Tag Archive | the cheese sandwich


I’m grateful for finding what I needed to spackle the nail holes in the green wall… I got home from the hardware store with spackle and realized I didn’t have a putty knife. I pondered for a short while, confident that I had something somewhere that would work, and thought of my mother’s box of painting supplies upstairs in the craft-storage room. I was so happy to find her old encaustic knife, which I had a vague memory of having seen there.

I’m grateful today to have finally accomplished a project I started dreaming more than a year ago, after getting ‘wall envy’ from seeing the blue wall in my cousins’ house on family zooms. The tired, quiet green I’ve had on my one painted wall for almost twenty years was ready for a change and so was I. I bought the paint last fall but winter came before I could open it, and then one thing after another… Procrastination is one of my growth edges… This week, after some encouragement from a good friend, and feeling no pain in my shoulders for a month, and a narrow window of ideal weather for it, I took the plunge.

The 48-hour forecast was perfect: highs around 80, lows in the high 40s, and clear skies. I could keep doors and windows open all day and close half of them overnight, to keep fresh air flowing in the whole time. First I cleared off (i.e. boxed to tackle later) the stuff on the desk and dresser that stood next to the wall, and pulled the furniture away.

Then I photographed the artwork so I’d know where to put it back later, and left those nails and hooks in place. I pulled the C-hooks and plugged their holes with long brads, hoping that I could roll over them and then pull them out after the paint dried to replace the hooks. (I pulled a few small nails where there were studs and tried to plug those holes with smaller nails but that didn’t work: the roller pulled them out right away.)

I called the hardware store in our little town to ask if they had a mechanical paint shaker. “Yes,” she said, “but we’ve had to draw the line at shaking other people’s paint. If it’s not completely sealed shut it makes an awful mess.”

“I haven’t even opened this!” I exclaimed with hope, “but I certainly understand if you can’t do it.” She was happy to shake my unopened paint can and would not take compensation. I was grateful for her generosity. I remembered to buy a jar of spackle while I was there, and filled in the empty holes in the wall. Then I taped off the perimeter, thermostat, switch, and outlet.

Commitment! No turning back once I’d cut in the blue paint.

It’s been hard to adjust the photos to reflect accurate colors as the light kept shifting throughout the day. This morning I spread out the alleged ‘heavy-duty’ plastic dropcloth I’d purchased at the same time as the paint, brushes, and roller setup. While everything else was better than I could have hoped, the dropcloth was about as heavy-duty as I am! Amazon will hear about this deception. Then I started rolling on the paint.

After four hours dry-time, I repeated the cutting-in and rolled on the second coat. I could not be happier with the result!

I only let it dry a couple of hours after the second coat before pulling the tape and hanging the first two pieces back on the wall before the light faded. Yes, I missed a spot with the spackle, oh well. And as I watched the paint dry, I realized I wanted to swap out a few art pieces, so I pulled my mother’s pastel portrait of her Aunt Gretchen from the shadows where it has lived for years, and returned it to the same place it held even longer ago, when the green wall first replaced the original peach wall from the housebuilding in 1995. I look forward to playing with the rest of the wall art tomorrow!

Somewhere in there, I also accomplished another masterpiece cheese sandwich, with smoked gouda, shredded romaine, and garden tomato.

Though I knew some basics, including taping off edges and spackling, I was so grateful for the tips on rolling and some other aspects in this wonderful book from the Trans Handy Ma’am. I’m delighted to support her work empowering trans people, and making the world of home repairs more friendly and accessible to introverts like me. Her motto is “You’re worth the time it takes to learn a new skill!” Thanks, Trans Handy Ma’am, for helping motivate me toward a real sense of accomplishment.

A Productive Morning

I’m grateful I had a productive morning, because I lost the afternoon to the aftermath of a wasp attack. It was a grilled cheese kind of a day: chilly and grey outside, and cold in the house. Smoked gouda with avocado and garden tomato, yum! It kept getting cooler, so I decided to build a little fire in the freshly-cleaned woodstove. There was no kindling split yet for the season, so we stepped outside to crack a few sticks from a well-dried aspen log set on top of the two stumps I’ve been using as a kindling-cracking pedestal for many years.

Crack! one stick. Crack! two sticks, and a wasp on my wrist cuff, and then another, latched onto the fabric, and suddenly I realized I’d disturbed a nest in one of the stumps and they were streaming out angry and determined. I also noticed poor little Wren running around snapping at her tail end, so I hurried to the other side of the house calling her after me. One stung my right index finger and I pulled out the pumping stinger. I swept my arms gently, not frantically, to keep them away, and they kept following. So we kept hurrying away. By the time I got to the back gate there were only a few left but they were persistent. We went out the gate and I pulled off my sweatshirt and swung it slowly in a circle above my head to keep them at bay, but one had gotten up my loose shirt and bit my belly. I dropped the sweatshirt and we kept hurrying away, Wren spinning to bite her back end and me sweeping my limbs to clear the air.

