Saturday, October 27, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Life handed us a bunch of lemons. And carrots. And potatoes, pears, bananas… the list goes on. Not all of it was actual produce, but I’m going to skip that part and just move on to the good stuff. The stuff that won’t make me cry, scream, rant, rave, or throw things. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of that going on right now. Figures. Just when life begins to look up, someone has to come along and piss in the pool.

So, this year Tam and I decided to sign up with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where every week we get a box of fresh, local produce. When we were first looking at signing up, we weren’t sure what size box we should get: small, medium, large, or “sharing” but considering how often our offspring would show up looking hungry, we figured we could do the sharing size and everyone would be happy.

Of course, the minute we pick up our first massive box, everyone falls off the face of the earth and we have a LOT of veggies to try and eat. In one week. By ourselves.


All summer, we fetched our boxes, ate our fill and attempted to share, but had no takers. We made jams and jellies, pickles galore, and more salads than you can shake a stick at. It was all very tasty, but once work started up again, it became a royal pain the arse to figure out what to do with a head of cauliflower the size of a sports car, three potatoes, and a handful of rainbow carrots. Oh, and the zucchini. Let’s not forget the zucchini. That fucking zucchini…

Pickles, people, we made pickles. We pickled green beans, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, peppers (oh lord, that was intense!), garlic and even some onions. We froze more onions (forty pounds of them!), and made freezer slaw (YUM! Tangy purple goodness).

Now we’re drying things. Just tonight we put up seven pineapples, plenty of parsnips, a cadre of carrots, and some other oddball veggies. We’ve gone through 10 pounds of red-band bananas (sliced, dried, and devoured), pears, apples, and celery. We’ll do more of that as we finish off this last box.

Next I’ll be making pepper jelly. I have the lovely pepper juice/brine already cooked and canned, but no pectin has been added. It was an error in judgment for my first batch of pickled peppers, so I ended up with a LOT of very spicy syrup. No one told me that a) peppers shrink when cooked like that, and b) when you add jalapeno peppers to hot vinegar and sugar, without removing the seeds, you WILL drive every living creature from the house. Holy moly, that was some painful air we were breathing.

Anyway, I’ll tame some of the leftover brine with apple juice and make some damn fine pepper jelly that will make pork sing, ham hum, and chicken crow for joy. It’s amazing on crackers with cream cheese (or just about any cheese for that matter). I’ll be giving some of it away for holiday gifts, but I’ll be sure to keep enough for us.

Right now, we’re looking to get an insert for our fireplace. After last winter’s storm left us without power for five long, cold and very dark days, we decided we’d had enough and will have an insert with a cooktop installed before the really ugly weather hits. I’m really looking forward to that. Imagine, waking up to a warm house even when it’s cold outside. It will be awesome.

We’re also moving forward on our dream of owning the shop, but I’ve promised not to say anything more until we’ve made progress (which won’t happen until January).

NaNoWriMo comes up soon, and I’m all geared up and ready to go. It will mean no editing of the current manuscript, but I think a break will do me some good.

It’s a boring post, but I’m focusing on the positive. It’s better than sitting on the rooftop in the rain, throwing shit at people walking past the house. Not nearly as fun, but much safer.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

One of THOSE Posts…

This was going to be one of those typical posts, apologizing for being absent, shouting about our fabulous news, and mentioning a couple of funny and/or touching moments at work.

Not this time. Right now, that stuff is going to have to wait.

Right now, I need to vent, and I need to vent BIG TIME.

My daughter is in a relationship with someone I do not know very well. The first time we met, he did not leave me with a good impression. Quite the contrary, but I was willing to wipe the slate clean and give him another chance. She offered up excuses and said he apologized, so I let it go.

But I waited, and watched, and listened, and as I waited, I watched red flags pop up and I listened to all the alarm bells in my head go off, one after another.

My daughter is living with a man who is not divorced, but then, neither is she. They are both separated from their spouses and neither shows any intention of getting back with their respective spouse. Fine, I’m in no position to judge, nor do I care to. I am not without sin in that regard.

But my visits with my daughter are becoming fewer and farther between. There is always something that keeps her away from me, and that something is always him. He always has some reason that she can’t come visit, and when she’s here, he’s calling her. Sometimes multiple times. Now they’re talking about moving away to another state.

I’ve read enough Ann Rule to know where this could go.

This evening, I called her and she said there was a box she wanted to get. I could hear him in the background asking what box and that they didn’t have a place for it and I could tell he was getting agitated. She asked if I could store it in the garage for her, and I said she could, but could she come by on Monday to sort through it?

She asked him if she could use their van so he could drive himself to work and she could come visit me after I got home. He didn’t like it, so he said the two of them would be down after work.

Knowing it would be futile to protest his presence, I said that would be fine and our conversation was over. Did I mention that the evening before, we’d been on the phone and someone was playing with the extension? I don’t have an extension phone at my house, so it was happening at hers. When I mentioned it during the conversation, all of a sudden the sounds stopped.

Anyway, after our more recent conversation about her coming over to sort through the box, she called again and Tam answered the phone. She brought me the message that the box would be picked up by a friend going through town so my daughter and the bastard would not be coming to the house after all.

I have not seen my daughter in quite a while, thanks to my change in work hours. I liked it last school year when we could visit for 30 minutes every day after work. I miss her terribly. My annoyance at the change in plans made itself known and I called her right back (they have caller ID, so she answers it when my number comes up. He knows better).

“So, I don’t get to see my daughter on Monday? Why the hell not?” I asked her. I tried to sound like I was kidding around, but I don’t think she believed that for one moment. I could hear him in the background saying they were just “too poor” to put that much gas in the car to come to the house. Here’s where I call bullshit. They carpool, but she drops him off on her way to work, and she works in a school not far from my home. On more than one occasion, he has managed to get a ride to their place from a co-worker, but for some reason, that doesn’t work when she’s at my house.

I said I was very disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see each other and she suggested that we could visit if I picked her up and brought her here.

I have no problem with that. I’m even going to suggest she stay for dinner. The beauty of this arrangement? I call the shots as to when she goes home. I’ll take her home when we’re done visiting, not when he says we’re done visiting and since her cell phone isn’t working, he won’t be calling.

So, asshole, listen up: If you’re going to try and come between me and my daughter, then you’re going to run into a problem… me. You have one chance to prove my gut instincts about you are wrong and if you do, then I’ll play nice. Otherwise all bets are off and I’m calling on the Dragons. It’s a steep price to pay, but not when it comes to my children.