Maybe it’s all the wildfire smoke that has settled into the valley for a couple of weeks now that has me feeling blah. I haven’t seen the mountains for days. The smoke is now so thick that I can barely see the mountain west of town that is barely 1 mile from my house. The photo above was taken yesterday; today it’s even worse. It’s been hot, too, but I can’t open the windows at night because it smells so strongly of smoke outside. I haven’t ridden my bike to work this week because the air quality is listed as “unhealthy.” Today the air quality is “very unhealthy,” which I suspected it would be given how oppressive it is outside. I want to work in the garden, need to work in the garden, but I don’t want to be out in it, coughing, sneezing, and watery-eyed. I’ve got cabin fever. A cold front is supposed to move through this evening, and I hope it will blow some of the smoke out of here, if only for a day, but it is entirely possible that the smoke will be with us until fall moves in. I’m not happy thinking about this possibility. So I try not to.
Things are happening in the garden and I feel like I’m missing them. My artichokes are blooming and the bees are going NUTS. I spent a few minutes last night watching them head dive into the blossoms, drunk on nectar and pollen. Each blossom has at least half a dozen bees on it, so it feels a little voyeuristic watching this bee orgy taking place in my front yard. But it also makes me happy to see my little pollinator friends enjoying the last throws of summer before the long winter begins to slowly take over here.
I think part of my blahs also stem from the fact that I have gotten to go nowhere this summer. This is the first time in 4 years that I haven’t had field work–which is what I wanted so I could devote time to the garden–but every single planned camping trip has been stymied for one reason or another. This means I have literally been stuck at home for the last 4 months. I’m going stir crazy. Yesterday a friend at work texted me “Are you upstairs?” Thirty seconds later she was in my cubicle. She was having a rough day. She recently got a promotion and a couple of other women she works with turned on her and have been acting very nasty towards her since learning of her promotion. She is a “traitor” and “back-stabber” now, according to these women. That is not at all the case, but my poor friend still has to work in close quarters with these women who won’t look at her or speak to her. What petty shit. So I asked her, “Would you like to go on a backpacking trip with me?” Her face lit up with an emphatic “YES!” We both need to get away, so in a couple of weeks we are taking a 3 day weekend and heading for the high country. The wildfire smoke hasn’t been bad where we are planning to go, so it will also be nice to get away from the haze for a few days and just hike and commune with the outdoors.
Another reason I need to get away? I feel like I’m having a mid-life crisis. I’m about to go part-time at work. This is at my request, but it’s because my position is funded entirely by soft money, and we are running out of projects and money. And, as we just cut one person, my going part time was inevitable anyway. I secured a part-time job at a local bakery, but I had to turn it down, at least for a few weeks, because I’m still full time for another month. I’ll still be at 70% full-time after October 1, but that’s so I can keep my health benefits until Hubby can add me to his plan in January. After that I’ll probably go to 10% full-time if there’s any work left for me to do, which is entirely up in the air at this point. I’m hopeful the bakery will call me when they get busy this fall, but there are no guarantees. I struggled with just going ahead and taking the job, but I’d be working 60-65 hours/week, and that is just not possible right now, in part because…
We learned last week that Stinker blew out her CCA in her knee. This is the same as the ACL in a human. She’s already had one knee replacement, so we’ve been waiting 6 years for the other knee to blow out. And it finally happened last month. We haven’t been able to go for hikes or runs in 6 weeks, so she’s got cabin fever as well. If it weren’t for her limp, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong–she’s just the same happy, smiley dog she’s always been. It was a difficult decision to make to go ahead with the surgery, in part because it’s expensive and in part because she is 10 years old. But the blood work showed that she’s in good health, though a few pounds overweight still, and the vet had no reservations about her coming through the surgery in fine form. It will be worth it if, by this fall, she can go for hikes in the hills again, and most importantly, romp in the snow this winter. Since Stinker is so active, and a little bit stubborn, I plan to work from home this next month so I can keep her contained, help her in and out of the house to potty, and make sure she doesn’t slip and destroy her knee on our hardwood floors. Another reason why the bakery job was bad timing right now.
Despite my job uncertainties, I did make our last student loan payment this week. YAY! It’s nice to know that won’t be hanging over our heads this winter after my income drops. Hubby has been so supportive of me while I try to figure out what to do with my life. I really want to do my own thing with gardening, and I think this fall/winter will give me time to hash it all out. In the meantime, Hubby says I should just “ski my brains out” this winter while I have the opportunity. I think I’ll take him up on that offer and just enjoy a little break from full-time work while I work through my mid-life crisis, or whatever it is. I can spend my evenings working on my book, which is coming along slowly, but steadily. I’ve got nearly 22,000 words written, which feels like a hella lot to me, but it’s merely a drop in the bucket. The book is a memoir about a paleontology trip I took some 15 years ago, when I was a field technician looking for fossil invertebrates (and ended up having one named after me). I kept an extensive journal of the trip, and it’s been a lot of fun going back through that journal, the photos, and looking at the maps of where we were to bring everything together into a cohesive story that I hope someone will want to read.
I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately. I harvested all of my corn at the community garden and froze several bags of it. I’m drying tomatoes, I made pepper jam and watermelon jelly, and I’ve been shredding and freezing zucchini so I can make zucchini bread all winter. I still have several large squash clubs that need to be eaten/shredded. Since my eggplant is probably not going to produce this summer, I’ve decided to use some of the giant zucchini in place of eggplant to make zucchini parmesan. I’m planning to do this for dinner tomorrow night. And I’ll make more zucchini tater tots because they were just so good. I’m also planning to make baked mac ‘n cheese bites. True comfort food. It’s a comfort food kind of weekend for me.