Background Switcher (Hidden)

Watching Pinky

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving night, 10 pm. I'm feeling very thankful. I got a chance to cook for my little family today, and cook I did. Just me, Bill and Liam,  and we were missing Miss Phoebe badly, but oh it was so nice to be able to make a whole Thanksgiving meal. Bill made his signature mashed potatoes, and I did the turkey, stuffing, gravy, creamed limas and pearl onions, and Ida's Corn Custard.

Liam begged for corn pudding, so I riffled through my mom's recipe boxes until I found her Corn Custard. Because I know many of my readers love recipes, here 'tis, in Ida Lucile's signature backslant, on a slightly stained and yellowed card with quirky 1960's graphics. (I'm not sure what the big brownish thing is..some kind of cheese?) She was a lefty, and back in the 1920's, they forced left-handed kids to write with their right hands. Arrgh. How I love her handwriting. It's so antique, slightly tortured, and beautiful.

I used only 1 T sugar, and I had to use frozen corn, because I loathe creamed corn. Probably because my dad told me they make creamed corn from the late-season ears that have so many borers there's no other choice but to cream it. He said the ramp leading up to the processing plant would be slick with squashed borers, so much so the horses would slip and fall. OK, so this is many years ago. Horses and all that. (DOD was born in 1912).  But still. No creamed corn for me, ever. Yecccch. 

I used my fabbo stick blender, a gift from my friend Annie, to sort of grind up the frozen corn in the mix. And I baked it at 325 for an hour and it was fine. Ida was smiling down, I felt her in the kitchen with me. Ida's Corn Custard was faaaaantastic, my favorite thing on the plate. Thanks MOM!!

Lest you feel sorry for Phoebe, here's what she had while waiting out Hurricane Otto at Bocas Del Toro in Panama:

Poor lil' baby.

I put that 12-pound turkey in the oven and got the cornbread stuffing started and went outside and cut the morning glory vines, all blackened with frost, down from their trellises. I was not sad, not one bit, any more than I'm sad to take the Christmas tree down each year. They had had their season, and it was fabulous, and now they were dead and it was time for them to go, every last depressing limp bit of them. Buh-bye! I am using my deadly Soil Knife, a gift from my gardening friend Vicki, to saw and thwack them down in a matter of minutes. LOVE that tool. I gave it to Liam to cut some high vines I couldn't reach and he was so thrilled with its power, he wouldn't give it back. Now THAT's a KNIFE.
photo by Liam Thompson. Phoebe says it's BADASS and she's using it as her phone home screen. :)
Well, I can't have a buncha dead plants on the house when she comes home in 17 days, now can I??

I was so psyched to get rid of the dead vines so quickly and easily that I did all the hanging baskets and all the planters and zinnias and hostas and daylilies... I moved all the way around the house and cleaned out every bed. I've never cleaned my gardens up like this in November, but I'll be so glad I did come spring when I'm too busy to do it. That Soil Knife.  Just a sawin' off those hostas and fuchsias and salvias...seconds to level them, instead of hours of laborious hand-clipping. Wow. Thanks, Vicki, you Garden Weasel you!

But wait! this post was supposed to be about deer. Two mornings ago I peeked out the bedroom window and saw a little form sneaking through the frost-whitened goldenrod. I raced soundlessly through the house to get my camera, threw a coat over my PJ's, and went shivering out onto the deck to shoot. I had a feeling something good would happen. 

I think I know who that is. Yep, there are the little buttonbumps on his forehead. It's Pinky!

Who's a good boy?

Pinky heard someone coming through the frozen meadow. He turned and watched.

I followed his gaze to see two more deer, both does, one big and one small, picking their way through the rattling weeds.

I didn't recognize the closer one, but the big one in back looked familiar to me. She was a very handsome animal, with a pronounced high forehead.

She looked like Boss Doe, an old comrade of Ellen's, who almost always traveled with her. It made sense to me that she'd keep company with Pinky, Ellen's slightly crooked son. 

Look at her face and tell me if she doesn't look like this photo of Boss Doe from 
February 16, 2015. 

And a closeup from last February: 

This individual deer ID is pretty subtle stuff, I know, but I felt pretty sure I was seeing Boss Doe again. And that made me happy, to see her coming to meet Pinky.

She approached Pinky, and he went into full submissive posture, head down, ears back, tail fluffed, his back hunched. 

