Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summer Catch Up

We haven't had much of a beach summer around here.  There hasn't been a single weekend where I've been able to go to the beach two days in a row - mostly one full day is either completely overcast or rainy.  I generally take Fridays off in the summer and have skipped a few of those too. As of today, the current forecast is indicating rain Friday and Saturday.  So there you go.  Still, I don't complain because I'd rather have warm, overcast weather than winter any day!


I was late getting my patio garden started this year due to our early June vacation to St. Martin.  As a result of that and the extra rainy season we've had, it hasn't done so well.  I am just now getting some small red cherry tomatoes.  I went out one day to look at the plants and found this:

That, my friends, is a tomato hornworm that has been infested with Braconid wasp larvae. In all my years of tomato growing, I've never seen one of these - had to google it to figure out what it was.  But it explains why my heirloom tomato was suddenly brown and died.  Once the wasps lay their eggs in the worm, you're supposed to leave it alone because then they hatch and keep other worms from getting on your tomatoes.  Gross and fascinating all at the same time!


Little Helen gave Mr. Helen two VIP Jazz Club tickets for the Newport Jazz Festival as a birthday/father's day/retirement gift.  There is so much I could say, but let me just condense and say it was a fab-u-lous experience!  Besides the great music, we were privy to a special hospitality tent that kept us dry through the first two hours of the festival when it was raining, there was reserved seating at the stages that put us right up front, and first row, closest to the gate parking.  In the tent, they told us we'd have "light" food.  What we had was: hot roast beef sandwiches, potato salad, green salad, orichette pasta with swiss chard and mushrooms, proscuitto pizza with balsamic glaze, and a seafood paella.  They kept coffee, hot water, and water going all day, plus a cash bar.  Plus we had real plates, cutlery, and glassware.  But I told Little Helen what made the experience for me was the upgraded port-a-potties.  Jazz Club had their own, and they were air conditioned with soap and running water!

Since we'd never been to the jazz festival before, we decided to spend the night before and night of in a hotel in the area.  Of course, they were really booked up or $1,000 a night to stay at the Marriott.  Ridiculous.  I found us a tiny roadside motel that was still ridiculous but something we could afford.  I read reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor and hoped for the best.  It was described as dated, but scrupulously clean with very nice staff.  That's exactly what we found.  I wish I had been better at taking photos because we had a pink and black tiled bathroom!  Best of all, when we checked in, the very nice lady told us that first of all, even though they advertised as having breakfast, they didn't actually have breakfast but would give each of us a $5 gift card for Dunkin' Donuts each day.  As we were biting our lips trying not to laugh, she reached behind the counter and handed us a welcome bag, that had the wifi password stapled on it and inside were two water bottles, a bag of doritos, two granola bars, two bananas, two apples, some skittles and some tootsie rolls.  We loved the good old fashioned hospitality and yes, it was scrupulously clean!

That night we went out to eat at a place called Rhea's Kitchen, and again found a sort of old-fashioned menu, but the food was fabulous and I had a cucumber martini that was to die for!  Mr. Helen got clams casino for an appetizer. Then we both had seafood dinners.  It was yummy.


Mr. Helen's baby sister and her husband came to visit us over the weekend - we took them to our favorite winery then had a night out on the patio.  I made a surf & turf of sorts in that I grilled a flank steak but I also made a shrimp boil. Shrimp boils are usually done in a pot on a stove, but I found a recipe for one that is done on a sheet pan, after a bit of prep. I forgot to take a photo but click on that link and mine pretty much came out looking just like that - and it tasted fantastic.

Saturday we got up and I took my bread-loving sister-in-law to the new bagel place in our area before our hike.  We have sorely needed a good bagel around here and this place opened over the winter. The bagels are perfect NY style and are not overly big or doughy and they have some really innovative flavors: sundried tomato pesto, asiago, jalapeno cheddar, and whole wheat everything, to name a few. They also make flavored cream cheeses and sell them in a couple sizes so if you just want a small container you don't have to buy 8 oz. My SIL snapped a photo of me walking in and I stole a photo of their bagels off their FB page so you could see.

Believe it or not, we didn't even eat any, but hiked and went to brunch.  They freeze well though and I enjoyed one on Sunday.


Speaking of our winery, because we are such good customers (lol) they sent us two complimentary tickets for one of their Sunday night concerts.  We'd never heard of the act before - Amy Helm - but decided hey, it's free let's go!  She was pretty good.  I'd call her music Americana as she sang a bit of country, some blues, some rock, and a couple of her songs sounded gospel.  It was a fun and free and who can ask for more than that?


We have really had a great summer - our first of Mr. Helen not having to work every weekend, and we've tried to maximize it.  Of course, I've been running and doing my strength training 2-3 days a week.  I may never get skinny but I'm still working on being fit and healthy.  I had my physical and pretty much my doctor told me that other than my dysfunctional thyroid, I'm in great health and he wishes more of his patients would exercise even half the amount I do.  That was a nice compliment.


Finally, I just need to say something about the crazed person occupying our White House right now. Most recently what happened in Charlottesville, VA was horrific and as many others have already said, the USA fought a war so we wouldn't have to deal with Nazis.  The fact that 45 didn't address the situation appropriately until almost 4 days later is a sad indictment of the type of person he is.  As I said when he was elected, he has released the Kracken and god help my country.

I continue to yell "asshole!" at the TV on a daily basis as I get ready for work, and Mr. Helen has learned to just let me vent.  Recently, I came across the most perfect meme that fairly well describes my constant feelings towards this insanity.  When you hear the madness, now you, too, can picture my face: