Four hours before the guests arrived I decided to check the propane level in the big avocado-green propane tank that dominates my back yard. Below E, it said to me.
WTF? Normally I fill the thing twice a year. I just filled it a couple months ago. I use propane to heat the house, heat the water, and to cook. I guess my mom being here for 3 weeks kinda sucked it up quicker than usual. And I’ve been home non-stop, not running off to Marty’s every other weekend when I would turn off the heat and set the water heater to vacation mode. Plus, it’s been extra chilly so I leave the heat on all day for my mom, and she’s been cooking up a storm. Two things that don’t often happen around here.
I’ve got $25 dollars worth of chicken to cook, plus cornbread and potatoes and carrots and a cake to bake, and 12 guests on their way, and I’m worried that I’ll run out of propane in the middle of it all. Stress! Stress! Stress harder!
Then I remembered: I have neighbors. Hooray for neighbors. An hour earlier I had invited Sylvia to join us, my next door neighbor, a virtually housebound 70-something English woman who had a stroke a few years ago, a retired travel agent who has visited more than 50 countries in her life. Sylvia has an oven. She’s awesome.
I speak to a neighbor on the other side. We all live pretty close together in duplexes, and she offers not only their brand-new barbecue gas grill, but her husband to run it, if necessary. I love my neighbors.
I make the batter for the cake and pop it in it’s pans and run it over to Sylvia’s. Don’t want the propane running out in the middle of the cake baking. That would be bad.
We get everything else ready and stuff it into my 400 degree oven at a quarter to five. Every ten minutes I get down on my hands and knees to
pray see if the oven is still lit. Miraculously, all the food gets plenty cooked and we still have enough propane to make coffee and tea, and run the dishwasher afterwards.
Today there are three bouquets of flowers, including a dozen perfect, pink, long-stemmed roses, adorning my humble home. Plus some leftover chicken, and baked beans, and coleslaw, and yummy cake.
My mom had a great time and felt loved and was surrounded by friends, even though she was thousands of miles away from her usual playmates. Mission accomplished.