Sunday, September 06, 2020

mr green beans

From the garden to the kitchen

String and sort (can, dry, freeze, or salt?)

The turkey fryer has never fried anything.  Today it blanches beans.

After a quick blanching, they are cooled, then put on towels so they aren't too wet, then put in LABELED freezer bags (I don't care how obvious it is what they are!).  Suck the air out with a straw if you are so inclined (I am).

These are in the sea cans to dry into shuckey beans.  Our gasket was bad so we are lucky enough to have a friend loan us their canner for a batch or two until hopefully we get our canner good to go.  We are also experimenting with salting some this year, something we've threatened for a long time!  Excited about that.  We also preserved some eggs in lime water for the first time this year.  And we pickled a shit ton.  We have potatoes put up, and greens down.  

Fuck tRump.  Chop wood.  Carry water. Bake bread. Grow food.  Smash the patriarchy.


Thursday, May 07, 2020

Hillbilly Life

It takes a good bit more than a beard and a pair of boots to make a mountain man.  Freeze dried stores and semi-automatic weapons do not define the survivalist.

We grow corn that we depend on to eat, and that act puts us in touch with the Tsalagi culture that passed through this land before Europeans came.

Today our family ate a late breakfast of our own eggs (and crap bread), did morning chores, fussed a bit, planned a bit, researched a bit, and then just did stuff.  One worked off the farm for cash.    One washed a plethora of dishes.  Two worked together (and then before the end, three) to boil, pickle, and devil some eggs.  Some bunny eyes were doctored, some gates of hell dried, some laundry washed, some floors swept. 

Different folks wandered to the garden, some multiple times.  Things were weeded.  Stakes were made, and then driven into place, to "string" the corn (thread as a deterrent to crows pulling the sprouted corn up), and the very last thing was that it actually got strung.  An area of the circle garden that had been neglected was rehabbed with an eye toward the sweet corn (for us, country gentleman).  Some things were weeded.  The blueberries were mowed around.  Strawberries were weeded.

And before the last crew departed, some radishes and poke was harvested, both to be consumed with the chicken and rice casserole that a friend recently made for us just cause she loves us.  How magnificent is that?

Thursday, March 19, 2020


1st day of spring, equinox, the family is in the garden, I'm prepping supper, fried taters and onions, wild crafted greens, corn bread. We grew the potatoes and corn, the greens will be harvested today.

The last trip the kids took to see their friends who live a couple hours away, they came back with a "taters and onions" box that we immediately put to use. As I dug through it looking for the largest potatoes to slice and fry, the smell of stored potatoes engulfed me. I was back in my grandparents' basement where the potatoes (I don't even know who grew them, not us or them) were stored in old wooden milk crates lined and covered with newspaper to keep the light out.


As my hands rubbed the sprouts off, they were my grandmother's hands.

And when I cut a bad place out of one potato and ants jumped out of it, I laughed. That food is alive but that potato was eaten by the chickens.

When our daughter walked in, she said, "ahhh the house smells like wet potatoes."

Then I went to the garden and planted fava beans, my incantation against tRump and tRumpites.  Gawd but what is wrong with people?  Ah, it was sunny and warm and the dirt was rich and fluffy and full of life and having adult kids is a lot of fun.

Then we rolled a big round bale of hay into the field for the big animals.  I think I will make chocolate pies.  I baked the crusts last night. 

If this is quarantine, bring it on.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Mabel Ray 15 or 51 years later

I've written about this before, but . . .

The other day, it was my turn.  An outing with my girls and I'd invited other people to join us; I'd dressed up for it because I don't have much opportunity to dress up and **I had a gorgeous dress to wear**!  And the most privileged person in the group asked, "Where did you get it?"

I laughed out loud.  "At the Salvation Army where I get all my clothes.  Well, all my clothes that someone doesn't give me."

And the thing is, I really don't feel much "poor" anymore.  There are a few times of financial stress, but in general I'm not trying to figure out if I can get the deodorant this week or if it has to wait until next week.  I've got socks and underwear, and long johns and heavy coats, that are good.  I have "go get winter gloves for everyone" on the list without too much dread of how much that costs.

And the dress really is something.  Even if I had it on with long underwear under it so I could go on that walking tour in comfort.

