Oliver groaned as he woke up. As much as he loved the farm, getting up with the chickens could be tough. He rubbed his eyes, trying to sit up. He was tangled in the bedclothes and grumbled his way out. He looked over at Lisa’s side of the bed but she was not there.
Unperturbed, he figured his wife had gone to the bathroom. He put on his robe and slippers and went out to the living room. The bathroom door was open, but no Lisa. He went into the kitchen next. Empty.
He heard the cackling of chickens and went outside. His face broke into a smile.
Lisa was feeding the chickens in her peignoir, cooing and laughing. “Here you go, Alice, and your chicks, too. Here, chick, chick, chick.”
The scene was charming. Oliver said heartily, “Good morning, Lisa.”
“Good morning, Olivar.” Her Hungarian accent changed his name slightly but he liked it. She pointed at a basket on a stump. “We have fresh eggs this morning.”
“Not square ones?”
“No, silly, not square ones. Honestly, Olivar, are you dreaming again?” She clucked her tongue.
“Just of you, darling.” He kissed her.
“Oh, Olivar, you are so schweet.”
Oliver grinned. He was pleased that after so many years of marriage, he and Lisa were still very much in love.
“We can have eggs for breakfast,” Lisa said.
“What, no hotcakes?” he asked dryly.
“You want hotcakes instead?”
“Oh, no, eggs will be fine,” Oliver assured her, thinking queasily of his wife’s lead sinker hotcakes. “I’ll get dressed and milk Eleanor.”
“Eb is already milking her.”
Oliver went back inside the house and dressed, choosing a crisp white shirt, black pants and black vest. There! All set to work.
He went to the kitchen and sat down at the table. Lisa was standing by the stove, scrambling eggs. She had finally learned to crack the shells and just cook the yolks and egg whites instead of the shells. A big leap forward! As long as Alice and her chicks kept laying eggs, Oliver might have a chance for an edible breakfast and save his digestive tract.
Eb bounded in, gangly and ebullient. “Yay, scrambled eggs!”
“Yes, a real treat,” said Oliver.
Eb and Oliver exchanged relieved glances. No hotcakes!
Lisa scooped out the eggs onto plates and served the two men. The eggs were actually tasty, a miracle in itself.
“What’s the plan for today, Boss?” asked Eb as he drank his orange juice.
“We need to weed the vegetable patch and start picking the tomatoes.”
& & & & & &
After breakfast Eb and Oliver went out to the fields and Lisa cleaned up, then dressed in a lemon-yellow, long-sleeved dress with a pearl necklace. She wore matching high heels and her hair and make-up were perfect. Time to start the housework!
& & & & & &
The Douglases and Eb worked hard all morning. Lisa made banana sandwiches (don’t ask) for lunch and then she and Oliver went to Drucker’s General Store.
Sam Drucker greeted them cheerfully. “What’ll it be, folks?”
“I would like some Dee Dee’s Dehydrificated Mason Dixon Fried Chicken Dinners, please,” Lisa said.
“Sure thing. Do you want the mashed potatoes and corn sides, or the rice and carrots sides?”
“One of each, please.”
“Comin’ right up.”
Oliver tried not to roll his eyes. Instant dinners! But they did work, fortunately for his stomach. It was just one of the oddities of living in Hooterville.
“Would you like some canned tomatoes?” Sam asked, indicating his display of colorful cans.
“No, thanks,” Oliver said. “We’ve started picking our own tomatoes.”
“Aren’t you going to sell those?”
“Yes, but we can pick some for ourselves.”
“Ah, nothin’ like a tomato fresh off the vine.”
“Nothing like it,” Oliver said happily.
“I will take some flour. I am getting low. I need it to make hotcakes!” Lisa said.
Oliver blanched and Sam looked at him sympathetically. “King Arthur?”
“No, Queen Malika.”
“What?” asked Oliver.
“Queen Malika Flour is the most popular flour in Hungary. She was a very flour-y person.”
“Oh.” Still confused, Oliver sighed.
“Arnold likes that there Queen Maleeker Flour,” said Fred Ziffel as he entered the store.
Arnold followed him, snorting and huffing. After all, that was what pigs did.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Ziffel. Good afternoon, Arnold,” said Lisa.
Arnold answered her with grunts and whistles as his curly tail bobbed.
“Of course, Arnold’s kind of partial to Prince Peter Flour,” said Fred as he tugged on his overalls’ suspenders. He stroked his stubbled beard.
“Prince Peter?” asked Oliver.
“Prince Peter of Poland.”
Arnold added his own two cents.
“Oh, Arnold, I should try Prince Peter,” Lisa said.
“We don’t carry Prince Peter Flour,” Sam said. “But we do carry Peter’s Pickled Peppers.”
“How many pickled peppers?”
“Oh, as many as Peter could pick.”
“I’d like some of those,” Lisa said.
