The Duck Egg Man

Saturday, 18 March, 2017 – Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Huron River flows away and away, its water turned to liquid silver by the heavy gray sky, and when it finally gets where it’s going it will forget what it is, emptying itself into the great wild ocean, losing itself. Kate stands at the railing of the Broadway Street Bridge and watches the Huron flow away and away. Behind her, Saturday morning traffic rushes past. It is not so dense as it was when she was a teenager before the world changed, but on a busy Saturday morning the cars are still frequent enough that you can imagine them to be a sort of river as well, a river of people and their works, their thoughts and hopes and dreams and schemes, their fears and tears through all the years, flowing away and away. Losing themselves.

After a while Kate turns and continues walking toward Kerrytown and the Farmer’s Market, although there’s probably not much point in it by now. There are other people walking near her on the sidewalk, carrying bags or baskets back from the market or, less frequently, passing her by on their way to it, but Kate keeps her eyes on the sidewalk ten feet in front of her. She’s afraid that if she looks at people she might see that they all have inch-thick worms writhing out of the backs of their heads.

A minute’s walk past the river comes Gandy Town—whose name was probably inspired, when it was growing up after the War and the Collapse, by the proximity of Kerrytown, which has been here forever. Once again Kate stops and looks down from the railing. There are still some cook fires at this time of the morning, little streamers of smoke rising from in front of tents, piles of snow still pretty high in the shadowed places, and some people are moving around, going from the more residential eastern half of the hobo settlement toward the more commercial western part. Kate wonders vaguely whether it bothers them to be stared at. They’re probably used to it, and anyway none of them are even looking up.

Kate has always seen Gandy Town a lot. For the last few years she has walked over this bridge every weekday on her way to work and back again, and now that she has the new job she still walks the same way at first to get to the bus stop, and she always looks down to see what the wandering people are up to. This is the first time, however, that she has actually stopped and watched. Looking down on them.

She used to think these people were lazy, but now she knows better. Oh yes. Now Kate knows that sometimes life just decides that it’s going to fuck you over for no reason at all, and you have no say in the matter. None at all.

The breeze picks up, cold and damp, smelling like not-quite-spring yet, and Kate blinks into it, hunching her shoulders, then turns the collar up on her gray and white herringbone coat—threadbare but still elegant, at least in her imagination—and decides to just stand here and watch the hobo town, maybe until the pre-Spring breeze gives her pneumonia or something.

Just five weeks ago she was being groped by her boss, running home, and feeling like there was no chance in the world for her. Then a miracle occurred! She found a new job just when she needed one. So then she lived happily ever after, right? She finally made some money, and she met a really interesting guy and they settled down and had a dozen babies.

No. Then she got brain cancer!

The idiot intern she saw didn’t even bother checking. He just gave her maggot-drugs to shut her up. Glaxo-Kline Welcomes You to Nationalized Medicine. Krankheit Macht Frei.

Kate watches the wind-driven waves on the river, and tries to calm down.

The old movie with John Travolta in it was called Phenomenon. Kate looked it up last night on the internet when she was trying to settle down. Was that act in itself a premonition of what she was destined to experience this morning? The brain tumor that somehow caused the character’s psychic manifestations was called an astrocytoma. The word means ‘a cancer of the astrocytes’, while the word astrocyte means ‘star-cell’, referring to their shape. It’s kind of funny—Kate wonders of it was a deliberate pun—that in the movie, Mr Travolta’s astrocytoma caused him at first to see a UFO. But, strangely, that fictional movie-tumor turned out to be real, affecting the actor’s real-world health! It so affected Travolta’s mental abilities that he suffered from the delusion, only a few years later, that it would be a good idea to take the starring role (There’s that word again.) in a film called Battlefield Earth, which was so bad it was apparently only seen by a handful of critics who were doing it on a dare, as well as several drunken teenagers who bought the tickets by mistake when they were trying to see American Psycho.

OK, it was just a stupid movie. But aren’t movies sometimes based on fact? In the movie, an astrocytoma caused John Travolta’s character to start exhibiting some psychic abilities, and hallucinations. Well, instead of a UFO—how about a trillion little blue stars? (There’s that word again.) How about writhing mind parasites?