And by sheer coincidence (of which there are of course not any), I posted that original post 15 years ago *to the day*.  And it happened a bit more than 50 years ago which we are calling 51, so there's that.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Wow. A Year.

It's  been a year since I posted here?  Well, it sure has been a year.  I'm not actually in that pic but that's a huge part of what a year it has been.

And if it isn't you, fuck you.  I mean, who are you if you can accept treason and bullying and lying and obstructing justice and cheating and more lying and yet more lying?  Who are you if you think hollering at people going to their DOCTOR is love or counseling or whatever you want to pretend today to stroke your own ego.  And who are you if you think it isn't up to you to stand against hate?

I used to really avoid that "f" word.  Why intentionally offend people?  Now if THAT is what offends someone, what is wrong with them.  It is a WORD.  And yet you are fine with people being hungry?  Dying.  Black lives not mattering.  Targeting people based on race, religion, sexuality?  The majority of folks not having access to BASIC healthcare?  Etc.

Now of course life still happens.  Not much bread baking but a cow is in the freezer and the farmer I work for has a scratch pie baked for him for his birthday tomorrow.  Kids are grown but we're still very much a family and seem to be folding people in rather than emptying out.  The garden sucked this year because the husband had a hernia pop.  Luckily it waited until he had socialized medicine to do that.  We still build on the house as we go.  We have friends with skills.  I still only know one real Christian.  Well, maybe two, and maybe three if I think about it.

I think it has been 15 years on this blog.  I have a really busy week, well, two, coming up.  And my non-busy weeks now only have one day that is not promised already.  So we fantasize about being able to come here and close the gate -- pretty much just like we've always fantasized about coming here and closing the gate. 

We didn't realize 15 years ago that we'd have to try to make the world safe for democracy first.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

part of the human heart

First you'd have to understand just how WHITE it is here.  I mean, it is WHITE.  I'm not sure what percentages there are, but like 2 or 3 percent black?  Yep, I just checked.  95% white.  Now, I've lived some places that were not so white.  Where I grew up was more like 6% black.  That's still pretty white.  I've lived in a majority black population for a few years, although there was enough segregation there to mean that I lived in a pretty racially even population.

So anyway.  The anti-Christ is President (that or Hitler, someone really really bad) and it's been two years of trying to do something to ameliorate that horrid situation, and two years of blame and mud thrown around a little indiscriminately.  And mid-terms are now a month away.  The pace is incredible now, unrelenting.  But you don't really dare to hope, just to ameliorate.  Ameliorate.  Meanwhile there are people who don't really think anything is much wrong, and people who are fine with the Christofascist American Taliban (CAT).  You believe there are enough of us if we just vote.  It has been two years of introverts feeling like the fate of democracy rests on our shoulders, introvert-ness be damned.  Meetings, protests, meetings, talking to people, calling.

And that last part, talking to people, strangers, indiscriminately, whew.  Knocking doors, calling, leaving messages, even talking to folks randomly in the grocery store.

One of my grocery stores is more diverse than the rest.  It is, not surprisingly, called ghetto food city, although they just rebuilt it so it is bigger and quite nice, and truly it has *the best* crew working there.

And it is here that my story really begins.  I've been in there, with this burning to make sure people are registered, and to talk about voting, and there have been black people there that I really want to talk with . . . and I'm afraid.  I'm afraid to impose.  I'm afraid to be judged.  I'm afraid to offend.  I'm afraid I'm offensive.  And I don't end up saying anything.  I know quite well they could see me as enemy, that the privilege of my whiteness comes at their expense, that I shouldn't be looking at them to save me, but lawd knows I can't count on white women to help me out.

And then Kavanaugh gets confirmed.  And then, Bredesen, who was not my first choice to run but who the scion Democrats SWORE was a great candidate because he could bring in the MONEY, and so hey, he's within the margin of error and so I go out and canvas for him, and then he says that if he'd been in the Senate, he would have voted FOR the hysterical maniacal assaulter partisan perjurer missing documentation not actually investigated judge.  And you just want to give up.  Politicians who will pander to anything for a vote and who stand for little or nothing ARE the problem, and are what elected tRump.  That and that most Christians have never met Jesus and instead worship money or "the market" and thus tRump.  It's a gut punch.  It's a low blow.

