The missing ingredient

“Old woman, I cannot read your recipe,” is how I began many a phone call to Granny after I moved away.

“What does it say, old gal?” she would ask.

“I don’t know. You have the worst penmanship I have ever seen.”

“Maybe if you had paid attention when I was making it, you wouldn’t need the recipe,” she commented.

I sighed.

Granny’s idea of baking would probably drive modern day bakers and chefs crazy.

She didn’t really use measuring cups or spoons, preferring to eyeball her ingredients, a cardinal sin in baking.

“You are supposed to use exact measurements,” I told her once.

She gave me a sideways glance and ignored my comment.

When I married, I wanted to have her best recipes with me so I could continue some of her traditions, so I asked her to write them down.



“You heard me. I said no. I ain’t giving you my recipes. They mine.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“They mine. I ain’t writing them down. I ain’t never wrote ‘em down – someone could steal ‘em that way. And I ain’t about to start either.”

Steal her recipes? Did she not know that people could find recipes for things practically anywhere? To Granny, her recipes were sacred and top secret; surely no one else could be trusted with the power to make a biscuit.

Still, I was shocked. Was she really not going to share her recipes with me?

Maybe I should have wrote it down when I was with her, but it never occurred to me that she would not me give a recipe.

I also was a little hurt. Granny had been the one who taught me how to cook, standing me in a chair beside her or sitting me on the table as she sifted flour, patted out biscuits, or mixed cake batter. How could she take away something so precious she and I had always bonded over?

“One. You can have one,” she announced one day.

“One what?”

“One recipe of mine. Choose wisely.”

I felt like Indiana Jones being told to choose the cup that was the Holy Grail in the Last Crusade.

I thought about it for a minute.

“I want your biscuit recipe,” I said.

“What? Are you kidding me? You’ve been making biscuits with me since you were three; if you don’t know how to make biscuits 20 years later, you don’t need to be in the kitchen. Choose another one.”

“But I can’t remember what you put in them,” I said earnestly. Everyone raved about her biscuits; I wanted rave-worthy biscuits, too.

She frowned, partly in disappointment that I could not remember and partly in the fact she was conceding her own rule and going to give me two recipes.

“Alright, I will give you the biscuit one, too, but it is so simple it is ridiculous,” she said. “What else do you want?”

I thought a little longer. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle her coconut cake recipe; that involved too many steps. Things like pot roast or her golden fried chicken were not at the top of my list either. I wanted something that when I made it, people proclaimed it tasted just like Helen’s.

“Your chocolate pound cake recipe,” I declared brazenly.

She inhaled sharply. “You want me to write all that down?”

I nodded.

“Alright. I will. But it’s gonna take some time. I ain’t even got it wrote down; I just do it from memory, something you should be able to do.”

“That’s the one I want, Granny,” I said.

She nodded. “And that’s the one you will get.”

A few days later, the smell of the chocolate pound cake permeated the house and she handed me two index cards, one smudged with chocolate.

“I had to make one, so I’d know what all I put in it,” she said. “Don’t you go being like that woman that sold that high-dollar cookie recipe. You sell my recipes and I will sue you.”

Gleefully, I tucked the cards into my purse for safe keeping and went to eat the fruits of her labor.

It wasn’t until about a month later, when I pulled them out that I noticed something was missing.  I called her.
“Old woman, this makes no sense.”

“It should make perfect sense.”
“Well, it doesn’t,” I protested. “You only have flour, Crisco, and water or milk. No measurements.”

“It depends on how many biscuits you want to make. You should know that part. Now I gotta go, the Wheel is on, but you call me back if you need to. At 7:30.”

The next day I called her to tell her the dough did not turn out right.

 “You gotta get your hands in the dough,” Granny said.

“That’s gross,” I protested.

“You want biscuits? You gotta get your hands in there. Did you ever see me mix dough with a spoon? No, you gotta get your hands a little dirty if you want to cook.”

It took me a few tries – and several phone calls and a reminder from Granny about her super top-secret biscuit trick she omitted off the recipe – but soon, I was a biscuit baking master.

I should have known if she called that recipe easy her chocolate pound cake one would be a doozy.

Every time I made her cake, it involved staying on the phone with Granny.

“I couldn’t read a word the woman wrote,” I told Mama. “And what I could read, I couldn’t understand. She had just ‘cocoa powder’ or ‘butter’ but didn’t put down how much.”

