Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's a Rough Life, Part II

Every day should be Mother's Day. This morning, Mike made eggs Benedict for all of us. As if that weren't enough, the guys cleaned the house while I took a leisurely walk with Teddy. At first, I walked, wishing the guys had come with me, but then I got into a groove of looking at patterns in the leaves. I tell you my head was in the clouds as I walked, my eyes glazed over, when suddenly, Teddy jumped a few feet straight in the air. The he proceeded to suspiciously sniff an extra long dandelion puff that had touched his leg. Then he turned and recoiled from a stick that seemed to have snuck up from behind him. It occurred to me that I might sound off kilter laughing that loud out on the trail by myself.

"Oh honey, did you think a snake got you?" I said to smooth over the strangeness of laughing alone in the woods. Teddy looked at me and hung his head a little.

"Don't worry," I said. "I'd have jumped too." I looked along the sunny edges of the grass after that but never did see a snake. I don't doubt that Teddy saw one. I like that the snakes on this side of the mountains are benign little creatures. All I've ever seen were garters, some with green stripes, some with orange, and occasionally, one with blue stripes. It's a good way to get to know snakes. Where I grew up, there were garters, hog-nosed snakes, and blue racers, but there were also copperheads, rattlers, and the dreaded water moccasin. I hate water snakes. They're outright aggressive. The garters eat small rodents. I used to have a garter snake in tall grass by my driveway, but I haven't seen him in a dog's age. I knew where he lived, so I wasn't surprised by him very often.

When I was done walking, I stopped at the market, got into a conversation with the checker about his college studies and with another shopper about hunting mushrooms. Someday, I should tell you about hunting mushrooms when I was a kid. I loved hunting mushrooms. I used to fall asleep trying to picture them among the leaves when it was the season. I swear that made it easier to spot one in the woods. This guy could have talked for hours, but I was missing my own guys. I like to talk, but there was a point when I just want to go home to see what the guys had done with the house.

Oh, it looked good. The garbage and recyclables were out by the road. The foyer wasn't vacuumed that I could tell, nor were the stairs, but all the toys were put away and the upstairs carpet was vacuumed despite a small pile of rocks I'd collected and left in the middle of it.

I put away groceries, leaving dinner parts conspicuously on the counter.

"What are we doing for dinner?" I asked.

"I don't know. What do you want to do?" Mike asked.

"I got steaks. We could have them tonight or we could go to the River Cafe," I said. I could tell he didn't want to go out. He could tell I didn't want to cook.

"I'm tired. I don't want to go anywhere," Nick said. He was back to playing video games and didn't see my visual cues.

"Nick, we're making dinner for your mom," he said.

"We'll be having steak, roast potatoes, and bean salad on the menu tonight," I said. Nick lit the barbecue and Mike scraped the grill and got the steaks going.

"I don't know how to make bean salad," Mike said, coming back into the kitchen and started putting in a load of dishes.

"I'll show Nick. The hardest part is opening the cans." The thing I like about bean salad is that it's so pretty. I use kidney beans, wax beans, canned carrots, butter beans, garbanzos, and green beans. Nick came into the long and narrow kitchen, not used to the 'kitchen dance' that Mike and I have developed over the years. Mike whistled the theme song to Sesame Street as I helped Nick measure the rest of the ingredients. I was so sick of struggling with my favorite recipes when I moved away from home and grandma would say 'a pinch of this' or my mother would say 'a little bit of that.' That's how I cook most of the time now myself, but it would be nice for Nick to know general amounts for his favorites when he gets to that point. Nick added some red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, oregano, and basil and we were set. He used all the basil and I actually got him to put it on the white board grocery list. The crunch of a little chopped onion would have been nice in the bean salad, but Mike can't eat onions. Then, the three of us stood around the bowl and tasted. Mike scooped some up in a big bowl and went into the living room to eat it while the steaks finished on the grill.

"This will taste better tomorrow," he said with beans in his mouth, "if there's any of it left."

So, I'm about to sit down to a dinner I only had a little to do with making. It's beautiful food. I'm always happier when my food is colorful.

I'm not sure what's going on with me these days. It feels like I'm a little bit done with the crabbiness of menopause or something. Life has turned into this peaceful groove and I'd like to stay stuck in it.

Thank you for listening, jb

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