Friday, December 31, 2010
Why not? I'm not really sure. Perhaps I haven't wanted to disappoint myself if I haven't kept them.
Or perhaps I simply never made the ceremonial "big deal" about the change from one year to another. After all, I sometimes joke, that change means I have to remember to write a new date on my check, and that's something I don't adapt to overnight. Sometimes, in fact, the new year comes along at about the same time I've finally begun to automatically write the correct date; and then it's not correct anymore!
And what about New Year's Eve? That never meant a lot to me either. I think such habits begin early, and since I never had a date on New Year's Eve, it never emerged as an important thing on my calendar.
As a teen, instead of a date, I would be looking forward to the baby-sitting money I could bring home on New Year's Eve---double the usual hourly rate; and sometimes more! And because my customers stayed out later on that night, the dollars really added up.
Was I a greedy girl? No. I was simply a girl who was one of the older children of a very large family, and my father had died when I was just 14. Helping to bring money into the household was important, and so was school. That required balance.
I enjoyed life; I enjoyed high school; I loved my classmates and still do. But my worries were different from the concerns of a lot of young girls of that time.
Go ahead---share with me your New Year's Eve adventures and misadventures, and share with me the New Year's resolutions you will make and break. I enjoy hearing about them.
But, as always, the old year will end and the new one will begin without any real help from me. I will be sleeping soundly when the change occurs.
However, I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy New Year. And I sincerely mean that.
Good wishes from Rose About Town, who is happy to receive your comments at email@example.com.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Does Santa know he is fat; or care?...
Did Marilyn Monroe know, if she were a star today, she would have had to lose 50 pounds?...
Would the world have been a better place if Andy Rooney or Dorothy Fuldheim (the first female TV anchor) were skinny?...
Has the news business gained excellence because its female anchors have sylph-like silhouettes?...
Would Burl Ives or Pavoratti have been better singers if they were Hollywood-skinny?
If Jackie Gleason had been a thin man, would he have been a better comic?...
Would Ed Asner, Ernest Borgnine or Walter Matthau have been better actors if they had lost some weight?...
Would Theodore Roosevelt have achieved more without his pudgy profile?...
Would Winston Churchill have been a more effective wartime leader if he were not fat?...
Would Aristotle Onassis have been more successful if he had concentrated on a healthy weight-loss diet?...
Would First Lady Barbara Bush have influenced us more, or been more beloved, if she were stylishly slender?...
Then there are such portly figures as Buddha; Mama Cass; Alfred Hitchcock; Raymond Burr; Orson Wells; Eleanor Roosevelt...
So many people some would classify today as overweight have entertained us, inspired us, fought for us, protected us, set us on the right path, mentored us, taught us, befriended us, loved us, made us think more deeply and enjoy our lives more fully, been good leaders and been good neighbors... and so much more.
We would miss a lot in our lives by judging our fellow man on Body Mass Index...
(Through thick or thin, love the special people in your life... If you wish to add some words of your own, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will share them unless you ask me not to)
POSTSCRIPT: Several of you have asked me what my weight is... or if I'm a "fat broad?" That makes me realize you missed the point.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
But now, as December moves toward the last days of the year, the sky has freed itself quite suddenly from cloud and darkness. The rising sun seeks breaks within the icy creek and lights a fire in its frost-chilled ripples. The tree tops on the valley's rim pick up the brightness.
Preening in the unacustomed light, the sycamores stand tall along the waterway, stretching slender fingers upward to the blue, their trunks extending long and white below into the creek's reflective waters, like the legs of dancing showgirls.
For all the morning's newborn clarity, the day is very cold; the air is frozen into brittle stillness. A jet trail paints its gleam across the eastern sky, and that cold beauty somehow makes me think of children sticking tongues on frozen flag poles.
The concrete cherub sitting naked on my entry step is bathed in sun that bears no warmth; I know that little guy would shiver if he could.
But I am comfortable and warm inside my house, and so I look away and daydream over coffee. And when I look again, the sky is thickly clothed again in clouds.
