Monday, July 25, 2011

Slamming the URD

I’m in the rubber room. Gray rubber. I feel the knife in my right hand. A fine chef’s knife. Perfectly balanced handle, weighty in my hand, blade shiny with a sharp edge. I raise my arm high over my head and feel the anger in me rise as I slam the knife across the room. Tip to handle it rolls through the air. Whew, whew, whew, the knife whistles as it flies.

Then a voice says, “Are you up? Let’s walk. It’s cooler this morning.” 

What? Hell no, I’m not up. I’m in a rubber room with a knife, so watch it buddy.

I get out of bed, obedient as a 50’s “Mad Men” wife, and as pissed off as a 70’s feminist.

I dress. Can’t breathe, suck two puffs from the inhaler I rarely use. Grab my water bottle and plug up my ears with ipod buds. He’s standing on the porch. Patiently waiting. 

“We could leave the front door opened with the screen locked and go out the back door, so some cool air comes inside,” I say. Mad Men ignores me. He shuts the storm door and locks it behind us. 

It’s been too hot. I feel cranky all the time. We have a window air conditioner in the bedroom. Fans blowing three feet away help in the other rooms. I can hide down the basement but the humidity has started to trail me. I can go to the store. Somerset Mall is almost too cold. We’ve done our morning walk there a few times. 

I haven't been doing anything meaningful. I was looking forward to summer when I could have the window open so the oil painting fumes wouldn’t kill me. But it's too hot. I thought I’d have the garden in shape. But it's too hot. Our yard is frying. 

On our walk there are lots of beige and brown lawns. Here and there is an oasis of lush green that makes you want to roll in the grass and make summer angels. I think about the water bills and wasting water. We have watered too, yet our lawn is still heading toward the color of the ground in a current war zone. I could get cranky about that too.

The heat makes my gut scream and cry and stomp its little feet inside me. Sue, my daughter, says the heat does this to her too. We have wonky bellies.

Last night was almost cool enough to play Scrabble on the screened back porch. I was still too hot, irritable. The fireflies weren’t entertaining. I had bad letters. The board was bad. Where can you fit in a good word? Finally, I attached my U R D to a T. 

Mad Men reached for the Oxford dictionary, which we picked because it has all the common dirty words, you know, the really bad ones that George Carlin liked. 

“What! You’re looking up TURD?” 

“I just want to make sure it’s legal.”

“Legal!” With that I picked my URD off the board and threw it at him. Hit him smack in the heart.

“I pass!” I screamed. “It’s your turn. Take your damn turn.”

After that I think he threw the game. I won. But does it count if you win by losing it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


There's a warm breeze blowing across the porch of our 100 year old Wisconsin farmhouse. I look across the dirt road at the barn slowly collapsing under the weight of old age. The boys (John and his brother Walt) talk about ways of helping it out of it's misery. 

At this point are you wondering if the barn is going to be an analogy for the country falling out of favor with our creditors by not raising the debt limit. The traditions of always paying our national debt being risked by political posturing?

And did you notice I mentioned Wisconsin? I could be planning on telling you about the dozens of signs all over town for a Democrat running for Congress. We are about an hour north of Madison. I could tell about our fantasy last winter of marching and waving our posters (but we're old and it was too cold out).

Or maybe this is a story about personal aging, of each year having your major supports buckling. Knee knobs and hip girders snapping, so that your whole structure collapses. Hmmm. This could lead to a story about medicare. 

Maybe it'll be a story about Jack Kevorkian and putting the dying out of their misery.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's about the barn. This time, instead of my political harping at the end, I thought I'd get it over at the beginning. 

I'm on vacation, after all. Time to shed normality and relax. Do something different. 

Different? Huh. Let's see, I brought along two large tubs of painting supplies. Oils, which I haven't touched (sounds like home). We brought Scrabble which we play on summer nights on the screened porch at home. We cook. We eat. We sleep. And, yes, we brought our pillows.

And of course, I brought my computer. Right now John is at the kitchen table designing a bathroom on his laptop for a client. Katie's in the dining room on her laptop doing her job as a nurse reviewer. Walt is in the living room refining the new blog he's setting up. I'm in a sunny room off the dining room. I don't know what this room would be called. And you know what I'm doing. 

Last night I helped Walt set up a blog that we'll use to try to sell 265 acres of land. We'll still have 172 acres with the farmhouse, a gorgeous lake, fields leased to a farmer and the falling down barn. This is the beautiful place John and his two brothers inherited from their father several years ago.

So, vacation? I'm the same. The things I do are pretty much the same. Although Saturday Katie and I went to a flea market, something I don't normally do. Along with all the treasures and junk we saw there were a couple goodies I'm bringing home. 

But mainly it is a visual vacation. What I see here is very different than what I see in the Detroit suburbs.  In the evening we sit at a round table in the yard (with a fly biting our ankles) as we watch a herd of deer in the corn field. From the top of the hill we can look out over the pristine lake. We've seen a bald eagle and wild turkeys. 

And from the porch we mourn the death of a lovely old barn.

To see Walt's new blog click here: