This is a tribute to my friend Rochelle. You are precious to me. As though that wasn’t enough, thank you for sharing a birthday on one of my sibling’s birthday. It was a treat to eat this peanut butter goodness with you.
Fall is a hard season for me.
I love warm weather so Fall means Summer is over. I plan for and eagerly anticipate it for more than 7 months. Once it arrives, I relish its every minute and strive to shake the deep foreboding that constantly reminds me it’s slipping away.
Fortunately Fall is fabulously stunning with its opulent foliage colors; Canada Geese deafeningly landing in and taking off from nearby ponds; and heavenly smells of delicious flavors. So raw, so lavish.
I thoroughly enjoy composing ideas into writing. For me writing is frequently like an out of body experience. When a grand thought hits me, I feel transported, borne on mighty unseen wings. It’s much like baking: trolling for ideas, choosing the hallowed one, assembling ingredients, putting them together, sitting on my hands while amazing smells waft through the air, pulling it out of the oven at just the right time, and bedecking it. That is glory!
This past Summer, I determined to write about another reason I dread Fall. 2 of my 3 deceased immediate family members passed away in the Fall. 2 of the 3 have October birthdays. Sadly, I’m yet to write a proper tribute to any of them. Their tributes have been percolating in my brain for years. They just won’t submit and order themselves in a sensible way. Not only do I feel thus indebted to my loved ones, but I feel I am failing them and myself. I get angry at myself when another birthday or anniversary rolls around – “It’s been well over 7 months,” I chide myself. It’s unreasonable but it feels akin to not taking care of their remains. Unfinished business – year after year. I ask ridiculous un-answerable questions like, “What’s wrong with you? Isn’t this important?”
Every once in a while, I pull something out of the oven and it’s a flop. A disappointing and frustrating flop. That’s what those tributes have been. It breaks my heart and literally makes me cry. I want to slam my laptop shut and throw it across the room as I realize that I can write about cows and peanuts and gardening in ways that make me feel like I’m soaring over mountaintops, yet I can’t write about mum, Michael, or Irene. It compounds my grief.
Is it a mere cop out to think that some things are best left unwritten…?
It happens every time. No sooner do I step out of my van when I get home, than I spy a naughty weed trying not to get noticed. Jingling the car keys in my hand, I promptly walk up to it and, with a stern look, pluck the unruly plant vermin by the roots. Just a few feet beyond is a beautiful ground cover that tells me it would like to be split. My tools are always handy so I drop the car keys into the tool bag and grab my little shovel. I marvel at the beautiful Irish Moss as I separate its roots. This is not unlike my hero, Dr. Carson separating twins with conjoined brains. It takes pure genius.
A perfect replanting spot beckons me across the yard and I head for it. En route, I catch sight of another patch of weeds. I glare at them wondering how they got there and swiftly dispatch them. I wonder if my husband plants them when I’m not looking.
I notice that the echinacea I put in last week threw off the appearance of the stone walkway I put in last month. That irritates me because those pavers weigh the same as a pregnant Angus, and the design is telling me that a paver, not the echinacea, needs to move. At this point I have to set my purse down because it would be ridiculous to be carrying a cow and a purse, all while wearing high heels. I make a mental note to note where I set it down.
I have a new habit of looking under my nails when people ask how I am doing. If there is a fresh compact scoop of dirt under each manicured nail, I know I’m having a most fabulous day. It is then that I normally notice I am still wearing my nice new jewelry, never mind the high heels. I am my mother’s child. She lived by the motto: love and fear God, love and serve people, and dress to kill. I love that.
Time plays tricks on me when I am gardening. I go out to pull a couple of weeds with hours to spare before I have to clock-in to work, and no sooner do I pull the couple weeds and transplant a plant or 2, my co-worker is impatiently acquainting me with the fact that she was supposed to leave ten minutes ago. You would think, by the disdainful look on her face, that I do this every time.
The next morning I am late for an appointment because I can’t figure out what that man did with my purse this time. Thank God for my spare key. One of these days I will get busted driving without my driver’s license. Later that evening I find the purse and I am glad I didn’t accuse him to his face.
