Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Safety Not Required

Well, it finally happened.  I ran over my husband.  This comes as no surprise to family and friends and most importantly, everyone is fine.  Mostly.  The day began with my husband tinkering about the yard as a heavy rain of Autumn leaves began to fall.  In order to beat the fall cover, he decided it was time to seed the yard with winter grass.  He called for my help and this is when the plan began to go south.  

I was instructed to drive the 4-wheeler while he sat on the front rack pushing the lawn seeder.  I knew immediately that this would not end well and voiced my objection to this plan, "You know I'm going to run over you, don't you?"  He filled the seeder and jumped on front.  Six foot two with heavy camo' jacket, he blocked any view I would need to steer the vehicle on a safe course. "Go," he instructed, as he lit a cigarette and pushed the seeder with one hand.   "Go left", "Go Right," "Watch that tree," he called from his perch.  Now standing while driving, in order to see anything, I was completely unaware that the vehicle would not leave second gear. Any shifting of gears was useless, but the most important piece of information I should have received in our our pre-flight meeting was that the vehicle would not go in reverse, even if I hit the button with the large red "R" on it. 

We sailed around the yard several times, with the seeder going one way, the vehicle going the opposite way, me standing and driving, and my husband trying to keep us on a straight course. The corners of the yard were the biggest challenge and often required my husband jumping off the ATV to grab the seeder as it headed for the parked cars.  He would return, lift the front of the vehicle, putting us back on course and we would continue on.  This worked 99% of the time.  It was the 1% that did us in. 

As we approached another corner of the yard, we moved along fairly quickly in second gear and I felt confident that I could master the curve without stopping or readjusting.  The seeder started to veer to the left and my husband pulled sharply to the right.  The seeder was headed under the front left tire and as my husband jumped off to save the seeder, I threw the unit in reverse and hit the accelerator. It seemed like slow motion as I watched legs go under the ATV first, then I heard a giant thud and some curse words not to be repeated in a Family Friendly blog.   Then, it all went quiet. 

Afraid to look, I knew that I had surely broken both of his legs and the winter would be spent with a half green yard as we would never finish what we had started.   Standing, while still holding onto the brake, uncertain what gear we were in, I peeked over the front to see my husband lying on the ground lighting a cigarette.   "What were you thinking," I questioned, shifting the blame before he had the chance to.   He shook off the dirt, jumped on front again and off we headed.  

Unable to see where I was driving, I picked leaves off the back of his jacket and steered left when he said left and steered right when he said right.  This lasted about two more rounds in the yard before I ran into a parked vehicle.  It was then, while attached to the bumper of a large van that he jumped off, took the seeder in hand and began walking the final laps in the yard.   I left the ATV where it sat, rumbling in second gear, and headed inside to familiar territory where it was fairly certain there would be no one to run over.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Face In The Dark

Forty years or so ago, I sat on the living room floor, in front of the console tv, watching Jane Jetson make video calls with George.  He would often call from Spacely Space Sprockets before jumping in his flying bubble car and heading home.  If Jane wasn't looking her finest, she would step behind a mask which featured perfectly coiffed hair before addressing the caller on the other end of the video phone. As kids, we dreamed of the day that we would own such a device and be able to fly around in little space cars.  It would surely be magical.

Today, while it is nothing short of magic, the FaceTime Application on my Smartphone live streams my child directly into my life at any given moment.  At 2:00 a.m. my tiny beauty will ring in and suddenly appear in the dark above me as I attempt to wake from a deep sleep. She can see nothing but darkness and the possible reflection of my phone screen bouncing off of my pupils, but it doesn't stop her from going on and on about whatever fabulous event has just occurred. She pops in and out at odd times whether I'm ready or not.  I get to walk to class with her on cold mornings while I hear her talk about her day and see nothing but feet moving quickly across the ground.  I've spent hours staring at the roof of her car as she talks to me from the driver's seat of her car while her phone sits safely in the passenger seat.   I've seen close-up views of her forehead, her chin and one eye as my tired girl drifts off to sleep in mid-sentence.  

