Cleaning Broken Things


I’m cleaning all our broken things, in hopes they’ll spontaneous un-break themselves. I’d settle for a temporary reprieve, just time enough for me to decide how to replace them. So wiping, washing, vacuuming and polishing I whisper, C’mon you’ve got a few more miles or days in you…but my reeks-of-coolant car and my warm fridge don’t answer back.

Our car, a 2003 silver Civic, has been overheating (periodically) for months, even though I frequently top off the coolant and tighten down its shiny new radiator cap. The original diagnosis—a blown head gasket—a grand-plus repair job. Eek. Really? That’s about the car’s trade-in value. So, armed with the mechanic’s bad news and the knowledge of my meager retirement account, I suggest less expensive possibilities. After all there’s no white smoke coming out the tail pipe or tell-tale clacking sounds, as skeptical friends have pointed out. The nice gray-haired mechanic with the grease-stained hands and smart-as-a-whip eyes only nods at my alternate realities, while dropping the new cap into my hand. He knows I’ll be back.

Then there’s the refrigerator, which creeps up to a balmy fifty-five while the freezer sinks to a frigid twenty below. After YouTube-ing the situation we diagnosed the problem as a bad defroster coil, but that doesn’t explain the ice in the bottom of the freezer…so I poured boiling hot water into the freezer’s drain and later that evening the fridge got a little cooler, 48-ish, and the freezer crept slightly above temperatures found on the scientist’s Kelvin scale. Remember absolute zero from science class? Alas, like the car, the fix only sort of worked.

So I wipe the smudges of the glass shelves of the Hawaii-warm fridge, which may be festering a hearty strain of kill-you bacteria. At least it’s clean. Reminds me of the advice: “Always wear fresh undies, because you never know!”

Cheers lovelies.

Love and Lettuce,

Peanut Butter Cookies for Grandma Ramona

Experimenting in the kitchen began around nine for me. One summer day I was craving peanut butter cookies, and after rifling through the pantry, there wasn’t a single, delectable morsel to be found. So, I flipped through the pages my mother’s orange Betty Crocker cookbook and spied a doable recipe. After a carefully reading, I threw all the ingredients in a bowl, mashed them around, and glopped spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and popped the whole mess into the oven. I then picked up Little House On the Prairie and whipped through the pages, pausing at the pictures. A short while later I glanced up at the oven. Eek, the oven timer still read 8:00 minutes. I hadn’t quite got it set, and I noticed a “funny” smell emanating from the oven.

Meanwhile, Grandma Ramona walked up the drive and was chatting with my dad. I peeked out the window and saw them, and skipped up to them.

“You want to taste my first batch of cookies, Grandma?” I asked with all the innocence I could muster.

“Why, yes,” Grandma smiled.

I had tasted the little lumps of charcoal just minutes before and it seemed I put in a quarter cup of baking soda, rather than a quarter teaspoon. I was giggling as I made my way back to where my Dad and Grandma were still chatting. Standing in the gravel drive, I presented the treasure to my grandma; a little black soda ball perched on a napkin. My face beamed with mock pride.

She confidently bit into the black cookie, then promptly turned and spat in the driveway. I laughed until tears were streaming down my face.

“I think I put in too much baking soda.” Wiping her mouth with the napkin and patting the corners of her eyes, she nodded in agreement.

Immediately, I went back into the kitchen, fashioned a palatable batch and ran down the driveway to Grandma’s house. I sprinted through her garage, skipped up the back stairs and rapped on the wooden door. When it swung open, I extended to her my crumbly cookie offering. She surveyed the golden brown peanut butter morsel on the oil spotted napkin. Her blue eyes met my brown eyes. I nodded my reassurance. She sighed and nibbled at the side of the cookie and a slow smile formed on her lips. She hugged me.

“You’ll be a good little baker some day, Kathy.”

That day, I knew I was a cook. I made food, because I couldn’t not cook. If a dish turned out poorly, which of course it often did, I would fix it or toss it. I would start again. Food became my medium of choice: my art.

Wishing you soulful, happy moments in the kitchen.