Ashes to Dust

The service is over, the last eulogy read, the last organ notes fading away. All the cucumber horseradish sandwiches have been eaten or dumped into a potted plant, and the last tearful guest has been hugged and sent off.

You’re left standing there holding a surprisingly heavy receptacle, all that’s left of dear old Grandad or Susie or your husband of 37 years. Now what do you do? What’s next?

Grandad, Susie or hubby had chosen to be cremated upon their passing.  All well and good, the problem being now what to do with the cremains, as we respectfully refer to the container filled with the ashes. Where to put it? Where does it belong? It’s not exactly the sort of thing everyone has sitting around the living room or the family room.

You’re holding a beautifully decorated urn or vase or cloisonne box covered with silver and gilt, a real treasure chest. It probably cost as much as an ebony casket with handles of gold. Suddenly it looks to you like just one more thing that will need a whole lot of dusting. The more ornate, the more dusting. You hate dusting.

Maybe a centerpiece for the dining room table?  No, no one could possibly enjoy a meal with Grandad, Susie or hubby looking on. If you had a fireplace, the mantle would be perfect; unfortunately, your fireplace is a modernistic cone from the 1970s with nowhere to set a thing.

A friend of mine kept the cremains of her first husband, her second husband, her second husband’s first wife and her beloved Labradoodle, SNOOKUMS, all on the top shelf of the closet in her guest bedroom, having no idea where else to put them. Fine, as long as her guests didn’t get too nosy about all those jars full of sand stuck up there. At least the jars never needed much dusting, hidden as they were.

Me, I wouldn’t want to spend eternity on a shelf in a dark closet. Put me out on the coffee table where I can keep an eye on any of my replacements who might be trying to move in. I’d like to be in a lovely alabaster jar, tightly sealed, of course. I don’t want any celery sticks or potato chips dipping in, stirring me up. I’m afraid the taste would be  a bit gritty. Another drawback, I’d  need to be dusted several times a week or so. Or on the other hand, that might be a good job for the would-be replacements, the hussies.

Funeral urns and vases come in a large variety of imaginative shapes and materials nowadays. Some even cater to  hobbies or interests the deceased has enjoyed. My brother and sister-in-law actually saw one shaped like a duck decoy. Gives new meaning to the expression “dead duck.”

Think of the possibilities; an elaborately enameled largemouth bass with silver scales for the fisherman. An oversized golf ball, flat on the bottom, of course, otherwise the grandchildren would be rolling it up and down the hallway, keeping Grandad even more rattled than he had been in his final years. Maybe an old fashioned Bakelite telephone. That could be quite a conversation piece if it was rigged to ring once in awhile. “Oh, that’s just my mom, reminding me to dust her oftener.”

A new custom seems to be developing in our culture, sharing the ashes among those of the bereaved who were especially close. A beautiful, loving thought indeed; however, I can think of several drawbacks, splitting prsonalities being one of them.

How could you divide Aunt Susie among all the doting nephews and nieces?  A dab here and a dab there, but what if you ran out? You’d never get by with substituting Bisquick. And who would get the gold teeth?

I understand there are now pieces of jewelry such as necklaces and bangles with tasteful little containers that hold a tiny bit of the dear one’s ashes. Imagine walking around with a constant reminder of your nagging spouse hanging around your neck? It would certainly cut into any desire to ever have a good time again.

Or what if you put a teaspoonful of Uncle George’s ashes in an envelope and mailed it off across the country? The envelope splits and the next thing you know the F.B.I. has surrounded your house with drawn guns.

I’m afraid this is all much too complicated for me. I’ll go for a plain pine box in miniature for dear old whatsisname. I’ll set it right next to the refrigerator as a reminder that he ended up in the box because of his morbid obesity, a condition not to be taken lightly. If I remember, I’ll dust it off once in awhile as I’m reaching into the freezer for seconds on the “Chocolate Chunky Monkey.”

May he rest in peace, dusted or not.

