For those of you who are wondering, this is an ox tail.
Have you ever cooked with an ox tail before? Yeah, me neither.
When Mom told me in the morning just before walking out the door (to do her 15,000 hour shopping trip with Amber in Nashville) to make dinner using the defrosted steak in the basement fridge, I didn't bat an eye.
I mean, what's the big deal about cooking the defrosted steak in the basement fridge? Who knows that beholding this defrosted steak would forever change the way I viewed defrosted steak...?
I put the instruction in the back of my mind as soon as she left and the house was all mine, which is what I am sadly notorious for after receiving some kind of important information like this. (Please don't hold this against me like my mother does. )
That afternoon, when the realization hit me that my hungry hardworking father and hungry hard-playing brother would want some kind of sustenance on the table before midnight, I decided to go down and get the defrosted steak out of the basement fridge and see what I could do to heal the situation.
Steak. Yeah. Sure.
I plopped the silver bowl onto the counter. I turn over the white-paper-wrapped package. We had just bought a half a cow or something like that from our local farmer friends. I'm used to this sort of a thing. Commercial looking meat. White packages. Hard core. Lots of blood.
Lo and behold, this package did not say Sirloin. No Pot Roast (thankfully, or dinner would have been frightfully late...). No T-bone steak, no nothing that had anything to do with steak, or cows, or bulls, or heifers, or ground beef.
It said, in big black letters: "OX TAIL".
Yeah, an ox tail.
Surely this was some kind of mistake. I mean, hello, we bought a cow, not an ox. Why on earth was there an ox tail without the ox within the vicinity of our fridge? Or freezer. Or basement. Or property.
I examined it for awhile. Surely "ox tail" was some kind of fancy shmancy term for some other cut of meat...? Well that was stupid sounding. But this couldn't be the real thing. And why on earth would Mom want me to cook it was the thing that freaked me out the most.
I folded up the package and pushed the bowl violently away. I will not cook this. I will not touch this. I eat steaks, not ox tails. And I don't know of any backwoods gun-totin' redneck that has ever mentioned Dinner ala Ox Tail as being a local delicacy. Where did this thing come from, who took my defrosted steak, give it now.
I did the only thing I knew I could do. I called my mother.
"Hi. Do you know that you defrosted an OX TAIL for me to cook for dinner tonight???"
"What are you talking about?"
"I went and got the meat out of the freezer and it WAS NOT a steak. It was an ox tail. I refuse to touch this thing! Mom, it's disgusting! It's... a TAIL!"
"Haaaannaaaah... it's not an ox tail. Maybe it just says that. But it's not. Just make it. Season it and make it. You should have made it already."
I then commenced to try to convince her with all my convincing powers that this was indeed an authentic tail of the ox. She would not believe me.
So I heated up some leftovers for dinner that night.
Mom and Amber got home late from Nashville (or Nashvull, if you want to sound local), and the ox tail was forgotten.
The next day she went into the kitchen, looked inside the silver bowl, unwrapped the packaging, and... what was this? It was an OX TAIL!
Hannah! Where did this thing come from? What is it? Whose is it? Get the camera, quick!
What Mom? Ooooh, that's not a real ox tail. That just what they call that cut of steak, y'know? I think we should have it or dinner tonight!
Needless to say, we both shared a nervous laugh. It was weird. Just weird. Neither of us know when, why, or how the Ox Tail got into our freezer. But it was something I'll never forget. There are some experiences in life that really just mold and shape your worldview, you know? This one taught me that if you are ever buying half a cow from your local farmer friends, you might not get a cow.
I have been absent from the blogging world for quite a while now. Much has happened and is happening in my life. Big changes have taken place; so much, I don't even feel the need to write about them, and probably never will. I will commence posting soon (maybe :). At the moment, I am looking to replace my camera lens which was accidentally broken by two little um... elves... who were jumping on my bed illegally. Oh well. They felt frightfully guilty about their great sin, which made me take great pity and exercise much mercy on their guilty little souls. Poor bitty things. Anyway, for now my photographing pleasure will be dormant. Till next time...
