Friday, November 30, 2007
Listen closely. Are you listening? Okay. This is what nutmeg looks like. Really.
I want you to go to your spice cabinets right this instance and get rid of any boxes of powdered ground substances that say “nutmeg” on them. Those ain’t it. Nutmeg comes from nutmegs, these little brown nut looking things. You grate them with your grater…you don’t sprinkle them. The beauty part of this is that these things last forever and maintain their freshness until grated.
Since we are heading into the season of sweet spice, I thought I’d talk to you about my favorite of the sweet spices. Nutmeg is what gives eggnog its distinctive flavor rather than just tasting like whipped cream and eggs. Not that there is anything repugnant about that combination …but nutmeg is what gives it that special flavor.
I’m going to share with you my recipe for eggnog. It’s derived from my 1939 Domestic Arts cookbook and uses raw eggs. You should not try this unless you are completely sure of your eggs. In other words, you have your own chickens or get them from a source that you trust. If you want to try it safely, you can use pasteurized eggs. Me…I like to live dangerously…..’cause I’m such a daredevil.
1 cup whipping cream
8 tablespoons brandy, whisky or Southern Comfort
6 tablespoons of powdered sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Separate your eggs. Beat your egg yolks until creamy and yellow. Slowly beat in brandy and sugar. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until thick but not yet peaking. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold your egg whites and cream together with your egg yolks. Chill, but serve within 12 hours. Sooner the better. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top when serving. If done correctly, this is eaten with a spoon.
As a sort of nutmeg footnote…if you are having trouble getting kids to eat liver…cook it with nutmeg. Nutmeg is the perfect spice to use with liver. Who’d a thunk it?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Max has been barking now for about four hours straight.
I think he probably said something nasty to the geese and the geese said something nasty back to him. Anyway, he's been barking at them from across the electric fence this entire time.
Max probably mentioned something about Christmas coming and the whole Christmas goose thing.
The geese are really smart and probably told him, "Uh...you got it all wrong. It's Christmas dog."
"Hehe...yeah, we're having cassoulet chien for Christmas. We already saw the menu. You're invited, Furball."
"Hehe...yeah....Furball. He said 'ball'."
For some reason, I always imagine my geese sounding like a smarter version of Beavis and Butthead.
Anyway, the geese have been hanging out just on the other side of the electric fence trading insults with Max for the past few hours. Every once in a while they'll turn away and appear to be whispering to each other. See, they know that Max can't come through the fence without getting zapped. Then, they'll pretend to ignore him. This drives Max crazy.
But they keep coming back, because dog torture is just too damn fun if you are a goose.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Red Claptrap of Death has been in the shop. I know, big surprise. So, when I rolled out of bed at around noon-thirty (Not lazy! Up till 4 a.m. editing! So there!), there was a message from Friend Scott asking if I could pick him up to go collect it. So, I picked him up and it was off to the preacher/mechanic he uses. Luckily, it was only the clutch cable and not the entire clutch.
We take the circuitous route through Lemon Gap to get over to Cosby. It is much easier on the vehicle than going over the Foothills Parkway. I drop him off and he gets the car and is gone before I can turn around. I try to take the circuitous route back home through Lemon Gap and get miserably lost, as per usual. I finally find my way back by following the signs pointing toward a local market that I at least know I can find my way back from. I didn't take my camera, so the getting lost experience was less productive than usual.
Anyway, I've been writing lots and lots. Today I got some more editing done. Whipped the first three parts of Porn and Donuts into shape. Mostly little stuff. I need to put those parts away for a week before looking at them again. And I have posted fresh Porn and Donuts up on EditRed. Readers only. Again, if you want to join the reader list, all you have to do is join for free and send me your ID. I've slapped an adult warning on it, since one of my readers is a precocious and very talented 13 year old writer. But it's really NC-17 for adult situations.
But yes...3500 words in and we are coming to the "Porn" part of the title. I promise that the "Donuts" will be forthcoming.
Kellie snapped the towel from around her waist and began towel drying her hair. She bent from the hips and shook her hair out and vigorously rubbed it. Her breasts bobbled back and forth under her.
“You know,” she said from underneath her moving veil of towel and hair. “I think I have an idea.”
She stood up and shifted her weight onto one leg and tilted her head to the right, the towel continuously in motion.
Lucius kept looking at her and her unabashed nakedness. It was hard to concentrate with her shifting around like that, her flesh and bones jiggling here and jutting out there. He kept trying to think of something that would allow him to hear her while she was all naked like that. He kept saying in his head, “Cousin Kellie, Cousin Kellie”, but it didn’t seem to be working. He squirmed around under the bedspread.
She finally whipped the towel around herself, tucking it under her armpits and across her breasts. She bounced down on the bed beside him.
“I think we need to pull a heist.”
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Today I wrote most of the day. Got a good bit done. Haven’t started reworking the first scene of my cockfighting story. I have to sort of let all that good research filter through my head. I did go over my notes and think about it a bit. I got some work done on The Ghosts are Dancing and finally got to the porn part of Porn and Donuts. I’m about ready to do the combine of those two stories and get the first rewrite of those sections done.
For the first time in a very long time, I’m pulling out my thesaurus. They say the Inuit have 90 words for “snow”. The Ghosts are Dancing is really stretching my vocabulary for things having to do with water, rain and wetness. Can’t be helped…it’s a flood story.
I’ve been having these pounding stabbing headaches. I think I figured it out, though. It’s the Sjogrens. My eyes have gotten so dry that my corneas are scratched. I just wasn’t paying attention to it. Have stepped up my eye drops and it seems much better.
