Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

Drama Queens.

WARNING:  This post has nothing to do with Orchard House.  I’m watching The Legend of 1900, and in a scene, immigrants are coming the United States, and they talk of the honor of being the first to scream “America” as the Statue of Liberty came into sight.  What drama!!!  Who thought to have a giant iron statue greet sea sick immigrants as they arrived after a perilous ocean voyage.  A genius!

Blah Blah Blah, I understand it was a gift from the French (and all that jazz), but you have to admit, that has style.  I can only imagine as my ancestors sailed into New York, if they were the first to announce the ships arrival.  Sure their last names may have been changed and their “old world” identity hidden, but the dramatic image seeing that huge lady must have been worth it all.

Whether it be Taco Bell, Four Loko, or Oasis of the Seas, Americans certainly have a flair for drama!  Big bathrooms, big cars, and big oil rule us.  It’s all so big!  So dramatic.  Just something to think about.

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Jumping fences.

This is Bob Evans.  He’s darn cute!  And now in his “terrible 2′s,” he grows every day, gets into everything, and chews on anything that will let him. And guess what, he can jump.  And jump high.  There was a time when he was smaller than Auggie and Wally (our two terriers), but now, he can actually stand over them.   Literally, stand with another dog under him – like a double-decker pup.

We’re getting some fences installed.  High fences.  Four feet high.  And we wonder daily, can they contain all that is Bob Evans?  Sure, they’re built to contain horses and llamas and other such wild beasties, but can they contain a 4 month old puppy?  Questionable.  But he is no horse.  And he does not spit.

Inside, ‘Evans (as he is called – or worse on occasion), can now jump over the baby gates set up to contain him.  Yes, my house is like a zoo.  We have containment areas and channels to move the dogs from room to room like a herd of zebra or surly polar bear.  But now, he just leaps over them like Jackie Joyner Kearsee.  The cat food should be afraid…very afraid.  The higher the gate, however, the greater the momentum he needs.  Cut his momentum and cut his power.  WWPXD?  What Would Professor X Do?

The reality is he will only continue to grow.  And jump.  And loom over innocent terriers.  But his biting will stop…eventually…and he is slowly learning the art of potty training.  He is…and always will be…my baby.  That is, ahem, until I get a human one.  Little Huxley Cornelius Jones-Kohn.  Baby gates won’t be able to contain him either.  But, at least, he will wear a diaper!

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An excerpt.

The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook, Martha Engstrom, Editor.  A collection of recipes originally published by the Farmer’s Wife Magazine from 1893 to 1939.

On Adding Glamour to Your Meal:

“If a party of women orders a plate luncheon of creamed chicken, mashed potatoes, and baking powder biscuits, with the usual salad and dessert, a sprig of green parsley will add color to the plate.  But this is not enough – we want a gay touch – so our biscuits are cut with a doughnut cutter and served on the creamed chicken, and the hole in the center is filled with bright red jelly.  Presto – we have our touch.”

From Use Butter Generously:

“Let yourself go when it comes to seasoning with butter.  Folks always sit up with relish to the family table where there are melting butter squares on hot porterhouse or round steak and a golden yellow heart in the bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes.  And who can resist vegetables cooked just to tenderness, their own liquid cooked down, and seasoned with sweet flavored butter?  Rich velvety cakes made with butter command a premium at the market or church bazaar.”

And finally, Hot Soups for Cold Days:

“When days are cold, steaming hot soup seems to “strike the spot” just a little better than anything else.  Whether it is the clear soup that whets the appetite and is used as a starter for the meal to follow, or the more substantial soup that makes a whole meal in itself, there is a time and a place for every soup.  Besides, soups are economical and easy to do, offer perfect use for odds and ends of leftovers, and make the family – like Oliver Twist – come back asking for “more.”

Soups, like dresses, are made more attractive by a bit of trimming.  Some cream soups are as colorless and uninteresting as a dull-colored dress.  A bit of paprika sprinkled over the top of each dish gives just that bit of dash that a red buckle can give a colorless dress.”


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Frost. And other things.

I woke up to frost this morning.  The real deal.  As I gazed out at the fields, my breath clouding up in front of me, it looked as if it really did snow. Everything was white.  It was a little disarming.  Especially since only two hours earlier, I was awoke by Donnie saying, “I smell smoke!”

To me, this simple sentence is an important warning.  Like, for instance, “Don’t walk, there is a bus coming,” or “I think that tea smells like almond because it has cyanide in it.”  Donnie declared his smoke smelling, and then rolled over, closing his eyes, and dreaming, I can only guess, of gin and tonics.  (Delicious!)

I got out of bed, smelled, and yes, there was smoke.  After walking the entire house, I determined the smoke was located in only 2 rooms.  (And by smoke I mean the smell like you’re in a really hot sauna, not like you’ve burned the garlic bread.)  It was determined it was coming from the attic furnace.  Back to sleep we both went.  But before, I of course, had to take the dogs out.  It was, at this point, too dark to actually see the frost.  We snuggled – as best you can with two dogs in a bed and one in a crate whining – only to be woken up by the smell again.

This time, Donnie got up and walked the house.  He turned off the furnace and went back to bed.  I took the dogs out.  And witnessed the frost.  Donnie slept.  The furnace was later turned on again with no apparent smell.  As Donnie suggests, perhaps it was something just caught in one of the vents.  Like what?  A chipmunk?  A beef tenderloin?  A vole?

Speaking of voles, there was a live one discovered in the orchard today.  Discovered by the dogs.  At one point, Bob Evans actually had it in his mouth.  The vole squeaking with such intensity, I can only imagine what he was thinking.  Like the lambs to poor Clarice.  To Bob Evans, it sounded like one of his toys.  Hey – that’s a lightbulb moment.  The toys actually sounds like real animals!  Well, anyway, I grabbed ‘Evans and we went back inside.  Sure, the vole and the holes he digs are obnoxious, but I’m not going to witness his death first-hand.  And I’m not going to cope with a dog’s mouth coated in rodent blood.

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I’ve been trying to buy a bed.  A white one.  Wrought iron.  Sexy.  The kind of bed Elizabeth Bennett and R. “Dubya” Emerson would have woken up on after a long night of witty quip hurling and passionate love making.  The kind of bed a quilt would feel comfortable on.  The kind of bed one would feel at home in reading a copy of Walden.  So far, no luck.  But my quest continues.

A few days ago, I feel asleep in a field.  It was only for a few minutes.  And probably not the most responsible move as the dogs were roaming free at the time.  But it was warm.  Oh, it was warm.  And the smell of country (and you know what I mean) was super Fabrezey that day.  When I woke up, there were three vultures circling over head.  Luckily I woke up when I did!  With all the vultures in my (and your) sky,  I often wonder if there is a dead horse in the neighboring pasture.  I don’t think there is.  At least, I hope there isn’t.

A good bed is as important as a good gin and tonic!  We recently replaced our personal bed.  I haven’t had a good nights sleep since.  You would think moving to a king-size would be a problem solver.  Instead, it’s given more room for the dogs to stretch out and relax.  I’m so happy the dogs are comfortable.  My back, on the other hand, may or may not have been hit by a sledge hammer.

And so, I look to find the perfect bed, both aesthetically and physically.  You’ll have to come to Orchard House and test it out once I find it. Oh, and I will find it!   And I promise it will be great!  As soft and sweet as an orchard field in the fall.

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