Saturday, July 31, 2010

In which we celebrate Saturday Stories : a story about crabs

When I was in Alaska many years ago, the coastal tourist town restaurants often featured "All-You-Can-Eat Crab Feasts" on Friday nights for a pretty cheap price.

The restaurants knew that cracking crab is a lot of work, and people who are busily cracking crab and talking to their dining companions do not actually eat much crab...but they do end up buying a lot of drinks, and desserts, and other spendy items from the menu.

For people on a very small budget, like me, crab feasts were a cheap way to gorge on fresh protein. I would order a single beer and a small salad and then grab a hammer and start pummeling my way to heaps of happy food.

One night I heard a tourist lady complain about all the work and mess required to actually feast on crab, and to my companions I said, "The best way to eat crab is to trick somebody else into cracking it for you," which was a line borrowed from a very cool story called "Nuts" in a book called The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbit. Then, I proceeded to re-tell "Nuts" for the folks at my table, just like I'm going to re-tell it for you right here.

Only now I call the story:


The Devil loved to eat fresh crab.

However, he didn't like the bother of cracking the shells to get the meat out.

"The best way to eat crab is to trick somebody else into cracking it for you," he said to himself, and that gave him an idea.

He took a big sack of fresh-caught crabs, and he pulled the top shell off of the crab on the very top of the sack. Into the crevice beneath that top shell, the Devil placed a beautiful pearl the size of a baby's eye. Then he glued the crabshell back together, put the altered crab back into his sack, and took himself up to the World to make some mischief.

He sat himself down at a table at the marketplace of a busy little tourist town in Alaska.

"I'll offer a free crab to somebody passing by," the Devil said to himself, "and when that person finds a pearl inside the shell, he'll go crazy looking for pearls and crack all these crabs for me."

It was a good plan.

The first person to walk by was a local woman, carrying a basket of handmade jewelry to sell at the market.

"Free crab, lady?" offered the Devil.

The woman nodded her head, and sat down at the table. She took a hammer and she cracked open the shell of the crab that the Devil handed to her, and she ate all the good meat. Then she nodded thanks to the Devil and walked away without saying another word.

The Devil was incredulous. "She must've swallowed the pearl!" he said to himself. "Or...did I give her the wrong crab?"

He reached into the sack and brought out a crab. He cracked open the shell with the hammer and ate all the meat...but he didn't find the pearl.

He took out another crab and cracked it open and ate all the meat in that one, too...but he didn't find the pearl.

He spent the entire morning cracking crabs and throwing the shells all around and eating the meat...but he didn't find the pearl.

Finally he reached the bottom of the sack, and he never did find the pearl. "She must have swallowed the pearl, the greedy woman," he grumbled to himself.

The Devil went back down to Hell and was very grumpy, because eating all that crab had upset his stomach horribly, and Hell smelled worse than ever for quite a while.

As for the woman, she waited until she was far away from the Devil's table, and then she reached into her mouth and pulled out the pearl that she had concealed under her tongue.

At the market, she traded the pearl for a warm blanket and a pretty kitten and a stack of paperback books, and then she went home well-pleased.

Because not everyone is greedy, you know.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In which the food preparation is gently seasoned with "Furrikans"

It started with a fresh-caught, fresh-cooked crab

that our neighbor Joe brought over last night.

He actually brought THREE crabs, but I ate one that very night, so there were two remaining. (Jim doesn't enjoy crabmeat, and Willy is gone. Bwa ha ha ha--more for me!!!)

I wanted to make a really good breakfast using the crab and food from the farm. But I hadn't gone far before I made a discovery:
Out of butter.

We've been out of butter for a week! What's up with that? Jim and I have both stopped at the local grocery to restock beer, paper towels, and a thousand other things, and somehow we kept forgetting butter.


This was the first "Furrikan."

You know Furrikans?

"Furrikan mow the lawn, I need to put gas in the mower. Furrikan put gas in the mower, I've got to get the gas can back from the neighbor who borrowed it. Furrikan ask for the gas can back, I've got to find the wrench I borrowed from the same neighbor last week...."


Sometimes it seems like the farm is built on them.

My good breakfast plans depended on the participation of butter. I felt stupid firing up the pickup truck to drive 3 miles to the little gas station/store and back to get a single pound of butter.

Enter: The Junkyard Dawg.

The Junkyard Dawg is my faithful bicycle--it's actually a really nice bike, but the friend who gave it to me used it as a commuter bike in downtown Seattle and didn't want it to get stolen. She painted it all kinds of ungodly colors and put rude stickers on it. I love this bike.

But of course, the bike comes with Furrikans.

Furrikan take the bike, gotta find my helmet. And my ancient MP-3 player (and furrikan use the mp-3 player, I gotta find a fresh battery)....

Off to the store went I with the Junkyard Dawg. Back came us with butter. Success! Time to make breakfast.

Except I want to cook some potatoes for breakfast. (you can guess the next part, right?)

Furrikan cook potatoes, I gotta go dig them up.Not a huge problem. I've got a shovel, and a potato patch that's ready for harvest. These potatoes weren't even properly planted, actually--they are the children of a bunch of russetts that got all shrivelled and hairy last winter. Jim was going to feed them to the chickens, but I tossed them in the manure pile instead, and then threw more manure on top.

Six months later: breakfast ingredients.But wait. These potatoes need some rosemary tossed in.

