Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gardening: Mum Mum's Day!

It is a generally accepted rule of thumb that it is not a good idea to buy women gifts that represent work. Vacuum cleaners, stoves and the like are generally frowned upon. To a woman who enjoys gardening, however, a live, plantable flower is far superior to the gift of the kind that dies slowly in a vase. My children did well in purchasing a beautiful flowering mum (or, since I am traditionally called "Mum Mum," a beautiful flowering mumumumumum) as my Mother's Day gift.

After enjoying my breakfast in bed(with company), I went straight to work on it. Sunshine is scarce here in the woods, so the only available sunny bed outside the herb and vegetable gardens is at the base of the so-called "mother-in-law rock" at the end of my driveway. (Mother-in-Law Rocks are so called because of the propensity of visiting relatives to knick the marker boulders with their bumpers when they cut the corner too close when departing.) The rock, however, had not been painted in years, and was faded, dirty, and covered with mold. Likewise, the small bed was full of small stones, weeds, and roots from a nearby tree. There was a lot to be done.

I started by repainting the rock. I scrubbed the mold off with a brush and bucket, and I knocked off as much of the old, flaking paint as possible. Mr. Farmer located a small can of leftover white paint from some previous project, but other supplies were lacking. So, like with most spur-of-the-moment projects, I improvised. A disposable takeout container from some Chinese food made a suitable paint tray. There were no large paintbrushes available, so I used a rag made from an old towel. In no time, the rock was sparkling white on the flat side that faced the road.

Next I had to see to the bed itself. I dug out what seemed like miles of roots and sifted out the driveway stones that had been splashed into the bed. I repaired the stone wall. I dug a deep hole on one side of the bed, and lined the bottom with straw, as suggested by Mr. Farmer. I set in the beautiful, flowering mum(mum) and backfilled it with aged pig manure. I leveled the dirt, touched up the paint, and the job was done.

Now this is the beautiful sight that greets me when I come home from work in the evening:

I Can't Wait to Choose the Flowers for
the Other Side of the Bed!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Life Is Good: Breakfast in Bed? No, Thanks.


I know my blog appeals to women and mothers in addition to others that are interested in the Rural Arts, so I'm going to step off topic a little today, if you will indulge me. The tradition of serving dear old Mom breakfast in bed on Mother's Day is sweet and quaint. The idea behind it, I suppose, is that Mom probably makes breakfast (or at least coffee) for everyone in the house every day for a large number of years. Therefore, on her special day, she should be treated not only to a breakfast that she did not prepare, nor needs to clean up, but that she should not even need to tidy up her appearance or even so much as get out of bed to enjoy it.

But wait- Shouldn't I enjoy it? Shouldn't I be pleased that I get to eat a hot breakfast on a Sunday morning? Shouldn't I be overjoyed that I get to sleep in a little and still eat breakfast long before noon? After all, if I wanted to make a hot breakfast on a Sunday morning I would first have to clean up the kitchen, wash up and get dressed, deal with whatever drama the kids could create during that time, and then feed everyone else their hot breakfast before I could eat mine. This is the reality of Sunday Morning Hot Breakfast on any of the other 51 of the year. The reality of Mother's Day Breakfast in Bed is a little different.

Mother's Day morning, on more than one occasion, I have been awakened by the well-meaning giggles of little children. It doesn't take long to figure out what they are up to, so I stay in bed. I can't sleep well, since it is somewhat late in the morning already and there is much clinking of glasses and banging of pots and pans, but I stay put. I strain to hear what is going on- desperate to discern something that assures me that there is adult supervision in that kitchen. I doze off a little, wait a little, and doze off for a while longer. Then, when the meal and small, darling, hand-made gifts arrive, everyone wishes me a Happy Mother's Day...


Suddenly I am alone. Father and the children eat their breakfast at the dining table, quietly so as not to disturb me. I have adorable little cards or paper cups with precious little sprouted pea plants in them, a hot breakfast, a steaming cup of tea, and no one to enjoy it with!

