School Dinner & Problems With Pecans

Meet my dinner for school tonight: spinach salad greens with celery, carrots and baby tomatoes.

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In other news our freakish pecan trees that my great-grandmother planted circa 1940s are dropping green pods if you so much as look at them crossways. We have been told multiple times that these trees should not be thriving in our zone. We even had a tree expert stop and ask us what we did for them to thrive here.

…Uh…we’re nice to the aelfar?

Honestly, we never touched them for anything. This year however, I’ve decided to harvest them rather than buying pecans for holiday goodies. The question is so I stain my hands opening the pods or do I wait for the actual nuts to fall and fight squirrels?

Lesson? Be nice to your land and such, maybe you’ll be amazed in a few decades.


Sheds and a (Lack of) Quality Time with Dad

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So, the big project going on in my family this year is a new shed for tools and the rototiller, things like that. This being at my grandmother’s behest, however, means that it cannot be easy, oh no. My grandmother has been collecting dozens of wooden skids for months. so, rather than buying lumber, she and my father (84 and 57, respectively) decided that the pair of them were going to  rip up the skids and build a shed out of the wood.

Yay recycling! Or…not so much. This is a lot of time-consuming work. There were no blueprints, so of course, my dad had to draw them up. then he has to put this thing together, and she wants it to be weathertight and done before winter. This all sounds good in theory. Especially with homesteading and reuse and recycle and not having to pay crazy prices at Lowe’s for lumber. Saving money, woo.

However, throw in the fact that my father works ten hour days, doesn’t get home until after 5:00 at night after working in a steel fabrication plant all day and then at 9:00, has to leave to pick me up from my classes in the nearest city. All the work, therefore, has to be done on the weekends. This…has led me to be a little resentful of the shed, and let me explain why.

My mother died when I was very young. Since my dad went to work before the sun was up, I spent half of elementary school, and all of middle and high school at my grandmother’s, getting maybe an hour of time with my dad a night, until the weekends. Weekends were this free time where we could just do stuff or do nothing, because Sunday night I’d be carted back over to my grandmother’s house.

Now, yes, I am 26. I am an adult. However, I do like to still spend time with my family, and a half-an-hour a night with my dad during the week, and maybe two-hours on the weekend is making me wish I lived in Bewitched and could just wiggle my nose. My hope is that in a year I’ll have my own place, or at least a nest egg and a job with which to try and get my own place — and let’s be honest, I doubt I’ll get one within walking distance of where I am. I’ll have to move to wherever I’d get employed. I don’t know if that happens, how much quality time I’ll get with my dad, when I already see so little of him during the week. I want to spend what time I can with him, while I have it.

Of course, I can’t say this, because the work needs to get done, and all the whinging in the world won’t do anything but make everyone feel bad or think I’m being overemotional, so…I think I’ll be baking tomorrow. Bread maybe?


If I’m At the Stove, It Doesn’t Mean I’m Chained There.

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The tomatoes continue to be in fine form, and because of this, I ended up getting maligned as “anti-feminist” by a schoolmate, as I was asking someone if they wanted any extras. Apparently things like gardening and cooking and knowing how to make your own pickles rather than paying crazy prices at a store makes me “anti-feminist.” Yeah, no. Trust me, I know anti-feminists. Circa 2005, I was the only one in a class of thirty-two who said they would vote for a woman. Of those people, seven, seven females, in that class, said that they didn’t believe that women should have the ability to vote, that’s anti-feminism. 

When I left college for health reasons, with my credits so mucked up I had no idea how to start fixing them, a friend’s mother cheerfully told me that the only reason for girl’s to go to college was to “catch” a husband. That’s anti-feminism. (For all the amusement I had imagining an engineering student comping up with a Mouse-Trap style contraption to catch a husband.)

The fact that I am learning how to feed myself and my kin without running to The Dark Lord WaldeMart every other day? That’s not anti-feminism. The fact that I can take in my scrubs and therefore not have to pay for new ones every time I go down two sizes? That’s not anti-feminism. The fact that I am slowly conquering my fear of chickens so I can know how the animals that lay my eggs are treated and what they eat? That’s not anti-feminism. The fact that I am in training for a stereotypical feminine job? That has nothing to do with feminism, that has to do with 1) What I’ll be good at and 2) what I have a good chance of getting employment with when I finish. Heck, I wanted to be a marine when I was thirteen. You know what stopped me? Not the fact that I am a girl, but instead the fact that I am disabled and wouldn’t make it past the physical. 