Like a bright idea quickly lost, the day has lost its brilliance.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
OUR MODERN VERSION of Santa---St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas or whatever else you choose to call him---was built around the giving nature of the season. Through the centuries, he has grown in our imagination as a jolly gentleman of Christmas, with long white hair and beard, a bright red suit, and an airborne sleigh with reindeer.
My own favorite Santa doesn't fit that mold at all. He doesn't sport a beard and never has; nor has he ever worn long hair, though his perennial crewcut over time has turned snow-white. He doesn't drive a sleigh with reindeer, though he has often had a friendly dog of reindeer size who travelled with him in a truck. And though my Santa does like red as much as any other color, it's never been his signature, and the Santa suit has never been his garb; he's happiest in work clothes.
When my Santa's boys were little children, times were often tough financially, and my Santa devised a lot of Christmas fun for them that money couldn't buy. In the weeks preceding Christmas, footprints of Santa, elves and reindeer would mysteriously appear around the yard and house---compliments of Santa, who went into the cold of night when the world was sleeping, and made this minor miracle that brought such wonder to his children's eyes.
On December afternoons, he would help his boys stack piles of apples for the reindeer. Those apples would be gone by morning, and then it would be time to start again; oh, those hungry reindeer!
On a mid-December morning, he would take his boys out to the tree farm and let them choose the family Christmas tree for cutting. Invariably, they chose a tree that no-one else would want, a "tree that needed love." When it was time to stand the tree for decorating, these trees were guaranteed to give old Santa silent fits, with crooked trunks and most ungainly shapes.
MY SANTA ALSO HAD an active North Pole annex at our house. On many nights before the holiday, the garage became a workshop where Santa whistled, sang, sawed, hammered, sanded, painted ... By morning, all evidence of Santa's work was cleared away before the kids woke up.
This shop created wonders. One year, with new parts and paint and lots of patient work, Santa magically transformed a discarded, worn-out bike frame into a brand new, shiny bicycle. To this day, Santa claims it was a snap, compared to the year he purchased new-age Christmas bikes in packages fraudulently labeled, "Easy to Assemble. "
For our first-born, Santa's shop produced a child-sized, upholstered "Santa Chair." This bright red, sturdy treasure got a lot of use and then was passed intact from oldest boy to youngest, and then passed good-as-new to another family's child.
From Santa's shop one Christmas, there even came a set of bunk beds. That Christmas night, there was a lot of giggling as Santa climbed into the upper bunk and snuggled with his boys as Mama read the nightly bedtime story. The bunk beds held his weight, it should be noted, and Santa fell asleep before the story time was over.
This home-grown work shop also created treasure boxes; wooden horses; wood cut-outs of boyhood favorites (such as cars and cowboys pistols); handmade and painted alphabet blocks; a carpenter version of Tinker Toys or Legos, with glue and nails, a hammer, and pieces of wood in many shapes and sizes ...
Once Santa even left materials and plans for a doghouse for the boys' companion, Buster. After Christmas the little building was created by them all together, with a shingled roof, real siding, insulation and a swinging door. Well built, that tiny structure outlasted Buster, and when Buster died, it was a marker for his grave.
In those simpler times, this Santa made small gifts seem like the best gifts, and his presentation was ingenuous. A wrapped box might contain a map for an "X-marks-the-spot" game that led to the real gift ... A pocket knife might be wrapped deceptively in a box inside a larger box, with carving-wood and a sharpening stone included for after-Christmas lessons in whittling and sharpening.
ALL YEAR EVERY YEAR, my Santa blended into everyday society under the comfortable name of Bob. I first met him when both of us were young, and he has aged along with me. But in his heart and in my eyes, he's ageless; he has kept his Santa smile and spirit, and his eyes still sparkle with a boyish mischief
Now that Santa's sons are raising children of their own, Santa is retired, mostly, and has long since passed the Santa torch to the younger generation. Someday that generation too will feel a tug of sadness as they pass the Santa torch to yet another generation.
And then, like us, they'll warm themselves each Christmas with memories of the best December jobs they ever had.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
AND THEN I RECOGNIZED that heirloom fabric, and I was stunned. It was my mother's special shawl!
Friday, December 10, 2010
It was Christmas Eve, and I was an eight-year-old lying half asleep in my upstairs bedroom. Dad had not yet returned from a late B&O railroad run, and Mom was sitting quietly downstairs waiting up for him.
