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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Fish Tales

My mom was born in 1929 in Blackshear, Georgia.  Her family moved to S. California back in the mid-30s in search of work.

When she was in her late teens or early 20s, I am not sure and she probably doesn't remember either, she got a job at a fish cannery down there.  Yeah, she worked in Cannery Row.

She can still tell tales of being called in the wee hours of the AM to go to work at the cannery because a fishing boat had come in to port.  She remembers about the gutters and the packers and how they had to put the fish into cans and send them on down the line.

She was a packer, I believe.

She remembers the stink of the fish.    Not even dementia can take that memory away.  Haha

When I was growing up on the coast of Northern California; Humboldt County I distinctly remember that even though we were on the coast where fresh fish was readily available, it was rare that we had it.  My mom's memories of the stink of fish in the cannery overpowered any reason to actually prepare the stuff for her family.  And I can remember quite clearly the only instances we actually had fish.

In the summers, from when I can first remember things up until I was maybe 8-ish, my uncles would come up to visit us.  Then they and my dad would suit up in hip-waders and take a surf-fishing net and head to the beach.  They would look so remarkably like the man in this random photo that I got off the 'net through Google, that it gives me a bit of a turn to look at it.  (This looks so amazingly like a spot there on the Humboldt Coast that I am going to have to go back and research this photo.  It was captioned; "Grandpa and fishing net")

Anyway.  If they had a good day fishing we would have buckets and buckets of small silver fish to process.  I can remember all of us taking a hand in beheading and gutting these weensy fish.  Then my mom would heat up the grease and coat and fry them.  I remember, even as a kid, they were the BEST.  We would freeze bags and bags of them to enjoy later.

I also remember that occasionally someone would give us a salmon.  Mom would usually bake it.  Those were yummy, too.  Except there was one time that someone gave us a salmon that had been upriver for too long or something because it tasted EXACTLY like a mouthful of mud would taste.  GROSS.  Mom would eat the salmon, but I don't think she ever enjoyed it much. 

And we ate breaded fish sticks from the store.  We had these quite often and I think that was because a fish stick from a cardboard box is so far removed from the real thing it barely has any smell let alone any resemblance to an actual fish.  My mom could stomach them.  Ha

We also, for some obscure reason seeing as how she didn't like canned fish, had a lot of canned tuna.  I did not grow up on peanut butter and jelly; I grew up on tuna fish sandwiches (w/ real mayo and dill pickles and lettuce) and chocolate milk made with the powder from a can.

There was one time; ONE time only, when we were given a couple of fresh crab.  My mom had NO CLUE how to prepare them or what to do with them.  I remember vaguely they were boiled in an enormous pot she drug out of the back of the cupboard and then we tried to eat them.  As I recall we had little idea which parts of the crab to eat and what I tasted was so disgusting I have never had it again.  

And that was the extent of my experience at home with fish.  I have VERY VERY VERY VERY rarely even cooked the stuff at all in my adult life.  With the obvious exception of tuna fish burgers....from a can of course.

Now Gary?  Gary loves fish!  He and his family used to go fishing here on the Niangua quite frequently; mostly every week in good weather.  They ate various sorts of fish all the time. 

And now from time to time we are given fish from neighbors and friends.  The first time we were given fresh fish I had no clue how to fix them.  I recall I ended up serving breaded half-raw fish to my husband.  He was a good sport about it; he usually always is, and told me how to actually make sure they are done.  LOL

So when a friend this past summer gave us fish we had a fish fry.  That time my sister-in-law fried it up.  But  we still have some in the freezer.  So Gary had been pestering me to thaw it out and cook it.  So I finally did here a couple of days ago.





This actually is spoon bill; given to us by a different friend than gave us the fish fry fish. 

I used almond flour and seasonings for this spoon bill, fried it up just right and it was DEE-LISH.  Even Ellen liked it.  We didn't have much leftover. 

(Thankful for: Generous friends, free food, something different for supper)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Faerie Spring in Winter

The Faerie Spring is an enchanting place to visit in the spring; flowers, laughing water, fresh green leaves whispering in the wind, cheery birds...you get the picture.

But the past couple of years since I discovered it, I have wondered what the Faerie Spring is like in the winter.

This past week Bella and I took a long walk to find out.  I had piles of laundry to do, but I took one look into those brown eyes and went to get her lead. 

We trekked on down there. It was well below freezing, maybe in the mid- to lower-20s.  But interestingly enough at the head of the spring the water was yet flowing freely.  The leftover leaves of fall clogged the flow, and the mossy rocks were a determined green; so it was still a wee bit enchanted.


We went further down, finding evidence of how life is hard in the wild.  This fellow didn't make it to see another year.


As we went on we saw white ahead.  Random patches of ice.


Then long stretches of ice, leading off into the distance.

Instead of water swishing on by them, each rock, each leaf, was hugged in an icy grip.


The mini water falls stood still, the Faerie song quieted; suspended in chilly silence. 


Further down the spring, the waters springing from below ground carved a stream through the ice; a living spring within the dead one. 


Bella would trot and frisk around but would occasionally pause, puzzled, and gaze into the treetops, looking for her frenemies the squirrels.  She never could find any and she was quite frustrated at their lack of adventure to come out where she could see and chase them.

