Thursday, November 27, 2014

Standard Practice

Power was out again this morning, and Alice, at Adams County Rural Electric said that they were replacing the failing piece of equipment that had caused the last outages. Told me they would be done by noon. Went outside and hauled wood, then split some. I'll split more tomorrow, as I seem to do on holidays. I wandered off to the west, harvesting a couple of small dead poplar saplings, and I found two perfect deer beds. The leaf layer was ideal for preserving them. Shallow ovals (they sleep curled), uniformly dried. They're a lovely artifact of nature. A few flakes of snow, nothing, really, but a reminder; and I got turned around. I was thinking about minnows, got distracted and walked about a bit before I found the graveyard. Then it was an easy path home. Cold, but I caught the fire, fried potatoes and sausage, then scrambled eggs with them, topped with Kimchi. Toast with a very bitter marmalade. Excellent. I could get a job in a Korean diner in the combat zone. Usually I make my own sausage, just because mine is better, but sometimes I buy something I haven't seen before, and I found a great, local, whole hog sausage that is as good as anything I make. Late afternoon and there's some gunfire, deer hunters, and I make a note to stay out of the woods for the rest of the weekend, lucky I didn't get my ass shot off earlier. Sure enough, two good-old boys show up just before dark, needing a ride down to their truck and permission to haul a dead deer across my property and down my driveway. I have to re-boot, bank the fire, and pee. They're standing at the staircase, while I make sure the house is safe, nothing plugged in, nothing on the stove. One of them said that I must read a lot. There are 36 feet of bookshelves, floor to ceiling, piles of books on every flat surface, and several precarious stacks of journals on the floor. Yes, I said. It was a race against the dark. Drove them down, they were parked a mile up the road, where the church used to be. They followed me back up and parked at the top of the hill, I turned around, so I could shine my headlights on their truck, they dumped accessories (they carried a lot of accessories) and took their very good LED flashlights back into the woods. I had a nip of single malt and rolled a smoke, sitting on their tailgate. It was a nice young buck, two-years old, six-point, and I had the better knife. I got the heart, which they didn't want, and finally got them on their way; got back home, heated water, washed up, trimmed and cleaned the heart, and considered the fact that I had too much food. I have to eat the heart tomorrow, fresh organ meat, I can freeze the veal, and thank god I didn't start cooking the beans. A thin sliced heart sandwich, with horseradish sauce, is a gift from the gods. Remind me to tell you about the year it snowed in August. Imagine that. Read more...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Absolute Calm

A beautiful day. Slept in after staying up when the power came back on. Warm enough inside that I could take a sponge bath, wash my hair, and shave my neck. It feels wonderful to be clean. To town early, trying to avoid the crush at Kroger, but it was still a zoo. I just needed a couple of things and the self-checkout was empty as everyone was buying cartloads of holiday food. Stopped at the pub for a pint and a bowl of soup, went to the library, then drove down below the flood wall to stare at the river for a little while. Came home the back way and drove about 10 mph on the last 7 miles through the State Forest. Three trees had been cleared from the road and I got several nice pieces of bone dry firewood to split into kindling. Stopped by B's place, had a beer and talked about books. Part of the roof on his barn was ripped off by the wind yesterday and he'd managed a repair despite the gale. I don't think I could have done it, but's he's one tenacious bastard when it comes to doing something that needs to be fixed in the instant. An especially valuable characteristic when you live an isolated existence. My plan is to spend part of tomorrow splitting firewood, then clean out the fridge, then make the soup; two out of three would be good. I need to make the soup because it's so much better the next day. I buy these packages of cured ham trimmings when they're on sale, half-price, three bucks a pound, soak them in milk overnight, to get rid of most of the salt; the next day I caramelize the diced ham bits with the onions, cook a pound of navy beans in chicken stock, mix them together with some finely chopped chilies and let it simmer for eight hours. Then let it rest, and eat it the next day. I usually have a bowl green, because I can't wait; make a pone of cornbread and dig in; but the next day, with toasted left-over cornbread, this is one of the legendary meals. The toaster oven is one of the great inventions, and cornbread, with its irregular surface, browns beautifully. Thick ham and bean soup on a trencher of toasted corn bread has got to be a nearly perfect food. Grape tomatoes and water-cress with a balsamic dressing on the side. And I picked up a nice old-vines zinfandel to wash everything down. B asked me down to his family dinner, but we both knew that I already had plans. I'll eat soup and salad, take a walk, maybe call up a turkey. Maybe I'll see the fox. Probably not. Read more...