We walked the whole Breakfast Loop and came around to the front gate, grabbing the can of wasp spray from the back of the Mothership where I’d set it after spraying a nest in the side door the other week. I don’t like to kill them. By and large I let them live as they like, and just avoid areas where they nest, but as I was working on the Mothership and needed access, I had to kill that nest. I didn’t mind that one wasp snuck up my sweater sleeve last week and got my thumb pad when it felt trapped, even though it itched and hurt for days afterward. But I felt inclined toward vengeance after this all-out attack, especially since they hurt Wren.

But first things first. She was still hurting when we got inside, and so was I, so I poured some liquid baby Benadryl into her bowl which she lapped up, and I took the Therapik to my injuries to laser the venom enzymes. Maybe it helped, maybe not. By then my finger had swollen stiff and gone numb, and my whole had was turning red, so I popped a couple Benadryl tablets and squeezed on some cortisone cream. Then I looked out the window and watched where they were entering the stump. I waited until near dark so they’d all return to their nest before spraying the crack. The can quickly emptied, but there seemed enough to do the job, as no wasps flew out.

I’m grateful for Cousin Nurse who suggested a topical anesthetic, which reminded me I have Aspercreme with Lidocaine, so I’ve been slathering that on liberally. Wren calmed down and we both went to sleep for the afternoon. She seems now to have recovered completely, though I have not. I popped another couple Benadryls just now and am trying to type with an ice-pack on my hand which isn’t very effective–kind of like the Benadryl tablets, which are pretty old. Time for lights out, grateful for surviving another day in Paradise.

Hide and Seek

Where’s Wren?

As though she thinks maybe I can’t see her… I’m reminded of a childhood memory, one of my earliest. Our family traveled through the Smoky Mountains on our way to visit my father’s parents in west Tennessee. It was the only time I met my paternal grandfather and I don’t remember that, I was barely more than two. I’ve seen pictures of me by the pigpen at Unc’s farm so I think that I remember that but I’m not sure. What I know I remember is this:

It’s a dim memory, but once was brighter. My brothers and I are playing Hide and Seek in the woods. I’ve hidden all that I’m aware of, my head and shoulders, behind a big stump in some bushes. Robin, who is not It and is four years older and far wiser, creeps up beside me and whispers, Remember, Rita, just because you can’t see us doesn’t mean we can’t see you. You have to hide all of you. All of you! It is my first awareness of all of me, a radical comprehension. It is the first kindness I recall from anyone in particular. I’m grateful for this memory of Hide and Seek, and the other early memories I retain. I don’t think of them often, but I appreciate the perspective when I do.

Grateful, too, for another yummy tomato sandwich!

All Terrain Croquet

I’m grateful for the high-low thermometer that’s been telling me the temperature range of the day for twenty-five years, and I’m grateful that the highs have been lower in recent days. I’ve checked it almost every night for decades when I let the dog or dogs out, and this is the first time I caught someone snoozing on it.

I’m grateful for another delicious sandwich for lunch today, lettuce, havarti, and another beautiful garden tomato.

And I’m grateful for good neighbors and good fun. Honey Badger’s brother is visiting and so they hosted an ice cream social with All Terrain Croquet, one of our favorite pastimes from pre-Covid days. The terrain is challenging, with ricegrass traps, rocks, and sagebrush stumps among other hazards, along with dips and swells that turn a ball mid-course in an unexpected direction. This makes a good shot even more amazing, and also slows the game considerably. By halfway through, the rules have become flexible, and toward the end nearly ceased to exist. We’re having too much fun, and being good neighbors, we all want each other to succeed so there are many extra and questionable shots; all in service of the larger goal, homemade peach ice cream as soon as someone wins!

Little Wren wasn’t too sure about All Terrain Croquet, but she sure enjoyed the Ice Cream Social!

Want What You Have

I checked another peach for ripeness yesterday and woke this morning knowing that harvest time was imminent. I had not noticed any bird or rodent predation yet, but yesterday’s peach was just soft enough to start picking. When I stepped inside the tree’s embrace I saw right away that I was already late. Several peaches had been mauled already. So I started picking.

