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My husband, Mr. Rizzuto, is a biology teacher. Specifically he teaches botany to middle-school kids. He is also an avid photographer. This means that he spends a great deal of time growing things, thinking about growing things, talking about growing things, taking pictures of the things he wants to grow and schlepping the family along behind him on his wildlife outings.Mr. Rizzuto’s passion at the moment is mushrooms. He even has a mushroom field guide, which is essential. Apparently there are several mushrooms species out there that are not only poisonous but look a lot like perfectly innocent, edible mushrooms.“You better hope I never decide to kill you,” I tell him sometimes. “I know just how I’ll do it too. I’ll pull the old switcheroo with the poisonous mushrooms and tell them I made a horrible mistake. Now change the baby.”Mr. Rizzuto’s goal in life is to get a booth at a local farmer’s market and sell pricey mushrooms to yuppies.“Do you have any idea how much hen-of-the-woods mushrooms are going for these days?” he asks. I don’t even know what a hen-of-the-woods mushroom is. But being the dutiful wife I bite my tongue and mosey on over to the high-end grocery store to price them. He’s right of course. Yuppies spend upwards of $30 for a pound of fungus. They come in strange colors and shapes and have weird names. Some of them you can’t even get unless you have a highly educated pig to sniff them out for you.

Today it was unseasonably warm out. Mr. Rizzuto wanted to take full advantage. “It’s nice out,” he said. “Let’s go take some pictures.”

This was not good news for me. While I support Mr. Rizzuto in his scientific and artistic adventures, being his assistant is not all it’s cracked up to be. It usually involves Mr. Rizzuto walking through the woods mumbling Latin names to himself while I follow behind with an increasingly heavy baby strapped to my back. All the while I have to entertain my complaining 8-year-old who wants nothing more than to be locked in his room with his Game Cube and 60 pounds of Halloween candy. Once I had to jump up and down on a log so Mr. Rizzuto could get a picture of spores floating out of a puffball mushroom. I don’t complain though. After all, the mushroom business could be very lucrative and I have to pay for college for two kids. And possibly a pig.

This morning we struck gold. We found puffball mushrooms, shelf mushrooms and, joy of joys, oyster mushrooms.

“Look at that!” Mr. Rizzuto exclaimed. He spotted a big bunch of oysters. Attached to a 60 foot tree.

“How are you going to get them down?” Dante asked. “I wanna go home. I didn’t want to come here anyway. I’m missing Pokemon.”

“Waaaaahhhhhhh!” said Janey.

“Honey, the baby’s getting tired of this. She’s heavy. I’m sending Dante to find a switch that I can beat him with, and I think I just saw the Blair Witch. Can we go?”

“OK, just let me climb the tree. It’ll only be a few more minutes.”

An hour later we were back in the car.

“Oyster mushrooms, Wanda. Can you believe it? We’re going to have oyster mushrooms. You can cook them, right?”


After much debate, research and some internet surfing I decided to just toss them into my smothered chicken. Luckily, according to Wikipedia oyster mushrooms are often eaten because they don’t have a poisonous counterpart. But just in case, as we always do when mushroom tasting, we kept one in the fridge. That one is for the coroner to identify.

“If these mushrooms are poisonous I’ll bleeping kill you,” I tell Mr. Rizzuto

“Does Dante know what to do if we get sick?”

Good question.

“Dante! You know what to do if there’s an emergency, right?”

“Yes,” he says. “Call 911.”

“Good,” I tell him.

“Don’t forget to put the dogs under the stairs,” Mr. Rizzuto adds. Excellent point. If the dogs are allowed to roam free the paramedics will need paramedics.

“Well honey, being married to you is never dull, “ I say.

“Really? Well, look on the bright side. If nothing else you’ll have something to write about.”

“I’ve already got it right here,” I tell him, tapping my head. “But if these mushrooms are poisonous, I’ll bleeping kill you.”

With that he gives me a sideways smile.

“You won’t have to.”



  1. Indeed, it looks like you’ll never be bored!

    I’d like to see that picture with the floating spores. And hey, there’s worse a teacher could do than a bit of supplemental fungus business (I had a male history teacher who dropped out to work in construction. Different country, of course.)

    I thought Dante was 9?

  2. He is Aniko, I wrote this a while back (and published it elsewhere).

    I’ll have to see if he still has the pics. I’ll let you know.

  3. I hope he’s over Pokemon now.

  4. My band teacher became a real estate agent. I don’t have anything against all real estate agents. Just most of them.

    My French teacher went to a mental hospital. It wasn’t really a job for him though.

    Also, my French teacher attacked me once. My friend pulled a butter knife on him to defend us.

    I think I’m going for that commenting style where I don’t talk about the post. I talk about the comments. Maybe that’s because I have no memory and I read the comments after reading the post.

  5. I love picking wild mushrooms, but usually stick to the ones that are easy to identify.

    Life with Mr. R does sound like an adventure.

  6. I remember hating it when my parents would eat things and not let us, in case they were poisonous. It was usually something delicious we wanted to eat and they would eat it and keep the empty can, telling us to give it to the authorities if they got sick or died. My dad worked in a cannery so he’d bring home all sorts of canned fruits and veggies. Sometimes the cans were bloated or in some type of less than perfect condition. That’s when they’d eat the stuff and we couldn’t.

    Mr. Hand, my high school history teacher divorced his wife so he could marry a former student as soon as she graduated and turned 18. He was 40ish.

  7. Hello Mr. Hand. Great to see you Shawn. Looking good Corina.

    Mr. Hand, have we met? I suspect we have…

  8. But of course!

    My present incarnation is a bit more meaty and colourful than my previous one. And, I only show a little bit of myself.

    I still have the same number of fingers and toes though.

  9. That’s what I thought. Always a pleasure.

  10. He is a prize, Mrs. Rizzuto! I go ga-ga over mushrooms as well. However, I don’t like eating the wild kind. If you want to take a road trip, there are many morels here, and Mr. R can go apeshit picking them. I believe the going rate for those babies is $39 a pound.

  11. Definitely invest in the pig – then you’ll have to move to France and live in the country and send the husband off to top secret locations to spend hours and hours digging while you rest at home in the villa sipping red wine.

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