But we can't give up.  We have to hope.  And what will come?  I don't know.  How unsafe for my daughters will it be?  I don't know.  How bad can it get?  I don't know.  And I feel like giving up.  I feel despair.  Hopelessness.  Fear.  Sorry for myself.  And then I think of the rest of the world.  Children in Syria.  Refugees crossing a sea.  Villages facing Ebola.  Children in cages and parents deported, facing separation and death.  And I thought of black people, every day.  Even we have had discussions with our kids about how to interact with the police, but not because we thought they might get shot by them.  No one is afraid of us, or suspicious of us, because of our color.  I'm not pulled over for driving while white, and last time I was pulled over, for a burned out headlight, it was a good interaction.

We must persevere.  We must hold to what is right and good and just and hold and hold and hold.  We might have to scream some.  Voter registration drives in the south in the 60s had folks killed.  We must hold anyway.  Wealthy old white men and the women who are dependent on them might scream back.  Change is not comfortable.  We have to make a more perfect union, with liberty and justice for all, not a few wealthy white psuedo-Christians exploiting everyone and everything else.  Women's rights are human rights, and bodily autonomy is a thing.  Black lives matter.  Cops may not shoot unarmed POC.  The environment matters to us all.  No one should be hungry.  Public education is important.  Healthcare is a human right.  We need to not bomb people all around the world.  We need to not consume the planet up.  We need to look for win-win not win-lose.  Cooperation needs to be valued over competition.  Frugality and cleverness needs to be valued over ostentatiousness.

We are part, part of the human heart.  Act like it, damn it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

pay the piper

The piper must be paid.  The dance must be danced.  You can pay in joy and honesty or in bitter regret.  And probably a few other combinations.

It irritates me when people know exactly how it is about something they have absolutely no idea about.  I mean, it is fine to have an idea, it is fine to have a way to think about it, but it is not fine to tell everyone else how it is, that they must see it exactly that way, or that, well, even that you are gonna see your momma again.  Much less the rainbow bridge shitstorm crap.

Well anyway, two years ago I thought Clyde was dead.  Turned out, we think, EPM.  Maybe spinal lesion.  We treated EPM.  There was improvement, but there was continued cycling.  Nothing very bad, some really good.  But every now and again, he'd get down and couldn't get up.  And we would flip him, and he'd get up.  But you know (and this you DO know) that isn't going to last forever: There is going to come the day he doesn't get up.

It came.  It was hard.  It wasn't pretty.  It wasn't easy.  But there are seasons.  I had all that anxiety when he came.  He was so very very good for me, stretching me, testing me, teaching me.  And now he is gone again.  The ground is prepared, the seed is planted, the corn grows, the bears eat half of it, the corn is harvested, the ground is fallow.

And how do I look at it?  I doubt very seriously that we are one thing.  I doubt very seriously that we can see things as other than "one things" and separate in this incarnation.  I bet we probably see truest in fever dreams and that funny sleep before wakefulness and highs and hallucinations.  I think attachment is a root of a lot of ills.  When we think we have to know exactly how things are.

I think the piper costs a lot less when we let him call his own songs.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

what fools these mortals be

I am disappointed in myself.  Or disturbed by myself.  Or something.

Non-violence.  What is it?

I'm pretty sure it is violent to scream in someone's face, "You are going to hell!" especially when I don't believe in hell but she does.

Calling them fools, I'm good with that.  I find it amusing to the point of laughable when bulldog woman says to me, "It will be a terrifying day when you stand before the Lord to answer for this," when "this" is preventing her from harassing women seeking healthcare.  And at least one couple walking in found it supportive when I yelled, "You all go on in!  You're fine!  Don't listen to these fools!  You do what you need to do!  They don't give a shit about you!"

People, go the fuck away.  Believe over in your little corner whatever fantasy you want to if it helps you sleep at night.  If it actually helps you to be a better person, great.  Offer it up.  Offer up any of the support for those things that you want, but a WILLING AUDIENCE is a part of free speech.  And people going in to a health clinic, or me for that matter, are NOT a willing audience.

