Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I need all the help I can get

I feel I have inadvertently implied that "Nonna" is bored. This would be very far from the truth. It is rare to come across such an enthusiastic and energetic octogenarian, enough to take my breath away.

Always good humoured, always occupied, never a dull


My neighbour drops by to give us some home grown peppers together with a warning:- ‘they’RE HOT!’ I resist the request to taste due to the earliness of the hour and the excuse of my retainer.

As I vacuum crumbs I notice Nonna flapping at me. I pause. “What are you going to do with dem den?” she asks.
“Not sure yet, the menu is already planned.”
“You are going to put sugar on dem?”
“Yes. Where is de sugar. I’ll do it for you.” I leave the dust buster and my children and skip into the kitchen after her with the sack of Goldfish Crackers held hostage, intrigued. She pats the lid of the plastic box exactly as a cat bats a toy, “look at dem!” she says with annoyance. I look. She bats the box again, struggling for the right English words, “dey are all………rotten.”
“I know. You didn’t get around to eat them in time.”
“You wanted fruit. We bought fruit but they don’t keep very long in this climate,” I bellow.
“So wot we are do with dem then?”
“Compost bin.”
She gasps in horror, “ere give me a knife please.”
I open the knife drawer full of lethal weapons. She bats the knives and rattles the drawer, “but deez are no good! I use dis one.” She wields a serrated bread knife in my general direction and attacks the strawberries. “Where it is?”
“Um….what are you looking for?”
“The sugar.”
“Ah. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather use Stevia?” I ask the diabetic.
“Oh no orrible stuff.” I watch as she heaps granules onto soggy, mangled, berries. “Why don’t you make us some tea, I can do dis myself?”
“Where it is?” she asks as she riffles the fridge.
“Um……..what are you looking for?”
“An orange.”
“Ah, it’s over here in the fruit bowl because you don’t like them cold.”
“Right. Now where it is?”
“Um…….what do you need?” I watch as she pulls open every drawer and cupboard in the kitchen, the very narrow galley kitchen, just like a corridor.
“A lemon squeezer please.”
“Here it is.”
She pours the juice of half the orange on the soggy pile.
“There!” I help her open the heavy fridge door to place the bowl inside, perched. I pop the orange skin in the compost bin. When she turns her back I slip a plate over the top of the strawberries and tuck it further back, safer from small inquisitive people.
“Are dey ready yet?”
“Um…..the strawberries?”
“No…..the…….the tomatoes. Are they ripe yet?”
“I don’t know.”
“You are going to pick some more today?”
“Yes…..I’ll do that later.”
“When you are do it?”
“Er……soon…….do you want some for your lunch perhaps?”
“Yes please, that would be very nice, thank you.”
“I’ll leave a box on the counter to remind me.” I hear my absent husband’s voice swirl around my memory: ‘just try and be kind, she wants to help and be useful, you’re not going to change her now!’
“What about dis den?”
She flaps the left over half orange around in a waving motion dripping juice. “Er…..I’ll wrap it for later shall I?”
“Yes. Where it is?”
“Cling film?”
“Right.” I whip out the box, wrap and toss it into the fridge because I have about 20 zillion other things to do. “Oh no! Don’t do dat!” She removes the orange and places it’s leakiness in the fruit bowl for the vinegar flies to enjoy.
“Where it is?”
“Um….where is…..?”
“That spoon……the one I used for the strawberries.”
“Oh just there, I’ll pop it in the sink.”
“No, no, no. I will wash it for you.”
I wince as I watch her rinse the teaspoon under several gallons of boiling hot water, fight to turn off the extremely tricky tap, wipe the spoon on the hem of her nightgown to drop it in the knife drawer.
“Right. Now that’s done.” I stifle a sigh of relief. “So……where it is now?”
“Um…..where is…..?”
“The orange skin?”
“Oh…I put it in the compost bin.”
“Oh no! You shouldn’t do dat.” She stretches across to the bin which is strategically out of reach.
“Really? Why?”
“Here, give it me,” she flaps. I reluctantly oblige. She sorts through the contents and removes items as she sees fit to stuff them down the non functioning garbage disposal unit. “You see! They are no good in the compost.”
“They are acidic. Dey kill the worms.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.”
“Here. I clear up for you.” She takes the bread board full of crumbs and squished strawberries, to walk out into the garden to brush them onto my newly planted herbaceous border, with added slug pellets as a safety measure. The treasures drop to the earth. They send shock waves through the soil to alert the snails that it’s snack time.

Inside again, she wipes the board with a clean hand towel and pops it back into the wrong drawer. “Is the coffee reader now?”
“Oh…..I thought you wanted tea?”
“No matter. There, now I am going to ave a rest as I can see I am keeping you from the children.”

An exchange of a mere few minutes.

I use my tremendously huge brain to calculate which task to tackle first, clean up stickies or return to my herd? Like all neglectful shepherdesses, I opt for the former.

Two moments later.

I trot back to the flock to see Nonna sitting on the sofa above the children, “look at that!” she cries with glee, “don’t dey look so lovely! Why don’t you bring that tea and we can watch dem together?” I greet my a litter of children transformed into kittens with several nests of litter, but that’s the true cost of my own meagre social skills.

Who needs Goldfish Crackers when you can play with cat suits and face paints?

Note to self:- cancel play therapy sessions.

If you can find someone else who truly enjoys your children consider yourself just as lucky as me.

1 comment:

Osh said...

"If you can find someone else who truly enjoys your children consider yourself just as lucky as me."