The Principal’s weirdest day

New construction and bad decisions brought an early end to the shop and special ed teachers’ school year. With a week to go, both already knew their contracts would not be renewed according to their now retired principal.

“The shop teacher had a good first year. The students liked him. They related well, but the second year, he got into drugs, and his personal life began effecting him in the classroom,” the principal said.

On the fateful day, jack hammers pounded above the wood shop near the ceiling hole construction workers had made. The loud, annoying sound interrupted class. School administrators had frequently reminded the subcontractors to wait until a class finished. When they forgot again, “All the teacher had to do was say, “you can’t do this right now. It is too much noise,” the principal observed.

The frustrated shop teacher grabbed a 1” x1” x14 feet long piece of wood and thrust it into the hole, hitting the guy with the jack hammer. That action mandated a mandatory expulsion. The principal contacted the district and got permission to send him home for the last week.

“I went to tell him. He said, ‘I won’t leave without my boat. I made that boat’” indicating a partly finished boat.

“The boat had about $800 to $900 worth of materials and supplies in the boat. We were not going to give him the boat made with his students using supplies bought by the school district. He would not leave without it. We had to get the police to come and get him to leave.”

Looking back, The Principal mused, “We should have let him have the boat. The next shop teacher didn’t want to finish it, and it just took up space for years.”

That same day, the special ed teacher took her students outside to freshly poured cement and told them to take off their socks and shoes and walk through the cement.

“The students were smart enough to refuse. But she took off her socks and shoes and walked through the cement.” he recalled the last of her many erratic behaviors that year.

“We got her paperwork ready to send her home for the rest of the year.”

“I said, ‘Sign this, and then we are sending you home.’”

“I won’t sign it,” she announced.

“You need to give me your keys,” the principal stated

“I’m not doing it.”

“We can do this the hard way or the easy way. I don’t need our signature. It’s for your protection. You do get your pay for the rest of the year.”

She said she had carpooled to school and didn’t have a car. Then, she asked to borrow the carpool driver’s keys in order to get something from his car.

He loaned her the keys. She drove away. Said she was not returning and refused to talk on the cell phone with The Principal or his assistant. She did talk with a security guard who said, “What you are doing is theft. Bring it back, we will get you a ride home.”

“No, you come pick up the car. I won’t tell you where it is. When you get to the first exit, call, and I will tell you where to go.”

The guard drove to the exit. She told him the next place. He drove there. She said the car and keys would be at a convenience store. That was the end of it.”

“I worked in administration 21 years and the two weirdest things happened the same day,” the principal said, shaking his head at the memory.

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Bucket list vacation

Those are the Rockies ahead of us!” my husband exclaimed looking forward to seeing another item on his bucket list. The van hauled us up to the Rocky Mountains on a smoothly paved road, quite unlike the path pioneers took in covered wagons. I never have seen so many broken blocks of granite precariously balanced for miles around us. Yet hundreds of bike riders come from around the world to pedal 100 miles every day for seven days in the Mavic Rockies event. We had no desire to join them for one day. We only posed for pictures on bikes designed to look like butterflies.

Our route to the next famous park took us through Monument Valley where natural, massive sculptures pierce the flat valley.

Hubby checked another couple items on his bucket list with a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. The pilot, originally from Denmark, pointed out features of the big red hole in the flat plain of scrubby trees. Our fellow passengers (from Romania and Germany) took their share of photos of the canyon.

Afterward we said that the best perspective of the Grand Canyon was walking to the guardrail-protected edge. Many ignored the barriers to pose for “Look, Ma! No ground beyond this point!” pictures. One man sat on the edge, leaned way back and stuck his feet straight over the nothingness.

The tour bus driver said, “of the five to six million visitors who come to the park from around the world each year, three or four die from falls.”

I insisted that my husband, “Stay on this side of the railing. I don’t want that picture. I want you to drive me home.”

