Tag: bills

Charlie’s Room: Distracted

Marianne shuffled through the cans in the pantry again. “What happened to the olives?”

Isaac, who was brushing butter onto the raw loaves of bread, paused. He set down the brush. “Did we use them in the spaghetti yesterday?”

“No. I added mushrooms, and I don’t like to have both at the same time.”

“That’s right.” Isaac thought again. “We didn’t put them in the potato soup two days ago.”

“Of course not.”

Charlie dashed into the kitchen, holding up a garden book. “The Farmer’s Almanac has a recipe for a slug trap. We’ll need molasses and cornmeal and flour and yeast. Do we have all that?”

Marianne looked back at the pantry. “I don’t think we have cornmeal. Do you know what happened to the olives?”

Charlie nodded. “We ate them when we were watching movies, remember? We put them on our fingers. They only fit on the ends of Dad’s fingers. Except his pinkies.”

“That’s right.” Marianne shut the cupboard door. “Do you want to go with me to the grocery store? We can pick up some cornmeal.”

“Yeah! Let’s go.” Charlie darted towards the door and paused. “Are you coming too, Dad?”

Isaac finished brushing butter on the loaves and smiled. “No, these are ready for the oven, so I need to be here to make sure to take them out in time.”

“Sounds good. Don’t let the house burn down while we’re gone.” Marianne patted him on the shoulder and followed Charlie out the door.

Isaac slid the loaves of bread into the oven and set the timer. He had a little over half an hour. Now what?

The mail basket on the counter was empty. Did that mean no one had checked the mail yet? Well, that shouldn’t take too long. On the way to the mailbox, he glanced over at Miss Marta’s house. There was a little bit of smoke drifting over the fence.

Marianne’s joke about the house burning down suddenly came to mind. He walked over to the fence and peeked over, just in case. Miss Marta had a little fire pit in her backyard. A large black cauldron was hanging from a metal stand over the pit. Miss Marta was stirring the pot with a long-handled spoon.

Isaac sniffed the air. “Are you burning rosemary?” he asked.

Miss Marta looked over at him, startled. “Yes. Is everything okay?”

“Of course. I just saw the smoke and wanted to make sure your house wasn’t on fire. Are you making soap?”

Miss Marta nodded. “How did you know?”

“That’s how my grandma used to make it. Did you need any help?”

She said she didn’t, but they had a nice long talk on soap molds and lye and it took longer than it should have for Isaac to remember that he was checking the mail. He excused himself and went to the mailbox.

There were ads and bills. Isaac leafed through them, separating them. The ads they wouldn’t be interested in all he left in the recycle bin outside. The rest he took back into the house with him.

When he stepped inside, he could hear the timer ringing. Oops. Luckily there wasn’t any smoke. He hurried to the kitchen, dropping the mail on the counter, and opened the oven door. He leaned back to avoid the steam. The bread was a little darker brown than he liked, but edible.

He left it to cool on the counter and turned off the timer and the oven. Then he started going through the mail. Moments later, Marianne and Charlie returned from the store. Marianne dropped the shopping bag on the counter next to the bread. “Oh, is the bread done? I didn’t think we were gone that long.”

Charlie held up the can of olives he’d carried into the house. “We got an extra can of olives to wear on our fingers while dinner cooks! Can you help me open it?”

Marianne smiled and started to unpack the rest of the groceries. “I also got some raspberry jam to go with the bread. It’s a reward for not burning the house down while we were gone.”

Isaac laughed a little nervously. “It was a near thing, but I managed to safely bake the bread without any fires at all.”

“Hmmmm.” Marianne looked a little suspicious.

Isaac cleared his throat. “Did you know that Miss Marta has a fire in her back yard?”

Charlie paused his search for the can opener and grinned. “Really?”

“She’s making soap. Just like my grandma used to.”

Marianne frowned. “I think she’d get better results inside on the stove.”

“Can we go talk to her after dinner? I want to see.” Charlie had the can of olives clasped to his chest, his eyes shining.

The conversation moved on, they ate olives before dinner and with dinner, and then they visited Miss Marta after dinner. After that there was all the excitement of making a slug trap. Isaac didn’t ever have to admit to nearly burning the bread, if not the house.

However, after that he made it a personal rule to stay inside the house while he was cooking. Unless he was cooking on the grill, of course. And he never burned down the house. Ever.

