Greetings From the East Wing

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing,

By now most people I know may well be fed up with turkey. Like many things in life, too much of a good thing just don’t work out well. And so it’s the same with turkey. But did ya know, that turkey in Hebrew means “Big Bird” Well most folks don’t know that but it does. At least one version of the word does. ‘Course most folks I know don’t even speak Hebrew anymore. But when I was a kid in Kentucky, some people here in Indiana thought we spoke Hebrew, or something other than English. Mountain talk, gota love it. In fact, The King’s English. The Old English. Look into it, you’ll be surprised.

Not everybody agrees how the word turkey came about, but one conjecture is that Christopher Columbus coined the word turkey based on his interpreter when some birds were making a sound of “tuka, turka” and his interpreter took that sound to be “tukki”, which in Hebrew is big bird.

I’ve got only one major problem with that deal, Christopher Columbus was Italian, and I live with Italians. The She is stone cold Italian. These people talk with their hands, why the hell do they need an interpreter, ‘cause everybody knows sign language, especially when spoken by Italians.

Another useless bit of turkey information is the fact that Ben Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird, as it was the true original native of America. In fact Ole Ben called the turkey “a more respectable bird”. ‘Course ya gota remember that Ben also knew ‘bout wild hemp. And with that thought in mind, maybe the turkey did seem to be a more respectable bird.

I read somewhere that the average person in the United States eats 15 pounds of turkey per year. Now I don’t know ‘bout you, but somebody’s eating my part, ‘cause I’m not coming close to keeping up my end of the eating turkey average person in the United States. One, maybe two pounds per year tops for me. That means somewhere, somebody in these United States is eating 28 – 29 pounds of turkey, theirs and mine.

Turkeys were almost extent in the 1930’s then some do-gooder decided to take on the cause to save the turkey. Oh well, it worked. Now there’re more turkeys than do-gooders. Now days some people even thing do-gooders are turkeys. To prove the point of the turkeys rise from near extinction all ya need do is come to the East Wing. At least once a day, every day turkeys come to the East Wing Gardens. The turkeys come so regularly I can tell when the turkeys are in the yard by the way the 2girldogs bark. ‘Course the 2girldogs also have the “here come the deer” bark and of course the “what the hell are those stray dogs doing in my yard” bark. The 2girldogs, even as democrats, ya gota love ‘em, the Pup Baby and Grady Lady James.

The store bought turkeys get big, maybe as much as 50 pounds, but I’ve never seen one that size. Last week I cooked 18 turkeys at Grand Central Station in preparation for Thanksgiving Dinner, and the largest one I cooked was a little over 27 pounds. Now the kinda turkeys we eat for Thanksgiving can’t fly, the wild kind that come to the East Wing can, not too good, but just like the Wright Brothers, they can get’er off the ground for ‘bout the same distance.

One more little thing ‘bout turkeys and I’ll swear to get off turkeys here pretty soon, it’s that little thing hanging down from the turkey’s chest, that little wobbly thing, is the turkey’s beard and is made up of keratin bristles. Keratin is the same stuff as the horn of a rhino. Now I’m not saying that rhinos and turkey are cousins, but I’m just saying the wobbly thing on turkeys and the rhino horn are made of the same material. And ya think politics make strange bedfellows, how ‘bout turkeys and rhinos. That’s a stranger combination than the President and Sophia The Calico Republican Cat.

I saw on TV News the other evening that President Obama had taken the time from his busy schedule to pardon a fifty pound turkey, in fact pardoned two turkeys. Now they didn’t say what crime those turkeys had committed which had brought them to the attention of the President of the United States, and as such a presidential pardon.

I’m disappointed to think the President can find time from his busy schedule to pardon two turkeys and it’s a big deal for TV, and a few weeks ago he could not find time from that same busy schedule to participate in the National Day of Prayer.

From the inception of the National Day of Prayer, all Presidents up to this one had participated. Oh well, ya know what they say ‘bout “birds of a feather flock together”, those turkeys.

Our Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Central went well. A most special THANK YOU!!! To all those who volunteered, you know who you are, so I’m not gona name the list, it’d be my luck I’d leave someone out and then feel bad. But all the volunteers know how much my family and I appreciate their help. It was such a time, such a time.

