Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Someone to Watch Over Me*

I was reading this morning in Psalm 71 where David prays for God not to leave him in his old age. In my 20s I thought this was a nice sentiment. Today it feels a bit more relevant having just now arguably made a case for abandonment. Really, sometimes I feel like I should probably be driven to the wilderness and left. And I ain’t going to survive like that TV guy who digs tubers and eats roaches.

It’s been raining steadily all day. Chilly and wet. Not a big deal, just that it adds to the minor key. I went to the Good Food Store. I didn’t notice I was hurrying, but maybe I was. Denis always thinks I’m hurrying and not paying attention to the semi bearing down on me. Came out with two canvas bags loaded, stepped off the curb, twisted my ankle and fell down in a disgraceful heap, wracked a knee and the heel of my hand. They still hurt! Not that I’ve never done this before. But this time I managed to somehow use the other knee to explode a half gallon of milk which, again, somehow, shot up my arm, totally drenching my jacket, my glasses, the side of the car…I knelt there on all fours in a puddle of rain and milk, shocked, then realized I’d also lost a shoe. I put the remaining groceries in the car and finally found it way under a black Jeep parked in the next space. Totally unreachable. Do you know how it feels to, like, dream you’re naked at the public library and then you wake up relieved that it was only a dream? I kept wishing I’d wake up when I had to walk back into the store and ask for help, limping, one shoe missing, dripping with milk, looking, I’m sure, deranged. A sweet young man gallantly got on his hands and knees in the rain and with a stick poked my shoe back out and handed it to me saying, well, at least you didn’t break your leg. Which I maybe coulda done now that… oh well, not to go into that. I guess I did cry a little when I got into the car. At home, Denis was upset and is trying to give me shuffling lessons. Don’t RUN! he says. Don’t even WALK! Just SHUFFLE.

I’ve changed my mind about the wilderness and am asking to be taken out for dinner. Denis loves me a lot, but in the end, I’d say it takes a bigger person to shepherd us through the parking lots.
*I like Willie Nelson's rendition of this song.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yard News

Yesterday for a second I had a heart attack over what looked like a drowned cocker spaniel floating in the rain barrel. It was just Anita’s sheep fleece soaking in prep for carding and spinning. She’s learning things the books don’t tell you. Apparently the experts leave a few little surprises like if you soak the fleece in cold water for two days, as they suggest, an aroma builds beneath the thin film of lanolin that seals the surface. It reminded me of cleaning the calf pen after three months of bovine elimination and bacterial orgies. But now she has it soaking in my washing machine in a bath of hot water and Dawn detergent so it should improve.

Again this spring, I’m awed by the number of bird species visiting and nesting in the yard. We’ve been on a campaign to control squirrels, (It’s a secret how, but we’ve eliminated 18 so far.) which have no natural predators in the city and, in fact, prey on song birds by destroying their nests and eating the eggs or young. Not that we, in all our wisdom, are able to expressly figure out or balance the environment in our urban existence. But fewer squirrels, plus laying off the weed killer and chemical fertilizers seems to have invited the birds back.

Wrens have moved into the birdhouse that hangs off the back porch and forced me to consider wearing jetway ear protectors. How on earth can something that weighs about an ounce awaken us like thunder from a dead sleep at five am?

A pair of doves are mourning in the pine tree. I assume that’s their happy sound. There are two pairs of robins. One in the crabapple tree and one in the arborvitae. Denis reached up and snapped a pic of their eggs. They squabble over a boundary and surrounding airspace that seems to run up one side of our house and down the other splitting our lot in half. Last night as we ate on the porch I heard a lot of commotion and ran out to police them. They are fighting again as I write. Denis is skeptical about my involvement here.

We have a bunch of English sparrows in the hedge as usual and I don’t much like them, they not only get on my nerves with their repetitive, tuneless chirping, they like to wait around until the robin parents are off doing meal prep, and then they have at the babies, carrying them off to eat them. Seriously. Not much I can do about that either. Although to shut them up, I’ve been known to run at the hedge and bang it with a broom.

