Friday, September 22, 2017

PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME


I'd just made myself a cup of tea, and was throwing away my teabag, when I noticed the empty peanut butter jar laying in the recycling bin. “We've started a new jar of peanut butter!” I cried.
My husband, Steven and son, Alex both gave me a confused look.
“I finished it last night.” Alex said. “Why?”
“So no one's opened the new jar yet?” I was almost gleeful.
“I don't know.” Steven went to the cabinet pulled out the new jar and handed it to me.
I slowly unscrewed the lid and saw the foil covering still intact. “Best day ever!” I cried as I peeled the foil off and looked at the smooth top of the peanut butter. “Do you know how happy this makes me?” I smiled at both of them as I set the jar down on the counter and went into the cabinet to get an English muffin. “When you grow up in a big family, like I did, it's rare to have an untouched jar.” I explained as I popped the muffin in the toasted and slide the lever down. “When I was growing up the peanut butter jar always had crumbs or jelly in it.” I shuddered. “It was disgusting.” I leaned against the counter waiting for my muffin to be toasted.
“But our peanut butter jar never looks like that.” Alex argued. “I use a knife for the peanut butter and another knife for the jelly. I never mix the two.”
“I know.” I smiled at him. “That's not the point. It's the joy of a new jar that I'm talking about.”
Alex went into the cabinet and got out a box of cereal.
I pointed to the box. “Cereal was another thing that I only wanted to eat if it was a brand new box.”
“Why?” Alex took a bowl out of the cabinet.
“Because, back then, a lot of cereal had prizes in them.” Hearing the pop of the toaster I turned around pulled the muffin out, being careful not to burn my fingers.
“I remember that.” Steven said, he looked over at Alex. “They'd have all kinds of weird stuff. Nothing really great but everyone wanted it.”
“I'd come downstairs for breakfast, really looking forward to a bowl of Frosted Flakes and the bulging box would be open on the counter top. You'd just know, by looking at it, that someone was elbow deep digging around for that stupid prize.” I shuddered again as I spread the peanut butter on my muffin. “That would be the end of wanting to eat out of that box!”
“That is pretty gross.” Alex admitted.
“Oh that's just the beginning.” I took my peanut buttered muffin to the table as Alex came over with his bowl of cereal. “Getting breakfast with seven kids running around was just crazy.” I shook my head.
“Well, don't worry it's not like that anymore.” Steven said, sitting down at the table to visit with us.
“Yeah.” Alex agreed. “I've stopped drinking right out of the milk container years ago!”
“What!” I could actually feel my stomach flip just thinking about it.

“Just kidding.” Alex laughed as he patted my arm to reassure me. “Just thought I'd bring back another childhood memory for you!”

Friday, September 15, 2017

KITCHEN TOOLBOX


I was in the hall bathroom hanging up a new picture when my son Alex walked in. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Hanging the picture your Aunt Lizzy gave me.” I finished tapping the picture hook into the wall then picked up the 5x7 white framed picture. It had three pieces of sea glass that were made to look like shore birds standing on a piece of driftwood. I placed it on the hook, adjusted it to make it level, then stood back to admire it. “That is so stinking cute!” I cried. I looked over at Alex. “Isn't it adorable?”
“Sure, adorable.” Alex answered not sounding nearly as thrilled as I was. He picked up the tool I'd used to hang the picture hook. “But why are you using a meat mallet instead of a hammer?” Alex looked confused.
I shrugged my shoulders as I took the mallet from him. “I haven't used a hammer in years.” I confessed. “No matter how many times I'd buy a new hammer it would be missing whenever I went to use it.” I held up the mallet and smiled. “None of you have ever thought of using this!”
Alex shook his head and laughed. “I guess as long as it works...” he went over to the vanity and opened the bottom drawer, I watched as the knob turned in his hand.
“How long has that knob been loose?” I asked.
“I'm not sure.”
I looked inside the drawer, at the screw that was holding the knob. “Perfect, it's not a Phillips head.” I looked up at Alex. “I can fix this for you in a second if you go into the kitchen and bring me a butter knife.”
“Okay.”
While he headed for the kitchen I looked over at the picture I'd just hung and noticed it was lower then I wanted. “Can you bring the metal tongs, too?” I called to him.
Alex came back with a butter knife and the tongs. “Okay, I get the butter knife.” he said as he handed it to me. “But what are the tongs for?”
“You'll see.” I took the butter knife, tightened the screw then closed the drawer. I took the tongs from him and clicked them together. “Pliers!” I took the picture down and using the tongs pulled the picture hanger back out of the wall. Putting the tongs on the vanity, I grabbed the meat mallet once again and 'hammered' the hook up a little higher. Hanging the picture once again I stood back to check. “Perfect!”
I gathered up my tools and headed back to the kitchen.
“So what else do you use in here for your toolbox?” Alex asked as he looked around the kitchen.

