Great article about refrigerating vegetables and fruit. Even my resident expert learned a little.
“But ultimately the juice is worth the squeeze — if you’re only reaching 5 percent of the people, at some point, you have to ask why and decide maybe this is not the tool we should use.”????????
TODAY INSTEAD OF A PUN, I WILL ATTACH A SHORT SHORT STORY THAT MIGHT PERK YOU UP. BUT, WHO COULD FIND A FUNERAL HUMOROUS DURING A PANDEMIC?
The Paw Bearer
The best funeral that I ever attended, I didn’t. I overslept. But I could make it to the burial if I hurried. I threw on some jeans and a barely wrinkled, nice’ish black shirt as well as my dressy sandals and hurried into the garage.
I cranked up my SUV then realized that I needed a breakfast beverage for the hot and tedious five-mile journey to the internment. I left the truck door opened and dashed back into the house where I filled a quart sized Mason jar full of vodka and ice, with a little orange juice splashed in for color.
Alas, upon my arrival at the cemetery, I discovered that my best friend and hunting dog, a rat terrier named “Pop”, had snuck through the open door and into the back of the Suburban where he laid low until our arrival (and not for the first time either). Well, the August heat of East Texas was too thick and oppressive to leave him locked up, so I chugged the rest of my breakfast and let him out, onto the crowded grave yard which was full of people trying to stay out of the sun without stepping on somebody’s grave.
Ole Pop was mostly black with only a little white on his face and neck, but he had four white stocking feet, which gave him a little distinction that he needed since he was otherwise short and fat and, really, pretty common looking. He stared at me quizzically, with his head twisted around a little as if to ask if he should go with me, and why were we hunting squirrels in this heat, what with all these people around?
I ignored him and traipsed across the grass, almost losing my balance as I tried to avoid defiling the ultimate acreage of various dear departeds. My inadvertent tardiness did have some merit, however, because all the preaching and praying, singing and crying, was done with by the time I eased in. I didn’t take the time to sign the register. More likely than not, the dear departed would not be reviewing it anytime soon.
Several folding chairs and a fresh grave were canopied by a mildew-encrusted tent that was steaming in the heat. It smelled like an old chicken coop. Even though the burial service was over, lots of folks were standing around in various shades visiting and a heap of ‘um were looking at me. Somewhat self-consciously, I eased up front, close to the coffin, which was poised on hydraulics, ready to be lowered into an open grave. Thankfully, the casket was closed, but it was draped with a multitude of flowers including a spray composed of magnolia and lily pad blossoms intertwined with honeysuckle vines that I had made and sent over the day before, without a card. Discretely, between the flowers and the casket, I now placed a couple of old risqué post cards that the decedent, who had been my favorite nurse, sent me from Paris some years back. I took my time since I didn’t plan to think about this day ever again.
While I stood there with my head somberly bowed, something salty coursed down my face to the corners of my mouth, sweat most likely, and it must have got in my eyes, because they started blinking and burning and watering uncontrollably. I didn’t want anyone to see my eyes acting so crazy, so I just stood there quietly for a little longer. By then, my legs felt a little wobbly, and my head was kind of spinning, most likely due to the heat or by something I didn’t eat.
I hitched up my pants and put on the sunglasses that I conveniently found on my forehead and took down a real deep breath of air as I turned from the grave. I walked away slowly and alone in an attempt at anonymity, but to my consternation, I was greeted by more than a few of the bereaved. I had hoped that my standoffish demeanor would preclude any graveyard chitchat and niceties — and the hokum about how much better off the loved one is now “in a better place” and all of that terminally titillating mumbo-jumbo bull shit.
However, my impassive facade was quickly disrupted. I heard some muted giggling and carrying on, and, annoyed, I turned around to see if someone was laughing at me. Well, to my chagrin, Pop was walking around sniffing at and peeing on various tombstones and flowerpots, the bigger the better, marking his visitation in his own primal way. I guess I got a little embarrassed, so I looked away, then shrugged my shoulders and shook my head as if to say that the ugly, black, irreverent, penguin-looking little dog was not with me.
