Tethered

After our first rain, the neighborhood was filled with insects flying up from the ground. I tried to find out what they were, but either didn’t get a good enough look, or don’t have a good enough reference book.  Lacewings maybe.  Flying up from the ground, through the alleys, to the trees.

Apples are falling from the trees.  Pears are fermented on the ground.  The sky is a crisp blue.

Fall makes me want to create and build and nest.  I want to hug my children by the fire and eat cookies and watch movies. I want to fix their rooms and make things nice again.  Nice again. When was the last time things felt deep-down nice?

I have a strong need for a comfortable nest.  For a clean house. A detailed house.  For cupboards to be organized and dinners to be planned.  For clutter removed and pictures hung.

Monday I pulled up to the house after endless errands and cursed it.  It’s been a year since we closed escrow and this was my first heartfelt resistance to this project, to these small dreams.  The new baby girl fussed in her seat.  I fussed in mine.  I didn’t want to go inside.

A baby’s house should be nice. A baby’s house should be warm. A baby’s house shouldn’t have leaky windows and drafty floors, circling flies and chipping paint.  Renting wouldn’t be easier, but some days it’s feels like too much to fix this space.

But there’s no time for this.  There are children to nourish and pets and a husband too, and there is also myself, don’t forget myself.

It’s the lack of sleep that does this to me.  It’s the hormone shifts and self-doubt and critic in my head and tears on my children’s faces.  It’s the spinning insecurity that stops me in my tracks and says, “wait, I’m a mother now?”

My oldest is 13, and that’s not much younger than how I feel.  I played Fugazi for him the other night.  “This was my favorite album when I was 14,” I told him.  “Except I had it on tape — it was a copy of a copy of a copy…” My voice trailed off.  Not sure if he even knew what I was talking about.  A tape.  I didn’t explain the quality loss, or that tapes got eaten by dirty heads on a cassette player.  Or they got eaten because the tape was wound too tight, too tight from rewinding over and over and over again to listen to the first song again.  I didn’t explain that when I hear Waiting Room in my head, it cuts out near the end of the song, all warbled, where the tape got eaten and I had to splice it back together.  I didn’t explain that I wasn’t living at home anymore, that I lived in a little artist studio with a smokey woodstove in someone’s backyard.

It was the winter before my 15th birthday.  The apple trees had no leaves, but a few apples hung from the branches.

Apples on the ground were fermented and deer would come out of the woods to eat them. The deer would stumble around, they’d play, they’d dance with each other like puppies.  They’d see me through the window, but I’d stay so still, and they’d go back to their play.

On Matthew’s first day of Kindergarten, I worried that I hadn’t taught him enough, that I hadn’t given him the skills he would need to get through the day. I’ve always had a hard time reaching him, and I’m not sure I can teach him much after all.  Working hard at letting go these days.  My biggest hope is that he wants to call this place — this family — home.

I don’t know if I knew enough to be out on my own.  I could build a fire in my woodstove, but I couldn’t keep the smoke from pouring into the room.  I could budget my money and eat well — but it was easier not to.  I was untethered, a spider’s web blowing across a field.  I was lost and couldn’t recall a place to call home.

That feeling stayed with me until a year ago, when we closed escrow.  Home.

Birthday: Matthew’s 13th

Need I say more?

Squier Strat by Fender

OK, OK, I’ll say more.  Bought Matthew a used Stratocaster off Craigslist.  A seriously important birthday, in my opinion.  One must be properly armed to (positively) make it through the teens.

Living Richly With WIC: Making Ricotta

My first try at making ricotta was incredible.  I followed Smitten Kitchen’s blog for a rich, whole milk (and cream) ricotta. Absolutely delectable on homemade French bread, topped with fresh made blackberry or peach jam.

I was reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma at the time, but I can’t say that’s why I felt the need to make things from scratch.  I’ve always been baffled by packaged foods, and intimidated by the long aisles in the grocery store.  To me, making a batch of ricotta in the morning is much simpler than picking it up at the store.

With WIC, I’m limited to purchasing lower fat milk, so this was my first time making ricotta from 2%.  And as expected, it was not as rich and creamy, but fairly dry. However, rather than being a delicate spreadable cheese, it was sturdier and almost rubbery — perfect for cooking.

A full gallon of 2% milk produced a bit more than 3 cups of ricotta (more than needed for the cheesecake).  I normally save the whey for baking bread, but I didn’t keep it this time — I’m not baking much bread these days, and I knew I’d be making ricotta again soon enough.

I’m not laying out the instructions here, step-by-step, but am including photos because it is so stinkin’ easy.  No more than 15 minutes in the kitchen, and will save you a bundle of money.

Heating milk and salt to 190 degrees.

Milk after curdling with acid. I used white distilled vinegar, as it’s cheaper than juicing a few lemons. I liked the results with lemon juice. I will also try rennet and citric acid in the future. Since I was cooking with the ricotta, I knew vinegar would be fine.

After the milk curdles for a few minutes (from 5 minutes to an hour), drain with cheesecloth or other fine, clean fabric. I use a hemp produce bag that a friend made for us — the weave is tight and perfect for this.

3 cups of ricotta. Ready for cheesecake!

Whey has a greenish tint. Weird, huh? This could probably be made into ricotta again (ricotta means “recooked”).

This post needed some gratuitous cuteness, no?

Announcements

If you haven’t gotten your card yet, it’s in the mail. I mean, if you’re family anyway.  The card was supposed to say “Sophie Jane” but I was using one of shutterfly’s automated tools to insert all the stats, and somehow I missed it when the tool fixed my card for me.  I considered re-ordering the whole batch — perfectionism is how my post-partum crazies manifest themselves — but we already were spending a small fortune on them, and technically, the card is correct.

 

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Sam and Sophie

Sam on the left, 22 days old. Sophie on the right at 20 days.

 

Sam adores her. We all do.