Friday, December 31, 2010
"Hey, Steve!" I called out. He said, "Are you and Tim all set for 2011?" I laughed. "2010 did not ask for permission, and you know, I don't get a notion that 2011 is going to ask for permission either. It's just going to barge in and set up whether I'm ready or not."
It's very difficult for me to look forward without looking back. I am glad for where I'm at, and how far I've come. I helped an elderly man out the door and loaded up his chicken feed for him. His wife said, "Oh, this is embarrassing for him, but he's just had a pacemaker put in, and I am not going to let him lift because the doctor told him not to." And he grumbled. He did not like standing there while a woman loaded his chicken feed. At 83, though, I told him, I thought that he deserved a break. "I feel great," he grumbled. "I feel like I could be lifting chicken feed." And I grinned at him. "You listen to me," I said. "I'm throwing this chicken feed around like it's nobody's business, and two years ago, I couldn't have done that either." I waggled my finger at him. "You just mind the doctor and your wife. It'll make your life a lot easier." He was curious, and so was his wife. "Why couldn't you lift chicken feed?" and I said, "I had cancer. I had to take it easy for a few months, and I did. Cancer was a season. Now that season is finished." We talked about faith. We talked about hard times. We talked about getting over it. I said, "Now, I'm loading your truck and feeling grateful to God that I can. So let me." And they did.
That's how it is, isn't it? We all move in and out through the different seasons of our lives, and we help each other as we are able. Once again, I think how cleverly designed this world is, that our stories are completed by the stories of others, that our stories complete their stories. Those stories? They're meant to be told.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
So, that is what we will do. I'll make homemade pepperoni rolls for everyone for tomorrow night, and Tim and I will go take in a movie, and probably make it until midnight, and then we will sleep in late on New Year's day.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Anyways, remember that couple I told you about? Their dog died? Well, they were in tonight, and much to my surprise, they had a new white shepherd type dog, a puppy, timid, five months old, a spitting image of their old dog. They just happened to contact a friend up in Potsdam. He had some dogs he was raising for sled dogs, but he had this one that was not going to work out. She was too shy, of people, of other dogs. He didn't want her. The couple took her immediately, and it was a five hour trip to get her. They brought her in the store, just like their old dog, and she clung close to her new owners watching us warily. I gave her a cookie. She smelled it, interested, but too afraid to take it from my hand. I gave it to her owner.
Everyone stood jawjacking as the dog waited patiently. Gary said, "She'll get used to the store in a hurry. You're in here all the time." The man says, "She's had a lot to get used to. She never was inside a house before. She sure does love sleeping in the bed!" We laughed. I said, "Well, it will help socialize her, being in a store, around people. It'll be good for her," and the woman agreed.
They took their time in the store, but finally, they came up to the counter. They had dog food, and a new purple collar, and a new leash. Kyra was still timid, but curiously she nosed the credit card machine, and when a woman came in line behind them, the dog walked up to her and quietly studied the woman with intelligent eyes. When the woman spoke to her kindly, she nosed her hand. Her owners looked on, amazed at the changes happening already.
I watched this small drama playing out. The man said to the woman behind them, "I think that you're the first person she's ever voluntarily greeted," and he told the story, about the dog that died, about the dog that has come into their lives. "I did not think we wanted a new dog, but you know, it just wasn't comfortable not having a dog." These people will love this new dog with all their hearts, and this new dog will become as irreplaceable as the dog they had. You can see it happening already. Broken hearts will mend. A timid dog will learn to trust. Two owners are learning a new animal. One animal is learning a new life. A working dog becomes a beloved pet. It's magic really, and looking on, it made me smile.
We don't have television any more, but we did when Cara was home, before the big switch to digital. One of Cara's favorite shows was 'Grey's Anatomy'. She has several seasons of it on DVD and her brother got her another season for Christmas. She's having a marathon session of Grey's while doing a jigsaw puzzle, and hearing the theme song takes me back to when she was in high school, and I was a mother. It makes me sad a little, and glad for what she has become, too. It's a strange thing, a reminder of what was, and what is. Let me finish this post and share another evening with my grown up child.
Oh, hey, you all need to follow Bush Babe's blog. They are having some serious flooding in Australia. Jeanie's dealing with it too. Queensland is getting nailed.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Really, we have the best crew. We laugh as hard as we work.
And when we were done laughing, we got right back to it.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
It's been a nice Christmas day, a quiet one. Presents and kids, and quiet times doing puzzles and laughing together. We watched a couple videos. I'll write more later. Right now, I'm headed for bed. Dylan heads back home tomorrow, and we have another party tomorrow evening.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Friday, December 24, 2010
I got home from work last night knowing that I had to get my hinder to bed. I had the morning shift. I went to bed and tossed and turned and tossed and turned. I do this to myself on an astoundingly regular basis. Maybe I should write it down, or tattoo it on my arm. "I cannot drink caffeine after 6 PM. I cannot drink caffeine after 6. I cannot drink..."
Only one more day before Christmas.
