Saturday, May 10, 2008

Did Someone Ask Where the Beef Is?

I got your beef, lady, right there in the back of the truck.

Behold, the neatly packaged edible portions of half a cow. That's a shitload of meat, y'all. The MiL's brother raises all-natural, pasture-fed, happy (until, you know, that whole slaughtering thing), healthy beef cattle nearby, the kind that you would pay a premium to buy at the farmers market and couldn't even find at the supermarket. Every two years or so we split one of these cows with another family, thereby ensuring our red meat supply for, oh, EVER.

Unless you're a butcher, I highly doubt you have ever seen so many steaks in one place. Really, probably two boxes of that is all different kinds of steaks. Then there's a prime rib and all the other nice cuts you'd normally have to sell an organ to afford. Plus a fair amount of ground beef and cheaper cuts. We'll get some funky cuts you probably won't see at your local Safeway (Boston roast? Anyone?). And then there's the organ meats (liver, heart, kidneys) that I will personally not cook but the MiL is brave enough to deal with, the oxtails, the soup bones, the suet for the birds in the winter. As I said, that's a shitload of meat.

We have a very large chest freezer in our workshop, but since it is currently half full of the entire pig we bought for slaughter last fall (yes, yes, we are very carnivorous, moving on), we didn't have room enough for all these boxes o' beef. We had to borrow some freezer space from the MiL's sister.

I would invite you all over for a barbecue, except I don't actually KNOW all of you, and many of you live in other states, and, well, mostly because A. doesn't want to share any of his steaks. You'll have to take this up with him.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mystery Guest Number One, Come On Down!

We have a surprise addition to the continuing, interminable, Jesus-Christ-is-this-woman-ever-going-to-stop-talking-about-her-pets? (no), Meet the Family series.

Please to meet Zoe. Zoe is the mother of all the dogs you have met thus far. She was the first collie the MiL ever bought for breeding. Zoe's got all kinds of fancy pedigrees and show prizes, but do not be fooled by the pretty face and affectionate, silly nature--she is a killing machine. When the MiL first brought her home and let her out of the car, Zoe made a beeline for the garden and promptly eliminated a nest full of baby rabbits. Charming, yes?

Oh, but she is charming. She has the sweetest nature of all our dogs. I say "our" even though Zoe doesn't live with us anymore. The MiL's friend's elderly mother (got that?) was looking for a well-behaved older dog for companionship after her dog had died. We were overrun with dogs at that time, since we had three puppies from the most recent litter (one of which has since been sold), plus Leda and Zoe, and all were female, so all were fighting all the damn time. Even though it was sad to let Zoe go, it seemed the best thing for everyone. And it worked out so perfectly. Zoe LOVES being the only dog in a house where she is spoiled and pampered, Dottie (the friend's mother) LOVES Zoe, and frankly, it's a lot easier with only three bitches around here (not counting me).

Zoe is just visiting for a week or so while her adopted mother is on vacation. Last time Zoe stayed with us, it was a little . . . tense. Her coming disturbs the dominance equilibrium of the other dogs, and they tend to get a little threatening. Bitchy little ingrates--no respect for their mother.

But it's nice to have Zoe back nonetheless. She's such an affectionate, uncomplicated, and happy dog, so unlike our other dogs. She's the Pollyanna of dogs. Zoe's always cheery. I suspect she's been inhaling the lilac perfume, too. It's an epidemic.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Good Morning, My Lovelies!

Firstly, when the shit hit the Internet, the commenters came out in record numbers. It appears you all feel sorry for me. I appreciate the sympathy, but you know what? None of that bothered me--it was all pretty routine. I thought it was really funny, actually. As the MiL kindly pointed out, that's sort of sad. But hey, you gotta have a sense of humor about this shit (that's the last of the shit jokes, I swear) or it'll drag you down, man. So let's move on.

How about some pretty lilacs? This photo was taken a couple of days ago, when it was still sunny and cheerful, unlike today.

I love lilacs. They look pretty, they smell pretty, and they grew in front of our apartment building in Albany. After the first hard and depressing winter for me in upstate New York, the lilacs were the first cheery sign of spring. I always get a little sentimental when the lilacs are blooming.

Since we have at least 6 lilac bushes scattered about the property, the opportunities for waxing nostalgic are many. The ones in this picture are right in front of the house, and the MiL figures they're about 100 years old. You'd think they'd be tired after a century of putting out flowers and leaves every year, but God bless 'em, they just keep on blooming. It's just . . . inspiring, isn't it?

Good Lord, I sound like Oprah. I think the lilac perfume has gotten me high on life. And I hate that phrase. You see what the lilacs do to me?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Three Shitty Things Before Breakfast

Alice (as in Wonderland) may have believed in six impossible things before breakfast, but I think I got her beat with my three shitty things before breakfast today.

It is 7:32 a.m. So far, I have done the following things:

1) Bailed out and plunged a plugged toilet. The bailing was necessary because the toilet was so full it would have all slopped on the floor if I had just stuck the plunger in. And yes, there was shit in the toilet. So that's number one. Or should I say number two? HAHAHAHA!!

2) Disposed of a mess the dog made in the back hall, consisting of pee and, SURPRISE!, shit.

3) Scrubbed down A.'s jeans that I had been soaking in preparation for washing. He wore them when we sheared the ram, and so they were encrusted in (wait for it) . . . shit.

