Friday, January 30, 2015

A Week's Worth of Rambling

This week went by so quickly.  I hope I have something to show for it. 

Tuesday called for a visit to KU Med Center for that Spouse o' Mine (He is FINE.)  After which, he was to drop me off into parts unknown to meet with women unknown, to hike parts unknown.  I was excited.  It was a Meet-Up group of women who want to enjoy the outdoors together.  Yep: calling my name.

Unfortunately, the KU Med center appointment, which is normally 20 minutes, took over two hours, and so I missed my hike with the women.  Happily, I had a Plan B and C.  And even D.  (Hey: I am a Girl Scout: "Be prepared.")

That Spouse o' Mine and I headed to Ikea, the world of cheap Scandinavian household wares.  We shopped and brunched.  We had fun salmon in different forms.  I returned to the Ikea grocery to pick up some horseradish/dill thing that I LOVED on our salmon sashimi.  It's a sign that we are getting older (in a happy way) that we enjoyed all the young mothers and their tykes during brunch.  Maybe a decade ago, we might not have cast a glance at these little kinder, but it was fun to see them now and laugh at their antics. 

The next day, the weather was cool and then warm.  I called off anything defined as work, and went for a bike ride in the warm and sunny afternoon.  I had beckoned a Facebook group called Manhattan Women's Rides for joiners, but there were none, and so I went out on my lonesome, and had a really nice afternoon.  I had plans for an encore ride the following afternoon, but the weathermen were wrong, and it was NOT warm and it WAS windy. 

It seems that the weathermen these days might not be scientists after all.  Meteorology is a science.  And with today's incredible technology, I would think the weather folks could get a pretty accurate reading on weather.  But they don't, and so I will continue to look out the window and look up in the sky and look out to the western horizon (from whence most tornadoes appear) and figure it out on my own.   

I re-homed our Indian Runner ducks this week.  That might seem like a big durn deal, but really, it was a very swift and simple decision.  I asked a family at church last Sunday if they would like our nine ducks, in view of the fact that they just moved to rural acreage.  I honestly think they would have taken them, but here is their story:  They purchased this rural home from a couple who are retiring and moving to Florida.  The property purchase included the family dog, a huge black lab mix.  You might think, "Oh, NO!!"  but this was a blessing all around.  You see, not two months before, our church friends' big ol' family dog died after many many years of life.  And POOF!  Now they have a new home and a built-in dog, to boot.  Perfect.

Perfect, except that this family returned home from church on a recent Sunday morning to find the dog-included-in-the-sale-of-the-property inside their little chicken coop, wagging his tail violently, as if to say, "I did a good thing, didn't I??  Yes?  A good thing????"   And all five of their chickens, who were pets, were expired.  Not eaten.  Just expired.

And so I agreed with this family that perhaps our ducks should not join their new rural home.

But then I went to Book Club four days later, and spoke to a friend who has ducks and geese, and she said she would love our Indian Runners.  Yay!  Make way for ducklings!

The day after my bike ride in sunny warm weather, I bundled up in my nastiest clothes and boots, and headed out to the duck house to collect said ducks, nine, to be re-homed.  How was I going to do this?  These ducks are NOT pets.  The nine are identical, they all move about our property as a flock - actually, to describe it better?  As a school of fish.  They are tight-knit and not interested in a relationship with a human anymore than I am with a duck.  They are wild birds with brains the size of an acorn.

So there.

I entered the duckhouse in the morning and shut off the light, and closed the door to make it semi-dark. What commenced was a cacophony of duck shrieks and a vortex of birds flapping all around me.  ALL AROUND ME.  FOR TWENTY MINUTES.

It was unpleasant.

Happily, all nine ducks were got and delivered, and I hope they live happily ever after.  They should: they have a barn and a pond and some pretty great folks to look after them.  My reason to rehome?  A time in my life that we can travel without worry.  And as that Spouse o' Mine mentioned after my decision: It is not difficult to acquire ducks.