Luckily, I spied the decedent’s brother in a nearby shade. He was appropriately known as “Fatboy.” I nonchalantly walked over to commiserate with him, and to my distinct pleasure, I discovered that he was sitting on a beer cooler which he had worshipfully shrouded with a black T-shirt that had only a little bit of a “Hell’s Angels” logo showing.
Fatboy smiled, thanked me for coming and for caring about his sister, and with a crooked grin and great fanfare, he handed me a cold, cold, long-necked bottle of Budweiser beer — and not a light one either. I lovingly drank it off in three swallows and was fixing to get another one when Pop treed a squirrel.
I guess I got a little flustered; I didn’t rightly know what to do what with the dog barking and jumping, and trying to climb a tree in the graveyard, at the tail end of the funeral with semi-reverential folks all around. Pop was barking to beat hell, and I knew that he wouldn’t quit till I killed the squirrel or at least tried real hard to do so. Pop had genuine integrity; he wouldn’t bark on a tree unless he was absolutely sure that there was a squirrel up there; and if he was really hitting on a tree, jerking on vines with his mouth, and chewing on the bark, and trying to climb the tree, then it was incumbent on me to get on over and tend to my end of the partnership. Anyway, by now everyone at the outdoor funeral knew to whom the little black apparition belonged. Obviously, I needed to do something to resolve the escalating cacophony.
Fatboy, who was more than a little amused at the shenanigans, allowed me to get hold of myself a little by handing me another cold beer which I immediately jetted, and I shivered a little as my blood alcohol crept closer to a tolerable level
Since we were a little way out of town and in rural East Texas and all, I wasn’t scared to shoot the squirrel, and that was the only thing that would make the dog stop barking and carrying on. He’d have bit me if I’d tried to manhandle him. He was a dedicated hunting dog and didn’t like an interrupted kill. Besides, the squirrel was in plain sight up in a sparsely branched, isolated, little oak tree. Pop must have caught him on the ground and chased him up there, since, otherwise, there was little reason for a squirrel to be in such a puny tree.
I needed to dispatch that squirrel, so I walked over to my rig to get a gun. I usually have an assortment of firearms lying around in my truck, but, to my great dismay, for the first time in about 900 years, I was unarmed. The truck had been in the shop, and I had neutered it temporarily.
No problem. Fatboy waddled out to his truck. He had declined to ride with the funeral people in an expensive family limousine since they didn’t want to haul his beer. Actually, he didn’t have anyone left to ride with him anyway. He reached under his seat and pulled out a pump shotgun with a suspiciously short barrel. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any shotgun shells amidst all the clutter of empty beer cans, candy wrappers, and turned-over spit cups. He did, however, find a 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol with a loaded magazine. He chambered a round and strolled purposefully over to the tree, with the gun in one hand and the other hand holding onto his jeans they had now slipped south of his enormous gut.
Grinning mischievously, he resolutely, if somewhat unsteadily, aimed up at the big ole red fox squirrel and opened fire. Fatboy wasn’t much of a shot, and he could only use one hand else his pants would fall completely down, but he got close enough with the heavy caliber bullets that the squirrel really panicked — as did some of the folks who were watching the “hunt.” The little varmint jumped and dodged and ran from branch to branch till he was out of room at the top. With no options left, he reluctantly bailed out of the tree and sailed gracefully, like a bird, gliding with all four legs outstretched.
The squirrel hit the ground rolling, twenty or feet yards from the tree, close to the new grave, with Pop snarling and snapping right behind him. He darted across several old graves, through the crowd, under the funeral tent, and barely eluded Pop by jumping up into the back end of the hearse, scattering skittish pallbearers in his wake. Someone slammed the door shut, and so the squirrel was now trapped in the hearse, much to Pop’s displeasure. You could see murder in his eyes as he snarled and shook his head around, slinging spit over those nearby.
