Wednesday, July 31, 2019

New Shoes

I listened to a discussion. One person was exclaiming over the fact that she knew of children who had never been outside the county. 

I said, "Look around. Do you realize how many children are growing up in families who don't even own a CAR?" 

Silence as everyone digested this. It was obvious that they didn't. 

I'm a pretty lucky woman, but life used to be quite a struggle. As much as people want to claim that poverty is solely the fault of poor decision making, I can tell you that this is not always the case, from personal experience. 

I carried the two shoeboxes into church today, remembering the time when my own Dylan was young, back in the days when life was a struggle. I remember him saying that his shoes hurt his feet. That payday, I took him to get new shoes and I was shocked to discover that his feet had grown two sizes since I'd bought his last shoes for him. The shoes had obviously been pinching his feet for some time. 

I remember the shame I felt that day, just a sick shame that I could not afford shoes for my children.

Today, I set my shoe boxes in the collection box, thinking of two little boys who will receive of those shoes. I hope they are as tickled with them as William was with his new sneakers. 


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Be kind.

Tim and I were headed down a side street when we noticed an elderly man struggling to get a wooden sofa frame onto a dolly. He looked about done in and his wife was sitting on the steps looking just as beat. It was a hot humid day. We had been dodging the threat of thunderstorms for most of it.

"We need to stop and give them a hand," I said. Without one word, Tim swung the car to the curb and we got out.

"Hey," I said, "Looks like you could use a hand!"

He answered, "On a day like today, if you're fool enough to offer, I'm fool enough to take you up on it."

We all laughed, and I said, "Well, there's never been a situation that I couldn't make worse."

He said, "Yeah. I've got friends just like you."

More laughter.

We got to it. Tim said, "It would go a lot easier if you unstrap the dolly, now that we're all here," and he quickly agreed. And one, two, three, just like that we finagled it into their home.

That humble little home was freshly painted, but still smelled highly of long gone cats. We didn't get the grand tour, but there was no flooring, just a subfloor. The windows were old and dry rotted.

They said, "We really can't thank you enough," and we said, "well, we really can't say 'you're welcome' enough either, so lets just call it a draw."

Recently, it has been brought to my attention, again and again, the small stories of this world, the tiny dramas that play out all around us, the ones that give us an opportunity to act, or not act. The choice is ours. All I know is that no act of kindness goes to waste in this big sad world


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Cara and Colin

I happened to be on my computer at the same time Cara was. Cara and Colin spent the last couple months traveling around Spain. They even walked into a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere (these little cafes provide internet connection with their coffee) and were shocked out of their socks to meet a colleague from Afghanistan. Hard to believe that this is their second year gone from there.

Anyways, they were in Spain, as far as I knew, but she mentioned that she'd taken Mack to a Spanish vet who gave them a calming spray to make journeying with him in a car a bit easier.

I said, "So where are you headed?" and that was all she wrote...the dicey internet had failed again.

The next time we were on at the same time, probably a week ago, I asked where they were and she said Paris. They'd gone to Lourdes and took some very cool tours around the city. I asked if the calming spray had helped the traveling cat and she allowed that it had, which was very good news indeed.

We chatted for a while but I was at work, and my break was over in 15 minutes.

Yesterday, once again, in a moment of glorious synchronicity, we were on at the same time again. I asked where she was, and the answer came out of left field. They're in Georgia. The country, not the state.

Now Tim's cousin, David Mack, is a comic book illustrator. He actually was teaching art at a university over there during June's civil unrest. It got a little dicey for him, but he showed up at the family bread baking, albeit late,  and was none the worse for wear. Furthermore, he claims to have enjoyed his experiences there for the most part.

But back to Cara and Colin:

Me: *blink* "What are you doing there?"

Cara: We've never been here before, and the ballets and symphonies are supposed to be amazing, and it is only a hop, skip, and a jump to Istanbul."

Me: "Whoa."

Cara: What?

Me: You need to get some sort of directional signals or something. I never quite know what direction you both are headed in next.

