Not Content With the Contents

My Dearly Beloved complains about all the stuff in the attic every time whenever he goes up to look for something.  I complain because he can’t find things that I’m certain we’ve stored up there.  For instance, this morning I discovered the neatly labeled Fall and Thanksgiving carton that he hadn’t been able to find in time for us to use.   I’ve since combined all the fall decor in a  large plastic container with a bright green lid now.  Maybe next year the witches and the angels won’t emerge at the same time.

Alas, this box, labeled by my DB,  was empty when I came upon it in the attic.  I have no clue as to what it contained.

I feel reasonably sure it’s not Dog Glass.

Anybody. . . ?

 

 

Socked In!

Youngest daughter gave me a pair of flannel sock monkey  pajamas as a sort-of gag gift at least ten years ago.   She also provided matching slippers, but those got chewed to smithereens three dogs ago, although I still wore them chewed until two dogs ago.

The pajamas are so thick, they require a drawer by themselves,  since my other nightwear refuses to mingle with them.  I’ve taken them out countless times to donate somewhere. . . perhaps to a museum at this point. . . but I always end up saving them for one more year.

The thing is, besides the fact that they’re inappropriate for a woman of my golden years, fashion sense, and incredible sophistication, they’re too hot for any human of normal body temperature to sleep in, no matter how cold the night.

BUT, when I get whammed with a virus that flattens me, only the sock monkey pajamas can take away the accompanying chills.  Even my Dearly Beloved, who shuns cough syrups and medicines, has resorted to wearing them on such occasions.

I’m talking daywear.  Other than perhaps in a cryogenic state, they’re still too hot for one to wear in bed, yet to schlep around from sofa to bathroom to bed during a siege of flu, cold, sinus infection, they’re pure magic.  The top has two patch pockets large enough for tissues, nasal sprays, cough drops, cellphone, whatever, all at the same time.

The 2016 version of pestilence and disease in the Lee household struck about the same time the ghost of Marley would have shown itself.  It was a doozy.  I donned the pajamas, hit the sofa, and settled in for a long winter’s bout.

Dearly Beloved offered incredible support by letting me binge-watch Hallmark Christmas movies without so much as a whimper about all the games he was missing on TV.  A prince among men!

By Christmas evening, the prince was feeling pretty lousy himself.  His Christmas dinner consisted of my takeout leftovers from the previous week and a slice of pumpkin bread a kind neighbor had brought over, along with a glass of wine.  Mine was four saltines and a glass of water.

The pajamas are an indicator of how one is progressing because they become suffocating to the wearer as soon as one starts to turn the corner back to good health.  Hah!  I didn’t find any corners for five days.  The sock monkey pajamas were all that was holding me back from the abyss.  Well, those and the Hallmark Christmas movies.

Yesterday, I felt good enough to move into sweatpants.   I even cooked dinner last night:  Italian-style meatballs and marinara over spaghetti squash.  Granted, the sauce was jarred, the meatballs made by the butcher, we had no olive oil, and DB had to halve the squash for me, but that three-ingredient dinner was fabulous.

I may even feel mended enough to do the laundry today.  I need to wash those pajamas.

Dearly Beloved is having chills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need A Hug?

Of all the statistics being tossed around from the Presidential election, the one that perhaps surprised me most was that 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. Not that they should have voted for Hillary Clinton because she was a woman, but because they voted for a man who demeaned women publicly and privately.

(He also bullied and ridiculed the weak, put down minorities, and reviled immigrants.  I’m guessing that, unlike those white women,  they expressed their disapproval of his behavior with their votes.)

This election spawned a support group called Pantsuit Nation on Facebook, giving women of all ages the opportunity to interact and talk of their passions and frustrations with others who felt just as strongly.  But the bravest group of all, I thought, called themselves Republican Women for HILLARY.  At a time when even the most assertive members of Congress fear being even slightly out of step with their party line, for these women to publicly proclaim their intentions was, to me, amazing.

