Beep

 

It starts between 3:00 and 3:15 most afternoons. My first reaction is oh rats –  not again. I don’t know how to fix it….make it stop. I know why but not how. There’s only one of us who knows what to do and he’s somewhere else.

My second reaction is to take a hammer to it, put it out of its misery. But that would be rash and frankly unpleasant for many people, the police included. They would be at the door within minutes. How would I explain my murderous actions. Big money would ultimately be involved and I’m not prepared to take that risk.

My third reaction….and this is relatively new…..is to feel bad about it, to feel sorry for it in a way. It’s just doing its job. It means well. It has phantom pain and any one who’s experienced that understands.

It’s the alarm system, of course. What it wants me to do is close the dining room door. I would if I could but I can’t because that door is gone….completely and utterly gone. No more door. Forever and ever gone. How can we tell it that? All it wants me to do is obey its orders…check station 13 (of course it’s 13). The one who’s not home to fix it has a gizmo, put together with scotch tape and super glue that helps but not sufficiently. Our “protector” still wants to take care of its family. Warn us….danger….danger.

So I listen…. …..two seconds between beeps and no way to stop it. There’s not enough valium in the house to ease the anxiety, the annoyance. So I go back to reaction number 3 and try to share in its pain. I’m retired, too, and sometimes I miss my old job, want to help as I did once upon a time. Beep. Anyone got any super-glue or scotch tape handy?

Chimes       

 

The move was exhausting. What move isn’t? What goes and what stays? Are we doing the right thing? Are we crazy at our age to move to a larger house with no storage? Isn’t this backwards? People said…oh we envy you…you are so brave and adventurous. We’re pretty sure we know what they said when we were out of earshot and we wondered if they weren’t right. But we did it anyway.

 

The move was even more exhausting than I had imagined. There’s a small…really small…bedroom on the second floor of the new house…right next to the church. It’s more of a cubby than anything else in which I spent the first few weeks after the move, away from the world. One afternoon in the middle of one of my seemingly endless naps the church bells began to chime. In my haze, I assumed they were checking to see if they work (trust me, they worked). I began to count but on and on they went. Surely, I thought, they could figure the problem out faster than that.

 

We quickly learned that the church bells peal at funerals…..once for every year of the person’s life. How soon we changed our thoughts about the number of times the bells ring. Now when we hear them , we quietly begin to count. We think about the people in the church, honoring the person for whom those bells toll. We say a quiet prayer for each of the souls, the one being honored and the ones in mourning. But perhaps more than anything, we count…slowly and deliberately. One, two, three…..

 

What we want is for those bells to go on and on……signifying a life lived long and , we hope, well. When the bells stop too soon……(and that changes with our own perspective of a long life)…..we emotionally join the mourners. We’ve heard them stop at thirty…..and hoped that it was a mistake….that the system failed. But it’s fool proof and so we ask ourselves…..why? Why so soon? Not enough time here…..those bells should not be for them. They’re for those who have fulfilled their lives. But it happens, of course. We know that intellectually but, let me tell you, those bells bring it all home. There’s an ache when they stop….a finality, an auditory clamp to the end of that life. They quit as abruptly as they began.

 

Fleeting, isn’t it? Two or three minutes of bells being rung and it’s over. Suddenly and maddeningly over. If I could go over there and ring those bells some more, I’d do it. I can’t of course. They’re as programmed as our lives and no one can do a bloody thing about it.

 

 

Fifty Shades of purple, orange, blue, green, red, etc.

To my darlings….and you know who you are:

Every year at this time, I long for you. I want to feel your comfortable caresses around my neck, my arms in yours and your delicate, soft touch on my body. But it’s too soon. I have to wait. I always think that our meetings will occur soon after the first of September but alas. It never happens.

All I can do is visit you…and I do. Sometimes I touch you but that makes the longing worse. You smell so good. I put you to my face and inhale deeply, taking in that sweet, sweet smell of Bounce. Usually I start with purple …..then on to orange and if I’m not spent by then, I might pick up the dark green. The way you hide my faults…you are so good to me. You cover up my turkey neck, my saggy arms…..oh be still my heart! But as Cole Porter would say, at the moment “it’s too hot not to cool down.” So we wait…..

There are by all accounts a lot of you. Too many, in fact. And yet, when the fall catalogues arrive, and the descriptions of the new styles and colors show themselves, I am once again helpless. A little extra spandex, a slight curvature at the waist, the offer to buy three and save a little money. Yes, yes, yes! Call Lands End and get it done. The sooner, the better. Even the new stripes which I know will make me look like a prison inmate.   I want them and I want them now!

