Sunday, July 31, 2011

Peppers And Pop And Grandpa by Margaret Ullrich

A word leads to a memory which leads to another word, and then another memory...
Well, guess what? 
It's happened again.

Yesterday I posted Carmela's recipe for Stuffed Hot Cherry Peppers.
Hope you don't make them if you have a delicate stomach.
Well, you've been warned.
Back to the links...   
The suggestion to wear rubber gloves or risk a burn reminded me of one of 
Pop's stories.

One of Pop's health problems, especially as he got older, was his arthritic knees.
He came by that condition honestly.
Seems his father had it, too.

Grandpa was never one to waste a penny.
Well, with eight kids, who could blame him?
Pop said his father often complained about the cost of the arthritis linament.
The stuff worked and Grandpa needed it to be able to get around on his farm.
But, he really hated spending money on something he couldn't eat or wear.

One day, Pop and Grandpa were picking vegetables, including hot cherry peppers.
Pop had a brilliant idea.
Pop picked a pepper and ran to Grandpa.

"Papa, this is a hot pepper!"
Grandpa agreed it was a hot pepper.
"No, Papa, this can make you hot!"
Grandpa just stared blankly.

Pop went on to explain his plan. 
It wouldn't cost anything.
Well, except for a few peppers.
Grandma could make a milder sauce.
No one would miss them.
Grandpa could mash a few peppers and make a paste.
A paste that would make his knees hot, just like the linament.

Well, Pop had Grandpa at "It wouldn't cost anything."
Grandpa carried the vegetables into the kitchen to Grandma.
He'd picked and pocketed two extra peppers.
Grandma wouldn't appreciate being told to change her recipe.
They'd had eight kids.
He knew her well enough to know not to make cooking suggestions. 
He didn't need anything else hurting him.
Grandma had a temper.

While Grandma was preparing dinner, Grandpa went to his work bench.
Pop joined him.
Pop knew Grandma didn't need his help or his company while she worked.
Anyway, that was his sisters' department.
Pop wanted full credit for his great idea.
Maybe there'd be a reward.

Grandpa mashed the pepper in an old can.
He didn't add any water.
He wanted a full-strength linament substitute.
When it was as smooth as it could get, Grandpa smeared pepper goop on his knees.
For the first few minutes Grandpa felt the familiar soothing warmth.

Grandpa said he'd grow a few dozen extra pepper plants next year.
He could bottle this stuff.
Set up a small business.
Make a bit of money on the side.
Pop could help him sell the homemade cure.
Yes, Grandpa would pay him to go door to door.
Father and son beamed at their shared vision of wealth beyond avarice.

Then the warmth turned to heat.
Maybe he should have added some water.
The heat turned to fire.
Cursing and swearing, Grandpa ran to the water trough.
He scrubbed off the liquid fire.
His knees were a bright red.
There were a few blisters.

Pop wandered off.
He knew Grandpa had his own way of giving blisters.
In a place that made it hard to sit.

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