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Too Much

My belly rumbled as I picked up the restaurant’s menu. Ordinarily, I enjoyed eating out, but today when I scanned the meals listed, nothing excited me. The menu was filled with bright pictures of juicy hamburgers, steaks, chicken, soups and eleven different kinds of sandwiches. It even offered all day breakfast meals, so the problem wasn’t a lack of dietary variety.

Arnie and I had been on vacation for the past week. Every single meal since leaving home was at a restaurant. When we left home I’d thought eating out all week would be like a dream come true. There would be no meals to cook, nor dishes for me to wash. All I had to do was lean back and enjoy myself.

The first thing I discovered was my dear husband had turned into a dietary camel sometime during the previous twenty years since our wedding vows. He loved to eat huge breakfasts early in the mornings, but then didn’t want to stop to eat anything else until six or seven in the evening. I, on the other hand, like to graze for most of the day. I needed at least a bowl of soup or fruit every four hours. I ended up furtively snacking on candy bars to keep from passing out.  Continue reading

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13th Child

Warm, happy waves of excitement and cold, shivery chills of nervousness washed over me in turns. Daddy was driving me into town on a Saturday afternoon for a birthday party. I alternately fiddled with the wrapped present on my lap and the hem of my Sunday dress. My friend, Karen had invited me and more than a dozen other classmates. The party was at her house in Stratford. Along the road, we passed homes that I recognized. We were getting closer to where Karen lived.

I was used to birthdays celebrated in class rooms. Usually the birthday person’s Mom would send a pan of brownies or a jar of chocolate chip cookies to school to be passed around when Sister said it was okay. Many birthday parties that I’d been to, were for my nuclear family or for one of my neighborhood cousins. Those parties were limited to cake and ice cream after supper. Today was different. Today I was going to a real birthday party with games and many other children! 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

The Missing Glove

“Mama, when will Santa come?” I set a pan of potatoes on the stove and looked down at my six-year-old daughter. The plaintive tone of Niki’s voice made my heart ache for her. This was Christmas Eve, the day she’d looked forward to for the past month, but nothing was happening. Like every other evening, Mama was making supper with little sister Tammie sitting quietly nearby playing with a small toy. Daddy wasn’t home yet.

I hugged Niki. Her cheeks were warm and pink, flushed with anticipation and excitement. The kitchen window looked dark, as though it was midnight instead of only five o’clock. Kissing her, I said, “Do you remember what I told you this afternoon? Santa will come while we’re at church tonight. Daddy will be home any minute. After we eat supper, we’ll get ready to leave for church.” Continue reading

First Snow

Resigned to our dreary Wisconsin November weather, I pulled on a coat and slowly walked down the driveway to the mailbox. After the wind roared in the tree tops a few days earlier, the yard seemed unusually quiet today. From somewhere in the flowering crab apple tree, a chickadee wheezed, “Chee-dee-dee.”

I thought, “Now that’s a wintery sound! I wonder when it’s going to start looking like winter?” The kid in me looked forward to the first snow of the year.  As an adult, I knew that snow made travel horrid. Looking up at the gray sky, I sighed, “But it is so pretty to watch as it slowly, lazily falls to the earth!” Continue reading

The Other F Word

Louie, my slowly-becoming-civilized, white and black cat, sat purring on the office futon. Just looking at the lanky feline at rest that evening made me feel peaceful. When he dozed, his eyes closed and there appeared to be a smile on his face.

Leaving my desk chair, I crossed the room and sat down on the futon next to him. I reached out and stroked his silky side. Louie stretched and looked even happier. Something tickled my forearm. I looked down and saw a small bug. When I reached to pinch it, the small bug sprung straight up into the air like it had been launched by NASA. A huge surge of adrenaline flushed through my veins. Simultaneously, I felt flashes of Saharan heat, icy blasts of Artic chill and the need to expend energy by slaying dragons while galloping the circumference of the world. MY CAT HAD FLEAS!

Fear and loathing made my mouth feel like it was full of dirty cotton balls. I jumped to my feet, reflecting that the fleas had probably been around for a while. Being oblivious to the signs, I’d ascribed the itchy bites on my ankles during the past week to mosquitoes. There was no way I could continue in this denial. My house was fully contaminated and it needed a good cleansing! Continue reading

A Home Accident Statistic

Cradling Tammie, my two-month-old daughter, I carefully made my way down the stairway. Reaching the landing, I turned to descend the last six steps. Suddenly, the rubber sole of one of my wedge heels caught on the carpeting. Horrified, I found myself hurtling down the last five steps.

Although the time that passed between my tripping and landing could be measured in milliseconds, a million and one thoughts raced through my mind. They all centered on how to protect my fragile baby. Willing my body to encircle her like a wheel, I tumbled like a tire-rim tossed across a pile of rocks. Finally I banged to a stop.

My daughter was born with Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radius (TAR) Syndrome. One very serious aspect of TARS is an extremely low blood platelet count. Platelets prevent hemorrhaging from cuts and prevents monster-sized bruises. The last thing my baby needed was to be banged-up!

Laying on the floor and hurting in every place where my body had made contact with the steps, I lifted my head and examined Tammie. Miraculously, it appeared that I had somehow managed to protect her from injury. Relieved, I joined her in having a good, long, hard cry.   Continue reading