Posted tagged ‘sniffles’

“Chicken Alive”

November 21, 2017

Last night we all went to bed far earlier than the night, or rather the early morning, before, but it must have been too early for Gracie because she woke me up around 3:30 wanting to go out so we did. It was darn cold, and I hadn’t put on my sweatshirt so I urged Gracie to be quick. She was as she doesn’t like the cold either. I’m keeping an eye and an ear on Gracie as I heard her sniffing and snorting last night and this morning. She may have a cold so I’ll wait today but take her to the vet’s tomorrow for a check-up if she keeps snorting.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was the parade, M&M’s, walnuts and dinner. In school, we colored turkeys on work sheets to help pass the time. I remember coloring each feather on the turkey’s tail a different color. I hadn’t ever seen a turkey so I envisioned it more like the peacock I had seen in the zoo.

Wild turkeys are all over the place here on the cape and even in Boston where they have been known to attack people. I see them often on my street. Usually they travel in a group with one Tom and a bunch of females. The Tom always seems to be strutting, letting the world know he has a harem. The wild turkeys can fly. They even roost on branches. When they fly, they look lumbering like some military cargo planes.

I learned so many things when I was in the Peace Corps in Ghana. One of my skills, a seldom used skill, is cleaning chickens, plucking their feathers. In the market, I got to pick my chicken, my dinner for the night. I could never dispatch the chicken to wherever chickens go when they become dinner so Thomas, who worked for me, did the dispatching. He got the feet and head for his troubles and usually cooked them for himself. Foot and head stew is what I called it. The now dispatched chicken is dipped in boiling water to loosen the pinions. After that pull off the tail feathers first then the smaller feathers. My hands got tired when I plucked so I usually left the final cleaning, the pulling off of whatever was left, to Thomas. What surprised me was how skinny chickens are without their feathers. These were always free range chickens. Nobody had coops or fenced in areas. My chickens, except the brooding hens, left the yard in the morning and returned at night. I never knew where they went.

Before I left for Ghana, I read books the Peace Corps recommended, and I read the material the Peace Corps sent. I knew about the regions, a bit about languages, the tribal system, crops and the prevalent diseases, but I knew nothing about buying live chickens let alone how to pluck them. Why would I? Chickens never entered my mind before I left, and in my whole life I never thought about plucking them. Chickens came in packages from the meat counter, but out of necessity and being partial to eating chicken, I learned to pluck. Should that skill ever be needed here, I’m all set.

“You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up. Anybody knows that.”

January 23, 2017

Today is not one of my best days. My mother would say I am not up to snuff. To give you a better idea: I woke up at 9:30 and never got my first cup of coffee until 10:15. I just didn’t have the energy. I have someone who does all my yard work, a factotum who does odd jobs and plows, and a couple who clean every two weeks. Now I’m thinking I need a barista.

My Patriots gave the Steelers a bit of a football beating last night. We were on our feet more than a few times cheering their heroics on the field. Now it is on to the Super Bowl. My first thought for the big game is the menu. I’m thinking a sort of tailgating in the living room. I really wish my Dad was around so he too could cheer for his Pats and nosh with us (nosh-another one from my mother).

When I was a kid, baseball was my sport to watch mostly because it was easy to understand. The game didn’t have all the positions or plays football has. My dad watched the Giants on TV. I never did. I was a Red Sox fan. My football knowledge is much greater than it was, but I still don’t understand a lot of the responsibilities of the many positions. I understand the fundamentals of the game, and I find that’s enough.

Winter this year is weird. It is warmer. Today the high will be in the low 40’s and the low will be 38˚. It’s raining which makes it feel colder. It is also going to be extremely windy. When I was young, it was always cold walking to school. I was bundled as much as my mother could fit on me, but I swear my cheeks often went numb. They were red the entire winter. I didn’t have many colds, but I had sniffles. My nose was not a pretty sight nor, sadly, were my sleeve and mittens. Kids never carried handkerchiefs or kleenex.

My mother made the best cocoa. I drank it every winter morning. She’d dissolve the Nestle’s cocoa in some milk then add hot water to the cup. The cocoa always had bubbles on the top.

I have eaten all sorts of foods on my travels. Sometimes I had no idea what I was eating. I didn’t know the language. In some countries, I was glad I didn’t know. When I was a kid, I ate foods I’d never touch now. I ate sardines, the ones out of a can with a key on the top. I ate Spam right out of a can, also with a key on top. Those keys took a deft hand. My favorite way, favorite here used with tongue in cheek, of eating Spam was after it was fried. My mother often made us oatmeal for school day breakfasts. It wasn’t the smooth instant oatmeal they now sell. It was thick, lumpy oatmeal out of the cardboard cylinder with the Quaker on it. I never liked the lumps, but I found out that milk, a little cinnamon and lots of sugar helps the oatmeal, lumps and all, go down.

“The most poetical thing in the world is not being sick.”

January 27, 2013

This morning I’m on the mend. My voice is still creaky and my cough fierce but I feel better. Last night I slept longer before the coughing woke me and was able to get back to sleep instead of having to come downstairs at some ungodly hour to watch garbage TV. Staying home cozy and warm and taking naps have been the best cure for this.

When I was a kid, I seldom was sick enough to stay home from school. My mother set the bar pretty high. Sniffles weren’t enough. Coughing might have done it, but the degree of coughing was the key. Once I had the measles so I had to stay home, but that was no fun because the room was kept dark, and I wasn’t allowed to read. I just stayed in bed all day and was totally bored. What a waste of staying home! I know I had mumps and German measles but I don’t remember when. I also had chicken pox, and I remember taking baking soda baths so I wouldn’t itch as much. My mother would scream if we dared scratch our faces. We were warned about the gross, ugly scars we’d have if we scratched.

Few kids were ever absent from school. One girl had surgery in the fifth grade, and it was such a singular event I still remember. Her name was Catherine. I don’t remember why she had surgery, but the nuns were really nice to her when she came back.

During high school you never wanted to miss a day. Two broken legs would mean dragging yourself to school because missing even one day meant missing tons of work which had to be made up. I used to argue with my mother that I wasn’t sick when she’d insist I needed to stay home. I did get sent home from high school once. I had the German measles which was going around. We went to school every day on the public bus so that’s how I went home, probably spreading German measles to the world. My mother didn’t drive then so the bus was it. I couldn’t stay in school. I remember it was a Friday. The reason I remember is there was a dance that night at the school, and I was stuck home. It made being sick even more miserable.