This morning I woke up at 4:30 to the sound of the incredibly obnoxious siren of my alarm. I turned it off, then crawled to the bottom of my bed to retrieve my phone (my second awakening call) from the window sill so I could turn the alarm off before it sounded. I dragged myself out of bed with the intention of meeting Zephyr at the end of the driveway at 5:10 to hop in her truck, drive down to "the" swimming hole in Cane Creek, and swim laps for 45 minutes after daring to immerse ourselves therein at such an early hour. We did this yesterday morning, and I could not sleep all that night for fear of not getting up in time. We had a blast (as I always do with Zephyr). I intended to do a repeat this morning, but when I woke up, I decided that it really wasn't worth it this time. Amber was going, and so flaking out wouldn't be so bad. I wanted to have a little bit more sleep, wake up to the sun barely risen, go down the hall to find my mother pushing the green light on the coffee maker, and take a few moments to savor a steaming cup of Honduran coffee... and... I knew that Zephyr would understand. Zephyr is the ultimate coffee connoisseur. I mean, she is into it. She knows her stuff. If she says something is amazing as far as taste goes, I always believe her (except for anything "edible" that has to do with Cracker Barrel or the Log Cabin... just can't bring myself to do it... don't love her THAT much...). Just a couple of days ago she and I shared a plate and downed a gargantuan portion of this amazing Angel Food Cake, mixed berry, cream cheese and whipped cream ensemble after church... I wasn't feeling guilty about it until Mike walked up (observing our piggishness) and told us that we were going to float real well in the creek. Gee thanks! (For those of you who don't know... very muscular people, such as my little brother, cannot float in water because... they're all muscle. Quite funny. I know only two people like this.) In their travels, Nathan and Zephyr came across some amazing coffee in the mountains of Honduras... the growth, picking, processing, and even the decaffeinating process dealie are so utterly "green", I feel like I'm practically doing something good for myself by drinking it. It. Is. Good. The flavor is so full, so deep, and so, so delicious. Zephyr has been having the Honduran coffee shipped to her place every so often, and many of the locals, having become addicted to it's superiority, have been buying it from her several pounds at a time. She is our little coffee supplier. Recently, she came up with a brilliant idea to start a little online business, supplying the rest of this needy and deprived world with the best coffee on the planet. I highly recommend it. So does my mother (that should mean something to you). I usually avoid coffee, but this stuff is simply irresistible. So, in lieu of this amazing, incredible, astounding, heart stopping coffee, here is my very un-fancy looking link: http://www.canecreekcoffee.com/. Get some. You won't be disappointed.
p.s. For those of you who might be stuck on the crazy morning swim: yup... I'm planning on it tomorrow. Y'all are totally missing out on life.
This photo blows me away. I know there is nothing magnificent about it, but for some reason it the softness, the thought, the depth in her face draws me in. Maybe that makes it magnificent. She's so beautiful.
The day after the flood here in TN, I wrote a little thing about it, intending to post it with some pictures. My camera won't download onto my computer (I can't believe I just confessed that...), so no viewings for the public. Sorry.
I thought I would post this just to get it out of my draft box. So here it is. I never finished it, so I apologize for the weird and abrupt ending.
Also, what was originally a photography blog has turned into a Hannah's-thoughts-mingled-with-caffeine journal. As that was not my original intention when starting this, I am going to begin keeping the narratives to a minimum. Sometimes I look back and wonder how late it was and how much sugar/caffeine I was on when I wrote some of those goofy posts. But since I know all of my readers (I think), I'm sure you all understand my little oddities here and there and will perhaps forgive me for moments of unwanted silliness, although I will be from here on reigning in some of my happy-high blurtings. And if blurtings wasn't a word before this post, now it is.