,

There was plenty of deer sign though; here is a shot of a pointy deer track in the leaves.  It is hard to see down inside of it, but it is there. 


Perhaps, given the time and chance, we will visit the Faerie Spring during a deep snow.  That would be interesting too. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Random Ramblings

Yesterday Bella and I decided to leave life behind for a bit and ramble.  We headed off down the hill to the creek bottoms to see what we could see.

As we walked along the tree line the sporadic crash of bounding white tails startled us.  But we were both too wise to give chase; those waving white tails let us know we'd be out-bounded in no time.

In winter it seems eerie down in the pastures, abandoned.  The wind sighs across the field, and Bella chases field mice through their grassy tunnels, her butt up in the air, tail wagging.  Her joy in the simple pleasures of life always make me smile.  For all that I did not want a dog, I have learned through her to enjoy the tranquility of the moment. 

The bone-white upper limbs of the sycamore ghost over the meadow; seeming to float through the leafless wood.  Winter is their time to glow, to outshine their companions.  And I think that no matter how stark and haunted life should become, perhaps there will always be a gleam of hope if I search for it. 




Bella and I kept an eye out for coyote, turkeys...or perhaps the neighbor's Great White Pyrenees....but all was still, silent...

Except for the crows.  They shatter the silence with their banter and fuss.  But we pay them no mind; they are the background noise that complements the silence.

Bella and I amble down the dry Four Mile Creek bed; awash with fallen leaves.  Along the bank the waters have washed out fascinating root formations.  Tree toes writhing as they vainly clutch eroding terra firma. 



On some tree trunks, 10-12 feet above the creek bottom, there are slowly healing scars from past flooding. 



Bella does not understand why I stop and mess with that little black box so often.  She comes over and asks what's going on and urges a change of scenery.



So we walk on down to visit Fluffy.  She is still hanging out, but keeps turning darker as time goes along.  The fresh white outlining her right eye socket and nose speak of forest denizens seeking calcium. I cannot resist giving her speckled cranium a pat as we pass by.  Fluffy was the only cow who'd let me scratch her behind her ears.  I still miss her. 

There is a nest inside her skull, it's hard to see and harder to photograph, but it calls to mind the cycle of life; life so often comes from death.  And even as we live from day to day, I think that sometimes to be satisfied tomorrow we must let something from yesterday die off to allow before a new thing can take up residence in our life. 



After ambling around a bit more we head back up the hill to confront real life again, refreshed and ready to face the holiday craziness.

(My thanks:  a dog to watch having a good time, woods to walk in, a good life to go back to.)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

No pictures for this one; just random thoughts. 

Monday evening my bro Dan drove up for about a 36 hr visit.  He still had to work, remotely w/ his computer and cell phone, but we got in a good visit.  It was good to see him though he couldn't stay for Turkey Day today.

All seven of us (Gary, Ellen, myself and the 3 in-laws) hied ourselves over to my mom's place for Thanksgiving, various ones of us toting bits and pieces of the meal. SIL gets a free turkey from work, so she fixes the turkey, plus dressing and dessert. And a tray of cranberry sauce.

 Aunt-in-law always -for every get-together-fixes a big pot of pinto beans w/ham; cooked on her wood stove.  It might seem strange to have pinto beans for the holidays; but they are delish.  She always gives us the leftovers because she knows how much Gary loves them.  I usually put half of them in the freezer for later on.  Anyway, she also brought lemonade and mixed veggies.

I did home-made mashed taters, gravy from cans that Elna sent over, deviled eggs, and two low-carb desserts; a German Walnut cake and a low-carb pumpkin cheese cake, both of which were very good. Oh and some real whipped whipping cream to go along with them.  That was a hit. 

We listened to my mom's same 2 or three stories of growing up and her trip to Georgia back when she was 15 yrs old; which would have been back in 1944. 

Ellen and I have them mostly memorized because she frequently shares th on Sundays when we are over there for dinner after church.  AND she shares it most every time duringem the ladies meetings at church once per month.Here is basically what she says;

"Oooo...I had and aunt 6 months older than I was, and an uncle who was one month younger.  So I was never the eagerly awaited anticipated first grandchild."

Then she laughs,

Then she goes on to tell her story about how she, her sister, and her uncle went on a trip to Georgia back when they were 15 yrs old.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Random Photos

Here are a few shots of various scenes around the dairy here.  I haven't posted many pictures lately on here so here goes.

Back in October.  This hickory to the east of the milk barn likes to put on a fall show; especially in the evenings as in this shot.



Fall means cooler weather; so off we go to get firewood.  Here is the dairy farmer himself, ripping into this limb. 

This sycamore fascinated me with its wet bright green trunk; the peeled white part sets it off.  Plus the smaller limb growing straight up looks like a separate tree in the background.


In October I found this box turtle fairly freshly dead; just lying on the ground by a stump.  I took it and wedged it into the fork of this tree.  About 4 or 5 days later the shell was back on the ground and quite empty except for a few tiny bones.  I picked it up and wedged it back in to place. 

Heifers happily eating their breakfast. 





Finally; Bella, the happy dairy doggy!
This appears to be a Native American marker tree; but surely it's not old enough to be sitch.