“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Gathering of the Clan (and associated dogs and ponies).

The last of our guests has left.  I was expecting my son, my daughter, her boyfriend, and the boyfriends son. In the event, I had 10 guests in addition to them.  My daughter brought down several car loads of her friends from up in the city who had no where to go over the holiday.

I strongly suspect that this had been pre-coordinated with my wife, because bedrooms had been readied above and beyond those I did early in the week.  Clean linens on the beds, towels and such laid out on the beds, and the rooms dusted and aired.  I did not know this until the convoy arrived. My belief is that my daughter and my wife set all this up on the sly, thinking I would grouse about having so many young people here. My daughter often adheres to the policy of doing what she wants to do and then, presented with a fiat accompli, I have to be nice about it.

The weekend was really pretty pleasant.  All of the young-lings , mid to late twenties, were polite young adults with nice personalities.  I gather that they , like my kids, all had jobs but the jobs didn't pay enough for a very luxurious life style.  This was about the only kind of vacation they could afford.  We took them to the stables to go horseback riding,  and to a state park where they could walk around the lake or up on the trails. The weather was perfect for that kind of thing.  My wife and I stayed in the apartment, as the visitors tended to stay up late and I go to bed at nine.

Two of these young people had never seen a night sky unspoiled by city lights before in their entire lives. My daughter told me that on the way here, they were constantly pulling over once they got off the freeway and into the Tennessee mountains, just to look at the stars.  Hard to believe, but I assume it's true.

The young man who has been in so much trouble with the law over pot turned out to be  well mannered, and very polite. He has a good head on his shoulders, makes intelligent conversation, and did all he could to be helpful. He was very grateful for everything anyone did for him.  I enjoyed his company and told him he could come back when his father and my daughter come down again.  He has a job at a pizza place now, and perhaps his story will turn out alright after all.

From a survivalist planning point of view,  I noticed these things. The rate of consumption of supplies, of every kind, for twelve people is astronomical as opposed to two.  My hot water heater usually comes on twice a week.  I think it was on at least 10 times over the weekend. The guests like long, luxurious hot showers. We have a huge , original eagle claw cast iron tub up on the top level in the bathroom there, and it was a popular item with the ladies.  However, filling it up takes a huge amount of hot water.  So the propane tank is down quite a bit.  Not a problem, except I need to raise the number of gallons that constitutes "call the gas company and have the truck come out" level.

I ran eight loads of laundry.  Usually I run about one small load a week.  Again, my dryer is propane powered, so I need to keep more as a minimum level. If something happens and my son and daughter have to get back down here, I have a strong feeling that they will not be alone. That might be something I need to explore with her, who might be coming back in an emergency, and who would be going to their own parents homes.

In terms of food, it is absolutely amazing how much these young people eat.  Even the girls were big eaters. Of course, the food was very good and I gathered that many of these folks live on the meals they can get at work for a small fee (one of their benefits), and then Ramon Noodles and cheaper foods at home. If it's not near the end of the week of payday. In that event , I think some of them don't eat at home at all.

We consumed piles of hamburgers,  country ham, eggs, bacon, potatoes, biscuits, bread and all the standard fare .   I went into our pantry located off the kitchen just a bit ago and was very surprised to see that about half the food in it was gone.  We did not eat all of this.  When it was time to pack up, my wife took the girls to the different store rooms and loaded them up with canned corn, peas,  spam,  Hormel's Chili, and big plastic jars of snack foods.  We gave my daughter and my son a big sack of Bear Creek dehydrated meals to distribute. We buy these things by the case when they are on sale, and keep a lot of it. My wife gave each couple a country ham in a linen bag.  I doubt that most of them had ever eaten country ham before they came here, but they learned how to prepare it by watching my wife and daughter. A country ham will go a long, long way because you can't eat a lot of it at one sitting ,and it will keep a long time.  We depleted the canned goods to a small extent and will have to replace the hams, but we felt good about being able to help the twenty somethings with some decent food and some variety.

All in all, it was a unique experience for me.  For one thing, we never have guests. I didn't actually mind it, because when I got tired I could go to the apartment, and these people were considerate, appreciative and were good guests. They were all hard workers up in the city, and doing the best they could. I was young once but thanks to the Marines, not poor at this age. It's very hard to be in your twenties now.

I was exhausted when they all pulled out, and have slept most of the day, but we are getting everything back to normal now. I'm sure when I have rested and had time to think it over, I'll derive more good planning data from this three day sojourn.  For now I'm satisfied just to have successfully hosted that number of individuals.