It's an odd reality having your children drop in and out as if they are still there in the house, ready to help with preparing dinner, folding clothes or just sitting on the edge of the bed late at night.  Unfortunately, distance and a tiny glass screen stand between us.  While she can't actually reach a helping hand through the screen, she brings me such joy as she chooses to stay connected from so far away.   I feel it deep in my soul that we are one step closer to flying autos that fold down into a briefcase and I fully expect to wake one night to a hovering craft above my bed.  It won't be aliens, much to my husband's chagrin, but will simply be my Spacely Sprocket child ready to include me in her next adventure.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Spring Without Water

“One a ponce a time” was the way most bedtime stories began in our house when my children were young.  Everyone wanted to contribute to the story and my tiny girl began each one with that exact opener.  It was usually followed by tales of unicorns, rainbows and superhuman powers of invisibility and metamorphosis.   Today’s story fittingly deserves that very perfect beginning….
One a ponce a time, a tired mom went to battle with the water company.  It was a mighty beast with no unicorns or rainbows anywhere to be found.  The mom, me, would pay the bill, but the evil water company would still send its henchman to cut off my nice flow of cool, clean water that should have been headed into our home.  People certainly had to have doubted my tales of payment and probably wondered why I had not simply paid the bill.  Through clenched fists and frustration tempered only by the desire to be heard, I would explain to the water company that my check had been cashed and yet, I still had no water.  The evil henchman and I were soon on a first name basis as he visited monthly to cut my water off.  I found he really wasn’t evil at all and sometimes he would leave the water on as long as I didn’t tell anyone.  He knew he would have a service order to turn it back on within hours.   
Unable to defeat the utility Gods, I handed the bill to my husband and sent him into battle.  He proudly wrote the check, mailed it in a timely manner and watched in amazement as my friend returned at the end of the month to cut our water off.  He realized quickly that this fight may be bigger than the two of us.
Meanwhile, life went on and as we left for work each day, we hoped for working utilities upon our return.  My mother watched our daughter at our home while we worked to pay for things such as working utilities.  One lovely spring day, my mother took my daughter to the local park in search of unicorns, rainbows and fun.  My child spied a baby squirrel and ran to scoop him up into her hands.  As she joyfully ran down the sidewalk she didn’t see the giant sign over the wet concrete that said “Do not step here” because somebody forgot to place such a sign, which could have proven to be quite helpful in preventing my tiny girl from falling face first into the shallow pool of fluid cement that on any other given day would have been firm concrete.  My mother picked my girl up out of the wet mess and raced home to clean her up before she cured.  The two flew into the house and into the tub only to discover that there was no water.  A giant sign indicating such could have been helpful here, too.  I am thankful that we did not have cell phones at that time because I can only imagine the words my mother would have chosen when she called to tell me of the literal mess they were in. The two traveled quickly to my mother’s home on the other side of town where my daughter was properly rinsed clean of all hardening concrete.  She soaked happily in a tub of warm, clean water that was ever-flowing, much like that in the land of unicorns and rainbows. 
It took several months before the water bill issue was cleared up and to this day I am thankful every time I turn on the water to find that it works.  Of course, I do have a self-fabricated tool that happens to fit nicely at the turn-off valve near the water meter should I ever fall in concrete and find myself in desperate need of water.   While it’s been years since the water has been cut off, I stand ready for battle at all times.   Like the superheroes in my children’s bedtime stories, I can fight off evil and turn on utilities with one simple tool… automated payments.  It’s a game changer.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Little Woman At the Edge of the Wood

   As the night sky politely gave way to the morning who stretched and yawned and filled the sky with her glowing pinks and soft orange colors, the world at the edge of the wood began to wake up.  Rabbit in his tiny hutch nudged the other bunnies right out of their bed as he, too, stretched and yawned and reached much farther than the corners of his bed.  As he lay there, all stretchy and warm, he listened through sleepy ears for the soft rain of sunflower seeds and dried corn that sprinkled down on his house each morning.  

