Monday, December 14, 2009

Turn, Turn, Turn

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Once again, it's time for the next incarnation of my blog. Not to worry - I'm not taking my blog down again; I'm just moving. I've been thinking for a while that it's really time to take this little blog in a more 'public' direction, to make it more 'accessible' to my family and friends. And so, I'm moving to The Yard Next Door. Which, I hope, will be a lot like the yard we've all been running in for the past few years, with a few modest changes (which I'll leave the observant and/or clever among you to notice). . . And if those of you who have links to this blog could change the link to the new one, I'd be grateful.

This blog will still be here; I've still got to have something to link to, when my stories cross-reference each other, right? But as of this post, I won't be posting anything new here. Just to let you know.

And, since it's how I'll be posting on the new blog, I can 'pull the curtain aside', just a little bit. Some of you already know, but 'Desmond Jones' isn't my real name; I'm Craig. And 'Molly' is my wife Jen (OK, she's really Jennifer, but her mother doesn't even call her that). I could give you the names of our eight kids, but that would probably be more confusing than just continuing to use the birth-order/gender nomenclature that I've always used. Heck, I've got to be a little bit careful, right?

Anyway, you can all watch the 'new blog' for signs of activity, and before long, we'll all be comfortable in the new digs, I hope. And, if a few of my friends and family start dropping in, maybe you can even make a new friend or two. . .

See you there. . .

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Keep Reminding Myself, This Is What I Signed Up For. . .

Arriving at home after work last night, I pulled the car into the carport. Before I could even turn the engine off, my ears were seared by a piercing, wailing howl, as 7M ran screaming out the back door of the house, followed closely by 6F. He was obviously in pain, and I tried to get him to calm down enough to tell me what had happened, to no avail. 6F finally explained that they had been making dinner - a ham roast - and, taking the pan out of the oven, 7M had spilled a bit of the liquid (mostly water, with a bit of grease) on his foot. So I quickly removed his hot-liquid-soaked sock, and ran him inside to get some cold water on his scalded foot, while he wailed the whole time. . .


It's always so nice to come home to the peaceful, happy bosom of my family, you know?

(And of course, yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (one of those Catholic Holy Days of Obligation), which, for purposes of this story, meant that Molly was gone to church at the time. And after that, she had her Women's Group meeting, so I was kinda 'winging it on the fly'. . .)


Once he got calmed down a bit, and the immediate, searing pain gave way to something a bit more endurable, we saw that he had sustained second-degree burns on two of his toes, and a small portion of the top of his foot. Which ain't gonna maim him for life, so that's good. But, in the immediate near-term, it still hurts like hell. And feet being what they are, associated with how we usually transport ourselves from one place to the next, the consequences of the injury sort-of radiate out. Just getting him comfortable enough to fall asleep last night was a project of more-than-modest proportions, involving duct-taping an ice-bag to his poor scalded foot.

And then this morning, we had the whole question of what to do with it, so 7M (who is well on the way to adopting as his personal motto, "Why Does This Stuff Keep Happening to Me?") could go to school. We finally settled on a fresh ice-bag, with a fresh batch of duct-tape, all wrapped in a towel, secured by more duct-tape. We retrieved a pair of crutches from the attic, and he was good to go.

Except that last night, we got our first snowfall of the season, and everything was a slushy, sloppy mess. So that, by the time 7M made his way up to the second-floor classroom, his improvised ice-bag/towel/sock/boot arrangement was soaked with black slop, and the school (understandably, I suppose), concerned about it getting infected, called Molly (who had one of her rare early-morning shifts of work) to come and pick him up. (I mean, don't these folks know that we've got a life beyond bouncing back and forth to pick up and drop off our kids?) (I'm kidding, in case anyone is wondering. . .)


So now the poor kid gets to go see the doctor this afternoon, and get a real dressing put on his injured foot, so perhaps he can play in the school band's Christmas concert tonight. But he's probably gonna have to miss his basketball game this weekend. . .


La-la, how the life goes on. . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blast From the Obits

For the past few years, I have acquired the habit of daily checking the obituaries in my hometown (Up North) newpaper's website. From time to time, people will show up there who I remember - people from the church my family belonged to, parents of my friends, old teachers/coaches, and increasingly in recent years, my friends and classmates. It's always a little bit jarring to see one of my classmates in the obits; we're in our mid-50s now, so collectively, we've got a few miles on us, so to speak, but we're not as old as all that, you know?

Even as far back as when I was in my 20s, though, I remember hearing about a guy who'd been my brother's best friend, and with whom I'd played many a game of backyard football, being killed in a drunk-driving accident. Another guy who I'd known since my grade-school days was run over by a car, just crossing the street on his lunch hour. It does remind you of how fragile, and how precious, human life is.

Whenever I see someone with whom I went to school in the obits, it always piques my curiosity a bit - what kind of life did they have? Did they die of a sudden, catastrophic illness or accident? Or did too much hard living catch up with them (I've known of a few of those, too)? What about their families - their spouses and children? Sometimes, I remember seeing them at a class reunion; sometimes not.

Just recently, as I was doing my regular Up North obit scan, I noticed a 54-year-old woman with the same last name as a guy I'd gone to school with, so I clicked on her name, to see if she might have been related to the guy I was thinking of. She might have been his sister, or possibly married to his brother, or something (and of course, just because she was my age and living in my old hometown, doesn't have to mean anything; people even move up there, from time to time).

But what I found made me sit back and stare at the screen, for a couple seconds. It was Bev, the girl I'd taken to the prom, and who'd left with another guy. It was a very odd sensation, and all the moreso because it was only a few months ago that I blogged about her. I sure don't remember her fondly; the brief interlude in which our paths crossed is mostly an occasion for rueful, or embarrassed, recollection, when I think of it at all. Heck, in describing the story of how she treated me at the prom, I said I wasn't really all that interested in what had become of her. And I really wasn't.

But now, I was finding out, for free, without having to look it up or anything. The obit mentioned her husband, who turned out to indeed be the brother of the guy I'd been thinking of. She had three kids, and her son had a different last name than her husband; in fact, he was 'junior', with the same name as another classmate of ours, who I'd known in passing. So she'd had at least two husbands, and had kids with a guy I remembered. Both her parents are still living, likely in their late 70s or 80s by now.

I'm hard-pressed to account for the odd emotional reaction it provoked in me to hear of her death. In the grand sweep of my life, she's really not all that significant, notwithstanding what happened around the prom. She was never my girlfriend, although for a couple weeks, way back when, I was fairly head-over-heels on her account. I didn't know her all that well before then (if I had, I might not have asked her to the prom), and I had even less to do with her afterward.

But you know, she might have been my First Kiss. I'm honestly not sure, but I can't think of any other likely candidates for the honor. It's a little sad, though, if she is. I'd like to think of my First Kiss fondly; not that she was a skank who cynically used me.

Not that it matters all that much by now, anyway. It is what it is. There's nothing to do about it, one way or the other. And may God have mercy. . .

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hook, Line and Sinker. . . Well, Except for the Line and Sinker

In our previous house, the one we lived in before we moved into our current house nearly ten years ago, the mailbox was strategically situated on the facing of the porch, for ease of the mailman's access. Unfortunately, that also meant that it was more-or-less directly beneath the edge of the porch roof. Which was not a problem, most of the time. But on rainy/snowy days, water would drip off the edge of the roof, directly onto the mailbox. Which, again, was not a problem, so long as the mailbox remained closed. But, lacking one of those nifty red flags to indicate that we had outgoing mail, the way we signaled to our mail carrier that we had outgoing mail (utility bills, and such inconsequential items as those), was to leave the stamped end of the letter sticking out from under the lid of the mailbox. So now, perhaps, you can perceive the problem. Rain, or snowmelt, would drip onto the portion of the letter that stuck out from under the mailbox lid, and made the printing run (or, even worse, the ink on the enclosed check), or worst of all, in the days before self-adhesive stamps, it might wash the stamp off the envelope entirely, resulting in a three-digit electric bill falling down the postal service's Black Hole for Unstamped Letters. Not that that ever happened, or anything. . .

So, on rainy/snowy days, if we had outgoing mail, I would often just take it with me when I left for work in the morning. Some days, my route to work would take me past the main post office, and I would just drop our letters in the box in the lobby there. Otherwise, I would look for one of those blue letter-boxes that one finds on the edge of the curb, which used to be way more common than they are these days. Thus protected from the elements, our bills could wait in the relative comfort and security of the blue curbside letter-box until the mailman came along with his key to speed them to their intended destination.

All of which is an elaborate setting of the stage for the real story of this post. . .


One such snowy day - it had snowed a foot or more in OurTown, and the snow was still coming down furiously as I left for work - I had a fistful of letters to send off, and I was working in a part of town I wasn't very familiar with, so I was going slowly, peering through the snow, trying to find a blue letter-box. I finally spied one, on the corner of a fairly seedy side street, next to an old drug store. In order to get myself out of the flow of traffic, what with visibility and traction both being pretty seriously diminished, I turned onto the side street and maneuvered my car around so I could pull up near the letter-box. I hopped out of the car, deposited my letters into the blue box, and got back into the car.

I was just about to pull back onto the main street, when a woman I'd never met got into the passenger seat of my car. She was blond, and looked to be around 40 years old, not unattractive, but bearing a 'hard-life' sort of demeanor. She was wearing a leopard-print winter coat. "Hi!" she greeted me, cheerily.

"Uh, hi," I replied, wondering just what the hell this was about.

"So - where do you wanna go?"

"Um. . . excuse me?"

"Where do you wanna go?"

"Uh. . . I'm going to work? Is there some way I can help you?"

"Well, you pulled in where I was standing! Why did you do that, if you didn't want something?"

"Uh. . . I pulled off the main street so I could drop some letters in the blue box."

Now both of us are a little flustered, as I'm suddenly realizing what's going on with this woman in my car, and she's suddenly realizing that I'm not the 'customer' she took me to be.

"Sorry. . . " I mumbled, "but I'm not in the market. Can I drop you somewhere where you'll be warm?"

"No," she replied. "I'll be fine right here. Sorry to bother you. Have a nice day."

"Um. . . you too. . ." And she got out of my car, and back to plying her trade. . .

And that, along with the story I told from the summer when I was 17, is the sum total of my lived experience with prostitutes.

And just for what it's worth, Molly thought it was hilarious when I told her the story when I got home at the end of the day. . .