11-12-13 One Kibble

Yesterday was Veterans’ Day – a Big Picture Day.  My maternal grandfather and my father were both Marines.  Everett was Air Force.  All three served during wars.  We visited the Florida National Cemetery for Veterans yesterday and paid our respects.  Big Picture.  Private feelings.

Today is 11-12-13.  Now that’s a small detail kind of day that I can write about.  As you may have noticed, our plans to visit Gettysburg on our way south for the winter were altered by the advancing cold front, and our desire to be well below the snow line before having to deal with actual snow.  We still took our time getting to our winter base, stopping to smell the camel, etc.  Dear Auntie says we’re the only folks she knows who take a month to make the 3-day drive from New England to Florida – though she admits we do see a great deal more of interest our way.  We’ve come back to the wonderful little RV park we stayed in last spring and have spent a week renewing acquaintances with year-round residents and placing bets on which of the other snowbirds will be the next to arrive.  Major excitement as I’m sure you’ll agree.

The oddity of today’s date got me thinking about small stuff.  Like Tyler Dog’s One Kibble Mystery.  It’s been going on for quite some time and has become one of those things one notices as being of some mystic importance.  The dog is an American Cocker Spaniel, medium sized, of placid temperament, and regular habits.  His day-to-day schedule runs to: wake up, scratch vigorously, go out to pee, eat breakfast, nap, take a walk, nap, look out the windows to be sure all is right with the world, nap, eat dinner, take another walk, nap, go out for a last pee, go to bed.  Meals consist of 1/3 cup of kibble for breakfast and 1/3 cup of kibble with a spoonful of leftover “people food” for dinner.  Tyler is an eager eater and most meals do not last more than a few seconds from bowl touchdown to completion.  But invariably – and I mean EVERY time – he leaves a single kibble uneaten.  Not that he simply doesn’t eat it.  Nope, every time – every single meal – he manages to leave one lone kibble floating in his water bowl where it swells up and bobs in the current.

What?

What?

In the years we’ve lived with him, we’ve never actually seen how the task is accomplished.  But after every meal, day in and day out, we have to clear his water bowl of one soggy kibble.  Is he making an offering to some doggie God?  Sacrificing a mouthful to atone for best forgotten sins?  Is it a test to be sure that the meal is safe before proceeding?  How does a creature with a brain the size of a lemon manage this ritual every day with just ONE kibble – never more than one, but always one?  What mysteries do YOUR pets promote?

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Fryeburg Fair Food

Sausage and Peppers and Fries, oh my . . . One of the best things to do at any country fair is eat.  There are hundreds of choices for every taste (please note Prospector Jack’s Oct. 6th comment about clams and turkey legs!)  Some of our friends plan their visit to the fair to arrive 8am-ish for breakfast, walk around until it’s time for “elevenses”, walk some more to work off those calories, then take in a good dinner around 1:30.  After spending the afternoon in the grandstands for some shows or the horse pulling, they’ll wander back to the midway food vendors for supper.

Now that we’re retired, Everett and I don’t have to get up early anymore, so we arrived about noon and had a great time wandering through the barns and seeing all the livestock while everyone else was standing in line for food.  Once the lines had thinned out some, we were ready to start our shopping.

If I’m going to the fair (any fair!) I want grilled sausages with peppers and onions on a warm, soft roll – preferably hot Italian sausages.  Everett’s must-have is hand-cut french fries.  There’s always more than one vendor of each of these fair favorites, so you’ve got to work the booths and determine which is the “right” one.  It didn’t take us long to find my sausages as we simply chose the vendor with the stool seating around the counter and the grill full of gorgeousness:

Grilled Sausages

It wasn’t until they were about gone that Everett asked why we’d gotten sweet sausage instead of the hot, spicy ones this year.  I’d ordered the hot ones, mine was a hot one, and I’m not sure what he thought I could do about the mix up of his at that point.

Next we debated french fry vendors. One booth was dodgy and appeared to be using frozen, pre-cut, fries.  Another was cutting their own fries, but only had ketchup as a condiment, not good malt vinegar.  After much searching we found a mom & pop booth with fresh hand-cut fries, the correct condiments out front, and that special scent of fair fries that you just can’t get from a fast food joint.  We were excited, so parted with $8 for the jumbo bowl, doused ’em with vinegar, and ate while we walked along.  “So good,” I muttered as I crunched each salty, vinegar enhanced potato bit.  Then stopped dead.  “Oh, Everett!  You don’t LIKE crunchy fries!”  Too late I’d remembered his preference for the firm but tender type – think al dente pasta.  Poor Goldilocks, these fries were not just right.  We left them with his sister and her EMT’s at the first aid station where I’m sure they were thoroughly enjoyed.

Give Peas a Chance

first peasI know, my title today has been sooo overused, but … it’s coming up on the Fourth of July and this is the time of year when New Englanders get all giddy over the first fresh, locally grown, vegetables of the year – PEAS!  If you’ve spent a long cold winter eating canned and frozen veggies – or even home preserved veggies from last summer – the thought of early peas is overwhelming, almost orgasmic (with no offense intended and in spite of our normally reserved nature).  We start to see the signs on farm stands – “fresh peas.”  We stop and run our hands through the bins of pods.  We select a pound or two and cart them home almost furtively.  The first sniff of summer comes when we start popping open the pods and use our thumbs to push the plump and precious peas from pod to catch bowl.  Children are drawn to the ritual and can always be counted on to help – there’s something primal about it.  There’s the baptism of rinsing away the bits of field debris and “bad peas” under the faucet.  The peas are covered with cold water in the pot and a touch of salt added, along with just a smidgeon of olive oil.  We step away to allow the pot to come to a full boil (a watched pot never boils, remember?) then hover nearby for a few moments, carefully watching the peas rolling in the boil, ready to take them off the heat the second we see the subtle transition from raw green to bright, not too hard, not too soft, just right GREEN.  In haste now, barely restraining ourselves from digging in, we drain our perfect peas, toss ’em back in the pot to melt butter over them, shaking the pan to be sure each little globe is coated.  Just a pinch of salt and pepper and the peas are ready to be dished out.  The first batch is always eaten in appreciative silence and rarely as part of an actual meal – these are the reward for making it through another year.

Everett and I were ready to retire, but didn’t take off on our RV adventures until March – well after the worst snows and freezes of the winter.  We earned our 2013 peas with hours of snow shoveling and slippery roads and bundling up with coats and scarves and gloves and boots.  This year’s peas were shucked at the picnic table on our campsite instead of our own back porch, but there was something even sweeter than usual about them.  THIS year, we don’t have to rush back to work after the holiday.  We don’t expect to ever have to shovel snow again.  Oh, I get butterflies in my belly thinking of that, but I do wonder – will we still appreciate the first peas of summer 2014 without the winter experience?  I’m willing to give the peas a chance.