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Contadora Island (from my memoirs)

I’ve been known to remark that the great old sport of sailing, especially in a small boat, leaves one either scared to death or bored to death. I have to admit that’s somewhat of an exaggeration. I’ve spent many, many hours sailing with my husband and our children, all of whom love the sport, and we’ve enjoyed ourselves enormously, only rarely either scared or bored.

Living in the former Panama Canal Zone for nearly twelve years, we had nearly perfect sailing conditions for a mode of transportation that was never intended for speed. Panama Bay stretched for about fifty miles in any direction, calm and serene, full of islands to be explored, with winds that rarely reached anything over twenty knots. True, we did have our moments when things got a little frantic and frightening but they were few and far between.

“Boredom” can also mean “relaxing and restful” So what if it took us eight or ten hours to reach our favorite island forty miles out in the bay. So be it. Plenty of time to unwind, read a book or just ponder the sky and the sea.

Lounging in the shade of the sail one quiet afternoon as we ghosted along in a calm sea, I happened to glance over the rail just in time to see a tiny sea-horse, bright orange against the deep blue of the water. It was wriggling along so earnestly I’ve often wondered where it could possibly have been going in that vast body of water. Truly, that sight was a glimpse of Mother Nature at her most benign.

We had a glimpse of her raw power the time we glided into our favorite anchorage at our favorite island, Contadora, and found the entire cove filled with giant rays. They looked huge and black against the shallow, sandy bottom and there seemed to be dozens of them although we actually only counted eight or ten. Nobody swam ashore on that trip. We all used our dinghies. Even that was risky; one flip of those giant wings could have sent us into the water with them.

Contadora Island was the largest of a group of islands in Panama Bay known as “Las Perlas” or “The Pearls,” totally undeveloped and uninhabited. Often our friends and we would take several boats down for a few days of swimming, picnicking and relaxation. We always had the place to ourselves with a shallow anchorage and a beautiful broad, sandy beach. No one but our fellow yacht club members ever used Contadora. Our children loved it, as we all did.

Our trips weren’t always family affairs, depending on school schedules and other obligations. If our good friend Pepe Ehrmann was along he could be counted on to provide “lunch,” liberal glasses of his secret recipe for Jungle Juice. Pepe’s idea of lunch definitely was not for children. Whatever he put in it called for long, long siestas afterwards, everyone searching for the shadiest spots on deck. The tropical sun and a few glugs of Jungle Juice and we were conked out for the afternoon.

We always anchored out in the cove, there being no docks or moorings. Barbecuing on the beach after dark was part of our routine. Sunset comes early and fast in the tropics and we liked to have a good bonfire going before it got dark.

There were always uninvited guests. The no-see-ems welcomed us and our bare arms and legs with sharpened teeth or whatever instruments of torture they used. We swatted and slapped and sprayed repellant which the no-see-ems seemed to thrive on, their own version of Jungle Juice, I guess. The only thing that really worked was a fire big enough to smoke them out, sending us into coughing fits, wondering which was worse, death by bug bites or by suffocation. Still, we loved being there.

At one time the government of Panama was offering to sell the island of Contadora at a cost of $6,000 Balboas or American dollars, both currencies being equal. Talk about coulda, shoulda, didna, $6,000 dollars for that bit of paradise! We blew that one!

We left the country in 1965 and by the early 1970s some enterprising group bought the island, made electricity and fresh water available and developed an enormous luxury resort right above “our” beach!  Contadora quickly became the “in” place for the world’s wealthiest. Even the deposed Shah of Iran, his family and entourage arrived in 1979 or 1980, having been granted asylum by the American and Panamanian governments.

The island quickly built up around the resort with enormous vacation homes, inns, B and Bs and other accommodations springing up. The resort itself flourished for only a few years before it lost its charm and fell out of favor. Nothing is left today, sadly, but acres of elegant ruins. Contadora has remained a vacation spot for the less affluent, but no longer has the glitz and glamour.

Contadora had one more fling with the big time. The television show “Survivor” was filmed there for one season. We had never watched the show but of course had to watch “our” island for the entire season. From what I could see, the no-see-ums were the ultimate “Survivors.”

