Monday, November 30, 2009
We continued to sort and unpack and put things into place at the new house, and we celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday AND Saturday. Thursday was a quiet meal at a restaurant with Hubby’s parents, and Saturday was the traditional all you can eat turkey-ham fest at Mama’s and Daddy’s house. Don’t tell my peeps, but I’ll be serving them turkey pot pie tomorrow night. That should wrap up the leftovers, except for the dressing, but I froze that to layer onto a rolled up turkey breast in a few weeks, so I can use up that turkey breast I’ve had sitting in the freezer since that sale at Kroger. They won’t remember where that dressing came from by January. Ah, the games we play in order to feed our families something other than the same old thing.
Saturday was an opportunity to play at length with Special Delivery. He is growin’ like a weed and is running, so he’s into everything now. You know, that part is fun when it’s not your child you have to chase 24/7. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come in our healing over Sissy’s death and to remember how lucky we are. It also produced my newest favorite picture which Teen Angel took while trying to figure out how to work my camera.
Not bad for a first effort. Not bad at all.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I thought we had a day or two to breathe a little and catch up on our rest before we tackled the task of cleaning the old house, but the real estate agents like to play this little game called Bringing Over A Prospective Buyer When the Owners are Least Prepared. A call from an agent yesterday about a visit today sent us into major cleanup mode last night. While it still needs a little work, the house is presentable for today’s visitors whom I hope won’t notice that stain inside the cabinet that used to hold canned goods. While it’s not horrible, it’s…..okay, it’s kind of horrible. As I was scrubbing away my manicure on the kitchen cabinets last night I did have the thought that all of those days that I blew off deep cleaning the kitchen to lay by the pool with a book and a beverage were finally “coming home to roost” as mama says.
We have sold the old furniture to a lady we know, and she should pick it up any day now. That will leave the old house empty except for the attic and garage boxes, which we will likely deal with when they become urgent. If the house doesn’t sell soon, I’m just going to enjoy the holidays and not worry about those boxes until January. All in all, it’s been a fairly smooth transition. One of these days when I’ve learned where everything is and have time to go through my files, I’ll give you some before and after photos of the renovations, but for now I’ll just share a few tidbits:
-The dog and cat are a little perplexed by the change of scenery. While they haven’t wigged out on us, they silently follow us all over the house. All day. Every time we turn around they’re at our feet. It was a little disconcerting when I was taking my shower yesterday and looked through the glass to see both of them sitting in the bathroom floor watching me with great interest.
-I kept forgetting to bring my robe to the new house. Yesterday, when I walked the dog at 5:45am I had on Teen Angel’s pink crocs, baggy pajamas, a running jacket and a bandana in my hair. I figured none of the new neighbors would see me at 5:45 anyway. Just as I reached the curb and the dog hiked his leg, I heard, “tap, tap, tap”. “Oh, no”, I thought. Sure enough, there was a neighbor, jogging toward me in the dark. The neighbor I see at every 5K race I attend. I sheepishly said, “Mornin’” and picked up my robe last night.
-I didn’t have time to take many pictures during the moving process, but I did take a moment to snap this one. Look, eight bottles of lotion! What did I tell you?
-I’ve always wanted a pantry where I could store all of our food and the dozens of kitchen appliances and gizmos I own. I have one now, and it’s as good as I had hoped. Thank you, Jesus.
-We went three days without television, and we MISSED it. It was like the ice storm all over again, without the darkness. And the cold. And the exhaustion.
-While it’s still a house and not yet a home, it will soon feel like home. We know it will take a little time, but some of us have already found a place for our favorite things.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Like eight pounds of powdered sugar. Eight! I took this picture before I found the other four pounds.
That number doesn’t include the powdered sugar in the canister on the kitchen counter or the partial bag I’m sure is sitting in the freezer. Apparently, I’m hoarding it for some butter cream icing emergency.
I also have eight kinds of flavorings. Can you tell I use a lot of almond extract?
By the way these all went to the new house. Christmas cookie season is the around the corner, baby, and you never know when you’ll need orange flavoring. Since I use about a quarter teaspoon of mint flavoring a year, it will be Christmas of 2015 before I get rid of those two bottles.
I was shocked to find that I have eight (are you seeing a trend?) loaf pans. I got yer small loaf pans, yer ceramic loaf pan, yer glass loaf pan and one metal one that was so dinged up and nasty that I turned it upside down before I took the picture.
