Cloudy, misty and unseasonably cool yesterday, with afternoon temps around 60. It felt funny to close the windows at home. Chance of showers and thunderstorms today through Tuesday. They say we’ll see the sun on Wednesday.
It was easy: pick mint leaves and wash; boil and simmer with water, sugar and a little lemon juice to make a syrup; strain; freeze shallowly in metal pan, stirring and mashing ice with fork every half hour or so to get the desired granular texture. In a few hours, it was ready.
The taste was incredible! Pure fresh cool tartly lemony and minty, but not too minty, and not overly sweet. Insanely refreshing. Like the Italian water ices I loved as a kid growing up near Philadelphia, but better. Another spoonful to taste… it’s almost perfect, I thought, just needs one more ingredient…
I spooned it into a couple of wine glasses, one for my sister who was working on her script and one for me, and then I poured on a shot of Knob Creek bourbon and mixed it in. Mint julep granita!
Sister’s review: “Wow! My new summer favorite, really. And going in the cocktail bible. Now back to these f’ing airedales.”
Mint… ‘the smelle rejoiceth the heart of man, for which cause they used to
strew it in chambers and places of recreation, pleasure and repose,
where feasts and banquets are made.’
Play the word association game online.
As a lounge chair at the beach is to Homo sapiens, so a sun-warmed wood pile is to Thamnophis sirtalis.
My sister spotted the garter snake kaffeeklatsch by the pond first thing this morning. I went out a little later with my camera. There were 6 or 7 arrayed on logs at different levels of the wood pile, companionably sunning themselves.
Garter snakes smell with their tongues. They are one of the few serpent species that give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. They can bite but are not poisonous.
When you pick them up they sometimes secrete a musky stinky fluid from their anal glands – a good defense against curious humans like me.
They live pretty much everywhere, and eat frogs, tadpoles, earthworms, fish, small birds and rodents. They can swim, and climb. And hold quite still in the sunshine.
Anything humans consider food Larry considers food.
My sister and her dog Larry are staying with us while she gets started in her new job producing a TV series on dog breeds for Animal Planet. Shoot day for the airedale segment was on Tuesday in Massachusetts and the writing, production and editing should wrap up next week. Her next TV dog may be a St. Bernard, in Switzerland.
We sometimes wonder what breeds mixed it up to make the mutt she and her husband adopted off the mean city streets. "Brooklyn Brindle," they sometimes tell people who ask.
If they really wanted or needed to know, there's this:
DNA tests sniff out mutts' breeding
Canine quiz: Can you match the dog to its ancestry?
Zeus the Golden Retriever is speedier but the Brooklyn Brindle makes up for it in feistiness. Larry is by nature an alpha dog, and Zeus is alpha about his house and family, so they are still sorting it out with looks and body position and occasional rough play, growls and body slamming.
But Larry has a sweet and needy side and when Ann is gone he's literally underfoot wherever I go in the house, wondering what he's supposed to do, where he's supposed to go, and how he can help. ("Let me clean up those crumbs you dropped!" "I'll bark at that funny noise and protect you!")
I got a call from the hospital yesterday morning, moments before I was going to call my own doctor and say the medicine wasn't working, I'm still sick. The hospital lab had cultured the bacteria ravaging my bladder and associated parts and found it was resistant to the antibiotic they prescribed (Cipro), so they were calling in another prescription, for a different antibiotic (Macrodantin).
I haven't had a UTI in 20 years and never remotely this bad. But I know there are many women out there who can feel my pain. We have some minor design imperfections in the nether regions that increase our risk.
Being sick once in a blue moon makes you appreciate normal good health. I think I'll be back to normal in another day. (Maybe go take some beach pics for Tim.) The weather was gorgeous yesterday, so at least there's that.
Still no coffee in my life and I'm not really missing it. I get my caffeine in lower doses, from tea. One black tea in the morning and a green iced tea or two later in the day. Looking forward to a Molson Stock Ale this evening, maybe. John brought a case back from Canada when he drove Anna to camp Monday, a good souvenir.
Dear eldest daughter is in our thoughts as she undergoes a week of counselor boot camp before the campers arrive. We look forward to a hurried email now and then, and maybe even a Skype chat.
Dear youngest daughter is in her own version of rehab/ recovery from the intense end of all-honors freshman year. It involves sleeping in, wearing pajamas or a bathing suit most of the day, watching episodes of "Lost" on the computer, making new friends and keeping up with the old, and rebelling against chores and parental directives. Whatever.
On my own summer slow-down list:
Read. Read poetry. Like this: Heroine
|By night we lingered on the lawn,
For underfoot the herb was dry;
And genial warmth; and o’er the sky
The silvery haze of summer drawn
– Alfred Lord Tennyson
The first bird begun calling at 4:13 a.m. this morning. I am having a bird-induced sleep deficit.
The sun rose at 5:04 a.m. and will set at 8:26 p.m., says the almanac. We had 15 hours and 22 minutes of daylight today, and will again tomorrow. Ah, finally: Seasonal Affective Order. June 22 will max our daylight with 15:23, then the days begin to shorten, how sad.
Astronomical summer begins at 7:59 p.m. this evening.
Last day of high school yesterday, with all the last-minute projects turned in (we think), then the 14-year-old found her bathing suit and hit the beach with friends today. It is rumored that there were boys, and that they were not wearing their shirts.
The 19-year-old is packing for our 10-hour-drive to camp in Canada on Monday as well as finishing her last three shows of The Winter's Tale at the Players' Ring this weekend. Tomorrow she will audition for next season's shows; all day I heard bits of contrasting monologues spoken around the house, with varying inflections. I think she finally settled on Titania, Queen of the Fairies, and Janeane Garofalo.
Today I had a tidying haircut, did laundry, walked dogs, attended to my daughters, thinned the grown-from-seed cosmos diablo and love-in-a-mist, and ate lettuce and radishes from the garden.
Yesterday I was out walking and I saw two wild turkeys quick-stepping across the road in front of me. They were shaded by the trees above and around and lit by the sun shining down the sunshiny tunnel of road. Their silhouettes were shaped a lot like peacocks.
Then followed that beautiful season… Summer…
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In summer, the song sings itself.
– William Carlos Williams
First: pick strawberries from the garden.
Next: wash strawberries.
Then: Blenderize strawberries with crushed ice, sugar, lemon juice, triple sec and rum. We varied the ratios experimentally, to taste. For the rum I asked for Mount Gay, via cell phone, while my husband was out on errands and he brought home Screech.
"It was on sale."
"Strawberry daiquiris always call for lighter rum," I said prissily.
"Well, we'll just call them Newfoundland Strawberry Daiquiris."
My sister Ann is in town (she took these delicious pictures last night; she got the Somerville job) and tonight we two went out to 931 Ocean then Hagan's Grill. (Husband off to Paris again.) May I recommend the mussels and crab cakes as appetizers at 931, as well as the Mango Wave rum-tinis?
Dessert was a fresh-on-tap Sam Summer Ale for me and a New Zealand sauvignon blanc for sis at Hagan's Grill up the road. "Marlborough, that's my region," she said.
It's all about terroir.
While exploring ways to help keep strawberries fresh during storage,
researchers from Thailand and the US discovered that treating the
berries with alcohol led to an increase in antioxidant capacity and
free radical scavenging activity within the fruit.