BREAKING NEWS

Dreams really do come true! If we can believe the constant barrage of news alerts, bulletins and breathlessly excited broadcasters, one of our most tiresome chores, grocery shopping, will soon be a thing of the past.

“BREAKING NEWS: AMAZON BUYS WHOLE FOODS CHAIN”

“BREAKING NEWS: AMAZON ANNOUNCES HOME DELIVERY OF PURCHASES SOON TO BE TESTED”

“BREAKING NEWS: Androids tested for use in packing grocery orders. Response favorable”

“BREAKING NEWS” POSSIBILITY OF USING DRONES FOR HOME GROCERY DELIVERY BEING CONSIDERED”

It just gets better and better! I can see the day coming when I kick back in my easy chair, pick up a WHOLE FOODS flyer, make my selection and punch my order into a smartphone. A disembodied voice answers and I’m in business.

AMAZON will soon have functioning androids programmed to receive orders, fill them, call up the next drone in an assembly line and dispatch it, all from centralized warehouses. My address will be entered into the drone’s data banks and it takes off.

Moments later my phone will ring and I step outside just as the drone lands gently at my feet. Or better still, it’s programmed to pass through an open door, settle on a kitchen counter and begin unpacking! Too good to be true? It may happen sooner than you think.

Or not!   What happens if the ‘droid that packed your order hadn’t been properly assembled, had a screw loose or some other little detail that threw off the entire operation? In a worst case scenario it might never have been fine tuned and it’s jerky movements caused it to do something outrageous; maybe nudge an entire case of JIM BEAM Kentucky Bourbon onto the floor for instance. The breakage and resulting fumes would send the entire assembly line into chaos.

‘Droids can’t possibly be affected by alcohol, that’s a no-brainer, unless an error in programming had resulted in accidentally including a “scent” sensor into their makeup, rather than a “send” sensor.

Drone after drone would take off in a cloud of Kentucky Bourbon fumes more than a little tipsy. My very first order might arrive with

A BANG!  A CLUNK!  A SPLASH!  And A SPLAT!

I’d dash out my front door to investigate the awful racket and find myself skidding down slimy steps and sliding across a definitely slick sidewalk. A horrified look around confirms my worst fears. My first AMAZON order has gone from groceries to garbage in one alcoholic spree. A distinct odor of JIM BEAM rises up and I stare in dismay. It’s raining groceries!

A carton of eggs drops with a crunch at my feet. Now, I enjoy omelets as much as anyone but a 12 egg omelet? And that would be only if I could get the shells strained out. An 8 pack of toilet paper unrolls as it descends, draping the magnolia tree faster than a crowd of rowdy teens on Homecoming Night. TIDE laundry detergent powders my lawn. Onions are rolling  everywhere, their smell fighting with the reek of the bourbon.

Fido bounds happily away with my rib eyes, and Fluffy snatches a salmon steak right out from under my nose. CHEERIOS add an alarming crunch to every move I make. The salad greens are tossing themselves as they float down in a leafy blur. A carton of chocolate milk lands squarely on top of my head, turning me from a platinum blonde to a brunette in seconds.

Fido bounces back for my sausage links, having safely buried the ribeyes under a lilac bush. A 6 pack of BUD LITE drops with a hard  THWACK!  and all 6 cans burst open, spraying  the TIDE covered lawn, creating a foamy effect around my ankles and bubbling up around the onions.

WELL! I want you to know I’ve just created my own Breaking News Headlines:

“DRUNKEN  ‘DROID  DOWNS  GROCERY  DRONE!”

adding my own spin to the story; “Irate housewife sues to bring D.U.I. charges against entire AMAZON Corporation.”

La Luna de Miel: The Honeymoon (from my memoirs)

The aftermath of a great war leaves everyone trying to rebuild old lives or begin new ones. The end of World War Two found my husband and me both eager to get started on our future together.

Lynn had spent six years, from 1940 t0 1946, in the U.S.Navy and was relieved to be a civilian again, especially as our family now included two small daughters. He continued going to sea, serving now as a Marine Engineer with the U.S. Military Sea Transport, and our new way of life began to take shape.