Storm Front

Warm wind, almost a gale, then rain. The rustle of stick branches and the sound of the storm, roaring like a train across the ridge tops. I sit in the dark and listen for a long time. It's so elemental. Sheets of rain and the occasional snap and thud when a branch crashes down. The roads will be littered, but most of the country boys carry a chainsaw in the back of their truck, and I don't have to go to town tomorrow, or anywhere for that matter. Put on my headlamp and go get a wee dram, roll a smoke. I'm battened down, these aren't dire straights, it's just a storm. I remember a night in Utah, I'd driven into a remote location, then hiked several miles to a chert deposit that had been used for thousands of years. There was a shelter there, not so much a cave as an overhang, the walls were covered with images, hand-prints and animals, and I spent the night there, while a spring snow storm, lit with lightning, roared outside. One of the great nights of my life. I felt connected, which I feel tonight, with the howling wind and the sheets of rain slashing across the roof. It's so violent. Reminds you of the delicate balance we maintain with nature. She's a cruel mother preparing you for a cruel world. Listen to the wind, child, to see which way it carries us. Dawn, the power was out, and the wind had actually picked up. Still had a telephone, which was surprising, so I called the power company. Seems a great many people were without, but a harried woman told me I should be restored by five o'clock. The wind blew between 50 and 60 mph all day. I tried working outdoors but it was too damned windy, I kept getting shit in my eyes, so I came inside and read. Needed to finish up several books so I can reload for the holiday. Ham and bean soup and stuffed acorn squash on the menu. I almost started rereading "Mason and Dixon" last night, but decided to save it for a snowed-in stretch. Settled on reading John Thorne, I love his essays. Went on to lose power and get it back four times during the course of the day and evening. Finally lost it again after dark and just went to bed. Came back on at three in the morning and it was like being inside a wind-up toy: radio, refrigerator, several lights. A celebratory drink and a smoke. The wind had died completely, spent. I had some baked beans on toast and an avocado with lime juice, then bundled up and sat on the back porch. Quiet, still, and very dark. There's an owl, close by, and then I hear a coal-train over in Kentucky. Warren Buffet bought Dura-Cell which is a pretty clear indicator that storing energy is the wave of the future. One or two lightning bolts a year would power a small town. On the local level, 4:44 in the morning, I clean out the fridge. A small amount of waste, five or ten percent, and instead of burying it in the compost pile, I just spread it out on a plank. Someone might as well eat it. Listen to some Bulgarian music. Read more...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Changing States

Solid to liquid to vapor. Some days you get it all, other days not so much. I was talking with B about reading poetry, which we both do nearly every day, and how the moment came when you could hear it in your brain. Talked with TR about the opera today, then called him this afternoon and talked some more. I'm beginning to hear something. It has to do with memory, fireflies, and the seasons. Because of the cold, I stopped shaving several days ago, and I can't decide whether I'm growing a beard or not. I didn't shave for twenty years, then I liked shaving, because I felt clean, and it seemed to clear my mind, now it doesn't matter: I'm never clear and I don't give a shit what anyone thinks. Posit not making sense, which is almost impossible, you make sense whether you mean to or not. The rest of us get it, all we need is a clue. I needed to split wood, bring a few ricks inside, but it's supposed to be fifty degrees tomorrow, and I figured what the fuck, I ain't dead yet, and I'd rather read now and split wood tomorrow. D calls, from thirty miles north, wondering if I'm ok, and I assure him things are fine. What we have here is a frozen crust, and I can deal with that. Side-tracked by researching various popes in the Britannica, which was great fun. I feel like I'm getting a handle on the 14th century. Further distracted by the fox strutting up the driveway. She's so fucking cute. She slips off into the woods, heading toward the graveyard. I know her den is there, but I've never looked for it. I don't want to know where it is. It's not like I don't care, but I like the mysteriousness. Make a note to buy a bag of cheap apples. They're our main method of communication. Mice for the crows and apples for the fox. Big winds coming tonight, so I have to be ready to shut down, I'm saving everything. The wind makes a strong statement on the ridge, when the leaves are gone and there's no mediation. Dead trees will take out the power lines tonight. I have my headlamp and a decent fiction. Read more...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Plain Stupidity

