Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Charcoal Fiasco - On Our Land Day 6

Quantum heads out pretty early to get lumber in Trinidad. I start the day with another round of the Cactus War, hunting them down, digging them up and transplanting them to the crevasse. I've still got prickles in my gloves from yesterday, and even though I've now figured out that my kitchen tongs are a decent tool for transplanting the things, my fingers are still stabbed.

CK drills holes for the fence posts, which he accomplishes in record time. The new auger is a great tool.

Once he's done I figure it's high time we water the cacti, and I hand CK a pail, grab a kitchen pot and we head down to the stream.

The stream is a shallow shaded bed with patches of clover growing alongside. Two rivulets flow from the spring on the western side of our land. I haven't yet taken the time to go upstream and see the spring font yet this year, though we checked it out last year. I dip my pot in and fill CK's bucket and then my pot. CK is getting whiny about the fact that he can't find a level place to put the pail. With CK there's ALWAYS a problem. "Sheesh, just HOLD it then!"

I scoop up the water. Water-striders skitter away from me. I scoop up quite a bit of algae and what I guess is a dragonfly nymph. It occurs to me that if we're going to run a pump down here, it'll need a good filter. Bucket and stew pot full, I direct CK back up the hill. "I can see this going badly," CK complains.

Its quite a trek to the cacti, but when we finally get there, they seem happy to be watered.

Quantum gets back, he and CK unload the lumber and the rest of the day is peaceful. Till dinner time at least.

I'm making chili, and since we now have the propane stove going, we're going to try and use that. So that I don't burn the chili, I want the flames low. However too low and they'll be put out by the wind. CK and I argue about this. Sure enough, at some point while Quantum is working on building a set of steps and while CK is doing gods-know-what pretending to look busy, and I'm in our trailer chopping more ingredients and trying to work up the courage to put my shoes on again (my feet have several blisters from getting used to new shoes and cacti) to check the chili, the freaking pot burns on the bottom. I scrape out everything except the burned stuff and manage to save the chili.

I tell CK that I NEED the burner lower. He whines at me and says, "well what do you want me to do about it?" "Start the grill,"I say, limping back to the trailer, "this propane crap isn't working." This is one of those times when I should have just dealt with it myself. Fifteen minutes I look over and CK has put a GIANT pile of charcoal on the grill.

Now this is the sort of thing I have issues about. I'm the child of a WW2 immigrant, and I grew up on tales of starvation, frugality and my Babcia (grandmother) going to lengths just to feed her kids. Our family, though wealthy by the standards of Biafra, was also not well off, and I always felt that I had to scrimp. As children, we were always very careful to portion food fairly. Who knows, maybe it's a past-life issue for me too. When Mom left Dad, we had to be even more careful. I've probably qualified for food stamps for most of my adult life, but never tried to get them, since I figured others needed them more. There was even one winter where me and my ex ate from a single pot of beans for an entire week, and for some time were worried where the next pot of beans was coming from.

So I'm very frugal. I hate waste. I despise when leftovers go bad. I can't stand misusing any resources. It makes me outright crazy.

Contrast this to CK. He's a glutton. He weighs nearly 400 lbs. Until now when we've moved he ate about 6 meals a day, all of which were huge. I've had fights with him about this in the past. Particularly when I make dinner for the three of us and he takes 3/4 of it for himself, not even imagining that he should leave a fair portion for the other people in the house.

Another story. About 20 years ago my ex and I applied for a job as caretakers of an estate. 15 minutes into the interview, I knew there was no way I was taking this job. The wife nattered on about the duties of the "Caretaker Couple," as if these people were each some half-entity without lives or minds. Their idea was that my ex would tend the many gardens and I'd be chef and maid. But what really sealed the deal was that as they were interviewing us, the husband (incidentally, both partners were obese, though not nearly so much as CK) pulled out two 50 lb. bags of charcoal and threw them on the grill. To cook TWO steaks. Two. Okay granted they were thick steaks. But 100 lbs. of charcoal to cook two of them? I went home saying, "I don't CARE if they offer us the job, I don't care if we need it. I will NOT work for those pigs."

So back to today. I'd already yelled at CK the other day for wasting charcoal. One night we'd grilled some stuff, and along the way we'd needed to add more charcoal. Well that's a normal thing. Charcoal has a certain burn-life. If you need to cook something longer than the darn charcoal will burn for, you need to add more charcoal. But the next day, when I asked him to light a fire, CK pours half the bag on the pile. I asked him WTF and he says, "well yesterday we had to add more." I explained that once this stuff burns down we'll STILL have to add more if there's more cooking to do, and I'd thought it was settled.

So I look over and once again CK has a huge pile of charcoal burning. So huge that the grill grate won't even fit on the prongs that are supposed to hold it. I'm furious. I tear over, grab my tongs and start pulling charcoal off the pile. I fling it into the dirt and bury it. Hopefully that will stop it from burning and I can rescue it later. I curse and rant. After all, he isn't financing our move. He didn't buy the charcoal. What the heck does he care if he wastes?

Okay, I realize it's at least in part MY issue. That doesn't make me less ticked when I see blatant waste.

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