Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't Swallow Your Harmonica

I'd never seen such a tiny harmonica. When my father-in-law put it to his mouth, I thought for sure that if he hiccuped, he'd be playing "Auld Lang Syne" in his sleep with every snore.
After a rendition of "Oh My Darling Clementine," he said, "Amazing, isn't it? I can play a song with just four holes."
"That is amazing," I said. "It's also amazing that you can keep hold of it. You could use that thing for a tie tac."
Dad lifted up a slender, silver chain that draped down from the end of the tiny harmonica. "Do you see this?" he asked. I nodded. "I keep it on this chain in case I accidentally swallow it. Then I can pull it back up."
I had to laugh. It's good to have a plan.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who's That Crippled Lady Yellin' At Me?

It was supposed to be a fun ride, a clever way to lose a few extra pounds and get in shape. I never thought it'd be mistaken for a wheelchair. It's my new Tadpole EZ rider recumbent tricycle. Yeah, that's a mouthful, and if you've ever been on one, it's a sweet ride. I rode my sister's in Idaho Falls last summer and fell in love. I determined to get one... some day. Some day came sooner than I planned when I found the squirrely little buggars offered at an inventory reduction sale from a bike shop in Colorado. After extending my line of credit, I ordered the trike to be delivered to my house, even though the Fly Bike Shop wanted it delivered to another bike shop. Well, guess what? We don't have one in our town. Apparently, unless the little amphibian is put together by a professional, the 90 day warranty is void. Well, from where I'm standing in life, 90 days is not long enough to worry about. Besides, my nearly 14-year-old son was eager as all get-out to put the bike together. He's got quite a mechanical mind, so he read the book (which didn't have instructions for our model anyway) and started fitting things where they belonged, or looked like they belonged. You can learn a lot through trial and error. We recruited our neighbor, Doyle, to help with the project, and he said it looked like we had our machine upside down and backwards. Still, he was helpful and patient until Dad came rolling in to the rescue and put the chain on...twice. (The first time the trike would go forward only if you peddled backward. Thrilling!)
As soon as it was rideable, my sons were in line. They rode it into the night, even taping a flashlight to the front frame so they could keep on riding on the dark streets. I had to wait until today when they were all in school to get my turn. As I was tooling down the street, I saw my old 87 year old neighbor in his yard, so I called, "Hi, Roger!" and pedaled toward him. He slid his hat back on his head and looked at me in frank surprise. "Well, hello," he said when he recognized my face underneath my floppy sunhat. "I wondered who was that crippled lady yellin' at me."
I laughed. "Does it really look like a wheelchair?"
"More than it looks like a bike," he said.
After my ride, my thighs were burning. I could have used a wheelchair. I don't remember ever having such a fun workout.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Boxed and Ready to Sleep

While raising sons, I’ve discovered that each one has their own style. It does absolutely no good to take one boy and try to stuff him into his brother’s mold. If you persist in the attempt, they tend to yell a lot, because it’s not a good fit.
When my seven-year-old, Michael, showed delight over a huge cardboard box left over from an oversized printer his Dad ordered, it didn’t surprise me. It actually brought back memories of when I was a kid. I found a cardboard box on our front porch. No one seemed to want it, so I cut a doorway with a bread knife and forced a chair into the narrow end. It was a child-sized chair, and a tight fit, so in hindsight I realize that the box must have been narrow enough to ship a card table. But at the time, I didn’t care. I sat there in my own space, my own castle, for what seemed like hours.
Now think about your own childhood. You haven’t forgotten those racecar apple boxes, have you? Orange boxes work, too, as long as you pop the bottom flaps out. Holding the rectangle car up around your waist, you’d run around trying to smash into brother and sister cars that wove equally erratic paths around the yard. It was even cooler if you drew headlights and doors on your box. Once I even managed to turn a picture of an apple on the side of my box into a doorknob.
Now I was the Mom, and Michael asked if he could sleep in the box that night. Why not? It was no worse than camping. I figured he’d get tired of it after a night or two.
I figured wrong.
After he’d slept on a pile of blankets in his box on the bedroom floor for three nights, I got him tucked in his bed and started reading a story. After a couple of minutes he said, “Mom, I’m cold. Can I sleep in my box?”
Of course he could.

Monday, October 15, 2007

YIKES! I've been tagged by Don "Fast Fingers" Carey!

