My Commonplace Blog

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Pink Martini

Hang On Little Tomato!


(A little late on this posting – the harvest is vinally over – bad pun intended!)

The title of a Pink Martini song and album has come to mind often these last few weeks as scores and scores of tomatoes ripen, and we attempt to pick them at peak ripeness.

This year’s tomato planting is in a new spot. Most of the year the south side of the garage is in the dark shadows of the neighbor’s behemoth brick house. My guess was that the high angle of the summer sun would last long enough to yield a hearty crop. And indeed it did. Another title in the running for this post was Incoming!

In a nod to monoculture, the hubs planted five roma tomato plants there and two more in pots on the deck. Producing gallons of sauce was apparently the only thing on his mind (more on that another time). But we still topped salads and enjoyed BLTs with these tomatoes. A little variety, however, would have been nice. . .

Back to the harvest, which is where all the comic material lies.


The hubs rigged up this wonky trellis for better air circulation and to allow the vines to grow longer and outward, thereby increasing production. When the birds decided it provided a nice, secluded place to sit and grab a snack, he draped the whole business with netting. And the final runner-up title for this posting was Rack ‘Em Up.

What he failed to consider was picking tomatoes. The contraption is a little over four feet high, and it requires an awkward combination of yoga and limbo moves to get in and out. That’s accented with grade school-level Quasimodo imitations to plod, hunched over, and reach deep to pick tomatoes. Four times out of five, one of us smacks a noggin on the overhead trellis and at least once a week somebody gets tangled in the netting.

Hopefully the neighbors get a kick out of our point-and-pull method. I crouch on the ground, looking up into the vines, pointing out tomatoes; the hubs reaches in almost blindly while I coach “a little to the left and up” in hopes of plucking the ripe fruit hidden in the leaves.

Random image of the lovely tomatoes we picked. Not necessarily representative of a day’s harvest. . .

The fun continues when the hubs attempts to estimate the day’s harvest. It’s a whole new level of husband math. Example: “Must be five pounds of tomatoes, maybe 12.” Nothing like covering your bases: Nine pounds was that day’s yield.

Then there’s the canning pot. Our newish stove has two ceramic burners and two induction. Somehow he convinced himself that we were damaging the large diameter ceramic burner by using prolonged high heat and the old-fashion enameled canning pot. I remain unconvinced.

However, since I returned to work he is unattended all day and in possession of a valid credit card. Thus, unsurprisingly, I came home to a shiny new gargantuan canning pot suitable for use on an induction stove. I informed him that we will never can enough of anything to justify the cost. He remains unconvinced.

Thus, he has spent much effort outlining possible additional uses for this pot. The best one so far is the pot is big enough to make bagels. Oy vey. Hang on little tomato, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.


Worthwhile Efforts

Lavender 1

Just got home from a fab, fun time with the fam. We’re a small clan. As my brother says, we could hold a family reunion in a phone booth. With spouses and kids, we might break 20. Speaking of the brother, in the spring he said, You occasionally exchange emails with Cousin 1; why don’t you ask her about getting together. She emailed back, That sounds good, and suggested meeting at her sister’s house. That covers the first cousins. Yes, we are a small clan. Cousin 2 rose to the challenge and we invaded her home on Sunday. Second Cousins 1 and 2, also sisters, joined in.

My big effort for this get together was baking cookies and driving the farthest. Yes, I’m feeling a little guilty right now. . . And the hubs stayed home sick. *cough*really!!*cough*whatever*cough* But it was so good to see everyone, he wasn’t really missed. Sorry hubs, your loss. It may have been the heat, but I even enjoyed talking with Cousin 1’s husband. . .(insert winky emoticon here!!).

Lavender 2

Over the course of the afternoon, just about everyone’s phones came out to share pics — of children, of pets, of home remodeling, of celebrations, of hobbies — but nobody took pictures. We were too busy being in the moment. So these pictures are of my lovely lavender; more about that later.

Cousin 1 and her hubs have put much effort into tracing their ancestry, and we are the lucky beneficiaries of her efforts: She presented each of us with a personalized tables of our lineage. The two of them have traveled around the Midwest and to Germany visiting and researching the places from whence we all came. (One German cousin contributed to the research and has practically joined the family.) Through the afternoon we added stories and details to fill in and expand on the well-researched facts. With more and more sharing about long-lost and long-gone relatives, the table figuratively got more and more crowded.

We’re also not a tight-knit group. We stay in touch, but we’re really, emotionally speaking, arm’s-length Germans. So a rich and full discussion of family was deeply rewarding but a little out of our collective character.

Of course, as we headed out, there was the chorus — We need to do this more often! Personally, I’m just very glad we did this, now. No need to put a weight on the future.

Bits of the conversation played and replayed in my head as I drove home. And just as I was feeling quite content with who we are, the song Que Sera, Sera by Pink Martini began. The song isn’t a favorite, but in the moment it had me all teary-eyed driving down the highway. Can’t really say why that song pinpointed the feeling, but it did. I got so emotional I forgot to curse the guy in Impala who, for the fifth time, passed me and then slowed down. Really dude!!

A brief shower started just as I pulled in the driveway. The rain removed the dust and sunshine that followed made the lavender amazingly vibrant. The modest effort I expended in the spring yielded brilliant results, the same way a brief email exchange lead to a lovely event.

Lavender 3

That makes me one happy little bee.






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