Saturday, November 15, 2008

I WIN! Again.

A couple of weeks ago, Krysta, a.k.a. Evil Chef Mom, had a contest. To enter, all you had to do was post a rant in her comments. About anything, addressed to anyone. As many times as you wanted. Well. I compose rants in my head day in and day out, so all I had to do was start typing. I ended up ranting three times (I seem to carry a lot of aggression about . . .), but the winning rant (chosen by a random number generator) went like this:

Dear Slugs,
Get out of my garden, or I'm coming after you with a salt shaker.

Love and salty kisses,
The Crazy Garden Lady

I KNOW--my cleverness amazes even me.


So my slug rant won me a prize. Now, Krysta had told me she was sending me candy. And I had to send her my address. I know, I know--send my real address to someone I only know online? FOR CANDY? Sketchy, yes? But I did, because I trust Krysta not to reveal my whereabouts. And also, I really like candy.

She has repaid my trust a hundredfold, because look at what she sent me:

If it's poisoned, I don't even care, because I WILL DIE HAPPY.

I've never even heard of most of that stuff. Sea salt features heavily. I had never had sea salt and chocolate, but I love salt and sweet together, so I said BRING ON THE SODIUM. We (yes, I managed to share some with A. and the MiL) sampled the dark chocolate with smoked almonds and sea salt last night. OH. MY. GOD. It was a religious experience. Really, I think I heard angels strumming their harps. Beyond good. The best chocolate I have ever had. Ever.

There's also a fancy one with chipotle pepper in it. And also a World's Finest, which brings me straight back to my band days. (Oh yes--I was in band at one point. And you will NEVER GUESS what my instrument was. No, really.)

Krysta has some seriously good taste in chocolate, friends. This stash is going to make it hard for me to continue with MADOF (you have to read Krysta's site to find out what that means--only the cool kids know), but that doesn't mean I'm going to share any more than I have to. So don't even ask.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tomato Tales

Once upon a time, there was a very brave and very beautiful maiden named Kristin who grew tomatoes. She lovingly planted and cared for the seeds, transplanting the tender seedlings to her garden when the weather warmed, protecting her helpless seedlings from the cruel world with Walls o' Water, all in preparation for the day when she would have a delicious tomato all her own to eat.

That day finally came, and there was much rejoicing in the land when the brave and beautiful maiden Kristin ate the first tomato from her garden. And the rejoicing continued as the tomatoes proved fruitful and produced many more tomatoes for salads and sauces and soups. But soon, there was fear, as the tomatoes came in greater and greater numbers, and the maiden Kristin (who is, let us not forget, very brave and beautiful) despaired of finding a use for all those tomatoes.

But the maiden Kristin, being a practical sort, rolled up her velvet sleeves and got to work. She peeled and cored and canned tomatoes for days and days and days. Her hands became weary from the paring knife and she suffered great pain from the acidic tomato juices in the many cuts on her hands from that very same paring knife. At times, she felt she couldn't go on. But the maiden Kristin was very brave (and beautiful! especially when canning), and she pressed on until she had canned all the tomatoes there were to can.

And then the brave and beautiful maiden Kristin heaved a great sigh of relief that she had vanquished the great numbers of tomatoes at last. Until the night of the first predicted frost, when the maiden Kristin gathered all the tomatoes that were yet green on the vine. And those tomatoes proved stubborn, sitting in bowls on the counter, slowly turning red, it is true, but yet mocking the maiden Kristin for thinking she could ever, ever win in her contest of wills against such a mighty foe as the tomato. But the very brave and very beautiful maiden Kristin is also very patient, and she knows that the tomatoes must surrender before she. And so she waits, in a stand-off with the tomatoes, that are still sitting in the kitchen in mid-November.

Well-fought, sirs, but I shall prevail in the end.

The End (almost)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Operation Frog Rescue

I was going to post this yesterday, but then life (and a dead deer) got in the way. So today, here's a feel-good, happy-ending animal story for those of you who were saddened and maybe horrified by Bambi's death. (And if you were, don't ever move to the country, because you wouldn't last long.)

Yesterday, I took the first step in what is surely the road to sainthood. I rescued a frog from our cistern.

I don't actually know if it was a frog or a toad, because I don't know those kind of things. I'm the one who always called the spruce tree by the house the pine tree, driving A. and the MiL crazy because HELLO, DUMBASS, CAN'T YOU TELL A PINE FROM A SPRUCE? No. Anything that has needles is a pine tree to me. Similarly, anything that is slimy and hops around is a frog, even if it's really a toad.


