Thursday, June 10, 2010

COLD. The Long Way Around.

Family Photo.
The Women...

My mother was never one to procrastinate.  When she had broken her long toe on the middle leg of the antique sofa three times she decided it was time to send the thing off to its final resting place.  Who put middle legs on sofas anyway?  She waited for the old farmer that drove by the house everyday in his old, falling to pieces pick-up truck.  She knew this man because he had lost a substantial part of his truck one day in front of the house, and she had dragged it to the side of the road for him to retrieve on his way back through.  Which he did. 

She sat on the porch steps and waited.  When she first heard, then saw, the rickety truck chugging its way down the road she, in her calculating manner, slid down to the curb and began frantically waving the farmer down.   He, thinking something was awry, immediately pulled over to the curb.  "Somethin' wrong here?"   "Oh,' my mother purred,  "just that I really need to get rid of our old living room set, and we don't have a truck.  If you take it away for me you may have it."     

Old guy thought he died and went to heaven when he saw it.  He called his brother ( 'Bubba', my mother had a memory for hilarious nicknames) to come over and help, the two guys loaded that antique living room set into their truck faster than you can say free.  Before they left the farmer said to my mother, "But lady, what are you going to sit on?"    "Oh, I'm sure I'll figure something out..."  

She promptly raced off to the furniture store and bought a new living room set, minus any middle legs.  My father was used to this sort of behaviour.   He once arrived home to find a new BMW sports model in the driveway, instead of my mother's Karman Ghia.  "Wheres your car?" he asked.  When she told him it had been making a funny noise and decided to get something new he said, "You got a loan that fast?"   "Oh dear, no, I wrote a check for it..."      My father used to say he knew then and there he had an extremely strong heart muscle. 

When my mother made up her mind there was no changing it. When she decided that things were boring around the house after my sister left for college (yuh, I took it personally, though she said not to!), she decided we should have a new color TV.  She had it delivered one early winter evening.

She turned it on and we sat transfixed. Hypnotized even.   It was incredible. Our first show was Gilligan's Island, and when all that gorgeous blue water appeared on the intro, while we occupied the two radiators in the room trying to stay warm, we realized we suddenly felt warmer.  Eventually we would remove the folded towels we used as seat cushions from the radiators and migrate to the couch to see the 14' screen better.

From then on during the winter we would watch shows that were situated in warm places if Dr. Kildaire, Ben Casey, or Perry Mason weren't on.   These programs were mostly indoors, hence considered neutral.  This is why I tend to take vacations in the winter.

Calgon Take Me Away.

For the past three nights I have not only been looking for casserole dishes to bake for dinner (warms up the kitchen), but I have been plastered to the Travel Channel in my flannel shirts and Uggs watching vacation spots in warm locales, surrounded by cats stealing my body heat.   I usually just wear the Uggs on long flights as they are comfortable and keep my feet warm. 

My Favorite Sight.
Disappearing Snow.

The man who came in a huge tractor to put the vegetable seeds in the garden was outside beeping this morning.  I went out and said, "Gee, didn't know these things had horns."  "Oh heck yeah,'  he replied, 'even got a ste-ree-o radio with the weather band. Ya look like my wife all bundled up like that. Like Nanook of the North."      Crap, I forgot to ditch my winter parka on the way out the door.    "Well, just wanted to let ya know I'm here workin,"  and off he went into the field. 

I really need to stop typing. My fingers are nearly frozen, not helping the arthritis at all.  In Parting...

Scenes from last evening.

Farm Kittens with the Babysitter...
58 Degrees.

54 Degrees.
Electric blanket on LOW.

49 Degrees.
They are all under there...

And just because...

He Brought His Toy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The X-Files

My sister was always a bit strange in her choice of reading materials.  Which I didn't understand because she had two degrees and I always thought once a person starting studying, no matter what it was, there was always more to learn so one should maintain the learning aspect.

Later in life she took to reading romance novels.  Barbara Cartland of all things.  Don't get me wrong, there is a place for these books besides my basement, its just that the writing is mundane to say the least, the plots centered around  lovesick females, the endings always perfect.  The day I was visiting her and found one of these 'novels' beside her chair I felt the need to be socially responsible and confront her.

"Are you actually reading this?" I asked.    "Oh, ah, yes."    "Your kidding me right?"      I was in a bit of shock.   "Well, no.  I really like them, you should try."