I just experienced my first natural disaster. As all of you probably know, Tennessee flooded drastically on May 1st. Houses were destroyed. Cars were ruined. Many of our friends are now homeless. Barns, schoolhouses, buggies, homes. cars, animals, and people floated away. The water went completely over the C. Creek concrete bridge, which is normally approx. 10-12 ft. above creek level. Not to mention the entire city of Nashville is underwater, which is about 70 miles from us. The major interstates and all the roads are shut down, all downtown business' destroyed, the Grand Ole Opry 6 ft. deep in water, the immaculate, 1300 room Opry Mills Hotel destroyed, the mall 5 ft. deep in water, the enourmous Titans stadium waterlogged ... everything is destroyed (and those measurements are post-flood). There were helicopter rescues off the tops of houses, people stranded on top off their cars on Interstate 40, some dying within their vehicles, missing families, many deaths... as of right now, Music City, population of 600,000 is absolutely inacsessible and completely shut down. You can not get in. During the flood a tornado touched down in several places, including our little Highway. Yesterday we and our friends (in our *very* small community) went around to our neighbor's homes and took was left out of their flooded abodes to see what could be salvaged. Most of their belongings are somewhere in the state of Tennessee, lost and never to be recovered. We gutted one of their homes down to the bones. The piano was split apart, windows blown through, toilets everywhere in broken pieces, generational southern family heirlooms swept away, keepsakes and photo albums waterlogged (if they happened to still be there)... just about all of their belongings had to be thrown out the blown-through windows and disposed of. Within the week some of our friends houses will have to be bulldozed. The caves filled up and exploded with water. Our infamous red C. Creek church house ( built on 9 ft. stilts) will also have to be rebuilt. Ever since the beginning of spring, we watched our Amish neighbors work from dawn till dusk with horse and plow in the gardens, which were just beginning to grow lushly. The fruit of their hands (literally) is their livliehood, and now it has all been flushed away. Our neighbor (him and his wife around 60 years) down the road (about 5 miles) lives in an elevated mobile home. The water began to rise within his house. The flood was rushing through his property and whipping the sides of his home; he began to grow worried the building could not withstand the pressure and would collapse with them inside. He told his wife they needed to leave... now. She was worried she was not strong enough to withstand the current. She begged and pleaded with him not to make her go. But he knew what was best... if they stayed in the house, it would flood or break. He assured her that he would protect her and hold on to her; that he was strong enough to take care of her when the stepped out their front door and into the flood waters. They had only 20 ft. to go before they reached an elevated spot where the water had not yet reached. He was panicking: he forced her to go. Not two minutes after he brought her outside, the current's strength pulled her away from his struggling grasp... he watched as she floated away, dead, and he was powerless. Our family and some of our friends have been been blessed to live a mile or so away from Cane Creek, and thus not suffer nearly as much damage as those who surround it. Our driveway and much of our property was a wild, rushing, current-pulled river, digging 6 ft. caverns into the ground, that will collapse when pressurized (as in walked upon), exposing culverts, making waterways where there was never meant to be water, and littering our property with dishwashers, tires, clothing, and other debri from who-knows-where. We could not drive out of our property (aka the 6ft. ditches) for a few days before our wonderful neighbors brought their tractor and filled part of it in (thank you!). The electricity, phone lines, internet, and plumbing has been out for everyone until this evening. We had interesting times walking around the house at night with head lamps and two candles to light our way, cooking over coals outside, and taking baths in the ever-decreasing spring on our property (AFTER the flood, when the sun shone and the water went down about 8 feet...). It was quite the adventure. I actual enjoyed the camping out thing, and I'm a little bummed that the power is on. Half of the city of Nashville was power-less. Scary. The roadwork alone in TN is expected to cost no less than 1 billion dollars. Ouch. Our entire community is off work as it is... step out onto the road, and you'll see trucks with bed-fulls of people slowly going past, four-wheelers, tractors, wagons, horses... everyone has pulled together and done their best to clear the endless debri along the side of the roads, gut the broken homes, restore belongings as much as possible, help neighbors find places to sleep and food to eat, locate decent water to drink, and last but certainly not least, restore the volleyball court ASAP (which I find pretty funny). Having been a native and die-hard Californian, and always sympathizing but never understanding the natural disasters in the South (or even all over the world), living here and experiencing a small part of it I believe has opened mine and my family's eyes to how insensitive many of us can be to the intense, horrific sufferings of other's who have gone through difficulties as this (hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes...). CA and much of the West is comfortable, luxurious, and the land of good and plenty, for the most part. A natural disaster, save the 2009 fires and many intense earthquakes, is very rare in that beautiful state. I would encouraged those who have treated it lightly to stop and think of the magnitude this has had on hundreds of thousands of people. Things that once did not matter, we are now thankful for. Phone? Plumbing? Clean water to drink? Food? A HOME???!!! We are so blessed to have (what we consider) miniscule conveniences in our lives. Who would have thought it was all be swept away in a matter of 48 hours and who knows how many feet of rain.
Blogger, I officially dub thee as being very frustrating for my delicate nerves.
Anyhow... recall my earlier post about the flood warnings? Well, I got up off my couch, set down my Mac, picked up my Nikon, found a country companion, and took off to see the excitement.
I first ran around on our property for a little while with my camera, taking videos of 8ft. ditches overflowing and debri from our woods swiftly traveling a mile or so from way-back-where out onto the road. This specific event involved me chasing a very large black tarp down a ways in 3 ft. of water on a highway (populated with lots of Amish people and the locals going to view the flood), losing my flip-flop, chasing that, and trying to decipher what the guy was saying to me in the car driving by very slowly who looked as though he was considering helping me (as I laboriously dragged the tarp... a little embarrassing). Well he didn't.
