Riding with Duffy

 

With a thank you nod to good neighboring…

 

 

Until we bought the farm my experience with living the rural life had been pretty much limited to Sunday rides in the country with my Grandfather, who had some acreage that others farmed where we could generally get corn in season; or we might ride out to a great-uncle’s place for honey. Several times I “helped” grow a “Victory” garden with my godmother, Anne, long after WWll was over.  I always loved being outdoors, and especially enjoyed anything to do with gardening. At a very young age my ambition was to be a botanist, and I had a pretty good wildflower collection; but real “hands on” country living was beyond my ken.

 

I was always a voracious reader, though, and used the time that seemed to come in 20 minute increments when my children were small to absorb every word of Rodale’s Organic Gardener, Ruth Stout’s mulch gardening, Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Gardening, and riding the crest of the wave of the first great Green Earth Movement of the 60’s & 70’s, the Mother Earth News, wherein I learned how to make a circular firewood stack and homemade granola, both very time consuming, but highly satisfying when done.

 

Since we had decided to raise only Christmas trees and our garden on our newly purchased farm I really had nothing in the way of livestock experience except memories of repeatedly sliding off the back of an old mare on my father’s family farm, and of once beating a very hasty retreat when confronted by one of my father-in-law’s 400 lb. sows. I still don’t have much background with livestock, but I’m pretty good at picking up vibes from animals, both two- and four- footed, and that sow had trouble on her mind… and she woofed at me! She didn’t have to do it twice… I was outta there.  The folks back at the house had a good laugh at my expense, but then, as now, I’m convinced that discretion is indeed the better part of valor, and that living to fight another day is important. Anyhow, when we moved to the country I was determined to demonstrate that I could make the cut as one of those strong country women, like Olan in “The Good Earth”, a long time heroine of mine.

 

I did make lots of round stacks of firewood, about 8’ across and 5’ high, and they were beautiful; the copperheads loved them. We grew a garden and my father-in-law taught me to can, and many summer days when it was too hot to garden were spent in the kitchen canning, sans air conditioning in those days, ably abetted by my mother, herself I think a closet “Olan”. The perspiration level over the canning operation was such that we didn’t need to add salt from the shaker to the product. We often put cucumber peels on our foreheads and shoulders to cool off, and when the beautiful jars were all done we would load everybody into the car (a ’55 VW sunroof beetle) and drive to the creek for a cool down.

 

Note: I think the closest I have ever come to committing homicide was during a red hot August canning season, putting up our 5 cases of tomatoes, when an insurance salesman looked at me all sweaty and covered with tomato juice & cucumber peels and said “ And do you work?”

 

Anyway, when we finally moved to the farm full time, I ran headlong to embrace the country experience, so when my next door neighbor asked one hot summer day if I’d like to ride with her to pick up two live chickens at Jim Clanton’s farm, I said “Sure!” She had a red Ford Fiesta, carrying capacity like a VW Beetle on steroids. I got in the passenger seat. Her two year old nephew stood between the two front seats and operated the radio, heating & cooling controls, (seat belts & child seats were still novelty items) and her 4 year old daughter was in the back seat chattering away. We set off enjoying a different radio station every few seconds and alternately being heated and cooled til we reached the Clanton chicken houses.

 

The owner could only be described as a crusty fellow, but he was very fond of my neighbors, and good to share the fruits of his labors with them. He invited us into the chicken house. I’d never seen anything like it in my life… a gazillion chickens milling around at 100 degrees, waiting to be delivered up to Holly Farms or somesuch, and probably looking forward to the cool highway breeze. The ammonia aroma of a ripe chicken house is an unforgettable thing, and made my neighbors’ hog operation seem as pleasant as jasmine. We waded thru the teeming masses following Jim, who carried a stick with a loop on the end, which turned out to be a chicken-lasso. He hunted for just the right bird (they all looked the same to me) and zup! slipped the loop around a foot as slick as anything, lassoed another, then said in a terse low mumble “One for her too,” nodding in my general direction, & zupped up another. He tied the three chickens’ legs together with a string, & carried them to the car for us. We thanked him profusely, (me just beginning to wonder what in the hell I’d gotten myself into), and he laid them on the deck under the rear window of the Fiesta.

 

After the requisite exchange of pleasantries and local tidbits of gossip, we were on the road again, Travis, the two-year old, running the heater & radio; the 4-year old chattering away in the back seat; & the three chickens on the back deck, tied together at the ankle, every now and then all leaping into the air & clucking away (which sounds easy, but if you think about it, can’t have been).

