Daily Archives: April 2, 2016

Full Moon – Melt-Water Moon Crests (and Wains)

I spent the Full Moon in Toronto, hot-tubbing, visiting the textiles floor of the ROM, doing modeling work, and spending time with my (alas) ex-partner, C (formerlly The Archivist). My heart is still heavy over that last bit, but we were able to spend time together and be caring and affectionate and kind, and that goes a long way to making this feel… if not good, at least okay. Manageable. Erica, over at NWEdible has a post (about permaculture, but it still applies) wherein she says:

It’s like, “yeah, I don’t have to stick with something that isn’t working. I can just change it. And that’s ok.”

And it’s hitting me right in the Feelings because… eugh. So much of me says “NO! It’s NOT okay! You have to at least try to fix it!”
A friend of mine came over last night for wine plus chips-and-salsa (she is, in fact, the same friend who helped me make said salsa, back at the end of August) plus Commiseration, and she said – as my lovely wife has also pointed out, on occasion – that Yes, relationships take maintenance. But they shouldn’t feel like Work.
…And they shouldn’t.
And I’m still sad about this. Sometimes I wonder if I’m mourning the Capital-F Failure that I’m perceving here as much as I’m mourning the change in how we define our relationship, and the accompanying changes in behaviour (no kissing on the mouth, no hope for being lovers, far less frequent conversations) that come with it. In another week, it’l be Leaf Moon, and what a difference (what a painful difference, sometimes) a year can make. I feel like my job right now (and for EVAR) is going to be Learning to Navigate Uncertainty rather than trying to control everything and make everything Perfect.
So here we are. Spring has (more or less) sprung. The crocuses are poking through the ground – though not blooming yet – and, while the temperature’s supposed to drop significantly over the weekend, it feels like we’ve crossed the border and, as the days get steadily longer than the nights (hurrah!), are moving into Shoots Time. I don’t know what’s coming up yet (See what I did that?), but I find myself wanting some stability.
I’ve been hustling for years now and, while I like that way of life – the freedom it gives me to schedule weekends (or weekdays) away, the time to focus on all the things that matter, rather than just the “income keeps the roof overhead” thing – I keep looking at my finances and going “Y’know, 20 hours a week at $20/hr would still land me an extra $500/month that I could put into my savings account. A few years of that, and I’d have my whole Nest Egg back where I want it to be. We could buy a house. Plant some asparagus and a fruit tree. Have somewhere to live when we get old…”
…And it would still let me take modeling work, have that other 20 hours a week to spend making bread, darning socks, spinning yarn, and tending the garden.
What can I plant this growing season that can be a long-term investment? That I can think of as “bearing fruit” five years from now rather than expecting things to produce-produce-produce in six short months? If I were to do magic to bring that kind of slow-growth stability into my life, what would it look like? (Honestly, it would probably be another honey-pot, since those seem to work well for me, but there might be other ways to go about it).
MOTION: Walking every day,which is great. Paying attention to how my hips/knees/back are doing, and aware that being on my feet for 2+ hours means I pay for it for the next 36-48 hours. Also aware that, now that the snow is (hopefully) gone, I can throw on my old walking boots and take myself out to some of the monthly club dances (like tomorrow night, and the 23rd of this month) now that I don’t have to dress with such a careful eye to staying warm on the way to and from the club. May or may not use some of the “spare” (for a given value of “spare”) cash theoretically accumulating this month due to (a) contract extension, and (b) it being Eat From the Larder Month and spending it on occasional trips to the neighbourhood pool/hot-tub/steam-room because that stuff just feels good.
ATTENTION: Trying to get outon dates with my lovely wife, actively paying attention to each other and being romantic together. Also paying attention to where and how my anxiety shows up, and how I react to it + trying to get a read on what my less obvious “Act Two” tactics are turning out to be. Got my eye on another Relationship Book (I love you, but I’m not in love with you) that might be a good resource for building my own poly/kinky/queer Relationship Guide.
GRATITUDE: White crucuses and blue scilla blooming in Toronto front gardens last Sunday. Daylilies (and other bulby things) pushing through the dirt in my own front yard. My work-days going back to only 10am-2pm from the longer hours I’d been working through most of March. Friends who take awesome care of me. A wife who keeps telling me I’m beautiful. An ex who can still be my family. A larder full to the ridiculous with food enough to share. Hope.
INSPIRATION: My amazing, creative friend who has landed herself a literary agent and is making brilliant things happen with her gay-as-fuck YA novel.
CREATION: My second shrug is officially a work-in-progress now that I’ve got the first sleeve done, but the next few weeks are going to be heavy on the creative-in-the-kitchen front as I work through as many of my 2015 preserves as possible. Wish me luck!