The weirdest thing is a pair of mallards that keep returning to our yard as though they haven’t been able to find affordable housing anywhere else. Last night I tried to encourage them to eat polenta and oatmeal from a pan, but after standing in the street to stop traffic and directing dog-walkers to the other side while the couple waddled across, I felt I was making a nuisance of myself and Denis was definitely getting embarrassed. I’ve thought of setting up the kiddie pool. But that would entail more feeding and policing against stray cats, so I don’t think I should get involved.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Morels and Farmer’s Market

Our first Saturday home for the Farmer’s Market Season. It was 41 degrees with a raw wind when we rounded the rows of vendors to see Becca & Joe’s stand. Becca was there with Sarah, their intern. They were bundled up in woolen hats and sweaters. Becca was shivering, and said she wished she’d worn long underwear. Man, it was cold.

We came home with fresh eggs, asparagus, a bundle of early garlic, and a bag of greens. But it was the morels I would have forgone coffee for a week, not eaten chocolate for a month. I hesitated at $24.00 a pound and almost walked away. Then I thought, no. Let’s see what $5.00 would get and as they were weighed out I listened to the conversations around me. One guy, Larry, said he was out turkey hunting this past week and happened on a patch and picked ten pounds. Sold them instantly to a local restaurant. Someone else said, ya, round here they began showing up last Tuesday and may be around another ten days if you’re lucky enough to find ’em or rich enough to buy.

In our age of being able to purchase any food from anywhere anytime it’s rare to not find whatever you fancy. However, morel mushrooms defy domestication and refuse to grow under artificial conditions. Their needs remain a mystery and they show up only when and where they want. Which is partly why no one will ever tell you exactly where they find this treasure, unless you threaten to kill them or kidnap their children.

I appreciate morels for the very reason that they are rare. When I get a few once every other year or so, I could roll in crap like a dog I’m so pleased. We came home this morning and I sautéed the garlic and some fresh asparagus for a cheese omelet. And even though vendors and chefs will suggest adding chopped morels to something like an omelet, or will have you add them to a sauce for meat or some such, I can’t EVER do that. I ALWAYS eat them pure and undefiled. I prepare the mushrooms, which are about as ugly a phallic knock-off as you could imagine, by.. oh, I might as well post it as a recipe...:

Sauteed Morel Mushrooms
Soaking briefly in salted water. This rinses off some of the dirt and brings the insects crawling out of crevices. Drain, pat gently in paper towels.
Cut in half lengthwise.
Make a simple light batter with 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 to 1/2 cup milk, one egg, a little salt and pepper. Whisk together.
Drop morels in batter and very carefully fish out one by one and drop in a fairly hot frying pan sizzling with butter. It only takes about three minutes to brown them lightly on both sides and drain on paper. Should be eaten hot. O man, Paradise!

The only thing about morels in my life that isn’t perfect is Denis -- who hates mushrooms and has nothing good to say about them, and digs them out of every dish that might contain a few, saying if God had intended us to eat “fungus” they’d be called by a different name, (he’s not ALWAYS the logical half of our partnership) LOVES morels. Thus, I don’t get to eat them all myself.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lay off the garlic-stuffed olives

Sorry, I’ve been away on travels south of home. Not able to post. Today we leave Chattanooga. Hard to leave. Kinda heart-achy. Can’t seem to get enough of Sember, Shaun, and grandchildren.
Denis found this among the calendar events, school papers and pics clipped to the refrigerator and says if I don’t post it, he will. So… from our oldest granddaughter.

Assignment: Descriptive Paragraph.
Directions: Describe a favorite relative.
Grade: 95%
My grandmother is a sweet old lady with snow white hair and blue sea eyes. Even though her breath smells like old smelly garlic her lotion smells like Magnolius and sweet butter. Her clothes are like winter rains. Most days she is quiet as a little white mouse. Her voice is like a Mockingbird singing in the breeze.
- Manessah LaRose