Sunday, December 31, 2006

A good day to die

It was a beautiful winter day today, sunny but crisp and cold. Four roosters met their end--Branwell, Mr. Collins, and the two youngest who never had names, as did Nellie, a mean little hen who, once she promoted herself to head hen, never laid another egg. All are lying in state in the refrigerator waiting for rigor mortis to pass, and then they will marinate in red wine for a few more days.
Woman with Needlework will be relieved to know that in the end I couldn't bring myself to put the cleaver to Wendolyn; plump and unproductive as she is, she's just too sweet and good natured to kill. Mr. Darcy, now that he's the sole surviving rooster, is being more of a jerk than ever, attempting to bring the SGS ladies, who are a couple in their own right and do not wish to consort with a rooster, thankyouverymuch, into his harem.

Re-creation story

  • On the 4th day there was the Older Daughter home from college, making one more pair of hands to haul water and firewood, and it was good.
  • And on the 6th day the cell phone towers were repaired and OD could talk to the boyfriend she left at college and she was no longer grumpy and it was much better.
  • And on the 8th day there was light and running water, and it was really good and meant we got our Christmas tree decorated before Santa showed up.
  • And on the 15th day the landline came back and we all yawned, because really, no one ever calls us on the landline anyway but at least it meant that the pissing contest between Qwest (telephone) and Comcast (cable) was finally over.
  • And on the 18th day the Internet came back and all was well with the world.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lights Out!

High winds the other night knocked out our electricity and broadband and phone lines and they tell us not to expect to get power back on in our area before next week. Apparently it's the high-tension lines that bring power from the dams on the other side of the mountains that are damaged and the outages are widespread.

Right now the outage is, for us, still in the category of "minor inconvenience." We have a wood-burning stove for heat, and a propane camp stove for cooking, and a creek to provide water for flushing toilets and such, and even a water filtration device to make the creek water potable if we run out of clean water. We have nifty little LED head lamps to read and cook by and plenty of candles for ambient light. The power stayed on at my office in the city so I drove in this morning to shower and read the newspaper online and blog.

Last night I emptied the contents of the refrigerator into baskets that are stored on the porch where daytime temps are still in refrigeration range and we are eating our way through the perishables. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the food in the big freezer in the garage stays frozen. While I don't have anything like Lottie's quantities of food put by, there's an awful lot there to try and use up if it begins to thaw.

I'd planned to bring in the Christmas tree and start putting lights on it but of course that's a job that's easier to do if the lights are lit. Same with the lights on the trees outside, which I'd planned to do last weekend but it was raining too hard. Maybe I'll start wrapping presents instead.

In chicken news, someone laid an egg this morning! It's been over a month, what with molting, and cold, and dark, and some of the girls having gone into retirement. I guess they know what I have in mind for the week I'm off work after Christmas. That won't help the roosters, though. Five roos are four roos too many and I'm keen to try this recipe.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fun with Food

For a while now I've been occupied with getting rid of stuff around the house that takes up space without giving something in return. The pleasure of ownership is lost on me. I expect my "stuff" to have practical or asethetic value, or at least provide a decent orgasm. Currently I'm eying the cookbook shelves.

There are a handful of cookbooks I wouldn't part with for the world--anything by Deborah Madison or Julia Child, M.F.K. Fisher's The Cooking of Provincial France, (part of the Time Life Foods of the World series, from which I learned how to cook when I was in my 20's), Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook. These books form the basis for my reputation as a decent cook. There are more that I could get rid of if I just copied the two or three recipes that I use into my personal recipe notebook. There are still more that I browse from time to time, either for a visual feast or as a form of armchair traveling, or to prepare for an actual journey by learning about regional specialties.

And then there are the other hundred or more that have ended up in my posession (I didn't buy them!) that I will never use--glossy works designed to promote use of certain products (The Spam Cookbook, The Tang Cookbook, The Spry Cookbook, The Joys of Jello) and cookbooks published by the Junior League, the Young Republicans, the DAR, the Bird Island St. Mary's Catholic Church Missionary Society. Cousin Judy's Better than Sex cake, Mrs. Murchistan's Easy Holiday Salad, and Duck a l'orange made with powered Tang are good for laughs. Once.

So this weekend I've been culling the shelves, paging through each one to make sure I'm not throwing out pure gold, or missing a good laugh. This morning's stack included The Popular Potato, which contained not a single decent recipe but did provide some amusement in the chapter devoted to Childrens' Special Spuds.

This dish might be good for encouraging abstract thinking. In case you couldn't tell, it's a person driving a car down a road. An egg person with shredded carrot hair and raisin eyes driving a potato car with cherry tomato tires and a cucumber hood ornament? steering wheel? down a road paved with cheese and striped with peas. Yum.

I'm thinking a lifetime of therapy awaits the child who confronts this dish at dinnertime.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Late Harvest

During my brief blogging hiatus I did make time for one of the more important short harvests in a gardener's biennium. I refer, of course, to the tomato stake season which in my locale runs for a mere 48 hours, beginning at 1900 hours on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November in even-numbered years, with occasional small harvests in other years.

This year the environmentalist in me was heartened, and the gardener dismayed, to discover that my preferred candidates had used recycleable materials--a printed polyethylene sleeve over a wire frame. Much as I hate to do them the favor of disposing of their waste, I was left to clean up the opposition's signs. One candidate, whose mulititude of signs had the best quality stakes, had waged a particularly odious campaign. Unable to campaign on his own qualifications, for he had none, he flung the foulest sort of dirt at the incumbent during the primary. It worked and he, not the incumbent, was on the November ballot.

I mentioned the waste. Once you've separated the tomato stakes from the actual signs, you're left with a stack of sturdy, weatherproof, non-recycleable, non-biodegradeable, corrugated plastic rectangles. There must be some way to use them, I thought, as my gaze fell on the chicken coop. The new coop

is bright and airy, but with single-wall construction it's also drafty. I've considered finishing off the interior walls with something. Perhaps the signs would work.

Two of my young roosters, Darcy and Collins, have taken to roosting on top of the nest boxes. I don't know how they manage to stay up there, given the slope, but they've made an awful mess of the plywood. It occurred to me that a slick plastic surface would either make it impossible for them to maintain a toehold, or be easier to clean if they were able to hold on.
Behold the candidate (who lost the election), useful at last:

And when those signs wear out, I have replacements at the ready:

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Strange bedfellows

Much like politics, the high price of heating oil sometimes makes for strange bedfellows: