Life Lately

Let’s see, where to catch up?  What happened this summer and fall?

The garden flourished!  The only planted that never actually fruited for us was our poblano peppers.  Now, we’ve pulled up almost everything and sown some kale for winter.

I also built a ladder-style herb planter for our patio.  Did all of the construction and staining myself!  I will post the dimensions & directions soon!

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I started grad school.  Oy.  It has been so fulfilling to be back in the classroom, but things are starting to rev up as we reach the latter half of the semester and I am starting to feel the stress.  I’m actually turning in my first paper today.  Eek!  I forgot everything about citations since I was in my undergraduate program.  I’m worried I have too many citations (which, I suppose, is better than having too few).  I’m starting to lay out a loose plan for my journey through the program.  Due to my work being full-time and to tuition requirements, I’m set to take two classes per semester from here on out, and spend three full years in the program (possibly with one extra semester).

I sorted out my insurance (finally) and now I’m on my own through my employer.  It took almost five weeks for my new card to come in, but now I am finally able to go to the doctor, if need be.

M and I celebrated our four-year-anniversary.  Thanks to some miracle (it being Monday), we were both able to take off and we spent the day apple-picking and visiting a cidery, a winery, and a distillery down south.  It was an awesome day with a wonderful man (and the dog)!  I still have to make a pie or two with the last of the apples, but most of them went into apple butter.

Speaking of apple butter, I managed a fair amount of canning this summer.  I’ve put up several quarts of apple butter, yellow squash relish, tomato jam, and refrigerator pickles (which M has decimated after realizing how good they are in bloody marys).  I even tried my hand at a small batch of pickled watermelon rind.  That had taken some adjusting…it is an odd flavor and texture combination.  I might make a few more jams before the holidays or even try canning some apple pie filling.

I had my one-year anniversary at my salaried position, which was pretty cool as well.  We are chugging along in our rehearsals and the shows are just starting to come together.  The students are fantastic, as always.

I am finding more routine and balance, and feeling happier and more center than I have in a long time.  Now, I’ve just got to keep these fuzzy feelings going through the long, dark winter.  I am slowly working towards settling into my routine and adding new goals without losing momentum on others.  So far, I am feeling pretty good!

I have a handful of recipes I am hoping to post soon.  This summer really showed me how I use this blog as a personal recipe file.  I came here several times looking for a recipe, only to find out that I hadn’t posted it yet!  I need to get several of my standbys up, if only so I can pull the recipe up on my phone the next time that I am making it!


Where I talk far too long about my puppy, and maybe my anniversary, too

This past monday was Punc’s second puppy class.  I touched very briefly on the first session.  Here’s the scoop.  Punc is a boston terrier-mix.  Super-mix.  Her father was pure boston and her mother was a mini-shepherd-ish looking thing.  Maybe some spitz or some sheltie or some aussie and some more terrier…maybe a mix of several.  Luckily, boston-mixes are near the top of the hierarchy for creating cute puppies.  (Because, lets be honest, some mixes and even some ‘designer’ dogs actually make some funky-looking creatures).  Punc’s sister, Panda, favors the boston’s wide mouth, and otherwise looks a little hound-y.  At the right angle, she can look like a miniature pit bull.  Punc, as a baby, has a reverse bobble head.  Definitely too small for her body and suspiciously chihuahua shaped.  (Again, very strange, because we can be almost certain that these girls have neither pit nor chihuahua in them).  Luckily, she’s grown into it.  A bit small, still, but not really noticeable.