I stop to help get some horses off the road, yell at them and wave my arms. I know very little about horses, just that they're large and have a mind of their own. I've known a few, but never established the bond I had with a castrated goat in Colorado. You could look for meaning in that. But Clyde was the most perfect Zen teacher of all time. He'd look at you, and chew his cud. You had to question everything you'd ever done. A goat could teach you that. Lovely morning though quite cold and I decide to get into town and back before the driveway thaws. Library. Pub, a beer and a cup of soup, then stop at Kroger, back-up cream and juice, the makings for a ham and bean soup. Easily up the driveway. Ice everywhere, the grader ditch is frozen, and I can see the frozen wet-weather springs on the opposite side of the hollow. After three dreary days it's nice to see the sun. Outside, I collect kindling (any dry branch I can break across my knee) and bow-saw some starter sticks. Then I went back out and walked down the drainage channel Scott had cut to drain the puddles that had been the former frog ponds. It's clear of prickles, because it's recent, though it is filled with leaves, eight inches of leaves. Still, it allows unimpeded access into deep woods, and that's a cool thing; I spend an hour looking at things that are still green, certain ferns amaze me. The under-story is interesting, it's so protected, and I spend hours thinking about that. Walking back home, in a trance, I hadn't realized I'd gotten cold. The fire was out, I needed to rake out the ashes, but first I had to change my socks. It was several hours later before I made a pone of cornbread and ate left-overs. Reading about the Papacy. Bunch of greedy idiots. The early history, before the Papal State, is fascinating. It's like reading about the history of Las Vegas. Urban the VI, Gregory the XI, Pius the II, simony. Fortunately, there was a new world, where we could kill the inhabitants and take over. And by then we had gunpowder. It's a tangle, the 14th and 15th centuries, gunpowder, paper, and printing presses. Walled cities were only ever a stop-gap measure; forget how to farm, and there is no bread. You can eat rats and song-birds, barnacles and sea-bird eggs, but you need bread. Hard winter wheat. Read more...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Frozen Drain

It warms to almost freezing but everything is still frozen. I have to wash dishes in a dishpan and throw the water outside, not a big deal, just don't throw the water where you need to walk. Slops go off to the side. The muffled sound of snow is oddly reassuring. Us rednecks tend to die in harness. Queen Maud. Three crows calling for their dues. I don't maintain that any of it makes sense, but I play the game. It's supposed to get bitter cold again almost immediately, but, for the moment, the house is warm, two in the morning, so I stay up to write for a couple of hours. Made a cheese omelet with toast, read at the island for an hour. Jim Harrison cooking dinner with some hunting buddies at a cabin in the Upper Peninsula. The drain will be frozen for the rest of the winter, but I've found I use less water if I wash dishes in a dishpan, so I don't really care. It's awkward, going out to throw the slops, but I keep a chair (a straight-back porch chair from Selma, Alabama) near the back door and change into studded rubber boots. The dishpan requires two hands, so I'm very careful. I don't like walking on ice without a stick. When I get to town again, and I need a few things, it will have been a week since I left the ridge. A week is good, you need to be able to do a week without thinking about it; a month, if things turn for the worst. What I've learned is that things usually get better. It wasn't an actual threat, it was just a test, what you need to do is pick up the pieces. I could as easily argue that hauling wood could be done mechanically or with hired labor, but it wouldn't be the same. Another cold night, it never did get above freezing yesterday nor today and back down to 10 or 12 degrees tonight. Outside only briefly as I should have Saturday and Sunday to restock the house and it's supposed to get warmer. Had a nice fire going all day and by bedtime I'll have burned an entire rick, which is about as much as is possible to burn. I'll have to leave the electric oil-filled radiator going tonight. I've started bringing the outhouse toilet seat inside and storing it near the stove. I think a ham and bean soup is next. Six books read in the last six days, which is more or less normal, all fiction, so I was glad to hear from the public library that they were holding a couple of things for me. Tuchman's China book, and a book about the Papacy. Thus, a trip to town, but I can pick up a few things, have new books, start a soup on the cookstove, then split wood and build ricks on the weekend; and the driveway is passable, which makes it all possible. Just settled in with a drink and a smoke when I get a call from an old friend in California. I hadn't heard from him in years, but he found me; he said that on Google Earth I showed up as what might be a driveway. The green roof was a good idea. He's still out on the road, the advance man for rock-and-roll shows, he'd found some of my writing somewhere online, and wanted to tell me that he was impressed I was still alive. I had to laugh. Later, after we'd hung up, I sat for an hour thinking about that. Not so much lucky as careful. The last of the stew is hot and the last of the pone of cornbread is toasted. I have to go. Read more...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Several Layers

