Saturday, September 22, 2018

Butter Pecan Cornbread Upends Culinary World ! OMG.

The most supportive thing I heard today was, “You got this T.  You can’t mess up cornbread.  Last time I cooked it I didn’t even have a recipe in front of me.”

Thank you for your support and confidence.

I did run into a little buttermilk problem.  The buttermilk problem was a result of a Not-scrolling-all-the-way-down -the-page-while-looking-at-the-ingredients-list problem.  Using the Transitive Property of Close Enough Food Substitutes I surmised that buttermilk is dairy and yogurt is dairy so in went the yogurt.  Cheese and ice cream were also up for consideration, but I couldn’t find any cheese and I don’t think the world is ready yet for Butter Pecan Cornbread so the yogurt won by default.  Oh, I almost forgot about the Chocolate Soy Milk option but vegan/vegetarian was already nixed as you’ll soon see.

Another problem is fractions.  What is ⅔ times 2?  It’s more than 2 right?  No.  Because ⅔ is less than 1 and 2 times 1 is 2.  Result.  I just put some salt in.

Gotta mention the Spoon Differentiation Problem.  I don’t drink tea, so I’m not really sure how much a teaspoon is.  I do use a spoon at meals while sitting at the table so I’m fairly confident I know what a tablespoon is, but what if I’m having soup.  Is a soup spoon a tablespoon?  What if I’m eating soup at the table?  Or, what if I’m having soup standing up at the kitchen counter because I’m in a hurry.  How much is a counterspoon? I put about 4 of those of butter in the cornbread mix.

I think I nailed the eggs.  2 eggs.  BAM!

Tomato, tomahto, potato, potahto, soda, powder.  Baking is baking and i put some white baking stuff in. 

Grease the pan.  Grease the pan?  What has a lot of grease? Lots and lots of grease?  Bacon has lots of grease.  Bacon grease the pan.  Not vegetarian or vegan cornbread now.  Sorry folks.  The bacon was delicious!

20-25 minutes at an oven preheated to 425 degrees or until golden brown on top.  What do you mean “or”?  Minutes don’t vary in length by longitude or hair color do they?  20-25 minutes - full stop.  Similarly, 425 degrees is 425 degrees.  I’m assuming Fahrenheit here.  Is there such a thing as a Celsius oven.  How much is 425 degrees Celsius?  Isn’t that like the molten core of the sun.  I don’t think this cornbread would last 25 minutes at the molten core of the sun.  What if I’m gold/brown color blind?  What if my oven doesn’t have a window to peak in (mine doesn’t)?  Won’t all the heat come out if I keep opening the oven to check the golden brownness of the top?  No wonder I never cooked anything before.  This is nearly impossible.

Nearly impossible but delicious it turns out.  I got this!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

I Got My Name in the Paper

This article I wrote will be in the local

Memphis Democrat in the next couple weeks - Enjoy!

Highway MM from Rutledge back and forth to Memphis the other night was two very different experiences.  In the partial light and drizzle on my way to Memphis, it was a beautiful country drive; hills and curves and cows.  I love these kinds of drives.  I used to have to leave the city to take a country detour like this.  Now, as a new resident at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, I get to enjoy the backroads in the natural course of my comings and goings.

While the drive to Memphis was enjoyable, the drive back to Dancing Rabbit from Memphis later that night was a completely different story.  I enjoyed spending a couple hours with some new acquaintances in Memphis before heading back to Dancing Rabbit about 8:30.  That same appealing drive through the country a couple hours earlier turned into a test of my nerves and equilibrium on the way home.  It was my first time driving this road at night, and the darkness was complicated by more rain, big puddles trying to pull me off the road, and the glare of oncoming headlights.  I knew the center line was there, but it was impossible to see.  I slowed down.  The curves came out of nowhere.  I slowed down again.  Just as I thought I was getting more comfortable and speeding up a little again, I’d hit an unexpected puddle and slowed down yet again.  My move to Dancing Rabbit is proving remarkably similar to my trip to Memphis.

