Monday, May 25, 2009

I've got Time for a Memorial Day Memory

When I shut off the TV tonight I realized my gosh I've lost a lot of time to reruns. Time goes by so fast and I've spent hours watching the same shows, reading the same books, listening to the same songs and visiting the same places.

No one can say that time steals your youth. You choose to give time your youth. I chose to give Hollywood a few hours of my day so they can sell me their ideas and toothpaste. I chose to give that bartender 5 more bucks for a "couple more" thereby giving away the rest of the night. I chose to give that doctor my time when he told me I should relax for a few weeks which turned into months. I chose to give mother nature my time when she said "people at your age shouldn't be doing that any longer." I chose to give my ideas a rest when they said "You ain't no longer relevant."

I should have given time more time when I tried to fit it all in during the first 40 years. I should have given my time to the kids who could have learned some of the history I've lived. I should have given my time to more young adults who could have maybe avoided some of the painfulness of growing pains. I should have given more time to the Lord. He's gonna be staring me in the eye one of these days and saying "Well Buford?"

And, I should have given more of my time to those Veterans of ours laying in beds who I know would give anything in the world to have the time that I've given away. I've got a good feeling they'd done a lot more with it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wendell's Eternal Tunes

So Wendell's been coming by for almost 11 years checkin on me. I had to put an ad in the paper back then when I had a case of gout on my left heel and whipping up my daily egg requirements became a little more laborious than I could handle. I'm all better since the last 10 years but just like a stray cat. You feed Wendell and Wendell hangs around.

Wendell comes by most days after his motor paper route and we have some sandwiches and he usually enjoys a couple of beers before he moves onto his next pursuit.

Over the last 11 years I've seen Wendell get involved in every kind of get rich scheme, fast buck ideas, multi-level marketing, at home parties, friends business ventures. You name it almost every week Wendell's got something cooking. I give him credit he pursues with passion. When he gets hot on something he is one hundred percent behind it. I drank more of that damn acai juice at 38 bucks a bottle than what I can remember. I have had my water filtered cleaner than any imported from Sweden. I've eaten more pills than Carter could make. I have been cleansed in places that no man should put a tube, I've had fat oozing out of pores, I've been yogasized and have discovered abs in 3 minutes. So you can imagine my hesitance when Wendell came over and said "Buford, I need an advance of 160 bucks. I got a new idea that we both can retire on!" I reminded Wendell that Ol' Buf is retired and settin OK at this point. Sure, I'd like to visit Egg Harbor up in Wisconsin and see one more of those fish boils before I leave but other than that I'm good.

I said "What do you need 160 bucks for?" Wendell gets a big ol grin, leans his head waaaay back and is looking up at my ceiling. He spreads his arms wide and says "Buford, for Eternal Tunes!" I swear I thought I heard Angels sing and the skys parted.

I said "what in the heck are Eternal Tunes?" Wendell still looking all starry eyed says "Buford, you know how I love Skynard don'tcha?" He said "I got to thinking last night when I was listening to the Street Survivor cassette that I have listened to this particular album over 14,000 times since it came out in 1976. It is the album I listen to every single morning while I'm showering and I've not missed a day in 33 years" He went on "I don't know what I'm going to do without hearing ""What's your name"" when the good Lord takes me from here?" I could see what was brewing in that huge head of his.

He went on with his pitch which had obviously been fermenting under that skin dome of his. Wendell says "I thought what better opportunity with today's modern technology to just take it with you!" he went on "just then it hit me, here is a business primed and ready to go" "Take your tunes with you for eternity." "I plan on loading up my ipod with all my favorite albums, just before they lower me under, I'll have the Rev hit play and I'm good to go." "Throw in some extra batteries and I'm listening to ""Honky Tonk Night Time Man"" all the way through the pearly gates."

So, Wendell and I popped open a couple of Millers and I had to admit. That does sound like a very good idea. According to the K-mart ad an Ipod runs you about $130 bucks, load it up with some tunes, pop those ear phones onto my ears and I've got sweet Connie Francis ushering me up to meet St. Peter.

Wendell says "I'll start running some ads and with your public speaking gigs at those Rotary clubs, you've got a group of baby boomers who love their Chubby Checker and let's face it with 100 million Baby Boomers entering the retirement category in the next few years, I figure there's enough to keep us busy and staring at the ocean down to Florida." "Florida by the way" he said, "would be a target rich environment"

So Wendell may have finally landed the big one. I like it. Eternal Tunes. Gotta start putting my songs on a yellow pad. Wendell says he's gonna trademark it right after I give him the 160 bucks to buy the first ipod and a few songs "for marketing purposes" I've been looking at getting back into the celebrity endorsement gig and with that Tiger Woods gettin Buick all tied up, I'm thinking Eternal Tunes may be the gig for Ol' Buford. I gotta lock Wendell into a contract before old Wilford Brimley or Tom Bosley comes knockin, he was a force with those Glad trash bags!

Wendell if you get this on your phone, bring some paper, we need to draw a little something up!

Right now though I've gotta get these 22 Nutri-yum-vites down. I'm going to relax this afternoon with some of these $23 Aromatherapy Candles and rub some of that Forever Young Gel on my face. At 87 bucks a bottle ya gotta keep on the regimen.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buford's Sunday night.

