Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some days just turn out odd.

Starting from the end and working backwards, I thought we'd wake up to this scene on Thanksgiving morning. Mandy gives me the cold, hard stare which can mean one of two things. Since I had no cookie or pecan cake in my hand, I assumed this meant "out". All afternoon the weather is sleeting alternating with small hail. When Mandy hits the driveway, she loses traction on the ice. I've got my Redwings on and start to slide so I move over to a grassy portion. What is this stuff? I'm translating from Blue Heeler to English. She stares, walks over to the grass on the berm and spies something in the grass. Very quickly she's back to the breezeway. Inside she drops the object from her mouth on the mat in the entrance way. It's a rock. "What's with the rock, Mandy? " Puzzled, I go back to the movie on TV.

Wednesday morning has me knee deep in ground corn. With Jake's grain shovel, I'm pushing aside the stream of corn oozing out of the tube from the grinder. Jake and the Amish Patriarch are perched on top of the bin poking, prodding and hitting the sides of the round red cylinder to get the sticky mix of fine ground corn and milk powder free flowing. Once the iron wheeled wagon is full, we adjourn to the woodshop to fix the guard on my chop saw. I've waited two weeks for Johann to volunteer to fix it but he's in the process of adding a new wing to his shack on the ridgetop.

While the Patriarch fumbles with the spring and the metal plate holding the spring in place, Jake uses a pliers to hold a square shafted bolt in place behind the cover shield over the washer and bolt holding the saw blade in place. I stand back offering instruction when things go awry. Then a diesel pick-up pulls in the drive with a long, bright new aluminum cattle trailer on the hitch. The owner wants to install Plexiglas over the slots near the top of the trailer to keep cattle from getting "shipping fever" in winter. The driver and his father-in-law stand next to the table saw platform where we're trying to wind the spring in place. In a few minutes the scene turns into a late night comedy routine as the cattle truck driver joins in the assemblage. We've dumped over a box of sockets and a wrench, dropped the spring several times, lost the bolt once or twice and resorted to drilling out the aluminum rivet holding one side of the access plate in place. A comment is made about the pollack changing the light bulb and after the laughter subsides, we've got the shield assembly back together. The assumption is that the manufacturer puts the guard in place much like we did with the final step of riveting the mechanism to the frame. The Patriarch searches for his rivet gun and a large rivet. I forgot to mention that when we originally came into the shop, the wind caught the door and someones elbow busted the glass. There's glass scattered over the floor and a dangerous jagged piece hanging in the window.

The confusion increases as various well wishes and ne'er do-wells come into the workshop to wish the Patriarch a happy thanksgiving. I walk back to the house and ask Mom for two of the four bags of breakfast sausage I'd brought as payment for bothering her husband with a mechanical chore. She looks at me quizzically as I explain,"I'll replace the sausage in a bit. I want to give some to Jake for helping with the saw." "You don't have to bring more,"she says. Jake is pleased with the breakfast sausage, saying you didn't have to do that. "I didn't have to but I wanted to," I add with emphasis. "I'll get you the recipe," I tell him.

Jake raised the pig we have in our freezer. I want to keep our connection open because he also raises goats. Although Dawn says she dislikes the taste of goat meat, I'm partial to goat cheese. The thought of butchering one of the friendly faced goats when I visit Jake's farm makes me shudder.

I run over the ridge top back home and grab more zip lock bags of sausage for the Patriarch and for Jake. I've refined my sausage making, cutting them like you would cut sugar cookies with the rim of a drinking glass. I can get more of the smaller patties in a quart freezer bag. It seems right to have two smaller sausage patties with my egg and pancake then one huge burger. Dawn reminds me of this later as I'm making hamburger patties, asking me to cut the size to a more manageable third pound. Copying the recipe I convert the gram weight amount of salt to teaspoons. Driving back to the Amish farm, all is quiet. Inside the warm kitchen, the patriarch is having lunch. Because they're not Norwegian, lunch is lunch, not the late afternoon snack most folks in the area refer to as lunch. To confuse all they call lunch dinner and dinner supper.

Lunch is my breakfast sausage, fresh biscuits, a tray of scalloped potatoes and apple pie. I have a hard time declining the pie, as a daughter hands me a steaming cup of fresh coffee and a plate. I leave for Jake's farm, deliver the recipe and extra bag of sausage and briefly mull the short jog to Bent and Dent groceries. I should be home loading firewood, so I make a left on highway 14 for home.

Later in the afternoon, I take Mandy for a ride to the library. With the prospect of a closed library for the holiday, I want to be sure I have enough to read. All the computers are in use with a gaggle of kids hanging out in the main room watching the seated computer users. One of the computers nearest the librarian's desk is occupied by a man you could confuse for Norm in thew TV show Cheers. He takes his spot everyday in mid afternoon wiling away the time until closing. I notice his name frequently on the cards for signing out DVD's. My library angel goes in a back room to quiet down the rowdy kids. She finds three of them sleeping on the floor in the conference room. "I told Johnny( not his real name) that he could bring a sleeping bag to the library. they don't have any heat at home," she says.

The library serves as a surrogate baby sitting service, emergency shelter, source of a pitiful income for locals selling off their DVD and video collection in desperation to buy milk at the Kwik Stop, information central for all gossip and social center for the lonely like me. It's slippery and wet outside as I ask repeatedly for the 80+ year old head librarian if she has a ride home. "Sure, sure, I do," she says. " J__ will pick me up on his way back home. He's in Sparta right now. " Mandy and I leave for home to rescue the cat who been asleep in his cardboard box on the work table for the past hour. I hit the remote control button on the garage door opener as the Pooch stands up, yawns and stretches.

No comments: