Saturday, October 25, 2008

Roasting Peppers

After too many rounds of bad Mexican food in Boise, I declared this the year of Mexican cooking. To that end, I collected and ordered a variety of Mexican chile pepper seeds that are commonly used in Diana Kennedy's cookbook Mexican Regional Cooking: cascabel, guajillo, anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, and pasilla. Most of the peppers I grew are designed to be used after ripening and drying; I planned to use them for a myriad of tasty meals.

This year's first snow and thus first freeze came earlier than expected in Boise, while the plants were loaded with green peppers. I harvested early (early in terms of the ripeness of the fruit, not early according to the calendar--next year I will start my seeds in February instead of March) and was left with massive amounts of green peppers.

Peppers can be frozen, but I opted to roast them on the grill and then freeze them for added flavor.

Poblano peppers roasting on the grill.

Peeling the charred skins from the roasted peppers. Gloves mandatory, and careful not to wipe your, er, eyes.

The finished product.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thank You

One of two cards I did for Jon's clinical nursing class to give to the staff of the nursing home in which they worked. The white circles were cut from a letterpress card we received from a friend. I'm all about reusing, especially when it comes to paper and cards. Hopefully, the original artist would be pleased with the reincarnation of their product.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Found Religion or a Table Rock Hike

The full, harvest moon was on Wednesday, so last night a friend and I hiked up to Table Rock to see the sunset and the moonrise. Table Rock is, as it's name implies, a flat outcropping of rock in the foothills surrounding Boise. It provides gorgeous views of the city and I thought it would be magical to see the full moon from that vantage point. Oddly, this geologic wonder also hosts a gigantic white cross that is lit nightly, as well as power transformers and cell phone towers.

Neither Steffani nor I had done the hike before, but we figured we would just start at the bottom and hike the trail to the top. We were chatting and quickly out of breath, so when we came to a crossroads with the Table Rock Trail, we followed it, without looking around to secure our bearings. Turns out we were hiking away from Table Rock. Gah! We backtracked and finally made it up just after sunset.

There were others at the top, including some cars as apparently there is a road that leads to the top in addition to the trail. We waited for the moon as it grew cold, but still no moon. Then a couple drove up in an SUV, rolled their windows down, and serenaded us with merengue music. What a buzz-kill. At that point, we decided to pick our way down in the dark. Neither of us brought lights, thinking the light of the moon would guide us.

The vile gigantic cross lit the way at first, but eventually the trail was just plain dark, rocky, and a little sketchy. I admit that "mountain lion bait" was in the back of my mind but I kept this thought to myself. We finally made it to the bottom just after 8:00pm. While on the trail, we saw a two-point buck and six large quail, and then saw a fox across the street from Steffani's house in the heart of Boise. The moon eventually poked it's head above the foothills on the drive home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nancy Cooper's family: Brad killed her

The shock of seeing these words in print caused me to gasp out loud. Not because of any belief or disbelief. I can't explain why, the harsh reality just caught me off-guard.

During this week, a trial is ongoing for the custody of Nancy and Brad Cooper's children. I have chosen to speak here only about my feelings about Nancy and her death. Even then, it has been infrequent.

In the past year and a half I have learned more about grief than I ever wanted, beginning with Leila's death and now with Nancy's; both were tragic and sudden. I understand now that loss is a part of life. I am beginning to understand the social norms around death and the way that the grieving are expected to go inward after a period of public mourning. I understand that the ability to do so is to some observers a measure of one's success at coping. I understand that while the grief may churn above or below the surface, it doesn't go away.

For me, reading the published information around Nancy's death and the ensuing legal battles has given me a focus. Without it, I struggled to know where to focus my anger because no one has been charged with her murder. Reading the news stories, watching the depositions, reading the affidavits: all this makes me feel like I am doing something. And lacking a convicted killer, I was hoping to channel my anger at the people who are part of the public commentary.

With the same public information as the commentators but also with personal knowledge of Nancy, Brad, their marriage, and their relationships, I have been unable or unwilling to do anything but witness. I am asked all the time if I think Brad killed Nancy and while I don't mind or resent the question, I say that I don't know, which for some doesn't really answer the question of what I think. But I stand by the fact that I don't have enough information to decide, so in this situation what I know is what I think.

Nancy's death, the custody case for her children, and the murder investigation have wrenched the local public into attention. I think that is good and right, but sadly, not all attention is positive. I don't know if it is the anonymous nature of the internet (comments are posted with aliases chosen by the commenter) or that access to so much information lulls people into thinking they have all of the information. Nevertheless, I am astonished at the way in which some people with less information than myself are willing to not only draw conclusions publicly, but also to personally attack Nancy and defame the character, intentions, and intelligence of her family (who I believe have acted with more grace than I thought summonable in this situation). These commenters also presume to know the emotional needs of the Cooper children. Here is a smattering of comments from the WRAL website (commenter's alias in parentheses). Note: To be fair, I should say too that Brad has been subjected to some of the same treatment.

