29 January, 2009

An Abundance of Life

It's hot. No, that's not right. It's blisteringly hot. Yes, that nearly covers it. With "vacation" winding to a close on the Suburban Plot, we find ourselves in the belly of a record-breaking beast of a heatwave. In just the past two days we've scaled thermal heights I thought impossible outside of Death Valley, seeing temperatures of 122 F (50 C) in sunshine, 113 F (45 C) in the shade. Oh yes, it's hot. But, though life may struggle in the heat, it does not vanish or even pause for very long.

In the weeks since New Year's, despite our efforts to avoid all forms of work or change, we've been repeatedly visited by the all powerful Fairy of All Things Living. She has beaten us over the head with her magic stick of Lots-n-Lots, and we've surrendered to her will.

The first thwack of the fairy's wand came on January 9th when our beloved kelpie-cross dog, Laney, began panting and scratching, plodding and pacing, and gave birth to her litter of unexpected puppies. Hubby and I had placed bets on the date and size of delivery many times in the days following Christmas, but all such things come in their own time (and number). The husband was banking on three, possibly four pups. I put my money closer to seven. Neither of us had any notion that we'd soon be playing host to eight little wrinkly balls of canine cuteness. But, out they came, and our evenings have never been more amusing.

The little fluffballs, now three weeks old, are smelly, and noisy, and pee on just about anything, but then they lick your chin or roll over for a bit of belly scratching, and all is forgiven. We have five weeks more with seven of these eight critters (we're keeping one), and I'm positive it will be a laughter-filled adventure.

One might think adding eight living creatures to our home might be enough to appease the Abundance Fairy, but no! She came back for a second swat just days after the puppies breathed their first. She brought with her a staggering near 13 kilos (28 pounds) of apricots. Our huge, ancient "Plum-ricot" grafted tree, for the first time in hubby's recollection of his five years here, burst forth with enough fruit to keep us well stocked for over a year.

But, wait—There's more! Unsatisfied with my hours of jam stirring, chopping, blanching and packaging, that crafty fairy thought it great fun to toss in over 22 kilos (49 pounds) of tomatoes! So, it was onto evenings spent with the husband, dicing tomatoes for jar upon jar of fresh red, green, and black beauties, and some of the best marinara sauce I've ever made.

Content with what small respite we've enjoyed since the holidays, the deluge of home-and-garden goodness has prompted my enthusiastic return to the blogosphere and all the wonderful people she holds. The next few posts will delve into the dirty details of all we've done in our month off from home improvement and online interactions. I'll be posting photos of the finished (and semi-finished) rooms of our house, recipes for our recently harvested produce, a view into our new, lighter summer breakfast, and how we're managing to keep our garden alive through such murderous heat.

The bread dough is calling for a punch and knead, so that is the end, for today. I do hope you'll rejoin our journey and continue to share yours as well. Oh, and Margo? I haven't forgotten you, and will happily post my Honey Cornbread recipe in the next couple days.