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Monday, November 21, 2011

Eating Pets

I received an awesome Thanksgiving card in the mail a couple of days ago.  'Who sends out Thanksgiving cards?' you may well ask...Well, it is the one and only Lisa Paskins.  She is one of my very faithful visiting teachers, a blogging buddy, a good friend and an extreme sender of cards.

On the front of the card it says, "You know you are a redneck..." and on the inside it finishes, "If you have to choose which pet to eat for Thanksgiving."  Lisa thought this was funny because we have both eaten goat meat.  But I have been thinking about it beyond that experience to another random childhood memory.

Jim and I named pretty much every animal on our property (except for chickens, there were just too many chickens).  All of our sheep had funny names.  Jim was a good animal namer and his names reflected the personality of the pet.  We had loads of dogs and cats (see previous blogpost about some pretty snazzy cat names).  We  had ducks, pigs, goats, horses and cows that were named too and one year we had a turkey...

That is where this story begins.  Mom and Dad picked out a young turkey sometime in May or June of 1970 and warnings were issued that it was to be the main course of our Thanksgiving feast that year.  The warnings included the admonition to NOT name the bird because we were going to EAT him in a few months.  But telling a couple of little kids (we were 8 and 5 that year) that they were not to grow attached to a new animal which we fed and watered every day was fairly pointless.  Of course we didn't play with the turkey, he was in a wooden pen with a roof over it, but we would reach through the slats and pet his silky feathers and even though he had a homely face, his plumage was beautiful and we grew fond of him and started calling him Tom.

Tom grew larger and plumper each month through the summer and fall.  Each day, Jim and I would tell Mom that we didn't want to eat turkey for Thanksgiving.  We were happy to have mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, and all the other stuff, but there was no need to kill Tom.  Jim and I would counsel together about how effective our persuasive arguments were.  We were actually feeling quite confident going into the week of Thanksgiving.  No one had made any more threats about slaughtering our bird and we had ramped up our efforts to stay his execution indefinitely.  Thanksgiving Eve came and Tom was still strutting around in his wooden pen at evening chore time.  If Jim and I knew what 'high fives' were, we certainly would have been slapping them all over the place that night.

The next morning, my Mom was up early peeling potatoes and rolling out pie dough when I got up to do morning chores. She didn't say much more than 'good morning' as I headed out the door. In the early morning gloom, I saw something strewn across the frosty ground as I headed towards the corrals.  As I drew closer, I realized it was feathers.  Lots of feathers.  Turkey feathers.  I rushed to Tom's pen where the lid-like roof was leaning against the side and no one was home.

I rushed back to the house, slamming the back door as I demanded to know what had happened.  Mom explained that Dad waited until Jim and I were asleep last night to butcher the turkey. She plucked and cleaned him and had him roasting in the oven.

I don't remember too many details of most Thanksgiving feasts, but that one is crystal clear because both my brother and I refused any turkey and were extremely morose during the entire meal and rest of that day.  In fact, we may have drug the sullenness on for several more days, I don't recall how many. But one thing I know for sure is our parents never bought a live turkey again.  Of all the animals we raised when I was a kid, we only had one turkey and his name was Tom.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Case of the Purloined Puddies

Here's a random childhood memory that I recently found stuffed in the recesses of my brain:

     We had packed the old, orange cat we called Barfy in a box when we moved to Pleasant Grove at the beginning of my third grade school year. He howled the entire trip.  Jim and I tried to comfort him in his box sitting between us on the back seat of the car, but he would claw and chew us whenever we tried to hold or pet him.  Near the end of the voyage, we were all as miserable as Barfy and could hardly wait to release him from his cardboard prison.  

     As we pulled up to our new house, his box was the first one opened and the most easily emptied of all those we brought with us because as we lifted it out of the car, he bolted without a backward glance and was gone.  Mom, Jim and I looked for him for months after that, but never saw him again.

     The next fall when we moved back to Hinckley we had been without a cat for nearly a year;  I am sure that was the longest we had ever gone without a feline at our house.  Once settled back into our home and routine, Jim and I started begging for a kitten and Mom started looking for one to join the family.  I don't know where she found the two she brought home, but they were instantly accepted and loved.   They were yellow and white babies from the same litter, but one was much bigger than the other.  I think we must have got the runt and the biggest of the family so it made perfect sense to name the small one 'Itten Bitten Kitten' and the other one 'Biggie Kitty'.  Itten Bitten and Biggie were cute and fun. They would tangle themselves together wrestling and playing, they would bounce and bound around and on top of one another in their wild, cat games. They were very entertaining and we adored them.  Over the next two months, Biggie kept getting bigger, but Itten Bitten didn't seem to grow at all.  

     That next spring we went to visit my Grandparents for a week and left the cats at home with my friend, Lynette, as the animal sitter.  I don't remember much about the trip to Arizona, but I remember as soon as we pulled back into our driveway, bustling out of the back of the truck and running to the "Little House" where the kittens were housed to play with Biggie and Itten Bitten, but they were gone.  My parents made us unpack the truck and get everything into the house before I could call Lynette and find out where the cats were at.  When I did phone, she said she didn't know what had happened to the cats.  One day when she came to feed and water them, they were just gone.  The door was still closed but they had vanished.