Mama laughed softly. “Well, Kitten, if Granny used butter, more than likely it was one of two measurements: the whole stick or the whole pound. For a cake, go with a pound, just to be safe.

“And her leaving off the actual measurements was just her way of making you have to call her every time you made it so she would talk to you.”

“Yeah,” I said, finally understanding some of the Redhead Prime’s stubbornness.

Granny kept me in the kitchen with her just a little bit longer.

The Season of Sick

For four years, my house was a healthy place.

There was only an occasional allergy flare if I accidentally dusted or went outside when something was blooming.

Having a cold, flu, virus, or stomach bug was something we had gratefully avoided for a while.

At least, that is, until my child started school again.

The first week or so, he came down with something.

“He’s rebuilding his immune system,” I thought.

I didn’t know he was rebuilding mine as well.

A few days later, I came down with whatever crud he had.

Two weeks passed, and we were back at the doctor, getting swabbed for strep.

Of course, it came back positive and a round of antibiotics was prescribed, along with something for nausea because this strain also made one sick.

“It’s going around,” the doctor said. “This is the fifth case I have had this morning.”

“He hasn’t been sick in years,” I said. “He’s gone back to school and this is the second time I have been in here with him. The first month of school is not even over yet.”

The doctor just nodded and handed me the scripts.

By some small miracle, I didn’t get strep, but I have caught everything he else he has brought home.

And he has been sick just about every other week with some form of creepy crud.

The usual remedies that have been my tried and true methods have not even made a dent in these maladies.

Oscillococcinum, elderberry syrup, hot tea with lemon and honey – none of them yielded their usual results.

“We are going to need Granny’s home remedy,” I told Mama one day.

“Vicks all over the body?” she replied.

“No. Moonshine.”

As sick I have been the last few months, it seemed like a sensible cure.

At least it would knock me out for a few days.

Just when we would get through one round of illness, another one struck.

It has been a never-ending cycle of crud.

“I feel sick,” Cole said one evening.

“Don’t even start with that,” I said.

“I do though,” he protested.

I knew he did. I just wasn’t ready for yet another round of whatever throat, upper respiratory, stomach demon he was going to be fighting this time.

He somehow shook that one off, only to have it rebound the last week of school before Christmas break, right as he was taking finals.

“If I hadn’t missed any days of school, I wouldn’t have to take my finals,” he said, his head leaning against the window as I drove him to school.

“Well, you’ve been so sick, you haven’t had any choice but miss,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “You know who got to exempt? The kids that have come to school all sick and spreading their germs. That’s who. Because of them, I am sick and having to take these finals.”

I felt his pain. I have always been of the “if you’re sick, you stay home” camp and thought the whole perfect attendance thing was over-rated.

When I picked him up later that morning, he was looking forward to a few weeks to rest and recoup. And Taco Bell, his own cure-all method.

I thought surely a few weeks of rest and in his own familiar environment of germs would help he recover, and we could enjoy the holidays well and happy.

But the next morning, I woke with a tickle in the back of my throat.

“Oh, no. No, no,” I thought.

For the next 10 days, I was sick with whatever pestilence and plague my child had been fighting.

We sounded like a bunch of seals coughing 24 hours a day. There were days where all I did as sleep off and on as I watched Hallmark movies. I am not quite sure if I even showered as days ran together, only separated by the countdown to Christmas on the tv screen.

I went through tons and tons of stuff – cough drops, soup, tea, you name it – before finding solace in the old standby of Nyquil.

“It’s an OTC moonshine,” Mama declared as she sang its praises. “And it will help you rest, which will help you get well.”

I didn’t like taking it, but I didn’t like being sick either.

After what felt like an eternity, just a few days before the beginning of the year, we were back to our old cough-and-mucous free, feverless selves.

Then, Cole had to go back to school.

The first week was fine.

Maybe he has finally built his immune system back up, I thought. Maybe mine was as well.

Then, the second or third week, I had some tummy bug.

I went back home after taking Cole to school.

He was calling by 9:30. “Mom, I think I have what you have,” he said, sounding weak.

Just this week, he has missed yet another day.

It has been a vicious, awful cycle.

I am to the point I do not want to leave the house until all the bugs, viruses, flu strains, and everything else are over.

“Is mono contagious?” he asked the other day.


