Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chapter Eleven

Chapter 11

May 2nd -- Ink; this pen is running out of ink, at least that’s what I meant to write at the end of my last entry. Who would have thought that it would be so hard to find something to write with? Every pen in the house was dead and there weren't any pencils. That messed up my morning because instead of doing things in the order that I wanted to do them I had to stop and go on safari for what I needed.

I woke up to the cat that had been hanging around singing right outside the bedroom window. It has started getting stuffy in the house at night so I opened a window but left the accordion shutters locked shut. It is the only thing I could think of to do; the more I go in and out the more the house struggles to stay cool even if it is well insulated. The cat must have been somebody's pet. I guess it finally decided to trust me. Good thing too, she had this great big ol' honking tick on her nose despite the flea collar she was wearing. And it is a her kitty and not a him kitty; silly thing rolled over on her back after I took the tick off and I made sure it didn’t have fleas before I hung around it too much. And she followed me around all day. The grossest thing though was she brought me a lizard … an extremely mangled lizard … to share. It took a while to convince her that I wasn’t hungry. She finally ate it herself. Don’t think I want any kitty kisses from her. Yuck! But at least I know I won’t have to worry about cat food if she decides to stay for a while.

After I took care of the kitty I ate breakfast and that granola stuff is really good. The powdered milk I poured over it would have been better if I had used colder water to make it so next time I’ll pump water straight from the well first. I also put some of the dried beans to soak in a bunch of water for my dinner that night. I would have forgotten to do that if I hadn’t had it on my list and that is another reason why I need office supplies; so that I can keep myself organized like I did for school. That’s when I started looking for a pen or pencil not even realizing how hard that was going to be. After an hour I gave up; I was soooo mad. I figured I could put off gathering the wood but I really needed to start the inventory; of course I couldn’t because I didn’t have a writing utensil. It also brought up thoughts about what would happen when stuff like that started running out and I could not find replacements.

I knew my best bet was to go back to the very first house and look in the girl’s room in her school stuff. I had intended on doing that anyway just not so soon. At least I was smart enough to remember to bring the back pack this time. The cat decided to follow me over to the house but wouldn’t come in; smart cat, it didn’t smell any better the second time around.

Sure enough there were a bunch of pens and pencils on her desk, on the desk in the boy’s room and also in a cup by the telephone in the kitchen. In the boy’s room there were also some big markers and a couple of pieces of poster board; must have been for some school project. Since I was there I grabbed the wooden spoons and stuff like that instead of coming back for them on a third trip.

Finally I was heading back to the house to start the inventory. Major problem; there was a big dog in the yard. As soon as I opened the door the cat sprinted inside and used me as a tree to climb up. I still have the marks on my scalp and neck where she grabbed on. I just barely got the door shut before the dog charged. His big old fat head slammed right into the door and the nasty thing nearly knocked himself out. He growled, barked, and scratched at the different doors and windows like he was Cujo or something. It was freaky. I was stuck in there an hour waiting for the dog to go away; it finally did when some birds took off in the tall grass and it went bounding after them, never returning.

It took forever for Fraidy – that’s what I've decided to call her – to calm down. I thought she was going to have a heart attack; her poor little heart was beating so hard. She’s not a very big kitty, probably isn’t very old or she’s a runt or something, and she wouldn’t have even been a mouthful for that dog. It was kind of a Rottweiler looking thing only it didn’t have a stubby tail and its body type was a little off; maybe a mixed breed.

Since I was stuck in there it gave me time to look around the house more. I guess that was a good thing ‘cause I found some more useful stuff but it still felt weird pawing through other people’s belongings. I cleaned out the medicine cabinet but I only took the stuff I knew about. If it looked like a prescription I didn't touch it. I found a wind up clock in the boy’s night stand and an old fashioned pocket watch that works on his dresser top. Now if I could only figure out what time it is. The other thing that the extra time gave me was the chance to realize that you don't always get the chance to get rid of the embarrassing stuff you have hidden. There was some stuff in the kids’ rooms that I’m sure their mom would not have approved of and for a fact there was some stuff in the mom’s room that was embarrassing to me. Right then and there I made myself a promise that I would try to be careful about what I had in my house. Who wants people to find that kind of stuff? I think I’d die of embarrassment if I wasn’t already dead. And who wants to be remembered that way?

