Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Since most people will never work in a chicken plant, as I have, I thought it might amuse others if I told of the many rules enforced by the U.S.D.A. to protect our food supply. The ones I am familiar with concern contamination. The wall of the plant for instance, is contaminated. When you stack things like pallets or the huge cardboard boxes we use and they touch the wall then they are contaminated and cannot be used. If one cardboard box corner touches the wall then all the boxes in the stack are contaminated. Even though we use cardboard to put chicken in, cardboard itself is contaminated. Cardboard cannot touch chicken, and if the plastic liner has a hole in it and touches one chicken, then the entire box, which may contain 100 lbs. of chicken is also contaminated.
The bottom of a cardboard box is considered contaminated. We would use these for 40 lbs. of drumsticks. The plastic liners we use are a bit large for their containers, so we had to tie a knot in the side of the liner to make it fit snugly and in no danger of touching the dangerously toxic bottom of the box. If the knot was too large, you could not squeeze it onto the edges, if it was too small, then the liner would spill over too far over the sides. The proper knot, hand tied by hand, had to be made. It was useful to have boxes with liners already made for those periods when a lot of chicken was coming down the line. It was important that these be stacked with liner against liner, 2 boxes upside down against each other, so the bottom of the boxes were against each other because the bottom of a box is contaminated. If one liner was touching one bottom, you threw away the entire stack and received a reprimand. These reprimands were written down and had different names which I never learned, being but a lowly line worker.
Another rule is: Anything that touches something that is contaminated is also contaminated.
Also if you remove all the chicken from a box you cannot reuse it, even if you do so immediately, as it is now contaminated.
If a cat somehow gets into the plant and is higher up than the containers of chicken then the chicken is all contaminated, every one. Rhetorically speaking, that is.
If a chicken foot or a chicken back somehow gets into a box of chicken then the chicken is contaminated. I was amused to see the grocery store sold chicken backs. Someone should tell them.
If you are spraying the floor with the high-pressure hoses that we use and accidentally spray some of the water hits something and sprays up onto chicken, then that chicken is contaminated.
The roof is of great importance because if the roof leaks on chicken then that chicken is, you guessed it, contaminated.
Although I find some of these rules amusing they are of course for our protection and should be followed.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
There is a song that is suitable as background music or for a meditation room, there is a dancing song that has you tapping your foot and a love song that isn't like any love song you've ever heard. She is what you've heard before with things you've never heard before. She is caught in her own passion when she sings and she doesn't sing for you, she sings for herself.
In one song she pauses and hits one note on the piano six times, nothing else, just this one note and it's perfect.
"Don't Make Me Come to Vegas"
don't make me kick him out of your bed
I am vigilant
'cause it could be done and it has been done and I think I am
up to it.
don't make me come to Vegas don't make me kick him out of
but with the desert's kiss
she will slip into your net
Over my dead body
A couple of these songs are about rescueing some young lady from a rascal or cad who has taken her to Vegas, and it must be quite some story.
I saw her on Johnny Carson in what I swear looked like a prom dress that was huge, yellow on top and a white skirt. Her leg she swings over to the side like in the photo when she plays the piano, must be a habit of hers I guess.
The lyrics are so great and she sings with a crystal clarity I've never heard before in anyone's voice. I am stunned, happily stunned by her.
These songs are too deep to come from anywhere else but her own life. I think it is poignant when a singer sings her own songs from deep inside her own heart.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
mess - enough of some food item to make approximately four servings as in "We don't have enough okra in the garden to make a mess."
tacky - Something that looks bad, usually used in regards to yucky fashion as in, "That broach on her blue jean pocket just looks tacky.
tacky - behavior that is bad, such as breaking up with someone by asking your mom to do it for you.
Bless her heart - this makes any negative comment okay, because you are saying the person tries but just can't do it right as in, "She can't cook at all, bless her heart."
fixing - you might think fixing means repairing an item that is broken but it really means you're about to do something as in, "I'm fixing to go to the store."
"Did you get enough to eat?" after eating dinner at someone's house is polite and signifys that the host will offer you more food if you are still hungry and does not mean to imply that you eat like a horse, or a pig.
"Did you get gone?" means "Have you left for your trip yet?"
"I didn't ask you to." is hillbilly speak for telling you that although you did something nice for them, they did not ask you to so they are in no way obligated to pay you back.
"He looks squirrelly." is used to describe a man who has a lot of hair that is wild and unkempt. This reminds hillbillies a lot of rodents who live in trees.
"She talks about everybody." is hillbilly speak for the gossip who does it for the sensationalism aspect of spreading rumours and is a negative statement.
"Whoa." You are driving too fast.
"She thinks her poop don't stink." is hillbilly slang for she thinks she is so high-class and is so snobby, that she would be so stupid as to believe her bowel movements do not, like other peoples, smell bad.