“This kid at school has it.”

“They were at school?” I asked. He nodded. “Where do they sit?”

“Right behind me.”

Of course they do.

The season of sick was evidently a long way from being over.

Last-minute Santa

Apparently, there are three different kinds of Christmas shoppers.

There’s a group who have their shopping done somewhere around Memorial Day, if not sooner.

Years ago, I tried this tactic. I ended up buying stuff and putting it in a ‘secret’ place that apparently was so secret I forgot where it was.

There’s the competitive shopper, the ones who live for the crowds and chaos of Black Friday and enjoy being caught up in the frenzy.

And there’s the few like myself.

People, who even though Christmas has been the same day for hundreds of years, are somehow caught off guard by the event and finds themselves frantically shopping on Christmas Eve.

The whole hustle and bustle has somehow made me lose my Christmas spirit the last few years.

You’d think having a child would make me more excited about this holiday, but it hasn’t.

When my son was younger, I tried. I did.

Beginning the week after Thanksgiving, I would start getting a few of the gifts Cole had on his list.

This was when he was much smaller and his list would consist of him handing me the Toys ‘R Us catalog and saying he wanted everything except Barbies or Monster High stuff.

Trying to hide his gifts became an increasing challenge each year.

He had quickly figured out I used my office as a primary hiding place and would snoop through everything, looking in and under everything he could.

He found quite a few, too, dragging them from their hiding spots with squeals of glee.

“We’ve got to get a better hiding spot,” Lamar whispered.

So, we started putting them in the trunk of the car and covering them with something.

That worked for a while but was not foolproof by any means.

Homeschooling presented even more of a challenge with hiding the presents.

It’s one thing when you are trying to hide your Amazon purchases from your husband; have you ever tried hiding boxes from a highly inquisitive child when UPS delivers?

“What’s in the box? What did you order? Open it! I’m opening it now!”

There’s been times I have messed up and waited too late to order, too, and the things he wanted got sold out.

And I don’t know if y’all knew this or not but printing off a picture of the item and putting it in a box with a handwritten note from Santa, stating the elves got behind but as soon as it was back in stock, one would be on its way does not cut it with any child, regardless of age.

After that happening two years in a row, I learned my lesson.

Kind of.

“Mama, have you ordered my gifts yet?”

“Not yet.”

Silence as he gives a level stare. “Don’t you think you should maybe look into it? Remember Christmas 2011? And 2012?”

I remember, I tell him.

And then there was the Christmas of 2014. That was the morning I woke in the ungodly early hours to venture to the store, with a list of items I was hoping they would still have in stock.

Of course, most of the items were gone but somehow, I managed to get a few of the main things on the list.
“Why do I do this to myself every year?” I thought to myself as I was shoved through the crowd towards the line.

“It’s a magical time of the year, isn’t it?” a voice said behind me.

I wanted to bah humbug. Looking at the crowd, it didn’t feel magical. It felt like we were all a bunch of ill-prepared people rushing around when should be home having coffee in our flannel pj’s.

“You must have a son,” the voice commented behind me. “He likes Legos and building things, eh? Very good with his hands. I bet he’s smart, too. I bet he’s been a good boy this year, hasn’t he?”

“He has,” I agreed.

“He’s a good boy every year. He will be excited about that Lego set.”

I turned around to see who this presumptuous man was.

Not much taller than myself, maybe around 5’4, and wearing a soft, red sweater, with a little red beret set jauntily on his head, the man looked like an old-fashioned Santa Claus from a Normal Rockwell painting. His smile reached his eyes as he looked amused at my expression of shock and bewilderment.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Santa?” I asked.

He winked. “I get it all the time.”
“That’s got to be a hoot coming in here on Christmas Day. I bet you are freaking some of the kids out,” I nodded towards some kids a few registers over, oblivious to the man who looked like the jolly old elf.

The man chuckled. “Those kids don’t even notice me. They are past the age of Santa. Besides,” he smiled, “they know sometimes I get behind and have to do some last-minute shopping myself.”

What? Did he?….Was he for real?

“Take my card if you ever need help making someone believe again,” he said as he pressed his business card into my hand. “Your son. Or yourself, perhaps.”

“Merry Christmas,” he called after me as I grabbed my bags and headed towards the doors.

An hour later, Cole woke to presents scattered around the tree.