Up until this morning, Kate would have said that her job was the foundation of life: the base that, if you are lucky enough to be able to get it nice and stable, will allow you to build upon it all the other aspects of your life. But this morning she learned that there is a much deeper and more crucial foundation than your job. It is your health, and if you feel that being pulled out from under you nothing else is going to matter much.

And if you are spending your mornings having bizarre metaphysical visions of the world made of blue stars, talking to disembodied Voices, and wrestling with metaphysical parasites—well then maybe, just maybe, you are having some mental health issues.

“So I can’t win?” Kate whispers to the gray sky, blinking back tears. The wind picks up, coming straight up the river from the southeast, gusting hard enough to trouble the still leafless branches of the trees that line both sides of the river. “I can’t have one good thing in my life without something awful happening?” She reaches up to wipe tears from her eyes. Maybe the disease will progress more rapidly with me, she thinks. I’m already feeling a strange desire to watch Battlefield Earth.

You can still tell jokes, the thought comes into her mind.

Sure, Kate thinks. Can’t a tumor have a sense of humor? No doubt I will die laughing. The doctors will like it too. ‘She was a pretty good kid,’ the young doctor will say to the older one as he casually zips the bag shut over my face. ‘Good sense of humor.’ ‘Yes,’ Marcus Welby will reply. ‘A shame that she was so horribly disfigured by the end. Say, we have an opening today on our foursome. Care to join us for a quick 18 holes at Fairway to Heaven?’ ‘Sure thing, Marc,’ the young George Clooney replies, calmly stripping off his blue gloves that are dripping with gore. ‘I’ve been wanting to try out my new five-iron.’ They grin at each other simultaneously with identical airbrushed-perfect smiles.

Yes, maybe you have a hallucinogenic brain tumor, another thought occurs to her, and maybe it made you see things this morning. Or maybe you’re just scared because something is happening to you that you don’t understand. But you ask if you can’t have one good thing in your life? Is every new thing a bad thing? Here, at least, is a good thing: today is Saturday, you are alive, and the Farmer’s Market is waiting for you at Kerrytown.

Kate stands for one more long moment, feeling the wind tossing her hair, then nods and even manages a wan smile. That’s definitely the right idea. A Saturday at the Kerrytown Farmer’s Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the early Twenty-First Century on the planet Earth in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy is indeed something not to be missed. And whether she has brain cancer or not—isn’t it true either way that she will only get to see this wonderful market so many times and no more? Kate turns away from the cold wind to continue south, toward Kerrytown.

But she’s still pretty sure she has brain cancer.

~

Standing unnoticed by any of the baseline humans who are walking and driving across the Broadway Street Bridge, Haniel watches Kate walk away.

Kate’s concern about brain cancer is baseless—Haniel looked the moment she arrived—yet something significant has changed, and it is something that Haniel understands no better than Kate does. The vision which Kate apparently had this morning was of a level of reality so profound that Haniel herself has observed it only a handful of times in her existence. And, while such experiences are not entirely unknown among baseline humans, such an unusual event happening now—and to one of the children present at AAAI during the strange events of a few days ago—is extremely interesting. On one level Haniel wishes that she had been present when Kate had the vision earlier this morning. Yet it would have been dangerous. On that level of perception there would have been no way for her to divert Kate’s attention. The child would have unavoidably detected her!

Haniel looks out in the direction of the river, just as Kate was doing a minute ago. The wind is blowing and the world is stirring. The trees’ buds begin to swell, the overwintering creatures begin to awaken and explore. All are preparing for another springtime like a million before it. But are other changes stirring now as well? Changes that have never before been seen? And is it possible that this human child whom Haniel adopted long ago has some unknown part to play?

Haniel looks toward Kate’s receding figure, now almost lost to view, and resolves to follow the child more closely. Although, if possible, even more discretely.

A moment later, Haniel is gone with no one to note her passage.

~

Kate walks through the farmers’ market at Kerrytown, looking at all the stuff she can’t afford. She got paid—the second paycheck of her new job— just a week ago, but every dollar of it went to pay Mr Pogany this month’s rent. And she is thrilled about that. With this new job, only fifty percent of her take-home pay is going for the rent,even after Mr Pogany raised the price! With the old job it was almost sixty percent of her pay for rent, before the increase. So when she gets paid again next Friday she’s going to be rich! An entire paycheck and nothing to spend it on but food! Well, and maybe save a few hundred toward The Impossible Dream—a new pair of shoes. Kate already knows exactly which shoes they will be: La Canadienne “Daphne”. Ankle-high, waterproof uppers, block heel with a stacked look. They’re black, they’re jaunty, they’re elegant, she looks at them on the internet two or three times a week, and they only cost about three weeks’ worth of her rent money!

