5We had tornado warnings yesterday. No tornados, but huge hail, which was odd on such a warm day, and lots of rain and electricity. A good day for domestic pursuits.

My domestic pursuits included alternating bouts of athletic scrubbing with hanging about knitting. I went to the farmer’s market and the grocery and the post office, worked in the garden a bit, and made bubble bath in a couple of different scents.

We also had a grown-up dinner since the boys were both at work: Chicken Diane, with a lemon and mustard sauce, baked potato, and salad. The potato has been smashed up and spread around, but I can still see that this plate needed more salad.

And I made Conga Bars. I copied this recipe out of an ancient magazine at the museum because I liked the name. You might call them blondies, but I like to think of people in a conga line, wiggling their hips and throwing their heads back laughing (hmm.. Gene Kelly seems to be in that conga line, along with a number of lush beauties in tight dresses… I have obviously never seen a conga line except in movies, but isn’t it just the last word in innocent festivity?) and then returning to the table in the cocktail lounge for a Conga Bar and a Rum Punch with a little 5paper umbrella in it.

 Here’s the recipe:

Conga Bars

2/3 c. butter
1.5 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2.75 c. self-rising flour
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped pecans

Mix it all up and spread it in a pan, and then bake it for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

You should be wearing high heels and a tight dress while doing this, unless you are a man, in which case I think a barkcloth shirt and pants like Gene Kelly’s are what you need.

Our vegetable garden was happy about all the rain. You can see my husband’s special garden art in amongst the vegetables. The cucumbers have just poked their heads out of the dirt, but everyone else is thriving, and we even have a baby cayenne pepper, which will probably be in tonight’s dinner.

5 Our flower garden is not really blooming much. We are supposed to have roses for Mother’s Day, and we hardly even have columbine. There are rose buds, in spite of the caterpillars, but no blossoms.

This is  a little bit of my perrenials garden in the front, looking like a nice display of leaves. I added some snapdragons yesterday. I also planted some basil. We grow the Italian and the Thai kind, sin ce both are good for cooking, but the Thai basil smells very nice, and my husband likes to put it along the pathways so that it will release its scent as people walk along the path.

That back corner has something wrong with it. I keep planting tall things there, and they keep disappearing.

Every spring I plant something else. It rarely grows to be tall, and then by the following spring it’s gone.

I haven’t decided on this year’s sacrifical victim yet.

And here are the sleeves of Erin, along with the body of Erin.5

 I am very unsure about those sleeves, but we shall see.

I’m reading a book called Scratch Beginnings, by Adam Shepard, which tells the story of a young man in his twenties who decides to leave home with $25 and a gym bag and make his fortune.

So far, he is living in a homeless shelter and has found a job. Being a jobhunter myself, I was interested to read about his experience. He also found that his first options didn’t pay enough to live on.

Statistically speaking, if you are a poor person in the United States and you take a job — any job — and keep it (for statistical purposes, you should also get married and stay married, but that is not relevant to this discussion), you will be out of poverty within three years. Shepard found that his first options for work simply weren’t profitable, and he didn’t want to wait around for three years.

This young man had willingly plunged himself into poverty, and was probably on some level aware that he always had the option of leaving it if he chose to, simply by calling his parents to come and get him. However, the changes in his attitude and behavior during his stay at the homeless shelter were very interesting. I remembered that Lostarts had stayed in a shelter briefly a couple of years ago while dealing with some odd landlords, and went back to read her experience. She found it unpleasant (as the author of Scratch Beginnings points out, that’s intentional, to get people out as fast as possible) but not life-changing. Maybe she wasn’t there as long, or as a mature person was less influenced. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

In spite of the effects of shelter life, Shepard has found so far that by working hard and doing without he is moving inexorably toward his goal.

Today is Mother’s Day, so I hope there isn’t a whole lot of inexorable movement on your calendar for the day. Enjoy it!