• the quotidian (5.13.24)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Down to the last drop.

    Burger buns.

    Pizza buns.

    Veggie buns.

    Racking jack.

    (It’s actually called “cyser” but I don’t like how that word sounds.)

    Sun ripples.



    She loves her chickens!

    Gearing up.

    Senior self portrait.

    It’s officially GREEN out there!

    Couch cuddles.


    This same time, years previous: civil rights learning tour: Jackson, currently, when there’s “nothing” to eat, the quotidian (5.13.19), Thursday snippets, driving home the point, on getting a teen out of bed in the morning, the quotidian (5.12.14), maseca cornbread.

  • spicy water

    “Spicy” is how my children used to describe carbonated beverages.

    In my house, seltzer is one of my pantry staples. Nothing fancy, just liter bottles of plain, storebrand fizzy water. I sometimes make cocktails with it, but more often than not, I simply pour a couple tablespoons of homecanned fruit juice into the bottom of a pint jar, fill it with ice, and then top it off with seltzer. It’s a good way to get fancy drink vibes without an excess of sugar, and it’s wonderfully refreshing. 


    But I’ve always felt kinda bad because: all those plastic bottles. Even though we reuse some of them as water bottles, most of them are a one-time use product. And I wasn’t too keen on the cost of the seltzer, either. It was usually only about $1.29 a liter, but that adds up. Plus, it’s water, something I can drink for (almost) free straight from the tap. 

    I did look into getting my own carbonator, but the cartridges are expensive and seemed like such a hassle, having to return them and get fresh ones so frequently. They’d save on bottles, yes, but cost? Not so much. 

    But the other week when I was visiting a new-to-me friend I’d met at Ultimate, she mentioned that they had a carbonator that her husband had “hacked” to hook up to a whole freaking tank of CO2 and I was like, YOU ARE MY PEOPLE. 

    I wasted no time. I ordered a carbonator ($110) and an adaptor thingy ($32), and then I drove to Airgas and purchased a five-pound tank of CO2: the tank itself cost about $90 and then the CO2 was $30 on top of that. 

    It felt like a big investment — $263.98 is a big investment! — but now that it’s all set up, it feels perfectly reasonable. It costs $30 to refill the tank and each tank should last for about 100 liters* of carbonation, somewhere between six months to a year, depending on our guzzling speed. That’s a freakin’ lot of spicy water.

    cold beverages carbonate better; thus the ice

    Plus, just think of all those plastic bottles I won’t be buying. 

    We put the carbonator on the coffee stand (which is rapidly getting overrun with all my beverage paraphernalia — electric kettle, coffee pot, coffee grinder, and now the carbonator), and we tucked the tank of CO2, like a taller, skinnier fire extinguisher, down in the corner between the wall and the shelf. 

    Having carbonated water at my fingertips is a never-ending source of joy for me. It’s a simple way to treat myself, and I think our homemade carbonated water tastes different — better — than the store-bought. Sweeter, perhaps. 

    But maybe that’s just my happiness talking.

    *Someone on reddit said that they carbonated 157 2-liter bottles from a 5-pound tank which comes down to about 10 cents per liter for CO2. 


    P.S. WARNING: If experimenting with carbonating iced coffee concentrate, make sure to FULLY release the pressure before unscrewing the cap.

    Because if you don’t, you might spend a good hour of your afternoon scrubbing your carpets, floors, fridge, stove, computer, cheese press, cheese, ceiling, clothes, notebooks, phone, chairs, etc, etc, etc.

    What are my thoughts on carbonated coffee, you ask?

    I do not like it. Not at all.

    But maybe that’s just the rage talking.

    This same time, years previous: civil rights learning tour: montgomery and selma, eat more spinach!, milk, the coronavirus diaries: week nine, our sweet Francie, settling in, the quotidian (5.8.17), Moroccan carrot and chickpea salad.

  • little devils stairs

    For weeks now, I’ve been hankering after a hike. There’s nothing like a lengthy, sweaty walk in the woods to break my routine and get me out of my head. (Plus, my older daughter’s been sending photos of all her incredible hikes in Ireland and I was beginning to feel an unhealthy amount of jealousy.) But taking off for a whole day is complicated, what with work and cheesemaking and such, and weekends are precious for around-the-house stuff and social events, and so it went: week after hikeless week grinding by. 

    And then on Sunday, my husband said, “Want to go hiking tomorrow?” A Monday hike? That had never occurred to me!

    I requested a 7-9 mile hike and my husband found one about an hour and a half away. My first thought was, So far? Is it worth it? Can we justify the drive? But then I was like, Be cool, Jennifer. People drive places all the time. Take the whole freaking day. WHO CARES.

    On the drive there, we passed swaths of blackened forests from this spring’s fires. The scorched trees, the bare forest floor — it was a little eerie. And then as we got closer to our destination, we noticed a whole mountain ridge that were entirely black, and we started giggling. What were the odds we’d picked a hike in a burnt forest? Oh well, I said. At least it’ll be a new experience. 

    Then we arrived and the woods, our woods for the day, were not burned.

    The woods was bursting with new green, flowers, birdsong, and merry breezes. The sky was blue, the day warm, and we only saw three other humans the entire time. There weren’t any views but we had running water for about half of the hike, and who needs views when you have a lush forest to occupy the senses? 

    We did the steep part of the hike first: about a mile, maybe more, of slowly going down the devil’s stairs and crisscrossing the stream about a dozen times. 

    drying off after fording

    During the more intense parts, my brain played what-if scenarios on a loop: 

    • What if I step wrong on a rock and tear my Achilles tendon? Take Ibuprofen immediately, that’s the first thing. And then my husband would probably have to go back to make calls and get help. Would he leave a sign attached to me in case I passed out from pain? He better, ’cause that way anyone who happened upon my body would know I was still alive and that help was on the way. 
    • Or what if I slip and my head snaps back and I crack my head on a rock? That’d be bad.
    • Oh! What if I get bitten by a snake? Sucking out the venom isn’t proper procedure anymore. We didn’t have any extra material for a tourniquet, so we’d have to resort to a t-shirt. And without a t-shirt, there’d be sunburn to contend with…

    These are the thoughts that occupy my mind when I hike. Now you know. 

    The rest of the hike was easier, though there were some steep ascents and descents, and lots of slow burns in either direction. 

    We came upon a family cemetery.

    When the Shenandoah Skyline Drive was built, mountain folk were forced out, their homes burned, so “finding” the cemetery in the middle of “nowhere” felt sacred. There was a plaque with a poem by Wayne Baldwin. The last line read: The blue of the mountains is not due to the atmosphere, It’s because there’s a sadness which lingers here.

    For much of the hike I thought about those people, and the people before them, too. What had life been like back then? How in the world did they live

    The bugs were bad so we ate our sandwiches while walking, and when we found ourselves once again walking alongside a stream, I spotted a nice pool of water and dared my husband to strip and dip. 

    Hello, Garden of Eden.

    We even had apples.

    No snakes, though, thank goodness. 

    Three-quarters of the way through, I was whupped. My feet hurt, our water was running out, and I was sweaty and tired, but I only walked faster. All I could think about was a shower, enormous jars of cool water, and my whole body stretching out on the couch in a giant exhale.

    Five hours after we started, we arrived back at the trailhead.

    We yanked off our hiking shoes, peeled off our socks, and pulled out the cheesecake brownies and lukewarm iced coffees. And then we drove home, all the while luxuriating in the AC and the simple act of sitting. The end.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (5.1.23), the quotidian (5.2.22), a few good things, an under-the-stairs office nook, PUERTO RICO, coffee crumb cake.