So let's recap: human shit, dog shit, and sheep shit, all cleaned up, by me, before I even had a cup of coffee.

Pollyanna, where are you? I need to find the silver lining to this particular shitty cloud. Oh wait, I got it: At least the day can't get any shittier!

I think I need to go back to bed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A History and Vocabulary Lesson

First, let's dispense with the history lesson: The official Wikipedia explanation of Cinco de Mayo says, "The holiday commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. " Key word being "French," not Spanish, which is what most people think. But this is all a little boring, mostly because it doesn't involve margaritas, so let's move on to a more entertaining topic.

How about sheep? Okay! Continuing my practice of answering all questions, here's one from my lovely and very witty mother:

"I'm surprised and impressed that you sheared the ram. Who held it, or was this a solo act?"

You're surprised we sheared the ram? Never underestimate our powers. But you should be impressed, because it was not a fantastic experience. It was definitely a joint effort, although A. did most of the hard labor, as usual. Donnie the ram (full name: Don Juan) has to be close to 200 pounds. Luckily, he's so fat and barrel-shaped, once he's down, he can't get up easily. But getting him down was the hard part.

Unlike the ewes, he's not so greedy for corn that we can put a bucket down and catch him while he's eating. So we sort of herded him into the barn and cornered him. He has a dog collar on, with a cowbell so I can hear where he is, so A. grabbed the collar and managed to wrestle him to the ground, with considerable effort. He tried to bolt, and it took all of A.'s weight and strength to hold him. I was not much help in all of this. Luckily, Donnie is more afraid of people than the ewes. This is the way you want a ram to be, so they don't get overly aggressive when people enter the pasture, and he didn't really fight once he was down. I held the collar and his head down so he couldn't get purchase to get up. He tried a couple of times, and one of those escape attempts was when I got stabbed with the pointy end of the shears. The stab wound is on my left wrist, right where my watch normally sits, so now my watch is on the wrong wrist and this is throwing me off entirely.

ANYWAY, Donnie was actually easier to shear, since he's a different breed and his wool cuts easier. The only thing is, with the rams, you have to shear their, uh, ram sack carefully, because I guess if they get too hot with all the wool it affects fertility. You also have to be careful not to cut their pizzle. And that is indeed what it is actually called by sheep people, with no trace of humor. But I found more than a trace of humor when I said it, because I am not a sheep person. PIZZLE! AHAHAHAHAHA!!! You can all try to use that word in a sentence today.

But Donnie's sack and pizzle (snicker) escaped unscathed, and the MiL is dropping the wool off to be processed today. This time next year, A. should have a nice wool sweater knit from the wool of his very own sheep. How quaint.

And let's end this post on a humorous note, shall we?


Monday, May 5, 2008

Pop Quiz, Mis Amigos!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Everyone knows that on Cinco de Mayo, you're supposed to drink Corona (or margaritas) and eat guacamole in celebration. But in celebration of what? What happened on the fifth of May that makes it a day for celebration?

And I want to hear what you really think, not what you find when you look it up on Google*. If all you do is Google it, I'll know you're a big fat cheater. Oh yes, I'll know. Because I can hear you breathing, AND I CAN SEE YOU CHEATING.

So let's see what all the gringos think Cinco de Mayo is all about! Answers in the comments section please.

* Apparently, if you Google "electrified salami Kristin," I am the first result. Yes! I'm number one! I'm so proud. I've always wanted to be associated with electrified processed meat. Thank you, mi hermana, for sharing this fun fact with me. It totally made my day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Cancun of Upstate New York

Minus the drunken frat boys and armed militia men. And the Girls Gone Wild film crews. But last night, we got as close as we're going to get to Mexico here in the godforsaken wet chill of New York. A. and I hosted eight people for a Cinco de Mayo party, except it was a Tres de Mayo party, because who wants to have a party on a Monday? And also, we were kind of shocked that we seem to have eight friends. How did that happen?

Of course, the guests are the most important part of any party. And the fact that they actually all showed up this time is an improvement from the last dinner party I had, when half the guests either couldn't make it or FORGOT TO COME. Bastards. Anyway, besides the guests, the most important part of any party is the food, of course. And alcohol. I am proud to report that we had plenty of both. And I know you want to know exactly what we had (because nothing irritates me more than not having all the food details. YES, I AM A LITTLE OBSESSED--WANNA MAKE SOMETHING OF IT?), so here's the food roll call:

Chicken enchiladas, bean enchiladas, corn and flour tortillas with shredded beef or mushroom filling, refried beans, and all the many, many accompaniments for tacos (guacamole, salsa, onions, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes . . . I'm sure there are more that I'm not thinking of). And caramel flan for dessert. Before I could get a picture of the laden table, the ravenous hordes descended, so no photo for you to drool over today. But considering my abysmal photography, it's probably just as well.

And let us not forget the alcohol! Yes! Tecate, Dos Equis, Corona, and Sol beers, plus some very yummy margaritas.

This kind of food is very labor-intensive to make, but damn, is it good. I really just had the party so I had the excuse to get off my ass and make Mexican food, which I should do more often, but which seems more trouble than it's worth for just three people.

Luckily, we have a fair amount of leftovers, so I can keep eating it for awhile. Like, a solid week. Maybe I went a little overboard . . . nah. Viva Mexico!