My eldest daughter set off first thing in the morning, armed with a sack of leftovers for lunch, most of my gardening tools and the dog. I advised her to throw away the two three day old barbequed burgers as being unfit for human consumption, but she scoffed with the constitution of an ox. She had won a full day of paid employment in these hard financial times, where beggars can’t be choosers. She was dressed in her father’s coveralls with boots and gloves, to clear poison oak from a field in Santa Cruz. I reminded her to take care as a single woman, as she planned to pick up a couple of day labourers en route to help, and split the money with them. She didn’t sneer but I felt like an old mother hen, as she is such a seasoned and experienced traveler.
I busied about my business for the duration.
At the end of the day she returned to our home of chaos, weary, as she headed off to shower before dinner. I remained in the kitchen cremating a wide variety of dishes, laying the table and yelling five minute warning to the electronic game players. As I continued to crash about the kitchen, hot, testy and short tempered she returned to lean against the counter, arms folded as her fingers picked as the inevitable scratches on her arms and wrists where the poisonous oak had infiltrated.
“Oh dear, that does look painful.”
“I’m used to it,” she smiled weakly.
“What is it? Did you have any trouble? Is everything o.k.?”
“You must be starving.”
“Not really? You’re always ravenous. Did you eat your lunch?” She frowns and so do I, because old habits appear to die very hard.
“I did eat the pasta, the sandwiches, the fruit……but I didn’t eat the burgers.”
“Thank god for that. You didn’t give them to Thatcher did you? He has enough tummy troubles as it is?”
“No……..I gave them to the day labourers.”
“What! You’ve probably poisoned them! What possessed you?”
“Well you see I took all the food out of the rucksack and laid it on the rug but when I pulled out the hamburgers their eyes just popped out on stalks. I explained that they were old but they were just ecstatic……..I couldn’t say no.”
“One of them hadn’t eaten for 4 days mum.”
4 hours ago