Sunday night I was sitting on my front porch enjoying a visit with my friends Jack Daniels and Arturo Fuentes. Sundays are usually the night of the week that Ol' Buford gets to spend some quality time alone with my thoughts. Wendell is usually attending one of his get rich quick group meetings and it is the only night that Dan doesn't try to cram green tea and shitaki mushrooms down my throat. The penguin trucks have just started to roll in across the street but haven't been here long enough to have the entire northeast section of Des Moines all smelled up. All in all a good night. About 9:30, the phone rings and it's Sandy Torgelston. She says her juicer is on the fritz and if Walli doesn't get his fresh squeezed carrot/plum/onion juice in the morning there is going to be hell to pay. I told her that I would be happy to take a look at it but Gabes Wholesale Parts was closed and if it needs any extensive repairs we would be up a creek. She said she understood and could always stop by the Hy-vee and pick up some prune juice for one day.

About 10:00 Sandy pulls up the drive and gives the horn a little honk. I wave at her from the porch and she takes a good ten minutes to get outta the car. She finally gets out, walks around to the trunk, opens that and pulls out a box. As she's walking up the steps she says "Hey Buford, where should I put this?" I said "we'll look at it in a bit." "Have a seat and enjoy some city night." I said "I'm visiting with Mr. Jack Daniels would you like a visit too?" She laughs and said "God no, Walli would shoot me if he knew I was drinking like the old days with Buford Picklebery" She says "I better not have any Jack.... Make me a double vodka with orange juice please." This ol girl has always made me laugh and feel a little lighter every time I see her.

I get her drink, she's sitting in the rockin chair next to mine and we just each sit for a moment enjoying the night. "tough luck that ol juicer breaking on a Sunday night" I say. "yeah tough luck" She went on "I don't know, might be OK, may have just been the outlet I was plugging it into." I laughed a bit. We sat another 10 minutes not saying a word. Just listening to the dogs barking and the trucks howling over on 80. Suddenly Sandy blurts out. "Buford, I don't know what the hell is wrong with Walli anymore?" "He doesn't do nothing since he retired" "his life is rotated between the bed and the tv couch and the bed." "He's living his life in 8 hour segments of sleep, Maury Povich and sleep."

Now ol' Walli never did set the world on fire. I've known him and Sandy for probably 40 years. Walli was a mail carrier for 28 years and retired about four years ago, maybe five already. I think the only thing he substituted from his old life into the retired life was to replace Des Moines postal route 37 gossip with ABC 5 Maury Povich gossip. I think the rest remained the same. Sleep, mail, sleep rotation. He provided a safe life for his family and that was his sole goal in life.

Sandy retired a school teacher and I first met her way back in 62'. I was asked by a judge to give a talk to some school kids on the dangers of the Devil's Lettuce. A little leftover request from the days of running with the Basillicians outta Dyersville. Sandy and I got along famously and enjoyed a couple of drinks after her class that day and have been friends ever since. Sandy and Walli had just started hitting the town together at the time so her and I have been nothing but friends for all these years.

She said, "I don't know Buford, I shoulda hopped onto the back of that panhead with you in 1962 and never looked back." " She kind of chuckled and I saw her steal a glance my way and look away in the same motion. She had a very far away look on her face and just the slightest tear slowly inched down her left cheek. She never even moved to stop it. We sat listening to the penned up penguins squawking across the road and I obliged her request for another drink. I said "you know, those damn penguins they got penned up across the street are all just waiting to die." I said "They run around, half fly, squawk and poop all day and never get anywhere." I said "But, every now and then one of em gets out, I see em streakin across my lawn or out in that field and we never see em again." "I don't know where they go but I do know they are probably loving their freedom even if they are stuck here in the middle of Iowa, miles from where they thought they would ever be." "Heck, when they take off outta that pen they probably have no idea where they're going either." "They probably miss some of their buddies but not enough to go back to em!" Sandy didn't reply.

We sat a long long time without saying a word and I finally said "we should look at that juicer." She kind of whispered more to herself than to me, "let it go for tonight, he can drink some prune juice" "Let's just sit here awhile" We sat and listened to the night. I was thinking about 1962 and a beautiful bright eyed school teacher named Ms. Sandy Brooks and some of life's wasted opportunities. I'm not sure what she was thinking but at one point she had reached over and lightly rested her left arm on my right arm. We sat gently connected. We listened and watched and didn't say another word.

I'm sure she'll come by and pick up that juicer some day. I've not even tried to plug it in.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Internets Planned Blog Deletion

So, I woke up and was reading one of my favorite trusted news blogs and I came across a little tidbit that is quietly passing under the radar. It was carefully planned for release on a Sunday when they knew the nation would be tuned in to the Farrah Fawcett story and not paying attention to the news.

I quickly put on my "Investigative Reporter hat" and dug out the old newshound skills I used to have when I was night news editor for the Wabasha Herald back in the late 60's. I thought my readers might find my report interesting.

Dateline May 17.
Pickleberry Press:
Buford M. Pickleberry.