I slept in a couple of layers last night in the mummy bag. The house was 42 degrees this morning, inside. Another day in paradise. Pull on my robe and slipper socks, pull Linda's hat down over my ears and start a fire. Go back, wrap up in a blanket and listen to NPR, read for a couple of hours. B had passed on the second (in a series, I'm sure) of detective novels by J.K. Rowling. I'd never read her at all, but this is a pretty good book. A great way to get through a frozen morning. That, and thinking about how often I go back, when I'm writing, and change a preposition to a comma. Or add a preposition AND a comma. Wind is sweeping the ridge. My one foray out, I split a couple of rounds, brought some wood inside. It's harsh out, but partly sunny, which is welcome relief. I fear Mac is buried in snow, south of Buffalo, and we just have a dusting here; I'd feel guilty, but he'll be spending the winter in Key West and other points south, and I'll be buried in a snow-drift. The weather isn't such a hurdle if you don't have to fight it. If you don't open the door, you don't let any cold air in. Fuck protocol, I walk around draped in a blanket. Those army wool blankets are the best, but they're getting harder to find. Read more...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Collating Information

God damn it's cold. The stew, however, is extraordinary. Since the stove was going full-time, I caramelized everything. It took hours, but I was just sitting at the island reading. I had left-over juice and bits from the last roast, and had picked up a package of 'rib meat' which I assume to be the outside of a loin, still adhering to the bone, so I seared it with a coating of masa and ground peppers while I roasted root vegetables, then I mixed everything together and left it on the stove overnight. I got up once and stoked the stove with a Live Oak billet, so I cooked this stew for eight hours.If they gave awards for this kind of thing, I won. The natural sweetness and depth of flavor is amazing. It's so good I feel guilty eating it. I made another pone of cornbread, which I split and toasted, and the combination was sublime. I'm suspicious I would be so blessed, surely the wrath of god should follow. Indulgences pave the way. Buy your way to heaven. I sweep the back deck, so I won't fall on my ass, and I sense the presence of the waning moon. I'll deal with the real world later. Fifteen degrees this morning, and windy. Too awful to work outside other than a short walk to collect kindling. B stopped by, to say that if I got too uncomfortable, or the power went out, to come down to his place. I get the house warm enough to survive and heat up the stew. I have another Live Oak log for the nighttime fire. It's supposed to warm above freezing tomorrow. I could get to town, since B got in this afternoon, depends on the weather. For the rest of the winter, I'll go to town when it's possible, not when I choose. You have to think ahead. I don't need anything right now, but if I could get out tomorrow I could get back-up supplies that would see me through the next weather event. Sure, I need to split some wood, but I have to get outside, so what's the downside of that? This kind of windy driven air, heavy with humidity, I'd say there was more snow coming. It smells like carnations (Linda had asked) with no musky overtones. Musky always means rain. My great grandmother thought me that, and eerily, she was always correct. Rattlesnakes do smell like cucumbers. Read more...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cold Front

