In Time I Walk And Talk In Two

The 5 lb. bag of jasmine rice sees you, you know.

About a week ago, my mom and stepdad sat at Pete’s and my dining room table with earnest looks on their faces. They’d brought a case of empty Ball quart jars and a bag. Mom took a breath, opened a bag I didn’t see before that moment and pulled out a large bag of jasmine rice.

Mom: Do you eat rice?
Tata: We do eat rice.
Mom: I bought this rice some time ago because I thought Jasmine rice would be delicious. I should have that.
Tata: That sounds good. What happened?
Mom: We don’t eat rice. We have it. We just never cook it.
Tata: You could just do that, you know. Just put it in a pot and cook that.
Mom: We just do not.

I stared at her and Tom. They smiled and shook their heads. It is too mysterious for us. Who understands these things?

Tata: I will give this bag of rice a good home and a big yard to run around in. Does everyone feel better now?

Everyone did. This morning, I was home sick and restless in that way one is when about 60% better but still 40% squirrelly from illness, when I remembered that rice and consulted Dad’s cookbook collection. I decided to make rice pudding and maybe actually follow a recipe. Odds were against it, but I thought I’d try. Fortunately, the recipe spoke slowly and used simple gestures even a feverish simpleton could understand. Unfortunately but not at all significantly, I was out of cinnamon and substituted ras el-Hanout.

Terrifying in its homey goodness – I mean, eeeeeeeevil.

Next week, the kids in our tiny town start school. The first week is often hectic and unnerving. If I make individual rice puddings for my niece and nephews’ breakfasts, it’ll be one thing they don’t have to worry about, with peaches.

And It’s Turning Out All

This evening, I went out to pick herbs for dinner and found someone had invited himself or herself or deerself to dine. At first, I wasn’t sure what was amiss. The tenant’s giant squash plant looked a little squishy and a lot less giant, though it took a second look to determine why. The long golden flowers were all tucked into the planter but the elephantine leaves that shaded them were all gone. Suddenly, I was suspicious and crept around the outside of the garden fence. The tops of carrot flowers were nibbled off, but most of the garden was fine. Fortunately, I was staring at stems and crab-walking like a refugee from Mumenschantz when my neighbor, hosing down his broccoli, said, “Hey Domy, whatcha doin’?”

Only Grandpa ever called me Domy, so I stopped crab-walking to stare at him. Teddy, who looks exactly like his dog should introduce himself with a hale, “Peabody here,” is not properly afraid of me. He is fairly sure that I am crazy and will sit and watch his chickens do silly, chickeny things and he is right. He is looking at me now like he is considering his options, but I am not worried.

Tata: It looks like we’ve had one deer stop by on the way back to the bar. The brussel sprouts are a goner!
Teddy: I covered my broccoli with mesh – you know that wire mesh – I covered my broccoli with the mesh and I got perfect broccoli.
Tata: That’s…exciting. Someone looked over the fence here and found miniature cabbage leaves at eye level. But there wasn’t much else to eat.

I leaned on something Pete and I should remove at our earliest convenience.

Teddy: What is that, anyway?
Tata: It was a peach tree.
Teddy: It was a peach tree?

I rearranged a dead little branch to lean on another dead little branch.

Tata: It has gone to Heaven.

We both stared at the tragic little branches.

Tata: Well, nice talking with you. I gotta go slice the still-living limbs from defenseless plants. See you!

You may be trying to outrun a terrible memory. I tried to sew once.

Is 67 More

Pete: How about hamburgers for dinner?
Tata: That sounds great. You should make rolls.
Pete: You should make rolls.
Tata: What? I could swear you just said I should bake something.
Pete: Use my bread recipe.
Tata: I guess…I guess I could. I could do that, right? I could!

Pete put his recipe for whole wheat bread on the kitchen table and watched from a safe distance as I added flours, salt, herbs, dry milk, butter and water to the mixing bowl without injuring myself. I covered the dough with plastic wrap and we went out for a fantastic bike ride on a sunny day. Later, I punched it down, covered it and took a nap. Finally, I divided it into six more or less equal roundy-squarey globs. Then I turned over the compost heap and when I came back, the globs looked like rolls. Pete and I stared at them. We preheated the oven, sprinkled dried onions and wheat germ over top. Pete told me to get that water spritzer I use to tame my Mediterranean mane and spray water inside the oven before putting in the rolls to bake. So I did.

Believe it or not: edible!

We pulled one apart to taste it. I couldn’t believe it. This wasn’t even hard to do!