Friday, January 28, 2011

Something I miss.

Before kids, (and I'm not in any way saying that before kids was better, OK? Just 'before') we used to have time to do stuff that we wanted. Stuff that we had no reason to do, other than we just wanted to. Unheard of now. One of the things I miss the most was being at the lake on the weekends. I miss taking a long, sunset, cocktail cruise with Matty around Lake Groton, Patsy Cline playing on the ski boat stereo. Miss it a lot. What a way to wrap up a perfect summer's day of grilling sausage, laughing, with our feet propped up on the porch railing, and floating lazily in tubes, my fingers trailing in the water. Every weekend, before kids, if there wasn't a wedding or something else taking up our time, that's where we were. I miss life being slow. I miss decorating a boat for the 4th of July parade. I miss the rocking chairs and the loons. I miss being the spotter when somebody skied, getting my hair whipped all over the place. I miss watching people fishing from the dock, and playing croquet on the lawn. I miss the rattle of ice in Matt's Jack & Coke. I miss Alan, the jovial neighbor from the camp next door, always ready to lend a kayak, sometimes he mowed his own lawn, and then he'd come over and keep right on mowing. He's gone now. Took his own life. Don't understand it. I miss a million things. The battered tin coffee pot in the front garden with geraniums planted in it, the outhouse with the rubber rat perched next to the toilet seat, the smell of campfires, the way sound travels over water. It's silly, February right now and I've got a list as long as your arm to get done today, but this blue, blue sky is taking me somewhere else.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Back when I was Christmas shopping, and I don't do a lot of Christmas shopping right before Christmas, I like to get it done by September if I can help it, but none the less, it was a couple weeks before Christmas and I was waiting on line somewhere, in front of a lady who was holding the same size socks as I was. And as ladies who notice they both are holding kid's socks in the same sizes often do, we started chatting about our children. She told me that her little girl, who was the same age as Eli, was doing fractions already and "She just loves them!" Now you tell me, what six year old "just loves" fractions? That's plain weird.

I didn't say it to her, of course, but in this case, I really I think I've got bragging rights. My kids know about the important things in life, like clinking your boots together before you swing your feet into a car, and what it means when the cows are lying down, and all the words to "Over The River And Through The Woods." They know if they want a half an apple or the entire thing. (There's fractions right there.) They can put on their own snowshoes, and they take turns feeding the dog. They know about jump starting the lawn tractor. They can name trees and tracks and birds when we walk. They give really, really great hugs. They want to see everything, do everything, ask a million questions about anything they overhear. I'm not worried that they don't "simply adore" math, or aren't pushing to read faster. They love life, the whole darn thing, not just a fraction.

Kitten Day

Everybody always asks what your first memory is. Like it means everything in the world.. Maybe it does, I don't know. I've got snippets, bits and pieces I can remember, almost like pictures, could be I AM just remembering a picture, not the memory, who's to say? But my first whole, real memory, one where we don't have any photos, so I know I'm not cheating, was the Kitten Day.

The neighbor's place was big and expensive. One of those rich, fake farms. Despite the drastic difference in our family's incomes, I was best friends with their youngest daughter Allie. Anyway, their rich, albeit unspayed, cat had a litter of free kittens, hence my memory.

Dad had just gotten up, he worked nights at a machine shop, and even though he must have been tired, he usually woke up in the mornings with the rest of us, and pretty much worked all day too. It was a beautiful, warm day. Dad and I walked down the road, hand in hand...I remember how big his hands were, even though mine could wrap around one of his fingers, he held my hand carefully, the real hand-holding way, not the baby way. I was thinking that I was a big kid, going for a walk with my dad and I didn't have to hold his hand the baby way anymore. At the neighbor's barn he let me climb up a ladder to a small hay mow, when my head could look over the edge, I stopped, and he stood on the ladder in back of me with his arms on either side so I couldn't fall. There was bright, loose hay scattered on the floor, right at the level of my nose and it tickled and got in my hair. Just the same color. Morning sunlight streamed through cracks in the walls and everything was golden and glowing. A mama cat came over, purring, and pushed her cheek hard against my cheek, almost knocking me over. I laughed, but didn't dare let go of the ladder rungs. Dad reached around me, and out of the hay, he lifted up a tiny, yellow kitten, with darker yellow stripes and a white bib, it's eyes still closed tight. He set it in front of me, and the mama cat briskly tumbled it over on it's side and started to wash it. Dad lifted up another yellow kitten, lighter than the first, and then a grey one, maybe two gray ones? And a black? I can't quite recall. "Pick two" he said. "They can't come home yet, they need to stay with their mama some longer, but let's pick one for you, and one for your sister." I picked the two that were like that day. All gold, and soft and sweet smelling.

White Trash

Dropping off a bag of clothes at a Salvation Army, I noticed a pair of white, spikey heels, rather 50's styled...or maybe 80's...cute anyway, and size six. So I scooped them up and headed for the counter. While I was fishing out my $2.25, the lady behind the register said, very conversationally and nodding her head in a friendly way, "Yeah, the white trash look is really in right now." I wasn't sure if she was referring to my purchase, whatever I happened to be wearing that day, or just making a general observation. My intelligent reply was "Huh." I paid her and left, not knowing if I should have laughed, or given her the finger, not that I'm a giving-the-finger kind of girl. Normally I would come up with some sass-mouth comment, but I just couldn't figure out her angle. I still wonder what she meant.

Sometimes I think about what being White Trash is. It's obviously about being white, and for the most part, I am that. But the rest? Is it about being poor? Being stupid? Swearing a lot? Eating a bag of pork rinds for breakfast? What's the criteria? At my Gram's recently for a family dinner, she slapped a paper plate of rolls in my hand and told me to "Pop those in the Nuke Box for a coupler minutes" and I guess I never paid much attention to it before, but her microwave has got to be one of the first microwaves ever made, taking up four square feet of space and had a bag of Wonder Bread stuffed on top. I could curl up in that sucker. As I yanked it open by it's big ol' handle, I knew that there was a log of bologna, an actual LOG, and a big jar of mayo in the 'frige right next to me. The Wonder bread was in good company. I got a sneaky suspicion, then and there, that I truly was White Trash. So I guess it's different for everybody. For some people it's about your grandmother's kitchen and how she adds random r's to words and you understand perfectly what she means, for other's it's about how old you are when you have your first kid multiplied by how many wheels are under your house, and for some it's about playing pool in a bar with a Dale Earnhardt shrine in the corner. If you are going to label me just because I like to make out listening to Willie Nelson, I might as well throw in the towel and admit it. It seems White Trash is defined either by what you say, where you live, how you look, what you do for fun, or what you eat. I, myself, don't like pork rinds, but once in a great while, standing next to one hell of a giant-ass nuke box, get a craving for a bologna sandwich, with mayo, on Wonder bread, with one of those little, peel back, prepackaged, cheese slices, the kind my kids have never even seen before. If you know that about me, you know who I really am. And I'd be wearing those shoes when I ate it.