It all started a few months ago with some envelopes I bought at a garage sale. We really didn’t need them at the time, but they were only 50-cents, so how could I pass up that kind of a bargain? I bought two boxes, brought them home, and stuffed them away somewhere.

Fast forward to the present.

Last Monday I went to get an envelope and discovered it was my last one. By that time, of course, I had completely forgotten about the ones I had bought at that garage sale and squirreled away somewhere, so I retrieved the Sunday paper’s ads from the recycle cart and started searching for envelopes on sale.

"What are you looking for now?" my dearly beloved inquired, no doubt disturbed that I’m dragging all those papers back in the house when he just carried them out a few hours before.

"Envelopes," I said, "We’re getting low on them and I thought maybe someone had them on sale this week."

Now, for some uncanny reason, that man can come up with a seemingly innocent question with such perfect timing that it makes me wonder if he’s psychic. "You mean those two cheap boxes you bought a couple months ago are already all used up?" (Me and my big mouth – I’m always bragging to him about all the bargains I find.)

Desperately trying to recall buying those envelopes and what I’d done with them, I quickly responded with a slight exaggeration of the truth. "They’re not all gone already, I just want to make sure we don’t run out and have to pay full price when we need them." And emphasizing my thriftiness, added virtuously, "Just trying to save us some money."

He didn’t buy it. Glancing knowingly at me over his bifocals with a sly grin, he chided, "You forgot you bought them, didn’t you?"

True or not, there was no call for that kind of insolence. So, hands on hips, I threw back my shoulders in outrage, raised my eyebrows, dropped my jaw, and conveying a look of incredible disbelief, defended myself with a brief but intelligently worded denial: "Uh!"

Completely ignoring this perfect opportunity for an argument, he curtly dismissed the subject with another smart remark: "I think I’ll go out and cut the grass."

As soon as he was gone, I searched every drawer, closet, shelf, nook and cranny in the house, but the envelopes were nowhere to be found. So, as soon as I could, I surreptitiously went out and bought two boxes of envelopes at full price, brought them home and snuck them in the desk. Then when the opportune moment presented itself, I pretended to be looking for something in the desk and casually remarked, "Oh look, here are those envelopes that you insinuated I’d forgotten about – right in the desk where they belong."

"Funny they weren’t there this morning when I got a stamp out of that drawer." Then he added in his "Who do you think you’re kidding?" tone of voice, "You forgot where you put the other ones, didn’t you?"

Knowing there was no rebuttal that would convince him otherwise, I waited for him to go on lecturing me about how I’m always forgetting things, but he didn’t say another word.

I hate it when he’s right about something and then just drops the subject. If he would just take a few more jabs, I could counter with some of his imperfections and we could really get it on. And I would probably win – not because I’d be right, because the Italian in me would wear him down. But when he wins an argument before it even starts – well I don’t even want to talk about it.

Let’s talk about something more sweet and summery - for instance, the strawberries and rhubarb that’s popping up all over the place this time of year. Here’s a recipe from one of my old cookbooks for a good and easy gelatin dessert containing both.

Now if I can just find that cookbook……


4 cups diced fresh rhubarb 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1 6-oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin 1-1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar 1 cup orange juice

1 tsp. grated orange peel Cool Whip

Place water, rhubarb and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, uncovered until rhubarb is tender – about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin until dissolved, then add orange juice and peel and mix well. Chill in refrigerator until mixture begins to thicken, then fold in strawberries. Place in a 2-quart bowl or mold and chill until set. Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip.

Carole Branz Wahler grew up in the Morristown area and is a graduate of Lafferty High School. Her parents Ernest "Stump" and Lena Branz owned and operated the Third Base Restaurant on Route 40 for many years. Today, she resides in Bradenton, Fla.