Swallows and Sweet Rolls — A Different Morning

Hello Everyone.

Ive had an unusual morning, the hours dappled with duties and naps.

I allowed a vision of fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast to lure me from my bed at in the wee hours. I noticed some for sale Sunday evening where I bought my milk and the thought of fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls buzzed around my mind all day yesterday. When I woke up at 4am the temptation to have some for breakfast overcame sleep.

This lure had an ally in our overflowing laundry hamper. I imagined having a couple of loads done and dried before the day got hot — a pleasant thought. Here in central Sask the air ALWAYS cools off overnight, a real blessing in the hottest summer days. By noon the trailer where we reside is toasty, being in the sunshine, un-dappled by overshadowing leaves. So it takes a fair bit to keep the place comfortable. Plus you don’t want to add to the indoor humidity by drying clothes. The earlier in the morning I can do the laundry, the better for us.

Upshot: by 4:30 am my bun dough was rising in the oven and a load of laundry was chugging away. I let the cat out, left the door open, and stood on our deck enjoying the fresh morning air. But a few minutes later the male barn swallow swooped past several times, quite close, twittering frantically. It’s rare he’d get that close; something must be disturbing him.

One thing about swallows: they know who their friends are. I find them friendly birds; if you pay them quiet, kind attention they learn to trust you — and will even come to you for help. I’ve observed different times when something is amiss, they fly almost by my nose, pleading for help in their own way. At the Villa one time a pair sat on a post right by the door, twittering in distress when a pair of English sparrows — a thousand curses on the species! — were invading their nest. Here, too, the swallows swooped around us to enlist our aid when those wretched sparrows stole their nest. You can’t mistake their little cries of “Help! Help!”

So I grabbed some shoes and went out to check their nest to see a cat or some other bird got into the building where they nest. Thankfully they’ve chosen a secure place. But there were several magpies — notorious nest-robbers — nearby in the back yard. Must have been what was bothering him; I chased them off and never heard anything more from the swallow.

Some people say barn swallows are so defensive they’ll attack people who come too near their nests. I haven’t found them that way. Or the birds here on the prairie haven’t learned to fear people? I go check their nest frequently these days to see if the little ones are cheeping yet and my presence distresses the parent birds a bit; they flap around some, but they’ve never dived at me. And it’s so sweet to see the little ones peeping out at you!

Anyway, the dough was rising, the laundry washing, the swallows settled, and I was free to check out the daily one-word prompts other bloggers have so kindly provided. I chose to use the following in this tale:

Daily Addictions: RESIDENT
Fandango’s FOWC: LESSEN
Ragtag Daily Prompt: DAPPLED
Word of the Day: DEVIATE
Scott’s Daily Prompt: PACKAGE

However, when you deviate from the tried and true, the normal routine — okay, I don’t exactly HAVE a normal routine, but for the purpose of this tale — you sooner or later have to make a course correction that will bring you back into the program again. If you lessen your hours of sleep in favor of sweet rolls and clean laundry, by 8 am when you’re ready to sit down and reply to the daily prompts as you usually would at this time, your eyelids become heavy and you start to nod off.

So I had a short nap and woke up in time to bake my buns. Which turned out very well. Wish I could send along a waft of cinnamon for you as you read this post.

By 8:30 am the buns were cooling on the counter and the second load was drying. Sweet!

I had an errand to do at the Villa, the seniors’ residence where I occasionally cook, so I packaged up half a dozen cinnamon rolls and took them along in case today’s cook might like to use them. I found one elderly gentleman walking down the hall and gave him a couple for his breakfast. did some sorting of recipes after I got home; I’d noticed quite a few in my Recipe box that I never use. “As you get older your tastes change”, they say. Truth is, as you get older you’re lean toward the old familiars.

Around 10 am I sat down to read, but soon fell asleep. As I said, less hours of sleep can play havoc with your schedule, but I think I’m awake now. I’ll reply to these prompt words, then I want to bake cookies.

Another deviation from routine: our church is holding Summer Vacation Bible School every evening this week and I’ve put my name down to supply four dozen cookies for tonight’s refreshment break. I’ll take my package of cookies over to church this afternoon when my husband gets home from his one-day-a-week book-keeping job in a nearly town.

Ah, I just got a pop-up from WordPress, offering to help me install a payment button! Hmm… You all know that you’re welcome to donate anytime, right? 🙂

Have a great day everyone.

New Culinary Cozy Mystery

A few days ago I wrote about P G Wodehouse and his quirky characters, his humorous turns of phrase. Well, as chance would have it…
A week or so ago I downloaded a mystery through Book Bub and finished it last night. The author has created a main character, Chef Maurice, reminiscent of Hercules Poirot and humor that echoes tones of Wooster and Jeeves. Zany, delightful, and a mystery right to the end!

