Sunday, August 15, 2010

Of Bats and Being Alone

It's been an exciting week in the Valley. My darling husband flew to Memphis on Wednesday to visit family and friends, so I was on my own. It is amazing how quickly one lapses into the habits of many years living alone. Most lunches and dinners have consisted of eggs in some form or pasta, except for the cucumber yogurt soup that took 3 minutes total to make, thanks to the food processor. By Thursday evening, I was eating the pasta straight from the bowl in which I mixed the fresh tomatoes (finally, our garden produced two!), basil, and chevre that composed the sauce (from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, While the Pasta Cooks). Darling husband brought me two bottles of my favorite Rosato from the winery where he works, but I've been drinking cheap Italian Pinot Grigio from a 1.5 litre bottle, just as in my single days. 

Cats enjoy the morning sun

Although I lived alone for almost 25 years, I found it surprisingly unsettling to be in the house alone the first couple of nights. In the wee hours of Friday the 13th, I woke to hear strange noises. The cats were dashing about and there was a flapping sort of noise. I turned on the bedside lamp to see a bat flying around the room, and seemingly straight at my head. I shrieked and dove under the covers. When I tentatively peered out, the bat, apparently alarmed by the noise, had flown out into the hall. In a panic, I grabbed my phone and called my husband . . . and got voice mail, because his phone had died. I fired up Safari on the iPhone and searched for "getting bat out of house." Unfortunately, the method recommended by Wikihow required a number of items I did not have in my bedroom, so I donned my thickest hoodie, covered my head, and opened the bedroom door, staying low to the ground. The cats--originally excited by the bird/mouse combo flitting about above them--were starting to get freaked out and were glad to follow me downstairs. Closing the door at the foot of the stairs, I pondered my next move, while looking for my leather gardening gloves. 

Bat Battle Gear: Rose gloves and the sweatshirt my boss brought me from Vegas

It was then I saw the phone number for the 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic stuck to the refrigerator. "They'll know about animals!" I thought, "I'll call them." A very nice woman answered and managed not to laugh at my hysterical ravings. She and another vet tech talked me through going back upstairs (gulp!) and closing all doors to other rooms, leaving the bat in the hall with the wide-open window through which it entered. This involved some most undignified belly crawling and a few more girlish squeals of terror. I beat it back downstairs and decided to go look at the Perseid meteor shower while having a restoring glass of wine. I only saw one shooting star, but I got my wish: the bat found his way out.

"King's High Scent" sweet peas from Territorial Seed

The rest of the weekend was blessedly boring, giving me the time to appreciate such niceties as the sweet peas blooming by the back door. Their scent is the first thing you notice when you step outside--no mean feat since they are right beside the garbage and recycling bins and the small compost bucket (over which an enterprising spider built her web, where she is harvesting a feast of fruit flies).  Scent is an essential part of the garden for me. There are roses and lilies at the front, and more sweet peas, honeysuckle, and jasmine in the back yard. A magnolia tree blooms by the door into the side yard, reminding me of the South of my childhood. I ordered fall bulbs this weekend--always a difficult decision--and made notes of what has done well and what needs to be moved or replaced. More monarda is definitely called for: watching the hummingbirds it attracts has become our cocktail hour entertainment.

Purple monarda and white cosmos

"Raspberry Wine" monarda, the hummingbirds' favorite

Finally, we had two tomatoes ripen; one I used in the aforementioned pasta, and the other in the omelet I had for lunch. (Seriously, I only cook eggs and pasta.) Lunch was a locavore's delight, with eggs and feta cheese from local farms and tomato and basil from the garden. The tomato is a variety called "black truffle"--really delicious. The butter I used in the skillet was local, and Dave's Killer Bread, which substituted for a baguette, is made in Portland. 


... and After

I decided that a festive glass of wine was in order--it is Sunday, after all. It's been hot here--upper 90s--so I've been staying indoors reading in the afternoon: Jane Alison's lyrical but disturbing memoir, The Sisters Antipodes (my book club's selection for this month) and the always-entertaining Diana Cooper's autobiography. Happily, my husband will be back tomorrow. I wonder what he'll make for dinner?

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