Within my own family, some of us were crushed by the election results intellectually and viscerally.  When my devastated older daughter went for a walk Wednesday, she came upon this house and, on impulse, felt compelled to ring the doorbell.

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She could do little but introduce herself to the woman who answered the door before bursting into tears.  The woman, a complete stranger to my daughter, reacted in the same manner.  They hugged and sobbed on the stoop before my daughter continued her walk.

Shortly afterwards, the woman changed her sign to this:

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To his credit, Donald Trump has been inclusive and gracious in his post-election comments.  It would be wise for members of Congress to behave in a similar manner, for most of us are sick of the terms Democrats and Republicans.  I for one, would like to simply be American now.

Be honorable when no one is watching.  Compromise.  That doesn’t mean “it’s MY turn now.”  It means working together: mutual concession, respecting each other’s differences.  We should be able to manage that.   We call ourselves, after all, the United States of America.

Let the hugging begin.

 

 

 

 

Notes From Cook/Laundress

For most of July, Camp Granddad has been in full swing around here, “swing” definitely being the operative word.

Youngest Grandson, now 9, loves spending time here.  His mother says she is making a sacrifice in letting us borrow him, since he’s the only one of her brood (two teens, one toddler, one diva dog, one crazy cat) without an attitude.

Grandson and Dearly Beloved have spent hours and hours in sweaty sports activities–golf, basketball, baseball, and when they need to cool off, bowling.   YG wants to know how to do it all correctly, so Granddad provides instructions, but in a fun way.  That may explain why, when Grandson decides to hit with his putter from the tee sometimes, he does so with a near perfect swing.

DB has pronounced him a “natural” in all their activities and the word “Phenom” has even been bandied about.  He narrates hilarious videos of their activities and sends them to all the relatives.

There is no question as to whether or not YG will be able to play professional golf, baseball, and basketball.  Of COURSE!  All of them!  The only discussion has been as to how he will be able to play all three at once.   As Grandson lives in Atlanta, he will surely be drafted by the Braves and the Hawks, so he’ll be able to play those sports from the same location, but there is still the problem of going from sport to sport when Away games are involved.

I overheard one of their discussions just at the AHA! moment when they realized the simple solution they’d been overlooking.

(Headslap!)  YG would have his own private jet!

 

 

“Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent.” » Donald A. Norberg

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

 

Independence, Yes, But NIMBY!!!

Ivy, our granddog Goldendoodle arrived yesterday to stay with us for a week while her Peeps spend a week at the beach.

We were thrilled at the chance to have her for a week.  She’s a fun dog AND Ivy chases squirrels!  Oh, the thrill or seeing those little bastards scatter!  They are as fearful of her as they are contemptuous of us.  When we run out yelling at them, they give us the finger before sauntering off to lean against a tree, waiting for us to leave.  When Ivy goes out, they head for the treetops at top speed.

So, when Ivy’s family headed out yesterday, we came inside to enjoy looking out at our tree rodent-free yard.  Some time later, we heard Scout at the gate, barking loudly, which she rarely does.  Dearly Beloved called the dogs inside, but only Scout came.

Ivy had disappeared.

Imagine our panic!  Her folks hadn’t even reached the beach yet and we’d already lost their dog!  I fired off a Lost Dog e-mail to the neighborhood with a regal photo of Ivy.  I didn’t text my daughter.  I put  Version 2 Scout on a leash and asked her to play bloodhound while we walked the neighborhood.  She began sniffing immediately and my hopes soared.  Hah!  She was just looking for a place to pee–twice, before we even got to the corner.

In the meantime, DB had already headed out in his car.  He was so determined to find her that he said he was prepared to search all night.

While I was waiting for Scout to finish, I received an e-mail from someone in the neighborhood saying that Ivy was safe–she’d seen her with a couple who were trying to locate her owners.  They had called the number on the ID tag, but Voicemail was full, so they couldn’t leave a message.