I’ve been very upset over something that happened last week. A kid who has been providing a service for me for two years, who I have liked and have treated with fairness and respect, cheated me. I don’t know what it is about the people in this place that makes them so prone to dishonesty. I’m not quite sure how to handle it. Unless the wrong is righted, I won’t be using him again. It’s a shame since I know he needs the money. And it’s a huge bother for me to have to call the 30 something people I recommended him to and let them know that I can no longer suggest that they hire him.
Ah well, it will end up in my writing one way or another, I’m sure. But it saddens me.
The third part of The Ghosts are Dancing is up on EditRed.
As the sun slowly sent the first tendrils of dirty light into the holler, the devastation became more and more evident. All the pastures were flooded. The newly tilled fields were a sea of churning water. A few of the cows and horses had survived but were huddled miserably near the house where the water was most shallow. One of the barns had been swept away and the footlogs and bridges had long since been washed downstream. The corpses of drowned hogs came dancing down the rapids where the creek used to be, washed pale and obscene by the water. And Joel heard the screaming of the cattle who had not made it to safety, mired to their bellies in the mud and water. Their white faces straining to breathe above the water, until it closed over their heads and they screamed no more.
Labels: Fiction alert
Monday, November 26, 2007
I spent all of today in Newport doing research. Very productive day.
I met for about three hours at the feed and seed with the gamefowl enthusiasts and learned more about cockfighting and raising gamefowl than I ever imagined. I knew I was pretty ignorant about it, but there is just so much to know. And, not surprisingly, so much is misunderstood about what they do and why they do it. Most of this was research for the “Jo-Jo and the Chicken Boy” short story, but I picked up a bunch of stuff for the article I’m doing on the History of Cockfighting in the Appalachians that I’ve promised Dave Tabler for his Appalachian History site. My sources have been really helpful and very charming and are going to get more material for me.
I’d, of course, love to attend a match, but given the current crackdowns nationwide on the cockers, that’s not likely to be possible. But, I did get a bit of the feeling from their passion for it what it must be like. They like the story so far and I think they are going to be my best readers and editors to keep the story in the realm of reality.
I went to the library afterwards to see if I could find anything from the post-WWII period, particularly about a legendary pit match that occurred during that time…the first 1000 dollar derby. Nothing from 1946 to 1947, but I did learn that foxhunting, which is practically non-existent in this area now, was hugely popular. I took notes on some fairly gruesome local murders and events from that time period. And learned of a cave just outside of town that is like 200 feet deep. There are also caves along the river that some of the local homeless folks live in. I really want to check those out. The library director suggested I contact someone from the sheriff’s department about those.
So, I have lots of good material to start my cozy mystery series I’ve been planning to write. I’ve been bouncing it around for about a year now so it’s probably matured enough in my brain to actually start writing it. The great thing about setting one of those in Cocke county is that there actually is a history of odd and violent murders here. Most of the cozy series' that I love…you know I have really low taste in my personal reading habits…is that they are set in these sweet little towns where it’s hard to imagine awful things happening. Awful things do happen here, but it’s still a very charming place with many charming people.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
This photo has nothing to do with what I’m writing about today. Or maybe it does. But it’s one of my favorite photos. I took it in Newport. It's a motorcycle tombstone. Really.
One of my favorite Sunday activities has always been reading the Sunday paper. Wherever I have lived, it has been part of my Sunday ritual. When I lived in the cities, I really enjoyed the trip to the place where I’d buy my paper. For years, I never kept a subscription because the trip was part of it, you know?
In Atlanta, it was Oxford Books, back when there was an Oxford Books. In Britain it could be any number of newsagents where I’d go to pick up a Telegraph or Guardian…and maybe one of those chocolate oranges. They had them in dark chocolate. In Dallas, it was the closest paper rank to wherever the crowd was having brunch that day. And in L.A, well, I can’t remember but it was probably close enough to walk to but you took the car anyway.
When I first moved here, there was no paper delivery. I’d drive to Black’s Market and hope they had a paper. Now, they do have delivery. I get the local paper, The Newport Plain Talk.
I spend a lot of time with this newspaper. I even spend hours in the library going over the past issues. Not so much for the news. If I wanted the news, I’d get the Knoxville paper. No, The Plain Talk unerringly reports on things that spark my imagination. I get so many of my story ideas from the back issues. Sometimes they are very sad things. Sometimes they are unintentionally funny. Sometimes they are just funny. I’ve been saving clippings for a while. I understand that that’s how Carl Hiaasen works when he writes fiction. And he’s in Florida where they have gobs of stories like this.
I think my favorite part of The Plain Talk is the “From the Record” page. These are the sheriff’s and police blotter reports. My goat theft showed up there.
For instance, on Friday in the police report section they had one entitled “Where’s the Beef?” This guy goes into a local grocery store and shoplifts seven rib eye steaks. An employee grabs him by the shirt and the guy rips free, losing his shirt yet somehow managing to hold onto the meat. The shirtless meat snatcher is spotted running through town and finally seen running down the railroad tracks with the meat. They didn’t catch him. The incriminating evidence has probably been grilled and consumed at this point.
Then today, we had this gem. “Driver swerves to miss hog, ends up in ravine”. The headline is pretty self-explanatory. Woman swerves to miss a large hog crossing the street and ends up doing more damage than if she had just hit it and had a pig pickin’. She was okay. They didn’t mention how the hog was. Pretty upset, I’d imagine.