Hope my caffeine this morning works as well as the stuff last night.
This is my gift to the world. I sure am making you feel lots smarter than me, huh?
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I got myself showered and dressed, out the door, and into work. It was busy alright. We had our busiest day since Black Friday.
I was at the register, when Ike paged me. I had a phone call on line three. It was Cara. "Where's your debit card?" she wanted to know. She was picking up Tim's Christmas gift for me because I had to leave for work early. "I've got it," I said. "I left you cash on the coffee table." A customer said, in a hopeful way, "So did you leave me cash on the coffee table?" and the line laughed. Business was non-stop, one customer after another, after another. We all were in high spirits, playing pranks on one another.
My sister and brother-in-law stopped by the store with a huge batch of homebaked cookies and bread and a pumpkin roll. That was an extremely welcome gift. I was trying to figure out how to fit in the baking, and suddenly discovering that I did not have to...well...that was a relief.
I cannot believe that tomorrow is Christmas eve already. Dylan will be here by the time that I get home from work. I have an entire weekend off, and I am looking forward to it.
Well, let me get myself (and my cold) off to bed. Only one more day until Christmas.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
When I went to work today, I saw a couple regular customers. They usually have a big white dog, a very vocal dog, almost like he's trying to talk. They love that dog. He goes everywhere with them. Anyways, they were in the store today, and, oddly, their dog was not with them. I was in the process of reaching for a dog cookie, when I realized the dog was not there. I must have looked confused. The man said, "He died yesterday morning. His heart just stopped." And the woman stood by him with a quiet face, and the tears welled in her eyes. Yeah. You know what happened next. I'm offering my condolences with tears of my own. They left with their purchases. A coworker came over with a puzzled look. "Where's their dog?" I explained that he'd died. Dave said, "You're kidding..." because the dog had just been in the day before yesterday. I heard him head back to find Gary. "What?" Gary said. "That big white one?" and Dave said, "Yes." Gary said, "Well that's a damn shame," and Dave said, "They never went anywhere without that dog."
That's the kind of place I work at. A place where news like that makes us all feel sorry.
And so my Christmas shopping is done.
I don't know what was wrong with my thinking, but yesterday, I labored under the delusion that it was Wednesday. All day. I started the day by taking the pills in the little compartment labeled 'W'. I walked out the door and went shopping with Cara. On the way home, Cara's cell rang. I was late for work. They'd changed the schedule, they told Tim. I was supposed to be there at 1. I was confused. I checked my book. I was not supposed to be there until four, according to what I'd written down. Since it was already 2:30 and we were a long, long way from home, well, I was going to be late. I drove along wondering how I could have made such a mistake. I didn't have time to figure it out, because I was rushing from the time that I hit the front door of the store. I said, "Gees, I am so sorry. I don't know how I screwed this up. I checked it before I left the store last night, just to make sure...I thought it said four." I worked all night, and then left at 9:30, went to the Walmart. Tim was taking beef on weck for his Christmas party at work. I needed horseradish. Then I headed home, put the beef in the crockpot, and visited a little with Cara and went to bed, worrying a little about how I was going to fit everything into one day. Dylan's going to be home on Friday. I haven't even gotten the tree up yet. Tim got home from work, and he climbed into bed saying, "Um. I don't need that beef until Thursday," and blearily I said, "Well, today is...oh...gees...today is only Tuesday." Dear heavens this is a crazy time of the year.
Back to the Christmas cards. Today is Wednesday, and I've still got a tree to decorate, presents to wrap, and...man.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Today, I had a glimpse of what I am leaving this world, and I can tell you that it is beautiful. Just beautiful.
Monday, December 20, 2010
I love dogs. I do. I love that they know me, and they are glad to see me. Really.
Despite all of that, I must say...um...ick.
Cara is home, and her friend helped her move her things back home. She'll be home until March, when she heads to Korea. That will be nice. She'll need a job. We sat up talking until 10 last night (late night for me), and then I went to bed and I slept soundly until well after 8. It's been a long time since I woke up feeling as if I'd had enough sleep.
Two friends have been 'officially' diagnosed with cancer this week. Bad cancers. Man. It just seems like that stuff is everywhere. Just everywhere.
Only four more days 'til Christmas. Dear heavens. I have so much to do...
We've never evicted a tenant before, but he was a security issue, and we were concerned. Evictions can take a while, and he simply stopped paying rent as soon as he knew he was evicted. We had every landlord's worst fear. Tim is a follower of Dave Ramsey's radio show. He told the boy, "We'll pay you $200 if you are out by this weekend." The decision flies in the face of all that is fair and reasonable, doesn't it? But the benefits were that he was out by this weekend, he did not damage the apartment, (we were worried about that) and that we saved a bundle on legal fees too. Since he had stopped paying rent, we stood to lose much, much more.
Valuable life lesson learned. If a person is in a dire situation, look at them closely. You may see why.
