That's what a neighbor said to me this weekend, and she's right. This summer has been unusual, for sure. I was selected for grand jury service, which in DC lasts 5 long weeks. No days off, 9:00 to 5:00, Monday thru Friday. An hour for lunch, and 2 15-minute breaks. Sounds like a fun way to spend the hottest month of the year, right?
I spent 5 weeks in this building. I started to feel like a prisoner after a while. On the plus side, I feel like I got a course in law and criminology. I learned about things I've only seen on TV... the cycle of violence is something I'm still trying to wrap my head around.
One of the most challenging aspects of jury duty, was to spend all day in a room with 22 strangers. Some of them were VERY strange, indeed. I spent some of my down-time sketching in these accordion books.
Here are my sketches. The books were passed around the room many times -- it seems people found it amusing that I passed the time with something besides crossword puzzles and soduko.
When I got bored with drawing, I crocheted granny squares. Yes, I'm sure my fellow jurors found me odd.
On the weekends I tried my best to keep up with my usual August canning schedule, but I was just too tired most of the time, and I've only canned about half of what I did last year.
We took 3 trips to Rehoboth Beach in August. I needed the mental break. I like to think the waves washed all the horror stories out of my head.
Besides, there's nothing a gorgeous day at the beach, Thrasher fries and Grotto pizza can't fix.
I have to go back for 2 recall days in September. Hopefully I'll start feeling normal again soon.
I like to kick off the tomato-sauce-making season with roasted sauce. It's perfect when you have a fair amount of tomatoes, but now enough to justify going through all the effort of canning. I found this recipe years ago in Everyday Food (you're the best, Martha), and have made it countless times since.
I start by coating my pans with plenty of olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper, then layer sliced onions, and halved & cored tomatoes. Add a little more oil on top, and toss them in the oven.
After about an hour or so they look like this.
I let them cool on the counter for a bit, and then pinch off the tomato skins.
Then I toss everything in a pot, and break out the emulsion blender. (This is the best thing ever -- and so cheap!)
Sometimes I puree just a little bit, and sometimes I make it smooth. I let it cook down for a little while, then let it cool and get it ready for the freezer. Damn, it's good!
Last fall I planted garlic for the first time. It was really easy. Following directions I found online, I used different garlic heads from farmer's markets, broke them up into cloves, and planted them at the end of the season (it's tradition to plant them on the shortest day of the year). Sure enough, they came up this spring.
I planted them among my herbs, but they were easy to spot.
Again following online advice, I pulled them when the stalks were brown about a 1/3 of the way.
Now all that's left is to cure them (dry them out).
Pretty cool, huh? I'm going to plant a ton of these next year!
Three years ago I planted four clematis plants around our light post. I understand they need a few years to establish themselves--well, it looks like they're fully established, because this year they're just gorgeous.
The light post is wrapped with chicken wire so that the plants have something to attach themselves to.
Here's a close-up of the four different colored flowers.