Flash Fiction #161

bowl-and-leaves

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

LOUD AND CLEAR

Uh-huh….
So your grandson got an interview for the assistant quality-control position.
Uh-huh….
It’ll be straight day-shifts, and Monday to Friday, and a raise.

Great!  Look, I’d love to stand and talk, but Hubby’s bringing home his boss and wife.  I’m a little tied up right now.  I’m trying to make her favorite salad to impress them.  It has kale and watercress and pine-nuts.

I have to run to the store to get balsamic vinegar.  I don’t know how it will taste, but it’ll look great in my crystal salad bowl.  Call me later.  I’ll tell you how it went.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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Pick A Number

This will be a list with numbers, just not a numbered list.

We had two women start work at the auto-parts plant at the same time.  I don’t know how long they had known each other, possibly from high-school.  They had worked together at a cookie plant.  When times got tight, and they both got laid off there, they both got a job just outside the city, at a chicken processing/packing plant.  When that company had to cut back, they both came to work for us.

Like the Polish Contessa at the deli, they both came to work immaculately turned out.  They wore clothing to a vinyl-parts plant, better than I would wear to church, if I attended church, perfectly coiffed and full makeup, with gorgeous nails.  After about a year, one of them managed to swing a job in the office, as the general manager’s assistant.  About the same pay, but with office hours and better working conditions, if you didn’t mind being on your knees under the desk, looking for the cigar.

When the other one got transferred to my line, as the inspector/packer, I found how she kept the gorgeous nails.  She had most of the guys, excluding me, beguiled into doing a large portion of her work.  She suddenly started yelling at me one day.  “Don’t do that!  Oh, that’s horrible!  Don’t do it!”  I found out that I had yawned, and she saw the back of my throat.  Another day, she suddenly wailed, “Oh, that’s terrible!  I hate that! Why did that have to happen to me!??  Uck!”  It turned out that a drop of water, distilled from the muggy air had fallen on her from the mold-chiller pipe.  It doesn’t come much purer, especially in a manufacturing plant.  I often wondered how she had conceived and bore two children.  I did not wonder why she had an ex-husband.

The wife and I are not butterflies.  We have always planned long-term, and have done more so as we age.  In almost 45 years of marriage, we have lived only five places, the last three, 18 years, 13 years, and we’ve been in this house for 10 years and expect to go out feet-first.

Despite the work I’ve done on it, the back lawn gets more and more uneven from ant hills, worm castings and frost heave.  We have flower beds along the fences but have turned them more to shrubs and bushes.  The disabled wife loves to garden, but finds moving across the lawn increasingly difficult.  As a result, most of the flowers we have, are in pots, on or beside the back deck, or in planters, hanging from fence posts.  Since they’re not in the ground, they require daily watering.

To facilitate this, we have five 55 US gal. plastic barrels catching rain water.  One is at the front of the house, under the porch downspout.  Three more are at the side of the house, on concrete paving stones.  I diverted the rear downspout and ganged the three together with hoses.  When one fills, the overflow fills the other two.  There is one more, at the back of the property which I filled by hand, as a last resort against drought.  As the mobile mate, it is my daily job to take water from these barrels to the plants.

Early in the season, when the plants are few and small, it only requires one two gallon watering can to do them.  As the season progresses, and the wife pots more plants, and they all grow, the task grows with them.  We planted three tomato plants for home consumption, and those babies want water.  Soon I add a small long-spout waterer, then we include a larger long-spout for the hanging baskets.  Then it goes to two of the two gallon, plus the two smaller.  I think I’ve reached the max by now.  I now need to lug two of the small, two of the medium and five of the two-gallon.  Come on, weight-loss!

When I was making 450 Jeep parts a day, I thought of the old Tennessee Ernie Ford song, I Load Sixteen Tons.  I asked the Quality Control guy one day how much each part weighed.  The answer, the next day was, 18.2 pounds, times 450 parts/day equals 8200 pounds.  But wait, I had to lift that off one production table and place it on the press, and then remove the same weight in finished parts and place them on the inspection table, so I moved it twice, for a total of 16400 pounds a day.  No wonder I have to watch my weight, now that I’m retired.

With all the roofs and pavement and hard-packed lawns, the city has trouble dealing with storm-water runoff when it rains, so they’ve instituted a runoff levy to pay to upgrade the system.  If you catch, hold and slowly release 13,000 liters of water, you get the levy refunded.  Despite the fact that I’ve been doing this for years, my five barrels only total 10,000 liters.  There was a company selling rain barrels at the Cherry Festival, but even if I could squeeze in one more, it would only get me to 12,000.

Also for years, we have composted garden and kitchen scraps.  They disappear and come back as more top-soil the wife can use in her gardens.  We have four composters, two near the house, handy for kitchen waste, and two more at the back for garden scrap.  We also have one Green-Cone Digester.  As the name says, it’s a flat-topped green cone, almost as big as the composters.  Inside, with about a half-inch of air-space, is another black plastic cone.  These two trap and hold solar energy, so that this thing can break down stuff like meat and bones that can’t go in a regular composter.

My Depression-trained Scottish mother and relatively low income have taught us how to conserve and stretch our resources.  We were reducing our carbon footprint long before others had heard the words.