Old friends and new friends coming together for a common purpose, to be thankful for what we have received in life. The number of guest for dinner exceeded 400, and we didn’t count the carry outs. I drove over 100 miles that Thanksgiving Day picking up guests who needed a ride. And ya know what, most every worker bee that volunteered this year, told me to put ‘em on the list for next year.

I cooked much of the food this year, 18 turkeys, we didn’t even weigh the amount of dressing, but it’s a lot. Mashed potatoes, lots of mashed potatoes, the secret to “swell” mashed potatoes is from the cows, lots of butter and milk. Especially heavy on the butter. My daughter, Angela, made the cakes and had a secret ingredient which she refused to share, but it was mayonnaise, so don’t tell her I told ya so. And of course Pumpkin Pie. Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie would kinda be like making snow angels in the mud, it just ain’t right. There are some things in life ya just don’t mess with, ya don’t tug on Superman’s cape and ya don’t have Thanksgiving Dinner without Pumpkin Pie.

We started ‘bout 9 o’clock Thursday morning warming all the food. The She and my son RJ served the meal along with our small army of worker bees, while I collected all the guest that needed a ride, then just set back and marveled at how well this thing comes together. We’ve already talked ‘bout next year, and the answer is of course we’ll do it again, next Thanksgiving.

The most distant guest at the Thanksgiving Dinner was from northern Minnesota. I didn’t ask it he’d seen the announcement in The Market Newspaper or heard it on WKVI Radio , either way I didn’t know they reached that far out, but guess they do from time to time. Guess when you’re happy with what you’re doing it shows, even all the way to Minnesota. I wonder if Minnesota is farther than Alabama, ‘cause I’ve got friends in Alabama, that for sure.

One of the neat things ‘bout having friends in Alabama, ya don’t even have to know ‘em in person, ‘cause if they know any of your family, then you’re all family, and that’s the way it is in Alabama, my friends there know my daughter Angela, and just like that, we’re family, my friends in Alabama. Too bad the whole world don’t work like that. Then the world may well be a better place if it did.

My clothing drive for the needs of southeastern Kentucky is going well. I’ve got a lot of people asking themselves “why do I have so much clothes when so many need so desperately much of what I have? It’s a good question to ask yourself. Ya then bring your excess to Pioneer Florist in North Judson and my boys and I, we’re are going to deliver to either Salyersville or Prestonsburg clothing bank, or maybe both before Christmas.

I hope we have to get a semi truck, if we do then we will. All I know for sure is that when we need that truck, somebody’s gona step forward with the truck, they may not even know it yet, but they will. That the neat thing ‘bout the saying “God works in mysterious ways” ya don’t even know God is working in mysterious ways till after it’s all over, then ya say WOW, That was cool!. And so it will be with the clothing drive for Appalachia. We’ll do our part.

Spike, the man cat, has become a constant companion after his elective surgery. He is growing in both weight and friendliness. He’s always been a friendly cat, but after his surgery even more so. He not occupies the left side of the computer table most of the time I occupy the chair. Now with Sophia firmly entrenched on the back of my chair and leaning severely to the right, one can only surmise that these cats will have a difference of opinion some day.

But Spike sure don’t look like a democrat, he smiles too much. Seems the democrats don’t smile too much now days, or so says Sophia. You’d think with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi surviving the land slide they’d be smiling. Their survival may be the reason for democrats not smiling is Sophia’s rational. Oh well, one neat thing ‘bout politics it’s all one big circle. What goes ‘round comes ‘round.

Yin and Yang so to speak, the black and the white, the good and the bad, the light and the dark side, the ups and the downs, the cowboys of white and black hats. It all depends on which side ya want to start on to begin with.

But Spike sure don’t look too democrat, he don’t lay ‘round doing nothing enough to be a really good democrat, but we’ll see. Now the 2girdogs are stone cold. Ya could write the book ‘bout the 2girdogs being democrat, Sophia says they took lessons from community organizers out of Chicago as they passed through the countryside doing grass roots work for the party a few years ago and the 2girldogs learned their lessons well.

