This post is a whole bunch of bits and bobs, like hyena for dinner. We bought a new kind of grape at Aldi that is shaped like little cocktail sausages.
Aaaaand, they are tasty but weird. As we all know, weird food inspires weird eating…
Corrie gave Bessel the hedgehog a bath. Who knew hedgehogs need baths? And that the internet will tell you how to do this? Well, ok, you already knew the internet would tell you how to do this.
And his prickles were cleaner and softer? I think?
Now we’re just being gratuitous with the hedgehog pictures.
Oak Highlands Brewing Company, like many of them, is finding new ways to cope with economic downturn in these COVID times.
Helen brought back wonderful branches from our friend Paul’s house: bamboo and native grasses.
And this is just too much. Enough with the baby Yoda craze, people!
James says there is a particular kind of excitement that comes from having the right tool for the job. (There should be a word for this feeing…)
I have had the same 5 laundry bins for a few years and there was disintegration. Like, broken plastic stabbing hand sort of scenario. And then I bought an excellent new one at Aldi! (Small things, right? But so satisfying!)
So when they carried them again, I bought two more, NOT NOTICING….
that the other Aldi laundry bins have weird inspirational messages.
Like a fortune cookie. But for laundry. This may be too much for me. I would prefer my tools remain mute. No predictions, no encouragements, no opinions. What if I do not feel ready to ‘TUMBLE’ on this particular day?
Or sort out my life? Now there is pressure! The opinionated laundry bin is ready and I am not!
I need the bin, though. So I will probably have to put up with the messages…
James is a wildman on Zoom. His work Zooms are hospice related, so dynamic topics like safe behaviors around bodies suspected to have died from Covid, or what would potentially disqualify a veteran from being buried in a national cemetery. That sort of thing. And James, being James, can watch/listen to a Zoom and ALSO carry on investigative research with a fellow Zoomer named Richard.
Richard: James is that a huge turtle in that fish tank? Look at Veronica in the Zoom room. That’s a turtle!!!
Maybe a small alligator.
J: Is that an aquarium behind her? This guy keeps emphasizing extreme negatives in his burial qualifications… who commits high treason against the US? Definitely *turtle emoji*
James: looks like the turtle is trapped in solitary confinement cell in the corner of a bigger aquarium.
R: yes!!! bwahahaha
James: Wonder if heinous treatment of animals disqualifies one from burial in a nat’l cemetery?
R: *laughing emoji* What’s a green burial?
J: I mean he’s mentioned murder, racism, and high treason… Green burial is one with minimal environmental impact. Biodegradable casket, no chemical embalming, no vault, ect. Earth to earth, dust to dust. If you paid attention to the talk , Ricardo, our questions are being answered.
R: I’m practicing lip reading, sir.
J: Zoom is good for that
R: The turtle is screaming! help me
J: Look at him trying to breath at the top of his little cell
R: I’m calling PETA
J: Where’s turtlezilla when you need him?
R: I wanna ask the name of the turtle
J: do a private message to Veronica, Bro! Quick, before she cuts us off!
R: Naahhhh, you’re crazy brother
J: I just asked; its name is Slash. Didn’t you see her look and smile at my message and then look back lovingly at Slash?
R: you really asked her?
J: I totally did. Helping you out, Man.
R: I’m dying here. That’s great!
J: There are so many fun things to do on a Zoom call… Next time ask “Who’s not wearing pants? And see if anyone stands up…
I want to Zoom with these guys… and possibly the turtle…
Blackie died. We think he was hit by a car during one of his nightly rambles around the neighborhood. This has made everyone very sad. He was a good cat.
He didn’t care than much for people, but he would let you hold or pet him if you approached him quietly and gently. He had some sort of ear problem and he was forever briskly shaking his head. He would wait until a human had completely settled and was totally absorbed in a task, and then jump silently up beside them and meow in a small, faraway voice until you stroked him. He tolerated being disturbed.
If you woke in the night and felt restless lying in bed, sometimes he would wander in and leap lightly up to the very corner, wait until you turned sideways, and curl his body into the bend at the back of your knees. He slept heavily. He had the best yellow dragon eyes.
We have a kind neighbor next door who came knocking on the door this morning and told James he thought maybe our cat had been hit. James had the chance to go and get him and tell all the kids quietly.
I was gone all day writing a paper, working at church, and practicing. James called me to tell me what happened, and then spent most of the day with kids. They buried him in the backyard, and anyone who wanted to could pet him and say goodbye. It can be important to say goodbye.
I remember when my first cat died, and I cried for a whole day and most of a night and then decided I would never love another animal since it hurt so badly to lose them. I was 16 and it was only a few months after my Mom had died, and I knew what it felt like to lose something. But I didn’t know then that it was ok and not shameful to be sad. I had a religious framework that didn’t really include grieving.
There has been sadness all day here. It is ok to love things and ok to struggle with death. I wonder if having a pet gives us all opportunity to love things, accept love from them, and be present with death sometimes.
James sent me this a while back. I have it in my office. Thanks for being part of us, Blackie.
I have a band. Have I told you this? This is one of the chief joys of my life at 43 years old; I get to jam with the band. I have a bass player, drummer, and absolutely kick-ass Latin jazz guitarist who can play anything under the sun, and I play keyboards. Now, full disclosure, what we are usually playing is church praise team music. And I agree, a lot of that is lame. But my guys are the real deal. They are all better than me, and occasionally I feel surprised I get to play with them. Man, I love them. I struggle to feel a sense of community with my church, but they are community for me.
