Tempest in a Sweatshirt

Let’s allow for my being a bit slow and say I’ve been dressing myself for 68 years. Today was the first time I got hung inside a sweatshirt. I wish I could recreate it for you, but I might not get out alive a second time.

The temperature was in the low 40’s, so my choice of outerwear was the newest sweatshirt, one that I have loved and worn since last fall. Having already brushed my hair, I bunched the shirt up so that I could pop it quickly and easily over my head without disturbing the hair. I should have known better than to try to accomplish two things at once. One does not pull something over one’s hair and expect it to stay the same, except if you have a crew cut. I’d already put my arms in the sleeves and couldn’t find the hole at the neck. I’ll answer the obvious question without your asking – yes, I did start at the big hole at the bottom. Pulling back a bit, I saw sunlight and aimed my big head at it. My elbows were caught. Reverse. Why is the hood now in the way? Start again. Out of my mouth came the words that always denote my extreme frustration, “Come ON!”

John probably heard me in the next room, but he did the safest thing and laid low. If he had come in at that moment, he would have had to turn me inside out to get the shirt unstuck. The second time I pulled back, the sweatshirt was almost all inside out, and I’d lost my arms. Scissors crossed my mind, but with no visible hands, I couldn’t wield scissors. I couldn’t even pick them up. Somehow I escaped completely and glared at the shirt lying on the bed in a heap, inside out.

With gritted teeth, I said, “I can do this!”

Smart man that he is, John didn’t say anything when I went in the office and told the back of his head that I was ready to go walking.

“I got hung up in my sweatshirt,” I explained. “I didn’t think I was going to get out.”

If there were a snicker or a snort, the moving chair covered it. John had survived another extreme test of marital fidelity with flying colors. It’s a good thing I was successful, because John might not have agreed to lead this blind zombie to the creek and back, bound and gagged by a sweatshirt.

A Staycation Morning

This is the fifth day John has been playing with trains in middle Tennessee, and he is due home tonight. I thought you might like to know what I get up to when left alone at home. The first thing, every day, is walking. If left to its own devices, the body would persuade the mind to stay in bed, so I dress before the override occurs. This is a Western view of the mountains that we don’t see from the house. I walked down the steep hill and was almost on the floor of the valley when I noticed the play of sunlight on the ski area.

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Yes, it’s darkish.  This was taken at 7:30 in the morning.

After I crossed the four-lane highway, almost in front of the firehouse, my right knee did a wobble. It happens about three or four times a year. Ummm. John was almost 300 miles away, and neighbor Joyce was in Georgia. If I walked carefully, maybe I could make it the mile home without bothering anyone for a ride. Yes! No problem.

It’s rare, but sometimes I forget to take two pills when I get up. I shouldn’t eat for an hour after taking them. Instead of eating breakfast when I got home, I took a shower and found the storm glass that friend Karen had given me was looking interesting. It was willing to pose, but I fiddled with the background to show it to advantage.

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Storm glass predicting windy weather with feathery crystals

Meals are interesting with John gone. He eats nearly everything, so I have things that he might opt out of if he were here. Liking things crisp, I threw a corn tortilla in the toaster while frying an egg. Living up to its name, it was toast – burned. The birds didn’t seem to mind it. I watched the next one carefully, added a slice of pepper Jack cheese, the egg, and raw onion. I put too much salsa on the plate, so the last bite was an overload that almost caused steam to come out of my ears. The coffee could have passed for very hot water until I drank half of it. The coffee deserves mention though, it being something John wouldn’t touch unless he were desperate. It was Deluxe MOONPIE ground coffee.

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The bag had this explanation on it:

There’s flavored coffee, then there’s MoonPie-flavored coffee – that classic chocolatey graham + marshmallow taste profile, timeless and proven in appeal, craved for generations.

The original MoonPie was born out of a 1917 conversation between a Chattanooga Bakery salesman and an Appalachian coal miner who was looking for a tasty, filling snack that would fit in his lunch pail. Nicknamed “the working man’s lunch,” the MoonPie grew from a Southern favorite to an American heritage brand that’s been featured in movies, country songs, and happy family moments ever since. Nearly a million MoonPies are now made daily.

The second cup of coffee did have a hint of sweet chocolate. It wasn’t as good as the discontinued Ingles’ brand of Raspberry Chocolate decaf, but it was fun for a change. Best of all, John didn’t have to roll his eyes at my indulgence.

The rest of the day will be spent reading and replying to email, transplanting Lamb’s Ears in the garden, eating a hamburger for lunch, napping, working the crossword and jumble puzzles, reading the newspaper, and playing a piece on the piano with “May” in the title. If there is any time left, I’ll read an ebook. Days have a habit of running out too soon.

Snot gets Slammed

Snot (Hyundai Sonata) is now a bit under the weather. We loaned the car to our son after his vehicle died a natural death. $ parked it near the house where he was working, not knowing high winds would bring a tree down at that exact spot. I put off writing about it for a whole day. Surely 24 hours was time enough for something amusing to surface.

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There are two things to be thankful for. John $ was not in the car at the time, and it should be repairable.  I’ll bet Snot will complain about arthritis from now until he dies.

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Something hurt when I put my walking shoes on at 6:30 am. I’m a morning person, so the issue was not the time of day. I poked a finger between the sneaker and the area below the inner side of the ankle. Ouch! It felt bruised. Do you suppose I threatened to kick myself and actually did?