She might as well wish for the moon.

In the meantime, Kate has all of two hundred dollars left of her savings, and is carrying the entirety of this vast fortune in her front left jeans pocket right now. This is the sum with which she must try to keep body and soul together for the next eight days. If it runs out before that, she will have to ask the Little Blue Sparks Behind the Universe if they have any brilliant ideas about how she can find food. She is quite certain that the Little Blue Stars are a symptom of her brain cancer, but it suddenly occurs to her that it is smartest to assume that they are real!

Why? you ask.

Well, because if they are not real, then Miss Spence has brain cancer and will probably be zipped up in a body bag by Wednesday while George Clooney and Marcus Welby smile at each other over her cooling corpse. And, on the other hand, if the Little Blue Stars are real, they they should certainly be smart enough to tell her how to live for a week on two hundred bucks’ worth of groceries, which is less than the price of a good bottle of wine! So, either way, Kate Spence the Financial Genius will not have to worry about running out of food this week! Win-Win!

So! OK! she thinks, as she enters the Farmer’s Market. OK. So. Here we go.

What should I buy, Little Blue Stars? Kate asks.

To her profound horror, Kate receives an immediate answer. For an instant she actually sees a kind of sparkle in front of one of the stalls up ahead. OK, OK! She imagines the Joyous Little Stars from Beyond Reality jumping up and down and saying. We will show you!

Don’t ask a question if you are not serious about wanting an answer.

Kate walks slowly toward the stall, while faster people—which is basically everybody—flow around her.

One woman walks past, cradling a shopping bag in one arm. She can’t simply carry the bag by its handles because she is also holding her floppy and talking, while simultaneously making angry grasping motions toward her little girl with the other hand. The little girl, however, is declining to emulate her mother’s quick, determined gait. Instead, she is hopping with both feet at once. Every time the girl’s feet hit the cement she tilts her head back and says “Cheep!” in such a high-pitched voice that, if there are any bats hanging upside down anywhere under the corrugated metal roof of the Farmer’s Market sidewalks, they are probably wincing in pain and folding their wings over their pointy little bat ears.

“I’m a birdie!” the girl exclaims when she notices Kate’s attention.

Kate grins at the little bird-girl in the instant before she looks back to continue on her hopping way, but tears quickly blur Kate’s vision because even in that one moment she sees something. She doesn’t have one of the worms! Kate thinks. But in the same moment Kate knows that in a year or two, the worm-things will come for that little girl just like everybody else. Then she will stop hopping, shop cheeping, and stop being a little bird.

Kate shakes her head and tries to keep walking forward, eyes downcast so other shoppers will not wonder what the hell is wrong with her. Her tears are half for the little girl, whose fate is to be attacked soon by mind parasites, and half for herself, who has a brain tumor that is making her believe in mind parasites! Sometimes you just can’t win.

Kate stops at the stall that she saw the sparkles in front of, even though they are the product of a brain tumor that is going to kill her.

“Would you like a nice cabbage, honey?” The woman who runs the stall looks like she got left out in the weather in 1970 and never came back indoors. But her eyes are very kind, and Kate smiles at her, wiping her eyes. The woman is concerned. “I hope everything’s OK, honey?”

“Yes, yes, thank you. They’re—these are still OK?” The cabbages have been wrapped in ancient newsprint which has been affixed with twine. It’s way too early in the year for cabbage, even from the hoop house crowd. These are from last autumn and have probably been stored in a root cellar with this weird wrapping. What do people from this millennium use to wrap cabbages? Old websites?

“Oh sure, honey,” the woman says. “See this one?” She has one of them already opened up for display but she peels back the papers further. “See? The outside leaves turn brown but the rest stays real good all winter. They’re thirty apiece.”

Kate winces internally, hoping it doesn’t show on her face. One seventh of her remaining cash, for an overwintered cabbage. What is she going to do with a cabbage? But the Little Blue Stars of Enlightenment demanded it, so Kate forces a smile and buys one from the woman. At least her financial suicide will benefit somebody.