Charlie’s Room: Visiting Kangaroo

“Guess what?” Charlie said at dinner.

“You lost a tooth?” Isaac guessed.

“Nope.”

“You did well on the math test?” Marianne guessed.

Charlie smiled. “Well, yes. But that’s not what I was thinking about. Guess again.”

“You’re wearing your lucky socks?”

Charlie shook his head at Isaac’s guess. “Nope. Do you give up?”

Isaac and Marianne nodded.

“I get to write an essay about my favorite movie. I need to watch it again for research. I have a list of things to watch for. Can we watch it together after dinner?”

Marianne smiled. “I can, but your dad has some paperwork he was planning to do.”

“If Charlie needs help with his schoolwork…” Isaac began.

“I think we can handle it,” Marianne said. “Let me know if you need any help.”

After dinner, Marianne and Charlie popped some popcorn and took pens and papers and the list to the living room. Isaac put off the paperwork a little bit longer by doing the last of the dishes. But, when he heard the movie start, he knew he couldn’t put it off any longer.

He trudged over to his desk and sat down. It was his least favorite part of the week. But he’d agreed to be in charge of the paperwork when he and Marianne divided up chores as newlyweds. Allergies prevented him from doing yard work, so Marianne really had the harder list of things to do.

He hummed along with the soundtrack of the movie, imagining the scenes as he worked. Slowly he worked through the bills and such for the week. As long as he regularly kept up on it, it really wasn’t so bad. It was just really, really boring.

He checked income versus expenditures and compared it against their budget. Things were going well. He could even add a little extra to savings. Having a little extra in savings always made him nervous. It seemed to attract trouble.

Marianne thought this was a ridiculous idea. She said that trouble would come, no matter what, and weren’t they lucky that they always seemed to have just enough in savings to cover it? Perhaps Charlie’s lucky socks were more powerful than they guessed?

It looked like he was going to finish up in time to catch the ending of the movie. Isaac filed things away with extra focus. He was so intent on his work, that when he heard a knockg on the sliding glass door near his desk, he jumped.

He turned and looked through the door. There was a kangaroo in the backyard. Isaac blinked.

It was still there. Why was there a kangaroo in the backyard? Did it escape a zoo? And why was it knocking on the back door? Was that normal behavior for kangaroos?

Isaac stood up and walked over to the door. He opened it, but not wide enough for the kangaroo to go inside without permission. “Hello. How can I help you?”

“I was passing through, and I wondered if I can graze in your backyard? The trip home is a bit long, and I only brought a tucker bag.”

“What?”

The kangaroo held up his paws. “No worries, I can find somewhere else.”

Isaac shook his head. “No, you are welcome to graze here. I just wasn’t expecting you.”

The kangaroo chuckled. “Too right, I’m not your normal kangaroo.”

Isaac raided the vegetable drawer and fruit bowl. The kangaroo stood by the door, telling him which things he’d prefer. Isaac paused at the cupboard. “Would you like a water bottle? Can you open one?”

“I’ve got teeth, don’t I? Who needs thumbs?”

Isaac added the water bottle to the pile of food. The kangaroo tucked it into his bag. “Why are you traveling so far away from home?” Isaac asked.

“Haven’t you ever had something that you just felt like you needed to do?” the kangaroo asked.

Isaac glanced at the desk. “Well, I do have paperwork that I was just working on. It isn’t pleasant but it needs to be done.”

The kangaroo clucked. “I don’t think it’s the same thing.”

Isaac shrugged. “It’s not an adventure into the unknown in order to find myself or the meaning of life, but it is a way for me to take care of the people and things that are important to me. It can be difficult, but it’s worth it to me.”

The kangaroo nodded slowly. “Maybe you do understand.”

Isaac shrugged. “You don’t always have to leave home to learn the important things. The lessons can find you when you’re ready for them.”

The kangaroo nodded again and turned to leave. With a thump, thump, thump he’d bounded away and was gone. Isaac closed the door.

He finished filing away the last few bills and left out the things he would put in the mail on his way to work. The soundtrack to the dinosaur movie got louder and he could hear roaring. He’d finished working just in time to watch his favorite scene. He smiled, turned out the lights and left the room to join Charlie and Marianne in the living room. He hoped they saved him some popcorn.

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