The Mayor's Council on Internet Blog Waste and Managment will begin deleting and eliminating all weblogs that have not been updated in the last 30 days.

"The internet is filling up too quickly causing congestion and traffic issues for everyone from major corporations to the single family home in rural Idaho." Says a spokesperson for the group.

A new group has been appointed by the Mayor's office to begin monitoring the internet for non-updated blogs. The new task force group will begin first with those blogs that contain too many photos of people standing in front of large mountains and ocean views. From there the group will elimate duplicate photos of young women at nightclubs holding onto each other. "Often a blog will contain multiple photos of the same female with the same friends with the only difference being the young women will be standing in a different pose in another photograph."

These "girls night out" photos take up enormous amounts of the internets storage capabilities and really are "All the same" states the spokesperson. "You gather up 3 blonds and a brunette, you put them all in sheer blouses and tight blue jeans." "Put a large drink in each of their hands and you've got the exact same photos duplicated millions of times across thousands of blogs." "Simply too much storage space is being wasted and no one has time to look at them or comment on them anyway" the spokesperson went on to say.

The same holds true for guys on motorcycles, extreme closeups of flowers and skylines. From there the group will process and eliminate those blogs that have any references to Paris Hilton and/or Wine. The ad-hoc group has deemed there is enough information available in the traditional media that the internet does not have to be "Blogged" down with this information. a spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous said "there is simply too much boring info out there. We are tired of reading about how a person's cat did the funniest thing and the 30 to 40 comments that follow it" There are way more important things that need to be routed and speeded through the internet without having to stop at an internet red light while the cat information passes through."

Commentators on the internet's most popular blog group have been in an uproar over this and are planning a "Peaceful ""Blogtest"" demonstration" for lack of a more creative name. Thousands of blogger commentators have joined up and have created a new centralized blog for the blog protest and have been contributing thousands of new comments. One blogger wrote a very heartfelt and philosophical post when he said "that freaking sucks" "it does" said Fred82222. "I agree" said motherof2" "me too" said wonderman99001 All of the over 2000 comments reflected the same thoughts. The Blogtest group has decided to quietly enroll hundreds of thousands and will create an online petition which will be sent to the Presidents office on "Blog Friday"

Several Blog Friday demonstrations are planned across the internet. There is a new facebook page created by weblogger "Steve Altergo" for this group of Blog testors to join to show their opposition to this new development. Quotes Mr. Altergo. "The internet cannot do this to me. I've spent almost every waking hour over the last 4 years chronicling my day to day life." Mr. Altergo's blog is cleverly entitled the thoughts and musings of Steve." "Over the last 4 years I have accumulated 11 readers who stop by "little corner of the internet" to read my stuff. I've had over 829 hits in the last 4 years. I am making a difference.

"Blog Friday" is planned for an upcoming friday to be determined once Mr. Altergo's" Facebook page has hit enough friends to fill out the petition.

The Blogtest group said it realizes that millions of pages of webbloggers thoughts and musings could be lost forever before they can band fast enough but to quote Mr. Altergo from his webblog "We will win the battle, if not the war" "That doesn't seem to be the right quote" said hippy2269. "I am pretty sure it is" replied Mr. Altergo. "Go freaking to hell" said 4HRErctshunman and the comments continued in regard to whether the quote was in fact correct.

I'll continue to monitor the situation and report on it as need arises. I've got my ear to the ground and I follow a lot of blogs that are frequently updated so they must be correct. - I've gotta go now, it's Sunday and that means ribeye and sweet potatos! - Buford.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Waitin on Wendell Again

I made sandwiches so don't worry about food. Ready to roll.

I'm waiting on Wendell. It's going to be a nice day here in the greater Des Moines area and I decided I would ride along today with Wendell on his newspaper motor route. Wendell delivers the morning newspaper and also has developed a fine network of "side delivery" jobs that he combines for additional income. Never mind that the paper is the "morning" paper and is supposed to be on your doorstep no later than 7 a.m. Here it is 7:45 and Wendell is still eating his pancakes at the Urbandale cafe I'm assuming. He somehow gets my website on his telephone so he knows I'm waiting on him here.

We'll cover about 300 miles today. We take off north of town, take a gravel just outside of Ankeny and we're in rural Iowa! From there he's got about 200 stops along the way. This day is usually interesting. I sit in the back seat with the newspapers because big dude has his K-car configurated to be able to drive on the right side of the vehicle so he can roll up to the mailbox and put the paper into box without having to get out of the car. I go along for those stops where he does have to get out of the car. It's kinda like watchin an airline pilot. 3 hours of riding accompanied by short bursts of terror. We'll be riding up the road and Wendell will spot a mailbox thats been tipped over or practically layin on its side. He'll start to whine 1/2 a mile away. Cursing and cussin he begins to incrementally shift that big ol belly of his inches at a time to start to prepare for his exit. His car is set up for his optimal comfort and performance sort of the way Dale Jr's car is molded to his body for top performance. Wendell's usual driving mode is his he sits with his right shoulder leaning on the passenger door. His head is partially out the window. He left leg is extended all the way across the car and he operates both the gas and brakes with that one leg. He steers the car with his left arm and his body is turned that he is able to reach his left arm back where he has built a wood shelf in the backseat where he piles up the newspapers. He grabs onto a newspaper, kind of contorts his body in a 1/2 corkscrew and with one well-practiced fluid motion he semi-tosses the newspaper into the mailbox. After the paper hits its mark he turns back toward the road and exhales "Jesus". He rams the gas and we're onto the next stop.

