I Am Crabby

What better treat to sweeten up a Grumpy Old Dude like me, than some lovely Crab-Apple jelly?

As an occasional treat, on nights that I post a blog, I have come to like a couple of Costco croissants, warmed in the toaster-oven, with crab-apple jelly and a mug of hot chocolate.

Several times in the course of our marriage, I have helped the wife make a batch of crab-apple jelly.  She initiates it, organises it, and gives directions, while I do most of the donkey-work, since I am so admirably qualified.  With a little luck, and some greed, I often get all or most of a batch.  It’s okay.  The wife prefers strawberry or red currant.  With some self-control and rationing, a batch lasts me several years

Crab-apple jelly is almost impossible to find in a grocery store, and when you do, it’s three or four times as expensive, because of shortage of crab-apples, and extra labor.  Near where the daughter once lived was a Mennonite church.  On the boulevard of the side street, they had planted four crab-apple trees.  At harvest time I just went over and picked enough.  A couple of years later I returned, to find that the city had widened the street, and destroyed the trees.

The home the daughter moved to, backs onto a community trail.  A block away, one house whose property also edged the trail, didn’t have a back fence – but they did have a crab-apple tree.  The owner graciously allowed me to harvest all I wanted – because then, he didn’t have to pick them all up.  A couple of years later I returned…. to find that the Region had widened and paved the trail, and removed the tree.

An occasional Mennonite at the Farmers’ Market MIGHT have a few six-quart baskets of crab-apples, if you get there at the right time, (I only had four baskets, and I sold the last one an hour ago.) but I might as well be paying for black truffles.  Two women offer jams and jellies of many flavors.  The wife bought a jar of red currant – which included some of the little twigs that the currants grow on.  I passed on their apple jelly.

Another man also offered a wide variety, including crab-apple jelly – at a merely outrageous price.  Real crab-apple jelly should be so clear, that you could read a newspaper through its red/gold beauty.  This stuff was more apple sludge, full of unfiltered apple fiber.

This is the cost of old age – having to live in the big city, close to all the medical support.  I’ll bet if I lived in my small home-town, I’d know someone with a crab-apple tree or two.  How about you??  Do you have a particular treat that you like?  Is it readily available?

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Chapter 2

Almost 20 years ago, when we first moved in, at the back of my property were a spruce tree, and a lilac bush, for added privacy and noise attenuation.  Back then they were barely as tall as the six-foot sound-berm.  Now they both tower 15/20 feet.

This summer, I was mowing the lawn, and stopped to catch my breath and look at the lilac…. and I lost my breath again.  There were crab-apples growing on my lilacWTF!!  Close inspection (the lawn can wait) showed that two of the lilac’s trunks (?) were actually a crab-apple tree.  This is the first year that it has produced fruit, so I’d never previously noticed that the two were intertwined.

How did it get there??  A squirrel burying an apple??  Some idiot in the neighborhood puts out peanuts for them.  We find peanuts buried in our planters and flower beds – along with dead flowers from the digging.

I’ll be discussing Theology with Saint Peter before this tree matures.  There are only half a dozen bunches of apples this year.  I couldn’t get six quarts/liters.  I will do well to get six cups this fall, but the wife says that she/we can make a mini-batch of one or two jars for me.  I’ll still be grumpy – just better fed.  😀  😎

Cool Cats

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Another post about cats, in the shameless pursuit of blog-stats – but first….let me tell you about my dog. My dog eats peanuts.

It started innocently enough, with a handful of peanuts, for me – and a forlorn, mooching dog in front of me. ‘Offer him one.  He’s a carnivore.  He won’t take it.’ But he did, and another, and another….  Now it’s a daily ritual – he gets 8 or 9 peanuts, and I get to read my newspaper in peace.

The wife decided to cut off his soft dog-food, and feed him only hard kibble, to help clean his teeth. He has allergies to grass.  I give him an antihistamine a day, to cut down on his scratching and licking.  I used to put them in his soft food – now what??  Put a dab of peanut butter on the end of a kitchen knife, embed the pill in it, and scrape it off against his front teeth.  Schlurp, schlurp!

Dogs will come when you call them. And they’ll be happy.
Cats will have someone take a message and maybe get back to you.

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I should paint a yellow line down my spine, not ‘cuz I’m chicken, but because this guy has taken to walking on my back (and Shimoniac’s). Like the peanuts, it also started innocently.  I stopped and knelt on a step, just below the half-landing, going upstairs, to pet and skritch him.  Somehow he oozed around the corner, up a couple of steps, and walked through the railing, onto my back.

I don’t know if he’s petting me, like I pet him, or establishing dominance. Now, whenever I go to the basement storage room, he jumps up on the freezer to get ruffled, and walks all over my back.

An exposed back is not safe! The day he leapt from the landing as I bent over at the bottom of the stairs to put my boots on, was….interesting.  I often kneel when I clean out the litter tray in the basement.  To have him pounce is not unusual.  To have him do it, just as I stand up, has him clinging to my shirt.

Then one night I did it with no shirt on, That required almost a whole tube of antiseptic cream, and sleeping on my stomach for a couple of days.

Matthew & Tonka

If I walk past this needy big fellow on a table or TV stand, he often reaches out to pull me in. He’s the most trusting, and loving of my cats.  When we snuggle (almost every evening as I read), he licks my moustache and eyebrows, and rubs his face against my glass frames.  He lies on the back of my chair and licks/grooms my hair.

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Our little female has helped herself to some of my chocolate milk a number of times, when it’s sitting on the end table beside my chair, minding its own business.  She’s lost a lot of teeth, so liquid nourishment is good for her.  A couple of Christmases, she’s also sampled eggnog.

I’ve left out one of my cats, and I have lots more interesting information about cats, but you’re already looking at me the way I look at Jehovah’s Witnesses, when they come to call, so I’ll just end with a bit of feline humor.  Have a chuckle or two at the expense of cat owners/lovers, and come back soon.

Signs that your cat is the owner and you are the pet:

  1. You get up as many times as they demand to be let in and out of the room.
  2. You feed them tiny pieces of food, which you go through the trouble of cutting up, whenever they stare at your plate of food.
  3. You run the faucet for them whenever they feel like playing with water (never mind the fact they have a filtered water fountain).
  4. You hold them for however long they desire to stare out of the window (usually 5+ minutes).
  5. You let them redesign the household any way they want. (Books on the floor instead of shelves? OK!)
  6. You feed them treats whenever they forlornly play with their empty interactive treat toy.
  7. You get up to play with them whenever they pounce on you, even if you are in the middle of writing an important email/blog/essay, etc.
  8. You let them choose the side of the bed they want to sleep on first and sleep on whatever space they designate to you.

If more than four of these are true, you are the pet.   😆