Another Rainy Day

I listened to Rodney’s phone ring while Lex shouted curses behind me.  “Rodney, pick up. C’mon, Rodney. Pick up the phone.”

“Hello? Amanda?”

How do you sound nonchalant when your better half is moaning and cursing no more than ten feet behind you?  “Um…”

“What did she do now?”

“What do you mean?”

“What did Lex do? I can hear her all the way over here at the clinic, and I don’t need the phone to do it.”

I was glad that Rodney couldn’t see me blush.  Or see what I was wearing. Or wasn’t wearing.

“She had an accident.”

Rodney snorted.  “Really? That is so unlike Lex. What did she do this time?”

Lex twisted her knee, while trying not to stumble over a hay bale that fell on her head when she tripped over the pitchfork that she knocked over when she threw her hat toward a hook on the wall and missed and knocked the pitchfork over and I jumped and accidentally released the trap door to the hay loft and barely got out of the way in time. One got Lex. Now…how to tell Rodney without revealing that I was naked at the time.

“It was raining.”

“And she slipped in the mud? I told her she needed to get new boots. She wouldn’t hear it. Told me that she’d had those boots for fifteen years and would wear them another fifteen years.”

“Listen, can you just come on over?”

I heard Rodney sigh. Then he agreed to come on out to the Ranch as soon as he had a chance to finish locking up the clinic for the day and pick up Jeannie.

“Rodney is coming over, Lex. How’s your knee?”

I could see that it had already started to swell up.  It was easy to see, because Lex started undressing the moment she saw me in the barn, waiting for her with a bottle of champagne and nothing but a smile on my face.  That’s the other reason she tripped. She was hopping up and down on one booted foot, with her jeans around her ankles, trying to shed them without tearing her eyes away from me, in mid question, “What’s the occasion, love?”

It’s amazing how fast a pending romantic evening can dissolve into an emergency call to my brother-in-law, a frustrated and injured wife, and me, suddenly remembering that I am still naked, and then running around the place looking for the rest of our clothes.

“You know, Amanda, the last time we had our clothes off in here?”

I blushed.

“You’re blushing? After all these years, you still blush?”

I guess I needed to come clean.

“The downpour today reminded me of when we first met, and how that weekend, I tried to help you feed the cattle.  Remember when I fell off the hay bale and you caught me?”

“Yeah. The first time we kissed.”

“The rain reminded me of that. I started feeling nostalgic, so I set up this little rendezvous for us and sent the kids to stay with Martha and Charlie for the evening.”

“That’s so romantic, Amanda.” Lex reached for me, and winced when she twisted her knee again.

“Careful, honey.”  I found my clothes and dressed. Then I got Lex’s shirt off the ground and helped her dress.

Lex buttoned up her shirt and asked, “I’m still naked from the waist down.”

I tried to anticipate how much longer it would be before Rodney would get here. Then I ran to the house and got Lex’s bathrobe. Back in the barn, I helped her to put it on.

“Rodney thinks you slipped in the mud. And that’s how you hurt your knee.”

“Uh, huh.”

Lex has the most devious grin. “So what are you going tell him? There’s no mud in here.”

“Oh I took care of that, too.” And reached for the bucket I’d brought with me along with Lex’s robe.

*SPLAT*

“You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you, love?”

Amanda.

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Guess What’s Coming For Dinner?

I found Lex hiding in a closet.  “Too late for that, don’t you think, love? Everyone pretty well knows you and I—”.

“Quick! Shut the door. I’m not going”.

“You are going, you big baby.  C’mon, sweetheart. You don’t want everyone to think you’re wuss, do you?”

“I’m not a wuss. I’m just not going. I have more important things to do.”

“Like making sure that there are no monsters in the closet?  How long will that take you?”

Lex grumbled as she pushed the clothes she’d been hiding under to the side and got to her feet.

“You know I love Jeannie and Rodney, right?”

I nodded.

“But this is Jeannie we’re talking about. The woman can’t make a peanut butter sandwich without sending someone to the hospital.”

“Sent you to the hospital. How does a person get to be nearly forty years old and not know they’re allergic to peanuts?”

“Martha always cooked for me. I never knew what a jar of peanut butter looked like.  How was I supposed to know?”

I shook my head as I realized my beautiful wife had gotten me off track.  “Lex. You used to break wild horses.  You’ve faced down cattle rustlers. You have children. What are you so scared of?”

