Jennifer

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This month’s    featured grownups      topic is “friendship.”  Write about a friend who has meant something in your life.  It could be about your first friend, or your best friend, or that special someone who has always been there for you.  It could be about that friend who went through tough times with you, or the friend that ditched you when times got tough.  It can be happy or sad, serious or light-hearted.  The only requirement is to have fun!

 

I have known Jennifer since Kindergarten.  She always had an idea for something fun to do, from checking out her newly dead horse, Shasta “a la” Red Sky at Morning to attempting to hypnotize our school bus driver (her mother). Jennifer spent the night with me once when we were about 11.  The next morning we took my brother hiking in the canyons behind my house.  Eleven is a very adventurous age, and Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea were our adventurers. Jennifer-1

 

In the early spring the canyons were covered with a carpet of the freshest green. The sunlight filtered through the cottonwood leaves, making the ground dappled. The creek bottom smelled like the beginning of life, raw, damp, fresh, pungent.  A trickle of a stream wandered indolently among the trees, pausing here and there to form a pond. Joint grass and reeds grew in the murky shallows of the pools.  Tiny water-skiers spirited themselves across the ponds in search of food.  Grapevines crawled across the cliffs, reaching to embrace the scraggly Ponderosa Pines.

 

We ventured into unexplored canyons and found ancient initials, dating back to the 1930s, carved into the sandstone.  Exploring is hard work, and by mid- afternoon we were sweaty and tired.  We located a frog pond in which to sink our sodas and waded in the edges of the pond.  The water was actually snow melt and was freezing.  Shivering we giggled as the supersaturated mud sucked at our feet.  We waded over to inspect a minuscule waterfall and experimented dropping leaves at the top to watch them travel to the bottom. 

 

“Hey, Sher! Watch me!”  I looked over to see Jennifer standing on a one foot by one foot peninsula, arms up pretending to dive.  She bounced on the diving board and it collapsed under her, sending her screaming into the water, butt first.  When she came up she grabbed a frog and launched it at me starting an amphibious assault which lasted just until the frogs caught on.

 

In 1990, one year after high school graduation, we met at Cheyenne Frontier Days to see Alabama.  We had two free rodeo tickets and standing room to the concert.  Jennifer was being a good sport, because she does not listen to country music.  We tried to get to our cheap rodeo seats, at the far end of the oval arena from all the action, but they wouldn’t let us in at the obvious gate, so we tried another gate.  For some unknown reason our freebie tickets had granted us entrance to the $15 dollar seats under the grandstand.  It was a new experience to see this particular rodeo with the aristocracy!  Now $15 seems like a bargain, but those seats would have been just behind the box seats at the edge of the arena.  We spent about that much on the Alabama tickets.  The seats were in the cool shade and they weren’t sticky from previous beer spills, but we were out of our league.  The ladies behind us were animal rights activists, until the bull riding started, then they became human rights activists.

 

At the concert we ran into a 26 year-old Air Force Lieutenant who procured beer and cigarettes for those of us in need of such.  Thus anesthetized Jennifer was able to enjoy the concert.  She joined the Navy that fall and now drives a forklift at the local elevator and lives in her home town. 

 

We have seen ourselves through our parents’ divorces and all the other problems associated with growing up.  We keep in touch a few times a year, with an assist from Facebook.  Unfortunately we just don’t get together like we used to, however much I would like to flirt with a 26 year-old Air Force Lieutenant it just isn’t appropriate anymore. 

Thanksgiving with The Waltons

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 Seasons’ Greetings – A Featured_Grownups writing prompt.  FG suggested we write about our holiday traditions, or favorite holiday memories.  While this is definately not a favorite memory, it is one that sticks in my head.

Thanksgiving 1979 or 1980. 

We lived out in the sticks, and on Wednesday a blizzard blew up so the school bus driver ended up taking us to his house after school rather than our home.  Dad probably couldn’t get to the end of the driveway, I don’t remember for sure.  Mom and Great Grandma were snowed in with my grandparents in town. 

It was a small community and the bus driver had kids in school with us so it wasn’t really weird.  Except for the fact that his kids didn’t like us.  His daughter called me names every chance she got, mostly related to my last name which was pretty plain.  It goes to show whatever you name your kid, someone will find a way to make fun of it.  Her last name was an actual but somewhat obscure derogatory word of the sort most nine-year-olds don’t know until later in life.  Even if I did know it my parents would not have let me call her that.  Their son was a pathological liar, and mean to boot.  I cannot vouch for my brother’s experience, but mine was surreal.

