Focusing

SeasonsIt really is about focus.

Elsa shuffled her walker to the nursing home patio every afternoon unless her ankles were too swollen to allow shuffling.

“Have you seen the baby birds? ” Her face brightened as she looked to the ceiling of the patio. “There are four or five babies up there. I watch the mother ad father bringing food every day.”

She settled on a bench with a grunt and then craned her neck. “This is the second family this summer. I watched when the first babies finally flew away. They were almost bigger than the nest.”

Elsa rearranged her walker and leaned onto the top. “I come out here every day to check on them. These new babies ought to start flying before winter.”

Elsa’s legs were stiff and swollen enough she couldn’t tuck her feet under the bench. She ignored that.

“The father of that bird family helps with all the feeding. He’s as busy as the mother.” Elsa glanced at us. “I love watching these birds.”

I don’t know what causes Elsa’s swollen ankles. I don’t know why she shuffles along with a walker. I think she’d tell me if I asked.

I don’t ask.

It is about focus. Mine, a little bit, but mostly, hers.

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Mutton Bustin’

Story_squareThe cowboys, with their sleek horses, found lassoes and saddles fall flat when dealing with sheep.

We were at the county fair where the sheep had done their duty for the mutton busting contest, which featured the preschoolers riding sheep with helmets and determination.

The rides were timed and the kids stuck like a burr until the buzzer sounded.

Soon all the sheep were milling in the arena. It was time to get them back to the corral.

The cowboys with their uniforms of Stetson hats and starched shirts headed their horses toward the flock.

The horses pressed against the edges of the flock but sheep aren’t easily herded.

They scattered, leaving the cowboys with nothing to herd.

After several minutes of scattering, the cowboys reined their horses and mulled.

What to do with these sheep?

The sheep gathered to the far end of the arena, ready for round 2. They could scatter all day. Those horses were no match for mutton bustin’ sheep.

But then George came to the rescue.

George knew sheep. He pulled a white 5-gallon bucket from the bed of his pickup and headed for the arena.

He stood at the gate and raised the bucket, pounding his hand against it.

At the thumping, the sheep lifted their heads, their ears rotating.sheep

Then they honed in on the sound. And together they surged forward to George and his bucket.

With George thumping the bucket, the sheep followed him into the corral and got ready for round 2 of mutton busting’.

Cowboys had no chance against tradition.

Those sheep knew a feed bucket when they saw one.

 

Conquering flavor

SeasonsEating fish with decent flavor proved to be one of the many struggles for Bob and Iris as they worked to remain at home in their twilight years.

Iris had picked up some bland tilapia and hunted for a seasoning to spice up the fish. She found a bottle on sale- a victory. For the most part.

But the victory picked up a little patina when she tried to pop off the plastic covering to peel away protective seal. The plastic cap refused to budge.

Iris couldn’t see well enough to locate the seam between the cap and the bottle so, after several tries with a table knife, she handed the project over to Bob.

Bob’s hands were stiff and weak with arthritis but he gripped the cap with determination. He tried a paring knife and a pair of scissors.

“They put super glue under this cap,” Iris declared.

“Food quality glue,” Bob added.

He finally tore the cap loose and freed the trapped seasoning in the bottle.

“The manufacturers must mean this stuff for nimble fingers,” Bob said.

“Or for people who can see,” Iris said.

For Bob and Iris, most jars could be conquered with a electric bottle opener or a pair of pliers.jar

This was all part of their survival strategies. They were always on the lookout for tools to conquer products that weren’t sympathetic to fading eyes and stiff fingers.

But the work was worth it.

“The fish was delicious,” Iris said.

Maybe it is

Story_squareSometimes a mom needs to re-examine the smart remarks when the kids get older.

Here’s what I mean: Few things torque a tall teenage boy more than having to slide his long legs into a cramped front seat of a car.

Or so it seemed when my son, all 6’1” of him, stuffed himself into the driver’s seat of my car.

“This is crazy. Who can get into this?” he asked as he shoved the seat to its far limit.

Moms need smart remarks in these instances. When the kid towers over you, outweighs you, and knows more cool technical terms than you do, snappy remarks are important in the arsenal.