Once I got home I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich shake. It’s really easy; you take milk (I made fresh from the powder mix), put in a little peanut butter and a little bit of jelly and then mix it together like a smoothie. It tastes a lot better than it sounds and since it was a healthy snack (and cheap) Aunt Wilma didn’t complain too much though it did gross her out.

After my lunch I got started on the inventory. The big cans of food in the dormer room were easy. As I brought stuff downstairs to put into the cabinets in the summer kitchen I would write it down. It feels like there is a whole lot of food and I’m sure there is in a way; but I’m also sure that it won’t last as long as I would like it to; no grocery store to run to when I use it all up and no money to buy anything if there were stores selling. I thought about leaving the big cans up there but I need the floor space; I’m going to make a place for me to hide for just-in-case. The book called Diary of Anne Frank gave me the idea only I sure as heck don’t want my story to end the way hers did. The food that doesn’t need water and cooking is going to be my emergency snack stash for up there.

It was messier to inventory all of the stuff in the barn which meant I got stuck taking another cold bath (gotta find a way to heat water up or keep hot water on hand). I brought in everything but the clothes and put it away; that took a lot of time. The clothes are still out there. I think I've figured out a way to wash everything but I’m only going to be able to do a few pieces at a time.

That night I fixed the bean burgers and they were really easy. I took my soaked white beans and cooked them for an hour and a half in a Dutch oven. That took a lot of my wood but I planned on gathering more wood the next day. I also put some of the dried chopped onions in some water to rehydrate. While the beans were cooking I took a hip bath out on the lanai. I stank so much I was afraid of being in the house too much. I was also scared someone would come by and catch me in my all together so I moved a screen outside and set a big, galvanized tub out there. I could only kneel in the tub but I didn’t really want to sit in that cold water anyway. Fraidy thought I was nuts. I was so cold by the time I finished washing my hair that I thought I was nuts.

I put my hair up in a towel and then finished fixing the burgers and making instant mashed potatoes. The instant mashed potatoes were easy; just following the directions by adding boiling water. The burgers took a little more work but are worth it. Even though Aunt Wilma and I didn’t always get along I'm smart enough to know it wasn’t always her fault and this was one of the recipes she taught me during those times we weren't on the outs.

First you take some stuffing mix and add in some egg (I used Vigo breadcrumbs from the cabinets here and added powdered eggs that I added water to) and let them sit. Then you heat a little oil in a skillet and sauté your onions only I didn’t have oil so I had to dry fry them in a little non-stick spray which I did have several cans of. Then you take your cooked and drained beans and using a fork mash them up until they are all kinda like baby food consistency. Add your onions to the beans and mixed it up. Then add you stuffing/egg junk to the bean/onion junk and stir it up until it’s is sort of like play dough. Make patties out of the bean play dough and fry them in your skillet with non stick spray, oil, or butter until they are browned on both sides. I was really hungry so I made two patties. I used my ketchup packets to add a little more flavor to my burgers but sometimes we used to make gravy for the potatoes and that worked too.

It was easy to get to sleep that night but Fraidy woke me up again the next morning. I’m going to have to figure out what that cat wants. She won’t come inside and that might be a good thing but she wants me outside all the time and that doesn’t work for me. I’m a people not an animal no matter what she thinks.

Today my list of things to do went better. First thing after breakfast (I fixed a bowl of grits and put in a little powdered cheese) I had to gather wood. It’s not hard; the turkey oaks drop tree trash year round and since no one had been through to bush hog all I had to do was bend over and pick it up. Eventually I got smart and took the wheelbarrow with me. I stopped after four big loads of wood and I piled them on a gray plastic tarp that I found in the barn. There was a blue one in there too but it stood out too much and you could see if from a long way off.