Tim and I have both talked about this. We will never again take in a tenant because we feel sorry for him. Bob B? Yep. You can say, 'I told you so.' *waits humbly*
Sunday, December 19, 2010
He is a very heavy man who has been unfailingly polite to me. He calls me 'dear' and he calls me 'honey'. This sets my teeth on edge because I think that he is an odious man, but what can I say? I call people 'hon' too, and I suppose that it could be just a habit. I give him the benefit of the doubt and just stay very guarded with him. I don't like him.
In any case, he was into the store with the elderly lady who helps him, a woman who is in her seventies. She is always poorly dressed and dirty and tired looking, and it bothers me to see her. He came up to the register, and set his things up, and said to his helper in his very important way, "Lift that up for her," gesturing to a sack of feed. I quickly said, "No. That is not necessary. I can reach," and I walked around the counter with my pricer and got the bag. He was getting some Christmas shopping done too, and I rang him up for those things, and in his careless, nonchalant way, he pushed his check at me, and called me dear. I smiled because I am paid to do so, and began to process his check. I said, in my careful voice, "I will need your ID for such a large check," and he said once more in his important voice, "Run out and get my wallet from the truck," and the elderly lady shuffled off into the cold.
I think of the words that Christ said with his own lips: "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." I know that He was referring to situations just like this one. I know this.
I watch them leave. The shuffling elderly lady pushes the cart behind him as he waddles importantly to the door. I am a licensed lay reader in the Episcopal Church, something that used to matter when I was an Episcopalian. Now I am a Methodist and it does not matter at all. But when we processed into the church, there was a pattern. The priest followed us all. His position at the back of the procession was 'the position of honor.' Unwittingly, the important farmer has got that part right. And that made me smile.
What's the opposite of salt of the earth? Pepper?
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
One of our farmers came in with his little boy, and when I saw them next, they were at the register and the father was saying, "Now, you remember, this is our secret." And the little boy opened the blue velvet jewelry case to make sure the earrings were still inside before reaching up to set them on the counter. Gary was at the other register helping out, and the little boy watched him closely as he rang up the the jewelry. Gary asked who he was buying the jewelry for, and he said, "Mommy!" and he was excited. I looked over. "Gees, Gary, I think that might be just about the luckiest mom in the world," and the little boy nodded in agreement.
I remember when the kids were small and the excitement of all of those secrets. I also remember the Christmas eve that Dylan leaned close to me and said excitedly, "I can't wait for you to open your microwave." I really miss having kids around. A lot.
Oh, my gosh. It was so stinking cute it made me grin all day long, every single time I thought of it.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The customers were great though. A woman asked me where our rain gear was, and I directed her. "See that umbrella back there?" and she turned to me with the biggest smile on her face. "Yes," she said. "Yes, I can and last month, I couldn't have seen it." After being told that nothing could be done for her vision, she headed down south for a second opinion. It was worth the trip, because now she can see.
I was waiting on another customer, and she commented about how busy it was. "It is, but you know what? People are awfully patient. This is a good place to work, and I even am enjoying the Christmas rush." The man behind her looked at me. "That's because you're dealing with farmers," he said. "Not everyone who walks in the door is a farmer, but you get a lot of 'em."
I smiled. "You're right. I've always said that the people that I deal with every day are the salt of the earth, and it makes all the difference in the world." It does, too.
Remember Mr. M? He popped into the store today. "I really liked your last article," he said. "It reminded me of my dad." He then went on to tell me that every hunting season, he still wears his dad's hunting vest, a way to keep his dad close when he hunts. I looked at him, white headed, a beard that would make Santa jealous. It's like that, I guess. You hold those you love in your heart, and they are there for always. I'm not sure how long Mr. M's father is gone, but he's an old fellow himself, so I'm assuming quite some time, yet still, he honors him. I got a lot of feedback about that article. It was about men, and sons, and hunting, and the circle of life. Men were reminded of their own fathers, and the remembering made them glad. I'm glad to know that I live among such good people.
There was a woman in the store today, and she hollered at her child from the moment she walked in the door until the moment she left. Not abusive. She just yelled. He didn't listen. She got louder. He didn't listen any better. It was so awful that when she got in line, customers just stepped back and let her go first. She smiled at me, and continued calling her boy, who continued to ignore his mother. I wondered that she didn't simply stop yelling and go back and pick him up. He was no older than three. If she can't control him now, she's going to have her hands full when the child is 10. She finally left, still yelling at her kid (who was still ignoring her...)
I saw Mr. L. and he was buying some hardware. I suggest that he might want to consider a different Christmas present for his wife, Debbie. He said, "Nope. Debbie would rather go to a hardware store than a department store any day. When she proposed to me, I snapped her right up for that very reason!" I laughed. His wife did propose to him. She'd told me that herself, and it made me laugh when she related the story. He said, "I was just glad that she didn't want me to change my name." They are the nicest, most ordinary people you ever want to meet despite the fact that they live in a mansion that looks like an old victorian style mansion, however it is so state of the art that the windows close themselves when it begins to rain. It's got a library that is three stories high or some such thing. But the two of them act like anybody else.
