Many Americans are wondering how I spent my 32nd birthday yesterday. They’ve had to occupy their time pretending to be interested in the Super Tuesday election results when really what they wanted to know about was how super was my double sweet sixteen. Wait no longer America. My birthday was awesome, thanks for asking.
As I told you, it began with my pre-shower Monday night and it just kept getting better. First thing Tuesday morning I opened my presents which included the cast iron tortilla press I have been wanting, from Geoff, and a really cool device that grinds corn into flour. Soon I will be making my very own corn tortillas from the corn Geoff grew and dried in the fall. I am very eager to add corn tortillas to the GLR menu. Geoff’s parents sent me season 1 and 2 of the hit PBS series Downton Abbey–it comes highly recommended to me from a variety of sources. They had me at Maggie Smith. Dad sent me pictures of my mom and my mom sent me a check for a very precise age related amount of money. I’ve yet to decide how I will put these funds to use, but fear not, I’ll think of something great. I am currently listening to some songs I bought using my bro-in-law Billy’s gift card to the iTunes. My brother Cody got me some ravioli making tools that I am eager to put to use when he comes to visit in just over a week. I got a ton of other gifts, cards, and messages from friends, students and coworkers. Some of my favorite kids at school got me a gift I’ve always dreamed of having–a shirt with my name on it. Don’t tell, but it might be my favorite gift of all:
My school day was filled with wonderful presents, a potluck lunch, cake, brownies, homemade gifts, cards that played music, and to top it all off, I scheduled a rap battle for sixth period. I can’t exactly remember how this came about, but somehow I challenged one of my students to a rap battle, and my birthday seemed like a great day to have it. The battle itself surpassed my expectations in terms of the sheer joy it brought me. I do have to admit that neither the student nor I are going to be signed by any talent scouts any time soon. We both could use more practice. When our best rhymes involved Harry Potter characters it probably means we are not street enough to make a living at it, yet. Nonetheless, it was definitely a bucket list moment.
Geoff and I went to Danville for dinner. Because it was a school night I did not have the umph to make it to Louisville or Lexington. There is a James Beard award winning chef in Louisville whose restaurant I have my eye on, but we’ll save that for another day. Our D’ville dinner was lovely, above all I enjoyed spending a quiet evening out with my sweet husband. That man is adorable. No matter where you put him. He just can’t help it.
I topped off my evening with a little reflective reading from several years back. During my senior year of high school my English teacher Mrs. Schroyer made us keep a weekly journal about our year called our “Senior Record”. I still have mine and the comments that she made in it on microscopically small yellow post-it notes. Last night I re-read it, I guess mainly to give myself a little progress check. When you are 32 you can get carried away with yourself. You can maybe forget some of the things you valued when you were young and idealistic. I was pleased to discover that I am not so different from that idealistic 17 year old sitting in senior English. In fact, I’ve retained most of the optimism and let go of a lot of the worry about the future that I had back then. I graduated high school. I graduated college. I got a master’s degree. I found a ridiculously cute Arkansas boy to share my dreams with. I filled the past decade with adventure, travel, and service. I turned out alright. The seventeen year old me was nervous that it might go either way. She was heavily influenced by the public service announcements of the early nineties. To wrap up my birthday realizing that I did not disappoint my seventeen year old self was a special treat. I did that kid a solid, if I do say so myself.
Tomorrow is my birthday. Tomorrow is my birthday. Birthday, birthday, birthday. Tomorrow is my birthday. Here is something you need to know–I love my birthday. My birthday is one of my very favorite holidays. I love all holidays that involve cake, and especially my own birthday. In honor of my birthday I am having a small rap battle during my sixth period class. Schooling folks by spitting sick rhymes is a favorite activity of mine. Also in honor of my birthday every junior in our school will be taking the ACT tomorrow. So that is a pretty big deal.
Normally I am a morning showerer, but in order to spend extra time tomorrow enjoying my birthday, I have showered tonight. That is the level of excitement coursing through my veins right now. I pre-showered.