Looking back over the hectic war years, it occurred to us that something important had been overlooked in the rush of our modest marriage. We’d never had a honeymoon!

So in 1949, six years and 4 months after the “I Dos,” we dropped our two daughters off with my mother, loaded up our 1940 Studebaker Champion and, with gasoline no longer rationed, we headed south. No “Just Married” signs smeared our car windows, no tin-cans rattled and clanked along behind, there was no rice falling out of everything, just the two of us enjoying perfect autumn days as we drove through the colorful Ozark mountains.

Our destination was Monterrey, Mexico. We didn’t speak a word of Spanish but somehow muddled and mumbled our way across the border. An American insurance company, Sanborn’s, had offices in every border city, ready to insure travelers with cars for any time spent in Mexico.  They also provided maps and guide books so we felt well prepared.

By the time we’d spent a week in Monterrey we’d fallen totally in love with the country, the people, the culture and the history. Our time was spent sightseeing, going through the wonderful museums, browsing the gift shops and eating real Mexican food; in other words, being tourists.

Feeling adventuresome, we decided to spend a few days in Saltillo, at that time still a small colonial mining town in the mountains. Driving up and down the hilly streets, we were delighted by the beautiful, black-eyed children who ran out at every turn, waving their arms at us and shouting  “Una Via!”  “Una Via!” We smiled and waved back, calling “Hello! How are you?” in English, pleased at such a warm welcome.

Fortunately for two dumb gringos, true Innocents Abroad, there was almost no traffic, We later learned “Una Via” meant “One Way” in Spanish and we were definitely heading backwards everywhere we went.

As in all honeymoon lore, our most treasured souvenir of a fabulous trip made his appearance nine months later, welcomed by his two big sisters and his proud parents. We parents were also busy cramming Spanish lessons in our spare time, anticipating our next trip to Mexico.

Life has a way of happening and quite a few years passed before we were able to see our dream come true. We made brief stops in Mexico a few times but it was some years before we had a chance to spend any quality time there. We’d lived in the Panama Canal Zone for nearly 12 years, driven through every country in Central America and chosen Guatemala and Belize as close runners-up to Mexico as favorites. We’d also traveled extensively throughout our own 50 states and most of Canada.

When the chance to revisit Mexico finally came, we eventually drove through every state, or “estado,” on numerous trips, usually with a small travel trailer bouncing along behind. Over the years of our retirement we spent months at a time in both the beach town of Mazatlan and the lovely old city of Guadalajara, enjoying the many friends we made.

And, yes, we did improve our Spanish.

Memorizing the Dictionary

So here I am, poring over my Merriam-Webster again. I’ve been inspired by the recent TV and newspaper pictures of that six year old girl studying for the National Spelling Bee. Did you catch that? Six years old? National Spelling Bee? Amazing!  She didn’t have a paperback of Crossword Puzzle Answers either, it was the official dictionary. When I was six I was still trying to figure out why the word “Dick” didn’t look like the word “Jane.”

I decided if I want to pass myself off as a would-be writer, I’d better spiff up my vocabulary. With that in mind I’ve made several lists of words I’d love  to use in my writing or in my speech if I could just spell, pronounce or understand them.  I found a few words that duplicate the meanings of other words, created for the sole purpose of confusing us. I even found words I thought I knew the meaning of, only to realize that Boy! Was I wrong!

First, a list of words I’d love to slip into everyday conversation, providing I could use them properly.

ABSTEMIOUS – means sparing of food and drink.

my definition: no fun at all.

PRIMOGENITURE – means oldest son inherits.

my definition: good plot for a murder mystery.

PROPINQUITY – means nearness in time or place.

my definition: “get outta my face.”

INTERPOLATE – means insert word in conversation or text.

my definition: be a buttinsky.

OMNISCIENT – means infinite awareness and insight.

my definition: parents of unruly teens need ESP.

ABROGATE – means to annul. My definition: “I really wasn’t

pregnant. Sorry about that.”