I got my grades. 3 As and 1 B, and much to my surprise, a C. But it's okay. I had that one coming, I suppose. I'd run out of steam, and I simply didn't study for the final, at least no nearly as hard as I should have. I knew that, going in there, but darn. I thought I knew my topic a little better than that. But I passed. That's good enough. It's been a stressful semester with a lot of stuff going on.
I had my lovely relaxed afternoon, and I went to bed a little bit early. I was tired out. A lot of excitement this week. I sat down on the side of the bed and reached for my alarm clock. That's when I realized just how close I'd come to disaster. My alarm was set for 5:30 PM. If I had not waked up early, I would have overslept. The alarm would not have woke me up.
I'm very grateful for those small miracles of my life.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Here's the wonderful thing. Classes are done. Those finals are out of the way. I was shocked to find that I may have screwed one up, badly, but I don't think that I'm anywhere close to failing the course. I picked up the last of my graded assignments and read the teacher's comments walking down the hall. On a paper I'd written on goal setting, the comment was: "I appreciate your honesty, candor, and willingness to look at yourself. However, I want to tell you to be kind to yourself, allow mistakes, and to experience joy."
I pondered that as I headed to my next final. That final was a hand written essay. I do not compose well with a pen and paper. I need the computer. My fingers fly as quickly as my thoughts, and I rearrange paragraphs and rechoose the words, I study it, and change it again. To write with a pencil, to formulate what you are trying to say and then write a coherent essay...well...there were lots of erasures. It's not my best work. Writing is not how I think. I need a key board. Remember that essay? That last one that I had agonized over for a couple weeks, finally rewriting it after work, sitting up until 3 AM to finish it, heading to school at 8, and then doing a days worth of classes on little sleep? The essay, if you care to be reminded, was on the marginalization of men. That teacher had commented, "Maybe it's the pendulum thing; it swings farther in reaction that it will when things settle down. Great paper." And I received my final A in the class.
I finished that written essay for the final exam, and then I headed out the door to the last exam of the day. I was supposed to have taken that on Monday, but could not. I had arranged to take it on Tuesday, but school was closed, and so I took it today, because tomorrow, I have to work. When I finished that, I walked to the library to e-mail Tim and let him know I was on my way home. I then walked out into the heavy snow, and I went to my car, and for the last time this year, drove home from college.
I thought on things as I drove. The teacher's comments, school in general. I take school very seriously, but there is another part that perhaps the teachers do not see. There is joy there, real joy in me. Joy that I can, and am, doing this thing. Joy that while I am learning a profession, I'm also learning a heck of a lot about myself. I have been encouraged by the honest assessments of my teachers. I have begun to view myself as a writer, because they tell me that I am. One teacher's quiet discussion made me see, for the first time in 53 years, that my job is not to be the 'mother of the world.' I don't have to take care of everything, or fix everything, or help everyone. All these things...they bring me joy. So much joy that I've got tears, and it's not the wine.
On Monday, I missed class. I had a court appearance to determine negligence in a 3 1/2 year old car accident. I was terrified, because strange decisions come out of the court room, things that make no sense to me. Although I had been rear-ended by a truck, that driver insisted that I'd not had my turn signal on. That impact pushed me into the path of another truck, and I was hit once again, at 55 mph. It was a violent crash, and still, all these years later, turning left in heavy traffic sometimes leaves me shaking.
What do I know about myself? I know that I use my turn signals, consistantly. It was an awful feeling, to be accused, but not able to do more than to offer up a weak, '...but I always use my turn signals...it's my habit to do so. It's one of my pet peeves..." I listened to the young boy who had been behind me say that he had not seen my turn signal. However, he also stated that he did not see any brake lights, at the same time insisting that I'd slowed so suddenly he did not have time to react. He wound up his testimony with the words, "I looked up, and I was on her..." His attorney insisted that he'd 'bumped' me, and that I chose to drive into the path of the truck. It began to seem a little like Alice in Wonderland. His lawyer even argued that the swamp I was visiting was 'waaaaaay over here somewhere,' as if my choice to be on this road was the cause of the accident. Long story short, it was determined that the negligence was not mine. This nightmare is now behind me. There's another joy, right there, although, I feel dreadfully for the young man.
I had, for the first time, the opportunity to speak to the man in the truck that had hit me head on. I said to Mr. G, "I feel sorry for the young man. You and I, we've a lifetime of dealing with hard times. I've a notion that this is Mr. A's first experience with hard time, and I don't think he has the experience to keep this in perspective. This is probably very traumatic for him, way more for him than it even is for us." Mr. G. agreed, which led us to a talk about hard times and what is learned from them. There was joy there, too. Not just in the verdict, but also from the conversation itself. In the excited hug and squeeze that I got from my own lawyer when the verdict was read, and my head dropped in thanksgiving. In the big sweeping hug that I got from Mr. G's lawyer. "We knew it," he said, "We knew that this was not your fault." I did not see young Mr. A or his bristling angry mother leave the court room, but my prayers went after them anyways.
