Making myself (un)comfortable

Beach babes

Ah, summer — you snuck on in and just made yourself comfortable.

After possibly the strangest spring of all time, Maryland’s hazy days and humid nights have settled in. Lifting some restrictions placed during the COVID-19 crisis has meant we could finally see the family we’ve missed so much in the last few months. I met my baby nephew (and can’t put him down)! Work at the hospital has pivoted from all coronavirus, all the time, to a few daily tasks as we resume some regular operations.

Normal life is slowly seeping back in, filling in the cracks of pandemic life.

Whatever “normal” means, anyway.

In many ways, of course, nothing feels normal right now. And it shouldn’t. Protests against racial injustice continue across the nation and world. The idea that it’s not enough to be simply “not racist” — that we must, instead, be anti-racist — has definitely changed my perspective lately. It’s gotten me thinking … and remembering times in which I should have said more, done more, been braver.

My own work will be partially in embracing discomfort and having hard conversations — with others and myself. It’s going to be in raising thoughtful, open, big-hearted children. And stepping forward when it would feel much safer to hang back.

And so, like always, I turn to books. I read to learn and grow and look beyond my bubble. My TBR is constantly expanding. Next up? Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. And there’s plenty more in store.

At home, we take it day by day. Spence continues to work from home with Oliver and Hadley until our daycare center reopens. While I’m eager for the kids to see their friends and get back into routines, it’s scary to imagine taking them back out into the world. Surreal, even.

I don’t know what this summer will look like. None of us do. But in processing what the last few months have meant, I return again and again to this poem by Leslie Dwight — likely circulating in a social media feed near you:

What if 2020 isn't cancelled

So far 2020 has been nothing if not uncomfortable, but it is time to grow.

I’ll keep reaching toward the sunlight.

 

Grilled corn and tomatoes with a honey lime dressing

Roasted corn

Come Saturday morning, you’d be hard-pressed to find me somewhere other than the farmers’ market.

Given we have a stroller and adorably demanding human in tow these days, those trips have to be a bit more planned out . . . but since Oliver has been cleared for public strolls, we try to pack the little guy up and head out.

We were housebound for a while there — and the last time I made it to our local market, we had a choice of zucchini, squash and a few paltry peppers. This past weekend? Well, friends, it was a veritable smorgasbord . . . and I went hog wild.

Cherry tomatoes.
Watermelon.
Cantaloupe.
Blueberries.
Tomatoes so fat, you want to bite right in.

And after picking up half a dozen ears of corn for our little Fourth of July barbeque at home, I remembered a simple corn and tomato side dish I whipped up a few times last year. Like this cucumber and onion salad, this dish is light and fresh and comes together in no time flat.

Especially valuable when the little person inside the aforementioned stroller has a meltdown.

The original recipe calls for the addition of avocado, but I didn’t have any on hand — so I skipped it. It’s delicious without, so I’m imagining it’s even better with!


Grilled Corn and Tomatoes
with a Honey Lime Dressing

Ingredients:
1 pint grape tomatoes
4 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, or 1 tbsp dried cilantro

For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Remove husks from corn and grill over medium heat for 10 minutes. (The corn should have some brown spots and be tender, but not mushy.) Cut the corn off the cob and remove silks. Set aside to cool. Slice tomatoes in half.

To make the dressing, add all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Combine the sliced tomatoes, cilantro and grilled corn with the honey lime dressing and mix gently until evenly coasted. Chill the dish for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious


Simple summer side: cucumber + sweet-onion salad

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We’ve had an embarrassment of cucumbers lately.

Our new tradition of hitting the farmers’ market on the weekend brought us three of them for $2 — a steal! — and they’ve been patiently hanging out in our new fruit bowl since Saturday. Spencer came home with two more from a friend’s garden on Tuesday, bringing our total of OMG-HUGE vegetables to five.

Martha Stewart to the rescue, it seems! With some quick Googling, my husband found this recipe for cucumber and sweet-onion salad, and it is light, refreshing summer deliciousness.

And now nothing will go to waste. Just the way nature intended it, I think.

Between you and me? Um, we didn’t exactly have fresh dill or freshly-squeezed lemon juice . . . so we improvised with a dried variety as well as lemon from a bottle. The results were still great. In case, like me, you don’t feel like hitting the grocery store.

Just don’t tell Martha.


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Cucumber and Sweet-Onion Salad

Ingredients:
3 English cucumbers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss together cucumbers, onion, dill, oil, lemon juice, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.

(Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food)


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Dog days of summer

Dogs


The summer has been crazy. My brain is like a sieve this morning. Between getting up at 4 a.m. Saturday for a lighthouse cruise and getting up at 3 a.m. yesterday for an amateur radio flea market two hours away (I read while Spencer sold stuff), I am off to work . . . barely able to form a coherent thought. I need more diet soda. Please excuse this random post.

But I wanted to share this photo of three dogs on a raft with you. I took it last weekend on a rare day when I was actually sitting poolside, steadfastly not burying my face in dessert and trying not to freak out as Spence tried to teach me to “swim.” (Despite years of lessons as a kid, no, I can’t swim.)

They’re my sister’s fiance’s dogs. They’re cute. I totally have a favorite . . . and he definitely doesn’t like me as much as I like him. (Buster, in the foreground — and refusing to look at me. Typical.)


Summer sunflowers

in a field of sunflowers


Much as my mom and I make an annual pilgrimage to document the cherry blossoms in Washington each spring, finding a hidden field of these bright sunflowers has become a project in the summer. This was our second year driving up to McKee-Beshers and, I’m pleased to note, they were much easier to find than last year.

The heat and humidity were oppressive and, honestly, I’m not much fun to be around when hot and sticky. I whine — like, a lot. Thankfully only parents were around to hear my nonsense because, you know, they’re used to it. I don’t want to tip my annoying hand in front of Spencer mere months before the wedding.

(Kidding — he’s totally used to my crankiness! He gives me a Diet Coke and it goes away. Miraculous.)

So the sunflowers this year were definitely in full bloom, soaking in the sunshine and hosting a million bees. We snapped pictures for 45 minutes before the bug infestation was threatening to give me a conniption and, admitting defeat, we headed off to dinner. The storm clouds that had threatened all day finally rolled in on our drive home — but we made it!


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What’s the big deal about sunflowers? They’re cheery. Happy. Vibrant. Seeing such a cluster of them is enough to elicit gasps from the most stone-hearted in any group, and “cluster” is a bit of an understatement at McKee-Beshers. As we wandered around with our cameras, other families and photographers filtered into the open area.

I think it’s in our DNA to feel upbeat in a field of flowers.

Minus the bees.


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