Later, early in the morning, my brother, BJ, drove us to the top of Pike’s Peak for a fog free view. The road is carved out of the mountain with minimal road space to spare. He commented on the day’s lack of traffic.

Do they have many cars go over the edge?” I asked.

No. Only some cars during the car races to the top,” he assured me.

When I said, “I feel dizzy,” he said, “breathe deeply.”

I huffed and puffed. I didn’t look too closely out the window, nor did I lean out to take pictures. I didn’t want to tip the truck over the edge. I welcomed the flat top of Pike’s Peak with plenty of room to safely view mountains miles away on the other side of the valley. I walked slowly and took deep breaths. On the way down we passed the cog train hauling passengers to the top. At the base we drove pass miles of late comers waiting to buy tickets to go to the top.

I have never seen the cars backed up this far,” BJ observed.

Go early, avoid the crowds.

Or go late, as we did to Natural Bridges National Monument. We arrived late in the day. No wind, no sounds of traffic, no crowd of people. We silently traversed the short trail to view each arch to take pictures.

I skipped walking the trail to view Black Canyon with black rocks and loose gravel path. I waited in the car for hubby to take pictures.

We both enjoyed Dinosaur National Park – a mountain of bones under glass, except one section where I reached forward and touched real dinosaur bones still imbedded in the the mountain.

So much to see, but duties called. We returned home where I added one thing to my bucket list: lean way back in the lounge chair and do nothing.

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Coach Mike and girls softball

Having a few years of coaching T-ball behind him, Coach Mike figured his team of girls ages 12 and under understood softball. The league assigned him the youngest of the 43 girls who came to try-outs. Since so many wanting to play, the league formed a third team instead of two. Coach Mike’s team included his daughter, Sande.

“It was my first year of coaching with mostly11 year-olds. I did not realize that some of them had lots of experience and some did not.”

“We had our first practice on the Monday before our first game on Thursday. We had snow on the field so we only had one day on the field. The one day we had on the field we just did drills outside.”

The team they faced that first Thursday lived further south where the snow had melted. They had had a month of practice before the first game. Coach Mike began assigning positions, “Abby go to right field. Mandy go to left field.”

Abby interrupted him, “Hey Coach, where is right field?” Mandy chimed in, “Where is left field?”

“I knew then that it was not going to be a good game. Some thought that home plate was first base and first base was second base. I had to help half the girls know where to go play.“

“And I had to help the other half,” Sande said.

They lost 39 to 2.

Coach Mike went home defeated, but determined. At the next practice he walked the girls around the left, center and right fields and the bases.

“They practiced and we got progressively better.” Coach said. Still, every Thursday, the team lost the game.

“About the fifth game I realized, these girls are fast. The other teams had a hard time catching them if they stole a base. So I would signal ‘steal’ by touching my hat and arm.”

Their last game was at home. As they drove to the field, the girls asked, “Hey, coach, if we win, can we pour the ice water over your head?”

“If you win, you can pour anything you want over me,” he said.

That week the team was to play a double header. The other team did not show for the first game. The girls won by forfeit.

“So we can pour the ice water over you?”

“Well, no, you didn’t really play,” Coach Mike said. They began playing the second game.

“I pulled my hat and touched my arm to tell the girls to steal to second. Some of them still did not remember the sign for steal, so I began yelling out, “Steal! Steal!” They would steal, the other team overthrew the ball, and we were scoring points. The other team was beating us 9 to 6 in the last inning.”

“We had last bats. Sande stole second and made the run before it finished,” he said.

“We won! We won,” the girls yelled.

“I don’t know,” Mike said looking at the score keeper. “What was the actual score?”

The score was tied 9 to 9.

“We didn’t win,” Coach Mike shook his head regretfully,

The score keeper spoke up, “technically since you tied and its your home field, you won.”

“You should have seen the faces of those girls. We had finally won.”

The girls grabbed the tub of water and poured it over Coach Mike.

