My new home

It’s really nice to be part of a household again. I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert (still do), but I discovered after four months of living alone that it bores me out of my mind.

At the moment, it’s just me and Sara; Simone and Ricky are traveling. Oh, and also a dog named Hannah and two turtles. I didn’t know about the turtles until the afternoon I pushed open the door to my bathroom (which opens into the backyard, as does my room) and felt it hit something. Wondering what on earth it could be, I forced the door open and then looked behind it to find a foot-long turtle, who poked his head out of his shell and gave me an irritated look as if to ask, “are you done beating up on me yet?”

I shrugged, took my shower, got dressed, then stuck my head into Sara’s room and said, “you know there’s a turtle in the bathroom, right?”

She laughed. “Oh, he sometimes wanders in there to escape the heat.”

Now that the turtle and I are aware of each other’s existence, we like to play games. Every time I leave the door to my room open (which is often, since my small window doesn’t allow much ventilation), he tries to come in. I pick him up, take him out into the yard, and set him down in a shady spot. Half an hour later he’s back, plodding resolutely through my doorway. Actually I’ve given up returning him to the yard; all I have to do is stand in his path and he does an about face and wanders off in the other direction. I’m not sure if he has a name, but I’m tempted to call him Michelangelo since he’s greenish-brown with orange markings on his head.

This week, Sara’s mother is visiting. What is it with moms visiting their daughters and appointing themselves to do all the housework? Sara’s mom spent several days sewing clothes. Yesterday morning, I woke up to the sound of her doing all the laundry. She then went on to prepare lunch. I was planning to do the washing up since she went to all the trouble of cooking, but when mom finally lay down on the living room couch for a nap and I snuck into the kitchen to do the dishes, I
found she’d beaten me to it. The woman is unstoppable. Today, she tackled the gardening.

“Mom,” Sara pointed out, “every year you pull everything up and plant new stuff. Then the next year you pull up everything you planted and plant THE SAME THINGS.”

“The garden has to be renovated,” insisted mom. “Life,” she proclaimed, “is about rebirth!”

Sara shot me a look that said, How can I argue with that?

I’m wondering if Sara’s mom is going to run out of things to clean, wash, plant, and uproot, and then offer to do MY laundry…

It seems that the motherly urge to kibbitz is also universal. Last night, Sara heated up a bit of palmito (palm heart) pie for a snack. Unfortunately, she didn’t leave it in the oven long enough, so it ended up being cold inside. We were all still hungry, and decided to head up another pie (this one a chicken pie).

“Put it on the lower level of the oven, it’ll heat better,” suggested mom.

“No, I just need to leave it in for longer,” Sara insisted, as she set the pie on a baking pan.

“Put it in without the pan,” instructed mom.

“Then the bottom will burn,” replied Sara.

“No, it won’t,” said mom. Sara gave up, removed the pan, set the pie on the lower level of the oven, and tried to light the oven – and failed.

“We have to wait for the oven to cool off before we light it again,” she said.

“What kind of nonsense is that? Let me do it,” said mom, making a grab for the matchbox. Sara reluctantly handed it over, looking like a pre-schooler who had to resort to accepting mommy’s help after trying and failing to tie her own shoes.

“It’s because when the oven is hot the gas disperses too quickly and won’t light,” Sara explained.

“I’ve never heard of that problem. My oven re-lights just fine,” said mom, striking a match and attempting to light the oven. No luck. She frowned, thought for a moment, and then pronounced her conclusion: “The gas must have run out.”

“The gas did not run out,” said Sara, checking the tank. After a few minutes of fanning the oven to help it cool off, it lit just fine. Sara nailed her mother with an I told you so! look.

“Huh,” said mom, grinning. “How weird.”

And after about 20 minutes we had a thoroughly heated, non-burnt chicken pie.