Almost a year

We’re coming up on Penny’s birthday. She’ll be 1 at the end of November. We’ve had her for a bit over eight months. She was supposed to be the small dog! Those lab genes are much, much stronger than the Aussie Cattle Dog genes. At least that means while she’s a biting menace, she has a much softer mouth doing that than she could. Now if only we could get the barking to soften…

Cucumber Kimchi [Salad]

glass mason jar filled with cucumber kimchiI received this recipe from Anna at Seoul Food back when they were still running a food truck. It’s very delicious and I treat it like a refrigerator pickle. I’ve made it with both pickling cukes and English cukes. Whatever I had from the garden. I’ll give you the recipe as I received from her and add my notes to the end.

It depends on how much cucumber you have, but generally I use this recipe on my own.

1.Sea salt enough to salt cucumber

2. For about 2 hrs later( I wait longer because I make large volume), you can rinse them in a colander with cold water.
During waiting period, toss them a couple of time to salt them evenly.

3. After draining them in colander, prepare scallion chopped, pepper flake (if you cant find Korean pepper, use cayenne pepper too, a little bit of vinegar to taste, and a little bit of sugar too.

4. Put all ingredients in a big bowl, and toss them with your hand.

My notes:

1. For enough salt, I tend to use a similar ratio to what you’d find in canning books. It’s easy to be too heavy handed. My go-to recipe for Bread and Butter pickles uses 1/2 pickling salt to 10 cups of sliced cucumbers. I tend to use kosher salt since that’s what I have available in bulk most of the time. My B&B recipe also has you cover the salted cukes with water which is also a thing I do because when I haven’t, I ended up with cucumbers inedible due to saltiness.

2. I like to take samples out and test the saltiness after rinsing at different time points to make sure they’re not oversalted.

3. I got this rec for Korean pepper flake from another kimchi recipe and it’s great. Tae-kyung Korean Red Chili Pepper Flakes Powder. If you can’t find it, I’ve also successfully made this with sambal which seems to be a bit easier to find at grocery stores, at least around here. The vinegar and sugar is totally to taste. For my most recent batch with about 10 c of sliced cucumbers, I used one bunch of green onions/scallions, 1/2 c white vinegar, 2 tbs sugar, and 1 tbs pepper flake powder (it’s got some kick and I’m from the Midwest.)

4. After tossing, I put it in a glass jar in the fridge. Lasts for ages. 10 cups of sliced cucumbers makes about a half a gallon of kimchi. I have no idea if it’s a good idea to try to ferment this. I treat it like a quick pickle.

And now for something completely different: Insect macro photos

I put in some Rudbeckia laciniata in the front garden this year (Tall coneflower) which I had had in another spot and really liked. However, that other spot definitely didn’t get as much sun because that stand definitely doesn’t get 7 feet tall and absolutely covered in flowers like this bunch. I’m actually probably going to have to move it because it’s way too tall for the space. This is a total bummer because it attracts the best selection of bugs. Primarily it gets small butterflies and bumblebees, but here’s a selection of the different insects I’ve found on it recently:

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles
goldenrod soldier beetle

Thread-waisted Wasp
Thread Waisted Wasp

One of a bunch of nondescript butterflies.

Possibly two different species of bumblebee. I’m good enough to know the difference between bumble, honey, mason, and sweat bees but that’s as good as it gets.

I believe this is Xylocopa micans – Southern Carpenter Bee. Either that or it’s a carpenter bee from Europe and that would be not good. The only reason I know this (compared to the [shrug emoji] bumblebees) is because I googled and got the European bee first and had a bit of a freak out about invasive species. Then I did a bit more digging in the genius.

I also spotted a robberfly eating a housefly which was the whole reason I grabbed my camera but by the time I got back out there, it was gone.

Greta Splendens: Quite Possibly the Best Dog

It’s been about a week to the hour since I came home early from work. Greta got up to greet me. After I bustled around the house a bit, I noticed that she was standing in one place staring at me. I thought she wanted up on the couch but wasn’t feeling up to jumping so I lifted her up. She sat there for a minute and then oozed slowly off to lay on the floor and pant. Her tail never wagged when I said her name. That’s when I realized it wasn’t good.

I’m gonna spare everyone the hours of trying to get a hold of my husband while crying and then waiting for him to get home, all the while exchanging text messages with A. who had gone through similar stuff recently and was an excellent support. We got Greta to the emergency vet and they confirmed that her tumor had started bleeding into her abdomen. One overdose of anesthetic later and she was gone.

I miss her dearly. My house is too quiet while trash thieves and children on bikes pass unchallenged. My bed is too big, my couch too empty. There’s no (non-poop fountain) dog here to eat my carrots, cheese, and crackers. It’s been a rough, sad week.

I’m glad we have Zille here. Her solution to everything is “Throw a ball.” It’s a good distraction. And by god, she’s an easy dog, which is something you could never say about Greta. But I don’t think she could have taught me nearly so much about dogs as Greta. I’m a better person for Greta being in my life.

I’m going to end this three pictures that I think encompass how I’ll always think of her: Checking to see if the dinner I was eating was for dogs with her tail a blur of hopeful wags, snuggling with me on the couch, and telling boats to fuck right off. I’ll miss you, Greta-face.

Greta begging at the table

Greta snuggling on the couch

Greta standing in a large body of water and looking away in the distance