“It was hot, and I was okay, until Sande told me that they had been using the water to soak their sweaty towels, to cool off,” he said smiling at the memory of his team’s first win.

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Playing the Mennonite Game

Vacation plans did not include playing a round of The Mennonite Game of finding a mutual person whom two strangers know. That did not stop my husband from looking for a playing partner. He roused me from the stupor of riding hours through the wheat fields of Kansas to ask, “Do you want to go to the Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum?”

“The what”

“Do you want to go to Mennonite Museum?” he asked as he turned toward it. We found a cluster of old school buildings, barns, farm houses and a long building which houses the museum. The museum tells the story of a group of low-German speaking Mennonites who emigrated from the Ukraine in Russia in 1874 and settled near present day Goessel, Kan. The agricultural part of the museum relates mechanization of farming from the 1800s to the mid-1960s and the impact of the hard, red, winter wheat the Mennonites brought to America which made Kansas the world’s bread basket.

Dressed in country casual, the museum curator and the gift store clerk welcomed us. My husband made the first move in the Mennonite Game by identifying himself as a Hershberger (a very Amish/Mennonite name). I don’t play the game. I drifted away to look at the museum. The curator approached me and held out a copy of the children’s book ‘Lenka of Emma Creek.’

“Would you like a copy to take with you? No cost. We have plenty.”

I looked at the cover done in water color. The book relates the story of a girl who discovers that the old woman whom the children fear and mock needs food and friends.

“Sure and, just a minute, I have a book for you.” I went to our van. I happened to have a copy of my book, ‘Twenty Gallons of Milk and other columns published in the El Dorado News-Times.’

“Enjoy,” I said. “These are some of my columns from the years I worked at a newspaper. You can open anywhere and read.”

We thanked each other. I returned to viewing the displays. One room replicates the people and furnishings of the long house where families initially lived together. A display of ancient medical books and instruments proudly portrays the founding of the first Mennonite hospital in America. A wooden model shows the church building these Alexanderwohl Mennonites built near modern Goessel, Kan.

Goessel. I had heard that name before. I approached the curator. “I think I mentioned Goessel in one of my columns. Let me see.” I started to check jottingjoan.com where I save all my columns for reference. Then I realized I could just check the book I had given her. I found the section on meal times and the column it includes about “Macaroni and Cheese.”

“Yes, here it is on page 125.”

Back in 2008, Terah Yoder Goerzen of Goessel wrote me that through an Internet version of The Mennonite Game she had found my colu about making old fashion macaroni and cheese. She wanted the recipe. In order to send her a recipe, I made the casserole, measuring the ingredients as I prepared the dish.

The curator looked at the name, “I know her.”

I never met Goerzen. We corresponded about macaroni and cheese and I wrote the column. So there I was years later, in her town, handing the book with the column to a woman who knew my correspondent. I still have yet to meet Goerzen, but that day I met someone who knows her.

I may only be a Hershberger by marriage, yet I too can play the Mennonite game.

Joan Hershberger, who is not a Mennonite, can be reached at joanh@everybody.org.

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Rescuing the donkeys

Fear filled the stall when the donkeys arrived. Betsy, the foal, and Chloe, her jenny, cowered in the far corner, away from the smiling little woman offering them food at 4 a.m. Every day. She always stayed to talk and watch them until she had to leave for work.

At first the animals “would not have anything to do with me. They were so scared of people. They were taken away from a man who had thirteen pairs of mother and baby donkeys. Their pasture had a falling down fence so the animals frequently got out and onto the highway. Neglected, causing hazards on the highway, with an owner that did not respond to warnings, the authorities stepped in and began removing the animals.”

All of the animals needed homes. Having recently lost her horse of 25 years, the little lady knew her three acre pasture could house one jenny and its foal.

The donkeys were delivered directly to their stall. The equine lover closed the stall gate until the pair became settled into their new environment.