Suddenly I heard an intriguing and powerful sound from the street below. I rolled over and peered out the window and discovered the source---the idling engine of a big red fire truck, being unloaded by fire men! I watched as they helped my mother carry packages into the house.
After the fire men left, I sneaked down to the basement where I knew my mother had gone with the packages. "Shhh!... Don't wake the others," she whispered. "It's the Painesville Children's Santa Run. Our family was apparently on their toy list this year."
My mother was aware that I had prematurely stumbled upon "the truth about Santa," and she didn't shoo me upstairs. I watched as she added the brightly wrapped packages to the rather spare number of gifts she and dad had already bought, wrapped and hidden.
I told her that one of the toys I had seen being carried into our house was a toy panda bear, too big to wrap. Mom reached out and put the bear in my arms, and that bear seemed as big as the girl who was holding it. I noticed the bear had a key, and I carefully wound it and heard the fine tones of the Brahms Lullaby. I loved it!
"The tag on this bear is marked for a girl 8 years old'," Mom said. "That's you!" I knew I'd have to wait until morning to take possession of the bear, and I set it aside to help my mother finish the task of hiding the gifts.
When we had barely finished, we heard feet on the steps and we rushed to hide beneath the stairs. From our hiding place, I could see the big dark eyes of my little brother Ben, busily poking around. "Now where did that big b'ar go?" he said aloud to himself several times. "I saw that big b'ar... " He finally gave up and trudged up the stairs and back to his bed.
I suddenly knew where that big bear should go, regardless of the words on the tag. Whether or not she agreed, Mom didn't say; she left the choice to me. And so, in the morning, the bear ended up in the hands of my little brother.
On Christmas morning, my mother seemed very concerned about Ben having seen the fire-engine that delivered the toys. What would he tell the rest of the children?
I heard her tell them, "These came by fire engine last night," and then she hesitated. Before she could say more, I jumped in with an explanation of my own: "Santa ran out of time and needed help from the firemen," I told them. "Everyone knows that Santa calls the police or the fire men when he needs extra help."
Was I telling the truth, I wondered. Deep down I felt that I was. It seems that I hadn't completely abandoned my belief in old Santa.
I don't remember what toy I received in place of that bear. But I do remember feeling that, unique among my siblings, I had received a suitable gift of my own from the night before. I had experienced the excitement of seeing that big red fire engine---so enormous it seemed to dwarf its surroundings; I had witnessed the happy laughter of the fire men as they unloaded the gifts; I could not have felt more like Christmas if I had walked downstairs that night and come face to face with Saint Nick himself.
And on Christmas morning, I also achieved a special new status as Mom's co-conspirator, she and I working together as keepers of the Christmas secrets and protectors of the Christmas magic.
And now this 70-year-old grandmother will tell you "the truth about Santa," as I see it today:
On one day a year, at the very least, Santa is real. You can trust me on that.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Santa's indiscretion in making that promise resulted in the boy enlisting his mother to help him write a very specific letter to Santa. The boy included items he would need to run his junk yard, and the letter was taken to the post office and mailed.
A miraculous postscript to this story is that the junkyard actually did arrive on Christmas Eve, in a huge box delivered by a local junk yard dealer. Somehow the man had heard the story of the boy's wish, and when he arrived at the family's door, he told the boy he did not have the exact things the boy had asked for, but what he did have came from real cars and were real items from his very own junk yard, on Santa's direct orders.
The car parts inside the box had been carefully cleaned and were carefully labelled, with notes detailing what kind of cars they came from and how the parts worked.
The little boy treasured that gift and often slept with one part or another, as some small children might sleep with a stuffed animal.
In later years, in middle school, the boy would win a science fair by building a small model engine, to demonstrate and explain how a small engine works. His inspiration had begun with the Christmas junk yard.
The boy is now a father with children of his own. If he didn't understand as a child, he surely understands now, that the arrival of that special junk yard at his door on Christmas Eve, when he was four years old, was proof enough that Santa Claus can walk in many guises.
Including junk yard operators. And post office workers. And daddies...
