Saturday, July 5, 2008

Embracing the Lameness

I think it has been well-documented on this site that I am not a cool person. Like, at all. There was the love letter to my dishpan (we're still very happy together, by the way), the stellar movie review for "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (M.C. Hammer! C'mon!), the photo essay of potatoes, tomatoes, and me in my geeky hat in the garden. And now, to put a final nail in the coolness coffin, I am compelled to share with you my RIDICULOUS EXCITEMENT about . . . a garden tote. But I will not be ashamed any longer! I will embrace my lameness and proudly display it to the world! (Like I haven't been doing that already.)

Meet my new best friend. This garden tote was sent to A. for finally renewing his Nature Conservancy membership. But since I wrote the check, filled out the form, and mailed the thing, I claimed the garden tote. Besides, A. wouldn't have properly appreciated it. He's cooler than me.

Those gloves look kinda creepy, don't they?

Yesterday, after a run to the junkyard, we went to Home Depot. Nothing is more American than scrap metal and a warehouse-type home improvement store, am I right? ANYWAY, I went just so I could buy my very own tools for my pretty new tote. So I got a trowel, some pruning shears, and a big ball of sisal twine (for tying up tomatoes). I already had a nice pair of leather work gloves (bright pink-- because a girl has to be stylish even while wallowing in dirt). And as soon as we got home, I lovingly placed them in my friend the tote.

Look! Look at how clever! Notice the handy pockets, the convenient handles! And take note of the fact that everything in this tote will STAY IN THIS TOTE, and NO ONE ELSE CAN USE MY TOOLS. Got it, A. and the MiL? No more will I spend ten minutes searching for the trowel or a pair of scissors. I will know where everything is and I can just get to work.

As you can see, I had an exciting holiday. How was yours?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fire in the Hole!

I have this feeling that posting today is like shouting into the void, but I can't help myself. It's a sickness really. Plus, we have no particular plans, other than spraying the cabbages to kill cabbage worms (wheeee!), so I might as well post to make my day seem worthwhile.

Fireworks are illegal in New York State, so everyone drives over the border to Pennsylvania and comes back with enough explosives to stage a minor war. We don't bother buying any because we are A) lazy, B) cheap, and C) right on the lake so we can sit on our beach and watch everyone else's fireworks with no danger to our own fingers.

Therefore, there will be no photos of fireworks on this site. But I did find a fire picture that I thought was close enough. Though possibly not as impressive. The MiL found a ground hornet nest under the magnolia by the house, and requested that A. take care of it. She was thinking of spraying some hornet poison down there. A. was thinking he would pour gasoline down the hole and then throw in a match. And that's what he did.

It's no Pyrotechnic Overload (this is an actual product, available from the fine folks at Phantom Fireworks!), but we DO still have all our fingers, so there is that.

May you have a happy and carnage-free holiday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Suspense Is KILLING You, Right?

I know that y'all will never be able to enjoy your nice long weekend unless you can answer that burning question, "WHAT is the meaning of that perplexing photo Kristin posted today? I MUST KNOW!"

Relax--I'm getting there.

Cheese might have been my favorite guess, though I can't laugh, because you do indeed make cheese by draining milk curds. Sort of like in the photo. Except not PURPLE. Ew. So, not cheese. Though good try, Jive Turkey and Sara.

Leslie, despite her obvious lack of confidence in her guess, got everyone on the right track. Drew nailed the fruit. Constant C (I know your REAL identity, mystery woman) got a little off track by guessing jelly, though I could have made jelly I suppose. But you forget, I am lazy. And then YD totally got it! Juicing mulberries is indeed what I have been, am, and forever will be doing.

That's a length of muslin in which crushed and boiled mulberries have been tied up and hoisted to drip all their juice out. And the juice is all I'm going for. It is so, so good. Juicing like that is indeed the first step to make jelly (as opposed to jam, which has fruit chunks in it), but we have quite enough jam. And I love the juice. I even made up a delightful cocktail featuring gin, mulberry juice, and seltzer. It's called the Bo Peep. Geddit? Because I chase sheep all the time? Oh, never mind. The MiL pronounced it vile, but she likes Campari, so you can't trust her.

Now Meadowlark's guess was interesting. What is a "mulberry tonic," do you think? I would totally make it if I thought it was worthwhile, because it's not like I have a shortage of berries or anything. They've been raining down for almost two weeks now, with no slow-up in sight. And I'm dealing with berries every single day because I am gathering no less than 4 quarts daily, all of which must be used right away, as mulberries are very perishable. Damn berries indeed, Krysta.

So there, be off with you. Have a glorious Fourth, blow some shit up, drink, carouse, and generally have a good time.

Peace out.

It's Audience Participation Day!

Also known as Kristin Can't Think of Anything Amusing To Write and Wants To Make Her Readers Do All the Work Day. But I think Audience Participation Day is much catchier. And a hell of a lot shorter.

Okay! So smart people, you tell me: what the hell is this thing hanging from my kitchen cabinet? What in the world could I be making?

