Tuesday, July 06, 2021


 Catch you up?  Well, today I was coming home from evening chores at the barn and could not see the southern end of the mountain for the cloudburst over it.  Knowing a storm like that usually moves north up the mountain, I stopped the crew heading to the garden when I got home: it ended up not being an electrical storm but you don't want to be caught in the garden in one of those.  I headed for the giant hammock.

And there, in the giant hammock, on my back, I laid and watched the leaves blow and hoped a hickory nut wouldn't hit me on the head and felt the rain drops slowly soak me.

This is heaven.  This right here.  As unfinished, and imperfect, and as difficult as it sometimes is to live with this many adults -- unfinished lets us adapt to a better use today, and imperfect is just good, and difficult just means add effort (or back off) (or both) -- heaven.

There are lots of things that are hell right now.  Work, for one.  Mack died.  That is about all that needs to be said.  The state of the country for another.  While I'm not a Liz Cheney fan, that more Republicans are not acting like she is astounds me, frightens me, angers me, disgusts me.  Probably mostly disgusts me.  Like Christians who fail to live by the Beatitudes, insurrectionists have no clue about the Constitution.  I want nothing to do with either variety of Pharisee. Then there's global warming and people's failing to have any skills or any willingness to live smaller and that might prove catastrophic.  But shit, people won't wear a mask, or take a vaccination, so I guess we just root for the rapture to take the idiots out.

But the garden is good.  Cooperation and teamwork are good.  It isn't Aleppo, at least not yet, at least not here.

Monday, January 25, 2021

expansive, visionary, innovative, conservative but not afraid to buck convention

 ~The qualities needed for eating well~

I want to talk about food a little bit.

We had brisket yesterday.  Brisket from our own cow.  It makes exactly the fourth brisket I've ever cooked.  Or eaten.  Because it wasn't a thing in my family.  But if you kill a cow, you'd better figure out how to eat some cuts you aren't accustomed to.

So that's one part of it -- being expansive.  But here's another part.  To eat the brisket on Sunday, I thought about it on Thursday and got it out of the freezer on Friday (although I really should have gotten it out of the freezer on Thursday when I thought about it -- because I didn't, it did part of its thawing process on the warming shelf and if I'd done it on Thursday, it could have all been in the fridge which would also save fridge energy (everything working together for them that love the lawd and all)).  It needed to be thawed on Friday or Saturday so that it could be trimmed and rubbed and marinate in that rub for as long as possible before the long, slow cooking process started.

So, expansive and visionary.  But there's also new information and new skills.  I had once sold milk to an old Texas family who I heard TALK about brisket.  When I had our first two, I asked an old Oklahoma family about fixing brisket and she literally only told me about a commercially available rub and to cook it for 12 hours.  All the recipes said six, but ok.  All the "authentic" recipes said smoke it but I don't have or particularly want a smoker.  NO ONE SAID A DAMN THING ABOUT TRIMMING IT.  It was finally somewhere in perusing recipes for the fourth brisket that I ran across a reference to trimming it.  Well dang howdy yeah, the previous briskets HAD been fatty and while that fat tasted good, the brisket just had not lived up to its billing. I started reading an article about trimming when I was called to wood duty (gathering from nearby woods that day, as we had a 30 day forest permit).  I look at daughter who isn't on wood duty and who does some other butchering and say, please trim this for me.  "What?"  I show her my article.  She says she'll YouTube it.  I came home with a FULL truck load of wood and to a perfectly trimmed brisket.  It was obvious looking at it that THIS would cook MUCH more evenly.  Oh.  Duh.  Well.  When you knew better you did better.

Expansive, visionary, innovative.  There was a whole bowl of mostly fat scraps.  I cut those up into smaller pieces and started them rendering.  Don't know exactly what I'll use the tallow for waste not, want not.

Expansive, visionary, innovative, conservative.  I don't remember until I ask the husband which dead relative we got the electric roaster from.  We weren't used to using it, that's for sure.  But I've had it out several times for the briskets because low and slow it is perfect for.  I remember in the summer I ran an extension cord out and did it in the bed of the pick-up.  Not needed this time, but last thing I did Saturday night was put a quart of beef bullion into the bottom of the roaster, put the trimmed brisket on the rack, set the temp to 250*, tell everyone that the house should be smelling really good in the middle of the night, and went to bed.  About 12 hours later the internal temp was about 150 and we turned it off.

