Yogi?

No, not Yogi Bear (though I do really like that ol’ dude!), it’s what I call yogurt. I’m down to my last cup of yogi today so…

It’s time to make more! I need to use a spoonful of the last cup to make the new batch, sort of like sourdough bread only made with milk!

Save a Spoonful from the Previous Batch
Heat Up Fresh Milk to 185 degrees F for 20-30 Minutes

While Heating, Wash the Cups and Set-Up the Fermenter

The fermenter is just a mild heater. Once the heated milk has simmered at 185 degrees until done, cool it to 115 degrees F and mix the spoonful in well. Fill the clean cups. Put the little lids on! Leave the covered fermenter on all night and in the morning, we have eight more cups of YOGI to enjoy! Yum!

I made some peachy preserves and put a glob of that into each cup of yogi I get out, but more on the peaches, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, cherries, raspberries and the multitude of apples later!

That’s My Sister?

(Another short story. Why not? Ukraine is in the news so much…)

Emo felt satisfied that he’d left that worrisome and fretful life behind and at last headed out to find his dear sister Mia. The only family he had remaining after wrecks and Covid, he really wanted to see his sister safe. From O’Hare to Warsaw would take a while, yet he though the time would seem to fleet by faster than the last seven months with no word at all from her. The Ukraine/Russia peace agreement took too long, for sure.

He got the supplies he needed and headed out to search for the medical outposts where she’d be likely to be. He recalled again about their last argument as she went to board the plane to Warsaw, how he told her they needed nurses here in the USA and all. She’d just extended her open hand to him to push him away and left anyway.

Most of the medical places were mainly abandoned but he did get info on where some were yet in operation. He visited every one with no luck. He filled his jeep tank from his Polish jugs as he went, glad to have bought so many. Then his smile melted as he arrived at a mass gravesite being unearthed. Oh, the stench! No way could anybody ID these rotting bodies!

He found the DNA trailer in the assembled investigation array. He explained his task. The Bulgarian scientist said he’d need something of hers to compare his results from the grave with. Emo unzipped his pack and brought out a small case he’d hope to not need. He lifted the small doll and handed it to the scientist, saying Mia had cut a swatch of her own hair to make it.

No matches there but he did get a copy of the report so he would not need to pull that case out again. The map he got pointed him to the next, then the next and then the next huge graves. He’d got used to sleeping in the Jeep and eating the military rations. After six of those sites, he came to an area still guarded. He was allowed in with instructions to stay alert as landmines were all over the place.

He’d need to head back to Warsaw soon for more gas if the next couple places went bust. He pulled up to the trailer after being quickly checked by guards, then more guards appeared at the trailer. He had to get out of the Jeep with his pack and hand it over. They proceeded to check his pack and all in it. The men passed the doll around laughing, giving him odd looks. A young woman hurried from the trailer and swiped the doll from them.

“Where’d you get this?” She shook her head briskly and started to repeat the question in Ukrainian when she saw Emo. “YOU! You came!” She ran over to him and their exuberant hug made the guards nearby and at the entrance applaud and whistle happily.

Memorial Day Story

Here’s a short story that seems appropriate for today. Hope you like it!

Not Always the Way You Hoped

The steep driveway

Emily still trudged around the curve and down the steep gravel driveway to the mailbox as she’d done every day she could remember. Routine. The hope she’d get some sort of notification about her soldier son had turned into routine. She maneuvered back up the gravelly drive thinking about the vast deserts of the Middle East, the awful battle and attacks she’d seen on TV. As she climbed the porch steps to the front door, she abruptly smeared away tears and forced up a thought of time. Too much time had passed for good news.

Inside and in the kitchen, she laid the silly catalogs on the counter. After a few minutes, she shook her head in disgust; angrily, she internally shouted at herself to stop fixing her attention on that damned phone. She’d nearly died from birthing that boy, she’d helped him with his homework, she’d got him a bike he’d went nuts over. With no daddy to help, she’d even showed him how to use a bow and arrow and stuff like that. She halted that recurring train, derailing it. Maybe it would have been better if she’d died.

In an effort to keep busy, she cleaned up the mess in the house systematically. Finding a sealed bag of chocolate chips that had fallen behind the shelves put her into auto. Before she knew it, a cookie sheet, mixer and mixing bowl had appeared on the counter. Cookies? Lordy, Chet had craved chocolate chip cookies, stuffing them into his pockets and all. The chips were close to expiration and needed to be used…

She sat stiffly on a kitchen chair dragged between the counter and the front door. She gazed steadily at the pile of cookies, smelled them, felt the heat from the oven. She did not hear the van pull up but did respond to the furiously barking dogs. She went to open the door. A van? The side door slid back and a woman with a child about two years old, maybe more, got out.

A’Dila had a strong accent but knew English very well. The little boy the woman had passed to her snugged in closer as she nudged the front door shut with her foot. When A’Dila dragged another chair over, the boy raised his head and the stack of cookies grabbed his mind. Emily reached and tugged the plate closer.

Emily had nearly finished reviving the spare bedroom in a steady and controlled manner as A’Dila described how Chet had been a prisoner for quite a while, how he’d escaped, how the wide area had been shut down with no communication allowed in or out. They’d decided to become a family. After a halting sob, she finished with how her dearest love Chet had been shot in the head as he planted vegetables in the sandy yard. Then more clearly, she added how a charity group had rescued her and her beloved son.

That night, watching some sci-fi series episode, Emily closed her eyes and thanked the Lord, God and all Heaven as she heard little Chet pull a cookie from his pocket and then bite a big chunk off.

Anticipation!

Fruit is on the way! Apples of several varieties, a couple kinds of peaches, a fair-sized group of blueberries and already prolific strawberries! The cherries, lemons and grapes may take longer but are doing well, too.

The lemons are potted so I can keep them inside in the cooler months. They sat inside in through the winter and early spring, nearly leafless. I fretted their continuance. Then a blossom coincided with a warm day. Outside they went and so in and out until mid-May, when the night temperatures were good for them. I got one lemon last year…how many this year?

A Vinyl Record Haven

Always a music aficionado, I have all kinds of musical instruments, a few cassettes, hundreds of CDs – and a grand mess of vinyl records. Yes! LPs!

I have an old stereo turntable, but a few years ago I got a new one that you can attach to a device and record the albums onto CDs. Never actually did it…yet. Nonetheless, it plays the tunes well!

Since they came out, I’ve been a CD freak and listened only to them for many years. Just recently I set up that relatively new player and brought some records up. Whoa! The memories! I still have the first album I ever bought at the Ben Franklin 5&10 store! Having to flip them is annoying, but worth it. Who knows, some might be worth something!

Curiously Curved Trees

As many are aware, I live far out in the Kentucky woods on 100 acres of wild forest in a log cabin I designed and built. From the get-go, I have wondered why there are trees of several types that mysteriously start bending, usually a few feet up the trunk, and continue or even twist as they grow larger. Examples:

Sure, if a new tree is growing on a hill or monkeys start swinging on them, they’ll bend. These don’t fall into either category. There are many more around here, too. So why this Shag Bark Hickory or that Post Oak? Mystery indeed!

A while back, I published a series of books called ‘Take-A-Break Shorts’. They each have a few short stories, grouped by the type of story; about a dozen eBooks at only $0.99. There’s a story, a sci-fi answer set at the end of the Civil War called The Curiously Curved Trees. Read the whole story here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085161BHG/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p2_i5