I fully believe in equal rights between the sexes. I also did ballet and tee-ball when I was a kid. The fact that I happen to bake pies and can pears doesn’t mean I’m training to be a submissive little housewife. Furthermore, if I was (pretending for a minute that I’m anything resembling submissive) then that would be my choice. If I want to rock out to Wolfchant or Flogging Molly while I make blackberry jelly it doesn’t make me any less a feminist than the twentysomethig studying Women’s Studies at Bryn Mawr. The whole point of early feminism was to give women a choice, and to let them do what they wanted to do, whether it was run for president or be in the boardroom. That doesn’t mean “push all the women out of the kitchen,” it means let the women do what they want. I want to make yummy food, play in the dirt, have some animals, do some sewing, and do something for the environment.

And if you still want to argue that I’m “oppressing” myself, I have lots of sharp pointy things. I like sharp pointy things, and I can probably use them better than you.


Emergency Management, Hel and Apple Pie

End of term is coming up for me, and with it comes the perfectionistic freak-out over projects that are due. (Like the one tonight.) Due to the fact that I go to night school, sometimes topics come up in class that really make me think. Right now in my Emergency Management class, we are talking about hazards and disasters and first aid and CPR and what you would do in an emergency if you found someone lying on the ground. 

Now, I know in an disaster, we’d have enough food to survive, with many thanks to my grandmother, so disasters don’t worry me too much, and I know how to handle a cricket bat if there’s a zombie outbreak (:)) but I had a moment of truly not knowing what I’d do if I happened on a complete stranger who was unconscious. I know part of it has to do with discussions I’ve had with others, people who have talked long and often about the fact that they have DNRs, and one who succinctly stated that he would be glad when he was called to Neorxnawang or Hel. I guess I would just find it a quandary if I managed to save someone (which I doubt, since most CPR attempts fail to save the person) and they hated me for it. Especially if they were able-bodied and when they recovered now had other issues that didn’t let them just resume life as it was. 

(Fun fact: apparently spellcheck decided the closest thing to ‘Neorxnawang’ was ‘Orangeade.’)

This is what happens when you know far too many people with serious health issues who look completely normal. It gets in your head. So, how do I deal with stress and not having answers? I made apple pie. We have a ton of apples on the trees right now. There was apple crisp last week, and now there’s pie, though at the rate it’s going I may have to make another tomorrow. This is why I make two pie shells and just freeze one.Image


From Tomatoes To Sauce

I’ve been neglecting this blog for awhile, which I need to remedy. Unfortunately, it’s very busy for me now with the end of my school term looming, after which I get a little break. So I’m going to be cramming as much into the break as possible. However, that’s no excuse for not posting so today I bring you homemade tomato sauce.

Now, let’s be honest here: I didn’t get on the gardening bandwagon early enough for these to be my tomatoes, but it still counts. They still came out of a garden, albeit my grandmother’s garden. This being my grandmother, though, she has no idea what kind of tomatoes they are. one kind she calls “Big Meaty” and the other ones are “Stripey Heart-Shaped.” This is because she saves seeds every year and doesn’t buy them.

So, step one: Pot full of tomatoes.

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Pot full of tomatoes get peeled, roughly seeded and quartered. Now, there are lots of tricks to peeling tomatoes. We just have them resting in hot water and go to it with a knife. Feel free to use whatever trick you want if you try this. 

Step two: Seasoning.

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Further proof that this recipe comes from my grandmother via my great-grandmother: a complete lack of measurements. Also, she likes things sweet, feel free to add whatever you like. Personally, if I can manage to do this not under her watchful eye, I’d be throwing oregano and basil in there. However, this version is as follows. Two handfuls brown sugar, about a half teaspoon of salt, a sprinkling of pepper and about that much dried onion. So, you know, experiment. 

 

Step three, place lid on, and cook on lo heat for anywhere from an hour to three, or until the result looks like this:

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At this point, you can spread it over toast like my aunt, use it on top of a supper shortcake, or in lieu of ketchup, or pizza sauce if you want. It’s pretty versatile. We freeze it as well, because it’s full of tomato goodness without taking up as much room in the freezer as frozen tomatoes. 


