young) who think that Costco is where you go when you run out of lettuce. As in, We need to go to Costco this week because we are out of lettuce!  Did you hear me?  We need lettuce from Costco!

Lettuce, people! They sell it at the produce stand one mile from the house, which can be reached by foot or bicycle and never has more than one person in front of me in line. If it is extremely hot I will even drive there and not feel guilty, because my car is cute and I don't feel like melting on my bicycle when it is 97°.

I have already been to Costco twice in June, which isn't fair, and I will probably have to go again because: graduation party. But I will not go just because we are out of lettuce. If we were out of toilet paper, then I would go, and they could buy some lettuce too, but again, not just for lettuce. #notjustforlettuce

What can that possibly mean, anyway, to be out of lettuce? We aren't out of water or air or even food. Half the time when the young men are asked if they want a salad they say no anyway. But they keep track of lettuce like it was a baseball box score.

In a convoluted, related situation, my refrigerator has been a disorganized mess; there are approximately 6 million mason jars full of ferments, bacon fat, and leftovers (or 21, which is exactly the same thing when you are trying to find the tub of shredded Dubliner cheese). I don't mind so much, because they are my ferments, but the guys are tired of pushing everything around and tend to leave jars dangling dangerously on front shelf ledges, threatening to fall the next time the door is opened, spilling milk kefir all over.

And so today I cleaned out the refrigerator, and as a bonus I shopped it by pulling out all of the produce, cleaning and chopping it, and returning it to the bins looking brand new and shiny. There are now bags of arugula, clean mini cucumbers, washed and peeled carrots, jicama sticks, bell pepper strips, shredded cabbage, peeled daikon root, and cleaned green onions, and I'm pretty sure the family thinks I went shopping after all. When they ask for lettuce I will point out that we have cabbage, or I will just make cabbage salad myself and avoid the subject altogether.

I drank the water kefir, thus cutting the mason jars down to a manageable 20.

In the outside refrigerator I found a watermelon, 3# of prepped broccoli, and a still-good package of cooked beets. Short of a toilet paper shortage, I don't see any reason to go to Costco until we shop for the graduation party. Which is next week.

Ideas To Avoid Going to Costco for Lettuce:

Clean all of the produce in the house
Make cabbage salad
Make shredded carrot salad
Make cucumber salad
Tell Papa that arugula and tomato salad is the newest salad fad
Make a fancy salad with chopped vegetables and beets
Put out so many raw vegetables as a pre-dinner snack that I can convince Papa that we don't need to make a salad
Make pizza (because no one questions anything if I make pizza)