45 comments:

  1. As you mentioned it was a good test run in many ways. Just curious as to where you would draw the line on unanticipated guests. I'm not so sure that I would be as accommodating if it were a real bad situation unfolding and that many extra people (adults at least) showed up especially not bringing their own supplies. I know there are probably many variables to consider, but how long have we had the signs that things are getting bad?

    I think you've talked about your propane situation before, and long as you think the tank lines and connectors and all that would stay sound, I'd load up heavy.

    I'm sure the younger people in general need more to eat, but.... and I'm as guilty as anyone else, most people eat like hogs. Way too much. Most people could easily cut back buy 20 to 25 percent (if not a little more) and still be just as healthy.

    Pass the cornbread please.

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  2. Well, I would not be too sorry to have this crew come down here. As somebody pointed out once, the amount of physical labor that would have to be done in a "Lights Out" situation is immense and I'm not getting any younger. For instance, I have huge quantities of hard wood here in "blow downs" but I'm just not up to cutting it, splitting it, hauling it, stacking it, etc. None of these were the mooch type of person. The other thing is, I wonder how effective just five people would be with security? I don't really know the answer to your question, I'm still trying to catch up on my rest. But it does provide substance for long term consideration.

    I think you are right about middle aged and older people on the food issue. But I think that some of these people just didn't have the money to buy a lot of good food. My daughter and her boyfriend work for a big restaurant chain, and she has said to me many times that for a lot of the workers who do things like clear tables, wash dishes, etc all they get is minimum wage, but they get their meals at 15% of the menu price (they are limited in their choices though) and that's a big draw for them. When my kids lived in Florida, they had a friend who worked at a store in a mall, part time. She also worked at a local elementary school in the afternoons cleaning the lunch room, and her sole pay was being allowed to take home food that was left over from the days lunch. I thought my daughter was pulling my leg until I actually met the girl. I felt like adopting her. No family, no support, and just getting by. There are a lot of young-lings out there like that. I don't doubt that some of them go hungry at least part of the time.

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    1. Your first paragraph alone offers some good ideas for thought. I'm not part of any group, so these are things I don't always consider. I know that other leaders of groups like Stephen's had a certain set of considerations. Which is good. Better to have them in place whatever they are before people start showing up.

      I'll probably have come up with some my own just to keep out the old nags, whiners, Tea Party haters and other malcontents.... you know the type.

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    2. I don't know, other than my sister in law and brother in law, whether I'll have anyone here besides myself. But a few people who were not past sixty might be handy to have about. I think some of those who were here might try to get to their own families in a tense situation. But if my kids brought a few with them, if they were the same people or same type of people, I would not be displeased.

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  3. That would be a shock to have a ton of people come when you were only expecting a few. It's good you handled it all well. Yes you went through a lot. Think about the time they have though! You said many of them hadn't seen a night sky without city lights. There certainly is a difference.

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    1. Particularly for me, because I am not a social person. However, I do try to preserve some flexibility of mind. I actually enjoyed myself, though I am still completely exhausted. Hospitality is taken very seriously here, and carries a lot of obligations I haven't had to fulfill in many a year. It was good for me.

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  4. Harry you and the wife are good people. Glad to hear that we still have hard working young folks in America and not all lazy. A friend of mine worked at a restaurant and he ate 80% of his meals at work. Once his boss told him no money for a raise. His reply OK I'll eat more steak. Sometimes we need to adjust our plans.

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    1. You would have liked these people I think. The long hair on the men is just a style for that age group. Some of the jewelry the males wear seem very strange to my eye, but I care more about their values than their appearance. Most of the ladies were conservative in appearance, and I was glad to see long hair on women is coming back. I like that. People appear to be taking some of their wages in kind now, which isn't surprising when you consider the benefits to both parties. The company saves some cash and takes a tax write off. The worker gets food (or clothing, or whatever) much more cheaply than they could have purchased it.

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  5. You and your lovely wife are good people, Harry. Well done. Seems a trip to the store is in order.

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    1. Yes, we drew down kind of heavily on some things. In others, like canned goods, we barely made a dint. All of the metal containers of christmas candy I bought after the last holiday season are gone, but soon I'll be able to replenish them at give away prices when Christmas is over.

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  6. hi Harry, what is Country Ham please?

