Saturday, August 23, 2008

Backyard wildlife

I think it is so cute when our bunny stretches up on its hindlegs:

And here he brought a friend (Did you hear that?):

The birds love it when I put on the sprinkler, and they fluff out all their feathers (I'm huge):

Doesn't this cardinal just look fussy?

Summer bounty and a cooking frenzy

It's the bountiful harvest time! (Most of) Tuesday's garden harvest:
Four different types of tomatoes (and the Roma tomatoes haven't even ripened yet), two types of eggplant (the round orange ones with green stems look like tomatoes, but they are eggplant), golden raspberries, and one cucumber. I also picked blackberries, but gave them to our neighbors. But what to do with the rest? Well, I tried my hand at making homemade pizza for the first time. I've always been intimidated by making the crust, but Q swears it isn't hard, so I figured I'd give it a go. I made four small pizzas (California style), using a whole wheat crust. Two were eggplant (using the small purple eggplants), goat cheese, tomato sauce (homemade by Q two years ago), and mozzarella:

And two were fresh tomatoes (the three types of cherry tomatoes), fresh basil (from the garden, but not in the above picture), and fresh mozzarella:

They were both very good (I think the eggplant one came out especially well), so I count my first pizzas as a success. They take a long time to make, though, so I doubt this will be a regular activity. I also made a lemon-raspberry quickbread:

I haven't tried it yet, so I can't say whether it came out well or not. And I made another batch of blueberry muffins (probably the last blueberries from the farmer's market for the summer), and last night I made banana cupcakes. I'm planning a blackberry coffee cake, as well. I think I need more people to eat all this stuff! Lunch, anyone?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Resisting completion

I have always found it much easier to start projects than to finish them. New projects are exciting and full of possibilities. I can dream about what I could do and how it will look when it is finished. I get excited about the vision of the final product. I pull out materials, look at designs, consider alternatives. This part is fun and can last a long time. Then at some point I get inspired to start -- I cut into the fabric, I sew together some of the pieces. At some point the project stalls. Maybe I can't figure out one step of the instructions. Maybe I can't decide what color to use for the binding. Maybe I just get too busy with other things. Then the project may languish for months or years before I get back to it. At that point, the enthusiasm has faded; the bloom is off the rose. While I still have the vision for the project, there is less impetus to keep moving on it. I'll often put the project away and start something else. While I do occasionally come back to an old project and work on it, sometimes even finishing it, I have all-too-many incomplete projects (I hesitate to even call them works-in-progress) to testify to this pattern.

In the last few months, I've been trying to revisit old projects and complete them -- to clear the boards for the new academic year. The unfinished projects have started to feel like an albatross around my neck (and no, it doesn't come with wafers). Plus, I am sick of feeling guilty about the incomplete projects, and I want to be able to have something to show for the work I have done.

I've made some headway -- I finished two house-painting projects, and I'm pleased with how they came out. But I've also figured out one reason I resist finishing projects. When something is finished, its possibilities are complete. It is all it will ever be, for good or ill. And sometimes (many times?), it is for ill. I finished two skirts, and while they are well constructed, they just don't look good on me. My vision was not realized, and the work seems wasted. Frankly, it's disheartening and depressing. I would rather have the incomplete project, with its dream of beauty, than the completed object, with its flawed reality.

I guess I understand why someone might be a dreamer -- having your head in the clouds means you don't have to see the dirt you're kicking up behind you.

I know that I have to be prepared that some projects won't work out the way I thought. I know that everyone has a certain "crap quota" -- we need to make a lot of bad stuff to get to the good stuff. I know that I should see these as learning experiences and think about what I could do differently next time. I know that it doesn't mean that I'm incompetent. I know that (in theory) I can make things that do fulfill my vision and make my heart sing. I know.

But in the meantime, maybe I'll just dream up a new project and live in its possibilities. What's so great about finishing things, anyway? Shouldn't we just enjoy the journey? ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


When I was younger, I used to have nightmares of physical threat. I was chased, or menaced, or injured, or even killed. My nightmares these days involve being unable to complete a task. I am trying to do something, but I can't do it for one reason or another -- there are obstacles I can't overcome or other tasks intervene. I am striving and I just can't get to the goal. (Remember Giles' dream in the Buffy dream sequence, where he can't finish his song because he has to follow the electrical cord? I resonated to that.)

My classic nightmare now is teaching-related. Last night I dreamed that I was teaching my big intro psych class at Georgetown and couldn't get the Powerpoint file open. I was perpetually trying to take attendance (which I don't even do at GU), and music and video files kept spontaneously playing and distracting the students, no matter how many times I closed them. I was acutely aware of losing the class time and the attention of the students.

Why this theme? Is is the lack of completion, a failure to do what I'm trying to do, touching on issues of generativity? Or perhaps it is an attack on my competence, a failure of my abilities. It might even touch on broader fears of being unable to control my environment, a common fear. And of course, there is usually a frisson of public humiliation to add to the mix, although I don't feel that this is the main concern.

What are your main nightmares at this point in your life?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hummingbird sighting

When I went out to set up the sprinkler this morning, I saw a hummingbird in our yard. This is the first summer I've seen a hummingbird in our yard, and it's the second time I've seen one this summer, so maybe it is in residence somewhere close by. Yay! I love the diversity of birds in our yard -- cardinals, robins, mourning doves, finches, wrens, and grackles (I think?) are regulars, with bluejays and crows coming through on occasion. And what are the birds that make so much noise at night in this area? I don't know what species are nocturnal in this area.