Isn’t it funny how a single thought can bring back a flood of memories?
My maternal grandmother, who we called Moew, had a tiny little table that sat in the kitchen. The phone sat on it. The drawers contained pencil stubs, an old spiral notebook and a small, rubber tractor.
It looked something like this:
I think, maybe, Gran hand-made the table, but I am not sure about that.
I loved that table. In fact, it was the only thing in Moew’s house that I wanted when she passed away, but somehow it went to another grandkid.
I can remember, when I was very little, sitting on the floor in the kitchen, playing with that table. It was magic. Unlike this photo, it had two drawers that swung out.
I would swing them open and closed, open and closed, sometimes with my eye pressed up against the crack, trying to see the magic that let them pivot out so wide, and then disappear back into the table.
I just could not figure out the magic, which is probably why I never lost interest in that table.
Even in my late 20′s, when I was home for a visit from Singapore, I played with the drawers while calling up old friends, using Moew’s clunky old rotary phone.
When I swung open the magic doors, they still unleashed a strong, musty scent. I’m not sure if that was caused by the old wood, the contents (the same ancient pencil stubs, notebook and my rubber tractor), or the fact that Moew and I were the only ones who ever opened the drawers — me for the magic, Moew for a phone number.
I spent countless Friday nights with Moew, usually when my mean older sisters were having a slumber party and booted me out.
In winter, I loved to stand on the heating grate in her loving room. The tines were just wide enough so you could stand on them barefoot. When the gas heater came on, it would crackle and pop. Then hot air would billow up your back and make you go ahhhhhh. When the metal grate got too hot, you could straddle it and enjoy being roasted alive.
I remember a dark and heavy wooden table that ran the length of the windows in Moew’s living room. It was covered with a hand-crocheted doily and held lamps and urns and Old Lady things.
But what intrigued me was on the bottom. At each corner, there were ornate pieces that hung down. The were about the size of a good-size pine cone, but smooth to the touch. Three were tightly glued in, but one would come out. And when I was there, it came out a lot.
I loved unscrewing that thing and hiding it so that Moew would have to pretend to be mad at me while searching the room to find it. She’d always give up, and I’d triumphantly retrieve it — probably from the same place I had hidden it 10,000 times before. Then Moew would smile in a way that only your grandmother could smile: filled with love and pride.
I remember Moew’s bedroom being ice cold in the winter, so racing in and leaping under the electric blanket was always a thrill. And I remember sitting on the screened-in back porch and having the most awesome breakfasts ever cooked in the history of the universe.
But most of all, I remember sitting next to Moew in her big porch swing for a quarter century. On Spring evenings, we’d swing a little, talk a little, drink ice tea and, every year, watch momma birds build their nests up where there was a gap in the wood. In the Fall, we’d enjoy the trees that ran along both sides of Lahoma Street, watching as the leaves turned red and orange and brown.
Almost until the end, Moew would walk to the Oklahoma University campus every day to cook at whatever fraternity house had cajoled her into cooking for them “just one more year”. She knew that the work, and being around young boys, kept her alive.
When Moew finally passed away, I’m grateful that my childhood best friend’s sister, Glenda, bought her house. She’s given it all the TLC that it deserves. She was even kind enough to save us some wood from an old tree that had to be cut down.
I’m hoping that my nephew, who has the gifted hands that come down through my family, will one day make me something out of that wood. I don’t know if he could make me a table like the one above, but that would just be magical.
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Click HERE for a memory about my Grampa’s Hat.
What is it with women and chickens?
My Singaporean Missus has wanted chickens for as long as I can remember. So, counting her, that raises the number of “pro-chicken” voters in my household to one.
I, however, am in the “over my dead chicken pluckin’ body will we have chickens” demographic.
Thankfully, I have managed to postpone/delay/sidestep the sensitive “chicken issue” for years and years.
Lately, I’ve increasingly felt in my bones that my chook-less days are numbered.
It really started last year when I, quite stupidly, took the Missus to a country fair that was beak-deep in chickens of the Foghorn Leghorn variety.
It’s gotten way worse since then, as chicken karma has gotten more and more clucky. And unless your name is Col. Sanders, you cannot beat zen chickens.
In the last month, every other time I have turned around, I’ve found myself in chicken-related activity.
Like two weeks ago. We were gardening, when the Missus’ X-ray hearing kicked in. Her ears perked up and she started sweeping the area. After a few sweeps, she locked onto a sound coming from wayyyy down back, at the bottom of our primordial jungle. It was a sound so soft that I could not hear it even with my hearing aids cranked up to the max.
“The neighbors have chickens! I can hear them clucking! I love that sound!” said the Missus. ”Stupid, chicken-pluckin’ neighbors,” thought the husband.
Second, we recently were coming back from a small chapel which is sort of nearby but also sort of in the boonies. Some homeowner further down the road (think “Deliverance”) has always kept at least one rooster and several hens, which roam free. This chap now has THREE roosters who are like a freaking street gang.
I have named the head rooster “Booger”. Like all Booger Roosters, everywhere in the world. this Booger stands right in the middle of the road when you try to drive past. Defiantly. Giving you that cocky rooster look that says, “I could open your head, and possibly your Honda, with my talons”. Then he flaps his wings threateningly while cock-a-doodle-dooing you, which is rooster-speak for ”I am your father”.
This prompted me to suggest that if my foot slipped off the brake, the Missus could, ha-ha, have a new feather duster! Let me tell you, sleeping on the couch is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Third, and here is the kicker, my former boss — a career woman who has risen to the top of the CEO tree — has moved into a rural area and entered semi-retirement, which I totally understand. Sadly, she also has started keeping chickens, for which I will never forgive her. Because, being a helpful kind of man (who likes to mock people), I took photos of her original cute little $300 chicken coop on wheels, and the plantation that it has mutated into (see photo).
I figured that the sheer enormity of my former boss’s project, and the fact that it probably cost $1,000 all up to build, would scare off my penny-pinching Missus. I thought the fact that one of my boss’ chooks insists on insanely clucking every morning at 4 a.m. when she lays what I can only assume is a square egg, and that she only shuts up when the man of the house goes outside to calm her. (Did I mention this is at 4 a.m.? Every morning?)
Instead, my Missus oohed and ahhed over the chicken coop photos, much like last year when I stupidly recorded a crowing rooster to show how annoying they are, but it was music to her ears. And, just to prove I can be as dumb as I look, just the other day when the Missus got back from her Singapore trip, I presented her with six organic eggs from my former boss’ chickens.
And she got that look in her eye, like when she first spotted the Crack Puppy and went into a trance, mumbling “must have shih-tzu puppy, now…”
She is now scoping out where exactly to locate the coop: deciding whether it should be deeeeep into the back jungle so her chooks can cluck with the neighbors’ birds. Or, maybe (!), they should be up close to our house, so the Missus can enjoy hearing their “lovely clucking” all the time. Maybe we could put wheels on the coop and drag it around so the chooks could eat bugs from all over the garden.
I’d say my goose is cooked, but that would just be wrong. So I will simply wave the white flag and prepare to construct the Missus’ Chicken “Tara” plantation.
I will also start saving my used Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes. Because I plan to make it abundantly clear to the Missus’ chickens that this is not Club Med for the feathered set. They will be laying for their keep, else they will find themselves on my dinner table, right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.
Yeah, right. Knowing the Missus, it’s way more likely that she’ll knit them little hats and matching sweaters, and give them names like Gwendolyn and Pollyfrock.
Sigh. The zen of chookdom is just around the corner. I can feel it.
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TV ANCHORMAN BOB LARGE: This Breaking News just in! The Met Service advises that New Zealand is in the direct path of Typhoon Lusi. This Category 3 typhoon is expected to slam into Northland later today with winds of 178 – 209 kilometers per hour. Authorities are warning that there could be torrential downpours and winds capable of causing widespread power outages, and, (speaking in his most somber voice), we are told off camera, possibly the end of life as we know it. NEWS ONE’s Bambi Twigg is bravely reporting live from a Northland beach that is being hammered by savage rains and 900-foot killer waves. Bambi are you there? Do you feel like Dan Rather?
BAMBI TWIGG: (speaking from a calm, dry beach): Bob, Typhoon Lusi, a Category 3 typhoon, has yet to actually reach Northland, but locals are hurriedly battening down the hatches, stocking up on batteries and water, and, in some cases we are told, making final calls to their loved ones before they, and perhaps ourselves, are washed out to sea and brutally drowned in this horrific typhoon savagery.
HOGFLEET HOGDATE 3.11.2014
We put MissusFleet on a plane to Singapore 11 days ago. Since then, we have boldly gone where only the Missus has gone before.
Our Mission will end on tomorrow night when she returns, unless we have destroyed the house, and, potentially, the universe by then, because we have a “history”.
Before she left, our orders from the Missus at HOGFLEET were formidable, to say the least. They run for several pages, supplemented by strategically placed yellow and blue Post-It notes.
All. Over. The. House. Complete with diagrams.
A glimpse of our Orders include the following:
DOGGIES — Meds for the shaky Crack Puppy to be given, wrapped in cheese, morning and night. Teeth-cleaning treat (to be broken in half while inside the thick plastic bag to avoid mess and possible bloodshed) given morning and night to both doglettes after dinner. Slice of chicken dog roll to be given morning and evening, with one scoop dry food, laced with chicken treats. “Good Doggies!” who eat “all their food!!!” to be given additional chicken treats. Water dispenser is to be refilled nightly, in the sink, as this involves holding it upside down while screwing on the bowl portion. (When we read this, our Tricorder chirped as it began picking up danger). Dogs to be let out in the morning and evening; their feet wiped after each trip outside, followed by chicken treats and the saying of “Good Doggies” . Under no condition is the Bichon to get anything salty because, for some unexplained reason, this makes him try to gnaw off his left hind foot. (Tricorder beeping yellow alert).
(Reprinted, again, because I wanna.)
In New Zealand, we’ve already begun Lent — 40 days of prayer, fasting and penance leading up to Easter.
Since this is (mainly) a humor blog, I will begin my Lent by republishing a favorite about two great priests who were incredibly funny in very different ways.
Archimandrite Stephen was bigger than life and perfect for his ministry in media and evangelization. He could preach up a storm. And he so loved to laugh. Hee hee hee.
On his generous girth:
“I’m an Archimandrite in the Melkite Greek Catholic tradition. As you can see, we’re rather fluffy. Ha ha ha.”
If I had a Bucket List, seeing The Boss would’ve been right at the top. And now, finally, at age 58, it would have been fricking checked off!
Sometimes your heart breaks.
I was at the skin doctor last week to have a few more pounds of ugly cut off the top of my head. But when I arrived at the clinic, there was no receptionist; just three people standing in line.
I joined them in the line for about five minutes, but then I decided to go sit down in a complete huff, making one of those long sighs that men make when they want everyone to know how put upon they feel.
A few minutes later, a door opened down the hall, and I heard a woman’s voice. “You’re doing find. You’re doing fine. We’ve got you. You’re doing fine.”
Then I heard a whimpering sound that made my heart stop. A soft whimper mixed with small gasps for air, almost crying. It was an awful sound that made you want to help, and made you want to cry.