Anyway, that's one of the places where I get my story ideas. Really, you can't make this stuff up. But you can put it in a blender and come up with something like Porn and Donuts.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
So, on Wednesday I did my shopping and, wonders of wonders, there in the Newport Walmart as I walk in the door are Baklava platters. So, of course I grabbed one. Such a fancy luxury food item is rare here. They have sort of begun to carry a few things that I wouldn't expect to find there. Like sushi nori...but it's not the good kind and I think I'm the only one who buys it when I'm out of the good stuff. And until there is a decent place to buy fish, it's sort of useless anyway.
So, Scott had a piece and I had some. I left it in a safe place when I went for Thanksgiving lunch with Betsy and her family.
As we were leaving the restaurant, Betsy says, "I got a Baklava Plate yesterday!"
"I did too!" I said. Great gastronomic minds think alike.
Anyway, I got home and no baklava. My safe space had been cracked by the cocker crew. They had also gotten into the trash to divert my attention from their little baklava caper.
Nod toward I Can Has Cheezburger? It's a very funny animal blog. A little cat heavy, but very entertaining.
If you are following The Ghosts are Dancing story, the second installment is up on Editred. Readers only, but if you'd like to be a reader, all you have to do is join then email me with your ID. It's free. And I sort of have to know who you are.
Here's an excerpt:
So, Lurlene was awake when the rains began. She heard the first few drops hit the tin roof with hard fat plinks. She didn’t think much of it, at first. It was the logical conclusion to a windy evening. She just kept reading through her tear soaked eyes. She crawled under the covers when the rains began in earnest. The rain on the roof was a white noise that would eventually lull her to sleep. At least, that was how it usually was. She wished for sleep though she did not pray for it. She’d lost her faith in prayer.
And as her eyes closed to the roar of the rain on the roof, she sort of thought it was louder than usual. She sort of thought it seemed like a wall of water was falling on the roof. But finally she dozed off with the light still on to the sound of the pounding rain. Bridey sensed her warmth as she curled up in the bed and rolled over toward her warmth. The toddler slept right through it. Bridey slept right through it. And Lurlene, she finally slept and she slept right through it.
She slept through it because she was tired and weary.
Weary in her woman’s bones.
Friday, November 23, 2007
It was before we got the big silver Impala. Actually, all of my father’s “demonstrators”, those nice cars the dealership let him drive, were silver. No, this was in my mother’s old beat up blue station wagon. It was the car she drove to work as an elementary school and art teacher. It was always strewn with the detritus from the ghosts of first graders past and the paper mache dreams of high school art students. Those dreams would later be squandered in the oyster shucking profession. That car smelled of boiled peanuts and paste and old conch egg casings picked up on the shorelines of St. Simon’s Island.
I would sit with my chubby knees on the edge of the seat in my navy blue stretch shorts, usually purchased at Punch and Judy’s “Husky” department, and my blue boat shoes would kick the dashboard. We could have been traveling anywhere, perhaps to Savannah, perhaps to St. Simons, or maybe to Beaufort. She would cut her eyes at me, as we would approach those roadside stands. She was intimately acquainted with each of these places. Suddenly, she’d veer off and you knew it was time to get some boiled peanuts.
The best ones were still warm in their soggy paper bags. They would be salty and slightly smoky and you would pop them in your mouth to pop the shell and suck the juices out of them before eating the peanuts. Then we’d try to put the shells back in the little bag, but most often they’d end up on the floor with the roasted peanut shells we had gotten on the last outing. That’s why my mother’s cars always had the aroma of boiled peanuts. That smell reminds me of her every bit as much as the Chanel #5 that she always wore.
The pronunciation of “Boiled Peanuts” in the South sounds like “Balled Peanuts”. Except you draw out the short “a” a bit. Perhaps you are not familiar with them, or perhaps you saw them when you visited here and thought it a strange idea. But they are really wonderful, and you should give them a try.
This is the season when the new crop of raw peanuts is available. It’s the best time to fix them. It’s fairly straightforward. Just get a big pot of salted water, some raw peanuts and boil them for a few hours.
Now, the best ones that you find on the roadside are usually boiled in an open kettle over a wood fire. They often have just a hint of smoky flavor. You can add that by putting a dash of liquid smoke in your pot while you are boiling them. I also like to throw in a little smoked fatback. That’s sort of my personal secret ingredient for my boiled peanuts.
You can tell when they are done when the peanuts no longer have that crunchy raw texture and taste. They should be sort of mushy and not crunchy at all. The shells should be sort of soft. It depends on the variety of peanut that you buy. Both sorts are good boiled.
When they are done, strain them out in a colander and put them in brown paper lunch bags. You do need to refrigerate them.
I’ve got a big mess on the stove right now. I’m gonna make a huge mess eating them too. I’ll hear my mother's laughter, I’m sure. I always do.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I saw the most amazing thing this morning when I woke up. I was laying in bed reading whatever mystery novel I'm reading right now. My bedroom has french doors that open to the balcony that overlooks my view. It's a gray day that we aren't complaining about. The sign down at the Downtown Hartford Citgo, that usually says something like "Go Vols!", still says "Please Pray for Rain". Anyway, there was this eerie updraft that came up from the holler. Huge oak leaves, brown and damp came floating upwards. It was as if they were being sucked into the sky. They rose and rose until they were just specks in the misty sky. Quite something to see, really.
My dear friend Betsy invited me to go out with her family to Carver's Apple Barn for lunch today. It was wonderful as always. Her husband's brother was there and I enjoyed meeting him. I had turkey and dressing, fried apples, green beans and sweet potato souffle. Apple pie cake for dessert. There were some memorable characters there...though I suppose everyone was looking at our table saying the same thing. One lady had the most amazing hair. I hadn't seen mall bangs of that height and width since the '80s.