Four jobs I've had:
  1. Swimming Pool concessionaire
  2. Cutting hearts and livers out of turkeys
  3. Writing my boyfriend's name in the dust on top of high cupboards... (otherwise known as summer scrub crew)
  4. Playing saxophone in a musical duo with my sister dubbed "My Sister and Me." (Then she went and had triplets, and our career went down the drain with the dirty diapers.)
Four places I've lived:
  1. Haddon Heights, NJ
  2. Manti, UT
  3. The amazing Triads (student housing) in Logan, UT
  4. one magical summer in Boston, MA
Four movies I love:
  1. Sphinx
  2. Naughty Marietta
  3. Japanese version of "Shall We Dance?"
  4. Spirited Away
Four movies I'd like to see:
  1. Hawgs
  2. Hairspray
  3. Get Smart
  4. "Gold" series (My novels made into movies!)
Four favorite foods:
  1. Pizza
  2. Popcorn (cooked on the stove top, not the microwave mumbo jumbo)
  3. Watermelon
  4. Pumpkin Cookies
Four weird things about me:
  1. I imagined Elvis bouncing little pink pigs off his knees so I wouldn't cry while singing a hymn at my Dad's funeral. (Well, one of us sisters had to do something to carry the tune, and my Dad was such a tease, he still is, I'm sure, and I know he loved it!)
  2. I like to sleep with a dog bed pillow on my stomach.
  3. I make up my own patterns when I sew clothes for myself. (I won't tell you how many of them end up in the Thrift Store.)
  4. I don't mind if my boys play in the mud. (I only have sons, six of them, all wonderful and all muddy!)
Four places I'd rather be:
  1. Backyard swing
  2. On a recumbent bike, racing around the streets
  3. On a four wheeler, racing around the streets
  4. Someplace tropical
Four people to tag:
I don't know! Who's been tagged? Who hasn't? And how do I do this, exactly? I'll just push some buttons and see how it goes.

  1. Girl in a Whirl (what a cool blog name!)
  2. Lords of the Manor (cute little people on there)
  3. Living In Spin Cycle (I can relate... and it even has music!)
  4. Mind Muffins (Oh, my, the picture on the site was priceless!)

Teachings from an Aloe Vera

It was a funny looking thing. Dark green leaves, fat with healing juice, stood straight out from the little pot of soil as if they’d been electrified. The luscious round stalks soared up until the tips collapsed into brown, limp strands, sagging over the edge of the pot like burnt Christmas tinsel.

It was all my fault. I’d meant well, but a long Indian Summer lulled me into a false sense of security, and I left the little aloe vera plant on the porch too long. It liked being there at first, stretching its crown of green toward the un-window-filtered sunlight.

Then, all of a sudden, it was cold one morning when I stepped outside in my sandals. I stared at my aloe vera in disbelief. Brown dreadlocks covered its icy green face.

Was I failure as an aloe vera owner? Was the Aloe Vera Welfare Service headed for my doorstep?

I scooped up my frostbitten charge and smuggled it inside, looking both ways for blue ribbon gardener spies. There was no one in sight.

For days the forlorn plant sat on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, reminding me of my failure to keep it safe. I knew I should trim off the dead ends, but I didn’t trust myself. Not then. What if I’d killed it? What if it wasn’t all the way dead, but just nearly, and if I took scissors to its traumatized extremities, I’d kill it for sure?

So, I hurried in and out of the kitchen on my endless errands, casting guilty glances at my transformed plant. Finally, I noticed that part of it was still stubbornly green. So I took the scissors, hunched my shoulders, and did what had to be done.

Now the little guy’s got himself a spiffy new ‘do. He looks like a child all ready for Sunday School. The fresh ends of his blunt haircut glisten like rain. His round leaves soar upward and end in horizontal slants.

It’s hard to remember him in his saggy state. I don’t even want to.

And do you know what? That little aloe plant doesn’t even remember his dead ends. He’s ready to soak up the winter sun through kitchen window without a single thought for what went wrong last month.

We could learn a lesson from this little guy. When we make a change for the better, let’s let all the old stuff go down the garbage disposal. We certainly don’t need to retrieve whatever gets ground up down there. I don’t know about you, but I value my fingers too highly.

I hope you do too.

Hey, that green spiky ‘do with the blunt ends might not be such a bad look after all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Mystery of the missing Halloween globe

We have a Halloween globe in our front yard with flying styrofoam bats and light up ghosts inside. Since it's October, we have it out on the lawn with stern faced jack-o-lanterns. One morning we all left for the day, and when we came home, the Halloween globe was missing. I questioned everyone in the family, but no one admitted to knowing anything about where it was.
I was incensed! Who would steal a Halloween globe right off our lawn in broad daylight? Heart pumping with indignation, I got a long piece of paper that fit across the front of our house and wrote in big black letters: "God saw you take our Halloween globe. Is it worth your immortal soul? BRING IT BACK." When my husband, Bob, saw the sign, he took it down because he thought it was a bit extreme. Our teenage son, Zack, said that anyone who would steal a Halloween globe would just laugh at my sign.
A few days later, our youngest son, Michael, asked me to open the gate to our small side yard so he could get his bicycle. When I did, I stopped and stared in disbelief. There, mashed against our fence, was the Halloween globe. How did it get there? Someone said it must have blown over the fence, but the fence is made of solid wood boards, and it's taller than me! Weird. So I patched the tear in the plastic bubble and set it up in our front yard again. Whenever I come home, the ghosts flutter above the flickering flame inside, circled by swirling bats, stubbornly silent about the mysterious details of the dis-apparition of the Halloween globe.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Why Energetic Children Should Not Have Alarm Clocks!

