Category Archives: Foodie

And a spot opened up.

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Or rather, the surgeons made one: They decided to fit my stepmom into their schedules for Monday or possibly Tuesday of this upcoming week. She had less than a day’s notice for her last day of working at her job, because the hospital needes to run a lot more tests before the surgery: It caused a total scramble, but she says it’s preferable to the waiting. Also, this way she’ll be avoiding holiday stress, simply by being too drugged and busy recovering to really worry about anything.

My dad said it’s strange to prepare for major surgery when you’re feeling totally fine… Surreal, to try to imagine the pain you’ll be in after it happens. I’m reminded of when Oats had her gallbladder removed, and how she said the post-surgery punched-in-the-gut feeling was still preferable to the gallstone attacks that had her crying in agony. My stepmom has no symptoms, no discomfort, nothing.

The doctors assume it’s cancer. Which is weird to deal with, for my stepmom, because there’s been no diagnosis, no gentle revelation in a private office with an empathetic health professional and a box of tissues. Instead, the discussions have simply and organically morphed, among the many busy surgeons, nurses, and technicians. One minute they was all about a routine colonoscopy, the next they were all about various findings and possible meanings, and eventually the c-word is casually taking up space midway between thoughts on surgery options and recovery times. If it were me, I’d like to think I’d yell, “HOLD UP! SINCE WHEN DO I HAVE CANCER?!!!”

But of course it isn’t me, and my stepmom is a rather reserved person who isn’t exactly given to loud outbursts.

I’m not going to visit. I did look into tickets, but everything between now and the New Year is crazy expensive, and then in January my mother’s coming out here for a week… And also I don’t really want to. Will I regret it? Maybe, but most likely in the way I regret the few misgivings I carry with me: With a healthy dose of resignation, and acceptance that it was the way it was. Or in this case, is the wayt it is. Certainly, if my stepmom gets sick I’ll make an effort to go, and hope to do so anyway in the early summer. For now though, I’m trying to be diligent with phone calls. Also, a special gift… I’m thinking of a subscription to a foodie magazine, one of the more offbeat ones, the kind with articles by hipster chefs who run foodcarts, and instructions for DIY cheesemaking. My stepmom and I are very different when it comes to many things, but a love for culinary writing is something she successfully instilled in me a long time ago.

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6 weeks, or sooner if a spot opens up

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Ladder to a roof, which I've climbed too many times to count.

After a short week of looooooooong shifts, I got today off from work. So far I’ve spent most of it cooking and cleaning: Things that get neglected when I’m working a lot. Okay, to be honest, Oats does most of the cleaning around here, so I really was more organizing. The cooking was much needed though, because we’ve been quickly eating through all the stuff I made and froze in the summer. Local carrots and leeks are crazy cheap this week, so soup it is!

My dad texted me at work on Wednesday, asking me to call. Since I was on lunch, I called right away, and learned that my stepmom needs surgery to have some polyps removed from her colon. We barely had any time to talk and it was so loud where I was… When I got home that night, it was too late to call them again, so instead I spent an hour on the internet researching colon polyps.

You know what’s a bad idea? Consulting Dr. Google when you’re trying not to freak out over a health issue.

Anyway, I called my parents last night, when it was only a little past their bedtime, and got the full story. I’m actually glad I’d done some research, because I knew more than a little about everything my stepmom mentioned. The polyp is too big to be removed via colonoscopy, and though an initial biopsy revealed it to be benign, they could only sample a small portion of it so it’s still a concern. Especially since her grandmother died from colon cancer. So, in 6 weeks, or sooner if a spot opens up, the surgeon will remove my stepmom’s polyp laparoscopicly. It’s looking good, all things considered.

I’m trying very hard to remain calm and logical about this.

My dad’s pretty upset, though… And my older sister is being too blase about it all for my taste. I’ll be talking with my younger sister this evening, and have no idea how she’s coping: This is her mother, my stepmom is I mean, and they’re very close.

Le sigh. We’ve been so lucky, my family, to have been relatively untouched by disease and disaster. I try not to take it for granted.

Funny, that this should happen, just when Oats and I have decided we’re definitely not moving to Ontario anytime soon and are most likely staying here for the next year at least… In part due to how damn trying Oats found it, to be visiting her own family there last week.

In other news, I found a dead mouse in the (empty) washing machine this morning. This did not upset me nearly as much as did the second dead mouse, which I found later amidst my clean laundry. It was in bad shape, and my laundry no longer seemed so… Clean. Fuck, I hate vermin.*

* I had a pet mouse as a kid, who was simply lovely… And a pet rat later on in high school, who was also sweet and friendly.  But since then I have lived in waaaaaay too many rodent-infested shitholes, and I draw a firm line between the sort that are pets and the sort that eat my stuff, shit and piss all over everything, and then die messy deaths in bad places. Ick ick ick.