The rain wakes me, 2:30 in the morning. I don't usually put it on before Thanksgiving, but I dug out the space-age long-underwear from Colorado because I'll need it, the next few days. Make stew later today. A surfeit of books. TR is on me about the libretto. Turn on a couple of lights and stoke the stove. This is a dangerous part of the day to feel sorry for yourself. I read for a while, fiction; made a cup of smoked tea. Stood at the island and delivered a terrific oration on the various temptations.Top of my form. I try to stay inside myself. B and I were talking about carrying firewood out of the woods: you just think about where the next foot falls, the rest of mind is free to wander. I think about making a stew. Another nap, before dawn, then awaken to that muffled noiselessness that indicates snow. It's lovely. The ground contour, even across the hollow, revealed. Two generations of logging roads. Temps steady falling, twenties now, dropping to ten degrees tonight. I split a Live Oak round I brought back from Florida, a twisted, impossible piece that involved two wedges and the maul, which yielded several nighttime logs. The ribs of 'Old Ironsides' were Live Oak (specific gravity .95, 59 pounds a cubic foot), spaced just four inches apart with four-inch thick White Oak planking. Great firewood, and one of the most beautiful wood-piles I've ever seen was Kim's brother Kurt's pile of split dry Live Oak outside of Tallahassee, Florida. It's brutal outside, with the wind. It gets your attention. I split a few pieces of wood, then walked along the ridge top: no animal tracks, no birds, no sound but the last rattle of the few dead leaves that remain. Coming back home, into the wind, I have to wear a face-mask, have to stop and laugh. I felt like the Pillsbury Dough Boy dressed as a Ninja. I'd let the stove die, so I could clean the air passages (the 'smoke-chase') and dump the ashes. For the next 48 hours I'll have my sweet Irish Belle, Stanley Waterford, going full bore. I'll have to move a chair and foot-stool over near the stove (you have to get your feet up off the floor), and a music stand, for my dictionary; and I'll sleep on the sofa, but that's hardly any adjustment. This is the first weather event, that if I had been still working at the museum, I would have gone into town and holed up there for a couple of nights. Not because I needed the creature comforts, but because I needed to be there the next day. Now I just watch the snow fall. Yes, I am trapped, yes, my Jeep is on top of the hill and I can't get off, yes, I have enough food. It's always whiskey and tobacco that I worry about. I can always eat crow. Working on the conditional. Jesus Christ, I just spent an hour changing a comma back to a semi-colon. The sense of language changes as you parse it. Every little thing matters, Pinter and Beckett, not to mention that incident on the driveway with the fox. Read more...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bedside Manner

I catch the fire perfectly at 2 in the morning. Rekindle with poplar branches. It's colder than anticipated, with half a moon and a few stars. By 3:30, and half a novel later, it's warm enough in the house that I take off the hooded sweatshirt I sometimes wear over my bathrobe. Balmy. I'm wearing the fingerless gloves Linda knit me, and the watch cap she knitted when she was offstage. I do need to get to town because I need butter, oil, and some bacon. Fried potatoes in the last of the sausage fat and they were wonderful. My right shoulder is a bit sore, from bow-sawing the poplar, but I didn't want to listen to the chainsaw, and a little soreness comes with the game. Pain and suffering. A few scratches from blackberry canes that I wipe clean with alcohol, nothing untoward, I always wipe off the blood when I come inside, take off my boots, shed a layer. Nothing we can't handle. Two phones and a secretary, I could build a bridge. Only half-kidding, because I could build a bridge, but that's not the point. Lost power while I was writing and lost a paragraph. No weather, no wind, just a black-out at an early overcast dark. Read with my headlamp for a couple of hours. Then took a nap. The power coming back on woke me, stoked the fire. Both B and TR have referred to me, in the past week, as an interesting character. The two of them are interesting characters. Split wood and carried a couple of ricks inside against the projected snow and very cold temps. I feel pretty good about who I am right now. Warmed a bit today, and it's rain right now, just before it turns solid. Sleet, then snow. I should be trapped by tomorrow morning. I'll need to spend an hour outside, to replace the rick I'll burn, but I need to cook and clean out the fridge. Which certifies that tomorrow night, on the compost pile, there will be a performance piece. Two coons and a possum go into a bar. Already it's snow, falling straight down. B and I were talking about that, the way snow muffles sound. Read more...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Much Later

