Special Surprise

In the tomato fields of my youth (I'm trademarking that phrase), there was a phenomenon I feared more than any other: the Special Surprise.

I believe my brother coined the phrase. You're walking, stooped over, up and down the rows of tomatoes. You're trying to navigate the waist-high weeds, all the while searching for tomatoes to add to your basket.

The perfect tomato is one that has just begun its journey to ripeness: not so green that it will never ripen, but not so ripe that it will spoil before it hits the market stands. Not that we ignored the ripe ones. Heck no. My dad kept a salt shaker in his shirt pocket for just such tomatoes. We ate them on the spot, like apples.

Every now and again, you'd see a ripe, perky tomato still clinging to the vine. You'd truly believe you'd found the reward for all your sweaty hard work. You'd reach down to grasp that ripe fruit, only to have your thumb go through the rotten part hiding on the far side.

It was drippy. It was sticky. It was the Special Surprise.

I changed a diaper like that today.


Ah, Fall.

Erin sat on the couch last night, feeding little Al. Our two big kids lay asleep in their beds and the house had settled into a beautiful calm. Joan, our cat, hopped up on the couch beside Erin.

"Hello, Joan." said Erin. She then noticed the ass end (including still-wriggling tail) of a mouse sticking out of Joan's mouth.

"Ew! Ew.ew.ew.ew.ew.ew.ew.ew!" she cried, leaping from the seat with the baby still attached.

I chased the cat up the stairs to try and get the mouse from her. I knew that if I left Joan alone, she'd play with the thing for hours and then triumphantly deliver its corpse to Erin.

I found Joan in our spare room. She had just released the mouse (for sport), and it had escaped behind a shelf. I moved the shelf. Joan caught the mouse again and ran out of the room. I was hoping she wouldn't take it into the kids' room. She did not. After a silly, silent television-style chase, I managed to get the mouse trapped under a garbage bucket.

It was still alive. For all its time in my cat's mouth, that mouse faired pretty well. I let it go outside, confident it wouldn't return to do battle with Joan again.

PS: Did I ever tell you we call all mice in our house "Pete Daitch"? As in, "Did I tell you Joan caught Pete Daitch again last night?" I was trying to remember why, when I remembered that Erin had once made a delicious batch of peach/date muffins. They were so good, I mixed up my consonants.

Me: These pete daitch muffins are awesome.

Erin: Thanks. Who is Pete Daitch?

Me: Ummm.... that mouse Joan caught last night. Silly fellow, really.

Ok. She's a real baby.

Al turned two weeks old just after midnight.  She woke up at that exact moment and decided she wanted a birthday party.  So much for our illusion of a miraculous sleeping baby.