 

At this point my neighbor said “I need to stop by the pet store”. and so we proceeded south to Sprouses Corner where she pulled in at the pet shop. She and her daughter disappeared inside, and came back a short while later with a beer flat containing 3 guinea pigs. They more or less settled in the back seat, with Lucy, the 4-year old, valiantly trying to keep them from escaping, just like putting toothpaste back in the tube...

 

One more short stop for a few groceries and we were on our way home, wind in our hair, heat and radio running full blast, guinea pigs making mostly futile attempts to escape their box, and every few minutes, like some bizarre-o demonstration of synchronized swimming, three chickens clucking and leaping high in the air in entrechats that would have made Nijinsky weep with joy.

 

We were only about 40 minutes from home, but in the 30-odd years since, the memory of that ride has never failed to bring a grin.

 

My neighbor was absolutely unfazed by it all, acting as though she ferried Noah’s Ark up and down the highway everyday; and when we arrived home at last she headed in to put on a large kettle of water, asking if I’d like to process my chicken there, too?

 

My mental brakes screeched… What? Process my chicken? My whole mind went into overdrive attempting to fathom what exactly “process your chicken” might mean, except for that 5.5% of my mind I had left in charge of making sure my coolth showed that I “processed” chickens every day, sometimes twice on Sundays.

 

About this time my neighbor’s husband Bob passed thru, axe in hand, headed for the back door & his two chickens. He glanced back at me & said “Want me to kill yours for you, too?” My soul was shouting “Kill my chicken!!! Dear God, yes! I will crawl across a hot burning desert if you will kill my chicken for me…” Instead I managed to croak “Yes, please…”

 

A grisly hour or so later I headed home with my trophy. It was, in the vein of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” a G.L.E.*, and I was grateful, to neighbors who could be gracious enough to show a townie the ropes without collapsing on the floor in gales of laughter; and to the crusty old farmer who donated  the chicken, which I kept in the freezer for nearly a year before I could make up my mind to eat it. After all, it had been a boon traveling companion…

 

*Great Learning Experience: my life is filled with these…

 

 

A little history here: when I was first married I could make coffee and soup and bake bread, and that was my entire repertoire. I had failed Spam-frying miserably by failing to rinse the soap off the frying pan the only time I was asked to try it. After that, my family found other things for me to do. (They were always finding other things for me to do. I failed laundry when my little sister got her hand caught in the wringer and the only control I knew how to use was “reverse”. It worked  tho’ it took us a while to get her ring off.)  Anyway… 

 

The first time I cooked dinner for my husband, I had asked him what he’d like & he said “Fried chicken.”

 

 I had eaten a lot of it… how hard could it be? Then I realized I would have to actually handle this raw chicken with my bare hands. I picked up each piece holding the least slimy corner and gingerly floured the naked fowl; then poured troop- issue cottonseed oil from the commissary into our brand spanking new wedding gift electric skillet, and set it, per directions on the handle, for “fry chicken=375degrees”. An hour later, the chicken was still pink… and SOGGY! I kept making test cuts for doneness til it was in fact shredded chicken, short on crisp and long on grease and tough as rubber. It was a long, long time before I had a request for fried chicken again.

 

Nevertheless, as time went by I continued to work on my culinary skills… My husband was an avid hunter, and our deal was whatever it was, if he’d clean it, I’d cook it. He brought in fish & pheasants & venison and lots of ducks, all nicely cleaned & oven ready. But one time he came in tired, bringing with him a couple of wild ducks. He handed them over to my tender ministrations.

 

I thought there was something different about them, but Robert knew what he was doing, so I took them without question, stuffed in some orange and onion and put a little bacon on the breasts & put them in a hot oven in our Navy housing apartment. Half an hour later smoke was pouring out of my oven, tears were pouring out of our eyes, and neighbors were pouring out of the five other apartments in our building. Bill, our resident Marine, said “Bets, what in the hell are you cooking in there?” Turns out our perfect “you clean, I’ll cook” deal made no fine-print mention of whose duty it was to cut off the feathered feet… 

 

All six displaced families gathered on the building stoop. Somebody found some cookies and Kool-Aid for the kids, and somebody else a jug of wine & we made a convivial neighborhood event of it, & waited for the smoke to clear.

