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Archive for May, 2017

The birds and the bees

“Familiarity breeds contempt~and children.”   Mark Twain

All parents know it will happen sooner or later. The question.  THAT question. You know the one: “Where do babies come from?” Inquiring minds of sweet innocent children all over the world want to know. My own sweet child had a very inquisitive mind.  She thought long and hard about things, and tried to figure them out for herself. Still does, in fact. I had always said that as a nurse, I wouldn’t tell stories like “The milkman brought you,” or “You were found under a cabbage leaf in the garden.” I would always tell her the truth about everything. Well, not EVERYTHING. I didn’t tell her that Santa Claus wasn’t real,  but I should have, because a little boy in kindergarten blabbed and ruined the surprise anyway. She figured out the Easter Bunny on her own shortly after that. When she asked the question,  I explained it as simply and as age appropriately as I possibly could. She listened intently, nodded her head and said, “Can I have my snack now?” Whew. That was easy. After telling her that she could always come to me with questions at any time, we went about our usual business after I gave myself a small pat on the back about my parenting skills. That was probably parenting mistake #754:  Don’t pat yourself on the back or it will come back to bite you on your biggest asset. Flash forward a couple of weeks. We were in line at the grocery store on a Friday afternoon. It must have been payday, because all the lanes were filled with weary people and overflowing carts. It was in the days before everybody and his grandmother had a cell phone, so people were quietly chatting, looking at the ceiling in boredom, or tapping their feet impatiently. My daughter was doing her usual begging for a candy bar or a bag of Skittles, or whatever sugary temptation that some marketing genius put there just to drive parents stark raving mad by constantly having to say, “No.” “Because I said so!” “No.” “Because I said so, that’s why!” Anyhow, my sweet baby girl, in all her innocence, picked that exact moment to ask for more details about the birds and the bees. In a sweet, clear, and loud voice, she asked, “So I’ve been thinking.  If there is an egg and there is some fertilizer, just how does the fertilizer get to the egg to make a baby?” The busy, payday Friday afternoon noises at the grocery store quieted, then stopped altogether.  All eyes turned in our direction and all the cash registers stopped their busy noises.  I swear, if there had been a spotlight, it would have shone brightly down on me as they waited for the answer. I swallowed hard, my mind racing. I began to perspire. “Well…, ” I said, “Well…in a very…special…way.” I quickly grabbed the biggest candy bar I could find and shoved it into her hands. Thankfully, she took the bribe. Everyone must have been holding their breath, because there was a loud collective sigh that seemed to echo throughout the store. Perhaps there was a smattering of quiet applause, or was it the sound of my first grey hairs popping through? We’ll never know. 

“The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know because I have tested it.”  Mark Twain

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Out of the blue

When we got married nearly 40 years ago, I was a young bride and not such a great cook. Oh, I could throw together a hotdish (aka casserole for my southern readers) or a dessert, but I had a lot to learn. Unfortunately for HIM, I seemed to learn better by my mistakes. I cried the time I tried to make hard boiled eggs by putting ice cold eggs from the fridge into boiling water and ended up with scrambled soup. The cookies that I rolled too large and put too close to each other on the cookie sheet until they became one giant cookie were not pretty, but tasted all right.  I proudly served a big plate of homemade barbecue baked beans and cornbread, thinking they were the same as his beloved pinto beans. I didn’t cry, because even though he disliked baked beans, he ate every bite. (I admit to sniffling a little bit when he gently suggested that I ask his mother how to make them.)  I didn’t even admit for years that I nearly flunked piemaking in high school Home Economics class because our group’s banana cream pie turned into banana cream soup due to an improperly sealed meringue. Miss Huset gave us a “D” because it tasted good, and we sat around the table and ate it with spoons. I haven’t made meringue since, and I rarely make a pie from scratch. (I have been known to wheel and deal and barter for a homemade apple pie, since it is HIS favorite next to chocolate pie with MERINGUE.) My cooking skills have improved over the years, thank goodness.  One food that I have prided myself on has been my potato salad. Making potato salad is an art, and since I have always gone by taste, there is no recipe,  but it is a combination of the way both HIS mom and my mom made it. It is not hard to make, but tedious. The potatoes have to be sliced just so after they have cooled. Not too thick and not too thin. Just a touch of onion, and not too much celery. Finely diced pickles or pickle relish, and the dressing made with real mayonnaise and mustard and thinned with a little milk. Salt, pepper, and celery salt are added, and hard boiled eggs are folded in as well as sliced on top. (See how NOT to boil an egg, above.) I always made a lot, but personally didn’t like it after the first day, so he would always eat it until it was gone. All was right with the world until I gave up potatoes in my diet. I  kept on making potato salad for HIM, because he enjoyed it so much, or so I thought. One day, out of the blue, HE informed me that I didn’t have to make it any more. “I don’t really like potato salad all that much.” Wait. What?? Thirty nine years of eating potato salad and he informs me that he doesn’t like it! I wonder what other secrets he is keeping from me? 

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Garage sale, part II

HE says I have too much stuff. Except he doesn’t exactly call it “stuff”, but a word not suited to a family-friendly column. I don’t agree. My stuff is an interesting and nearly historic collection of antiques and vintage items, books, and old magazines. HE has a closet stuffed full of old golf shirts, and won’t part with any of them, even when I loudly announce that I am making a donation to the veterans’ clothing donation bin. “I’ll get to it”, he says, and never does. He also didn’t want to part with an iron fireplace poker found in the garage, even though we have a whole fireplace set in the living room, so there it will hang for another 10 years. I don’t think he wanted me to touch the “stuff” on his workbench, either,  because he just said “I’ll take care of it.”  He didn’t complain when I removed the old leaf blower, since for some reason, he bought another, even though this one still worked. The workbench wasn’t cleared off, either, so I covered it with old sheets so people wouldn’t pick through it, but believe me, I was tempted to allow it and offer them a free golf shirt as a bonus!  It was a good sale, and I think I got rid of perhaps 2/3 of my things, all of them to good homes. For some strange reason, that is important to me, but being able to let it go in the first place should take me off the Hoarder’s List.  I hated to see the stuff go, but it was time. When it was all over but the complaining about my aching back, I sent my last customer home with plenty of free items. A few things went to the fire pit,  like a beat-up old wooden picture frame that nobody wanted, even with a “free” sign on it. Books will be given to the hospital volunteers for their fundraiser, and all the rest is boxed up for donation and ready to deliver.  Well, almost all the rest. I brought just one item back into the house. Aren’t you proud of me? Just one! It was a large plastic tote, and it wasn’t even full! I’m pretty proud, myself. I’ve created so much extra storage space that HE won’t even notice, not unless YOU tell him. 

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