Friday, April 30, 2010

Just Eat It

"You should see the way my brother eats crab," I tell anyone who is listening. "He's so patient, he'll spend hours picking every bit of shell clean of crab meat."

The truth is, we are strange that way. Both Bowser and I have always hated to see food thrown out, and I mean every bit of it has to get eaten. Bowser is quite the angler, but he will clean his fish meticulously so that all he has to throw out are a few fins, tails and some parts of the entrails. He will use the rest. Including bones and some of the organs.

I'm afraid he may be the only one who will understand my current "challenge."

The wet winter has created a population explosion of snails and slugs here but while Big Dog hurls his snail catch at rocks, I gently take them into my Snail Zoo. It's a plastic container with cornmeal mush. If you've ever tried to raise snails for food, you know what this means. My snails are headed for Escargotville.

"You have no idea how gross that is," grimaces Big Dog.
"Of course I do!"
Who does he think I am? Snails are slimy, crawly, disgusting looking things. (Okay, on real close inspection, they are actually quite beautiful. But a tub of them IS pretty gross.) And I have yet to work up the courage to plunge them into boiling water, pull them out of their shell, cut away the gall, cook them up with tons of garlic butter and stuff them back into their shell, but...that is the plan.

Meanwhile, I find out that those smelly plants that keep growing all over the place (and for some reason, near the wild fennel) are hemlock. Yup. The stuff that killed Socrates.

"I had no idea! I actually tried one of the leaves at one time! How come it didn't kill me?" I asked Big Dog who was on a wild fennel/hemlock eradication program.
"Because you're no Socrates?"
Well, duh.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Magic's in the Motion

When I began this blog, in 2006, I was in my third year as a mostly unemployed vagabond. I loved it. I loved that there was something novel every day. "The magic's in the motion," I gloated.

Much has changed since then.

Each year, I spend more and more time at the ranch and I no longer describe myself as "homeless." I'm still not sure if this is "home" but I am happy here even as circumstances beyond my control have limited my time on the road. There is not much motion these days and my entire concept of time has shifted.

I think it's being so connected with nature here that's changed me. My sense of time has...elongated? It makes me chuckle to think that there was a time when my life was ruled by "seconds." 120 second promo videos. 60 second voice-overs. 30 second tv spots. 18 second song intros. These days, I see time in terms of "seasons." I rarely know what day it is and I hardly care what week. I peruse seed catalogs and plan for NEXT YEAR! My god, I could hardly plan TOMORROW a few years ago!

Staying so still makes me a bit nervous -- a holdover from my years living in Warp Speed -- but then I look at my tiny seedlings and know that even though they also appear to be standing still, they keep moving ever so slowly and most of that movement is in their growth. That encourages me. There's real magic in that kind of motion.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Super Slow Food

I couldn't believe we actually bought some strawberry starters this year! Two six packs of berry starters at the local Big Box Home Improvement Store. And then, a few weeks later, some vegetable starters. Every year, I've had to struggle from seed while the other tenants on The Ranch were putting in sizable starters into their summer gardens.

Just when I was feeling good about getting a bit of a head-start on this season's production, J&R, the young couple who live on The Ranch, put in their summer garden and, oh my, their starters are giant! It will be weeks before my tiny starters reach that size! And months before my seedlings get going. Talk about the ultimate in slow food. No wonder I can't remove the Swiss chard and collard plants that are still alive and providing us with much nourishment.

(Damn. Just checked. Three of the four lemon cucumber starters are nearly dead. That's what I get for buying plants at a Big Box Home Improvement Store.)

"The others take out their old plants and put in new ones!" Big Dog exclaims in disgust. My overgrown, weedy, jungly mess from last season disturbs him at some primordial level.
"I'll get around to it!" I yell back from my strawberry patch, but I spy him pulling at some tall grasses. "Stop mucking with my plot!"
He would flip out if he knew, but I am thinking of gathering and cooking the grains. Maybe mixed with acorns and dandelion greens. At least until my conventional vegetables are ready for harvest.