Many years ago I explained this to my family. I made them bring their breakfasts along and we all had a picnic in my bed. On Mother's Day, the last thing I want is to be alone. Before my daughter was born, I was so excited for my "day off." I couldn't wait for that day in the hospital where the nurses would take care of the 2nd child, my parents would take care of the first, and I would sit back, enjoy the quiet, and rest. By 10 am that morning I was crazy with loneliness and boredom. I wanted my crazy toddler to chase around! Having a day off on a day when the kids are in school is the same: If Mr. Farmer is out and about, it isn't long before the empty house seems... well... empty.

So children young and old I implore you: DO NOT abandon your mother in her bed alone with a tray of food on Mother's Day. Eat quietly with her. Tell her happy stories about how you made the breakfast or the paper-doily greeting card. Joke and laugh and say kind things to your siblings in front of her so she feels like she brought you up right.

Then do the dishes.

Homemade English Muffin and Tea

UPDATE: The kids did great. I got my breakfast in bed, with company. Little Miss Farmer was her usual clever self, Young Master Farmer did the cooking, and they both (via Mr. Farmer) got me a beautiful flower to plant. I had a blast playing in the dirt and making the bed at the end of the driveway beautiful. What a perfect Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pigs: Get a Life, Lady.

For most of the day I thought I was too depressed to write, but I'm not. However, I'm still unhappy, so this is not going to be pretty. Mom, if you are reading this, you might want to stop now.

***Seriously, Mom, you aren't going to like this. Go play on Facebook or something. I mean it. ***

It was hard for Mr. Farmer to give up the pigs. I know this. But when we got evicted from the Beta Site, there was no choice. We knew we couldn't bring them home; our neighbors have been laying in wait since we sent them away some months ago. We quickly put some down and shoved the rest into a less-than-ideal situation where they await their fate, which has yet to be determined. There was some small comfort in knowing that some of the piglets were being sold off for a very worthwhile cause: the 4-H Club.

That comfort did not last, however. In the process of transferring them to the going away vehicle in our driveway, the understandably distressed piglets kicked up a fuss. It wasn't a half hour later before the phone was ringing off the hook (again), and the nosiest of our neighbors were peering over from a safe distance through the trees.

***Last chance to turn away, Mom.***

Don't try to tell me it isn't personal. Was she really that upset and frightened by the noise? I don't think so. It is far more likely that the stupid cow was so bored on a Sunday afternoon that she had nothing better to do than overplay the inconvenience of 30 seconds of squealing. Perhaps she is such a loser that the only thing she can do to socialize is complain about us. I guess I should feel sorry for her, right? I mean, if you need to make up excuses to call your "friends" on a quiet day, then maybe you really are alone in the world. That is truly tragic, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cooking: Super Hero Potato Salad

This is Super Hero Potato Salad because making it made me feel like a little bit of a hero(ine). You see, Waste is Gluttony's ugly twin brother (or at least that cousin that always ends up in the shadows in family photos), earning him a spot among the 7 Deadly Sins as far as I'm concerned. When I made this Potato and Egg Salad, I saved red potatoes that were starting to sprout, celery that I accidentally put on the top shelf of the refrigerator that partially froze, and the hard boiled eggs that didn't peel pretty enough to be pickled. Rescuing those perishables makes me their savior, right? Ok, so if you have little kids, feel free to tell them you are making "Super Hero Potato Salad" just to get them to try something new. I won't tell.

Family/Party Size (I always cook this way. Sorry.)

3 lbs red potatoes, cubed small & boiled (peel if you like- I'd rather not)
4-6 stalks celery, chopped
6-8 hard boiled eggs, chopped
fresh chives, snipped
1 cup mayonnaise (Wanna make your own? Here's how!)
1 tbs prepared mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne or hot paprika (skip this if you used spicy brown mustard)

Quick Method

Cube the potatoes small and boil in salted water until just soft and not too starchy.
Drain, then plunge into cold water. Drain again.
Toss together potatoes, celery, eggs, and chives.
Chill thoroughly.
Gently fold in mayo, mustard & seasonings.
Chill again or serve. Don't leave out more than an hour, unless you can sit the bowl in a bigger bowl full of ice. Mayo can be a breeding ground for bacteria that causes a large amount of food-borne illness.

The first to show up to the party, and the last to leave!