Saturday, October 29, 2011

random thoughts

I know, I owe several posts and plenty of pictures. Calmer Half already chased me off to bed, so they'll come another day. Not tomorrow, if I don't get to sleep soon.

The 10 year old boy in photo above has a new life goal, announced to his dad as he scarfed a burger: he wants this growth spurt to get him tall enough to reach the rudder pedals. If ever someone could grow by determination alone...

I need to teach him how to safety wire. Otherwise, he's pretty much set for changing the oil in a plane.

After trying to give rides to at least half the people I wanted to in Alaska, flying with spare parts and worldly goods to Tennessee, and giving rides to at least half the people I want to here, I finally took myself up tonight with no passenger, no baggage, and half tanks (two people were busy, and one didn't answer his phone.) It was like my first solo all over again. She climbs like a homesick angel when lightly loaded, and runs fast and far. I missed time alone with her.

The laptop has anti-cat protection. When a loose bunny hopped onto the keyboard with legs splayed, it locked itself down. That rocks, although Gremlin will find a way to defeat it.

The first rabbit has arrived. It is, strangely enough, not a meat rabbit, but a young classroom pet that needed a new home. We may not name it Snack. The meat rabbits will arrive soon "to keep it company." Does anyone else hear Beethoven's Fifth in the background?

Ok, bed for real, or I'll spend all of tomorrow running on caffeine and forward momentum, for fear of falling asleep should I sit down.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gateway Rabbits

County fairs suck people in with the promise of funnel cakes and ferris wheels, giant stuffed animals to be won in rigged games, parades, tractor pulls, and demolition derbies. But there's a powerful lobby at work, too - if it weren't so open and blatant, it'd be a great conspiracy. Head into those huge buildings - no, not the ones where people are hawking candles and or stainless steel cookingware, but the one that's full of displays attended by people who love to tell you about their passion. You'll learn a lot - but every time you take a risk and talk to a person, you run perilously close to being infected with their enthusiasm.

I've seen perfectly healthy and sane people come back from county fairs with drop-spindles and unspun wool. I've seen people come back and immediately start reorganizing the basement or garage with wood blanks, or go hiking into the bush looking for diamond willows to cut into staves and canes. Worse are the blacksmiths - once you start down that road, only being forcibly moved from your tools and forge, or life-threatening illness, can change your course.

But worse than all of those are the barns. Yes, the barns, full of proud 4H and FFA kids, who are absolutely bursting with information and persuasion about how incredibly awesome their pig or their cow is, and you should come see why this one is clearly the best ever... What snobbish defensive delight in hip urban cool could ever hold up to an ecstatic kid showing off their goat?

My housemate likes chickens even less than me (he won't eat them at all, where I eat them out of a pleasant sense of vengeance. By the scars on my hand and the memories of a chicken named Bloody Mary, I swear revenge is a dish best served steaming hot with a side of garlic bread.) Between that and the way Calmer Half is not inclined to have animals beyond dogs or cats, I figured that my attempt to grow a garden this year was about as far into suburban homesteading as we would go.

My housemate went into the barns at the county fair, and came back talking about meat rabbits. They're quiet. They're relatively easy to care for. The rinds and cores of vegetables now going into the compost pile could make a side-trip through the rabbits and come out more compost-ready, having grown meat on the way. Processing is feather-free and relatively easy. What do we think?

Months went by, and this was not forgotten. The Housemate's girl is in FFA. She needs a project. So... meat rabbits. I am not convinced a teenager will come by to care for them often enough. I am not convinced that rabbits, being hard to sex and easy to breed, won't become a lot more rabbits than planned. I am not convinced that they aren't a cute, furry gateway drug - and if we start tearing out the useless shrubbery and replacing it with edible and useful plants, or you find Calmer Half and Housemate in the back yard knocking together boxes for square foot gardening, then you'll know we're well past saving and don't want to be rescued anyway.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Living Free

Kevin at The Smallest Minority often posts multi-thousand word posts, with heavy linking and footnoting where appropriate, to intelligently consider and debate the present, the past, and the future. This one he simply linked to, without words - and though it includes a video of a plane crash, it does so in the context of thoughtful, rational debate, and in respect and honor. I recommend watching it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bacon - not just for vegetarians

Bacon is a gateway drug with a power that reaches far beyond converting vegetarians to meat eaters. It's also the downfall of heart-healthy households...

Balsamic-Herb Marinated Strawberries with Peppered Mascarpone and Crisp Bacon

1/2 pound bacon for the recipe, plus more for lossage while cooking due to... quality testing.
8 oz mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper (freshly ground!)
15 fresh strawberries (see above note about increasing for lossage), chilled in fridge.
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped fine
1 tsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine (optional)

Cut the bacon into 1/4-in wide strips. Saute until crispy, drain well.
In a bowl, mix the mascarpone and pepper until evenly distributed, transfer to a ziplock bag. (Or a pastry bag, if you have one of those fancy things.) Stick in fridge.
Trim the green end off the strawberries and slice 'em in half, gently toss with vinegar, basil, and (optional) parsley. (Another large ziplock bag makes this pretty easy and low-mess.) Lay strawberries out on serving tray. Cut a corner off the ziplock with the cheese (or use the pastry bag as directed), and pipe the cheese on the strawberry halves. Garnish with bacon.

Makes 30 appetizers, which is never enough until you're too full for dinner, because, well, strawberries. and sweet cheese. and Bacon!

Do NOT ask for a calorie or cholesterol count after eating.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Home Again, with a good book!

The last couple weeks, I haven't had time or energy to think after work - so I saved a book I've been wanting to read until the time to kill between the layovers and flights on the way home.

If you haven't gotten Mike Williamson's Rogue yet, I highly recommend you pick it up. It's a book with more layers than a fabulous mixed drink - in plot, it's a chase and an action novel across four planets, with tensions and explosions, hair-raising and stand-up-and-cheer moments. It's also a very thoughtful, emotionally wrenching look into the minds and hearts of people who've been there, done that, don't want to talk about it, and don't know how to find their way back. Woven into this is a satire on the strengths and weaknesses of different cultures, and plenty of humor. If nothing else, you've got to see how he finally settles the game of Clue!

The only bad part? I finished it before I ran out of layovers and flights!

Off to do shopping, because a couple weeks away is enough time for men to reduce the well-stocked fridge to a few inedible leftovers and condiments...