The clever couple took Ivy home with them and sent a text to the number on the tag, since they couldn’t leave a message.  So, our daughter, on her way to the beach, received a text from strangers, saying, “We have your dog.  She is safe.”

Ivy loved the adventure.  She played with the couple’s Great Dane until DB arrived.  She’ probably bragged about it to Scout.  Ivy’s ID tag had broken off previously and Daughter had handed it to me when they arrived, asking could we fix it and put it back on her collar.  DB did so immediately.  Daughter was so grateful that he’d done so that she may even let us keep the grandkids again.  DB and I figure that we lost only five years of our lives at most.   Scout is giving us reproachful looks that say, “I TRIED to tell you that she’d broken out of the joint!”  

Trauma is exhausting, so DB and the dogs are napping.  Sounds like a good idea to me.  But first,  Ivy has a message for you. . . .

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gceopbRMi

 

 

 

 

Houston Nous Avons Un Problème

My family doesn’t post much on Facebook these days.   No pictures of the grandkids (which I understand) but Facebook is also how I keep up with where everyone is.  At the end of May, I’m guessing they’re all at home, immersed in the end-of-school activities.

I wouldn’t know, even if they did post, because Facebook has Frenched me.

Oui!!!

How could that happen?  Believe me, I don’t screw around with Facebook settings.  I wouldn’t know how. For years I never checked messages and notifications because I didn’t  know what those symbols meant.

Just now, I ventured over to the buttons on the right in an attempt to bring myself back to my native tongue.  Fat chance!  All the options are in French.

Que diable?

Dearly Beloved, who claims to have had five years of French, didn’t even look up from his book when I told him of my dilemma.   Pretty sure he’s not ignoring me.  It’s more like he’s telling me, “Je ne me souviens pas de la merde !”

Google translate tells me that’s how to say, “I can’t remember shit!”

If you have an idea of how to get me out of de la merde. . . h e l p!!!

If not, “friend” my family members so that you can tell me what they’re up to.

Until then, Au Revoir, Facebook!

 

PS.  Autocorrect changed my merde to merge.  Thank goodness for friends who know that merde!  (I’ve had to change it three times right here in hand-to-hand combat with Autocorrect.)   Phooey!  That one is the same in French or English.

 

 

 

 

 

I Gave It the Hairy Eyeball

Despite my Dearly Beloved’s eye rolls, I’m one of those people who brings home the complimentary shampoos, conditioners, etc., from our hotel stays.  I believe I have enough shoe cloths to set up my own shoeshine station.

Not so with the shampoo and conditioners.  Now that we rarely travel,  the silver bowl of freebies in our guest bathroom has not been restocked in a l-o-n-g  time.  It contains only lotions and body washes.  No shampoos or conditioners.

I’ve been using a prescription shampoo and I’m a tub person anyhow, so I’ve paid little attention to our shower amenities beyond noting that there were some bottles of shampoo and conditioners in the shower rack.

A few weeks ago,  I decided I wanted to use something besides the dermatology stuff, so I checked out the stash in the shower and found it sorely lacking;  empty bottles, missing lids, no shampoos and conditioners from the same manufacturer.  Shameful!  As I began tossing them,  I spied a couple of like-new bottles I’d never even seen before.

I sniffed one and found it to have a delicious coconut scent.

Since then, I’ve used the bottles several times. . . enough that the bottles are getting a little low.  Whichever of our offspring who left it here won’t mind, right?  After all, everybody wants Momma to be happy.   In fact, I thought I’d better hint that we need more, so I took a quick picture to remind them which brand it was.

Beach Babe.  Oh yeah, that was it.   Beach Babe.

Then I read the labels more carefully.

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Harrumph!   Really?

Rest assured that the bottles will soon have “Your Mother begs to differ” written down the sides with my best Sharpie.

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People who can finish a shampoo bottle at the same time as the conditioner are truly gifted.