 

Again…thank God for good neighbors…

 

 

Riding with Duffy

 

With a thank you nod to good neighboring…

 

 

Until we bought the farm my experience with living the rural life had been pretty much limited to Sunday rides in the country with my Grandfather, who had some acreage that others farmed where we could generally get corn in season; or we might ride out to a great-uncle’s place for honey. Several times I “helped” grow a “Victory” garden with my godmother, Anne, long after WWll was over.  I always loved being outdoors, and especially enjoyed anything to do with gardening. At a very young age my ambition was to be a botanist, and I had a pretty good wildflower collection; but real “hands on” country living was beyond my ken.

 

I was always a voracious reader, though, and used the time that seemed to come in 20 minute increments when my children were small to absorb every word of Rodale’s Organic Gardener, Ruth Stout’s mulch gardening, Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Gardening, and riding the crest of the wave of the first great Green Earth Movement of the 60’s & 70’s, the Mother Earth News, wherein I learned how to make a circular firewood stack and homemade granola, both very time consuming, but highly satisfying when done.

 

Since we had decided to raise only Christmas trees and our garden on our newly purchased farm I really had nothing in the way of livestock experience except memories of repeatedly sliding off the back of an old mare on my father’s family farm, and of once beating a very hasty retreat when confronted by one of my father-in-law’s 400 lb. sows. I still don’t have much background with livestock, but I’m pretty good at picking up vibes from animals, both two- and four- footed, and that sow had trouble on her mind… and she woofed at me! She didn’t have to do it twice… I was outta there.  The folks back at the house had a good laugh at my expense, but then, as now, I’m convinced that discretion is indeed the better part of valor, and that living to fight another day is important. Anyhow, when we moved to the country I was determined to demonstrate that I could make the cut as one of those strong country women, like Olan in “The Good Earth”, a long time heroine of mine.

 

I did make lots of round stacks of firewood, about 8’ across and 5’ high, and they were beautiful; the copperheads loved them. We grew a garden and my father-in-law taught me to can, and many summer days when it was too hot to garden were spent in the kitchen canning, sans air conditioning in those days, ably abetted by my mother, herself I think a closet “Olan”. The perspiration level over the canning operation was such that we didn’t need to add salt from the shaker to the product. We often put cucumber peels on our foreheads and shoulders to cool off, and when the beautiful jars were all done we would load everybody into the car (a ’55 VW sunroof beetle) and drive to the creek for a cool down.

 

Note: I think the closest I have ever come to committing homicide was during a red hot August canning season, putting up our 5 cases of tomatoes, when an insurance salesman looked at me all sweaty and covered with tomato juice & cucumber peels and said “ And do you work?”

 

Anyway, when we finally moved to the farm full time, I ran headlong to embrace the country experience, so when my next door neighbor asked one hot summer day if I’d like to ride with her to pick up two live chickens at Jim Clanton’s farm, I said “Sure!” She had a red Ford Fiesta, carrying capacity like a VW Beetle on steroids. I got in the passenger seat. Her two year old nephew stood between the two front seats and operated the radio, heating & cooling controls, (seat belts & child seats were still novelty items) and her 4 year old daughter was in the back seat chattering away. We set off enjoying a different radio station every few seconds and alternately being heated and cooled til we reached the Clanton chicken houses.

 

The owner could only be described as a crusty fellow, but he was very fond of my neighbors, and good to share the fruits of his labors with them. He invited us into the chicken house. I’d never seen anything like it in my life… a gazillion chickens milling around at 100 degrees, waiting to be delivered up to Holly Farms or somesuch, and probably looking forward to the cool highway breeze. The ammonia aroma of a ripe chicken house is an unforgettable thing, and made my neighbors’ hog operation seem as pleasant as jasmine. We waded thru the teeming masses following Jim, who carried a stick with a loop on the end, which turned out to be a chicken-lasso. He hunted for just the right bird (they all looked the same to me) and zup! slipped the loop around a foot as slick as anything, lassoed another, then said in a terse low mumble “One for her too,” nodding in my general direction, & zupped up another. He tied the three chickens’ legs together with a string, & carried them to the car for us. We thanked him profusely, (me just beginning to wonder what in the hell I’d gotten myself into), and he laid them on the deck under the rear window of the Fiesta.

 

After the requisite exchange of pleasantries and local tidbits of gossip, we were on the road again, Travis, the two-year old, running the heater & radio; the 4-year old chattering away in the back seat; & the three chickens on the back deck, tied together at the ankle, every now and then all leaping into the air & clucking away (which sounds easy, but if you think about it, can’t have been).

