You may have thought your Memorial Day festivities were great. Maybe even exciting. See if you still think so after you read about mine. Now, you’re probably thinking I’m going to wow you with a tale of some exotic and dangerous hike or a family reunion with a long-lost relative. OK—so it wasn’t that exciting, but . . .
We spent the holiday with my father-in-law in Xenia. I kicked the day off with The Grillin’. It’s big stuff when a guy gets to do anything with propane. Bonnie and her dad count on me every Memorial Day to cook the dogs, brats, and smokies, and the ears of corn enough so that they are hot all the way through, but not so charred that I would get a concerned visit from Smokey the Bear. Even though they eat whatever I bring to the table—and with a smile—I am always on a mission to deliver up something they will really enjoy.
I turned the gas dial and clicked the self-ignitor to preheat the grill. Nothing happened. I clicked again. Still nothing. Several more clicks. Tension mounted as to how big of a fireball would erupt as the spark finally met the propane. Little Sugar, the family poodle, raised her ears a bit and backed away from her spot underfoot. If Bonnie and Dad had been close by, I’m sure they would have gone searching for some asbestos suits.
Finally, I became concerned enough to turn the dial off. I asked Dad if he had ever had any problems with the ignitor. He suggested I turn on the propane tank under the grill. His advice was spot-on, as usual. Soon I delivered up hot processed tube steaks and yellow-and-black checkered corn, with mostly only first and second degree burns.
Phase two of my thrillin’ day—the part I like even better than grillin’—followed immediately: The Fillin’! Sugar parked herself under the table near me. She knew that the best chance for any falling cow or pig tidbits was in my vicinity. I filled my plate with meat, corn, potato salad, baked beans, cheese cubes, and olives. Once again I avoided those cold pickled thingies. Even Sugar doesn’t like them.
I wish someone would invent safety corn cob holders. When I chomped on the corn, I also bit into the metal prong of one. The jolt was way worse than the shock of tin foil on a filling. After that, I slowed my chomping as I neared the ends of the cob. In spite of my near visit to the dentist, it was a great meal topped off with cherry pie. Very safe—no pits.
I moved on to the Lazy Boy for phase three: The Chillin’. Many years ago, I felt inclined to change the terminology for my post-meal activity. This was because whenever I hit the couch, Bonnie’s mom would say that only pigs take a nap after they eat. Sugar, dejected at the lack of any raining meat that day, parked herself by the Lazy Boy and the lazy boy. She was probably waiting for a W-A-L-K. (We have to spell it because if she hears the word, she dances in circles and runs to her leash.)
I spent some time looking at a Salt magazine, a cool publication out of Wilmington, Ohio. It contains interesting articles on places and people and everyday living in Southern Ohio. Each issue also has a small salt shaker hidden among the pages. I had previously been through the magazine six times searching for the silly thing. (Bonnie found it her first time through but won’t share her secret with me.) My seventh time that day was unfruitful again. Yes, salt can raise your blood pressure—even the lack of it. Tired of being unproductive, I decided to do some chillin’ with my eyes closed, but I got a phone call from Chris. We had trail maintenance logistics to discuss.
I couldn’t justify any more time for chillin’. I headed back outside to where the fun had begun. Dad already had the grill cleaned up, so my phase four was The Tillin’. Sugar trotted along, possibly hoping I would hook her leash to the Mantis tiller—anything for a W-A-L-K—while I readied Dad’s garden for planting. More man fun, and getting back to productivity.
Speaking of . . . At 92, Dad is still planting a garden. His efforts continue to result in a bounty of produce for himself and Bonnie and me. Extra vegetables find their way to his neighbors. Just the day before I had been 60 miles away at East Fork State Park to lead the camper church service. A lady came who lives in Xenia. In talking with her, we found out her brother also lives in Xenia and just happens to be Dad’s next-door neighbor. He is one of the happy recipients of Dad’s zucchini—and maybe even a happier recipient of the zucchini bread that his sister, our new acquaintance, made him with Dad’s zucchini last summer!
Well, I bet you still think your holiday was great. But mine was fun too: playing with fire and food; eating the food . . . and eating the food . . . and eating the food; taking some down time and talking trails and hiking; operating gas-powered equipment. Pretty thrillin’ stuff for this guy.