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    1. Sol,
      County Ham is a big joint of ham, soaked in salty water for a long time, then usually smoked. It keeps forever, but it is so salty you can't eat a lot of it at one time. It is delicious, but very hard to cut off the joint unless you use a sharp knife. It is sold in linen sacks, and you hang them from hooks in your supply room, where the meat keeps without refrigeration. If kept in a damp environment (which I don't) it can get some white or green mold on the outside but you just trim that off for the dogs and the rest of the meat is good.

      Country hams are popular Christmas gifts here. A good country ham runs about $30.00 to $40.00 . I don't know how much that is in pounds stirling today. Maybe fifteen to twenty pounds?

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  7. It sounds like you made their weekend really special and the food gifts will have been really appreciated. My kids usually go shopping from my stores when they visit too, they think it's strange how much I keep on hand but they are always glad when it comes to raiding my cupboards for goodies to take home with them.

    I agree with Matt, everyone could cut back on what they eat and still be eating well. Also your visitors were in holiday excess mode and enjoying your hospitality, they would probably consume much less in different circumstances. Lots of positives to having several more bodies about even if they do consume more food or otherwise.

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    1. dreamer,

      I remember as a child, we would go to visit my grandparents and they kept huge storerooms fuill of every kind of food. My dad said it was because during the depression, the family had almost nothing and my grandmother was traumatized by that. So when we went to visit, my grandmother always loaded us up with food when we went home. My mom appreciated it, because my dad was a high school football coach, didn't make a lot of money in those days, and the food was a welcome addition. But my own parents never stored much food, they just went to the grocery store once a week, every Friday. Now I am back to storing away large quantities of supplies like my grandmother. If we go through a depression or worse, at least initially we won't be high and dry like they were in the thirties.

      I'm sure that everyone was just enjoying being away from the normal constraints of the pocket book. My son and daughter came down from the North, and some of these people had never been to the South and were unfamiliar with our food. They seemed to enjoy it, though.

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  8. Glad you had a good time and everything worked out well.

    I know my wife is still shocked at how much my son can eat so I bet you did go through the food.

    Was very nice of you two to send stuff back with everyone as well.

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    1. We could hardly load up our kids (which we do every time they come) and let the others leave empty handed. Besides, some of the couples were none too prosperous and really appreciated the additional food. We have plenty, and food needs to be rotated, anyway.

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    2. I remember as a child we would sometimes go to lunch at our relatives homes and we would not only take some freshly prepared dishes, but often we would take a couple of boxes of canned goods, some were home canned and some were store bought. Once I asked why were we taking all this food to go eat at their house. ( shut- up boy, just load those boxes in the car ) only as I was older I realized those relatives were having some hard times and my parents were helping them out with the extra food. I still have that mentality in my adult life, I am blessed to have been taught well.

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    3. Swamp Dog,

      They brought me little "guest gifts" when they came, not big things but thoughtful things. A little set of knives, a tool for sharpening them, a tiny set of screwdrivers. I don't think this is a Northern habit, so I think my daughter coached them on this. I doubt any of the gifts cost more than five bucks, but they made a favorable impression on me since , being Southern, I try very hard to adhere to the rules of hospitality. So when it came time for them to leave, it made my wife and I feel good that we could provide a few things that the young people could obviously use. Like you with your relatives, it's a thing you do to help but don't make a fuss about.

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  9. Speaking of food, did you see the drudge story today about the food stamp hordes invading a wallyworld in Louisiana? Just as I thought...

    Glad your visitors behaved.
    --Troy

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    1. Troy, I haven't had time to watch the news since Thursday. But I was going through catching up on my blog reading, and there was a good post about it on Jaime's blog, so I knew it happened. I think we all know that if the government largesse is cut off, there are a lot of people who won't have the where with all to buy food. Some will simply take it out of need, but there's a certain segment of our population that uses any excuse at all to steal and riot, and for them that kind of event is a godsend.

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  10. Man, I hate to be the voice of dissention and disharmony, but.......

    If I invited someone to my place and they decided to 'surprise me' with a half dozen friends, whom I have never met, tagging along to eat my food and ogle my gear, I would be more than a little put out. I'd grit my teeth, grin, be polite, and "Oh,its no trouble at all" but once everyone is gone I'd have a sitdown with the person responsible and tell them that was majorly uncool.