Next I took off to that fourth house I spotted. If I thought the first and third houses had been a mess this one could have been on that TV show that Uncle Charlie used to watch called Clean House where people were so messy they needed professional help to get things organized and redecorated. I think who ever lived there must have been addicted to shopping. There were a lot of unopened UPS and Fed Ex boxes and a ton of stuff with that label that says “as seen on TV.” It was kinda funny at first but after a while it got to be sad ‘cause a lot of the stuff was just plain silly and it made me think of this really sad woman with no friends except her credit card.

Some of it I figure I can make use of but some of it was kind of weird. Like there were all these Mr. Potato Heads dressed up like different professional football players; they were called Sports Spuds. There were boxes and boxes of junky kind of food like all these different flavored coffees and big containers of popcorn seasonings and stuff from some Hickory Farms, the Wisconsin Cheeseman, and some fancy place called Dean and Deluca. There were three of these popgun things that shot marshmallows but there wasn’t a kid’s room in the house. There were “Sham Wows” that were these towels that are supposed to be 25 times more absorbent than a paper towel. There were aqua globes that you filled with water and stuck in house plants in case you forgot to water them. There was a ton of costume jewelry that looked like it had never been worn. There were clothes of all sizes in every room of the house, ninety percent of them still had the tags on. There were lots of fancy picture frames but none of them had pictures of real people in them – they were the pictures that came with the frames – but they were set around the house like they were family members. There were four sets of fireplace accessories but not a fireplace in the house. One room that was supposed to be a bedroom was full of nothing but Christmas decorations, most of them never even taken out of the packaging. There were lots of DVDs and CDs that were still in the plastic but I didn’t see a DVD player or stereo though it could have been buried some place.

Another room was full of all of these collectible dolls; all those eyes staring at me creeped me out. Another room had a John Deere, Rooster, and Hunting theme to it. I think it was supposed to be a man’s room but I don’t think a guy would appreciate a frilly and ruffled bright green and yellow bedspread even if it did have a giant picture of a tractor on it. Another room had lots of musical instruments and stuff in there. Then I went into the kitchen.

The kitchen was so fussy and had so many gadgets and gizmos in there you couldn’t really see the counter top and hardly any of them had ever been used by the looks of them. There were a ton of plastic containers. It took me a few minutes to realize that no one had ever taken the food out of this house, not that there was much to take. Judging by the dried toxic waste that had oozed out of the big freezer out in the garage the home’s owner must have most eaten TV dinners and junk like that. But the cabinets did have some canned goods like soups and single size cans of veggies. There was a lot of that junk that people take to work for lunch shoved into the closet that served as a pantry. But oh my word! There was enough junk food to satisfy my highschool football team. There were also a bunch of cases of canned pop. I mean I got zits just looking at it all. And Aunt Wilma would have had a coronary; to her processed sugar was a cuss word.

I started hauling over stuff right away. The problem is the house is so much further away than the other three that it is taking forever to haul stuff home. And the ground I’m walking across isn’t exactly a sidewalk. I think I’m almost half way done with that house but I sure am tired tonight. I brought back a box of Zebra Cakes and a couple of cans of soda with the first load so I could have dessert after dinner. Now I wish I hadn’t because I can’t get to sleep. I’m writing by the wind up flashlight I found in that house with the hunting gear. The stupid thing has an alarm on it too and I nearly stopped breathing when I accidentally turned it on and then had a hard time figuring out how to turn it off. Fraidy fell off the window ledge she was sleeping on which was the only thing funny about the whole incident.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and finish up taking the stuff from that house – most of the food is going in my hideaway in the dormer room. I have the stuff I’ve already inventoried in one of the barn bays and this new stuff is in another barn bay. I’ll inventory for a little while during my break between chores, and then I’m going to work on finishing up how I’m going to wash clothes.

But I’m going to have to be careful. While I was fixing dinner – I splurged and let myself eat one of the cans of chicken and stars soup along with nearly a whole sleeve of crackers – I heard what I think is gun fire. There was a bunch of pops but not like the machine gun sounds you hear in the movies where the pops are all neat and orderly. These pops were close together but didn’t sound all the same, maybe like there was more than one gun going off at the same time. I’ve tried to count the pops in my head and all I can say for sure is that there was more than a dozen but less than two dozen. Maybe someone was hunting but somehow I just don’t think so.

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