Thursday, November 28, 2013

in which I feel like Prometheus (stealing fire, not the bit with getting my liver eaten by eagles eternally)

That is a bowl of cheese curds.  While they are not exactly dime-a-dozen in Wisconsin (more like $5.00/lb), they are very common there.  I grew to love cheese curds during my time in America's Dairyland, and  I have been in withdrawal ever since.  You simply can't find decent cheese curds in California--I tried some at the Davis farmers' market, but they were not so good.  Likewise, they're unavailable in Roseburg.  I remember samples of them as part of the Tillamook factory tour, but Tillamook is about four or five hours from here.  One sees them in groceries, but they are generally vacuum-packed and tagged with a sell-by date that is months in the future, suggesting a basic ignorance of the fact that they should be eaten less than a day after they were milk. 

So now I have made my own.  From the milk of my own goats, which is made from the grasses and brambles and grain and hay that I've fed them, from milk that was inside a goat earlier this morning, I've made cheddar cheese curds.  I've stolen the secret of cheese curds from Wisconsin, and I feel like Prometheus stealing fire from the gods.  And I've gotta say, those were some damn fine curds.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Wordage: misterioso

First postcard, received a few weeks ago:

Image--woman using a knife to cut the rope tying her hands, taken from a newspaper comic.


Second postcard, received a few days ago:

Image--title panel from "Prince Valiant," depicting a haughty princess walking away from a couple of pretty fearsome warriors who are about to set upon each other; captioned "CORMAC HAS COME TO RETRIEVE HIS RUNAWAY WIFE, VALETA, AND HIS DEMAND IS ABOUT TO REAP A BLOODY HARVEST WHEN VALETA ASKS HIM TO STEP AWAY AND RESOLVE THE MATTER BETWEEN THEM ALONE.  CORMAC NODS AGREEMENT AND THE TWO RETREAT."



Well, needless to say, I'm puzzled by this mail, puzzled and amused.  I asked the Miguel I know about it, and he had no clue.  I do like Prince Valiant.  I've never felt any urge to join the rebels, and I have no bones to pick with any medieval warrior princes.  The cards appear to be printed on a printer, but they are addressed in pencil--in a hand I don't recognize.   I couldn't read the postmark on the first card, but the second one was marked Columbus, Ohio.  So, a bit of a mystery; and thus far, kind of entertaining.  Will the reason why actually be next???

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Tool Winter is Coming Edition

It's been cold here for the last week.  As soon as the sun goes down, a thick fog develops and the temperature goes down to about 28 F.  With the waning moon, it gets really dark and cold, the lights from our neighbors barely visible and the noise from the road deadened.  Walking across the field to feed the sheep, I can slip into imagining that the world outside my headlight beam has fallen away and I've gone adrift in space.  I had a hard time recognizing my own sheep last night; in the dim light of the dying LEDs, they all looked white to me.  I was wondering what happened to all the black and brown ones--where's Woglinde?  Yvette?  Gretchen?  Rita Hayworth?  There's the right number of sheep here, but they're not all mine, are they?  Looking closer, I realized that they really were my sheep, but their fleeces were all painted silver with frost.  It wasn't yet 7:00 PM.   

When the sun comes up, the sky rarely clears and we've been lucky to get out of the 40's F.  The frigid mornings are not without beauty; every spiderweb spun in the length of summer, every tuft of wool left behind by a wandering sheep, is frosted and rimed.  The heads of the grasses are made more beautiful by the white highlights, and even blackberry leaves become appealing when outlined in ice.

But, it is cold, and there's work to do.  Hauling in yet another load of wood to feed the constantly-burning fireplace can keep me warm for a little while, making the rounds of the animals and hucking hay bales out of the truck.  But that warmth dissipates before all the work is done, and it seems the chill fog can touch your skin through anything.  So, the tool of the week has to be: 

Carhartt Flannel-Lined Jeans. 

When we moved here, we became aware of the various local tribes, how they distinguished themselves from each other and which to ally ourselves with.  One such division was the Filson/Carhartt schism.  Both are authentic and very much of this area.  The Filsonian culture is somewhat wealthier, and biased towards timber, ranching, and fly-fishing.  The Tribe Carhartt, at least locally, drives an older pick-up truck than the Filsonians, won't be seen in town during hunting season, and is more likely to have traces of its trade--caulk, manure, and such--anointing its trademark tan jacket. 

I wouldn't mind clothing myself in Filson and doing as the Filsonians do; I'd probably have more time to go hiking and such.  However, this morning, as most mornings, I got on my Carhartt flannel-lined jeans (with permanent stains on the knees from kneeling in pens to deal with kids and lambs), my Carhartt jacket (with paint stains, s#!t stains, tattoo ink stains, blood stains, and miscellaneous small rips), and my Carhartt watch cap (similarly stained, and which the Real Doctor concluded was my tool for cleaning the underside of the house), and marched out into the freezing fog to feed the sheep.  Flannel-lined jeans make life better. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Musical Offering note of approval

I have commented before on my love of Bach's Goldberg Variations.  I don't think I've commented about the pianist Jeremy Denk, but he also rates highly with me.  I first saw him in concert as an accompanist to Joshua Bell, and I spent more of the concert paying attention to Denk than to Bell.  Since then I've seen him again as accompanist and also in a solo recital, and I've been consistently impressed. 

The solo recital featured book I of the Ligeti Etudes, some huge maelstrom of notes by Liszt, and the Goldbergs.  It was one of the more interesting reads of the variations that I'd heard.  Well, Mr. Denk has finally recorded the Goldbergs, and the recording reminds me of why I so thoroughly enjoyed the recital.  The variations are a rich enough text that like the Bible or Shakespeare, you can find an interpretation to suit your needs whatever they may be.  What Denk found, and presented, is something that I haven't heard much.  He gives us a sort of extremely intelligent, playful humor.  There are 2nd-grader jokes, and there are jokes that give you the impression that the world is pausing to gently laugh at its own intricate behavior, and the latter are the kind of jokes that Denk sees Bach serving up.  This is consistent with the performers (public) personality; if you want a slightly cerebral laugh, go visit his infrequently updated blog.

Anyway, I hereby recommend this album.  It's not the best recording out there, because such a thing no more exists than the correct interpretation of the Torah.  However, it's a really cogent, beautiful, witty performance and well worth your while. 

(Post script--I seem to have not written here in a while.  My apologies.  Life has been hectic in the extreme, but I hope to get back on this particular horse.)