Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Best Medicine....

Six hundred pounds of pork...
If laughter is the best medicine, I should be the healthiest person you know...

Today, we delivered our pork. We had 600 pounds to deliver and 2 friends were picking up theirs from the processor at the same time we were. A short time later, my phone rang:

C: I have a head.
Me: A head? What kind?
C: A pig head.
Me: They were picked up by G and T to make souse meat. How do you have a head?
C: I don't know. But I have it. BTW, I wish had a picture of me when I opened the bag. I was okay until I turned it around and saw the snout.

By this time I was a puddle.....

A bit later, the phone rang again. 

C: Are you coming to get this, um, this, um thing in  my car?
Me: The pig's head? Yup. I'll be there in a bit.
C: It's in a cooler; will it be okay?
Me: I don't think it will go anywhere. If it's cool, it'll be fine.
C: I can put it in the dumpster....
Me: I'll be there in a bit. G and T want it...

Again, I was a puddle... It wasn't that she was so funny, but the background music in my car was killing me.... Mister kept whistling the theme from "The Godfather..."

And, so, it goes... 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Here, piggie....

Joyfully, the pigs are headed to the processor tomorrow and will return in lovely vacuum sealed bags for the freezer. Frankly, I am tired of carrying food to the, er, pigs... It is true that they do... Eat. A. Lot. All. The. Time. We are up to nearly 75 pounds of food per day... It's exhausting!

These porkers came to us in April and weighed all of 35 pounds. Now, we estimate they are close to 300-350 pounds. They are so large that we could barely get the trailer ball on the truck without both of us pumping the lift.. Now that is Some Pig. 

Three are sold, on hoof, to friends who will pay for the pig once it is dressed, but not finished, by weight. Then, they will pay for the processing and pick it up. One is ours that we will split with my parents. And, the last will be shared between a number of relatives, and, I hope, some left over for us. 

Pork is one of those things that if you haven't ever had pasture raised, you have been cheated from savoring a flavor without description. The stuff that comes from the grocery pales in comparison. Our porkers play in the mud, stretch in the sun, dig holes and wallow in the water, root and eat grubs, and have non-GMO feed for their entire life. We tell them from the beginning of our relationship what their fate is and that we want them to enjoy a fine, wonderful life. We scratch them, hose them, and chase them (or they chase us) in a game of tag. I gather apples for them and find them scraps, such as corn cobs when I can corn, so they have treats. They really have a marvelous life. 

Once they are loaded on the trailer, which we do gently and not with a prod or anything that will hurt them, we feed them corn one more time and tell them how we honor them for providing us with good meat for the coming year. We thank them for being sweet piggies and for the pleasure we have had with them. 

This past fall, when it had rained for eleven straight days and Mister was out of commission with a neck injury, I was out feeding them. Their lot was slick as goose grease and I was having trouble walking with their feed bags (they weigh 50 pounds). One pig got on my right and another mirrored that one on the left... and they started scratching their backs on me... until I slipped in the mud and fell flat on my face... and they continued scratching until I got up... I was mudlicious from left to right, top to bottom... and had to hose off in the yard... If I could have stopped laughing, I would have been annoyed... but somehow, the visualization of a 60 year old woman being scrubbed by pigs cracked me up... 

And, you ask, after loving on them, playing with them, and enjoying them, how, how can we eat them? Easy. We name them Pork Chop, Tenderloin, Sausage, Ham, and Roast.... 


Saturday, November 14, 2015


November Twilight. The world's most perfect light...

 "Make you the world a bit better or more
beautiful because you have lived in it."
Edward Bok 

Bok Tower, Lake Wales, Florida      

Perhaps... just perhaps... we should focus on this?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Unsettled and Changing

People wish to be settled.
It is only as far as they are unsettled that there is any hope for them. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life
which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Tell me, 
what is it you plan to do
with your one wild, precious life? 
Mary Oliver

We are born to fulfill a role in this world and then, hopefully, leave the world better than it was before we took our few precious breaths and then departed. Sometimes, we are thrust into these roles; sometimes, we fail to listen to our heart; and, sometimes, we flow with the river around us because it demands so little. 

But the day comes when, as Mary Oliver writes in "The Journey": 

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

 As for me, I am looking for the stars...  What about you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Recycle, Reinvent

This old white cabinet is a knock off of the antique version. I bought this over 20 years ago because, at the time, I couldn't afford the real deal, but this gave me the feel I wanted. It has lived in the barn for quite a while, but, I decided I wanted to make it a TV cabinet for temporary use. So, Mister and I took the glass doors from the top and put them on the bottom, removed the bottom solid doors, and removed all the upper shelves. I patched her up, sanded her, added some wood trim, and got her ready to paint.