And so, let's move on to later that morning, after which I was covered from head to toe with duck poo (another word comes to mind), and I thought to myself:  Where to go from here, all covered in poo?  Up!  Up to the barn loft, to fulfill, in part, my New Year's Resolution:

 "Order is the shape upon which beauty depends."  Pearl S. Buck

Yes: time to get started gleaning that barn loft, which holds scads of boxes from our move ~ fourteen years ago.

Happily, I had a trip down Memory Lane yesterday.  I went through boxes of our kids' nursery school things, and even pre-baby, pre-marriage things.  I found a box of letters I had saved.  I read through letters from my grandmother, and from two of my favorite great-aunts.  There were letters from my TWA flight attendant days; people asking if it had been MY flight which had been hijacked in Greece that week.  (No.  I flew to Greece, but it was not my flight that was high-jacked.)  I had high school and college letters.  You know what?  In this day of email, we will never enjoy hand-written mail again.  So sad.  I read letters from my father-in-law, which he painstakingly typed onto "airmail" stationery,  to send from Australia.  An advantage to today's technology is that I photographed a collection of stuffed animals and emailed our three adult children.  What did they want to keep?  It was fun and funny.  Maybe a little bittersweet, when son Graham mentioned that Aunt Barb (my sister, deceased), had given him such-and-such bunny.

Today, Friday, is my mental "Let's get everything done!" day.  Not a good mental health day.  But I sure do accomplish a lot.  I shipped off lots of instruments and parts and whatnots.  My little business: , after which I visited our local big-business grocer.  In addition to my small grocery list, I swept by the seafood place and picked up a Red Snapper for dinner.  YES!  Let's cook it with zucchini, small potatoes, and some of that horseradish/dill sauce we picked up at Ikea this week! 

Well.  I got home and the Red Snapper smelled like it had been netted twenty days ago.  It was a no-go.  I called the big-business grocer, and spoke to two employees who probably do not give a whit if my dinner was a bust or not.

Suffice to say, I am getting my money back next week.  (I explained that we live MILEs out of town and I would not be back in town for days.  I must sound like a pioneer throwback.  But - I am not.  Fresh fish authority, I am.)

And tomorrow, we celebrate our son's, our third child's birthday. 

Life keeps flowing; more to come.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday, Monday

When it comes to winter, there is nothing better than a well-stocked larder and a full cupboard and freezer full of meat and summer vegetables.  Canned goods ready for quick needs, frozen fruits and vegetables from the overflowing vines of summer, and those processed meats from friends/neighbors who are also called farmers and ranchers.  We even have pumpkins still waiting in the wings from autumn; pumpkin soup and pie do not stop suddenly at the end of November, no, sirree!  There are small bags of frozen herbs for our winter soups.  There are larger bags of greens and tomatoes.

Part of this mentality comes from someone who loves to cook.  Another fraction, from someone who used to cook daily for "Party of Five".  And part of it?  That satisfactory, squirreling feeling of having enough to get us through the dark months of winter.

And so, I have a goodly amount of food to take us through the next few months.

This morning our electricity went off for only two minutes or so - just long enough to shut down computers and tare all our LED clocks in the house.  Afterward, I noticed a distinct groan in our old living room.  I did not rightly discern it for over an hour = I thought it was "This Old House" doing its north wind groan.  But finally, I ventured down into the 1887 basement, furtively hoping it was not our heating system.

It was not the heater.  I unplugged a dehumidifier. Not that, either.  I walked further into the dark of the basement...

Ah!  The basement freezer!  It was cycling every 45 seconds or so.  Not at all a good sign.  I unplugged it and went upstairs.  An hour later I returned and plugged it in again.  Still cycling, but no power.  Uh-oh.  I have a winter's worth plus nine more months of food in that elderly, elderly freezer.  We bought it used from an old man, fifteen years ago.  There is a hand-written sign (by me) that tersely states, "If you cannot close the door to this freezer, then do not open it in the first place."  I don't really think any explanation or story needs to go along with that quote.  Just think: Big ol' side of beef.

So here we are Monday...with two lambs, three turkeys, and a pig.  All in my freezer.  My dead freezer.  (They're all processed, so don't be thinking, as my friend Karen did, that these animals were once frolicking in my yard, or as my daughter Claire did, that I had a lamb die out in the barn and I put it in the freezer until I could bury it.  Such was not the case{s}.  I will have to interject here, that daughter Claire was going on what transpired last year when her dear kitty Puzzled opted to leave this world by virtue of crawling under our Christmas Tree and passing, but then the ground was too frozen to dig and bury her, and so I wrapped Puzzle in a special blanket we used to have for the kids, and we kept her out in the bike barn, where she was kept frozen for two weeks. Finally, I buried her amongst some perennial Dianthus.)

Ok: back to the freezer issue.

I have very little interest in my household appliances.  Whatsoever.  I only have two interests:  Washing machine must be Goliath Giant capacity.  And the dishwasher must be Bosch, for quiet Pete's sake.  That is all I ask.

So I sort of asked/delegated to that Spouse o' Mine to go forth and acquire a new freezer post-haste, in view of the two lambs, three turkeys, and pig. I sort of delegated this task in the middle of his Monday workday which is fraught with meetings the likes of which he does not enjoy.  Nor does he like to spend oodles of money.  There is some angst involved the latter.     

I thought this delegation of task would be the end of my worry, but no, evening brought with it the explanation from that Spouse o' Mine that he did not, in fact, purchase a new freezer, even though he had gone to three stores and had also looked online.  His bottom line, he freely admitted, was that he had a problem spending money.

Hell's bells and little fishes.  I have $$$$ of meat and other lying in wait for cooler climes ASAP.  So, while he was out this evening at yet another meeting, I called a local store and talked to Jeremy.  Jeremy and I came to an agreement, and I have a new Maytag freezer being delivered posthaste, at $100 less than the asking floor price, and the poor old limpy-the-lion freezer will be hauled away for free.  This is not a "dis" on that Spouse o' Mine, but just a Push-Comes-To-Shove moment.  And Jeremy heard an earful about my two lambs, three turkeys, and the pig.  As well as the Comet Lovejoy outside in the night sky tonight, and also  my opinion as to why people like he should receive commission.  (Hey: science and compliments never hurt.)

And there is my Monday, from morning to evening.

People have heart attacks on Mondays.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A New Year: 2015

We've had a rollicking good Christmas season: meeting all the adult kids in Colorado for a week.  We took a whirlwind New Year's trek to visit family in Oklahoma - the vortex included sending out a last-minute email to the extended, local family which read:

"They don't know it yet, but Mom & Dad, or Granny & Grandpa, or Gma & Gpa, or Don & Merlene, are having soup at their house Wednesday evening at 6:30 with Paul and me.  Every one of you is invited to join us!  (They know we're coming; I just didn't tell them the soup and you all are coming, too.)

There will be corn chowder and vegetable barley stew.  And bread.  And shortbread.

I hope we see you Wednesday!
~ Tricia

P.S. ~
Beautiful Soup, so rich so green,
Waiting in a hot tureen
Who for such dainties

Would not stoop.

Soup of the evening
Beautiful Soup,
Soup of the evening,
Beautiful Soup

Beautiful Sou-oop
Beautiful Sou-oop
Soup of the evening Beautiful Sou-oop
Beautiful, Beautiful Soup...

I love Lewis Carroll.  So last night, New Year's Eve, we had four generations of Websters gathered at my parents' house in Oklahoma.  And some of them brought soup as well!  Ages 9 months-86 years old.  That's a good family eve.

And now we are back home, that Spouse o' Mine and I.  It's quiet in the house, and I suppose this would be a good afternoon to commence with my New Year's resolution.  It's a simple scheme, in theory.  There is only one sentence to it, from Pearl S. Buck:

"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends."

That's simple enough, I think, for my 2015.

I'll get back to you on how this shapes my year.  Cheers!
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