Deer Season Only Comes Once a Year

angrysanta_1000Daddy took his hunting very seriously.  This was a man’s sport, an entitlement.  Real men hunted and fished.  A man’s outdoor gear was a reflection of his virility..  Daddy would have sooner worn lace panties than not follow the unwritten rules. Hunting gear was a necessity, not an extravagance like a dependable car, bills paid on time, and clothes for the family.  Daddy always had money held out of his paycheck weekly for the Christmas Club, but Mother never could remember that deer season came around the same time as the Christmas Club checks were issued.  By early December, both had long unwritten lists in their heads.  A day or so before the check was to be issued, Daddy would be in an unaccustomed jovial mood, sitting at the table with one of his buddies drinking coffee, and casually mention his plan to purchase a Manchester #1108 Rifle with a scope.  Nearby at the stove, steam rose from Mother’s ears.  The Manchester #1108 Rifle cost about the same as her Christmas list.

The Annual Christmas Fight was on.  Daddy’s manhood was at stake.  He couldn’t emasculate himself by backing down on his purchase after bragging in front of his hunting buddies.  Mother completely misunderstood a man’s needs and considered him selfish, lowering his opinion of her and hurting his feelings.  “When I was a kid I only got an orange for Christmas, and was proud of that.  Besides, you should be able to get everything on your list for about twelve dollars.  Twelve seemed to be the only number Daddy knew when it came to doling money out to Mother.  Every week, she got twelve dollars for groceries, a magnanimous sum for the 1950s.  We ate a lot of beans and biscuits. You just needed to go through the store, pick out what she wanted, take it up to the register, and tell the manager what you are willing to pay.  That’s what I’d do if I handled the shopping!  Ain’t no need in letting people run over you.  Do I have to manage the house and make the living?  And besides, where were the clothes and toys I bought the kids and those three nice dresses I just bought you?  You just didn’t take of stuff right or you’d still have them? Blah, blah, blah.”

Mother snidely pointed out, “That was over ten years ago.    Besides, how would you know how much things cost now?  You haven’t put a toe in a store, paid a bill, been to a bank, or handled any business since we got married. Don’t you think anybody besides YOU might want a nice Christmas!”  Suggesting he might be selfish was the final insult! It was on!

Eventually, they both developed battle fatigue and went about their business.  Daddy went off in a huff and buy his rifle, but toned his pride down a bit, and made do with a cheaper model.  Deeply offended at Mother’s demands,   he handed over thirty or thirty-five dollars left from the Christmas Check.  Once she recovered from her rage at his everlasting selfishness, she’d shuffle bills, frantically glue in trading stamps, put us kids to selling coke bottles, feed us meals of beans, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and canned vegetables, less with meat and fruit.  She worked late every night concocting some homemade gifts and checked Goodwill out. Grandma always sent a huge box of Christmas gifts, her sister Annie always sent money.  Somehow, Mother always managed to pull together a wonderful Christmas.

On Christmas morning we woke to find gifts piled all around the Christmas tree.  Mother was relieved to have manufactured a miracle once again.  Daddy enjoyed seeing his children enjoying a bounteous Christmas and was reassured  to Mother could do well with a little money when she half tried.  Maybe next year he could save back enough to get that……….

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Hard Time Marrying Part 23

sod-house-2

Anya just drank up Emma’s house as Emma showed her through.  A bright oilcloth covered the kitchen table.  Gingham curtains fluttered in the window.  A cast-iron cook stove filled one corner of the kitchen and a few dish-lined shelves covered the walls over the cook table.  A dishpan hung on one side of the stove and a few pots on the other.  A can of flour and a bread board set on the cook table.   Doors opened off either side of the kitchen and rough stairs climbed to the attic opposite the stove.  An apron hung on a nail, next to an embroidered drying towel.  A water bucket and dipper stood on a shelf next to the back door.  A cracked mirror in a frame hung there also, along with a comb on a string, concession to vanity.

“We got bedrooms opening off both sides of the kitchen.  When Melvin got old enough, he slept in the attic.  He moved downstairs after Marthy married.  He’s courtin’ Jenny Parker, now, so I reckon they could be a weddin’ before too long.  I always hoped we’d have to build more rooms fer a passel of younguns, but I guess the Good Lord thought two was a’plenty.  We ain’t always had it so nice.  Twenty-four years ago we started digging out a sod house when I was first a’carrying Martha.  We ain’t been married long an’ didn’t have nothin’ but a start of seed, Rufus’s old gun, the clothes we stood up in, a few quilts, some old pots and crockery my ma spared me, an ax, shovel, plow and a mule and wagon Joe’s pa set him up with. Our folks was mighty good to help us like that.  They ain’t had much neither.  We slept in the wagon fer a few weeks while we planted and Joe dug sod.  By July, it had dried out enough so we could frame up with poles Joe cut down by the creek.  By the time Rufus had a good-sized hole dug, the sod had dried enough to stack.  We set corner poles and got to stacking them soddy bricks.  After we got high as I could reach on the north side, Rufus stacked the rest of the way up and I started the next wall.  We took the wagon apart to frame up the door and build a tight door.  Joe sodded up a lean-to for the mule off the back wall of our soddy. I sure hated to see that old wagon go, but there weren’t no timber.  We sodded the roof, and it was good enough to get us through a winter or two. 

