I love it when family gets together. It’s very enlightening. Stories you thought you knew, but actually didn’t. Amusing tales that unite generations. Remembered events that make you want to crawl under the nearest sofa. Here are a few for your entertainment.
Our troop is very food oriented. That translates as our refrigerator door use could qualify as an appliance field test. Kids and grandkids are all comfortable enough here to just sail in and start digging. And most times that’s okay. Just not during blueberry season. I learned a quick way to freeze blueberries from the Home Extension with no muss, no fuss. Pick them, and pour them straight from the bucket onto a baking sheet in a single layer. You don’t wash them as water tends to damage as it freezes; just remove any leaves or green berries. Slide them into the freezer, and in a of couple hours they’re little blue marbles you pour into a Ziploc freezer bag. They stay separated and are easily scooped out in any desired quantity. Rinse them under running water and they are cleaned and thawed at the same time.
Didn’t run quite fast enough to catch up with a grandson. Arrived just in time to see him with freezer door in hand, a startled look on his face. Hundreds of little blue marbles bounced around his feet and across the kitchen floor. You’d be surprised just how much height a frozen blueberry can attain! We hurried to sweep them up before they thawed. Turns out peacocks love blueberries so they weren’t wasted. We did miss a couple. The ones at the end of the hall had slipped past damage control, and the cats played cat-hockey with them until they got too soft to ricochet nicely. While getting a glass of water in the middle of the night, I located a few others in the dark by the clever maneuver of squishing them between my toes. I was nicely awake at 3AM, refreshed by my subsequent foot bath.
My sister-in-law visited from Louisiana. Hubby has said for years he got sick on Cotton Candy as a kid, and can’t stomach even the smell of it now. I always assumed he’d eaten too much of it on a hot summer day. Ha! I got the rest of the story! The truth was he and Chene got to stay home alone as teens for the weekend. Being a typical 14-year-old boy, he snuck into the liquor cabinet. Chene said he consumed enough Seven and Seven for Bicycle Elvis to emerge and put on a performance for the neighbors. Mad at him, worried his activities would get her into trouble, she chased him up and down the block on foot, collecting pieces of clothing as he did a hip gyrating strip tease while riding his bicycle. Tired of chasing him, she planted herself on the sidewalk in front of the house, waiting for his return trip. She grabbed his handle bars as he rode past.
The bike stopped. Bicycle Elvis went airborne. He hit the lawn sans shirt, shoes and dignity. Chene says she dragged him inside by the ankle. Didn’t care the back of his head thunked each level of porch steps. She had no sympathy while he hugged the toilet, ralphing into it for hours that night either.
We shared cooking stories too. They encourage the younger generation to keep making the effort, no matter how many times the smoke alarm goes off. I don’t know how or why, but it seems I’ve always cooked. I make something called Shrimp Stew with a tomato base. My cousin loved it so I wrote it all down. (No, I don’t measure. Just use approximations.) When she made it, I talked her through the entire process over the phone, from getting fresh shrimp from down on the docks to the final cover and simmer low. I stressed repeatedly the shrimp needed to be fresh, and not to let the shrimpers take advantage of her inexperience with seafood and sell her old shrimp.
She called a few days later to say her Yankee guests loved the dish and to thank me for helping her with it. “It was more expensive than I expected it to be though,” she admitted. Now that didn’t make sense to me. Shrimp off the dock are very reasonable. “And I have to ask,” she added, hesitant. “Don’t you feel kind of mean when you make it?”
I was really confused then. Before I could ask she went on in a rush, “I know you said the shrimp had to be fresh, but I couldn’t do it! I didn’t have the heart to peel them with them jumping around. I took them out of the water and waited until they quit moving.” I started laughing. I guess that was an expensive meal! And the shrimp were fresh alright. She told the shrimpers in no uncertain terms she wanted fresh shrimp, not old dead ones!
She’d purchased enough live shrimp to feed eight people!
It wouldn’t be right to conclude without a writing story. A friend of mine got an R and R (which is a Revise and Resubmit, a wonderful thing! It means your story was good enough to be worth the work of correcting any problems!) and needed some rush edits. So I did a line edit for her. All of you know Spell Check can’t be trusted. If you get in a hurry or forget to capitalize a word, spellcheck can, and will, do you dirty. I knew how much this meant to her, and we all stretch ourselves thin for friends. I’d poured over pages until I had a migraine. Just when I wanted to quit I read the line: She had security that would rival fork knots. I looked at it a long moment. Then burst out laughing when I realized what had happened.
By not capitalizing one word and making a simple typo with the other, spell check turned Fort Knox into fork knots.
It was the perfect tension relief. I called her, told her to go open the file and look. We both laughed until we couldn’t breathe.
So keep on writing, folks. Even if it involves twisted utensils!