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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Super Sister

I held up a patriotic picture across the clearance racks. "You could be Wonder Woman."

"Have you seen that outfit? The Lasso of Truth couldn’t hold up that top. I’d have to wear the strapless part around my butt."

My sister and I are Halloween shopping. She’s just before retirement age and I’m right behind her, pushing her over the hump.  Dolled up in superhero costumes, we’re like a cross between the Golden Girls and the Justice League. It’s enough to curl Captain America’s shield.

"Why don’t you be The Flash?"

"That’s a good idea.  Every time I bend over, the elastic in my pants stretches out. Good thing I’m wearing clean underwear."

"No, it’s THE Flash. It’s a title, not a description."

"Oh. What does the Flash do?"

"He runs real fast."

"I would too if everybody saw my altogether every time I bent over. But I can move pretty quick after one of those fiber drinks. Who are you going to be?"

"How about Grammar Girl?"

"Okay, but watch out for your run-ons. And that colon can be tricky."

"Tell me about it. I’ve had one of those fiber drinks, too." 

"Grammar Girl isn’t very exciting, is she?"

"Well, she’s no Aqua Man, but she can fix up a comma splice like nobody’s business."

"What does she wear?"

"A pencil skirt and a ponytail."

"That leaves me out. The last time I wore a pencil skirt, the Fashion Police presented me with an honorary eraser."

"What about the Green Lantern?"

"He’s a wimp.  I remember him when he was just a candlestick and a box of matches."
I pause and consider. We could go as ourselves.  Between us we’ve raised six children, seen three girls go through the pouty stage, and had a hand in a murder of boys learning to drive.  We’ve baked cupcakes, chased homework, and collapsed in relief at six high school graduations. Sounds like superhero stuff to me.

I’m swept up in emotion when suddenly Sis pounces on the perfect outfit.

"Wolverine! It’s just the thing!"
"Why is that?"

"You don’t have to shave your legs, and the nails are to die for!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Alfredo Away!

My husband thinks fully cooked meals spring ready-made from the oven like Venus rising from the foam, but with gravy.  I don’t know how he survived eight years of bachelorhood before he met me, but I do know why he wore pants that would be relaxed-fit on Paris Hilton, and why his eyes glaze over with that faraway look when we drive past Burger King. 

These days he’s making up for all the meals he missed by hanging out in the kitchen, waiting to see if the Pillsbury Dough Boy appears from the swirling mists in the freezer.  It’s like watching a toddler get ready for a visit from Santa. Everybody thinks they’ve been good enough to get a prize.

“What did you eat before we got married?” I quizzed one day as he stared into the empty tea pitcher like a motherless calf.

“Tuna casserole,” he answered, prodding a package of frozen hamburger in hopes it might turn magically into meatloaf.

“You ate tuna casserole for eight years?”

“No, I had the same tuna casserole in the freezer for eight years.  I got custody in the divorce.  Every night I had to figure out what to do so I wouldn’t have to eat it.  I know the nutrition information for every item on the fast food market.”

At least I don’t have to worry about any fond feelings left toward his first wife.  The woman did things to tuna that I couldn’t do to scrap metal without heavy-duty equipment.  She didn’t use serving spoons.  It took the jaws of life to separate the one that didn’t get away from the casserole dish.

It makes my life easy.  If I defrost cinnamon buns in the microwave, he thinks they’re homemade.  I hate to tell him, but if I can’t rake something out of a jar with a Rubbermaid spatula, I’m not going to be serving it for supper.  It could be a 55-gallon drum full of creamed spinach, if somebody else made it, I'm ringing the dinner bell with my best happy homemaker smile in place.
To me, it's not a recipe if it doesn't say Heat and Eat.

When I discovered Alfredo sauce in a jar, I was more excited than a Brownie Scout on cookie delivery day.  While I understand that I’m not going to find fettuccine Alfredo tacked up on the doctor’s bulletin board as one of your top ten heart healthy foods, it’s part of a meal that everyone in my family will eat, which goes a long way towards making it a food priority in my house.  Add some grilled chicken and everybody’s happy.  

