Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Grandmother Inventory

'My Noni always had little cans of Pepsi, juice drinks in plastic bottles that look like barrels, and Rollos in her fridge. Always.'

Ah ha! Buddy gives me another memoir to publish!

I think that everyone remembers the grandmother inventory that accumulates after years of penny pinching, yard sales, and habits formed decades ago.

When one of my grandmother died, we doled out her meager belongings. I told my mom, 'I want that cup that tastes like metal when I drink juice from it.'

My mom marveled, 'Wow! That's what your cousin Mary wanted, too, and for the same reason.' The cup was already gone, but the indelible grandmother inventory was set.

My other grandmother always had Listerine in her bathroom and when I hugged her, she smelled faintly of it. Her house always smelled of yeast as she had bread rising so when I visited, we would knead the rye bread dough together while talking.

Her inventory included a circular, wooden clothes hanger with time-worn dowels hanging from a loose metal fitting.

I don't see how the inventory can be consciously constructed. Because our own traits are often identified by the children in our lives and our legend lives on through reminiscence. From talking to Buddy, it is clear that our grandmother's each have a clear inventory, as we each daily generate our own.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Upper Hand in Defending My Lettuce

I put a garden in on the slope at my house and I thought to myself, 'What a great place to watch for woodchucks and kill them.' After finishing a fence around the garden, I went to make lunch and from the corner of my eye through a window, I see something approaching the garden.

'A woodchuck!?!?'

I grab a powerful rifle scope and sure enough, this dumb thing is walking around near my garden and taking his sweet old time.

I mistakenly refer to it as a hedgehog, 'Jim, want to have some fun and shoot a hedgehog?'

He yells angrily from his room, 'Are you stupid? Why would you kill a hedge hog?'

Oh boy.

I call my uncle, no answer. I could swear that he kills woodchucks on sight.

So I decide to take one shot with my .22 rifle. I lift a window in the alcove and flit about, thinking. Both of my cats jump into the open window and threaten to fly 15 feet *splat* to the ground. I move them out and toss them to the floor.

I kneel at the window. 'One shot, I think. One shot.'

I line up the iron sights on the bugger.


The thing sort of balls up, cringes, and then starts walking towards the brush.

I hit him, but didn't drop him.

So I bounce around more and I notice that my uncle is home. I walk over there, bursting through the door. 'I shot a woodchuck!'

He replies, 'Only one? You should have shot two.'

Later we go and look at the thing as it lays curled up, dead. I buried it.

So as far as I know, my garden is safe from at least one woodchuck and I have a great vantage point to crack any others if they start attacking my lettuce.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shh....did I tell you that I am a...

It's my guilty secret, but it's time to come clean. I am a memoir thief! I listen to stories I publish them here. Shhh...

At work, I dipped into the candy dish at the receptionists desk. I call the receptionist Buddy!

Buddy hunches over and says, 'Can I tell you a family story?'

I smile delighted! I might be able to steal a memoir. I lean towards her, 'Yes...what is it?'

She smiles and says, 'My Noni, the Italian word for great-grandmother, was 93 for like six years before she died. She was like totally nuts! So my cousin visits her house and for some reason drops a Playboy on her table. She picks it up and reads it, but eventually drifts to sleep. The Playboy open on her chest as she snores away.'

We sort of look at each other, but what are we going to do? She's sleeping!

Finally, Noni starts shaking a little bit as she wakes up, startled a little bit. She asks us, 'Was I sleeping?'

'Yes, Noni. You were.'

She looks around the room a little bewildered before saying softly.

'Oh. Naked women always make me so sleepy.'

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Alien Golf Ball

The other day, I noticed a golf ball in my yard. This isn't too odd because I occasionally hit some balls around or maybe my roommate or uncle do, too.

Then today after work, I see several more.

Something's up.

Driving past my neighbor's house, I see the lady aiming a gun at something. Then a young man. It looks like a target.

Hmm. Odd. The rumor is that the lady's boyfriend left her and stopped paying on the house (in his name).

I park and walk across the field to talk with my uncle who is planting his garden. I hear the thump of a BB gun drilling a target.

I run an errand, return, and I water my garden.

I hear the familiar thump of a golf ball on a white pine tree on my property (I know this sound all too well from my own golfing exploits). I see from the corner of my eye, a young man at my neighbor's house swinging a golf club aiming towards my woods.

So I finish watering my gardens and I collect a bunch of the golf balls from my lawn. I decide to walk down there and give them back, simple as that.

Homestead in the Spring 1

I walk the property line and down the hill to a collection of people. I smile, they wave, we talk. I hand the golf balls to one of the guys milling about and the younger guy says, 'Oh no. I won't hit any more golf balls towards your place again!' His expression is sincere. I believe him.

I laughed a little and said, 'Yeah, I would rather you didn't because they landed within twenty feet from my chicken coop and close enough to my house that I'd hate to have to come down here and report a broken window.'

So we all talked for a while about the house (my grandfather built it from material from an abandoned church building) and their current plan. They're moving at the end of June (and who 'they' is confused me - I'm not sure who was the mom, son, grandchildren, etc.). What they say about how they spend money puzzles me. But I compliment them on what they have done to improve the house and the property.

We talked about chickens for a long time, too, and I got a sense of who they are and I shared my regret that things didn't work out better for them to stay.