I read a story about Kelly Rippa in a magazine recently and when asked about her biggest fear, she said "Ssssssnakes," making the hissing sound that the reptiles can make when threatened.
I share that fear, more than spiders or poison ivy. And I had to go and meet one in front of our family room doorstep two weeks ago.
I poured boiling water on a thorny plant that was growing between the bricks of our house and the sidewalk earlier in the week, as I am trying very hard to "go green." Then seeing that it was shriveled and brown, I reached to the bottom, where there are fewer prickly places, to remove it.
In the process, I touched something that moved under my hand. That was when I saw the skinny, black snake, with brown stripes come slithering out. I'm using Dave Gossett's politically correct word for the snake's movement. When I told him about it, I said that it ran out and was corrected.
Anyhow, he wasn't very big in circumference, and I estimated him to be just a little guy. As he started crawling away from the space between the house and sidewalk, he was stretching out to be very long. I started jumping up and down and yelling, which had to make the Sears riding mower repair man a bit leery about where he came to do repairs.
In wanting to get me quieted down, Lamont told me to go in the house, he would take care of it. But the snake got away instead.
Now I worry that he might squeeze under the storm door and come right into our family room when the door with the stained glass window is open. Or worse yet, if the garage door is left open, something Lamont does when he is mowing or doing yard work, the snake could easily go in there and hide under any of our bags of fertilizer, the garbage can, stacked cartons of Diet Pepsi that I bought on sale but now never drink or other hidey holes.
And even worse is the fact that if the door from the garage to the family room is left open just a bit, he might come in from that direction. I don't want him in the house. I honestly think I will go to stay with someone until I see living proof that the snake is back in the wilderness. John Boleigh, where are you when I need you? He is the snake whisperer of the county.
Lamont tells me it is just a garter snake. Is that the proper definition of a harmless snake that likes to scare the bejebees out of people? I don't want to get acquainted with it. I just want him out of my space. It can go into the wooded area on the perimeter of our yard. That looks like an excellent place for a snake to live. It's shady, not much rain falls there because of the trees, and it is easy to hide under the fallen leaves.
I look outside the storm door before leaving the house, with my mind on snake alert. Lamont is trying to tell me that it has left that little area. I hope all my yelling and jumping up and down made it decide to change locations.
But only time will tell.
Lamont and I went to the Harrison County Junior Fair Livestock Sale Committee appreciation dinner for 2011 buyers on Sunday, and it was great to see the young 4-H members helping out.
There were members from the Blue Ribbon General, Germano Community, New Rumley, Liberty Trails, Hopedale Town and Country, Royal Riders, Dusty Boots, Country Cousins, Stitch and Hitch, Green Valley, Silver Spurs, Tri-County Showstoppers 4-H clubs and the Harrison Central FFA.
The food was prepared by the sales committee ladies and included pulled pork sandwiches, green beans, cheesy potatoes, chicken and noodles, macaroni salad, coleslaw and cake. It was all wonderful and made for a day when I didn't have to cook again.
The Harrison County Fair will be here shortly. It starts July 3, with 4-H Night the evening before. This is when the fair royalty are crowned, along with a fashion show of handmade 4-H clothing and the presentation of awards for projects done throughout the year.
Jayne Wallace, treasurer of the sales committee, told me that 68 goats, 56 lambs and 158 hogs came in for tag day on May 5.
The steer were tagged in November, and they numbered in the 30s, but it is not determined how many will be in the sale. This looks like a good year for small animals.
It is with sadness that I have to say that Joe "Red" Zampieri died last week after a valiant struggle with cancer. Lamont and I traveled with Carol Ann and Butch Garcia to Canal Fulton for the viewing, as his sister, JoAnn, and I were classmates and now are good friends.
She and her daughter, Heather, had a wreath made up special for all of Red's hobbies and interests. There was a small stuffed skunk, depicting the skunk he would feed in his backyard each day; a stuffed dog, much like his pet; a small birdhouse, like the ones he built in his workshop; some tools depicting his workshop utensils; and some other things I can't remember. He was a school teacher most of his career and was beloved by his students, as some came to the funeral home to pay their respects.
Sympathy goes out to Mary Francis Rensi, who is his sister-in-law. She lost her sister, Betty, several years back and stayed in close contact with Red.
Coming home, we stopped at a very nice restaurant in Canal Fulton, something with the word Grille in it. The booth we chose had very plush seats, and I sank in until the table was almost even with my chin. Butch asked the server if he could get a booster seat for me, which earned me some very weird looks.
Canal Fulton looks like an interesting town. I didn't realize that the Erie Canal ran right through it. I would like to go back some day and see it under better circumstances.
I should not have left Mother's Day for the very end of my column because it is such a meaningful day, but I want to address it in a meaningful way right now.
My brother, Dale, and I were talking about all the wonderful meals our mom would make, without the benefit of a microwave, electric mixer, blender or even a toaster when we were young. She would spear a slice of bread on a fork and hold it over the burner of our electric stove. When one side was browned, she would take it off the fork and spear the browned side, so the white side could get toasted. This was time-consuming with six hungry mouths awaiting the toast with their eggs.
I adored her beef stew with the gigantic drop dumplings. They were fluffy and delicious, and I can never make them to taste like that.
Dale liked her baked steak but for his birthday he was sometimes talked out of having that and being served chicken instead. But her fried chicken was really tasty, too.
Last year, I received a Mother's Day card from one of my sons, and putting his name in print always gets me in trouble .... so I won't. It was quite tender, so much so, that I kept it until now and will close with that verse.
"Mom, you knew what I needed, while I only thought about what I wanted. You made me understand that some of the best things in life are worth waiting for. And through all the stages of growing up, you let me do just that ... grow. You knew - somehow you always knew - just what I needed most."
Happy Mother's Day to all you precious moms out there.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at email@example.com.)