A few weeks later my daughter and I were stalking yard sales and found an entire carton of Barbara Cartland romance novels for a quarter.    We looked at each other, shrugged and thought why not.    I could not make it through the first.  My daughter made it through two and said, "Talk about a dreamer writing those things. Can't imagine how the world actually looks to the writer."

Leave it to my daughter.  Now I had the insatiable urge to investigate Barbara Cartland's background just to see if her childhood had been so horrendous she hid behind storybook endings, and what for gauds sake, had driven my sister to reading diarrhea of the heart stuff?

So I called her.   "OK, I really tried, but I just cannot get into this stuff.  What on earth appeals to you about it?"     "Oh,' my sister replied in that matter of fact tone she always used when something was supposed to be simple to comprehend, ' everything else is too real." 

Realization hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  When a friend's brother was dying he started making stuffed bears. The closer he got to the end the thinner he got, and the fatter his, now overstuffed, bears were.  My sister had been told they had gotten 'all the cancer,'  but I know now from my own experience no matter what they tell you, the thought of it never goes away.   My sister was escaping through these books describing lives with bumps in them that always ended romantically perfect and hardly anyone ever died.

 Some time later I called my sister.   What I got was, "I can't talk to you right now, the new X-Files are on.  Call ya later."    Huh?   My son was into that show but my sister?  She was eight years older than me and way off the generational scale.  Now I was really confused.   I had seen a few episodes and was just not on that wave length at all.   I even picked up couple of books on the bargain table.  One claimed to be the Official Guide to the X-Files, the other the Book of the Unexplained.  I read them.   I still didn't get it.   And then she finally returned my call, apparently she had been having an adventure.

"You really should get into the X-Files.  This weeks episode was great."   
"I tried, I can't.  Its that whole alien-takes-over-a body thing, but the person is still in there somewhere.  You never know who is talking.  The alien or the person."     "Oh, by the way,'  my sister said,  'I have to talk to you about something. You have to promise not to tell Mother and Dad."    "Um, OK."
"Promise on Gunga's grave."    "You couldn't stand her at the end."     "All the better, maybe if you tell the heat will get turned up."    Huh?  The alien is never far from the surface.   "OK already, I can't stand the suspense."    

"I got arrested and I need to know what's gonna happen."      "What?  Who are you, and what have you done with my sister?"      "Very funny, it started as some silly little traffic ticket."      She went on to explain that she had gotten a ticket for speeding.   Despite the fact that she had a lead foot and a vintage car with a 351 Cleveland, she had driven over forty years without a ticket, so why now?  

Apparently she had been driving on an unfamiliar road and didn't know where the speed traps were.  She had gotten the ticket, and after discussing the recent NASCAR stats with the cop, threw it in the glove box and drove home. 

Over a year passed and she would be stopped again, only this time the cops would say,  "You are under arrest, you have an FTA on an outstanding traffic violation."   

"Well they handcuffed me, and put me in the back of the police car, right in the center of town.  They had my car towed away, I was mortified. The poor homeless man I buy lunch for every Saturday showed up with five dollars to bail me out.  Of course I didn't need it.  Then once I had signed all the papers at the police station they cut me loose' - there was that darned alien again,  my sister didn't talk like this -  'and told me to call a cab."      Her husband was out in the middle of the forest in Maine marking selective cutting areas about 300 miles away, totally out of touch for the momentous occasion.    "And now I can't drive until I go to court."     Whoa.  She was right.  Our parents need not ever know about this.  They were old.   They would collapse.  

Our parents left this world blissfully ignorant of the incident. 

When my sister left this world, my brother-in-law said, "See if there are any books under the bed you want."      My sister had our grandparents bed.  It was an antique mahogany, four poster fancy thing of the style she was fond of.    It was high off the floor to begin with, but when she became too ill to get out of it most days, blocks were put under the legs, four inches at the head of the bed, two inches at the foot.  This resulted in the side boards and slats being about 15 inches off the floor.     I lifted the bed skirt and was confronted with an absolute mountain of Barbara Cartland romance novels, years worth of Royalty and Majesty magazines, and a few X-Files magazines.

A lot of the time,  the most important aspects of people are hidden under the bed a protective veneer that has been polished to perfection by life's obstacles.  One has to dig deep to find the person.  It's important to remember the fact that there is a reason behind the reference to 'human error.'  And as I told my sister,  "Just because you were arrested, does not make you a bad person."

Oh, and check the glovebox...