Scrambling for the chicken

We were having breakfast with some of the grands when one asked if she could have my chicken when I die.

The chicken is not a live chicken, but a ceramic chicken I’ve had since we were first married and use for serving scrambled eggs.

I said she can have the chicken, but she’ll have to make her own scrambled eggs.

Then I left the table and looked in a mirror to see if I should have spent more time on hair and makeup.

Eh.

The thought of dying was not on my mind today; nor was the thought of who should have the chicken – or that anyone would want it, for that matter.

Who knows how their minds work. I’m not entirely certain how my own mind works.

I guess this is a new stage of life I didn’t see coming—the “Hey, Can I Have That When You’re Dead?” stage of life.

Years ago, my mom and dad had one of my brother’s boys with them when they were going to a cemetery to pay off their burial plots. They explained the situation to the little guy who was quiet for a moment, then said, “Grandma, when you die, can I have your credit cards?”

Smart, that one. Very smart.

I was glad someone wants the chicken because in addition to the new “Hey, Can I Have That . . .” stage of life, I’m also in a minimalist stage of life.

Like so many others, I purged closets and drawers during the pandemic and am now unable to stop.

Waffle iron that chews up waffles? Gone.

Yoga mat? Forget about it.

Panini Press? Returned to the gifter.

High heels that cause foot pain? Nice knowing you.

Baby quilts made by my mother? Linen closet, top shelf, going nowhere.

I am constantly looking for big things and small things, anything really, to recycle, donate or trash. It’s a near obsession, one so bad that the husband claims he is afraid to fall asleep on the couch for more than 10 minutes.

He’s safe. There’s no way I could lift him.

There is some comfort knowing that others may want some of the things we still hold onto. Sometimes, if I receive an especially nice gift, one of the girls will yell, “Post-it!” This means she wants a Post-it to write her name on and stick to the item.

A friend who handles estate auctions is adamant that a Post-it will not hold up in court. I’ve told the girls this and they say they’re not going to court; they plan on using the “possession is nine-tenths of the law” rule.

They’re all talk and no Post-its.

Today I am happy knowing that my chicken will one day have a good home and that no one has asked for my credit cards.

Yet.

Last bird out, turn off the light

Three of the grands painted a birdhouse that looks like a beach house on the Florida coast—hot pink with a teal roof. It was only up a couple of weeks before bluebirds moved in, laid three eggs and sometimes played Jimmy Buffet tunes late at night.

The family schooled themselves on elusive bluebirds, knew when the eggs hatched and counted the days until the hatchlings would leave the nest. Despite a faithful watch, they somehow missed the birds’ departure.

They cleaned out the birdhouse, installed a teeny tiny camera and a few weeks later the birds returned and deposited four eggs.

Again, they counted the time until the birds might begin exiting. When one leaves, they all leave.

Our daughter texted before 8 a.m. the other day, saying it was time. One had already flown the coop. Did I want to come watch?

Of course, I did. It would be like watching newborn quads leave a hospital.

Nobody saw No. 1 leave, but there it was sitting on the fence top. Then it took off, smacked into a neighbor’s house and tumbled to the ground. It was back on the fence a short time later. No. 2 also exited unnoticed and camped on a crossbeam of the fence, low to the ground.

My daughter and I, armed with four cameras, planted ourselves in patio chairs to catch the final two making their exit.

It was a large family affair as nine bluebirds, adults and young (probably from the first brood) hovered about, perching on rooftops, a nearby trampoline and fence posts.

They protested loudly when I crept into the yard for a better camera angle. I feared there would be a re-enactment of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” if I didn’t keep my distance.

We waited and waited. Clouds came and left.

Momma bluebird delivered food to the two cloistered in the birdhouse and popped a worm into the mouth of the one still cowering on the cross beam.

We waited and waited some more.

Bluebirds are tidy housekeepers. Adult birds carry out baby bird poo in a white sac held in the mouth. Perhaps they get the little white sacs at Target or Walmart, next to the 30-gallon Hefty bags.

Lunchtime came and went. We joked about phoning for Door Dash, wondering if they would do Backyard Birdhouse Dash.

Her older sister, in possession of their combined six children and not a big nature lover, texted that the birds were never coming out—they’d been in there too long and would require forceps.

Four uneventful hours later, I called it a day and abandoned the watch. Three hours later I got a call expecting it was the call of defeat.

It was hard to tell through the screaming, but it turned out she saw the last two exit, heads bobbing in the opening to the birdhouse, a final shove, then taking flight, one after another.

It took eight hours, but she saw the baby birds leave home and was over the moon with delight.

The wait on her own baby birds leaving the nest will be far longer, say in the 15-to-18-year range. No doubt, she’ll be emotional then, too.

 

A sweet argument no matter how you slice it

Word has gotten out that I have cake pans. Word has also gotten out that being mildly unhinged, I occasionally agree to make wedding cakes for family members and close friends.

