Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Post About Snow

Because we got more snow yesterday. LOTS more snow. About seven inches, in fact. It started about 9 a.m., snowed all day, briefly paused last night, and now is snowing again this morning. We knew this storm was coming because of the winter weather advisories we'd been seeing. (Which cause us to go around in the time before the storm solemnly intoning, "We're under threat." Because it's funny. And because we're gigantic nerds.) So the sheep had their hay, the chickens had their feed, all the animals were snug and ready for the snow.

The chickens were quite happy to sit around inside and roost all day. The sheep were not so happy. The sheep were kinda pissed. They Do Not Approve of snow that covers the grass up. Even though the grass is DEAD and they have perfectly good hay to eat, they still want to graze. And the snow deprives them of this activity. So they stand at the gate next to the house and maa loudly at the slightest sign of activity. As if this is all my fault.

We want our GRASS, damn you.

The dogs enjoy the snow. At least, they enjoy it for 20 minutes or so of frantic swirling and playing, but then the ice builds up between their toes and their noses get cold from sticking them in snow drifts and they're quite ready to head inside and take their positions in front of the woodstove.

That small dot is Mia, waiting patiently for me to stop this wandering around with the stupid camera already so she can go inside and roast her head under the woodstove.

Yes, the snow is magical and gorgeous. Especially when someone (A.) is home to help me shovel. Yay for weekend snowstorms!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Great Debate

Marriage is a strange institution, throwing together two people in one life despite their different backgrounds. Would you like some random, totally-not-about-me* examples?

One person may have been raised by parents and grandparents (A.), while the other saw grandparents once a year--maybe (me).

One person may have grown up with margarine and chicken breasts (me), while the other was accustomed to butter and liver (A.).

One person may have been raised in the country (A.), while the other was a suburb-rat (me).

One person may have had a family tradition of watching each and every person open every single Christmas present one at a time (A.), while the other has fond memories of a Christmas morning free-for-all of greed and shredded wrapping paper (me).

And let's talk about that totally random last example, shall we?

Yes, my family handed out all the presents all at once, and then everyone opened them whenever they wanted. Some people went slowly, some tore them all open immediately. It was quick, exciting, and okay, possibly greed-inspired. A.'s family, on the other hand, hands out the presents one at a time, and everyone sits around and watches the person open the present before the next one is handed out. This is all much more civilized and classy, I'm sure.

There's just one problem.

A.'s family Christmas gatherings include more than 20 people. Do you have any idea how long it takes to watch 20+ people open at least one gift, possibly multiple gifts? A long damn time, that's how long. Because this is a totally foreign practice for me, it's all I can do not to grab all the presents and rip them open myself, just to speed things along. Though I suspect that would not make me universally popular.

So the question of the day: How do you and your family handle gift opening? One at a time, or all at once?

* As if ANYTHING on this site has ever NOT been about me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Giving Garden

You all remember that book "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, right? The one with the tree that gives and gives and gives to this greedy boy as he grows, losing apples and limbs left and right, until finally the tree is just a stump and yet it STILL gives to the boy-turned-into-an-old-man by offering its stump for the boy-turned-into-an-old-man to rest his weary old bones?


Okay, so maybe my garden isn't quite that selfless, but I just thought I should acknowledge the fact that I ate fresh produce from our garden last night. I know I need not remind you that it is the middle of December. And the garden is covered in three inches of snow. And yet, the brave little collards were still out there, waiting to willingly sacrifice their hardy leaves to be cooked with bacon and onions for my dinner last night.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bigger Is Better?

Onions are one thing that we didn't grow in our garden this year. In the past, our lack of rain has caused us to end up harvesting a pathetic crop of annoyingly undersized onions. And since one of the top onion-producing areas in the country is only about 50 miles from us, it didn't seem worthwhile to bother growing them ourselves. Then we had the wettest summer ever this year, so we could probably have grown them this year--the one year we didn't plant any. Of course.


So we've been buying onions. But of course I can't just buy the little bag of onions at the grocery store, like a normal person. OH NO. I need MORE onions. CHEAPER onions. SPECIAL onions. Mennonite onions.

There are a couple of Mennonite-run stores in the area that sell bulk everything. That's where we've been getting our onions, in 25-pound sacks (for seven whole dollars--wheeee!). That's a lot of onions. At first, I was afraid it was too many and they would rot before I could get through them. But we did manage to get through them all, and so I needed more. Except this time the MiL was charged with stopping at the Mennonite store.

I should explain that the MiL has this personality trait that causes her to always buy the largest available package of anything. Why get one tube of glue when you can have twelve! Forget that sissy normal-sized jar of mayonnaise--let's get the picnic-sized monster tub!

Thank God we don't have a Costco membership.

So of course, when the MiL asked for a 25-pound bag of onions at the Mennonite store and was informed they had 50-pound bags, she went with the more-is-better philosophy.

Dios mio

Anyone care to place a bet on who will win this race--me and my cooking, or the onions and the rot? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Birthdays at Blackrock

I believe in birthdays. I think everyone should have a big fuss made on the day of their birth and be totally spoiled, if only for that one day. In A.'s case, that meant a quiet dinner without a lot of people to be raucous and sing loudly. But it had better be a damn good dinner. And it was.

In celebration of A.'s birth, we had rack of lamb, twice baked potatoes, and acorn squash.

Damn, I'm good.

The dining room table was set with the family silver, the napkins embroidered with the family initials, and the Harvard Plates (purchased by the last wealthy Harvard alumnus in the family--and the last wealthy family member, for that matter--and depicting a different Harvard building on each plate). Because that's just how we play it at Blackrock.

Martha ain't got nothin' on us.

The MiL outdid herself making a four-layer yellow cake with buttercream and homemade blackberry jam between each layer. Except I didn't get a photo of it. Whoops. So you'll just have to trust me when I tell you, it was impressive AND delicious.

A. got some really good presents, most of them sheep-related. My personal favorite is a mug my parents found printed with the words, "I like sheep better than people." Indeed.

The next birthday, on the 27th, is mine. But I'm making A. take me out to dinner, so the Harvard Plates can stay in the cabinet for the celebration of MY birth.

How do you like to celebrate birthdays?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Child Is Born

He was born on this day 28 years ago.

He decided he was sick of crawling when he was 9 months old. So he got up and started running. He hasn't stopped since.

His first word was "no."

His first sentence was "No, don't want to!"

When he was a toddler, he loved to gesture grandly and announce, "I'll have my men take care of it."

When he was six years old, his Christmas request was," a big book full of facts." He got a huge, detailed, encyclopedic book entitled "The Fishes of New York State." Then he memorized it.

He raised pigeons as a boy.

He graduated from high school and left home for college when he was 17 years old.

He worked on a hot air balloon crew in college, getting up at 3:30 a.m. to chase the balloons through the desert.

He worked as a ditch digger in Phoenix, Arizona, in 120 degree heat.

Then he decided law school didn't sound so bad.

He got married when he was 22 years old. To me.

Happy birthday to you, A. And many more.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sheep on Parade

Yesterday, A. moved his flock from the far pasture to their winter quarters in the pasture nearest the house.

Mia is only pretending to help so she can steal some of the corn A. is carrying.