Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Spiders.

I believe in karma, not quite to a religious extent but I believe in the attraction of similar energies and the balance of positive and negative forces.  Specifics surrounding these ideas have changed as I've grown older but the basic premise has held solid for about twenty years.  Whether those concepts are accurate under the definition of "karma" I am unsure, but it is the term I use and the one most generally fitting for general purpose.

Since moving to Texas my exposure to insects has dramatically increased which has led to greater bug tolerance.  Much of this is due to organic pest control, a practice shared with me by a woman I met through an art guild a while back.  This resulted in keeping house spiders in strategic areas around the house to catch bugs.  In areas I once meticulously vacuumed I now maintain spiders and their webs which I see as bellwethers for what seasonal insects are around and where they are originating.  If I begin to see a problem I have no hesitation bringing out the giant jug of Ortho Home Defense spray and eliminating it.  But I keep the spiders.

My spiders are markedly house spiders who have a home and stay in it.  When I see an obvious outdoor spider indoors I will kill it usually without hesitation.  I will also destroy the egg sacks of my kept spiders, only because I once witnessed the hatching of one and it looked like an epic CGI version of spiders boldly jumping from the sky like soldiers on D-Day.

My favorite spiders are the ones I've had the longest, which include the one under my bedroom window sill and the one under the lower cabinet by the stove in the kitchen.  I have been known to catch stray rolly pollies and carefully roll them into their webs.  There is also one who makes a quiet life in the corner of my office behind the door.  I forget about him but he always seems to have a full web when I do remember to check up on him.  A more recent addition is the one living under the coffee counter ledge above the lid of our kitchen garbage receptacle.  He makes a haphazard web down the length of the bin, catches his prey near the floor, then somehow carries it up to his lair.  I've never actually seen this happen but every morning he seems to have a new treat three feet above the floor and I get my hand caught in the web while brushing the coffee grinder into the trash.

Since practicing this pest control method the number of stray insects in the house has significantly decreased. I don't know if I can solely credit the spiders but I certainly believe them to contribute a large factor.  Now where does karma play into all this?

Yesterday afternoon we had our mandatory insect control spray treatment at our house.  This is the first time we have had to do this and my concern for the spiders' welfare was great.  I asked the guy if it would kill spiders and he said "yes."  I prepared for the inevitable.  So far only one spider has died, unfortunately it was the one by the stove.  I checked on her and didn't see her snuggled up in the corner as usual; I hoped she had retreated further back.  When I checked again later I found her curled up on the floor.  I gently blew on her and saw her legs slowly move -- I knew she was dying.  With sadness and a heartfelt apology I smooshed her under a paper towel.

The other spiders seem to be doing okay so far.  Unfortunately, by this time karma had already kicked in.

While the treatment was occurring I sat outside on the front porch with the kitty in his carrier, my Kindle in one hand a cold Kombucha drink in the other.  My sister called and we chatted for a bit.  During the conversation I felt an itchy burn on the top of my foot and instantly knew something bit me.  I assumed it was an ant, the main reason I do not step foot on the grass in Texas if I can at all help it.  I took an antihistamine and spread some hydrocortisone cream on it.

Overnight the pain and burning woke me up repeatedly and by morning my foot had swelled and my leg was tingly.  I took an antihistamine, a photo and accepted my dose of karma.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Struggle to Define.

How much is too much?

Life changing events are occurring.  Right now.  In my life.  But how much do I want to share?  If I deemed a  blow-by-blow recital necessary I would be on Facebook.  I've fought that battle and forfeited.

Blogs are numerous and frequently irrelevant to all but those personally known or blood related.  Being subject to someone's blog is a modern-day equivalent to the vacation slide show of past generations -- a test of endurance rather than interest.  However, when you find a blog personally relevant the situation is entirely different.

During the past months, when my life-changing events were further on the horizon, I forged through years of blog posts documenting the very real lives of women who were living through what I believed my future could hold.  The more I knew, the more I could be prepared what possibilities may lie before me.  But then our trajectory would change course and I found other blogs about other women following similar paths.  At times I felt like a virtual voyeur -- though peeping through windows deliberately left open still feels delightfully strange.  Currently uncertainty abounds and I doubt whether there is a single soul who has gone though (let alone blogged about) the confusion that now rules my every day.  Which leads me to wonder...

How much is too much, how much should I share, and how much could I possibly help another lost woman in my shoes?  (Oh, please.  I mustn't bring shoes into this, that is a new stressor altogether.)

When beginning my photo blog I wanted a linear history of what I've seen; my creative blog was to show what I've done.  Now I debate my desire to share what I think.  Do I really want the public privy to my brain's inner working, to private moments that occur in the walls I live between?  Really, I'm doing it right now, albeit in a vague manner.  Did you just hear the conversation I had with my husband?  No.  But will it shape what I type in the next paragraph?  I don't know.   Therein lies the struggle to define.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"How Shall I Creatively Serve Seared Tuna?"
-- The simple question preceding a landslide.


Concise, decisive and efficient.

Three nice and tidy words that are everything but.  Arriving at these concepts in real life is messy, confusing and time-consuming.  When you throw in a hefty dose of perfectionist anxiety you get nothing.  That's right, you are paralyzed by the thought of each projected avenue leading you through a maze of failure.  So you do nothing.

Then you call your Mom.


My food supply must be consumed.

I cannot take it with me and I refuse to waste it.  This is resulting in some creative cooking.  Slowly frozen meats are moved to the refrigerator to thaw while I come up with a new method of using them.  Just as it's no fun to take the same photograph over and over, it's no fun to make the same dinner repeatedly.

A local grocery store sells individual, frozen fillets of sushi grade Ahi tuna which was quite a surprise when I discovered them shortly after moving to an area close to a food desert.  I have made them before with  ginger/cilantro/soy sauce as well as an incredible cashew-tamarind sauce.  Without those ingredients on hand I got creative.

My most used reference book is "What to Drink With What You Eat".  Seriously.  I had purchased two bottles of wine to celebrate, Gloria Ferrer's Blanc de Blancs and McPerson's Viogner.  Knowing these would both work with seared tuna I referenced the book to explore other complementary flavors.  Then I went to the kitchen with inspiration and an appetite.

So, how shall I creatively serve seared tuna?

Why, with delicate sauces on the side of course, as seen so often on "Chopped" the Food Network's cooking competition show I watched during lunch breaks at work.

I used cannellini beans as a base for the first sauce and blended them with soy sauce, sesame oil and wasabi paste until reaching the desired flavor.  My dining partner has a delicate palate so I made sure it was not too intense while still firmly representing each flavor.  The second sauce incorporated some leftover corn/cajun rice mix (an entire post worth writing) seasoned with coriander and curry spices.  I added a few beans and a touch of chicken broth to reach a nice consistency and also took care not to make it too spicy.  This was the mutual favorite of the two sauces; the first was a bit flat even with it's well-balanced blend of flavor.  It needs a touch of oomph, but I'm not sure what.  The corn/coriander/curry blend was delightful!  The sweet, fresh corn played well with the spices and it's a combination I will remember for future uses.  Along side the tuna I spread a warm scoop of corn/rice/beans to add some substance.

Both wines went well with the dinner as a whole, though the viogner did not stand up to the wasabi sauce I expected it to.  In general, they are both easy wines to serve with food or without.