It is pure poetry to watch. It is practically a pilates workout and you would think that with all of this exercising every day Ol' Wendell would be fit and trim as a board. Not even close. He fuels his body for the trip with about 70000 calories. We're talking boxes of cheez-its, 12 pack of pepsi, 12 pack of mountain dew, he's downing sleeves of Oreos and washing it back drinking straight outta the gallon jug of milk. 10 to 12 little debbie and the of course along the way the widows are always leaving him plates of food. Cookies, cakes, breads. I've yet to see one plate make it home. He feels it's his obligation to eat the entire plate of cookin before he gets home. We'll stop somewhere around noon usually at Madrid at a cafe for lunch and then we'll hit the road for the remainder of the papers. It is pure poetry in motion watchin this man work and hearing his grunting, moaning, exhaling, gas releasing, sighing, swearing, laughing for 300 miles of gravel roads. All along the way he's commenting on the daily news and he's got that Maxwell and Polly and that oldies station KIOA outta Des Moines blasting. Usually we'll have a flat tire due to all of the nails and stuff on the gravel roads and that is a joy. He carries 3 or 4 spares and that will cause a setback of about a 1/2 hour to get that changed. He actually is pretty good at getting

OK, he's here. We'll hit the road. He's honkin the horn. I see ya dude! Hold on, I been waitin on you for 45 minutes. Gotta use the bath and I'll be out.

Over and out - Buford.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey Wendell

Ya dufus. Did you think Jay Leno was really gonna show your belly tattoo? I never even sent him your picture. got you again dude! You can go to bed now.

Bring your vacuum cleaner over here tomorrow. I got mine all tore apart and sittin on the kitchen table in parts. Needed a good overhaul and these arth meds are keeping me wide awake! Get over here early. I want to get the shopping done early sposed to rain. - Buford.

Life imitating Buford! Buford dethroned!

So today the very lovely and I'm assuming talented Miss California Carrie Prejean will learn her fate from Mr. Donald Trump whether or now she will be allowed to keep her crown and the illustrious title of Miss California and all of the duties associated with the title. Those being grocery store openin's and at least two singings of the national anthem one at a major sporting event such as Nascar Talladega and the other usually at the crown's former high school homecoming basketball game. The rest of the reign is usually spent persuing the cause, Ms. Prejean's being world peace. We'll see how far she gets with that in a year.

Well Ol' Bufords worn the pants and traveled the road Ms. Carrie is currently piloting on. You may find this hard to believe nowadays but back in 1976 I was in my wildcattin' days and Ol' Buford was considered a bit of a catch at least by Ol' Buford. The town I was living in, Allison was celebrating its Quasquicentennial of 125 years as a burg and the 700 residents of Allison were ready for a shindig! Included in the celebratation was a beard growing contest. Now by default, I grow more hair from every pore on my body than most men do trying with all of their might but to make it a fair contest I turned down the testosterone and participated fairly.

The contest was over a 3 month period to climax with the official judging at the Hog Roast on Friday night right after Billy Sinclair and the Sidesteppers finished up their second set. Life went on per usual over the 3 months and the big day finally arrived. They lined us 15 bearded gents up on the stage and had Ms. Allison 1976 Helen Debnerski accompany the other 3 judges.

One of those judges Harley Wilmot and myself never did see quite eye to eye and I thought that may have put me at a disadvantage. Ol Harley ran the insurance company, the grain elevator and owned the newspaper the Wilmot Reader. To say he was the town BIG shot is an understatement. Nothing happened in Allison without the stamp of approval from Harley Wilmot. Today in Allison you'll see the Wilmot Hotel, the Wilmot Community Center. Folks fish at Wilmot Park. Eat their dinners at Wilmot Steak and Shake and can live in the Wilmot retirement village. So Harley was one of the judges along with Miss Allison and two other fellas I cannot remember.

The judging gets underway and they are looking for the usual criteria of all good beard contests, length, fullness and overall appeal. When the final selections were done and all of the votes had been cast, Harley accompanied by Ms. Helen, stops in front of Buford and proclaims to the crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen, your Allison Iowa Quasquicentennial Bearded Ammbassador for 1976 is Mr. Buford M. Pickleberry. I step forward, shake hands with Harley and get a nice kiss from Miss Allison. I thank the crowd, I tell them it is truly an honor and I will will do my very best to represent the city of Allison by proceeding with all of my duties with Honor and Integrity and I promise to mow my lawn more than once a month.

I invited everyone to join me in the Amvet's beer tent where everyone could feel free to honor me by buying me several beers. We made our way over the tent. Miss Allison telling me she'd be honored to join me in the first round and maybe a second. Miss Allison was a delightful young lady of 29 and freshly divorced. In a small town of 700 people of course every single activity of the singles in town is closely monitored and then scrutinized over several coffees the next day at the cafe. The rumors were swirling just exactly how Ms. Debnerski had "earned" the Miss Allison crown but that is another story. I found her to be delightful.