But wait I must! Turtleneck sweaters and 90 degree weather are not a good mix. But soon, my darlings, soon. The pent up desire will find release! I’ll slip you over my head, tuck you into my jeans and off we’ll go……together again. At last.

The (re)Turn of the Screw

The ladies of the swimming pool were discussing the fact that all the towels that were generously supplied by the club for swimmers and sunbathers have been stolen. While I wasn’t surprised, I think that’s pretty poor behavior for club members and their guests. I gather it’s not uncommon but that doesn’t make it right.

I asked one of the swimmers if she’d ever stolen anything. She admitted she had. I asked about it only to find out that in fact she hadn’t. She’d received something in the mail that was not meant for her; she called the store and they said ”Oh, just keep it.”   That’s not stealing.

Later that evening I asked my husband if he’d ever stolen anything. He said he had. I asked when and where and what. He said it had been recently and it was willful, intentional and purposeful. He’s an honest…..to a fault….person so I was a little surprised. I asked where. He told me, and to protect the guilty I will only tell you that it’s a large home goods store that starts with an L and ends with an e’s.   Now I’m shocked and a little concerned. With fear and trepidation, I asked what the item was. He said it was a screw. That indeed he had willfully, intentionally and with purpose paid for 12 screws and taken 13. Is this a throwback to when he used to buy a dozen donuts and get 13 as in a “bakers dozen”? No, apparently not. He felt that the store was charging usurious rates for the screws and so he just helped himself to the 13th.

Well, of course now I wonder where that screw is. Has he comingled it with all the other screws so I won’t know which one it is? Has it already been screwed in somewhere so it is no longer distinctive as a “purloined screw”? Will I always wonder where it might be? Should I take a screw from one of the thousands in his workshop and return it to L…e’s? Should I call the manager and report the theft? Do I have to accompany him every time he goes to L….e’s to keep an eye on his sticky fingers? (He goes to L….e’s at least twice a day so this could become a hardship on me.) Should I personally go there and make good on the screw? When the MasterCard bill comes in, will I forever look at the amount he spent there and know that it should be 5 cents more?

I’m searching for comfort here. 52 years of marriage and I hadn’t known this side of him. Oh what to do? Will I ever regain the trust I’ve had for all these years? How shall I manage the angst? I think my best advice to myself is to just screw it. Well, not that particular screw….I still feel bad about that one but I’ll get over it.

 

Addendum:   The Shaming of the Screw

He had returned it. The screw that is. Put it back in the very basket from whence it came. Couldn’t take the heat. I told you he was honest to a fault. Now you know. But I think this is bigger than the screw. Perhaps other perps would like to share their story with me. I’ll write it up, they’ll atone for their high crime or misdemeanor, the world will be a better place. We’ll have to deal with all the flying pigs, of course.

Eek

MouseThe small brown thing appeared from nowhere. It was scampering quickly but it didn’t take long to realize it was a mouse. When this happens, every self respecting woman immediately climbs onto a chair and screams “eeeek…..a mouse.” Which is what I did. What I forgot was that there was no one home to hear me. The cell phone was out of reach as was, sadly, the bottle of wine which I thought would come in handy at this time.

Then I remembered: I have cats….yes, real live honest to goodness cats in whom DNA resides to attack and kill the mouse to protect their mother. They’ll help. I call…”.Basil and Oscar…come to the kitchen….mummy has something for you. “ Nothing….no response whatsoever. Silly me…. they like their nicknames…..so I try again….”Basie and Ossie….mummy has a treat for you’….still nothing. Then I remember that all truths are written on cocktail napkins and the one that says “cats don’t answer, they take a message and get back to you” is probably appropriate for this situation. And anyway the one with claws is only interested in fine upholstery..

So I’m still on the chair, without a phone or the wine, which is becoming more important every minute. Every once in a while I utter “eeek…a mouse” just because it seems like the right thing to do. Suddenly, I see the mouse slither into what looks like a hole in the pantry and head outside. I’m saved! But what if he returns! I climb down from my chair, grab the cell phone, the wine, a straw and get back on the chair. (There’s no time to reach for a glass.)

I call my husband. There’s a mouse in the house and the cats are no help and I’m on a chair. Do you have any suggestions….in other words how soon can you be home to help me with this dire situation? He says he knows about the little hole in the pantry and he’ll fix it.   How big was the mouse? About the size of a small turkey, I say. Then how did it get in and out of the pencil sized hole? (Really???? At his age he should know that specificity and stark terror don’t go hand in hand)

Why do you sound funny, he says. It sounds like you’re drinking a milkshake. No it’s wine….it must be the straw. He asks….Do you know that drinking wine through a straw can make you drunk fast? I’m counting on that, I say. This has been…..and continues to be…..a trauma. Do you think that I dare get down from the chair?