Next time you find yourself all dressed up with nowhere to go, walk to your garden and pick a weed or 2. Or come to mine and pick 5 or 6. It fertilizes the soul and deepens your roots, causes one to grow, to bloom, to fruit. To live. To believe. To wait. To die. And for such a hallowed, lofty affair, one must be clad in the most lavish attire and pearls.
… I still can’t figure out what he did with my keys.
My favorite food is Thai food. (I should probably add – Americanized.)
I can’t believe that in my forty plus years on earth I have not managed to have a Thai friend. I feel empty inside about that, almost like a moral failure of sorts. So I have adopted Thai food as my friend.
When I die and go to heaven, I don’t know if all the nations will be mingling or if we’ll have to sit in pockets based on where we’re from. If it’s the latter, I’ll be sticking out among the Thai people.
What manner of people are these that can cook like that?
Peanut sauce = drool, automatically. I maintain that if God had told the Israelites in Egypt that Canaan was flowing with peanut sauce, they’d have arrived there in about a week. I mean they would have grabbed those flowing robes of theirs, jet-skied across the Red Sea, chartered speeders from Anakin Skywalker Enterprises to cross that desert, and inflicted serious injury to the Canaanites on day one to get to that Promised Land. God and Moses would have been huffing and puffing to keep up with that stiff-necked multitude.
Today I tried a home-made recipe for Peanut Sauce and I turned into a puddle, right there on the kitchen floor. An ooey-gooey smooth sweet, tangy, savory puddle of goodness. Even after I put it in a jar, it was so fulfilling to stick my finger into that blender and swipe every last bit of it onto my tongue. I ignored the gnarly sharp blades at the base of the blender and couldn’t even feel them. This must be how they walk on a bed of red-hot coals! I was transcending, my mouth was having a spiritual experience. Bliss, fulfillment, living, happy place..
Have an enlightened day.
We’d lived in our house at the bottom of a steep hill for a couple of years. I called it the catch-all house. I frequently shook my head thinking that if a car lost control coming downhill it would end up in my garage. It seemed I constantly had any number of basketballs and other toys that rolled down from houses uphill.
One summer day I responded to a rather urgent knock on my door. I went to answer it, wiping my hands on my apron. A little girl, about 6 years old stood there, ready to knock again. I opened the door and said hi.
“Can I use your phone?” she asked.
“Are you okay?” I asked, getting alarmed and reaching for my phone in my back pocket.
“I need to let my mum know I’m here.” She answered.
A hundred questions got clogged in my throat as I tentatively handed over my phone. I glanced up and down the sidewalk feeling a cross between concern and suspicion.
She nuttered numbers and slowly keyed them in. She shifted her weight onto her right side and turned to face the road. I think I was dismissed. I heard the phone dialing on the other end. “Cool flowers,” she commented to herself as it rang, peering up the tall potted bamboo on my porch.
“Hi mum. I’m here… Okay, thirty minutes.” She figured out how to turn off the phone then thrust it at me. “I need you to tell me when it’s been thirty minutes so I can go home. Where are the boys?”
I was somewhat stunned. I had never seen her before. She was incredibly pretty with piercing eyes and a sweet smile. Her pink t-shirt said ‘Princess’ in pink glitter. She wore cut-off denim shorts and flip-flops.
“What’s your name?” I asked, amused.
“Maggie. Oh, I hear them at the trampoline.” She wheeled around and ran down the side of the house to the boys. I looked up and down the street again and shook my head, smiling as I shut the door and returned to my baking.
It was the catch-all house alright!
Maggie and I quickly became buds. Sometimes her older sister came along to play. They always called their mum when they got to my house. Occassionally Maggie said hi to me first. I got to meet their parents and chuckle over little Miss Personality. She and my youngest boy James share an age and a temperament. They are forever getting into spats over one thing or another and neither will back down. She loved playing with my boys’ toy guns and ferociously flung them in dangerous, unpractised ways, which drove James crazy. “That’s not even how you hold a gun,” he told her for the hundredth time, exasperated.
“I can hold it however I want,” she would retort, wielding it wildly and about knocking herself over. I nicknamed her Calamity Jane.
She and my older, MUCH more subdued son Paul would play peacefully for hours. Paul patiently tried to tutor James on how to deal with her. James would just shake his head and walk away hopelessly disgusted, groaning, “She’s so stubborn.” I would smile knowingly to myself, he had met his match.