She said that they wanted to get their fill of traveling, and I said that I was glad that they are living the life of their own choosing. Not many get to do that.

And then lunch was over. I gathered up my hummus and headed back to work.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Coming home from work, I saw a man pulling a pedal car, pushing his bike, with a small boy, maybe 3-4 running along ahead. There was quite a bit of traffic.

I pulled my car over, put on the four ways and walked back to him.

"Do you need help?" He assured me that he was nearly home, gesturing to a trailer park.

"Is anyone at your house, because if you put the car and the bike down behind the guard rail, I can give you both a ride home, and then you can come back and get them."

"No, he assured me, "we're fine."

I tried to puzzle out ways to help him, but I couldn't. He obviously isn't going to send the little boy home with me. The pedal car and his bike aren't going to fit in my car. "I feel terrible leaving you."

Once again, he assured me that they were nearly home and he thanked me for stopping.

Reluctantly, I walked back to the car, wishing that I had my cell phone. (Still safely plugged in at home...) I knew that Tim would have zipped over with the truck.

I put on my signal and waited for traffic to clear. I was halfway home when it occurred to me.

I should have taken the bike, or the pedal car so that he could hold his little boy's hand. I could have walked with them.

I turned around at my first chance and made my way back, but they were gone.

The answer was so simple that I drove home feeling very ashamed.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

My Tim

The play is over, and I am glad for it. It was a crazy amount of rehearsals. I enjoyed very much researching my character, Martha Coffin Wright. It was an astounding thing to read the thoughts of a very contemporary mind who was born in 1806.

What I did not expect was walking into the Seneca Wesleyan Chapel for the first time and finding myself with tears in my eyes.

It was very hot, 93 degrees in an unairconditioned building. I made up my mind to not do the corset. I did not buy a corset for a one time event, but I did drag out the spanx, the modern day version of the corset. It was too hot and I left the garment in my suitcase.

Tim and I did a lot of walking, and he was just as interested in the history as I was, and lord knows, he's been hearing a lot about Martha for several weeks now. He was interested in the history of the town, and Seneca Falls is also the mythical Bedford Falls of "It's a Wonderful Life". He was also quite interested in the industry there. It is also  situated on the Erie Canal, so there was a lot of things to learn. We tried to cram it all in between performances.

We were at the Women's Rights National Park which was in high gear for the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. Lots of events, of which my group was one, lots of presentations, lots of activities.

There was an activity going on at the museum. They were making old fashioned commemorative buttons. "Give Women the Vote" and things of that nature. They also permitted the kids to make their own buttons if they wanted. Tim wanted me to make one for William. I didn't have the time and suggested he do it.

So he did.

The man made a button that says "William RULES!" right there in the middle of the Woman's Rights Museum. He showed it to me later. Shocked, I said, "Tim, for pete's sake...." and he said, "I was going to make one that said 'Boys Rule!' but I knew that would be wrong.

My Tim.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Uncle Hermie

Tim's Uncle Hermie has been gone for probably 4 years now. Still, during the family reunion, his name invariably comes up. He was the master of the outdoor brick oven and he taught Tim. So now Tim goes early to get the oven ready for the bread making for the family reunion.

I sat listening to Dave and Gene swapping Uncle Hermie stories and this one made me laugh:

Uncle Hermie was a pilot. He had a little airplane he flew all over the place from a little airport across the road from where his brother's farm with the brick oven still stands, now in the reliable hands of a younger generation of his bloodline.

Gene lived on that little farm and was Uncle Herman's nephew, the son of Herman's brother Harold. Now when Gene was young, he would play baseball with his friend across the road at the airport. They knew to get out of the way when a plane flew in. It wasn't anything fancy, just a mowed strip where a plane could land, just perfect for boys honing their baseball skills.

They heard a plane coming in and scooted out of the way. The plane landed and taxied right up to them. Two men got out, and the older one said, "Do you know Herman __________? Gene allowed that it was his uncle who lived about 8 miles away. In those days, getting there would have been a problem and not everyone had a phone.

