Check Out My Check Boxes

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I meant to grab a refill for my checkbook and was sorry to find an empty check box. I don’t remember taking out the last set of checks and don’t remember any order form that should have been sent in. Now I have to think twice about my every purchase until I find that familiar sized package in my mailbox – a box full of new checks.
But I love empty check boxes, too. I guess I got into the habit of using them because I worked at a bank for so many years. There were always extra check boxes around.
I store jewelry in them. They’re just the right size to hold a few bracelets, necklaces or, maybe, several pairs of earrings. I have a small collection of foreign coins in one.
I wrap small gifts in them. A tiny doll and some clothes fit in the one I gave my daughter on her second birthday. That doll (she named her Chrissy) had short, wispy blonde hair, bright blue eyes and looked just like Josie. She always kept her in the check box.
When each child in Josie’s first grade class took a hundred of one item to school to help them understand what a hundred things looked like, we counted out brightly colored vinyl coated paper clips I’d been collecting in a check box.
I have a set of tiny screwdrivers and other small tools. They came in a sectioned, soft vinyl case that didn’t last long before it cracked. I needed a container that fit in one of our smallest kitchen drawers, so I moved the tools into a check box.
My husband seldom wears a tie, but when he does, it’s always a bow tie. You don’t find them in the average store that sells neckties, so I’ve spent no little time hunting for them. Bow ties wrap nicely in check boxes.
My great uncle found arrowheads in the fields surrounding the farmhouse where I grew up. He gave some of them to my mother over the years. When she passed them along to me, we put them in a check box.
Then, there is the box I just found in my mail basket at the Farm and Dairy office. Wrapped in paper and covered with mailing labels, it looked about the right size… yes, it looked like a check box.
Inside, a note from reader Benjamin McVay suggested that the plants I talked about a few weeks ago on this page, the ones with seed pods that pop, might be touch-me-nots. Enclosed were seed pods from Lumberton, North Carolina.
I love getting notes from readers. Usually, they accompany a recipe submission, but this note means that someone in North Carolina reads my ramblings. What a thrill!
I’ve been wondering whether to bring up touch-me-nots again. I asked my encyclopedic brother about the plants with the exploding pods. He says they are jewelweed. I looked it up. Here’s what I found:
The Jewelweed plant has been used for centuries in North America by Native Americans and herbalists, as a natural preventative and treatment for poison ivy and poison oak; and is a folk remedy for many other skin disorders.
Jewelweed is a smooth annual; 3-5 ft.; leaves oval, round- toothed; lower ones opposite, upper ones alternate. A bit trumpet shaped, the flowers hang from the plant much as a jewel from a necklace, Pale Jewelweed has yellow flowers, Spotted Touch-Me-Nots have orange flowers with dark red dots. The seeds will ‘pop’ when touched, thus the name. The Spotted Jewelweed variety is most commonly used for rashes although the Pale Jewelweed may also have medicinal properties.
Jewelweed is best known for its skin healing properties. It works by counter-reacting with the chemicals in other plants that cause irritation. Poultices and salves from Jewelweed are a folk remedy for bruises, burns, cuts, eczema, insect bites, sores, sprains, warts, and ringworm.
I’m highly sensitive to poison ivy – have a breakout every summer (sometimes our pets pass it along to me). The Pale variety is what I saw in Mill Creek Park, but the Spotted type seems to be spreading into our “back forty”. Fortunately for me, that’s the right stuff. Let me grab my mortar and pestle and go make medicine. Do you think I can store it in a check box? Probably not.

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