Saturday, January 19, 2008
Last week was dominated by the news of Uncle Eldon's sudden decline and passing away. Uncle Eldon--all the cousin's favorite uncle, by virtue of being a bachelor until later in life and farming the home place with all its wonderful-to-a-child farm equipment, both old and new; opportunities for tractor driving, barn and chicken coop and brooder house and milk house, the windmill, the shop, the vise in the middle of the yard, etc., etc.
We all met, save Uncle Eldon, honored his life, which was in deed storied and worthy of honor, and renewed family bonds. Extended family: Uncle Eldon was of a family of nine children, eight who survived infancy, twenty-something of us first cousins, and uncounted children of cousins. The next evening, we met again and they taught some of us "young-uns" how to play the grand, German-immigrant game of Pinochle.
Uncle Eldon, I found it difficult to visit Texas after I left home, but you were always dear in my thoughts. Uncle Eldon taught me some lessons of life, such as the time I wanted to shoot a sparrow with a pellet gun, never having hunted before. I winged one around the milk house, and it lay struggling on the ground. Uncle Eldon told me that I now had to put it out of its misery. I was conflicted as soon as I had hit the bird, seeing that I was actually inflicting pain and suffering. The glory of hunting, in deed. As Uncle Eldon directed, however, I put the bird out of its misery by crushing its head under my heel. I've never wanted to hunt again.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Here I sit at home on the first evening of year 2008. My little kitty is trying to sleep across from me, but every time I get up she has to look up so to see whether or not she'll need to follow me into some other room. I'm sure she wishes I would just settle down. Friends invited me to a nice party last night where I met a number of new people and renewed friendships with some recent acquaintances. Very nice.
The only interesting news was our Christmas cookie decorating party two or three weeks ago(!). I'm only now posting about this. The boring news is that I've finally finished reading the first half of the National Electric Code. This tedious task has been consuming my time for a couple of months, now. The other news is that dear "Oslofia" sent all of us in the Hello Kitty Knit-along the first pattern on Christmas Eve, but that I haven't even started it. Some of the knitters have already _finished_ the first pattern, and I haven't even started. I plan to get my supplies tomorrow after work.
The Christmas cookie event wasn't really a party--I just invited some neighbors over to decorate Christmas cookies. I remember doing this as a child, with my mother. What I learned doing it, though, is how much work my mother did to provide me with this pleasant holiday tradition. I spent the entire evening rolling out dough, baking it and mixing batches of frosting. It wasn't until everyone left (things were running late) that I even had time to frost some cookies myself. But, the end results were enjoyed by all, and the cookies were good, too! On the right is Emily with the cookies that she and Joseph decorated. And, to the left are Aaron and Erin (and Ishi) with their cookies.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
My neighbor and good friend teaches high school algebra. He was a co-Teacher of the Year last year, so they gave him a 20% teaching overload, composed entirely of "Concepts" students. That's what they call it when you qualify for the slower track. To here him tell it, it's quite an adventure every day. I won't share stories out of school, but his work sounds "interesting." It resonates with why I'm working as an electrician instead of as a Registered Nurse, as which I am licensed.
The hike was an adventure, partly because today's youth seems to be sorely out of shape. As the oldest in the party, at 50, I was one of the fittest, too. As were my friend and his wife. Of course, we had just competed in a 109-mile bicycle tour/race, after having had trained since this past July. One of the adults accompanying the party seemed to have the most trouble. She is the same age as my friend's wife, yet she was the last one down and actually had to be helped down by my friends wife. Of the students, all 14-years-old or so, about half did okay with the required physical exertion of hiking about 4-5 miles over rocky terrain with a 2500-foot elevation rise. The other half, well, let's just say that their bellies jiggled when the moved in a way that would embarrass me and compel me to heights of obsessive exercise were I in such physical condition. For this half, they needed to rest about every two minutes (I kid you not), and we adults adapted the method of requiring them to count out 100 steps before taking (yet) another rest.
Before I sound too negative, I overall experience dramatically raised my estimation of today's youth. These were GoodKids™. They mostly--alright, entirely--came from what social service types now call "at-risk" backgrounds. Whatever. They were honest, respectful, enthusiastic, kept going as long as they were encouraged, interested in their surroundings and socially adept. Good kids. They just need to get out and exercise more--run some triathlons, like we adults do! My friend tells me that what I observed is the norm among his students, except for the athletes. Too bad--I remember that when I was in high school, I wanted to be part of an athletic team, but the focus was on football and basketball--neither sport for which my body was suited, as I was neither physically large and strong, nor tall.
Truly this is the sit-on-the-couch-and-play-video-games generation! Anyhoo, that was my Saturday. Good kids. Too bad we're saddling them with a bankrupting national debt and squandering our goodwill in the world. But, that's another post!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Thanksgiving Day finally arrived and it was time for the Turducken. I started it after work Wednesday. First, though, I called my sister Christine for Mom's Cornbread Stuffing recipe. Thanks, Christine! I didn't actually start until about eight o'clock that evening. That's when I went first to the co-op for whole grain rye berries and wild rice, then to Safeway for everything else. (I wish I could buy everything at the co-op, but their prices are a bit....pricey.)
Anyhoo, back home and mixed up a batch of cornbread for Mom's Cornbread Stuffing. Then I cooked the rye and wild rice for the Wild Rice & Rye Stuffing. I didn't start the Sausage Stuffing until the next morning. I was about to start deboning the birds when I heard a knock on the door at about 11 P.M. I assumed it would be my neighbors, but it turned out to be a drunk girl who had lost her money and her cell phone. She needed to call for a ride, but was a little too wasted to remember her mom's phone number. (!) When she couldn't get anyone to answer, her plan was to go back to Fourth Avenue and walk around until she found a ride. (!!) That didn't seem wise to me, so I got her to come inside and she sat at the kitchen table for an hour while I cooked, eventually sobering up enough to remember her mom's phone number. Mom came right away to pick up her drunk 23-year-old daughter. Living so close to the university bar district, we get stuff like this fairly often, but this was one of the most interesting cases. Drunk Girl ended up dozing on my couch until her mom arrived in the family minivan sometime after midnight.
Back to the Turducken--by 2 A.M., I had deboned the three birds and skinned the duck and the chicken. Figured it didn't need that much fat. I still took 2 quarts of juices from the pan as it baked the next day.
Long story short, the next morning I was up at the early (not) hour of seven, made the three stuffings, and at nine or so when my neighbor Erin came over to invite me for a run, I was ready to assemble Monsieur Turducken. Her husband Aaron came over a bit later and he photographed the process. I've put the photos up on Flickr.
The turducken was awesome--we're still eating it. Five of us only dented about one-third of it Thanksgiving night. Two days later, about half of it is still left! With all the stuffing, it was probably 25-30 pounds of bird and stuffing!
Check out the photos here.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The "twosnakes" of the title refers to the symbol of nursing, which is the profession I came to follow when I moved here. Though I am still a nurse, I am currently pursuing other endeavors, no longer sure if the profession wants me. Yes, I am very happy.