The kitchen window is my favourite place to stand. I can look out of it for hours, and watch the little dramas that go on. There’s this one little squirrel who always amuses himself running along the top of the fence. He’s fat in winter. Super fat. His big old tail just goes “bwish, bwish” as he waddles from one end of the yard to the other. He likes the fence. You’d think he’d like the mulberry tree better, but that’s squirrels. They don’t have to make sense.
It’s summer now, and he’s skinny as a rake. I can see his little squirrel ribs, the flesh sinking between them, and his little slip of a tail. A whisp of smoke following him around. Squirrels are similar to us. It’s a tourist town. We’re skinny as hell 9 months a year because we run around like crazy trying to put away enough nuts for winter. Or, in our case, cash.
The window is over the sink, and I’ve forgotten a full load of dishes in front of me to watch his progress. So he’s got me rooting for him as he makes the perilous leap from the neighbours’ kids’ treehouse onto our back fence, two-fisting a squirrel-load of acorns for dear life. He scuppers across, nearly dropping his precious bundle, and runs into the shed. He’s in and out in less than 15 seconds. The perfect crime.
Nobody knows where he hides the acorns except me. And I’m not telling.
He climbs the fence and leaves, off on another adventure, and I’m back to the dishes again. How one small family makes so many, I’ll never know. I once watched a video on YouTube about this zero-waste family. A mom, a dad, and two toddlers. They kept all their trash in a coffee can on the living room table, can you imagine?
Of course, they also had a working farm.
Lunch is in two hours, and I need to make my food before I make theirs. Any cross contamination can make me sick. I can’t afford another bad day. I’ve got the optometrist tomorrow, and Brendan’s graduation on Friday. I have no idea what I’m going to do with him all summer. It will probably work itself out, since he’s not a fan of much, other than video games.
“It can’t be healthy for a kid to be inside that much.”
As if I’m the expert on what’s healthy.
I need to finish the dishes and stop staring out the damned window. And I will, as long as nothing interesting appears. The squirrels and bugs, and most of the birds are always present. But when a bluejay, that one woodpecker, or the rare and elusive ...
Red...bird...I can’t remember it’s name. It has beady eyes like a bluejay and a big crest on its head a...
CARDINAL! The rare and elusive cardinal. If I see one of those, I guess the kids are having breakfast for dinner. Again.
Not that they’ll eat much of anything else I put in front of them.
I envy kids. It’s like they’re never hungry. What I wouldn’t give to just...not care about food. Couldn’t be me. I’m starving ALL THE TIME. There’s an angry hard knot in my stomach demanding to be fed. It wants to finish all our plates and then eat the house, stomach bursting open from the weight of its contents.
Maybe I’ll just make Mac and cheese.
The dishes are soaped and wiped and rinsed and wiped again and put away, and nature cooperates. No blue jays or woodpeckers or red birds in sight. There’s an empty Pepsi bottle sitting on the windowsill where Thatcher left it when he was cooking last night, but that’s nothing compared to the cat litter upstairs and the garbage I haven’t emptied, so I let it go.
The phone rings twice while my hands are submerged in water: my dads usual fantastic timing. It goes to voicemail twice, and reminds me that I’m old enough to remember when voicemail actually picked up and you could hear it across the house. My mom bolting into the kitchen and picking it up hastily before the person on the other end made it past the introduction.
“Hello, this is Dr. Shakar. I have your test results...”
“Good morning. It’s the psychotherapist. I’m calling about...”
“Damnit, Cordelia, I told you to p...”
Back then, people were slimmer, and a lot more calls got picked up. Earlier, I read an article about how you can have pin worms in your intestine and not even know it. Except that you might lose weight.
I wonder how many people around here are naturally skinny, and how many have pin worms? I know that woman down the block, Carol, probably has them. She looks like the kind of person whose ass itches.
The thought of Carol is hilarious and my own laughter surprises me in the quiet kitchen. So does the fact that the dishes are finished (it always does) and it’s time to make my lunch.
One red pepper, cut artfully into strips with the small knife Thatch would yell at me for using. One half zucchini, cut into medallions. One sweet potato, into medallions and then strips. Tossed with a quarter lid full of oil and laid out on parchment. Baked at 400 degrees for just under an hour. My French fries. I have one hour to read my book, or do laundry, or watch my show, or clean, before I have to prep dinner and get everyone’s lunches ready for tomorrow.
But it’s such a nice day out, and my app says I’ve gained almost 8 lbs since February. I’ll take a walk. Not a long one. I don’t want the fries to burn (but I do) or I won’t be able to eat them (maybe then I’ll lose weight). Just a short walk. It couldn’t hurt.
It might help.