Pickling while high

Yesterday, which was around four weeks after the initial surgery on my final impacted wisdom tooth, I woke up to find that my jaw was oddly hot, and rapidly swelling.  Seriously?  After so long, it suddenly got infected?  For fuck’s sake!  I ended up back at the oral surgeon’s office, getting the socket cut open and drained.  The friend I’d been planning on hanging out with was surprisingly okay with the fact that I was having a medical emergency, and came along for the ride.  So fun!  No, really, it was.  The only problem was we were laughing too much, and that really hurt.

The surgeon gave me a selection of syringes with which I’m to do “forceful” saline rinses for the next several days.  Luckily I still have some of those excellent painkillers left over.  What to do when drifting along in a drugged haze on a summer evening…?  Pickling wouldn’t have been my first choice, but the cukes were ready to go.  A farmer friend had too many to deal with, and asked if I’d take care of them; I agreed before I knew I had an abscess in my mouth.  But abscess or not, the pickles had to be made, so I muddled my way through.

Oats was very concerned about my ability to cope with sharp knives and boiling water while so very high, which was sweet though I ignored her.  I actually managed to turn out 17 litre jars of garlic dill pickles without any mishaps!  Usually I forget little things like adding key ingredients, or timing the processing.  Obviously, I need to do more canning while completely blitzed.

Birthday butch, beer, books, berries, bear

It was a certain butch’s birthday this past week, and to celebrate, we went camping at what turned out to be the raddest spot ever.  It was quiet and remote, on a lake with a dock, lots of trees and a woodland trail, plus the bonus of nearby easy-to-hike logging roads into more mountainous territory!  All within a couple hours drive from our house.  Say what you will about the timber industry (and believe me, I’ve said it myself), but at least it makes for some great campsites.

My handsome companion. And her new gun.

What do dykes do in the woods?  Shoot guns, of course!

I preferred to steady my hand using my dear Audubon field guide... And the table.

Actually, there was only one gun:  An air pistol, which Oats bought with her birthday money.  I was pretty surprised, cuz she’s usually rather focused on things like art supplies and nice clothes, but then I quickly got over it… Because it turns out that I myself have an inner sniper.

Yes, we drank beer and then shot up the cans.  Classy!

I also spent many hours swinging in my hammock and reading… Got through 5 books in 4 days, which felt soooooooooooooooo good.  You’d think I’d read more, given that I’m unemployed and all, but I just don’t make the time.

What else did we do?  Oh yes, hiked.

I love a good view.

Even if it comes with sombre reminders of *why* there’s a good view… Hard to imagine how it would have been to walk up this slope before it was clearcut.  Those stumps are massive.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this land, and how I feel about it, mostly in light of the notion that I’ll be moving to a completely different part of the country this time next year (I hope!).  I read a lot of sci-fi, and it has forever altered my ideas about spatiality and colonization, complicating all my thoughts on “here-ness” in delightfully interesting ways.  I feel like my love for this place is so deep that I can leave and be okay simply knowing that it exists.

A wild larder:  Magic!  Not this fungus, I mean… It’s a lobster mushroom, and very much so edible without causing euphoric insights.  Or at least not yet.  I still haven’t eaten more than a nibble, because I was saving them for tonight’s dinner… I’ll let you know if they get me high.

More magic: Wild fruit!  I picked just over three pounds of thimbleberries (the ones that look like raspberries), tiny native blackberries, salmonberries (the orange ones), red huckleberries (the smooth red ones), and salal berries (the smooth dark purple ones).  Today they are becoming jam, to be sent off to my more eastern relatives as solstice gifts this winter, provided we don’t eat it all first.  I would’ve picked more, but there was much evidence of others wanting the fruit too and sometimes I like to avoid competition.

Yes, that’s shit… Bear shit, to be exact, which is what I’m referring to in my previous sentence, in case it wasn’t obvious.  It wasn’t totally fresh, but new enough to make me give careful consideration of the needs of my wilderness friends.  Three pounds of berries for me seems pretty good.

 

Hello from my island of solace

Dear friends, I’ve been ignoring you.

No, no, your protests are charming yet inaccurate: I’ve actually been completely ignoring you, for real.  I haven’t been reading your own blogs, I haven’t been following the reader stats here at FG HQ, I haven’t been checking my FG email address, let alone F@cebook… And I’ve been severely neglecting the Queer Canada Blogs project, even though I know that several folks have recently submitted suggestions for blogs to add.

