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It’s the Small Things

October 2, 2021

I have to say, life has taken a whole new shape since.. well, since 1) retirement (it’s been a very long time, but it’s hitting its stride); 2) empty nest (as they call it, so I will too); 3) remodel and the creation of new spaces (notably: pantry/laundry/project/storage room and garden); and 4) pandemic (and all the time we have all spent at home reinventing ourselves over the last year and a half).

Never before, in my life-before-my-current-life, would I have started the day in the garden. But this Saturday morning, in the early morning fall light — pleasantly warm, remarkably quiet and so very fresh — I was out in my shorts and flips watering patches of newly planted winter veggies… like carrots, collards, arugula, broccoli and onions. I also spent some time harvesting the near-last of the summer tomatoes, a huge pile of chard (the gift that keeps on giving), and pulled up the six phenomenally prolific basil plants (thank you basil plants for a great summer season of basilly things).

It was just heavenly. I felt one with my garden. Like I totally owned it (in a comfort way, not an abusive and controlling way!) (Smile, please.)

I washed the chard and tomatoes. Later I de-stemmed and cut the chard, placed it in ziplocks, labeled the bags and added them to our very full freezer. So much food to figure out how to use in the winter!

All part of being a suburban farmer, mate.

I also baked. Now, baking is something I’ve always done, but it’s different these days. One, I’m doing a whole lot more of it. I think that’s because it’s so pleasurable these days (as is cooking). The kitchen is enormously functional and spacious. I have just about everything — utensil and gadget-wise — I could need and it’s so organized (to my liking, anyway) (good, since I organized it!). But, the addition of a whole new room adjacent to the kitchen means — in addition to a pantry with a huge area just for baking stuff — easy storage and access to appliances. And having all that storage and panty space in a whole nuther room freed up the kitchen and created spaces that are so much more functional and fun to work in.

And two, I have garden treasures I have to make use of… so, for example, lots of zucchini meant lots of zucchini bread to bake this year.

During the pandemic, I finally started on “the great recipe project” after YEARS of being overwhelmed by the number of recipes I’d collected (in baskets, files, folders and random binders). I had no real way to organize them before, but more importantly to readily access them. The recipe project’s been a game changer. I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about that (scintillating subject matter, for sure). But let me just say, it’s a project well underway and already paying huge dividends.

For example (as relates to today and my goal to use the last of the zucchini to make some zucchini bread), I went to the baking binder and got my tested (and Jim/Kari-approved) recipe for zucchini bread (I’ve tried two this summer, both multiple times; and today picked the more highly rated one). I clipped the recipe to this recipe holding device I created a couple months ago (which was better than taping to the microwave), retrieved all the needed ingredients (which I had on hand because: space), chose a Spotify channel to bluetooth onto our new kitchen radio (do we still call them radios?) and cranked it up, donned my apron, and was off to the races. This is now a common thing (me, apron, music, kitchen project). It was a rare thing before.

I didn’t even know how burdensome cooking and baking were, until they weren’t. Seriously, having a dedicated appliance cabinet with four huge pull out drawers that hold appliances of all sorts.. well.. it took a lot of the drudge out of even the prospect of baking something. Having things accessible removes a major barrier. Right? That’s not weird, is it? I can’t be the only one who contemplates a project, but doesn’t do it because the set up is too hard. Or because you have to move too many things to get to that Kitchen Aid, or that food processor…

God, lest you read this and think what the hell, what on earth is noteworthy about ANY of this?! I’ll just beat you to the punch and say: nothing. But it’s a grand departure from the way I used to roll. The thing is, I always said (whined, more like), “I wanna cook more,” “If I had my recipes organized, I would cook more,” “It’d be so cool to be able to walk into the garden and grab some basil or rosemary, or real vegetables to eat” …. and it just didn’t happen. But now.. time, age, circumstances, a remodel and a pandemic turned that fuzzy, seemingly faraway desire into reality.

Anyway.. blah blah. I can’t believe this is a blog post. On the other hand, today felt satisfying and notable for its master of one’s domain vibe. And it made me wonder how I got here. Mostly, it made me appreciate the teeny, tiny achievements in life that can sometimes add up to change, evolution and a whole lotta pleasure.

How’s about a few pics:

The early morning garden with newly planted winter stuff:

The chard and tomatoes I picked:

Jim ate a couple of the tomatoes and said they were exceptionally juicy and flavorful!

And the zucchini bread!