Friday, December 30, 2016

The Turmoil

The Turmoil

            “The house is huge.  You know that.”
;            “Yes but...”
            “The ROOMS are huge.  And too many of them.  What do you do with all of them?
            The ceilings are HIGH; really high.  Someone could live up there; in that space.  You ever go up there?  On a ladder or something?  What’s that about:  You made them that way?  What are you thinking?”
            “Well... when the architects actually showed me their drawings I admit I didn’t understand their scale.”
            “Size.  It is all bigger than I thought.”

            “Watch your head.”
            “I always do”.
            “Your suppose to hit your head you know; it warns you your going inside.  Or coming out.  That’s why they made them (New England Colonial ‘cape’ doorways, especially the ‘back’ [north] doors) that way, low and small; to wake you up.  Make you tend to business.”
            “Tend to business?”
            “Yeah like remembering to close the door once your through.  No one ever leaves our doors open.”

            “Those are sliding glass doors.  They always leave them open.”
            “When you’re here.  Right now they are closed.  ‘CLOSED UP’ you call it.  Sliding glass closed up.”
            “Well we could open them.”
            “But your not going in there now.”
            “No, no... not this trip.  I just want to get the mast figures.  Take them down to the shop.  They wanted as much of the original paper drafts as I can find.  There’s a big bag of it.”
            “It’s heated in there isn’t?”
            “That shop’s always heated.  HOT in there actually.”
            “No.  Not the shop.  Your house.  It’s heated.  Right now.  The heats on.  Right?”
            “Of course it’s on.  But not much.”
            “What’s much?”
            “They keep it a fifty.”
            “Who’s they?”
            “The men who check the house.”
            “In this weather I figure I’m doing well if my house is fifty.  Touches forty overnight.”
           “Yeah but your house is a whole different thing.  You live in a log cabin compared to me.

            “Maybe you should get her an apple ladder to put in the ceiling space.”
            “Apple ladder?”
            “A ladder for picking apples.  An ‘old Maine tool’ in the classic sense.  All farms had one.  Maybe even three.  To put in an apple tree to pick the apples.  They’re an old Maine orchard tool.  I find ‘em in barns.  Or used to.  Most have been scalped off these days.  Already on display in someone’s high ceiling.  You know:  LOFT.”
            “They’re just a ladder?  What makes ‘em an apple ladder?”
            “Taper at the top.  Wishbone.  START normal ladder at the bottom then tapers down to nothing at the top.  To fit around the branches.  Really very nice.”
            “To look at.  With the taper.  Old wood.  Old surface.  Some can be really handsome.  An old set of three.  Good old ones.  That’s what you need.  Everyone will say something.  Cost you a little.  Actually... cost a nothing to you.  Wife like’s em.”
            “My wife likes them?”
            “She will.  My wife likes ‘em.  Can’t fit ‘em in our house.  Put ‘em out in the barn a few days and then sell ‘em.  Good ones sell good.  No problem.”
            “No problem?”
            “Yeah there’s always someone like you around with space for ‘em; the high ceiling set.”
            “High ceiling set?”
            “Same as the sliding glass door set.”
            “Same set?”
            “Keep the house at fifty set.”
            “I don’t understand you”
            “I don’t expect you would.”

            If the people ‘like that’; ‘from away’, buy an old Maine house on an old Maine lot that was once part of an old Maine property... and... tear it down in total or just ‘fully renovate it’... do I need them?
            Yes.  I do.  As an antiques dealer.  There is always a chance they will ‘get serious’ about furnishing their home-of-their-doing (“summer place”) with antiques
            They buy from me.
            After that and otherwise... most things do not draw us together.
            I cut my own firewood, haul my own firewood, store my own firewood and burn my own firewood.  I never ‘get enough’ and ‘always run out’.  That is the way it is.  The big house folk buy their firewood; hardwoods in split professional uniformity, and ‘have it stacked’
            In the garage.
            Never stack firewood in a garage... and who has a garage anyway.
            I burn all my firewood up all the time.  That’s what it’s for.  The big house has the same stack of firewood in their garage
            For years.  Sometime they use some sometimes for a fire sometime... on, like, a cool day of July rain.  “The fire feels nice”.  They say.