I started by searching through my Annie Sloan Chalk Paints to see what I had enough of to mix to create the colours I wanted. I love purple, so I knew the drawers' interiors would have to be purple. What a nice surprise to open them and see that lovely color! I mixed Old White with Henrietta to get the tone I wanted. Then, I wanted the cabinet itself to be a soft yellow, so I mixed Old White with Gold until I got the soft, butter colour I envisioned. And, last, the inside had to be black to hide the TV when it was off and to show off the quilts that I wanted to store in the base.

Then, I gently mixed a little of the dark and clear wax and gave her a good rub down... I was so happy with her...

 For now, this is making me happy. And, I especially like that I have reused and reinvented something for short term use.

How do you recycle or reinvent?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Round House

This little house sits on the hill above the New River in Mouth of Wilson. It is where my family spent every summer, swimming, playing, fishing, jumping from the porch, and watching the night lights. I had my worst case of poison ivy Ever In the History Of the World here after I fell from my bike smack into the midst of a poison ivy bed. We worked puzzles, tons of puzzles, under the downstairs porch.

Long before this rail was installed, my siblings and I would take a run-and-go from the second story and fling ourselves into the open space, hoping to fly, and land with a THUD! right by my Mother's feet as she sat downstairs reading, napping, or working her puzzles. No doubt she stayed a nervous wreck, but we had a terrific time sailing to the ground and sinking to our ankles in the soft ground below.

We slept on the porch, in sleeping bags, waking up wet from dew, with the morning sun dazzling on the river below. Mother would have coffee perking, biscuits in the oven, and fresh fish frying. We caught them in the evening and put them in the holding pool next to the kitchen for our morning nosh. Then, we would rush upstairs, throw on bathing suits (was there really a time I wasn't self-conscious enough I'd wear one all day?), and hop on our bikes to ride the dirt road to the "waterfall" to play. Scabs covered our knees (I wasn't graceful, after all) and we smelled of sunshine, water, and dirt. Pure health....

The "bathroom" consisted of a small toilet and sink. We bathed, even though we spent the day in the water, in a wash tub. I was first, so the water was cleanest then. By the time my baby sister got in, the water would be nearly as muddy as the dusty holes in the dirt road. The nights would be cool and we'd run to jump in our sleeping bags, ready to watch the stars, speculate about space men, and build our castles in the air.

The kitchen had an enormous rock in the middle that the original builders couldn't get out of the door, so we had to walk around it to get to the refrigerator. The wiring was DC, so we had a rubber mat in front of the fridge to avoid the pending shock from touching the door and grounding ourselves. If one were angry with a certain, a-hem, brother, she would step from the mat, touch the brother, and then the door. Instant revenge! 

Below, the river would continue her centuries old song, lulling us to sleep. She sang of Scot-Irish who traveled this river to "discover" the "Natives" who had lived here for millennia. She sang of floods and droughts and log canoes. She sang of her journey north, as the New River is one of two rivers in the world that flows northward. Today, she is a protected River, a "national treasure." But, to a handful of small children, she was the world. Our days revolved around her -- both in and out.

I miss those days. I miss the innocence and I miss the shocking blue sky. I miss wearing my bathing suit all day. And, I miss gathering berries, nuts, creek lettuce, and catching fish for our dinner.  Most of all, I miss the swinger of trees and catcher of fireflies that I was. When do we grow old? One day at a time or just all at once?? Yet, when I go to the river, I am young least for a moment....

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Power ...

Yesterday I met with an adult female student who wanted to withdraw from her LPN program. Reason? "I'm not being there for my children or my husband," she wept.

Then, we talked.

In short, her husband, who works out of state and is home a grand total of four days a month, has decided that she needs to be more present for him and their three children -- one who is in college, a senior in high school, and a six-year-old who has discovered that acting out earns everyone's attention. She disclosed that her husband came home to inspect the house and found anything that wasn't clean and scolded her. He refuses to tell her their income, except that it is "over $100,000", and, he believes she isn't giving him enough attention the four days a month he is home. She wept harder and harder as she told me this.

"But," she said, "I have such a heart for helping people. I take care of everyone and everything. He sleeps, eats, and wants sex when he is home. He doesn't pay any attention to the children. And, he pays me a salary for being home."

At this point, I wanted to shake her and scream, "Why are you doing this?? What about your desires? Your dreams? Your gifts?"

She's a straight A student in nursing. Holy cow.

One day, I fear, she will wake up to find he has found "his soul" with a woman half his age. She will have no skills, not experience, nothing.

I wanted to tell her that education is power. It is freedom. Choice. Control of one's life. Opportunity. A chance to make a difference in her children's lives by modeling how to pursue a dream and achieve a goal. She is showing her daughters how to stand on their own two feet. How she is becoming an adult instead of her husband's child, maid, housekeeper, and baby maker.

Instead, I patted her arm and told her that she had to do what would give her peace.

She filled out the form. And left. I was shattered.... for her, her children, and even her bully husband. A chance to grow and learn was lost.

If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation). -- Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey