Archive for August, 2014

The picture of health

My husband and I are polar opposites when it comes to food. My side of the grocery cart may have things like organic milk, almonds, kale, and gluten-free non-GMO corn chips. His has something sweet, some sort of deli meat for his daily sandwich, and potato chips. I like to eat ethnic food and stir fry, the spicier the better. HE prefers simple cooking, canned vegetables, and a bowl of ice cream every night. Now, due to a diagnosis of gout, he needs to limit certain foods like whole grains, legumes, and beer. Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say. You can guess which one he hasn’t completely cut out of his diet. Since many of his relatives lived well into their 80’s and even their 90’s, and many of mine died by 60, I’m not the one to cast any stones. For the most part, his diet is healthy and besides, I’m his wife and not his mother. This week, he is planning to stay at our cabin to mow, split wood, and fish. He spends more time working than cooking while he’s there, so he asked if I could pick up some canned beef stew and hot dogs so his meals could be both quick and filling. My treat while he is away is something he detests: Fresh salmon, and glory be, it was on sale, too. Waiting my turn at the fish counter, I visited with Mrs. Nice (but too skinny) Customer who was explaining to me how much healthier the wild-caught salmon was than the farmed salmon. I don’t know why she thought I needed to know this, except perhaps it was because I am kind of pleasingly plump and was dressed like I just jumped out of the rutabaga truck in jeans with stains on the knees from gardening. I hadn’t noticed until it was too late to change. I had just that moment snatched away a fresh green pepper that my grandson was trying to chew on, telling him it was icky. Of course “icky” simply meant that it hadn’t been washed, so I didn’t want it in his mouth, but in trying to keep those little hands busy, I had handed him a package of his grandpa’s hot dogs instead. While chatting with Mrs. Nice Customer about healthy foods and explaining that I was a Cardiac Rehab nurse who knows these things, I noticed that she kept looking in my shopping cart. The fresh fruit, salad greens, and organic dairy products were buried under potato chips and processed cheese (HE loves it!) with a loaf of non-gouty soft white bread balanced on top. The cute toddler seated in the cart was happily sucking on a package of hot dogs. She just looked sadly at me and walked away. I’m sure she had a tale to tell her husband at dinner. Me? I’ll probably still be dressed like a country bumpkin at dinner time, because after all, it is my day off and I’m eating alone, but I’ll be eating the same thing. Really, I will.

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The mouse is in the breezeway, which is technically not in the house. The connecting door between the two stays closed, unless I am carrying groceries/laundry/etc. or I forget to close it. The old breezeway has shifted, leaving a gap between the back door and the threshold large enough for Mrs. Mouse and her large extended family to move in….and out….and in again every night. At least that’s how I picture it in my mind when there is the tiniest noise out there. I see the evidence of their family reunions every morning. It needs more than a simple repair, and I am somewhere around the third from the bottom on my carpenter’s have-to-do-before-winter-but-maybe-next-spring list. We set a mousetrap, for whatever good that does. Perhaps I should say I set the trap, since I got tired of reminding HIM to set it every night. There’s another problem. HE sleeps later than I do every morning, which means that I have to check the trap. This morning, I picked up Barney the Chihuahua to save his nose in case there was no mouse in the trap and checked where I had put it last. No trap. I checked behind the dryer, under the table, and inside a rolled-up rug. No trap, no mouse. That meant that there was probably a live mouse in a trap somewhere. Ick. Since I had to leave for church and HE was still asleep, I quickly scrawled a note and left it on the counter: “I set the trap but it wasn’t there when I checked. Eek!” By the time I got home, the problem was taken care of. My hero. I am being not the least sarcastic here, unlike my usual style of writing. I was planning on telling you about the 27 golf shirts in HIS closet, but will keep that story for another time. Happy anniversary to my mousetrap-finding hero who literally keeps the home fires burning because I can’t start a decent fire. Thank you for loading the boat, getting the bait, and filling the gas tank so all I have to do is step in and fish. Thank you for wiring the chicken coop so I wouldn’t have to go out there in the dark and get eaten by wolves or coyotes. Thank you for snow-blowing a path through the thigh-high drifts so I can get to my girls in the winter. Thank you for feeding them when I have a late meeting because you love me more than you hate chickens. Thank you for tilling my garden that I let go to weeds every year. Thank you for not saying “I told you so” about the turkey poop in the back yard. Although I would really like a few goats to add to our menagerie, I know you really don’t want them. So on this, our 37th anniversary, I just wanted to tell you that I love you more than I love goats, however cute and cuddly they may be.

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No rest for the weary

The ten sweet fluffy chicks that I got this spring have turned into a bevy of clucking screeching teenage girls. As with human teens, this can be a difficult age. Earlier this summer, I had to crawl into the bushes where they had hidden themselves, getting a wood tick bite with a classic bullseye rash which bought me ten days of antibiotics. Later, when HE lit a fire to burn the tree trimmings, they were frightened by the flames and ran cackling into the woods. It took both of us to cajole them into the safety of their coop. Yesterday, I spent the morning cleaning the house. I don’t know why I bothered, since we were expecting a visit from Max, our 1 1/2 year-old grandson, who can spread pots, pans, and crumbs from one end of the house to the other in no time at all. Despite the fact that I desperately needed one, Max was determined NOT to take a nap, which reminded me so much of his mommy, whose first short sentence was “No nappy!” and as she grew, had a discussion with her kindergarten teacher in which she told her she would lie down during nap time if she had to, but she certainly wouldn’t sleep. I’m digressing, though, so I’ll get back to the chickens. After the cleaning, cooking, toddler chasing, and dinner, I was ready to put the girls to bed. In other words, I wanted to lead them back into the coop with my handy-dandy broken fishing pole chicken guider so I could relax and fall asleep in front of the TV like normal people do on a Saturday night. The older chickens obligingly went into the coop, but the teenagers saw me coming and ran off into the corn field, scattering in all directions. I managed to get through the maze and chase them back into the yard, but I was more than a little worse for wear, being covered with corn pollen, dust, and quite a few icky spider webs. I must have looked like some sort of scarecrow when I emerged, still carrying my broken fishing pole, because I managed to scare most of them into the coop except for two, who ran flapping and screeching into the swampy woods near the coop, otherwise known as the land of wood ticks and foxes and bears, oh my. Not my favorite place, by any means. By the time I chased them out of the woods, the others had all come out of the coop and were heading back for the corn field again. I threw down my fishing pole in disgust, needing an icy-cold bottle of hard cider to revive myself and not caring at that moment if the real or imagined wildlife ate every one of them for dinner. Chickens always come home to roost, though, and once the sun started going down, they all headed back to the coop, taking their sweet time, I might add. I did a head count, safely latched the coop door, and headed back to the house, which was all picked up and much too quiet. I’ll bet little Max fell asleep before they got out of the driveway. Grandma needs a bath to wash away the spider webs and wood ticks, along with a good night’s sleep. Hopefully tonight I’ll dream of rocking my grandbaby rather than chasing my chickens through a maze of maize.

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