Cherry Saturday, April 11, 2020

Today is Pet Day, which happens during Active Dog Month. I’m going to go with Pet Day because my dogs are all seniors, and while they have short bursts of activity, those bursts end in naps. Sort of like me. Lots of people are adopting or fostering pets these days, which is great as long as they don’t turn them back to the shelters when the apocalypse finally ends. These are living creatures, people, they attach.

This reminds me of a piece of story that sort of floated by a brain cell the other day. I have no idea who these people are, they don’t even have names, but by god the chicken got a name. Animals (and birds) are people, too. Hug a pet today.

*******


She thought seriously about throwing something at him, he was being such a pain in the ass, but he was also going to make soup, and despite his grave shortcomings as a human being he was an excellent cook, so she stifled herself until he went out the back door. Then she went back to work on the kitchen, rehearsing scathing things to say to him after the soup was done and they’d eaten and she was full.

Ten minutes later he came back, vegetables in hand and a chicken at his feet.

“Shoo,” she said as the chicken strutted across her nice, newly clean floor.

He shook his head. “Don’t shoo, that’s dinner.”

“Dinner?” She looked down at the chicken who looked back at her, dumb as a rock but definitely alive. She almost said, “You’re going to kill that chicken ???!!” but she knew that would get her nothing but contempt. Of course, he was going to kill that chicken. Chickens were where chicken soup came from.

“Is that a problem?” he said, and she knew he was waiting for her to say something dumb about not killing chickens which was going to get her nowhere because he’d seen her tear into a chicken sandwich the day before.

“Well, it’s certainly a problem for Margaret.” She stuck her chin in the air, not sure where the “Margaret” had come from, but committed now. “She’s been producing eggs all these years like a champ and now you’re just going to off her because you have a hankering for poultry stew. No loyalty for the working class.” She looked back down at Margaret and had an insane moment wondering if Margaret had any organizing skills. If Margaret and her biddies went on strike . . .

Well, no, if they stopped producing eggs, they’d all be soup.

Also Margaret looked like she wasn‘t sure she could find the back door again. Organizing a chicken co-op was clearly beyond–

“Margaret,” he said.

She nodded. “Margaret is the sweetheart of Sigma Chick. Heart of gold.” She smiled down at the chicken.

Margaret looked back at her blankly.

Not a lot of personality, she thought, but clearly . . .

Clearly Margaret was a chicken and that was the extent of it.

He dumped the vegetables in the sink and said, “Wash those,” and walked back out the door.

Margaret followed, a feathered puppy at his heels.

Idiot chicken.

We who are about to die have no clue . . .

She began to scrub the dirt off the veg, feeling vaguely sad because now that she’d named the chicken, the damn bird really was Margaret, and Margaret had just strutted out the door to her death. From now on, don’t name the chickens, she told herself. Don’t name anything, and then she looked at the carrot in her hand and thought, Fred.

Fred couldn’t look back, no eyes, so that had no impact.

Don’t name the potatoes.

Half an hour later, she had the vegetables scrubbed and stacked on the cutting board, no names, and the dishes washed and the pots scrubbed, and was getting ready to leave when the back door opened again, and he came in, looking grim as always, a plucked chicken corpse in his hand.

“Oh, god, Margaret,” she said, only half kidding.

“No.” He pointed down at his feet.

When she looked down, Margaret was there, still dumb as a rock, but definitely still breathing, too.

“This,” he said, dropping the carcass into the sink, “is Portia.”

“Portia?”

“I found her dying of old age in the henhouse.”

She blinked at him, and he met her eyes, sober and stern-faced as ever. “Her last words were ‘I want to be soup.’”

She bit down hard on her lip. Making jokes about a dead chicken. What was wrong with him?

What was wrong with her? She’d alnost laughed.

Instead she shook her head. “That Portia. Always a giver.”

Then she escaped out of the kitchen, leaving him alone with Margaret and the last of Portia, so she could laugh where he wouldn’t see her.

