Brandi Chambless – One Fish, Two Fish, Dead Fish, Blew Fish

On the evening of April 11, 2007 our fine fish, Mr. Silly, expired at 9:52 PM. An “integral” part of our family, Mr. Silly was the successor to Mr. Funny, a fellow beta-fish who once courageously made a cross-country excursion in his tank. Mr. Silly once lived for two weeks without being fed one morsel of food (don’t ask), but ultimately is believed to have expired by accidental death upon inhalation of toothpaste droppings (long story…four-year old). Mr. Silly was one year old. May God rest his soul.


My blog entry dated April 12, 2007:

Viewing of Mr. Silly today. He will be flushed somewhere beyond the sea in the morning.

On the morning following Mr. Silly’s departure from this planet, I was on somewhat of a spiritual high from a perfectly excellent yesterday, well, other than the family pet succumbing to toothpaste inhalation. I can’t remember any major victory, but just remember it as being one of those seventy degree and sunny days when everything seemed to be working according to plan and I just felt extremely blessed. Call me an optimist. On April 12, 2007 I was expecting nothing less than a repeat performance of the day before. Yes, call me an optimist.

I usually brew my coffee at about 5 AM. While the coffee perks, I unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher and prep my kitchen for any cooking that I have planned. But not this day. I was feeling SO ALIVE! Why face the housework?? I ignored the Martha tasks and got right down to my Mary tasks that morning.

It was now midday. I COULD HAVE come home for lunch to catch up, but I decided that I owed it to myself to celebrate Thursday with some Mexican food. Life is just too good to skip a rendezvous with guacamole!

I had a great day at work. When I picked my son up at preschool, I greeted him with a snack. He was as happy as a peach to come home and watch his favorite new DVD, Peter Pan. I COULD HAVE dedicated myself to my kitchen and the housework once again, but I opted to sit at my piano for a while. After all, there were still a couple of hours before soccer. Wasn’t it just yesterday when my house was sparkling???

One hour ’til soccer. Time to ditch Mary at the piano, get reacquainted with Martha in the kitchen, and broil the salmon that had been marinating since the end of my very perfect yesterday evening just before discovering Mr. Silly’s lifeless little fish corpse. I pulled the cold Pyrex dish from the fridge and popped it into the broiler. This was a rather large fish. I watched carefully to maintain perfection.

Sitting at the table was my son, dressed in full soccer gear, knife and fork in hand. Since things were going seemingly well with the salmon in the oven, I stepped outside for 15 seconds to load the car with homemade Spiderman cupcakes and drinks. Hmmmn. For some reason, when I returned to the kitchen, there was smoke seeping out of the oven. I knew I must move quickly.

I told my son to “get back” as I flung the oven door open. The fish was fine. But the pan seemed weird. “No problem, that’s nothing a few drops of water won’t remedy,” I thought…..not really thinking. That was nano-seconds before the mini-explosion occurred in my oven as I poured the cold water into the searing pan. Slivers of glass were everywhere, including every crevice of my very big fish.

I’ll spare you the details of how and why I’ve blown up many-a-thing in my life, but blowing up a salmon was a first for me. There were no sprinkler systems and no fancy hoods with ventilation systems. The sting of this whole operation was the aromatic honey-glazed salmon that initially smelled so good, but eventually reeked of dead fish. Pasta salad for dinner. I wished my inner Martha would have shown up sooner.

We left the mess and made it on time to the soccer game with the cupcakes in tow then returned home to ground zero.

I began to clean the now cooled oven and place the glass-stuffed fish into a garbage bag. Even my four year old said, “I’m having a bad day.” I thought things could not get any worse, until the bag broke and the glassy fish fell onto the kitchen floor recreating the disaster zone I had just cleaned.

I reached under the sink to grab a fresh garbage bag only to discover a puddle of water waiting for me. A slow leak. Great. Then I looked over and saw Mr. Silly, deader than a doornail, floating in the fishbowl. If I squinted my eyes real hard, I could picture him alive in that bowl. It really was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

What would Martha do? Forget the bag….use a cardboard box. I did it. It worked. Now, I just needed to mop the mess away and defumigate the air.

Sidenote: In an effort for a “creative” like myself to embrace the inevitable and mundane part of life called housekeeping, I had previously coined for myself and other busy Moms a helpful household philosophy that has become known in the blogosphere as The 59 Minute Scrub, reminding little Mamas far and wide that I have identified a foolproof and fun methodology to face your family mess without a fuss. Yeah, right.

Furiously facing the fish, I didn’t know which fumes were worse – those of the fish or those churning inside me at the hands of my misfortune, so I began planning what my first amendment might be to this 59 Minute Foolproof Scrub. Amendment Number One: Forget the Freaking 59 Minute Foolproof Scrub.

There was no way my house, the house that had been perfectly clean yesterday, could possibly find order within 72 hours, much less, 59 minutes!!!! On top of all the fish drama, I REALLY needed to be preparing for the weekend garage sale, a project that desperately longed for my attention. Everyone LOVES a garage sale until you have one. They seem like such a good idea at first when you are planning which tropical island you might visit with all the money you are going to make as other people make a conscious decision that your trash is their treasure. Wrong!

Nevertheless, the garage sale is a-whole-nother story that I’ll save for another day when we talk about the other “blowing things up” episodes. There was no time like the present to put my money where my mouth was and test my own foolproof theory. Could a house possibly be restored to order and cleanliness in 59 minutes?

I lifted my head and set my kitchen timer. I was amazed. Just before I flipped the kitchen lightswitch to “off” I knew my 59 Minute foolproof theory was accurate! My blogosphere philosophy was tried, tested, and true. My house as good as new.

Then something caught my eye. A dead Mr. Silly in his fishbowl, belly up and waiting interment by flushing, next to the cardboard casket that encased the remains of the large salmon I blew up. “Here floats Mr. Silly. Here lies Mr. Salmon. This Side Up.” It made me laugh.

I turned off the kitchen light, tucked my son into bed with a favorite Dr. Seuss story, and retreated to my own reading. So long Martha. Hello Mary. Every day is perfect when you can find humor in life’s circumstances and the simple joys along the journey. That’s one of the things in life I like most of all.

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Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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