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O Happy Day

zucchini-muffin

This is something I’ve got to write, if only because a happy day like I’ve just had ought to be savored.

What happened? Um, nothing, really. But I was happy all the same.

Three small highlights: I pulled a thousand weeds, just on a whim. I was wasting time as usual on the computer, then went downstairs to get a second cup of coffee, and never made it. I headed outside instead.

A day or two ago I had the realization that there is something recreational about weeding the garden; that is, it’s almost fun. Cleaning house is sometimes the same way; it’s work, of course, but afterwards you can see the difference. And that leads to a sense of satisfaction, even pleasure.

When I was in high school the Helmreich boys used to complain incessantly about having to weed their father’s garden. They dragged me along once or twice, and I could see they were right; the garden was several miles away from the house, which sat perched on a ravine and surrounded by trees. There wasn’t room for a garden in back, nor enough sunshine if there had been room. So their “garden” was really a farm field with plots rented out to the otherwise-landless. Dr. Helmreich was ambitious and grew vast quantities of 500 vegetables to give away to friends; that is, he was ambitious in planting, but not weeding. That was for his sons to do; “you like to eat, don’t you?” He always sent them out to weed when it was 90º, humidity like a steamroom and no breeze a’tall.

So the boys had none of the pleasures that I have, with my own flowerbeds all around the house and, this year, a small vegetable garden in the back.

If I get thirsty, I can go inside and get a drink; if I decide I need a certain tool, it’s right there in the garage. No planning necessary; just head outside on a whim.

A day or two ago I finished planting some daylilies I bought, six small clumps, two different colors, and I knew the flowerbeds in front needed some serious attention. I headed to the Hosta Corner, only 12 square feet, and cleaned out a native vine that runs in patches through my yard; the runners are mostly above ground so it isn’t difficult to pull out. I also found a few more branches of English ivy, which a previous owner planted but I’m trying to eradicate. I’d gotten most of it earlier, but it’s much tougher to remove. Just a few hard yanks and one key snip and the hostas are all cleaned up.

From there I moved next to the front porch and took down a couple of weeds which had grown to four feet, hiding the peony bushes. The hand trowel proved insufficient to get the roots out, so I got the big shovel. Not difficult at all.

For the third time this year I found the yuccas needed more trimming; in previous years I’ve only had to deal with them once. Yucca Corner was almost weed-free, but I hauled off 40 or 50 dead fronds. From there I went to the west side, where another yucca hides a sewer pipe of some kind, six inches of PVC with a cap on it. And there I found another of the giant weeds, plus a third type of invasive vine that chokes off everything it winds around. I have declared war on it this year, I hate that thing.

By the time I was done, the entire perimeter of my house was free and clear. The daylilies survived the transplant, I didn’t molest any of the tulip bulbs in the same beds; it’s like having a clean living room and dining room plus a sparkly kitchen, except they’re outside.

So I decided to reward myself with a steak dinner. Went to the grocery, found a strip steak on sale, came home and grilled it on the side porch. Didn’t do much of anything to it, just some garlic salt and pepper, but it was fantastic. I baked a big Idaho potato (sour cream and homegrown chives) and ate it all.

I never put away that much food in a single sitting. I weigh 125 pounds soaking wet and the stomach isn’t that big. But I just kept eating and eating. So that was a highlight too.

Later I tried my hand at making some zucchini muffins. I’m good at muffins but I’ve never made zucchini bread of any kind. So I downloaded a recipe, got out my food processor to shred the squash, and whammo! Two average zucchinis and a mountain of shreds, far more than the 2 cups the recipe called for.

Turns out the recipe was written by an idiot. Two much flour, dry as a bone, not a batter at all (and I’ve made enough muffins to know). A competing recipe called for 3 cups of flour, not 4, plus 1/3 cup of orange juice. That’s what saved the experiment. My midnight snack was a warm muffin with cream cheese and I am happy as a clam.

Sometimes the best days are ones when nothing happens.++

HammockGuy

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