“Okay. So, Jeannie has cooked for us before and it didn’t go too good.”

I nodded in agreement. “But, remember, Jeannie took those adult Ed cooking classes at the high school last summer.”

“Amanda, didn’t even the teacher send her home with takeout menus?”

“That was supposed to be just until she learned her basics.” I started ticking off the subject matter on my fingers. “1. How to boil water.  2. How to treat scalded flesh. 3. How to use a microwave. 4. What can be safely cooked in a microwave oven. 5. How to put out a microwave fire.  6. How to treat burns. 7. Why the fire department should be number one on your speed dial. 8. Why the poison control number should be number one on your speed dial. ”

“What exactly was the name of this class, Amanda?”

“She said it combined cooking, health, and safety.  Seemed perfect for her.”

“Did they ever get around to the cooking part?”

“Yes, but Jeannie did miss the first few lessons.”

Lex’s eyebrows arched in challenge because she expected the worse.  I couldn’t meet her gaze because I knew what I was about to say. So I hung my head as I answered, “The school district had to clear it with their insurance company after the microwave thing.  Apparently, Jeannie didn’t know that you were supposed to take pop-tarts out of the foil wrappers before reheating them.”

The laughter that ensued made any further conversation with my wife completely impossible.

Now, about those raccoons.

It wasn’t Jeannie’s fault.  She cooked fish for dinner.  Pan fried rainbow trout. How was she to know that a family of raccoons had taken up residence in the crawl space under the house?

Amanda.

 

 

Passing Thoughts

I took Lorrie to visit my grandmother, Anna Leigh, yesterday.  I have to hand it to gramma. Even as moody as Lorrie can sometimes get due to puberty setting in, my grandmother has always been able to soothe her and help her feel good about herself.

We had a wonderful visit, and during part of it, my grandmother took Lorrie into the bedroom and asked her to pull a trunk out of her closet. It was a trunk filled with mementos that my grandmother had decided to keep when we packed up her house for the move to her new condo. I heard them rummaging around while I texted Lex to tell her that I was thinking very sexy thoughts of her and hoped she wouldn’t be too tired that night for me to share my thoughts with her.

I got a “thumbs up” and a “Sure thing, sexy pants” in reply.  My lascivious thoughts of my wife were interrupted by, “Hey, mom! Look what Gramma gave me!”

I looked up into the sweetest smile that my grandmother reserved for those she truly loved and beamed before trying to focus on the book Lorrie was waving in front of me.

“It’s Gramma’s diary, momma. She said I could have it.”

“Really?”

“Yes, dearest.  I remember writing in that diary when I was about Lorrie’s age. I thought she might like to see what it was like when I was growing up.”

Lorrie went over to an overstuffed Queen Anne chair, plopped down, and began to read.

Our visit ended when it was time to pick Eddie up from daycare and head back to the ranch.

As she hugged her great-grandmother goodbye, I heard my grandmother say, “I think you’ll find that you and I are especially alike.”

The trip home was quiet. Eddie fell asleep in his car seat and Lorrie continued to read Anna Leigh Cauble’s words from long ago.

The next few hours passed by uneventfully and I forgot about the diary until Mel came into the kitchen and told me that Lorrie was upstairs crying and wouldn’t tell her what the matter was.

I quickly went upstairs and found Lorrie hugging her pillow and crying her eyes out.  She handed me the book and showed me what she had been reading.

“She knows how I feel. She felt that way, too.”  Lorrie blew her nose on a tissue I’d just handed her right before I sat down next to her and picked up the book.

The passage read:

February 14      

Why do things have to change?  My best friend, Susan, says she’s too busy to do things with me anymore.  We used to everything together, and now she says she’s too busy to go to the record store, or out walking, or anything with me.  She only does things with William Stokes. She always has time for William.  It’s Valentine’s Day, and she is all crazy about the Hershey bar William gave her and his cheap paper Valentine card.  It makes me so mad.

February 15

I got in trouble for sassing my momma today.  I can’t believe I stood there in the kitchen door and shouted ‘No!’ when she told me to clean my room.  I didn’t want to do it right then.  Boy, did I get in trouble. I wanted to go for a walk and see if maybe, since Valentine’s Day was over, maybe Susan would visit with me.  Instead, I’m stuck in my room, cleaning it for the next two weeks while I’m grounded.