As I walked around the tree I saw there were many more peaches from some angles than I’d realized from the side I’d been watching. I figured I’d better test one before I got too carried away, so I enjoyed a juicy peach right there: just a little tart on one side but generally soft and sweet, it would have been perfect in another day or two. I’m grateful peaches continue to ripen off the tree, and that’s one reason I wanted to get them in, so I’d have some time to process them in batches of sequential ripening.

Wren was eager for a taste but she spit it out. Wren does not like peaches!

I’ll just pick one basket, I thought. But the more I picked the more I discovered were ripe, and soon I had picked both baskets full. Even with the largest harvest ever, there are more remaining on the tree now than its had total in most years of its life. I’m grateful that I learned how much difference a really wet spring can make in the home stone fruit harvest. Tomorrow I’ll start sorting out what to do with them all. Next spring I’ll start watering heavily as soon as the snow melts.

I’m grateful today for Wilson cleaning the stove and chimney in plenty of time before I’ll want to burn the first fire. There’s a significant ease that comes with having the woodshed almost full and the chimney swept by Labor Day. I’m grateful for the peace of mind derived from winter preparation well underway.

I’m grateful for a simple, delicious cheese sandwich on the new flat bread which still has a great texture and taste: mayo, mustard, shredded lettuce, B&B pickle, red onion, extra sharp cheddar, and leftover tenderloin from Thursday’s dinner out. I’ve been doing real well as a vegetarian this past year, but when someone serves me a perfect steak from a local, grass-fed steer, I’m not gonna turn it down. So I’ve eaten meat twice this month, but none for the previous twelve or more, with no plans for the future except to do the best I can in any situation.

I was thrilled to discover a tiny butternut squash finally growing on one of two vines I planted from accidental sprouts in a pot where I tossed seeds from a local, organic squash I bought last winter. I thought the deer or someone would eat the seeds. Imagine my surprise when melted snow revealed them and they all sprouted!

Brief mid-afternoon thunder sent Wren upstairs to bed, and I joined her there for a nap to comfort her. I woke to this vision, and arose to spend some time in the yarden, feed hummingbirds, chat with Auntie’s daughter, and enjoy fromage forte with a glass of red wine and some TV time. I’m grateful that everything changes, all the time; that sad or self-deprecating moods leave as readily as they arise, that awareness and gratitude nourish contentment, and give such richness to the phrase “Want what you have.” Grasping for more rarely leads to genuine fulfillment.


I’m grateful for rain overnight which left the high desert refreshed, and gave morning light an extra vibrant quality. As we headed for the gate, I was tickled to watch a gnat-nado; we saw a few more of these swirling columns of insects rising as we walked through the woods.

Coming home we spied a sleeping sunflower bee, genus Svastra, waiting to warm up before flying.

It was a big day. A fulfilling class in the afternoon followed by a rare outing planned with friends and their visiting family. So the morning involved baking little apricot cakes as my contribution to the snack spread. I adapted the recipe for high altitude, and also added an element from the next apricot bake, an upside down cake, with a dollop of brown sugar in an apricot half underneath the batter. Naturally, I had to test them before I could share, so I had one for dessert after my cheese sandwich! Today’s was open face cream cheese on toast, slathered with apricot jam. Yes it’s a sandwich!

Meanwhile, Wren and Biko ate a little more healthy fare with some chopped romaine.
Wren enjoyed cocktails at the rim of the Black Canyon with the rest of us, and wore just the right coat to match her new best friend Tatiana.

We could see smoke, we guessed from the Little Mesa Fire SSW of Delta, which fortunately has grown slowly to only 450 acres in a wild area. As I drove to the canyon, I listened to The Pen and the Sword on KVNF, which featured an interview with John Vaillant, author of Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World. The book is about the 2016 apocalyptic wildfire that consumed the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, the chief supplier of oil imports to the US. Ironically, the fire was unquestionably driven by fossil-fuel induced climate chaos, as Vaillant demonstrates, and “was not a unique event, but a shocking preview of what we must prepare for in a hotter, more flammable world.” It was chilling to listen to this interview after watching news of the catastrophic Maui fires this afternoon: precisely the scenario Vaillant cautioned about in his book that came out this summer. (I hope the interview will appear on KVNF archives shortly.)

I’m grateful for perspective, which reminds me that we humans and our follies are just a gnat-nado in the context of geological time, the kind of time that created these 1.8 billion-year-old metamorphic rocks, and the millions of years of uplift and erosion that formed this spectacular gorge.

After the drama and adventure of the evening, I was grateful to drive home in my energy-efficient little old car, through pastoral landscape, with a glimpse of sunset in the rearview mirror. I contend daily with the conundrum of how to live lightly on this fragile planet while also relying on the very source of its greatest threat.