The object becomes the subject of change. Note to self. Still below freezing when I get outside. When it gets below twenty degrees it's all about survival and it's supposed to be below twenty the next couple of nights, then snow. I hope to get to town tomorrow for more supplies, but today I loaded up on wood, enough of everything to get through the cold snap. It takes a solid half a day to get ready for a week's fires. Right now I have twenty half-rounds that need to be split into quarters, ten quarters that need to be split for the stove, and another ten barrow loads to bring to the shed. It's a winter-long saga with me. Gets me outdoors. On cold days it's nice to get out and work physically, while the stove gets going. On a day that I don't go out I burn 25% more wood, trying to get the house warmer faster. When I came back inside today I had a good bed of coals and a warm stove, got a hot poplar fire going and then switched right over to oak. I want to get the house warm enough for me to clean up and shave because I won't want to for the next couple of days. The young squirrels are all frantic, stocking their middens. They're both cute and annoying, they chatter all the time and it's a grating sound, like my personal gang of crows (I love that they eat my dead mice, but I hate the sound of their arguing) chowing down on my largess. I don't expect any return on this investment. Dead mice in the freezer is not the coin of the realm. Though it could be the coin of mine. Dry bark and twigs is enough. Starting a fire is easy, once you start a fire. Just a spark is all you need. Cotton-wood pulp, then soft-wood shavings. I write for a couple of hours then crash, totally used up, but I drink a glass of water before I go to bed, so I'll have to get up and pee, when I'll stay up for an hour and restock the stove. Works perfectly, and I catch another bed of coals, stoke them up with poplar then oak splits. I needed another dead poplar sapling today, to fill the wood box, and I had seen two or three out near the outhouse. The bark splits and they get a white mold, easy to identify. I went up to one, maybe twenty feet tall, and just broke it off at the root, hauled it back to the woodshed. It provides both kindling and starter sticks. I had to laugh, I'd broken off the branches and the tip, taken them back to break up as kindling, and I was dragging the sapling back through the blackberry canes. Bent to my chore. And I saw myself from the outside, old dude, ratty clothes, dragging a sapling back home, gap-toothed grin on his face. As good as it gets. Read more...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Arcane Explanation

You can look for that, something that would make sense; in my experience, it's never quite there. But you can look for it nonetheless, a white lily, like Emily presented to Higginson, a field of black poppies, Norton, Virginia. Cold house, so I start a hot fire of poplar and red maple. Ice on the back porch and the leaves crunch when I go out to pee and dump my nighttime piss-pot. Overcast. My three crow friends await their morning repast, so I go back inside and microwave a couple of frozen mice. The field mice are moving back inside. Early in the mouse trapping season they're quite stupid and I catch two or three a night. A Pileated woodpecker arrived and set up quite a drumming in the early morning air. They are a beautiful bird, the crest so vibrant. I love watching them, they're so goddamned industrious they make me feel like a slacker. I don't get everything done that I had intended. Split wood for a while, then walked down the logging road. Slipped into a meditative state in which I pretty much questioned the validity of everything. How did I end up here? Have I wasted my life? Is the reward worth the sacrifice? On the way home I found a nice edible boletus, probably the last mushroom of the season, and I immediately imagined mushroom slices and beans on toast. I have eggs and bread in reserve, I'm a careful guy, for the most part. And it is worth it, whatever price I pay. The biological imperative becomes a footnote. Ultimately you're left with yourself. It's the hard lesson, that we are utterly alone. All that ersatz communication plays into the myth. Those French guys were correct. When I raid the Tim Horton Fall Arrangement for the squash before they rot, I feel I'm doing a public service. Doing right by doing wrong. Read more...