The festivities of the evening included a lot of dancing, drinking, eating hog and may or may not have ended up with some skinny dipping at the pond before a final round in the Pickleberry garage, or as I called it back then Pickleberry after-party Port.

The weekend continued with Ol' Buford performing my duties as the official Bearded Ambassador. I had the first turn of the spatula at the Boy Scouts Pancake feed. I dropped the green flag at the bed races down main street. Saturday night I sang the opening number at the street dance. The party again continued well into Sunday morning at the Pickleberry after-party Port with several of Allison's "outlaws and inlaws"

Sunday morning I was a tired ammbassador and carrying a wee-bit of a headache. Well knowing the best cure for the Sunday morning headache and knowing my last official duty was to deliver the opening prayer for the citywide non denominational church service at 10:00 I decided I better get Ol' Buford's head straight. I delivered a stirring prayer the left the men sobbing and the widows giddy as they say. The Allison Quasquicentennial celebration wound down with the annual firemen's waterball fight and hog roast and at 5:00 Sunday afternoon we wrapped up 125 years of pent up celebration with a free watermelon feed at the courthouse square. Of course there were a few hardy souls and soulettes that wrapped up a little later with one more evening at the Pickleberry after-party Port.

I woke up Monday morning and went outside breathed in the air still loaded with smoked pork and at my feet was the Monday morning Wilmot Reader. There lying open for the world to see was a 3 inch all caps headline reading "AMBASSADOR DISASTER" Pickleberry should be punted!"

Of course I became flabbergasted. What in the world could this mean? What was the disaster I had inflicted upon the city? I immediately brought the paper in the house. Put it on the stand next to my reading chair. I cooked up a batch of eggs and some of that left over BBQ pork and had a glass of orange juice. I went to do my morning constitutional, took a shower, drove down to Earl's to get my tires rotated, picked up some corn syrup at the B&B mart and stopped in and got the mail at the post office. When I got home I went straight to the paper. I opened it up and there splashed on page one was a picture Rev. Monstedt and Father Stevens at the non-demoninational prayer service and way in the background getting ready to deliver the opening prayer was one Buford M. Pickleberry taking a nip out of what plainly could be seen as a pocket flask. At a church service! Even if it was outdoors at the city park it still was a church service!!!

That photo also was accompanied by a rather lengthy articler personally written by Ol Harley Wilmot himself detailing out the entire "Pickleberry weekend" It included everything from the after-party lawn dart incident, to the community skinny dip, to even a chronicle of an alleged late night visit by Miss Allison to the Pickleberry homestead that were NOT part of her official duties. Apparently there was a spy in the midst!

Well the tongues were waggin, the cafe was crowded and the Ambassador Disaster was the talk of the city. At 12 Noon in his usual ceremonious fashion Harley Wilmot rolls his Ford truck into Ol' Buford's drive, walks up to my door with a smirk on his face and says. Pickleberry you are undeserving of the Bearded Ammbassador and I demand the button back. I informed him he could have the title back. That I had somewhere along the line lost the button when the little pin broke and that realistically beyond yesterday I guess I was unsure that there were any additional future duties anyway? He left feeling vindicated, I left feeling some gas pains from the cinnamon roll at the cafe and in my opinion the town was left with a little less freedom. It was only years later did I come to find out that the lovely Miss Allison 1976 Helen Debnerski was actually a result of an "every Thursday afternoon tryst" of Ol Harley Wilmot and Mrs. Sallie Faithas who, along with her husband, ran the implement dealership in town. Ms. Debnerski's frequent visits to Buford were more than Harley could take. Thus, the humilitation and character assasination attempt on Ol Buford.

Well, my advice to Ms. Carrie Prejean is hold on for the ride. I think you'll be surprised at the opportunities that all of the publicity will be bringing you. I know it will open a lot of doors for you. Let me say that the "publicity" Mr. Wilmot provided to Ol' Buford back in 1976 led to more open doors than I could handle. I had no idea that town had so much "pent up energy" but the publicity sure expanded Buford's social life!

Good luck kid! I'm sure it will end up great for you. Gotta go. Someone's knockin on my door!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Newsflash to Wendell

I'm waiting right at the front window. I've got my bloodwork this morning at 8:00 remember? I've tried calling your telephone but wait, it is right here sitting on that thing you said you were taking home with you last night. I about broke my neck tripping over it getting up this morning. You are not watching TV at my house until all hours of the morning! Quit playin on the web and get here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pickleberry Turkey Neck Recipe

So every year the on May Day we Pickleberrys have had a long standing tradition of cleaning out the cave and enjoying a family celebratory Turkey neck feed. The cold cave was a deep damp hole dug just off of the house that we used to store all of our canned and pickled goods throughout the year. It was 12 foot deep with a step ladder system and made of rock walls lined with wooden shelves. It was alway wet, smelled of musty moldy earthworms and housed some of the largest spiders seen on earth.

