Monday, November 3, 2014

Chapter 62


I jumped when I heard, “Whoa, you look like you’ve had a day.” 

“Sawyer!” I yelled happy to see him. 

Startled he asked, “Hey, is anything wrong?” 

“No … just glad you’re home.  I was getting worried.  You … you didn’t text like you normally do.  And then when I tried to call, I kept getting a busy signal.” 

He sighed.  “There was a fire off the interstate and the news says it has the phone lines all messed up.  Some crazy guy with a grudge against the phone and electric companies tried to blow up the switching station and a couple of cell towers.  The ones on the cell towers didn’t blow but the one at the switching station did and it cut power to lots of places including the cell towers that didn’t blow up.  Did we lose power out here?” 

“No.” 

In relief Sawyer said, “That’s good but we need to think about getting that deep freeze down to the bare minimum.  I’m going to go with Burt to look over those two properties tomorrow morning early but it shouldn’t take all day … hopefully.  When I get home how about I help you get some stuff done around here and we talk about where we’re at and what we still need to do – cleaning out the deep freeze at the top of the list - and what we absolutely need to have, and what some of our wants are.  Sound good to you?” 

“Anything you want to do.  And thank you.” 

“For whut?” 

With a little bit of exasperation in my voice I said, “For not being a big headed goofball.” 

Sawyer stopped and scowled.  “Do I need to have a discussion with Clay?” 

“No; doubt he’ll even want to come over anymore.  Just geez, he’s older than I am but acts Burt Jr.’s age.”  I explained about the day and everything else and he seemed satisfied.   

“Don’t worry about it.  Clay will either get it or he won’t … but until he does no good woman is gonna want him.  Of course he ain’t looking for a good woman just a piece of tail.” 

“Sawyer!” I yelped at his crudeness. 

“Well it’s the truth.  Now guess what I brung you.” 

“I have no idea but … it isn’t tomatoes is it?” 

Sawyer laughed.  “No. But it is something along those lines.  You remember Toby?” 

“From the reservoir.” 

“Yep.  Well his grandfather planted about five acres of what he thought was legumes … something for green manure.  Anyway he did plant legumes but one acre of them turned out to be peanuts.  Back a ways Toby said whoever helped him pull and stack them for curing would get a share when they were threshed.  I did it just to … just to get back with Toby and kinda make things right between us again.  I wasn’t really expecting much from them but Toby came over today and brung us almost five hundred pounds of green peanuts.” 

My mouth fell open.  “Uh …” 

“Yeah, that’s about what I said but after Toby left Uncle Donnell broke it down for me.  He says there are about 32 quarts of green peanuts in the shell in a bushel.  He looked at the ones we had and said that we probably had about forty pounds per bushel so we got us about twelve and a half bushels of peanuts.” 

“Uh …” 

“Uncle Donnell also says what he’d do is he’d can most of those green peanuts in their shells and then use them as bribes with the other wives or to trade or whatever.  Boiled peanuts in the middle of winter will go ever real well.  I know I’ll be looking forward to some.” 

Carefully I told him, “You do realize I haven’t got the foggiest idea how to can peanuts, green[1] or otherwise[2].” 

“Aunt Pearl will know.  Delly might even remember because my mom used to do it.” 

That relieved me some and I jotted down a note to give Delly a call the next day.  “What else did you do besides peanuts?” 

“Helped load trees as they got taken down. We’ve got two good sized flatbeds loaded full to be brought over next week on canning day.  But we had to secure them because people are complaining about their wood piles are being poached and it isn’t even winter yet.  What about you?” 

“That’s awful about that stuff already starting, and I heard some stories about people losing crops.  Some guy lost ten acres of tomatoes - plants and all - to rustlers which just can't be normal.  Even though I had nothing before we got married I never thought about stealing other people’s stuff.  People are just nasty.  As for us that were here today we got a lot accomplished.  We’re going to need a better way to keep track of everyone’s jars but so far we are ok.  And Burt Jr. did a real good job.  He hauled all of those jars out of the barn and down into the cellar by himself.” 

“All of them?!” 

“Yeah.  I think even Aunt Pearl thought I was crazy but after the stories I heard today and now you saying wood piles are being poached even in this heat … those jars are important and expensive.  I know it leaves a mess in the basement – about like what is in the kitchen and dining room – but not something we can’t work around and things will get reorganized as the jars get filled up and put on the shelves.  Plus Burt Jr. was willing to work for some old, antique toy soldiers that came out of the attic.  Apparently he collects them and the ones I showed him are a big deal and even adult collectors consider them valuable.” 

