Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bye Bye, Summer

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Well, after a last week of September with temperatures upward of 90 degrees each day, fall has at last descended. My husband spent a good part of the early day closing the pool. But not before Evie, our mutant springer spaniel, had a last dip and doggie paddle laps retrieving a ball. It feels odd looking out from our screened-in deck over the ugly green pool cover, which looks somewhat like a humongous green mushroom in place of clear water against the blue-tiled effect of the pool wall. It’ll be a while before I get used to the sight. Before the cover comes off, though, snow will transform the mushroom into an enormous cake with white icing.

Fall is an absolutely beautiful season here in southern New England, where the foliage can be breathtaking in colors of fire and ocher, red and fading green. Leaf peepers from out of state or out of area make it difficult to get away for weekend trips, as our favorite inn in Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner” is always booked solid. But why go anywhere when, all around our yard, colors blaze under a crystal blue sky in the last hurrah of summer sun and dry autumn air? Our little veggie garden remains vital, vines heavy with ripening tomatoes; peppers; chard, and herbs. Soon they’ll wither and die in the shortening hours of daylight and chilly nights. But for the next couple of weeks, they’ll continue to ripen.

photo by Tim Brown
I don’t exactly hate autumn. Why should I? The weather’s penchant for perfection rivals only those days in early June when the sun is warming, nourishing; the world is finally green again after a long winter and filled with the fragrance of wild roses. Our garden shows promise in June, and that promise leads to the gastronomic anticipation of perfectly ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, olive oil and a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction. Those promises are only now being fulfilled.

I’ll miss summer. It’s my favorite season and always has been. Maybe it has something to do with those days way back when. As a kid, I hated the end of summer, the conclusion of those active, fun filled days spent outdoors from morning till night (with time out for lunch) and then after supper until dusk transitioned into dark and one-by-one we’d each follow the sound of our mother’s voice calling us home. There were fireflies and fireworks, days and the beach and barbecues, baseball games and cousin parties.

Following my public school days, I spent seven of the next nine years in college and graduate school getting a BFA and an MFA, then four of the next six years either teaching or living in an academic environment. My life from five until fourty-something revolved mostly around a school calendar. I loved having my kids at home all day during their summer breaks when they were young, even with the seemingly endless pool parties, the trails of wet feel and dripping bathing suits through the house, the platters of PBJ and tuna sandwiches, watermelon slices and ice cream cones. My husband, who taught theater in middle and high school, retired last June after 39 years. The end of summer fills me with sadness and nostalgia.

Seasons come and go so quickly these days. That is a drawback to getting older, I suppose. Where does the time go? The kids are grown, the grandson recently turned five, and the zucchinis and summer squash are spent. Soon we’ll have a frost and children in Wonder Woman and Kylo Ren costumes will come around for tricks or treats. 

Thanksgiving will be upon us before we know, and all too shortly afterwards, we’ll celebrate the beginning of a New Year. It’ll be cold for months. Snow will pile up, and I’ll dress in multiple layers, thick, warm socks and sheepskin boots. Spring won’t come soon enough…and then it’ll be fall again 😒

In the meanwhile, I will savor my Caprese Salad with the warm, juicy, delicious taste of summer.

photo from The Pioneer Woman
Recipe for Caprese Salad

2 Large red, vine-ripened tomatoes (preferably freshly picked) thickly sliced

1 ½ Cups balsamic vinegar

10 oz. mozzarella (preferably fresh) thickly sliced

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Olive oil to drizzle

Salt and pepper to taste

Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan for 10 – 20 minutes over medium-low heat until it’s a thick syrup. Pour into a small bowl or cruet to cool.

On a platter, alternate slices of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction. Garnish with basil leaves.



Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan’s Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad,  an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her BWL Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book from a variey of online retailers, and in paperback.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Cats Make You Talk Dumb
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This bit of observation came from my youngest when he was somewhere around five. He was angelic, blonde and small for his age, and his remark regarding all the “Tum-tum pusseh-wusseh! Paw-weh-cious puddy! Tum, Sweetie! Come up here'n' be Mommie’s baaaay-beh” stuff that he heard around the house has stayed with me over the years. 

Bast with her kittens, Brooklyn Museum

In those days, the adorable cat to whom we “talked dumb” was a slim, elegant black girly-girl named Bap. Her original (1970's Cool) name was Bast, after everyone’s favorite Egyptian goddess. However, “Bast” was more than two-year old Jesse could get his lips around, so “Bap” he called her and soon the rest of the family was calling her “Bap” too. 

Half a squirrel is better than...?

We’re usually a multiple cat household—“like potato chips, you can’t stop at one.”  These days, we host a mere two. B0B is our gray striped tiger, the terror of the neighborhood wild critters unlucky enough to attract his laser-green gaze and lightning fast claws. Our “joke” this spring was: “B0B! Wipe that bunny off your face before you come in this house!”  I have no idea how there can be another generation after all the body bits I’ve cleaned off the porch, but somehow, after  nine years in residence, he still hasn’t got them all. Astonishingly, somehow, each year, a few wily rabbits survive. Then, in spring, there are the little bodies again, pitiful innocents. 

Cat #2 is Kimi, fluffy, blonde, a rescue we were gifted. She arrived as a PTSD sufferer, so for the first few years, we hardly ever saw her. She was variously referred to as “Basement Cat,” “Dementia” or just “Stop that Damned Hissing!”  She showed up to eat, but touching/grooming by her human caretakers was pretty much forbidden—or, when these services were finally allowed, only permitted within a carefully circumscribed set of her own, often mystifying, rules. 

Traumatized Newbie

Then, suddenly, about seven months ago, all this changed. I think it was the daily-imposed-by-me-despite-the-bloody-scratches grooming ritual that finally ground down her resistance to human handling. (Long-haired cats must be groomed, or there will be vet bills you don’t even want to imagine.) She still has  rules about patting, but she’s as likely as not to be over here while I’m busily typing, trailing her fluffy tail seductively along my leg, or standing a little way off, repeatedly calling with her particularly desperate meeeoooow until I am compelled to spend time sitting on the floor to do the dedicated petting she now craves. She’s even jumped up to stand on the keyboard while I’m trying to finish/edit the soon to be published Fly Away Snow Goose —“jes' wike um’s a wee-eel too-woo kitty!”       

Happy Ending

~~Juliet Waldron
Canadian Brides, historicals from Books We Love
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