Despite all of the "opinions" I have been writing lately, it has been a happy summer break. I would like to note that my summer vacation only started about a week and a half ago, so that's what I am talking about.
Since turning in my last assignment, I have been able to spend time on the things I like. I have been able to at least partially organize my office - you can now move around in it, and if you can't find something, there are rationally-thrown-together piles in which you can look. (A pile of clothing, a pile of things to sew, a pile of papers, a few boxes of stuff that are organized (such as box of wires), and a few boxes of "unsorted stuff that isn't papers or clothing or office supplies or belongs in the kitchen or bathroom."
I have had time to read on the bus, even though some days my brain is so tired that all I can comprehend are cookbooks and my free magazines from Oregon's tourism board (or whatever they call it.)
Since summer classes ended, I have been working five days a week and starting earlier, which means I am on a different bus route. My morning bus driver is so friendly, I wrote a note to TriMet to tell them about it. It's not just that it's nice to have someone say, "Good morning" to you, it's that it's nice to hear that person be sincerely friendly to other people. I think it puts most of the passengers in a good mood, which makes the ride more enjoyable for all of us.
Going to work an hour earlier wouldn't usually make me tired, if I hadn't been working on projects so much when I got home. Sometimes, my new roommate and I undertake organization or cleaning projects, assembling things from IKEA and then filling them with the contents of our box city. Other times, I or we are spending a lot of time cooking, but then we have leftovers later in the week. Other other times, we are canning and preserving. We have canned marionberry salsa, marionberry chipotle sauce, sour cherry pickles, and tomato salsa.
I keep walking away from the computer in the middle of typing this. Since I started writing, I have taken a shower, eaten breakfast, gone to the farmers market, made several phone calls to New Jersey checking on the status of Hurricane Irene, picked most of the tomatoes off of the dehydrator trays, and eaten lunch. So I am going to wrap this up.
The tomatoes can be a good thing to talk about, briefly, as a small sample of my (potentially our) happiness. We have made so many good salads. We have dehydrated all that our dehydrator could hold. (We have not canned any whole or frozen any, not yet. We need another box.) The best two salads have been a vegan version of my grandmere's tomato and egg salad (subbing avocado for some of the egg and soft tofu lightly sauteed in canola oil with asafoetida and mustard seed for the rest of the egg - some people thought it WAS hardboiled egg whites) and #15 of Mark Bittman's summer salads from two years ago. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro. I love this — the tomato juice-soy thing is incredible. I have been on a toasted sesame oil kick this summer, and I ran out. So I toasted some sesame seeds and mixed them with cheap-o Hy-Top brand canola oil. Guess what? It worked! We had cilantro from WinCo (not only is it $0.38, but it lasts forever. Why is this? Is WinCo cilantro radioactive or something?) and Thai basil in the roof garden.
Another small thing that represents all of my big happiness is that Thai basil. This is the first summer that I have managed to plant Thai basil and actually get it to grow. I have a large plant. And now that I have so much of it, I am overwhelmed. I am at a loss for what to do with it. Aside from making a big Thai feast, or tossing it into small salads, I don't know what to do with it besides admire its purple and green beauty.
I am reading good books, but more on that later.