Friday, August 13, 2010

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

They say that when you break up after a long relationship, you shouldn’t jump right into another one. They also warn against dumping a lover or partner for a new one. “They’ve” also been telling me for months, “Jennie, you have to get a new washing machine and dryer.”

I have had a 17-year relationship with my faithful Kenmore washer and dryer. We’ve been on intimate terms since BP (Before Phil). I knew two years ago that our relationship was on the skids, but I persevered, and my washer and dryer kept on chugging along, always loyal, but beginning to make funny noises of complaint. I love my washer and dryer. Both have lived through abuse, neglect, over-loading, and being moved from place to place, never skipping a beat in their performance. I always knew I could count on them, and they never disappointed me. Until recently.

I first noticed the struggling sounds my washing machine was making about a year ago, and it wasn’t spinning the water out of the clothes the way it had in its younger days. And my dryer began leaving me little messages on my clothes, telling me that the drum was beginning to rust. I ignored them as much as possible; yet, on the sly I began doing internet research on new models. Feeling guilty, I couldn’t let them know that I was contemplating replacing them for newer “trophy” models.

Two weeks ago, when I had to turn up the volume on the tv in the living room to drown out the noise in the laundry room on the other side of the house, I knew action was required. I worked up my courage, sneaked out of the house, and drove to the nearest Sears store. A very nice and friendly salesman, Nick, was sent to me by the washing machine gods that day. I told him what I had, and what I thought I wanted in a new washer-dryer set. He showed me everything on the sales floor that came close to my list of requirements without making a single recommendation. He then let me ask questions, and answered them professionally and honestly. (I slipped in a few trick questions to make sure he was on the up-and-up). I finally decided on a Maytag set, with visions of the lonely Maytag repairman in my mind, and the deal was done.

Five days later, Nick and his co-worker, Charlie, appeared at our door with two huge boxes, ready to install my new washer and dryer. I watched as they unplugged and unhooked my old set, almost breaking into tears as I watched them roll them out of my home. An hour later, my new Maytags were ready to use, and my laundry room sparkled. As I washed my first load, I had to keep checking on the washing machine to make sure it was working. It was quiet!! The same with the dryer – I had become so accustomed to the clanking and grinding of the old ones, I was amazed at the near silent whirs and whispers that emitted from the new Maytags.

Even though I am pleased so far with my new set, I miss my old Kenmores. They are still with us, sitting in our carport, waiting to be taken to laundry room heaven. Whenever I pass them on the way to my car or to the garden, I pause to touch them and thank them for all they did for me. I also tell them I’m sorry I had to replace them! Seventeen years is a long, long time, and they never let me down.

Yes, breaking up is hard to do!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that this has been the hottest summer in Georgia history! We have had week after week of temperatures in the 90s and 100s, with no relief from the summer heat wave. I don’t ever remember a summer being this hot for this long, or one that didn’t give us a little relief from the heat at least a few times during the season. Being a warm-weather person, I’ve never complained about summer – until this year. For the first time in a long, long time, I am actually looking forward to Fall, brisk breezes, and a chill in the air.

Our garden finally succumbed to the heat, with the exception of the okra and jalapeno peppers. They thrive in hot house conditions! We have more okra than we know what to do with, and I’ve been giving it away to anyone who expresses the slightest interest in it or reveals a twinkle in the eye at the mention of fried okra. It will probably continue bearing into September, unless I go crazy and pull all of the plants up in protest for their love of this stifling heat! It looks like I’ll have jalapenos for a few more weeks, and I know that they will sell well at the Saturday market if I don’t have a use for them. I’ve been making candied jalapenos this summer, so I’ll probably make another batch of this delicious concoction before offering up peppers for sale or as gifts. The butterflies also love this last hurrah of summer, as they feast on the nectar of the okra and zinnia blossoms. The heat doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

This is the last week that the blueberry farm is open, and I am already in mourning. Yesterday morning at sunrise I was at the farm picking my last bucket of berries, knowing that it would be my last until next summer. I’ve feasted on fresh blueberries all summer long, and it’s truly a sign that summer is coming to an end when the gates close to my beloved blueberry farm. I am sad thinking about it, and it seems like a long, long time before next summer comes around again.

Yes, the Dog Days of summer are upon me, and I am tired. Tired of being outdoors at the first hint of daylight picking vegetables, tired of standing at the kitchen sink and stove half of the day preparing vegetables and fruit for preserving, tired of weeding, and tired of worrying about critters getting into my garden and feasting on the fruits of my labors. But I know that by March 2011 I’ll be excitedly planning a new garden, selecting seeds and getting them started in tiny pots indoors, wishing for days of wearing shorts and t-shirts with no layering involved in my daily attire, and longing to get my hands into the dirt. All I need are a few months of cold weather to forget these August Dog Days, and I’ll be ready for a brand new summer.

In the meantime, I think I’ll escape into my air-conditioned home for these last steamy summer days, and begin thinking about some cold weather projects, all the while giving thanks for our bulging freezers and overflowing pantries. It’s been a hot summer, but it’s been a very good one.