To start with these people smoked.  We were not used to being around people that smoked, except my aunt but her house never had a blue cloud in the living room.  Mrs. had her daughter take me downstairs and she let me play with her avocado green metal kitchen set.  I was in heaven.  Then later in the evening Daughter took me into the bathroom and curled my hair.  This was not something that happened at my house with any regularity.  Mom was not very much into “fixing me up cute” and I wasn’t much for sitting still and letting anyone do that to me. (My daughters will likely have a similar experience.) I remember she had me count to 10 before she pulled the iron out.

I don’t remember the meal at all, or really anything else but after supper The Waltons came on.  I had not watched The Waltons as Mom thought it was drivel or maybe just sappy, so I was interested to see what everyone else at school got to watch. The bus driver plopped into his naugahyde recliner, threw the lever so his feet were in the air, pulled his spittoon into range and shouted, “When The Waltons are on, the shit hits the fan!”  Apparently this translates to “Shut up so I can watch my show.” 

I did a little research on the internet and The Waltons was indeed on Thursday night.  What does this mean folks?  We were stuck at their house two nights!  The site had a description of the show and what the producers were trying to get across.  They wanted to show “human warmth” without “excessive sentimentality.”  And that right there is why Mom wouldn’t let us watch it.  Thank you for watching out for me Mom.  I love  you.  (Happy Birthday too!)

The ramblings of a dial up blogger

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I enjoyed my day at pre-school. We went to the fruit stand and got pumpkins, and got to see a fire truck. Lunch was hamburger stew, pears, biscuit and oj. Not too bad, they use “real” silverware at her school. The portions are quite a bit bigger than my kids would eat. My day brought to light some concerns about the program, so I will be researching it. I made the assumption that I would be happy with a school’s pre-school, but now I am not so sure. I like the teacher, she does a good job, but she is not in charge of her curriculum. We couldn’t visit last year, because it just opened this year. Ms. B said kindergarten teachers wanted kids to know how to write their names, tie their shoes and be familiar with numbers 1 through 10.

Mae is still working on the shoe thing. In soccer I have noticed that whenever you need an extra break, you can kick a shoe off and get an automatic time out while the coach re-ties it. Soccer 1-49

We have two more soccer games this fall. Mae is no natural athlete. I admit we need to practice more than we do. Maybe this weekend, if it isn’t too wet. These shots are from the first game, Mae is getting better at paying attention to the game, at least when she is in it. Her Uncle John plays soccer in Korea. I hope he pays more attention than she does. I am sure he can tie his own shoes, but maybe he doesn’t know how to get extra time outs.  Soccer 1-37

My husband and I learned to drive by helping our fathers feed the cattle. Starting at about age 6, we would steer the pickup while dad fed hay or whatever until dad (we didn’t have the same dad obviously, but I am assuming here that GD’s dad did the same thing) pounded on the roof, then we would slide under the dash and push the clutch onto the floor, effectively stopping the pickup. When we weren’t there to help, they used the seatbelt to steer somehow then they had to run and jump into the pickup to stop it. I have been telling GD that it is high time he taught the ladies to drive too. The last time I mentioned it, Jane said she would like to learn to drive, “then I could save you time and drive myself to the baby sitter.”

I am excited to see that they are fixing the bridge between our house and the bus stop. That will shave off 2 miles per trip, or six miles a day for you math fans!

Jane changed one of Leo’s poopy diapers last week. By herself. She was sure proud, and she did a pretty good job (at least as good as her father would have). I caught her in Paul’s crib several weeks ago after she changed his wet diaper. She told me she didn’t get it all stuck together, and I checked to see if he was wet, because subconsciously I didn’t believe her, and she said “I changed it!” Looks like I will soon be out of a job. I wish she would potty train Leo. I dread doing it. Soccer 1-08 Speaking of poop, I learned a lesson.  Don’t feed  your kids black refried beans and chips for a snack, healthy as it might sound.  It backfired on me, literally.  I had to change four poopy diapers before 9 this morning!

I am waiting for two more photos to upload, so I am going to keep on writing. If this seems dull, just think of the things I have deleted!  Paul loves his Oreos!

Soccer 1-13 Leo loves trailers and things that hook to things.  He is using the sled to haul around his toys and his sisters.  Paul is going to have to arm wrestle him to have the use of the walking thing when he starts walking.

Leo and I have been reading Fox in Socks. I am getting to where I can read it quite quickly, as it should be read. My favorite line is, (from memory, so it might be a little off) “I don’t like this trick sir, my tongue isn’t quick or slick sir.” It just seems appropriate this time of the year. That Seuss was a smart guy.