“Wait, you mean that kid hauled all them jars for those junky little bits of metal we pulled out of that trunk?”  At my nod he said, “Well whatever floats that boy’s boat.  I don’t see it myself.” 

“Well it sure floated his.  He was hugging those two cigar boxes we put them in for all he was worth.” 

Nodding approvingly Sawyer told me, “Well I guess you have been thinking.  I would have given him cash to take them jars from the barn to the porch but you got him to haul them down to the basement.  Good deal Lucille.” 

“Yeah.  And I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to put my canning inventory on your laptop.” 

“Of course I don’t mind.  I’ll set you up a spread sheet if you tell me what columns you want on it.  Maybe we can work on that tomorrow too.” 

Hesitantly I said, “I wouldn’t bother you with it …” 

“It’s no bother.” 

“It is but thank you for pretending it isn’t.  Like I was saying I wouldn’t bother you with it except we are getting so much and Mrs. Penny and Mrs. Carmichael have brought some really good recipes with them.  Did you know they used to work in some test kitchen?” 

“Yeah, years ago there was a cannery that made stuff for the tourist market.  Mom worked there before I was born during the off season.  Every once in a while Dad would talk about something he remembered trying as an experiment.  Not all of them turned out too good according to him.” 

I winced remembering some of my own failed experiments in school.  “Well the ones that I tried today were good – especially these batches of stuff called Carrot Cake Butter[5], Carrot Marmalade[3] and this other called Carrot Cake Jam[4], but before I make my own batches of anything else I want you to try them first.” 

Cautiously he agreed and we headed to the kitchen where his mouth fell open and his eyes just about bugged out.  “Jumping Jehoshaphat!  I thought this place was crowded yesterday! How the Sam Hill are we supposed to get around in here?  My Lord, half the floor is even covered!” 

I nodded.  “Most of it should be gone by tomorrow.  We had thought about leaving it all on the back porch but I’m just not real comfortable being responsible for stuff like this if it is going to be left outside, even if it is just for one day.  The dining room is just as bad and the parlor has its share too.” 

“My gawd.” 

As soon as I promised him again that most of it would be gone by the end of the next day he calmed down and agreed that under the circumstances it was probably the best any of us could do. 

“Aunt Suzanne said that it was a good thing that I’d been blessed with a big kitchen to go with the big wood stove.  As it is we did most of the food prep outside on the porches or in the yard.  If you want to add something to the ‘want’ list it might be nice if we could screen off part of the back porch, at least maybe the section that goes into the old kitchen, to keep the bugs and flies out.” 

Sawyer took his notepad out of his shirt pocket and started scribbling.  “That’s actually a good idea.  We could have the doors open more.  Not this summer but maybe by next depending on how things run.  The worst of the heat has passed but that doesn’t mean it is exactly cool yet.  And Gramps mentioned that we should think about reinforcing the floor of the old sleeping porch on the second floor and getting it rescreened as well.  Until then I still don't want you out there even if you are itching to clean it, that floor still isn't safe.”

"I thought you said the floor joists were still sound," I said as I was getting out a bowl of something I had set aside.

"They are but what is on them is nothing but plywood and it has rotted in a couple of places.  It's gonna take more than me and you to do the job right and safely but for now it is going to have to wait." 

I handed him a little piece of bread with something on it and said, “Try this.” 

To his credit, Sawyer didn’t balk but took it from my hand and popped it into his mouth.  “Mmmph.  Hmm.  Mmm.  Mmmmmmm.  What’s this?” 

“Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pizza Sauce.[6]  I decided to use up some of the leftovers of things today and I made you a pizza with this sauce and some of the Pickled Pineapple[7] I made and some homemade sausage left over that Cindy’s mother left us.  Uh … it’s squirrel sausage.”[8] 

“Squirrel … ?!”  He started laughing.  “How cross-eyed did you get when she asked for you to try it?” 

“Not very because Linda had already warned me that she likes to play practical jokes almost as much as Cutter used to.  I turned it around on her and said that I was dying to try it because so many people brag on getting a little piece when she makes it.” 

Sawyer laughed some more and says, “You’ll do, yes you will.  Now point me towards that pizza; I’m starving.”

2 comments:

  1. Great story Kathy thanks for posting more of it
    Wayne

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  2. Did I tell you yet that I just love this story??!!!

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