I was rendering lard yesterday, thinking that I needed to be beamed back to a prior century in which my great-grandparents regularly decanted meltable white paste from petal-pink chunks of pork fat, because I had a few questions. And then I remembered I’m Jewish: there would be no lard rendering in the shtetl!
trailblazing through um, the forests of monounsaturated fat – that’s the good fat, people! Incidentally, my cousin, also named Rachel Turiel, tells the story of growing up in a house filled with the laissez-faire pantry stocking of sugary cereals, pop tarts, and cheez whiz. But never, oh never would you find a smidge of bacon. Old habits die hard. My father and his two brothers grew up kosher, in Brooklyn.
Then, this morning, Dan’s co-worker, Drew, who’s lived in Mexico, walked in, saw the crispy byproducts of lard-rendering and announced “chicharróns!” which sounds a lot closer to something you’d want to eat than “pork cracklins.” We Americans have a lot to learn about branding.
Which is to say, things are getting weird around here. I recently boiled a pot of cow knuckle bones on the stove for 48 hours (with some dried wild porcinis), all the while praying that I’d actually like the taste of the broth into which the bones had flung their gelatin, collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin. And I do, very much.
Also, I know you’re not going to believe me, but, when you stop eating sugar, you stop craving sugar. Not to mention, everything that I’m usually looking for in the arms of a sugary treat, is never actually there. Like, lasting happiness. Also, in the files of annoying gloating, I’m the only family member to dodge sniffly colds thus far.
Why is our son cutting apples on our table leg?
Also, did I tell you that Col’s not doing shared school this year? (The Durango program in which homeschoolers can go to public school 2 days/week with other homeschoolers). The program is wonderful and they have a new, large and lovely space, but Col seems to resonate with a slower, deeper, more DIY education. So, while Rose is at shared school Tues/Thurs (in which she seems to spend most of her time setting up future playdates), Col has a new program. Dan is usually with Col on Tuesdays (except when he can’t get off work, like yesterday, when I was trying to meet deadlines and Col was chopping apples and distracting me with scintillating questions like, “do you think birthday parties were invented when Jesus was born?”
Col and Mathew spent an hour adhering two pieces of aluminum foil with melted wax from a candle. Their happiness meters were pinging loudly while I was slowly asphyxiating.
Thursdays, Col is with his friend Mathew. Together, they do a lot with duct tape, knives, cardboard and aluminum foil. I can’t even ferret out the learning from life anymore, it’s too intertwined. Like when Rose snagged a pair of toe-pinching sandals from a trash pile, and we got to discuss the historical Chinese practice of foot-binding. All I know is that the mind of a child is a wild and beautiful place, and the more I turn the compasses over to the kids, the more they lead us into the bright sun of their own education.
Old mining equipment = mountain jungle gym.
And Rosie? Rose is the living embodiment of the phrase: if you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing. Except it’s more like: if you can walk, you can dance constantly, even at City Market while your mom waits for a pound of salami at the deli; if you can talk, you can jump up on the couch in a wedgie-producing leotard, quieting everyone so you can sing Borderline by Madonna, except you actually sing, “Board walk. No. Wait. How does it go?”
The garden and I are at the “come as you are” phase of our relationship. Nobody’s dressing up or trying to cover their raggely (Rose’s word) cruciferous edges. And yet, there’s some solid food out there: cabbages, carrots, turnips, beets, kale, chard, lettuce. Everything just wants to hold hands in a big pot of soup.
Apparently, Col’s educational compass sometimes leads him right into the bright sun of hobo skills: fire in a can.
Taking hoboing one step further: toasting his sandwich on the coals of a fire.
I have an essay up on Mamalode about how parenting gets less physical and more mental, and how I still don’t know what I’m doing.
From the essay: When Rose cries “it’s not fair” because Col’s hair doesn’t get all tangly or because baby starlings are bigger than their parents, the potential responses scrowl across my mind like an intimidating multiple choice test from high school. And none seem exactly right…or exactly wrong—it’s like I’m in the Zen Koans for Parents class and the correct answer is both: all of the above and none of the above.
Wishing I could share my chicharróns with you all (which, by the way, taste like cookie dough that got reincarnated as a pig),
ps: Was this post even about anything? Goodness, you guys are patient with me. Thanks, as always, for reading.