But I had splurged on half of a Smithfield ham and came home to put it in the oven. I scored it and put my cloves in it. Tented it and put it in the oven. It's not that I don't like turkey...I do. But you must admit that it is rather the tofu of the meat kingdom. Dogs seem to know turkey better than we do. It has some quality that drives dogs mad. The boys were a bit disappointed that I'd decided to do ham this year. Usually I do a small turkey...but I did a ham this year instead.
Fat Buddy got over his disappointment fairly quickly. Once the ham was on the stove he began the incessant barking that always accompanies large pieces of meat going into my oven. It's an obviously thankful noise. If it were a turkey, though, he would have stationed himself in front of the oven door for the entire time the bird was in there.
I'm telling you...dogs know something about turkey we don't. Not sure what it is...they just do.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I hope everyone is having a very happy Thanksgiving eve and week. I went into town to pay bills and do all that nice market day stuff. I dropped off the manuscript thus for for "Jo-Jo and The Chicken Boy" at the feed store. I'm going there Monday in hopes of talking to some cockers (usually when I write that it means cocker spaniels...but these are the chicken fighting folk). I've never attended a match and have just met the chickens at the markets so I want to get a real feel for what it is like to be there at a cockfighting bout. I don't even know if they have concessions at them. So that's the sort of thing I want to know. What does it smell, taste, feel like. Is it bright or dim? I'll probably go by the library and read more old papers.
When I was there last time reading about the floods, I came across an article about this old man who lived in a one room tar paper shack with his dog on Cosby Highway. The roof let the water just come down in sheets when it rained. One of the local men's groups was taking a collection to help him out. But for some reason, his story just sort of stuck with me. I think there will be a December story about him...or based on the idea of him. I wonder what ever happened to him? This was over 40 years ago.
I stopped by the vet to take care of the three bucks and change still owed on Fat Buddy. While I was there, a man came in with a sweet little old pug dog. I love pug dogs. There is something adorable about their ugliness and their very impracticability. Pugs just don't work right. I mean, they just aren't designed properly. Anyway, this man was a dead ringer for his dog. They looked so alike and I did have my camera in my car and I really wanted to take a photo. But I was struck by shyness and he was just dropping the old girl off there. She had a rhinestone collar on.
I'd like to wish all of you here in the States a very happy Thanksgiving. I'm cooking a ham. Try not to eat too much, and do save room for some delicious "Porn and Donuts". The third installment is up on EditRed.
Here's just a tad...
Rupert Mims sat behind the shabby counter topped with cracked green linoleum. He’d dozed off to the buzzing whine of the Nascar race he was watching on his small television set. The walls were hung with a variety of Nascar memorabilia with a special place of pride given to a large portrait of Dale Earnhardt with Jesus. Jesus towered in the background with his arms out, embracing the grandstand and track of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dale was decked out in his racing regalia in front of Number 3 while Jesus towered over him smiling benignly. The caption read, “God’s Own Driver, The Father, The Son and The Intimidator”.
Lucius came in and banged on the counter. Rupert gave a snore like a chainsaw failing to start and blinked up at Lucius with eyes buried in the fat of his cheeks. He tugged his shirt down to cover his wide expanse of furry belly and rocked his chair up from a reclining position.
“What’chu want, Lucius? You got some money for me I hope?”
Monday, November 19, 2007
Not sure how many of you are intimately aware of the joys of living in close proximity to livestock.
A huge part of that, aside from hearing their happy little farm animal noises and watching their joyous cavorting, is flies. Usually by this time of year, they've cleared out somewhat after a few freezes. But for some reason, they are lingering this year.
Try as I might, there always seems to be a dozen or so that come in the house. I'm very suspicious that they come in riding Old Man, who they are convinced is already dead, despite his rather energetic moving about. Perhaps the flies think he is Zombie Dawg. I'm not entirely sure they are wrong.
Anyway, I'll be minding my own business and typing away on what ever damn thing I'm working on at the moment, and there is always this one fly that just can't seem to leave me alone. It's a big mistake for the local house fly population.
I am armed with the most high tech fly fighting equipment available. I have not one, but two crappy Wal-Mart fly swatters. Both are dayglo orange, just in case I need to on a murderous fly swatting rampage in the local wildlife management area and need so many square inches of international orange visible.
So, the moment the flies harass me to the breaking point, I grab my weapon and start marching through the house dropping little fly corpses all over the place. There is usually a great deal of swearing involved.
Fat Buddy finds the entire exercise hilarious and starts barking and following me around and I continue on my rampage. I really don't get what he finds so damn funny about this.
There is another installment of "Porn and Donuts" over on EditRed. Here's just a taste....
Lucius had been laid off recently from Miss Lucy’s Wild West Rodeo Show and Dinner Theater. It was a sweet gig while it lasted. The show featured a five-course meal served without cutlery, a necessity after one of the patrons attempted to stab another with a sharpened spork, resulting in a law suit. The suit was dismissed, but Miss Lucy put her foot down and made the permanent move to finger food. For 25 bucks a head, you could eat your broasted chicken and rolls with your bare hands while enjoying the thrill of elaborately costumed rodeo riders galloping around the arena chasing cattle. It was an elegant evening filled with food and livestock.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The moon, this night, some weeks back ate the sky with its brilliance. I really regretted my lack of skill with these sorts of photographs. All I could do was stand and gape at the night. Stare, dumbfounded, as the night was consumed.
Jo-Jo and the Chicken Boy, Part one...is up on EditRed.