Visiting DR in May for my official Visitor Session was more like the leisurely drive in the country I just described.  It was bright, sunny and easily navigable.  May is my favorite month of the year, by the way.  I could see the curves coming up ahead and the yellow lines were clearly marked.  Not a puddle to be muddled.  No glare off the smiles of the other rabbits in the bright light of day.  The subsequent reality of moving to Dancing Rabbit as a new Resident on August 30th, is akin to the nighttime traipse on wet, winding, unfamiliar roads.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the transition has been treacherous, but things are absolutely unfamiliar with unexpected, sharp turns and a steep hill or two popping up out of nowhere.  The solution, once again, seems to be “slow down.”  I don’t know about you, but “slow down” has not been something I’ve been very good at over my lifetime.  I tend to speed up until I uncomfortably hit the rumble strips on the shoulder then I slow down again.  Speed up, slow down.  Speed up, slow down.  Over and over.  This time it will be different.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Let me tell you more about myself.  My name is Troy Matthews, and I’m from Kansas City - Overland Park, Kansas to be exact.  I’m the newest resident of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, Missouri.  Nice to meet you!  I first found Dancing Rabbit online back about the year 2000.  I was looking for something different, better to my way of thinking, than how I was living as a suburbanite.  Getting out of the city into the country was part of “living better” in my mind and still is.  Grandma and Grandpa lived on a farm near Alma, Missouri when I was a kid.  My dad and mom did not have the farming bug, so I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City and also in Southwest Florida.  After many years of living mostly in the ‘burbs but also in big cities like New York and Paris, I bought my first home about 30 minutes south of Kansas City in the country.  For a long time, I heard that call of moving out to the country.  My country house is situated on a little pond with several pecan trees in the yard.  I imagine most of you reading this understand the call of country living.  Moving to Dancing Rabbit is another step for me toward the country, and I’m very happy to be here.

And then there was a bedraggled, white cat the other day...

Cats can be conniving.  As I walked the gravel path around the residential area of the village recenty, a white cat, Mr. Cat, approached me from behind, pulled up alongside, passed me, walked ahead 5 or 6 feet directly in front of me, and had a heart attack.  I kept walking.  The cat recovered instantly and and this time had a stroke directly in my path; writhing on it’s back like a puppet with a couple strings missing.  You might already realize what was going on, but I still did not.  I kept walking.

For a third time, the cat recovered and caught up to me.  Instead of just passing by this time, Mr. Cat rounded my right leg rubbing as we walked.  Mr. Cat then rushed ahead again collapsing in the path before me yet again.  “Maybe this cat wants some attention?,” I finally realized.  “Of course!  Mr. Cat just wants some attention.”  I’m a little slow.  I told you I’ve lived in the suburbs for a long time.  I did not oblige Mr. Cat with any attention.  I was busy going nowhere.  I did not have time or inclination to indulge a conniving cat.  Vague warnings like “Do Not Feed the Bears”, “Natural Area - Do Not Disturb” and “Don’t Pet Strangers” also flitted through my brain.  Mr. Cat persisted.  I persisted as well.  Instead of flopping down on the gravel on pass number six, Mr. Cat just kept catting on his way.  I’ll give Mr. Cat credit for persistence.

I think karma got back at me the next day - bad cat karma.  Here’s what happened.
Woke up knowing I should roll over and stay in bed.  An annoying sound like a fax machine being suffocated by a feather pillow kept poking my peace in the ribs making sleep improbable.  I got up.  It was raining.

I checked my usual email and social media.  Rabbits get lots of email about things going on in the village and business between individuals.  While I was web surfing, Bear asked me to move my truck to the lower field in preparation for the Dancing Rabbit Open House.  We wanted space for visitors to park up front right at the entrance to our village.  I assumed the rain had made for a muddy lower field, but  I have four-wheel drive and won’t get stuck.  Hah! - won’t get stuck.  I put the truck in 4 Low and moved to the lower field just a few hundred feet down the road.  I had an inkling I should park facing downhill where I could pull out forward later without having to back up, but I did not heed my own inkling of the obvious.  Two other vehicles were parked already, and I wanted to conform so I pulled in just as they had done earlier.  I immediately wondered if I would be able to back my truck out and immediately made an attempt to pull out and immediately found myself stuck.  Stuck.  Stuck.  Stuck.  Stuckity stuck stuck. I knew it.  Stuck.  The truck is stuck in the muck.  Stuck!

I walked back up the hill to the village self-talking my way out of a tantrum or pity party.  Told you I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed.  I soon told a couple other folks about my truck being stuck in the muck.  “Welcome to the club,” says one.  “Getting stuck is a rite of passage here,” says another one.  “I can help you,” says yet another.  I felt a little less disgusted with myself.

Not too long after I got the truck stuck in the muck my new Dancing Rabbit community circled up to kick off the Open House.  We circle up and hold hands before Tuesday Potluck and Community Dinner on Friday as well.  There were about 30 grown ups and a bunch of kids at the Open House kickoff.  “Who knows the DR song?”  “I do.  I mean I think I do.  It took me 21 times to learn it, but I think I know it.”  The song is sung.  As I learn in to hear the words and catch the melody, I get that warm, connected, “glad I’m here” feeling once again.   By the end of the song, most of the the mucky stuck truck taste was washed out of my mouth.