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
(Click on photo to enlarge)
In Dec. 2009, as the new high School in our Ohio town was about to be dedicated a few blocks south, I visited the old school (dubbed "Classic Harvey").
My reason for being there was to spend a few quiet moments saying goodbye to a doorway I particularly loved. Like many graduates of the old school, I admired the beauty of that doorway, and in my years at that high school, I had often read the etched quotation in the stone over the door---"AS THE OPPORTUNITY SO THE RESPONSIBILITY.
East of this doorway was a second doorway, a beautiful twin to this entry except for its carved quotation which read: "EDUCATION IS THE SAFEGUARD OF DEMOCRACY."
It was a sad moment for me in 2010 as I watched completion of the demolition of the building. As a weekly columnist for a local paper, I photographed and wrote about the passing of the structure.
Through my column over that year, I had fielded questions from historians, preservationists, community members and alumni as to whether the carved stones at the old school could be saved. The demoliton experts had questioned the feasibility of that, but they did put great effort into the salvage attempt. And I am happy to say they succeeded in saving the stones!
Some restoration was needed, and Norman Monument Company provided the expertise for that. Now our Alumni Association is working with the school to find the best possible display place for the relics. The Association, in cooperation with school district officials, also has been working to establish an area within the building in which to develop an historical archives... a sort of "mini museum."
I congratulate the City Board of Education for its efforts over time to preserve the history of the old building in any way possible. They have wisely recognized the importance of preserving their past and blending it with the present and the future.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
We were travelling a familiar route, with hills and valleys; curving roads and heavy overhang of trees...
Suddenly... were we seeing motion on the road? What was it? We slowed almost to a stop.
It was a middle-aged man, dressed in dark clothing, with no reflective properties upon his person. He was jogging out on the roadway itself, for the rough roadside edges and the deepness of the country ditches in this stretch of road allow little other space to walk or run.
This runner never lifted his head toward us; he did not seem the least aware that we were there... Or that, had we not somehow spotted him in the blinding rain and darkness, we would have hit him.
Close as our vehicle was to him, he was concentrating only on his breathing and his running. And, for whatever reason, he had chosen the highway instead of the well-paved trails nearby that had been built and dedicated by the Metroparks for the safety of runners, walkers, bicyclists...
Without a doubt, this man was running to retain his youth and health.
In the darkness of that rainy morning, he came close to losing both.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
As a girl, I knew, my mother had loved the moss-draped trees that softly framed the waterways, and she had often photographed their beauty; many years later, as she shared those photos, I was mesmerized by what I saw.
POSTSCRIPT FROM MY SOUTHERN COUSIN DONNA: "I loved this... Soon after I saw this posting on your blog, I was delivering mail in a little area called Treasure Point along the Pasquotank River (North Carolina). I spotted a tree down river that was completely draped with Spanish Moss! I'll try to get a photo of it for you."
Sunday, November 7, 2010
While I am personally a mix of independent, moderate and conservative---depending on the issue---I can't abide the crowing of conservatives about states "turning red."
That will only work if you stop crowing and if you learn the difference between "statesman" and "politician."
We must work for the good of our country and not for the good of our various parties.
Otherwise, "turning red" will simply mean "more political bloodshed."
And that continued bloodshed will surely sap the strength of a country that historically has been strong.
Friday, November 5, 2010
It's going to happen every now and then no matter who you are.
This is my second time in a year, and this old mind again has to change and remember yet another password, etc.
Last time, someone put hundreds of ads on my site... enough to spur an alert that my site was filled and no more writing could be accepted.
This time, someone put strange postings with contact numbers designed to have blogger and/or readers click on the numbers; real mischief ahead if you did that.
Just like jury duty, this can and often does happen when it's not convenient.
But with jury duty, at least you finish with a feeling of satisfaction; you've done something good.
With this hacking, it's simply frustration!
You're not a jury member... You're a victim!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Their gravesite is located on Fitztown Road in what was once the old and historic Princess Anne County, now a part of the large independent city of Virginia Beach. Their stones were among the earliest in the small family emetery, located on property that was once the homestead of our grandparents.
Much of it now is designated as wildlife refuge, and my mother loved that land and would be happy to know that.
It inspired me to share this column once again, and I dedicate it to my Virginia grandparents and to my sister and her family who made such grand arrangements for a visit to the area by my husband and myself. RMM
*We also spent some happy time with a cousin, Rachel and her daughter Donna and family. I have gotten to know Rachel and Donna through facebook, and they are exactly like I imagined they would be. We felt so comfortable together, and why not? We are family, and that is truly how we feel about each other now.
*I was surprised to find the land today no longer seems to feature oaks and spanish moss along the waterways. But these mystery-shrouded places through which my mother often canoed will exist forever in my mind.
R.A.T. (Rose About Town) receives comments at email@example.com
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Last October when he was laid to rest, "Chicken Fried" played all over our county, with vehicle windows down and volume up.
For the sad anniversary of the death of Lance Corporal David Raymind Baker, "Chicken Fried" is once again heard throughout our area. Some of us have wondered aloud, what would the Zac Brown Band think if they knew this?
Rest in Peace, Lance Cpl. Baker.
(Rose About Town accepts your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Rose About Town accepts your comments at email@example.com)
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
A BEWITCHED ROSE-ABOUT-TOWN LOOKS BACK ON OLD HALLOWEENS
As a youngster, I loved Halloween--not for candy, but for costumes. Briefly in my little world, I could walk around as someone else--like a child playing dress-up with bits and pieces from an attic trunk.
The search through bureaus, trunks and closets was a joyful part of it. Sometimes the outcomes were surprising.
The first costume I remember was a grown-up's cast-off gown. My mother nipped and tucked, and slashed the hem to suit my height (or lack of it), and wrapped a brilliant scarf around my waist. She draped me with a fur-piece from her single life, and presto! I was transformed into a 1930s movie star!
Beneath the neighbors' porch lights, I got a better look and saw the vintage fur was made of little foxes, with eyes and little teeth and paws, each pelt clinging to the next. I was terrified!
My mother stood protectively behind us in the shadows. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I feigned illness. I couldn't wait to get back home and peel off those scary little animals. I soon became more independent in my costume choices.
When I was eight or so, I loved the smiling Aunt Jemima on the pancake mix and syrup. For Halloween that year, I decided she was who I'd be. I meant no harm; Aunt Jemima was to me a warm and friendly presence.
I tied a big red handkerchief around my head and donned a dress and my mother's apron, and then I sneaked down to the big coal furnace and smeared my face and neck with coal soot--an addition apparently unnoticed by my busy mother as I went out the door with my crowd of siblings. Mom wasn't happy with me when I returned that night from trick-or-treating. She refused to help me clean my face and ears and hairline, though for a week it seemed impossible to remove the soot from underneath my fingernails. "That's your punishment for disrespect," my mother told me. Even at my tender age, it was clear to me she felt I was disrespecting an entire race of people different from ourselves.
One year, Buster Keaton comedies from the silent movie days were a costume inspiration for me; no one recalled those silent movies I had read about, and I was mistaken for a bum!
Another year I dressed as Moonbeam McSwine, bad girl from Li'l Abner comics. That costume was a flop, because my mother saw the scanty outfit and promptly censored it into something else entirely.
In Halloweens of my teens and slightly beyond, I trick-or-treated or went to costume parties as a flower child, an Appalachian apple seller, a garbage man, a mail man, a housewife, a mechanic, a "Babushka Woman", a schoolmarm, a beatnik, a pioneer... With painted stripes on white pajamas, I was even once a jailbird!
My props included mops, sun bonnets, baseball caps, berets, pails, curlers, pillows, grease, wrenches, bubble-gum, blacked-out teeth, tambourines, bongo drums ...
Sometimes I wasn't really sure myself who I was meant to be; improvisation was the point and half the fun. As a teen, I showed up at a costume party as MYSELF, and won the prize for most original; the meaning of that wasn't really clear to me.
Similar to that was the Halloween that fell on the eve of my eldest child's birth, when I still felt well enough to escort young nieces and a nephew trick-or-treating. One homeowner spotted me behind the kids and urged, "Come forward, little pregnant mommy; what a costume!"
