Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Hurricane State

I grew up in eastern North Carolina, and spent my summers in Atlantic Beach. I remember evacuating our beach place a handful of time, most vividly for Hugo.

I'm always panicked here about driving in snow and ice (less panicky as each year goes on, given I drive in conditions that would have seemed apocalyptic in my previous life). When early warnings about the hurricane began to emerge, I thought it might be my chance to be blase about a weather event. I was wrong, and was shown once again that weather humbles us quickly.

We attended a wedding on Saturday night when the rain started. Minutes after the ceremony, we were drinking wine and kicking off our high heels on a beautiful farmstead when an ominous cloud appeared on the mountain range. A half hour later, the rain was coming down in sheets.

Frasier, in a lovely hot-air balloon maxi dress, took the opportunity to flee the tent and dance (all by herself and of her own accord) on the patio in the rain. It was the kind of moment when, as a mother, you are both proud and mortified...mostly proud. Like the weather, that girl is mercurial.

The rain and winds picked up as the night wore on, and we endured the storm for hours. It was rarely violent - just constant. Many of us even went for a run (which was the most electrifying run of my life - I was soaked and got a jolt of adrenaline every time a gust shook the trees.)

Only that evening did we begin to understand the full impact of the hurricane. Our grocery store was flooded, local roads wiped out. Wilmington and Brattleboro, two small towns where we like to visit with friends, were hard hit. We only have a leaky basement and downed sunflowers - others were not so lucky. The video of the Bartonsville covered bridge going down is a punch in the gut to any Vermonter.

If you're looking for ways to help VT, check this site on Blurt. They say: "Text FOODNOW to 52000 to donate $10 to Vermont Foodbank. The Foodbank will turn each donation into $60 for families in need."

I'm confident that our beautiful state will rally - if there is one thing I have learned about Vermonters, it's that they make generous neighbors. (And they're good with power tools, women included.)

And to those end-of-days crazy fools (I want to call you something worse) who are babbling about VT receiving such floods because we're so liberal - please. If you think prioritizing equality and the environment warrants devastating flood waters, you, quite simply, aren't kind or rational. Good luck with that.

I've never lived in a state that I'm prouder to call home.


Pesto, Please

We are in the last weeks of the growing season, and though I've started a new job I'm trying desperately to maximize and preserve the fresh food we've grown in the backyard. Last week's project was pesto - obscene amounts of pesto.

The bees were pissed that I picked 12 cups of basil, but took it easy on me - no stings.

I used the giant, red, 400-pound retro food processor, which always reminds me of Anna (the Dogtor's mother, and Frasier's formal namesake). I miss her always, but especially when we garden. Last winter I cleaned out the basement freezer, and there were bags and bags of pesto labeled in her hand. It was difficult to throw them away, but the connection exists in the continuation of her garden plot - the volunteer herbs, the row of marigolds, the vision.

Bebe Z napped while I cranked up the processor, which is at times louder than a chainsaw.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Play Time

The Dogtor, Frasier, and I played around with his camera and some stop motion ideas this weekend, resulting in a fun little video. The sketch is of the lovely little bird that appears within the pages of my book at the start of each chapter.

Enjoy! And more video fun coming soon.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Buy Stock in Ziploc

It's putting up time!

Which usually goes like this:
  • One of us harvests an ambitious amount of produce, pretending as though we have lots of spare time
  • While cooking dinner with a two year old holding one leg and an infant howling for food, I convince myself I can prepare a meal AND boil 17 ears of corn.
  • Somehow I do
  • I put leftover soup or corn or kale or zukes in plastic bags, write a date and sometimes superfluous information (seasoning score), then take a bendy straw and suck the air out of the bag, usually inhaling kale juice at the same time.
  • Inevitably, I make a joke about Hot Ham Water that only Arrested Development fans would understand.
The putting up exercise usually concludes with a kitchen mess of epic proportion, and then the realization that Bebe Z must be bathed despite the zucchini skin and corn husks floating in the sink.

Still - victory is mine. As of this weekend, I've added 17 ears of frozen corn; a batch of spaghetti sauce with our eggplant, tomatoes, and onions; and ribollita to sizable stacked bags of zukes, squash, blueberries, and spinach.

Leaves beginning to turn = Anxious Squirrel Mode.


I'm a pretty devoted vegetarian, and have been for almost twenty years now, but I have this one weakness, and its name is Bacon. And every year, when the tomatoes ripen, I crave a BLT. So this year, like last year, I caved and we made amazing BLTs from local bread, our tomatoes, and our arugula.

I didn't make it through the entire sandwich. Guilt? Repulsion? Not sure. But those first bites were magical. (Yes. I am a flawed human being; I contain multitudes, etc.)