As it turns out, I am not the only member of my family who has a birthday tomorrow. Three years ago approximately tomorrow Scooter was born under a house on W. Mariposa street in beautiful San Antonio, TX. Scooter has prepared for his birthday by rubbing cow manure on his neck. He is that excited. Scooter actually has no idea that tomorrow is his birthday. The poop bath was just a part of his normal Monday routine.
I noticed this on the coffee table recently and knew immediately something was up:
Then the other night I heard Geoff talking on the phone to someone about directions, and again my interest was peaked. Now, my birthday is right around the corner, and normally clandestine phone calls in hushed tones around a person’s birthday equals birthday surprises. But at GLR, phone calls with strangers and handwritten directions can mean only one thing: new animals.
Geoff has been eagerly awaiting the right climate conditions/weather patterns/hours of daylight/general mojo/moment to add pigs into the creative mix of animals we’ve got working here on the farm. So, bright and early this morning he set out with Scooter and Bailey in the truck to procure us some pork.
I have to admit they are pretty cute, but since I intend on eating at least one of these guys, I am not going to let myself get too attached.
You’ll have to read Geoff’s blog for a more detailed pedigree of these little guys, but I can provide you with a few details. They are a combination of two historic breeds of pig known for their tasty meat and their overall resilience. All four of the pigs are male, and all for have had their essential boy parts removed. In other words they are cha-cha-less piggies. In terms of personality, they are charming. When not being harassed by humans or dogs they sleep quietly together, or, more importantly, root around the field mixing the cow manure with the straw with the dirt with the air to prepare the future location of our summer garden.
Geoff is ever the proud farm papa. Each new addition to our livestock family leaves him beaming, and these little oinkers are no exception. He proudly beheld them going straight to work rooting around the field as soon as he introduced them to their new environment. After several minutes of pig staring, when I turned to go back to the house, Geoff turned to me disappointedly and said, “Don’t you want to spend a few more minutes enjoying this beautiful day with your sweet husband and your pigs?” Of course. Of course. And, truth be told, they really are interesting little guys. I am just keeping my distance because I will eat them. This is the most excited I’ve been about any of our meat animals. My excitement most likely stems from the fact that we will get so many wonderful cuts of meat from this one animal. I’ve got recipe after recipe spinning through my head. Also, we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying some very fresh pork from neighbor’s pigs, and nothing you can buy in any grocery store anywhere compares to them. I’m like the Bubba Gump of pork. We’re going to make pork burgers, pork won-tons, pork dumplings, pork chops, pork tenderloin, pulled pork, barbecued pork ribs, tacos al pastor, and that is all just the fresh cuts of meat. If we go the extra mile and make some charcuterie then we’ll have bacon, sausages, and hams. I might even get bold and whip up some recipes with the offal.
When Geoff looks into the field he sees the wonder of the carbon cycle, the miracle of zero input farming, the joys of pastured grazing. When I look into the field I see breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the baconator.
P.S Scooter is in love with the pigs because right now they are the only thing on the farm his size. Imagine how much more he will love them when he finds out they are ham.
I’m often known to utter the phrase, “out on the streets.” For example, if someone asks me where I got something I am very likely to respond, “out on the streets.” If a student asks me when they are going to use something I’ve taught them I say, “out on the streets.” When we learn new vocab words I make sure everyone can pronounce them correctly so that they’ll be ready to use them, “out on the streets.” This phraseology was a little more effective when I taught in a sprawling metropolis because there were just way more streets, and seedier streets. I’d explain to the kids if they every found themselves walking down a dark alley that knowledge of things like what a proper adjective is could come in handy if they encountered a suspicious stranger. That and a switch blade. Here we have like two streets both of which are lovely, in my opinion. I did encounter one of my students in the grocery store yesterday. As I passed him he intentionally mispronounced one of our vocab words. I was tempted to shank him in the gut with my shiv, but then thought better of it. An impromptu rap battle probably would have been the most appropriate solution, but instead I just laughed and continued on my search for string cheese. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
From time to time we have weather here in Kentucky. Today was one of those times. My region of the state got lucky in that the storms passed around our school without incident. Several of the neighboring counties had tornadoes touch down, destroying some buildings. We’ve heard of no reported loss of life yet in our area, but there were definitely some fierce storms.