            I have one snow shovel... and a backup in case the wife suddenly wishes to ‘join in’.  That never happens.  Big house folk have their house ‘plowed’, ‘shoveled’ and ‘sanded’.  They are ‘not there’ and the house is ‘heated to fifty’.  I have a plow on a truck that I hope will start when I need it ‘to plow’ out.  I hope, each winter, I don’t have to do that... much.  I also don’t like it to get really cold.  The truck won’t start and I have to turn the furnace on; burn some oil to ‘keep the pipes from freezing.  If I don’t do that I run the risk of the faraway cold spots in our little house... ‘freezing up’.  I don’t like plumbing problems in the winter.  “No one does”.  In my little world.
            I park the truck at a certain angle in front of the barn doors where, there, the winter sun blasts its radiance... right on the hood of the truck so that... maybe... it will start... “around one-thirty in the afternoon”.
            “WHY DO YOU PARK THE TRUCK UP THERE?” the big house man asked me
            Before the storm
            When he came to “SEE” an apple ladder:  “THAT’S WHAT THAT IS.”  He, looking it over, said he “WILL TELL HER ABOUT IT”.  No sale.
            I’m used to that.

            He kept his dog in his car.  One of his (their) dogs.  We don’t have any dogs.  They are expensive.  A luxury.  A vanity.  Big House would like to let his dog ‘run’ here at my place but he knows it will go directly to the compost and eat its fill.  That’s why I have compost piles?  Yeah.  Sure.  That’s why.  His dog loves bacon grease.  Big House looked around in our (farm) yard.  I saw him look at the compost.  I could see his wheels turn.  Or maybe I saw his dog’s bowels churn.  Right?  Anyway; he’s got that figured out.

            Before he came over I ate a bowl of chicken soup for lunch.  We save the bones we generate; put ‘em in a bag in the freezer.  Every two weeks or so she make a broth (“soup”) of them and then I use that as a base for my lunch.  She puts in onions, celery and carrots.  I add some pulled chicken, a chicken leg if I’m lucky and some broccoli.  Piping hot... lunch.  Just before Big House cell calls to say
            He’s on his way.
            I need something in me to stand my ground.  Big House COULD actually buy something... but he has no idea WHAT that could be and neither do I.  So I have to ‘get ready’.  To ‘deal with that’.  You know what I’m talking about.
            We don’t have chickens.  Did once... for sixteen years.  Too expensive now:  A luxury.  A vanity.  Now.  There are so many ‘egg men’ around now I can get as many farm fresh eggs as I want all the time every time AND they still got “MORE”.  How many eggs do I eat anyway?  Not that many.  

            They say it’s farm fresh eggs.  They ain’t.  What that damn food they feed ‘em; that “layer mash” in the big feed store bags.  Yeah; that stuff.  They all feed ‘em that.  Got the feeder boxes.  Yeah:  What is that stuff.  Just think about it.  Use that and egg cost goes UP and ...what is that stuff... from the local feed store?  Really.  The whole little guy egg thing needs to be ‘looked into’ (think about it with a pencil and paper; you ARE loosing money):  And... if they eat ‘that’ do I want to eat ‘that’ too?
            “I don’t think so”.
            Big House is always talking about “EGGS” he “BOUGHT”.  You know; ‘bought local’.  Farmer’s market.  He gets himself a couple of “DANISH” too.  He likes those with the goo-gob of “raspberry jam”.  Awful lot of raspberries go to ‘jam’.  I like my raspberries fresh picked and mashed up in a bowl with just a... goo-gob of vanilla ice cream.  Not too much ice cream.  Pick the berries your self.  YOU AIN’T GONNA GET A TICK on you JESUS”.
            Okay tick:  Stay inside the big house.  Leave the Maine wilderness to Professional Mainers.

            At the boat yard, down by the shop, Big House’s boat is under the cover at the left; beside the shop.  “It’s being worked on”.  What’s being worked on?  Nothing.  What’s it need worked on?  Nothing.  Been ‘sailed’ in the water almost seven hours since he bought it six years ago.  So it always needs to be ‘worked on’.  Get it.  Too bad I can’t sell him some antiques to put on that boat.  His wife DOES entertain on it.  The boat HAS been used to ‘entertain’ they call it.  At the start of summer (Memorial Day) they ‘put it in’.  Then nothing happens.  THEN...:  All get in the dingy and go out and ‘entertain’ “ON IT” ‘in the harbor’ until it ‘gets dark’.  Then they go back to the big house.  It all makes sense.  Right?  I just want to get some money out of it.