The man asked them if they wanted to go for a ride before he left and they certainly did. They clambered aboard, and they flew, and Gene said that you could tell this man knew his stuff. He didn't razzle dazzle them with tricks like Uncle Hermie, but he was a darn good pilot. When they commented on this, he said that it was his nephew's plane and that his nephew (in the copilot's seat) was the one flying the plane.

As young as they were, they knew that this was not true. They could tell who was flying that plane.

After a nice ride, he brought them back to the landing strip, and dropped them off. "Don't forget!" he called out. "Tell Herman that Floyd W----------- came looking for him." He took off.

The next time that Gene saw his uncle, he told him that Floyd had flown in and gave him a ride. Uncle Herman looked incredulous. "Are you sure?" he wanted to know. "Because Floyd hasn't had a pilot's license since they put him in the mental hospital."

70 years later, we laughed ourselves silly over it.

I cannot remember whether it was his mother or his wife, but that woman did not like Floyd. He scared her. But Uncle Herman didn't mind him. They traveled all over the country in their little plane.

I miss that man.

Happiness

Very exciting news. Tim has had a truck that he's worked on, off and on (mostly off) for several years now. It was moved from our house in Scandia. It was moved from the house in Pleasant Township, and now it is moved to our house.

Today it runs.

He's a happy man.

We have 3 rehearsals left. I have studied hard, but during rehearsal tonight, I fumbled a line, an easy one, it struck me: "What in God's name was I thinking???!!"

I have no answer to that.

When this thing is done, I'll be a happy woman.






Baby Talk

Very curious about this:

I listened to some chatter today. The two women were talking in 'baby voices'. I was kind of surprised ~ I mean who DOES this? I've heard them talk before, and I guess that I wouldn't call this their normal voices. I listened, and kind of marveled at it, even as I thought that it might be something that could get annoying after a while.

I honestly don't think I've heard this before, but as the conversation grew to include more people, 3 other women began to respond in 'baby voices'.

Is this a 'thing' now?


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Work

Today, I was working in a different department. They have a huge number of fans, big industrial ones. They oscillate, but I had two of them blowing directly on my desk at regular intervals from opposite sides of my table. My hair was in my face, I was having trouble keeping my papers in place. I was freezing, having dressed in a teeshirt for my regular desk.

I asked and got a clip board for my papers and made up my mind to head directly to the car on first break and grab the light jacket I had on the back seat. Then I settled in to work.

About a half hour into things, a woman stood up and said, "Is anyone else cold? I'm FREEZING!" and I said I was. A half dozen people (out of probably 8 or 9) said they were cold.

At that point, the fecal material hit the rotary oscillator.

Two women who have a lot of years in the company and consider themselves part of the management team began to yell, and I do mean yell. They said that the fans could not be shut off.

The woman who brought the subject up said, "Listen, we're all cold, all of us..." and they said, "Then you should have dressed warmly. You can always put more clothes on. We cannot take them off."

I'm not from the department, and someday I'd like to work there, so figuring out the dynamics of the place interests me. I could have pointed out that I came to work that morning with no idea that I would be working in a different department, but I didn't. I aggravate people enough as it is, so I just kept quiet, kept on working and listening. It continued to get heated, and then some taunts were exchanged.

The woman who initiated the complaint turned her music up and said, "You know, I'm not even listening to you anymore. You're selfish. Most of the people here are cold, but you only care about yourself."

The two old timers complained back and forth for some time. "It's MY body. I'm HOT!" and "If they turn off the fans, I'm leaving early". etc. etc. etc.

They got no further argument from the music lady. She just listened to her music and ignored them.

That made them mad, and before long they were bellowing, "Turn down your radio!" and they followed it up with "You're not the only one working in this department!!!!"

Irony.

The opposite of wrinkly.


Monday, July 8, 2019

The Answer Comes

You know, I'm a person that feels like everything is my responsibility. No matter what it is, I feel like I have to fix it, make it right. Except in the real world, I can't. It doesn't come right, and there's not one goddamn thing that I can do to fix it.