One day, Calamity Jane came to play as usual. At twenty eight minutes I reminded her it was time to go and, as it was somewhat late, I asked Paul to walk her home. A few minutes later, I heard the front door slam. Paul walked up to me ready to pull his hair and mockingly yelling in a little girl voice, “It’s my option and it’s my opinion.”
“What’s the matter?” I asked, bewildered.
He went on to recount how he caught up with Maggie as she was marching up the hill and she asked where he was going. He informed her that he was walking her home.
She stopped in her tracks and glared at him, incredibly offended. “I don’t need you to walk me home.” She declared emphatically.
Paul was taken aback. He composed himself and kept walking uphill. “My mum told me to and so I will.”
She stomped up to him and cut him off, leaning into his face with narrowed eyes, “Well, it’s my option and it’s my opinion!” She stated and decisively pointed him downhill. She spun on her heels and kept hoofing it. He made 2 more determined attempts to catch up to her, explaining his chivalrous duty, each time getting the same response. He breathed deeply and threw his hands in the air, “She is so stubborn!”
James smiled smugly at his brother, finally feeling very understood.
Wildly afraid, that is.
I grew up surrounded by savage lions and buffalo among other very wild animals. Cows are in a class all their own. They are terrible beasts that will devour their prey mercilessly at the least provocation.
I grew up with them. That might be part of the problem, considering I weighed forty pounds and they, about a thousand when we first met. The only thing they do that’s more disturbing than just standing there, staring unashamedly, is to gallop wildly, lunging their crazy heads while their massive bellies heave powerfully. They fling long strings of snot in practiced circles, bellowing in demonic tones, and charging me at a ground shaking twenty-five miles an hour.
“They wouldn’t hurt you,” my husband says flippantly. “Oh look at them run, aren’t they just cute!” coos my neighbor. These people are deceived.
My chicken coop happens to be in one of the fields that our cows graze in. I fastidiously save all my kitchen scraps for them in exchange for delicious eggs, a daily expression of appreciation for all my love. Based on my feelings towards my cows I watch them closely and only feed my chickens when the cows are at the far end of the field, a few acres away. I normally unlatch the main gate, latch it behind me, and stride as lightly as I can, my neck craning back and forth, much like my cocky rooster Rocky, across the twenty or so feet to the coop. I keep a stern eye on those monstrous beasts in the distance. Occasionally one will raise its head and consider the distance between us then return to its sumptuous feast of plain old boring grass. No kitchen scraps for you.
Today was a gorgeous fall day and I was in a great mood. I spied the cows in the far field and grabbed my mulch bucket and mealworms. I opened the gate as quietly as I could then looked over at the monstrosities in the far field. They didn’t even have the courtesy to look up. I unlocked the chicken coop and dumped the scraps, to their grateful delight. I looked at the regular spot for eggs. There were none. I tossed a handful of mealworms and they thanked me profusely by fluttering their wings. This took me all of twenty-five seconds.
I wished the chickens a happy day, turned to leave the coop and was met by a horrific sight. Time stood still as I beheld 2 massive bovines bounding at me not fifty feet away! At the same time, I realized that I had left the main gate wide open. I quickly locked myself in the coop and called Jesus incessantly. I had to divert them or I would have real trouble on my hands if they ran out of that gate. In a split second I scaled the ten-foot coop and fence, grateful for all the times I watched my son at parcour. He would have been proud of mama.
Once over the fence, I started grabbing weeds and desperately stuffing them through the holes in the chicken link fence to distract the cows from the open gate. This worked very well for the 2 by me. In my peripheral vision I caught sight of a third, gamboling straight at the twelve-foot gate. To my dismay, the gate was open towards her. I took off like a mad bullet, energized by her maniacal lowing as she kicked scads of turf 6 feet into the air, determined to beat me through that gate.
I will never, ever, be able to explain how I got there before her – Jackie Joyner style; grabbed that frigid green pole-gate two inches in front of her slimy snout, and backed up to lock its chain in place. She about screeched to a halt like they do in the cartoons, wild tail straight up in the air and blinked disbelievingly as I let out the most feral Tarzan-like bellow in her face!