Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kids These Days

On Monday afternoons, from 4 to 4:30, my job assignment is to stand in the back lot of the school and watch the children as they wait for their rides.  It's easy duty, especially on nice fall afternoons.

This past week, as I was standing there, I noticed one of the girls crying off to the side.  Her friends were with her, so I didn't try to intervene, but stood nearby in case they needed help.

She didn't want to tell them what was wrong.  I could see them asking, but she just shook her head, no, as the tears continued to fall.

After a few minutes one of the boys quit talking and reached over and gently removed her earbuds and set them aside.  He took her electronics, her books, and added them to a careful pile.

He leaned in, took her hands, and as he pulled her to her feet, began to sing, "Do you want to build a snowman? Come on, let's go and play!"  (from the movie Frozen)

He pulled her into a giant hug.  "I never see you any more, come on out the door, it's like you've gone away!"

She began to smile through her tears.  "We used to be best buddies, and now we're not.  I wish you would tell me why."

Her tears dried up.  "Do you want to build a snowman?  It doesn't have to be a snowman..."

She smiled a real smile.

Her friends left, the tears didn't return.  She was even still smiling a little.

Good friends.
They made my week.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Kanopolis, KS
I love the way the word Kanopolis rolls off the tongue.

It was my last night on the road this summer.  I'd picked the park because it was a state park, more or less on my way home, halfway through Kansas.

The park is geared to horseback riding.  There are not only trails throughout the park, but corrals for the horses in the campground area.  (all for only $29 / night)

I pulled in around four, and Scrap, a big, beautiful bear of a dog from the campsite next door, came over to say hullo.  (His owners call him Scrap because someone dropped him off like he was worthless scrap - they think otherwise.)  Ted, his owner, came over to call him off, and we got to talking.  His wife, Amy, came out to join us, and we talked some more.  They offered me a drink, then dinner.  It was cold, the temps on their way down to near freezing, but the fire and the company kept me warm.

The only time I went back to my camper during the evening to plug it in and make us a salad for my contribution to dinner.  (a rare occurrence)

I fell in love with them.  She was warm and friendly.  He would have fit in perfectly back around the turn of the century, last century.  The self-reliant type, able to fix anything, short on words, long on heart.  They are the kind of people that, once on your side, you know have your back.  More at home on the back of a horse than in a truck.  I could picture them at home, her working as a Postmaster in town, him running the farm.  Not always an easy life, but together they get through the troubles.

It's good to know there are still people like that in this world.  The next morning as I began to drive away, they came out of their camper.  I waved and started to take off, then stopped and jumped out of the truck for a hug goodbye.

Some friends we have for just a moment...

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Sheetrock Came!

yes, that's Monster, back in his Box with Water!
I called them three weeks ago, right after I'd finished the last of the prep work.  I didn't dare call before I was actually ready because if they just happened to be free and they showed up before I had my ducks lined up, I'm thinking that Melvern Figge would not have been happy.  And it's unwise to get on the bad side of your contractor before the job even starts.

So, I've been waiting.  Almost patiently even.  It's helped that I have plenty to do outside to finish the painting before winter sets in.  And work's been super busy since I came back.

Figge (it's pronounced figgy.  like the pudding.  I haven't even thought about asking him what dish he brings to holiday gatherings.  I'm sure he's heard it before.  But it makes me smile to think about it...)

where was I?

Oh, yes.  Figge called on Monday, letting me know they'd be dropping off the sheetrock late this week.  He called Thursday to let me know it would be delivered Friday afternoon.  He called Friday afternoon to let me know they'd be there on Saturday to hang the rock unless I had some objections.

Objections to progress?  Not I!

They showed up bright and early on Saturday morning, a crew of six hangers and Figge to supervise.  They worked until about four - and got it all installed.  Kitchen, laundry room, bathroom and garage.  I was impressed.

Even though I know it's done, it's startling me a bit each time I turn on the kitchen light, and it has walls.  and, it's catching me by surprise each time I climb the stairs - did you know someone put a room at the top of the stair?


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Rabbit

Lathrop State Park, CO
I try to add a bit of beauty to the world when I can, and often pick up trash as I walk as an easy way to feel I've helped nature out just a bit.  As I was walking along the banks of the river near the place I was staying near Glacier Park in Montana, I picked up a cigarette lighter and some bug spray.  I picked up a stray piece of paper or two, and an old abandoned stuffed rabbit.

When I got back to the house, I added the bug spray to their collection on the porch (they have some killer mosquitoes up that-a-way), and went to throw out the rest.  I easily threw out the lighter, but stopped when I got to the rabbit.

I couldn't just throw it in the trash, it had been loved.  It had just one ear, and someone had picked off much of the fur on the lower half of its body.  It hadn't been outside long; there was no rain or animal damage to the poor bedraggled thing.  Unable to convince me to callously pitch it, I somewhat sheepishly tucked into one of the cabinets in the camper.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it - I certainly didn't want to add a battered stuffed animal to my life - so I carried it with me for much of the trip.  I opened its cabinet a lot; several times I went to throw it away, and just couldn't.  Finally, I decided I would burn it at the next quiet campsite I stayed at.  I've always loved the story of the Velveteen Rabbit - I thought I could send the spirit of this little guy to join his.

When I got to Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, CO, I found the perfect site.  Quiet; no one to think I was nuts as I cremated some poor defenseless stuffed animal.  Plenty of small sticks to create a funeral pyre.  Still feeling a little foolish, I lit the fire, put the rabbit on top, and watched it burn to ashes.

Feeling sad, I decided to talk a walk about the park.  As I came around the corner of the restroom building, I saw a rabbit.  The only one I saw on the the entire trip.  He stopped, looked back at me, stretched just a bit, then leisurely made his way into the bushes.

Maybe, just maybe, the little fellow I found became Real.  I like to think so.