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2016 – Pre-Game Show

It’s April First! Which means this year’s Eat From the Larder Challenge has officially begun!
Basically, this is something I started doing a couple of years ago and have decided to try and keep up with every year. The idea is that we spend April using up the past year’s pantry staples and preserves so that there’s space in the larder for when the fresh produce (and, thense, new preserves) start showing up in the not-too-distant future. In the case of Erica, who started the whole thing (see link, above), she’s in Pacific Northwest of the USA, so her growing season starts a solid month, sometimes more, ahead of mine. So I’m not expecting fresh greens to go with my frozen eggplant and crushed tomatoes. But I still like the idea of it.
One thing I’ve noticed myself doing (this year, but also last year) is, well… hoarding my preserves for April. Part of that is just that fresh produce – even when its all root veggies plus cabbage, maybe some winter squash, mushrooms and increasing bruised apples – are preferable to stuff in jars. Remoulade, beet salad, and apple-cabbage slaw bring crunch and (sometimes) colour to a winter table that, otherwise, would be heavy on the browns and beiges (meat, grain, legumes, yoghurt) and low on texture that wasn’t soft. The other part is just… I don’t want to run out. It’s less of an issue these days – I have an income quilt, such as it is, and so does my lovely wife – but I’ve had enough months of unemployment, enough years of on-again-off-again contract work, in the not-so-distant past that the thought of running out of food is still something that preys on my mind, even when I can look at the vast quantities of dried, frozen, and jarred/tinned foods (veggies, fruits, meat, grains, legumes, nuts, mushrooms, herbs & spices, even powdered milk) I keep on hand and know that it won’t happen. So there are a lot of preserves that I haven’t used yet. Lots of jarred (and dried) tomatoes & green tomato chutney[1], lots of frozen eggplant (I’m foreseeing at least one round of ratatouille – or something like it: diced eggplant, chopped onion, reconstituted dried mushrooms, red lentils and red quinoa tossed with a pint of crushed tomatoes & dried herbs, and baked in a skillet under a heap of parmasan cheese – in our future, maybe tonight). Lots of pork from Francis the Pig that we haven’t eaten yet. Lots (ish) of tinned tuna. Lots of flour and yeast and cooking oil.
It feels almost like cheating to be this prepared. And yet part of the point of this is to take what you’ve got, get creative, and keep churning out meals when you can’t just swing by the grocery store and pick up turkey legs that aren’t frozen solid.
My own rules for this challenge include:
It’s okay to buy: milk, eggs, coffee, tea, wine and junk food.
BUT: Try not to.
Use the jam and the fruit butters to replace both the sugar and some/all fo the eggs in the baking recipes. Drink the raspberry thriller tea in order to conserve the cream in the fridge. Make cakes, cookies, and muffins, instead of buying chocolates or ice cream for dessert.
It’s okay to stock up beforehand IF things are on sale – so, just before Easter Weekend, the grocery store was clearing out as much as it could, and cheese was on for $4/lb. As such, we could now go through a pound of cheese every week, and still have extra by the time Beltane rolls around.
But when we’re out of butter, we’re out of butter. When we’re out of crackers, I need to learn how to make them from scratch (finally – how hard can it be?[2]). Pot-luck dishes cannot be picked up, last minute, from a store on the way to the event. If I forget to plan ahead, and thaw out some pork chops (or similar), even on a Friday, I need to rely on the tinned tuna, sausages, frozen fish, or legumes that I’ve got on hand and use my creativity to make something Fancy with what’s available.
As with previous years, you can follow along using the Eat From the Larder Challenge tag, and I’ll make a once-a-week post talking about how the month is going.
Wish me luck! 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I made a LOT of green tomato chutney last October, and we’ve eaten absolutely none of it. Unlike August’s chokecherry chutney, which I LOVE and will absolutely be making again, I keep giving my GTC the side-eye and wondering if it will actually taste good, or if it’ll just be so much over-sweet, not-quite-right Glop that never works with anything. Some of it will go in that ratatouille – why not – but some of it was supposed to get poured over a pork roast and… I worry that it will make everything Too Sweet. And this is the time of year when I find that out. :-\
[2] Famous last words… 😉