Saturday, October 21, 2023

Rats, Armidillos, and Feral Cats

I have a rat in the attic.  I think it's a rat, but it sounds like a raccoon or possum or something large.  It is driving me nuts.  I've gone up and flashed a light around thinking it would just leave, but it sounds more like it is nesting.  I blame my neighbor.  He's planted bamboo and other exotic flora that rats just love.  I was hoping the cats would get them all.  I will have to put up some traps today.  I am lazy.  This is a drag.  

Other than that little piece of news, I've nothing for you today.  My life has been devoid of adventure.  What can I tell you?  I've been remembering and reflecting on my hillbilly upbringing a lot recently for unknown reasons.  Yesterday, I was remembering with my mother what we ate when I was a kid.  Everything was fried.  We rarely had beef unless it was hamburger.  We never had buns, so we slapped the burger between two pieces of white bread.  If we had sliced onions, it was a rare treat.  Normally, it was just a burger with ketchup and/or mustard.  I never used mustard.  We rarely had chicken either, at least not that my mother and I could remember.  When we did, of course, it was fried.  What we ate was pork.  Pork was cheap.  We had fried pork chops and fried ham and pork sausages with sauerkraut.  Once in awhile, my father would make his specialty--navy beans with a ham hock.  Every morning it was bacon and eggs with toast.  We had mashed potatoes a lot and cans of baked beans.  Green beans from a can, too.  Sometimes canned spinach.  And there was always white bread and butter.  You smeared the butter on one side and closed it up like half a sandwich, then used it to push your food onto your fork and to sop up any of the liquids on the plate.  We also ate a lot of fish.  We would go fishing on the weekends and catch flounder, sheepshead, and whiting from jetties or bridges.  The fish was always battered and fried.  We'd have turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my parents would buy big ones so there were lots of leftovers.  Turkey sandwiches, sure, but also some horrible turkey in gravy concoction--turkey on a shingle, I guess--that was the bane of my existence for the better part of the holidays.  We never had cakes or pies, just candy and cookies.  Cheap candy.  Cheap cookies.  My mother was on a perpetual diet, and thinking back on what we ate, I can see why.  The snacks would all disappear along with any sodas.  The refrigerator was full of Metrecal and Tab.  If I was hungry in the afternoons, I would lose my mind and dig back into the pantry to get a can of Vienna Sausage or Potted Meat.  

We would go out for dinner on rare occasions to some cheap diner where I would order a Chuck Wagon Steak or a Chicken Fried Steak.  This was as close as I got to real steak and as I say, it was very rare.  

When we went to stay with my aunt and uncle some weekends, we ate rabbit.  My uncle raised them in pens.  My aunt always saved some strawberry pop for me to put on vanilla ice cream.  These floats were a real treat.  

We had no ice maker, and I was limited to two ice cubes in a cup when I had a soda.  The soda never really got cold.  I had milk at every meal, and if I wanted water, I was supposed to rinse out the glass.  When I was in junior high school, I went to a friend's house for dinner.  We had meat loaf.  I had no idea what it was.  After I drank my milk, I was given a fresh glass for the water.  I think this was the first inkling I had that not everyone ate the way we did.  

Oh. . . I just remembered. . . we ate a lot of boiled corn on the cob.  

My mother worked in a creamed corn plant when she was a teen.  She liked creamed corn from a can.  I could barely eat it.  I was forced to eat a lot of foods I didn't like.  

I guess I was just another malnourished hillbilly boy.  I'm lucky I didn't have pellagra.  I probably would have had lots of deficiency diseases if my mother didn't put a multiple vitamin by my plate every day.  One-A-Days.  They tasted like candy.  

When I went away to college, all of that began to change.  Slowly. . . but surely.  Those were hippie times, and we were living "one with the earth."  My girlfriend and I had a garden and ate lots of fresh vegetables that we had grown.  I made bean casseroles and bean soups.  We were members of a food co-op and ate organic.  I learned about things like falafels.  

Since then, I have done most of the cooking.  Nobody since my college girlfriend knew how to cook, really.  I had to teach my wife how to cook spaghetti for god's sake.  Each girlfriend after that had a "specialty" dish she would make on occasion the way my father would make a big deal out of making his navy bean soup.  I never minded, though, as they each were helpful and we would cook together and they would usually clean up after as I am not the best cleaner in the world.  I don't know why, but it is probably just the lazy hillbilly in me.  Have you ever spent time in a hillbilly house?  Yea.  You might freak.  


Whatever.  My parents loved me.  I was the luckiest hillbilly I know.  CC might argue the point.  But I had a happy childhood, was smarter than the hillbillies I went to school with and was a good athlete, too, so maybe I got privileged here and there from time to time.  

The cat has come to be fed, so I feed her.  She has me on speed dial, I guess.  But after she eats and I am inside sitting in this chair that faces the fifteen pane kitchen door, she comes to look in and stare.  This is pretty new, but she does it all the time now.  I left the door open the other day and she crossed the threshold.  I know I told you already and I told you I made her leave, too, but it makes me sad.  She has been wild too long to be domesticated now, but somehow I feel as if it is up to me to protect her.  She's lived a long time now for feral cat which have between a 2 and 5 year life expectancy.  

Well, shit. . . an armadillo just ran across my deck.  It's a crazy day, but I have to go get after it.  I mean. . . you know. . . they make good gravy!

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