February 16

My grandpa died last night.  It was horrible.  He was just sitting down in their parlor, reading the newspaper and he nodded off. My grandmother realized something was wrong when he dropped the paper and his glasses on the floor and slumped over.

I loved grandpa. He was the best man I think I’ll ever know.  I love my parents, but grandpa always had time for me. He listened to me and tried to make me feel better when I hurt.  Or when I just wanted to talk and no one else would pay attention to me.

I feel so bad. I’ve lost my best friend and now I’ve lost grandpa.  I tried to give grandma a hug, but she didn’t want that. She just said, “I guess it was his time,” and everyone nodded and waited for her to say or do something else.

I used to think about growing up and how great it would be. Now I just don’t feel good a lot of the time. I get angry. At my mom. My dad. My sister.  I don’t like the changes in my body and in my life.  Why can’t I be happy like I was a year ago?  Before this. Before everything and everyone started changing?

By the time I read the last few words, I was in tears, too.  Lorrie and I shared her box of tissues while she snuggled in my arms and cried. I kissed her head and rubbed her back. Neither of us spoke for a long time.

Then, Lorrie pulled back and looked up at me. “Grandma felt like I do sometimes, mommy.” I nodded my agreement.  “But she always seems happy to me, now.  When grandpa died, she said that she had years of great memories to keep her warm for the rest of her life.  But after a few months, she seemed just the same as before.”

“Lorrie, I’ve always known her to be the person you’ve known since you were born. But I remember when I was your age, and I was angry at everyone, and my emotions were all over the place. When my parents sent me to visit my grandparents for the summer, it was the best thing to happen. She listened to me, and so did Grandpa Jacob.  I never would be the person I am now without them.”

“Momma listens to me.”

“Yes, she does.”

“I’m way luckier than Grandma ‘cause I have you and Momma and Grandma to talk to. I’m sorry I was so mean to Momma before.  Aunt Shelby told me how lucky I am and I’m glad I listened to her.”

We didn’t say much more to each other. We just held each other and sniffled until I heard Eddie fussing at Melanie about something.

When Lex came home that evening, after she kissed me, Lorrie threw herself in Lex’s arms and said, “I love you, momma.”

Lex hugged her back. “I love you, too.  Want to go help me wash up?”

Off they went.

I’m one damn lucky woman.

Amanda.

Patience? What Patience?

Alright, everybody knows that I’m not the most patient person in the world. Between caring for our three children and a grown up Lex, I don’t have a lot of time to spend on anything that needs more than a little knowledge or expertise. Which is why the following happened.

“Amanda! Stop! What are you doing?”

“I’m about to throw this video player out the window, that’s what I’m doing.”

“Honey? Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.”

“That was you I heard cussing up a blue streak, wasn’t it?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that, I put the Blue-Ray player back on the entertainment center shelf and plopped down into the desk chair that sat nearby. “You know how you get when you’re cooking?”

Lex looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded at me. “The cussing?”

“Yeah. Well, I found what makes me curse like a sailor.”

“Sweetheart, what I heard coming from this room would make a sailor blush.”

In spite of my frustration, I had to laugh.

Lex walked over to the entertainment center and picked up the box. Then she sorted through the various cables the electronics store salesman had sent home from me when I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about when he asked me what kind of input and output connections were on our television. “So, maybe we could try installing this thing together?” Lex’s brow furrowed, and she sighed. “I can see your problem right here.”

“You can? What is it?”

“Well, you have too many cables and not enough things to plug them into.”

“Uh, yeah, I knew that already. Which cables go where? That’s’ what I want to know.”

“Hmm…okay, I know what to do now.” Lex looked triumphantly at me and tucked the new player under her arm. She walked over to the window and opened it wide.

You know something? My wife could have been a quarterback. She hurled that DVR right out the window and through the kid’s tire swing. It bounced a few times and then smashed into pieces against the fence.

“Feel better?”

Lex grinned at me and said, “Yes I do. You?”

“I’d say that was one fine throwing arm you have there, honey.”

Then we called Martha and asked her to watch the children. We got into my SUV and headed back to town.  That night, we curled up on the couch together and, with the children stuffing their faces with popcorn, enjoyed a 3D animated movie. No DVR needed. We’d came home with a 3d smart TV with a built in disk player. At least that’s what the salesman said we got as he refunded us the cost of all those cables.