About May first all of the Momma Pickleberrys would clean out all of the stuff we didn't get ate up throughout the winters. These were some of the best days of eatin that we would have all year! For almost 2 weeks every day was a culinary feast of the senses unlike any we would experience during the long winters.

All of the Pickleberry kin and cousins would gorge on pickled hog tongues that must have been missed at Easter. We would stuff ourselves with candied goat tail that had spent a year lazily soaking up the brine of red onions. Momma Pickleberry would warn her brood about the impending stomach pains of consuming more than 2 or 3 vinegar soaked goose eggs at one sitting but we couldn't help ourselves. We would each grab one of those huge glass jars and always slide our hands to the bottom first and pull up the biggest slimiest gray egg that had been laying at the bottom of the jar for over a year! Our arms would be soaked with greasy slimy vinegar brine and our shirts would stay smelling like that for day but it was nothing for us to finish off 15 to 18 eggs at a sitting and still have room for a pound of extremely pungent but nicely aged horse milk cheese.

To say that we Pickleberrys left no part of the animal go to waste is an extreme understatement. If it was on our farm we ate it. We still joke that Wallace Pickleberry (who got into a little trouble and had to be put into the federal witness protection program after a little run in with John Dillinger one evening in Chicago) was actually probably not living a life in Arizona but may simply have been caught up in the Pickleberry spring feeding frenzy. Poppa Pickleberry still claims he remembers eating what he was told was roasted leg of wild boar when he coughed up what he said was two links of a watch band?

Well after two weeks of eating everything from broiled turtle livers to seared goat nuts we Pickleberrys were ready to have a party and start the process of loading up the cave again! That meant Turkey Neck Feed! Turkey necks are usually discarded in the butchering process but in the Pickleberry tradition those are just about the best eating that you can run past your palate. The Pickleberry Turkey Neck feed requires a bit of preparation on the part of the host. Let me forwarn you that not only is the preparation an ode to food, it will become a spiritual journey along the way. You will find yourself tested in ways that you never imagined. You will laugh, you will cry. You will most likely become one with the turkey neck as in almost 90 years of the Turkey Neck feed I've yet to see the preparer come away without bleeding profusely at some point. Don't worry, let it go, nothing heals a wound faster than seeing a large gathering of people consuming with glee the necks of turkeys which you have blood, sweated teared and labored over intensively.

Now, take a deep breath, steady yourself and begin the process. For a celebration of twenty you will need 100 pounds of Turkey necks. You can adjust your recipe accordingly but ONLY use multiples of 5 with the recipe reconstruction or you will experience disasterous results.

Dig a hole in your yard 6 feet deep, 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. The exact depth, width and length are critical in the cyclation of air required during the roasting process. Construct a brick and metal rod labryinth which you must only weld with acetlyne torch and acid free flux. Anything else will taint the meat to a point virtually rendering it inedible except to the elderly. After the brick and metal rod labryinth construction you will line the sides of the hold with birch branches that you cut, at a minimum, 3 years prior and aged in an open air atrium. You of course know that you must have brushed these birch branches daily with a mixture of olive oil and rosemary allowing the branches to be infiltrated by the solution. For the roasting chamber you will need at least 200 pounds of these specially prepared branches so proper pre-planning is essential.

After the 2 hour process of building the cooking pit is completed it is time to begin the neck preparation. You will need 20 large copper kettles. Each guest will require their own kettle. again, remember the multiple of 5 rule. (Adjust your cooking pit in multiples of 5 as well) Caveat: Only adjust up NEVER attempt to make the recipe smaller. The numbers DO NOT work for smaller units. If you do not have family or friends of at least 20 with whom to enjoy the turkey neck feed perhaps I would encourage you to try something that is more fitting of your sad social situation namely ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut.

I think that a well rounded turkey neck preparer and your particular social situation actually go hand in hand . Your status in your city will continue to grow as your own Turkey Neck Feed becomes more of an annual tradition until it eventually becomes placed on the social registries of the white gloved crowd.

Place the 100 pounds of turkey necks onto the hood of your 1976 Buick electra. It is the only car built that is capable of holding the necks in a proper position along with the weight that will be layered upon it. Since it is critical that all 100 pounds of turkey neck are allowed to comingle in order to share the now starting to ooze juices, you will be required to use the 1976 Buick Electra. If you happen to own a farm that contains a corn bin whose metal was manufactured in Evanston Illinois during the late 40s you can use a large portion of that metal for your base as well. (a lower placed panel is recommended but not required) Of course we modern era Pickleberries are mostly resigned to assemble the neck feast on metal. Our forebearing Pickleberries constructed large preparation tables consisting of one piece slabs of highly polished sandstone and mined in Pennsylvania and slowly transported here by prairie wagon over a period of 3 summers time.

Line the necks throat to gut end forming a large circle and expanding out. By the completion you should have a 6 foot circle of turkey neck. DO NOT cover the necks with any gauze or tarp even if tempted. This seemingly fetid circle of poultry will now start to attract every kind of fly, bug, bee, dog, cat and winged critter you can imagine. Each of these creatures of God will be bringing with it (and hopefully depositing) parts of mother nature from all over your county.

