Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Breaking Things

Last night, I was enjoying the warm glow after a nice meal and some incredibly kind comments, and decided to start the Christmas Cooking. I was alone in the kitchen. Boy and a couple of his cousins were downstairs playing, and Mrs. Spiffy took Girl shopping. Again. We've been part of a food group in the past, and it was so much fun I'm starting another one after Holiday Season gets folded up and put away for the year. The groups combine cooking, friends, and giving all at once, and the food is really good. So, for Christmas this year we're giving away some frozen family-size meals. The recipe calls for 20 pounds of potatoes, peeled and sliced. This doesn't happen in just 5 minutes, so I figured it was time to get started. I hauled out my big, shiny knife and reached into the cabinet for the giant stock pot. I started to lift it out, and felt a strange resistance. There was a startling sound like an icy snowball hitting the cabinet, with deep, tinkling overtones. "Huh. That's interesting," was all I could think. One of our fancy crystal serving dishes had somehow gotten wedged between the pot and a shelf, and exploded vigorously when I tried to move it. Well, no sense crying over spilled glass, so I began the cleanup. That's when I felt an unfamiliar weight on my wrist. I looked down and found a small water-balloon sized glob of blood growing on my arm. I wasn't sure if it was the oozing or spurting type of bleeding I should panic over, so I just held it under running water for a while, waiting to see if I would pass out. I didn't , so I got a band-aid and went back to work. This morning, I came out to my trusty Jeep for the kid-drop, and found all the glass surfaces covered in thick frost. It reminded me of a time in my youth, when the neighbor lady across the street was faced with the same problem. Mrs. D was one of those neighbors everybody knows - you couldn't not know her. She had a piercing, high-pressure voice that she used every night to scream her brood home for dinner. We would hear the list of kids' names and the menu, at high volume, every night around 6. It was a morning where your nose hairs crystallize before you even close the door behind you, and she was obviously running late. I could tell by all the new swear words I was learning while I scraped the windows of our car. She started her van, fussing and grumbling in sharp syllables, and slammed the storm door on the way back into her house. She came stomping back out a minute later, carrying a steaming bucket. She flung it across her windshield triumphantly, apparently thinking she would instantly dissolve the frost. Instead, she got an abrupt lesson in the thermal properties of laminated glass. I heard the crack echo through the streets; it sounded like lightning striking a hollow tree. I watched her mouth drop open. I watched her ball up her fists and crouch, and I watched her throw a classic cartoon stomping-fit - arms flailing up and down, jumping in circles with her knees around her chin, hairpins spinning around her face - and a thick, loud river of new cursing combinations. That's one of my favorite childhood memories.

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