Due to the extreme weather my sinuses are acting up. It feels like an invisible third grader is standing on my head. This took a little of the razzle dazzle out of my Leap Day observances. Here is a list of how I leapt in 2-29-2012
- Made orange rolls for Geoff as a special treat.
- Brought breakfast to some of my favorite students who were volunteering at our school’s blood drive early this morning.
- Faithfully executed my Wednesday morning duty by guarding the trash can in front of the gym (predictably forgot to faithfully execute my Wednesday afternoon duty).
- Taught kids about the Holocaust and the horrible things that humans have a history of doing to each other.
- Taught kids how to effectively organize their material while doing research.
- Borrowed one of the coolest books I’ve ever seen about baseball from the library.
- Discussed DNA extraction and its applications with one of my yearbook kids.
- Juggled oranges to mesmerize (and tranquilize) one of my ADD boys.
- Marveled at the more frequent than normal yells coming from the alternative school that happens to be directly next to my classroom.
- Enjoyed a luncheon created by the culinary arts students consisting entirely of recipes found on Pinterst.
- Loitered, dawdled, engaged in fits of fancy, whimsical musing, and a moderate amount of chisme.
- Helped a feisty little lady complete a scholarship essay.
- Blew my nose like one million times.
- Talked to my dogs.
- Google “lighthouse for the bling” on accident.
- Heated up a Stofer’s Lasagna.
- Completed the reading portion of my homework.
- Drank the favorite libation of the most interesting man in the world.
- Ate the Stofer’s Lasagna.
- Did not watch any TV in spite of Geoff’s watching a DVRed Amazing Race.
- Experienced an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness and gratitude for the blessings in every day.
- Remembered that really, every day is a Leap Day because no day is guaranteed. Each day is an extra day for which we should be thankful and of which we should make the most.
According to the interweb, one popular Leap Day tradition is that women propose to their men. I’m posting this info a day early in case any of you single ladies out there need time to get your proposal speeches prepared before tomorrow. The interweb also says it is bad luck to get married in a leap year, I was married in 2008 (also a leap year) and I intend to prove the interwebs wrong on that one. I was born in a leap year, and I am one of the luckiest people I know, so leap year juju must not be that strong.
There is a set of twins at school who will celebrate their fourth actual birthday tomorrow. I think I would personally feel a little sad if I only got to celebrate my actual birthday every four years. Feb 28 and March 1 just would not feel the same to me. I guess it is lucky I am not a leap baby.
I plan to savor tomorrow to the best of my ability. I have little if any memory of any of the previous leap days. I’m sure I spent them well, but this year I’m hoping to retain a more vivid recollection.
At the farm the animals are not aware tomorrow is leap day. I’ve tried to explain it to them, but to no avail. Not even the cows were mooooved (get it!) by the news.
Regardless of how the animals feel, I am excited. I intend to do my best to make the most of an extra day in what is shaping up to be a lovely year. I hope you do the same!
Is it weird that I’m having my student aides choreograph an elaborate handshake that a colleague and I will do each time we pass each other in the hallway? Good. I didn’t think so either.
I’ll tell you what is weird, when your eighty plus year old neighbor calls you to discuss Amish gossip. The first thing you need to know about Elmer is that he is precious. The second thing you need to know is that since he can’t hear well he just starts talking immediately when he calls on the phone and doesn’t stop until he’s said everything he wanted to say. Last night he called because a man from his church “heard” that one of our neighbors had been killed in a dump truck accident. Geoff and I became very concerned because we’ve become very close with our Amish neighbors. Geoff spent a good part of the rest of the night trying to get to the bottom of things without success. It is very hard to get a hold of the Amish on a Sunday night. We were relieved to find out this morning that it was just a rumor. Our friend Abe is alive and well. We’re not sure how the whole mix up got started, but I am sure it has something to do with eighty year old Elmer’s hearing imparement.