Battened Down

If all the wet leaves freeze on the driveway (20 degrees tonight) it'll be slick as a hockey rink. It was fine today, zero slippage. Went to the library, met TR for lunch; though Brandy, who works with his mother, had arrived before him, and we had a chance to gossip. She left me half of her lunch for my dinner. Excellent. There's some ground veal for half-price at Kroger, so I get a package, with no idea what I'm going to do with it. Meatballs maybe. Supposed to be cold but clear tomorrow, and I'd like to get two more ricks of wood inside, and haul a couple of barrow loads from down the way. Everything is uphill to the ridge. Everyone warned me about the weather today, which is interesting, because I don't have to drive in it and they do, and there's very little chance I'll freeze to death. I pull a chair up to the stove and read for eight hours. Then spend an hour with the dictionaries, checking definitions. I don't qualify as a threat, nor as a defense... I just don't qualify. The temps start falling mid-afternoon, no smell of rain, but I picked up some whiskey and tobacco just in case. I made my yearly raid on Tim Horton's Fall Arrangement of corn stalks and squash. I salvaged three acorn squash and two butternuts, before the freeze could turn them to jelly. Later, I halve one of the acorn squash, putting the seeds in a small bowl of water, so I can clean and roast them, with a little garlic powder and salt tomorrow (I love them). Stuff one half with sausage, and put a tablespoon of orange juice in the other. Prop them up in an iron skillet (I have some small rocks I use as shims) and put them in the oven. I made corn bread. When the squash was done, I took out the sausage half, filled the second half with raspberries and popped it back in the oven. This was a very good meal. I only burned myself once, which is pretty good, considering two extremely hot cast iron skillets. The eggplants were lovely at Kroger today. I want to make a parmigiana with thin slices of cured loin on the side, for which I can buy all the ingredients; but I also want to cure a loin, which is one of those things that I enjoy doing. Make it your own. Read more...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wood Work

Outside at 8, lovely morning, but clouds moving in and rain tonight. I split enough stove wood for three ricks, one of them of larger nighttime logs. Wheelbarrow them to the back door, then carry them in and dump them on the kitchen floor. I make one trip, with the barrow, to the outside pile of rounds furthest away. Put up my tools, then come inside and stack the three ricks. 2 x 2, twenty splits in a rick. Filled the kindling bucket and split starter sticks. Feels great but I'm a fucking mess, tattered clothes, unshaven, dirty hair, so I heated water. Washed the few dishes, then a wonderful sponge bath, hair wash, and shave. Left-overs for one more night, then I need to either make a pot of soup or a casserole. Meat balls and egg noodles is a possibility. Also, I'm hankering for some fish cakes. I'm more than a little sore, so I self-medicated, thank god I have some left-overs. I have a few minor dings but nothing that required stitches. The house smells great, fresh split chestnut oak giving up it's surface moisture, I'm building a hash with the last of the left-overs, and it smells pretty good too. Another common interest I share with B is making hash, using up everything. I make a duck breast hash, with parsnips, that is fantastic; serve this on a slab of country bread, with a fried egg on top. Now we're talking. Because I have almost everything I need, I decide to cook a stew. A stew, I figure, with cornbread, would cover all the bases. The rain starts just after dark. A Bach cantata. Too tired to think. Dozed off for a couple of hours, listening to the patter song. Woke up to pee, got a wee dram, rolled a smoke, made a cup of tea from willow twigs. I'd overheated the house, burning junk wood from the woodshed; so I stood in the back doorway, in a tee-shirt, until the cool night air had settled me. Temps are supposed to drop thirty degrees tomorrow. I need a few things from town, not actually so much need as simply want, and I need to get down to the bottom of the hill to collect my mail. The rule is that if you get to the bottom of the hill, you might as well go to town. I have things to do there, the library, the liquor store, butter and bread, AND it's the authentic world. What did Emily say. "I only plant perennials." Don't get me started. Read more...