"Well why did he do that?" is hillbilly talk meaning that someone did something for no discernable reason at all.
"Mmmm..." I am listening, keep talking.
"Didn't no bird every fly so high that it didn't fall one day and hit the ground." is hillbillies remarking how even people who have a lot of money and think themselves better than everyone else can still suffer setbacks and bad things can still happen to them. It is a gentle reminder that we are all just people, just like birds are all birds.
"Whee." You are driving too fast and I like it.
"Getting your tank full." means getting drunk see "getting tanked"
Saturday, August 1, 2009
The book has the same structure as Ms. Stead's childhood. Her mother died when she was 2 years old and her stepmother didn't like her, just like Louie in the book. Christina Stead had a love/hate relationship with her father just like Louie also from what I read about her. The war going on between the father and the stepmom I latched onto instantly, for that was what was going on in my own life. I got instant recognition, yes that is exactly how it is I thought but at the same time the book gives no solution and no judgments, it just is.
The stepmother Henny has many children, there wasn't a way to prevent pregnancy I suppose. Her husband had a job once and then lost it and Henny is forced to sell everything, her lace tablecloths, her dishes, anything to keep food on the table. He plays with the children and is pretentious pretending to be a great philosopher and scientist. He has a way with children for sure but he gives up even the pretense of looking for a job and the family sinks deeper and deeper into poverty. He does not think that he himself is at fault for anything, he is strangely disconnected from any worry at all. He leaves all the worry to his wife. Henny has tirades in this book, terrible screaming she does at him. She is bound to her husband and has a brief affair with a man she doesn't even like from whom she gets as much money as she can to feed her children. She plays the game of Solataire over and over again, until her mind grows blank and she no longer thinks of the sad situation she is in. Again, this is something my own mother did, ignoring the cries of her children and playing this endless game of cards. I wondered why she did it. I guess it was to numb her mind and think of nothing. The father and mother end up staying in separate parts of the house, using the children as messengers to one another.
In one of their fights Louie has a moment of clarity when she realizes that this war between her parents is ruining their moral natures. They call each other the vilest names they can think of, there is Henny sinking while her husband stands in the sunshine playing with the children without a care in the world.
When Henny dies it is a strange thing but a real thing the children's reaction. Being children they simply know that their mother is not there anymore and accept that she is in heaven easily. There is not much grief. The book says: When it stormed it was as if Henny too had stormed, but in another room in the universe, now under lock and key. Louie had gotten the idea to poison both her parents, but she got scared suddenly and put all the poison in one teacup. Henny somehow knows immediately when she sees Louie what she has done and what she says is remarkable. She says she doesn't blame her and goes into this long monolouge worthy of Hamlet. Then she picks up the cup with a jerky movement, as if she would stop herself but couldn't arrest the motion, she had already made a decision about life without even realizing that she was making it. Later Louie tells her father what she had done and he doesn't believe her, of course. She like her mom kept expecting something from this man and he couldn't do anything, not even grow up.
The man who loved children loved them because he was still a child himself.
Strangely enough their poverty improves after Henny's death and there is no one to worry about finances now that she is gone.
Louie runs away at the end of the book going for a walk around the world she says.
It is a remarkable book. Louie knows quite well when she crossed the line from the normal world, she had never been normal. There used to be this sort of yard between her world and the outside real world that she used to play in but it's gone now the author tells us.
In this secret world between us and the author, we recognize that Louie is a genius. She doesn't tell us that and no one tells Louie that, it is evident in the bedtime stories she tells the younger children and in the thoughts that she thinks. She worships one of her teachers, a Mrs. Alden, and she starts a great creative work called the Alden Cycle. She tell her parents she is doing homework when really she is working on this project of writing about the wonderfulness of Mrs. Alden. I did worship one of my teachers when I was young just like Louie. I think a child that is neglected tends to do that, to look elsewhere for a mentor. Louie throws herself into books of the great philosophers and poets the same way I fell into books, and she thinks thoughts so deep and yet still plays the role the family has for her. I think we do that. The parents are quite ignorant of Louie, and when she speaks her true thoughts they tell her she must not think these thoughts; they are crazy thoughts. I remember reading The Greening of America and telling my mom about it and her telling me I was being brainwashed by this book. I think she thought I was becoming a communist or a demon or something totally terrible and somehow criminial. This book was published in the sixties and was about the hippie movement making America more beautiful, more "green". The author later stated that the hippie movement died instead, what a relief for my mom!
The Man who Loved Children is beautifully written, but it's uncanny how much of this fictional book is so very real. I think it must be the real childhood of Christina Stead. Maybe because her childhood was so much like mine, I don't know, but this book, more than any other I have ever read, seems the most perfect reflection of real life.