Any doubts that the big doe was Boss vanished. I'd seen this kind of interaction many times before. She always pushed Ellen and her fawns around! By now I was shivering hard but grinning like a fool, clicking away, enjoying documenting the continuum of whitetail life in our meadow.  Look at that ugly face on Boss Doe! Coiled to strike! Does lord it over young bucks, perhaps to discourage any possible teen-age notions of their trying to mate with them. Spotty's Mom has got it goin' on...

It's a standoff, then exit, stage left!
Pinky dodges by, hoping to escape a bap from Boss Doe's sharp hoof. 

He stands a moment, considering his options. 

And, being a herd animal, opts to join. He circles back to feed peacefully beside his mama's bossy friend. I heave a happy sigh that he's not alone.  Mean attention is better than nothing at all. And whitetail aggression usually looks a lot worse than it is. 

But who is the other, smaller doe? I focus in on her, searching in the hard backlighting for any clue to her identity.

She lifts a back hoof to scratch her neck, and I see the clean white stripes running down the backs of her forelegs. It's Flag! Just one more small bit of evidence that Pinky and Flag may be brother and sister, perhaps the twin fawns I saw with Ellen in mid-summer, in the same hayfield where their mother was killed.

I am filled with happiness at being able to identify my three neighbors, one I've known for years, and two others I've only just met. I'm glad the fawns are keeping company with Boss Doe. She'll push them around, tell them what to do and what not to do. These wee innocents don't know what's coming Nov. 28-Dec. 4, and can only copy the behavior of deer who do.  I envision old Boss Doe sending pictures to Pinky and Flag, that something evil this way comes.

 Pinky and Flag: stay scrawny, like your mama. Stay safe, stay here. Lay low, and I will, too. Along with your No. 1 Fan and Interpreter, there's a whole lot of people who'd love to hear from you again.


My mom's a lefty too....can't make it through Thanksgiving without legacy recipes.

Watching deer family dynamics is fascinating. Subtle gestures between them say so much.

Always love your posts! And thanks for posting the recipe...sounds delicious. Did you also put your baking dish in another dish with hot water? Just wondered if that was necessary...thank you! Sharon

Posted by Anonymous November 25, 2016 at 5:13 AM

"That was my appetizer." Oh, to have that youthful metabolism.

Be safe, Pinky, Flag, and Boss Doe.

Posted by Minnie Fleming November 25, 2016 at 5:32 AM

I am thankful for you, JZ. It's an 'all alone in the universe' weekend. Love the recipe and am lucky to have one hand-written recipe from each of my grandmothers. I think the weird thing on the recipe card is a ham. I have vague memory of hams having rope-y knotted handles wrapped around. Today we have that plastic mesh.
I bought my first [Garden] "Dagger" as I call it maybe 15 yrs ago or more at a very small vendor area accompanying a workshop - for $11.

God Speed Pinky, Flag, and Boss Doe! What say we all gather together and send out strong protection charms/thoughts/prayers to them all during the killing season...

This comment has been removed by the author.

I prefer frozen to creamed corn on the basis of flavor. I would do as you did. Our heirloom recipe for Thanksgiving is Oregano Rice, originally made with beef consommé, green onions, lots of mushrooms and butter, and the rice and oregano of the title. My mom used canned mushrooms. We now make it with real mushrooms and a rich vegetable stock and porter to make it vegetarian-friendly. Our gem of a son-in-law is vegetarian and cooking with him in mind is teaching us that some things are actually better without meat, including Oregano Rice.

Now you've ruined an old fav recipe of my Moms
Squaw Corn. Cook bacon pieces/ remove/ fry green peps & onions ( both diced) drain dripping add CREAMED corn & bacon / season & put over toast! Yum. She was from Wisconsin & maybe got this from local Indians! Love deer tale!

Very happy you and your family had a good day together and that it included communication with Phoebe. The list and the "that's the appetizer" punchline made me laugh and, yes, remember a different metabolic and activity level time of life. Love to see old timey handwriting of relatives and current handwirting of friends, and I save our items like treasure. Kim in PA

May they return year after year. I'm so thankful they have an adult with them too. I can just imagine your joy seeing all three together.

My mother was also left-handed. The plus side of being forced to write with her right hand was that she ended up basically ambidextrous.

I love the fact that Phoebe texts in full properly punctuated sentences. ;-)

Well, now you've gone and ruined creamed corn for me. OK, I only have it once or twice a year anyway. Tastes from childhood.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed meeting you at White Memorial on Dec. 3. Just sorry we didn't have more time to chat. And that I didn't get to see your program!! I love my job but I always miss the good stuff, stuck in the Museum. You are a very special lady.
Lois Melaragno

Posted by Anonymous December 8, 2016 at 8:38 AM
[Back to Top]