November was mostly about cleaning and cooking and squirrels. I had hoped to get the entire main floor of our house cleaned, but only got to the living room, dining room, and a bit of the bathroom. Oh well. The important thing is I’m making progress and I will continue (albeit not much in December which has its own agenda).
In between bouts of cleaning I read 11 books (4 each fiction and nonfiction, and 3 poetry). The standout fiction book was The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion: A socially challenged genetics professor develops a 30+ page questionnaire to help him find the perfect mate. This was a fun, witty book which made me laugh aloud several times. I didn’t want to put it down and finished it in two days. The standout nonfiction was The Art of Communicating, by Thich Nhat Hanh, a short book full of wisdom that I vowed to reread every year the moment I finished it.
I really ramped up the cooking in November. This surprised me because of the cleaning project. But it also pleased me because I feared I had lost my cooking genes, but apparently they were just dormant over the summer months. I made steel-cut oats, wild rice, and orzo, all for the first time. I also made my first chicken adobo (excellent) and brown rice and peas (horrible and bland). I made three more batches of applesauce (including a microwave recipe that was not one whit easier than doing it on the stovetop—and nor did it make the house smell as good!).
And now that we’re in root vegetable season (parsnips!) I’ve made a couple of batches of roasted vegetables (seasoned with pepper and rosemary). Last time we went to the co-op, I got a few turnips. I expect they will be a nice addition to the mix. And since winter is here (we had an extremely cold November), I made some red lentil soup (which was merely okay).
We were invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. I was responsible for the corn pudding and the mashed potatoes. It was a fine meal, and I got to take home the turkey carcass (along with a lot of leftover turkey). So I made turkey stock and also a wild rice-turkey casserole which was kind of bland (but the cranberries I added were a fun occasional splash of tart).
In the herbal realm I was somewhat influenced by the cleaning project (sweet birch dust cloths, homemade air freshener), but also made some winter wellness tea (rosehips, elderberries, and star anise), cinnamon massage oil, a foot scrub, and I put up a couple of oils (thyme, chamomile, and elderberries; and ginger, chamomile, and clove) which should be ready to decant in a couple of weeks.
I’ve continued the haiku project (one haiku a day, which I send to a friend in Montana as a sort of record of the year), and the Obama weekly postcard project (I’ve now sent 24 postcards to the White House). I drafted another villanelle.
We trapped eight squirrels (they were in our walls) and there has been a blessed lack of scritching and scrabbling for the last two weeks. We got the lawn raked and the garden put to bed in the nick of time—snow fell the next day. Since I’m not a winter biker, I’ve adopted a winter regimen of yoga, weight lifting, and stretching. I do this with my neighbor, which is the only reason I do it at all. Otherwise I would just curl up in a chair and read all winter.
On a final note, we abandoned the Hitchcock project. It all started when I lost the list (highlighting the ones we had seen). A sign. I thought of how many Hitchcock movies I had returned to the library unseen. And then I noted that we had never returned a Katharine Hepburn movie unseen. So now instead of the Hitchcock project, we have the Hepburn project. Next up: The Lion in Winter.