The Passover seder reminds us that we were poor slaves escaping Egypt for an extended refugee camp existence in the wilderness. We had a slave mentality and crap to be purged of before we could handle freedom and responsibility. The Haggadah also tells us to open our homes and hospitality to others less fortunate, as we once were ourselves. I think we’re all still working on those values.
Being human, people I love are grappling with basic survival in a hostile world. It’s hard to rejoice when I know someone close to me is wrestling with impossible odds, and I’m not sure how to help. All I know to do is be here and care. There is no carefree when someone else is struggling.
But still, it’s erev Pesach, and we’re making a stab at it in our humble new TN home, keeping it simple and basic. However, my charoset remains the best (and drunkest). Some things can’t be compromised.
Well, it’s that time of year when my charoset is THE BEST. Or at least the drunkest. Don’t even try to compete. Give it up. Surrender to the truth.
Other than that, our first Pesach in TN will be underwhelming. If Jewish people and food were endangered in Ohio, they’re evidently extinct in this neck of the woods. So being the resourceful faker that I am, it will be mostly symbolic nods this year. Seder plate fixin’s are covered (or faked), at any rate, and I have the requisite so-called booze to make up for any food lapses. There’s no shortage of flowers out there, at least!
Today I sowed the first veggie seeds direct to our new garden–snow peas, pak choy, and red onions. The rest will have to wait until the supposed frost-free date in April. A redneck neighbor helpfully informed me that herds of rabbits, deer, ‘coons, and other varmints will undoubtedly devour any veggies I grow. I just smiled. Hey, they gotta eat, too. I’m that pet-deprived.
I guess I earned my beer today. We got four CY of topsoil/compost mix delivered. and created our first TN veggie garden bed. We worked from sunup ’til late morning like respectable TN rednecks (?), and got’er done. Not much to see here yet, but stay tuned.
More accurately, one woman (not me) was hard at work building and replacing an entire set of shed doors from scratch, including fixtures, locks, an outdoor light, the whole works, while the other “supervised” (i.e. occasionally held things and drank beer.) It was a lot of work, but E did a beautiful, professional job. It’s good someone around here knows how to do stuff.
Somehow I found time to take yet more flower photos. The yard is covered with them.
We finally got to visit the family as official TN citizens! We hung out up on the mountain (OK, foothill, but it’s like a mountain to drive up there) with my son and the kids, and had a blast. We did kid things, and pizza and a movie. My poor son is so exhausted, he slept through most of the kids’ movie! (Not that hard to do, actually.) I don’t know how he accomplishes all he does, but somehow he does it all. It was good to catch up and just be a family. The bourbon was great, too.
We and the kids hated us to leave, but I suspect my son was relieved! I’m a bad influence (being the job description of a grandparent). A wild time was had by all. I love getting to know each of them better. They’re all intelligent and wise for their years; that’s not biased, just a fact.
Here is my hoodie being repurposed, the obligatory photo of my son taking a photo, a kid conference, and E being enlightened/ left behind by the gaming master.
As if perfect challah was not enough, E proceeded to bake the best bread I’ve ever had, and that’s no joke. She thinks the TN water has something to do with it. It’s not toxic. But I say it’s alchemy.
I can’t even begin to describe this bread–perfectly crusty on the outside and fluffy substance on the inside, like an excellent Italian or French bread, and somehow made with only a few basic inexpensive ingredients. The secret was letting it rise all day and evening, to achieve an almost sourdough character, then recreating dutch oven conditions (we don’t have one yet) to bake it. I literally could live on this bread alone–well OK, maybe some good cheese to go with it, and some wine or beer to wash it down, I suppose some produce for fiber, and some good olives wouldn’t hurt…but seriously, I can see why simple homemade bread is so primal and basic to human culture, not just survival. With only some bread flour, water, yeast, a little something sweet for the yeast to eat, and some cornmeal for texture, you can create an edible work of artisanal wonder. A picture doesn’t do it justice, but here’s what’s left of it:
Also, Pesach is looming, so maybe I’m getting bread out of my system. And beer. And now, back to E’s legendary challah. Erev cheers.
Here are the first (and best yet) challot baked by E in TN. (I can’t reveal how I know they’re superior, but trust me.)
Happily, our first visitor, on the first day of spring, was my son! Now we’re official. We got to catch up a little over beers, always a good thing.
Lest we get bored with the weather, on the second day of spring we woke up to this! Up in the foothills, they got more. It didn’t slow the birds down, though.
E is busy reinforcing shed doors so we can secure them, caulking the leaky tile shower, building needed shelving, checking the inadequate electric grounding, and many other jobs. We live at Lowes, although today their wood cutting machine was still broken, so we had to visit the competition, Home Depot, to have panels cut to size. It’s amazing what can fit in a tiny Subaru, with clever positioning.
The critters are busy, as well, what with all the accommodations. This morning I watched the chief squirrel chase a rival squirrel and a big woodpecker away from the bird feeder. A family of wrens have been vigilantly tending their nest between the window panes of my office. They’re putting up with us. Many raptors fly and perch right overhead. So far no bears or coyotes, but I’m sure they’re lurking.
It’s warm and springlike, being erev Spring, so of course our area is supposedly under the threat of strong tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds, severe thunderstorms, a cold front with snow in the higher elevations, and something called a “mountain wave high wind event”. Whatever that is. Sounds psychedelic.
But masses of spring flowers are blooming, and all my seedlings are coming up, so I’m happy. Now if the topsoil folks can manage to fix their equipment and mix and deliver my garden soil, I can plant my veggies. Folks seem a little mechanically-challenged down here, but cheerful at least. It’s all good.
Here is a nice TN amber ale levitating over some herbs. It happens.