Several years ago, the freezer decided to live an independent existence from the integrated fridge above. It froze itself shut, never to allow the light of day to penetrate. At that time I had a number of more pressing concerns. Since we had more money than sense, we purchased a small freezer from Home Depot, parked in the garage and admitted defeat.
Now several years later I commence a great number of new campaigns. The first campaign is to defrost the freezer in the garage. It's all a matter of priorities. The second campaign shall be to conquer the freezer in the kitchen, because it's always best to start the wrong way around.
With the contents already loaded trash sacks, I should have an hours grace to defrost, clean and refill, to avoid the threat of food poisoning. I rush around with the dust buster in one hand and my electronic toothbrush in the other. These are my last two chores before commencement of the main event. I take care not to muddle my tools.
I am ready.
I leave Nonna watching Yogi Bear in the family room at full volume. I pause. Does this constitute elder abuse? I listen to Boo Boo chat to Yogi. I'm tempted to join her on the sofa. As the Park Ranger arrives I take this as my cue. I leave my children, their father, the train set and the i-phone in the garden which should entertain and engage the majority, one way or another. I dash into the garage with a cleaver, a wooden spoon and a bowl of boiling water. I begin to hack away at the ice. For once, I am responsible for the increase in noise production.
“What?” I turn from my position on the concrete floor to the speaker. Nonna.
“I'm defrosting the freezer.”
She steps closer, gingerly due to the lumps of ice and water. “Dat's bad.”
“Ow often do you do dat?”
“First time ever.”
“Ooo dats not good.”
I smell something odd, even though my nose is frozen. Something vaguely reminiscent of nail polish remover, which is peculiar since we generally avoid acetone.
I hear the doorbell, drop everything and dash to welcome our guest for the afternoon on the very last day of the Summer Holidays. I am surprised to see her mum dressed in attire to challenge Vogue but clearly I am ill equipped to advice on the appropriate dress code for a ball game, especially since I am uncertain which type of game the ball belongs to.
I meet and greet with frozen blue finger tips. I make mental notes in case the future requires me to attend a sporting function. I know that white is banned after Labour Day but we're not quite there yet. I only wish I could have been that well turned out for my own wedding. It seems strange to me that such a diminutive slip of a woman should wish to emblazon 'Giant' on her chest but maybe it's just wishful thinking. “My! your home looks so….”
“Messy. Yes I know, it's o.k. to say it out loud.”
“Oh no I didn't mean…..”
“That's quite o.k. It's not a dirty word.”
“Did you have a party here?”
“I suppose you could say that. Six people at home for six weeks, plus additional people here and there, now and then.”
She looks at me in silence because I am whittering.
We say our farewells and the girls flee in glee to their own recluse. I check the garden party, fine. I check Nonna, who has moved on to the comic book Baby Blues and then rush to the garage and the drips. I hurl bucket loads of ice out onto the flower bed together with silent prayers that the tomato plants don't get frostbite in August.
I hear agonized screams from the interior of the house and dash back to find who has been wounded with what? My youngest son hobbles on his heels with a bead of blood on one big toe. I grab towels and a damp cloth as Band Aides are banned for this child. Nonna appears with a handful of ice and a handful of tomatoes, my shadow. “Ere what I do with deez?” but it's hard to hear over the screams. Ice drips as does tomato pulp. He latches on to a ditty, considerably quieter, “talk about a space cadet, talk about a space cadet, talk about a space cadet.”
“What he is saying?”
“Nothing, don't worry about it,” I bellow.
“What is wrong with im?”
“TOE!” Nonna peers to see the microdot of blood.
“Ere put dis ice on it,” she offers and reaches as he jumps to his feet and scarpers at the speed of light. “So …….ees alright den…….”
“He doesn't do ice.”
“So I see.”
“Right. I must get on.”
“Oh…..I got im to elp you.”
“Who? Help with what?”
“Dey were too eavy for me, but I got him to take out all dah rubbish to dah trash can.”
Well I suppose that’s one way of crossing something off your list of ‘things to do.’
Excuse me, I'm off to IceLand, not to shop but to climb into a chest freezer and pull the door closed.
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