The herb bed is full of weeds! Furrikan pick some rosemary, I gotta pull some weeds.

Whew.I picked some tarragon leaves while I was out there. No sense in wasting a perfectly good Furrikan.

The tarragon goes in with the eggs. But furrikan collect eggs, I'll need to feed the chickens. Okay! We're good to go now!

While the potatoes are cooking, the eggs can mingle with the tarragon.

Furrikan toss the crabmeat on the eggs, I'll need to crack the crabshells (which reminds me of a really great story, but furrikan tell the story I gotta finish making breakfast!)

Furrikan wash the egg bowl and fork, I have to let the dogs "prewash" for me.

While everything's cooking, I can dash out and give the crabshells to the chickens!

I really need to write a blog post about this wonderful meal.

But furrikan write the blog post, I'm gonna eat breakfast!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In which we reveal the answer: "Where in the Wilderness is Willy?"

The Northwest Youth Corps has posted information about the various work crews out on trails this session. They have 27 crews active right now, with 9-10 kids in each group (plus 2 staff). That's a lot of pulaskis out there working the trails for us!

The kids are identified by the crew color (you know, like Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin...?!) Their helmets are the color of the crew assignment. Willy is assigned to the Red Crew in North 4. Descriptions of the North 4 assignments are:

Blue Crew is heading south to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest! Here, they will complete a variety of maintenance to OHV/Motorized use trails. These folks will do everything from drainage and removing brush to constructing rock retaining walls!

Orange Crew will spend their first week south of the Mt Hood area as they remove Himalayan Blackberry and other invasive species such as Vinca.

Red Crew heading up into the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Where they will continue work that began last session. Red crew will be constructing a re-route on a very popular trail within the Skykomish Ranger district!

Yellow Crew is also heading into the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie! Here they will construct new trail within the newly established Wild Sky Wilderness!!!

We've heard that getting mail is a pretty big deal for the kids working on these crews, so if anybody would like to send a postcard or box of treats (not bigger than a shoebox, please--the mail is carried by a horse or human to the worksite!), here's the address:

Northwest Youth Corps
Willy Beidle-N4
General Delivery
Leavenworth, WA 98826

NYC also offers care packages (the sale of these supports scholorships for NYC programs) that you can send out into the field--stuff like socks and bandanas. What a great idea! Jim sent a "boot shirt" care package that will be delivered next weekend. I hope Willy enjoys it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

In which Willy embarks on a fabulous wilderness adventure

Willy has been looking forward to his adventure for months.

He's been accumulating gear for months: workshirts, work jeans, work gloves.

Can you spot the theme?

The Northwest Youth Corps is a descendant of President Theodore Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, which was created during the Great Depression to put young men to work, building trails, bridges, planting trees, and doing other valuable tasks for the good of the nation. The modern Youth Corps does similar work, hired by the Forest Service and private logging companies to build trails, clear fuel undergrowth to minimize forest fire damage, and whatever else needs to be done.

Willy will be gone 5 weeks, with only a few weekend returns to civilization.

I am so jealous.

We drove over Stevens Pass through the sunshine.

We stopped for lunch at one of Jim's favorite spot.
Willy was almost too excited to eat, but a vanilla shake can be a mighty temptation.

We finally got to the orientation camp. The staff looks a like a steady, serious, upstanding group.
Willy and the other kids listened attentively to the orientation talk...
...and nearby, the tents waited for the teams to put everything together.
Within 45 minutes, the kids were eagerly learning about their tasks and each other, and Jim and I got into our truck and waved goodbye.

We took the "scenic way" home, with a stop in Leavenworth, the faux-Bavarian tourist village in the mountains. I took a few photos, just for Lytha. I'm pretty sure that she doesn't see a lot of those mondo-SUV's in a real German village.

This building has paintings of Aesop's fables on the side, for no apparent reason.

Down in the village square, the band was full of OOM-PAH.

Of course, I had to take a photo of the only horse in town. I liked that they attached a "tip jar" to the horse's harness.

It was too hot outside to spend a long time browsing the shops, even though we'd parked the dogs in the shade, but we did explore our favorite

hat shop!

We stopped at a fruit stand outside of Leavenworth, and bought a sweet watermelon to take home.

The nice lady at the fruit stand called Jim "Pops", which totally cracked me up. She also told us about a great place to get into Nasen Creek, so we went there.

Luna loves wading.

Mimsy doesn't like to get her feet wet, so she watched Jim walk out on the log bridge
...and then followed him.

We threw her in the cool water and laughed.
We made another stop on the way back down the mountain: the Deception Falls trail.
It's so pretty, and much cooler in the woods than it was out on the sunny creek.

The Tye River was fast and cold, and beautiful. We enjoyed the little walk on the trail.
And then,
we came home to our own little Farm.

Life is good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In which we clap and cheer for Tevis riders: unofficial results

Unofficial results from the Tevis webcast page:

#49 Karen Chaton and Bo finished at 3:33am
#67 Molly Farkus and Duffy pulled at Chicken Hawk (50 miles)
#68 Mel Faubel and Farley finished at 3:59am
#98 Jonni Jewel and Hank finished at 4:46am
#110 Paul Latiolais and Pete pulled at Franciscos (85 miles)
#149 Trina Romo and Cecily G pulled at Last Chance (50 miles)

Congratulations to all Tevis teams!