Here are a few words that have basically the same meaning:

EGOISM and EGOTISM – mean excessive concern for oneself or

too much conceit, also, talking about oneself

obsessively. My definition: “That’s enough about me.

How do YOU feel about me?”

EXTRAPOLATE – means infer from unknown data, and

EQUIVOCATE – means use misleading data. my definition:

Similar usage meaning fake news.

And a few words I thought I knew that can only mean “Boy! Was I wrong!

ZEIT-GEISTE – means the general spirit of an era.

my guess: haunting, ghostly horrors.

QUOTIDIAN – means daily or ordinary. My guess: related to ancient tortoises basking at the Galapagos Islands

CORUSCATE – means flash or sparkle. My guess: extreme erosion, as in Grandpa’s toenails.

I made up one phrase I absolutely love! I’d like to use it somewhere just once:

OBSEQUIOUSLY LOQUACIOUS: my definition: smarmy baloney.

And my last phrase, with a great big “HUH?”

OBSCURANTISM means deliberate ABSTRUSENESS. My definition:

stubborn as a Missouri mule.

If I might INTERPOLATE here, I’d like to nominate the word UBIQUITOUS as the most overused word of the decade. It used to be a fun word to use, unexpected, impressive, a bit tongue-twisty, and slightly mysterious. Now it’s become so – well- so UBIQUITOUS I’m sick of it. Time to break in a new word. OMNIPRESENT might do. It rings with that slight aura of anticipation, kind of leading us on. It might not become quite so UBIQUITOUS.

After I’ve memorized the dictionary, I plan to go on to Roget’s Thesaurus, then when I have that down pat, they tell me the entire Encyclopedia Britannica is online. I’m so excited! My LINGUICA will soon be IRRETRIEVABLY TRENCHANT!  Or did I just say “My Polish sausage is beyond caustic?” OOPS!

By now I’m totally OBFUSCATED. I’d better concentrate on my MNEMONICS and be a little more PERSPICACIOUS. Maybe I’ll leave the big words for the politicians, the eggheads and the six year olds..

DOs AND DON’Ts

Why do we women spend so much time, effort and money on our hair-dos? Why is the perfect cut or the perfect style so elusive?  Why does our ‘do only suit us for about one week out of the year? and why do we care so much?

You guys don’t go through this. All you ask is a decent barber and a comb with most of its teeth. You probably don’t spend more than 2 or 3 minutes a day on your hair and you’re happy. If you can comb your hair with a damp towel you’re even happier.

My husband’s idea of a decent barber was me. No, I didn’t have any training but I did have a few things going for me. I owned some good sharp scissors, I was usually available, and I was cheap. Besides which, he had lots of curly hair, which is very forgiving. On occasion, if I didn’t happen to be available he’d been known to pick up the shears and hack off his own hair. As I said, curly hair…

I only need an operator for a new perm 3 or 4 times a year, no weekly visits. In that respect, I’m fortunate but even then I can run into snags. The last time I called “my girl” to make an appointment, she was recovering from a broken wrist.

“But don’t worry, Sugar, we have a brand new stylist for you. She’s young and full of clever ideas. Besides, she’s just darling. You’ll love her.” So how young is young as compared to too young, and how darling does she need to be? All I want is a good perm, not a new best friend.

Just “darling” turned out to be a walking example of Miss Clairol’s worst nightmare. A 24 inch purple swatch dangled from a bright orange top knot, set off against green bangs. Maybelline’s entire line of cosmetics decorated her face and  2 inch nails. Tight jeans and  stilettos completed the look. Let me assure you I was more than a little nervous as I stressed exactly how I wanted my perm done, right down to the timing,  which happens to be crucial. Oh, and no color, definitely no color. I tried not to shudder as I looked at her orange, purple and green ‘do.

“Doncha worry now, Hon. I’ve done lotsa perms, either 2 or maybe it was 3. You’re in good hands.”  This assurance was given to the tune of loud gum popping and chomping. Somehow I had a hard time putting a lot of faith in her, but Hey, I’m here now. In for a penny, in for a pound, or one of those old sayings, let’s get this rolling.

