>It was a cool and cloudy morning, not a dark and stormy night, when I decided that it was the perfect day for crockpot chili for supper. I poured in the tomatoes, the beans, the browned ground beef, a little leftover taco meat, and a huge monster green onion from the backyard before covering the whole mix with tomato sauce and setting it to simmer on low.
A few hours later I realized I should have added red bell pepper and chili pepper. We had a little of each left in the produce drawer. It was still early in the cooking process, so I diced the red pepper and about a third of the chili pepper to add to the crock. Mm; this was promising to be a delicious chili on a cool and damp summer day. I washed my hands, wiped down the cutting board, put the remaining pepper in the refrigerator, and settled down to watch Brewers baseball with Amigo.
Settling was the operative word. We’d been to a game in Milwaukee the night before, arrived home late and went to bed later. I was ready to stretch out on the couch and maybe even doze off a bit. As I settled in with my pillow, I rubbed an itch under my right eye.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
My eye began to burn terribly; sting doesn’t cover the intense spreading of pain that spread until I could not physically open the eye. I got up and staggered into the bathroom to rinse it and deal with what was probably a bit of remaining chili pepper residue. Step 1: wash hands again. Step 2: Remove contact lens. Step 3: Moan “Ow, ow, ow!” as the contact lens finds a new home in the wastebasket and the burning starts fresh.
It’s okay; I have daily wear disposable lenses, and I throw them away after two weeks or when there’s trouble like this. But ow, oh my goodness, it hurt to take the lens out!! Lightly brushing the eyeball with my thumb to pull out the contact was enough to restart the entire pain process and lead me to decide that maybe scouring the thumb was the solution. I scrubbed it, rinsed the eye with running water (it really works, people, listen to the first aiders) and started to breathe freely again.
Then I decided to remove the left contact and put my bifocal glasses on for the remainder of the day.
AAAAAUGH!!! Amigo heard me explode again, and this time asked, “Mom, are you okay?” Well, kiddo, I’m not, but hopefully I’ll survive this eye’s attack as well. How could there still be chili pepper on my fingers when I’ve washed and washed and washed?!! Never mind, it’s obviously there.
Eventually I carried a bottle of saline eye drops back to the couch with me. Pulse still racing, eyes now dry but less painful, I stretched out again to the restful position I’d taken before the whole episode began. I cautiously blinked my eyes open, saw the game was still tied 0-0, put a few drops in each eye, and relaxed. A little. It took a while to fully settle down.
I told the family that no matter how the chili turned out, they had no choice. They must absolutely, positively must love it. For all I suffered, all I went through to make it, no one dared say a discouraging word.
It was a rather good chili, if I do say so myself. But one note to self: wash and scour and double wash hands after handling chili peppers. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll wear gloves next time.