Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Making A List & Checking It Twice

It's all about lists this time of year - baking lists, the kids' Christmas wish lists, the lists of people still needing presents, the lists of far-flung destinations targeted during blitz krieg shopping trips, the lists of chores that taunt me from my purse. I'm juggling so many lists that I'm thinking in bullet points these days.

Here are a few of the bullet points I'm pondering tonight:
  • It was a nice day in Flagstaff today, with Adam and Karlie along. I love these mother-child moments that we share: experimenting with tapas at a Greek restaurant; Karlie seeking Adam's approval of a bright scarf to top her new cozy outfit; the kids exploring the cheese counter at New Frontiers health food store while I make a mad dash to Home Depot....Then of course, there was the quality mother-son time when we both went in to have suspicious growths biopsied at the dermatologist's office. Because nothing says bonding like scraping skin off matching abnormalities. Me and Adam, we like to share. And one thing we share is ridiculously fair skin that's prone to all manner of unruly behavior like sprouting curious new growths that keep our dermatologist in summer homes and sports cars. I understand my proclivity for skin cancer - I am of the suntan oil generation. "Bain de Soleil for the St. Tropez tan" my foot. Try "Bain de Soleil for the white girl who had unrealistic expectations of a what a little scented cooking oil could achieve with pigmentation that was only meant to emit a ruddy pink hue and smatterings of conjoined freckles that appeared to be an uneven tan if you squinched up your eyes till your vision blurred a bit." What did I get for all those hours-long adolescent sunning sessions? Never a satisfactory tan, I can tell you that. Certainly nothing anywhere near approaching the glistening bronze of the women slinking along the beaches of those 1980's era advertisements. No, I just ended up greasy and gritty, while unknowingly planting tiny little time bombs in my exposed skin that would bide their time for 20 years or so before erupting into lovely little squamous cell treats smack in the middle of my cheeks and who knows where else. Stupid '80's. Stupid suntan oil. Now, Adam's worn sunscreen since he was in the womb. In his youth, there were no 12-hour track meets, sitting on metal bleachers in 100-degree weather keeping team stats and refusing sunscreen because he was working on "the first good burn of the season." He has been slathered in SPF 50 all his years. Poor kid just happened to cull the most vulnerable genes possible from his English/German/Irish/white bread muddled pool, so he's getting to play "Watch That Mole!" about 3 decades earlier than you'd expect. He always has been an early achiever, that one. Sorry, kid, we may have gifted you with fantastic intellect, a sharp wit and a thick head of hair, but your dad and I wanted to make sure you didn't get too high on yourself so we threw in insufficient pigment and flat feet just to keep you humble. You'll thank us one day.
  • (NOTE: I have no clever segues planned to move us from one bullet point to the next. Bullet lists are not about smooth transitions from topic to topic, after all. They're rapid-fire, random, disconnected, capturing the fleeting thought before it...fleets? Oh, you'll see. Keep reading.)
  • There's nothing much cozier than a wood fire with dancing flames, glowing orange and red coals, and crackling logs in the fireplace. Really, it's true that wood fires are romantic, soothing, toasty, stupor-inducing delights. I love our fireplace-slash-wood stove insert. But a fireplace situated a 100 feet or so away from the bathroom doesn't warm your toilet seat, and that's the cold hard truth. I do cherish our drafty little farmhouse, but I have those moments when I'm approaching that cold, cold pot on a dark winter night, when I dare to wish the central heating fairies would grace us with a nice warm downdraft, if only in the hall bathroom. This old house is such a mish-mash of ill-constructed additions that I don't think there's a contiguous route for heating ducts to be tucked, so my dream of piped heat will probably lie dormant for many years to come. But, oh, those chilly cheeks do hold the icy burn for a good long time.
  • Those fat little pigs down by the barn aren't going to butcher themselves, I suppose. (See what I mean? Absolutely no way to smooth that transition. Cold bums to fat pigs - there's nothing I can do with that.) Time to plan the big event and clear out the freezer. I've never been a sausage girl, but I swear by all that is holy and slimming that there is a certain deliciousness to homegrown, homemade sausage that can only be understood once experienced first hand. It is a singular pleasure that I never knew I was missing.
  • Speaking of our pigs, it's so gratifying to know exactly what those creatures have consumed since we brought them to the farm when they were wee. There was a time when I was thinking of them as carnitas on the hoof because it seems all the scraps they were getting were from green chile, limes, onions and garlic. But then, the 6 Week Body Makeover entered our lives and we were consuming grocery carts full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Now, we haven't realized the promise of the Makeover yet, but I can tell you those pigs have been positively wallowing in peels, seeds, pulp, frondy tops and cores of all manner of healthy produce. Then, there are the days we run out of "hog grower," the plain-Jane grain mix we buy from the local Feed & Seed. On those days, I brew up huge kettles of lentils, grains, oats, beans and pastas for the pigs. These pigs have eaten good, clean, quality food all their days. They've been healthy their whole lives, have had loads of fresh air and room to frolic (and frolic, they do). They have gotten to enjoy a good life, with the occasional scratch on the back with an uprooted fence post, and we will be grateful for the hormone-free, flavorful meals that they'll soon provide. At 200 pounds and change each, they'll fill our freezer with roasts, ribs, bacon, the savory sausage. and hams, and leave plenty to share with family and neighbors. It feels good to know where our food comes from and that the animals we're eating lived humane, comfortable lives.
  • I'm not confident we'll be putting up a Christmas tree this year. The last one didn't come down until June, so I just haven't missed it enough yet, I guess. I miss fudge, though. And nutballs. Both of those will figure large in the upcoming Yuletide season. Of course, that will require the re-emergence of the aforementioned 6 Week Body Makeover program. With the pigs gone, we'll have plenty of scraps for the chickens and garden compost. Why, when you think about it, my gorging on Christmas goodies will actually be beneficial to our farm and mini poultry operation. It's like I'm doing a service to our family. It's a veritable Christmas miracle. It's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
  • We have a chicken who is laying green eggs. I am dying to deliver a basket of green eggs and a copy of that Dr. Seuss classic to every mother of young kids I know, along with the library and all of the town's elementary school teachers. I have artfully arranged the treasured eggs in cartons among our beautiful brown eggs and shared them with neighbors. I am just delighted every time the kids bring in those wonderfully weird eggs. I don't know why they capture my fancy, but they do. It's just one of those things.

Ok, I guess I better get back to those other lists.

Love from the farm,


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