I'm happy here.
I do have productive hours. I've spent many, actually, grading assignments and making sure that I know enough about soil fertility to answer any questions that arise from my students. I also took resumes to a couple of nurseries last week in the hopes that they'll start hiring to support the spring gardening rush. Sure, I spend a good portion of my day being less-than-productive and wishing I had something to keep me more occupied, but I deal with those hours and find things to occupy myself with.
For example, I've been going to the beach. Clam Beach is about 7.5 miles north of here, near McKinleyville. It's a short, rather pleasant drive on the 101, that drops you right along the Pacific for some great wave watching. The weather has been around sixty degrees during the day for about a week now, which may not seem warm considering I much prefer 75+, but when the sun is shining, it sure feels amazing. I took the opportunity to break out my new macro lens and try to master it.
As you can see, I haven't used it for many true macro shots yet. But it's a great lens, so I've been using it for everything!
It was incredibly sunny the first day I went to the beach, which is how I got the photo below. Sometimes good things do happen when you shoot straight into the sun.
Here, as in the first photo, you can see where someone rode a horse across the sand. So jealous.
And I've done a teeny tiny bit of cooking. Michael and I were going to make this Mushroom Barley Soup for a potluck last weekend, but ended up running out of time. Still having all the ingredients on hand, I decided to make it a few days later.
You start by boiling 1 cup of barley in in 4 cups of water, letting it cook until the barley is tender. While that's cooking away, chop and saute one onion with two minced cloves of garlic. I did this in the bottom of my big soup pot. Then add about two carrots, peeled and diced. After the carrots had a few minutes to soften up I added the mushrooms. It's supposed to be about 8 ounces, but I just used what I had left in the fridge.
And I got these great green prep bowls as a birthday present from my mom, and you bet I'm going to use them!
To the veggie mixture I added about 4 cups of broth (I think the recipe called for more). You then add the barley and give everything a few minutes for the flavors to cook together. Spices like thyme and bay leaves are also called for, but my kitchen is sorely lacking in spices right now.
After the soup, which Michael and my roommate Mary both deemed was made better with the addition of hot sauce, I needed something a little sweet. I cut up a couple of apples, sprinkled some brown sugar over the top of them, and put them in the microwave until everything was hot and softened. Very quick, very tasty.
I feel like I should also mention the great amount of reading I've been doing--more than I can remember having the time for in years. On Friday morning I started reading Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen, and finished it Saturday morning. It just sucked me in! The fact that the plot revolves around a horse and the family farm is definitely what did it, and I thoroughly enjoyed that book!
On Sunday morning I unpacked a bit more and uncovered my Anne of Green Gables set. I've now started (and gotten more than half way through) the first book. The last time I read the series was in fifth grade--children's books, right? But no, it was written for readers of all ages, and this time around I have so much more appreciation for the beautiful language that L.M. Montgomery uses. Here are some of the quotes I've made note of so far:
Anne, on her way to Green Gables after being picked up at the train station, pointedly asks Matthew what color her hair is. When he responds "It's red, ain't it?" she launches into a sad reflection on having red hair. "Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair." And a few sentences later, when she's talking of imagining away her flaws, but not being able to imagine her hair differently, "But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow." It made me chuckle to myself, because when is red hair plain!?
We also learn about one of Anne's quirks--naming anything and everything--when Marilla asks with exasperation why Anne needed to name the geranium in the windowsill. Anne gives a great response of "How do you know but that it hurts a geranium's feelings just to be called a geranium and nothing else?" It's cute. I think this may be where I got the idea that everything needed a name. For awhile I gave my plants and cars names, though right now I don't have any plants, and my car remains unnamed!
And I just love the imagery. All of it. "Excitement hung around Anne like a garment, shone in her eyes, kindled in every feature. She had come dancing up the lane, like a wind-blown sprite, through the mellow sunshine and lazy shadows of the August evening."
In closing, here are a couple of photos from our trip to the beach on Saturday.