Snake.

I saw a snake.

And I need for you to respect the great restraint and control in those four words. I actually cannot handle the idea of them, let alone a face to face encounter. Even as I write, simply remembering the scene, I’m lifting my feet off the floor. I could scream like a little girl over the mention of a snake. I lose all decorum and sense of maturity and control. So read those first four words with this intensity in mind.

I .SAW. A. SNAKE. Holy cats. There was a snake. S-N-A-K-E.

Our California friends had warned us – quite casually, actually – that snakes do in fact live in that mountainous, desert climate. This was nearly enough to send me with my packed luggage on the first flight back to Colorado, where snakes also live but I pretend they don’t.

“We’ve seen a few of them this summer – rattlesnakes that is. Let’s see. There was one in the garage and one on the deck. And there was one in the kitchen one day.”

In the kitchen, she said.

They showed us the shovel they use to kill snakes as needed. It’s also the shovel they use to scoop dog poop as needed. Handy tool, that shovel.

A week later, Kate walked out to the pool with a tray of beverages, and she said with measured steadiness, “Oh! Oh. Hello, you. Snake, you.”

We all jumped from our beach chairs and came running to see it, stopping in a frozen pose at an appropriate, safe distance. I’ll tell you what, I don’t know how big he was or how long or how fierce. Because it doesn’t matter. They are all the same degree of terror for me.

I’ve only ever seen snakes in a great big hurry to slither to their hidden safety. I’ve never seen a snake move so slowly, with such intention. As if he owned the place.

(Shiver.)

My brother is brave. My hero. He reached for that handy shovel with plans to save the family from our demise. Rather than chop it into a million pieces that would leave snake entrails smeared on the pool deck, he slid the shovel underneath Mr. Snakey McTerror and planned to toss him over the fence.

Kate said, “Tricia, look out over there. This thing could come your way. I mean, he won’t mean to, but he may throw it right at you.”

“I won’t throw it at her,” Rob said.

“I’m just saying. You’re a musical theater kid who’s about to try to throw a snake over a fence. Tricia, look out.”

* * *

We all survived. My brother saved the day.

And weeks later, here I sit with my ankles in the air, my laptop precarioiusly balanced on my knees.

Pancake Ice Cubes

Right now, the boys are making cupcakes.

Actually, they are doing an experiment with pancake mix, water, Gogurt, and sprinkles. Oh, and this just in: lemon juice and lime juice, both brand new in the refrigerator, each opened by the power of my Grandma’s antique nut cracker.

Don’t think Christmas figurine with a beard. Think large tweezers to use backwards.

I like to think I keep extra things on hand for such experiments, but the truth is, I think I just buy more than we need, so there are naturally leftovers (or items yet unopened) that lend themselves to ‘experiments.’

I’ve learned to say yes to these experiments, since a dozen eggs cost about a dollar, and if I don’t provide the ingredients, they’ll go looking for them under the kitchen sink. And their ingredients will have the phone number for poison control written across the bottle.

So, gentlemen, have your fill with the edible ingredients. Right now, since I declined their request to put their creation in the oven, they have instead opted for the freezer. Also an optimal place for science observation. They tell me the goal is pancake ice cubes.

I just overhead debate about mustard, is it a liquid or a solid.

I hear Tyler speaking like a surgeon to his assitant. “Towel. Napkin. Scalpel.”

There is only one rule: Clean it up. Usually, they overlook many steps in this process. If I go in there to find yogurt and pancake mix caked on my floor, so help me.

They bound onto the deck, now holding Windex and dish towels. “Mommy, while you’re sitting out here doing nothing, we’re going to do some work for you. You’ll be so proud of us. We’re going to start with your bathroom.”

And the pendulum swings. But don’t let them fool you: it’s not really about serving mommy. It’s just about moving the science experiments to the bathroom.

While I’m sitting out here doing nothing.

Seavers, Micellis, and my GPS

“Mom, I named our GPS. Her name is Carol Seaver.”

“Carol? Really?”

“Yes.”

“Why not Ramona? Or Trudy? Or Jennifer?”

“Her name is Carol.”

“Oh, Tricia. Why do I even try to argue with you over imaginary names of people who may or may not exist?”

“I’ve wondered that myself. And she does exist. Carol Seaver was the middle child on Growing Pains. If you’re more comfortable, you can call her Tracy Gold.”

“What?”

“I always thought she had the wrong name. I mean, Carol? She should have traded names with her mother.”

My brother jumped in. “That’s so true! What was the mom’s name?”

“Maggie. And the dad was Jason, a retired baseball player.”

“What?!” asks Kate, the voice of reason. “How did he play professional baseball while he was getting his
Doctorate to open his in-home counseling center, right off the living room?”

“Trish, you’re thinking of Who’s the Boss. Tony Micelli retired from baseball before he became a housekeeper.”

“Yes, he did. But I’m just sure of it. Jason Seaver played baseball.”

“Hold on. Let me Wiki it…. Trish, you’re thinking of Tom Seaver. He’s a baseball player in real life.”

“Oh, no kidding?”

Mom has one rule. “Well, if we’re calling her Carol, then we are spelling it with an e. She will be Carole.”

“Okay, but I don’t think that’s how
Jason and Maggie spell it.”

Usually

Years ago, one of my brother’s girlfriends said, “Tricia, you seriously laugh at everything Rob does. Like everything he does is really that funny.”

And that’s when she became his former girlfriend. When he and I were alone, and I said, “Um, her? Out.”

We reminisced about this lovely memory today.

And his brilliant wife, who is 300% awesome for all of us, said, “Well, you do laugh at everything he does. But usually when you laugh, it usually is funny.”

Beyonce and Casa Bonita

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This is Bianca. One of our home companions this week. And she is the most darling, empathic creature I’ve ever met. I imagine her voice over to be Angela Lansbury.

Her brother husband is Kasa. He is so fun loving and ready for a good time, and he’s ready to make some if nobody else will. His voice over is Bea Arthur.

Bianca and Kasa. We call them Beyonce and Casa Bonita.

And we think we are hilarious.