The tarp was, as I said, very large, and very full of water, as it was completely immersed in quite a bit of it. Needless to say, it took somewhat of an effort to drag the thing onto our road, down it, and across the field where it hadn't flooded quite yet. I have no idea where it glided off to now.
Anyway, enough with tarps. I waited down at the end of the road for awhile for Amber to get home. N and Z had taken her out after watching their kids to go see the damage done, and I thought I could hitch a ride. They never came. So I walked all the way back to the house and waited awhile. When they arrived, they rubbed it into my face that I was stuck at home missing out while they ran around exploring the mess. Soooo, Z. and I went out for an hour or so around the community to see the going-ons. Lots of stuff had flooded. I mean, seriously flooded. The creek rose about 8 ft. It'll probably go over the bridge by morning. Levi had left his house with his 18 month old son, and couldn't get back home, as the road had flooded. A Plain guy put them in a motor boat and zipped down the road/creek (the road and C. Creek are now the same thing) with them to deliver them to them home. Lower C . Creek Road was so flooded, I was up to my hips in water when I waded through it. The A.'s had to move all their electronics and paperwork to the upstairs of their home, and then evacuate their cars and themselves. The bottom story will be flooded by morning. I truly feel very sorry for them.
I'll post more pics tomorrow. Darling Blogger won't let me put more than a few up. I have severe relationship issues with this thing.
There is also a funnel cloud developing about 20 miles from here, and severe tornado warnings throughout our county. Not like that's unusual for the South, but it's new to us!
The sky is bawling it's eyes out today and the clouds are arguing rather loudly. We are having an official Southern storm.
Last year there was a gigantic flash flood here in C. Creek in the beginning of May. It was the largest flood of the century (literally), and the water was so deep, people were canoeing around in the otherwise dry fields, horses were being swept down the stream with nothing but the tips of their noses above water, and several people almost died (but that was their fault for going in a high-powered motor boat down the swift current right smack into a concrete bridge ...I think it was a guy thing or something... "I know, let's almost die, and live to tell about it!"). The whole event even made it on Facebook! Wow, we have arrived!
Possibilites of reliving last year's torrent of water has been buzzing along the phone lines in C. Creek. At the present, Amber is watching our friend's kids so they could go on a "date" down the almost-flooded creek in canoes. I hope they don't struck by lightning.
Justus and I ran outside into the back of the property to see how full our spring is (it flooded all of our ditches/culverts to the top-- about 8 ft. tall and 10 ft. wide). The spring starts several acres back in the woods. We were totally soaked after about three seconds of going outside. But it was a blast. I couldn't keep my flip flops on so I had to go barefoot. Running on the rocks hurt a little, and I told him to slow down because I had to be selective about where I put my feet. Justus turned around and looked at me (in his knee-high rubber boots) and said, "Gosh Hannah! You really need to toughen up!". Sir yes sir!
I am currently waiting for a friend of mine to call and let me know when she is going to go view the damage thus far. For fun, that is. Some other friends are coming to park their cars at our house. Last year their house was a foot deep in water (and it's elevated!).
I know I'm weird, but I really hope it floods. That way, in 70 years I can tell my great-great-grandchildren about how I survived the greatest flood in Tennessee history while I sat on my Mac blogging about it. (just kidding)
Having a metal roof makes things even more exciting. I love waking up in the morning to the sound of the rain pelting above me. It almost resembles the sound of the water rolling backward into the ocean preparing to break into a wave.
Well, many sunny days to all you tan people in California who have absolutely no clue about what REAL rain looks like. Ignorance is bliss, my dears.
Well, I've been gone for awhile. Just in case you didn't notice.
Anyway, here are some girly shots; some recent, others are really old. I'm sitting in the cafeteria of Whole Foods (feeling very um... green...) right now, weird-people watching, and waiting for my Dad's flight to get in, trying to kill time, and posting random pictures. I have been sitting here for the last three hours, and will be for two more. New shots will be posted within the next couple of weeks (CA friends coming to ham it up in front of my lens :). We're gonna try some sisterly poses I have in my head. Hope they work. In my head they are gorgeously, shockingly fabulous. I'm trying not to get my hopes up though, so don't you either, alrighty?
Till next time...
p.s. I love all the diverse personalities amongst all these photos :-)