Thursday, November 24, 2011

Talkin’ turkey

Having lived in an area where hunting is integral to the culture, I was already aware that the wild turkey is a very clever bird, and “getting a turkey,” as the hunters here say, is not all that easy. I used to clean house for a man who was the national champion at turkey calling contest for years running and he used to tell tales about his adventures hunting them.

Most of us tend to think about turkeys as the dim-witted birds with the gigantic breasts that are raised in mass quantities for consumption. When I looked into raising a few turkeys for us when we were in our “back to the land” phase, I was warned that extra care was needed with them because they were not bright. And indeed, being called “a turkey” is not much of a compliment.

After watching the wonderful PBS Nature program last week “MyLife as a Turkey,” and I may just watch it again on-line, it is so beautifully done), I have even more respect for the wild birds. The program is based on the journal kept by Joe Hutto, who hatched 16 wild turkey eggs in an incubator and then spent close to 2 years raising them from poults to adulthood.

The turkeys taught him a lot. Turkeys live in the now. They don’t think about what happened yesterday or the day before or the day before that. They don’t think about what is going to happen tomorrow or the day after or the day after that. They are just concerned about what is happening right….this….minute….

Hutto pointed out that because we are able to think about the past and think about the future that we often times miss the “now” – we are cheated out of truly living because our minds are often elsewhere and we miss now.

At the moment I am definitely in the “moment” because I am somewhat concerned that something is going to go wrong with the two pies that are baking in the oven. The timer that is supposed to mean the pies are done has gone off twice and the pies were definitely not done either time.

One looks like a pumpkin pie but is actually made with butternut squash. This pie will be taken later this morning to the community-wide Thanksgiving meal that is being offered free to those who have no place to go (our church volunteered to provide dessert). The other also looks like a pumpkin pie but is a sweet potato pie that will go with us at noon to our friends’ house for dinner. They had brought a store-bought sweet potato pie to a recent church meal and concluded that it was “nasty,” so I offered to make one.

This is the day that we set aside to give thanks. There are somethings about this day that are going to be hard, and I am very thankful that these dear people have invited us to their home so that we do not spend the day by ourselves… and I am indeed most thankful that I have wonderful memories of “Thanksgiving past”…. (and excuse me while I see if buzzer going off this time – third time’s the charm? -- means the pies are really done)

And I am also thankful that pies appear to be OK…

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quick as a wink...

My friend Judy graciously volunteered the services of her husband, Charlie, to help Richard finish the washing machine projected that ended unexpectedly last Thursday when he and the platform yielded to the forces of gravity, and it landed on his hand.

I am pleased to say that after icing and wrapping with an elastic bandage that it no longer resembles a boxing glove.  His knuckles have reappeared and the skin on the back of his hand once again looks like the skin of a man who is on the far side of 60…

I helped Richard move the platform in front of the basement door using an old cart Richard had made for our generator. Why he did not use the cart to move the platform in the first place is one of those small mysteries. He got things squared away so that it would be convenient for Charlie to swing by on Friday morning on their way home after the aerobics class – he comes with Judy and walks on the treadmill while we flail around on the other side of the curtain that divides the large room. Richard was sorely tempted to move the washing machine himself, but because he had arranged for Charlie to come, he wisely, did not attempt it. He surely would have hurt himself again.

I prepared for the event by watching a few excerpts from the Red Green show and making sure the roll of duct tape was handy.

Judy and Charlie arrived, and Richard and Charlie disappeared almost immediately out the back door. Judy and I visited for a minute or two discussing wintering-over care of the impatiens plant that I grew from some starts she gave me...

and doing quite well in front of the window in Richard’s office, and then I grabbed the camera and we went down to the basement to document the event.

The door to the basement was shut. We stood there for a few seconds, wondering if we should open it and go in, when suddenly it opened, and they walked out. We did not get a chance to supervise. The job was done.