I kept two and got rid of the rest.
The item that wins the puzzler prize turned up last night. I loaded all of my underwear, socks and pajamas into boxes and took them to the new house. As I was putting them away I discovered that I have a lot of underwear. A LOT. As I was stacking panties I said to myself, “Self, I’ll bet you’ve got sixty pair there.” So I counted them out of curiosity, and found 94 pair. Ninety-four!!! I didn’t take a picture because I heard my mama’s voice in my head saying, “Nobody wants to see your drawers, and even if they did you don’t need to show em’ to people.” She’s right. The World Wide Web doesn’t need to see that, but take it from me; it was a mighty big stack. Apparently, in my quest to find the perfect panty over the last year…or three….I’ve bought and bought and bought and saved and saved and saved one of every brand out there. I even had that old panty girdle I bought right after I gave birth to Teen Angel (seventeen years ago) when I just had to fit into a certain little black dress. It was ridiculous. I weeded that stack down to a respectable level and vowed not to let THAT happen again.
We are one day away from sleeping in the new house. I am off of work tomorrow and plan to wrap up the moving of household items, but I’m a little worried. I have to tackle the bathroom cabinets, and I’m afraid I’m about to find out just how many bottles of lotion I really have. I’m guessing at least eight.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
“Damn, I’m gonna miss that UK game,” he said.
I laughed so hard I almost choked on my creamed corn.
Monday, November 16, 2009
And I think I heard him whisper, "Checkmate."
Ha! A worthy opponent is he.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I slide into the driver’s seat and crank the ignition, leaving right on time for a change. I don’t want to be late today. It’s the day we will lay to rest a cousin who died too soon and without his freedom. Freedom lost several years ago to the lure of drug money. I’m not looking forward to another funeral on the heels of Sissy’s death. The memories of that loss still burning so hotly into my heart and the sympathy I feel for my aunt and uncle’s new burden of loss puts me in a funky mood. Funky and sentimental, but surprisingly, not terribly sad. I take a deep breath and start the task that looms ahead.
The drive gives me the rare opportunity to travel about forty five minutes through the countryside where I grew up. My path takes me through my hometown and into the back roads of southern Illinois. The roads of my youth. The roads that meander through farms and woods, past small communities that have more dogs than people. Towns whose names spring from the bible. Where the only travelers are the folks who live there. This is the land that sired my parents and grandparents. It is the land that sustains me and from which I draw my strength.
I don’t get in a hurry. A funeral day from work is a little like a snow day. It’s a legitimate reason for a break in the normal routine, a free pass for pushing deadlines aside. There is no need to rush, and it’s an opportunity to savor the season which is unusually warm and still dotted with the shades of brilliant autumn. Within fifteen minutes of leaving work, I am on a two lane highway headed north, with the window rolled down and the smell of leaves tickling my nose. It is a pretty day, a fitting day to bury someone who loved the outdoors. I drive with the comfort of knowing that despite all of the craziness in this world, not much changes around home. In fact, any changes that do occur happen so slowly you are taken by surprise when you finally realize something is different.
In my hometown of 7,500 people, the sign in front of the auto parts place notes the recent loss of the owner. The tavern at the edge of town bears the same name it has for years, and a police car cruises the main drag looking for an occasional speeder. The two lane pulls me into the countryside where the hum under my wheels seems as familiar as the houses along the road. My mind clicks off the houses where my school bus used to stop twice a day and spots the place where my childhood friend once fell from a horse. The songs on my iPod seem hand picked for the trip, even though it is randomly shuffling along, and when it shuffles into Neil Young’s Beautiful Bluebird, I can’t help but smile because it seems so fitting for the moment.
Two verses later, I pass the old feed store where daddy spent many an hour swapping lies and cards. It used to come alive at lunchtime with farmers savoring ring bologna sandwiches and sweaty cold Coca-colas, but today it sits empty, finally closed for good. A spray painted sign on the porch advertises an upcoming indoor yard sale, and I am offended by its intrusion on a sacred memory. I keep driving, looking for familiar landmarks. I am now deep into the country.
My entrance into the tiny town that hosts my large family today makes me smile at its familiarity. White clapboard houses that have looked the same since I was a child line the main drag, interrupted only by a diner, the Methodist church and the barber shop where my brother got his first haircut. I still remember watching snips of his hair fall into the floor under the watchful eye of a man who had long lost count of the young victms of his overzealous shears. Next door, I look for the doors that once housed the pool hall where daddy got an education in everything grandma didn’t want him to know, and I am pleased that the screen doors are still there, even if they are hanging on by a thread.