            Big House always has to come in our house when he is the ‘come over’.  He agitates until he gets ‘taken in’.  Yep:  Agitates.  You know it when you see it with these folk:  NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT (us living like that).  “YOU REALLY DO LIVE LIKE THAT.” he told us.  Told all the from away folk too.  Back there; from away.  He’s in Connecticut.  The part of Connecticut that is part of Manhattan.  You know; everyday... back and forth.  “FARM FRESH EGGS” to that I say.  Anyway.  He ducks his head pretty good now and noses around.  Sniff’en the air.  Bread baking.  Two loaves.  Don’t go given HIM one.  Still to hot anyway.  “OH YEAH WE EAT THAT HOMEMADE BREAD all winter long TOO JESUS”.  He’s a courteous gent.  Knows good behavior when he’s in the enemy’s camp.  I told him:  “Living here.  FOR YOU:  This is just one long camping trip we’ve been on.  Over sixty years we’ve be ...just camping out.”  He sort of got it.  Brushing my teeth outside in the yard is a stretch.  He’s used to hovering over the sink with the hot water going ‘full’.  That’s the real truth here:  It’s a real lot of very small things that
            Creates the turmoil.
            Of course he could still buy something.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Eggnog

The Eggnog

            “I was worried about getting either run through or
            Run over.  It’s always that way for me at Christmas holidays.
            Days they are.  Not just one day and sidestep that.  No.  Days of it.

            Days of it.

            Then it’s over.
            And I suppose I can get back to it.  All the antiques, of course, are still right there.  They have the Patience of Job you know.  Nothing changes them during the holidays.  Their timeline is complete.  And they sit in the big shadow.  No one notices.  After a while one of them comes along and picks one off; an antique.  And then it starts again; the antiques business.  A collector comes by and won’t shut up.  Doesn’t buy anything.  Just won’t shut up.  Another one brings by some cookies his wife made.  Christmas cookies.  Late.  Already stale.  I’m suppose to put a tree up with lights on it for that?  Some old fashion eggnog.  Real eggnog?  ‘MADE eggnog’?  Wouldn’t they like me to say that.  Of course they’d rather just drink (the whiskey) from the bottle.  No one wants raw egg in their whiskey these days.

            I’m punctual.  During the holidays.  Not early.  Not late.  Sort of around.  But maybe not.  If your looking for me I may not
            Look back.
            Who cares?  Your not doing anything worthy any way.  NOT LOOKING at the spine ends and noticing the head of the spines are NOT frayed.  Torn off.  From finger pulling... imbeciles.
            That is it you know:  Go find them:  Perfect firsts (first editions) with the spine heads NOT frayed.  Only collectors know what I’m talking about:  ‘Spine heads’.  ‘Frayed’.  From your fingers.  You’d think you’d LEARN something over the DECADES you’ve ‘miscellany’ pulled the ‘old books’ you call them OFF the shelves by their
            Spine heads.  That’s WHY they are always frayed.  Because of you.  And the whiskey in your eggnog that you... didn’t MAKE.
            It is all linked BACK to spine ends.  And your fingers that you have NO SENSE
            Of control

            I went to the Bronte exhibit at the Morgan (library NYC).  JUST went there.  Really a lot of people there too.  Didn’t expect that.  Women viewing.  Some men too but a lot of women.  Securitizing it; the exhibit.  Don’t want to touch that too much.  It was all fine and well; the exhibit.  Looked like they’d gone up in Charlotte’s attic and gathered up the old books and papers scattered on the floor.  Put them in glass cases and
            Explained them.  Nice enough at that.  You know.  But the spine ends.  No one was noticing those.  Absolutely perfect copies.  No rebacking.  No spines laid down.  NO CHIPS at the spine head.  NO FINGERS PULLING
            What a relief.
            And NOT an accident.  Morgan knew all about this.  And collector ‘best’ copies.  That’s how you know its all NOT from an attic FLOOR.  It’s all collector grade.  REAL collector grade... where it is just THERE... PERFECT and... nothing is said about THAT.              Only an imbecile pulls those books off the shelf by their spine head.  Only IDIOTS don’t know that; notice THAT... too.

            Oh I’m sorry about all that.  Lost you.  Right?  You don’t need to worry about all that.  It’s still the holidays.  Have some of my eggnog.  I made it myself.  REAL bourbon.  The bottles in that chair.  Under the throw.  It’s Christmas
            You know.
            When you get back from your holidays... don’t just poke along this year.  I mean really.  Do something about; your poking.  I know:  Poking.  Your good at it.  Really try though.  I mean think of it;  having something that actually IS something... this year.  Not just a fudge that you show off to me.  A ‘something I bought’ that you want your forehead patted and me to say ‘good dog’.  You did that last year.  Let’s not do it again this year.  Come back this year WITH something.  An actual something.  I realize that’s asking a lot.  But maybe you’ll lift the tedium of
            Your birth
            That’s not very nice to say is it.  It must be the eggnog.  Too many SIPS of THAT.