And if you are really good...I should have some Porn and Donuts for you tomorrow.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Well, I'm well into the November Story Cycle. I'm running a bit late and some may go into December. I'm 3000 words into "Porn and Donuts" at this point and it just gets stranger and funnier as I go along. It's one of those stories that is really fun to write and for all the fact that Lucius is just absolutely worthless, I really like him. I think there is a tad of Friend Scott in him. I had aimed to wrap that story up in 5000 words, but it looks like it might need 6 or even 7 thousand.
The other two are coming along nicely as well. I have the first part of "The Ghosts are Dancing" up on EditRed. Here's a teaser:
He had farmed the holler all of his life, and his father had farmed it before him, as his grandfather had before his father. And when he looked out over the broad bottomland with the rotten rock cliffs rising up from the banks of the creek, his heart felt at peace. The ghosts of his ancestors kept him company each day as he tilled the fields. They whispered into his ear in a way only he could discern.You will have to be one of my readers to follow the story. Sorry to give you guys one more place to go and another login to follow to read this stuff, but it's necessary for a number of reasons. If you email me your EditRed account name, I'll be happy to add you. Well... provided I know you and trust you.
“Needs a bit more ammonia, Joel.”
“Watch out for that rock, Joel. You’ll break the plow.”
“There’s a storm coming.”
He heard these voices in his mind and sometimes he heard his Daddy’s voice and at other times the tobacco roughened voice of his Papaw. They spoke to him on a level deep in his bones, in his farmer’s bones.
The hound dog sat with his back legs splayed out and every once in a while, he’d straighten up and scratch that special spot on his belly. His black rubbery lips would stretch into a wide grin and his ears would tighten against his sleek skull. Such was the pleasure of a hound on an early spring day. The sun kissed the hound’s back and warmed the tender green of the fields. Joel slapped his thigh and called the dog to him.
Such was the day before the night when the rains came.
Labels: November Stories 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
So, this past Saturday, I joined an eclectic group of Pagans, free thinkers, Libertarians and RuPaul supporters for a goat roast! (oops, I'm being told by Shadow, The Political Pundit Cocker Spaniel, that it's Ron Paul, not Rupaul. And here I was getting all excited about having a six-foot-five drag queen in the White House. Hey...a girl can dream, right?)
Anyway...it was loads of fun. Picture a crisp starry mountain night with the air heavily laden with wood smoke. Two fires, one for the guest of honor and another for the drummers. Stories were told, food was eaten and there was amazing pumpkin soup. A man, who told me his name was "Spirit", made the most delicious ginger beer I've ever had. He passed on a trick the Jamaicans use that I'm going to try for my next batch. The trick is a little cayenne to boost the heat.
The entire evening had a sort of mystical quality to it. Friend Scott came along, but he had to leave early to go to work. He had some goat and chicken and some really wonderful hearty bread that had blue cheese baked into it.
Friend Scott asked me, "What do you call that? A cape?"
He was looking at one of the Pagan gentlemen who was wearing a cloak against the chill night air.
"I think it's more correctly called a cloak." I said.
"I want one." Scott says.
I'm not sure if there is anything finer than an outdoor barbecue or roast on chilly autumn evening. There is something atavistic about it. Something primal about gathering with folk around an open fire and eating meat.
And as I said before, I was not acquainted with the goat in question, so he was delicious. There was chicken though for the less adventurous.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sort of a "I Got Nothin" Day". I'm concerned that I have no food for you for tomorrow. I was thinking about getting one of those pink snowball creme-filled cakes I've gotten hooked on while writing my Lucius character...he is also insane about those things. I'm sure you've seen them. They are a color of pink that doesn't occur in nature and have chocolate cake covered in marshmallow and then pink coconut. Mrs. Freshley's makes them. Truth is...I've lost my appetite and it's a sort of weird thing for me with only one precedent that I recall. But even then, I was obsessed with the food channel...even though I didn't actually want to eat anything. Those awful little cakes seem to go down fairly easily and I understand why Lucius likes them so much with his sore mouth.
It's been bitterly cold today and a little snow came down. Not enough to really make a difference but a reminder that I'm at a high elevation.
I spent most of the day screwing up my courage to call the nephrologist. When I finally did, it was after 3.
I explained to the nurse that I didn't really see the need for me to do another collection and that we should just go ahead and schedule the biopsy. I told her it didn't look like it was going away on its own and that my side was now hurting. Not badly. Actually it's been throbbing for some time now, but I just figured it was my hip or something. Given the severity of my normal aches and pains and what I'm used to dealing with on a day to day basis...this was nothing. So...I ignored it. Because I wanted to. Anyway...it looks like that's my right kidney.
Anyway...it's been a blah sort of day. I get those sometimes.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
...every fall. When I look at the trees and I realize, this is it. This is the day when the color has peaked. From here on out is will be the slow falling death of brightness onto the ground. The color will fade like blood drying after a very long while. And it won't come back no matter how much water you add. Today was that day.
I drove into town with the Fat Buddy for his follow-up. Perhaps it was that it was overcast, but the saturation was such on the leaves that I was reminded why so many people come here to see them. We are one of the southernmost places where you can go to see a real autumn.
Fat Buddy is doing well. The vet was pleased with his progress. We'll keep him on another week of antibiotics to be on the safe side.
I mention to her that I was pretty sure that Old Man had a heart attack. Old Man tries to bite her every time he comes in. So he has to wear a muzzle.
She stops suddenly and asks me, "Did he die?!"
"Oh, no...I was sort of sure he was going to, but he seems fine now. He climbed the stairs last night so he could sleep in the bedroom."