It occurs to Kate that it is not normal to (1) tell yourself that the vision of this morning is the result of brain tumor induced hallucinations, and (2) nonetheless follow their shopping advice. Well OK Fine. Is it possible that astrocytomas can also cause schizophrenia? Hmmm, schizophrenia? Well, I’m really of two minds about that.

She has barely taken ten steps, walking southward toward the end of this big branch of the market, fighting the bustling crowd, when she sees another momentary blue sparkling, like a fleeting glimpse of fairy dust. It’s not actually like seeing something in the way you normally see things. It’s more like getting a very distinct imagination. Like suddenly knowing If there were tiny blue lights sparkling in front of that stall up ahead, this is exactly what they would look like, and that thought comes to you suddenly and forcefully. Now, if there were actual blue sparkly things up ahead, Kate would instantly know the difference between them and these sparkles of the mind’s eye. She would even be able to see both at once, and distinguish them from each other.

So why am I not panicking about this? Why am I acting like these visions are real, or real-ish? An answer comes to her and it gives her a chill. It’s because I think maybe I’m dying, so it doesn’t really matter what I do anymore, isn’t it? So I’m just playing along, acting happy. This is the stage called ‘denial’. But I can never remember what comes next!

There is a building downtown called Denali, its name in big letters carved in concrete at the top of the structure, and Kate reads that word as Denial every single times she walks by. She has always wished that there were four more similar building right after that one, each named in order for Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s other Stages of Grief: Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. So new tenants would move into building number one, and then the landlord would gradually move them to the next building and then the next as they progress appropriately. Building number six is a dumpster.

The market stall that Kate has been called to this time has all kinds of vegetables, and they are fresh, beautiful, and expensive. Kate sighs, looking at the perfect red onions at ten dollars apiece, but she takes three. She knows without being told that this is the reason this place was indicated by the Little Blue Stars that Aren’t There.

“Your produce is all so beautiful already!” Kate tells the teenage girl who is tending the stall. “Isn’t it awfully early for all of this?”

“Yeah,” the girls says without enthusiasm as she makes change for Kate’s fifty. “We got a hoop house. Everybody’s gettin’em out by us. We’re from Bellevue. It’s by Battle Creek.”

That’s—wonderful,” Kate smiles for a moment, then frowns thoughtfully. “But doesn’t it still get cold at night in those things?”

“Oh yeah,” the girl nods, chewing gum. Under her jacket, her sweatshirt says I’m On the Phone. “Everybody’s getting potbelly stoves for ‘em. They’re selling the stoves cheap. We just make a fire in the stove and the hoop house does OK all night. We got one for the house too, cause we been having so many outages. I kinda like it when have to use it.” The girl smiles, but as briefly as possible. “It’s cool.”

Kate walks back toward the main building of Kerrytown. It used to be a factory of some kind, long ago. She is walking with the flow of the crowd now, but her steps gradually slow.

Dying. The thought is slowly hitting her. She really does believe, down deep, that she has brain cancer and that she is dying. What else can explain these bizarre visions and ideas that have suddenly been coming to her, each one wilder than the last?

What is most interesting about this is to discover how much she really doesn’t mind the idea of dying. Kate is not afraid of it physically, for example. She expects that it will be uncomfortable for a while, and maybe painful at the end, but probably no worse than some injuries she has had during the course of her life. And she’s not upset about not getting to finish something in her life. Finish what? She isn’t doing anything but going to work and paying the rent and wondering how the heck to afford groceries. It’s not like she’s writing a great novel or painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Oh, gosh darn it, Michelangelo says. And I was just getting ready to paint the part where God is reaching out to touch Adam. This is just going to look stupid now. No, nothing like that, not at all. But. It also doesn’t seem very—fair, to use a childhood concept. Of course she hasn’t started any great things yet, she’s frikking twenty-three years old! What does anybody do by the age of twenty-three? Even Jesus was still working in his dad’s furniture shop! Jesus Christ! Joseph calls from the back room. Do you have those shelves done yet? Hurry up, son, people are going to be inventing books pretty soon and they won’t have anyplace to put them. Even Mozart only had, um, thirty-three symphonies done by this age. OK, possibly a bad example. But in general, people are just getting started at this age! And it would have been nice to be able to get started. OK, obviously, she has known for a long time that death happens a lot in this world. Look how many millions died in the War! People get snuffed out like sparks dying, a hundred thousand at a time, and it’s not just soldiers. It’s also women, and mothers, and fathers, and little bitty babies, and even a few twenty-three-year-olds. Happens all the time. But. An image of Chris comes into Kate’s mind from when he smiled at her last night at Leopold’s. It would have been nice to just be able to get started.