That’s all for now.  I’m settling into my new life at Dancing Rabbit.  It took the help of a tractor to get my truck out of the muck, and Mr. Cat is nowhere to be found.  If you see me in town at Keith’s Cafe, Tri-State Used Furniture, or getting a coffee on the square all of which I’ve already visited be sure and  say, “Hello.” If I look like I’m in a hurry, I’d appreciate a friendly reminder to slow down.  Again.

Friday, September 7, 2018

1 Week In and All is Weird

Really just the hair is weird but that is nothing new.  You may have to check my Facebook post for a picture.

Last post I questioned who I am.  This post, I'll just some of what I've experienced and done in this first week at Dancing Rabbit.

I -

heard coyotes
watched a No Talent Show
bucked hay bales
walked on gravel barefoot, gingerly
harmonized in a song circle of 50 people
was entranced by 3 bonfires
did pond water aerobics
pushed back my cuticles
discussed Spanish sign language
got a crop circle shaved in my head

lost my antibiotic ointment
lost my checkbook
found $5
listened to a dog lick itself
signed up for a permaculture class
worried about money

realized I hadn't thought about my divorce for over 24 hours
re-re-re-re-re-re read Dhammapada
felt embarrassed by my plastic bowl and giant, blue, plastic spork
bought a handmade wooden bowl and spoon
peeled garlic
ate apple cobbler
swallowed my toothpaste after brushing
examined a 40 year old Boy Scout utensil set

blurted out something regrettable
stood in awe of an hours long lightning show
surprised that guy actually did that
dropped my guard a little more
got a little defensive
gave a sincere compliment
read some David Sedaris
got a song stuck in my head
was irritated by that grinding noise
stifled 8 sarcastic comments
delivered 3 sarcastic comments

guished my toes in the mud
fretted a turtle might bite my balls
was charmed by babies nursing
sanded a timber post of a new home
cursed technology
dodged a puddle
wrote a blog

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Is That Ringworm?

I can't get this song out of my head

I am remembering whoOoo, I am.  I am remembering whooOoo, I am.  Iiii, am RememmberrrRing.  Iiii, am RemmemberrrRing.  I am remembering, who I am....

Today is the second day of the first ever Singing Rabbit.  I just moved in yesterday!  I am amazed to see the village so full of people.  Many of the folks I've seen before as they are DR, Red Earth Farms, and Sandhill inhabitants, but some of the folks are from exotic places like northeast Iowa and Wisconsin and Oregon and Washington.  Everyone is here to sing.

I've sung so many songs already with more to come.  Rounds and stacks and harmonies with hand gestures, and humming.  Singing Rabbit has it all.  I even learned sign language for "singing rabbit."

Now back to that song stuck in my head.  I am remembering, who I am.

Who am I?  Was I someone else?  Am I supposed to be someone else?  Am I the real me?  Deep-ish stuff.  It's only my second day here.  How could I forget who I am anyway?  That doesn't happen.  Who could that happen to?

Then a simple awareness.

I've taken a swim in the pond the last couple days.  It has been chilly getting in but just perfect after adjusting for a few minutes.  I sit and air dry on the dock after my swim.  Today I was preoccupied with shooing away a horsefly, but yesterday I started to take a really good look at the top of my right thigh.  It was just sitting there so I started looking it over real closely.

I was caught off guard that I didn't even recognize my own leg.  "Is this really mine?," I wondered.  I traced back it's origin; right thigh middle, upper right thigh, crease of the upper right thigh, groin crease over hear, outer right hip.  Seems to be my thigh alright.  How about a closer look?

Lots of big brown spots that are a little crustier than the rest of the skin.  Age spots?  Liver spots?  Too many days on Florida beaches?  I have no idea.  Didn't even see them until today.  And the hairs.  Some are coupled.  Some are a little more isolated.  They do seem to grow in the same direction (downward if I was standing), and they are longer than I expected.

How about the rest of my leg?  What an adventure so  close to home!

There's a scab!  When did that happen?  I don't even remember hitting it.  It's like I don't even know my own leg.  Was I not paying attention?  That must've hurt, but I can't remember.

And that?  What is that?  Is that ringworm?  Mom thought it might be ringworm.  Of course, I didn't notice it, but Mom did sitting next to me on her porch last week having coffee.  On the outside of my right ankle resides this little suspicious patch.  I think it's where my sandals rub.  It's been awhile since I've worn sandals.  I didn't even notice the little patch of red skin until Mom said something.  Of course not.

I'm not noticing anything.  I don't even know myself.  Who am I?  I can't believe this.  Well, now I know what I don't know.  Like the song says, "I am remembering, who I am."