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how to love November

2015 November 19
by Rachel Turiel

Everything that was green is now something else, the landscape shifting from breathtaking to November.

Dan is singing his melancholy rendition of cold November pears, (suspiciously reminiscent of Guns’N’Roses: Cold November Rain), while shuttling another 20 pounds of pear “seconds” out of the root cellar and into the house. Apparently we bought 150 pounds of pears a few weeks ago. Yes, 150. They were so well priced and we were having a bit of “pear-scarcity mind,” though it’s a little like the cartoon where the woman reports to her husband that fur coats were on sale, so she bought one, saving them $100! He replies, “why don’t you go buy nine more and we’ll save enough for rent.”

nov 2

Pears are now the answer to everything: Do you need a snack? A sweetener for the cookies you’re baking? A wedding gift? Although, Rose told me this morning, “I don’t like the way Daddy’s hiding pear sauce in the oatmeal.” It’s pretty rough around here at the child sweatshop.

By 5pm all bets are off; it seems clear that any ambitions that involve wearing a bra, shoes or a social smile should be abandoned. The outside world is off limits and I’m happy to narrow my focus to the contents of this house: Col, Rose, Dan, elk sausage, turnips. Inside, I roam a small culinary triangle, spanning kitchen stove, cutting board and fridge, a place where everything seems to make sense. So, I invent projects in the kitchen, or elevate yogurt-making into the status of holy act, while Col conducts interviews to determine if Rose can adopt a doll named Kit; Rose waves a $500 monopoly bill at him, hoping to influence the proceedings. And, even if I forget all my aspirations towards peaceful communication, I can still produce dinner.


Kitchen project #543: sauerkraut. Those little specks are caraway seeds, not fleas. Phew.


The turnips, which multiply sneakily in the fridge, becoming *more* food nobody actually likes.


Cold frame arugula is one of the best things about November, plus the weekly cutting of which that I get to call gardening.


Kale muscling its way through November.

After dinner we play board games. I got this text from Dan yesterday: Need big wine 4 winter boardgames. Indeed. We bought Dan the game Carcassonne: hunters and gatherers for his birthday, and are still learning how to play (not sure if the wine helps or not). If your family likes board games, this list is the holy clearinghouse of board games.

Rose would like us to foster dogs in our home, or buy her a piano, or have a friend sleepover every night, but will settle for wearing the mom-sized nightgown she snuck out of my giveaway pile, while dancing to Pandora’s Kids Christmas Favorites (which I highly recommend you stay ignorant of), feeling such bewildering happiness that she’s apt to spontaneously sweep the floor and make Col’s bed.


And, Col? Oh, he is working out some profound and courageous life lessons…in, um, the lego pile. I know. We’re not exactly Tiger Mom in our expectations around here. But, I am infinitely cheered to see him fiddle around for hours, carrying out a construction vision, which includes test fits, trial and error, patient and skillful problem-solving (often, while dangling upside down on the couch), and finally, after a few days of satisfied completion, he passes the creation to Rose who is eagerly awaiting the gift. (He has been known to say, “Rose I would appreciate it if I saw you actually playing with the house you inherited”).


Otherwise, there’s indoor hackysack, which the kids and I were bumbling through happily, until someone coughDancough announced that he played tons of hacky in high school and college and began to impose rules on the game, like you can’t actually catch the hackysack in your hands. Stickler.

I’ve been reading like crazy, partially due to the happy occasion of waking up regularly at 5am and finding nobody needing anything from me. Books I’ve enjoyed: Hyperbole and a Half (I think Col and I shook the house laughing at this cartoon-style memoir, particularly the dog stories. If you are reading to kids, beware the R rated language), Living Nonviolent Communication (This book is revolutionary in billions of ways, only partially because when Col threw his shoe at the wall angrily, I was able to easily interpret his feelings and needs without taking his behavior personally, and from there healing is possible). And did you know the amazing Mary Karr has a new book out: Art of Memoir. (Gorgeous, illuminating, inspiring and one of those books I’ll likely buy). The kids just finished Farley Mowat’s, The dog who wouldn’t be, which though a bit sophisticated, is knee-slapping lovely memoir about a boy who raises a mutt and a pair of owls.

What are you reading, dear ones?


Root cellar sampler box.

If you need me, I’ll be reading and eating a cold, November pear.