The water level in the cistern was getting low, so I ran the lake pump for awhile in the morning, and then went to take the hose out of the cistern opening in the afternoon when the pump had stopped running. I lifted the cover to see what the water level was, and I saw the frog. This stopped me for a minute as I weighed my options. I could leave it in there, but then it would die. I could ask A. to take care of it, but he would have to do it the next morning before work, and it would probably die before that. Or I could get it out myself.

I went with the last option. Because I am a saint.

Okay, really, my reasons for rescuing the frog were not entirely altruistic, as the thought of a dead, bloated frog decomposing in our water source was unappealing, to say the least. But I also just didn't want the thing to die, so I pondered how I was going to reach down five feet into the underground cistern (about where the water level was) and scoop it up.

My first thought was a bucket on a rope. So I got the bucket, looped the handle with a long rope, and dropped it down there. After it had filled with water, I tried to maneuver the bucket under the frog, thence to lift the frog up with the bucket. In case you've ever wondered, water-filled buckets on ropes are not very maneuverable. I got it near the frog, but then it swam away. Away to where I couldn't easily reach with the bucket.

Okay, now I needed something to prod the frog back to the side where I could reach it. I surveyed the various long-handled garden tools in the shed, finally going with the hoe. When I reached in with the hoe, I figured I might as well try to kind of scoop the frog up with the flat head of the hoe.

I first managed to squish the frog against the wall of the cistern. Oops. Sorry, froggy. No harm done, though. Then I actually did get it on the hoe, but it jumped off before I could raise it out of the cistern. There then followed a hilarious couple of minutes where I would chase the frog around with the hoe, it meanwhile swimming around frantically to escape the hoe, scoop the frog on the hoe and try to raise it really fast before the frog fell off. A couple of times I got it almost to the top before the frog would go flying off and take a five-foot swan dive back into the water. Meanwhile, I'm talking to the frog--"C'mere froggy. Come ON, froggy. I'M TRYING TO SAVE YOU, DAMMIT."

Eventually I managed to get it out fast enough and level enough that the thing was still on there when I got to the top. And then it sat there quietly (perhaps stunned from its unexpected high-dive experience) while I carried it over to put in the fenced-in garden so the dogs wouldn't immediately eat it.

Yup, it's only a matter of time before my canonization is finalized. I think Saint Kristin has a nice ring to it, don't you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

R.I.P. Bambi

Hey! Guess what! There's a dead deer hanging in my shed! And it's not even 8:30 in the morning! Now don't you want to hear THIS story? Thought so.

This morning at 6:15 I was mostly awake, waiting for the alarm to go off at 6:30, when I heard the squealing of brakes on the road out front. I figured someone had slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a deer. But I didn't hear the car drive off afterwards. Ten minutes later, the MiL knocked on our door to tell us that someone had hit a big buck out front. A.'s first response was that we didn't need the meat. And I was grateful, because he shot a deer during hunting season last year. Which we butchered. By ourselves. Thanksgiving morning. It took five hours. An experience I was not eager to repeat.

But then he was very quiet, and I could tell he was thinking. Finally I sighed and said, "You want to go get that deer, don't you?" But of course he wanted to get the deer.

So we got out of bed, got dressed, and went down the driveway. The guy who had hit the deer was parked in our driveway and the deer was damn near on our front lawn. Well. It was obvious we would have to dispose of the thing somehow, or else the dogs would be on it in two seconds. So we stood there talking to the poor guy whose mini-van was now crumpled like tinfoil until the sheriff arrived.

Apparently, the sheriff always comes for road kill deer. He has to tag it, so the DEC knows about it, I guess. But it is perfectly legal for anyone to take the deer when it's been tagged. You don't need a hunting license or anything. So the sheriff took A.'s drivers license information, handed him the tag, and we were now the legal owners of a very dead, very fat, 8-point buck.

We pulled it into the back of the truck and drove it up to the house. Then A. field-dressed it. Meaning he slit it open and gutted it. But it wasn't in the field. It hadn't been killed in a hunt. It had been killed when a large car slammed into it, and it was not neat inside. It was bloody and messy and frankly totally disgusting. Even A. was gagging a little, mostly because some of the intestines had split open. You know what's in the intestines, right? Yeah.

Anyway, he eventually got it dressed and we trussed it up to hang over a beam in the shed to cool down. There is some doubt that the meat will be any good at all, due to the trauma. But we figured that even if we can't eat it, the dogs can, and at least it's off the road.

After we finished spilling blood and guts all over the grass near the shed, A. went off to shower and go to work. I started sloshing water around to clean out the bloody truck bed, the bloody buckets we had used, the bloody shovel we had scooped the insides up with, the bloody watering cans we had used to rinse out the cavity of the deer. Then I dropped our bloody clothes in the wash. And I felt like I had been through a whole day already, and it was only 8 a.m.

Country livin'. Ain't nothin' like it.

Just Gimme a Minute

Coming soon . . .

How My Morning Started: R.I.P. Bambi.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Day for Honor

Today is Veterans Day. For those of you who have the day off of work, you'll have no trouble remembering that. For those of you who still have to go to work, it will be harder to remember. So I'm here to remind you. Remind you that this is the day set aside to remember and honor every person who has served in our armed forces during a war.

My father was in the Air Force for 27 years. His father was in the Army Air Corps in World War Two. His brother was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. There is no doubt at all that those experiences shaped those men, for better or for worse. I remember my dad telling me when I was in high school that nobody wants peace more than those who have been soldiers.

So today, please remember and honor in your thoughts all those soldiers who have served in a war. And if you pray, say a prayer for them. For them, and for peace.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Evidence That My Camera Sucks

Kim, a.k.a. The Inadvertent Farmer, asked to see pictures of the new rug. Kim seems to request pictures a lot. I am happy to oblige, except that I cannot, in actual fact, TAKE good pictures. I suspect this is mostly my fault, because I don't have the patience to "line up" shots and "find the best angle" and "focus," or whatever those actual photographers do.

However, I may be deficient, but so is my camera, dammit. Of course, I bought the camera, so that is also my fault, but let's just blame the inanimate object here, okay? I suspect that because my camera is cheap, it has inadequate pixelage (look, I made up a word!) to clearly capture things like the pattern in an Oriental rug. Or maybe it's just that we haven't seen the sun for a few days, so there isn't enough light. Whatever, the photo was really dark. I lightened it in my Kodak EasyShare software (isn't that what all the pros use?), but then it was really grainy.

I have decided that rather than focus on my failings as a photographer, I will instead claim that all of these aspects of my photos that are normally considered bad, are not really bad, but instead . . . ART. Yup, totally on purpose and artistic.

Behold my art.

Nope, still looks like a crappy photo to me.

Guess I won't quit my day job.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Un-Extreme Home Makeover--Blackrock Edition

A long, long time ago, my parents shipped me two Oriental rugs that had been in my grandmother's house. Since then, one has been sitting upstairs in one of the unused bedrooms, and the other has been on the front porch (just . . . don't ask). After many boring delays, we finally got one of them in the room we wanted it in. It was a process.

These are big rugs. Huge. About 14 feet by 10 feet. We had two rugs of that size in the living room and dining room that were getting pretty worn out (they're over a hundred years old--you'd be worn out, too). So one of the new (except they're actually pretty old . . .) rugs was going into the living room, the living room rug was going into the dining room, the dining room rug was going upstairs to the master bedroom. It's like musical rugs! Except not fun. That's three rooms of furniture to be moved, three floors to be cleaned, three heavy goddamn rugs to be hauled around and put in position. That's why we've been putting it off. But yesterday, the MiL and I sucked it up and did it.

The MiL only remembers the floor under the rug in the dining room being cleaned once in all the time she's lived here. That was twenty years ago. You can imagine the fun awaiting us when we rolled that rug up. It was also apparent once the rug was up that someone had re-finished the wood floor in the dining room at some point. But they had only done the floor AROUND THE RUG. What kind of thought process leads to THAT? A stupid one.

Seriously . . .

Do you see that black circle in the floor at the bottom of the photo? That's a plug. For the bell. That was used to summon the servants into the dining room. My mind is regularly blown by this kind of evidence of Blackrock's past.

I wish we still had a servant. Then the servant could have lifted the ridiculously heavy mahogany dining room table. The servant could have rolled up and dragged the rugs around. The servant could have swept, vacuumed, and mopped the floors. The servant could have arranged the rug pads, centered the rugs, and put all the furniture back.

Sadly, the MiL and I are the only servants around here, so we did all that. In the end, we got the rugs in the living room and dining room (Duchess's rug looks great in the living room, Mom*). We still have to get the former dining room rug upstairs and put down in the master bedroom and the other one of my grandmother's rugs into the parlor. But that's for another day. Maybe by then we'll have a servant.

* Duchess is my grandmother. She is not a Grandma, a Nana, or a Granny. She is a Duchess. You'd understand if you'd ever met her.