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I had a lovely Sunday this past weekend. Still basking in the glory of my garage sale prowess (hey, I can be as delusional as Trump tweeting about his foreign trip success), I got right into planning for a quick visit from Crazy D and his girlfriend. With their frantic schedules and travels for work, I don’t see them nearly as often as I’d like. So a quick lunch was better than nothing.

Well, I thought, after closing down the garage sale, I’ll make a fast stop at the supermarket to get some nice salad greens and some strawberries to add to the rhubarb pie (fresh from my garden) that I was going to make that afternoon. Being a master of multi-tasking, I did that, returned to have enough lunch to get me through lawn-mowing, made the pie, and timed it to finish baking just as my lawn mower (battery-operated) ran out of steam. The machine and I are remarkably in tune with each other. I run out of juice around the same time it does!

Crazy D had offered to bring (and cook) the main course — in this case, salmon on the BBQ. (As you probably learned from Monday’s blog, this necessitated my cleaning the grills…to prevent my embarrassment and my guests dying from ptomaine poisoning from the accumulated grease and guck…you’ll notice I’m bypassing the mention of possible chipmunk droppings.)

We had a lovely lunch of perfectly cooked salmon, salad, and just as we were enjoying their latest photos from a trip to Quebec, I got the brilliant idea to invite the neighbors over for pie.

They were thrilled to join us since they rarely see Crazy D and his girlfriend either and were keen. As we sat down to eat the pie, I explained that I had made the rhubarb pie with my very own rhubarb.

“And this stuff is legal!” I exclaimed.

The neighbor looked somewhat guilty. I explained to Crazy D and his girlfriend: “Last week, H. invited me over for some rhubarb crumble that she had made from purloined rhubarb. She was walking along one of the neighborhood paths and came across a pile of rhubarb stalks — cut, heaped up and drying out in the sun. She wasn’t sure what to do — were the home owners rhubarb haters, fed up with their crop, trying to get rid of it? She assumed they were and, just as she wouldn’t countenance a dog left to wilt in the sun,’saved’ it from a certain and cruel demise by taking it home and using it in the crumble. She worried after — had she stolen a pile that someone placed there intending to return for it? Had they simply forgotten it? Was she guilty of a felony? She had knocked on their door but there was no answer, thus providing herself with a suitable alibi.”

I reassured her, telling her not to worry about it. The neighbors are friendly and I doubt they’d run her out of town on a rail for rhubarb theft. I couldn’t, however, let an opportunity for a funny story go unused.

“This pie is not made from stolen fruit,” I commented. “So you need not feel like felons…”

H. is a good friend and we constantly tease each other so I knew she wouldn’t take offense.

As we took our first mouthful, H. piped up:”Mmm, this is delicious!”

“Thanks,” I acknowledged graciously. “I always add a few strawberries to cut the tartness of the rhubarb.”

H. dropped her fork like a hot potato. “Strawberries??!! I’m allergic to strawberries!”

“OMG! I totally forgot,” I said, feeling terrible . I had known, she told me years ago but, with all the different allergies and people who can’t eat dairy, I was concentrating on those issues, not strawberries.

Meantime, her husband grabs his phone to call 911. H. stops him, saying:”I think it’s okay. I didn’t eat much and nothing is happening so far. You can always run across the street and get my Epipen. Let’s not panic yet.”

Meanwhile Crazy D, who once used an Epipen for multiple wasp stings and still ended up in emergency, muttered under his breath, “No, let’s not panic…with Mom, the woman who panics about everything sitting here watching! We don’t need a repeat of her driving like a bat out of hell, leaning on the horn as she blew through red lights to get me to the hospital in time…”

I said weakly, “I think we have some Benadryl upstairs if that will help…” I am very afraid that I’m now killing my very good friend. I wash my guilt down with another swig of wine.

“I think I’ll be fine,” H. adds a minute later.

“You probably didn’t even get a strawberry — I didn’t put many in! And you only had one forkful…” I opine. “Tell you what…I’m so sorry about this. I’ll make you another pie –totally strawberry free –that you can eat all by yourself. I feel just terrible!”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that. You’ve done more than enough!” she demurs.

Fortunately, she was fine and our friendship is still intact. I, however, am a nervous wreck. So, just another typical day in the neighborhood: felonies, attempted homicide, family memories best forgotten but not if they make a good party anecdote, and way too much wine! I wonder what Mr. Rogers would have to say about this ‘lovely day in the neighborhood’…probably not much since he’s dead too. P.S. I DIDN’T KILL HIM!

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