The way we kneel in front of it in reverent awe, a foreigner might mistake it for an idol.
In fact, Mr. Handsome even built a pedestal for it. I asked him what he was working on in the barn and he said, “A pedestal.”
“To put me on?” I asked.
“No, dummy, for the machine,” he answered. “The floor’s uneven.”
We both agreed the pedestal was a mistake—it took up too much room and looked dumb. So the machine got demoted to ground level.
The machine monster is very polite. It thoughtfully chews its fibrous food, pausing every couple minutes to savor the flavors. I’m kind of in love with it. It determines load-size on its own, uses half of the detergent and a fraction of the water. It even has a steam feature and a delayed start function.
Not that I know how to use them, but still.
Car conversations were fabulous with our Fresh Air Boy along for the ride. I’d listen to the kids chatter and discuss and then I’d laugh—deeply, silently, face hidden—so hard the tears came. I wished I had a tape recorder because there was no way I could do justice to the dozens of odd things that bubbled up out of them.
On the way to the creek one day, The Fresh Air Boy and Miss Beccaboo had a rousing discussion about which was better, homeschool or regular school. Each was adamant that their way was the best.
Miss Beccaboo: It only takes an hour to do my work, not all day.
Fresh Air Boy: But we got recess. We get to go play.
Miss B: We can stand up and walk around whenever we want. Talk, get a drink. In school? No way!
FAB: We can talk in school!
Miss B: In class? I don’t think so!
FAB: Well, we got lunch.
Miss B: I don’t like school lunches.
FAB: They give you two choices, peanut butter or pizza—
Miss B: I don’t like peanut butter. I only like homemade things—
FAB: and chocolate milk.
Miss B: I get green smoothies.
I have an ingrown thumb nail. At first I had no idea what the problem was. I only knew that my thumb hurt. And the hurt kept growing. The pain peaked after a couple weeks—it was excruciating. I couldn’t push the buttons on the cruise control, fasten back the girls’ hair, go jogging. I took painkillers, did hot and cold soaks, applied neosporin and tea tree oil. And still, a small bit of swelling was the only outward indication that I had an ouchie. I was convinced they would have to amputate, or at the very least tear off my nail to get to the root of the problem.
Probably I had thumb-bone cancer.
But then a pocket of puss rose to the surface, down at the base of my nail, and the pain gradually subsided. Now the pain is localized to that spot, which has turned slightly black. It almost doesn’t hurt at all.
It’s weird to get an ingrown nail at the base of the nail (I think). But it’s because I have a special nail. Back when I was a honkin’ huge, clumsy child of 8 or 9 (the only thing that’s changed is my age), I was messing around at my dad’s workbench in the basement. I was chiseling wood—holding the wood with my left hand and chiseling towards it with my right. (Stupid stuff like this drives my common-sense savvy carpenter husband crazy.) The chisel slipped (of course) and slid right into my thumb, smoothly cutting through nail and flesh. I froze, studying the situation—long sharp chisel fused to flesh—and then carefully pulled the chisel back out. Drops of blood fell, staining the concrete floor (I was inordinately proud of those marks of my suffering) as I raced for the stairs, wailing for all I was worth.
My thumb healed, leaving a nice long scar, but my nail was forever warped, not adhering to the side of my thumb, but leaving a little window into the underside of nail life. It never gave me any problems. Until now.
The moral of the story: All youthful follies eventually catch you up. And when they do, they hurt like the dickens.
Just so you don’t think that everything in my kitchen turns out delicious and amazing: I made this zucchini cake.
It was gross, oily and under-baked. The crunchy lemon glaze was, however, delicious so I ate a bunch of it before dumping some leftover spaghetti on top of the whole ragged affair and shipping it off to the chickens.
This is what my mother does when we visit her: she feeds us morning, noon, and night. And then some.
And she doesn't just hand out the food any old way. It's always thoughtfully and artfully arranged.
I went up to tuck the kids in and there were my girls in their bed, a plate of tooth-pick studded, homegrown cantaloupe cubes on the spindly-legged bed stand. I think little plates of cheese and crackers made their way upstairs, too.
And you know what she wanted to do when we left the next evening? She asked me if she might hand little cups of whipped cream-topped apricot puree in the van window as we pulled out the drive. Me, being the motherly ogre (and only practical adult on the premises, it appeared), visions of sticky fingers and sugar-amped kids floating in my head, vetoed the idea. Sorry, Mom (and kids, though they know not what they missed)!
Never trust your internet friends.
They send you weird snacks and treats.
Jellybeans flavored like barf, skunk spray, pencil shavings, and diaper wipes.
Which make your kids spit.
And dry heave.
And then they try to persuade you to put down your camera and take a taste, which you do.
And then, of course, you spit.
This same time, years previous: apples