Fridays With Dale: Defusing and Dad’s Pressure Cooker

Title with image of author

Dale Angel

 


Defusing and Dad’s Pressure Cooker

By Dale Angel

                                                  

I tie on my apron. Wrestle the latex gloves on. Sit the bleach and antibacterial soap nearby and cautiously slide out the contents from the sack into the sink. I’m ready to open the package of meat.

 

I’m careful not to let any of the juices splash on the counter and place the knives where they won’t touch anything, this chicken may have at risk history like a time bomb. 

 

I’m defusing it. Salmonella is not fun.

 

It looks like it had a hard soft life. The skin is loose and fatty with little muscle to hold it together. Do I really want to make chicken soup? I’ve lost some of my enthusiasm.

 

You know the words ‘use to be’: grandmother walked out to the hen house, grabbed a chicken, and before it knew what happened, fried chicken was served.

 

I missed this useful necessary skill.

 

I also missed others. I watched my mother in law butcher deer as it hung from the pepper tree. Her sharp knives were shared among the family. The process was clean orderly and wrapped. Nothing was wasted.

 

I’ve been deprived. I have to suit up and buy from disinterested corporations, foreign and domestic, who don’t eat their own products. The constant recalling of contaminated food is a red flag…it’s over my house right now.

 

My dad always kept a rifle. Near dinner time, he drove off the highway along Sacramento River where the world was moving with pheasant, and the telephone lines were heavy with doves.

 

He cleaned our dinner. We ate. He liked to use the pressure cooker and added noodles. The quick pressure cooker intrigued him

  

When he got older he decorated the ceiling with it. It wasn’t pretty. After three times, we took it away from him and replaced it with a microwave.

  

After he drove me up the sidewalk knocking off the side view mirror, the car stopped with a parking meter under it. He looked at me and said ”That’s what happens when I forget to take my vitamin C.”

 

We took away his car. He got a motor scooter, and it went into the wall of the grocery store. He got a bicycle and another pressure cooker

 

The cane made him mad. While he walked across eight lanes of traffic, the light changed. He tried to hurry. Someone drove over his cane.

 

He went to the drug store, bought a new one, and sprayed it white. All traffic stopped as he leisurely walked across on his way to charge the bank with shady business practices.

 

I thought about becoming a vegetarian, but I keep remembering about Ben Franklin when he decided to become one. On a trip by sea, the winds quit, the ship stopped, and they floated aimlessly, finally depleting the food supply. The crew begin frying fish and the aroma brought him to his knees. He decided to eat whatever was put in front of him. He said ”It made life easier the rest of my life.”

 

I have to decide what to do with this defused chicken. I’ll close my eyes and throw it in the pan. On second thought, I’ll put on a pot of black eyed peas in Dad’s old pressure cooker.

 

Dale Angel

 

 


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Fridays With Dale: Community Bed

Title with image of author

Dale Angel

 


Community Bed

By Dale Angel

                                                  

A pickup and three car loads of kids finds me winding around and around Buckhorn’s curves trying to reach the summit before someone throws up. Looking in the back seat of my carload all I could see were black teeth, all were eating Oreo cookies that contributed to the car sickness.  Soon as I made it to the top, I pulled off for the ones who needed to stop.

We pack in about a half mile to a lake. All seem to be in a good frame of mind, except for those who fight. The older ones take off at a run, not wanting to be found in the company of the younger kids. This is bear country, and I’m uneasy, but the noise should protect us. I’m lost with my bunch, there are so many trails. I’m also a little mad, but I repent when I find the older ones ahead had left M&M’s along the path to guide us. Were those M&M’s in the poison oak on purpose?

 We unpacked and began to set up camp. The older ones went across the creek. Their camp looked like pros. They even had a little table. It was to play poker on by camp fire. I was impressed!  I didn’t know they knew how to play poker. I didn’t.

As it started to get dark, their beds they had bravely spread out in the meadow…they had second thoughts about. Each began to move closer to the others. By the time the moon moved behind the clouds I counted seventeen sleeping bags next to one another, a community bed.

About midnight a roll of thunder shook the earth and flashes of lightening so close it jarred us awake. We could smell the ozone. It began to sprinkle; everyone came to life. Kids took two saplings and fastened a blanket between them and piled everything on it, with two at each end carrying a pole.  Oh Lord! The forest people will come for me. It says on this permit no cutting down trees. As this was going on, I put the skillet on the dying fire.  The Hershey bars, peanut brittle, left over sacks of candy melted. Kids emptied their pockets of more chocolate, nuts and some licorice it was added to the bubbling stuff. 