Just as I hesitantly seated myself, Adele’s latest hit “Hello” blasted out from the vicinity of a tight jeans pocket and she turned her back, parked her gum on the mirror, and spent the next 20 minutes twittering away with her back turned while I studied my nails, eyed the other stylists and clients and  stewed over the whole situation. Finally she hung up, grabbed a bag of Lay’s Kettle Chips and began stuffing them down.

With a remark that might have been  “I mffed mrunsh” she handed me the bag of chips and offered some. I declined. She stuffed another handful in her mouth, wiped both greasy, salty hands down the sides of her jeans, and finally picked up her shears.  I decided the grease might possibly do my hair a little good in some weird way, but I was pretty dubious about the salt.

She started snipping away. But wait, don’t we do a cape, a shampoo and then a cut? I brought this to her attention.  “Doncha worry now, Hon. This’ll be better.”  With no cape around my shoulders, tiny snippets of hair fell like snow – or dandruff – down my neck, across my lap, everywhere but on the floor where it could be swept up. She began slowly, slowly clipping  away barely noticeable amounts of hair. Surely I needed it to be much shorter? This was taking forever.

She popped her gum, parked it on the mirror again and delved into the bag of chips. “Adele” rang importantly, good for 17 minutes of twittering this time. Time crawled. What time do they close this place, anyway? I should have brought a sleeping bag.

After 45 minutes of slo-mo snipping, gum chomping and twittering, I was finally ready for the shampoo bowl. Grabbing a small towel, she gave me a fast wash, rinse and rub, throwing the sopping wet towel across my shoulders. Out came the rods and the perm solution, pungent, acrid smelling and eye stinging. WAIT! What was going on? She was rolling my hair from the bottom up! I questioned this, only to get another “Doncha worry Hon.”

By now my clothes were soaked, my eyes stung, perm solution dripped off my chin and I was gasping for air. Somewhere between the neutraliser and all the rinsing, a passing operator mercifully handed me some dry, clean towels. The bag of Kettle Chips was nearly empty and “Adele” was briefly quiet. Maybe we’ll get through this yet.

The jolt of the blow dryer turned on full force startled me. The hotter the air got and the drier my hair got the more it frizzed up. I wondered, can this be right?  Where were my soft curls? Why was I looking like an steel wool scouring pad? At least the heated air was drying my clothing and blowing all the bits and pieces of hair away.

4 long hours later, my frizzy ’do smelled of rancid Kettle Chips and had a mysterious pinkish aura, but it did seem to be done. I wanted this to end. I was so ready.

“So what do I owe you?”  “It’s just $90.00, Hon.” A bit much but I opened my checkbook. I’ve paid more.

“Plus $30.00 for the cut.”  Oh, the cut. I see. By now I just wanted to get out of there so I sighed and picked up my pen.

“Plus $30.00 for the shampoo.” My blood pressure went up and the pen quivered in my hand.

“And then another $30.00 for the blow-dry.”  Her gum crackled. Steam came out of both my ears, threatening to melt my new ‘do, bad as it was.  My mouth hung open and for the first time in my life, I was totally speechless. All I could think was  “This can’t be real!”

“Oh, yes, I forgot,” SNAP POP with the gum, “That’s another $30.00 for the Scalp Rejuvenation Therapy.”  and she was back to the Kettle Chips.  What the heck was Scalp Rejuvenation Therapy? Was that the 20 second fingertip scratch and rub?

“But I’m only charging you $20.00 for the mousse, setting lotions and spray.” More crunchy Kettle Chips, more greasy hands down the sides of the jeans. By now, “Adele” was ringing again.

I went ballistic! I screeched  “Let me tell you how it is, HON, you lost me on the second $30.00. Your tip just went out the door  and me with it, HON.”

I very grudgingly signed my check and let it waft on the breeze I stirred up as I flounced out. I never even learned her name.

I’m seriously considering a ‘do I can comb with a damp towel.

Skittery Critters

SKITTERY  CRITTERS

 

    Working on my memoirs recently I realized I’ve had more than a passing acquaintance with quite a few cockroaches in my day. Not that we were ever on a first name basis or got really personal, but I’ve known more than my share.