Hint: I'm doing it every. single. day. At least as long as the season lasts.

Update: Cheese?
Cheese? Please, take another look at the color there. Have you ever seen purple cheese? Although . . . perhaps Bat Cheese would be purple. Thank you for introducing that totally disgusting concept, Jive Turkey.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ms. Picket LOVES Me!

Do you know Ms. Picket? If you don't, you should go look at her site now. NOW. Go on.

Are you back? Okay then. So you know that Ms. Picket is a very cool, funny mom with excellent taste in music (and a potty mouth) who GAVE ME A PRIZE! A trophy, even. I haven't had a trophy since I was 15 and playing soccer. Check it out, y'all.

It's the Arte y Pico award. You can go look at the Arte y Pico blog for an explanation, if you can read Spanish. Y yo puedo. Mas o menos.

I'm supposed to pass on the blog love to five more people. Following the rules, of course. What a relief--I like rules and directions. And here they are, copied and pasted from Ms. Picket's blog, because I am lazy.

1. Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

There are a lot of people who do this blogging thing a hell of a lot better than me. They're all listed in my sidebar, so you can look at all of them. And I don't want to pick just five. It makes me nervous to have to pick, because that means I'm excluding as well. But, with the proviso that you should go read all of the sites I link to in my sidebar (GO. NOW.), here are my five picks, in no particular order:

1) Jive Turkey at Jive Turkey. Besides the cool name, Jive Turkey is one of the funniest people I have never met. I'm a Jive Turkey groupie. Go to her site. NOW.

2) Drew Kime at How To Cook Like Your Grandmother. He looks nothing like my grandmother (since he's, well, a HE), and appears to cook better than her, too. Good recipes, good photos, funny guy. Go to his site. NOW.

3) Mindy at Coffee and Queso. Props to anyone who would do a whole post about how messy her kitchen is. With photos. She bakes, too. Aaaand . . . you can go to her site. Yes, now.

4) Meadowlark at Just Wandering Through . . . She thinks hard about her life choices, and she doesn't want to sound like a nutjob. An admirable goal, and one more people should aspire to. Plus, she's going to use her pressure canner first so she can tell me what not to do with mine. So, you know what to do. NOW.

5) Mayberry Magpie at Mayberry Magpie. Love the name, love the content, love the design, love this lady. You can go now. To her site. Go on.

I'm tired now from bossing you all around. So you can go.

In Which I Once Again Demonstrate Total Lameness

Yesterday's story was just a weensy bit long. And I know you agree. So today, less words, more pictures. With a garden theme, because I am lame and like to take pictures of and in my garden.

Potatoes in bloom. This is just one row of seven, God help us. Please, send me your potato recipes. I'm going to need all the help I can get using up the potato harvest.

Hello, little tomato baby. Mama's been waiting for you for a long time. Now hurry up and get ripe so Mama can eat you.

A Portrait of the Gardener as a Young Woman. Dirt on chin? Check. Geeky hat and glasses? Check check. Calluses, sunburn, and sweat? Check check and check.

Yup, like I said, lame.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Big Red and Me: A Hate Story

Yesterday's introduction to Big Red, the pick-up, reminded me of a tale of shame that I thought you might all find amusing. Because I know you like to hear about when I make an ass out of myself, right?

One day in late winter, when the sheep were still eating hay, A. asked me to take Big Red for the day so I could stop at the feed store to pick up more hay. I HATE driving Big Red. I avoid it at all costs. I never really learned to drive a standard until I drove this truck, and I've still only driven it maybe a dozen times. We don't have a good history, Big Red and I. But the sheep needed hay, and A. had to go to work, so I reluctantly agreed.

I reversed in the driveway, got down to the road, pulled out into traffic, and made my merry way towards the feed store, all with no trouble. I was feeling pretty cocky, thinking what a bad-ass I was, driving around in this big truck, shifting gears and listening to country music like a real redneck chick. Snort.

I decided to stop at our mechanic's on the way to the feed store, to see if he could fix the driver's side door so it opened. So I pulled into his parking lot, set the parking brake, and went inside. He fixed the door quickly, and then I got back in the truck, trying to hurry because the mechanic was waiting for me to move the truck so he could pull in another car. I released the parking brake, put the truck in gear, pushed in the clutch, then applied the gas and started easing up on the clutch. And the truck started bucking like a damned saddle bronc. Then it died. This happened four times. The mechanic was sitting there, 20 feet from me, watching this fiasco. And I was getting more and more flustered, which wasn't helping matters.

Eventually, I jerked my way out of the parking lot and managed to get to the feed store. There they told me to bring the truck around to the loading bays on one side, which required reversing and angling the truck in correctly. And once again, we repeat the shameful bucking, the stalling, the whispered cussing on my part, and the open amusement of the feed store owner as he watched this stupid woman try to maneuver a truck that is clearly too much for her. I finally managed to get to the bays, only to have the guy tell me, oh sorry, you'll have to go around the other side, there aren't enough bales here. And I'm thinking, "You have GOT to be kidding me, jackass." But no.