Truth should also be part of free speech.  That fetus you have labeled as 8 weeks is NOT what an 8 week fetus looks like.  (Not that what it looks like matters but you can't actually tell a human from a lot of other animals at that point, and there are still tails involved.)  Satan is the father of liars and YOU ARE A LIAR.  If person-hood begins at conception, what about the 60% of all fertilized eggs that completely fail to implant?  What was God thinking with that?  All those little babies burning in hell for the glory of God?  Like anybody knows anything about after (or before) life anyway. 

But I'm supposed to be talking about being upset with me, am I not?  Well, maybe I'm not so upset.  They have this fake, "Hey let's talk" thing going when all it is is, "You are wrong and I'm going to tell you about how you are wrong."  I'm saying, "You go be wrong to yourself over there and leave me and these other people out of it already."  Geez, the Crusades were WRONG people.  It is STILL wrong.  You believe in The Great Commission (which wasn't put in there until later but hey, never mind Biblical SCHOLARSHIP), great.  See how you can live so that someone ASKS you about your God.

You believe abortion is WRONG?  But that a crisis pregnancy is a great opportunity to introduce a warped view of Christ to someone?  And that's why you don't want readily available birth control or real and accurate sex education?  Because IF your interest was to continue the decline in the rate and number of abortion, comprehensive sex ed and freer access to contraception is the way to go.

OMG I'm writing this at the library because my laptop lost too many letters and composing on the phone is horrid and I don't want to go home and it is too rainy to ride and. . .

. . . and two women near me on other computers are both homeless, likely addicts, unlikely completely honest in what they were saying but likely as honest as they can be in that moment, and it was just heartbreaking and yet, nope, I did not say, "Ya'll just come on home with me now."  I didn't even offer a fiver because I didn't want to admit I was listening to their too loud for the library conversation.  And I'm like, you know, real people need real help.  Right here.  Right now.  And you are off to Africa or DR or Arkansas or the Women's Health Center?

WTF.  You are going to hell.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

doctor your religion is oppressing me

Do you remember a time when you didn't worry about your doctor's politics or whether he was part of some whacky religious cult?  My dad was a pharmacist and everyone knew he went to the Methodist church but it didn't affect his pharmacy-ing any.  The optometrist went to First Baptist; so what?  When the Indian (from India) doctors came, no one worried too much about their religion either, even if turbans and jewels in the faces of the women was . . . interesting.  I still remember when my mother went to her doctor friend's mother's funeral, a Sikh funeral:  She came away saying, "They believe pretty much what we all believe."  Well, not with any depth of understanding they don't and yet, viewed another way, viewed within a "we're all the family of man" paradigm, yes.  Love.  Love wins.  Or as my friend says, "You can never really go far wrong if you choose kindness."

So I have my first doctor's appointment in almost 20 years.  It's TMI but I want an IUD out.  That's been in there for almost 20 years (the last doctor's appointment).  I am able to go to the doctor because I finally qualified to buy insurance in the marktplace.  Thanks Obama.  No thanks state of Tennessee for not expanding Medicaid just so you could thumb your nose at the black President.  I was assigned a primary care physician by the insurance company.  My PCP thinks IUDs cause abortions so his receptionist told me to just ask him for a referral to a GYN and not mention the IUD.  Well, thanks for being helpful receptionist but DON'T YOU SEE A PROBLEM WITH THIS?

I was blissfully unaware that this could even BE a problem until a few years ago when one of our daughters wanted to access birth control.  We made an appointment with the PA at our long time doctor's office, a doctor I dearly loved.  I still love him, I still acknowledge all the help he gave us.  I remember at one time he viewed his job for us as, "I'm your consultant, you are in charge."  Well, somewhere along the way, that changed and that change betrayed his patients.  His PA did not even know about the newer forms of birth control, and it didn't matter because *THEY DON'T PRESCRIBE BIRTH CONTROL* because they think it is all abortifacient.  Face palm.  HELLOOOOOOOOO, you are an internist and pediatrician and you refuse to prescribe BIRTH CONTROL?  Can an ER doctor refuse to provide transfusions because he's that weird religion that doesn't "believe" in them?  I mean, sure, don't use birth control, fine.  BUT YOU ARE A DOCTOR!   The PA kept saying, "Have you looked at the side effects?"  Honey, are you aware of the side effects of PREGNANCY?  She even asked if there was a forthcoming marriage!  Like it would even be ANY of her God Damned Business.