Terrible, isn’t it?

The thing is, the whole world is terrible.  Usually, that’s what this blog is about:  One odd queer rambling on about her relatively-privileged life on a fucked-up planet. Not exactly catchy, I realize, but my marketing department is rather small.

In this terrible world, there are islands of solace, and I’m currently relaxing on one.  Physically, in that I live on an island, and mentally, in that I’ve become extremely preoccupied with the minutia of daily life.  I’ve put my attention on a very short leash, and it’s not wandering much farther than making food, sewing clothing, reading books, tending the garden, and playing with the dog.  I spend all my internet time devouring how-to instructions: Tailoring, dehydrating, sausage-making, lamp crafting, reupholstering, permaculture, website design, raising goats, collecting maple syrup, etc etc etc… If it’s a skill I could possible find useful at some point, I’m reading about it.

The way I see it, I’m using this period of unemployment to shore up my resources for future times of need:  When I next have a job, I’ll likely be too busy for testing recipes or learning new DIY skills, not to mention being emotionally worn out by the toll of the usual sexist/homophobic crap that often is found in trades-based workplaces.  With that in mind, now is the time to stock the pantry!  Literally, in that I’m filling my shelves with preserves, and figuratively, in that I’m filling my mind with reminders of all the inspiration and hope I’ll be needing.

“Why doesn’t she blog more about the stuff she’s making?” You may wonder.  Well, the thing is, I want to… But I want to do it under my real name, so that I can use it for promoting the workshops I’m teaching, and maybe even someday make a little bit of pocket money from those initiatives.

Also, I’d like to have a blog that I can share with folks when they hear I’m a blogger and want to know what I write.  Often I’m cool with telling random hipsters about this anonymous little domain, but in a job interview…?  Yeah, it’d be good if I could show those people something a little less personal.  Also, my mom!  She knows I blog: She asked me point blank last time she was here, and all I said was “Yes.”  Ha!

So that’s what I’m up to.  I miss you!  And I kinda miss the fervour I feel when I’m really on a roll and blogging a lot on this site, even though it’s often born from frustration or confusion or another general attempt to process something I’ve experienced. It’s so nice to be able to avoid that right now!  And I’m not taking this chance for granted.

For now, I’m still here, but not here, because I’m oh-so-very exactly where I am.

I couln’t look for a job today because I had to build a sunporch for the cat

And I built it entirely from scrap, including a window and some old wood that we’d hauled along in the move to this house last fall, plus some bamboo harvested from the overgrown patch along the street side of the property. Yay, me!  As my mother, who was born during the second world war and hates waste, would say, “You get points!”  Never a specific amount of points, mind you, just a comment that they are now mine, as the innovator of this excellent reuse.  In my mother’s world, every time a good use is found for leftovers from the fridge or a piece of junk from the alley or a scrap of material from another project, the person responsible for the initiative “gets points”.  It’s the sort of funny familial habit I’ve only recently begun to the notice.

Yay also for the cat, who seriously has been driving us crazy with her desire to go outside these last couple weeks. You know what happens when Ballou goes outside?  She falls off things, gets lost, or trapped in ridiculous locations. She has survived for 11 years, but it’s likely that this is only because Oats has kept her strictly an indoor animal for most of them. In the wild, cats like her do not last.

For months, Oats has been saying that Ballou needed an enclosed area off our bedroom window, to which I’ve been replying that the bloody feline is not getting a single square foot of my precious vegetable garden, also located outside the bedroom window.  All this meowing really wore me down, though… And I like getting into Oats’ good graces when I can, so that she’ll overlook the fact that I never clean the bathroom and am often rather snarky.  Happy cat, happy partner, happy FG.

I’m kidding, with the title to this post… I actually did do some job-related stuff today, including nailing down an appointment at the shipyards, to *finally* sign off on the security clearance and the rest of their forms.  It’s taken them forever to get back to me, so I’m relieved that something’s actually happening.

In the meantime, I’m back at the farm.  Yesterday I picked strawberries for 8 hours: On my knees in the hot sun, bending over the rows of plants, severing the stems just above the bulging red fruits and getting the overripe sticky juice all over my hands, my mud-stained t-shirt, my scandalously tight nylon short-shorts… Sexy as hell, it’s true, but *fuck* it hurt my body.  Tomorrow I’m going back, to hull and weigh the berries leftover from today’s sales so that they can be frozen, a job I specifically offered to do in exchange for a share in the fruit.  Then Saturday I’m earning a cash wage again, running the farm’s stall at one of the markets, which is my most favourite farm job of all.  It’s crazy busy, but there’s a variety of tasks, and tons of folks to visit with, plus I get to take home scraps for my chickens and fresh food for dinner.