    It was the little old lady who lived at the edge of the wood who made sure rabbit and friends had plenty to eat.  She came to her porch every morning as the sun rose softly above the pine trees and reached into a bucket of seeds and grains, scooping up a cup of breakfast for the animals who lived near.  The porch door would creak as she stepped outside and with all the might she could muster, she would toss the seeds into the woods where they fell down softly on the forest floor.  

    The blue jays were always first to come to dine. Before rabbit could make his way out of his hutch, the pesky blue birds were buzzing this way and that as they gobbled up as many seeds as they could.  The bunnies came in pairs and sifted through the sunflower seeds looking for tiny pieces of corn or carrots that tasted so delightful.  There were always good things to find in the morning. 

    The little lady loved her woodland friends.  She sat in her rocking chair and watched them as they all came to eat with one another.  She laughed as the blue jays fussed at everyone for she knew they had frightfully poor manners.  The squirrels did not care for the selfish ways of the blue jays and would shake their tails in objection as they nibbled on the morning treats.  The bunnies were the old woman’s favorite, for they were quiet and kind and shared politely, the way friends should. 

    One morning, as the purple night sky turned to pink, rabbit yawned and stretched, but he did not hear the pitter patter of seeds falling into the wood. He yawned and stretched farther as he thought it could be too early.  Rabbit was not early, though, and the morning bounty never came. The blue jays were first to arrive to find the forest floor empty of seeds and good things. They paced around with heavy steps, wings on their sides and noses in the air, most displeased with this turn of events. The bunnies arrived and stood together wondering why breakfast was not there.  The squirrels ran about, shaking their tails as they looked for seeds or grains or berries, but none were found.  The animals gathered together and sighed a heavy sigh. 

    Many mornings passed and there was no creak of the porch door.  There was no seed scattered on the forest floor.  The little woman no longer sat in her rocking chair smiling at rabbit and all his friends.  On the fifth day, when the night sky had disappeared completely, rabbit sprang from his bed and called for the birds and the squirrels and all the bunnies. It was clear to them all that something was wrong.  The squirrels climbed to the windows and looked inside for the old woman.  It was there that they saw her sleeping in her bed, even while the sky turned the brightest of blue.  The woodland animals watched as new people came and went, but their friend continued to sleep as the days went by. Mornings arrived and then night pushed the bright sky out of view. The old woman slept through the days and nights and no seeds fell to the forest floor.

    It was rabbit who decided what must be done.  He called for the blue birds, the squirrels and the bunnies. They crafted a plan to help the little woman.  They each knew what to do and would meet again the next day as the morning sky stretched and yawned.  Rabbit scurried off to the apple orchard.  The bunnies gathered wildflowers that grew near a pond and the blue jays wove sticks together as they did when they made their nests.  The squirrels gathered pecans from the grove by the wood. 

    The next morning as the pink and orange sky gave way to good things, a bounty from the forest was left on the old women’s porch.  Rabbit left a basket of fresh apples.  The blue jays brought a wreath they had made of grasses and twigs and hung it high on the porch door.  The bunnies placed wild blue irises and morning glories in a jar on the porch.  The squirrels left pecans in a bowl by the door.  It was their turn to give back to the little woman who had fed them all every morning for so many years. Day after day, the animals brought fresh fruits and flowers to the little old woman in hopes that it may wake her from her sleep and bring her happiness. 
    Rabbit lay in his bed one early morning, dreaming of the apples he would deliver that day when he woke to the soft sounds of seed falling into the wood upon his house.  He sprang from his bed, causing all the bunnies to roll to the floor, and ran to the edge of the wood to see the old woman standing on her porch.  The blue jays had not arrived yet and only rabbit and the little old woman stood there in the clearing.  They both smiled and their hearts filled with warmth as they both knew what each had done for the other.  The little woman sat in her rocking chair as she waited for all of her friends to arrive.  They each came and enjoyed the seeds and grains and tiny vegetables that waited for them.  As the sky turned from pink to blue, the little woman held a shiny red apple close to her heart and politely whispered thank you to rabbit and all.    