What The Frick

Canning pears and relationship woes continue. Current total of pears: 38 quart. Current attempts at discussion with the SO that turn into fights or crying? 2.

Bah, humbug.

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I’m trying to be a peacemaker, it’s just not working, and the lack of frith is trying my patience and keeping me from sleeping properly. I am not a doormat, and I don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who I have to give constant reassurance too. I don’t find the good morning text cute or sweet, and yes I am going to put my family first. So, in my frustration, I decided to draw closer to Frige. Now, I know most heathens out there are Norse and not Anglo-Saxon, that doesn’t bother me. Being unable to find an Irminsul among a bevy of Thor’s hammers? Annoying, but yeah, okay. It’s understandable, law of supply and demand.

But when I go online and find medallions for Odin, Freyr, Freyja, Thor and Tyr, but Frigga gets ignored, I don’t get it. I glanced over options, and debated over things, but nothing seemed to feel right. Then I went into West Reading to the nearest store that stocks heathen-y things, and I thought I hit the jackpot. Absolutely gorgeous statues. I look closer, and the same problem. Odin, Odin, Freyr, Freyja, Tyr. I go online again, thinking, okay, I’ve got to be missing stuff. There’s got to be equal representation here somewhere for Frigga, she’s the Queen of Asgard!

So far, I have found one pendant (and a half maybe, if you count the Traveler’s Charm) and two statues. Am I just looking in the wrong places, or is Frige getting seriously shortchanged here? is this more of the Freyja is awesome and sexy and Frigga’s a doormat crap I sometimes hear? If it is, I think someone needs hit by a lore-by-four.

I blame Wagner. Am I allowed to do that? Some many people are exposed to Norse myth through The Ring Cycle (or maybe just me) and he represents Frigga as a jealous cow. So, until I have more evidence, I’m blaming Wagner.


Family and Futures

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My SO pretty much interrogated me on my feelings about my family, and how my family works. Whether it was simply trying to understand or what, I don’t know, but it made me realize, and not for the first time, how different my family is, which was only highlighted today.

My family is multi-generational, with myself and Dad a block and a half (if that) from my grandmother, who lives with my aunt. A lot of the time, I’ll stay with my grandmother, who is turning 84 next week. I get to help her and she gives me old-fashioned lessons in sufficiency and the old-fashioned way of keeping house, and then, my aunt will take me to my classes, Dad will pick me up, and the whole thing starts over again, Monday-Thursday. It’s not “conventional” in any sense of the word, but it works for us.

My SO on the other hand, seems to think families should work very differently. Parents work and do all the childcare, grandparents visit and/or are visited on holidays, and if/when they get too old, they get put in a home. This just boggles my mind and my worldview. I know homes exist (my mother made me swear never to put my grandmother in one) but I’ve never met anyone who thinks they’re a good idea, unless it’s related to hospice or the person in question doesn’t want to come home, like my grandfather, before he passed away. I don’t like that sort of family set-up.

I suppose, for me, family has always been a big cornerstone. You eat at Grandmother’s 5 days a week, you do your tilling and hers, you help build a shed, you do your aunt’s IT problems, groceries are done all at once and divvied up between houses, that kind of thing. As much as I know I don’t want to stay in the middle of Amish Country, and that my hometown is not at all tolerant or pedestrian-friendly, I have a hard time imagining a life ten or twenty years down the line where I wouldn’t be involved, even from a distance, in the day-to-day lives of my family.

For a few years I’ve been planning to see if I could move to Pittsburgh, once I’ve had a job and been able to put some money away. My two best friends from college live there, and now the SO. Recently, however, I’ve been considering other options, more urban than where I live, but less urban than Pittsburgh. It started out as a thought of other places I could work if I couldn’t get hired in town, but I think I’m slowly falling in love (from a distance) with a place in Bucks County. I love Pittsburgh, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a 6 hour train ride from a city 45 minutes away from me. I’m no longer sure I’d like settling down that far from my family, and I don’t know if my SO would be okay with leaving home.

The future is a very nebulous place, full of might-be and what-if. I need to think over these things, pray about it a little, and ask the ancestors for guidance, maybe talk it out with Grandmother too.