Saturday, May 25, 2013


Having physically plumbed more stories than all the fire poles in three counties, I fear I have lost my amateur standing as a stair tumbler.  While I don't hire myself out for pay, perhaps I should at least consider that option.

I began these feats when my parents moved into our first two-storied house.  Mother believed in shiny floors.  Once a month, the whole house smelled of Bowling Alley floor wax, a thick translucent paste of amber hue and strong odor, best described as a marriage of petroleum base with a whiff of equine liniment.  It lubricated the old wood and when dry, buffed to a handsome shine.  Along with the shine came the slip-and-slide feature, which was deadly to those in sock or stocking feet.  Since I was young, agile, and wearing socks, my virgin tumble was just bruises and learning experience.  It only happened once, because after that I clung to the banister like a cat on a tree limb.

Years later we moved again; this time to an apartment with treacherous steep steps.  Going to work early one morning, my high heel betrayed me on the top of the landing and I wound up going to work in hose with runs spreading over goose eggs on my shins.

Fast forward to 2001.  Husband and I move into his parents three-story farmhouse.  Opportunity to try all three plunges!  And I do!

The first occasion was the cellar stairs, which was constructed with the original house circa 1910.  Obviously built for a family of midgets, the stairs required the average person to bend forward preventing head bumping while stepping down an incline of short steps ending about 3 feet from a concrete wall.  One could hear sirens just contemplating the scene.

When the cellar light burned out, I grabbed a new bulb in one hand and held a lit candle in the other.  Then I set out to put in the bulb, thereby preventing anyone from falling down the darkened stair, lying helpless, bleeding, and undiscovered for hours after being thrown against the concrete dead end by the force of gravity plus added momentum.  Since the light was well into the center of the cellar, the candle was my only light.  There's something awkward about having both hands occupied, your feet exploring unfamiliar landscape, and your head bent forward against your chest.  Suddenly it becomes evident that someone neglected to give me the tightrope-walking training required and crash went the bulb, out went the candle, and down went the bulb changer ending up nose to the concrete wall.  Get up, go upstairs on hands and knees, and repeat process.  Finally I got it done and there were no bad injuries and even better:  NO WITNESSES!

I try to do too much at once and crash land in the cellar.

The third story contains a huge walk-in attic with a full stair; again, as in the cellar there are no handrails, so feet have to get it right.  Carrying items for storage up and bringing them down involves many steps.  The tricky part is the last few steps going down.  If you forget a couple, as I did, you take an inadvertent giant step propelling you and whatever you're toting at a 45 degree angle into a wall.  If you manage to stay standing, you're good.  I didn't.  No broken bones or lacerations, just bruising and cussing and possible whiplash.

Retrieving items from the attic comes with a price!

The main stair has a handrail, which is no help when you're going for a light switch in the middle of the night and lose your way at the top.  That one hurt.  The list included:  one concussion, two fractured fingers, several fractured bones in the foot, jaw trauma (preventing opening the mouth), temple trauma, and bruising all over.  I stood up and walked next door to CBW's and we went to the nearest hospital, where Husband was sleeping like a baby as a patient.  There is no happy coincidence implied here.  After rigorous examination, I was sent home to visit a specialist the next day for apparatus to wear for three months to help heal fractures.

This boot can impede anything you want to do.
When they asked me what hurt the most, my fingers won.

Once home, Husband marveled at the list of physical damages.  He said his favorite one was the frozen jaw. As if he ever listened to a word I say!

Friday, May 10, 2013


Having children is both a blessing and a tortuous obligation.  I remember my own first week of motherhood as prolonged hysteria interspersed with periods of euphoria followed by long shadows of dark foreboding.  It was joy at regarding the miracle of a totally new human being and fear at contemplating the dangers in life's path.

Chesapeake Bay Woman Looking Terrified
(as she should have been)

I remember sitting on our little sofa with Husband and watching a local TV country music show.  Suddenly I burst into tears for no reason.  Husband tried to comfort me by offering to change the channel; but in spite of my loathing for country music, that was not the cause for my distress.  In fact, I had no idea what the cause was.  My mother did.

Still ill at ease with the job, I show my panic,
while CB baby is all like "I've got this."

Mother knew the frightening aspect of  being responsible for a tender new soul, for the prospect of failure and guilt, and knowing you are as unprepared to raise a child as you are to disarm a nuclear bomb.

Our pediatrician told me that he knew full well I wanted to give him that baby on our first visit.  The baby fitful and my breasts blazing sore, he was dead right.

My mother, bless her, mentioned every possible bad outcome - not the least of which was her precognition that our baby was to have a sad life.  Needing to justify this gloomy forecast, I inquired why she could possibly think that.  She posited that it was in our baby's face.  That, I explained in a moment of lucidity, is because I ate peanuts causing the breast milk to induce gas pains...and there you have it.  I found my backbone of confidence!

My mother enjoyed these three more than anyone!

I cried for no reason on a regular basis for years, then came the real reasons for crying, and finally the tear ducts and ovaries shriveled up and the apathy of old age emerged hardened and resigned.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Happy Mother's Day!  I'm glad we got through it!

Stay tuned for Father's Day!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Since I was a child, animals were my solace.  As a small child I sought comfort from our brown and white setter "Dot."  Pictures of him by my mother and I are below.

Dot, My Mother, and I
(at Flat Iron)

As long as I can remember, there was an animal in my life.  Sometimes that animal was my only friend, being an only child.  They all had names, including the skunk, Sweet William.  I didn't grow up to be a veterinarian or anything, but I have a powerful connection with animals...even our cow, Nancy.  I have a suspicion that birds have far greater intelligence than we credit them in spite of the fact that their brains are small.  Since when does small mean incapable?  Seen those hand-held computers lately?

A squirrel sits on my knee.  (1960's)

Deer feed on grain from my hand.  (1960's)

Still my greatest love.  (1960's)