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The Mystery of El Cucharón Quemado

 

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another Nancy DelaCruz mystery 

Because our weekdays tend to be busy, I like to cook several meals on the weekend.  One spring weekend, we did well. I made a pasta dish with M; she enjoys cooking with me. We also put a chili in the Crockpot.  The plan was for me to prepare another dish on the stove. I opened one of the drawers to look for my favorite cucharón. I found it, burnt in half.  Whodunit?

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I was more amused than irritated (yes I was upset) that it was placed back in the drawer as if I wouldn’t notice.  Though I have small hands, I wasn’t going to be able to cook with it.  I imagined it was left on the stove and the rubber tip started melting and/or the whole thing caught fire.  I didn’t know if my mother in law had asked Rambo to cut it in half but it wasn’t a clean cut. M had no idea. She thought it was strange it was put away looking like that.  Rambo was apologetic and offered to pay for it. He looked into the mystery himself. His mom tried to argue that it might have been my daughter and her friend during their playdate. M has been hurt in kitchen accidents during cooking camp so she has firsthand knowledge of kitchen hazards. My mother in law also offered to replace the cucharón. I was hoping I would get an explanation. After snapping a picture to document this hilarious moment, the cucharón went out with the trash. The mystery remains unresolved.

Living with in-laws is never easy. But my problems with my living situation are minutiae for the most part. I might find a plastic bag or container in my compost bin. A dish might still be wet when I pull it out of the cabinet.  This week, I located my misplaced library card in my child’s toy box. These are simple, silly matters that can add up, especially on a busy day.  Keeping a sense of humor and a knack for detective work is a must.

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The Curse of the Witch Doll

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Nancy Drew doing her thing 

Before Nancy De La Cruz(the Latina Nancy Drew) could hop in her hybrid and head to the farmers’ market, she found her elderly Italian neighbor, recently subject to religious persecution(The case of the missing memento), was unconscious and lying behind a wall.  Nancy questioned the poor woman but the victim had no memory of her removal from her home.  After questioning potential suspects, Nancy’s worst assumptions were confirmed.  The longtime accuser had been joined by another religious zealot so the old woman went into hiding.  It was time for Nancy to get chola on these fools!

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Must find this shirt!

Unfortunately, neither Nancy De La Cruz nor Nancy Drew is about to throw down in the streets.  She uses logic and seeks understanding. So while the ongoing drama over witchcraft allegations may resurface now and then, it will be handled rationally and civilly.

It has taken me years to cultivate a sense of calmness. It’s one thing to have a game face. It’s another to calm the hurricane within your mind. But with time and quality moral support from family and professionals, I have mastered the art of keeping it together.   In the face of varying levels of tomfoolery, both personally and professionally, I keep my cool and take time to think about next steps. It takes effort, sometimes a monumental effort to not lower the standards I have set for myself.  I work.

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La befana is back in place at the mantel.  She is harmless, as are the close-minded people who shudder when they see her. I have no control over others’ thoughts and actions. I’m not about to do wrong by losing self-control.

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Pray for me, y’all! 

The case of the missing memento

The mystery began with a disappearance.  The grizzled old woman in the black headscarf went missing one morning. Those familiar with her knew her to be harmless; still negative perceptions persisted.  She was suspected of being a witch.  Even in 2016, there are those (okay so it’s one person) who would believe a hunchbacked old woman is partaking in the black arts.  I had a suspect. I had a motive. It was time to get Nancy Drew. 
My girl.  I used to want to be Nancy Drew. How about Nancy De La Cruz?
I began by questioning witnesses.  Had the one person, the one fearful of witchery, been seen with the missing person?  It didn’t take long before an eyewitness confirmed that the old woman was forcibly removed to an area inhabited by several international residents.  The eyewitness had defended the old woman from the witchcraft allegations; the old woman now had a new home.  I resolved to protect the old woman from continued harassment. At one point, I had to physically escort her home because the old woman was once again forcibly evicted.  For now, she is safe.
Antes que llamen a la policia, know that the tale I have told is fiction loosely based on a true event.  When sharing your home with folks, be they family or friends or tenants, things will sometimes get misplaced.  While I may give the side-eye, I don’t make a fuss. I play detective and right the wrong as best I can.  The high road is best in these situations. 
For the record, la befana is a witch but she’s not a sign of my participation or endorsement of black magic.  In Italy, the befana delivers the Christmas gifts on Epiphany eve, rather than Santa.  So while Italians do have Christmas trees, the tradition continues.  
Does this look like a sorceress to you? 
I got a Befana doll in Piazza Navona as a keepsake from my trip with my parents to Italy where we spent an amazing Christmas complete with Midnight Mass with St. Pope John Paul II.  To me, the befana reminds me of those happy memories and, ironically, as a reminder of the faith my family shares.  She used to be in my kitchen but now hangs over the fireplace in the company of Russian nest dolls and Thai elephants on the mantel. 
Family dynamics can be complicated. (Previously on our family sitcom)  One minor change or disagreement can trigger uneasiness, tension, and confrontation.  With patience and a sense of humor about these situations, those negative feelings pass.