 

At this point my neighbor said “I need to stop by the pet store”. and so we proceeded south to Sprouses Corner where she pulled in at the pet shop. She and her daughter disappeared inside, and came back a short while later with a beer flat containing 3 guinea pigs. They more or less settled in the back seat, with Lucy, the 4-year old, valiantly trying to keep them from escaping, just like putting toothpaste back in the tube...

 

One more short stop for a few groceries and we were on our way home, wind in our hair, heat and radio running full blast, guinea pigs making mostly futile attempts to escape their box, and every few minutes, like some bizarre-o demonstration of synchronized swimming, three chickens clucking and leaping high in the air in entrechats that would have made Nijinsky weep with joy.

 

We were only about 40 minutes from home, but in the 30-odd years since, the memory of that ride has never failed to bring a grin.

 

My neighbor was absolutely unfazed by it all, acting as though she ferried Noah’s Ark up and down the highway everyday; and when we arrived home at last she headed in to put on a large kettle of water, asking if I’d like to process my chicken there, too?

 

My mental brakes screeched… What? Process my chicken? My whole mind went into overdrive attempting to fathom what exactly “process your chicken” might mean, except for that 5.5% of my mind I had left in charge of making sure my coolth showed that I “processed” chickens every day, sometimes twice on Sundays.

 

About this time my neighbor’s husband Bob passed thru, axe in hand, headed for the back door & his two chickens. He glanced back at me & said “Want me to kill yours for you, too?” My soul was shouting “Kill my chicken!!! Dear God, yes! I will crawl across a hot burning desert if you will kill my chicken for me…” Instead I managed to croak “Yes, please…”

 

A grisly hour or so later I headed home with my trophy. It was, in the vein of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” a G.L.E.*, and I was grateful, to neighbors who could be gracious enough to show a townie the ropes without collapsing on the floor in gales of laughter; and to the crusty old farmer who donated  the chicken, which I kept in the freezer for nearly a year before I could make up my mind to eat it. After all, it had been a boon traveling companion…

 

*Great Learning Experience: my life is filled with these…

 

 

A little history here: when I was first married I could make coffee and soup and bake bread, and that was my entire repertoire. I had failed Spam-frying miserably by failing to rinse the soap off the frying pan the only time I was asked to try it. After that, my family found other things for me to do. (They were always finding other things for me to do. I failed laundry when my little sister got her hand caught in the wringer and the only control I knew how to use was “reverse”. It worked  tho’ it took us a while to get her ring off.)  Anyway… 

 

The first time I cooked dinner for my husband, I had asked him what he’d like & he said “Fried chicken.”

 

 I had eaten a lot of it… how hard could it be? Then I realized I would have to actually handle this raw chicken with my bare hands. I picked up each piece holding the least slimy corner and gingerly floured the naked fowl; then poured troop- issue cottonseed oil from the commissary into our brand spanking new wedding gift electric skillet, and set it, per directions on the handle, for “fry chicken=375degrees”. An hour later, the chicken was still pink… and SOGGY! I kept making test cuts for doneness til it was in fact shredded chicken, short on crisp and long on grease and tough as rubber. It was a long, long time before I had a request for fried chicken again.

 

Nevertheless, as time went by I continued to work on my culinary skills… My husband was an avid hunter, and our deal was whatever it was, if he’d clean it, I’d cook it. He brought in fish & pheasants & venison and lots of ducks, all nicely cleaned & oven ready. But one time he came in tired, bringing with him a couple of wild ducks. He handed them over to my tender ministrations.

 

I thought there was something different about them, but Robert knew what he was doing, so I took them without question, stuffed in some orange and onion and put a little bacon on the breasts & put them in a hot oven in our Navy housing apartment. Half an hour later smoke was pouring out of my oven, tears were pouring out of our eyes, and neighbors were pouring out of the five other apartments in our building. Bill, our resident Marine, said “Bets, what in the hell are you cooking in there?” Turns out our perfect “you clean, I’ll cook” deal made no fine-print mention of whose duty it was to cut off the feathered feet… 

 

All six displaced families gathered on the building stoop. Somebody found some cookies and Kool-Aid for the kids, and somebody else a jug of wine & we made a convivial neighborhood event of it, & waited for the smoke to clear.