It was what he deserved.

*************

Tell me you didn’t make chicken soup today. IT’S PET DAY.

Have a nice salad. No eyes.

24+

44 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, April 11, 2020

  1. Thank you, this was glorious. Chicken co-op. Ha ha ha ha ha.
    And I’m pleased to report we had courgette, carrot and halloumi fritters.

    One of my all time favourite puns, a sign on the top of a wire enclosure around a vege plot. “This is the awning of the cage of asparagus”.
    Closely followed by the guy who wrapped the swear jar in aluminium. Curses, foiled again.

    Also, apparently Neil Gaiman is trapped on a New Zealand lifestyle block. He posted an Instagram vid of himself sitting surrounded by chickens, and talked about how he’s spent hours watching them, and no time doing the stuff he ‘should’ be doing. This virus situation is hard on creative work, go the girls, Jenny.

  2. Alas, I’ve just bought a chicken for my Easter dinner (Nigel Slater’s chicken-brick chicken, with fresh herbs & lemon, various veg, and then a home-made apple pie – I bought extra butter to make the pastry, and will make a currant pasty with the leftovers).

    It had a free-range, woodland life, so that’s something.

  3. I’ve been trying to eat “clean”-ish.🙄 I’m trying to determine how much wheat triggers my sinus problems.

    But bread, naan, and focaccia are my downfall. I have both potato and rice flour but am too tired to attempt anything. Also, all the damn recipes say “Serves 4” and I’m just 1! Sometimes when I halve an unfamiliar recipe I end up with rocks.

    1. I have a tea towel that says, “According to this package of macaroni and cheese, I’m a family of four.”

      I bought naan yesterday. Sliced tomatoes and mushrooms with mayo on naan with oregano and mozzarella takes five minutes to make and a short time in the oven and it is heavenly.

  4. I’ve been a vegetarian for just over half of my life. Margaret is safe from me.

    Sadly, pets are also safe from me. I live two states away from the rest of my family, and with the current restrictions on movement I won’t see them or any of their pets for several months. But my best friend down here is trying really hard to adopt a puppy. She’s been looking on and off for the past two years, but she used to travel a lot for her job so wasn’t sure she would have time to train a puppy properly. Now that she’s working from home the only human interaction she has is when I or another friend drag her out for a walk. A dog will improve her life enormously.

  5. That’s a wonderful story. Margaret. Reminds me of Jupiter in The Cinderella Deal because Margaret takes to the guy who would kill her just like maimed Jupiter goes for the “hero” of that book.

    I’m a robust meat eater and am relieved that animals have stopped being “harvested” in grocery store signs and are back to being “slaughtered.” I kept imagining combines chasing down cows.

    The oddest sales line I know in grocery marketing is “Black Angus.” According to the USDA any cow that has even a partially black body can be sold as “Black Angus” meat. (That is something from years back; I hope the definition has changed.)

    I continue to laugh at questionable uses of “free range,” especially free range eggs.

    1. “According to the USDA any cow that has even a partially black body can be sold as “Black Angus” meat. (That is something from years back; I hope the definition has changed.)”

      I surely hope it has changed. I grew up across the back fence from Mr. Matlick’s Registered Angus cows.

    2. https://justcook.butcherbox.com/what-is-angus-beef-and-why-the-label-really-doesnt-matter/

      The article says it’s like coke vs. pepsi. It’s just branding.

      You know that Folgers coffee commercial? “Eets Mountain Grown – That’s the richest kind.” That’s so impressive until you find out almost all coffee is mountain grown, and the stuff from the lower elevations is all “Robusta” beans, as opposed to the tasty, tasty “Arabica” beans. Robustas make the super strong acidic coffee blends, where flavor isn’t as important.

      The majority of cows in the US are Angus.

      1. As far as I can tell from the web, certified Angus beef has to fit ten specific criteria, so you’re guaranteed a tasty steak. Black Angus means that at least 51% of the animal was black. I can’t find further criteria for the Black designation.

