Saturday, February 11, 2017

I Don't Know

My post title is I Don't Know.

Truly: I don't know what in the world.  I have had so many trials and tribulations, near-misses and such in my 50-something life.

Today's "I Don't Know" was this:

 A fun friend of mine (Gail) and I met up to do a quick bike ride on Manhattan (KS) Linear Trail. So fun, we had!  She is in the midst of breast cancer chemo.  We had a couple of miles of "cancer/chemo" chat, but most of our ride was fun and games and catching up with Huz and family news.

At the end of our ride, Gail headed west to her home, and I headed north to my car, parked north of Pathfinder (if you are local, you know this terrific shop.)  I took a trail that I thought would lead me to my car.  But then I saw that there were railroad tracks between me and my "4th Street" road.

No worries, thought I.  I stopped, slipped my mountain bike over my shoulder, and stepped over two railroad tracks   This whole, little ordeal took about 10 seconds of my time. Maybe 20 seconds, at best.  I jumped back on my bike and pedaled forward to the 4th Street/Ft Riley BLVD intersection.  As I approached, my light was GREEN.

GREEN, as in GO.

I pedaled forward, to make the GREEN, but then:



A shithead white pickup ran the light.  He ran the red light.

He ran the red light, not seconds from when I was to be pedaling across my GREEN LIGHT.

If I had not been hampered by slipping my bike over my shoulder and hauling it few yards...would that shithead pickup have hit me and killed me?

Most likely.

I am haunted.

But let me take you further into my day.  I pedaled back to my car, parked north of the Pathfinder.  I threw my bike into my station wagon.  And that's when I saw the car parked just beside mine: two twenty-something women, ploying with a clothes hangar, trying to unlock their car.  I walked over and mentioned that they could probably call a locksmith and have them come by.  One of the young women replied, with tears in hers eyes, that she could not afford to do this.

I walked down the road to an antique-ish place I visit maybe every month; nothing there, and so I walked back to my car, and the young women were still there, still working their clothes hangar on their car lock.

That's when  I made my decision: Call the locksmith for these young women.  Heaven only knows, that Spouse o' Mine and I were in similar circumstances in our young "twenty-somethings".  And even if we had not, surely now I could do something for these two young women.

And so, the thing: I Don't Know?

I don't know.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Dancing in Life

Tonight that Spouse o'  Mine and I were in the kitchen, making pizzas.  His: Ham & pineapple.  Mine: Vegetarian.  We were listening to my all-time favorite Saturday evening radio show, The Retro Cocktail Hour.  As we waited for the oven to heat up, we began dancing across the kitchen floor.  It was fun!  We laughed and danced and laughed.  And then I reminisced about our sweet Michigan neighbors in East Lansing:

He was head of the Math Department, and wore a wry smile and a Scroodge McDuck hairstyle.  She, a petite thing, sported a brunette pixie cut and a calm demeanor.  Such great neighbors they were!   They were both jolly and positive folks.  We could not have asked for better neighbors.  They seemed to get a kick out of our young brood - a four year old, a three year old, and an infant.

Our Michigan winters were long.  They started early with short daylight and meager temperatures. For Halloweens, we planned our kids' costumes around heat and warmth.  We could have snow until May.  It was OK.  Everyone makes adjustments to their particular winter deals.

So, back to tonight, dancing along to the Retro Cocktail Hour:  I reminisced to that Spouse o' Mine about an evening in February, so many years ago:

Our good neighbors would put Christmas lights outdoors every year.  Annually.  And they never took them down until mid-February. She explained one year that they kept the Christmas lights up until after their wedding anniversary in February.  I thought this was stellar.  (Having a February anniversary myself.)  I thought that was so sweet.  The Michigan snow would build and build onto these outdoor lights until all we neighbors could see was a hedgerow of white snow interspersed with glowing lights of all colors.  It was a hazy mix, there in the winter dark.

One particular year, in February, I walked into our kitchen to do whatever it was a young mother does: get baby breakfasts ready, make formula, assess the laundry, WHATEVER.

And I looked out our north kitchen window.

Dark and full of snow.

Next door, beyond the hedgerow of white snow and glowing lights were our two sweet neighbors, dancing together.

I knew it was their anniversary.  I love that I witnessed their evening.  

