Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Falls

A long week with the first hint of chill, I wanted something of winte having been denied so long that snow and frost. And I remembered all of a sudden this slow and gentle film and of how the last lines went...

It reflects those hours of holiday madness we all share in our own way - but of a more restrained variety. The drama was there but a person knew to hold it in...such manners long lost, now.

And the agenda for the evening - the entertainments - were kinder. But what could one do without the constant attention grabbing media of today? You were either talented or pretty or both. And, though Heinlein had his own opinion about the matter, poetry was a very important aspect to many cultures' celebrations. I think the Celts definitely won in that category of history. No one tells a tale as they do. No one holds a tale across generations as well as they do. Look to that last stanza and tell me it isn't as well-written a curse as any.

Donal Óg

by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory
Translated from an anonymous eighth-century Irish poem


It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

But their voice, ah - that is their added gift. Words and song...but I suppose that is what comes of so much trouble and travail. I believe I shall brush up again on what I once knew so intimately. Stories and song may be all we have to entertain one day to distract from our own travails.






Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Language We Share

Seems as though nearly every page I like has had something superb to offer of late... Ed's back which is a very good thing, indeed. I have a selfish sense of ownership about him and his product. His manner of writing strikes a chord within and it feels as though it is a conversation, not a recitation - if that makes sense. He has been on the FaceBook but it was like an amuse bouche...tasty but insufficient.

I stumbled upon a Netflix offering - a documentary on Pancho Barnes and her Happy Bottom Riding Club...most of us are familiar with the brief snippets in The Right Stuff - but she had an amazing life. And a terribly unfair loss. She lived. Period.

I have seen nothing of the world though I know many who have and I live vicariously through them...

Which makes this bit by our mistress of all things snippy and bright so pointedly spot-on. It is hard to look in the mirror some days - never mind the closet - and see the hint of the face that brought so many low...I was amazing, even at 35. But the wheel turns and it is my turn to let the others don the finery and hold sparkling conversations. Still, I sometimes come across that old pair of shoes or silk skirt and think about how I strode across lives. (But I didn't laugh half as much as I do now...)

Last night, this came to mind and it was so apt. Tired...

Monday, November 26, 2012

AAR

Ah, well...so much has gone on and gone passing by that I don't know the worth in the retelling. But I have Pandora spitting out one slow song after another (simply ask for Allison Krauss and let it take it from there) and the holiday fugue running internally.

I'd taken the week prior off from work - well, tried to - but wound up working about 5 hrs a day anyway. It's a small office and my cohort was dealing with a very full plate already. And, no - we don't do temps. The office mgr is an accountant. A sweet and good man but he clings to each dime. So what I'd hoped to make into a decompression and a kind of "get off the ledge before someone gets hurt" intervention turned into more of an irritating standard work week with long lunches.

And each day I tried to remember: I have a job. It's a good job. I get paid well. Many would carve my liver out for the salary.

But there was still a knee on the ledge...and an email waiting for me this morning sent Thurday afternoon about flights needed for tonight. Seriously? We've a service for that - all happy to help and make that sweet holiday overtime. But no...and you know I didn't crack open that bitch over the weekend after they screwed my vacation. So...it's Southwest for you, Sirrah!

~*~*~*~

Wednesday afternoon found me kicking out a large assortment of pies, sides, and snacks. It was almost 1a before I laid down my head but it was done. I contributed the turkey, too, but went with the amazing smoked version from these guys - they deliver to the door all ready to eat. (Not a bad option, either, for a shut-in.) In the morning we loaded up the truck and headed east.

As I prepared it all I could almost feel Mom at my elbow, pressing for more nutmeg in that pie, more cinnamon and butter in the other...it was her shining moment, that holiday. We were poor as hell when I was young and I do not know how she managed to afford it each year. (And I still recall the year - had to be `75 - when the basket waited at the back door, as if the rapid knock itself had dropped it on the stoop. I was just a punk kid who didn't understand the importance - just wanting to get down the street to where the other punks waited, crunching that ice blue snow under shoes not suited to the weather. But her quaking, her anger, and dashed tears caught me up. "It's a gift, Mom. You can't be mad for a gift..." and I suppose it made her think of the kids rather than her pride. But I do not think another year found her unprepared after...