When he was six years old, my youngest son begged for an alarm clock. I figured it would be a passing fancy. What does a six year old need to get up for, except to pee, and there’s a built in alarm clock for that.
For a while, it was a novelty. He made it ring over and over, moving the alarm indicator and then the watch hands to enjoy another full minute of clatter. I asked him to close his bedroom door.
One early summer morning I even heard the distant “dingaling” of his alarm clock and climbed up the stairs to turn it off. Michael lay with eyes closed, mouth slightly open, obviously dreaming of a drawer full of silverware doing the hokey pokey.
Even when his room fell silent, he didn’t stir.
Definitely a passing fancy.
But when he turned seven, something happened. He came into my room at 3:30 am. Thinking he’d had a bad dream, I instructed him to go to the bathroom before he got in bed with his dad and me. I didn’t want to risk his internal alarm clock failing to wake him up when he reached critical bladder mass.
It was only after he finished the night with his feet in my back and his hard skull doing its best to knock me unconscious that I found out the truth.
He’d purposely set his alarm clock for 3:30 a.m. “I wanted to get up earlier than anyone,” he said.
The next night, we talked about him not setting his alarm to go off so early.
“But I still want to get up before everyone else,” he said.
“Dad goes to work at 6:00 a.m. so why not set your alarm for 5:30?”
He grinned and set his alarm.
And was up at 3:30.
This time he didn’t come into my room.
He had a bath.
And played on the computer.
And watched a movie.
He forgot to eat until I got up at 7:00 and offered him breakfast.
And he went to school happy.
That night, we all got ready to go to the high school to watch his big brother play basketball. Michael wasn’t sure he wanted to go. “I might fall asleep.”
You know, Michael, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Not So Clever Credit Card Trick

I had the greatest idea when I needed to go to the store and also needed my morning walk - I'd combine the two tasks. Trouble is, I walk with hand weights and I didn't want the burden of a handbag over one shoulder, so I tucked my credit card in my shoe. (All right, I can hear you wondering how I would carry my purchases home if I didn't want to carry anything. All I was after was an extension cord, and I planned to wear the plastic bag on my back. Yes, you can! Put an arm through one of each of the carrying handles with the bag at your back and slide the handles up to your shoulders. Let the bag hang down like a backpack and walk away!) So I got to the edge of the parking lot and one of my ankle weights fell off. (Inferior Velcro!) I was close enough to the store that I dug in the side of my shoe for the credit card. It wasn't there. I took my shoe off. It still wasn't there. With panic rising, I pulled my shoe on and hurried back along my route, scanning the ground for my lost card. A couple of times a stray turkey feather pretended to be my credit card. I prayed I'd find it, but when I got to my block I knew it was gone. Someone had picked it up, and I needed to cancel it the very second the bank opened. I popped in the front door, popped off my walking shoes, and my credit card popped out of the shoe I hadn't removed in the parking lot! Isn't it awesome when your prayers are answered so PLAINLY? (I just love it!)

Eau de la Snowmobile Fuel

"What's that smell? sniff, sniff. It smells good, like...snowmobile fuel. sniff, sniff. Mrs. Bahlmann! It's you!"
I raised my eyebrows in surprise at the beaming young high school student.
"No, really, it smells good," he assured me. "When I'm out riding, sometimes I get behind the snowmobile in front of me just so I can breathe in the exhaust fumes."
Well, that explains it.
Perfume shopping is one of the least desirable joys of my feminine life. After high school, when I went through my fruit basket phase (Lemon Sunburst body spray, Strawberry Fields essential oil, Peach Delight perfume), I've preferred to find one scent and stick with it. In college it was "Smitty." Then it disappeared from drug store shelves. After some painful, headache-inducing forays to the perfume counter, I finally found "Scoundrel." That was a relief, until they quit making it. There was one with an Italian name that I forget, which is just as well, because they quit making it, too.
"Just go without," my non-feminine husband, Bob, suggested.
I opened my eyes wide at him. "You mean just smell like deodorant?"
He shrugged. "Yeah."
"Then I'd smell like a guy," I said, and launched my next best plan.
I took several small baggies and cotton balls to the department store. I spritzed cotton balls with sample scents and sealed them in plastic so the mixed smells wouldn't assault my poor nasal passages and make my brain ache. I wrote the perfume names on the outside of each baggy, and took my soggy little treasures home. Each day, I tried a different cotton ball behind my ears, on my wrists, and in the crooks of my elbows. Each day I asked my husband and sons if they liked how I smelled. None of them cared, until the day I dabbed on vanilla scent. "Do you like how this smells?" I asked, holding my wrist under one son's nose.
His eyes snapped open, he leaned in toward me and took a big sniff. "Wow," he said. "Are you baking cookies?"
Another son perked up. "Cookies! That's what I smell! When will they be ready, Mom?"
A chorus of "Cookies! Cookies! Where are the cookies?" filled the air.
After I'd baked a quadruple batch of cookies, and eaten far too many myself, I sorted through my perfume baggies to get rid of the vanilla flavor. That's when I noticed that most of the marker labels had rubbed off, leaving me to wonder what smell was in which baggie.
Aw, forget it. I tossed them all in the trash.
Now, without even trying, I've found myself smelling like a popular winter sport. I have six bottles of this scent stashed in my underwear drawer. Ah, well. At least it doesn't give me a headache, and there are worse things I could smell like.
Hey, how's the powder this year?