Well, the usually demure, gray-looking funeral director started getting real red, and steamy, and all worked up. Innocently enough, Fatboy offered him a beer, but the polite gentleman might have felt that drinking beer at a funeral isn’t decorous ’cause he started acting really angry, got all trembly and mumbly and his face muscles were jerking a little, side to side, while his eyes started blinking continuously. Then he began to make funny sounds, like he was speaking in tongues or something, and meanwhile he wrung his hands which had seemingly acquired a life of their own and were twitching rhythmically, as if in a choreatic ballet.
Wisely, Fatboy decided to give the gentleman some space, and so we sat down in the shade to rest and recombobulate the situation. Since the cooler was still handy, we sucked down a couple more beers and considered what to do about the unfortunate squirrel, whose energies were rapidly melting down as he whirled around in the empty, hot, black hearse. Pop was now lying down under the hearse, trying to stay cool, but at the same time, staying real close to his squirrel. He knew exactly where the luckless rodent was.
I called the dog over and picked him up so that he could get a drink of water from the beer cooler. Fatboy offered him a beer, but I don’t like for Pop to drink alcohol, so I took it instead.
Fatboy and I now put our less than lucid heads together, and he declared that he would not help get the squirrel out of the hearse. Neither of us particularly liked the undertaker, and we certainly didn’t relish the idea of getting scratched and bit up by the frantic squirrel that by now, we had taken to calling “Rocky.”
Apparently, in this One Hearse Town, there was to be another funeral in a little while, and the high dollar wagon was sorely needed for that function. That, however, was not our problem. Just then, I was really feeling relaxed and comfortable, what with the unexpected camaraderie and with being in the shade with a belly full of beer and all…so, I allowed as how I really didn’t have any quarrel with little Rocky either.
When we declined to help with the squirrel, the distraught undertaker, the myth of his professionalism largely dissipated, reluctantly picked up a handful of long-stemmed flowers off the grave, opened a side door to the hearse, and attempted to shoo the squirrel out of the sweltering trap.
But he didn’t reckon with Pop. Rocky was Pop’s squirrel, and when door was opened, Pop jumped into the hearse. That little killer, instincts honed by centuries of hunting, was too quick for the frenzied fox squirrel. Pop grabbed Rocky by the neck, as rat dogs will do, and he commenced to shaking him. The soggy squirrel suddenly became more animated in what was likely to be his terminal battle, and he went after Pop’s ears and eyes with his claws and teeth. You would have to say that the combatants did a pretty good job of ripping each other up. Blood and spit and grime and what all were spurting all over the no longer immaculate interior of the hearse.
Predictably, Pop prevailed, and he jumped out of the hearse with the late Rocky in his mouth. Shaking his head side to side as he came, Pop pranced over to Fatboy and me and handed me the squirrel, just like he was supposed to do, much to the admiration of the now fast departing crowd.
Despite Pop’s successful rescue of the hearse, the ungrateful funeral director didn’t seem any happier. In fact, he was walking back and forth mumbling again, and looking up at the sullen sky and then staring at his hands which were even more animated now than earlier. His shark gray suit was sweat soaked and wilted. His necktie now looked like an afterthought, or a noose to conveniently end his troubles? The prospect of getting into the defiled chariot could not have been very appealing to one usually so pristine and proper.
Fatboy put the cooler into his truck and handed me a final beer. Then he chunked Little Rocky into the cooler, swearing to have him mounted in memory of the occasion and of his late sister, who in truth, he loved very much. As did I.
Fatboy started for home, with me right behind him, my unmuffled, straight exhaust pipes rumbling majestically in a funeral bass. With a friendly smile and a one finger wave, I mouthed an “adios” to the director, and we departed the graveyard, with Pop smiling laconically out the window.