19 Responses leave one →
  1. mollie permalink
    November 19, 2015

    I’d like the answer to one of my questions to be pear butter…:)

  2. Jennifer permalink
    November 19, 2015

    Mashed potatoes and turnips are really yummy together, topped with elk sausage and gravy made from your broth sounds divine!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      November 19, 2015

      Jennifer, thank you for interpreting my secretly veiled attempt at soliciting turnip recipes. :)

  3. November 19, 2015

    Yummy! Although over, and over and overoverover. The quote makes Rose sound she was two years younger ;). Can’t wait for camping tomorrow! You will have to blog about it using lots and lots of descriptive words.

  4. November 19, 2015

    Raising doggies! Rose and Zoelle should get together and discuss it.

  5. November 19, 2015


  6. Dan permalink
    November 19, 2015

    Lovin’ every minute of it, honey, thanks for your wise, hilarious, sharp appreciation of everything. I’m going to wake up at 5, and see if your busy…

  7. Emily permalink
    November 19, 2015

    You guys!!! Your family makes me BIGBIG smile : )

  8. November 19, 2015

    I love to hear about what others are reading!!!
    I just finished Little Women an hour ago. David Copperfield is the never-ending read aloud for the kids. I’m reading Tea with Jane Austen, & Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist.
    (Permaculture is my year’s intensive reading subject.)
    I went to the Books & Brews a few weeks ago sponsored by our Library. Loved it. I came away with two cards filled front and back with book suggestions.
    The pears crack me up! We’ve had so many projects like that. Usually when my husband goes shopping….
    Hope you are enjoying your November. Wasn’t today lovely?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      November 20, 2015

      As a library advisory board member, I’m always pleased to hear about people attending events at the library!
      And yes, today was crazy lovely.

  9. Chi-An permalink
    November 19, 2015

    Dang, now that song is stuck in my head. Thanks Dan!

    I am currently reading -The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage-, which is a pseudo graphic novel about 19th c. mathematicians and their designs for the first computer which never got built, and then the alternate reality where it did. It’s uproariously funny and informative.

    I also just finished the Pax Arcana series by Elliott James. A really fun, funny, occasionally poignant and thought provoking series about a werewolf Knight Templar and his adventures defending humanity from supernatural beings with the help of a Valkyrie, among others. Really. I loved it.

    About turnips- my mom had a soup recipe that involved turnips and spare ribs with vermicelli noodles. Sometimes with Napa cabbage too.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      November 20, 2015

      Chi An, lovely to hear from you. Do you think a ten year old might like that graphic novel?

  10. November 19, 2015

    Hugs from your Montreal friend steadily working her eyes off on never-ending translations throughout this particular November. Butternut soup keeps me going! It’s lucky these pear butter jars are far away from my spoon, because they would be gone by the end of next week.

    Olive oil, salt and pepper roasted parsnip slices? Just an idea. I don’t really remember the taste of the actual thing ;o)

  11. Kate permalink
    November 20, 2015

    “…any ambitions that involve wearing a bra, shoes or a social smile should be abandoned.” Ha! This is gonna be my plan for today.

  12. maryann permalink
    November 20, 2015

    Smoke gets in your eyes by Caitlin Dougherty is an amazing memoir about a young woman working at a crematorium. Unsentimental, but compassionate, funny and thought-provoking.

  13. Sara permalink
    November 22, 2015

    ‘Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge, A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution’ by Terence McKenna and ‘Bleed, Blister, and Purge: A History of Medicine on the American Frontier’ by Volney Steele. Both good.

  14. andree permalink
    November 24, 2015

    Simplicity Parenting. Turnips are yummy when steamed/boiled in cast iron skillet, then fried a bit with butter. They almost become sugary-coated.
    I always smile with Dan’s replies. What a great conversation between you two…

  15. November 25, 2015

    “The turnips, which multiply sneakily in the fridge, becoming *more* food nobody actually likes.” I love you. xo

  16. Jessica permalink
    November 25, 2015

    If you still have pears, (who am I kidding, it’s 150 pounds) I found a lovely recipe for a pear sangria. Uses the pears, contains wine for board games, and has ginger beer. Win! It’s so tasty and was a huge hit with the friends a couple of weeks ago.

    Plus, I’m saved the boozy soaked fruit as filling for Thanksgiving dessert. Wish me luck as I do not have the baking gene.

    Many thanks for offering a peak into your lovely and full life. : )

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