Each year as I do what I can to meet her expectations, I remember that brief snippet of time as well as all the other turkeys she nursed to golden perfection. It is because of her that I can cook as well as I do.

~*~*~*~

We hurried eastward for the festivities there, then back again for in-town final feastings with friends. Their youngest girl treated us all to her new act - the etrier that we'd given her hanging from the tree limb. Her brother loaded up a song on his phone and the gentlemen all took out their Streamlights to give proper circus lighting and mood...

Her fine limbs curled around the rope, her feet flinging out as she swung in the air. She would hold a pose, spinning like the ballerina in a girl's jewelry box. Then up and up she would climb, her upper body strength simply dumbfounding as she arced her legs up and over, only her tiny hands keeping her on the line, slowly turning. It was 3 minutes or more and we were all transfixed at her serious expressions, a posing - a sober mien that was not quite right on the youthful face. We all stood and applauded with sincere appreciation and joy. A giving of thanks, indeed, for those small graces.

~*~*~*~

Each year a friend who manages a hunting lease of great size culls the deer there the day after Thanksgiving. A cooler, he says - just get me a cooler and we'll fill it. It could have held a body. It returned to us last night full to the brim with boned, skinned, cleaned meat. Over 150 lbs of it, all free. Last year, we worked long hours to trim, sort and package the generous gift. This year, we took it to the local processor who gave us the friend price. In a few days we will fetch home a welcome bounty. In exchange, bread and cakes and cookie dough will wend their way through our small town to their door. An inequal exchange, certainly. But it pleases him, I think, to know that we appreciate it so much.

~*~*~*~

Sarge's big boss will host a meet and greet soon and I've got to get ready for it. Wardrobe choices, hair color or no, cut it or no, and other such foolishness to ensure I represent well for him. I want Sarge to be proud to escort me...of course, that assumes nothing comes up when they run me. Yes, no one gets an audience unless their record is perused. And I've been good a very long time. But one never knows what skeletons will spin up when deep waters are disturbed, eh? Heh...

It was so nice to deliver his guys some dinner Thursday evening. I packed them a generous plenty of leftovers which were devoured quickly, a few guys staying over past their shift having heard of the incoming delivery. He has high expectations but ensures they have what they need. He is cultivating a deep respect in their hearts...


And that has been the last few days lived in a rush...no time for updates, messages, blogging or chatting. Just one thing after another so that tonight I am letting it all go in the hope that rest will come. Tomorrow will be a busy day - so much to do...and window ledges whistling all aloof-like..

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Apocalyptic Dog Food

So Six had mentioned doing some canning recently and I told him to remember the pups when doing so. He asked for a recap of the process so here it is.

We went to our local LDS Cannery (list of locales here - find them, appreciate them) and acquired about 10 boxes of empty #10 cans and lids for same. Remember that you have to buy cans, lids, and boxes so price them accordingly to avoid surprises. Bring cash or a checkbook in case yours doesn't take plastic. (That form should be fairly accurate for price of product but changes in the local market may find it slightly different - no matter, they are almost ALWAYS cheaper than other vendors.)

I didn't know what the ratio of dog food to can would be so I just went with this up front goal:
1 can per dog per week for 1 year's rations
That means 104 cans or about 17.5 boxes of cans - 6 cans per box.
I acquired (2) 42 lb bags of dog food. For this emergency stock I just went with Purina. More on that in a moment.

The 2 bags filled just under 5 boxes worth - one can shy of it, actually. I think that in the near future I will can the quality food we feed daily and include one of those per box as a kind of supplement to that lesser quality food. There is also space in the box between the cans to add in vacuum sealed sacks of whatever other supplement you might like to have. Do not forget to add in a can opener to every other box! I get these in bulk for just that purpose - tape one to a can in the box to ensure it stays put.

If you are canning any powdery stuff like flour or dry milk, it really helps to have the empty cans set  on a tray to catch the overflow - because you will overfill and that stuff gets everywhere.

OK! So what happens? Here's a pictorial with the secret squirrel pal and Sarge conveniently avoided.
Here you can see the tin cans - the edges are sharp as knives so have a care when unboxing and working with them. Having a kitchen island is handy for this - we have an old counter that we add to the top of ours to clamp the canning machine onto, and that provides a lot of space to work with.

It helps to have a person to fill cans, a person to seal them, and a person to label and box them. That person also keeps the supply of empty cans moving in. You can see the oxygen absorbers in the pic - keep them sealed up as best you can during the process. (Vacuum seal them when you are all done and have leftovers.) When you fill a can with whatever product, give it a good smack on the counter to settle the product and top it off - the less room at the top the better.


Here you can see them all filled up (I would have added a bit more but I was Labeling Buddy and my opinions were resoundingly mocked or ignored. Only when you've a good number of cans filled and ready do you open your O2 packets - add one to the top, add your lid and pass it to your Sealer Buddy and close up that O2 packet bag till you are ready with your next series of cans. (If you have a SEAL buddy, you'll have to bring a ball to play with when they aren't busy canning. Snicker...)

 
The machine is bloody heavy. You need a secure top to hold it and some C clamps to keep it in place - hence, the secondary table top to protect the island countertop. Here is the machine in question with an unsealed can on it - use your first can to ensure it is properly adjusted. There are directions on the net but when you lever up the base that holds the can, it should contact that spinning upper wheel soundly and firmly. Too tight, though, and you might not get it off again when sealed. (You have to very gently insert a shim or screwdriver to release that pressure...)

 There is a small flat wheel that you cannot see on the other side of the can - it is the "seamer" as this really is a can seaming machine. You lever the can upward to contact that spinning wheel which sets the whole can to spinning at a moderate speed. Now, you can see that small black button in that pic up there - you have to hold that in to start the spinning so most people will tape it down or find a way to clamp it to keep the upper wheel spinning continuously.

There is a lever that you press to the rear to apply that small wheel to the lip of the can for a few complete rotations and then pull the level forward for a few rotations to get the finished seam - you must do it both ways as it does a complete seam that way. And you have to do it in that order to get the proper seal. (Dear me, I hope I have that right...the canning machine will tell you!)


Behold! A proper seam - you cannot tell any difference from a major retailer's can when done right. If it has any kind of rippled or jagged seam, it likely did not seal well. Just ensure you open that can for use in short order - it isn't useless, just not completely airtight. And you WILL get one or two that way until you get the hang of it. You have to be firm but not aggressive in the process.


LABEL!! I cannot stress enough the need to label your cans when they come off the machine. This is very important when doing different things in one canning - like sugar, flour, oats...your LDS folks will have premade labels for those kinds of products. I have custom made labels for the other stuff we can but I still like a notation on the top lid for easy view when you open the box.


Now - one tip. If you are canning sugar, never ever add the oxygen absorber unless you'd like to have a giant sugar lick. Same goes for any fruit drink mix.

I guess that's about it! We did this before and opened a can of quality food that was a year old - it whooshed open so we knew it'd held out the air and it smelled as fresh as new. The dogs ate it fine and had no issues. With the lesser quality food I'd probably not push it longer than 6 months but I wanted to get an emergency store of food ASAP. We can always add more and/or better food later...

The nice thing about borrowing the canner is that you can put whatever you want in a tin can - ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo...

Even if your local LDS cannery won't loan them away from the cannery, do not let that stop you! Can on-site! They are very nice about it and happy to help if you will approach them with an open and friendly demeanor. They don't want to recruit - they want everyone PREPARED. But please respect their facility and hard work - know that they do the job for free and often have to PAY/tithe for the "blessing" to do so! When one has skin in the game, one tends to be more involved in its success. Too, some people staffing the locations are NOT the sharpest prepper's! Don't get mad if they don't know how to put up lima beans. Just appreciate the one-stop-shopping option and the fact that you don't have to pay $3k for the machine.

As an added note - the canning facility and bulk purchase location often adjoins the Bishops Pantry which is a kind of welfare store for church members so a kind smile to those "shopping" there is nice. They're hurting and getting a month's worth of food to survive on...

Now, get canning!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remember How I Said It Wouldn't Matter?

Get a gander at this and see just a sliver - this is a very sliver - of what was done to you and your acquiescing pragmatistic hiney. Sigh...