“Miss?”

Kate slowly becomes aware that she has completely stopped walking and is just standing in the middle of the wide Farmer’s Market sidewalk, letting the crowds flow around her. One man has stopped, kind of a big guy, and he’s looking at her with a concerned expression.

“Are you OK?”

“Oh.” Kate blinks up at his. “Oh, yes, thank you. I’m fine, thanks.”

“It’s just, um,” the man says. “You’re crying.”

“Oh! Oh my gosh,” Kate reaches up to quickly wipe her face, embarrassed enough to die right here and now. “Oh, I’m so sorry, yes I’m fine, thanks. Just—thinking, you know? Just thinking too much.”

“Ah,” the man says. “Yeah, I know how that is. Just so you’re OK.”

Kate nods her thanks to the man and continues quickly on her way, mortified. When the Blue Fairie Lights of Destiny indicate a stall where a woman is selling meat, she stops there without batting an eye.

“Is everything OK, honey?” the woman asks. Do all the old women here today call everyone honey? Or is it just her? And just today? Kate does not remember the honey phenomenon from past visit to this market. Does she suddenly look more like a honey? If she were in the South, would everyone start calling her ‘sugar’? “I’m sorry it’s so steep, honey,” the woman says, “but you know how everything’s going up so much lately.”

Kate looks at the prices, and then she does bat an eye. The meat that this woman is selling is a hundred bucks the half-pound. Half a pound will pretty well clean out the last of her money, and she still doesn’t know what it actually is.

“Oh no! Not at all! It’s fine,” Kate lies. “What, um, what kind is this?” She points to one glass-topped cooler full of little transparent plastic containers with pink and white frosty meat in them.

“That’s ground butt, honey. That’s the best, right there.”

It’s Ground Butt.

“Oh, OK, great!” she nods, trying not to look too much like she was born today. “But I mean. Um. What kind of meat is it?”

“Oh, it’s pork, honey!” the woman laughs. “Its ground pork butt. It’s real good.”

Oh my God, you want me to buy pork now? I don’t eat pork! And especially not for a hundred bucks for a half-pound!

Cheap! shout the Sparks Who Must Be Obeyed. They come out again and bounce up and down fiercely on the cooler full of ground pork butt. Cheap! Cheap!

“OK, great,” Kate forces a smile. “Can I have a half-pound, please?”

She walks away with the latest addition to her plastic shopping bag. The bag’s weight is kind of gratifying, given that she has spent her last money in the world on its contents, although most of that weight is the cabbage. Kate walks in a kind of light trance, wondering what the Blue Light Group expects her to do with all this stuff. Kate has never cooked pork in her life, and the only thing she knows how to do with cabbage is to grate it up for Cole Slaw. And she doesn’t like Cole Slaw. The Blue Sparks have led her to starve. They are probably giggling about it even now.

Ah, but of course! Astrocytomas behave differently in men and women. In John Travolta, the cancer caused him to see UFOs and gave him marvelous paranormal powers before killing him. In Kate, it is causing her to see blue dancing lights and kill herself by being dumber than rocks and wasting all her grocery money on weird useless crap. Insidious!

“Miss?” she hears a man’s voice. “Excuse me?”

Turning, Kate sees that it’s the Duck Egg Man. Oh, crap. She didn’t want to see him today, because she can’t afford his product. Kate loves duck eggs. They are the best eggs in the world, especially this old guy’s eggs, which come from Khaki Campbell ducks. They are just the absolute best, the yolks taste like Sauce Bearnaise, rich and delicious. But the last time she was able to buy a half dozen, he was charging ten bucks apiece.

“Oh, hi!” Kate smiles genuinely. He’s a nice old guy. She’s kind of surprised he’s still here, actually. Usually, when she has money for his eggs and wants to get some, Kate makes sure to arrive at opening time. Otherwise the Koreans come by and clean him out within half an hour, no matter what he’s charging. Koreans, apparently, really like duck eggs.

