Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Dad


I work hard . . . ish. I bet if I tallied it all up, all the physical, mental, and emotional effort it takes to keep this house spinning and my family in orbit about town, I'd rack-up some serious steps on one of those fitness trackers. But compared to my dad, it'll take me a lifetime to even come close to the amount of work he had already put in by age 18.

For the longest time, I thought his childhood on an old farm in upstate New York consisted of only two things: avoiding creepy cellar doors and dropping cats from barn windows. But several years ago, upon hearing a Paul Harvey spiel"God looked down on his planned paradise, and said, 'I need a caretaker,' So God made a farmer"—I got nosy and sat my dad down. Turns out he was a real-deal farmer!

So what did farmers do in the 1950s-60s anyway? Well my dad and his father grew wheat, corn, and oats. They also grew black beans called "Turtle Soups" and shipped them off to a country in South America. Apparently the beans were loved down there and not much up here.

And holy cow, for there were six! And they'd milk each one every morning like clockworkwith their hands. No fancy machinery. And if they did have machinery of any kind, tractors and whatnot, they'd fix it themselves. Mechanics from John Deere didn't make house calls. 

And what did they do with milk from six cows? They hauled it into their kitchen where it got poured into a cream separator. And the people who actually did make house calls were the Land-o-Lake guys. They came out once a week to buy and pick up the cream for butter-making back at their factory. (Forget making money, I'd be all, "It's human interaction DAY! Someone is coming to my farm! Special occasions call for pearls and stockings.")

Now what about the strength needed to move hay bales around hay lofts that were over 100 degrees? A lot of back-breaking and finger-blistering work, yet the sense of accomplishment from a job well done would make it all worthwhileor at least make lemonade taste like heaven. And to think each bale of hay weighed more than my dad. Hard work, that's what.

Now scale way, way back in the blood-sweat-and-tears department and fast forward to present-day life in my kitchen, where the sense of accomplishment doesn't come from separating cream from milk that I "hand got" from cows in my backyard. Rather, my proud moment came the day I made something extraordinary . . .

Shrimp linguine. From scratch.

It was restaurant quality. We would have paid money for it. Like $18, and that's without the add-on salad. In fact, the best compliment I could ever get is my husband saying, "Mol, I would put down some cash for this." But even better, "I would put down some cash for this and did you just do something with your hair? 'Cause you look hot."

Proverbs 12:14 says, ". . . the work of their hands brings them reward." What is that reward exactly? The possibilities are endless! And even though my dad hung up his rugged cow-poop-stomping workboots many years ago, God gave him an amazing work ethic and desire to provide and care for his family of seven. Besides, he just knows things now that are cool to know.

As for me, although making boss shrimp linguini does not compare to a day in the life of a farmer, it did bring a sense of accomplishment because it was a job well done. God must have looked down on my family and said, "They need a break from turkey burgers." So God made a really, really good recipe that was easy to follow and didn't ask me to emulsify anything or grate ginger root . . . or milk a cow.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Dog Blog You Should Read Anyway

That-them-there hound dawg. It's just Hudson, that's all. Our 90-pound, horse-ish Basset Hound. A blog about him? Thought you were more of a cat person, Molly? I am. But he's pretty funny.

We drove out to middle-of-nowhere Jasper, Alabama, to get him almost 10 years ago when we lived near Birmingham. Found him in a red barn at the end of a gravel road; he was one of two dozen ready for adoption. That means there were a bunch of baby Bassets not ready. Hound dogs everywhere. (I know, I know . . . he's not a "rescue" dog.)

When we brought him home, we had an underground electric fence installed around our property. (Sigh, property.) And he wore this collar that beeped a warning if he got too close, and then shocked him if he got too too close. And when desperate to follow me on a walk or to steal a neighbor's Alabama football garden gnomeor some such thinghe'd often charge right through it, howling in pain. Dumb dog. 

Too bad the fence didn't keep deer out. Once Hudson got hoofed by a crazed deer. It was a showdown between long, elegant deer legs and short, uh, well . . . these legs:


Fast forward to present-day life in California, and nothing much has changed. He's still escaping. At times I feel like a cowgirl, "herding" him back into the house. That's when we know he got out. Otherwise we get a late-night knock on the door. "This your dog?" (Um, no?)

That Hudson. Eats entire loaves of bread in a single bound. His body elongates like Gumby to reach stuff on counters. For those lost on the Gumby reference, how about See's Candies? Once I found an empty box of See's upstairs. And if anything is sadder than an empty box of chocolates, it's watching a dog go through the "shakes" as he recovers from having emptied the boxgobbled-up both the chocolate and the little brown paper cups each heavenly morsel sat in. It's no surprise our backyard is like a dragon's lair, but instead of skeletal remains, we find pizza boxes, banana peels, and chewed-on cat food cans.

So not only does Hudson love eating our food, he loves our couch. Even if every seat is takendoesn't matter. He'll stand there and stare down a two-inch section of open space until someone lets him up. And then he gets all psyched-up for "the jump," which he doesn't always make. Same thing with getting down. We often find him in half-on-half-off limbo.

And when we take Hudson places, we become instant celebrities. So droopy and pathetic, people eat him up. And his massive front paws—standing at "first position"—get tons of attention. Folks are forever mimicking his stance with their own arms and hands. Sometimes passers-by suggest he needs surgery.

And when Hudson meets a fellow canine at the park, it's always a little awkward. Dog owners get kind of weird and say things like, "My dog's name is Henry, what's your dog's name?" You can forget about meeting the fellow human attached to the dog. (Though nice when I'm not much for social interaction.) Or a person will speak for their dog: "I'm Fifi. Wanna be my friend?" At this point I feel like I'm playing make-believe. What's next, we have them push each other on the swings?

I could go on and on about Hudson's dream sequences and cranky-old-man noises and how we tie his ears together when he eats. And the whole stick of butter I once found in his mouth and how he smells like corn chips. But I'll stop for now and think about which animal oddity God enjoyed creating most—my Cornish Rex cats (R.I.P. Willaby and Zaldamo) . . . or Hudson the hound dog?