Rendered Fat Content


Relativity, lithographic print by M. C. Escher, 1953
"ExtremeDomestification seems to be positively effecting even the most feral among us …"

When under duress, I search for a reframe. My mother taught me at a very early age that toast never actually burns, but sometimes browns rather extremely. I grew to extend that response pattern into a lifestyle where my first (and often best) reaction to any adversity involved reframing the story. A bout of seasonal flu became a forced vacation. Car trouble wouldn't leave me stranded but engaging in an unplanned adventure where I might have to invent a new way to get back home. Doors didn't close behind but opened ahead. I found that I could safely reframe in response to what I otherwise might have classified as calamity, and thus retain some sense of control. I get to write my own story.

My reframing self might describe the Governor's Stay At Home Directive as ExtremeDomestification, for its effect has been to encourage transformation of what might have started as an authentic homebody into something more resembling a home soul, someone more than married to home life, but conscripted into it, sentenced to serve an indeterminate term with no reduction in sentence for good behavior.
Good behavior might naturally emanate from serving this sort of sentence regardless of any sentence-reducing side deals, because maintaining the cell … er, home … becomes its own reward and failing to maintain it, a worsening of the punishment. My goal must be, under my reframing imperative, to not only find the proverbial pony in the stall, but to accept the accompanying horseshit as a welcomed source of free garden fertilizer and not merely the curse my jailer might have intended it to become. Since I'm my own jailer here, as well as my own inmate, a certain appreciative cooperation seems helpful if not necessary.

I soaked yet another potful of beans overnight last night, and left a stockpot filled with veg butts and fresh water to simmer in the oven. The Villa smells like heaven this morning, redolent of simmered asparagus butt, celery root peelings, and blackening onion skins. A ham hock thaws in the sink. Red chile hydrates in a saucepan, readying for grinding and straining to become the backbone of yet another memorably savory kidney bean soup. We've not lacked for bean soup for the duration of this enforced vacation, it serving as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even midnight snack, according to our whims. The yard's looking well cared for since I have no distractions capable of serving as excuses for shirking that work. I'm finding the front stoop to be a nearly perfect perch for reading the new New Yorker or just soaking up some sun while the neighbor kids gleefully run up and down the road out front.

In recent weeks, I've begun demonstrating the beneficial effects of ExtremeDomestification by concocting gruel, a medieval staple rarely seen on modern menus. My gruel might even be fit for a king, for unlike the watery oatmeal of Victorian times, mine provides most of the nutrients even a modern might require to maintain strong bones and glowing complexion. For mine, I mix some of my bean soup with leftover oat groats. I might coddle an egg on top as my trusty double boiler warms the mess without any danger of scorching any of it. Served with some olive oil-drizzled rustic bread, gruel makes a reliably companionable meal.

I could probably wax exuberantly all day and well into the night about the many exciting benefits of ExtremeDomestification. The Muse, thoroughly domesticated before the shutdown, seamlessly melted into her sewing room to absorb the hours she might have otherwise wasted commuting or errand running. She's cutting matting and framing pictures today. I'm re-staining the deck and mowing lawn, and maybe resetting that stone flowerbed border. Molly, our feral female cat, finally, after six months of sharp tooth and claw-enforced stand-offishness, enthusiastically submitted to four (count 'em, four!) full minutes of actual petting from TheGrandOtter. ExtremeDomestification seems to be positively effecting even the most feral among us, at last!

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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