Friday, July 28, 2017

Searching for Me

In twelve days, my youngest child moves out and moves to college.  The house will never be the same.  I am excited for her, but I worry what comes next in my life story designed entirely around my children.  I'm not sure how to take center stage in a house soon set for two.  I find myself Googling distractions that I'm keenly aware will never fill the void.  Had I been online a day earlier, I would have purchased a 45 foot 1979 Gibson Houseboat.  Thank God, someone purchased it before I did.  I've looked at lake condos, sports cars, cabins off the grid, all which appeal to my sense of needing to find a hobby that has nothing to do with carrying kids to singing lessons, cheer practice, tutoring, or school.   I've watched Youtube videos on how to remove the popcorn texture from ceilings and plan to duct tape a 6 inch scraper to my husband's wet-vac and pretend I know what I'm doing.  I've learned to play enough piano to make me fun at a party, but frightening at a recital.  I've given up red meat and pretend to be vegan until I grab my Italian leather purse and head out the door.  While I've been searching for everything, the one thing I haven't found is the answer to who I am now.  My identify is slipping out the door with the last child and now I have to figure out how to do this on my own.

Somehow, I don't see the next chapter actually leading to a rustic cabin in the Ozarks or with me trying to pull a 45 foot boat into a slip without destroying a dock.  I don't plan to join the corvette club or give up a night on the town with a good juicy steak.  I think, at first, I will rest.  I will give thanks for the amazing 22 years it has been with both children and I will remind them how proud I am of both of them.  They are truly good people.  After that, I may learn a few of my mother's recipes.  There never was time to really cook together.  I may travel a little more. I will go see my dad and maybe take him to Shapiro's in Indianapolis for a Corned Beef sandwich. Perhaps this is my time to reach out to friends who I haven't seen in years.  I'll try not to show up at my children's doorsteps every weekend as I know that they have to spread their own wings and they don't need "Mom" there all the time.  As frightening as it all seems, there is a sense of excitement too, because I know that such great things are ahead for both of my children.  There are good things ahead, for me, too.

As I drop my daughter off at my old college, we both need matching shirts that say, "Lookout world, here we come!"  She will begin a path I once traveled and I will forge ahead, carving out a new story that I can share with her each time we meet.  Our stories will always intertwine and that fact, alone, is what gives me courage to walk a new path.  I can't wait to hear of the amazing things she is doing and  in turn, I will tell her of my new adventures.  My son will join us and it will be like old times again.  Because of them, I am not afraid of the next chapter. There is so much more to be written.  While it feels like it's over, it's really not.  It's just a new adventure waiting for us all.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dueling Tomatoes

Southern women grow tomatoes. It's what they do.  Whether they like them or not, tradition dictates that they don a floppy hat and dig in the dirt.  I have failed at my duty to produce any red, ripe delicious tomatoes. This year will be different!

My plan began with eyeballing a spot on the pool deck and deciding exactly where one fancy plant would grow under my careful watch.  It would be protected from the woodland creatures that eat everything in our real garden and would be close enough to the water hose to allow me to keep it hydrated and happy.

My husband watched as I planted my single tomato plant and questioned what I was doing.  "We have a full garden of tomato plants," he reminded me.  The problem is the fact that he is an overzealous gardener and when the first sign of a beefy boy tomato shows, he picks it while green and delivers miniature tomatoes to my kitchen.  I simply want one fully developed, red, ripe tomato.

"I'm suppose to grow tomatoes,'' I reminded him, "This one is mine."  And with that one sentence, the competition began.

