Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Doing Sweet Fanny Adams

Photo: Today's celebratory breakfast, otherwise know as cardiac-emergency-on-a-plate. See below for provenance.

In UK slang (of 25 years ago or more), that phrase (doing sweet Fanny Adams) means doing nothing much at all. Which isn't quite true. We've both been doing things. But we've been doing them at our pace and more or less on our schedule, with large bouts of rest and proper amounts of exercise.

And I am getting over that cold.

So things are in much better shape than they were. We're getting it "sorted," and will be happy enough to go back to work and finish up the semester.

Funnily enough, and speaking of UK slang, my lovely and very American wife asked me yesterday when I came back from my job delivering the meat to the Womerlippi Farm pig club members, whether I'd "got the pigs sorted."

Hah! She's becoming British-ised.

(The reverse of Americanized, spelled with an "s" instead of a "z," of course.)

Funny, that. I wonder where she picked that up? That useful truncated phrase, "sorted" (for "sorted out") was not actually part of the internal lexicon of UK slang I bought with me to America in 1986. I picked it up myself since then, from TV or from visits home. And now Aimee has picked it up from somewhere too, most likely me.

Imitation is the sincerest from of flattery. But now I've written that, we'll know if Aimee reads this because she'll never use it again. She's that kind of stubborn.

So what have we done since our vacation started?

Saturday, as reported below, was largely rest. Sunday saw me drive over to the Bale House to investigate problems with the solar power system. The new occupant had reported difficulties over the last week or so. It took me some dithering with a multimeter to narrow down the problem, and indeed, I went back again on Tuesday before I had it completely isolated, but it was definitely the Cobra 1000 watt inverter, which we installed as part of the general repair after the much higher quality Trace 600 watt inverter was fried because the former occupants disconnected the ground wire.

I had managed to soak this new inverter thoroughly with water during the plumbing repairs, and so I wasn't surprised to see it quit on us. Either the soaking, or the fact that we've been using it to run a small 110 volt pump that draws quite a bit of power, resulted in the control system developing an intermittent fault. When you turn the inverter on now, nine times out of ten or so, it goes to directly to the low voltage override, even when there's a decent battery charge. Of course, I had to prove to myself that the batteries were not actually providing low voltage, which took a full day of sun.

I ordered a new inverter, another Cobra, a bit more powerful at 1500 watts, but I won't throw the old one away until I've taken it apart and looked for water damage or a loose connection.

So that was what I did on Saturday and yesterday morning, which is to trace and solve electrical and electronic faults at the Bale House, including the failed phone line. You wouldn't think that a primitive, off-grid, home in the woods would require that much technology, but it does, for the simple reason that all the power supply equipment, and all the phone equipment and the phone line until you reach the connection on the telephone pole on the road a thousand feet away, well, it all belongs to us, not the power company or phone company.

So we have to fix it if it breaks.

I can't actually remember what I did Monday. Brain fart. Senior moment. Put me in the Aberdare General next to me old mum.

Now I remember. I bought two new tires and an oil change for for Aimee's Camry. Took all day, too, to get the work done. But it was raining, so it didn't matter much.

Tuesday afternoon was the great annual Womerlippi farm pork product distribution day. I motored in the pouring rain over to Maple Lane Butchers in Charleston, Maine, where I picked up a full Ford Escort wagon-load of assorted pork and smoked pork product. Then I motored back to Jackson, where I stuffed the first pig, all seventy pounds or so, into our own freezer. The second and third pigs then went to the other pig club members in Unity and Freedom. Of course, they didn't drive themselves.

The great annual North Waldo pig tour.

(Don't you love all the wonderfully utopian names of villages and towns in Waldo County, Maine: Unity, Hope, Freedom, Liberty, Union, and my personal favorite, Albion. The reason we have such great names is because the Maine frontier was settled by "Liberty Men," Jeffersonian Republicans, many of whom fought in the Revolutionary War. They bought land from, but hated, the great proprietors such as Israel Thorndike, who made the original Great Farm.)

The pig club members were pretty happy to get their pork.

I was a little disappointed in the quantities: the three pigs came in at 166, 173, and 177 pounds, respectively, which is a good weight for lean pork, but produced much less total dressed weight than last year's four 200 and 210 pounders, for what seemed like about the same amount of feed. And I don't mind eating fattier chops. I quite like them, if they're properly done. But we started a month later, with smaller piglets to boot, and although it seemed like we gave them plenty of feed, we probably fed less total because there were only three and not four pigs and because we fed them for a month less. The numbers will tell all, when I do the receipts in March, for the taxes.

But, slight disappointment aside, the reward for all this piggery pokery was, of course, pork chop and mashed potato and pickled red kraut for dinner. Sehr gut, danke.

And now, today, our own bacon and eggs and tomatoes for breakfast. I haven't had any bacon for four months, since we ran out.

Once you've tasted your own, you'll never go back to store-bought.

Today's job is to trace a clunk in the Camry's suspension, seeming audible only to the female of the species, as well as to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey from our 16-year old Amish farmer.

Thanksgiving, in PA Dutch.

Veilen danke.


  1. Don't you like that! All it needs is a couple links of sausage, a slice or three of black pudding, ten or fifteen fried mushrooms, and tea strong enough to keep a teaspoon upright, and then it would be a proper "English breakfast."


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