Peach Butter

Summer is fleeting and always fills up too quickly with plans. Do you notice that? I’ve had very few weekends since June without some kind of something going on. I’ve loved every planned, filled and busy minute, really. And I know that this summer has probably been extra busy because Michael is moving at the end of it all. We’re cramming. Aside from all that, the moments that stick out the most for me have been the quiet ones, unplanned or regular and weekly. I guess I’m a girl who likes routine and the familiar.

One of my best friends and I laid on her apartment floor shivering in the air conditioning, eating Mediterranean food and talking about everything and nothing. (Do you remember what you and your best friends talked about before you talked about everything and nothing? Before conversation just came and went? I don’t. It’s just always been this way for me. My BFFs have been around for lifetimes.)

I spent an entire quiet afternoon and evening in the kitchen, watching transformations happen with just Mira and my iPod for company.

homemade mozzarella cheese started as milk!

I lounge in bed with Mira and Lola on weekend mornings for at least half an hour before getting up.

Mom and I go to yoga twice a week. Mother daughter relaxation detoxification time.

Saturday is farmer’s market day. We started this last summer…getting up, riding our bikes to Broad Ripple High School, and shopping. Well, I shop, wander from stand to stand, gush over tomatoes and berries, and Michael follows along, agreeing that we could have sweet corn for dinner this week. I love moving through the dogs and people, selecting fruits that we sometimes can’t wait to eat til we get home.

This summer we’ve also been frequenting a particular ice pop stand, Nicey Treat. Avocado, pineapple-basil, mango-ginger, key lime pie…perfect on a hot day.

I can judge the passing of summer by the fruits at the farmers market. Strawberries mean the beginning of summer, but they go quickly. Raspberries mean summer is in full swing, but you can’t expect them to hang around too long either. Blueberries and blackberries show up at the same time and stay for awhile. But peaches, they’re my favorite, and thank goodness that they come with the strawberries practically and stay all summer long.

When peaches made their first appearance at the market, I bought an obscene amount. I kind of went crazy. In fact I’m pretty sure the girl thought I was nuts. Good thing I bought that many though. We ate a few fresh and right away. This summer marks Michael’s first experience with a fresh peach. He’s finally living for real. The rest of the peaches I promptly turned into peach butter.

Peach butter is magical. It’ll create those perfect routine and quite summer moments for you. How can it not? It’s peachy, sunny, barely sweetened, and so easy. Peaches, a bit of sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of ginger in a pot. I could easily go through an entire batch in a few weeks, but I try to savor the stuff. I’ve even gotten into canning, and make a few jars to last me through the winter.

Canning isn’t hard. I cross my heart. Promise. I’ll tell you how to do it. Actually Deb of Smitten Kitchen will tell you how to do it, but I’ll put it here on my site so you don’t have to click around and around the web.

I love these labels!

So please, make some peach butter, enjoy a quiet summer moment with it spread on toast, a biscuit, pancakes or right from the jar. Then get back to cliff jumping, road tripping, and concert going!

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Papa

I hate that a 25% off sale at Anthropologie still doesn’t make any of the sweaters remotely affordable.

Just wanted to get that off of my chest. Meanwhile, I realize that I’ve been sorely absent from my blog. The first thing I want to type is that I’ve had a rough summer and haven’t felt like writing.

But that’s so far from the truth in so many ways.

We went to Spain.

I worked at my beloved Green Cove for a week.

I got an amazing bike, and we’ve gone on lots of great rides.

My dad dressed up in drag to raise money for Alzheimers.

And honestly about a month ago I was planning to write a post on the song Up, Up, Up by Givers, about how joyful and light it was, and how it really exemplified my summer. How I couldn’t believe how much happier I’d been this summer than last summer. Then the thing we all knew was looming and ugly on the horizon happened. My grandfather Papa passed away on August 12. Do you ever not want to type something because it’ll feel more real that way? I sat here not wanting to write that sentence, working up the courage.

Papa was 95. He lived the most full life, up to almost the last minute. He really lived every one of those 95 years in every sense of the word. He’d been sick (bladder cancer) and had reached the point that he was just … ready to go, to be done. Three months later his body finally gave into his mind. So in a way I know I should be relieved that he got what he wanted, that he wasn’t stuck here anymore, in a sense. But I don’t care. I don’t care that I got to know my grandfather better and more fully as an adult than a lot of people get to know their grandparents. I miss him.

I miss Thursday night dinner where he’d start to order before any of us were even remotely ready, because he knew exactly what he wanted at all his regular restaurants. I can hear him saying, “coffee, decaf, black.” I hate the thought that I won’t be able to call him up when The American President is on TV. I don’t have anyone special to make my Papa brownies for anymore. He was my biggest supporter and critic when it came to my baked goods. He loved to hear about work, and no matter how frustrating of a day I may have had, he was always proud of what I was doing. And who in the world is going to tell me that my hair looks wonderful even when it looks like shit? I’m going to miss his endless and usually repetitive stories, especially the ones he told about my grandma, Mimi. God he loved her so much. He spoke about her in such a tone and with a look of sadness and total love that you knew he missed her and thought of her every single day, even though she had been gone for almost 14 years.

Today I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone and came across this one of a clock that Michael’s grandma has in her apartment in St. Louis. We took it because Papa had been describing this exact type of clock one day. He used to carry it in our jewelry store back in the day. We were going to share the photo with him, but it slipped my mind, and we never did. Such a stupid thing, and I shared so many other things with him, but there you go.

I really did not expect to be this sad when this day came. I think what’s been hardest for me to come to terms with is where he may or may not be right now. Papa was a hardcore atheist. He was proud of that. So I know that he probably didn’t believe in the traditional afterlife where you maybe meet up with your loved ones, etc. etc. What he did believe would happen to him when he passed on, I’m not sure. I want so much to believe that Papa’s with Mimi, that they’ve been reunited in the great beyond, but I don’t want to be unfaithful to who he was. So he’s just…gone? He just stopped breathing and that was it? That’s incredibly hard for me to wrap my brain around.

Last Christmas Papa and I were at Kids Ink, a children’s bookstore in town, picking out books for a friend. The lady in the store brought us a pile of books, including When We Were Very Young, a collection of poems by A.A. Milne. My dad read these poems to me as I grew up, especially the poem “Vespers.” I never realized the deeper family tradition with this poem until that day in the bookstore though. Papa picked it up, turned to the last page, and smiled. “My mother used to read this poem to me every night before I went to bed,” he said quietly. And then he started reading it, “Vespers.” I’ve never heard him get emotional when he talked about his mother, but right then he had tears in his eyes.

I didn’t want to talk at the funeral. I’m a terrible public speaker. Instead, I read “Vespers.”

Vespers
by A.A. Milne

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

God bless Mummy. I know that’s right.
Wasn’t it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold’s so cold, and the hot’s so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy – I quite forgot.

If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny’s dressing-gown on the door.
It’s a beautiful blue, but it hasn’t a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.

Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I’m there at all.

Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said “Bless Daddy,” so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.