Amazingly our garden is looking like spring, and it’s mid-February. A bit unnerving for those of us living in the Golden State. Stands to reason if we’re enjoying tee-shirt weather this early in the year, summer will be a bear. I’m not complaining about the lack of rain, however, after observing what people to the east of us are enduring. Roads like skating rinks, power lines frozen solid, roofs caving in. Even Niagara Falls looking like a scene from Frozen. Truly Disney’s movie mirrored in a way what winter was to look like this year with a polar chill gripping most of the nation.
Three times in my life I’ve lived in snow belts. Growing up in Nova Scotia, certainly winter made itself known. Three years in Massachusetts, and three years again in West Virginia. Snow makes the landscape incredibly beautiful, I think. Draping itself among the tree branches, making stark patterns along the roadways and in fields. For a kid, it’s a playground on which to sled, toboggan, skate, and ski. Building a snowman was usually the first order of business when winter arrived for my friends and I. Learning to build a good snowball also an essential for kids growing up in snow country. By the time my ankles could support my weight I had ice skates. The frog pond in Point Pleasant Park, two blocks from the house, was where we gathered to show off new skates or glide about on the ones we’d already broken in. Cheeks red as persimmons, and feet frozen solid we twirled and raced across the ice for hours seemingly oblivious to the frigid air and our numbing limbs.
February should reflect the above, but snow seems as far away as another universe on such a short-sleeved day as today. Tulips ought not to bloom in the week following Valentine’s Day alongside bright pink cherry blossoms. What’s up Mother Nature? Were you bored with hurricanes and forest fires? Allergies are in full force out here while back east gridlocked frozen highways keep people long into the night stuck in their cars.
Deciding there was nothing to do but get out and enjoy this glorious day we first took ourselves to breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict, my favorite. Rick had his usual French toast. Creatures of habit are we. Afterwards we ran errands, stopped to wash the car, and ended up at Home Depot to look for some light fixtures before heading home.
As ridiculous as this sounds, I have a totally irrational fear of going through a car wash. This wasn’t always the case. It began about twenty years ago. I was dating a man at the time carrying on a love affair with his vehicle. Seriously I believe if an assassin had pointed a gun towards me and his SUV and said, “your lady or your car”, I would have gone down like the Titanic. The car, or “baby” to he who loved it, required a full bath each weekend rain wasn’t predicted. This was followed by a thorough hand rubbing with a soft chamois and a good vacuum to capture any debris daring to make its way onto the pristine floor mats. Kings have enjoyed less pampering. Taking food inside the car could be a deal breaker. Once we ordered take-out. The food was placed on a 33 gallon trash bag in the back in between two bricks to stabilize the bags. Taking the food in the house he went back to the car for a dusting of “new car spray” to remove any lingering odors of egg rolls mucking about. Water, if thoroughly enclosed, was acceptable on a trip as long as it didn’t contain any flavoring which might stain the upholstery. I suggested at one point a detailed manual might be handy to help one keep track of all the rules. This was not well received.
My car, unaware such vehicle spoiling existed, looked good but certainly not as good sitting next to the larger vehicle requiring sunglasses to view it in full sun. After several weekends without seeing me outside buffing and shining it was suggested I take my car through the car wash down the road. Fine. I worked a sixty hour week at least at the time and whether or not my car was immaculate at any given moment was on my list right after going diving for oysters. As a note, I detest oysters.
To appease, my next free Saturday the Neon and I made the drive to the car wash. A man met us at the entrance with options including waxing and wheels. Going for the works I was handed a receipt and instructed to pull forward. I did. Somehow my wheels got off the pulley used to drag the car through the cycles once inside. The Neon tipped on one wheel was being urged ahead almost sideways towards the entrance. Much yelling and waving of hands occurred outside as the car wash personnel managed to shut down the car wash completely just as the driver’s side rear view mirror was ripped from its holder and tossed under the bus, if you will. Uh-huh. After the bubbles settled I was told to submit a claim for the mirror and offered a free car wash and waxing. Um, no thank you. Since then I either go to the u-wash car wash or allow my other half to do it.
I’ve mentioned before I had my energy read at a fair in Berkeley for kicks. The reader said he had never seen energy like mine. Very powerful stuff apparently. Smile. He asked if I had a lot of problems with machinery. Did somebody tell? Ach. I can walk by a printer and get the lights twirling on and off. Always been that way. An IT guy at one job intimated I had somehow warped the screen on my computer and pulled up a page he’d never before seen. Really? Put me to good use and I could be a weapon of mass destruction. Just ask Rick.
Yesterday after enduring me holding my hands over my face and chanting all the way through the car wash, we went to Home Depot. Not finding the light we were searching for I picked up a small house plant. Deciding on the self-checkout with only one item, I scanned the bar code. A screen came up on the machine depicting (not kidding here) a hammer suspended in the air and marks below it as if indicating I should hit the machine with it. Alerting the sales person there to help stupid self-checkout users such as myself, she stared at the screen. Seems she’d never seen that screen before either. Hmmmm. Curiouser and curiouser. Shutting down the machine entirely and rebooting I paid my $3.58 and decided to become a hermit.
This is a meal in itself. I served it with rice and we needed nothing to go with it.
Braised Artichokes and Beans
2 large globe artichokes
1 large lemon
1/8 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 Tbsp. dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fill a large bowl with water. Squeeze entire lemon in bowl then toss in rinds. Allow to sit for 30 mins. Cut artichokes in quarters lengthwise. Remove chokes (furry portions near stem) with knife. Cut ends of stems slightly. These are an extension of the heart so don’t cut too much. Drop artichokes in water and leave for 30 mins.
Pour olive oil in bottom of stockpot. Heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 8 mins. stirring often. Add garlic. Cook for 1 min. Drain artichokes, tossing lemons, and place in pot. Add enough water to cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 mins. or until tender. Serve with a bed of rice and melted butter or mayonnaise for dipping.