Archive for October, 2016

On serpentine items

Nearly every morning, although now that the weather is getting cooler, it’s more like every other morning, I water tomatoes. This involves taking down five or six loops of black hose from my handy-dandy hose hanger, flopping the pile of hose onto the ground, turning on the water, and pulling the hose toward the side yard barrels or front yard pots of tomatoes. But most of the time, the hose on the ground manages to tie itself in knots, and I have to stop and try to disentangle the mess. Since I’ve been doing this at least 26 times a month for the past five and-a-half months, that comes to something like 143 times I have dealt with the sometimes-tangled hose. You’d think I would have a worked all the kinks out of my procedure (pun intended) by now!

Today I was up at the church vacuuming the sanctuary. I won’t mention the minor frustration involved in navigating a vacuum cleaner between the 288 legs of some 72 ganged chairs, first from the front side of a row, and then from the back side thereof. That’s kind of tedious stuff, but I am fairly good at – and actually energized by – doing boring, mundane, repetitive task, so I fell to with a vengeance and conquered all those crumbs. The vacuuming was a little more challenging than normal because on Wednesday night, Pastor Barb had had the congregation divided into five groups in five widely spaced locations along the walls of the sanctuary, using straws to blow spit wads at post-it note targets on the walls. It was an effective object lesson about sin and missing the mark, but three days later, there were tiny spit wads all over the floor and stuck on the walls; some higher than I could reach to scrape off.

Anyway, my main issue today was not with the chair legs or the spit wads; it was with the @!#$^% (I’m pretty sure that spells “STUPID!”) 100-foot orange extension cord. That beast has somehow gotten majorly twisted, such that it’s a royal pain to roll up and an even greater royal pain to unroll. It’s all lumpy and bumpy, like its insides have been wrung very tightly. When you pick it up in a given place, it jumps like a living thing and instantly coils itself into a twisted nightmare. And if you try to pull on the ends to untwist it, it will attack your shins with a vengeance. It’s kinkier than black hair, for crying out loud!

So having dealt with a 100-foot long kinked hose and a 100-foot long kinked extension cord in the same morning, I’m ready for everything to be smooth, free, and unencumbered tomorrow.

On wind and sun

When drying clothes on a line, wind and sun are both very helpful.  Sun alone will do it, but will requite the full five hours that light beams onto my lines. Wind alone could potentially do it, but will likely require two consecutive low-humidity days. The wind/sun combo is definitely most efficient; given sufficient quantities of each, all items except jeans, sweats and thick towels will dry in as little as two and-a-half hours.

But here is a truth of which I was ignorant until I learned it the hard way: if your clothes dry completely on the line, but if they then remain hanging there after dark, when you go out to get them a couple hours after sundown, they will be damp – even if there’s been no precipitation! In this case, the wise housewife simply leaves them hanging overnight and realizes that, given the optimum ratio of sun and wind, they will dry the following afternoon.

Of course, both of my grandmas were known to dry clothes on lines strung in their basements. It surely got dark down there, but sadly, I cannot ask either of them if that dampened their dry clothes.

Moral of the story: Get the clothes in off the line BEFORE supper, either today or tomorrow!

Jeopardy question: What is “clomp, clomp, clomp?”

Answer: The sound generated when a person going down the stairs wearing tennis shoes gets to the lower half of our main staircase, now that there is no carpet on those stairs.

A fond farewell

Right here in the throes of your busy life, Dear Reader, I humbly ask you today to pause for a moment of reverential contemplation as we reflect on the immortal words of our Beloved Dill Pickle (undoubtedly an intimate companion of Mr. Dickens): “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

The Pickle was born in 2000, grew up in a variety of homes, and was adopted into our family in mid-2015, a fee of $500 having changed hands in that transaction. The Pickle served Andrew well for over a year, transporting him from one location to another, if not in high style or extreme comfort, at least in a modicum of reliability.

The Pickle was proud as a peacock to have been outfitted with classy covers for both its seats and steering wheel in December, 2015, and while its cosmetic features did leave something to be desired and it did burn (leak?) oil at an impressive rate and its AC stubbornly refused for any reason to blow cold air, the Pickle did have an exceptional security system in that its doors could not be opened from the outside unless one knew how to apply the secret release code.