I thought that cell phones had been improved to the point that one rarely encountered a dead spot or a dropped call. Surely he wouldn’t hang up on me. Would he?

Kitchen

StoveAs was the case in many old homes, this house’s original kitchen was perched on wheels and separate from the main house That way if the kitchen caught on fire, it could be quickly wheeled away, thus preventing damage to the main house.

In fact, beautiful and comprehensive renovations have been made to this house through the years , including, of course, the kitchen which is now firmly attached and elegant.

But just for fun, imagine that the kitchen indeed remained unattached. On and on it went that way through the years. People adapted and it just seemed easier to do it the old way. Life moved on and modern conveniences came into being. Now the old detached kitchen had a real stove, sub=zero refrigerator, granite counters and, of course Wi-Fi. It also had a 6 cylinder engine, power steering and automatic transmission. No more pushing, just get in it, start it up and go.

One can imagine a conversation such as the following:

Sallie: Okay, I guess I’ll toddle out to the kitchen and get dinner ready. Burger and fries okay with you tonight?

Husband; Sounds good.

(from the kitchen) Siri, dial husband’s mobile

calling husband’s mobile

hi

hi…what do you want on your burger

oh, just the regular: lettuce, tomato, onion and ketchup

oops…I think we’re out of ketchup but don’t worry, I’ve got the kitchen keys right here…I’ll just drive down to the bi-lo, grab some ketchup and by the time I’m back, the burgers will be just perfect.

okay…see you in a bit.

five minutes later;

Siri, dial husband’s mobile

Calling husband’s mobile

hi

Little problem here…I’ve been picked up on a moving violation.

What happened?

Well, I guess I was in a little more of a hurry than I thought. Most of the town’s police force is here trying to figure out what my fine is…they’re being very nice. They have fine schedules for speeding cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles, golf carts but nothing for kitchens so they’re having a problem coming up with a number. Further more, these hurricane strength windows we had installed prevented me from hearing the sirens. Unfortunately, the burgers are now seriously overdone. Wait a sec though! The French fries smell perfect…..why don’t I just pull them out of the oven, dash a bit of salt over them and offer them to the officers , perhaps we can come to a deal that way.

Great idea….good luck.

Officers….may I offer you some freshly baked, hot out of the oven, home-made French fries? Perhaps, we can move along on a settlement while you munch on them.

We’d very much like that….they smell delicious.

Wonderful. I hope you enjoy them.

Siri, call husband’s mobile

Calling husband’s mobile

Hi

Hi….I think we may be making progress, The French fries are a hit. Wait a sec…there’s a tap on my window. Yes, officer? Anything I can do? You want what?

To Husband …Oh dear, the deal may be off.

Why?

They want ketchup with their fries.

Boom

CanonI was born to go boom and it’s been nigh on to 200 years since I’ve done my thing. Can you imagine my angst, my desire to once again go boom, just one more time. Not to cause harm, you understand, but just to experience my raison d’etre one last time. (Read on….you’ll understand why I use that fancy word.)

As I said, I’m pretty old. If history proves to be correct, I was born/made in Denmark, somehow ended up with the French (now you understand my fancy language), found my way to Caliboque Cay and was rescued by members of the Seabrook family. There appear to be a lot of holes in my history so if anyone has any information it would be greatly appreciated. There are days when I have no visitors and it would be good to have that knowledge so I could reminisce.

In the meantime, I like company…it’s fun to hear people comment on me, asking questions, admiring my good condition and, of course, wondering, as I do, how I got here.

I’m in a nice planter, my family puts flowers around me and small children sit on me and want their pictures taken. Could it get any better for a retired cannon?

Still, the urge to go “boom” is in my DNA. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen. I’m happy in my home, perched above the May river, watching the river traffic and sometimes wishing I could just do a little boom, i.e. a “boomette” (if you will remember I have some French in me) when boats go by our dock too fast…just a little fun and a request to slow down. Bet there would be more than one surprised boater!

Oh, and I’ll bet you know what my favorite holiday is……three guesses….you got it.. The Fourth of July! How all that noise and those bright lights up in the sky bring it all back. And I hear singing with a line in it that reminds me of the old days…”bombs bursting in air.” Frankly, just between us, I saw too much of that in my earlier days and I didn’t like it very much even then. I’m in the perfect spot to watch all those fireworks shows but I m living in peace these days and very happy to do so. Wish everyone were like that. .I would not care to go back to “war” mode. Too much destruction and sadness.

So I’m a piece of history, sitting on a piece of property that is also historical. We do well together, respecting one another’s role in the story of Bluffton. I might not be as pretty as the house but I’ve been around a few more blocks than it has. We have stories to share and I’m a good listener. I’ve come a long way from “boom”, haven’t I?