 

Again…thank God for good neighbors…

 

 

Riding with Duffy

 

With a thank you nod to good neighboring…

 

 

Until we bought the farm my experience with living the rural life had been pretty much limited to Sunday rides in the country with my Grandfather, who had some acreage that others farmed where we could generally get corn in season; or we might ride out to a great-uncle’s place for honey. Several times I “helped” grow a “Victory” garden with my godmother, Anne, long after WWll was over.  I always loved being outdoors, and especially enjoyed anything to do with gardening. At a very young age my ambition was to be a botanist, and I had a pretty good wildflower collection; but real “hands on” country living was beyond my ken.

 

I was always a voracious reader, though, and used the time that seemed to come in 20 minute increments when my children were small to absorb every word of Rodale’s Organic Gardener, Ruth Stout’s mulch gardening, Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Gardening, and riding the crest of the wave of the first great Green Earth Movement of the 60’s & 70’s, the Mother Earth News, wherein I learned how to make a circular firewood stack and homemade granola, both very time consuming, but highly satisfying when done.

 

Since we had decided to raise only Christmas trees and our garden on our newly purchased farm I really had nothing in the way of livestock experience except memories of repeatedly sliding off the back of an old mare on my father’s family farm, and of once beating a very hasty retreat when confronted by one of my father-in-law’s 400 lb. sows. I still don’t have much background with livestock, but I’m pretty good at picking up vibes from animals, both two- and four- footed, and that sow had trouble on her mind… and she woofed at me! She didn’t have to do it twice… I was outta there.  The folks back at the house had a good laugh at my expense, but then, as now, I’m convinced that discretion is indeed the better part of valor, and that living to fight another day is important. Anyhow, when we moved to the country I was determined to demonstrate that I could make the cut as one of those strong country women, like Olan in “The Good Earth”, a long time heroine of mine.

 

I did make lots of round stacks of firewood, about 8’ across and 5’ high, and they were beautiful; the copperheads loved them. We grew a garden and my father-in-law taught me to can, and many summer days when it was too hot to garden were spent in the kitchen canning, sans air conditioning in those days, ably abetted by my mother, herself I think a closet “Olan”. The perspiration level over the canning operation was such that we didn’t need to add salt from the shaker to the product. We often put cucumber peels on our foreheads and shoulders to cool off, and when the beautiful jars were all done we would load everybody into the car (a ’55 VW sunroof beetle) and drive to the creek for a cool down.

 

Note: I think the closest I have ever come to committing homicide was during a red hot August canning season, putting up our 5 cases of tomatoes, when an insurance salesman looked at me all sweaty and covered with tomato juice & cucumber peels and said “ And do you work?”

 

Anyway, when we finally moved to the farm full time, I ran headlong to embrace the country experience, so when my next door neighbor asked one hot summer day if I’d like to ride with her to pick up two live chickens at Jim Clanton’s farm, I said “Sure!” She had a red Ford Fiesta, carrying capacity like a VW Beetle on steroids. I got in the passenger seat. Her two year old nephew stood between the two front seats and operated the radio, heating & cooling controls, (seat belts & child seats were still novelty items) and her 4 year old daughter was in the back seat chattering away. We set off enjoying a different radio station every few seconds and alternately being heated and cooled til we reached the Clanton chicken houses.

 

The owner could only be described as a crusty fellow, but he was very fond of my neighbors, and good to share the fruits of his labors with them. He invited us into the chicken house. I’d never seen anything like it in my life… a gazillion chickens milling around at 100 degrees, waiting to be delivered up to Holly Farms or somesuch, and probably looking forward to the cool highway breeze. The ammonia aroma of a ripe chicken house is an unforgettable thing, and made my neighbors’ hog operation seem as pleasant as jasmine. We waded thru the teeming masses following Jim, who carried a stick with a loop on the end, which turned out to be a chicken-lasso. He hunted for just the right bird (they all looked the same to me) and zup! slipped the loop around a foot as slick as anything, lassoed another, then said in a terse low mumble “One for her too,” nodding in my general direction, & zupped up another. He tied the three chickens’ legs together with a string, & carried them to the car for us. We thanked him profusely, (me just beginning to wonder what in the hell I’d gotten myself into), and he laid them on the deck under the rear window of the Fiesta.

 

After the requisite exchange of pleasantries and local tidbits of gossip, we were on the road again, Travis, the two-year old, running the heater & radio; the 4-year old chattering away in the back seat; & the three chickens on the back deck, tied together at the ankle, every now and then all leaping into the air & clucking away (which sounds easy, but if you think about it, can’t have been).

