Sunday, December 2, 2007

Picking Up the Pieces

Not recovering from a sudden catastophe, but just the flotsam and jetsam at the end of the active growing season.

It's been awhile since I've written. No particular reason, just daily life swirling about like a busy river, encountering some interesting passages.

Thanksgiving was great, one of the best. In classic Manney family style, lack of significant advance planning flowed into a fabulous low-key, informal feast at the farm, something like 16 family members and friends seated at my farmer's market tables in the living room. We ate off of Great Aunt Molly's Wedding Rehearsal Dishes, which are pretty plain but--there's just something particularly sweet about inheriting the REHEARSAL dishes. They don't really even all match in shape--but there are a lot of them, the same off-white color, and that's what counts.

We splurged and bought a locally grown turkey this year, from one of my Farmer's Market friends. It was delicious. Just to be sure no one went hungry, I also roasted a leg of lamb. Here's my special method:

Peel a bunch of (homegrown) garlic and cut the cloves into slivers, the size of almond slivers. Poke holes in the thawed leg with a knife and insert garlic slivers in them, all over the leg, about 1" apart. No such thing as too much garlic, esp. when cooking lamb. Put the leg in a roasting pan. Next, wash a lemon and slice into paper-thin rounds. Plaster the top and sides of the lamb with the lemon slices (you can use garlic slivers as pegs to hold the side pieces on if needed). Then sprinkle dried rosemary leaves (not ground) over the whole thing. Bake at 325 until the meat thermometer says it's done. Slice and serve.

We had fresh salad greens--lettuce, mizuna, tat soi, spinach, etc.--from the garden, along with salad turnips, green onions, dill, and cilantro. Other folks brought mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, olives, pumpkin pies, cookies, etc., and I made stuffing. Since my granddaughter is a vegetarian, I also cooked up lentils with rosemary (that's all it is: just lentils boiled with rosemary--fabulous!) and a blend of wild rice and basmati rice.

Most of the preparations were little things, bringing the tables in from the garage, purchasing the various off-farm ingredients, tidying here and there. The dishes were done in shifts (to air-dry) throughout the rest of the day and evening, a pleasant tasks while visiting with folks hanging around picking at the odds and ends of leftovers. Then the arduous clean up task of eating leftovers for the past week, washing those containers as I went. Not much stress, and a good time was had by all.

This past week has been filled with the many small details leading to this coming Monday's milestone event, the closing on the property next door. Insurance. Utilities. Loan details. More loan details. Finding out at the last minute that some obscure rule prevents the bank from refinancing my house for the down payment, because I've refinanced it before. But wait...more smoke and mirrors, and lo and behold they CAN structure my financing as I had originally hoped to do, a new loan for the new debt to keep things simple at tax time, which originally they had said they couldn't do. So it all worked out the best way possible, at the last minute. Meanwhile, I didn't even panic! Getting an orientation from the seller on the abysmally bad plumbing, the location of sewer cleanouts, warnings about easily freezable pipes. Yikes! What am I getting into?

During all this, a new point of view: I'm learning to wear glasses all the time now, except at the computer: that's what my natural vision is best at these days. Maybe if I didn't spend so much time at the computer I wouldn't need bifocals for everything else? Hm, not worth it.

With a spell of very cold nights last week, the garden is about done for. Some lettuce remains under cover, and the spinach is frostbitten but surviving. What is the cold weather champion? Cilantro, of all things!

This is the time of picking up for the winter, for remembering that things on the ground can be hard to find (or easy to trip on) under a blanket of snow. That it's time to get in the habit of draining hoses after each and every use, because soon the afternoons may not get above freezing. Time for pulling any t-posts that need pulled before spring, time for digging any last holes, time for setting posts, time for moving anything that might freeze to the ground. Time for dumping water out of things and turning them upside down so that the incredible force of freezing water doesn't break or distort them. Time for mulching things, for cutting up firewood and putting it under cover, trimming things back, making everything tidy and ready to pick up in the spring.

A lot of progress has been made this year. Next year will be off to a great start, if I keep chipping away at the little things I can over the winter.

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