“Santa,” I said.
He eyed the packages. “This looks like your wrapping though,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I had to meet him at the store to get them. How else do you think I got this Lego set? It was sold out everywhere else.”

Cole nodded. “Santa was at the store?”

“Yes. See?” I pulled his card out from my pocket.

“Whoa,” Cole said. “So cool! You met Santa!”

Off he ran to play with his toys. I picked up the card and turned it over.

Just one word was on the shiny card: Believe.

And for that moment suspended in time, I did.

Granny’s Way of Making Me Stronger (4/13/2016)

Granny often lamented that my generation was not made of tough stuff. She grew up during the Depression and said it taught her how to persevere and made her stronger.

“I don’t want to be stronger,” I told her. “I think this whole ‘struggling’ thing is over-rated.”

She snorted. “Yeah, you better get stronger than what you are or you gonna be a goner.”

Part of Granny’s innate strength building character meant she re-used everything she could; when I informed her she was environmentally conscientious when she reused Mason jars and tin foil, she rolled her eyes at me and replied, “My generation always was a little more worried about the environment than yours is – we depended on it to survive. To you’uns, it’s disposable like everything else.”

Of course, her homemade recycling system meant at any given time you could open her fridge to find 15 different Country Crock containers and open 11 before you finally found the margarine. The rest were leftovers she had forgot about re-serving because they weren’t labeled.

Not that there were many leftovers. Granny was not wasteful when she cooked and if she did cook extra, it was because it was going in something else – like cornbread for dressing, or roast beef for soup.

But sometimes, her ideas of things were a little odd.

“Like what?” Cole asked me.

Like the way the old gal would cook sausage for breakfast. I wasn’t sent off to school with a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, which I would have preferred. Nope, Granny got up and made sausage and homemade biscuits for us.

If there were any sausage left over, she put them on a plate on the back of the stove and left them there all day.

All day.

Not even covered up.

“Did you get sick?” Cole asked.

I can’t remember. As a fat kid, I usually ate a bunch of stuff that made me feel queasy on any given day – watermelon, ice cream and funnel cake did it one day; watermelon, ice cream and cat fish did it on another. Maybe it was the combination of watermelon and ice cream.

But I never once thought it had anything to do with Granny and her sitting-out-all-day sausage.

Come to think of it, Granny left a lot of things sitting out that probably could have darn well killed us.

She would make potato salad with onions and leave it out after Sunday dinner. No one realized it was the onions you needed to be concerned about.

Back then, people worried about the mayonnaise going bad and I told her as much.

“You’re trying to give us food poisoning,” was my actual statement.

“I ain’t trying no such of a thing. It is fit to eat.”

When I tried to throw away a can of pudding – chocolate, no less—because there was rust on the can, I received a stern admonishment. “That pudding is fine; the rust is on the outside.” I still didn’t trust the pudding.

“She’s gonna give us botulism,” I told Mama one day. “We’re gonna die from botulism.”

“Maybe not,” Mama said, not too sure herself.

When Botox came out rooted in botulism, Granny was the first to let me know. “See there; you just a-knew I was gonna kill you and it turns out rich folks are getting that stuff shot in their wrinkles to look younger. When you’re 40, you’ll be wishing you had ate that canned pudding!”

Now that I am in my 40’s, maybe I should have ate the pudding.

Mama called to warn me about yet another food recall the other day; this time, it was on what she calls, “those little trees.”

I assured her I didn’t buy broccoli.

“Oh, good,” she said. “I didn’t want y’all to get sick. I know you make broccoli slaw sometimes and I know how sensitive you are to things.  You try to keep up on those recalls don’t you? It seems like it is always on the stuff I know you get. You know, healthy stuff. Like spinach and stuff.”

I told her I tried to keep up with it but had to agree: it seemed like the healthier and more natural the stuff was, the sicker it made us. At least nowadays, anyway.

I used to worry about sausages and potato salad sitting out all day, covered with a dish towel for protection. I don’t recall getting sick off that but I can guarantee you I will check the recall alerts before I make a salad, a lesson I learned years ago, even though we didn’t get sick.

“You eating all that stuff didn’t kill you like you thought it would,” Granny told me one day when she learned how we survived the spinach recall. “I was just building up your immune system.”

Perhaps that was just Granny’s way of making me stronger after all.