So anyway, I about recover from that trauma, and it was a trauma despite it not actually being me but to lose the doctor who I had so trusted was and still is a trauma.  To even think that I trusted him feels like a mistake.  So I finally get a chance to go to a doctor.  And the doctor the insurance company assigns me to is . . . a member of a cult church that does not believe in birth control, actively works to prevent women having access to healthcare, does not allow women in leadership positions at all, and believes homosexuality is a sin.  This is a church that has actively not allowed people to "leave" and when they did anyway, they were shunned.  This is a cult that people have moved from all over the country to be a part of.  This is a cult where they laugh about drinking kool aid.

All the while the Republicans in government work as hard as they can to make sure that I can't actually access healthcare anymore.

I'm a little stressed about this.  Be nice, hide it all, get what I need?  Or confront the bastard and cause enough of a stink to initiate change?  I am so tired of these religious bigot fake liberty fuckers.

If my language offends you more than the so-called medical system and the actions of these so-called doctors, something is wrong with you.  The language is BECAUSE of the outrage.   What are we doing allowing people like this to be doctors?  What are we doing assigning women to have to go to doctors like this?

UPDATE:  It's kind if a non-issue in that we've figured out at the last minute that we can access the GYN of our choice without a referral so we're cancelling the appt with doctor culto.  But the reality is, it IS an issue.   And the reality is, I'm not through this process yet either.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

garden dinner by description

We've been taking turns with dinner, all of us, punctuated by a known snack party night and days we know we're going to be out or are just exhausted.  So I said, "I've got Thursday."  I knew there were things in the garden that needed to be eaten.  It is funny that that is sometimes the hardest part of the garden -- getting it out, getting it up, getting it eaten.  I said I'd cook everything that was ready to be eaten.  That turned out to be:  kale, new potatoes, green beans, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes both ripe and green, country gentleman corn.

I actually didn't take any photographs of the process.

The husband and I got in a hassle on the way down to harvest.  Because, you know, real life.  I picked beans from three different spots.  He graveled out a few potatoes and cut the kale.  I gathered cucumbers off of vines that are dying. Mice ate the plants meant to replace these that were in the greenhouse, more's the pity.  He gathered the ripe tomatoes and the largest green ones.  We picked the corn last.  Then we realized we'd forgotten the onions so he went back for them.

The bag with the tomatoes was splitting.  I had the green beans and the corn in a peach basket already, but I had to tie the tomato bag to that handle to keep it from falling out and support it from splitting, so I ended up walking up the hill to the house with the basket balanced on my head as it was too heavy to otherwise carry.  The little button on my cap didn't help but it IS a handy way to carry things.

I sliced cucumbers and onions into vinegar and water in one bowl; vineger, sugar, and water in another bowl.  We strung the beans while the kale soaked in salt water to get the bugs and slugs off.  I chopped the kale.  We shucked the corn.  I washed the potatoes.

The kale was a whole big pot, once wilted just covered the bottom.  After it was steamed, I added salt and oil and "fried" it to reheat it.  The beans and big new potatoes went in a pressure cooker with some fatback.  The small new potatoes I boiled, then drained, put milk over it, added pepper and some thickening.  I put a pot of water on to have hot to put the corn in for just a few minutes right when we were ready to eat.

I ran out of steam before I got the green tomatoes fried.  That will have to be another supper's endeavor.  I did do filling for potential later fried pies -- raspberry and blueberry.
Rave reviews.  Even from the goats who got the green bean strings, and the rabbits who got the corn shucks and cucumber peelings

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fried Pies

I don't know for sure that I haven't done a "how to" on fried pies before, I didn't go look.  It ain't like it's hard or anything.  But everybody needs fried pies in their life!