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    1. Well, my daughter has always been able to make me do whatever she wanted, and like it. We have a very good relationship, and I want her to be happy. So from the time she was quite a small girl she's had her way. I'm glad she has some friends, and really didn't mind her bringing them. I just went around quietly and picked up all the firearms from throughout the house, and locked them in the upstairs study. Not that I didn't trust the young folks, but as you point out I had no idea of their training or reliability. I also have some suspicions that this may not have been spontaneous. Both my wife and my daughter have been worried about me planning to run this place with just my brother in law, who is older than I am, my daughters boyfriend, and my son. They know we have the room for more people, we have the supplies, and I think this was an attempt to make me consider other options. I haven't been around people to any extent in many, many years other than my own family and maybe talking to a clerk once in awhile when I buy something.

      I have it in mind to ask her who she thinks of that crew might fit in. I also have more faith in their actually reaching here from the northern city they live in if there is more than one vehicle in the group and more than just four people.

      So all in all, I look at it as a positive experience, although I am still a little shell shocked and it seems really quiet here now.

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    2. Thats what I like about you, man. My first response is that Id be annoyed and I leave it at that, but you explore the idea from a couple different angles see it as something not necessarily bad but perhaps even positive. Thats what i like about reading your stuff..youre far more open to rethinking a position and situation than I am.

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    3. I'm just easily managed by the women in my life. And, sometimes I need a nudge in the right direction.

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  11. Sounds like quite the weekend! Out good free chow in front of people who aren't used to it and they can go through a lot. Good thing you were able to rotate some food.

    As to guests in a bad situation that is a tough balance to act. Arms and backs are handy but mouths make food math pretty rough.

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    1. Food is an important part of hospitality, you have to put out your best and in whatever quantities are required. My wife just about collapsed, she did so much cooking even with some of the girls helping her. Our kitchen is not large. It didn't help that my daughters boyfriend, who is admittedly an excellent chef, kept getting in the way.

      The canned stuff we have in great profusion and it won't hurt us any to provide a few cases of vegetables, chili, etc to people who will appreciate it. I can replenish those stores with one trip to the grocery outlet across the state line.

      I'll tell you one thing I liked about them all being a third my age. With men my own age, it wouldn't be so easy to rule the roost. But the young-lings weren't argumentative and even my daughters boyfriend did whatever I told them to do. That would simplify matters if some of them came here in a crash situation. Also, they were all completely ignorant of living in the forest, and there were no "preppers" among them. Can you imagine the difficulty if you got a bunch of preppers, or even worse, survivalists together and then tried to agree on a course of action. Too many cooks spoil the broth. I was not devastated by having other people split the wood and haul it in, even if my son had to oversee the work to prevent lopped off feet. A few young couples added to the tribe has much to recommend it.

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  12. It sounds like you came out okay. I imagine having a few extra guests was nerve wracking, but it sounds like you had a good time. I'm sort of a hermit myself and playing 'host' is not my idea of fun. I'm okay at work, but when I'm home, I'm home - I like the privacy and quiet.

    I smiled when you described the people who had to stop and admire a DARK night to enjoy the stars. People who live in the city don't even seem aware stars are there at all. A real pity. When they have the opportunity to be out there, they have the radio on or playing with their phone - anything but appreciating what is all around them. The peace and quiet of the woods.

    I remember years back, a night at deer camp when my cousin brought a friend who had never been out in the woods - ever. A coyote yoweled and that person wondered what that noise was.

    "Is that a wolf?"

    "No, that is a coyote."

    "No way - you have those out here? Cool!" :^)

    I love the sound of coyote 'music' and it still gives me a shiver to listen to it. It just speaks to me - I don't have the words to describe it, but I know some here can probably relate.

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    1. Years ago in Ghana up in the northern part, where there was no electricity, I was absolutely amazed at the show the night sky put on.

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    2. I'm much like you, and almost never associate with people "in person." I probably would have made a lot of fuss if I had known I had this number of people coming. However, for three days it was livable. And if the bad thing happens one day, I will just have to live with it since I've never believed just my wife and I could hack it up here in a collapse.

      We have coyotes here. I lose a chicken to them some times but I don't shoot them. We also have the Red Wolf. They lived here naturally before people exterminated them in the 1920's, but a population was imported from Northern Florida's panhandle and they seem to be doing well.

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  13. When we have 1 - 3 visitors we stock up on goodies too. It normally works out that visitors for a weekend cost us one and a half times what RMan and I normally spend on a full weeks groceries...