     Jim and I mourned over those kittens and talked about them all the time.  A month or more later, we finally learned what had happened to our cats.  Mrs. Taylor who lived around the corner from our place, had her children and grandchildren from Salt Lake City visiting at her house and the kids had seen Itten Bitten climb under the door of the little house.  Biggie was inside meowing for Itten because he was too big to fit under the door and couldn't get out.  So instead of opening the door and putting Itten Bitten back in, they opened the door and let Biggie Kitty out and took them to their grandma's house where they fell in love with them and decided to take them with them when they returned to Salt Lake.

     I was absolutely incensed that Mrs. Taylor would allow her grandchildren to steal our cats.  It changed the way I felt about the woman.  As a ten-year-old, I felt there was something very immoral about an adult who would allow her grandchildren to take kittens home which obviously belonged to her neighbors.  Even today, I still feel a sense of shock and dismay that a grandparent, a set of parents and even children would have thought that was an acceptable behavior.

     After a period of grieving we did replace those kittens with two more.  The new pair was also from the same litter.  They were the same size, but they were not the same color.  One was pure black and the other one was all white except for a black splotch on his forehead. Again, we applied our creative naming skills and called them Blacky and Whitey. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Family Lexicon

On our recent visit to our son and new daughter-in-law, Lindsey, Rob and I discovered that we had nurtured a tradition with our children which may not be appreciated by their spouses.

We had used some Crouch Family words during our children’s impressionable years that were not necessarily proper or correct which had become such a part of our vocabulary, we forgot that were neither proper nor correct.

Somewhere in Rob’s childhood, the word “Faunchy” became a term to mean ornery, upset or fussy.  I, without question, adopted the word when I married into the family.  We would use it in sentences like: “Quit ‘faunching’ around or you are going to knock over that lamp.”   OR  “He didn't get his nap today so he is really ‘faunchy' this evening.”

It works, don’t you think? 

Unfortunately, Kevin used ‘Faunch’ in a sentence while speaking to Lindsey and was quite adamant it truly was a word.  She argued that no, it was not and the debate landed them in front of the computer trying all possible spellings of the term and finally Lindsey declaring victory. 

Rob and I laughed about it with Bryan and Camille today and started thinking about some of the other Crouch jargon we have mixed into our daily language.  We came up with: “Runerwear” for underwear; “Wipperbuns” for slippers; and “Blessyoud” for a sneeze.  There were several others we chuckled over and then we discovered that all of these were cute things the kids had said when they were little that we just adopted into our everyday terminologies.   Perhaps I should notify the Webster’s Dictionary people and submit these as new and useful words for publication in their next edition.

Do you have expressions you have developed and use which only your family knows the meaning of?  How were those words/phrases developed?  How many generations have used these words?  Please use them in a sentence for me.  Otherwise, I might get faunchy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Restaurant Review

I had such a fun Saturday.
I got to eat at three different restaurants for the three meals of the day.
This morning was our Stake Relief Society training. 
It wasn't so much of a training as it was a 'training table' at Jeremiah's on 12th Street in Ogden with a breakfast buffet (including scones!).
I was able to see and visit with some of the lovely women of our stake who serve in Relief Society presidencies in other wards.
Afterwards, I came home and hung out with Camille and Rob for a couple of hours and then I went and picked up my friend, Lisa.
We drove to the Noodles on Riverdale Road where we met up with three other girls who are former UIC employees.
We laughed together and consoled and congratulated one another while we ate bowls of yummy noodles.
One just had a baby seven weeks ago; one lost her husband to cancer eight weeks ago; one is going through a divorce and another is dealing with an unhappy home life. 
I left feeling blessed to know all four of them.
It was a therapeutic event, at least for me.
Back home,  I hung out for another couple of hours while I waited to eat again.
Rob and I left at 5:00 to head to Logan where we picked up Kevin and Lindsey and went to dinner at El Toro Viejo.
We enjoyed visiting with our cute, little married couple before heading back into the cold to find the 
Riter Mansion.
This was the location of the wedding reception of Lance and Katelyn Bosworth.  
Lance is the son of one of my oldest friends, Lynette.
Now, that is not to say that Lynette is old, it is just that I've known and loved her longer 
than almost anyone else.
Lynette is another Hinckley resident.
We have been friends since we were four years old.
We have stayed friends for 45 years.
It was a wonderful Saturday and now I'm going to go to bed. 
I'm stuffed, I'm happy, I'm content and I'm tired!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Bryan has had stitches twice in the past two months.  Those dark blue or black threads tied up in little knots have reminded me of the stitches (and staples) I've experienced in the past.  Being cut and stitched closed is horrible.  I mean it is wonderful that the human body can heal itself and that if the edges of sliced skin are brought back together it can heal with less of a scar.  But just thinking about having stitches, makes the back of my knees ache and causes the bad kind of chills down my spine.

