During all my years of cooking and baking, there’s one particular area that I haven’t mastered. OK. Truth be told, I haven’t “mastered” anything in the kitchen. Sure, I can throw together a decent pot of non-spicy chili and, on occasion, my chocolate cake with peanut butter icing is downright delicious, but we’ll chalk those up to dumb luck.

Anyway, the particular issue referenced here is spatial relations. No, that’s not “special” misspelled. It’s spatial, as in having to do with space.

Let’s say for instance, I want to make scalloped potatoes. First, I agonize over how many potatoes I’ll use, then I over-contemplate what size baking dish I need for cooking said potatoes. Two-quart dish? Three-quart? How much space do five potatoes need to bake properly? If I prepare a dish that’s too small, I’ll need to use an additional, smaller dish to hold the overflow. If I use a dish that’s too big, the layer of spuds will be too shallow, bake too quickly and, perhaps, burn.

The same problem occurs when I want to bake a cake or such in a pan that’s not the “normal” size. Will the batter that’s usually baked in a 9x13 pan fit into a pan that’s 10.5x15.5 even if the larger pan is only one inch deep? Numbers start swirling in my head and I break into a frustrated sweat. Something as simple as preparing food should NOT be this difficult! (Note: I’ve since discovered that there’s a chart on the Internet that gives the capacity of baking pans, measured in cups. What? I have to measure the batter or the potatoes? Is nothing simple?)

Anyway, it’s not just in the kitchen where I have spatial issues. You know that beautiful lot next to the library, which will be known as “where Dr. Freeman’s office used to be” forever? Didn’t the building appear larger than the space left after it was razed? Early in its life, the building was a car dealership/gas station. How did that big structure fit in that space? My meager mind has difficulty comprehending such spatial truths. Could I get Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain it to me?

Similarly, there was an empty lot on a busy street in town and occasionally I’d wonder if it was once occupied by a building of some sort, probably a house. Then one day, there was construction equipment there and now there’s a new house. It’s a decent sized house, too. Which makes me wonder, how can that house possibly fit on that lot?

By the same token, there was a church in Chambersburg, on a corner that I passed most times I was in that town, and it looked like a big church to me. Then one day, an alleged arsonist allegedly took a match to the place and burned it down. The footprint that remained astounded me. How did that big church fit on that little piece of land??

It’s yet another example of the confounding effects of the space-capacity continuum!

Sometimes I don’t even notice things that have “disappeared” because I’m so used to seeing them. For instance, the “community” Christmas tree on the corner of East King and North Prince. We locals watched that tree grow for twenty years and looked forward each year to Santa flipping the switch and turning on its lights after the annual Christmas parade. This year, however, circumstances required that the tree be “retired.”

How many times did I drive by that corner before reading on Facebook that “old green” had been cut down and a new, younger version planted in its place? (The majority of the comments on Facebook regarding the tree were hateful, disparaging, and outrageously judgmental. What a bunch of Scrooges we have!)

Maybe I suffer from delusions, illusions or just miscalculations. But on the brighter side, doesn’t the element of surprise make life interesting?

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