I walked one mile instead of the usual two, turning back because of the threat of rain. Six hours later it still had not sprinkled a drop. For exercise I attacked the wicked wisteria for the first time this season, pulling up shoots from the ground before they could imprison me in the house. Roots an inch thick snaked under the fence into the horse pasture. The owner has taken the horses away right now, making me wonder if the animals nibble the wisteria when they are here. If so, I owe them some apples for a reward. Before going in for breakfast, I swept the back porch to remove 1/16 of an inch of bright yellow pollen. The stuff gets gloppy when wet. I’m proud of myself for quitting before I got tottery.

No Spark in our Bedroom

When John came home from three days of playing with trains, we had dinner and sat at the table catching up on news. We may have been in the kitchen area for a couple of hours while a storm was raging outside. I walked to the bedroom, flipped a switch, and nothing happened. Did I hit the one for the ceiling fan and not the light? No! Neither worked. I took two steps further into the room and was assailed by a strong burning smell. Yelling for John, I rushed to unplug the computers. With light from the office and the bathroom, we felt everything to see if anything was hot. Nothing was. Our first thought in panic was neighbor Bob. He graciously left his company and came to our rescue.

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Stench, but no evidence of fire

The situation was puzzling. Nothing seemed to be damaged, but there was no electricity in the room at all. The stench remained. Bob promised to work on it the next day. Would you have slept in the room? I didn’t want to burn up, but I also didn’t want a fire breaking out with no one to notice. We left the door open between the bedroom and the office where John was working. I slept in the bed. I suppose I opted to die sooner rather than later, in an immediate fire rather than a delayed one. Imagine my joy when I woke up alive the next morning.

Bob and Logan brought over a bunch of tools. Logan and I played while Bob and John pulled all the furniture away from the outlets. They traced wires, went in the attic to see how the lines were laid, and tested all kinds of things. Six hours later when everyone was famished, Shawn came over, and we brought in pizza. Since the house hadn’t burned down in 24 hours, we partied. It felt odd to sleep in a room with everything slightly displaced.

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Smoke detector and switches hanging loose

An electrician, a friend of Bob’s, came the next morning. The fellows pointed out the receptacle where the strong smell was, and he asked, “Is there a socket on the outside wall?”

He stepped onto the deck and pulled out the charred remains on the other side. There was a scorch mark on the wall where the flame had been. It took only minutes for him to replace the mess.

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Bob and John watch the electrician repair the box.  My computer sits just inside.

That should have been it, but it took hours more to restore the power. The expert was baffled about the way the lines were organized. Evidently, a modular house is put together in a different way from a site-built home. He did a work-around of some sort, and we had power again. As to the cause, we think the driving rain may have gotten into the box, causing wires to short out and catch on fire.

John’s Surprise Oral Exam

If John had been the least bit nervous, I couldn’t tell it. This was about the fourth time he stood before the Sunday School class to present a video series about Martin Luther. If you didn’t know, October of this year marks the 500th year since Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Germany. Each week John has presented background history to the class while young Adam set up the DVD at the front of the church. If Adam hits a snag, as he did this time, John keeps talking until the video is ready. That in itself would be unnerving, but it doesn’t seem to bother John.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the dignitary come in. He had preached at the early service and sat through John’s class before preaching at the late service. It was Dr. Dale Meyer, former Lutheran Hour Speaker (aired nationally) and now president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, the main seminary of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. John handled it with aplomb. As our class dispersed, I saw Adam hand Dr. Meyer the disk. He had gone forward to speak to John and mentioned that the Synod and the seminary had done videos, but this was one he hadn’t seen. John told the man they had met at a nursing home he was involved with in Brooklyn, mentioning people they knew in common. Dr. Meyer remembered having been there.

On the way home, I asked, “Were you nervous when Dr. Meyer came in? If so, you didn’t show it.”

John told the story from his view. He said, “Before we began to set up, Dot [an enthusiastic member of the class] told me she had chatted with him after the early service. She said her class had the most marvelous video and a wonderful leader to explain things, and he should come to our class. So, I had advance notice that he was coming. That was a lot to live up to.”

Under the Robin Radar

Years ago John’s sister Barbara and Thom gave me two birds as a birthday present. They were motion-sensitive, moving their beaks and singing when you walked in front of them. I adored them. They lived on different levels of the house, the goldfinch in the dining room, and the robin on top of the armoire in our bedroom. They recently surfaced again after having been lost with my favorite cookbooks for two years. I had the three required batteries for one bird. Robin was the first to be activated, and I put him in the kitchen. That was not a popular choice. People went by and spoke to him.

“Be quiet!”

“Who asked you about anything?”

“What was that?”

“If you don’t shut up, I’m gonna feed you a real worm.”

Before it escalated to bodily harm, I moved Robin to the bedroom where I could enjoy him all by himself. He is turned now so that the only time I set him off is when I get something out of the dresser drawer. The other day I didn’t hear anything moving in the office or kitchen and couldn’t tell if John were awake. I stooped down, sidled in front of the drawer, and opened it to get clean clothes. Good! I didn’t wake up John or the early bird.

Robin got a rewarding kiss.

It was meant as a reward, anyway.  Maybe he would rather have had a worm.