            What if I showed you something good this year and you actually bought it.  Not necessarily a rare book but... maybe... a good ‘real antique’.  One where people who know say ‘Oh look at THAT’... to themselves.  And are surprised that you did that.  So surprised that they ‘don’t know’.  Could have been something THEY’D buy.  That kind of antiques.  A ‘stopper’.  Of course an old book would be even MORE.  No one... but a someone would...
            Ever know
            THAT; you’d bought a rare book
            Collector grade.
            Of course you’d have to know what one of those is.
            And then come back on that like a grownup:  How to
            Solve that problem.
            That’s easy to do.  Actually.  Just BUY a real rare book from someone who knows and
            Handle that book
            Until it begins to seem to make some sort of sense to you.  And then do that again.           
            A few times over and over.  And see how it goes for you.  See if you ‘make friends’ with the old books

            In ‘collector grade’ condition.  Yes:  Spine ends.  You know all about them NOW.  Makes complete sense.  And they are rare too... on a true rare book.  Perfect spine ends on an old book does not mean that that book
            Is a rare book.
            It has to be a rare book; a desirable book... with perfect spine ends.  NOT just any old book.  With perfect spine ends.  Plenty of THOSE around; not rare books no one reads with... therefore... perfect spine ends.  Never pulled from a shelf.  And read.

            No:  Bring me something really truly rare with perfect... spine ends
            Or don’t bother.
            I didn’t bother to make eggnog for you either.
            Your wife’s Christmas cookies are stale.
            And your out poking around again.  Don’t know what it’s gonna be THIS YEAR.
            Do you.
            But ‘give it a good poke’ won’t you.
            OH come on right in and SIT DOWN and TELL how it’s STARTED FOR YOU.              Right off, you say, you found a poke and want me to LOOK at it do you?  Oh go get it.  IN THE CAR you say.  So shrewd of you; keeping it SAFE there.  Good.  Go get it.  Show me.
            Yes.  There we go:  The year begins.  It’s ‘after’ the holidays NOW.  So much easier; the regular crowd.  The regular GRIND.  OH look what
            Did you find!
            Oh that is a FIND.
            Quite a FIND.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fireplace Cooking - Part Two - Reflector (Oven) Chicken

Fireplace Cooking

Part Two

Reflector (Oven) Chicken

            When I mentioned in Part One that we were at ‘having to get’ a chicken I sort of left off with that and, too, never mentioned to look under the Christmas tree to find out a “Why?”.  That THAT; under the Christmas tree, is only because that is where the... ‘old beater’ condition... ‘18th century sheet iron tin fireplace reflector oven’... “got sat” when it was brought in from a shed.  We actually have TWO old beater ovens and... restating again that these ovens are NOT in perfect (or even ‘good’) antiques collector grade condition and that too we... sell all of those perfect ones we find... all the time... to collectors who... “HAVE” a “Colonial Fireplace Kitchen”... collection.  JUST SIT that perfect one out at the old hearth with the old cast iron pots and teapots, et al, and...
            Don’t bring our beater in until your actually gonna “COOK SOMETHING”.
            What did I just say... too?  That’s right; if your gonna ‘do this’; either or both of these collect or cook... you’s gonna WANT (not need) TWO of ‘em old tin reflector ovens.  So look under the Christmas tree for those?  Might as well these days.

            Once we clear the antiques collector colonial trappings away from the hearth and move the beater oven to ‘in front of the fire’... I can go back to the ‘having to get’ a chicken.
            The ‘a whole chickens’, these days, can be got.  Just go in to the local box store grocery store... located about five miles apart “UP” the whole coast of Maine and... fetch off the SMALLEST... cutest... of a whole chicken you’s can ‘find’... for one will have to poke through quite a pile of “WHOLE” in order to find a “SMALL” that is too... “CUTE”.  Warning:  The box store may not ‘have one’; a ‘cute’ and ‘small’.
            Seek alternative supply.
            So when Wiggins’ Meat Market chickens (Part One) hadn’t ‘come in’ we... “PLAN B”.  We’s driving on the coast of Maine in the ...internationally recognized desirable location of ‘The Camden – Rockland Region’ where... I remind... “PEOPLE” from “away” all want to come to and, well... BUY a whole chicken that is both small and cute... as an