So there they were, the glowing bride-to-be and the debonair groom-to-be, along with her mother, her father, my husband and myself, all gathered in our kitchen for a cake tasting. Shortly, the engaged couple would be having one of their first arguments.

Before them sat their two choices in small scale on pedestal plates. The vanilla cake with chocolate cookie crumbs was covered in white icing and chocolate cookie crumbs, and a lemon velvet cake with raspberry filling was finished in traditional white icing.

They tasted the vanilla cake with cookie crumbs first. They liked it. Everyone did.

The lemon cake was next, and everyone liked it, too. The groom-to-be might have let it slip that he liked the lemon cake better because it looked more traditional.

“Well, I want what you want,” she cooed to him.

“But I want what you want,” he cooed in return.

So it began, two lovebirds locked in a gentle tennis match in which neither wanted the title of winner.

“It’s not about me,” he said. “If you prefer the vanilla cake with chocolate cookie crumbs, I want the vanilla cake with chocolate cookie crumbs.”

“But I think you want the lemon cake because it looks more traditional,” she said.

The tennis match continued, eventually turning into a tennis tournament, so I made coffee.

Back and forth it went until the mother of the bride-to-be exclaimed, “Lemon!” To which the father of the bride-to-be echoed, “Lemon!” Neither of which were heard, of course, due to the engaged couple being engulfed in a sound barrier of euphoria.

On it went with more “I want what you want.”

I shoved the lemon cake to the center of the table hoping to make myself clear.

They never even noticed. All they could see was each other.

“I want you to be happy.”

“But I want you to be happy.”

I was about to ask if they could all stay for dinner.

“I want you to remember this day as the best day ever, so I want you to have the cake you like.”

“But I want you to remember this as the best day ever, so I want you to have the cake you like.”

Someone had to intervene. “I’ll make the cake you want,” I said, “but in my opinion the cake covered in chocolate cookie crumbs looks like something I dug out of the garden. The chocolate cookie crumbs look like dirt. People will think one of your families is depressed about the wedding.”

There. I said it.

Silence.

Then they started again. I want what you want. I want what you want.

“Enough!” snapped her mother.

“Enough!” snapped her father.

“Pick a cake already!” I snapped.

So they did. Lemon velvet for the bottom layer for guests, and vanilla cake with cookie crumbs for the top layer for the bride and groom and wedding party, all finished in a traditional white icing.

It was a creative compromise, a key ingredient to every good marriage. They’re going to do well, these two. May all their arguments be tempered with sweetness and may they always think of the other first.

Bezos’ launch into space triggers rocket envy

I was exploring summer travel plans when Bezos announced his summer travel plan to rocket into space. Somehow it took the wind out of my sails.

Or the flames from beneath my rocket.

I am still wondering how you pack for a trip into space. You don’t need much because you can’t move around much. The Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, houses Neil Armstrong’s Gemini 8 capsule, which is unbelievably cramped. And, of course, in space there’s no getting out to stretch your legs. Well, you could get out, but you’d never return.

The Gemini 8 exhibit also details how astronauts contended with everyday matters like personal plumbing. I won’t go into detail but let me just say – gag. But Bezos will be up in space and back within 11 minutes, so bodily functions shouldn’t be an issue.

Not only will the Bezos ensemble travel light by necessity, they won’t have to pack toiletries in a see-through bag and run it through security. Or stand spread eagle and be wanded. Money does have perks.

It is fashionable to be hateful toward people who have a lot money today, which always comes down to anybody who has more money than you do. One of my favorite verses from Proverbs is where the writer asks that he never be so rich as to forget God, and never be so poor that he steals and profanes God’s name. Both poverty and riches are slippery slopes. We are content in the middle, although sometimes I do think, “Test me with riches, Lord. Just once. Let’s see how I do.”

Originally, Bezos was rocketing into space with fellow billionaire Richard Branson, but they turned the Rocket Man Vacation into Space Wars and now it is a competition to see who gets there first. Branson will be rocketing separately. Nothing ruins a vacation like taking separate rockets.

Bezos will be traveling with his brother and a chump who paid $28 million at an auction to secure a seat onboard as well. I shouldn’t have called the winning bidder a chump; that smacks of envy. I’m probably more hateful than I thought. We all are. It’s in the air and extremely contagious.

I know this based on a petition that, as of this writing, has been signed by more than 120,000 people demanding Bezos get out and stretch his legs when he’s in space. That’s right, they want him to take a one-way trip and not return.

Rocket envy. That’s all it is.

Another recent petition made headlines after 14,000 people signed it, calling for Bezos to buy Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” And eat it.

No, there’s nothing wrong with us. We are perfectly fine.

Happy summer travels to you and yours, on ground or in space, and please, let’s all live within our budgets and leave the Mona Lisa alone.