Thursday, November 22, 2007

Week 29: Giving Thanks

Goose is one hell of a tough bird.

What people may not realize about wild game is that it's not tender like the nice cuts of meat at the supermarket. It's tough, and you have to cook it the right way. A goose takes 25 minutes per pound, and at twelve pounds it took about five hours. Turkey might take five hours, but we're talking a twenty-pound turkey.

At any rate, tonight we had goose, squash, peas, greenbean casserole (honest to god, mom still had those damn French's Onions or whatever they are. Guess they never go bad), potatoes, apple-walnut-raisin stuffing (my idea--putting fruit in a goose sounded good), and for the first time real cranberries, not the stuff out of can.

To be honest, I still like the canned jelly better. I'll adapt.

Everything but the cranberries was local; do cranberries only grow in New England? And we had pumpkin pie made with real sugar pumpkins. But again, I still prefer the canned mush. I guess I'll get used to it.

But, seeing as today is Thanksgiving, this is what I'm thankful for:
  • my family, especially my husband
  • I'm still employed
  • we still have our house
  • that Pennsylvania has a lot of farms
  • that I'm still a pretty-good shot with a rifle.
I know, there are other things. But I just feel grateful that I think we can make it through the winter. I don't think it'll be easy, but we can do it.

November can be a dreary month, especially when it rains. We just sit at the computer, checking patents, breaking for lunch, breaking for dinner. We try to get the week's work done in about three days, so that we have four days off. The company pays us by the work we do, not by the hours, so it makes sense.

So we spend our days trying to fill the time. I've started crocheting again; I used to do it as a teenager, but never kept up with it after I went to college. Just wasn't that interested, and besides, I can always buy a sweater--why make one?


So I'm trying to make a blanket, but I'm not very good at it. I keep having to unravel and start again. And it's only one color--I can't really do much else.

To be honest, I'm bored.

Survival--when we're talking about just getting through the day, when every day will be the same--when survival means "here, eat this canned food that you've been eating every day this week"--when survival means you don't go to the movies anymore or buy CDs anymore because that money's going towards the heating bill, and besides, there aren't any movies being made and the theaters are mostly closed, except for the occasional repertory theater--when survival means just getting through the damn day, it can be pretty damn boring.

Maybe the depression's just getting to me. I've been off my medication for months now, and while sometimes I'm too busy to feel anything, there are other times--and I know the winter will be like this--other times when I despair.

And I still can't figure out what to give Den for Christmas. I dunno, I guess I'll crochet something. Last year, I bought him a Playstation.

Omnia vanitas...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Week 28: Baby, It's Cold Outside

November comes, and with it the frost.

I remember the Thanksgiving when I was ten; that was 1989. It snowed on Thanksgiving Day, and I remember being both thrilled with the snow, and a little mad that it hadn't come earlier and given us an extra-long vacation.

Now, of course, I'm hoping the snow won't come early this year. Last year, I don't think we got snow until January, but then again, last year it was in the 60s on Christmas. Bleh.

So it's cold. Not dead-of-winter cold, but cold nonetheless. And Den and I are trying to think of ways to keep warm.

Our house, being old, uses radiator heat. The system was updated before we bought the place--new water tank, etc.--and supposedly it's more efficient than gas heating hot air. Problem is, we're still relying on gas. Natural gas, unlike oil, supposedly hasn't peaked yet, but it's a matter of time. On the plus side, our windows are new, the roof over our heads is good, and we added insulation in the attic when we moved in.

Still, I hope we can get through the winter like we have the last couple of winters--turn the dial back to 65°, wear sweaters, and when it's really cold, huddle. Heh.

In other news, we finally got Kate off to Reading. Den and I drove her down to King of Prussia, where a Greyhound terminal is still operating. It was the day after Halloween--Samhain, November 1. Old Irish new year, a time of ghosts and all that.

According to my stepfather, in the old days you didn't get candy at Halloween, you got cans of food and whatnot. It was more like begging door-to-door. Well, everything old is new again, I guess. Kids came in costumes, and we gave "treats"--raisins, oatmeal cookies (made with honey not sugar), and a few lucky kids got caramel apples.

If I was a kid, I'd be pissed. But the parents looked happy.

The next day, we drove Kate down.

"You'll call me when you get in, right?"

"Don't worry, Mary. It's Greyhound, not an airplane."

"I know. But you'll call, right?"


Den asked, "Do you think they'll finally reopen the Reading-Philadelphia line?"

"Pfft. They've been talking about it for ten years. If this doesn't do it, nothing will," I said.

The bus started it's engine. "Be careful, Kate."

"You too."

And with that, the bus pulled out of the terminal. I followed it, down to the street, down to 202, and I watched it pull away over the horizon and out of site, like ships at sea, like all those people who sailed to the New World, leaving friends and family behind, into the great unknown.

Den put his arm around me. We went back to the car and headed home.

She did eventually call. She's with her family now in Reading, trying to figure out what to do with herself.

I just hope I get to see her again.

Finally, a brief couple of things. The garden did OK, but not as great as I would've hoped. I got some tomatoes, some peppers, but animals ate some of my tomato plants, and I know someone stole the carrots--they were pulled right out of the ground. I guess I dozed off. I've guarded it off and on--I rigged up a system where the lights go on in the garden, and sets off a buzzer in the bedroom, but sometimes I'm too slow to catch the thief.

Still, we've stocked a lot of food, and my folks' garden did great, as did my stepbrother. So hopefully we can mooch off of them to some extent. Sounds bad, but we're offering something in return:

  • Den's relatively young and strong, and can chop firewood; so can I.
  • I'm a good shot with a gun. I've been going out and hunting wild game for meat--geese, rabbits, deer.

There aren't a whole lot of deer around, though--I think they've been pretty picked over. But there always seems to be more Canadian geese.

The funny thing, is that I remember this one Christmas when I was seventeen. I'd gotten it into my head that we should have a "Dickensian Christmas". So my mom, humoring me I guess, got us a goose from Zerns (she also got a turkey--smart thinking), and I found recipies for chestnut stuffing and plum pudding. Well, we found out a few things:
  • geese don't have a lot of meat on them. A lot of fat, but not a lot of meat.
  • chestnuts explode if you don't cut slits in them.
  • plum pudding has a hell of a lot of ingredients, and yet no plums, just apricots.
So we're back to eating geese. Tough birds, but at least they're currently abundant and free.

So. We're a week from Thanksgiving, and I've got some work--some hunting--to do. Be writing again soon, I hope.