Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tea Parties on the Ceiling?

In 1986, I had four little children between 14 months and six years old. Whitney was six and Cassie was five. They were both in school. Cassie was having a major problem with sleep walking. She walked out the front door one night in January. Thank heavens I heard the door open and thank heavens we live in California or she could have been in a snow bank. I wasn't getting much sleep because I had a teething baby and with Cassie wandering around it was like a three ring circus at night. Luckily, Whitney was turning into a very big help around the house. Brad and Brett played very well together and we had all the kids on strict diets to help their tummy aches. Life was not a bowl of cherries.

Brad was intrigued by death and asked me how you get to heaven after you die. I told him our spirits know the way home because they lived with God before they came here. Brad was also very scared of the dark and he prayed that he would not be afraid and was finally able to sleep without the hall light on. It was a very difficult time in many ways but some very funny things happened in a one month period.

Brett smeared shortening over his whole body. That was a fun clean up. He did the same thing to a jar of peanut butter and was sitting in the middle of the kitchen table covered from top to bottom with it. One of the kids had made themselves a sandwich and hadn't put up the peanut butter. Brett was a climber and he was fast. He could get in a mess in the time it took me to help one of the kids in the bathroom. He needed a leg chain and handcuffs.

Then, in the same week, Brett was tired and needed a nap by 9:00. I had just got Whitney and Cassie off to school. I was exhausted from almost no sleep the night before and Brad was watching cartoons, so I lay down with Brett to see if I could get him to fall asleep. I fell asleep. Horrors of horrors. I woke up not too many minutes later to find the front door ajar and Brad was gone. I searched everywhere inside and outside the house. He was nowhere to be found. I called the neighbors a few doors down. Most of the homes either didn't have kids or moms were at work and kids at the sitter. I walked down the block and thought I heard Brad crying but it was a child at the school. It wasn't him. Quickly my prayer was answered, I remembered the little girl that lived on the corner. They had recently moved in. There he was, sitting up to their counter eating a bowl of oatmeal. He told me that he sneaked out so I wouldn't say "no". He was so right. I would have said "no". Imagine a three year old wandering off to a friends alone. I felt like I needed to strike some fear into him. So, we had a long talk but the boy who was afraid of the dark was not afraid enough of other things that WERE dangerous. Our neighbor must have thought I was a piece of work.

Then, the funniest thing that happened next was 2 weeks later. Glenn woke up at his usual EARLY hour when it is still dark, to go to work. He dressed in the dark like he did every day. But this day was his birthday.
Our new dog we got from the pound had just had puppies, ELEVEN OF THEM, five days before. (Aren't we the luckiest people alive.) We chose a dog that was already pregnant when we got her. Anyway, Glenn had noticed that Cindy (our new cockapoo) had climbed over the gate (we had fixed it so that she and the puppies weren't wandering through the house in the night). They were shut in a linoleum floored room. Glenn put her back in and then went to the closet to slip into his shoes. The first shoe was on and now the second one was giving him some difficulty. There was a little surprise in the shoe. Cindy had messed in his shoe!!! Right in his shoe!! The sound that came out of Glenn when he realized what had just happened is impossible to imitate. I start laughing every time I think of it. He nearly woke up the whole neighborhood. The birthday boy invented a new dance, "The Poopy Shoestep."

I'm sure someone was enjoying the laughter so much in heaven that it wasn't more than a month later before baby Hayley decided to hop on board to join in the fun. And now you see why I have no brain cells left if I ever had any.

Water Brothers

Life in Bishop California was a Mayberry experience. As we walked along the path to Intake 2, west of Bishop, we could almost hear Andy Griffith's whistling theme as we walked with our fishing poles over our shoulders to the fishing hole. Life was fun amidst the streams, lakes and rivers of the Eastern Sierra. Brett and Brad shared many adventures that bring us to laughter every time we look back on their childhood. With three ponds on our property, many times they were covered with "pond stink" as they chased water snakes and had king of the hill competition on the blow-up rafts. They tubed down the canal and rivers, becoming mosquito food. It shouldn't surprise us that these two have pursued water related professions.