        The article Gary posted focuses on animal welfare. We drove by a dude ranch in Wyoming last year that is owned by a super-richy. He uses a breed of cattle which runs far smaller than commercial animals and roams the range.

        I think Mary Anne is saying that Mr. Matlick raised his cattle in pastures and they led good lives. Where I live, I can buy local meat from farms with small herds which are well cared for. I particulary enjoy the retired dairy farmers who keep their last ladies until they die of old age.

  6. I just slaughtered an egg – necessary in the “Ore-Ida Just Crack an Egg” breakfast cup. Possibly one of Margaret’s eggs. Don’t tell her.

    Dinner tonight will likely be Stouffer’s Turkey Tetrazini. When I think of Turkey Tetrazini, I free-associate “Turkey Tetoffensive.” Then I remember the horrendous hangover I got from Wild Turkey, an offensive act by that product if ever one was, and I have no sympathy for any turkey. Name them Tom all you like – some poultry jest need killin’. I’m going to eat that Stouffer’s guilt-free.

      1. Thanks be. I am not at all into balut, and I don’t care what countries consider it a delicacy. I’d rather eat lutefisk, and nobody will ever witness that, either. To each, their own. Embryonic chicken is not my own.

        1. I’ve eaten balut. Once. And not the whole thing, either. It was kind-of like very salty chicken soup.

      1. No trouble, except sorta for using the F-word. The boss does not like foul language. He responded to my email with one of his own, to the entire Power Plant:

        Let’s all be professional about the policy put out by the DOC on proper wear of the face mask. We are all adults so there is also no need for the language either. Wearing the mask is not an option. Don’t put anyone else at risk of getting sick. All turnovers will be conducted in the Bay with masks on. Let’s follow the rules Guys and get through this.

        Naturally, the butt-head I did turnover with Friday stood five feet into the bay and forced me to back up so he could leave – but he was wearing a mask, until he walked past me. No professionalism at all.

        As of yesterday, we had four infected inmates (two at hospital) and one staff.

  7. One of the things I love about chickens is how absolutely merciless they are. When I eat chicken soup, I remind myself that the other chickens would be perfectly happy to eat chicken soup with me. Margaret is probably saying, “Serves that biddy right,” in her cackle. And you have to be careful not to let them realize that their eggs taste delicious or they’ll start eating them all before you can get to them. They’re fluffy little raptors. Loved the snippet!

  8. I’ve got leftover chicken in the fridge. She was delicious. I also have a turkey/beef lasagna.

    Yesterday was definitely a good dogs day because they let me have a desperately-needed nap and didn’t whine and cry outside the bedroom door like they usually do.

    I’m a farm girl and I lived in a university residence with a bunch of city/suburban girls, there was only 1 other farm girl on my floor. We were having supper in the dining hall and one of the girls pompously announced that she was a vegetarian because “I won’t eat anything with a face.” I said “Hell, I’ve eaten things I’ve named.” She was a pretendatarian because she’d eaten a bacon cheeseburger the day before and pigs and cows both have faces. My sister is a vegetarian, she would not eat Margaret or Portia.

  9. For someone who says she can’t write short stories, you write incredibly funny ones, Jenny (oops, almost wrote henny).

  10. Last night for supper I made a pasta caprese dish and I thought I was being all Good Friday-ish without meat. That is until I remembered for lunch I finished off a Margaret salad with celery and sliced grapes. Today for lunch I added olives to the leftover pasta and called it Mediterranean.

  11. The only thing I can guarantee about my meals this weekend is that there will be asparagus. I paid an extra 30 cents a pound because I don’t live in the suburbs, but it is still one of my favorite signs of spring and I plan to enjoy it.

