Rendered Fat Content


Alfred Sisley: The Seine at Port-Marly, Piles of Sand (1875)

" … enriching our historical record …"

Future archeologists should be able to fairly accurately map our rhythm of life at The Villa Vatta Schmaltz, primarily by excavating our noble compost Heap. The Heap holds sequential record of our dining year from which even half-baked archeologists should be able to piece together a decent portrait of our preferences and practices. I noticed yesterday that we'd re-entered the Green Chile part of the year, which has always been squeezed in-between the cherry/apricot/plum Stone Fruit season and the now impending tomato time. We put up produce in turn, producing piles of pits and peels which we dutifully pile on top of The Heap, thereby laying down our gastronomic self portrait.

Very little goes to waste here.
What we cannot or will not directly consume, we either freeze for stock making or pile onto The Heap. During exile, we lived a heapless existence, one of the sadder forms of human occupation. Landlords tend to frown upon their renters' heapmaking, and I do not for a moment blame them, for renters can be undisciplined and short-horizoned. It's unlikely that they will retain tenancy until their own compost matures and because they have no future, they can get sloppy, adding meat scraps to The Heap or otherwise inadvertently violating policy. Heaps require an intimate understanding, occasional watering, and an unusual kind of husbandry. Heaps are alive.

Ours went dormant during our thirteen year exile, though when we returned, I found perfectly seasoned compost remaining at the bottom, beneath a pile of leftover boards, still holding the starter. It's very likely untrue that Heaps work like sourdough starter, but I think it's harmless to believe that they do. Every year or so, I turn the sucker, which is no small endeavor. I make the bottom the top and the top, the bottom. This to promote more uniform rotting. Next year, we'll add some red wigglers, composting worms who will speed up the decomposition and also help produce remarkable compost. Future archeologists might well find fine details thoroughly erased, though pits and green chile skins are, as near as I can tell, eternal. I keep finding twenty year old apricot pits in our flower beds, composted into air-light shells, absent their middles. I can crush them with my fingertips. They aid aeration.

I speak of The Heap because yesterday I scored my annual bushel of Hatch Green Chile, twenty-five pounds of fire roasted curiosity. One year, visiting Alburquerque during this season, we bought a big ice chest and filled it with Hatches which we checked as baggage. Now, a local store has taken to setting up a roaster, and I avail myself to stand downwind as it fire roasts chiles, to get the seasonal stink blowed off me with its stinging smoke. It's a sprint to process the chiles in one session. We remove the charred skins, then chop off their heads and scrape out the more mature seeds, then chop them into a fine dice before filling wide-mouth half-pint jars and pressure cooking them into submission, thirty-five minutes after ten pounds of pressure registers. Its a joyful job, the capsaicin leaves my hands tingling and my nose running. Processing Hot Hatch cleans one out. I sneeze and blow my nose for four or five hours until those babies have been sealed in jars and ready for cooking. I save the seeds and skins and lovingly add them to the top of the Heap, enriching our historical record for some future archeologist to study. Just imagine how fortunate I feel!


Life Following Death
There's really very little to recommend the hound dog days of summer, other than the early mornings and the produce processing. I dreamed during our thirteen year exile of processing produce in this kitchen, of slipping down into the basement pantry to fetch a batch of jars, of leaning over its properly positioned sinks for hours without my back feeling like it was breaking, of feeding my fantastic compost Heap. Here I am, literally living that dream now. It seemed so unlikely for so long that we would ever manage to return, and yet we did. We returned while continuing forward momentum. We didn't so much come back home again, but were fortunate to catch up with a home in process and reinhabit a different place with a different Heap, but with a Heap, at least.

My writing week seemed curiously Heap-like this week, with layers of relatively unrelated topics piled on top of each other to produce a more or less uniform rot. Heaps are proof of Life Following Death, of reuse after finished, just like my writing week review, I guess.

I began my writing week reveling in the first hint that an over-long heat spell might be just about finished in
Break. "I proved once again a man of such little faith that I could not find the patience to simply trust that I had not been abandoned there to a certain fate, too late for salvation and way too early to even think about redemption."

I next described my preference for a sort of absence, for standing on the
Periphery, which proved the most popular piece this period. "I did not aspire to be in charge, but to become, rather, a trusted lieutenant, an absolutely dependable sidekick, a reliable contributor."

I next recounted an adventure we never had because we'd failed to properly prepare, thank Heavens, in
IfOnly. "There's still no good replacement for any sincere lack of preparation."

I told a story of how once upon a time and never again, I created a pan of Mac & Cheese in
Mac&Pleas. "I didn't go to all of the bother, make all those mistakes—some of them even original—to have the resulting supper rejected for any reason."

I recounted how Ben Our Blacksmith installed our new front porch stair railing and how I helped in
Installing. "It always comes down to something unanticipated. How one adapts to this eleventh hour insult deeply influences the whole result."

I visited a doctor, if that's what he was, expecting a consultation and received a procedure instead in
Seeing. "I do not know why, other than hubris, the HealthScare profession insists upon performing procedures without first rendering the patient unconscious."

I ended my writing week seeing better than I have in months and considering the significant influence of the
Unseen. "My blindnesses had me. I was as always a prisoner to the great Unseen, the alluring in-between, that underlying almost everything."

By the end of my writing week, my week's creativity sits in a Heap, layers of unexpected experience now delimiting my historical record. This week began with a Break in the season, a clear premonition. I caught myself reveling in inhabiting a Periphery and then almost denying the adventure I was actually having, though unprepared, IfOnly. I mustered some of my famous Mac&Pleas and reveled in the universal lessons found whenever Installing. I received a fresh lesson in Seeing and some renewed appreciation of the Unseen surrounding every proceeding. None of any of this detritus was preordained or necessary. It's compost! Thanks for showing up and following along!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver