Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Mystery of the Missing Mandarin Oranges

     When I was a kid I started reading mysteries. Some of my favorites were Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators. These books brought me hours of joy and helped me re-frame my every day problems in catchy little thought bubbles for my own personal entertainment.
     This is still something I do to this day when confronted with a problem. It helps me calm down and step back from whatever is causing me anxiety. I create these mini stories to help deal with whatever is frustrating me. Sometimes it helps me find a practical solution, sometimes it gives me just enough space so I can laugh about whatever has happened.
     Last week we decided to have a little indoor picnic, just me, my husband, my brothers, and our parents. We know each household has been vigilant in self care during this time of the pandemic and felt it was possible to do this safely. I planned to do simple foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and salads. My mother made a special request for a fruit salad that my dad used to make. I asked him if he remembered the recipe. He did not. He knew the main ingredients but had zero ideas on how much. I knew they got it from their best friend, so I messaged her right away. She was able to send me her list of the ingredients and proportions. I updated my weekly grocery list.
     I try to go shopping once a week for each household I shop for and I go straight from work so I can just keep on the same mask I have wore all day. One day I go shopping for my mother and youngest brother's household, the next day for me, my husband, and my dad.
     It is still a bit of trick getting each thing I needed, but at least I am mostly used to this now. I felt triumphant as I unloaded and put away our groceries. I put all my dad's ready to make foods on the storage table where we keep them so he can get them when we are at work, making his own meals or snacks. I put all the foods for the picnic on a separate area of one of the kitchen counters, tucked behind where I store the canned cat food, I figured that was the best place to store the canned mandarin oranges, marshmallows, and canned pineapple tidbits. Making the fruit salad was at the top of my to do list for the next day, and that was a good thing.
     I was up by 6 A.M. and was surprised to see my dad in his chair already. I decided to get to work on food prep because the salads need plenty of time to chill. I sailed into the kitchen and grabbed my cans of fruit, marshmallows, and the sour cream from the fridge. And then I counted the cans. Something was off. Then I realized the mandarin oranges were missing. I searched the counter. I searched the pantry cupboards. I searched the table with my dad's snacks. Nothing. The case of the missing mandarin oranges had me flummoxed. I knew I bought them. I even double checked the receipt as that was still on the counter. Yep, paid for them. Where could they be?
     I got dad his morning pills. As I was placing his pills on his tray table, along with a drink, I saw the glint of a can in the garbage can by his chair. I reached down and turned the can over. Mystery solved. Apparently my dad had a craving for mandarin oranges in the wee hours of the morning.
     Happily, I had plenty of time to run to the store to get more, some for the salad, and some for my dad.