Saturday, June 25, 2011

But Then . . .

The plan for this Saturday: A. would mow the way overgrown lawns that were breeding masses of mosquitoes. I would wash Cubby's laundry and hang it outside, gather mulberries and make juice, and mulch the peppers, corn, and asparagus. And maybe clear out the knee-high weeds in the blackberry patch.

A. went out and fired up the lawn tractor. I went out with Cubby to hang his laundry.

But then we discovered the tractor's middle blade wasn't cutting. And it looked like rain.

New plan: The MiL took Cubby so A. and I could jack up the tractor. He thought maybe the blade bent when he was mowing a particularly rocky and hilly area up back last time, so he could possibly just hammer it back into shape. He lifted the tractor, I inserted the jack stands, and he went under the tractor to see if the blade could be fixed.

But then he discovered the blade was actually missing.

New plan: A. and I will search for the missing blade while the MiL continues to entertain Cubby. We found the blade. The threads that screwed onto the mower deck had stripped. A. thought maybe he could use some J-B Weld to put it back together. He went to the hardware store; I took Cubby back and prepared to hang his laundry up.

But then it rained.

New plan: Laundry in the dryer, no working in the garden or gathering mulberries for juice. Instead I will make yogurt and A. will try to fix the tractor with the J-B Weld.

But then, in the middle of my yogurt-making, I hear shouting from outside. So I turned off the burners and ran out to find A. holding the J-B Weld-ed blade onto the bottom of the tractor with his hand and shouting to get someone to find some bricks to prop up the blade so he could remove his hand.

New plan: A. holds the blade and the MiL and I gather bricks and various bits of wood, which I then wedge under the blade in a series of combinations until I get one that's just the right height to hold the blade. Then back to my yogurt. Since he can't mow until the adhesive sets, A. decides he should re-build the foundation for the now-straightened shed. He starts digging; I finish my yogurt.

But then I remembered we really have to go to the dump this week.

New plan: I gather all the stuff for the dump; A. leaves his digging and loads the truck. He goes to the dump. I start writing my post.

But then Cubby just woke up.

Forget the plans. They never work at Blackrock. Especially on Saturdays.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fun Times

Toys for toddlers you will not find at that ridiculous backwards "R" store, but that are nonetheless thrilling*:

1) A plastic bag full of metal canning jar rings.

2) A shepherd's crook.

3) Hammers--the real ones that Daddy uses, not those stupid plastic toy ones that have no possibility of crushing a small foot. Those are for babies.

4) Any watch belonging to an adult, especially when that adult really would like to know what time it is now.

5) Rubber bands.

6) Brooms. The filthier, the better.

7) Dogs, cats, chickens, and any other live animal that would really prefer to be left alone.

8) Flowers on the bush that Mommy would really like to keep on the bush.

9) The tiles in front of the fireplace in the living room that A.'s grandparents brought back from Mexico and then for unfathomable reasons never actually glued to the floor and so they can be easily lifted up. And then dropped and broken.

10) Grandma. Most fun ever.

Happy Friday, duckies! I hope your weekend is full of fun and excitement.

* Almost all of these require adult supervision, as they all have the likelihood of causing an injury if played with too vigorously or ingested. Which is what makes them so thrilling for the death-defying toddler, of course.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fine Dining

Last year when I discovered that the day lilies running rampant in the creek are actually a delicacy and sell for four bucks a pint in New York City, it was already too late to try them here. They were done for the year. But I was determined to harvest some this year for experimentation. And to see if I would pay four dollars a pint for them. (I was pretty sure that was not going to be the case, but you never do know.)

Yesterday Cubby and I went out to the garden and pulled off some buds from the day lilies that grow along the fence line by the gully. It took me all of three minutes to gather enough for A. and I to have as a side dish at dinner. Not a pint, though. Maybe half a pint. It took another thirty seconds to rinse them off. I love that they grow high up and so don't get so filthy they require three changes of water to get clean. Like certain other foraged plants I can think of.

I sauteed them in butter for about five minutes. Although I think I maybe cooked them too long, because when I tasted one early on, when it was still crunchy, it had a certain not-unpleasant bitterness to it and a kind of green bean flavor. Once they were soft, they mostly just tasted like butter. Not that that's a bad thing, just not particularly exciting.

Verdict: I would certainly not pay the going price in New York City for them, but for something that I can pick right outside my house and have on the table in five minutes? Two thumbs up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chore Time with Children

Summer and fall are the busiest time of year for me. There's just so much food to be planted, harvested, prepped, cooked, canned, and otherwise dealt with, in addition to laundry to be hung out and animals to water and the dog pen to mow and . . . well. There's a lot to do.