Chef Maurice. and a Spot of Truffle
a Chef Maurice Mystery

by J. A Lang

I’ve heard of truffle-snuffing pigs before, also temperamental French chefs. When Ollie, the local forager and mushroom supplier doesn’t turn up with the needed omelet ingredients one day, Chef Maurice goes to collect and discovers in Ollie’s fridge, in the guise of potatoes, some rare and precious mushrooms. And they carry the scent of an English woods. Where did Ollie discover these? Are there more nearby just waiting to be unearthed?

Chef Maurice adopts Hamilton, a micro-pig who proves himself well able to snuffle a truffle, and they check out the local forest, with good friend Arthur along to temper the exuberance of the chef. Searching for this valuable variety they come across Ollie’s body.

Now they need to know if Ollie’s death was the result of a secret truffle turf war. Or was it because Ollie had a little business on the side selling another species of mushroom to local teens?

With his up-beat, well mannered disposition, Hamilton is a hit with the staff. Everyone is horrified when he’s pig-napped and the Chef receives a package of shrink-wrapped bacon and a warning note.

The only minus point, which may bother some readers: clues aren’t all revealed up front. On the last day Chef Maurice does some investigating, the results of which remain unknown to readers until that evening when he explains his conclusions and reveals the guilty party. I didn’t mind this — it made the ending more of a surprise. I couldn’t guess before he actually named that person, who it would be.

This is one case where you really can judge a book by its cover — kudos to the artist. When you see Hamilton’s jolly grin you know the story is going to be funny.

Abstemious Diet Plan

I fear you’re going to get mixed signals between this post and my last one, which was titled An Interesting Home. This is the poem I planned to send under the title, An Abstemious Diet.

I wrote this as a response to the prompt word abstemious. shall I include it in my next book of flash fiction?

Conference with Flesh & Buds

Mad dash threading my way through the crowd,
determined to reach the podium.
Bump into bodies; purses and notebooks trip me;
stop for quick apologies,
then on I rush, my eyes always on the goal.

I have to talk that man!
I have to tell him how his words have ignited my hope!
I will devote myself to the plan he outlined;
I will follow in his footsteps, do just what he did,
and I, too, will achieve!

He turns to leave the podium.
My heart cries, “Wait! I have to talk to you!”
Oh, great–he does stop–
lingering for a few words with the MC.
Reckless now, I dash up the steps.
I’ve made it!
Then all my word fly away as I
gasp for dear life itself.

His eyes meet mine, see my fluster,
understand what I long to say.
I dig into my purse and pull out a chocolate bar;
with ceremony I hand it to him.
He smiles and accepts my offering…
my pledge of purity…
my thanks.

I pivot and disappear down the steps,
embarrassed, but set free.
Self gratification be mortified!
I serve a new master now:
betrothed now to the wonder-working diet plan
this advocate of abstemious eating has just extolled.

Check out my newly published book of short stories and poems here:

Silver Morning Song on Amazon

André’s Blue Steak

“What is so Rare as a Steak Fried Blue?”
or “What to Do When Diners Linger at the Table”

André Gauvreau was in his 50s and on disability pension because of heart trouble and diabetes when we met him, so he had lots of time and he loved to visit. Through the years he’d worked at various cooking jobs across Canada and had quite the tales to tell.

In one of his accounts he was the head cook at a certain mining camp in northern Alberta and part of his job was to wash the dining room floor after dinner. But sometimes he had trouble getting the fellows out of the dining hall after the meal was over; they were inclined to sit for a lengthy gab-fest after the dishes were cleared away.

Then André discovered an effective method of clearing the dining room. Being French Canadian, he liked his steaks “blue”: charred on both sides and very rare inside. So after the other men had eaten he’d take a raw steak and throw it on the grill to singe it, then flip it over and singe the other side. Next he’d fork it onto his plate, take his utensils and go sit in the midst of the loiterers to have his meal.

He’d slice into the steak and blood would ooze out all over the plate. With great relish he’d start chowing down. The other guys took one look at his plate and remembered they had things to do elsewhere. He said it worked every time.

I’m sure our Aunt Helen would have said the same thing to him that she said to Uncle Henry one day when he’d fried himself a very rare steak. He asked her if she wanted part of it and she told him, “No. I can still hear that calf bawling!”

Beware the Christmas Bird

One day a few of the women folk in a certain family were preparing their festive bird. They sat the raw turkey on the counter ready for its stuffing, a big bowl of which had already been prepared. One sister began shoving the seasoned stuffing into back end of the large bird, though she thought she had made lots, the cavity didn’t get full.

“This isn’t quite enough,” she squealed to her two sisters. “Quick! Make some more.”

The other two threw more bread crumbs, onions, and seasonings into a pan and stirred it up with butter and water to moisten. “Here,” one of them said, handing her the bowl. She grabbed it and stuffed in more, but it still wasn’t enough.

“This turkey must have had an enormous set of innards,” she grumbled. “It still isn’t enough!”

One of her sisters walked around to the other side of the counter. “Don’t look now, but…”

The others hurried around and groaned as they saw dressing poking through the neck hole. A little pile on the floor bore evidence to the sister’s energetic thrust.

“Lesson 1 in Turkey Stuffing,” one sister quipped. “Be sure there’s a Stop at the end.”