Old Man is the Fred Sanford of cocker spaniels. He threatens to die with such frequency that its gotten to be a joke.
"But, you know," she says, "you are going to call me boo-hooing about it when he does die and you are going to miss him just like the rest."
"I know," I say, "But even the flies think he's dead. They keep blowing him."
But, at least Fat Buddy has nice sweet breath now. Which is a good thing since he loves getting all kissy with you. He was starting to think I was seeing another dog.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Boy-o-boy, it rained today!
Not enough to wet the dirt's spit, but at least it rained some. I got off my first submission today. It's for consideration for the William Richey Short Story Contest with The Yemassee Journal. That's the University of South Carolina's Literary magazine. I suppose it's a bit sentimental on my part. But it would be nice if my first professional recognition came from my home state and alma mater. I'll be submitting to College of Charleston's Crazyhorse Journal tomorrow.
If you would like to follow things beyond the development stages I workshop here on the blog, you can go to my EditRed page:
Rosie on EditRed
You can join for free and request to be one of my readers if you'd like access to the pieces I'm moving towards publication. Once I decide to move a piece in that direction, the roughs you enjoy reading here will be disappearing from the web. The early version of "The Dark Hole", for instance, is no longer available unless you are one of my EditRed readers.
Anyway...here's a bit more Porn and Donuts....
Dr. Jefferson was a dentist. More precisely he was a wizard with the pliers that the dental profession called extraction forceps. His clinic specialized in cheaply extracting teeth in an assembly line operation. For 50 dollars he’d extract one tooth and there was a 25 dollar charge for each additional tooth. When you left, he’d give you a script for 30 #10 hydrocodones and the antibiotic of your choice.
Lucius was there for the hydrocodone. He sat down in the cracked dental chair. All of the metal fittings in the office were either rusty or covered with a dull greasy film. The mirrored surfaces looked to be flecked with something that looked like spit. Dr. Jefferson breezed in quickly and applied the novacaine injections so quickly, Lucius didn’t have time to flinch.
Jefferson ripped off his gloves and delivered his parting shot as he scuttled off to his next victim.
“E’s ‘ot!” Lucius protested as his face was going numb. He was losing the ability to blink his right eye.
But Jefferson was already gone. Lucius had bad teeth, but they were bad from chewing assorted narcotics like they were Flinstones vitamins. He was particular about his addictive substances and eschewed the frantic joys of amphetamines for the mellow high of opioids. Those combined with a steady diet of Mountain Dew, pink creme-filled coco-choco snowball cakes and Milky Way Bars had done his teeth in before their time. But there wasn’t anything wrong with the tooth he was getting pulled today. He had already run out of bad teeth to pull.
He could see across the way into the next room. The girl, Kellie, was over there and all he could see were her legs from the thighs down, resting on the dental chair. They were kicking in that odd way when one is trying to stay still against every instinct that screams at you to flee.
“Aaargh…Aaar….Aaargh!” She gurgled, loudly.
Lucius found himself getting aroused and moved his coat to cover his lap. He tried to lick his lips but his tongue had gone numb. Soon the drumming of her feet stopped and Jefferson sailed out of the room, snapping off a pair of gloves.
Now it was Lucius’ turn and Jefferson was in his mouth and out in a matter of moments with a bloody tooth. The taste of iron and salt hit the back of his throat and a gauze pad was crammed in there. Jefferson was gone from the room by the time Lucius sat up.
Kellie was standing in the doorway with a handful of bloody gauze pressed to her mouth. Her face was flushed and her eyes were a bit too bright. They made their way up to the checkout desk together, each glancing shyly at each other with their frozen faces and bloody gauze wads.
They collected their hydro scripts and went to the pharmacy together. They had rarely been separated since. Somehow, they just knew they had found their other half.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I think I'm about to lose Old Man. I had to carry him up the two short steps to the porch today. He's been breathing really hard and I think his little old heart is about to give out. He refused to eat anything but a few bites of boiled chicken today. Of course, I've been saying this for three years.
Well, I can't seem to restrain myself from throwing my roughs up here for everyone to read. It just feels so lonely writing to nobody in particular. The good news is, I've asked some people who know, and they say I should be able to submit my stories as long as I don't have a readership over 5,000 and I take them off the blog before I submit them. Also, the stories I put up here are rough drafts and I'm basically seeking peer approval here, so...the finished and honed copies are different. Anyway...things are going to start disappearing from the blog.
But for now...here's the start of "Porn and Donuts".
Lucius was vaguely aware of the sun burning through his eyelids and the zinging sound of the traffic whizzing by. He felt the rough texture of the ground under him and turned his cheek into the rubbery cushion his head was resting on. His mouth was parched and the few teeth he had left felt like they had little sweaters on.
He smacked his tongue on the roof of his mouth and searched around his gums with it, probing the various sore spots. Then he slowly sat up on the verge of the interstate. He blinked painfully into the sun and scratched his crotch.
Lying on the ground beside him was his cushion, The Lola Delight Inflatable Pleasure Doll with five convenient orifices. Lola regarded Lucius with her permanently surprised gaze and her gaping oval mouth. Lucius thought he detected recrimination in her eyes and he punched her in her abdomen making her face bug out slightly.
“Shut up, bitch.” He croaked at her.
He grabbed Lola around the middle and got up, heading up the exit ramp towards the Downtown Buck Snort Citgo and the promise of a Big Sip 82 oz. Mountain Dew. As he trudged past the gawking truckers and motorists, he wondered about how he ended up here finally. He wondered if she would be waiting for him as they had agreed.
