Before leaving for Santa Fe, I stopped at my mother's house. I brought a big bag of green beans and squash I had just picked and cooked the beans at her house. She called me over to the freezer to look for something to go with them and handed me one frost encrusted package after another.
After cracking the ice off one square snowball, I found something that appeared to be chicken in a zip lock bag dated 2006 and labeled Roast Beef. I told her I thought it had freezer burn and wouldn't be any good, but she argued that the frost on the package protected it. The meat was white. Roast should be brown, not white.
"It'll be fine." She said.
Another bag was frozen bread rolls. I think they were already baked because the tops were browned, but they were shriveled and lumpy. It was dated 2008.
She cooked everything in the microwave and the white roast beef came out a little less white but the rolls were even lumpier. I ate green beans. After dinner, she put the leftovers in new plastic bags and handed them to me to put in the refrigerator. There must have been a hundred bottles in there with every condiment ever made. I removed a few and looked at the dates. The expiration dates on those ranged from 2004 to 2009.
"These are expired mom."
"That's ok, they're packed in vinegar and they won't spoil."
"Do you eat them?"
"Oh yes, I eat them all the time."
"The black olives has white stuff on the top."
"I don't eat that part."
I tried to remember the last time I ate at her house and silently gave thanks for not getting sick afterward. I stuffed the white roast beef and rolls in the back and put the green beans in front so I could have some when I got back from my trip. But when I got back from Santa Fe, she wanted to go out to eat and I told her I would just eat some beans and squash. She told me she froze them. I mourned the loss of my poor little veggies, now hidden in the depths of the white abyss.
That night, I turned on her computer and noticed the water bottle next to it. She always has a plastic water bottle with her. I can never figure out why she doesn't drink out of a glass when she's at home. She also has frozen water bottles to take in the car. This one had black things floating in it. I mentioned that her water had mold in it. "Could be," says she, I just refill it when it's empty."
I'm thinking back to all the times we got in the car and she handed me a bottle of water. Blech. The next morning we were going to do some genealogy research in another town and she came out with her frozen bottle of water and offered one to me.
"No thanks," I said.
"You'll want it later."
"I don't think so," I said while really thinking "I'd rather die of thirst."
We took her minivan, which had a wide yellow scratch down the passenger side and about three feet off the ground. I asked her what happened, and she didn't know and walked around to look. She was shocked and thought someone had hit her the last time she was out. Um no, it looked like safety paint. She didn't know where she had been that had safety paint. On our way out of town we passed the grocery store which had light poles in the parking lot set into concrete pillars - coated with yellow safety paint.
Then we were on a four lane highway that had been recently repaved but the lines hadn't been repainted and mom kept drifting over to the right until her tires hit the rumble stripe. Great, I'm in a car with a woman who can't stay in her lane, hits things on my side of the car without knowing it, probably has botulism, and there isn't another car on this highway to send for help.
Until next time, may you have blessings and interesting parents,