“They would not have anything to do with me. They were so scared of people. I went up every morning with food and grain for them. I would put the pan down close to them. After a couple days that little one got to coming to me. She was not afraid. The mamma could not stand it. She moved closer to protect her baby. Each day, I scooted the pans closer to me.”

Once the donkeys became comfortable with their new owner and expected her to bring them food, she turned them out in the pasture.

Three years have passed. Now Betsy and Chole call when “they see me come in from work. I brush them. I just rub them and pet them. They are just as tame as any dog. I can call them, and they will come.”

The mamma donkey remains protective of her full grown foal. If a dog comes near, Chloe puts Betsy behind her.

“Now they want me to pay attention to them. They will stand by the fence and call me. They want me to bring them treats. When I get home, they recognize my vehicle and know it is time for treats. They want the grain and the petting. The mamma would almost rather me brush on her than get the grain.”

“If they see me in the backyard, they will come around and see if I will give them a treat. They are really fat, because they have plenty of grass in the summer and hay in the winter.” In the winter, if it is really cold, she will feed them hay twice a day. For water, the two have a clawed-foot bathtub.

The donkeys love to be petted and vie for the woman’s attention. “They want to be petted at the same time. I stand between them with an arm over each donkey’s head.”

Recently the little woman has noticed that as she pets Betsy, she stands perfectly still and makes a little noise, like a cat purring, “I wondered ‘What in the world is she doing?’”

She decided, “That purring was her letting me know she liked being petted. Now the mother is starting to do it. They just come to me to be petted.. They are not hungry. They just want attention.”

As she finished her story, the little woman concluded, “I can hear them hollering now. The little one is saying, ‘You’ve been home long enough, it’s time for supper.”

She had to go, the donkeys awaited her.

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Geaux Hammock

A born tinkerer, Clark Smith thought it would be cool to make his own hammock ­ even if he had never sewn before in his life.

He began by asking his wife, “Do we have a sewing machine?”

She reached into the closet, pulled out a sewing machine and showed him the basics of how to thread and use it.

For his first sewing project Smith said, “I sewed a bag. I was so excited that I had put the fabric together and made a bag. I had to show my wife. She took one look and said, ‘It really isn’t all that good.’”

The seams wobbled. The fabric did not quite line up. Still, Smith had begun his journey to making a hammock. He spent the next three years sewing and researching everything he could about hammocks. He learned what people liked and disliked about hammocks. He discovered that typically hammocks measure about nine feet, four inches long. Many users complained about hammocks being “too short, it hurt my neck.” At 6 feet, one inch Smith, decided his hammock would be 11 feet long.

Hammocks usually hang between trees separated by a specific distance. Smith added a longer strap and a clasp buckle so his hammock could be hung between trees much further apart if necessary. The buckle helps adjust the length. Finally Smith cut and sewed a hammock. He talked about his comfortable hammock with friends. They wanted a hammock one.

Working days, he spent weekends and days making and selling hammocks. “There are a lot of friends and people who have bought from me. Those people kept me going. Every time I would be discouraged an order would come in.”

Smith doesn’t just sew hammocks. “I sleep in my hammock one or two nights a week. It is more comfortable than a bed,” he says.

On a hot summer night, the hammock is cooler than a tent, because the slightest breeze blows cool air under the hammock cooling the sleeper. The longer span of fabric keeps his tall body comfortably swaying between the trees.

As orders increased, Smith and his wife explored creating a hammock business. Born and raised in El Dorado, Smith, a 1984 graduate of El Dorado High School, wanted an American manufacturer to sew his hammocks. He found one in Mountain Home, Arkansas, “I had lived there for four years and I did not know it about this huge business that sews for large corporations like Jeep.” he said.

Because years ago their work moved them to northern Louisiana where they still live, his wife suggested the name, ‘Geaux Hammock.’

“It is a Cajun kind of name,” Smith observed and told her, ‘I don’t think anyone in Arkansas will buy that.’”

She thought it was kind of catchy. Last year the name became a registered trademark. This year they will finalize their trademark catch phrase, “Don’t you wanna Geaux?”