All these things...there's joy here, real joy.
I sit here, and the trial is done. The semester is done. I have a glass of wine, and you know, I can do what I like. If I wanted to take a nap, I could. If I wanted to work on my column, I could do that. If I want to read a book, I can do that too, for the weather outside is truly frightful, and this lady is not leaving the house tonight, because she does not have to do that either. This is my night. I am free to do what I choose, and the luxury of that, oh my God! the luxury of it brings me such great joy I can not tell you!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
A LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF LAKE- EFFECT SNOW ARE FORECAST THAT WILL MAKE TRAVEL HAZARDOUS. LAKE- EFFECT SNOW TYPICALLY FALLS AS NARROW BANDS OF HEAVY SNOW WITHIN A LARGER AREA OF LIGHTER SNOW. SNOWFALL RATES OF OVER AN INCH PER HOUR ARE LIKELY UNDER THE HEAVIER BANDS. VISIBILITIES VARY GREATLY AND CAN DROP TO ZERO WITHIN MINUTES. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL... KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT... FOOD... BLANKETS AND A CELLULAR PHONE IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.
They canceled school for today. Normally, this would be a good thing, but it's finals week. Erg. I wanted to get them out of the way.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I walked out today into the snow, and for the first time in a long time, I looked up. I looked around me. It was snowing again, but this time, this time, it seemed beautiful, and I drove home in it.
Just two more days, and I am done with this semester.
And then we will begin to celebrate Christmas.
"No," I said, "You are not getting gas cans for Patsy for Christmas! Might I suggest a nice piece of jewelry?"
Doug got a confused look on his face. "Well, I've already bought her all the power tools I want."
We saw Dave and his boy. They've had flooding where they live. I knew that because I saw his wife the day before. We talked about jobs. Everyone is working, but there is this sense that everything could change in a minute. Do you suppose we'll ever get back to the point where people can simply rely on their jobs again?
I saw kids with their fathers buying gifts for their mothers. I saw kids with their mothers buying gifts for their fathers. I pointed out barn boots for kids to one woman and the next thing I know she was on the cell phone and getting sizes for half the county, seems like.
We had our Christmas party for the store, and that was fun too. Lots of laughing. Good food. I delivered gifts from Santa. There are so many good stories from that store. Like the time that Jeremy went to the freezer to get his mac and cheese for lunch, and discovered it was gone. Stouffer's mac and cheese is the 'bomb' apparently, and so when he found the empty package in the garbage, he went ballistic. He strode out on the sales floor and demanded of Gary, "What'd you have for lunch?" Gary replied, "A baloney sandwich and yogurt." Jeremy replied "Okay..." and headed off to Bob to ask him the same question. Bob said, "I went home for lunch," and Jeremy stormed off to find Jessica who was on the register. When he posed the question to her, she said, "Oh. I had mac and cheese. It was the best mac and cheese ever...man...that stuff was good," and she went on for some time while he stood in total shock and disbelief. "YOU ATE MY MAC AND CHEESE!!!" he finally hollered in frustration. It seems that Jess had brought some frozen meal for lunch, and grabbed Jeremy's in mistake, not remembering exactly what she had grabbed that morning to bring in. As Mark put it, with a sigh, "Yes, there was quite a bit of drama about that mac 'n cheese." All I know, is when Jeremy told the story one freight night, all of us were howling, about wetting our pants. He was still pretty irritated about it.
Ike got a pack of bear claws, for the most creative late-to-work story ever. He'd caught a bear in a trap. Mark got a package of metallic sun glasses in shapes. He has quite a job keeping an eye on us and I never fail to get nervous. When I get nervous, I do dumb things. This means, if I'm going to do stupid things, it never fails that the boss is standing right next to me. I thought if he went incognito, wearing sunglasses, I wouldn't know it was him, and I'd stop doing dumb things. The cashiers got 'Tension Buster' Celestial Seasonings tea. It's been very busy and hectic at the store, and at the end of shifts, we generally head to the office with our drawers looking like war refugees, haggard and stressed and ready to go home. Bob-the-builder assembles stuff. I thought perhaps he went through withdrawal when he left the job, so I got him a jigsaw puzzle. Gary. Dang. That man knows everyone in the county by name it seems like. And they know him. I got him an address book. Around and around it went, laughing, telling stories prompted by the gifts. It really was a fun time.
When we were done, we played a rousing game of 'Fact or Crap', which was a lot of fun, and then the party was over.
By Wednesday, finals will be over, and it will be time to focus on Christmas. I haven't done one thing. Not one thing. No wrapping. No cards. No cookies. The to-do list is getting longer and longer, and not one check mark on it.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Like I said, it was busy, and suddenly there was a break in my line, just for a moment. Then a man on crutches came swinging into my aisle. He was about 3, 3 1/2 feet tall, one legged, and I think that he may have been walking on the knee of the one leg remaining. I immediately thought 'IED' and 'war wound'. The thing was, he was beautiful, really, a good looking young man, bearded, big brown eyes. And in those eyes, there was not one bit of self pity. Not one bit. He bought some clamps for a battery. He was cheerful, and a talker, like me. When I went out into the parking lot later, I saw him working on a car. Then he hopped into it, and he drove off.
