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Tick. Tick. Tick. I hear a giant weather clock ticking in my head that’s shouting out to me daily, “Chica, get out on that porch now while you still have a chance to enjoy it.” I haven’t used it nearly enough this summer which seems pretty strange after the awful, terrible, long, icy, cold, miserable, shitty winter we all went through. And, especially, after putting in the effort to plant and love and tend that little garden of mine. You’d think I’d be as anxious as the cats to get out there every morning and smell the flowers. Those two stand impatiently in front of that closed screen door every morning — after they’ve been fed, naturally — waiting for me to flip the latch so they can escape to cool pots and shade. If I move too slowly or start my exercises before serving their needs, Rose starts in on her whines about my slowness and inattentiveness to more important things, namely her and Nick. I try to ignore her but she’s really very irritating. The cats have used the garden much more than I have this year. I pointed that out to them and suggested that just maybe they should take over the watering. I proposed attaching a harness with a little cart to their backs so they could roll buckets of water out for the beans and chives and geraniums. That remark was not even worthy of a sneer from either of them.

I have used the porch on a regular basis this summer. After all, almost nightly, I’ve taken my glass of wine, hummus, rice crackers, those lovely wrinkled, black olives and whatever mystery I was reading — it’s taking me forever to finish the not-very-good one I’m reading at the moment — out there to enjoy the evening. It’s become the favorite part of my day especially when I hear the click of the wheels on a skateboard (one of my favorite all-time sounds) or better yet, hear the voices of one of the kids on the block chatting non-stop about very important stuff. But I did want to be out there a whole lot more this year.

So much so, that I vowed early in the spring that I would, at the very least, eat breakfast out there every morning. But, alas, we had all those days of Noah-worthy rains through the month of July that put a so-called damper on that plan. And, by the time the rains stopped, I had developed the very bad habit of checking my emails while eating my oatmeal and drinking my tea in the morning. I’m such a hopeless addict about these habits of mine. But yesterday, to break the spell of at least that one over me,  I didn’t even open the computer. It was a good start. Then I took oatmeal, tea, and me out on the porch. The cats were suspicious and not very happy about having me infilitrate their territory. Nick knew I’d never let him catch one of those close-by birds if I was around. They went inside.

I also took with me out on that porch, a pile of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazines. I had accumulated a huge collection of these when I actually had a subscription years ago. I loved those magazines. Whenever a new one arrived, I’d  devour it from cover to cover, folding down pages of dinner possibilities that never actually made their way into my kitchen let alone onto my dining room table. Instead, I bought a wicker basket and dumped each new edition in with the hundred or so other ones. I’d always promise myself — and it —  that one day, for sure, I’d go through them all and pull out the recipes that I really wanted and throw the rest away. But, every time I started the process, I’d get overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities of all the amazing meals I could make just from these little books. It was too much for me — so back into the basket each and every one would go, leaving all those magnificent recipes uncooked. But, yesterday, was different. Maybe it was the fact that I actually went out on the porch in that morning sun with bird songs all around or the fact that I wanted to find something different to cook for Renaldo for supper (which we ate outside, I must say), but I managed to tear through two magazines, ripping out only the recipes I wanted and then dumping the leftover pages into the recycling. Two down many, many more to go. I felt lighter already. Then I went in and checked emails.