Besides the Geaux Hammock website, Smith’s sells hammocks in stores and parks in five states. The University of Arkansas offers the Geaux Hammock as an incentive for first year students to sign up for a camping program.

“It is a kind of a crazy story. One guy and his wife,” Smith said. “I resigned my job in 2016 to do it full time. There is a future for it,” he said. Recently, Smith began tinkering again. This time, thinking about hikers who prefer camping with a hammock over a tent, he is developing accessories to make that comfortably possible.

Not bad for a man who learned to sew because he simply wanted to make a hammock.

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Summer resolutions

Weight, exercise and healthy eating top the lists for New Year’s Resolutions. Summer Vacation Resolutions focus on reading, writing, arithmetic and recreation without television. At least that was what I heard during recent visits with young mothers who truly believe that “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Each had a plan. Sharon made a check list for each child. Before they can play or watch television each elementary aged child must have at least a 10 minute Bible time, read books for a half hour, do a math worksheet, write a letter or journal entry, do a couple chores, get 30 minutes of outside exercise and have some Mommy and Me time.

Brittany looked at Titus’ stack of unfinished workbooks from kindergarten and declared, “He is going to finish the math, reading and writing workbooks.” When Titus said he wanted to play a board game about the States of America, she decided, “We will kick it up a notch so he is memorizing all of them.” The child won’t even know what hit him.

Most will attend at least one week of Daily Vacation Bible School, but Brittany realized. “Titus has asked a ton of questions about the Bible so I’m looking for a year-long curriculum for him.”

Her sister, Heidi, simply said there would be family devotions every night – following a day of Austin and Olivia helping with meals, setting and clearing the table and working on reviewing school material. For writing, she said, “Liv has some penpals.”

The catch is that when the moms decide to increase their child’s knowledge, it means mom has to study as well. Heidi plans a weekly trip to the zoo to dispense interesting facts she researched and learned.

Joy wrote on Facebook, “We are going to study one person’s biography every week. The first requirement is that I have to have a children’s book to introduce the person.” She asked for ideas and books.” Friends offered many suggestions including visiting nearby sites honoring Abraham Lincoln or George Washington Carver.

The week we visited them, Sam, Sophie and Henry had studied and talked about seeds with a picture book and planting seed. Of course, their flourishing garden also added to the educational experience.

Gardens are a family thing. Heidi and her mom plan to have the children help weed and pick produce this summer. Hoe a few rows of corn, tomatoes and peppers; pick and clean them for supper and kids’ appetites for veggies increase.

It won’t all be work. Heidi plans a weekly movie night, outings to the splash pad, individual dates with parents and a goal of riding bikes without training wheels. The big lesson to learn this summer is tying shoes.

Joy added learning the social graces with weekly tasting Tuesdays. Last week, the lesson was on manners. She invited other children to join her three to hear a book about manners and then practice the lesson with a tea party using glass party plates and tea cups.

The rest of Joy’s outlined lessons for Kids School include a spiritual emphasis called “Children of God” beginning with the fruits of the Spirit and times for cooking lessons and social studies.

As the summer began in earnest with her goals clearly outlined, Joy’s posted a Facebook picture from four years ago with her two oldest children sitting at a small table for their first summer school. She wrote, “I think summer school lasted two weeks that year. Here’s hoping for a longer run this summer!”

Here’s hoping it does. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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lost cell phone

Lost cell phone

Just the mention of “Road Trip” and my Smart Phone dove into hiding. It knew what Road Trip meants It means hours of hopping connections between cell towers to maintain contact with Facebook and its intriguing stories, pictures and links. It means scrambling to quickly find the nearest and best gas prices when the car computer insisted, “Buy gas!” Road Trip means opening emails and attachments and draining the battery in order to keep a link to the Internet. It means end of the day Internet searches for a hotel room, choose a room and reserve it before the connection is lost with the room’s ID number.