This is the taste of your county. This is the only portion that if followed correctly will give your turkey neck a distinct flavor over that prepared in a neigboring state. Even the most un-trained palate will be able to discern the difference your county's critters can leave when compared to those in a different state! Let them pee, poop, spit, buzz, deposit, take. This is mother nature nurturing and a part of the spiritual process that I made mention too earlier in the recipe.

Over the next 14 hours you will let these necks be cradled in the arms of mother nature. You should have begun the hood layering process at 3:30 a.m. as it is critical to have at least 12 hours of 67 degree temperature. (you can go up to 70 degrees but if it is any warmer, toss the entire hood of necks away and order a pizza) If you cannot better estimate when spring arrives in your particular region of the country, again, you may be better off eating pizza. The turkey neck feed is limited to those who treat food preparation as an art form, a way of life, an existence. Any less than that and I will advise you to go ahead, say "extra pepperoni"

In a large 17 gallon stone crock you will now prepare the marinade glaze. Pour in 7 gallons of the darkest wheat beer that you have on your shelves. Use only the beer that you have brewed in your brewhouse which has fermented at least 1 year. Oh sure, others have attempted to use their fresher brew but the results will be much less than satisfactory. Ladle the beer into the crocks a tablespoon at at time. Pouring the beer and splashing will create too much oxygen that will angrily mix with the other ingredients causing a transfer of gasses and leaving you greatly despleasured. Ladeling carefully, while a bit time consuming, allows the beer to rest nicely. Imagine if you have been resting peacefully for over a year only to have some dimwit wake you up brutally and splash you onto a cold stone.

When the beer has been sitting for 3 hours taking in fresh oxygen you begin to add the other ingredients. You will need 11 quarts of honey that you created only from the same bees that have been polinating the clovers in the field where the Buick has been resting. The mixture of metal and clover will create a base that will have your mouth watering the moment the honey mixes with the beer. IF you come from a family that has the bee allergies thus not having access to a working colony such as the Smoots that lived a few miles over, you can substitute local honey for the honey created in the Fiji islands. Only the Fijians are fortunate enough to have access to land that spawns clover in mineral fields with the exact same metal makeup as that found in the 1976 Buick.

You must now boil the beer and honey mix for 6 minutes at 450 degrees. At this time you will be adding 22 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped, 11 pounds of onions thickly sliced, 200 leeks - white and tender green only halved lengthwise and cleaned, 11 head of garlic halved horizontally, 51 lemon washed and quartered, 2 pounds blanched almonds, 450 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley (the parsley must be table spooned to avoid bruising) 1 loaf of stale country white bread which you baked 4 days ago, 1 inch thick with crusts trimmed. 1 Bay leaf.

You now begin a 6 hour cycle of boil, cool, boil, cool. It is critical that you bring to a ravaging angry boil that is utterly consuming the added ingredients. When it reaches that point you should do everything in your power to cool it as quickly as possible. Thanks to modern technology you can purchase a frozen nitrogen tank and spray it on the stone crock. As soon as it hits room temperature, fire up the heat hard and bring that SOB to a screaming boil. You want the broth marinade to be so mad that it wants to hurt itself. It is your job however to see that it doesn't.

One missed boil, cool cycle and you might as well chuck it all and drive yourself to a McDonalds. Oh, don't order a burger!!! Apply for a job because if you can't handle a 6 hour boil, cool cycle effectively you might as well join the 16 year olds as a fry chucker. One side note, DO NOT be tempted to assign this monitoring of boil, cool, boil to anyone. It is critical that you, as the feed preparer, personally handle this portion. The broth knows, just keep telling yourself, "the broth knows, the broth knows".

As we are now almost 6 hours into the preparation you should be hearing the sounds of a semi-tractor trailer approaching. This will be the load of hickory shavings that you ordered almost 2 months ago and imported from the hickory forests of Montana. Don't try to sell yourself short with the Idaho Hickory. Yes it is much less expensive but so is a Big Mac. Have some pride if not your own at least for your guests. Also, DO NOT be tempted to have the semi back up the fire pit and simply drop the load in. Much as the broth knows, the hickory must be placed by hand. You will need to place a shovel full, then stamp any air out, place a shovelful and stamp the air out. The hickory must be as tightly packed as possible. Completely fill the entire pit level with the top edge. The pit should be as solid as walking on a slab of granite rock. Once it is packed. light on fire. Toss a match and let it burn. (Do not expect any special burn instructions for crying out loud, we Pickleberrys didn't invent fire. Fire is Fire).

You can assign fire pit monitoring to any of your early arrivals. From your first turkey neck feed forward you will see a pilgrimage of family and friends that often can begin up to 3 weeks prior to the feed. It has not been unheard of for Pickleberry kin to arrive from various parts of the country only to be greeted (and surprised) by a late late winter snowstorm. (Be sure the Hickory Truck delivery person Does Not try to invite himself to the feed, you simply will not have the proper metric to calibrate 1 more)

After several hours the pit will have burned to embers and the brick metal rod altar is ready to accept your offerings. While the embers were burning you have wrapped each turkey neck in semi-moistened freshly picked green tea leaves. You will have tied each individual turkey neck with a fresh egg noodle which you made earlier in the day and left to slowly dry over the clothesline. The egg noodles will slowly burn creating a very tidy nest in which the neck will enjoy being enveloped.

