Archive | July, 2017

A Tangled Web

28 Jul

The Squire and I took Blazer out to get the mail this afternoon, and we stumbled upon a sight that was really amazing.

Blazer has to take the scenic route back to the house – along the road and then up the stream bank, stopping to inspect myriad mysterious things along the way. I often wish he could tell me just what it is he finds so interesting.

There was one point where the bushes and weeds where shaking as if there was a high wind. Closer inspection disclosed a small black snake – caught in a spider web! The poor thing was twisting and flipping this way and that, trying to get loose. I know spider silk is one of the strongest things in the world, but to see this little fellow all wrapped up was amazing.

By the time I went and got a long stick, he had managed to work himself free, and of course we didn’t manage to get a decent photo.

I just wonder what the spider would have thought when it got back? Too big to eat, obviously. Untangle the snake? Try to save it for later? Invite some friends for a party?

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How Much?

23 Jul

Yesterday was my birthday, and The Squire wanted to take me out to dinner today. (Got our wires crossed yesterday.) He’d asked me where I wanted to go before we left the house this morning, and about halfway to church I suggested we go to a local restaurant and have hard crabs. He burst out laughing, and said he was just about to open his mouth and suggest exactly that.

Great minds and such.

hard crabs

stock photo

Well, now. Hard crabs are a Maryland delicacy, and eating them defies every possible rule of etiquette.  You spread the table with newspapers or brown paper instead of a cloth, eat with your elbows on the table, use paper towels instead of napkins, paring knives and mallets instead of a knife and fork, and wash your hands in a bucket of warm water. It is also NOT a breach of manners to ask the host what he paid for the meal – it’s assumed somebody will inquire.

We came home, changed into crab-eatin’ clothes and went off in search of sustenance.

Crabs are never inexpensive, but when the waitress told us they were $75 for large and $90 for jumbo, we inhaled so far we nearly fell over backwards. That is the price for a DOZEN crabs, my friends! Not the whole bugeye worth!

We decided to go for the buffet, instead.

Oddly enough, neither of my grandmothers would eat crabs. Nana, who was born in Australia, thought they were “nasty little things”. Grandmother, who was born and raised in Baltimore, considered them “poor food”.

During the Depression, they used to go crabbing in Baltimore’s harbor, just to have something to eat. Heaven knows, I wouldn’t eat anything that came out of that harbor, today!

Of course, back before we overfished them, lobsters were so plentiful that they were fed to apprentices.

Swords Into Plowshares

21 Jul

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Being left-handed and oldgetting up in years, dumb as a box or rocks, set in my ways, I have never learned to knit. Not for lack of willing teachers, but more a matter of having “iffy” hand and eye coordination.  And so, I have taken to using the loom in the picture. It can be slow going, but I enjoy it, and it keeps my hands occupied. You can always tell my work, because the only thing I can do is a cable stitch in the picture. You may have to squint.

When I went to knitting yesterday morning, I could find my “hook’. It’s a bit of bent metal set into a plastic handle, which is used to flip the bottom loop of yarn over the one on top. A crochet hook won’t work, so I was using my fingers. I mentioned this to The Squire in passing, not complaining, just wondering what on earth I had done with it.

“How does it look?”

I extended my index finger and bent it at a slight angle.

“OK. I know what you mean.”

He wandered off, and I heard the electric grinder going in the back room. He came back a few minutes later and presented me with a “new” hook. He’d taken a thin screwdriver, ground off the blade, and carefully bent it to the proper angle. He’d actually chosen a tool with a pocket clip, so I could keep it in my shirt pocket!

Spoiled? Moi? Never!

 

 

Getting Back to Normal

19 Jul

Mary Ann, over at A Joyful Chaos, remarked that her life had been out of kilter for a while, and she hoped it soon got back to normal.

Sometimes you have to face the fact that, like it or not, whatever it is you have, it’s “normal”.

Back in September of 2015 I wrote about the day the pump froze solid. The house where we lived with the Late and Unlamented was built around 1850. When indoor plumbing was installed, the pump was placed in the old root cellar, where the temp was generally around 55°F. However, January 16, 1969 was the coldest day Baltimore had ever experienced since the Weather Bureau started keeping records. Something below 0°, and a wind-chill to freeze your gizzard. I was always the first one up, making coffee, getting half dressed, and then waking the girls and the L&U.

When I turned on the kitchen faucet, what came out was as dark as coffee. I ran the water until it was clear, and then filled the coffee pot. When I started to wash my dishes, there was no more water. I was able to drain enough from the water heater to fill a sauce pan, brought it to a boil, and managed to prime the pump outside the back door, and pumped enough water to get us through the morning.

