A volcano simulation with Bunicu and Pam.

Bunicu uses plaster to prepare the volcano as Prophet watches. He explains that plaster won’t get sticky until you add water and then mold the wet plaster into a shape.

There are old black and white photographs from Romania– photos from my baby days– where I lay naked in the crook of his arm after a bath. I recognize the hands and how little they have changed– still big enough to move mountains and gentle enough to soothe nightmares.

I only notice the cobwebs on the windows in retrospect– when I see a photo, for example.

The plaster is dry– and the volcano simulation is ready to go. “Everybody outside,” Bunicu declares. The fastidious metallurgist within seeks extra cardboard just in case this volcano gets wild.

“Oooooh,” admires the Eldest in his best faux-Romanian accent.

I try not to mention what strikes me at first glance– hey, that’s a really little volcano. The captive audience awaits an explosion.

Soon, the Professor is doing what he does best– pontificating about chemical processes and molecular physics. It’s my favorite part, if only because it brings back childhood memories of dinner.

In his hand circles a bottle of citric acid mixed with red food dye. This citric acid will be key to the volanic eruption.

“Hey,” offers the Eldest, “you know vinegar works just as well– maybe even better– than citric acid.”

“Bah,” says the Professor.

The Professor (a.k.a. Bunicu) begins to squirt the citric acid solution into the tube which runs under and up the small plaster volcano.

A small trickle of red frothy liquid spittles up from the top of the volcanic cone.

“Oh no!” yells Gnome. “It’s not working!”

The Professor continues his patient infusion. Finally, overhearing the Gnome’s huffing and puffing, he asks what isn’t working.

“The volcano!” shouts Gnome. “The volcano’s not ‘splodin‘.”

“I’ll be right back”- and the Eldest returns with a bottle of white vinegar procured from somewhere in the nether-regions of the kitchen cupboard.

As the Professor watches, the Eldest pours a capful over the volcano’s top– “so the baking soda will fizz.”

When it fizzes and soaks the cardboard box, a satisfied smirk appears on Gnome’s face. “Now it’s splodin’,” she tells us.

“What did she say?” the Professor asks patiently.

“Oh. She said thank you.”

Did I say thank you, dad? For all the ways your hands still grace our lives. Thank you.

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