One of my work-from-home rituals is to stop working at noon on Fridays. I am happy to take a few hours on Saturday or Sunday to do a few things if it means being able to get away from work.
Today, I spent time in the garden. While my husband grows the vegetables, I am the flower gardener. We have a formal garden near the house, just outside the south porch. It had gotten overgrown in the past year as my arthritis kept me from doing the work of weeding and mulching. With my new hip in place, I am back to battling weeds and close to being ready to lay down the mulch. My husband grew plants for me from seed, and I transplanted borage and milkweed thistle.
I’ve also been baking from scratch. I like to bake but had taken to using mixes, kind of semi-homemade. But a friend gave me sourdough starter and then I turned some of it into a whole wheat starter and now I am baking at least twice a week. Yesterday, I just baked with the “discard” from the sourdough, that is, the stuff I wasn’t going to keep after a fed a smaller amount of the starter to keep it alive for next week. If you don’t, you end up with the starter that ate San Francisco, which is almost the plot of Robin Sloan’s Sourdough. I had enough to make Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bread and some crackers using the outlines of a recipe from a baker on Twitter. I went for rustic and “artisinal” for the crackers. The bread was lovely toasted with butter this morning. And the crackers are a little thick but they have a satisfying crunch. I used some flavored salts that we received as a holiday gift along with a bit of pepper.
Finally, I’ve been cooking. Years of watching Food TV and the Great British Baking Challenge have given me a foundation for putting meals together. I put a piece of pork in the crock pot with carrots, onions, potatoes and apples. I layered in our first experiment with sauerkraut and was rewarded with that tangy bite. The picture is pre-cooking: once it cooks away for hours, it doesn’t like quite as pretty but it tastes delicious!
For me, it’s my flower garden. My bad hip made it difficult for me to do much last year. What a pleasure to be able to get back at it. The weeds don’t stand a chance. I’ve been trying to get out every day for a review as this time of years things happen fast. Right now, it’s the irises that are blooming.
For your Friday enjoyment, a few views of the garden:
I have enjoyed watching two sports throughout my life: tennis and figure skating. The end of January was a bonanza month with the Australian Open and the US National Figure Skating Championships. Thanks to the wonder of the contemporary world, I was able to watch a lot of both of them despite not having cable.
As always, I was inspired by their skills, strength and determination. And, when it was all over, I enjoyed watching them have some fun, too. The tennis fun happened at a Roger Federer Foundation fundraiser in South Africa where he played Rafael Nadal in an exhibition match. While they were clearly competing, they were smiling as they did so and even making jokes and a little trash talk. Clearly having fun playing the game to which they have devoted their whole lives:
For the ice skaters, the fun comes after the competition in the skating spectacular where they can dial down the pressure (no required elements, no worries about under rotations), put on some cool costumes and have fun with no thought to competition at all. Certainly, the best example of this was the ice dancing pair of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker who skated to Swan Lake:
I wonder sometimes how top competitors keep up the motivation and commitment, and these moments of fun give us a clue: they really love their sport. We see a passion, sheer joy, that goes beyond any superficial desire to win.
If you haven’t played Minecraft, you may want to move on. If you do play, then you’ll know how excited I was to discover a shipwreck that included a buried treasure map that led to finding The Heart of the Sea. For an hour this afternoon, I was completely absorbed in the process, including getting some advice from online Minecraft sites about finding the buried treasure.
Minecraft doesn’t always feel like a game. I use a few cheats that allow me to “mostly” play in the survival mode but mitigate the effects of dying. My play is open-ended: building, mining, and trading depending on my mood. Today, I felt like I was playing a game with a goal that led to a journey, some challenges, and a final reward: the rare Heart of the Sea. I feel successful even if I am not completely sure how to use it. That will come later.
And, once again, I am reminded of the freedom of having a flexible schedule. I have evening meetings for the next two night so take that into account when planning my days. So, after having to travel in the rain this morning, I came home and took a break to discover the Heart of the Sea.