Ho we are on the last picture! I haven’t heard from the fast internet phone guy, I was hoping for yet this year, but we are almost out of months. I don’t even want to call him.  It is taking over 15 minutes per photo. 

GD came home this week with the news that his company is sending us on a Caribbean  cruise/meeting. Last time we did this, I came home pregnant with Paul. That won’t be happening again, so we‘ll have to look for other entertainment opportunities. I am really excited about trying scuba diving again. I am also excited about the food. I love to eat, especially things I didn’t cook and don‘t have to clean up. I plan to be in training from now until Feb so I can be skinny enough to really enjoy the food. Our waiter promised we would gain 5 lbs in 3 days. I beat that, but then I was pregnant too, never mind that it was only a few hours pregnant. I bought myself two souvenirs last time, a flamingo shirt and a cookbook from the cruise line.

Dad is coming for a night this weekend. I might have to get out my cookbook and try something new.

I spent most of that last 15 minutes cutting things out and editing, so consider yourself lucky.

 

Parental warning

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Mom and Dad, this contains a picture of your wedding.  Just a warning. 

 

Something old….

 DSC01100

Something new. 

 

Jane wanted to be a bride for Halloween, so we found her a used veil (mom’s) and a dress from Goodwill. 

For the Kiwanis Kids’ Parade, we dressed Mae as her bride’s maid, Leo as the groom.  Jane suggested Paul could be a fat angel-baby, so we gave him some Tinkerbell wings, and a bow and arrow.  I tied some old shoes to drag behind the wagon.  We didn’t win, but we should have.

 

In other news, I have a new favorite word.  mondegreen (n)

Basically it is when you misunderstand the lyrics of a song, or a phrase.  The example Dictionary.com uses is “I lead a pigeon to the flag,” rather than, “I pledge alligance to the flag.”

I took the opportunity to look up a phrase from Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light” that has always puzzled me.  I was relieved that it was actually the word “deuce” and the phrase still made no sense to me. 

 

 

Camping Memories

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We went camping this weekend.  I hope my kids will remember their camping experiences fondly.  The gentlemen slept in the tent with me, while the ladies fought over the guest bed in my folks’ pop-up tent camper.

When I was a kid, we used to go camping a couple times a year with family friends.  Unfortunately Mom and Dad’s friends did not have their own kids until I was in high school.  I hope my brother and I were not a factor in this decision.  Our favorite camping spot was a lake a couple hours into Wyoming.  I remember camping on an island and watching fireworks on July 4, 198?.  My aunt and uncle joined us at the lake once when I was about 13.  They actually had kids, their youngest at the time was probably not one yet, they had a three-year old and another around 10.  The oldest cousin was a couple years younger than me, but lived with her mom most of the time.  She didn’t visit her dad nearly often enough, but we always made the most of it when she was around.  I don’t really remember anything specific about that time, just that it was fun to have someone new to play with.  Do you remember that Jules?

The Wildflower family doesn’t do things the easy way.  If you are picturing us pulling up to the island in a motorboat, you are sorely mistaken.  We had an inflatable rubber raft and a few paddles.  No waterskiing for us.  I remember quite a bit of river rafting.  This would not be serious white water style rafting, but the river did have some interesting spots.  I also remember my folks rowing across a huge lake because they left the pickup at the wrong end of the lake.  Oops.  My crazy uncle kept rowing the opposite direction as the other rowers.  I don’t believe they kicked him off the raft, but I know they wanted to.

We camped in a tent.  I remember sleeping in the tent that belonged to our then kidless friends with my brother once.  It was in the mountains somewhere and really cold, as in it snowed that night.  The wind also blew, and blew our tent over.  I have vague memories of thinking a bear was after us, but then going back to sleep (or possibly into a temperature induced coma) when nobody ate me.  When we woke up the tent was under an inch of snow.  Two preteen sized bumps in the snow were the only signs a tent was ever there.

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This is in response to  Punk_Rock_Mommy/need-a-laugh. She posted a photo blast from the past.  I was shocked to see how much alike we looked.  Maybe everyone looked alike back then.  This is my brother, my cousin and me on one of my most remembered vacations of my childhood.  I bet it ranks up there for my grandparents too!  They took the three of us to the Black Hills in 1984.

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I found this book in the library.  We are systematically going through the non-fiction section, concentrating on various things. This week it is cattle.  (I am excited to read the book called Stockyards next.)  Cow is written quite well, it reads like a fun speaker giving a talk to a group of children.  As most cow books do, it leans towards the dairy side of cattle, otherwise the only thing that is missing is explaining to the reader which end of the cow gets up first.