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Tooth for a Tooth

I didn’t bounce into the kitchen talking a mile a minute as would be usual. I quietly took my place at the family supper table, slipping between my sisters, Mary and Betty. Mom had made one of my favorite suppers; a Spanish rice and hamburger casserole we called, ‘hungry man’s delight’.

Handing me a slice of buttered homemade bread, Mom questioned, “Is that loose tooth bothering you?” I nodded. The tooth was very loose. It didn’t take much to make the tooth wobble. Every time it wobbled, it hurt. Sometimes it even bled.

My brother Billy suggested, “You should pull it out so it stops hurting.”

I gave him a reproachful look. Pulling out a tooth hurt. This tooth already hurt, so the idea of pulling it out horrified me.

Mom stewed half to herself, “I’m worried that she’ll accidently swallow it here at supper, or during the night while asleep!” Sucking on a small chunk of buttered bread, I nearly choked. I was already a worry-wart, so I didn’t need Mom’s vision of terrible things to add to my fear! Continue reading

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Schnitzelbank

Gemma, my five-year-old granddaughter, held up a picture she had drawn, proudly explaining, “See, Grandma? Here is a flower and a heart and a person…” I leaned forward and looked at her picture and praised her work.

From the other side of the dining room table, Niki, her mother looked up from a cookbook she was studying. She said, “I’m taking the kids to Farm Technology Days this week. Do you want to join us?”

Remembering past visits I’d made to this yearly farm show, I eagerly accepted the invitation. “Sure. Hopefully it won’t be too hot the day we’re there. One year I felt completely baked by the time we went home. I want to go to the women’s tent first. They put on cooking shows and have dozens of information booths.”

My daughter smiled and admitted, “The thing I want to see on the day we’re going is someone carving cheese.” Three of my young grandsons who were listening to our conversation all chimed in saying how they wanted to see the cheese carving, too.

I laughed and teased, “Maybe you just want to be there to eat the cheese shavings.” Continue reading

Birth Order

Cats love my daughter, Niki. Every time one is around, she gently, lovingly pets them while they purr in ecstasy. My white and black cat, Louie was enjoying Niki’s attention recently when she told me, “Our new neighbors have a pretty little calico cat.”

Five-year-old Gemma jumped in to make sure her Mama got the details right. She blurted, “Her name is Jewel, and it’s supposed to live in their barn. When we come back from playing with the kids there, it always follows us home! We try sending it back, but it won’t obey.”

Laughing, Niki agreed, “The kitty is very naughty. It doesn’t obey. It not only follows us home, but it tries to slip inside our house. It’s snuck in a few times while the boys were going in and out of the house to play in the snow.”

Gemma pipped up again, “The cat is fat!”

“The cat is very fat.” Niki confirmed. “One day last week I found it sleeping in Luke’s cubby. Of course, he hadn’t hung up his coat on one of the hooks, so kitty had a soft bed. I picked her up and discovered the reason she’s so fat. It’s because she’s going to have kittens! I think they’ll be born soon!”

Smiling, I suggested, “More than likely, she’s coming into your house looking for a warm nest to birth her babies in.” Continue reading

Farm Friendly

I peeked into the entryway when I heard the back door open. My three younger grandsons had finished playing in the snow and were coming in to warm up. Remembering how frost-nipped their cheeks and fingers were after sledding in my backyard last month, I went to the kitchen to pour them cups of hot sweet tea. As I buttered toast for them, I could hear them stamping snow off their boots. Since they rolled around in the snow when they played, I knew there would also be snow clinging to their clothing.

Eleven-year-old Ben was the first to step into the kitchen. I said, “I’ve made tea and toast for you.” He grinned his appreciation and sat down at the table. Nine-year-old Luke came in next and eagerly accepted a cup from me. Jacob, who will be seven in May straggled in last. After placing the buttered toast on the table, I checked the entryway to see if I needed to hang wet snowsuits over the registers. What I saw was the inner house door hanging wide open. Since my wood pellet thermostat is in the entryway, I don’t like it when that room gets chilled. The rest of the house would soon be roasting!

I opened my mouth, but it was my mother’s voice that came out of it. She said, “Who was the last person into the house? Were you born in a barn? You left the door hanging open!” Continue reading

Set in Stone

An hour after I arrived at the hospital, large, wet snowflakes began to fall. It was my turn to work the Thanksgiving holiday day shift. The patients assigned to me that day watched the snow fall and reminisced about past Thanksgivings. They mused about how good the snow was for the deer hunters, but bad for families traveling to Grandma’s house.

Our unit was quiet and relatively empty because not everyone elects to have surgery right before a holiday. By mid-afternoon I felt restless, frequently checking the time and peering out the window to see if the weather had changed. The last hour of the shift ticked by slowly. By then it was colder outside and the snowflakes were smaller. A stiff wind whirled them around the hospital parking lot.

My shift finally ended and I cautiously drove home to change into holiday clothing. I felt as excited as a child let out early from school. Refreshed, I got back into the car and headed to the farm where my husband grew up. Arnie would already be there, but out in the woods hunting until dark, unless he had already shot a deer! In any case, he and his brothers would be back in time to eat their Thanksgiving dinner together with the whole family. Continue reading

Camp Grandma

Niki said, “Mom, would you mind having Ben, Luke and Jake stay with you the week that I’ll be working at the girl’s camp?”

Looking up from the recipe book my daughter had handed me a few moments earlier, I said, “Sure, but won’t they feel left out, not being able to go camping, too? Where will Jon, Gemma and Blaise be that week?”

Each summer the church my daughter attends holds two weeks of camp. The first week is for the boys in the parish who are ten years old or older. Girls aged ten and up attend the following week. At ages fifteen and eleven, Jon and Ben are eligible. Anne and Claire may participate since they are sixteen and twelve years old.

Shrugging, Niki said, “I’m going to keep the two little ones with me. Jon will spend the week with his friend Noah. That leaves the three younger boys. They know that when they are old enough they’ll be able to go to camp, too.” Continue reading

The Sad House

I glanced up into the rearview mirror and saw that my daughter in her van was slowly following me in the dim twilight. Spotting an unoccupied curb around the corner, I signaled, turned and pulled up alongside it. There were trees in front of the houses on this side of the street, but an empty parking lot across the street. I said, “This will be perfect for watching the fireworks.” to my brother who was sitting in the passenger seat. My daughter’s red van pulled up behind me.

Our small home town has a yearly celebration to recognize the many people who settled here in the late 1800’s. Earlier that day my family had enjoyed the small carnival, ethnic dancers performing on a stage in the park, a history museum, food tents and a parade. Continue reading