Okay, my hiney, too. But I be no prag, damn it! I am holding out for a full on ThanksButNoThanks response from the state. It could happen...er...maybe.

Allow me to note that my employer had looked into rep'ing a certain player in that field in Tally ages ago. We reviewed the client, the programs, and said, "Uh, yeah...no." Never quite understood the stand-down after substantial expense and investigation. I think I know now.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

No Election To Worry About

Because Valerie!

...Jarrett told (staff members) 'After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time.
Everyone not with us is against us and they better be ready because we don’t forget. The ones who helped us will be rewarded, the ones who opposed us will get what they deserve.
There is going to be hell to pay. Congress won’t be a problem for us this time. No election to worry about after this is over and we have two judges ready to go.'
She was talking directly to about three of them. Sr. staff. And she wasn’t trying to be quiet about it at all. And they were all listening and shaking their heads and smiling while she said it...

Look - I said a few times that you'd be lucky to be allowed to vote. And I was wrong. But the truth is that we all know the damned thing was corrupted top to bottom and that there was no one to take that assault to - the nightwatch has been paid off and well.

The only chance at avoiding utter ruination is an impeachment and to do that, well - the C-word. You know what that means.

So give me no chatter about "4 more years" - this was it. Now...get all the money you can and buy all the food you can. Then water. Then defense items. Do not let them starve you out.

An interesting factoid from Sarge's other employer - someone sold a total of over 17,000 Pmags in under 2 hours. The .223 derivation.

There is a reason I wanted to move to Texas - I firmly believe it is the only place that will be willing to tell El Hefe to take a hike. Assuming he makes it that far...Val won't be willing to remain the puppet master forever. And, say, has anyone heard from Cankles? Hmmm.

Stay strong, and if you haven't started stocking up, you are way behind the curve. Take that 401k money - they will very soon so leave them nothing - and use it to throw at the problem. If you need some advice on armaments or just the gear at a very good price, reach out. Our friend is happy to help.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

So I Almost Died Today...

Dramatic, no? True, though. Sarge had a pistol match this morning a few miles away but was going to be late. I'd spent much of the morning cleaning out the front garden and had cleaned up myself after. But then I was peckish...

We've been all about the pork belly - organic, lovely marbled flesh from a local rancher. Some scrambled eggs, some pork...what could be better? The cast iron sizzled nicely and batch # 1 was nearly done.

I moved the first slices off to the side to drain and loaded the rest of the slices in the skillet. Just one piece, I thought to myself. Just one - I was so hungry and it smelled so good. My teeth carved off half a slice and I chewed with a ravenous greed. But then something went very wrong.

It was a mere moment in time - the bacon seemed to divide, the fat holding both bits like the old Click Clack toy. One piece went down as it ought but I must have breathed at the wrong time because the other half slid into my wind pipe and lodged there. I can now say Thank God. In the moment, it was more like Oh God!

I had enough sense to turn off the stove - no need for a grease fire should I perish. And perish I might because there was little to no air getting past that damn grease plug. Stark terror as I bent over and hacked and hawked and tried even to barf to just get it out. I had to slow my fear in order to keep what air I had because it was very little, my heartbeat racing and stealing it all away.

Ranger was outside and I thought briefly that he could be out there for awhile, glad I'd filled the water bowl...I stumbled to the chair at the dining table, a final attempt before grabbing the cell phone and stumbling outside to get whatever help I could summon. I threw myself over the back of the chair, reaching for the porcine attacker with my fingers. A self-inflicted Hind Lick, a furious clawing...

Blessed air rushed in as the gobbet fell from my hands. I stood, the chair falling with a clatter, dizzy and nauseous and terrified all at once. How close it had been, I thought...a 911 call at least, a long ride to anywhere with gear to deal with it, and that assuming someone even saw me within the few golden moments.

It was quite the event...in the end I did consume some of the bacon brethren in revenge but it was with care and small, small bites. A kind of climbing back on the horse...but there is a rule, now. No bacon comsumption without company. Just because.

The consolation is that Sarge did well in the match. Wait...no. Really? Well, he thinks so. He just doesn't know how rich he almost got today. Now that's consolation.