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Beyond Twelfth Night

Yesterday, Friday, was Twelfth Night for most people.  The Twelfth Day of Christmas.  Some people take their holiday stuff down and kick the tree to the curb earlier, but I have always waited for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  And this year I invited the ladies of our little village over for a New Years coffee, set for this morning, and so I left our tree and all the holly and ivy up for an additional day.

I slept late (for me) this morning, and when I awoke I realized that that Spouse o' Mine was leaving for Ghana in an hour and a half, and the ladies of Wabaunsee were walking through my door in two hours.  Sheesh.

We normally do not keep pets indoors.  But this week has been bitterly cold, and so the 85-lb dog and our two pet cats have been spending the nights with us.  Ditto, the wild Black Cat.

(Black Cat first began showing up by skirting the edges of our 15-acre property.  We left the country for three weeks back in September and he moved further into domesticated territory.  And he beat up our two pet cats.  But then they rallied and beat him up, enough, I guess, that he decided that the score was sort of even.  No more fights.  An occasional spat, but that is it.  Then, Black Cat showed up at meal time, and so I began feeding him.  And now he is sleeping in our mudroom.  I pet him periodically, and have picked him up twice.  But I do not trust him 100% and so I keep him at a distance most times.  My intention with all this is to get him tame enough to load him into a cat carrier and haul him in to get neutered.  Then Black Cat can go live his life wherever he pleases.)

Well, I intended to mop the floors of the two rooms that we and the animals share, before company came.  (I abhor smelly dog smells, and hair on the floor.)  Poor smelly, hairy dog and hairy cats...out into the morning snow they went, and I DID mop, all while my first cup of coffee was brewing.  A 60-second shower, throw the pigs-in-blankets into the oven, feed some animals, kiss that Spouse o' Mine goodbye, and then BOOM!

Hello, ladies, come on in!

We sure had a fun time this morning.  It's a shame that we do not gather more frequently, we ladies of Wabaunsee.  We were four generations, the youngest of which was six months old, and our elder was ninety.    

That was my whole morning!  After my friends left, I sat in silence for quite some time.  And then I took my cup and saucer into the kitchen, and moved on to the task at hand:  Time to take down the tree.

I love putting a Christmas tree up, and I love packing away everything after Christmas.  I wonder sometimes why some people don't like this?  So many fun and sweet memories go onto my Christmas tree.

After the ornaments were packed away, I unwound the Christmas lights, and then I skillfully managed to drag the tree to our front door without spilling a drop of water onto the hardwood floor.  And then, as I stepped out onto the porch, the tree tipped over, and all the water from the tree stand spilled onto our porch and FROZE IMMEDIATELY.

I think I said a bad word.  

This porch is on the north side of our house and that means I will have an icy porch for the next few days.  Well, as it happens, we have been experiencing a north wind, too, and we have been using our south door for comings and goings.

Tonight that Spouse o' Mine called me from his plane, before take-off, and that did my heart good.  Now I am going to make a pizza and listen to Retro Cocktail Hour on the radio.  My kids and that Spouse o' Mine know that is a favorite Saturday night radio show for me!  

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday in Target

I am not thinking straight.  Clearly, I am not.

I needed to make a run to Target (about 15 miles from home) to buy some storage tubs.  I am trying to whip this art room into some sort of manageable shape and navigable floor space.  I didn't realize that everyone and her dog, (yes), were out Christmas shopping today.  I'm still coming down from my Thanksgiving high.  I haven't done much in the Christmas season thoughts yet.

In Target, there were kids squabbling, mothers ranting, and what's this with the husbands??  My husband does not go to Target with me.  He doesn't shop anywhere, with me or without me.  There were so many husbands in Target today, with their ranting wives and their squabbling kids.  Interesting.

Speaking about interesting, there was an older couple who walked past me.  They were old and looked really old.  Rough.  Long-time smokers, perhaps.  She, in particular, was wrinkly and drawn.  But she was dressed in some kick-ass skinny jeans, and when she walked away, her backside could have been mistaken for a model, with her above-the-knee leather boots filled by her legs which seemed to go on forever.  Interesting.