It doesn't stop me from trying though. I guess that I've been tilting at windmills for all of my 62 years.  I've spent my life trying to make things right. I don't know why I'm like this but it has always been this way. I remember that awful sense of responsibility even as a very young child.

This past weekend, I ran smack up against something that shocked me wordless. I drove a couple hundred miles playing the thing over and over in my mind. What should I have done? What should I have said? I mean it's not a good situation and any fool with eyes can see it and this fool surely did.

What is my responsibility? What should I do? How can I fix it? The questions created quite a ruckus in my mind as I played various scenarios over and over in my mind.

And then it happened, For the first time in my 62 years of beating myself up looking for answers, I finally saw the answer to these questions clearly. 

Nothing.

There was a quietness in my mind as I pondered this answer.

I think that is exactly what I shall do.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Nurse Talk

Tim came to me, flexing his arm, pointing to a bright red bulleye on his bicep.

I gasped out loud. "Did you have a tick?" He didn't think so. He remembered a funny sensation from the previous day, He scratched it absentmindedly, didn't give it a second thought until he was drying off after a shower and noticed the big bullseye.

We had a mild winter here, and the ticks are bad. I have quiet but paranoid hissy fits every time that we go to the camp, feeling like something is crawling on me. I use Cutters and I never go into the woods without blousing my pant legs. Tim just crashes through like he always does.

I said, "Tim, you need to call the doctor tomorrow. I'm going to guess that you had a tick and that's a dangerous thing to ignore, especially with that rash. That's exactly what they tell you to be looking for."

He said, "Do you really think I should?"

Me: "Yes. I really think you should."

Conversation next day: "Did you call?"

"Well, I was going to, but I got busy."

"TIM!"

"The redness is going away. Look."

That's pretty much the way it goes. I remember one time, coming home from work to discover that he'd fallen off a ladder. His arm hung limply. He could not lift it.

I flipped out. Tried to drag him to the emergency room. He wouldn't go. We argued. He assured me that he'd go to the doctor the very next morning, but he wasn't wasting money on an ER visit. I didn't trust him because I had to go to work and he works for himself, and I knew he'd find some damn reason not to go.

So I called my sister the nurse. She was horrified and demanded I give him the phone. I'll never know what she said to him, but he had his skinny butt off the couch when the conversation was over. We went to the ER. It was serious, and required surgery.

My sister stopped by to see the progress on the Wayne St. house and to give him holy hannah about the untreated tick bite.

He closed up shop early and called the doctor.

Is that a class nurses take? Or is it a super power? I don't know, but I need me some of that.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Margie.

I went to a party yesterday to celebrate a friend's citizenship. I knew some of the people there from work, but there were a lot of her friends there who were also immigrants. I met her husband who adores her. My nephew's stepmother was there, so I got to catch up on them, since we don't see them often. They both are working 9 hours a day, six days a week so they were unable to make the hour and a half trip.

Margie started the 'program' by singing the Philippine national anthem, and soft voices joined hers. She hung the Filipino flag. We all sang our national anthem, and she hung an American flag right next to it.

Then there was food, lots and lots of food. Things that I'd never had before. Things that I need to learn the names of so I can make at home.

In the middle of this, in walked a man and his Filipino wife. He was wearing a MAGA hat and he was brash and loud. His wife sat quietly next to him except when she was bringing him food. 

What I noticed is that they pretty much were alone. My husband sat with the other husbands. The women mingled, everyone admiring Pita's brand new grandson, taking pictures, talking. I sat with other women, talking about family and work, and laughing.

I was astonished to find that most of them worked two jobs. Our work lets out at 2:30, and they go to another factory and punch in at 3:15. They work until 8, and they work Saturdays too.

One of them was getting her master's degree, and because she is working part time, she is replacing the windows in her house.

When we were leaving, my friend pressed us to take food. "It's what we do," she said, "Everybody make the food, and we all take home." And they did. She had an entire garbage bag full of plastic food ware so that people could take containers of food when they left. I left my humble texas sheet cake to be divided up too.

Tim and I walked across the perfectly kept yard on the way to our car. "That was fun," we agreed.

Make America Great Again.