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April 15, 2002
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three years ago
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Dead Turkey Wing

10:35 p.m.: An easy day. Jet only got up at 6 and actually went back to sleep until about 7:30. He had a great time at Joan's and a great time at home afterwards in that he nursed and went to sleep for another two hours for me. I worked and got stuff done.

When Jet woke up I fed him nearly five ounces of sweet potatoes and half a fruit and cereal Graduates bar, which has several other vitamins and stuff in it. Then we played for a while and I discovered my turkey wing had arrived! Hoorah!

The has these whole turkey wings on sale from their web site. Compared to their other feather prices, it's a darned good price for the feathers. And I thought, hey, I'll just toss the feathers I can't use anyway... and I'll learn how a wing goes together so I can write it up for my quills page. Jet was content after having eaten so much, and so long as he could be out on the porch with me, he was pretty content to play, to watch the neighbors play with their tractor and a huge dump truck, and walk around and around and try to catch and eat anything he could find. I can now, very clearly see, that humans were hunter gatherers in just about every move Jet makes when he plays.

The feathers and the wing utterly fascinated Jet. He grabbed the wing right out of the box and tried to pull it away from me. I finally pulled one of the feathers with a crushed, short tube out and handed him that and he was content to play with that and chase it around the patio. He didn't eat it. I'm glad of that.

The wing... There was a far, far greater emotional impact to holding a real, feathered wing than I had thought there could be. The complex structure and construction of it was a marvel. And it seemed so strange that, every time I go to the grocery store, those naked lumps of frozen meat all used to have two of these gorgeous creations on them. There were the long flight feathers of the tip and the forearm that were then shielded and overlapped by feathers half the length and then gradually smaller and smaller to the joints. The smaller feathers along the upper half were these amazing metallic bronze color, with gold and green sheen against the brown of the feathers. Perfectly square at the tip and downy soft at the root.

All of it organized, perfectly, from largest to smallest, and so smooth from joint to tip. It was a wing. It was so weird to hold it, whole and realize exactly what it was from and it smelled of live bird, with some of that musk and stink and a bit of litter-like bedding material embedded along part of it. So strange a juxtaposition. The meat and bone were long gone, the 'skin' dried and hard. Though it wasn't the skin that one would eat if one bought a turkey wing. It was all the tissue that actually holds the feathers and wing together, which is a lot more than you'd find on a grocery store turkey wing.

I hadn't known, before, that each of the main flight feather is embedded in nearly three and sometimes four inches of tissue that holds the feathers in place. It's extraordinarily strong and tough. NOW I know why nearly all of the old literature on quill preparation spent nearly as much time on how to get rid of the membranes on the outside of the tubes as they did on the insides. It's really tough, clingy, waxy, stuff, and I can now see why so many tubes get crushed before they're packaged for sale. It's really hard to separate the big feathers without bending, crushing or just plain cutting them off the connecting tissue.

The feathers are lined up nicely, once the pin feathers and smaller feathers are removed to actually be able to see the structure. My smaller Benchmade knife was perfect for the job, and I kept my work well up on the mesh table so Jet couldn't get at it at all, and when I whittled off the outside membranes, I did so over the porch railing so Jet wouldn't chase the pieces and eat them. He tried, though, as the wind took some of the smaller feathers away from me. He liked chasing them, but the wind helped me immensely by playing keep away with Jet.

I also found out why goose feathers are used instead of turkey feathers for most quills. Turkey feathers are huge and very strong, and they're very long; but the tube of the feather that's usable for pens is actually quite short in comparison to goose quills. I also bought some gray goose quills that are gorgeous. It was nice, however, to have the thicker barrel and it was also nice to be able to clean the feathers myself, so I knew that they weren't crushed and I could make sure to keep them whole as I gradually extracted them. It's a whole lot more work and I now also know that I'm allergic to turkeys, but it was really satisfying to get the feathers that I cared the most about out whole and complete. I can wash them of the stuff I'm allergic to, so I won't sneeze my fool head off while writing with them.

The mortality implied in holding the torn-off wing of a creature also just made me far more aware of the death implied by the packages of neatly cleaned feathers in the hobby store. I was rather glad of that. Being made aware of what it really was from really made me more careful about preserving and making sure that I got a really good use out of the parts that I needed from that wing.

When John came home, he took over Jet and the roasting of the chicken. I cleaned everything up, including the aftermath of giving Jet a chocolate egg, and then went up and worked my last hour while the chicken roasted. It made for a great dinner, and we'll have leftovers for casserole or enchiladas sometime. Yum.

Jet was just really happy all day. He was playing and having a great time, and when we went for a walk after dinner, he was pointing at things, laughing, and really enjoying himself. He looked at everything. He studied the sky, he watched everything as we walked through a house under construction, and he peered at a dog barking at us. He walked the last part of it, on our driveway, home with us and he ran in all the directions we didn't want him to go and finally John picked him up to bring him in and he wiggled happily.

I went and took a bath. I ordered some things from Lush today, and I just wanted to use some of the bath things I already have, though I bought stuff that I've either run out of or don't have, like dandruff shampoo and shower gel. It was really nice to just light candles and relax for a while.

Jet got a bath afterwards, too. His hands still have blisters on them, and as dirty as he got today, it didn't hurt to wash his hands thoroughly before he went to sleep. It should help them heal up okay. He's a baby, and he's healing tremendously quickly, but it doesn't hurt to try and keep him from getting his wounds infected. He loved his bath. What he had the best time doing was getting up and walking on the bubbles of the bath mat. It has little rubber suction cups as part of the way it's made, so every inch is a suction cup. So when Jet walked on it, stomping every step of the way, he was getting the bubbles to compress. He loved that, and he did it over and over and over again. It made it really easy to wash his legs and butt. Happy baby.

He talked in his sleep as he was nursing for the first half, and finally snuggled in for the second half.

John, in the meantime, bought tickets to Seattle for his parent's 50's wedding anniversary. Alaska just started flying from DIA, and we liked them enough to try them, and they have a 50% off a baby ticket if the kid is under 2 and has a car seat. We liked that a lot, after the full price seats United has been yanking out of us. So John called them, and then mentioned that both he and I used to be frequent flyers with Alaska. The lady looked us up and found out that between us, we had enough miles for the three of us to fly free!!

Wow. They got us all booked up and ready to go and there was only a five dollar service charge! Fifteen dollars for the three of us to fly to Seattle. Whoooie! I was very impressed with the service they gave John. We'll have to fly them as often as we can. I really liked that. So that's all set. No scrambling for tickets at the last minute. I'm glad

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