After our second crop come in, Joe come up with enough lumber to build a two-room cabin.  I was sure proud.  That soddy kept us out of the cold, but when it rained mud was always fallin’ in on us….and the bugs!  We couldn’t keep them bugs out!  A cabin is sure a comfort! He built the other bedroom I was carrying the still-born baby, but we didn’t need more room till Melvin come along.

That old soddy comes in handy as a root cellar now.  Long as we keep plenty of dry straw on the floor and don’t let the taters, sweet taters, turnips, and apples from touchin’ they’ll keep till spring.  I hang my onions and herbs on the rafters so they keep good.  I make leather britches out of my green beans so we can have a taste of fresh all winter.  A few years ago, Rufus brung me in some a’them canning jars an’ I been able to put up conserves when the fruit comes in.  I was so proud, I ‘bout cried when I seen ‘em.  Here, I want you to have this wild plum conserve I put up.  It will go so good with your fine biscuits.”  Emma was justly proud of her home and housekeeping.

Tears came to Anya’s eyes.  “Oh Emma, this is the finest thing I’ve ever been given.  I’ll make sure to git your jar safe back to you.”

“Oh no you won’t.  It’s a weddin’ present.  Every woman should have something fine from a friend.  I am proud to be your first one here.”  Emma hugged Anya to her with the warmth of a mother.  “I’m sure praying you’ll carry this little one and be spared the sorrow I felt.”

“Emma, I am so worried about this baby.” Anya whispered.

 

 

Ten Turkey Mishaps by Jannalee Rosner, The Food Dish

Golden Roasted Turkey in the oven with a meat thermometer. Turkey, roasted, thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, Holidays, Meat Thermometer, oven, cooking, restaurants, food, dinner,  poultry, cooking, stuffing, golden, cuisine

Golden Roasted Turkey in the oven with a meat thermometer. Turkey, roasted, thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, Holidays, Meat Thermometer, oven, cooking, restaurants, food, dinner, poultry, cooking, stuffing, golden, cuisine

As amateur cooks across the nation try to take on turkey, things don’t always end in golden brown deliciousness. That’s why in November of 1981, Butterball gathered their first force of six home economists to answer what turned out to be 11,000 turkey-related questions. Today the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line® now utilizes over 50 experts including Spanish speakers and men – a first this year – to answer more than 100,000 questions from distressed turkey chefs and chefs-in-training around the world.
Here are just a few quirky questions that the turkey hotline experts at 1-800-BUTTERBALL have fielded over the years:

Thawing:

• One caller asked if, after storing her turkey outside in colder than 40˚ F weather, it would be safe to eat. Unfortunately, an unexpected storm blew through and the turkey was lost in 10 inches of snow!

• Some callers have come up with very creative—and questionable—methods of defrosting the fowl, asking the Butterball experts if it’s safe to do so with an electric blanket, in the aquarium with the tropical fish, or even in the tub with their children!

• Hotline experts kindly explained to one caller that fresh turkey does not need to be thawed.
Preparation

• A few callers have learned that chainsaw oil and bleach do not a safe and edible turkey make! Brining your turkey in the washing machine is also a questionable sanitary move.

• Some callers are on the prowl for the best way to prepare a turkey for a vegetarian.

Cooking
• A new bride was concerned that her turkey would expand while cooking and get stuck in the oven. She was pleased to find out that Mr. Tom would actually shrink, if only a little.

• One truck driver was curious if he could cook his turkey on the engine block of his semi while he was driving. Even better, would faster driving mean faster cooking?

• More than once the folks at Butterball have answered calls from people in peril, asking the all-important question: “What do I do if my turkey is on fire?” The answer? Call 911.

And the crowning calls:

A woman rang the hotline in a panic because her Chihuahua had plunged itself into the turkey, and she couldn’t get it out! After trying to pull on the dog and shake the turkey to get him to fall out, she was advised to widen the hole the pooch had climbed in through and was then able to rescue him.
• Last, but definitely not least, “If I put my phone in the turkey, can you tell me if it’s done?”

They were unable to help this hopeful caller, though it wouldn’t be surprising if someday in the near future these experienced experts could tell a turkey’s tenderness over the telephone!