Friday, June 3, 2016

For What It's Worth

I hear a lot--and see a lot online--about the impossibility of cooking dinner or making breakfast or lunch every single day. Even single people, people who only cook for one, say this, how hard it is just to have food to eat on a daily basis.

My first thought every single time? Yeah, it sometimes sucks, but honestly? You are making it too hard.

I feel I can say this, as a person who has prepared almost every single meal every single day for years, for many people. (More people every two years, as a matter of fact.) And here's my secret: I am not a chef, and I do not try to be.

My goal is to feed my family. Period. They deserve good food, but not fancy food. Fancy food will make you crazy. Fancy food is not for everyday cooking.

You want gourmet food? Feel free to pay thirty dollars at a restaurant. You want to be fed day in and day out? Come to my house. I may feed you bacon and eggs and spinach and potatoes (not coincidentally, what's on my stove at this very moment for dinner), but the process of cooking these will not make me feel as if I can't bear to cook again tomorrow. It will taste good; it will fill you up; it will be nutritionally sound.

It will not win me any prizes from a culinary institute. Who cares? You want to eat good food every day? Me too. But I don't want to slave in the kitchen for an hour every day.

So I suppose my best (totally unsolicited) advice to someone who wonders how the hell a person can bear to cook every single day without feeling like his or her life is a continuous loop of kitchen drudgery: Lower your expectations. Cook food, whatever you feel you can handle to make a balanced meal, eat it. Repeat. And leave the restaurant food to the restaurants, with their multiple staff members.

That's it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ah, the Resiliency of Nature

Bats used to be a large feature of life at Blackrock. Not a particularly welcome one inside the house, where I found them far too often, but we had a nesting colony of hundreds in the attic, so they were everywhere.

Then they disappeared, almost certainly due to the White Nose Syndrome that killed off so many in such a short amount of time in the east. I didn't particularly miss them, because, let's be honest, a bat looks like a nightmare come to life.

But then, A. and the children discovered a small bat sleeping in the nook of the huge copper beech tree on the front lawn for a few days about a month ago. And just a week ago when A. ascended the porch roof to take the storm window off the upstairs hall window, he found quite a large deposit of guano on the roof there.

And then this morning, I found one in the washing machine, almost exactly six years after I first found bats in the washing machine*.

So it looks as if the bats are recovering from their plague. Hooray. I guess.

* And just like last time, the MiL removed it for me, because she's much braver than I am when it comes to bats.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Canine In Memoriam

It seems appropriate that today, the eve of the day set aside to remember fallen soldiers, we should be saying goodbye to Otty.

Otty was, of course, a dog, but a fierce soldier nonetheless in defense of Blackrock. Possibly the fiercest of them all, as a matter of fact. She barked at ospreys and other large birds that she considered a threat, as well as those suspicious bicycles on the road and anyone who had the temerity to run or walk past the house. She attacked raccoons, woodchucks, and possums without fear. She was the one who dragged back so much delicious carrion in the fall left behind by hunters.

She was a good dog to have around.

Unfortunately, she got sick on Thursday. The MiL thought she had a fever and decided to call the vet in the morning if she wasn't better on Friday morning. She wasn't, so the MiL made an appointment to take her to the vet at 11 a.m. Friday, but at 10 a.m., Otty was nowhere to be found. We looked everywhere on the property, and the MiL even searched the gully, but we couldn't find her.

A. found her this morning. She was under the forsythia hedge in the back. The MiL had looked there, but I guess Otty had crawled in there after that. She was dead, and had been for some time. 

A. buried her on the edge of the garden by the blackberry bushes, the only spot where the ground wasn't too hard to dig. We'll put up a marker for her tomorrow and decorate her grave with flowers. A fitting Memorial Day tribute to a brave dog.

Good bye, Ottoline. Happy hunting in the sweet by and by.