Road Trip means the headache of showing the way to San Jose when the Garmin shows the car driving through a field. Knowing all this, any Smart Phone facing a 10 day trip would go into hiding. I guess I sympathized. I was the one that turned off the phone’s sound so it would not be forced to answer when we called it out of hiding.

The clock ticked “Time to leave.” The van with the Garmin, the DVD player and laptop could wait no longer. The odometer must begin tallying miles on this road trip or we would be late to our first stop. Deprived of a cell phone, we could manage with a basic cell phone, the laptop and restaurants with free Wifi. After all, folks crossed the prairies in covered wagons with none of the above, let alone a smart phone. Plus, we traveled many years with printed maps, pay phones and postcards.

The first 15 minutes of the trip, I used the basic cell phone to type a text, “Can’t find my phone, contact me at this number for the next week.” Without voice recognition, I had to make three key strokes for letters like C or F. I sent the message to multiple people, closed the phone and opened my paperback.

Very quickly my husband realized our loss, “How many miles is it to the next turn off?”

I just looked at him.

“Oh, you can’t look it up on your phone.”

I also could not help him find the best price of nearby gas. He had to look out the window and find one as he drove.

I had planned to Google the location of Little Free libraries near our route. The only day we visited some, I woke early, pulled out my laptop, used the hotel Wifi, found the Internet site for the Libraries and copied a list of addresses to enter into the Garmin.

I really missed Smart Phone at the few yard sales we visited. I desperately wanted to do a price check. No Smart Phone, no price check.

No Smart Phone and no built-in camera meant no handy app to upload pictures to the web. Instead I hid behind the digital camera and uploaded the pictures to the laptop and then the web.

No Smart Phone gave me time work on that unfinished cross stitch project and to read a thick book without worrying about the battery. I see the advantages, but hours away from home, when I reached for the phone to pull up the app for the daily newspaper, I wanted my Smart Phone.

I used the DVD player in the van to catch up on shows I had missed during my TV deprived childhood. Smart Phone stayed home this time and somehow I managed the entire trip without it.

It wasn’t quite like riding in a covered wagon, but almost.

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Making history

The basket of ancient fabric scraps sat tucked away beside the box of quilt patterns torn decades ago from the pages of a newspaper. I do make quilts, so I politely accepted both from non-quilters who were clearing space. I had no clue what to do with either.

I mentioned the age brittle patterns at a meeting of quilters. “I know what they are: Kansas City Star Quilt Patterns,” one quilter declared.

At home I found the Kansas City Star logo on several of the crumbling pages.

Googling “Kansas City Star quilt patterns” yielded hundreds of pictures, including matches to patterns in the box and their 33 year history.

In 1928 the editors of the Kansas City Star, a newspaper published and sent across the Midwest, tapped into women’s interest in quilting and began publishing a free weekly quilt pattern. Quilters clipped and saved the patterns. Some were traditional. Some readers had designed. Sometimes the name made sense: a couple inches of fabric around tiny blocks represented the Jericho Wall. Sometimes the name made no sense: the Dionne Quintuplets pattern featured quartets of smaller squares. During WWII, the KCS published fewer patterns and increased the patriotic themes. By the time the KCS ceased the feature in 1961, it had published over 1,000 patterns which now are found in books and on the Internet.

With my increased appreciation of the ragged scraps of newspaper, I tidied up the collection and decided to make a few blocks with the old scraps; it was not the easiest project I ever assigned myself. Some scraps were barely large enough to make one block. Also, the KCS patterns have few instructions. Most advise, “allow for a seam” with no designation of the size of the seam. A disproportionate number of blocks have tiny little triangles and squares that challenge my “all thumbs” skill level. Beyond my skill level I found curved blocks which require hand piecing.

The vintage scraps included a stack of pre-cut fabric triangles. I had nearly enough to duplicate the “broken china” pattern of light and dark triangles. I cut a couple more triangles and began machine stitching together dark and light fabrics. My finished block looked like a trash bin of broken crockery, not a precise pattern of light and dark fabrics.