The winter I was in fifth grade at Hinckley Elementary School, it was bitterly cold and nearly all the pipes in our house froze.  We had a couple of episodes with broken pipes that winter in the new addition my Dad was putting on our house. Broken pipes are almost as terrible as stitches in skin.  When the temperature drops to a certain level, leaking or spraying water immediately turns to ice so we were having to use a blowtorch to melt ice so we could mop up the water.   My poor parents were buying heat tape and wrapping every pipe in the house, but for a good month the only running water in the house was in the tub of one bathroom.  We hauled buckets of water to the kitchen to cook and clean with.  We had to haul water to the laundry room to wash clothes.  We had to haul water from the tub in the far bathroom outside to water the animals.  It was truly a horrendous time.  At this point, my father was working feverishly to finish the addition so we could heat that part of the house.  He installed the windows at almost the same time the HVAC guys were there installing the new furnace.  Why do I remember this all so well?   Because on an especially frigid Saturday morning I was hauling a five-gallon bucket of water.  I weighed about 75 pounds and had sticks for arms, so I would use momentum to swing the bucket forward a few feet, take a step and do it again.  This was how I moved the bucket through the house to the back door.  Leaning against the wall by that door was a window that had just been broken during the rush to finish the addition.  Something had fallen through the glass leaving a gaping hole with giant shards surrounding it.  As my luck and the accident-proneness in me would have it, I lost my balance and fell right into that broken window.  Of all the places inside and outside the house I could have tumbled while toting that bucket of water, it had to be right into a broken window.  I must have shot out my left arm to catch myself and it went right through the hole.  I vividly remember that giant chunk of flesh hanging open and the amount of blood that immediately washed the area.  What I don't remember is how I alerted my Mom to my plight and how freaked out she must have been.  It seems like she was extremely calm.  She had the presence of mind to ask one of the HVAC guys if my artery was cut.  Maybe she was trying to determine if it would be worth the six-mile drive into Delta to find a doctor.

We did make the journey, with me in the back seat soaking blood into every towel my mother owned.  Dr. Lyman began by cleaning the wound by irrigating it with something that stung like the dickens.  Then he draped it and started sticking needles all around it to numb the area.  He determined that there were five severed vessels and a few damaged nerves as well.  He spent a couple of hours stitching inside before making 15 stitches on the outside to close the gash.  Then he did the cruelest thing of all, he gave me a Tetanus shot in my right arm.

When we got back home late that afternoon, my Dad had disposed of the window and had done his best to clean up the blood.  I was grateful for that.  He helped me prop the injured arm on a pillow to sleep that night and he sat and talked with me.  I didn't realize it then, but he felt so much guilt about my injury.  I knew very well that I had only my own clumsiness to blame and didn't even consider being upset with him about the broken window.  It wasn't until I became a parent that I finally understood what he was going through that night.

For the next several days I was in agony, not from the cut wrist, but from that Tetanus shot.  I was using my injured left hand to do things while I allowed my right arm to hang uselessly at my side because it hurt from my shoulder to my hand and was too painful to move.

For years after that incident, you could tell when I was cold because my scar would turn the most vivid shade of purple.  In the 40 years since that happened I wish I had kept track of the number of people who have asked me, upon seeing my scared wrist, if I had tried to commit suicide.  If I did, it was a completely subconscious attempt.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Little More Lamenting

Okay, I am not going to say ANYTHING about the track except it is STILL locked.  End of topic.

But, my heartstrings were tugged at yesterday while driving down Washington Boulevard.  Blocks before I reached 22nd Street, I could see the giant crane looming over the temple block and tears sprung to my eyes. As I drew nearer, I could see the hollowed out shells of two beloved buildings above the 8-foot-high fence encompassing the entire grounds.  There was also an enormous mound of dirt towering over the height of the fence lending to the feeling of wreckage and destruction.
Photo from six weeks ago before the crane was set up and
the enormous pile of dirt appeared.
I miss the Ogden Temple.  I miss our Tabernacle.  We have attended Stake Conference in our ward building twice now. Watching a transmission on a little screen is less than satisfying and I detest sitting on the hard, folding metal chairs in the cultural hall.  I miss those lovely, padded theater-type seats in the tabernacle.

As much as I miss the tabernacle, I miss the temple a thousand times more.  How I long for the 15-minute drive and close & convenient parking.  Since the Ogden Temple closed, we have attended the Provo, Bountiful and Logan Temples and have appreciated those opportunities, but I have to admit to feeling a little out of place and disassociated compared the feeling of belonging I had always experienced in Ogden.

It has only been six months since the Ogden buildings were closed; demolition isn't even concluded yet.  With two and half more years of feeling sad over the closures of these  dearly loved buildings still to come, I realize what a joy it will be to have the new structures completed.  I guarantee I will never take them for granted again.
Artist rendition of how the new Ogden Temple will look.
Even as a child, I didn't tolerate alterations to routines without a fuss.  I know things change, but it doesn't mean that I handle it well.  I apologize for all my whining lately. I will try get through this bravely; anticipating the new beautiful temple and tabernacle… although, I think it would be helpful if someone would just unlock the gate to the track!