    Considering that cockroaches have been around for 320 million years, able to survive incredible heat and sub-zero  temperatures, radiation, and all known insecticides, we can probably count on them rising in triumph after we mere humans have managed to blow ourselves to Kingdom Come with our nuclear toys.

    Can’t you just see this; one giant cockroach, probably a Madagascar Hissing Roach, close to 6 inches long, atop a smouldering mountain of debris, brandishing tiny flags in all six arms, loudly hissing “Roaches Rule.” Representatives from all 4,600 of his fellow species skitter madly about in their haste to establish a brave new world order.

    My first experience with cockroaches came as a very young, very pregnant, very impoverished Navy wife during World War Two. My husband and I were living with four other couples in a small house in San Diego. (We rented the dining room as our private quarters).

     I awoke late one morning and headed for our shared kitchen to find the other wives in a frenzy of activity. The kitchen had been invaded overnight by huge flying roaches. My big belly and I were led gently but firmly to a chair and told not to move, so I had a front seat for my first lesson in how to handle cockroaches. First you panic – then you start screaming, then you stomp, swat and hammer with any and all available tools.

    I found that San Diego, similar to most of Florida with it’s warm, humid climate, was ideal for cockroaches. Those large flying roaches are known as Palmetto Bugs in Florida, but I’ve got news for Floridians, they’re really cockroaches, just one more of the 40 some types that hang around humans.

     My next experience with roaches was in San Francisco, which has a cooler climate, not that the roaches cared. My husband was still in the Navy, the War was still on, and housing in San Francisco was impossible to find. We were reduced to moving every 4 or 5 days from one sleazy old downtown hotel to another, the time limit having been imposed due to wartime regulations.

    All of these horrible places had a few cockroaches hiding out but we hit the jackpot with one room that was so bad we had to leave all the lights on all the time, just to keep them at bay. I never did unpack my suitcase.

    When we moved to the tropics some years later, by then as civilians, I learned that any previous experience I’d had with cockroaches was just a warm up. Roaches in the tropics are a way of life. Or so I thought until I discovered one of the few things that will actually kill them, Boric Acid Powder!

    With the fervor of a religious convert I took it upon myself to educate all my friends and close neighbors. I’d mix small amounts of boric acid with a  bit of sugar and set little foil cups around in likely spots, being sure to keep them hidden from small children and pets with their endless curiosity.

    There is always some mad fool who will try to tell you roaches are basically harmless. Anything that crawls through sewers is not harmless. However, roaches have been used in some cultures as medication, sometimes fried in garlic for indigestion and sometimes boiled up as a tea for tetanus. I myself, will take my chances with both indigestion and tetanus. A few intrepid souls actually keep the Giant Madagascar Hissing Roaches as pets. There again, if I have a choice I’ll take a nice cuddly boa constrictor.

    I did come across sort of a recipe for an edible (their word, not mine,) – ediblle spread to use on crackers or bread. I’d never have the nerve to try it but I’m happy to share it with anyone who is more daring than I.  Wanting a catchy name, I’m calling it  “Bug Butter”. Read on, if you dare. The “ick” factor gets pretty deep right about here.

    Take about half a pound of cockroaches, simmer them in vinegar and remove the head and entrails. Are they kidding? Do you have any idea how many roaches there are in an ounce, let alone half a pound? And remember, a cockroach can live up to an hour after it’s head has been removed. Next remove the entrails? They’ve got to be kidding! A person could starve to death just picking over the first few ounces.

    If you’ve gotten this far, you’re finally coming to the good part. Saute all those little carcasses in butter, salt, pepper and plenty of garlic, and serve hot or cold on sourdough rounds. Bon Appetit!

    O.K. they’ve got me with the butter, garlic, and sourdough. I’ll just skip the protein. Who wants those tiny little legs in their teeth anyway?

    If we ever get to the point where our civilization finds us lounging around, snacking on “Bug Butter” maybe it will be time for Armageddon. It’ll definitely be time for the Giant Madagascar Hissing Roaches to take over.