Just can’t have anything nice (2/24/2016)

Much akin to Jeff Foxworthy’s cry when his mother’s Elvis Jack Daniels decanter was broken, my grandmother declared she couldn’t have anything nice.

This, of course, was after her porcelain praying hands statue had been knocked to the floor to break for the umpteenth time.

Whether it was Mama and my doing or Mama’s cat, Bennie, has long been forgotten as we usually rotated who got to break the sacred hands every month.

I thought Granny was just being a tad bit overdramatic and embellishing the facts -hereditary problems among the women in my family – but alas, the old gal spoke the truth.

I even discovered as hard as I tried, I may not be able to have anything nice either.

It’s an odd thing, actually.

I think it may actually stem from living in your own home. That seems to be the best way to cause things you like to get damaged, broken or destroyed.

Mama asked me if I still had my coffee on the porch every morning in my rocking chair.

When I told her I hadn’t done that in years, she wanted to know why.

“Doodle ate my chair,” I answered.

She literally cut her big pup teeth on the wooden rocker, eating the wicker seat until she fell out of it.

She ate a table, too.

I’ve had people tell me they wouldn’t have dogs who ate their furniture, shoes, floor, cabinets and all the various other things my girls have eaten.

The husband has broken more stuff and I haven’t taken him to the pound yet.

On the porch is also an antique farmhouse table – I have no idea how old it is, but I bought it from a friend who is an antique dealer. It’s primitive, roughhewn and beautifully simplistic.

My husband thinks it is a good table to hold various cans of lube, grease and God knows what other bicycle paraphernalia he has put on it.

“I can’t have anything nice,” I muttered when I saw the bike stuff on it.

It’s not a matter of being materialistic, because really – I’m not.

I just have discovered that there is a correlation between the nicer something is, the more likely it is to get broken.

Cheap stuff or stuff you don’t really like, you can’t get rid of, no matter how hard you try.

It’s like dinner plates you hate the pattern of – they never break. I had a pattern I absolutely loved before and I had to replace them within a year.

The shoes I splurge on end up getting stuck in something and breaking a heel.

The dress or pants that fit perfectly (and make me look thin) get splashed with bleach or a pen explodes on them.

“I think Granny was right!” I told Mama one day.

“About what?” she wanted to know.

“Well, everything really,” I said and meant it. “But you know how she said she couldn’t have anything nice? I am wondering if I can either.”

I ran down the list of things I had that had been broken, eaten, and had grease stains on by way of a bicycle.

Mama understood.

She remembered putting down brand new flooring once and someone tracked mud in on it the minute the installers were gone. For someone who hated vacuuming, easy to maintain flooring was Mama’s idea of “nice.”

“Maybe you should put everything up you want to keep,” she suggested.

I could but it’s hard to do. It may mean about 80 percent of my belongings will be in some storage box, shoved in a closet.

“I don’t know if that will help,” I said. “I think I am just going to have to learn how to not have any kind of attachment to things. I want to have nice things but at the same time, I don’t want a house that me and my family and dogs can’t live in.”

Mama agreed.

While I was telling Mama all of this, Cole was desperately trying to get my attention. I kept trying to signal to him I was on the phone. When I finally hung up, he told me quite frustrated that Doodle had eaten another shoe.

“Mama,” he began, exasperated. “I tried to tell you while you were on the phone, but you wouldn’t listen. So you can’t blame me for this. If you had paid attention for just a few minutes, I could have told you Doodle was eating these.”

I sighed.

I can’t have anything nice – and I only have myself to blame.

Find out more with the Dawson County News!

some assembly required

Some assembly required (4/8/2015)

IKEA, I will never darken your doors. Never, not ever.

In fact, if I bring home anything else that has instructions in the box, I may be divorced.

It all started years ago shortly after we married, I decided I had to have a baker’s rack and brought it home for Lamar to put together.

Lamar, who had a nasty case of road rash following a bicycle crash two days after we married, loaded the thing up and took it back to the store and swapped it out for one that was already put together.

Considering how painful it was to put on britches just to go in the store, he displayed his distaste for products requiring assembly.

“Don’t go buying cheap furniture that has to be put together,” he has said.

He’s a man of few words so for him to make such a proclamation was a pretty big feat.

I ignored it, of course, and brought in a few things that have required power tools. He has not been too happy with me, either, but has obliged, giving me a heavy sigh and a hairy eyeball all the while.

What can I say? I live in a small cabin with little storage and a lot of stuff.

I decided I needed one of those corner shelf thingies to go in the shower to hold my extra shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deep hair conditioner, extra soap, soap that smells good, soap that cleans well, soap to soften, soap to moisturize, shaving cream for sensitive skin, shaving cream for irritated skin, shaving cream that smells like flowers, and shaving cream that has some kind of chemical to keep me from shaving my legs every day.

Like I said. I have a lot of stuff.

We wandered around Bed, Bath, and Beyond for 40 minutes, looking at all the possibilities.

I found a corner shelf thingy and was deciding which finish I wanted when my dreams were ceremoniously dashed.

The corner shelf thiny needed to be put together and was $49.99.

“For 50 bucks, that thing better wash my back,” I muttered.

“I got an idea that will save you a bunch of money,” Lamar said.

“What?” I wanted to know.

“You quit putting so much junk in the shower. No one needs that much shampoo, conditioner and all that other junk that ends up falling on my head. Just put one bottle of shampoo, one conditioner, one bar of soap-and do you really need body wash if you have soap? Just leave all that stuff outta there and you won’t need a corner shelf thingy and I won’t have to put one together.”

Did I really need body wash if I had soap? What in the world was wrong with this man? Was he out of his ever loving mind? Did he not know that you washed with the soap first to get clean, then you used the body wash to make your skin soft and luxurious and smell good? How could he even suggest I not have soap and body wash in the shower?

Lamar had a near death experience then and there in Bed, Bath and Beyond and didn’t even know it.

“I want a corner shower thingy and I am going to get one,” I declared.

Maybe not a $50 one, but I was going to get one.

Finally, weeks later, I remembered my declaration in Walmart. I found one with four shelves that seemed big enough to put all my shower goodness in for $19.99.

Yes, it needed to be put together, but for $19.99, it was a bit more reasonable.

Lamar groaned when he saw what was in the buggy.

“Don’t get something I am gonna have to put together,” he pleaded.

“I will put it together myself,” I said resolutely.

I could.

I was able to figure out some stuff, surely I could figure out a shower corner shelf thingy.

But I couldn’t.

I dumped the contents into the floor and studied the instructions.

For some reason, the pictures labeled the pieces, but the items themselves were not labeled. Nothing matched up on the instructions either. The instructions didn’t make any kind of sense and I am pretty sure they were in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Lamar watched me from the couch, silently, then turned up the volume of some documentary to drown out the clanging metal sounds.

I thought I had managed to put it together, until Cole asked me what I was supposed to do with the two pieces lying to the left of me.

I realized I had the shelves on wrong and the pole was upside down. How did I do that?

“There should be a pole in it with a spring so you can fit against the tub and ceiling,” Lamar advised from the couch.

I am not sure if he was amused, felt sorry for me or was just glad he wasn’t sitting amongst 57 pieces of cheaply produced metal.

“This one maybe?” I asked, holding up a piece with something loose rolling around inside of it.

He said nothing, just frowned and turned back to his history documentary, because finding out about the downfall of a civilization is far more important than helping put together a corner shelf thingy.

“Maybe it will fit anyway, without the springy pole,” I said.

I wasn’t too sure, but wasn’t about to ask him to help when he had invoked an embargo on putting stuff together.

I was defeated and felt pretty pitiful, being bested by something that proclaimed “easy to assemble” in big, bold letters on the front.

“I will finish it for you tomorrow,” he said, not even looking up from his program.

But the next day, Lamar met the same frustration I had.

“Last night you had leftover pieces, today, I don’t have enough!” he said.

He told me there were supposed to be some whatchamacallits that were not included, too.

I decided to just take it back.

Maybe Lamar was right and I could make do with one shampoo and one conditioner in the shower. Or just one shaving cream.

When out antiquing – I did have $19.99 plus tax burning a hole in my pocket – I found a cute little table I could use in the bedroom. I texted Lamar. “Should I get it?” I asked.

Minutes passed. I knew he wouldn’t care – especially if he didn’t have to refinish it. But maybe he was mad at me for the corner shelf thingy after all.

“Do I have to put it together?” was his reply.


“Get it. Get everything you want as long as it does not have to be put together!”

Finally – a win-win for both of us – and no assembly required!