The Can't Opener
I have been married for more than 16 years. During those blissful years I have made more mediocre dinners than my family would like to recall. The key to a bland meal; one which gets toddlers to blow raspberries and older kids to grasp at their throats and say belch, is to have dinner be the very last thing on your to do list for the day. My husband rides his bike to work each day. Each evening when he rides home, he peers into the kitchen window. As soon as his helmet light blinds me, it's the cue for me that it's time to panic. I have no dinner prepared. I start to open refrigerator doors as if some prepared meal will jump out and start singing a song and dance. Then I pace towards the pantry. There, I see various boxed foods that usually need something from the fridge to accompany them. I pace back to the fridge. Nothing from the fridge is matching what's in the pantry. The freezer however contains plenty that would accompany the food from the pantry boxes, but it's all rock hard and rendered useless. I feeling the squeeze of my unpreparedness as Chris walks in the door. I reach for a can as if I have been planning this all day. Out of this can, a dinner miracle will just pour out. But a bigger challenge awaits. I dig through the drawer and pull out my can't opener. I clamp that baby on and begin to go around the rim. It catches only some of the rim making jagged slices through the metal. I take another spin around the can. I curse under my breath (let's be honest, I curse out loud). On the third cycle, the can spurts out liquid and I lift the lid that now looks like uneven teeth. In 16 years, I haven't known a can opener that did it's job as its supposed to. My can't opener seems akin to our failed congresses, presidents and banks. It's fails me so often, that it's consistent with some of the worst airlines for on-time arrivals. My dinner is doomed. After nearly two decades of bad dinners, I find myself in Marshalls. I spend most of my time looking at boots, but I somehow get lost and end up in the kitchen aisle. Who knows how I got there? In the distance I see a shiny new can opener, one that touts perfect edges. Skipping the boot purchase, I take my new can opener home, full of hope for our future together. Dinner comes around again and nobody can figure the damn thing out. Once again my husband is shaking his head at me. Two college educations and neither of us can figure out the can't opener. But as luck would have it, a miracle happens the next day. After much inspection (and watching a youtube video), the top is cleanly removed from the can. There is great rejoicing in the Schulten house and no one will ever starve again. Today's ordinary miracle has come in a perfect package, a metal can adorned by clean edges and prepared by a mother with love.
An early winter.
I am in denial. It's the morning of first winter storm. I sit under my covers pretending the green grass blanketed by white snow is just an illusion. I check the Ipad, no school, bummer, another summer day lost in my book. On a regular school day, my soon needs a bomb to wake him up. But not today! All except for my newly ordained teenager is wide awake. The dog begins his daily nudge, begging me for his morning bowl of kibble. Peter follows next, engaged in his frantic search for his winter gloves. I look at the clock seeing that it's only 6:15. He is showing me one red glove and one black, both righties. Hmmm, I wonder if I am the only one woefully unprepared for the first winter storm. I may have candles and flashlights ready, but my unpreparedness comes yearly for this first burst of snow. No one's winter boots fit, except for mine that have a hole in them. The wind blows me back in as I open the door. Pete is feverishly pushing snow around the yard while Kate slumbers cuddled up with old Gunther cat next to her. I snap a few shots of my snow angel knowing that this will be a short lived snowfall. I head bundled up to town to capture a few photos and I don't make it very far. Walking down the hill at Rivendell, the rain starts. Hot chocolate begins to linger in my mind and I turn for home realizing that winter does have a plus side. My pace has slowed me down abet briefly, to sit back with hot cocoa in hand. Enjoy it for what it's worth.
As a photographer, you're always looking ahead to your next photo, but as a mother your always looking nostalgically back. Over the years, I have graduated from a point and shoot to a monster DSLR. No matter what the size of the Nikon, my camera has always had a love affair with one particular subject. Like my cameras, this subject has grown into a sophisticated grown up version of what I started with. Today she is 13 and more beautiful than ever, both inside and out. I do remember being her age, looking ahead to the exciting things that come next. But as her mom, I can't help but look back upon her happily storied past. I cherish the memories of her long tea parties on the beach with her dad, to her jogger rides through Stony creek. She has warmly made friends and taken on challenges without fear. She is becoming everything I hoped she would be. In the blink of an eye she'll be a grown-up and I can only hope that she holds on to her child-hood as long as she can. It's a good thing I'll have the pictures to help her remember. Happy 13 th birthday Miss "Nene" Mary Katherine "Katniss" Schulten. We love you!