So it is really simple and it is really local and it is really cultural evidently.  It is certainly important in my culture.  First make your filling.  Any fruit.  Slightly tart is best.  A little thickened makes for less messy eating.  Today we had cooked apples with breakfast (apples peeled, cored, sliced, cooked with a bit of butter and some sugar, usually brown, how much depending on the apples).  I used what was left of them and added the blueberries we picked on our early foray into the garden.  Cooked up a little, added a little cinnamon because I like it.  *And let it cool.*

The crust is just a biscuit.  You can make them yourself but we usually just use the cheap canned biscuits.  Buttermilk, not flaky and for goodness sakes not butter flavored (with those little butter lumps in there?  I have no idea if they still make those but I tried to use those once a long long time ago and it was a mistake!).  Cheap, little ones, not big ones.  Not frozen ones.  Canned biscuits.
Roll them out on a flowered board to sort of a circle.  Pretty thin.
Spoon some filling into the middle.  Just all in the middle, it'll find its way to where it needs to be.  Probably less filling than you think too.  Fold over and seal.  Pay attention to the sealing.
Then fry them up in a skillet with a little oil.  Probably medium heat.  It doesn't take very long.
Coat with cinnamon sugar.  We make these often enough, and a few other things that require cinnamon sugar, that we keep a mason jar with it premixed in our pantry.  It is just white sugar and cinnamon mixed to taste.  We add to it every batch.  Do this right out of the skillet, white they are still a little oily and hot so it will stick good.
Let the eaters know which plate has the first ones fried on it because they will be cool enough to eat.  And they'll soon be gone.

This process is much helped by having a person for each station: one person trying to do it all will end up with, well, it isn't fun anymore that way.  It's fun to do it together.  Then everyone gets to eat!

Call them turnovers at your own peril.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Skills, people, skills. Practical skills.

I pulled into the barn just as he pulled up to the upper fence line in his ATV.  With a dog (do not bring your dog to someone else's farm), he crossed the fence (electric, or supposed to be), with a bucket, and started calling for the horses.  WTF.  I thought, I better go up there and see what this dude is about.  On my way, I called and found out that almost assuredly he was the rich "developer" who'd bought the adjoining property and completely, like I don't even know a term for it anymore but made a mockery out of expanding and redoing the house he'd bought.  He's about to do the same with the land it turns out.  SMH.  Anyway.

Oh, he'd be made fun of later for his "bravery" in entering a field with four horses in it with an entire bucket full of treats, but no one but me would tell him to his face this is a stupid thing to do.  And even I wouldn't use the term "stupid".  "The situation that you and I are in right now is one of the most dangerous positions one can put themselves in with horses," I said.  Eventually I said, "This horse will become downright aggressive if you keep doing that."

Here's what he said.  "Do you know my daughter?"  With further explanation of why I should know his daughter, which was because she'd shown, rather big time. BFD.  I really don't care.  I'm into horsemanship.  "My daughter, Blah blah blah."  Look mister, I don't care who your daughter is, or who you are for that matter, I'm trying to make sure you don't get killed.  When the electric fence popped a horse in an adjoining field whose curiosity had been aroused by his bucket of treats he said, "Wow, that's on?  It wasn't on yesterday."  Sigh.  Yes, the electric fence is on.  Except when it isn't but it not being on is not a good thing and hopefully never stays that way for long.

For a girl child born in the early 60s deep in the Appalachian coalfields, I had a very privileged upbringing.  I know what it is like for someone to hold that privilege against me.  I don't want to do that to this guy.  But he showed up a few weeks ago in a fucking Ferrari not believing that the guy who owned a couple hundred acres adjoining his could possibly live in this humble a house, so we'd already not started off well.  Ok, mostly I call him Mr. Ostentatious.  But this interaction, with the bucket and the horses in the field longing for me think he was ok in this situation because his daughter showed on the A circuit was something else again.

This interaction, with the bucket and the horses in the field insisting that I must know his daughter because she had shown horses and I should therefore infer that it was ok for him to be here in this field with this bucket and these horses was him wanting to be ok because of who he was and who he knew rather than for the skills he had. 

Anyone with any horse savvy at all would never put themselves in that position.

And a little horse savvy, a little animals savvy, is not rocket science.  Like a little electrical wiring and plumbing and basic auto repair isn't brain surgery.  Growing some food, it isn't rocket surgery.  Cleaning your own toilet, sorry but that is the beginning of morality.

Skills, people, skills.  Practical skills.