He’d met her a month ago at the dentist’s office. They were there for the same reason and had bonded instantly, somehow recognizing that they each shared a weird sense of kinship. Their eyes met across the cracked linoleum of the dingy waiting room under the yellowed sofa-sized portrait of a hunting scene. He smiled at her, showing his gap-tooth grin. And she smiled at him showing the same.
“I’m Kellie,” she said, “Do I know you?”
“No, but you sure should.” He replied.
And about that time, a worn looking technician called Lucius’s name and it was time to go pay in blood and pain for what he had come there for.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Sure...he looks like he's politely begging here and asking very nicely if he can have one of those cucumber rolls...but mere moments ago he nonchalantly took one off the plate.
"Hmmm...Hors d'oeuvres? Don't mind if I do!"
Since his mouth is feeling so much better, he's felt capable of trying to raid the kitchen counter a few times. So, The Fat Buddy is officially back in the house!
Someone asked me the other day on one of the Cocker lists how old he was.
"Well, he's only 11," I said, "But a lifetime of chronic illness, poor exercise habits, sedentary lifestyle, too much sugar, obesity and a history of drug use make him seem much older."
Wait a minute...exactly who am I describing here?
Anyway, I'm attending a goat roast tonight. Yes, you heard me right...a goat roast. Open pit barbecued goat, sweet potatoes, collard greens and lots o' beer. I'm not acquainted with the goat in question so I'm sure he'll be delicious.
Labels: Fat Buddy
Friday, November 09, 2007
Our weather has turned nippy late this year. Usually I start thinking about my fall season jams much sooner than November, but the heat and drought has made it difficult to imagine standing over a hot stove for so many hours.
Apple butter is a long standing tradition in this area. It was made out of doors over a wood fire in a large cast iron cauldron. This technique requires an entire day and much stirring. You have to have very strong arms to keep watch on a 50 gallon tub of bubbling apple butter.
The version I'm sharing with you today can easily be made in the home kitchen and is a festive addition to any holiday table. The red Hots Candy that is dissolved in the mix turns the apple butter a brilliant red. As with all apple butters, constant minding and stirring is key. A few tricks I've picked up since the first time I made this recipe is to run my apples through a food mill first, after steaming them in a colander. The mill will remove the seeds and skins. Another trick some of the old wives employ is to pour the half finished apple butter into a shallow baking or cake pan and finish in the oven. This preserves the color and keeps the apple butter from scorching.
Whatever you do, be careful of the bubbling hot mixture...this jam tends to bubble up and spatter easily. You will notice, if you have never made apple butter from scratch, that the texture is much more like a jam than the apple butter you buy in the store. Apples have lots of pectin in them, so really, those store bought apple butters are really more of a spiced thick apple sauce. Real apple butter has body and holds its shape when you spoon it out of the jar.
Red Hots Apple Butter
4 qt. sweet apple cider
3 qt. pared and quartered
cooking apples (about 4 lb.)
2 c. light brown sugar
1 pound Red Hots Candy
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Heat cider to boiling in 5 quart Dutch oven. Boil, uncovered, until cider measures 2 quarts, about 1 1/4 hours. Add apples. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until apples are soft and can be broken apart with spoon, about 1 hour. (Apples can be pressed through sieve or food mill at this point for smooth apple butter.) Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until no liquid separates from pulp, about 2 hours. Heat to boiling. Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Seal and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Today was Fat Buddy's dental procedure. I was in town all day long and spent most of it in the library going over the microfilms from the big flood.
Anyway, he's okay. He's still sort of stupid from the anaesthesia and I think his throat is sore from the esophageal EKG monitors they put in him. The vet removed four molars. I have them in a little pill jar...wanna see?
I made him a bowl of ramen noodles in home made chicken broth. He turned his nose up at it until I added the oriental seasoning mix to it.
The vet says he should be an entirely new dog in about three days...which I take to mean he'll be back to his fighting form as a sneak thief extraordinaire.
Labels: Fat Buddy
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Well, I'm working on a few stories for November. But I'm prolly not going to post them on the blog. I'd like to...but it seems that submissions people don't like you to do that. I'm shopping "The Dark Hole" around now...and it's very limiting where I can send it since they don't like you to have put stuff up on your blog. But...I may break down and share some of them.
The first story I'm working on is called "The Ghosts are Dancing". I’ve been working on it for a while, but haven’t gotten my ending yet. The title comes from the Cherokee myth of the great flood. It goes something like this:
This is what the old women told me when I was a girl. The dog came to the man and said, “You must build a boat for a great deluge is coming.” The man expressed some disbelief at this and the dog said, “If you do not believe me, look at the bones on my neck. And the man looked at the dog’s neck and saw that the bones were showing. So, he built a great boat and he and his family rode out the storm in it. The waters rose until they covered the mountain tops and then receded. When the man and his family finally left the boat after the waters had receded, they built a great fire and had a celebration. While they were dancing, they heard drums in the distance over the next mountain. The next day, they tried to find where the drums were coming from, but all they found was a huge mound of human bones. And it was then that they realized that the ghosts were dancing.
I’ll go in and do some research tomorrow at the library while Fat Buddy is getting his teeth done and try to get it tied together. I know the main events in the story, which is about a devastating flood that happened here, but I don’t know where it’s going. I like to have my beginning, middle and end in my head before I get a story together.
The second story that I’m working on is called, “Jo-Jo and the Chicken Boy”. Think The Yearling meets Old Yeller in a cock fighting ring.
