DOUGHNUTS

DOUGHNUTS

                Yesterday, my daughter and I went to our local farm market/grocery for our weekly supply of fruit, vegetables, meat, and whatever we needed. The smell of fresh-baked cider doughnuts tantalized us we walked across the parking lot to the store.

                The smell prompted a memory.

All summer my dad worked tirelessly to fill the hayloft with enough fresh hay to winter the fifty to sixty animals that depended on him. In the fall he cut corn silage and filled the silo. Then satisfied that everyone would be fed, he could relax a little. There was always something that needed to be fixed or wood to be cut for the kitchen stove.

                Then on a cold rainy day, Mom and Dad would decide to make doughnuts.

                As a young girl, I remember coming into our farmhouse from school with the smell of doughnuts frying on the stove. My mother was at the kitchen cabinet rolling out the dough and punching them out with the doughnut cutter. Dad dropped them into the fat and flipped them over when they popped up with one side already brown. Done, he lifted them out and dropped them on a towel to absorb the extra grease.

By the end of the afternoon, there would be twelve dozen or more. Some stayed in the kitchen for eating during the next few days. The rest went into a large crock in the cellar where they stayed moist and delicious. Whenever my uncle came to visit or work (he was a plumber), he disappeared immediately into the cellar to come up with a couple of doughnuts.

                I loved the fresh hot doughnuts – crusty and so good. Just plain was fine, but I think Mom sometimes sprinkled some with confectioners sugar on some.

                Yes, as we left the market yesterday, the smell drew us directly to those cider doughnuts and we took some home with us.


		
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WEATHER: LIKE IT OR NOT

Last week my doors and windows were closed to keep the 90 to 100 degree heat and humidity outside. My AC ran from the time in the morning when the outside temp went above the indoor temp until they equaled again in the evening. Stepping outside was like stepping into a steam bath.

Today that is reversed. The doors and windows are still closed, but now the heat is on inside. Outside temp this late afternoon is 54. It is also raining.

Summer is waning. It feels like there were too few days to sit outside in warm air without feeling suffocated. We’ve not had the typically brown lawns of August.

We’ve had more than ample rain here on the East Coast, while our West has been suffering from a drought that’s allowed forest fires to rage. A friend of me has been kept inside nearly all summer, not from heat, but from smoke.

So…why am I complaining? Perhaps the weather is the one thing we can find fault with and not point the finger at anyone and claim it is their fault.

I fear our climate is changing and WE as the people of the earth are not taking responsibility. We are not choosing to do enough to moderate that change.

img037img_1743Remember the big oil problem of the 1970s. We talked about our opportunity to make big changes. Then the problem eased. WE went back to our old ways.

CHUM, A COW DOG

Last night, my son Taggart and I were talking about Chum, the cow dog that our family had when I was a child.

My dad had trained him as a cow dog. Chum used that training, but instinctively was much more than that. We regularly had 39 cows. We had a 40-stanchion barn, but the bull occupied one in the back corner. He did not roam outside with the cows.

It often appeared that Chum could count. If any animals were in sight when it was time to bring them to the barn, Dad would simply command Chum to “go get ‘em.” He would get behind the most distant cow and all of them moved toward the barn. Should one not wish to go, Chum ran up behind her and nipped at her heel. In no time the cow learned it was best to go with the others. If some were in the nearby woods, he would ferret them out. Nearly without exception all 39 cows would be rounded up and brought into pasture lot by the barn.

I remember a few times when the cows would come, but Chum didn’t return with them. It was then that Dad would discover a cow was missing. Chum was still searching for her. He would continue searching until Dad called him to come. Then they could search together. Usually that cow had thought the grass was better on the other side of the fence, broken through and strayed. Sometimes a neighbor would telephone that they had spotted our stray.

One summer when I was about ten or eleven, Dad asked if my cousin and I would go over to the woods with Chum to get the cows. He wanted to get an extra load of hay into the barn because rain was predicted. Norma and I agreed. We crossed the flat land. Chum tore ahead of us and was already up the hill beyond and heading into the woods.

Soon the cows came straggling out of the lane that led through the woods. Then we heard Chum bark. We followed the sound because we knew he’d only bark for a reason. We found him trying to persuade a cow with a new baby calf to go to the barn. That was futile.

I knew from Dad that the only way a cow with a calf would go was if the calf was forced to move. Norma and I began the long process of pushing and shoving the calf out of the woods with Chum’s help. As a self-designated protector, he wouldn’t leave me. It was three steps forward and two back. We’d push the baby a distance, mama would call, and the baby would turn back. It took us a long time before we were able to get them out in the open away from the woods.

About that time Dad was back with the hay and realized that we should be back too. He looked out the barn and saw the cows. A minute later he spied us on the edge of the woods. Soon the doodlebug with a wagon attached headed toward us. With the calf on the wagon with us, mama cow followed us to the barn.

Norm and I were proud of ourselves. Dad too. That calf, a female jersey we named Lady, grew up to become one of the best milkers in the barn.

A note: a dairy cow who is not relieved of its milk may get very sick. A calf cannot consume enough of the milk to prevent disease.

 

 

MOVING AND FORGETTING

I sat down to write a query about Herkimer “diamonds”. Then I read Laurie Buchanan’s post about moving and forgetting or leaving things – “mind-gnawing.”

We’d lived in the parsonage of my husband’s first church as pastor for about ten years. During that time we acquired some of the antiques that still make their home with me. When it came time to pack, the movers came and spent the day loading a 53-foot trailer.