You know, I watched this, and what I felt was mad. Unaccountably mad. I was angry for what this young man lost, even though it didn't seem to bother him. Something else also made me mad. I thought of all the able bodied young men I know, who find excuses for themselves, feel sorry for themselves, complain constantly about their bad breaks. "It's not fair. It's not fair." They're 'getting screwed.' That young man knew about bad breaks. He also knew that life is what you make it. It would do us all good to stop right this minute, and consider that.
Today, a man with a bandaged face came to my register with his wife. I looked at him and said, "Tell me, did you fall? Tear a tear duct, and split your forehead?" And his one uncovered eye surveyed me in surprise. "Yeah," he said, cautiously. "Your boy was in here to pick up your layway yesterday. He said you didn't want to go to the hospital until he got home from work. I ain't going to tell you what he called you either, but he was darn worried about you." And the man smiled as his wife said, "I know what he called him." I said, "Well, I'm glad you're up and around." His wife said that he had not only split his forehead and torn that tear duct, but that he'd also torn one of the eye muscles. I told them, "I can tell you that when your boy was describing the injuries, every single person in line winced, me included." His wife was studying me as I talked and handed their bags to the husband. Suddenly, she asked me my last name. I told her. She grabbed my arm. "I read your articles and they are so wonderful. They usually make me cry." She was quite happy to meet me. They walked out of the store, and I heard her telling her husband about me. I heard him say, "Yeah, what about it?" and she hissed, "That's her," and he said, "What? That woman? She's the writer?" and she said, "Yes!" and then they were out the door. It used to embarrass me. I never knew what to say, but now I guess I'm used to it. Yes. My name is Debby and I'm the writer.
Friday, December 10, 2010
We're bracing for another storm to hit beginning Saturday night. Oy. I'm about tired of winter.
A young couple came in tonight, she very, very pregnant. "When's the baby due?" I asked, and they said, the 19th. They live far out in the jing weeds. I said, "Wow. I'll bet you're keeping a close eye on the weather..." The man explained that they had a good four wheel drive, and that he'd also finished his emergency responder's class. "If I have to, I can deliver that baby myself!" he said. His wife said, "Um. No." They headed out the door laughing. "Bring the baby in sometime," I said, and they said that they would.
Today a woman came in and bought a bunch of gift cards. I commented that somebody was going to be happy at Christmas. She said, "Our farm got hit by the tornadoes last summer. People came from all over to help. We're remembering them this Christmas." And she got that emotional look that people get when they've come through a hard time and discovered how great people are.
A little girl came in with her Grandpa. They did some Christmas shopping for Grandma. The little girl made everyone in line laugh, when she announced, "Last year my grandpa bought jewelry for my grandma, a necklace and some earrings and SHE NEVER EVEN WORE THEM ONCE!" And she got a very disapproving look on her little face. "This year I picked the necklace out, that's how I know she'll wear it."
That's today. Headed to bed. Morning comes early.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This morning, they did have school after all. I was driving in, and went to make my left turn. I heard the hiss of the anti-lock brakes, and the car continued on past the road I meant to turn down. "Well," I said, "Why don't I just take the scenic route this day?" So I turned off the turn signal and continued on, just like I had meant to do that. The route is a little longer, and surprisingly, it was quite icy compared to my usual route. I made it to class about five minutes late.
On the way to school today, I sweated bullets once again about that essay. To my mind, I wasn't sure if it proved my case, and so I worried. I finally gave myself a little mental 'shake', and said, "Listen. It is what it is." For whatever reason, this essay just about killed me, but I know for a fact that I gave it my very best effort. I figured that it was a good solid B, most likely, and once again, I told myself "A B is not a bad thing. Grow up!" I saw a woman from that class in the hall earlier in the day. She looked sick. Really, she looked like I felt, so I stopped. I said, "Well, are you ready for today," and she said, "No." And I said, "Me either." I told her about my late decision to totally rewrite it. She said, "You're kidding!" I said, "No. I'm not. So I'm pretty sure that this is going to be my worst essay, and I'm sick about doing the thing in front of the class, but I can tell you for sure: I'll be darn glad to have this class done and over." Turns out that she's writing two essays simultaneously. The one due today, and the one due maybe three weeks ago. I stared. "Your essay for your presentation is not done?" and she said, "I've never turned in a paper on time." I was shocked. "Really? Do you get in trouble?" and she said, "No." Huh. Who knew? Ah, well. It's done.
In any case, I gave my presentation about the marginalization of men, and wound up with "Devaluing half a population kept women captive for hundreds of years. Now freed, we must keep our eyes open that the same devaluation doesn't make captives of the other half." And I headed to my seat. A young girl said, "You really should think about going in to the field of psychology. You'd be good at it." That was sweet. The teacher said, "She really does a marvelous job, and that surprised me too. At the end of the class, I said to Mrs. B., "Thank you. I really enjoyed this class." She said, "I really enjoyed having you in my class. The older students really stimulate discussion." I'll miss her. And the class.
