Archive | January 2017

Mouse, Mouse, RAT

My cousins and I stood at the backdoor of their house admiring the pristine white blanket of snow covering their back lawn. Barb said, “Let’s play duck-duck-goose.” The four of us were ages nine through eleven.

Plowing into the unsullied expanse, Donna called out, “I’ll make the circle.”

We fell in line behind her and all went around three times for good measure. Our tracks were wide and easy to see. A weak January sun cast blue shadows in the ruts we’d trampled. Alice, the youngest, complained, “When we play this game in the snow, our tracks show if we cut across the circle!”

Big sister Barb chuckled, “That’s a good thing, because cutting across the circle is cheating!” Continue reading

The Missing Link

I shivered and pulled my sweater shut, buttoning it absentmindedly without checking to see if the buttons and holes lined up. A jigsaw puzzle on the card table in front of me held all of my attention. Should I set aside all of the flesh and blue dress pieces first or the red barn ones? My decision to put the little girl together first came just as I reached the top button on my sweater and discovered there wasn’t a matching button hole across from it. Looking down, I realized that I’d mismatched them.

A sweet memory of my Dad popped into mind. One day when he was growing older, he put on a sweater and like I had just done, mismatched its buttons and holes. Looking down, he’d commented, “I look like a lopdeeddle.” Smiling, I shrugged and went to work sorting the puzzle pieces by color.

The silly word Daddy used was so typical of his self-depreciating sense of humor. In my family’s dictionary of funny words, a lopdeeddle was a silly, clumsy, inept person. He felt silly because he’d done the buttons wrong.

Shivering again, I pulled an afghan off the sofa and pulled it over my lap. From memory, I could hear my late husband asking me, “Why are you so stubborn?” I had laughed at him when he said that. To my way of thinking, I was a willow constantly swaying to his wishes and suggestions. I didn’t consider myself stubborn.

It was only after Arnie was gone that I finally recognized the trait he’d seen in me. Once I make up my mind about something, I stick to the plan. One thing I decided as a widow is that a person doesn’t need to heat a house until the inside thermometer never goes above 58 degrees. Continue reading

The Happy Castaway

A patch of January sun streamed through the living room’s south windows and stretched over the gray linoleum floor. I sat in the center of the warm pool of light. Behind me, the tinsel on our Christmas tree glittered and winked. Mirrored ornaments swung and turned in the breeze from the heat register, reflecting flashes of the sun on all four walls. Reaching into a candy dish next to the sofa, I selected a chocolate-covered angel food candy and admired the tree. Our family never put up and decorated the tree until Christmas Eve, but then kept it up for most of January.

Reaching into the pile of gifts still under the tree, I pulled out a book and flipped it open. Before learning to read, I had constantly begged to be read to. After I learned to read, I resented it at first when my big brothers and sisters insisted that I do my own reading. Now, as a thirteen-year-old, I loved escaping into the pages of a book where I became the person having the adventures. Continue reading

Animal Talk

The ends of the two scarves wound around my head and neck flapped in the frigid wind. I leaned over to pour sunflower seeds into a bird feeder, thankful for the warmth of Arnie’s old work jacket. Even though it hung off my shoulders, past the tips of my fingers and made my movements clumsy, I could pull my gloved hands and neck deeper into the generous folds of my late husband’s coat like a turtle.

A chick-a-dee openly hopped around on nearby branches in contrast to a shy woodpecker hidden on the far side of the flowering crabapple tree trunk, but giving away his presence by a rhythmic, “thunk-thunk-thunk!”

I announced, “I didn’t forget about you, woodpecker! I’m putting a suet seed cake in the cage.”

Carrying the rest of the seeds and suet to the birdfeeders on the other side of the house, I slowly trudged through the snow, examining animal tracks along the way. Something with skinny limbs had leapt through the deep snow to a tree. Then there were no more tracks. I looked up. The tree branches touched the next tree and the next. That had to have been a squirrel from along the river. Those greedy rodents like to gobble seeds whenever they find a birdfeeder. Continue reading