Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Middle West

Fall is Church Supper Time in rugged rural Missouri; praise the Lord for ham, potato salad, slaw, green beans, white beans (savory not sweet, just as I would make them; my friend Ace ate two plates full); best homemade applesauce ever, coffee, iced tea and homemade desserts, served by the friendliest Midwesterners. Ace asked the dessert table people special permission to eat two desserts (lemon pie; pumpkin pie sans Reddi-wip). Cost of meal $9 for adults; I bought. Some churches charge only a "free will offering." Note "The Middle East" biblical-era and modern maps tacked up behind the people; obviously Bible-study material. The most important part of any church is its basement. Rather go there than any restaurant.

Do you ever attend church suppers in your area? People were so glad to see us strangers they showed us photos of their grandchildren. This particular church is far out of the way, in the remains of a tiny town alongside the train tracks. In fall the Catholic church raffles off a live pig; I never buy a chance because I'm afraid I'll win. Another church has a whole-pig roast, and yet another church an awesome pork sausage dinner; that's the one they pour you a glass of milk at table. In spring, fried fish at Lenten church suppers is so good it just about converts me.


What is it in our spirits that makes us all excited to see a new fawn? The new deer were born in July, two of them, to the deer family that's been on the Divine 100 acres since I moved here 10 years ago, whom I see and meet now and then in the woods, but just the other afternoon I saw the new babies walking down the lane, and then, as I tried to get a better photo, they skip-hopped into the cedar hollow. Here's one of the pair. I love the details: the elegant hooves, the dark sweet nose,white freckles, skinny legs. They're twins, so when they pass it's like seeing double.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Th*ngs Demetrius Used to Say

  • "I'm so glad people are much more polite to me than I am to them."
  • "I speak on the phone. Others yack on the phone."
  • "Quit asking; I can't just pull it out of my a**"
  • "What kind of a sheeny outfit are you people running here, anyway? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves."
  • (When asked why he did not clean the bathroom) "I don't perceive it as dirty."
  • (When asked if he would throttle a baby bunny) "Only if it was bothering me."
  • "Bring me food."
  • "I did not call you stupid. I said, 'Why are you behaving stupidly?'"
  • "Everyone should wake up in the morning and ask, 'What can I do for Demetrius today?'"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Advice for Single Ladies

To all the girls who are in a rush to have a boyfriend or get married, a piece of Biblical advice: "Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz." While you are waiting on YOUR Boaz, don’t settle for any of his relatives: Broke-az, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheating-az, Dumb-az, Drunk-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, Goodfornothing-az, Lazy-az, and especially his cousin Beatinyo-az. Wait for your Boaz and make sure he respects Yoaz.  -attributed to Hubert Brandon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

They Say These Things Smell....

I met a muskrat today in a swimmin'-hole type area in LaBarque Creek that is otherwise mostly dry--the drought continues--and was surprised because I'd never seen a muskrat in the creek before, common as they are in Missouri. Beavers, yes; snapper turtles, yes; water snakes yes; egrets and herons, yes; muskrats, no. Maybe about eight inches long not counting a long black tail. Nibbling on leaves attached to some vines, he or she ignored me until I switched the camera to video, making a "bing" noise, and splash, off swam my photographic prey, paddling a bit (pictured), then as I cried, "Hey, wait!" it dove and fled like a torpedo. Walked about a quarter mile farther up the road and turned back, and found him/her again, nibbling on leaves. I fussed with the camera, got 13 seconds of video, just so you could see it really swims and it's real, and then moved to get closer and maybe sniff that famous musk--and splash, it swam under water someplace inaccessible. Camera shy. Next time I will look for its lodge and will commandingly say to it, "Take me to your leader." They say the trappers liked its fur and the peak time to trap and collect them is in December, doubtless right after the office party.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I'll Show You Happiness

It struck me as I set up to make a tomato sandwich: "I am happy. This is happiness."

What's not to love? It's Saturday. There's a fresh loaf of white bread and two perfectly ripe huge tomatoes, and two Vidalia onions. I've got kitchen tools, spatulas, whisks, strainers, measuring cups,and I love each one in a different way and totally, and nobody will ever know how much. By the tomatoes is a can of Ann Page nutmeg, souvenir from the days of A&P grocery stores; I've got 1950s copper-toned canisters for sugar and rice. My mom had the same set in silver tone. It's sunny outside. It's morning. I've got a propane stove that works, and a knife. God knows there have been times when I needed a knife and didn't have one. There's mayo in the fridge, basil the best herb in the world is growing in a pot outside and going into the sandwich. Nobody's yelling at me or nagging me. I ain't dead yet. I have health insurance and a CCW. Yeah, there's quite a few miles on me, no spring chicken, but nothing is hurting me. I have inspirations. I have friends and one of 'em was game enough to accompany me to a night of cage fights and another of 'em is planning a canoe trip for us, and I'm going to an antique tractor pull and have my own car to get there. I just paid my monthly bills. I found Chock Full o' Nuts Organic Coffee online and ordered a case. Tomorrow I'm on the road to see my special person; later in the month I'll fly to visit my mom for her birthday. It's not always so, but right now I know how lucky I am and I'm grateful.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Never Give Up