We paired the BLTs with sweet corn from the garden (bliss) and cucumber yogurt soup. The Dogtor said the soup was good, but that I hit the garlic a little hard. I always do.

For love of in-your-face flavor,

Beauties, Beasts

We've been able to harvest some carrots and onions this week.

Out of the carrot harvest there are, inevitably, some creepy carrots. Last year there was The Human Carrot and Sexy Legs. This year, there is Tripod.

We planted Spanish onions this year and - is this okay to say? - they have the most beautiful "flesh." Ew. But yes. They are lovely to cut and cook. Slightly sweet.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Bad Day for Birds

Two major bird events today:

1. The Savage Spaniel Strikes Again: Bo and I put the girls down. Expecting 6 inches of rain, we set out into the garden for another night harvest, in case things get a little too wet. We heard the robins going nuts - then looked up to see Betsy with a baby robin in her mouth. The Dogtor rushed over to confirm the worst - the chick was mortally wounded. Very hard not to be mad at Betsy. I'm still giving her the cold shoulder even though I know her passion is instinct-driven.

2. The Thuggish Rooster Earns an Early Exit: The rooster - Ridgely - never leaves the fenced in coop area to follow the free range hens. Never, that is, until today. The Dogtor was fetching something in the barn. Frasier was feeding the hens - and suddenly the rooster went for her, knocking her down. The Dogtor arrived just in time to see the rooster attacking the back of her neck. She has scrapes and I have a visceral reaction to the story, even though I wasn't home at the time.

Goodbye, Ridgely. We will try and find you a home, but if not...sigh. Your time is up. You are a useless thug.

Feeling blue about these things. I love the rooster noise, and I ache for the robins, who fussed and fussed over the chick's body. Before heading inside tonight, I stood under the trees and apologized.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When the Dogtor Comes Home

It's not my finest feminist moment to say so, but I wait all day for the Dogtor to come home. The hours between 5 and 7 are chaotic. We often grab dinner out of the garden and then attempt to cook something reasonable while managing a tired alpha toddler and a hungry infant. But every night we set the table and try to make something a little special out of dinner. (We are both lucky and unlucky that there aren't many restaurants around).

Sometimes special is a clean table with a perfectly cooked meal. Sometimes special is Fray crying into her faux chicken nuggets, throwing broccoli, and me swearing under my breath at a pan with a burned bottom.

Above - some photos of what happens in that wild window of time.

For example - tonight - a storm comes. Corn is shucked. Beagle eats corn when we aren't looking. Fray throws corn husks to goats, then rides the goats for sport with the Dogtor's help. Chickens and dogs argue over what the goats don't want (no one steals food from a big Nubian).

Nightly, we collect eggs from the chickens while feeding the barn. Tomatoes are picked (only the red ones, Frasier!), then a pepper, some beets and carrots for the salad, arugula, and a handful of herbs.

All must be washed. I usually am too spineless to kill the bugs that ride in, so I chuck the caterpillars, beetles, and spiders outside. Then the cooking begins...and these days is usually something along the lines of a frittata, stir-fry, quiche, giant salad, veggie burrito, or pizza.

Then the dishes must be cleaned and cleared so that Little Z can take a bath in the sink. One of us takes Fray (who is usually raising hell) up for a wash. The kitchen afterwards looks a little like a war zone, and then suddenly the babies are in bed and it's quiet, very quiet. And I enjoy it for about five minutes...then miss the happy chaos of the girls.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Epic Worms

This "little" guy (hornworm) was hanging out in the tomato section of our garden. The Dogtor tried to feed him to the rooster, but the rooster was...chickenshit? (insert applause for bad pun here).

So the Dogtor, feeling more optimistic about the girls' appetites, fed him to the hens.

Have you ever seen a more succulent worm? Don't tell me.

You Learn Something New

"Itsy Bitsy Spider has girl parts." -Frasier Bergman

(Caption for photo, from Saratoga Race Track: "F IS FOR FRASIER." - AFB)

Monday, August 1, 2011

C is for Cookie. Or Chicken. Or Cat.

Things that move me:

1. Seeing Cookie Monster streaking through our garden after an evening swim.

2. Cats in funny places on the car, trying to one-up each other.

3. Snakeskin. Cool and scary all at once, as in, that snake got BIGGER and it lives NEARBY. Ah, the joys (and risks) of my barefoot summer mode (inner redneck, can't help it - or won't.)

4. Thuggish silkie rooster, unable to find a way out of the coop while the hens go free and enjoy their afternoon. Bwahahaha, Ridgely. That's what you get for clawing my Fray.

All love,