The house was stripped. But on the lawn was our eight-foot heavy duty picnic table, and an antique cabbage slicer. The iron slicer was incredibly heavy. It stood about three feet high. Its purpose was to cut cabbage for animals. Although you could also make a lot of sauerkraut rather quickly. The movers said, “It won’t go in the trailer. It is packed tight.” What did we want to take? We opted for the picnic table being strapped tightly on the trailer doors.

As we drove away the cabbage slicer stood sadly alone on the porch.

During a winter move at another time, two boxes of wanted stuff, some music and my son’s shoes were shoved over to the boxes of trash we were leaving. Many, many times I have wished to have one antique music book with some silly songs in it that I loved, and have never seen printed elsewhere. My son got new shoes, but I have no idea what else was in that box.

Our first big move after four years of college was from a mobile home eight feet by forty-two feet. It required our car and a 6X8 U-Haul. From that city to our first church took a moderate-sized panel truck.

The most complicated move was to Warsaw, Poland. It only required we take personal items to live in a furnished apartment. However, we had to empty a two-story house with filled attic and basement, and my husband’s office. Some had to be sold, some packed for overseas, some to go to our new twenty-eight-foot square cabin. What was left was packed for storage.

In all of these moves I spent ample times waking to write notes, or moving something out of place to remind me of an idea.

 

Ancestors and Ordinary Lives

The more information I find on my ancestors, the more I realize that they lived the same ordinary lives as I do today.

No, they did not have cell phones, 3-D copying, a world-wide internet, or television which lets us see events in Russia or Britain or Thailand as it is happening. But do those things change our everyday life in our homes or communities.

I remember my great grandmother who always had delicious fresh baked cookies in a jar. She had a garden and chickens she cared for. After my great grandfather died,  her ordinary life continued.

Robert  Kitchell, my eighth great grandfather, was born in 1601 in Rolvenden, Kent, England. There he grew up and owned property. He married Margaret Scheaffe on July 21, 1632. A few years later he sold his land and goods. The Kitchell and Scheaffe families left England together on the ship “Arabella” (probably because they were Puritans who were not welcome in England). In New England they anchored in New Haven Colony. He was the first signer of the Guilford Compact, saying that the Puritans would remain together, while they still on board the ship.

Robert negotiated to purchase land with Squaw Sachem, Shaumpishuh, and settled in Guilford formerly Menuncatuck.

He served as an attorney for Mr. Scheaffe when a Mr. Bishop brought damages against Mr. Shaeffe due to his hogs damaging Mr. Bishop’s corn.

In 1666, Mr. Kitchell was elected to be commissioner at Guilford.

Robert’s and Margaret’s son, Samuel married Grace Pierson, Daughter of Rev. Abraham Pierson. The couple moved to Newark, New Jersey. Robert and Margaret decided to go with them. In Newark he purchased land from the Indians. In the history of Newark, Robert was called “the benefactor of Newark.” The family grew to be very influential in New Jersey.

So Robert and Margaret lived ordinary lives doing those things they thought best for their families.

I honor all those who have made me who I am in my ordinary life. I thank all those people who came before me and paved the way for my life.

Is that very different from wanting to pave the way for our children, when we become the ancestors.

MEN ARE PARTNERS IN PREGNANCY

I am past the age when I need to worry about pregnancy. I am not for ending a pregnancy on a whim, but neither should a man have control over any part of my body.

It seems to me that men are the biggest criers over Roe vs. Wade. Do they carry the baby?  Do they pay for the care of an unwanted child?

Do men not know how women get pregnant? Think about it. There are two facilitators for each and every pregnancy. Why are only women required to be punished?

Would men scream “unfair” if women demand that any man causing an unwanted pregnancy spend nine months in jail for their pleasure.

How about requiring a vasectomy? That doesn’t seem quite right though.

Perhaps the man should have to wear one of those fake pregnancy outfits for nine months.

I know there are many women who also decry Roe vs. Wade. I believe the biggest majority of women who get pregnant have a child without trauma.

Not all women are as fortunate. I went through three nine-month pregnancies. From them and a miscarriage, I had one live baby. The second stillbirth nearly over whelmed me mentally and emotionally. I survived because I had an exceedingly understanding husband. I do not believe I could have survived another pregnancy. What would I have done? I don’t know.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to make a decision.

Still when I hear the call to overturn Roe vs. Wade, I go back to asking where is the man in all this. For men, it is easy to say “every life is of value.” This includes the woman’s life, the one who must bear and care for that life.

 

JUNE:  A MONTH OF STRAWBERRIES & MEMORIES

 

I have a lone strawberry plant in my backyard which is doing its very best to give me the flavor of fresh-picked summer. So far I’ve had 12 berries, but more are on the way. It is a “forever” plant so throughout the next two months, I may find one or two bright red berries every few days to keep  that first warm berry taste in my mouth.

 

When I was a child on Dad’s farm, a few wild berries grew along the driveway. I watched them daily as they blossomed, formed green berries, and gradually turned red enough to pick. Wild berries are small, perhaps the size of my little fingernail, but twice as sweet as cultivated ones. If there were two berries or more, I’d share them with Mom and Dad. That very first taste made all that watching so worth it. It was the promise of more and of a sweet summer.

 

As an adult I continue to cherish the first taste of locally grown berries. Whether from my back yard, the Thursday farmers’ market or those from “pick your own farms,” they are a treasure.

 

When I have a dish of berries, I struggle deciding whether to make a biscuit shortcake, have them in a bowl with sugar, or just sit down and enjoy them one by one. It is a dilemma!