 

At this point my neighbor said “I need to stop by the pet store”. and so we proceeded south to Sprouses Corner where she pulled in at the pet shop. She and her daughter disappeared inside, and came back a short while later with a beer flat containing 3 guinea pigs. They more or less settled in the back seat, with Lucy, the 4-year old, valiantly trying to keep them from escaping, just like putting toothpaste back in the tube...

 

One more short stop for a few groceries and we were on our way home, wind in our hair, heat and radio running full blast, guinea pigs making mostly futile attempts to escape their box, and every few minutes, like some bizarre-o demonstration of synchronized swimming, three chickens clucking and leaping high in the air in entrechats that would have made Nijinsky weep with joy.

 

We were only about 40 minutes from home, but in the 30-odd years since, the memory of that ride has never failed to bring a grin.

 

My neighbor was absolutely unfazed by it all, acting as though she ferried Noah’s Ark up and down the highway everyday; and when we arrived home at last she headed in to put on a large kettle of water, asking if I’d like to process my chicken there, too?

 

My mental brakes screeched… What? Process my chicken? My whole mind went into overdrive attempting to fathom what exactly “process your chicken” might mean, except for that 5.5% of my mind I had left in charge of making sure my coolth showed that I “processed” chickens every day, sometimes twice on Sundays.

 

About this time my neighbor’s husband Bob passed thru, axe in hand, headed for the back door & his two chickens. He glanced back at me & said “Want me to kill yours for you, too?” My soul was shouting “Kill my chicken!!! Dear God, yes! I will crawl across a hot burning desert if you will kill my chicken for me…” Instead I managed to croak “Yes, please…”

 

A grisly hour or so later I headed home with my trophy. It was, in the vein of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” a G.L.E.*, and I was grateful, to neighbors who could be gracious enough to show a townie the ropes without collapsing on the floor in gales of laughter; and to the crusty old farmer who donated  the chicken, which I kept in the freezer for nearly a year before I could make up my mind to eat it. After all, it had been a boon traveling companion…

 

*Great Learning Experience: my life is filled with these…

 

 

A little history here: when I was first married I could make coffee and soup and bake bread, and that was my entire repertoire. I had failed Spam-frying miserably by failing to rinse the soap off the frying pan the only time I was asked to try it. After that, my family found other things for me to do. (They were always finding other things for me to do. I failed laundry when my little sister got her hand caught in the wringer and the only control I knew how to use was “reverse”. It worked  tho’ it took us a while to get her ring off.)  Anyway… 

 

The first time I cooked dinner for my husband, I had asked him what he’d like & he said “Fried chicken.”

 

 I had eaten a lot of it… how hard could it be? Then I realized I would have to actually handle this raw chicken with my bare hands. I picked up each piece holding the least slimy corner and gingerly floured the naked fowl; then poured troop- issue cottonseed oil from the commissary into our brand spanking new wedding gift electric skillet, and set it, per directions on the handle, for “fry chicken=375degrees”. An hour later, the chicken was still pink… and SOGGY! I kept making test cuts for doneness til it was in fact shredded chicken, short on crisp and long on grease and tough as rubber. It was a long, long time before I had a request for fried chicken again.

 

Nevertheless, as time went by I continued to work on my culinary skills… My husband was an avid hunter, and our deal was whatever it was, if he’d clean it, I’d cook it. He brought in fish & pheasants & venison and lots of ducks, all nicely cleaned & oven ready. But one time he came in tired, bringing with him a couple of wild ducks. He handed them over to my tender ministrations.

 

I thought there was something different about them, but Robert knew what he was doing, so I took them without question, stuffed in some orange and onion and put a little bacon on the breasts & put them in a hot oven in our Navy housing apartment. Half an hour later smoke was pouring out of my oven, tears were pouring out of our eyes, and neighbors were pouring out of the five other apartments in our building. Bill, our resident Marine, said “Bets, what in the hell are you cooking in there?” Turns out our perfect “you clean, I’ll cook” deal made no fine-print mention of whose duty it was to cut off the feathered feet… 

 

All six displaced families gathered on the building stoop. Somebody found some cookies and Kool-Aid for the kids, and somebody else a jug of wine & we made a convivial neighborhood event of it, & waited for the smoke to clear.

 

Again…thank God for good neighbors…