Oliver browsed through the general store as Lisa talked with Sam. It was better for his sanity not to listen to his wife too long, or for that matter, any resident of Hooterville.
“I’d like some Bibbers’ Instant Cake Mix,” Lisa said.
“They’ve come out with a new flavor besides chocolate. Lemon,” said Sam.
“I’ll take that.”
Sam happily put the order together. Fred asked if Sam had any chewing gum. Arnold snorted.
“No, you can’t have any, Arnold. It’ll gum up your works,” Fred chided.
Sam helped Oliver bring the purchases out to the car. The Douglases thanked Sam and drove off.
“It’s a shame that we don’t grow pickled peppers,” Lisa said.
“You don’t grow pickled peppers. You grow peppers and then pickle them,” Oliver said.
“Hmph, seems like a lot of trouble for drunken peppers.”
Oliver rubbed his forehead. “I’d like to get drunk right now.”
“Not while driving,” Lisa said firmly.
“Oh, no, I’ll wait until we get home.”
“There, you see? You’re doing your civical duty.”
“You’re right; I am.”
Lisa looked satisfied.
& & & & & &
Oliver and Lisa carried the groceries into the kitchen. As they put away the items Lisa asked, “Olivar?”
“Mrs. Ziffel told me about a quilting be-in.”
“Be-in? Oh, you mean bee.”
“Bee? You mean like a schtinger?”
“Well, a quilting bee has nothing to do with schtingers, er, stingers, er, bees.”
“Then why do they call it a quilting bee if it’s nothing to do with schtingers?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it was a Colonial be-in.”
“You schee? The hippies didn’t invent it.”
Lisa put away the jars of Peter’s Pickled Peppers in one of the cabinets. Oliver folded the grocery bag after unloading the packages of the instant fried chicken dinners and cake mix. His mouth watered at the thought of having one of the dinners tonight.
“What would you like for dinner?” Lisa asked.
“Oh, fried chicken would be nice.”
She smiled. “I knew you would say that.”
“So, are you going to join the quilting bee?”
“None of your beeswax!”
Oliver laughed. There was a knock on the front door and he went to answer it.
“Good morning, Mr. Douglas.”
“It’s afternoon, Mr. Haney.”
Haney grinned. “You’re absolutely right. Looks like you don’t need a wristwatch.”
“No, I don’t.”
“How about some flour?”
Lisa came in from the kitchen. “What flour?”
“I heard you were looking for Prince Peter’s Flour.”
“Yes, I wanted to try some. Arnold recommended it.”
“Well, I have some Peter Pumpkin-Eater Flour.”
“That’s right.” Haney smiled his con man smile. “Fresh from the factory.”
“She was looking for Prince Peter, not Peter Pumpkin-Eater,” said Oliver in exasperation. Haney was always angling for a sale.
“That’s right,” said Lisa. “Besides, why would I want pumpkin flour?”
“It’s the latest thing. Quite tasty.”
“I’m not sure about that.”
“But Peter Pumpkin-Eater is a good brand,” Haney insisted.
“We’ve got Queen Malika Flour. Good day, Mr. Haney.” Oliver shut the door firmly. “Can you believe that guy? He’d try to sell ice cream to the Eskimos.”
& & & & & &
The next day, Lisa went over to the Ziffels’ place to join the quilting bee. Oliver went out to the fields and Eb did his best to goof off, but Oliver got him working.
They took care of their own lunch (not banana sandwiches) and went back out to work. Oliver finally called it quits for the day and returned to the house as Eb went to his room in the barn’s hayloft.
Oliver washed up and changed clothes. He picked out a book and sat down on the couch to read.
Ten minutes later Lisa walked in. She was dressed in a light-blue dress with matching high heels and a pearl necklace and earrings. She also looked ready to cry.
“Oh, Olivar!” she wailed.
“What is it?” Oliver stood up in concern.
She threw her purse down on a chair. “I’m a failure!”
“What are you talking about?” Oliver gripped her shoulders. He hated to see Lisa upset.
“I tried to sew and just made a mess of things.”
“Oh, well, surely the ladies didn’t expect you to be an expert.”
“They talked about recipes and I couldn’t contribute anything beyond instant dinners.” Lisa sniffled and her eyes brimmed with tears. “I just wanted to fit in."
“Fit in?” Oliver was astonished. “Why, no one fits in more than you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Why, Lisa, you fit in beautifully around here.” At Lisa’s confused expression, Oliver smiled gently. “You’re comfortable feeding the chickens, cooking me meals (thank heavens for instant dinners!) and talking to Arnold. What could be more fitting in?”
“You mean I fit into Hootersville?” Lisa asked hopefully.
Oliver grinned fondly. “Of course. Who else cooks a better dehydrificated dinner?” Or knows how to speak the Hooterville kind of wacky?
“Oh, Olivar, you are the schweetest!” Lisa hugged her husband, who returned the hug enthusiastically.
“So are you, Lisa. So are you.”