I am almost to the funeral home, but I’m not ready for the drive to end, and the clock tells me time is on my side, so I make a right turn onto a road I’ve never traveled. It takes me past an old box factory that stands shakily on its foundation, covered in vines and unrecognizable growth. The old railroad depot is just across the street. The windows are broken, and the roof is falling in. It hasn’t been used in years, and I know it will remain untouched until it’s gone, because like the farm store, some things around here are just sacred and are allowed to disappear on their own schedule out of respect for the role they once held in this community. I make a note to take a picture of it on my way back. I’m in wetlands territory now, where the ducks and geese will stop on their way south, where standing water sometimes creeps over the road, and rushing water sometimes takes you by surprise. I stop in the middle of the road to savor the old railroad bridge and yield to the urge to preserve the moment.
As I stand under the canopy of trees in the middle of the road, there is no traffic to worry about, only the sounds of water and birds. My head is a kaleidoscope of childhood memories, some of which include the family that is gathered in the funeral home a couple of miles away. I let the memories wash over me until I feel clean. Renewed and ready to move on. I climb in the car and head toward the funeral home, softly singing a chorus.
See how she flies
Looks like she's always goin' home
If heaven had a window
Where the sun came shinin' through
Like a beautiful bluebird
I'd come flyin' back to you
Parking in the grassy lot a few minutes later, I see many cousins, aunts and uncles who have traveled these same roads. I reach for the door handle but pause to think about what the people gathered there mean to me. What this area means to me. I say a quick prayer of thanks for my sturdy roots.
It is the land of my youth. It sustains me and gives me strength, and for that, I am grateful.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Our community does a good job of saluting its veteran’s on Veteran’s Day, I think. Employees from the downtown business district come outside to watch the parade, and schools from all over the region bring in busloads of children who wave their flags from the sidewalks and yell out their thanks to the veterans who walk and ride by on floats. And it’s always the school kids who make my eyes start to well up, especially the really young children.
But it’s the veterans who keep me from staying composed, with their smiles.
And quiet gestures, like the occasional wave to a stranger.
Or a salute.
Or a connection with one of their own.
And respect from those who understand the price paid for being able to wave a flag on a city street.
Or perhaps paid that price.
And while I thought for just one tiny moment, I was going to be able to keep that fat tear from sliding down my cheek this year, this sign drifted across my lens and pushed that tear and a few of its buddies to my chin.
I don’t know who Papa Raymond was but that sign sent my soul on a sentimental journey to those years ago when my long dead grandpa shared his World War II stories. As I sat on the curb pretending to take pictures, I kicked myself for succumbing yet again to my emotions.
However, as I type this many hours later, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that the day I don’t feel the emotion behind the waves and salutes and flag waving, will be a sad day indeed. Perhaps, it’s a good thing that I always cry at the parade.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
And while I’m beginning to suspect that SOMEONE has a spare roll of toilet paper hidden in the old house, SOMEONE mentioned this morning that he wanted to move our clothes to the new place before this weekend.
Game. Set. Match.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Reason I Ended up with Briars All Over the Seat of my Dress on the way Home From A Funeral in the Country
Saturday, November 7, 2009
So, yesterday I packed up every last item in the kitchen and moved it into the new house. There is nothing to eat in this old house and nothing to eat it with or cook it with. I figure that will get old fast and should speed things along nicely. Oh, and just as an additional precaution, tomorrow I'm sending all of the toilet paper except one roll to the new house. I figure he should be ready to load up our clothes in about two days, depending on the amount of fiber he eats this weekend.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
From the minute the delivery truck pulled into the driveway, he was all, "Hey, it's here!" and "Isn't she a beauty?" And, "LOOK, here it comes now!"
He needs to watch the reclining action on that baby. It could put somebody's eye out.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
As I stood in our new house the other night, admiring the area rugs I had just picked for the dining and living rooms, I realized they are both red. Red, red, red. Not pale. Not shy. Bold, lively red.
Would someone please pass the salt? This crow is a little bland. And while I’ve never been a fan of it, I seem to be developing a taste for it later in life.
PS…Share with me dear readers, the moment you realized you had become your parent(s).