Today stretches out before me as I sit here in bed with my laptop in front of me, the hazy sun pouring in the north facing windows, my empty coffee cup beside me.  I woke up this morning after my husband left for work and had to get my own coffee.  Usually he brings it to me, hot and steamy with just the perfect amount of evaporated milk and one packet of Stevia thoroughly stirred in, each morning.  It is hell, I tell him, having to get my own coffee in the morning.  But of course, it is not hell.  It is a joke.  There are times I like getting my own coffee and bringing it back to bed with me.

I write in my journal and look out the window at the same black walnut tree that has been there since I was born. When I was little, my aim was to take the beautiful designs that the leaves made, and paper my walls with it. Now I realize that I don’t have to do that – I live in the same house with the same tree outside my window. There was talk earlier this spring of taking the old tree down. It sheds the most irksome litter which seems unending at times. Black walnuts are, even in their prime, tedious to harvest – first there is that stain-producing hull that has to be removed, then the hard shell to crack open, and then the tiniest bit of flesh inside. My mother, sister, and I used to spend hours picking out walnut flesh to add to sand tarts. Now the tree gives forth mostly prunish walnuts. I have given up on collecting them because the meat is shriveled and sour.

Still, I told my husband and son not to have the old tree cut down. It still means something to me. This time of year at least, before all that debris, it is beautifully leafy, branching out in all directions, affording shade for the lower half of the front yard. Instead of getting lost in my affection for the tree however, I will get back to Tuesday.

My friend, Kim, plans out her day ahead of time. This never seems to work for me. I sort of take it as it comes. Still I am plagued with a feeling of not getting things done. Aside from taking care of our feathered fowl and the normal household routine – here are the things I want to get done today: We owe some local taxes, so a check must be cut first thing. Then there are Ritter Reunion invitations to get out in the mail. So a trip to the post office. There is a trip to the bank to deposit a check. There are cucumber, mariogold, and okra seedlings to plant today – a small heap of mushroom soil has survived the driving rain we had yesterday, and I will use that. Tonight there is a gathering at a cousin’s house to see her son and his family who are visiting from Tennessee. I want to take something good to share – but haven’t decided yet what that will be. She asked me to bring a dozen duck eggs for her son, but what if I make a duck egg custard as well? Silky smooth and with only a scant amount of sugar – what a delicious dessert to take for a cookout!

Recipe for Duck Egg Custard

(Get a head start and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sometimes I forget this part and am always sorry.)

Ingredients:
8 duck eggs
1/2 tsp salt
5 cups of milk
2 T. vanilla
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Blend the eggs, sugar, and nutmeg.
Scald the milk and salt (scalding means bringing the milk to just under boiling).
Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, blending carefully.
Pour into a two-quart baking dish or pan.
Sprinkle the nutmeg on top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for one hour.
The custard will keep baking as it cools.
You can substitute large chicken eggs if you do not have duck eggs.
Duck eggs make this rich and silky – I swear.

Last time, James made a banana foster type topping for it, and that made it even more special.