So I fired a smart remark back. “Well, it is not my fault you have such long legs.”

I settled into  the passenger seat feeling certain that he’d settle into his seat with his hands on the wheel and his mouth shut.

Then we stared at each other.

My husband is two inches taller than I am, but my legs are two inches longer than his. I stand 5’9” – fairly tall for a mom.

“Um, maybe it is your fault,” my son said.

Yeah, maybe it is.

Looks like I need a snappier comeback.

Chuck’s dilemma

Story_squareSome jobs just don’t fit some people.

Chuck’s crew had one of those projects where the construction happened on one side of a canal and the electrical power was on the other side.

So Chuck was handed the 100-foot extension cord and instructed to get it hooked into the electrical outlet.

Chuck threw himself into the task, which involved unrolling the cord and dragging it across the ground to a small foot bridge. Then he dragged the remainder of the cord to the outlet.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew assembled scaffolding, laid out tools, and inventoried the building materials.

Then Chuck came back to his foreman.

“All set?” the foreman said.

“I need an adapter,” Chuck answered.

The foreman narrowed his eyes. “An adapter?”

Chuck held up the end of the extension cord. “Yeah. I’ve got female to female over there at the outlet and I need an adapter.”extension cord

“I suppose you have male to male at this end?” the foreman replied.

“I haven’t looked yet.”

Chuck didn’t last long at that job.

Poor Harvey

Seasons“Harvey always walked around with his head bend down,” the physical therapist told me over coffee and scones. “He had a walker and he’d walk hunched over. We worked on that for weeks but I never could get him to lift his head.”

“Frustrating for you?” I asked.

She chuckled. “More for him, but he never knew.”

“So did you change his therapy schedule?”

“Well, yes.” She sipped her coffee. “One day Harvey was walking down the hallway, like he always did, with his eyes on the floor and his head hunched over. We had a new resident on the floor that liked to escape her room early.”

“Escape her room?”

The therapist nodded. “She liked to sneak out of her room topless.”

“Oh, no.”

“Well, Harvey was making his way down the hallway when this lady did her thing. She walked right by Harvey without a stitch on top.”

“And Harvey—“

“Oh, Harvey just kept shuffling along.”

“He was shocked?”

The therapist took a bite of her scone. “He had his head down and he never saw a thing. Missed the whole show.”

“Did you ever tell him?”

“Nope. I decided he could keep shuffling along. We’d work on something else.”

Goats in love, part 2

Story_squareLast week I wrote about  Goats in Love but it was only part one. Story number two may top it.

Rocket, our daddy buck, spent a lot of time alone pining for his girlfriend. Now the girlfriend varied from week to week, but Rocket was always ready.

Rocket’s pad also paralleled a small pasture where two does lived.  One day I noticed that one of the does, Lulu, was ready to meet Rocket.  The other doe, Maybelle, was oblivious.

I did mention that Rocket was always ready, right?

I opened the gate and Rocket roared into the pasture, legs churning in a blur like Wiley Coyote chasing the roadrunner.

Rocket, as we already established, had more hormones than brains. Chanting “hey, good lookin’” as he flew past me, he focused his loving gaze on Maybelle. Not Lulu.

A female goat not in the mood has no interest in a hormone-fueled buck. Maybelle saw Rocket racing toward her and took off like a jet. Her legs were churning faster than his.

I watched the pair flying around the perimeter of the pasture, legs spinning. Rocket’s head was up as he enjoyed the beauty of his new girlfriend. Maybelle’s head was down; she had no time for anything but a panicked gallop.

Meanwhile, Miss Lulu was sending little air kisses and twirling her tail like a string of pearls.

As the racing pair headed down the backstretch, their path took them past Miss Lulu who by now was flashing her lashes like a neon sign.  hears2

I did not know a thundering buck could make a 180-degree correction without turning inside out but Rocket did it.

Suddenly, he was bringing roses and chocolate to Miss Lulu.

And Maybelle leaned against a fence post, heaving for air while her life passed before her eyes.

With goat romance, when it’s not your time, it’s not your time.