Monthly Archives: November 2015

SCALLOPED POTATOES

1448553840502When my neighbor found out my husband and I were going to attend the annual Thanksgiving dinner at our church for two bucks apiece and a dish to pass, she asked what dish I planned to take. My annual dish is always scalloped potatoes. She asked, “Homemade?” I was quick, “Oh, yes. My great grandmother Crocker’s recipe.”

She knows me well, so she laughed. My crazy brain filled in the following back story:

Grandmother Crocker was in a hurry. She had promised to bring a dish to pass at the church potluck and didn’t have much time to come up with something. Chores were never ending on the farm. Potatoes were plentiful that year. So, she sliced a bunch up real quickly and threw them in an iron kettle she had inherited from her great grandmother. Tossing in whatever she had lying around, she shoved the whole mess into the wood-fueled oven. Later on she was hard-pressed to recall the exact contents; butter, milk, a hunk of cheese, and little green herbs that floated around throughout the dish. Grandmother Crocker’s potato dish was a big hit at the church. Everyone in the little town of Scallop, Scandinavia hounded her for the recipe. Blessed with an inherited dogged determination, Grandmother Betty was eventually able to duplicate the recipe.

I’ve shown the recipe here for your convenience.

(This is a pure work of fiction, of course. Do not ask me for money. I did not inherit anything from the Betty Crocker family.) p.s. No, I don’t know whether they had iron kettles or used wood-fueled ovens two hundred years ago in Scandinavia. I said this was a work of fiction.

I SAW A WASP

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I saw a wasp skulking around on our deck. It was one of those lanky, black things with the long droopy legs. They slog through the hot, thick air in a predatory shrug. Back and forth…back and forth…looking for…you. I raced for my wasp and hornet spray, crept onto the deck, aimed just ahead of where I anticipated his next lurking shrug, and blasted a stream of toxic, wasp killing poison. I missed. I prepared for my second assault. The can went “pssstthurssh.” It was empty. By now the wasp was not happy. I threw down my weapon and ran for the safety of the house.

I did the only sensible thing. I drove to the Dollar General Store. Those people who stock that store understand me. They make sure to have my phobias well covered. Not only did they have a full shelf of wasp and hornet spray but each can bragged about how there was 25% more wasp killing poison in each can. I rearmed with three cans and returned to take down the demonic intruder. When I returned home, there were three more of those creepy things flying some kind of reconnaissance mission across our deck. I watched from behind the kitchen door and thought I detected a pattern. They had erected a wasp fortress somewhere close by. I did the next sensible thing. I waited for my husband to come home and sent him in search of said fortress armed with enough ammunition to wipe wasp DNA from the planet.

I really hate those things. They strike the same terror in my heart as did those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. I couldn’t sleep for three nights after watching that movie as a kid. My husband is well aware of my wasp phobia (which is a close second to my spider phobia) and my less-than-effective attempts to shoot down the darned things in mid-flight. Once when we were barbecuing I shrieked when a wasp appeared in front of the grill. I let fire with my handy can of wasp spray. It wasn’t my best moment. It was a gas grill. There was this humongous whoosh of flame. My husband and I dove for cover expecting a big BLOOEY that never came. The whoosh of flame quickly died down without catastrophe.

The steaks were well done. I’m pretty sure I got him.

GETTING TO KNOW LESLIE (the character)

mystery times ten coverFunny excerpt from No Wake, first place winner: “I found a dead body once. I was working in home health and went to see Mrs. Weatherford…I whoo-hooed my way through the house into the bedroom. There she was. Mrs. Weatherford was on the bed facing me. Eyes wide open, with blood trickling out one corner of her mouth. I got out of there. I called the office on my cell phone—which back in those days was the size of a small suitcase. I spoke with one of the nurses. She asked me, “Are you sure she’s dead?”

“Yes, she’s dead.”

“Did you take her pulse?”

“God, no.”

“Then, how do you know she is dead?”

“Look,” I said, “she’s either dead, or she has the best poker face that I’ve ever seen.”