“I can't tell you that.” I opened the dishwasher and placed my tools in it, then walked over to him and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I'm afraid I've already given up too many of my secrets.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

HIGH-WIRE MOVE


I was walking past my living room window when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a squirrel scurrying across the telephone wire carrying something in her mouth. I squinted my eyes to try and get a better look.
It has always amazed me that a squirrel's twitching tail could take the place of the balance pole high-wire artists use. But no human, no matter how talented they are, could cross a wire at the speed that she was moving.
My squinting seemed to finally pay off because I couldn't believe what I saw. “Oh my gosh, she's got a baby in her mouth!” I cried.
I heard my husband Steven running into the room. “WHAT?” he cried.
I turned to see the panicked look on his face and was a little surprised by his reaction. “There's a mommy squirrel with a baby in her mouth.” I said pointing to the telephone wire.
“Oh, for God's sake!” He sat down on the couch trying to catch his breath.
It took me a second but I finally realized he thought I was talking about our across the street neighbors who'd just brought their twin babies home from the hospital the week before.
“Sorry about that.” I smiled and shrugged my shoulder. “I guess that did sound kind of weird.”
“You think?” he shook his head then got up to look out the window. We both watched the squirrel race back across our yard, up the telephone pole onto the wires and leap into the neighbor's tree. Moments later with another baby in her mouth she did the entire obstacle course all over again moving another one to the new nest.
“I've never seem a squirrel do that before.” I looked over at Steven. “I wonder why she's moving them?”
Steven was still looked out the window. “I bet it's because of the Cooper Hawk.” He turned to look at me. “I heard it in the back yard this morning.”
I grabbed my phone and headed to the front door. “I'm going to try and get a picture.”
“You're going to scare her!” Steven called as he stayed by the window.
“She'll never see me.” I reassured him. I got outside just as she was going back to the first nest for another baby. I tried to get a picture of her on the telephone wire with her carrying a baby but she was so fast I couldn't get the shot I wanted.

I thought I'd wait for her to make the trip again but when she came down from the new nest she didn't just race back to the first nest like she'd done before. Instead she frantically followed her route, seeming to be looking for a missing baby. I hadn't seen her drop one so I could not understand why she was acting this way. After checking the old nest once again she made the same frantic search on her way back to the new nest and her babies.
I came back into the house. “Did you see her drop a baby?” I asked.
Steven shook his head no.
“So how come she didn't know she'd gotten them all?”
Steven started to laugh. “I'm not sure if squirrels are known for their counting skills.”

“Oh, that's just great.” I sighed as I looked back out the window. “Now I feel like I need to go out and double check that she got them all.”

Friday, September 1, 2017

OAK GALL


I was outside filling my bird feeders when I looked down on the ground and saw something strange. It was perfectly round, the size of a golf ball and had the colorful look of a jawbreaker. I put the lid back on the feeder, tucked the bag of birdseed under my arm and scooped up my new found treasure.
Back in the house I placed the colorful ball on the counter and went to put the birdseed away.
Alex came into the kitchen. It seemed it was time for his hourly forage in the cabinets to see if anything new had appeared. He looked over at the ball. “What's that?” he asked.
“Not a clue.” I picked it up and began to examine it further.
Alex was opening and closing cabinets, clearly disappointed that nothing new had appeared.
“It's really pretty, don't you think?” I held out the strange little ball in the palm of my hand for him to see.
He looked over and shrugged his shoulders. “I guess.” then he continued his search in the refrigerator.
I put the ball down on the counter and took out my phone. “There's only one way to find out.” I snapped a picture of it, then opened my Facebook page. “There's a group I belong to that's just about plants.” I said as I began typing. “I'll post it there. I'm sure someone will come up with an answer.”
I looked over at Alex and could see the confused look on his face. “You belong to a group that's just about plants?” he asked.
“Hey! Don't judge!” I put my phone down on the counter.
Alex was still searching the refrigerator when my husband Steven came in. “What are we doing?” he asked then pointed to the ball I had sitting next to my phone. “What's that?”
“Alex is searching for an unknown snack and I'm waiting for an answer to that very question.” I picked up my phone to check, and sure enough I already had an answer. “Hey look, they sent me a picture of exactly what we have.” I held out the phone for them to see. “They say it's an oak gall.” I looked over at Steven. “Have you ever heard of that?”
Steven shook his head no. I looked at Alex, who gave me a you've-got-to-be-kidding-look.
“I'll just Google it.” Typing in “oak gall” I tapped on the first site and then began reading it aloud, “Okay, it says here that these things happen when the oak tree reacts to a non-stinging wasp that's layed its eggs on it's leaves or branches. The insects inject a hormone into the plant tissue which causes it to grow abnormally and encloses the developing wasp larvae.” I looked up at both of them my mouth twisted in a grimace. “Wow, that's gross.”
“Are you kidding me!” Alex cried. “You just brought a giant wasp egg in the house!”
Steven picked it up, opened the kitchen door and tossed it into the yard. “There!” he said as he closed the door and looked at Alex. “It's out of the house.”
Alex looked disgusted as he stood there just shaking his head.
“I'm sorry.” I cried. “It was so pretty, how was I to know?”
Neither of them said a word, they just looked at each other and left the kitchen.
I couldn't help but feel awful. “Dinner will be in an hour!” I called out to them, hoping that would make it all better. When there was no answer I added, “I'm making chicken parmesan!”
That seemed to do the trick.
“Are we having pasta with it?” Alex asked.
“Of course!”
“Sounds good to me.” Steven called.

I let out a sigh of relief. “And then all was forgiven.” I whispered to myself.