Sure the birdbath bowl was badly cracked (see August 30) so I bought a new bowl at a concrete works, and the birds gratefully took baths and drinks, but that old, more artistic bowl, considering I couldn't move it except to flip it over, sat there and I thought, I hate to give up, I hate to give up, so for the fourth time, to the hardware store. I simply confessed to the clerk: "I'm trying to fix a concrete birdbath. Nothing works," and she led me to concrete putty stuff and DAP quick-crete. I patched a big chip at the bowl's rim with the putty stuff. Bet you can't find the patch in the picture! (It's at the 11 o'clock point.) Then all gloved up, with much unskill I laid readymixed QuikCrete on with a trowel and let it dry overnight. The next morning I poured water into it. IT HELD. Glory be! Some spots were not quite perfectly covered. so I applied a second coat just now, with great skill and in five minutes. When it's dry I'll sand it a bit and find somebody to help me lift it onto the pedestal, and it will be just like old days for the birds and me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Joys of the Rural Mailbox

Having a rural mailbox was the deciding factor in me moving to the country 10 years ago. It's a Pandora's box of joy and mystery. Six days a week someone puts surprises in it. Never know what I'll get. Oh, some items aren't fun, but golly, I've unlatched my box--so much better than those mean little slots in the city--to find checks, postcards, packages, magazines, personal letters...and they just keep a-coming. Whether I'm good or bad, I get mail just the same. Everyone gets mail. It is a type of unconditional love. I love my mailbox as others love a pet. I have walked downhill to it in steaming hot sun, or in starlight, or heavy snow, either to pick up mail or-- this is really neat--put mail INTO my box, up the little red flag and have it taken away! Ten years later, I have not gotten over how great this is, and the only extra I could ever want is a mailing address that says "Rural Route," or, better, "Star Route." Maybe someday.

Yes, these boxes pose challenges. I have to step into the road to get my mail. Others have it worse and have to actually cross the road to their boxes. For me it's a long walk down and a steep one back up. Sometimes, if I've put the flag up, I use binoculars to check it. Mail gets baked, or soaked if the boxes rust or leak, or the latch gets iced shut or fails and the box hangs open like a mouth right on the highway where anybody could reach in (and sometimes, desperate people do), or kids in cars bash them with baseball bats. But I LOVE my mailbox. When the flag won't stay up I repair it (with duct tape). When it's warped I hammer it back into shape. I love all rural mailboxes. But my own I love with a passion that is unlike any other. Mine used to have morning glories twining up its post; divine; after 2002 and the cliff-blasting and road widening, no more. Still I love it just as much. Photo is of a box down the road with natural, native Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa) growing up on it right now. Prettier than mine. But so what.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"People Who Never Wear Clothes"

In Girl Scout camp I told the counselors I wanted to become a naturalist. They kind of looked at each other, and one explained, "Those are people who never wear clothes." Embarrassed, I forgot about becoming a naturalist. But they had confused that word with "naturist," another name for nudist. Moral of the story: When you talk to children about their futures, know what you are talking about, especially when you are a camp counselor and an eight-year-old tells you she wants to be a naturalist.

I became a naturalist anyway, and along the road (wearing clothes, mind you) found orchid-shaped, beautiful mauve-and maroon-colored blossoms I couldn't find in the Ozark wildflower field guide, which is arranged by flower color. Color is tricky: different soils produce different shades and intensities, and these could be  described as red, pink, purple, blue, or even brown flowers. I finally said, "Maybe it's not native," but, unable to stand a mystery, went back and plucked a blossom to study it further. No dice. Gave up. On another walk I saw it again, this time with its fruit attached and intact: a bean.

Pleased to tell you this wildly lovely flower is a Wild Bean (Strophostyles helvula) and a native plant. And it's in the field guide, but shown only with the bean!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Daddy's in Love

Looked to me like this daddy-long-legs is having a loving moment with the scrub brush that has all those marvelous bright green legs. These two seem very very cozy, if you know what I mean...But I'm not one to gossip, so you didn't hear it from ME... The scrub brush later told the potato scrubber that they were just friends...but you know how scrub brushes are; when was the last time one of them told you the truth? Bless their hearts.