1. Last night was one of those perfect summer nights. It was warm out but the bats seem to keep the mosquitoes away. Max and I watched them fly in front of the streetlight from the upstairs deck. The sun was going down. A big cloud that looked like one of the New York Public Library lions sat on top of the San Francisco Peaks. It just sat there. As the sun set, you could see the storm happening in this localized cloud. The whole face of the lion lit up. Then the mane. The head turned into a train, Max said. The lightning struck from behind, outlining the engine. The bats zipped. The big dipper came out. But the storm just stayed in one place, turning on itself, lightning up the sky for two hours. In between, we looked up pictures of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' namesakes. Paintings by Raphael in the foreground, an electrical battle in the back. Max kept reminding me to call Raphael, Raphy. Toward the end, after Max and I pulled pillows and a blanket to lie on the deck's floor, Zoe came out and said, the lightning's so bright, it looks like the sun is coming up. It was very big lightning.
2. I'm pretty committed to my exercise 30 minutes-a-day plan, mostly to compensate for my butter and wine plan so I planned to ride my bike today instead of run because I really think I might hate running. Today, I heard the thunder, coming from the south. I thought, I can beat the storm. Or maybe, like last night, the storm will stay over there. I heard another clap of thunder. Couldn't find my socks. Another clap. Couldn't find my shoes. I thought, this is a bad idea, but then I found my shoes so I had to go. I got on my bike. The rain started. Just a few drops. Thought I should hurry. So I hurried. By the time I got to Butler, the rain was coming down like tropical rainstorm rain, the kind that where a tree can grow an inch an hour. By the time I got to the bottom of Butler's big hill, huge puddles were in the road. Cars drove past me making that car-splashing noise I associate with New Jersey and cop shows. I sensed the drivers looking at me. I laughed at how ridiculous this was. I was as wet as you can get. Shoes wet. Socks wet. Bra wet. I'm still sopping wet as I type but it was the most fun ride of the year.
3. I'm making sour pickles which are not like the pickles my mom used to make. When I was young, my mom, grandma and great-grandma put up cherries, peaches, apricots, pears, and pickles. The pickles were, I think, my dad's mom's recipe. Dill, garlic, a little vinegar, salt--but they were processed, like all the other fruits, in a boiling water bath. These pickles are different. No boiling. No vinegar (or, rather, the you are essentially making the vinegar inside the cucumber. Just as old grapes turns to vinegar after they pass through the wine stage, the fermentation of the fruit turns the sweet into vinegar-sour). Just 3 tablespoons of salt to each quart of water. The brine helps catalyze the natural lactic acid in the cucumbers, making them ferment. Dill (which I cannot find the blooming heads of in this town, so dill weed), pickling spice (my addition to the recipe), pinch of whole peppercorn, a whole head of garlic, a crock, a plate and a heavy item to keep the cukes submerged is all you have to do. Also, add some oak leaves for tannins to keep the pickles from turning soggy. Taste as you go, says the Sandor Katz.
Perfect last 17 hours.
May these last perfect days be as perfect as these cucumbers.