Wohoo! I fixed the keyboard thing! Well, sort of… I fidgetted with the… I found I could pop the z key off, and put it where the missing s key was supposed to be. I was typing z for s already anyway. And I can use the back of a pen to poke in and make a z if I need to. Well, I am pretty happy with that. It won’t look so funny when I proof it. Well, again, who would read this. I think it is only for me. Besides, when I type, I am close to the big, warm thing that shows the letters. Like I said, I don’t like the cold… And it is very cold… The Diner is closed for a while between christmas and new years, they call it. I think that’s what Edna always did. And the cook will be on a vacation? A bunch of days of not working at the Diner. I think I am going crazy (see, a ‘z’!). Well, I am typing so maybe I won’t go crazy.

Ok, so the Diner belonged to Ed and Edna (really only Edna). Originally from a place called Texas, they moved out here after Ed retired from the Navy (whatever that all means). Edna said they both loved the heat here, ‘dry heat’ Edna used to say, but that made absolutely no sense to me. And it gets so nasty cold here too. Moving here where it gets so cold, because you love the heat? I don’t understand…

Well, this land where the farm-house is, it was a big chicken farm years ago. The way Edna explained it, their chicken farm sold the best chicken meat in the county, and beyond! They raised the chickens in pens, but the chickens could wander around in the pen during the day. And the pens were on wheels and easily moved, and with a huge field, there was always plenty of new patches of nice green weeds and a huge assortment of bugs. Edna felt this was the key to the way their chickens tasted. The farm worked over two hundred pens for many years, with 10-12 chickens per pen. That seemed to be the limit of what their land could support. The farm was always busy, and Ed and Edna made a lot of money. They saved some of it, and took a trip to Europe once, when both were younger. But most of the profit was invested back in the operation (Edna’s word). They had a lot of workers and even built some small, one room apartment things out behind the farm-house. Odds and ends are stored in them now, I think. I haven’t been back there for a while… They both thought of buying more land, and expanding their farm, but… Ed and Edna were happy with the way things worked, and felt no need to buy more land just to rake in more money. Edna always made the most dreadful face when she said that. I think it was a lot of work as it was. Still, their chicken farm was one of the main sources of employment for this little town.

There is no chicken farm here now. A few years of drought took it’s toll on their operation. And, by the time they got the irrigation figured out (Edna loved to talk, but never explained what that was), a huge, automated(?) chicken raising plant opened in the next county. The chickens never moved, chicks to chicken meat. They sold chicken meat for less than half what Ed and Edna could do. The chicken farm closed, and Ed died less than a year later. That farm was his life I guess, and when it ended…

After Ed died, and Edna had paid off all the doctor bills, she bought this small Diner here in town. The closing of their chicken farm cut the population of this little town by half, in the space of less than six months. Most moved to the next county to work at the new plant. Some just drove, even though Edna said it was a long drive. This little Diner was fine with Edna, she wanted something small, that she could manage, where she could work. She didn’t think she had many years left, and just wanted a way to enjoy life, to enjoy people ‘until her time came’, she used to say. Edna loved the Diner, talking to the townspeople, and serving them some food along the way. Well, with her husband gone, I think she needed that. For many years, the operation of the Diner was pretty successful, but the size of this little town slowly got littler. Edna just reduced the staff, and did more herself. She could do that, as the town shrank, and fewer people came to eat.

The only thing that saved the Diner from wasting away, and blowing out into the sand was what Edna called ‘the interstate’, a big road that a lot of people drive their cars on, I guess. This dinky town is on the edge of the desert, and it is a long way to the next little town. Well, many of the people who stop by for lunch now are those salesmorons. As you can tell, I don’t like them much. Some are nice, but the rest hate their life so much, they want to just take whatever they can from whoever else they can, that happens to be around them at the time. With me, their ultimate motive is not far below the surface. I am not sure what may have happened, but Edna had the same attitude, and warned me constantly about them. I never questioned that.

When Edna first opened the Diner, she called it ‘Ed and Edna’s Diner’, and had that painted on a large wall on the front of the building. She loved her husband, and it was mostly in honor of him. The next time it needed to be repainted, Edna had it changed to ‘The Diner’ because the painter (she knew the man since he was a kid) wanted to charge extra for more letters. Edna was pretty irked (her word) about that. She was already paying him to paint the whole wall. And, in this little town, ANY job is better than no work. She didn’t see how that made any difference what the colors were. All he had to do was follow the outlines of the letters, using the colors already in place. She didn’t pay him any extra, and ‘The Diner’ is the name. That was that.

Ed drove Edna everywhere. Edna never drove, and never wanted to. I don’t think she had a license thing either. Even when Ed got sick and had doctor visit after doctor visit, Edna went, but Ed always drove. That was the case until the day the ambulance came, and it was over for Ed. He never made it to the hospital alive, whatever a hospital is. After Ed was gone, after Edna bought the Diner, she just walked to the Diner and back every day. It is about a mile one way, but Edna said it was great exercise, and maybe that was why she ‘lasted so long’ (her words). I do the same thing, six days a week.

There is probably a lot more I could add, if I could remember. Like I said, Edna loved to talk. We would sit on the front porch for hours in the evening. Edna would sit in her rocking chair, gaze across the sand and cactus and talk about her life.

I miss her…

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1. Maude: Beginnings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.

 

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