 

 

 

 

The Pool

The season that the guys in our family look forward to all year has finally arrived.  They aren’t kidding when they call this March Madness.

Since I like to select teams that I want to be able to root for, I cross a number of teams off immediately.   Kentucky, I just don’t like the coach.  If the politics of the state are so crazy,  I don’t choose teams from there, either.  (I think my Texas blogger friend there understands.)

This year, our youngest daughter didn’t have the time to spend on her selections, so she has one of those automatic quick picks:  her teams are the ones that are favored in every race.   Another family member has a ballot with all the historic favorite teams.

Of course we have the “experts,” the guys who watch basketball all year, read the sports pages religiously, and mark their selections with the confidence of their own superior knowledge.

But the ballot that is my favorite is the one completed by our youngest grandchild, little Miss NotQuite2.  Her brothers helped her, but she made her own picks, using a combination of methods.  Whenever possible, her brothers imitated the sounds that teams’ mascots make and she chose her favorites.  The Oregon Ducks, for instance, were a shoo-in.  When mascot mime wasn’t possible, she’d touch one on the screen, with much encouragement from her brothers.

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So how is all that working out?  Last night, while the superfans spent the night near the bottom, w-a-a-a-y up at the top, all by herself, was Little Miss NotQuite2.

Her mommy recorded it in her baby book.

Madness, indeed.

 

Y’all Hear That?

Usually when Dearly Beloved and I drive to Indianapolis in the winter, our visits  trigger an arctic blast of frigid winds and stinging snow.  So why do we go in winter?

We go to witness the Indiana religion:  Basketball.

This is oldest grandson’s senior year in high school.  He doesn’t plan to play in college, so we went up to watch a couple of his last games.  As soon as we crossed the state line into Virginia, we found snow covering the ground.  Surprisingly,  the farther up we drove, the less snow we found.  The temperature rose to 70 that weekend.

By the time we reached Indiana, we didn’t need the usual assortment of snow boots, gloves, or scarves.  Heck, we didn’t even need a coat.

Old Man Winter must not have recognized our car.

The pale residents of Indianapolis immediately hit the sidewalks as if someone had rung a citywide fire drill.  They walked their children and pets, bicycled, jogged, and crowded every outdoor restaurant table in the city.

Our grandsons reminded us of kids on a snow day here in North Carolina, basking in the warmth!

DB and I have come to realize that these two grandsons are Midwesterners.  They were born in Indiana and have never lived anywhere else.  Livermush and hushpuppies have probably never entered their vocabulary, much less their stomachs.  I don’t know if they even eat grits.  Their only nod to southern cuisine is the cartons of Cheerwine that we take for them when we visit.

There is not so much as a hint of southern inflection in their speech.  “Southernness”  must not be passed along through DNA,  but there was one brief incident which gave us hope.

Senior grandson went out with a girl-space-friend (not a girlfriend, he pointed out)  on Saturday night.  While he was out, his younger brother texted an urgent message to him:

When you’re on the way home, please stop someplace and get me some sour Gummies and sweet tea.

HOPE, right?

 

Reading By Moonlight (2016)

(Last week, our North Carolina weather went from relatively mild to snow, freezing rain, and plummeting temperatures.  The full moon added light, but no warmth.  As always, it reminded me of the interminable winters we encountered during our years in the upper Midwest;  especially one  particular January night some 30 years ago.  Our latest bout of weather has prompted me to tell that story once again.  My original post went much like this:)

Sometimes I still check the weather in the northern Wisconsin town where we lived when our children were young. I see that the low temperature tonight is -6.  Got that?  Not the windchill, but the actual temperature: minus 6.

Weather can fool you there. Bright sunshine and glistening snow, a sparkle in the air…?  Those sparkles are ice crystals.  Stay inside and wait for the cloudy days.

I remember looking out my kitchen window many wintry nights when the snow reflected the moonlight beyond the shadows of the trees.  In fact, it seemed so bright that I could have gone outside and read by the light of the moon,  I preferred the lamplight of my own cozy home.