The next day, a new plant arrived on my pool deck.  Sitting next to mine, was a full size tomato plant, full of yellow buds and already developed tiny green tomatoes. I eyed this mystery plant with suspicion and my husband pointed out that his tomato plant was doing much better than mine.  I glanced over at my tiny green twig poking out of its pot and gave it words of encouragement to hurry up and grow.  My husband groomed his plant with love and pointed out all of the little tomatoes just waiting to be served up on his sandwiches.  He reminded me that this was his plant and that I should not disturb it.  I smiled and returned to grooming my tiny plant with three leaves and little hope.

I've considered replacing my plant with a fully packed case of ripe tomatoes and simply leaving it on the pool deck.  However, I'm determined to be true to my roots and grow one large tomato before the summer ends.

A few days after our pool garden began, I arrived home from work and found my husband's plant withered and begging for water.  It had baked in the full sun.  My tiny tomato plant was standing up strong and happy.  I retrieved the water hose and started to water his plant and realized that I could be accused of sabotage if anything went wrong.  I hesitated.  As I stared at the tomato laden plant, my nurturing instinct kicked in and I bathed it in a soft mist of water and saved it from certain demise.

My husband's plant will certainly yield produce long before mine does, but it's okay.  I will tend to my tiny plant each day until that one prize tomato arrives.  In the meantime, I have secretly planted a banana pepper plant on the other side of the fence.  Imagine his surprise when I show up with full size peppers!  Let the games continue.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Playing by Ear

I'm surrounded by people who are musically gifted and somehow I feel cheated in that department. My singing is best used to calm crying infants who are unable to speak about my made-up lyrics sung in the wrong key.  My piano playing, up until now, has been atrocious at best.  I have one song memorized and after 30 years, nobody really wants to hear Fur Elise again.  When the kids are sitting around playing guitars and singing their latest original works, jumping in with an early classical Beethoven composition just doesn't work.  It's a mood killer of greatest proportion.

None of these children have taken a music lesson so I wondered how they could play so well when I, who sat for years in Mrs. Perry's den, counting out notes on her piano, can not. They all play by ear.  This concept has always baffled me as I can't understand how someone can just sit down at the keys and "hear" the right notes.  Things just don't work that way.  But, now after fifty years, I may have stumbled on to what my children already know.

In the Google Search Bar, I typed, How To Play Piano.  Dozens of websites popped up.  It didn't take long to discover that chords were the missing link in my non-piano playing world.  I quickly memorized the major chords, then the minors.  Patterns emerged and suddenly things started to make sense.  Chord progressions popped up in my next search and before long I played an actual song with four chords.  It felt wonderful. It felt natural and my fingers seemed to know which notes to play without much thought.  My hands flew up and down the keyboard and I realized I was playing by ear.

I called my children and serenaded them against their will as we talked on the phone. My son suggested I try YouTube for further tips and later that night I was playing cocktail piano alone in the den in my pajamas.  It was liberating!   I attempted singing with my playing but was unsuccessful finding the chords to Michael Row Your Boat Ashore or Hush Little Baby.  Perhaps these are only popular with babies in need of a nap.

As my skills improve, I've employed the use of the pedals and the volume of my playing increases with each crescendo and fades off when a diminuendo nears.  I sound like I actually know what I'm doing until that last note arrives.  Every time, as if some piano curse has been placed upon me, I hit the wrong keys on the final note.  There is nothing quite like mesmerizing your audience, two cats and a sleeping dog, with a great piece of music and then destroying it on the final note.

I move like Liberace up and down those keys playing Moon River and Hallelujah, but when that final note arrives and my fingers pound down on the wrong keys, I'm back in Mrs. Perry's den, sitting under her scolding eyes as she says, Did you really practice?"  I can finally say, I'm playing by ear, woman! Even as the deafening sound of the wrong chord echoes through the room, I'm not defeated because I can now play dozens of songs without reading a single note. Move over Beethoven, there's a new kid in town and Fur Elise is on the shelf.