As for me. You turn it on and hit some buttons on the remote control. While I’m confessing things, I might as well add that Lex kept me from hurling the remote control right out of the window when I couldn’t get it to respond to any of the buttons I pushed. She opened it up and said, “Hon, the batteries go this way.”

Amanda.

Super Bowl Sunday at the Walters

So far we have attempted to have a Super Bowl Sunday at our home just once, and you may remember the upstairs flooding caused by Eddie when he rebelled at having to wear socks by flushing all of his little sport socks down the toilet.

Well, we’re trying again. But this year, we’ve got it under control. We invited the plumber to share the occasion with us.

A little hand tugged at the leg of my jeans. “Mommy, cars don’t float.”

“What, Eddie?”

“Mommy!” Mel raced down the stairs and pointed an accusing finger at her brother. “He…he…”

Gotta run!

Amanda

Psycho Dog

Can someone tell me why I thought it was a good idea to encourage Lorrie to take on the responsibility of taking care of her friend, Allison’s dog while their family took a short vacation to Galveston? Why? Why did I do that?  What was I thinking?

Of course, those are the questions that Lex asked me when I conveyed Lorrie’s request to her when I drove down to the bunkhouse with her last week. “What I’m thinking, honey, is that Lorrie is ready for more responsibility and I think it’d be a good for her to take on this responsibility. And it’s only for five days. What could happen?”

So, with Lex’s cajoled agreement, we gave Lorrie the permission to dog sit. On the way back we talked about the extra supplies we’d need and I assured Lex that Wanda and Dirk would bring everything that was needed when they brought the dog over…this afternoon.

“Today? You’re kidding me, right? Why am I just hearing about this?”

The reason Lex was just hearing about it was because Lorrie had just gotten off of restriction for getting mad enough at her sister, to tell her that she was not from the planet Earth and we were waiting for her ship to return for her.  That’s the funny thing about our Melanie.  If you told her something believable, her skepticism would kick in and she’d question every word you said. But make it outrageous, and she’ll fall for it every time. And freak out. Which she did. And we had to show Mel her birth certificate so that she knew she was born in Texas and not from ‘Planet Zongo’.

Back to dog sitting.

Day One of Taking Care of Max

Max is a Russian Wolf Hound.  We didn’t know that. And we didn’t know that the favorite activity of a Russian Wolf Hound is being a couch potato. And we didn’t know that Russian Wolf Hounds don’t bark very much and don’t go all excited when someone enters the house. But they are curious.

He arrived with little fanfare and immediately claimed the sofa in the den for his personal space. Freckles was completely intimidated and decided that discretion was the better part of valor and hid in Lorrie’s room.

The screaming started when we forgot to mention his presence to Martha and Charlie. Martha brought over a casserole that she baked for us to try. It was a new recipe. She walked in, as usual, and went to the kitchen to put it on the counter by the stove. Then, Max, the Wolf Hound, decided to see who this new person was and left his comfy spot in the den to go check the new arrival out.

Martha had her back turned when she heard a dog panting. She said later on that she thought something must be wrong with Freckles since she assumed that it was our dog panting so heavily.

She turned around.

Day Two

Freckles would only leave Lorrie’s bedroom to go outside. We finally lured her out of her room with pig ears.  She loves pig ears. So does Max.

We wanted the two dogs to become acquainted. Lorrie was convinced that with the right inducement, they would meet and Freckles would be just fine.

So, pig ear by pig ear, Lorrie lured Freckles out of her room, down the stairs, and into the den. Then she tossed one by the sofa where Max was reclining and he jumped down to get it. The movement caught Freckle’s attention.  Her eyes grew wide, her mouth gaped open and then she did three things simultaneously, two of which had to be cleaned up with a steam cleaner. The third thing she did was do a complete 180 degree turn in mid-air and bolt right out of the den and back up the stairs.

Day Three

We let the day finish out and then got the brilliant idea to bring Max up to Lorrie’s room.  Russian Wolf Hounds are not territorial. Rat Terriers are.

Day Four

Another day of cleaning carpets and a very unhappy rat terrier.

Day Five

We put down a plastic tarp underneath some newspapers in the den and decided to give one last try to ‘socializing’ Freckles. Max, to his credit had been an ideal addition to the family. We managed to convince little Eddie not to ride him like a horse and he finally quit trying to climb on Max’s back. Max ate his food, asked to be let outside when needed, and fell in love with our Mel, who wanted us get one for us. “But we already have a dog, Mel.”