Yes, summer is still hitting hard.

Summer hit hard

Summer hit hard a couple days ago, with sun and heat and days that seem to go on forever.  At this time of year, I completely lose my ability to guess what time it is, because it’s just as bright at 6 am as it is at 8 pm. I also lose a lot of my ability to focus, so this blog post will no doubt wander more than usual.

Yesterday afternoon I biked out to the lake for the first time this season, and as another first, Mo came along:  Running next to my bike for an hour and a half each way, with a long swim in between!  We’ve been practicing this trick at the sports track of the local high school for about a month now, and I went at half my regular speed to ensure he didn’t completely exhaust himself.  It’s safe to say that he didn’t, since he then spent the rest of the evening bouncing around the yard as per usual.  What a dog.

I gave my mom this hammock when I was 13 years old, in that phase where I had enough income from babysitting jobs that I could afford to buy gifts for people but didn’t have much sense as to what they’d actually want so would just buy them things that I wanted.  Wait, am I still in the phase?  Hmmmm…  At any rate, my mother never used it, and gifted it back to me when Oats and I were driving back west from Toronto last fall.  It’s so comfortable, I can’t even describe it.  Mo likes to sit on me while I read (or while I take a million photos of him).

A couple weeks ago, during a big yard clean-up, we found a hazelnut tree, a currant bush, and a blueberry bush, all growing quite happily despite having been hidden by weeds and piles of brush.  They’re getting more sun now, and we’ve added my old grapevine nearby for company.  It’s glad to be out of its pot, and I’m glad to think that we’ll actually have some exciting fruit in the next few months.

What I’d really like to grow is a pistachio tree, but I think the climate is too wet around here.  In the meantime, my dad gave me this little jar of crema di pistacchio that he bought in Sicily, and I made it into the best gelato I’ve ever had.  I used David Lebovitz’s recipe from his blog (and then spent way too long reading every other recipe he has posted, and then ordering his books from the library).  My ice cream maker came from a free bin in my old neighbourhood, and though I can’t say I’ve used it more than a couple times, I grew up making all kinds of frozen treats in the exact same model of maker under my stepmom’s expert tutelage.  Maybe that’ll be my new hobby this summer:  Homemade gelato.  It’d sure be a great way of using up the jars of jam that have accumulated from the past four years of canning, and perhaps also my recent failed attempts at homemade yoghourt.

I’ve decided that the only canning I’ll do this year is teaching.  Due to the big move last fall, and spending most of the winter on renovations and house-arranging, my lovelingly preserved food was hard to access until a week or so ago.  I barely made a dent in last summer’s haul, let alone ate up the less popular remainders from the years before.  Now it’s all on shelves and a bit overwhelming.  The greatest lesson here is that I should test out each recipe at least once before making more than a single batch of it:  For example, I have dozens and dozens of jars of quince jam, and we all hate it.  Why did I make so much of it?!!

(Answer:  Because I had a ton of free quince, was under a time constraint, and wasn’t very creative)

But teaching is different:  I may only get to take home a  single jar (if that), yet at the same time I have more fun and enjoy a sense of satisfaction that’s a bit different from just doing it all myself at home.  Plus, it forces me to be more organized and plan ahead!  Though this isn’t always something I manage to achieve:  Last Tuesday I’d already reached the community garden where I was running my class, and it was due to start in 20 minutes, when Oats called to say that I’d forgotten one of the legs for my tripod propane burner… Aieeee!  I turned around and went back home for it, but remained a little flustered for the entire evening.  Not my best teaching moment!  Since then, I’ve made myself a little checklist of everything I need to bring with me.  I’ll get to try it out at this week’s class, which is at a high school, with their environmental club.

In other household news, I’m practicing being a grad school widow, in a precursor to Oats’ entry to an MFA program:  She’s painting a mural on the wall of the steps that lead from the street up to our house, and I have barely seen her all day, nor am likely to as long as this weather holds.

I’m only teasing, with the grad school widow schtick:  I think her art overall is fabulous, this mural in particular is totally fantastic, and I’m super-stoked that she’s so passionate about creating beautiful things.  It’s also quite rad that it’s doesn’t have much to do with me, because I’ve got my own million and one things to think about and do.

That’s actually our number one secret to a sucessful marriage:  We are both very easily entertained by our own funny minds, and while we do like hanging out together, we spend a lot of time doing our own things (sometimes while in the same room… for hours… without talking… I love it). Hey, am I allowed to give out marital advice yet?  It’s been almost 3 months, and we’re still together… That counts for something.