Time for my annual Christmas List. Now that I’ve moved out on my own, I guess there are more material things that I could use than there usually are, so you have a few more ideas to get you going. I’m putting the list at this Google Doc [Note: no longer relevant, removed]. Here’s how it works: Go to the link, and you’ll see the list, looking a lot like a Word document. Take a look, see if there’s something on there you want to get me. And if you get it for me—here’s the reason it’s a Google Doc—you can really easily check off that you’ve gotten it for me, so no one else does. I’m trying to make it as simple as possible for the wide-scattered people in my family to know that they’re not buying duplicate stuff. I also wrote a thing there about how to use it. You don’t have to sign in or even write your name. It’s all on the honor system.
As I made the list I realized a lot of it tended to center around bike stuff. I guess that’s the one area of my life where there’s lots of room for souping up. I hesitate to get really fancy things, though, because what if the bike gets stolen? I’ve had good luck so far on that front, but I suppose you never know. There’s also some books and stuff on the list. And there are other categories of stuff I could use, like stuff to jazz up my room I suppose, or I could even use some cookware, if you can think of something that I might use in the kind of cooking I do.
Of course, some of the coolest stuff I could get is the stuff I don’t even realize I want. If you have a great idea that’s not on the list, run with it.
I’m also going to do a little bloglet here. This blog was meant to take the place of my Facebook status after Facebook got weird, but I kept wanting to use it only for long posts. Here’s a short one.
I’m tanning some deer hides. So far I’m partway through the process, but at a stage where I can put the project on hold while I gather more materials. (I might find myself buying cow brains at a local Latin market soon.) The first step was fleshing the hide. Here’s what that means.
First, you get the hides. I got mine handed to me in two garbage bags by a guy in a Walmart parking lot. I’d called up the Minnesota Deer Hunters’ Association, and they put me in touch with him; we met at the Walmart and he gave me two free hides that he’d picked as being fairly intact, and wished me luck in the tanning process.
When you get the hides, they’ll have some underskin fat still stuck to them, and a little bit of meat that wasn’t worth the extra butchering effort. You have to get all that off and leave only skin and hair, pure collagen and keratin. I happen to have a drawknife from an attempt years ago to carve a bow. It worked perfectly, though the work was slow and a little bizarre, scraping little gobbets of fat from the hide and becoming lightly spattered with blood and deer grease.
On one of the hides I found an especially big chunk of fat with some meat mixed in. I went to toss it in my gross-bits bag, but then realized it was totally edible. So I put it aside, finished fleshing, and froze it. A few days later I pulled it out and made the ultimate rustic dinner. I rinsed all the deer hairs off the meat and fat, and then chunked it up and stir-fried it with a little of the fat and some onions and peppers. No stage of the process before the frying pan looked promising at all for edibility. It must’ve looked like I was trying to cook bloody goobers of rancid off-cast. But it turned out great, assuming you’re fine with the standard taste of venison, which I am. Afterwards I melted down the rest of the fat into a jar of deer tallow that’s now waiting for an opportune use.
I’m building a reputation here for being the primitive guy. As I was eating my venison stir-fry, my housemate Carrie listened to what it was, and told me, “You’re so old-school.” It was one of the best compliments I’ve gotten lately. And it’s not so bizarre really: there’s a thriving, though small, number of people who will gladly butcher up and eat a roadkilled deer. In fact, I met a couple girls recently who had made some venison stew for a potluck out of a roadkill. Wish I’d talked to them more. But this is a rustic city, full of rustic folks, and I’m glad to have the chance to be so old-school.