I popped a couple of jars of the white stuff into my buggy at Wal-Mart and wheeled innocently down the aisle, full of the peaceful conviction that comes from providing a good meal for a loving and happy family. 

Later that evening, while my back was turned, the beast, heady with the freedom that comes from release from captivity, shattered the air with a mighty blast and attacked.  I screamed.

The children ran to the kitchen like the population of Tokyo pouring in to see Godzilla.

“Did you start another fire?”

Alfredo covered the front on the stove like a dust ruffle.  I had spatters up my sleeve and a striking Picasso-esque design on my Snoopy sweatshirt.

Kid One: “Is supper ready?”

Kid Two: “Supper can’t be ready.  The smoke detector’s not going off.”

Kid One:  “The batteries wore out.”

Just then the beast attacked again, rising from the depths of the superheated Alfredo like a milky Kraken rising from the ocean floor.  This time I was prepared.  No towering wall of Alfredo is going to threaten my family without me beating it into submission with a serving spoon and the lid to a two-quart boiler.  “Run, kids, run!”

Heating supper from a jar should not require escalation of the National Defense Warning System.

My husband sauntered around the corner, hands in pockets.  “Need some help?”

“Sure.  Do we have the Chef Emeril or the Marines on speed dial?”

The lid on the pot behind him rattled like a teenager’s knees at quarter past curfew.  He whisked the pot off the stove, poured the contents into a bowl and added a paper plate lid, then tucked the whole thing into the microwave.  Slamming the door with a flourish, he performed the beep-boop medley on the keypad that told the microwave to cook Alfredo sauce.

He grinned.  “Once you’ve been face to face with an eight year old tuna casserole, you’re not afraid of anything.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Little Boy Gone on 9/11

By Carole Conner Oldroyd on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 3:05pm.  Reposted with permission

I post this every 9/11.  I made a promise to myself and to this little boy's memory that I would never forget him.

This is Rodney Dickens. He was only 11 years old when he lost his life on September 11, 2001. He will forever be the face I see when I think of that terrible day.

When photos started streaming in on TV after the terrorist attack, his little face struck me. I began to wonder about him. As a mother whose kids were close to Rodney's age at that time, so many things ran through my mind.

My first thought was, "Who was with this little boy? Was he traveling alone?" My boys had flown alone several times.

My heart broke when I wondered if he knew what was about to happen; that his life was about to come to an end. Did anyone put their arms around him, or did he face the those final moments as alone as any human being could ever be? Did he cry? Was he afraid? Did anyone hold his hand? Did he pray for God to rescue him? Did he have dreams, goals, plans for his future? Was he even old enough to begin dreaming of what he would do when he was all grown up?

When I began researching to find out who little Rodney was, I learned that he was, indeed, without his parents. He was traveling with classmates. Again, parental instincts crept in and I sobbed thinking about his mother and his father. Were they watching as this all happened? How devastatingly helpless must have been the feeling, knowing that they were powerless to protect their child from the wickedness of these terrorists. I have had nightmares about Rodney crying for his parents in the seconds before his life was brutally stolen away on what should have been a day filled with joy.

And then my emotions turned to rage. Correlations between this innocent child and my own children filled me with so much anger, knowing that the terrorists would not have cared if my children were on that plane. Regard for precious human life was tossed aside like an unwanted object by those . . . I'm sorry, I cannot use the word "people". In fact, I don't have any other word for them besides terrorists. I feel that nothing appropriate even exists in the English language.

As I write this, my arms are covered in goose bumps. My eyes are filled with tears. This child. This sweet-faced little boy lost his life before he even had a chance to begin living.

Rodney, I never knew you. But I love you. With all of my heart, I love you.

As long as I live, you will never be forgotten.