  12. Damn, I love your dialogue. What a great scene! It stands alone just fine, but it also makes me want to read more.

  13. I have been vegetarian for several months. Margaret is safe with me. My husband, alas, is still a carnivore.

  14. Loved the short story. Something that makes me smile is most welcome.

    Oops. I fixed cashew Margaret for lunch today and will enjoy the leftovers tomorrow.

    I grew up on what I think would be called a hobby farm these days. My parents both grew up on farms and that’s what they wanted their home to be even though they made their incomes as engineer/bookkeeper. It drove my dad nuts that I named all animals and tried to make them pets. Just not cut out to be a farmer’s daughter. In those days I was a vegetarian and remained one for some time.

  15. I loved the story! I read it while eating spicy basil chicken leftovers. Oh well.

    My calico cat is quite happy to know that today is national pet day. Although, she does tend to believe every day should be focused around her. She’s 18 years old. Still feisty but for only moments and she no longer does the backflips. 😁

  16. Great short story. Needed that today. Warming up to having a dog again. Almost there.

    We have the vegan family and the carnivore Mcc’s. We carnivores have some very tasty food. We do eat less though. Best meal this year was in Sama Sama, Santa Barbara. The best Margaret wings ever.

  17. Was it yesterday? No, Wednesday – I had some Purdue chicken strips, the pre-cooked kind you nuke for 35 – 45 seconds. With them I had onions and LRPs (Little Red Potatoes), which needed to be washed and have their eyes gouged out before cooking. I added a tiny snack-sized bag of “baby carrots” to the container before nuking for 4 minutes. Blind potatoes and Fred’s kids. Not sure about the onions. The veggies were a lot better than the Portian of meat, though.

    Speaking of web comics, the main protagonist of DaveB‘s Grrl Power is Sydney Scoville, Junior. (Her dad is Sydney Scoville, Senior. Just go with it.) Sydney is privately a vegetarian, but gets outed at a celebration at a steakhouse, where she only orders a baked potato. Part of the scene is explaining the scope of her vegetarianism.

    To save you the trouble of following the link, let me quote the last three frames:

    Sydney: “This is why I didn’t want to tell anyone!”
    Peggy: “So what kind of veggie are you? Lacto-ovo, flexitarian…”
    Sydney: “I don’t know labels. No meat or birds. Eggs if they’re free range. Same basic idea with milk and cheese. I just don’t want anything cute to suffer for my food.”
    Narrator: SMUGNESS +1
    Peggy: “What about seafood?”
    Sydney: “Oh, I’ll eat the hell out of some fish. They’re ugly and delicious!”
    Narrator: SMUGNESS -1

    1. Gary, I am forced to confess that I do eat fish and seafood with my family. They’re wogs and have never really got the hang of vegetarian. It’s a lot like My big Fat Greek Wedding, actually. (It’s okay, I make lamb! Or as one aunt put it, That’s not meat, it’s just a little pancetta!)

      I don’t care if others eat meat, it’s just not my thing. That muscle texture… *shudder*

  18. So, maybe the Surprise Diner will have a Margaret special of some kind and I will have to make some Margaret Soup soon.

    Loved the story.

    Tantaka says she should have an entire pet year but will be happy to share with all the other pets.

    Gotta go, she needs her ball bounced. Or a treat. Or both. Probably both.

  19. This story was the best part of my day. (And really, it was an okay day.) Thank you, Jenny, for making me smile.

    I made duck wings tonight. Margaret’s cousin Fran?

    My cats think every day is pet day. As in, “Pet me. Pet me now.”

  20. Our son decided he couldn’t eat cute animals when he was a preteen. We explained that chickens can run around with their heads cut off and he decided any animal that didn’t need it’s brain wouldn’t suffer from being eaten. That pretty much remains his food rule to this day (age 23) although he may have other reasons for it now.

    I bought three Margaret’s today —one will be chicken soup —I’m stocking up the freezer in case one of us gets sick—and the other two will be rotisseried.

    Our pets are all fish. I do not get attached to fish but my husband does.

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