    Sounds like you had fun - and thus a good time was had by all :)

    You have a big heart :)

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    1. Dani, you have a nice big place with things to do , and I think you are more accustomed to visitors than me. Even so, you are right, I did enjoy myself which is very strange. I think it went well because the guests were well behaved, and deferential. No one minds being treated with respect and being obeyed with good grace. It was nice to see young people who were good people, too. I think that getting most of my information on young people from the television news, I had developed a much lower opinion of them as a class than they deserved.

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  14. If you had known about all the guests you could have had a barn raising, or some other neat project that required free labor.
    I think many of us are a little less sociable than the norm, but do enjoy a flurry of company/activity once in a while. For me, it's a motivator to get a lot of things done in a short amount of time.
    and to go grocery shopping once it's over. Just need to find someone who will sell you their ebt balance for .50 per $1

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    1. Actually, I got some wood hauled up out of the forest, cut and split. This was my daughters idea, and at first I resisted because none of these young men knew jack about how to do that. But my son agreed that he alone would touch a chain saw, and just about anyone can swing a mall. The kids seemed to enjoy physical work where you see what you have accomplished at the end of it. And, really, they didn't do enough of it to be tired out and have it lose it's allure. I didn't want to work anybody, at all, but they did seem to enjoy it.

      Something else I noticed was that despite how they are portrayed on the tv, the twenty something group I had was "normal." The girls liked girl things like wandering around the craft festival in town, while the boys liked more masculine activities like wood splitting. They all enjoyed hiking and horseback riding.

      I am not sure the food stamp thing would work out, you might buy the balance and then the credit card might not work! :-)

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  15. may i ask where you get your hams and what sort of hanging environment do they need?
    thanks. deb harvey

    hymenopterid@gmail.com

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    1. Deb, country hams are sold in both grocery stores in my town, in the meat department. I hang them from hooks in the ceiling of one of my store rooms, and that is climate controlled year round. Temperature stays in the low seventies to high sixties, and the humidity is between 50- 55%.

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  16. Sounds like you all were very gracious hosts. I don't care much for having guests. And I also go to bed at nine!

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    1. Lisa, I haven't had guests like this in probably twenty years. It was an experience, but I think it helped shake me out of fossilized thought patterns that needed to be reexamined so it was a good thing.

      I can't stay up after nine no matter how hard I try, unless I am having one of my frequent bouts of insomnia, then I can't go to sleep no matter how hard I try. We have an apartment over our shop so my wife and I just stayed out there. We went on to bed when we wanted to and the young set was able to do whatever they wanted to at the main house.

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  17. Harry in response to you comment to Max...

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-10-15/foodstamp-program-shutdown-imminent

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  18. Harry you sound like you had a great time. Maybe they will come again?

    I think maybe a country ham is like a parma ham? is it dry when cut? I have only ever been lucky the once I tried to make it 5 times, with loads of sea salt an old wine box with holes drilled in it and weights from an old dumbbell set. wash in vinegar, I dunked it in a bucket.

    then wrap it in cheese cloth and I hung it in the garage for 4 months. It was delicious,

    I think the instructions came from the river cottage website... it came out like prosciutto

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    1. Sol, I think that the two are similar. The Sgt remarked that he thought the two hams might be produced the same way based on a trip to Italy he made. Most country hams are smoke cured as well as salted, but not all.

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  19. The government would never dare to cut those payments. Even the intellectual pygmies running the government know that the French and Russian revolutions were sparked off by food shortages among the poor.

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    1. North Carolina just shuts theirs off.

      Link on Reuters.

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    2. Well, if anyone would it would be the tar heels. They just dropped 170,000 people off their unemployment roles because they intentionally changed a state law to force a cut off of federal unemployment insurance funding. The governor said they were getting too deep in hock to the federalist.

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  20. If you had known so many were coming, you would probably just worried yourself into exhaustion. If you were to have more permanent company in hard times, you might consider conservation of resources. Maybe there could be a limit on how deep the tub water could be. I know I empty my water heart when I soak in my claw foot tub. Using a towel for more than one time would save a lot on laundry.

    You are making me taste country ham from my youth. I remember it was too salty. I would be drinking iced tea for hours and never feel like I had enough to drink. Mama and Daddy would send slices home with us because we were too broke to afford a ham.

    You were a good host, and thanks to the apartment, you could get your rest.

    I am now hungry and want ham. I just thawed and ate a smoked turkey. Can a turkey be treated like a ham and stored/hung without refrigeration?
    Linda

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