Handing everyone a spoon we started down off the mountain.  The hot skillet was wrapped in someone’s underwear to keep from burning my hands. The raindrops were getting serious. I walked among them offering hot candy, each scooped up spoons full. The older ones took care of the younger ones without grumbling. They sang ‘This Land is My Land’ with their mouths full of hot stuff…candy or whatever it was.

It was cold as we sat wet the rest of the night huddled in cars. A few sat under a plastic tarp in the back of the pick-up. 

What a nice surprise I left for someone!

I forgot my wine cooling in the creek. Maybe the man who hikes in a dress will find it.

 

Dale

 

 


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Fridays With Dale: The Excitement of a Mundane Life

Title with image of author

Dale Angel

 


The Excitement of a Mundane Life

By Dale Angel

                                                  

As a mundane lifer…

 

I like growing peppers–the slender bright red ones that don’t die when neglected. They just wait patiently. When you do remember to water them, they unfurl their leaves and continue their purpose of adding more flowers so there are more little ones. They appear passive…..but watch out! They can bite you from the chili bowl.

 

I am shamelessly wealthy in utilitarian assets. I own more rags than any one I know. They’re soft, clean, and stand at attention when you need to wipe up the floor or clean out the car. They accept abuse and disrespect…even if at one time they were your best nightgown or served formerly as flannel sheets. I might add, they also go out with dignity.

 

These tools add to one’s excitement when washing windows. I realize some don’t like clean, but they may change their minds if they felt and heard the sweek of clean glass you can see through. There’s something comforting in recognizing your neighbors when you can see out clean windows.

 

Common mundane affairs of life do have value. They can energize one to go through pictures and unfinished projects started in the ’70’s that are behind closed closet doors and are multiplying. One of us have to move.

 

I’m part of a community trying to be trendy and reduce the clutter. I had to hang the car keys on a nail on the outside of the house so I could find them. They don’t stay in one place. That’s such a little thing to manage. It’s the pine tree at the end of the driveway that gives me unease. It moves. It has made acquaintance with the right rear fender.

 

I could have bought enough groceries to go through the winter, but this year I decided to buy water instead and make a salad bed…a bad investment in a drought summer.

 

I bought promises. They’re very expensive.  I believed those people who write for garden catalogs. The super tomatoes label warned ”build a superstructure first. Then plant. Immediately step out of the way!”

 

Those writers need to be screened and held accountable for taking unrestrained license with truth. Class Action lawsuits are made of things like this.

 

I gave some plants to my neighbor he said ”they flung themselves all over the front yard and refused to move.” He took an axe to them. A few red nubs were not edible. We never figured out what they were

 

Being a member in this society means one is serious about their responsibilities–although… maybe… senseless in other areas of life.

 

We live on words to nourish ourselves like Winston Churchill’s that said, ”Success is the ability to go from failure to failure and not lose your enthusiasm.”

 

It helps temper the excitement of the mundane life.

 

 

Dale

 

 


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Fridays With Dale: Premeditated Murder and Unintentional Thievery

Title with image of author

Dale Angel

 


Premeditated Murder and Unintentional Thievery

By Dale Angel

                                                  

On our way to the store, we had to cross the railroad tracks and walk in front of the depot. At a certain time each day, a train would be sitting in front, moaning and hissing steam. We walked way around it to pass.

 

One day my brother walked up to the boiling monster to wave to the train man; no one was in the cab. He handed me his bubble gum and pulled himself up the first rung and scrambled on up the ladder and looked inside. He crawled through the window. He waved down to me.

 

Whatever he pulled or pushed was instant chaos! The ground shuddered. The engine gave a giant hiccup, followed by a sort of spasmodic convulsion. The sound of over-loaded steam in great white clouds roared. The wheels screamed as they tried to catch up with the motor or maybe because the brakes were on.

 

A thunderous desperate sound as it tried to charge ahead with screeching, whining wheels slipping…suddenly it burped and humped, slowly moving a few feet forward, drawing wheels screaming as they caught pulling against itself, trying to pull locked box cars…they didn’t want to go…hot metal sounded like a revved up engine about to rupture. My brother’s face had terror written on it.

 

The depot door flew open; out ran a chubby engineer in stripped overalls trying to hook up his strap. His hat fell off. His bib was between his legs as he tried to run on his cuffs. He ran past me, grabbed the ladder rung, and swung up climbing toward the engine.

 

I could feel the earth shake and smell burnt oil. Eternity passed. It was rendered relief. I could hear the engineer shouting down about jail…prison…but mostly about reform school. My brother climbed down the ladder and I handed back his bubble gum. He disappeared in the steam.

 

 We never told anyone about this, but later in life I asked if he ever added Unintentional Thievery to his resume. He replied “Did you ever put Premeditated Murder on yours? You deliberately stomped on my pet Praying Mantis”.

 

Dale

 

 


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