Three months are left of this year, 2020. Who would have “thunk” it would have been so hard? I have not been bothered by the seclusion because there is so much to do at home. Today I realized maybe I have ignored some tasks for… for… okay, for years. Now is the time to “pay the piper.” (What does that term even mean? It means when you cram stuff into your freezer for years, they finally let go and blow up.) I am living in a soap opera, and the crisis this week was that we had a tsunami for breakfast.

I made toasted bagels with cream cheese. The cream cheese was a little soft. Then I decided to have Diet Dr. Pepper with ice for my morning drink. When I opened the top freezer, we were washed over by a small, but mighty tidal wave of thawed produce. What I mean is, everything had thawed and it came pouring out. And the lovely smell; let’s not forget the smell of rotten shrimp and broccoli and sausage and creamy ice pops, all mixed together. The perfect dish for the White House. Yes, yes, I take full responsibility. How could I not? With my loving husband yelling, “Who buys this much seafood? Some of it is labeled 1999!” (Note to self, if the time dates are from the last century, get rid of it. Check.) It appears it is my fault.

My daughter-in-law, Kirsten, married to Will, my older son, is the mother of three young ladies in high school and works as a Doctor of Medical Biological Research. When she needs to discover a new form of life, she often comes to our house. “Jo, the stuff on this counter is bubbling.” I try to explain to her that we live in a parallel universe away from the rest of time. I don’t think she believes it. Yes, I do need to clean my pantry, but for today it is the freezer and refrigerator. We have a full freezer downstairs, but we live in a two-story house, and my kitchen is upstairs. I hate every jar of pickles and every jar of olives as I trudge down to find a place for them, but at least it is cool at night and pickles are in vinegar anyway.

I do love seafood, it’s true. Being born in Iowa, a land-locked state, and then moving to New Mexico, also a land-locked state, the idea of frozen fish was a wonder. I feel like the remake of the movie, “Free Willie.” All my frozen shrimp are swimming again—in the watery liquid at the bottom of our trash bin. I hope we can hold on until Friday when they pick up the trash.

When we knew the whole thing was gone, and not just the freezer, the next big issue was where to put mayonnaise, and other stuff like milk products. The cheese can stand alone if you get some ice in a cooler. I am about to call our neighbors to find space. Maybe this is the cure for that thing we’re not talking about. Social distancing? No one will come near us now.

The squirrels have it best. Tortillas, corn and flour are now flung across half an acre. All of the frozen nuts are piled up to make it easy for them. I don’t want them to get used to this treatment. Animals already come to our bedroom windows and bang on the glass in the mornings. And that is just the crows. The squirrels hide food, forgetting where they put it, and try to bully the crows out of bread.

The whole world has gone crazy and I can’t blame the politicians. And I can’t blame global warming either; my freezer went out on its own. Yes. Yes, I may have overloaded, but I didn’t want to run us out of seafood. We live in a desert you know. There were enchilada casseroles in there too.

To make us feel better we finally went to a restaurant to eat away our sorrows. There was a line at Cracker Barrel, and we waited 30 minutes. With masks and gloves before we got a menu, I ordered and Bill ordered. They did not have most of what was on the menu. The fried chicken couldn’t be served because the deep fryer was broken. This and that was not ready, so we could have vegetable soup. We thanked the young man, tipped him for food we had not eaten and came home: If I am going to be miserable, I might as well be miserable at home. I have thawed vegetables for soup. Roaring Mouse, (do you need some pickles?), out.

Jo White
Jo White

From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at jomouse@aol.com