Now he has to attach the hoses and we must read the instructions on how to operate the thing. Both of have a habit of not reading instructions first, but I think it might be a good idea this time.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It’s not brain surgery…

I had intended to visit the laundromat on Wednesday to wash our clothes, given that…
  • our old washing machine was not agitating properly or spinning the cloths because it needed a new belt…
  • there was no washing machine belt to be had at the local hardware store, it would have to be ordered and we didn’t want to spend any money on it…
  • and a few months ago we had purchased a new front-loading high-efficiency machine but were waiting to install it until we used up the 5-gallon pail of old soap…

So Richard began working on a new platform to sit the new machine on.

He removed the old platform and cleaned up the area behind the dryer and we found this tiny baby...

the second baby salamander we have found, and one wonders what is going on in our basement behind the closed door!!

The clothes began piling up. Then, I was able to get an appointment on Wednesday to get my hair cut, so we calculated we could wait until Friday until I would have to go to the laundromat to wash the clothes.

There was also a glimmer of hope by late Wednesday afternoon that the new platform Richard is building to keep our new front-loading high-efficiency machine off the floor of the basement would be ready by Thursday and that the new machine would be up and running on Friday.

Thursday morning, however, Richard lost control of the newly completed and much heavier platform as he was trying to move it into the basement and it threw him off balance… he fell, it fell, and it smashed his hand.

None of the bones in his hand or wrist appear to be broken, nothing is numb, and his fingers are warm, so aside from his hand being swollen and significantly bruised, he will likely be OK.

In the meantime, I knew there was no hope that I would escape having to go to THE LAUNDROMAT.

The laundromat has a front-loading high-efficiency machine and I began dithering about trying to operate it (Stephen King wrote a short story about demon-possessed laundry equipment running amok). By Friday morning Richard was somewhat annoyed with me.
We’re not talking about brain surgery here…. 
It’s just a washing machine. 
There will be instructions.
And he was right. It was just a washing machine, there were instructions, and I was able to do four loads of clothes at one time. I returned home euphoric at how easy it was and schlepped the clothes from the back seat of the car to the basement and started the dryer….

And forgot to close the back door of the car. The dome light burned all day and probably into the night, until the battery was dead.

Brain surgery, indeed.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Stackin' up....

In 2009 I had a running sidebar on this blog where I kept a list of the books I had read and added to the list as I completed one. I intended to keep the list going for the entire year.

When I had reached 68 books and the year was not nearly over with, it occurred to me that this was becoming a source of pride, as though I was saying

Look how many books I have read! Aren't I special!!!

and so I deleted that portion of the sidebar and I stopped counting books.

I began 2010 reading at the same fast pace, but as Spring turned into Summer and we got caught up in all that was going on, about the only reading I did was when I read out loud to Richard and Nathaniel while we were on trips in the car, and by the end of year, while Nathaniel was in the nursing home.

And in 2011… well…  grief and the depression that goes with it dropped like shroud. The antidepressant drugs I took helped to keep me going, but even with them smoothing things out, I lost interest in doing many of the things that used to give me pleasure. I quit watching the few TV program I enjoyed. I pretty much lost interest in reading -- I couldn't concentrate on what I was reading even if I was in the mood -- except when Richard was driving us some place in the car. 

I still went to the thrift store and the used-book store and I bought books that looked interesting, but I didn’t actually read them. People who care about  me and know I love to read loaned me books to read. And I added them to the shelf and there they sat -- about 3 feet worth – collecting dust.

I am pleased that in the past couple of months the gray shroud has begun to lift, and I am once again enjoying a few TV programs and I have started reading again.

I finished the John Grisham book, an amazing collection of short stories … and the Alexander McCall Smith book, another installment in the delightful life of Isabel Dalhousie, and I started the Jennifer Finney Boylan book – a truly fascinating book -- and on a car trip earlier in the week, I started reading the first in Jim Lehrer’s One-Eyed Mack series to Richard.

Then on Thursday, I received this e-mail from Judy 
I just finished reading the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You will love it!!! That's an order. Truly you will love it.  You will cry and laugh out loud and not want it to end
And true to her word, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society did in fact find its way into my hand yesterday at aerobics class….

I started reading it last night, and I believe her assessment will be correct. I have already laughed out loud, enough so that Richard appeared in the door between the bedroom and the living room and wanted to know “what’s so funny?”