She wasn’t convinced that Freckles, especially the way she’d been behaving lately, was a good enough reason not to get another dog.

So, there we were all gathered in the den. Then Lorrie brought out the bag of pig ears. That got both dogs’ attention.  We scattered several pig ears around the room, and suddenly, Freckles went from a terrified rat terrier to a crazed pig ear gathering lunatic.

She raced around the room and, one by one, took each pig ear just as Max was about to get to it and sat on them. When Max would turn to go for another pig ear, she’d race to it and take that one too. After several turns of ‘this is mine, not yours’, Max reclaimed his spot on the sofa and with a sorrowful expression, watched Freckles pick up each pig ear and race out of the room with it, and come back for another one. We couldn’t stop laughing at her. She’d give Max a threatening look, as if to say, “You come down off of that couch and I’ll make you into a pig ear,” and went about snatching the last of them up.

Once she had them all, we went to the hallway and found Freckles sitting by the stairs, but there were no pig ears in sight. Lorrie called Freckles but she wasn’t moving. Finally, Lex picked Freckles up and found, underneath her, were all the pig ears that Freckles had hoarded.

Saying Goodbye

We missed Max the moment he rejoined his family and they drove off. Freckles stood at the door and watched them drive away.  Lorrie bent down and hugged her dog and told her that she loved her, even though she was a psycho dog. And that became Freckle’s nick name, “Psycho Dog”.

Still, she’s ours and we love her.

Amanda.

All I Want For Thanksgiving Are My Two Front Teeth

Jeannie.

That name should be enough to strike fear into the hearts of anyone who likes food and depends on it to live.

Lex and I were in the den when the phone rang. Lex put it on speaker since the caller ID said it was my sister phoning. “Hi Jeannie, what’s up?”

“Um, I know that I have a poor track record in the kitchen, but I was wondering if I could help prepare something for Thanksgiving dinner this year?”

Lex took one look at my reaction and promptly put her hand over my mouth. “Be nice,” she whispered. “She only wants to help.”  Then Lex removed her hand, cautiously.

“Sure, Jeannie. We’ll think of something you can make.”

“Um, well, I was thinking maybe I could make the stuffing this year. I found a recipe online that looked like I could do it.” We could hear the pleading to be forgiven for past cooking disasters and it touched my heart.

“Stuffing? I love stuffing.”

I glared at Lex when she said that. Nice job, sweetheart, let’s encourage her to make something that could cause us all potential indigestion, at the minimum. So I asked her, “What kind of stuffing?”

“Cornbread. I saw a recipe for cornbread that called for using real corn. Not just cornmeal.”

Why, oh why, don’t I just beat myself over the head with a cast iron frying pan right now, rather than encourage my sister to take on a potential disaster? “That sounds interesting.”

“It does. And I found a really great bargain online for the ears of corn.” She seemed so proud of herself when she said that.

“And I’d be proud to try it out,” my dear demented wife said. I love you Lex, but I will kill you in your sleep for this.

One week later, we were all gathered around the dining room table. Martha brought her wonderful pumpkin and mincemeat pies. Shelby and Rebecca joined us and brought apple salad, which, I may say, was delicious. The kids helped to make cookies the day before, since they were all out of school. And Lex’s cousin, Ellie and her partner, Kyle, brought home baked rolls. Go, Kylie! I thought she was only good with car engines and tools. But the woman can bake!

Jeannie and her family arrived and she proudly unwrapped the stuffing for us all to see.  We took a whiff and decided that, while unusually colorful, it didn’t smell toxic, so we’d go with it.

When dinner began, I was curious and had to taste my sister’s stuffing. It really did smell good, so I didn’t hesitate to take a nice sized bite.

CRACK!

I screamed. Lex jumped out of her chair. Jeannie immediately started apologizing. Martha got a cold, wet towel from the kitchen. The kids frantically started asking if their mommy was okay. I was crying, nearly hysterically, when my hand came away from my mouth with pieces of my two front teeth in it. And Kyle immediately got her keys to drive us to the hospital.

My diet, until they can put the implants in, is tea, Jello, and baby food. I talk with a lisp, and my poor wife has been completely sorry and sympathetic and has taken all the blame for encouraging Jeannie to cook.

I guess I should mention that the bargain that Jeannie got on corn was for the decorative kind that can be used either for decorating a Thanksgiving table, or for smashing bricks.

Amanda.