Andrew put 14,000 miles on the Dill Pickle over the past 14 months, but on September 2, 2016, he drove the Pickle for the last time. He (the Pickle) was making some odd noises and “felt funny,” causing Andrew significant concern. When he called me asking what to do, I told him to drive it straight to our mechanic, who later told me he was surprised the car had even made it to his shop. It arrived there sporting two shredding front tires, a damaged strut, and a broken axle; the right front wheel was in danger of falling off. Our mechanic said his conscience would not allow him to let the Pickle leave his lot unless it were repaired ($1200) or towed.

With tears of sorrow and heartfelt thanks to God for Andrew’s protection and safety, we unloaded all of his personal possessions from his cherished Pickle and went home.

Hearing the news of the Pickle’s demise while he was away on a mission trip, Scott agreed that the best thing to do would be to place the Pickle for adoption with our mechanic, who would then see to its being taken to a far, far better place. Papers for the Pickle’s final arrangements could not be signed until Scott’s return, and when he did return, Scott – who is known far and wide for turning challenging situations into profit – received from a wise friend the idea of selling the Pickle on craigslist.

And this he did today, for $500.  = )

So, while we are all sad to see the Dill Pickle go, we are all thankful that even in its passing, it continues to be a blessing to our family.

Yes, good has been done here.

The Pickle exits the scene. Andrew smiles, but, still feeling an emotional attachment for the Pickle, calls out “Take care, O my Pickle. Take care, O my Pickle. Take care, take care, don’t dare not care, take care, no air, no fair, take care, take care, O my Pickle.”

The end!

Stop and frisk in the Shade?

Well. . . no. But it sure looked like it might have been.

Our family policy is that Andrew has to meet me face-to-face before he leaves for school in the morning, but most days, I am out walking when he leaves, so he pulls out of the driveway and drives over to wherever I am, and we chat for just a moment before he leaves. It’s usually about things like what in particular is going on that day, when he’ll be home, some word of encouragement, and a cheerful “I love you!”

Usually, it times out that I’m over by Walker’s massive paved driveway, or Altom Construction’s driveway, and he can just pull in, talk, turn around, and leave, but one day last week, I was smack in the middle of the bridge. The bridge is two-lane with fairly wide shoulders and concrete walls. I was heading west, and he was coming east, so he just pulled over onto the eastbound shoulder, and I stood on the westbound shoulder and we hollered back and forth, pausing whenever a car passed between us.

One of those cars happened to be a sheriff’s deputy, westbound. I waved as he passed us and didn’t really think too much of it, but then the deputy turned around in Altom’s. Uh-oh. He was headed back eastbound, slowly. In a split second, a lot of thoughts and images raced through my head.

~ There’s been an awful lot of horrific violence related to law enforcement in our nation in the past few months.

~ I’m a single (and in this area, need I add “white?”) woman walking alone on the shoulder of the highway.

~ An officer right here in Taney County was shot (but not killed) in the line of duty less than three weeks ago.

~ A young man in a nice car is stopped on the shoulder of the bridge and is exchanging words with the woman.

~ The young man is black.

~ Oh, boy.

As the officer slowed to a stop, I asked Andrew if he had his driver’s license, which of course he did. He reached for his wallet.

The officer stopped between us, right there in the eastbound lane, and asked what was going on. Andrew answered that he was talking with his mom. The officer looked at me, and I said, “He’s leaving for school, and I’m giving him some instructions about the day.”

“Oh,” replied the officer. “OK.” And he rolled up his window, slowly drove to the end of the bridge, turned around at Walker’s, and continued on his westbound way.

Andrew followed suit, and I was left alone again to walk and and think.

What does racial profiling look like and feel like when you’re not just watching some piece about it on the news; when it happens to a member of your own family? I’m quite sure it wasn’t intuitive to the deputy – and wouldn’t have been to anyone else who doesn’t know us personally – that Andrew and are related in any way, much less that I am his mom. A young black man stopped on a bridge to talk with a lone white woman at 7:05 A.M. probably does (and should) give pause. I’d much rather someone – law enforcement or otherwise – risk stopping to make sure everything is OK when it really is, than risk “passing by on the other side” when maybe it really isn’t.

Actually, I am pretty sure that the officer would have stopped no matter what color skin either of us was wearing, because even though I in my neon yellow vest am pretty much an early morning fixture on that particular stretch of shoulder, stopped cars are not. But I’m also guessing that Andrew’s race did play into it, and to me that is at once both awfully sad and totally logical. As the officer turned around to come back and check on us, I was instantly torn between “Should I be glad he cares enough to stop?” and “Should I be indignant that he’s suspecting a problem just because this young man is black?”

I’m still torn.