The duck

The blog has been quiet lately because we are in that rather dull period between trips, commonly referred to as “daily life.”  It’s something I do my best to avoid but occasionally it does happen. It’s really true as they say that life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

This has been a period mostly for me to simply take care of business.  The Winter 2011 of Airstream Life magazine has been printed and was mailed this week, and meanwhile Spring 2012 is well underway with a lot of great articles in development.  I’m also working on a busy program of 2012 events, including Alumapalooza (June 2012), Modernism Week (February 2012), and an exciting new event to be held out west next summer.  We expect to have an announcement about that in January.

Of course, the Airstreams have not been neglected.  Before parking the Caravel in a secure off-site location, Eleanor and I replaced two more of the leaky water hoses and fixed another water leak at the tank fill.  It should be ready to go when we are.  The Safari remains in the carport, fully hooked up, cleaned up, and stocked with goodies for future “hotel” guests.

The most recent visitors, however, brought their own: Tiffani and Deke of the traveling blog “Weaselmouth.”  They were passing through last week, heading for California, and spent a night parked in front of the house.  Eleanor and I had met them at Alumapalooza last June, and I saw them again in Texas when I was picking up the Caravel, but they had never met Emma.  I’m not sure if my offer of free parking was really what enticed them here, since Tiffani did mention several times that she really wanted to meet Emma…  In any case, it was a superb visit and far too short.  We may cross paths with them again next year if we get up to Washington state, as I’ve been hoping to do.

Part of being home is a process of recovery.  We’ve proved we can live in the Airstream indefinitely but when circumstances place us back in the stationary house, we try to take full advantage of that by catching up on projects, relaxing, and saving up money.  The latter goal never works out as well as I’d like.  Living in a house is far more expensive than living “on the road” in an RV when you really factor everything in.  Being back at the house means activation of expensive projects, repairs, and tempting upgrades.

This time was no different: the house demanded a few things, and the local Tax Collector demanded the real estate taxes, and — whoosh — we were thousands of dollars poorer in an extraordinarily brief amount of time.  Worse, there was nothing tangible to show for it.  This always seems to be the pattern of home life, so after a few months we usually give up on the idea of “financial recovery” and move back into the Airstream for a reminder taste of the inexpensive alternative lifestyle it affords. Eleanor has often commented that if we hadn’t bought a house in 2007, and had simply remained in the Airstream full-timing, we’d be financially far better off, but you can’t re-make history.  And the house is something we all enjoy … in moderation.

In the interest of saving money we have resisted the call of Tucson’s many interesting restaurants, favoring meals at home.  This is no particular hardship, as anyone who has eaten Eleanor’s food can attest, and it often results in intriguing culinary experiences resulting from home experiments.  For example, last Saturday we really wanted to go out for Dim Sum, but we stayed home, collected the various ingredients we had in the house, and Eleanor whipped up “Dim Something.”  It was not what you’d call authentic but it was darned good.

This brings me to the subject of today’s essay.  You were probably wondering about the title, “The duck.” Thanksgiving is coming up soon but due to minor obligations on the calendar, we are going to celebrate it this weekend instead.  Bored with traditional turkey, after some discussion we opted to try cooking duck instead.  Or to be completely accurate, Eleanor will try preparing duck, and I will stand by as Advisor, Dishwasher, and Errand Boy as needed.

Normally I would expect this to be a minor footnote in our lives, but even today, days before the actual cooking event, it has become obvious that The Duck is going to be a formative experience.  It turns out that the culinary challenge is significant, even momentous, if you want to get it right.  There are tricky carnivorous issues of fat distribution and moisture content to confront.  Eleanor has pulled out an arsenal of references from her bookshelf and is sweating the details to the point that you’d think she was expecting the Queen of England to join us.  (I’m pretty sure that Thanksgiving is pretty low on the Queen’s list, along with Independence Day, so no danger there.)

Since things are quiet, I’m going to document The Story of The Duck this week, as it happens.  The first entry will go up tomorrow.  This is risky because we have no idea if the duck will be delicious or Daffy.  The gauntlet has been tossed down, and now she (and her two bumbling assistants) are committed to this meal.  Will we find sweet success or smoking disaster?  You’ll see.