The L&U got dressed, put on his house slippers and came down to fix his own breakfast. He opened the fridge and grabbed an egg, which he cracked on the side of the frying pan. Nothing came out. He looked and discovered he had a hard-boiled egg. He picked up another egg and the same thing happened. Muttering and cursing .

“Those are hard-boiled. Didn’t you notice the faces on them?”

“Yeah. I saw them. I figured you didn’t have anything to do and decorated the whole damned dozen.”

Cracks such as that can get a person killed, y’know, especially first thing in the morning. And after I’d been out in the cold pumping water at 7:00 AM.

When I went out to take the girls to the sitter and head to the office, my car wouldn’t go backwards. I figured it was stuck in the snow, and came back in to ask him to give it a shove. He went into the other room to change from house slippers to shoes – and when he bent over the back seam ripped out of his trousers.

More muttering. “I’ll be glad when things get back to normal around here.”

I didn’t bother to tell him this was an normal as it was going to get. We’d been married seven years at that point, so if he wasn’t used to it now, he’d never would be.

 

Food Fight

10 Jul

A friend gave me three huge yellow squash on Friday morning. “My husband and I will never eat all that. There’s only the two of us.” Well, there are only two of us, too. The squash were so large they oozed some sort of gluey juice when I cut them up to fry this morning.

And there, suddenly standing at my elbow, was my mum!

Mum and her dad had a good-sized garden on his farm. Luscious tomatoes, corn, string beans, and strawberries by the pound.

But mostly they grew squash. All kinds of squash. Patty pan, yellow crook-necks, zucchini, acorn squash. Squash grows fast and gets BIG. Being German, Mum insisted on always doing things the hard way. Potatoes were peeled standing up. So was that mountain of squash on the kitchen table. My sister and I peeled and peeled and peeled aaannnddd peeled. Because of the “glue” over sized squash exude our peelers would get clogged. Fortunately I’m left-handed and Lynn was right-handed so we would trade peelers from time to time. Nothing helped our stiff fingers or sore feet. Every once in a while we’d trot off to the bathroom to wash our hands – and sit down for awhile. I think Mum caught on, because she’d start to tell us to wash up at the sink!

If there was one food in all the world my sister loathed it was squash seeds. She’d try to cut some of them out of the center of the squash and bury them under the peelings, but once Mum caught on to that trick she’d sift through the compost and return them to the pot.

To make cooked squash more palatable (strictly a matter of her opinion) she would mix it with mashed potatoes, which was Lynn’s favorite food. The potatoes were very “loose” because of the liquid in the squash, and stringy, to boot. No point in pushing the seeds to the side of the plate, because they had to be eaten before the table was cleared. Even the fact that my sister threw up all over the table one night didn’t make any difference.

Mum was not only stubborn, she was cruel.

Ye-ee-uk!

4 Jul

When I came downstairs this morning there was a cockroach on the counter. Ick!

I grabbed a paper towel and came down over him, but he managed to shimmy out from under my hand.

He scurried onto the stove, so I turned on the gas. That didn’t work as he was too flat, and then he climbed onto the grid. I grabbed the flame-thrower and blasted him, but he scooted back into the drip pan.

OK, two can play this game. I was as determined as he was, so I went for the vacuum. It took several tries before I was able to suck the little brown demon into the hose. I trotted across the kitchen to dump the vacuum bag into the outside trash and the critter climbed out the top of the hose. He must have been hanging on for dear life on the ridges inside the pipe.

No wonder scientists claim roaches could withstand a nuclear attack!

Once he hit the floor he scuttled under the rug in front of the sink.

I stepped on him!

Take that, you rascal!

Becoming My Mother

2 Jul

Mary Ann, over at A Joyful Chaos said she was becoming her mother, and it dawned on me that I have, in some ways, also become MY mother. Oh, the horror!

Mum was not Little Suzie Homemaker. Let’s face it, neither she nor I  would ever win anybody’s medal from Good Housekeeping.  I’ve never subscribed to that magazine, simply because I couldn’t pass the physical.  But really, I always felt I was a little bit tidier than AJP.

And then this happened.

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HERS                                                                                                              MINE

Mind you, Mum’s  apartment always looked this way, and I am in the throes of refurbishing Matthew’s dollhouse for his son, but crikey, lady, you can do better than this! At least, The Squire and I can eat on the other end of the table. Mum had to balance her meals on her lap. We’re not that bad off.

Yet.