Skip to content

some nowness

2013 October 16
by Rachel Turiel


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.

hh - lard6

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.

hh - lard4

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?”

hh - lard

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.

hh - lard7

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.

hh - lard3

Apparently, Col’s educational compass sometimes leads him right into the bright sun of hobo skills: fire in a can.

hh - lard8

Taking hoboing one step further: toasting his sandwich on the coals of a fire.

hh - lard9

Me and my fuwst baybee:hh - lard10

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.

25 Responses leave one →
  1. October 16, 2013

    Wonderful! Our kid is totally on Col’s wavelength. And Rose, what a sweetie! :)

  2. Emmanuelle permalink
    October 16, 2013

    Rachel, your post are as nourishing and light as bone broth somehow (with tasty mushrooms involved, and many other palatable things, full of nutrients and minerals and heartfelt smiles).

    Watching Col and Rose happily exploring new paths in their own irresistible ways is a delight, as always. I had to laugh out lout at: “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?”

    And you look quite like a happy-exploring young girl yourself!

  3. Kathy permalink
    October 16, 2013

    “The more I turn the compasses over to the kids, the more they lead us into the bright sun of their own education.”
    That is exactly the place you and they should be right now!!!!

    Good that you are back to your scintillating humor and giant smiles. Id’ like to be right there right now, soaking in the Durango autumn and savoring that pot of soup your garden is contemplating.
    We are still very much green with wonderful fall weather. Snow is a month or two away. Trying not to be envious of the gorgeous quakie trees. I wish they grew here…

  4. Molly permalink
    October 16, 2013

    I do not eat meat, so it is safe to tell you about something that would otherwise sound like a hint for a taste: I find the Austrian part of my mouth watering for fresh lard on bread, salted. Also Speckknodel ( which I think could be made from dry sauteed greens, onions, and tiny bits of fatty pork meat, and something to bind it together, like eggs and some cooked little starchiness, if there were a form of that you could have.

    Clearly Col has this nailed, but this seems dangerous enough to be appealing – and it’s a kindred spirit in an adult for him:

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      October 16, 2013

      Molly, now I really want to feed you some lard. Sorry. Also, I think the tiny house thing is the perfect vehicle for parents and children who don’t really want to leave each other, i.e. the grown kids build the tiny house on the parents’ property and either the kid or the parents could live there. Of course I suppose some kids do want to actually leave home when they’re eighteen, but that sounds pretty preposterous.

  5. Eri permalink
    October 16, 2013

    Col’s hobo fire skills are inspiring. I need to learn the fire in a can thing…

  6. October 16, 2013

    Your posts are always delightful and wonderful to read. Now you’ve inspired me to get the pork fat I’ve got sitting in my freezer out to render so that we can have chicharróns.

  7. October 16, 2013


  8. October 16, 2013

    Bright sun of their own education? Um, hell yeah.

    I’m having to dig to all new levels of trust as I hand more (okay, ALL) of the education steering over to Echo. So far it’s audio stories on repeat while kicking a soccer ball from the back door to the front door. I know she knows what she’s doing, *she* certainly isn’t doubting anything, and knows just how to give her brain and body everything it needs, but *I* doubt! Momentarily, every other day. But it sure feels like a fine thing to give these kids. I mean: “Hey kid, you know yourself best so I’ll follow your lead and support you all the way.” – wow. That’s incredible.

    And this post in general? You are really great.

    To Col: Viva Hobo Life!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      October 16, 2013

      At least she’s exercising as she’s learning…

      And, I for one, am very interested in the stories Echo is going to create some day when her writing catches up to her story-absorbing/telling skills.

      Also, bucking the mainstream is hard and scary.
      Yesterday a well meaning person asked me if Col did any homeschooling that day, and I buckled sheepishly because he hadn’t done any of the three R’s, but then I remembered that he got out a Kid’s Projects Book, saw the dried apple garlands, and proceeded to slice up pounds of apples, making sure each had a neat little hole, and made a beautiful hanging garland. I don’t know how to classify this, or how this will lead to a lucrative career someday, but I like that Col had the time and freedom to chart his own course yesterday morning. I bet the feeling of following through on a self-made plan feels really good to a kid.

  9. Sara Parks permalink
    October 16, 2013

    I loved the post! Our drive into preschool in the morning it’s Talk About the World stuff and Hayden asks anything and everything and we talk about it. How are gas wells made? How does the broiler work in the garage? How do solar panels work? He’s an engineer and machinist in the working no doubt. I really liked your Ghost of Col Past and Col Future and the crossover… because I see it in my eldest now. It’s like magnets! Sometimes binding tightly, sometimes pushing away from each other. Anyway, nice writing as usual… thanks for sharing your work. Oh yea, and your new kitchen activities are paralleling mine… I saved all the beef fat to render (it’s still in the freezer); have lately been turned on to pork rinds!; and everyone’s sniffly but me. I also ate the turkey skin from the first turkey of the season this week, egads!

    Thanks for throwing in mt pics.

  10. October 16, 2013

    Oh those trees!

  11. Bree permalink
    October 16, 2013

    Beautiful scenery around you — wow!! And this kind of random post is my favorite. Actually anything you write is my favorite. Your mamalode article rocked too.

  12. Sarah Z permalink
    October 16, 2013

    Love this, and all of your posts! You are humble and funny and easy to love! I like the part about scintillating (great word) questions. My three year old is in the constant questioning phase. “What does that mean, mommy? And what does THAT mean?” I wish I knew, son.

    Thank you so much for sharing your sweet life. Or, your less sweet life. Do you REALLY stop craving sugar? Aaack. I am an addict. You are providing good inspiration for dietary changes. It can and should be done!

  13. Jonni permalink
    October 16, 2013

    You are stirring the maternal chords that run through me. My fuwst baby is 22yo and I am wanting to have some young ones around….thank you for waking a few old chords up..

  14. Jessica permalink
    October 16, 2013

    This post was about so much. Very cool and thanks, as always, for sharing!

    Now that you’ve got chicharróns, maybe you can find an abuelita to teach you how to make menudo… without the hominy for you. You either love it or hate it. I happen to fall into the “love it” category.

  15. Alanya permalink
    October 17, 2013

    So many excellent laughs, thanks!

  16. Ania permalink
    October 17, 2013

    This post was about something although it could have been about anything with those pictures!
    I will not tell you that in Poland lard is best eaten on still warm sourdough rye bread with cold glass of bear.

  17. anamika ray permalink
    October 17, 2013

    I always read your blog and peace engulfs me. Very nice blog. I need some web page and domain related information from you. Can you please email me.

    Thanks and Regards,

  18. Ellie permalink
    October 17, 2013

    Rachel, are you kidding? This post was about EVERYTHING. Everything that matters, that is. You are one brave soul, and Rose and Col are two lucky kids.

  19. Bethany permalink
    October 18, 2013

    Rachel….i just wanted to tell you you’re damn funny. Thoroughly enjoy your writing ;)

  20. November 11, 2013

    it’s true about the sugar cravings. happy for you on that score.

    i am happy to hear about the educational arrangements, that they are resonating for all involved.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: