WEST FORK KICKAPOO - If someone had asked me what my favorite tool was a few years ago, I would have answered, “A fork.”
Forks are my friends. They seem fearless to me, the way they stab food and hang on effortlessly. My cousin Billy, in a fit of anger, once threw his fork at cousin Bobby and it stuck in his forehead. I think about that incident often.
Times have changed. I’m still enthralled with forks, but I no longer swipe them from restaurants.
Now, it’s all about the grabber. Grabbers are approximately three feet long, aluminum, and have pincers on the end that allow you to pick up anything you’ve dropped, without having to bend over.
If you’re recovering from a third hip replacement, your number one precaution is to not to twist or to bend from your hip past 90 degrees. And sure enough, the minute you come home from the hospital, you will start dropping everything.
After Dane has done my morning chores for me, he helps me get set up for the day: lunch food on the top shelf of the refrigerator, necessary pots and pans on the counter, and the grabber within reach.
As soon as he leaves, I’m using the grabber like a fishing pole, trying to hook the top of the Tylenol bottle I’ve just dropped on the floor.
After I get the bottle back up on the counter and open it, one of the tablets falls on the floor.
I’ve become Ms. Dropsy-Daisy.
It takes time and patience to pinch the Tylenol tablet without crushing it. Having a lot of the first and none of the latter, I repeat my latest mantra: Patience, Grasshopper, patience.
I get my tea, books, reading glasses, can of pistachios and cashews, journal, and pen all set up on the end table next to my chair, ease myself down, and use the grabber to place a pillow under my surgery leg. Then Salvador strikes.
If Salvador, my black-and-white kitten, were a dog, he’d be most like Téte, the loudest of all hound-dog mixes. Both are beyond naughty.
Salvador is the only cat I own who, despite the water-sprayer treatment, loves to pester Benny and Joon, the parakeets.
He hops up onto the birds' cage quicker than Jack jumps out of the box, and right away the birds start squawking. I hoist myself out of the chair, snatching the grabber on the way.
Sal watches me and skedaddles, his favorite irritating game. He knows I’m going to put him outside as punishment for bothering Benny and Joon. Because, Lord knows, even a fire hose blast would not deter him.
The problem is that Sal, like Téte, is a genius. He knows I’m hobbling and seems to know I can’t bend down to pick him up.
Salvador runs into the bathroom and hides behind the shower curtain. Aha! I use the grabber and pull the curtain back. Sal shoots out like a bronco that just got the hotshot, but it was only a pinch from the grabber!
He runs back toward the birdcage with me in pursuit. As I come around one end of the chair, he darts out from the other and heads for the bathroom again. I’m getting crabbier. Seeing his lump behind the shower curtain, I try to calm down.
This time, I ease back the curtain, and when Sal glances up, I try to clamp the pincers around his neck like a collar to guide him out of the bathroom and out the back door.
But Sal ducks, as agile as Mohammad Ali, and escapes back to the birds to rattle their cage one more time, making my blood pressure soar. Despite my best efforts and my new favorite tool, I can’t grab Salvador Ali.
Instead, I limp into the kitchen and maneuver the grabber to open the highest cupboard and ease the spray bottle out from the back. I set it on the end table (after rearranging all my other supplies), stick my surgery leg straight out, and plop my butt back into the chair.
Within minutes, Salvador jumps onto my lap, spins around a few times, and settles in for a peaceful nap. Then the phone rings.
Good grief! I start to push up, so Sal hops off of me. I grab my grabber, make it to the phone on the last ring—and drop the dang phone.
As the answering machine picks up, I’m still trying to maneuver the phone with my grabber, and the grabber falls to the floor.
Making my way back to my chair, I once again settle in, knowing it’s going to be one of those days. Ms. Dropsy-Daisy’s new best-friend tool will lie there peacefully on the floor next to the phone, whose battery will eventually go dead.
Salvador, ever the opportunist, goes for his third strike, knowing he won’t be put outside. I reach awkwardly for the spray bottle and it lands with a thud on the floor.May as well look at the bright side: At least I won’t have to try to clean out the litter boxes this afternoon. Without my grabber, pinching the pooper scooper will be impossible.