Our daughter Boo used to call that negative weather, an apt name on several levels. A deep breath of that cold air sent a sharp, knifelike pain into the lungs and left the nostrils frozen. To say that the cold became wearying about this time of year is to vastly understate its effect on the psyche.

I led a Brownie Girl Scout troop at the church next to the neighborhood elementary school. The Jr. Girl Scout troop met at the same time, right after school ended.   Coming up with indoor activities to use up some of their pent-up energy became more challenging each week. The two groups were congenial, so we decided to plan a combined activity: we’d hold a Father-Daughter Square Dance.

The other leader found a square dance caller: a farm couple who did this to make some extra money during the winter months. The wife taught the moves while the husband acted as caller and provided the music. We planned refreshments and rounded up big brothers to come and dance with any girls whose dads couldn’t be present.  I made my own little Brownie a special outfit: a blue gingham dress and bonnet like Laura Ingalls Wilder might have worn.

It didn’t take long for the dance to grow into a much-anticipated event for the girls. A date with daddy!

The temperatures on the appointed evening chilled to the marrow, cold even by Wisconsin standards.   I believe the windchill was -30.  The snow crunched beneath our boots as we trudged from car to fellowship hall, unloading the refreshments and decorations. By the time the girls and their dads began arriving, everything was in place except the caller and his wife.  No word from them.

A few games–Duck, Duck, Goose and Strut, Miss Lucy– entertained the girls for about thirty minutes. The fathers stood around the punch bowl, introducing themselves to each other. The other leader and I led the games and smiled even as we shot each other questioning looks and kept glancing at the outer doors. The caller was bringing the equipment, the music, and the talent.  We had no Plan B.

A blast of cold wind swept through the room when the double doors opened to reveal, not the expected caller, but a uniformed police officer. He walked over to the group of dads and asked which one of them was in charge. The men pointed silently to the two of us. We walked to the corner of the room with the cop where he explained that he had stopped a car for speeding and the driver had said he was on his way to a church function where he was supposed to be the entertainment. The policeman said he wanted to make sure because the story had sounded implausible. We assured him that the man was exactly what he professed to be.

The officer, still looking dubious, went out to the parking lot and returned with a tall, slim, slightly stooped man in overalls and a flannel shirt, followed a little blond girl about the age of my Brownies and a boy who was perhaps 11. The children were thin and solemn. One carried a small record player and the other, a stack of 33-rpm records.

The man introduced himself to the two of us and apologized profusely. “We had to milk the cows before we could leave. It takes longer when it’s cold like this,” he told us, “and my wife is feeling bad and couldn’t help. Don’t worry though. . . I can call and teach too and I’ll stay the full time we agreed on.”

Within minutes he had the group in a circle, explaining terms like “allemande left” and “promenade right”.  It didn’t bring out much hidden talent on our part, but certainly evoked much merriment. Learning “Swing your partner” and “Grand Left and Right” to take the inner and outer circles in opposing directions was easier and officially threw the evening as well as the dancers into full swing.

The other leader, also named Mary, and I couldn’t escape a feeling of unease. Something didn’t feel right. The boy would disappear, leaving the little girl to operate the music for her daddy, then the boy would return and whisper something to his dad. A few minutes later we’d see the little girl slipping quietly through the swinging doors.  When she returned, she’d whisper urgently in her father’s ear as he continued calling the dances.

Finally the man asked would we mind if he took a little break so he could go outside and check on his wife. His wife? We’d had no idea that someone had been outside in that subzero darkness all this time.

“Please,” we urged, “have her come inside. She can sit in the kitchen, she can lie down on a pew… bring her in to get warm!”

The man said he didn’t think she’d do that, but he’d ask her. He came back in alone a few minutes later. He shook his head at our questioning looks and came closer, lowering his voice. “She may be having a… miscarriage,” he murmured. “She doesn’t want to come in and disturb the children.”

