The Internet has proven to be such a valuable resource for amazing topics. For example, our 18-year-old looked up from his computer the other day.
“According to research,” he said, “there is a right way to hang toilet paper.”
“Did somebody pay money for this research?” I asked.
“They studied the angle of the sheet and how efficiently you can unroll the paper.”
“Really. They studied this?” I guess there’s a little of the cynic hiding in me somewhere.
“Oh, yeah. I read a whole article on it. I could google it if you want to read it.”
“No, thanks.” He took time to discover this information?
“So they found out that the best way is to let the paper fall over the top of the roll.”
“Uh-huh.” Unlike some households, this has never been a point of dissension for us. I thought none of us cared. So I had to ask. “Is that the way you hang toilet paper?”
He’d already turned back to his computer but his head popped up.
“I never hang toilet paper,” he said. “I put it on the counter top.”
Freida was always ready to go along with the family.
When some visiting grandchildren clamored for a visit to a quaint museum in a nearby town, Frieda agreed to go. It was better than trying to take on the Zipper at the amusement park.
Arriving at the museum with a veneer of shake shingles and newly-painted clapboard, the group tumbled into the main room.
A costumed host greeted the family, answering questions as a turn-of-the-century resident would have done.
The living room boasted kerosene lamps, chairs of solid maple, and cameo paintings on the walls.
Freida followed the family into the tiny bedroom and then to the kitchen where many old utensils were grouped on the wooden table.
“Isn’t this great, Grandma?” asked Kim, one of the grandchildren.
Freida’s head pivoted as she studied the kitchen layout. “Sure,” she said. “But I don’t understand why you’re so excited. I have all this stuff in my kitchen.”
A neighbor in our town is renovating an old service station and apparently is also restoring some old vehicles. He was happy to let me prowl around his lot with my camera and I came away with this photo from an old Studebaker pickup at the back of the lot.
Studebaker Pickup – Photo by Kathy Brasby
I knew I was dead.
I was eight years old and neatly tucked into bed, sheet under my chin after my pillow fluffed. Kiss on my cheek and the light dowsed.
I was listening to my heartbeat as I drifted off to sleep.
My heart slowed. Boom. Boom.
And then it stopped.
Children at age 8 have no experience of what to do when your heart stops. So my choices were: 1) allow that heart to stay stopped or 2) to panic.
I leaped out of bed, terrified that I was only a half step from the pearly gates.
What would an 8 year old do with a stopped heart and a panicked brain?
Well, this one raced through the kitchen, into the bathroom and took a drink of water.
A long drink.
Fortunately, my cure worked.
I checked my heart and it was pounding.
Hard and fast. Boom Boom Boom.
I had dodged the bullet. Escaped the final destination. Side-stepped the end.
I crawled back into bed with relief that I could continue for another day.
Remember this the next time your 8 year old finds monsters under the bed.
Their heart could have stopped, you know.
My brother and I never ran past the house that loomed behind overgrown plants on our way home from school. That’s why we were sometimes nabbed by that fearful call from the old lady who lived there: “Yoohoo, children.”
Mrs. Bishop seemed to be at least 120 to us and she’d come to her gate with her white hair and big smile.
“Come in for a minute.”
We hadn’t been raised to be rude and so we filed into her faded parlor where we’d hear stories about her cats and her flowers while being served gritty rubber ice cream or petrified chocolate.
We never knew how to excuse ourselves so we sat, knowing we were late getting home.
Finally Mrs. Bishop set us free and we rushed home.
“Mrs. Bishop —“ I said to Mom.
And she waved her hand. “I figured as much.”
That was it. No lectures or anger.
I didn’t know it then but grace from my mother flowed through us to a lonely elderly woman who only wanted to share a little of her life with her neighbors.
They may seem to loom as ancient and irrelevant, but the elderly blossom with our grace and kindness.
The day I met my namesake out in the pigpen was the day I decided I wasn’t using people names for our livestock anymore.
Our neighbor’s daughter liked to name their pigs after friends. Seeing a hog rooting in the mud and learning that her name was Kathy – well, that was the turning point.
No more Abraham or Elinore or Danielle.
But the animals needed names. If you can’t use the neighbors’ names and you can’t use the baby book names, what can you use for ideas?
A dictionary, of course.
Which explains why we’ve had livestock carrying such names as Tripod, Rugby and Torch. We’ve had Breeze, Warrior and Colossal.
Such names as Scimitar and Saber have been attached to some of our animals over the years. We’ve used Cola and Domino and Tinsel.
Not long ago, a friend send a rabbit our way. “She’s not named,” said our friend. “Although I think I should have called her Frying Pan, just to fit in with your barn.”
I don’t know why she laughed. That name would have worked for us.