My Life of Crime

Browsing through a favorite book, published for writers, and entitled  “642 Things To Write About, ” I came across one suggestion that presented a really intriguing challenge.

“You are a customer lying face down on the floor, observing a bank robbery. Describe the robbery from this vantage point.”

Who could resist a dare like that?  It took some thinking before I finally came up with a scenario I liked. See what you think:

“Here I am, floating face down in a warm, ever widening puddle.  If only these hard tiles were covered with soft, plush carpeting,  that might soak up some of this puddle before I drown in it. How can one human bladder hold so much liquid? Stark fear will do that to you.

“This was supposed to be a quick errand, a brief dash into my bank to cash a check. I was wearing some old sweats and a cap pulled down over my dark glasses. I’ll admit I may have looked a bit sinister.

“I carried a pouchy  “Save-At-Sam’s” tote bag in one hand and my checkbook in the other.  The tote bag was just in case there was enough money left in my dwindling account to do a bit of shopping afterward.  Having succumbed to AMAZON PRIME’s online lures too many times, my financial situation was looking pretty grim.

“Just then the man at the counter ahead of me whirled around, shoved something down into my  “Save-At-Sam’s” tote and gave me a mighty push. So, here I am, flat on my face, handcuffed, on the verge of drowning, lying on top off my tote bag and staring up at a circle of black boots, black pant legs and drawn guns.  A hard, metallic- feeling object is digging into my ribs and I can only think “It’s a gun! I’ll be shot in the gullet before I drown! Which would be worst?”

“I’m jerked roughly to my feet, dripping wet and stinky, thrown in the back of a police car and  hauled off to the poky. The interrogation is not nice. My squishy appearance, my smell, the cocked gun and the poorly printed note pulled out of my tote don’t help my case. I keep insisting  “I know how to spell, I would never spell MONEY like that! I know how to spell MONEY, it has an E in it, it’s not MONY.”

“They finally buy my story when they find no  MONY on me, and a transient is apprehended while running madly through traffic, carrying a bank bag stuffed full of MONY.

“And so ends my life of crime, with me reeking of urine, shaking in my boots and vowing  to do all my banking on line in the future.

“Oh Yes, I’ll cut back on my AMAZON PRIME orders too so I don’t get that broke again.  For a brief moment there, I’ll admit, I was tempted to use the note and the gun for my own benefit.”

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Summer’s Favorite Foods, Fresh and Tasty

As a child, I spent most of my summers with my grandparents on   a small acreage near a very small town in northern Iowa. By the time I arrived the gardens were already producing their scrumptious goodies and I was ready for all my hot weather favorites.

Fresh strawberries were usually the first fruits of the summer to appear and in my memory they were bigger, redder and sweeter than any berries since.  Served over hot, crusty biscuits with frothy, fresh cream, or sliced atop my morning oatmeal, they were heavenly.

There was no electricity or refrigeration on the little farm so fresh foods were keep in the old fashioned storm cellar where it was always cool. My chore was to go down at mealtime and bring up the milk, cheese, butter or other foods needed for each meal. That smooth dirt floor felt wonderful on bare feet.  I always took a minute to admire the jars of jewel-like fruits, jams and relishes beginning to fill the shelves, as canning season was already underway.

As the radishes, green onions and lettuces began to pop up, we would pick those and enjoy them every day.  Grandma prepared salads of wilted lettuce, simply made by piling a mound of fresh crispy greens in a bowl, frying out some bacon bits, grease and all, adding a little vinegar,   and a dash of sugar, and pouring this over the lettuces at the last minute. UMMMM!, better than any salads since then.

I loved the new carrots right out of the ground,  not even bothering to wash them off. A quick brush with a grubby hand and they were crunched down.  What was a little good honest dirt to a hungry kid? New baby potatoes creamed with new peas was another mouth-watering dish.

Brilliant red beets, greens and all, were served hot and buttery, or sometimes pickled.  Nothing better! And who hasn’t loved picking a fresh tomato right off the vine? They had a flavor you never get today.  Warm, red and juicy, I often sat down right next to a plant and stuffed myself. Cabbages were crispier, sweet corn was sweeter  and green beans were snappier back then. Northern Iowa didn’t have a long growing season but canning season lasted all summer.

When the local grocer advertised fresh peaches, Grandpa would be sent off to buy a few lugs. Grandma would remind him not to ever bring home the Clingstones, they were much too much work  for the poor results. Unfortunately there came a summer when Grandpa’s thrifty ways and hard times combined to overcome common sense and he brought home several lugs of Clingstones. Talk about a role reversal!  My stern, autocratic Grandpa was cowed as my sweet, soft spoken Grandma blistered his ears. He tippy-toed around for the rest of the day, avoiding the kitchen, but she managed to do her usual good job.

Sitting on the back porch with Grandma and any aunts or older cousins who had come to help her shell peas was such fun. My system was a handful of fresh peas for my mouth and a handful for the pan.

Sundays were family days when carloads of relatives would swing into the yard, honking and waving. Grandpa and Grandma were always up before dawn and he would hurry through the  chores and help her chase down 3 or 4 squawking, scattering chickens. They were be-headed and de-feathered in no time and Grandma had them floured and seasoned, ready for the frying pan by the time the cars were unloaded and dishes of wonderful  good smelling foods were brought in.

Fragrant pies oozing juices, and at least one cake from my cake-baking aunt would fill up the kitchen.  Good natured joshing went back and forth between those who put mustard in their potato salad and those who didn’t. Jellos were popular but with no refrigeration they had to be whisked down into the cellar and then whisked back up to the groaning table at the last minute.

Hot yeast rolls and the old brown pottery bean pot, simmering and fragrant,  were taken out of the oven of the cast iron cook stove at the last minute. Lemonade was poured and everyone sat down and gave hasty thanks for Nature’s bounty.

No BBQs in those days, no steaks, burgers or hot dogs, just mounds of crisp fried chicken and platters of ham or meat loaf.  Home-churned ice cream and watermelon rounded out the meal for those who had a little room left in their tummies.

After the feast the men would adjourn to cigars and politics in the backyard while the women tidied up and we children ran wild, tearing  around with our cousins. Maybe those were the good old days, but some things never seem to change.

We were all guaranteed a good night’s sleep after one of those wonderful Sundays.  Even our dreams were sweeter.