Everyone was still munching on food when I jumped to my feet and examined the room. Tammie glanced up at me and quipped, “Oh-oh, look out! Mom’s got THAT look. She’s ready to get down to work.” Niki had provided cheese, crackers and dip shortly after we’d arrived at Tammie’s third floor apartment. Having spent the last three hours cooped up in the van traveling, her eight children were hungry and restless.
Frowning, I pointed out, “You have a lot to pack before moving on Saturday! Let’s get this job done as quickly as possible. We have hotel rooms reserved and a pool to play in. Plus, we left our luggage in the van. I’d feel better if it was safely at the hotel.”
I began sorting and packing craft boxes, cleaning supplies and trip souvenirs. My daughters immediately fell to work at my side. Unable to help because of tight quarters, my eighteen-year-old granddaughter Anne, decided to take her sixteen-year-old brother Jon to the Mall of America. Shortly after they left, one of the other children complained, “Blaise stinks. He needs a diaper change!”
Niki said, “I left the diapers in the van. I’ll run down and get them.”
I glanced out the window at Niki’s vehicle parked across the street. Someone crouched behind it. Alarmed, I asked, “Tammie, what’s going on down there? Someone’s hiding behind the van!” Continue reading
I heard the school bus pull to a stop in front of our house as I put a kettle of potatoes on the stove. My five-year-old had been standing at the large living room window for the last half hour, watching for her big sister. She shouted, “Niki’s home!” A moment later I heard the back-door slam and my fourth-grader walked into the dining room.
“How was your day?” I asked.
My daughter shrugged and gave me the usual before supper non-committal answer, “It was okay.”
The events of Niki’s day would slowly unreel as the evening progressed. She was never able to pour it out all at one time, so it didn’t pay to push.
By the time I was doing the supper dishes, Niki had told me about a math test she’d taken in the morning, who she played with at recess and what was served at hot lunch. The way my daughter leaned against the cupboards watching me clean the kitchen made it clear she wanted to say more.
Looking troubled, Niki finally said, “We had a class on fire safety this afternoon.” I turned to face her. Every fall the school taught the children what to do if their homes were to catch fire. Along with the knowledge came worry. Continue reading
Despite wearing cumbersome leg braces, Tammie independently hoisted herself onto the dining room chair next to her big sister, Niki. While putting bowls of food on the table, I noticed that as usual Tammie was clutching her favorite toy in her left hand. All summer long, everywhere she went, my daughter took this small gray seal with her.
I suspected Tammie liked the plush-covered, stuffed animal because it fit perfectly in her small four-year-old hands. It had beady black eyes and bristly plastic whiskers, which I frequently caught her biting.
When Daddy took his place at the table we blessed our meal. Then I asked, “Tammie, why are you biting the seal’s whiskers?”
My daughter answered with conviction, “Because he WANTS me to!” Continue reading
In the pine tree on the north side of the greenhouse, a solitary chickadee wheezed out a sad and lonely, “Chee-dee-dee!” I stepped into the building and examined the rows of plants before me. Bright green parsley, healthy rosemary, thyme and oregano peeked out from behind billows of ruffle-leafed kale.
In another row, waves of pink and purple petunias tried to outdo the colorful yellow, orange and purple mounds of chrysanthemums. The canna, calla and amaryllis lilies were finished blooming for the year, but their healthy leaves were fattening up to store energy for next year’s blossoms.
One sixty-four-foot row was planted entirely in tomatoes. Most plants were huge and vibrantly green, covered with fruit of all sizes and stages of ripening. Six black krim tomato plants, an heirloom variety, were covered with yellow blossoms despite the heavy harvest they’d already given this summer.
Usually night-time frost kills my garden plants at the end of September. The killing frost almost always happens by the end of the first week of October, but not this year. Here it was October 25th, only two months before Christmas, and the plants were still bright and fresh.
Slowly pulling on a pair of black nitrile gloves, I walked purposefully toward the tomatoes. I couldn’t believe what I was about to do! For the sake of having a clean garden next spring, I was about to commit plant murder! Was it a breeze coming in the building’s open side flaps that made the tomato leaves quiver? Continue reading
My husband Arnie and I had started house hunting one month earlier, but saw nothing that felt right for us. When we drove out to the countryside to visit an old brick farmhouse by a small river, that changed. From the first moment I felt captivated, even though it needed much professional remodeling. Something about the place made me feel at home. After touring the house, our realtor took us out to a red barn on the backside of the property. Studying the barn’s layout, Arnie said, “The partial wall near the doorway would make a great place for a work bench.”
Buying the house was all we could afford at first. Any thoughts about remodeling were set aside for the distant future. Painting some of the walls and buying a few yards of pretty fabric remnants to make curtains, was all we could afford. While I worked at branding our home with my signature style, Arnie was doing the same thing outside, only in a man’s way. He set to work building his red barn work bench shortly after we moved in on the 3rd of October. Continue reading
I dropped into my desk chair and pulled a note pad toward me, remembering a comment that a friend had once made. She said, “If you have a job you want done, tell a busy person to do it.” What my friend said was true. When my life was busier, I was always able and usually willing to add extra jobs to my already full days.
After a moment of thought, and a few doodles on the corner of the pad, I began to scribble a list of things to do. I wrote, ‘write letter to Barb, call Rosie, wash-dry-fold laundry, rearrange living room, clean kitty litter pan, weed flower bed.’
I have always liked making lists. Being able to cross off the items as I do them makes me feel good. Non-work items show up on my lists, ‘sit and read the newspaper’ and ‘soak in bath tub’. Some people wouldn’t write those things down, but I do. Just because they’re not house maintenance, doesn’t make them unworthy to be listed! Continue reading
I studied the store’s colorful display, looking for the perfect birthday card for my friend. Other shoppers came, quickly selected and left, but I spent ten minutes intently browsing for a funny one that suited my friends sense of humor. Finally, locating the perfect combination of art, sentiment and price, I headed for check-out.
Later that afternoon, I sat at my desk to write a message in the card. Remembering all the fun we’d had together in the past, I ended with, “Let’s get together some time. We haven’t had a visit in ages!” I put a stamp on the envelope. As I licked the flap to seal it, I sadly thought, “Every year I suggest we get together, but we never seem to do it.”
The phone rang as I returned from the postbox. Another friend I see frequently was on the other end of the line. After a short conversion she ended by saying, “We should go shopping together sometime soon.”
I’m a social shopper, a person who merely runs into stores to pick up needed items when alone, but considers shopping the biggest event of the month when I have company. “That sounds like fun!” I responded.
My friend answered, “Then let’s schedule it. If we don’t, it won’t happen.” We picked a date and noted it on our social calendars. Continue reading