In modem Halloweens, trick-or-treat has rapidly faded, and grown-up costume parties have all but disappeared. Ten years ago, however, a relative-by-marriage delightfully revived the costume party for a lucky few of us, with a costume gathering in her family's cozy barn. Eureka!
That year I didn't think about my costume until an hour before party-time, when I dug into my closet, threw on a Russian shawl I'd never found excuse to wear, stuck colorful large hoops into my earlobes, grabbed a decorative straw chapeau from the hall tree, and went as "Gypsy Rose." I was escorted by my husband who appeared before me as an aging tie-dyed hippie whose crew-cut silver hair didn't look like any 60s hippie anyone of us had ever seen.
A Hunter's Moon was brilliant in that Indian Summer night. There was a campfire in the neighborhood, and some of us pretended we were smelling burning leaves, an aroma that has been against the law for many years.
For a little while that evening, we all were laughing kids again; and none the worse for it!
(Rose About Town can be reached these days at firstname.lastname@example.org. Though Rose may be up in the air on a broom this Halloween, feel free to leave a comment at that gmail address).
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Yesterday, when we returned from the south, all we could see was rain; and that's what we saw when we awoke this morning.
Soon, however, the colors still remaining in our fading country autumn re-asserted themselves.
Click onto and enlarge the photo, and I think you can see that dam.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
A weed, so they say, is a plant that grows where you don't want it to grow. That gives me plenty of leeway in my backyard gardens above the creek. I let these lovely wild things reseed and grow as they like... "giving them their head," so to speak.
Every growing season, they present a different face.
And I enjoy them all.
R.A.T. (Rose About Town). Comments can be directed to email@example.com
(CLICK ON PHOTO FOR A CLOSER VIEW)
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
In every time of year, this land is our solace and comfort.
In our retirement, we still rise early so we can watch the days begin here.
The following photos are our way of sharing some of it with you on this mellow, sunny September morning, after a spectacular full-moon night.
P.S. Saturday night Sept. 25... Friends have come up from the bottomland to tell us we can plan a garden there for next summer; the beavers have girdled most of the trees. Oh well, next year we can see the devils; too many trees this year. An ODNR nuisance permit is in order.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
IT DIDN'T FEEL LIKE a birthday. It was August 6 of 1963, and I was living in a place that seemed so far from home.
For the time being, my husband, baby and I were living in a walk-up apartment in Queens, New York ... struggling like many young couples of the time, busy at keeping our heads above water financially, trying hard to get ahead. A recession in Ohio was making jobs scarce, particularly in the construction business. So we'd gone to where the work was ... working with builders of the World's Fair.
We were working hard, and sometimes it seemed there wasn't time for laughter, or a moment for ourselves. As I went into my birthday, I was feeling homesick and frazzled.
Until, that is, the mailman rang and handed me a package. The gift I found within the wrappings transported me back home again, and back in time as well... Back to a 17-year-old-me who had driven home from work to find a younger brother's face at my car window as I pulled into the drive.
The boy was Clarence, mostly known as "Woolly"---he with the slight frame, gray eyes, freckles, sand-colored hair and serious demeanor.
HE LOOKED INTO my eyes and spoke so quietly I had to strain to hear. I saw his towel-wrapped hand and gasped, for it was soaked with blood.
"Don't tell Mom I cut myself," he begged. "I was using Dad's saw." Dad had been dead for a number of years, but Mom had kept his carefully-tended cache of tools, which still held great appeal for the boys he left behind. Mom, however, had firmly set those tools off-limits.
"Let's go!" I commanded, and my wounded little brother slid in beside me, his face bearing the grin of a happy conspirator. "I hope I need stitches," he said. "Then Mom might feel a little sorry for me, and go a little easy." I bowed to his logic; he was probably right.
When the doctor breezed in, he seemed annoying and a bit condescending in his false bravado. "Whatcha been doing, young fella?" he asked. "Lumberjacking? Whatever, it looks like you're not real good at it!"
My little brother's scorn was evident. Standing as tall as his youth would allow, he told the medic, eye-to-eye: "I was building a do-nothing machine. It took all afternoon, and it turned out just the way I wanted it. "
"That hardly seems worthy of carving up your hand," the doctor scoffed. "If you're going to waste your time on such a project," he said sternly, "It should at least do SOMETHING. Wasting time's a sin you may regret someday."
