Friday, September 5, 2008

Summer of My Sloth

Pneumonia can be dangerous. This I knew. But I never knew how dangerous. Oh, not necessarily to lung and life. I've pretty much recovered with only an occasional annoyance in the pulmonary department. And the on-hand elecampagne tincture has kept that nicely under control. No. It is in other ways that pneumonia has proved dangerous. You see, after that memorable bout at Christmas, pneumonia revealed to me that life can go on quite oblivious to the fact that there are dust mice under the bed. Stacks of games teetering ominously and with sometimes disastrous outcomes in the closet. Piles of books unattended. Light feebly poking through grimy, neglected windows. Cobwebs left to be co-opted by successive generations of spiders. Lawns left unmowed for extended periods of time, much to the chagrin of the neighbors, but somehow unmoving me. Prior to being ill, I'd pushed myself through my self-assigned work with uncharacteristic discipline, as if I could make everything in life right as long as I kept to my tasks and did "what needed to be done." It was almost compulsive and I could be rather rigid about it. I remember wondering what I'd done with my days before all of this had come to be. I'm starting to remember what I did.

I read mountains of novels.

I played computer games. Compulsively. Just like I do everything else.

I slept late.

I watched videos.

I stared off into space.

Oh, yeah. That's what it felt like...

It's become rather hard to snap myself out of it. To resume the traces and re-discipline myself to those hard habits. Even in gardening I've become quite slack. When it became clear that my garden wasn't going to be performing up to previous years, I decided to live and let live with whatever decided to poke up. Ironically or perhaps to the point, what volunteered actually performed better than what I'd so carefully planned, started, and cultivated. There's probably a lesson to be learned here. I'm meditating on that possibility.

I don't know where this volunteer came from. A friend of mine gave me a couple of yellow zucchini squash from her abundance last year--I'd never heard of yellow zucchini before--but I thought we'd eaten it all. I have no recollection of having any seed of which I'd disposed. And somehow...the largest profile that dominates my garden is the volunteer yellow zucchini squash, producing in characteristic zucchini fashion.

Squash is, along with beans, one of those foods that never seemed to come up on the "crave" list among the Hobbits. No winsome appeals for "just some more squash, Mom!" Philistines. But they do like crispy, crunchy stuff. Salty stuff. Potato chips. That sort of thing. Having recently joined a foodie list on preserving foods, I sit and observe the conversations and technical discussions on the vicissitudes of dehydrating zucchini. Now I'm rolling up my sleeves to try my hand. A lot, it seems depends on the width of the slice, the length and temperature of the dehydrating process and the storage of the end product. Zucchini has humectant qualities, which will attract moisture from the environment to rehydrate itself. to this end, I've found it helpful to insert a dessicate pack, usually scavanged from an empty bottle of supplements, into the jar before vacuum sealing it.

Dehydrating these is one of those endless variables, kinds of things. I generally dehydrate between 100-150* depending on what I'm drying and how quickly I want it done. This time around, in a bit of a hurry, I dried on 150* for 3-4 hours after sprinkling salt over the very thin chips. Having opted for a thinner chip, the end product was a bit difficult to peel off of the drying trays. I learned to pull them up while they were still a bit leathery. Tedious, perhaps, but less tedious than trying to pull fully dried chips off that stuck and cracked like parchment. Individual taste and projected use can dictate how thick or how crispy one wants the final product to be.

I called the Hobbits around for a test drive. Dog and Tool Guy thought they were great, while the other two--unable to surmount the "but it's squash" obstacle--didn't care for them. Tool Guy remarked that this left more for him and left fewer people to fight with over them. Heh. Some you win, some you lose.

Summer draws to a close. My to-do list calls to me reproachfully and I gird my loins to do what must needs be done. Time to slough the sloth.


Anonymous said...

Amazing! This year you and I have had the same experience. A prolonged illness can teach you that one does not have to be able to actually eat off the floor. After all, it's only an expression. LOL!!!!

Deborah said...

I love your blog and wanted to let you know that I "gave" you a blog award on my blog, which is today.

Loztnausten said...

Thanks for your comments and your endorsement. :) The yarn on your blog is absolutely of these days, I'm getting back to knitting and spinning has always been one of the things I'd love to try my hand at!