Turning down another aisle (the bath aisle, if you were curious), I heard a voice that sounded just as deep and gravelly as Louis Armstrong's.  I kid you not.  I looked around the place in search of some magnificent fellow who was no doubt capable of belting out a tune to stop all shoppers in their tracks.  I peeked down another aisle, and there was the source of this gravelly bass voice: a woman, a youngish grandmother with her two grandkids!  What??!  It just did not seem right.  She was nice looking, as were her grandkids.  Her voice was put in the wrong body!!

Then there was the pleasant old lady, her husband, and their dog.  I have a thing about keeping dogs at home in their yards.  Not in cages or kennels (oh, wait!  That's another blog post for another time.)  I have a problem with all the dogs in all the human public places.  Too many dogs in outdoor restaurant settings, and by this I mean too many dog owners allowing their little, mini dogs onto a restaurant/coffee table.  BLECH.  I don't want to eat from a plate right where your dog has been sitting and slobbering.  I am digressing.  This pleasant old lady, her husband, and their dog simply melted my heart.  The (human) couple was so happy.  No doubt that little pooch has a lot to do with that.  And so, my minor anti-canine diatribe can abate with that sweet vision.

And then I headed towards the book aisle.  This meant I had to pass the multiple toy aisles.  Squabbling kids, ranting moms, husbands who were way out of their element.  Here's a funny I witnessed:  A largish (really largish) woman was yelling (no exaggeration here) to her son, "BUBBA!  BUBBA!!"  A little kid, the size of a mosquito, came round the corner and answered politely, "Yes, Mother?"

And finally, the damper of the Christmas spirit: A big ol' father, dragging around a cart full of coats, followed by four young children and a sweet-yet-haggard-looking woman.  He barked at his wife.  "Take 'em back!"  And she walked away, carrying a few Christmas items, with very little emotion on her face.  Her older daughter followed her, carrying the younger daughter.  All three were a vision in their long denim skirts.

And that was my orientation into the new season of...Advent.

I hope I get more out of it than shopping...

Friday, December 02, 2016

This is Not a Good Chapter

I began this blog some many years ago, when my brother Bob secured blogspot.coms for each of us in the immediate family.  I took off with mine.  It was like a diary in the new millennium.  And I had family readers.  And then, I had friend readers.  And then, I noticed some readers from within the USA, and some international readers.

The voice from which I wrote most frequently was that of a daughter, writing home to her parents. In reality, I knew my Mom and Dad read my blog posts regularly.  Both Mom and Dad would reply or email me a note as to their take or reflection or opinion of any piece I wrote.  We had such fun!  Mom and Dad would write to me by email, or call me on the phone, and we would discuss what I had written.  We might chuckle.  We might sigh, or wipe a tear.  But it seemed that my writing was aimed for my parents' pleasure or "discussion".

About four years ago, I began noticing Mom's short-term memory loss.  Mainly on the phone.  In person, she was great.  But it progressed/regressed (which is it?!) to Mom changing from Mom, into "my mother".  My Mom is no longer there.  She left a couple of years ago.  My mother is still here, living in my parents' home.  She is happy, vibrant, and she is "my mother".

Two months ago, I went home to Pryor Creek to visit my Mom and Dad.  I was brushing my mother's hair one morning (who, at age 88 still has the most gorgeous thick, silver hair that one rarely sees at that age.  My Dad complains that she needs her hair cut.  She doesn't.  She's got it, let her flaunt it, I say.)  My mother commented to me, "You are really good at this."  I replied, "Well, I learned from the best!" And she and I bantered back and forth for a few moments, and then she asked me, "Do you work mainly in hospitals, or in home health care?"

And there it was.

Not six months before, I had told my brothers that this day would soon be here, when she did not recognize me.  I live five hours away from my parents.  I am lucky if I see them once a month.  I was braced for this moment, and it did not upset me.  My Mom left a couple of years ago.  My mother was making terrific, cheerful conversation with someone.  For that, we are blessed.  My mother is cheerful and happy (most of the time.)

Today, I wanted to call my Mom and talk to her.  I wanted words of experience, of wisdom, of humor, and of love.  I did not call my parents.  When I called yesterday, my mother could not even figure out how to hold her phone.

And so, this is not a good or sweet or comforting chapter.  I hate the phrase "It is what it is.", but now, I get its meaning.  Millions of daughters have gone through this, and millions of daughters will go through this.

It's my turn.
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