A funny story I found in my journal happened in 1987. Brad took a huge glass of water into the living room where the kids were watching cartoons. Brett was lying on the floor with his head propped on a pillow just below the chair where Brad was sitting. The glass was so large it held almost a quart of water. Brad dropped something to his side and as he leaned forward, the whole glass of water tipped forward and emptied the water on Brett's face and chest. Brett felt like he had just been drowned and was coughing and sputtering and half crying as he wondered what hit him. Whitney was luckily a witness to attest that it was an accident. But, she was turning inside out trying so hard not to laugh. Finally, Brett realized he could breath again and to Brad's great relief, he started to laugh with the rest of us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Kindly Barber

Jack Kuhni was a man who was very disabled. He was hard to understand when he talked. He walked with difficulty. We learned not to rush him in what he was trying to say. He was intelligent. He just had a hard time getting the words out. He went to school with my dad and mom, though he was a couple of years older than them. When he was an adult, his family dropped him off in town and he wandered around visiting with the town folks. It gave him something to do. My dad's barbershop was one of his favorite stopping spots. Dad opened at 4:00 in the afternoon and Jack stopped in shortly after that. Sometimes he was waiting at the door for dad to open. Dad suspected that some people who were uncomfortable with Jack's disability, did not come to get their hair cut from dad. But, dad didn't need customers like that.

Dad said Jack got worse as time went on. We just know that he was pretty bad by the time we were able to know him. But, we always stopped and talked to him. He enjoyed seeing us grow up. I remember sitting in the barbershop watching dad cut hair while Jack laughed at stuff we'd say to dad. Dad's bowling and softball trophies lined the shelves in the shop and his antique cash register was a treasure. Dad had a bottle of stuff he put on the men's hair that made them smell good. He said it was Pigeon Milk. Jack asked Dad questions about his Wednesday night bowling league and Dad's fifth graders. Dad could tell a lot of stories and they weren't wasted on Jack. He loved laughing at Dad's jokes.

When dad retired, Jack was probably pretty sad. But, by then Jack was no longer able to get around anymore and dad went to his house and cut his hair. He cut his hair every month or so until he died at age 68. Jack wrote a symphony, note by note, which must have been very painstakingly done. He had very poor motor control in his twisted hands. I think I heard that the Midway Swiss Chorus performed some of his musical arrangements. I salute my dad for the kindness and care he gave to Jack Kuhni. Dad was a good friend.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Help an old woman across the street?

My brother David decided to dress up as an old woman and meet mom and dad at the grocery store. I accompanied him on my bike as he walked two blocks up to main street. Mom and Dad were at the grocery store and he came walking in dressed in a frumpy dress, clompy women's shoes and a head scarf and sunglasses. I located mom and dad so I could see their faces as he appeared. He walked bent over and found us in the produce section. Mom and Dad were shocked and then burst out laughing.

He walked out of the store as we followed him. He hopped on the bike as people stood looking shocked to see a 70 year old bent over woman hop on a bike and speed off.
He later told us he went down to the local Snow King (drive in hamburger joint) and pretended to tip the bike over while customers ran to his aid. He knew several people that were in line and they wanted to beat him when he took off the scarf to expose who he was.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sick of church? It could be worse

One day I was sitting in church with my friend Melodee. She was sitting on the aisle. To the right of her was a family with a sleeping child. During the closing prayer, the child sat bolt upright and threw up all over my friend and the guy in front of her. It shot clear across the aisle. Melodee and I didn't even wait for the amen to run to the restroom, of course. The mother of the child, with him in tow, beat us there. The mom was apologizing over and over. I went back in to ask my friends if someone had told the old guy in front of my friend that he had puke all over his shoulder and they said he just got up and went out the front door before anyone could say anything. My friends said he didn't act like he knew anything had hit him. He must have had a rude discovery upon taking his suit jacket off at home.

Another day when my kids were teens I was leading the music in church and a young man in the congregation threw up into the sacrament tray. His first reaction was to hand the tray to a lady in the back and run out the door. She and her daughter almost lost their cookies while trying to find a place to put the tray. I had the craziest vantage point of seeing the looks on every one's faces. I could hardly keep it together.