It was obvious he meant our children; his own children held critical roles in the family drama and carried them out seriously. They’d politely refused the refreshments we offered. They were not there for fun.

We protested as adamantly as we could without letting the dancers overhear us. “We can cancel this,” we insisted to the farmer. “We’ll do it another time. Does she want to go to the hospital? What can we do to help?”

He was adamant in his refusal, insisting that we’d hired him and he was going to honor the commitment. He wasn’t going to disappoint all these little girls. We sensed that the money–$90, as I recall–was very important.  Health insurance?  No need to ask. We could tell by his reaction there was no way this woman would agree to a hospital visit.

We tried to reassure him that he HAD honored his commitment and had more than earned the payment, but he stubbornly refused to stop.

“I don’t take the pay if I don’t do the full job,” he said firmly and stepped back up to the microphone.

We were the only two adult women in the building, but the other leader’s husband was a physician and after she whispered the unfolding situation to him, he went outside to assist her however he could. The police officer, inexplicably still hanging around, followed him. The doctor was back in about ten minutes, shrugging his shoulders to us.

“She says this has happened before and she knows what to do. Doesn’t want to go to hospital and won’t come inside.  I think she’ll be okay. She’s pretty calm; it’s the cop who is in a panic.”

About 15 minutes later the little girl pulled gently on my arm. “Miss,” she whispered, “my mom says do you have some kind of little container you won’t be needing any more.”

I was confused. Did she need water to drink?  She shook her head. “She says it doesn’t need to be very big, but if it had a lid, that would be good.”

Suddenly I realized why the woman needed a container and went into the church kitchen.  I found a clean cottage cheese container with lid and handed it to the child. She accepted it with that same solemn expression and headed for the door, walking along the wall to be as invisible as possible.  My heart literally hurt as I watched the small figure heading out to serve as midwife for the mother who waited alone in the Arctic-like night.

The policeman rushed back inside and drew the doctor aside, whispering excitedly. The doctor shook his head and spoke briefly as if trying to reassure the policeman, who looked beyond ragged by then.

“He radioed for an ambulance,” the doctor told us as he returned from another trip outside. “The blood scared him.”

The farmer overheard this exchange and asked urgently, “Can you cancel it? She won’t go!”

But at that instant,  flashing lights strobed through glass block windows. The doctor grabbed his coat again and we took another break so that the man could go to his wife and join the growing tableau in the parking lot. Inside, our scouts and their fathers, except for our two husbands, remained oblivious to what was happening out there. The fathers, in an unspoken pact, appeared to be working overtime to make it an evening to remember for their little girls.

The farmer came back inside and began calling another dance for the revelers. The doctor whispered to us that he’d sent the ambulance away and would make sure the man wasn’t billed for it. Ironically, the ambulance fee at that time was $90.

At the end of the dance the farmer did accept a cup of punch while his children packed up the equipment. We did not insult him with small talk, but thanked him, quickly paid him his fee and wished them well. The trio did not look back as they headed out for their car and the woman who had waited in the frigid night for over two hours.

To talk of the incident seemed somehow to dishonor the dignity of that family, so we did not speak of it to each other afterwards, but I know that night affected me in ways I still don’t understand. When I hear of young women expecting “push prizes” for childbirth. . . when I hear Congressional arguments about how we can’t afford health care for all. . .  when I read of blizzards in the midwest or look at the moon on a winter night, I think about that family and what it must have been like driving home on that night.  I picture the mother, who was probably near my own age then, feeling that cottage cheese container in her hands lose its warmth… the father, driving more slowly on the return trip, facing another round of milking and feeding the herd before sunrise . . .and the children, who would help with chores and ready themselves for another day at a school where students segregated themselves by whether they were farm kids or town kids: Dirts or Jocks.  These children would be Dirts.

Other families often have visceral realities so very different from our own, but we see them  through our own small lens.   Until, that is, we step away from our own warm hearth. . .  and learn to read by moonlight.

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