I hope the clouds part overnight this weekend so I can rest in the reassuring perspective of the Perseid meteor shower. If pondering geology gives momentary respite, contemplating our place in the vast mystery of outer space provides an even deeper peace.

The Basics

Grateful for cheerful helpers, and a mill down the road selling solid cordwood at a fair price.
Grateful for today’s cheese sandwich, Havarti, tomato, avocado, and B&B pickles, with of course mayo and Penzeys sandwich sprinkle.
Oopsie… I may have finally been beaten by the cheese sandwich.
Mind-blowing to see this many apricots still on the tree after all that I have picked, processed, and given away. Message me if you want to come pick some!
I’m grateful for Hotchkiss Fire District on Facebook. I smelled smoke a couple of times yesterday and today, and then so strongly tonight that I had to close up the house and lock out the cool breeze. I knew there were fires around the west but learned tonight about the Little Mesa Fire southwest of Delta on the Hotchkiss Fire page. I’m glad I can count on them to keep the community up to date on local fires, and relieved to know the nearest one is burning well west of here in wild terrain.
Grateful for more jam made today, and inventing a marvelous cocktail. I muddled two ripe apricots in the cocktail shaker, added ice, gin, lemon juice, and maraschino liqueur, shook well, and poured into a glass rimmed with vanilla sugar, garnished with a ripe apricot. So simple, so delicious! I’m grateful today for the basics: community, friendship, help, firewood, food, fruit, drink, and the illusion of security.

The Cheese Sandwich

Wren enjoys a morning nap as I drink coffee on the patio.

I’m grateful again today for the cheese sandwich: I’ve truly become addicted, not only to the cheese sandwich but to exploring its infinite possibilities. Mayo with Penzeys’ sandwich sprinkle, Havarti, potato chips, lettuce, apricot halves and mustard on homemade sourdough. Crunchy, creamy, tart and sweet: so simple, so delicious. I thought twice about the apricots but concluded Why not?

I’m grateful to be able to share the bounty. Yesterday it was the old doe reaching for low fruit; this afternoon it was the tragic buck picking up fallen fruit under the tree.

This evening the old doe had her brave fawns out grazing in the new green grass next door.

I’m grateful every day of every year for this beautiful apricot tree as it steadfastly lives its own life, whether or not its able to provide fruit for the rest of us in summer. It offers flowers reliably each spring, followed tender leaves that start out the blush-tinged green as its ripening fruit in conducive years; its leaves transform to yellow and fall, and it rests and rejuvenates in dark winter bark, year after year. It doesn’t ask for much: We tend it with water, occasional food, and skillful pruning, and it gives and gives.


Back to basics today. I’m grateful for a roof over my head, a house that stays relatively cool; and for food and water. All the essentials for survival, as that’s about all I felt up to doing today. I’m also grateful for resilience, knowing that these discomforts will pass. And of course, grateful for today’s cheese sandwich: grated Swiss, sautéed mushrooms, sprouts, mayo, and tart cherry jam, lightly grilled in the olive oil from the mushrooms.

And grateful for this obliging little companion who doesn’t mind just hanging out even if we’re not doing anything fun at all.


So many things are different this year than in the past. This is the first year that the hummingbirds have thronged my feeders as they do some neighbors’. It’s a treat to sit out under the umbrella in the mornings before it gets too hot, and watch their aggressive acrobatics: It’s not like there isn’t plenty to go around, just that they’re so territorial. I’ve tried to upload a video where even more of them are buzzing the feeder, but the poor network connection that thwarted this upload last night also prevents the video from uploading tonight. Oh well.

I’m also grateful for leftovers! The two salmon cakes leftover from the vineyard Saturday night made a fantastic sandwich yesterday with mayo, dill pickle relish, red onion, and sprouts, with some Penzeys ‘sandwich sprinkle’ for seasoning.

I made up for no cheese on yesterday’s sandwich with extra Havarti on todays, along with avocado, sprouts, red onion, and mayo. Honestly, even after years obsessing over ‘the cheese sandwich,’ I am even more in love with its variety and potential than ever. And also more in love with this silly little dingo than ever.

And I’m still and always in love with the poetry of Mary Oliver, and grateful for my Portland sister who sent me this poem just as I came online tonight to share this post. Someone sent it to her, and she said “it made me think of you.” There is no higher compliment. I’m sure it was “The phoebe” that clinched it for her, though she knows me well enough to know that everything else in it is also me to a T, and I’m grateful to her for seeing me.

…one last try and it’s up!