So anyways, boston terrier mix.  Right now, she about 16-17 lbs and we’re only expecting a pound or two more when she fills out.  Her head is right at my knee–I’m certain, because she is in the habit of following me closely and I’ve knocked her in the eye a time or two when I turned around.  Ooops.  So Punc is not the largest of dogs, however, she is two-to-three times the size of my mother’s two dogs and certainly outweighs E’s Arcas.  He looks bigger, but its all fur.  Long story short, Punc is a timid, underdog in her nature.  When she and Panda were puppies, we had issues getting one dog to recognize that they were dogs (just little ones).  He didn’t stop to notice the submissive behavior they were exuding, and both puppies got bitten and shaken a few times.  So the puppies didn’t trust dogs for a good long while.  Now, of course, each has adjusted perfectly to those dogs that they share a household with, though neither will ever be (nor want to be) top dog.  Punc adores all people, from toddlers to adults.  She pulls at the end of the leash when she sees one and gets upset if she cannot meet everyone she sees.

However, she is extremely wary of new/strange dogs.  She cowers and cringes and tries to stay out of the way.  So, M and I signed her up for puppy classes.  By now, she knows a good portion of what is being taught in the class, but we wanted the chance to socialize her with young (and hopefully less intimidating) dogs.  Our class has a miniature schnauzer, a teacup beagle, a wheaton, a malamute, a labradoodle, a very young shepherd mix, a chihuahua mix, and, possibly, a gigantic 5 month-old German Shepherd (may be switching to another class).  And Punc. Right now, she’s bigger than four of them, though the shepherd-mix may outgrow her by the end of class.  However big, little, young, old, aggressive, outgoing, shy, loud, quiet…Punc is scared of all of them.  She spent the first session under M’s chair, and was so distracted by the other dogs that she then wouldn’t respond much to the instructor giving her a treat.

It was actually pretty close to what we expected.  So,when week two rolled around, off we went, without much expectations.  Punc was ecstatic to enter the store and sniff around (we’re taking classes at Petsmart).  We met a lot of people and even bravely met humans while their dog was nearby, but distracted.  She balked a little bit at the entrance to the puppy class, but soon took up her usual residence under M’s seat.  But, as class went on, she moved.  She tangled herself up several times, trying to go see the humans beside us, and even crept out to sniff some butts while their owners were distracted.  She cowered if a dog noticed her, but she didn’t run away.  Baby steps.  We even got some tail wags, and crept out to sniff the instructor, even though she wouldn’t go far enough for the loose-leash-walking example.  And, at the end of class, when the instructor picked her up, Punc realized she was a normal person and was quite excited.  I’m hoping that will have a big impact on her interaction with the instructor.

These are not huge milestones.  But they are vast improvements.  I don’t need a dominant dog, but I do want one that will at least exist calmly near other dogs.  I’m quite happy that there was such an improvement in just two sessions.  Hopefully we can only go up from here.

In other news, M and I’s one-year anniversary was on Friday.  He worked a 13 hour day.  I worked both jobs and ran back to my mother’s to grab a bread pan to make even more French Bread.  Weekends are sandwich days, as we spend 9 1/2 hours at one job, then drive an hour through rush-hour traffic to get to the second job for 3-5 hours for me and 6-8 for M.  Weekends necessitate sandwiches, something I can pack for two meals on Friday night, and can keep through the day on Saturday.  So, between the work bookending our time, and my need to make bread, we were not planning anything special for our anniversary.  It wasn’t a big celebration, or unusual or surprising, but it was a nice evening.  I made him a man-bouquet, a la Pinterest.

However, I was too cheap to invest in a pot/vase and foam, and whatever people use to attach them.  So they balanced carefully in an old glass, and I did my best to arrange them in a way that hid the duct tape.  It’s the thought (and the content) that counts, right?  I got him a mix of 5-hour energy shots, chocolate, a couple of British candies, jelly beans, and whatever was the higher-priced mini-bottles of gin, whisky, and tequila.  And M still loves me, in spite of my utter ignorance regarding booze…and I think he likes everything I got him.  For me, M brought flowers, firewood, chocolate, and cheese (nice, nice brie!)  Can you tell we know each other well?  It really was a nice day for both of us, simple and sweet.  As cheesy as it may sound, I don’t need a celebration.  Hitting the ‘one year mark’ is just a reminder that we’re doing things right and making it work.  And that’s what counts.