The third story and the one I’m having most fun with is called “Porn and Donuts”. I got the idea last Monday when I was going to Newport and as I made the turn to I-40 there was an inflatable sex doll laying there on the verge of the exit ramp all by its lonesome. And I started thinking about all the weird news stories I’ve heard in Tennessee. The porn/adult novelty store hold-up... the robbers who made their getaway in the Krispy-Kreme delivery truck. Stuff like that. So…I’ve got a couple of hapless pill pushers on an increasingly absurd crime spree across east Tennessee. It should be funny.
So...that's what I have planned for right now. Didn't do much today. I keep putting off making the appointment for the biopsy. But I sort of need to do that.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Lady Bug, Lady Bug
Fly away home!
Your house is on fire
and your children will all burn.
But the lady bugs arrived today. Which means the weather is about to turn cold. They swarmed over everything on my porch. They will gradually try to work their way into the walls of the house and the doors of the jeep. They will give off an unpleasant odor. Right now, they are still pretty and red, but they will turn a sort of dull orange. What is welcome in the summer, becomes a pest when winter draws near.
The wind started howling today. Perhaps it was this wind that blew the lady bugs to shelter. But it is a strange dry wind. I'm used to the big clouds and rain coming across the mountain when the wind blows...but this dryness is parching.
I want to thank everyone who prayed and wished well for the Babies' return. We should also probably pray for whoever it was that took them. I'm not sure what sort of dreadful poverty of spirit caused them to take them in the first place. But it must be very painful to live with that sort of meanness in one's heart. I'm very glad they are back.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I stayed in bed a long time this morning. I don't think I felt well enough to rise until almost noon, and when I did, I could barely walk. Such is life with the Red Wolf. When emotion overflows to the point of overwhelming, as this past week has done, the Red Wolf comes out to play and gnaws on the bones of the living. He is particularly fond of my bones.
First I took a shower and stood under the hot water as long as I could bear it. I put on my crippled pants and shirt...the things I wear when my range of movement is so restricted that I can't handle buttons and zippers. I knew I was going to probably collapse onto the couch and lay there for the rest of the day. But life wasn't quite done chewing on me.
I hobbled out onto the front porch and looked toward the pasture.
The Babies were there. They were back. They had either escaped from where they were being restrained or whoever had taken them had gotten spooked and brought them back. They looked at me with sad eyes and said nothing.
"Ickle Goats!!!" I cried joyously at them and limped out to them.
They were back, but they were thinner, dying of thirst and stank of ketosis. They were also very leery and looked at my two legged form with suspicion. Wherever they were being held, they were not fed or watered properly and were treated roughly. That much was clear. Goats returning from the wild wood would have been fat and would have smelled of leaf mold and pine needles. Not stale urine and starvation. And besides, my Babies would not have been able to stay away that long had they not been locked up somewhere.
Two things happened that probably facilitated their return. Betsy, The Goat Yoda, went to the stock yard yesterday for me and talked with some of the employees about the theft. And this morning, the local paper had a report titled, "Nubian Goats on the Lam", about the theft.
I forced myself to load them up in the Jeep and took them to Betsy's for safe keeping. It's just nuts. I have over 20 acres and I'm having to board my livestock thanks to the whackadoodles harassing me. It was really heartbreaking to listen to BossyToe screaming like a toddler as I walked away. But at least they will be safe there.
So, the Babies are back!
And that is indeed occasion for a Happy Sunday.
I must go lay down now.
Friday, November 02, 2007
These are native American persimmons growing down the road from me. They are much smaller than the Asian ones and a good bit sweeter. Persimmons tend to ripen right after the first freeze, though these small native ones seem to get ripe around this time of year even without a frost. If you are familiar with persimmons, then you know the dreadful experience of biting into one that has not ripened.
These native persimmon trees are much visited in the fall by possums and other small animals. I had a stand of them out back of my little farm in Atlanta that a huge possum used to live in.
Persimmon pudding was a very typical colonial period dessert. I think you could make it with the Asian persimmons available in the markets, though there will be a less persimmon-y taste to it.
This is one of my grandmother's recipes.
1 quart ripe persimmons
3/4 cup brown sugar firmly packed
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
heavy cream for topping
Work persimmons through a sieve, and measure one cup of persimmon pulp. Combine with sugar, milk and butter. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir into persimmon pulp until smooth. Pour into 1 and 1/2 quart baking dish and bake in a 325 oven until pudding pulls away from the sides of the dish ( approximately one hour). Serve hot or cold topped with heavy cream.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Just checking in. I'm taking a little break to do some light journaling after this past month's grueling story schedule. I'll be spending some time over on EditRed fine tuning some things and getting some feedback from my peers. You can visit that page if you want to read the stories all the way through without the breaks.
In really good news....I now have a brand new baby great-nephew! His name is Cliff and he was born on Halloween! How great is that! Cake AND candy on your birthday! I have such amazing memories of my great aunts when I was growing up that I'm thrilled to be a great auntie.
I do have some very sad news. The entire kid herd was stolen from the property on Monday while I was at the vet's office with Fat Buddy. I was hoping that perhaps they had slipped the fence while I was gone and would show back up here, but it now looks as if they were indeed stolen. I'm not sure exactly what sort of amazingly evil bastard could do such a thing. But, I guess the temptation of beating up on an impoverished disabled woman with failing kidneys was just too attractive a proposition to pass up.
So...BossyToe, Bridey, Phoebe, Vivi, Blanche and Rose are gone. I'm really heartbroken. All of you were right here while I kidded them all and sat up nights with them when they were sick.
And, unfortunately I just don't have the resources to do anything about it right now with 20 bucks to get through the next three weeks. Hopefully, they will leave me alone now long enough so I can finish getting my house packed up so I can get it on the market.