Setting in the East Wing last Wednesday evening watching my weather station as the temperature took a nose dive from mid 60’s toward the low thirties by the next morning, I thought ‘bout an old friend that’d made an impression on my life many years ago. Think I mentioned ‘bout a chemistry professor I knew who knew a guy that figured out a system to measure the heat in peppers. Well what I didn’t tell ya was that chemistry professor of mine, Dr. Gill, even though I didn’t know it at the time would turn out to be one of four teachers I would later in life point to and say “they made me what I am today” I’ve never tried to put those four in rank order. I just call ‘em the Four Aces in my deck of life. One was a grade school teacher, one a high school teacher, one a college professor, and one a Baptist Preacher who just so happened to also be my father, those Four Aces.

Dr. Gill was well known for assigning off the wall homework that had nothing to do with organic chemistry. One day Dr. Gill walked by me lab station and said “Mr. Howard tonight write a paper on your choice of any laboratory instrument.” I hated when he done that to me , and he did that to me often.

Now this was back in the day where research meant going to the library and reading books, yes reading books, real books. There was no such thing as Google Search. PC’s were not there. In fact the only computers I had available then were made of wood. Interestingly enough they were hexagon shaped bodies , a graphite operating system, with a manual delete on the top of the computer. And the delete button could be replaced if need be.

This early computer didn’t even have an output screen, ya had to use paper in place of the screen, yes it even cut out the printer and computed directly onto paper. Such a marvelous device, I remember ‘em well. I’ll never forget mine was yellow and black, had a number 2 stamped on one side, up toward the delete button. I’m not sure if that was the serial number or model number, but it had number 2 up there toward the top. And it was with the old manual computer that I started out to complete my homework assignment from Dr. Gill to do a paper on a laboratory instrument.

It was a cold day as I walked toward the library with snow blowing in my face. I was walking into the face of winter, without a clue as to how to even start this project. I wondered how cold it was as I got close to the library and right there saw a large thermometer displaying my needed information.

The little angel on my right shoulder whispered into my right ear, “ ya know how a thermometer works? Then research it and write it up”. The little devil on my left shoulder whispered “that’s stupid, ya gona believe that angel? Dr. Gill will throw ya completely out of the lab if ya write something that dumb”. As the little angel reached behind my head and socked the little devil on his right ear, and said “shut up little devil, it’s a good idea and ya know it”. The deal was done. Thermometer research was underway within minutes.

Now most everybody knows how to read ‘em but not everybody know why they work. It was that why part that I wanted to put to paper for the Dr. Gill’s assignment. They’re everywhere, inside, outside, cooking, cooling, home heating, home cooling in cars, planes and trains, in the water and even on the moon.

Turns out we want to know the temperature of ‘bout everything, sometimes ‘cause it’s necessary to know and sometimes ‘cause we’re just nosey people.

These things we call thermometers were invented way back in the very early 1700’s by a fellow named Fahrenheit, in Germany. The most basic form of thermometer is the glass bulb thermometer, This type of thermometer is a long glass tube filled with liquid that rises and falls as the temperature changes. The first thermometer used alcohol in the bulb ’cause alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water. All thermometers in common use provide their reference to water as the unit of measure.

A few years later still looking for a better mouse trap, so to speak, the alcohol was replace with mercury based on the fact that mercury has a much lower freezing and boiling point than alcohol. Mercury bulb thermometers continue to be the most used liquid in glass bulb thermometers some 400 years later.

Now glass bulb thermometers work ‘cause liquids, such as alcohol, or mercury, expand slightly when the temperature rises. When the liquid is trapped in a narrow tube, it has nowhere to go but up. With this expansion happening at a predictable rate, Fahrenheit was able to create a scale to determine what the air temperature would be when the liquid reached any given point on the tube. And just like that ya knew when water turned to ice, it’s 32°.

Oh, and by the way, the little angel on my shoulder was right, Dr. Gill liked my paper on a laboratory instrument.

Stay safe in Afghanistan (yes as so many of you pointed out, last week I forgot to say so, but did not forget to keep ‘em in my prayers, nor did you)

From the East Wing, Turkey, Talking, Cooking, Serving, Clothing for Eastern KY, Spike, Four Aces, Wooden Computers, Thermometers

I wish you well,