And now I have a toddler. This toddler spends all his waking hours running around trying to hurt himself, break things, make a mess--often all three at the same time--and so must be constantly monitored. It's harder for me to get my work done when I have to be in a state of high alert with him at all times. But I have too much to do to only work when he's asleep, since that's only about four hours of my day. So I have learned what I can do when he's awake, and what really needs to wait until he's asleep. These thoughtfully planned and executed posts* I write for you every day? They do not happen when the child is awake.

The following things that I did yesterday are also designated Cubby-free jobs:

1) Gathering mulberries--far, far too messy for a child Cubby's age. The laundry that would result makes me quail.

2) Making juice from the mulberries--see above.

3) Staking tomatoes--sharp scissors hanging around, plus a ball of twine that would disappear within seconds to be unraveled all over the garden, plus an enclosed space in which every inch is covered in plants that I really don't want trampled all adds up to "naptime only chore."

4) Watering the garden--takes too long, makes too much mud, and once again, the strong possibility of plants being trampled by Cubby the Destroyer.

5) Doing dishes--too boring for Cubby, as he can't see what I'm doing, plus the kitchen is rife with opportunities to cause trouble (grabbing things off the liquor cabinet, taking bottles out of the cupboards that can't be fastened because of 100 years of paint layers, dumping the dogs' water dish).

Things I can do with Cubby in attendance, albeit more slowly and with a lot more interruptions? Also things I actually did yesterday:

2) Cut oregano and pull off the leaves to put on the screen and put in the car for drying.

3) Spread an old straw bale on the floor in the chick cottage.

4) Re-fill the food and water in the chick cottage.

5) Haul in cinder blocks to put the food and water on in the chick cottage because the straw makes the ground in the cottage too uneven and everything spills.

6) Water flowers with the last of the water from the trash can that serves as a rain barrel and then empty the trash can to discourage mosquitoes.

7) Hang laundry.

8) Weed wherever I happen to be standing, because there's always something to be weeded wherever I happen to be standing.

9) Pull the dead peonies off the peony bushes.

10) Pick up large chunks of wood in the way on the beach and chuck them in the firepit.

I'm sure there was more, but you get the idea. There is a division of labor, but the labor never stops--it just changes depending on the company I keep.

And on that note, Cubby is asleep and I must run outside to mulch the potatoes. Because Cubby+sheep-shit straw? Bad idea.

* This is what is known in the trade** as "heavy sarcasm."

** I have no idea what "trade" I'm referring to there. Professional busllshitting, perhaps.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It Begins

Mulberry Juicing Madness 2011, that is.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Sense of Occasion

A. had to go out of town Friday and Saturday to attend another one of those pesky Continuing Legal Education seminars. That means he missed all the woodchuck excitement.

Oh, but wait! The excitement was not yet over.

Yesterday afternoon I heard the excited hunting yelping. Again. So I went out to investigate. Again. And I found the dogs frantically digging and circling the foundation of the shed that we use as a garage. Leda and Otty were on the outside sniffing at a hole in the stones, and Mia was inside the shed, scrabbling at the floor. The corner Mia was in has plywood laid down to make a more or less flat surface, and there is an old desk there where we store things like barbed wire and tie wire.

I couldn't move the plywood, because of the desk on top of it. And so there the dogs were again, with something trapped in an inaccessible place and no help coming from me.

Luckily for them, just at that moment, the fourth member of their hunting pack arrived home. The one who has opposable thumbs and can operate things like guns. And pry bars.

My first words to A. were, "Welcome home! The dogs have something cornered and I can't help them." I wanted him to know that we missed him and that his presence at home is appreciated, you see. Isn't that the best way to welcome someone home after a trip? Right.

A. being the kind of guy he is, he didn't say anything and instead just went into the shed and pried the plywood up a few inches with his pry bar. Mia squirmed into the opening and backed out with an animal in her mouth.

You'll never guess what it was.

Oh wait. DID you guess woodchuck? Yup, it was a woodchuck. I don't know that it was the same woodchuck that got away the day before, but if it was, natural selection took care of that stupid woodchuck and it will no longer have the opportunity to pass on its sub-normal survival instincts.

For the rest of the day whenever I went outside, I saw each of the dogs in turn skulking around with the increasingly floppy woodchuck carcass. Yum.

A.'s adventure in the corner of the shed convinced him that what he really should be doing today is clearing out that shed and pulling it about nine inches to the north, lest it all collapse entirely. It's at least a hundred years old--you'd be listing to one side, too.

So he's spending Father's Day using his Come Along to pull the shed straight and then brace it with some kind of framework of lumber. I'm hazy on the details. Which is why he didn't ask for my help.

I did take out some porterhouse steaks and made some maple custard, so at least we'll have a suitably festive holiday dinner. But that's about the extent of the celebrations here.

Laundry on Mother's Day and construction on Father's Day. That's the way it goes at Blackrock.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads in the crowd. Here's hoping your day is more relaxing than A.'s.