My ice cream cone block had a split scoop of ice cream made from two pre-sewn quarter circles from the scrap basket and stuck on a cone of flowered fabric.

The little doll with a black gingham dress looks quite cheerful in the center of the Missouri Star block. I chose a matching gingham for the border blocks and created a dizzying tilt and whirl of gingham that renewed my dislike of gingham.

Modern fabric makes crisp, square blocks. The thin stuff in the scrap basket stretched and warped. I starched and ironed the assembled fabric flat and declared it “good enough.”

I made about dozen ‘good enough’ blocks; quitting a few blocks shy of a sampler quilt. I wished I had found more of the easy KCS patterns like the “Contrary Wife” block. That was fun to make.

I bought a CD with a 1,000 KCS quilt blocks and scrolled through the patterns. I stopped when I found the Fence Row pattern It looked exactly like a block included with the scraps. I decided that completed my research and assembling of sample blocks to eventually join together into a new “antique” quilt.

I have had enough already with quilting history; now it’s time to meet the future and make a new baby a quilt using fun, modern fabrics.

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Broken dishes


“I’ve never seen so many broken dishes in my life,” my husband said. None thrown at him or at the wall in a fit of angry. No, klutzy me misses the counter top when setting a plate down, whacks a glass when talking with my hands or holds a dish awkwardly while serving food.

It happened again last week. As I prepared a plate for my husband, the bowl tipped, slid out of my hand and crashed to the floor. Thousands of pieces of glass shards exploded across the kitchen, the hall, the dining room and my bare feet.

“I’ll get it. I’ll clean it up,” my husband, the super sweeper, called. He always sweeps up any broken crockery.

I turned, looked at the floor, shook a shard off my foot and tried to carefully move away from the mess. Not careful enough. I put my heel down on an unseen chunk of glass.

It hurt. It drew blood. I pulled it out and managed to leave the arena of broken glass with no further incidents. I hobbled on tiptoes to keep blood off the carpet. I made it into the bathroom for a Band-aid and only left a couple red spots on the carpet and tile.

Meanwhile, my noble knight made three clean sweeps of the hall, the dining room and under the counter and table. “And I found pieces under the table,” he said in disbelief at the path the unbreakable glass took when it exploded.

“It looked like a good supper,” the starving man said wistfully.

“It was.” I said pulling leftovers out of the refrigerator for an emergency meal. Happily, he doesn’t have as many broken dish emergencies in recent years.

Thirty years ago, before he made that comment, I had my all time worst day of breakage. On that day, for some reason, I set my second-hand 1940’s style mixer, stand and bowl on a small kitchen stool to finish a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I was almost done when someone urgently needed me.

I tipped the mixer head down, turned to leave, and the top heavy mixer and its bowl of dough flipped onto the floor. The mixer broke, the bowl broke, the cookie dough kissed the floor.

I forget the urgent need. I do remember going back over to the counter (where I should have been in the first place) and again measuring out flour, sugar and butter for a hand mixed batch of cookies. (My Cookie Monster appetite for cookies did not wane just because one batch ended up in the trash with pieces of the mixer and its bowl.)

That batch made it into and out of the oven. I ate more than my share, arranged the rest on a platter for later and shoved it into the cupboard before we left for town.

We returned and I rushed around to prepare dinner. I opened the door that hid the cookies. The platter flew out of the cupboard, sailed to the floor and landed with another crockery shattering crash. The official glass sweeper appeared to do his duty and my favorite cookies went into the trash on top of the broken mixer, bowl and dough. We did not want to eat any tiny pieces of glass dusting the baked cookies.

That was my worst, and most expensive day in the kitchen. Expensive because I bought a new standing mixer and bowl. That mixer spent years making cookies. It never broke. It died from exhaustion from spinning dough and hiding when the crockery went flying.

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