“I’m afraid I can’t get any eggs today, sorry,” she says as she walks up to his booth, setting her bag down on his empty table. It actually looks like he’s all packed up to go. Why is he calling her over. “I hope I can get some next time, though!”

“I’m glad I caught you,” Duck Egg Man says. “I, ah, I’m afraid I’m not going to be coming back.”

“Oh no! Are the ducks OK? Are you OK?” As she studies his face now, Kate realizes: he’s sad. Something’s wrong. For the first time in hours, Kate really thinks about something other than her own problems. It is indeed a hard world and not just for her.

“Oh, yes, thanks, they’re OK! My wife will be taking care of them now, but she won’t be able to come in here. She’ll just sell them to neighbors or whatever. We live out in Manchester.” Seeing Kate’s blank look, he elaborates. “Half an hour west of here. And as for me—well, that’s the problem. The thing is, uh, I’ve been called up. Ah, drafted, I guess you would say.”

“Oh my gosh!” Kate has heard peripherally about a lot of military callups happening, but— “But,” she says out loud, “aren’t you—kind of—”

“Old?” the Duck Egg Man laughs. “You bet I am! Well, I don’t think they want me for running up hills.” He looks into some distance that only he can see. “I used to work on some pretty fancy technology projects a long time ago. I guess that’s what they want me for. At least I don’t have to be overseas. I’m only going as far as the GM Tech Center over in Warren.” He waves a hand vaguely eastward. “It’s sure not what I wanted to be doing right now, though.”

“Oh, so you’ll just be working on cars and things?”

“No, I don’t think it’s about cars,” the Duck Egg Man tells her quietly. “I think they’re building weapons.” Looking into the long-ago distance, his face hardens. “Terrible weapons.”

“But anyway!” he shakes his head and forces a laugh to dispel bad thoughts. “That’s not what I wanted to talk to you about! I just ah–” He reaches under his stall’s folding table and lifts up a very nice cloth shopping bag, quite old-looking. It has a Kerrytown logo on it: a cheerful yellow and orange flower. “I know you like the eggs, and I know they’re kind of expensive. We, um, we just wanted you to have these.” He pushes the bag to her, and she sees that it is more than half filled with stacked egg cartons.

“Now that’s six dozen,” he says quickly, “and I know that’s a lot, but they’re all fresh from the last couple days, and we didn’t clean these. That means they’ll keep a good month even if you don’t refrigerate them. But if you have a freezer with some room in it, you can cook them scrambled and then freeze them. Just leave them a little runny when you cook them, let them cool off all the way, and then wrap them good in baggies or whatever, one serving portion at a time. They’ll keep for a year.”

“Oh,” Kate says. “Oh my gosh!” Her eyes fill with tears again which she again hastily wipes away, as if that will prevent him from noticing. This bag of eggs is worth more than three times as much as what she has spent here today. It means being able to eat this coming week before payday comes again. “Oh my gosh,” Kate shakes her head. “Oh, I couldn’t possibly. You could still sell these. I have to pay you for these.”

“Hey,” the Duck Egg Man says, “we’re doing fine, especially with this new job! You, however, Miss, if you don’t mind my saying so, you could stand to put on a pound or two.” He smiles, but it fades quickly and he gets another far-away look in his eyes. “If you want to pay us?” he says. “Just wish us luck, OK? I think we’re all going to be needing some.”

“Hey, take some flowers while you’re at it,” he adds, indicating a plastic pail with a dozen flowers in water. “I have some paper for them here somewhere.”

“Oh my gosh!” Kate looks at the pink flowers, just getting ready to open. “Are you sure? I love these. What are they called?”

“Those are peonies,” the Duck Egg Man says, turning around with a plastic bag and some tissue paper.

~

Kate walks more quickly on the way home, bearing her precious burdens. All along the way she thinks of a little girl being a birdie, a young woman getting cancer, an old man being taken from his wife to make terrible weapons, people living in a hobotown on the wrong side of the tracks, and all the troubles of a big, old, badly trouble world.

Yet, as Master Yoda teaches us, there is always balance in the cosmos! Sure, on the one hand there are all these troubles. Yet on the other hand she has six dozen big, lovely, Khaki Campbell duck eggs, with flawlessly white whites and glowingly golden yolks. So that means, with the way Kate feels just at the moment, that all the good and bad things in the world come out just about even.

She still has no idea what to do with the cabbage, though.

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