"My machine does nothing," my brother told him firmly, "That's the way I planned it. It LOOKS as if its doing something; it has spools and levers and rubber things, and it moves around a lot of different ways and makes a lot of different noises. But it doesn't really do a thing."
"That doesn't make a lot of sense," the doctor muttered as he worked. "Why would you want to waste your time and mess yourself up in the process?"
WOOLLY WAS QUIET for a moment before he looked up and told the doctor earnestly, "Sometimes you just need to sit and do nothing, but people always come along and say you should be doing SOMETHING. A do-nothing machine makes doing nothing look important; and the grownups let you be. "
The doctor's disapproval melted into a broad smile of understanding. "I gotcha!" he said. "I could use one of those machines myself; I really could."
"You'll have to make your own; there's only one." was the last word the doctor would hear from my perennially self-contained little brother as the sutures were completed. Woolly and I rode home together to face the music, whatever the "song" would be.
AND SO IT WAS, five years later in a city far from home, that the memory of Woolly and his do-nothing machine resurfaced when the mailed package arrived. It was an unexpected birthday gift from Woolly, and as it turned out, it was also a lesson for me.
I laughed out loud when I spotted his do-nothing machine amidst the tangle of paper, and like magic, I got the message I think my brother had intended.
I grabbed my baby boy and put him in the stroller, and we skipped to the park to sit for hours in the summer air, doing nothing more than watching families come and go. Clouds sailed by; dust-devils stirred up the playground floor; my baby fell asleep in his stroller, and I on my bench...
Later when we left the park, it was only because it was time to greet a home-coming husband. Before he arrived, I tossed some sandwiches into a sack and filled a thermos, and he and I and our baby piled into the car to head for the sands of a Long Island beach.
There we watched as the setting sun reached down and turned the marbled sand into flaming colors that even the energetic waves couldn't extinguish. As the day began to fade into dusk, a young man fishing down the beach brought in a skate fish, and his execution of that feat was timeless and graceful... Youngsters sat with their pails and scoops and taste-tested the sand, as youngsters always have... Couples strolled ...
As for us, we didn't even do that; we simply sat idle in the gathering dusk, and we did nothing. It was a wonderful birthday.
EPILOGUE: "Woolly"went to college, spent some years in a career he loved, then died from complications of diabetes while still a young man. Over the years, sad to say, I lost track of the do-nothing machine... but never the tender message behind it.
Happy birthday, Woolly.
Friday, September 10, 2010
We attached our note as firmly as we could, and the balloon took off in winds that might have defeated a real hot-air balloon. But it soon achieved its altitude and took off for the southwest. How far? Wouldn't it be nice if we had a miniature chip in the balloon that could track it's entire course?
But like life itself, and marriage, the future holds some mysteries we cannot know ahead of time.
Thank you for celebrating our Golden Anniversary week with us.
Bob and Rose Moore
AND NOW VIEW THE SERIES OF PHOTOS BELOW!
NOTE; CLICK ON 'OLDER POSTS' (BOTTOM RIGHT) to go back through postings of the past five days, our Golden Anniversary Week.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
We quickly scanned the associated stories and discovered that they covered the government's role, the political questions, the gay versus straight, the religious side, the history and a whole lot more.
We chose not to dive into the articles. At our age, we decided it's enough to know what marriage has been for us during these years that have flown by so fast that we can hardly believe our married years have added up to 50.
For us, marriage has been a strong and loving partnership. We have worked together and played together; raised children together and married those children off; lost loved ones and gained loved ones...
We have learned things and forgotten things; made money and lost money; gloried over triumphs and together handled disappointments; lived with health and lived with illness...
We have laughed and we have cried. Our years have been filled with joys as well as sorrows, but they have never NOT been filled with love.
We have lived a great many more years as a married couple than we lived as single people.
We have never NOT wanted to be with each other, and as tomorrow's Golden Anniversary arrives, we pray for as many more good years together as providence can send us.
So, what is marriage for? For us it's been the way to live.
We are blessed.