I have four more projects due, and then I'm done. I can count them on one hand. That's exciting.
The lady at the library advised me not to change at the last minute. I really thought that I shouldn't either, but then it just seemed the more that I thought about it, the less choice I had. So I redid it. It is done.
It is now 3 AM. I have to get up at 7. I'm going to bed all you fine people.
PS. It's snowing again. What do you wanna bet me that tomorrow school will be closed. After I sat up all night writing this paper.
Here's a funny story for you. This afternoon, I walked out of the library, all sick about this paper. It was snowing so hard it was like a white out. I stopped, and thought, "Gees, I've got to drive home in this mess. It was heck getting here this morning and now, it's going to be heck getting home." Even as I stood there thinking my grumpy thoughts, a young man bursts out the door. He holds his arms skyward and twirls a little and says, "Isn't this beautiful? Just like a winter wonderland." I looked at him, and, people, I'm telling you, for a brief moment there were homicidal tendencies in my heart. I laughed out loud, and said, "What? Are you nuts? The only wonder I've got is if this will stop," and we laughed together walking to our cars.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
That 'hump' in the middle of the trellis. That's the top of my bird bath, filled with snow. The thing is probably 18 inches high.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Did take one final exam. Am confident that I did not 'bomb' it.
Did work on my paper today, for several hours. I am sure that it's presentation will not go well. It discusses what I refer to as the 'lost boys,' those young men who are, age wise, young men, but behave more as little boys, irresponsible, petulant, unmotivated, expecting to be taken care of and whining bitterly when they are not. My paper compares their attitudes against the attitudes of those who have come before them. How was that lost? What has changed? I think that it is a sound paper. Not spectacular. It will not be a popular paper because as much as I stress the fact that these 'lost boys' are a subgroup, that not all of this generation is lost, my listeners will listen to this paper and feel angry and misunderstood. I can't come up with anything else, however. Not at this late date. It is due on Thursday. I've got about six pages of an eight-to-ten page paper written.
I did not stay for my last class. The weather was getting pretty blustery. After spending most of the day in a computer lab, my legs were so cold that I could barely stand the pains. I made an executive decision to come home and work there.
Tomorrow, I will go back to school, and I will hit that paper hard one more time. Hopefully, it will be done. I will go to my class, and begin studying for a final on Tuesday. Wednesday, I have a final essay to write (they begin with the citations. If there is an error there, you've failed, and they don't even read your exam. I then have one more final exam, and (finally) I will be done. Wednesday afternoon, the semester will be officially done for me.
On one hand, that doesn't seem like such a long time. On the other hand, it seems like it will never get here.
Well, let me get back to it.
Monday, December 6, 2010
They are calling for another 4-10 inches in the next 24 hours. Watching it come down, I'd have to say that's a conservative estimate.
They closed the campus tonight. If it doesn't stop, I can't imagine that they'd have school tomorrow.
Yeah. Tomorrow, I'll take pictures.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I will miss those little interactions.
I stopped. I am discouraged. I couldn't find my corkscrew (Cara?) but Tim bought me another while he was downtown. He knew an emergency when he saw it. I had three glasses of wine tonight, while weeping over "The Grapes of Wrath".
Now I am tired. A little drunk. But I have a topic.
Too tipsy to write it though.
Late Edit: And did the 'Essay Writing Elves' come in the night to type busily and complete this project for me, leaving it laying on my computer desk? No. They did not. Stupid elves. I know for a fact that the shoemakers aren't keeping them that busy. And just how many cookies does the world need?
And the topic still holds up when scrutinized in the dawn's early light.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I had to work last night. An elderly couple came in the store. When I'm cashiering, I have to remain within view of my register, but he came walking up and said, "Where would I find your nuts and bolts and stuff like that?" I said, "Walk down this aisle right here, and you see that big banner at the end of that aisle coming off the left? The one that says 'hardware'?" I assured him that if he walked down that aisle, he'd find more nuts and bolts than he knew what to do with. And they laughed a little and headed off. I was puttering around, facing things, keeping a close eye on my register just in case it began to do tricks or something, and the couple headed back up front.
The man held up two large bags of washers and said, "Well, I got a washer or two..."
I said to his wife, "Do you suppose now he'll do laundry?" in an interested way.
She assured me that he would not.
I sighed and said, "Well, if my Tim ever did the laundry, I'd be thinking someone else was wearing his pants that day." And we laughed together.
After I was done at the store, I needed to head over to Walmart. Cara had come home the previous night, and then, after everyone had gone to bed, she'd gotten in her car and headed off the hill. She'd sat up late, talking with our visitor. He'd mentioned an old picture of the two of them, taken back when she was about three. They were walking away from my camera, hand and hand on the beach, his head inclined towards her as they talked. Their bond was there from the beginning, truly, because Cara had that particular picture in her room. So she'd sneaked out to the Walmart at well after midnight and she got that picture copied, got a card and a nice frame for it. I had to stop in and pick the picture up.