From here the recipe and prepartion task does become a bit more difficult. You should feel free to take a quick break and a breather. You may wish to use this time to pursue a relaxing moment perhaps creating a couple of dozen quick apple pies. (You can multiply all ingredients by whatever number you choose). 9 inch double crust pie 1/2 cup unsalted butter 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Your boil cool cycle will now be nearing its 6 hour completion and you will have exactly 4 quarts of liquid after the process. You will carefully but with exacting motion grab a tea-leaf wrapped, noodle-tied turkey neck, un-tie and ladle in 2 tablespoons of our marinade. Shake rather vigorously coating the entire turkey neck and the inside of the tea leaf. Wrap the tea leaf tight again around the turkey neck and tie with a NEW noodle. Place carefully onto the metal grate. Repeat with each individual neck until all 100 pounds have been individually marinated. It is demanded that you work quickly and this marinating process should not last more than 4 hours. Be sure to rotate your grill often as it is critical that you maintain a proper and even cooking temperature. After the last turkey neck has been marinated and re-placed into the fire pit you can finally kick back and relax IF you only want to serve turkey necks to your guests.

I can't get into the proper side dishes that would accompany a turkey neck feed. You will need to do your own research based upon your areas climate and regional seasonal fare. Being from the midwest I've often prepared a very lovely and light Supu to enjoy as an appetizer to whet the appetite. A Supu is a soup made with goat lungs, heart and liver, as well as cow stomach, intestines and tongue. It also contains goat heads, cow hooves and cow tail. Again, these are all readily available here in the midwest. You will have to prepare local appetizers based on regional favorites.

For tonight my friends, let those turkey necks slowly roast. Be sure to turn them every 8 minutes. We want the meats to soak up that marinade and marry itself to the flavors of the tea leaves and hickory. Overnight you will prepare the individual copper pots for each guests. You will need 3 pounds of pork shoulder lard for each pot. 1 pound of sea salt and 3 pounds of pepper will also needed to be added to each vessel. Build 20 fires in the 20 individual fire pits you dug earlier in the day while you were doing the boil, cool cycle. Each pit will contain the fast burning pine chips and a metal grate to hold the copper pots. Place each pot on each fire and allow the pork shoulder lard to slowly liquidize. Stir often with a hickory branch.

Now you can start to see the symmetry of what we are doing here. The essence of the pork, the continuation of the use of the hickory in all phases, the coppers created in the Salt Lake Valley copper mines, the 1976 buick metal hood created from the ores of pennsylvania. The honey from your own clover fields. My friends you are not just cooking up a feed you are creating an experience that will yield you a lifetime of friends.

Rest easily my friends. Let yourself relish the 8 minute cat naps you'll enjoy overnight. Let nature, food, metal, air, and the ghosts of generations of Pickleberrys visit you tonight. Combined these elements will be creating a delicousness usually only reserved for the most discriminating of Pickleberry palates. I know that I won't be around forever and with only Wendell and Dan for "Kin" now is the time to open this secret recipe up to the masses. Enjoy. I'll provide some final preparation tips and serving tips with my next post. Buford.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day! Best day of the year!

So May day is a big day in Bufordville. This is the one day I year that I get to enjoy the most sumptuous meal of the year.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Des Moines. Wendell picked me up so I could go to Veldipucci's on 5th Avenue. My friend of 30 years Anthony Veldipucci runs the best butcher shop in the midwest. From November 30th he cuts and stores every single turkey neck that is usually discarded on custom butcher jobs. Tony saves these up for Ol' Buford specially. It's long been a Pickleberry tradition that May Day is Turkey Neck Day. Started back in the late 30's when Grandma Pickleberry would clean out the cold storage cave to get it ready for summer storage. There would always be a bunch of pickled Turkey necks left and of course us being frugal, we ate the whole bird. We would prepare these remaining necks, invite the entire family over and just have a welcome to spring, turkey neck feed.

So, Wendell picks me up in his K-car and we drove downtown yesterday afternoon. Wendell's conversation mostly consisted of Chrysler having to probably declare bankruptcy and what in the world he was going to do if they went under and he had car issues. I said for Chriss Sakes you fool, We're riding in a 1977 Plymouth Reliant with 600,000 miles on it. Let it go. Wendell has a motor paper route that covers half of Iowa I think.

So I haven't been downtown for most of the winter and we decided to see the Capital. It was so majestic shining in the sun that Wendell decided it would be a perfect opportunity to take his picture for his Christmas card that he sends to his paper customers.

We made it back home with almost 13 pounds of Turkey Necks. I gotta get em prepped up and with Wendell always wantin me to post some of my history, I've decided I will share the Pickleberry family Turkey Neck Recipe with my readers. Stay tuned. I gotta excercise. Those 11 minutes a day on the treadmill don't get walked on their own.

Wendell, bring over that Pig lard you've got in your freezer and a couple of large zip-lock bags. Did we use all of that blood sausage? Call me.