Warning labels

Mint plants should come with warning labels. I would have done things differently had I known.

But I bought my mint plant when we moved into our house eleven years ago expecting to have to nurture the tiny leaves.

I tenderly planted the tiny sprouts, protecting their frail roots and pouring water and food to them.

Story_squareThe mint turned warlord on me, wiping out every other plant in the box on its way to world domination. It was threatening to choke off all the weeds. That wasn’t a bad thing but think about what kind of monster plant can defeat weeds.

Rest assured that I stepped up, did my duty, and replanted the mint into a smaller and more contained area.

I battled mint for several years in the first location. It was guerrilla warfare with the new sprouts sneaking up behind iris and lilies. I yanked and they circled around searching for a fresh spot of ground where they emerged with force.

Meanwhile the newly-planted mint filled its new country fast enough to place in the 100-yard dash at the Olympic games.

World domination is still on this mint’s mind. I’m sure of it. Here’s an example.

After a recent summer storm, I stepped outside expected to draw in the fresh scent of rain-cleansed evening air.

But, no, the mint had taken to the airways and my nostrils were assaulted by a mint-drenched breeze.

When I told my daughter about the storm, she said, “Oh, I hope the hail didn’t hurt the mint.”

To which my son replied, “You can’t destroy this mint with a flame thrower.”

He’s right. That would require a warning label.

When you need a translator

“What do you think this says?” my husband studied a small box he’d lifted from the shelf at the grocery store. “Do you know any of these words?”

I browsed the ingredient list.

Story_squareBrowsed in the sense that I tried to put letters together to make words. I knew the letters but I didn’t know the words.

Humbling for an English major.

“Well, this picture could have something to do with an antibiotic,” I said.

His frowned. “That picture could be a pumpkin for all I can tell.”

He was right. The printing was not clear.

We should have brought a translator but the available ones weren’t, well, available. They were tending to our son’s wounded knee. Somehow, in the construction of the new church, his knee had connected with something rough and hard. We had been sent in search of antibiotic cream while they cleaned the gash.

We went, confident that we were reasonably intelligent adults but we were in a Spanish-speaking country where we didn’t know the word for antibiotic. We didn’t even know the word for first aid or bandage.

Finally we settled on a slender box that appeared to have an image of a wound along with the brand name printed on the front plate. It could have been a logo of a whirlwind, too. We weren’t sure but there was a tube in the box. Close enough.

We took our find back to the church and handed the box over to the nurse. She pulled out the tube.

Sometimes you wish you had a translator and you don’t. Sometimes you have a translator and wished you didn’t.

She translated for us then. In between giggles.

Instead of buying antibiotic cream for our son, we’d picked up a tube of Preparation H.

Our adventure

From the time he decorated himself like a Christmas tree , our youngest has brought adventures to our life.

He was the one who rummaged through his father’s toolbox so that he could remove the training wheels from his bike after one day. “Those get in the way,” he said.

Story_squareI awoke once at 2 am to a noise like a strangled cat. He was sitting in front of  a computer screen playing with a digital cat. Do you know that when you selected a digital spray bottle and squirt the digital pet cat, it squawks in a way that makes a three-year-old giggle like a strangled cat?

He knows how to hypnotize a baby rabbit and dodge a paint ball. He didn’t master the ability to separate his clean laundry from the pile of clothes on the floor but I digress.

I always wondered what career he’d pursue. Cat tamer? Graphic designer? Sci Fi novelist? Now he’s graduated, employed and moved out.

He loves his job. It has to do with rummaging through phone settings rather than a toolbox and teaching others how to untangle their own phones.

And he’s laundering money, too.

Truly I am thrilled. If he’s laundering money, that means he’s actually putting his clothes in the washing machine.

My work is complete.

The new puppy

My nephews met me at the door of their house. Well, they bounced to the front door and shook their hands like wet rags while they rebounded like pogo sticks. I let myself in.

“We have a new puppy!” said the five year old.

Story_square“He’s our very new puppy. We have a new puppy!” said the four year old.

I gathered that he was new.

They were pointing down the hall to their bathroom. “Um, where is this new puppy?” I asked.

“He’s getting a bath!” said nephew #1.

“Mom is giving him a bath!” said nephew #2.

They were more excited than a hog waiting for the feed bucket.

“Can I go see him?” I asked them.

“Mom’s giving him a bath!” said nephew #1. “We have a new puppy.”

“New puppy,” said nephew #2. He didn’t get the whole sentence out. I guess he was tiring from all the bouncing.

I wanted to see the new addition so I called to my sister. “Are you done?”

“Done,” she said. “Here he comes.”

A long brown leg stepped into the living room.

“Our new puppy!” the boys squealed and wrapped arms around each of the dog’s front legs.

Apparently if you’re four or five years old, all dogs tower like giant sequoia trees.

Because this new puppy turned out to be a two-year-old Great Dane.

A bonding experience

When the mouse skittered across the corner of our kitchen, our family had a rainbow of responses.

Mom and oldest brother sprang to the attack, stomping the mouse’s terrified wake.

Younger sister leaped to a chair and stood there, holding her cheeks with her hands. She would have gotten onto the table but the mouse had interrupted dinner. She didn’t want to step in the gravy.

Story_squareThe mouse blazed into the bathroom where Mom and brother followed, slamming the door behind them.

Sister was doing the two-step on a chair while crashes and shouts came from the bathroom.

“Wonder what that was?” asked younger brother, who had joined me on the sidelines observing. We had both heard the thud like a tree falling.

I laughed. “There’s not much in the bathroom to knock over.”

“I hate mice,” said our sister.

“We can tell.” Our brother was master of the obvious.

Laughter blasted from the bathroom and the sound of boots slapping linoleum and bathtub. Then another crash.

“Hope they hurry up,” brother said. “I’m hungry.”

“Ewwww,” said sister. I was hoping she didn’t put footprints in the mashed potatoes.

“I wonder if the mouse can slide under the door,” said brother. He was watching our sister when he said it. She shrieked on cue and he grinned. Score.

More crashing rolled out of the bathroom and then a war whoop. The door swung wide and our brother emerged.

“Got it!” he said and dropped into his chair at the table to finish dinner. Second brother joined him and a feeding frenzy after a mouse attack seemed imminent.

A lot of bonding went on that evening. Mom and oldest brother bonded in the mouse war. Younger brother and I bonded in observing the chaos.

And our younger sister? Well, she bonded with her chair.