Expansive, visionary, innovative, conservative but not afraid to buck convention.  Sliced thin across grain, served with au jus, chopped slaw blend of our making (cabbage, carrot, sunchoke, jalapeƱo) left to be individually dressed, sauteed mushrooms, and cheddar biscuits (because after another day gathering wood, we were too late and tired to wash and roast potatoes and sunchokes and biscuits from scratch is easy, and we had grated cheddar in fridge that needed eating).

It's about time to kill the last cow.  And start over.  Which will also mean pigs.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

may I direct your attention

 I just want to send you to read another blog post.  He doesn't post often but it's all worthwhile so spend some time there if you've got it. 

Thoughts of a Coal Miner - COVID-19 Is Teaching Us a Lesson. We Should Listen.


"We need to be getting back to our roots. We need to stop being so dependent upon an economy that will only let us down, something that has happened before and is happening now. We need to take away the power the wealthy have over us by being dependent upon ourselves and each other. We need to reevaluate what our lives are about and what is most important to us. Personally, I think everyone needs to get their asses out of the factories, out of the mines, out from behind their cushy desks and back into the garden."

Kindly what we've practiced and preached all along.  In case you are counting, this blog is 15 years old, and we'd been moving in that direction, practicing, for 15 years before that. To quote Scott Nearing, "It's A good life."

And for the record, Joel Salatin is not to be admired.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

well-behaved specters

It is my baby's 21st birthday.  The ancestral resemblance about him that has struck me the most lately is his slowness.  "Lord have mercy, you are as slow as Christmas," I can still hear my grandmother say to my grandfather.  Oh so methodical.  Precise.  Thorough.

And yet one of the things that I've remembered the most is my own 21st birthday, one of very few I remember specifically.  Just dinner.  The Inn's Tap Room.  Just my parents and Ron and Julia.  Most likely steak, potato, salad, rose Mateus.  I can't really tell you why, but it was one of the best birthdays ever.  Perhaps because it was exactly what I wanted, and in a time of terribly hyper awareness. A sweetness.

I baked the cake yesterday.  Blue with white icing.  I made it with egg whites so the blue was bluer.  I didn't have any cream cheese so the icing was pure buttercream.  I didn't have any blueberry flavoring so I soaked some dried blueberries and made something pie filling-ish, and added the few frozen berries we had (when did we use the gallons upon gallons we had?  Must refresh those this year!) and put that between the inside layers (my cake love based cakes are generally three layers).  It is pretty extraordinary, I must say.

I slept well, not a given at my age.  Which is interesting, and makes one oh so appreciative of those spates of really good sleep.  I woke to the alarm, after several dreams, some of which roused me but only the last stayed with me.  My uncle, after whom our son was named, just walked through the room we were in and into the next room looking for something.  It wasn't until after I was good and awake that I realized he'd visited on our son's birthday.  I appreciate that.  Ancestors always welcome.  Spectral visitor always welcome.  Well, if they are well behaved, but we operate very cooperatively so "well-behaved" is the norm.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Tale of a Pumpkin

We have a rather extensive Halloween celebration at our place.  I won't go into it, but it does generally involve pumpkin soup.  We don't have a recipe, we just wing it every year, keeping it pretty savory with chicken stock and canned cream and spices.

We grew some decent winter squashes this year, not a huge number but still nice.  But no pumpkins.  We we bought carving pumpkins early but waited to see if the pie pumpkins would hit a sale.  We waited until right up until the last trip planned into town before Halloween and . . . you guessed it, the place we were at had no pie pumpkins.  Zilch.  Nada.  I wasn't on the excurd so I checked the data bases and located plenty of them at a different store, which also facilitated pizza for that night, which relieved everyone of responsibility except the driver.  Oh well.  A magnificent, huge, decorative pie pumpkin was procurred, and on sale to boot.

We had our pumpkin carving ritual the day before Halloween, so we opened that pie pumpkin up too, and carved enough of its generous flesh out to be the base for the next day's soup.  After the soup was made, it served as the serving bowl.  Because we had socially distanced guests for the festivities, it was served outside, with a caldron of apple cider smoking dry ice.  When all were sated, there was still enough soup for a soup and salad night the next week.  

The rest of the pumpkin went into the stove to "poop" (cook until soft).  The rind was cut off and the rest of the flesh put through the blender, and saved in pie making measures.  It made enough pumpkin to make eleven pies.  Then the chickens finished off the rind.

And that is the tale of the pumpkin.


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.someone.has.to.do.something.about.it.and.that.is.obviously.me.  And.you.

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.