So I'd stood in line with my envelope and its sweet contents. I heard a jocular voice from the back of the line. (Why is it that every Walmart has 142 registers, but never have more than three open at any given time?) Anyways, that voice called out, "HEY! It's the lady from Tractor Supply!" I craned my neck, peering around the people between us. It was my new friends from the store. "Honestly," I said. "Apparently, you folks will shop just about ANYWHERE." And the line laughed. We exchanged a few retorts standing in line, having a good time calling back and forth and making general spectacles of ourselves while the line laughed with us. Finally, it was my turn, and I paid for my things. "Well, I suppose that there are some things you can't get at Tractor Supply, like food, maybe, so I'll overlook this little faux pas, but I expect to see you back at Tractor Supply." And they told me that our store was one of their favorites. I nodded and said, "Good..." I picked up my envelope and headed out. I stopped, and turned around to the cashier and said in a loud but confidential tone, "You need to watch those two back there. They were in MY line just a couple hours ago. They are trouble, plain and simple." And the line laughed once more, my new friends the loudest of all.
I came home with the picture Cara had made. It was such a sweet picture. One man stooping slightly to hold a little girl's hand as they walked along the beach. I remembered the Little Mermaid swimsuit very well. It didn't fit into the frame Cara had picked up but I had two matching frames, and I gave those to him. You see. that morning, I'd taken a picture of the two of them walking through the swirling snow to her car. She had to head back to college. They'd been walking away from my camera, holding hands, and talking still, his head inclined towards her. It was such a sweet picture, and the changed seasons made me want to cry.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Each group was supposed to do three presentations. There were two of us. So I said to Procrastination Girl, "Who's doing the final presentation?" She looked at me in her passively helpful way and said, "Really, it doesn't matter to me. I can do it." I knew full well that she did not want to, not really, because she's nervous about speaking before groups, but I'd asked her straight out. She did what she has done from the start of this project. Offer to help, and then not follow through. I'd written the whole report. She'd corrected some equipment names but hadn't even bothered to respond to the final e-mail with the finished report. She made a poster. As she sat there looking wide eyed and anxious, waiting for me to take the final presentation, I just thought, "No." So I looked at her and said, "Well, if you really don't mind, it would be a relief if you took the third presentation. Thanks. I appreciate it." And I went back to my desk and sat down.
I suppose that it was not fair. I'd been supportive and nurturing and encouraging right along, and to suddenly change gears so to speak, to not be affected by her helpless anxiety wasn't fair. Still, when it came time for presentations, I heard my name being called by the teacher. I looked over. The teacher asked, "Are you presenting twice?" I said, "Well, I was under the impression that Rachel was doing two..." and the teacher said, "That was supposed to have been decided..." and I thought things that I could not say. Rachel stood there with an anxious expression on her face as the teacher made the decision in my moment of speechlessness. "Debby, you're presenting twice then."
But it's done.
And it feels good to be done.
One more week of class.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
My projects are due. (check)
Ready to be handed in. (Check)
Presentation ready. (check)
House cleaned. (Well, it's better...half a check)
Bed in spareroom cleared, ironing hidden in my 'office'. (check)
Ham and potatoes and onion simmering in the crock pot with a stick of butter, ready to be made into a cream of potato soup tonight when I get home from school. (check)
Company coming. (check)
Cara coming home for the evening. (check).
I'm about as ready as I'm going to be.
Except for the fact that I'm sitting here at the computer in my bathrobe, still finishing my coffee.
Other than that, though, I'm ready.
I put on some boots and headed out. "Are you okay?" I asked.
He looked shocked. "Yes. I thought I was going to hit those trees head on. Scared myself." He looked at the yard. "I never expected that the plow would not have gone through yet."
"Yeah, I know, I started off for school, but the roads were bad enough that I simply turned around and came back home. That was more than two hours ago, and it's still snowing. Is your car okay?"
He looked under his it. "I can't believe that I didn't tear something up. I figured I'd be losing all kinds of fluids after plowing through those rocks. It seems alright, though. I really can't believe that after all that, I'm still going out hunting." He looked around and said, "Hey, I'll be back in the spring to fix those rocks back the way they were."
"Nah. Don't worry about it. I can set my own rocks back. I'm glad that you're okay."
He said, "Well, I guess I'll go hunting then. Maybe I'd better slow it down."
"Sounds like a good idea to me." We waved and I headed back for the house as he headed back to his car.
That's life in the boonies.
The road still is not cleared off.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Heading out, the slush on the roads was bad and things were slick. When I got to the road that takes me off the hill, one look told me, "Yeah. Not today."
I turned around and headed back. Although I could have taken another route off the hill, the detour would have taken extra time. It was late enough that I'd probably have been quite late for that 50 minute class. I sent an e-mail to the teacher explaining what had happened. Probably for the best. I've got a lot of stuff I can be doing in this house. Let me get up from this computer and do it.