More reversing, more angling, then pulling in between a large horse trailer and a brand-new truck, more stalling and not-quite-hidden amusement at my expense. They loaded the goddamned bales of hay that I had been sent on this hellish errand to fetch. And then. Oh, and then. I had to back out of this area, boxed in by trucks and trailers, with not one, not two, but THREE people standing there watching me. I managed, with more of my trademark bucking and stalling, but I overdid the gas and very nearly took out the sign in the front of the store. Then I drove away while all of them laughed. Openly.

And hey, have I mentioned that the truck bed was full of scrap metal? And the tailgate was broken and couldn't be put up? Yes. The feed store guy had to shove the bales of hay behind the metal, right on the edge of the lowered tailgate. Because you know what would make this whole thing MORE FUN? Worrying about flying hay bales. JESUS CHRIST.

Next I had to go to a friend's house, who also got the great entertainment of watching me try to back up out of his driveway, jerking and stalling and looking, as I had for the previous half-hour, like a complete fool. This time I missed nailing a stop sign by about a foot AND almost landing in the ditch. GO ME.

AND THEN I had to stop in the village, where I stalled in the middle of the road trying to get out of my parking space. Three times.

By the time I got home, I was shaking and swearing, at myself, at the truck, at the sheep, at A. for making me drive this piece of shit. And at all the men that day who had watched me make a complete moron of myself and thought it was funny. I definitely re-enforced some gender stereotypes. I called A. at work to tell him exactly what kind of nightmare he had forced upon me. He laughed at me, too. But at least he apologized for making me do it.

The next day, he came home from work and told me the truck was still not driving right. He asked if I had put the parking brake on the previous day. And I said of course, isn't that how you keep a standard from rolling? Well, he replied, I forgot to tell you (italics mine) that the brake doesn't disengage properly on the truck. So the parking brake was partially engaged the whole time after the mechanic stop.

I felt vindicated, relieved that it wasn't all my fault for being such a complete idiot with a stick shift. But it took me a long time to forgive him. And I haven't driven Big Red since.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Where's Big Red?

Big Red is A.'s pick-up truck. Can you find him in this photo?

Big Red is, clearly, a work truck. Despite being two-wheel drive, he can get in and out of anywhere with the chains A. bought for the back tires. A. drives him all over the property: pasture, front lawn, paddock, wherever. He has no air conditioning, no CD or tape player, no power anything. Hell, the driver's side door doesn't even open. Something that I'm sure I should be concerned about in the event of A. wrecking his truck and needing to exit quickly in the case of a raging fire, but eh. We'll worry about that when it happens.

ANYWAY, Big Red is used and abused on a daily basis. He carries cinder blocks, lake gravel, trash, scrap metal, and, as you can see, entire trees. This is a black walnut tree that we cut down yesterday to make way for the chicken coop we built. (Yes! Chickens to come! And I will post pictures, but don't get attached, because these birds fall in the category of Not Pets. And you know what that means at Blackrock. Mmm, chicken dinner . . .)

I have to admit that when A. first bought Big Red, I thought he (Big Red, not A.) was a huge pain in the ass. We were living in an apartment in the city where we only had one parking space, so the truck was always parked right behind my car, sticking out into the street. But Big Red has proved himself over and over again since we brought him to his natural element in the country. I suppose it's possible to live in the country and not have a pick-up truck, but it would be really hard. Especially if you want to do a lot of projects, like we do. And forget those pretty-boy, short-bed, extended cab pick-ups. They do not do the job here.

Big Red is not pretty, he is not stylish, he is not easy or fun to drive, but the boy can haul. And that, my friends, is what a pick-up is all about.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The View

This view is a lot more peaceful than those harpies screeching away on morning television. In my opinion.

We have a very nice front porch. Okay, so the roof leaks a little and needs re-shingling, and maybe some of the floorboards could be replaced, but let's not quibble over petty problems. You can forget them all when you're sitting there looking out at this.

Not bad, right? You can't really see the lake so much in the summer, what with the gigantic trees on the lawn, but in winter when all the leaves are gone, there's a nice view of the lake and an uninterrupted path for the howling winds to blow snow from the lake directly at the house. That brownish looking tree you see in the center isn't dead; it's a tree called a Copper Beech and it's supposed to be that color. It is also just about the only tree I can actually identify, despite numerous repetitive tutorials by A. on the subject of tree identification.

That little group of three trees to the right is where Mia killed and ate a bunny just last week. And to the left, just outside of the picture, is the driveway. Just below that first tree on the left is where Leda killed and partially ate the woodchuck. It's kind of like a Civil War battlefield--peaceful, and yet filled with the ghosts of the fallen.

There are also tons of fireflies out there now at night. And there are hammocks on the porch, suitable for gentle swaying in the summer breeze. Perhaps you would prefer to focus on that. A guided tour of Blackrock can be a gruesome thing.

P.S. Please note that this is post #100. Can you believe I've been spewing this drivel for over three months now? Yeah, me neither.