"He's the only person I can think of with the motivation and the access," Garry Rentz testified. Your lack of thinking ability is hardly relevent. (haggis basher)

Nancy's parents have the judge, Cary, police dept, etc. in their back pocket..(lilwil)

Ok Parents of Nancy, you know oohhhhh so much more then the Cary Police. Prove it. Stop watching the stupid news. Guess you believe in the 3rd world approach. Guility until proven innocent. (Morrisville)

just because she told everyone he was a jerk doesnt mean it was true. people say mean things about their spouses when they cant have their way. THE ONLY reason her parents are doing this is to get those kids, WHO need to be with their father (Snow whites poisoned Apple)

I think her family should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, defamation, interfering with an investigation, etc. etc. etc. They are despicable and should not even be allowed to speak to their grandchildren. (tarheelalum)

And the Cooper family is also confusing the girls by trying to substitute Nancy's twin sister for their mother. I still can't believe that a judge would take these children away from their daddy and let them be taken out of the country, especially when he is not even considered a person of interest, much less a suspect in the case. (Historians_13th)

The lynching nature of these attacks doesn't make me angry as I expected, so failure in the attempt to use it for my own focus. I don't begrudge people the opportunity to state their opinion, but I do begrudge the stating of one's opinion as fact. The comments defending Brad or the comments saying that he did it don't make me feel good, either. But since I started reading these posts, I am coming to the conclusion that there is enough anger around the subject without my own--and that idea gives me a measure of peace--at least for now.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Snowed In

South-central Montana and is getting hammered by the same storm that brought record-breaking snow to Boise a few days ago. The Clarks Fork Valley is buried under more than two feet of snow and it is predicted to continue snowing today. The view from the Red Lodge web camera looks pretty socked in.

We got a call this morning from the folks that have their cows on our ranch; they are trying to get a vehicle into the ranch to supply feed (hay) to the cows. With this kind of snow cover, the cows won't be able to forage for grass.

Carol, one of those ranchers, said that she has never seen a storm like this so early. Heavy, wet, spring-like snow will make getting in and out of our place nearly impossible.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Broken Record!

Yesterday, on October 10th, we experienced the earliest measurable snowfall in Boise, ID. The previous record was October 12th. It was just a few inches of snow, but it was SNOW! I am already in the mood to bust out the snow board.

Having grown up on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, Gus wasn't quite sure what to do with his first snow. Ducking the flakes was unsuccessful, so he decided that hiding under bushes was the best course of action. I hope he likes to snowshoe.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Get Into the Groove

It is tough to blog after a hiatus. The hiatus wasn't intentional, but once the mental list of things to blog about grows to a certain length it becomes almost paralyzing to me. (I don't know what Jon's excuse is, but I have dibs on paralyzation.) It's kind of like getting into the gym; the longer you don't go, the harder it is to work out. When I do think about what to write first, I get all wrapped up in whether I should begin chronologically with the cool things we have been up to in the past few weeks or if I should just shut the door on the past and begin anew.

Several of our friends were out of town this weekend which provided us the opportunity to get some much needed chores done. I have been having minor (depending on your perspective, of course) freak-outs the past few weeks about the state of our home. Having three dogs including one whose winter coat decides to drop before winter creates a horrific amount of hair in our small space.

I've also been freaking out about how small our house is. When we bought it last year, its 1100 square feet of two bedrooms and one bathroom was one bedroom and one bathroom smaller than we would have liked in order to accommodate my home office and our guests. But, it was in a very desirable neighborhood close to downtown and close to BSU. It has good closet space, a 14 x 14 outbuilding we lovingly call "the cottage" since Jon converted it into a craft/yoga/work studio for me, and a spacious one-car garage. I have come to the realization that most of our space in this house is used not by us, but by our stuff:

  • storage of the art, furniture, and accessories that barely filled our 2300 square foot house in Raleigh which do not fit in our current home (but we might need someday!)

  • our overflowing wealth of tools and gear in the garage which consists of six bicycles (we ride them all: a commuter bike, road bike, and mountain bike for each of us), a motorcycle which does nothing but hold down the garage floor but nobody wants to buy, camping and backpacking equipment (different stuff, really), kayaks and associated clothing, snowshoes, Jon's snowboard, a 1975 tiller (runs great, small oil leak), an inordinate amount of tools and home renovation gear (tiling, drywall, plumbing, electrical work anyone?)

  • kitchen gear and food storage: I love to grow and cook food. Having a full pantry, putting up food, and having the tools to do so make me feel rich and content (as well they should). I embrace all methods of food storage: canning, our deep freeze in the garage, and drying.
I assume that in a past life I was either extremely practical or lived through some time of great need. I do not save everything, but I try to take good care of anything I do own and I strongly believe in reuse and recycling; if it is in solid working condition and isn't crap, I hate to let it go. Invariably, when I do, I find myself needing or wanting it at some point in the future.

Space is relative, I know. A friend and her family of four-soon-to-be-five recently moved into an even smaller home than ours and they are working it out.

All of this has been weighing on my mind lately as I yearn for the simplicity of life on the ranch; where the space for living is small and as big as we need, but the space to stretch out is farther than the eye can see, where we routinely find ourselves using decades-old iron and wood salvage and re-purposing abandoned buildings. Where every action has a purpose for which you tire yourself out until dark and beyond almost every evening. And most importantly, it matters.

At the end of this life, I want not to be defined by what I have, but rather by what I have done.