            Attractive ‘get hands on’ activity that ‘brings ‘em in close’ with a Maine local... like me... endeavoring to do the same thing.  Yep.  So side stepping the ‘don’t have one anyway’ box style grocery store we... parked easily (it is ‘off season’ in December) in downtown and charming ‘walk to all the cute little stores and peek in the windows’...Christmas shopping destination of Camden, Maine and:
            We... went in the front door of French and Brawn; Camden’s downtown local corner grocery store... walked to the ‘MEAT’ in the back, plucked two “SMALL” and “CUTE” whole chickens from the self service counter, paid the $10.44 in cash for the two at the check-out up front and were... outside at the car (with the cooler – Part One)... in about the four minute the “it took to do this”.  NOW JUST STOP the foolishness and understand that this, IF YOU ARE REALLY DOING THIS IN MAINE; on the Maine coast... is the way to do this; get ‘small’ and ‘cute’ whole chickens.  Otherwise; forget even slightly trying this and STAY in your ‘from away’ place you come from and cook a box store whole chicken in your “electric range” oven AT HOME.  And leave us here in Maine ALONE.
            Okay and again for this:  Small and cute whole chickens.  Take them home and put them on a platter to ‘room temperature’ which runs around fifty degrees on our Old Maine Farm “until” “the fire is up”.  (Then it might get to sixty).  THEN... tie... meaning aggressively and not in a pleasingly refined manor... the two chickens to the 18th century hand forged wrought iron rotisserie shaft with good quality string (not kite string).  Do not ‘think’ too much about doing this JUST DO IT fast, hard and with a lot of string.  The two cute small chickens don’t care and ...neither should you.

            Once ‘lashed to the mast’ and exercising the option of putting (shoving), casually, some (two) ‘easy in – easy out’ additional drip pans ‘clean up’s a snap’ in the old oven ‘under the birds’... that you now easily –the old ways- slip into place in the oven... that is placed before the fire... and, again, is easily done just like it was in 1780 IN THIS SAME OLD FIREPLACE...:  This is a ‘do’ project... not a ‘think’ project.  This is best shown by what happens next:

            NOTHING... has to be done... until the ...two small and cute chickens
            ARE DONE (cooking).  Sit (lie) on the sofa watching the football game and the snow falling outside and... about every twenty to thirty minutes by ‘feel’... get your lazy  butt up and ‘rotate’ the rotisserie shaft “a quarter’ turn... and do that, before the fire and peeking in the oven’s back door... for about three plus hours (one chicken take a little less time).  Adding wood and poking the fire is “big” (an action done too).  The chickens sit in the oven and get turned and... that’s about it... until they are SLOW cooked so they are the ‘moist’ ‘falls apart’ done.

            Then you take them “out” of the oven, “Off” of the shaft and set them on a platter and have a ‘someone’ “carve them” which is not needed because it is a lot easier to “pull” the serving you want and “eat that with your fingers”.  WHY DO WE COOK TWO CHICKENS?  So we have
            ONE WHOLE fireplace cooked CHICKEN “left over”.  That’s a problem; having a whole fireplace chicken left over.  Yep; a big one (problem).  Just put this second fireplace cooked chicken on a small plate in the... ice box...  and, probably, it’ll “disappear” in a day or so.  “MAKES GREAT (in the car out being antiques dealers) SANDWICHES FOR LUNCH” (reminding we use the bread we make too [Part One]).
            After your all done... put the old oven back in the shed.

            And stop the Maine Colonial home fireplace hearth... madness.
            This (reflector cooked chicken) is not hard to do, not a ‘new’ thing, not a fashion forward thing or not a trending thing.  It is a ‘cook’.... ‘chicken’ thing that goes back to the Revolutionary war... and was domestically active until the Civil War.
            So that means that the ‘supply’ of the reflector ovens in use then... and still around NOW is ‘abundant’ for, like, who throws those old critters on the dump and if they do SOMEONE ELSE ‘hauls ‘em off’...:  I have actually been in hoarder’s barns that have “PILES” of “THEM”.  So really... “THEY” are “OUT THERE”; you will find one; an old beater too. So... in review... a lot of  small cute chicken (the ‘old days’ chickens were all small and cute... “back then”) ‘got cooked’ in these because they
            So are, as my own explorations confirm, ‘always found around’ ‘these old places’ because the “OLD WAYS” used them a ...lot.  Once one does this (cooks using the hearth and oven) one will quickly become an expert for it is “so easy”, “smells good” when it is cooking, is ‘not messy’ and is
            “REALLY GOOD TO EAT” too.  AND you get to lie on the sofa and watch TV because... ‘cooking the chickens’ “in the fireplace” IS “doing something”.