And almost every week we have these great conversations. They play bits from the Who and the Beatles and joke that everything is the drummer’s fault. (Nothing is ever actually the drummer’s fault… he is an absolute sweetheart.)
Last week they were joking about one person being on their third marriage, and the middle wife being the crazy one. And about another person going through two marriages and then ‘learning better’. I laugh so hard at all of this. I believe in the power of music (and friendship!) to carry you through hard times and make them seem bearable when you come out on the other side. I say, “well, I’m still on my first husband, but that doesn’t give me much street cred, does it?”
And one of them says… “yes, but he is a gem, so you want to hold on to that one.” Well. Yeah. How lucky am I on that one, too?
Abbey made this for us. It was like an amazing combination of French and Indian food; it was just as soft and yielding inside as a good loaf of French bread, but I think she used coconut oil instead of butter. There was an aroma and slightly sweet taste of coconut as you ate it.
And man, did we eat it. (I think my artist girl also hand-drew the little sign she adorned it with. She is an enchanting human being.)
James has a friend he has known since childhood named Paul. Sometimes a person gets lucky and they are born with talent. Paul is a talented salesman. James and Paul can both be rendered speechless with laughter when certain stories from their past come up….. there is one about a time they were on somebody’s farm messing around with a horse, and the owner came storming out to demand what they were doing with his expensive animal. On a dime, 17 year old Paul goes straightfaced and says, “Well sir, I was just thinking about buying this horse and wanted to check out the merchandise.” And the rancher eagerly begins listing all of the marvelous qualities of his horse while James sweats under his collar behind them, hoping neither of the boys will get into trouble. And they didn’t, thanks to Paul’s smooth talking.
Paul grew up, got even better at selling things, bought a piece of land beside a lake in east Texas and built a beautiful yellow house on it in the middle of a pine tree wood. James and I used to take all the kids out there and spend the night once or twice a year. The house is surrounded by woods and the kids would run around all day in sandy red dirt, finding spiders and frogs and turtles while whoever was the baby napped with James in an upstairs room and I read my book on the porch, keeping an eye on the kids so nobody ate any bugs. Paul would build a fire in a scraped down patch of dirt in the yard and we would roast marshmallows while the sun went down. Robby used to literally throw everything he could find in those fires, including one of his socks, a beer bottle, live beetles, and tons and tons of pine needles.
8-year-old Abbey got a tick that dropped out of a tree onto her head, and I found it brushing her hair the next day. We once found a lake turtle as big as a dinner plate, big as a steering wheel, right in the middle of the road and we picked it up and put it on the floor of the passenger front seat in our Suburban. It glared at us and tried to crawl up the inside of the door. Corrie was 5 or 6, and kept the turtle in the yard all afternoon; it would march steadily to the edge, and just before disappearing into the piney carpet beneath all the trees she would pick it up, her straight wispy blonde hair matted with sweat to her forehead, and carry it back into the middle of the grass. The turtle was about half as big as she was. When she went inside to get her hot dog for dinner the turtle scooted away and we never found him again.
Paul had grasshoppers as big as your wrist, deer that would come to the edge of his yard at night, the occasional fox slipping past the porch light, daddy-long-legs spiders crawling haplessly up his porch railings that Abbey and Corrie picked up and flung back out into the yard, and cardinals that flashed like red lights from tree to tree in the early morning. It smelled like sand and grass and clean damp air in the morning swinging on his porch swing. I would drag kids upstairs at night to go to bed and take off their shoes and a pile of sand would pour out of each one. Or I would run a bath and dunk them in it one at at time, the bottoms of their feet brown and crusty with dirt. Paul always had rosé or moscato wine in his fridge, and would mix it with lemonade for us to drink in hot weather. James drank beer and I drank that sweet, sweet lemony wine.
And two weeks after Lucy died we went out there and stayed for three straight days. Paul went and stayed with his sister to give us space.
So now many years have passed and Paul is going to sell his house. James took three kids to visit one last time. I stayed home to write for school stuff.
I remember times when I carried each of them on my hip at this house.
They would roll down windows and stick their arms out while we drove down this long driveway.
We always use to eat roasted hot dogs, fresh grapes, and smores for dinner. And for breakfast Paul would buy the refridgerated Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and burn the bottoms almost every time.
We use to bring a beach ball, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk.
The first couple of years the porch swing creaked and groaned like crazy and then it got better. He must have WD-40ed that sucker.
They ate Mexican for dinner this visit. First time the Jarrett family has been to a restaurant since March.
And got to say goodbye to all the little wonderful places on his property.
I was sorry not to go this time.
And grateful for the season of my life I have been able to visit this place. Good place.
You know how they say people love a man in uniform?
I feel like that. In-person shifts instead of televisits have started again for Chaplains at the hospital where James works PRN.
It’s also great to see a Chaplain whose support staff includes a hedgehog, girls, and a dog. Who would not feel comforted, encountering this team? Hospital policy is quite unyielding about hedgehogs, so in the best superhero model, James leaves all the henchmen (henchwomen, henchcreatures, etc.) in the lair and goes out to fight evil on solo missions. This guy deserves a cape. 🙂
Kitchen yesterday morning. Helen, the sheriff in these parts, helped me sling one of these creatures into a bucket and set it free under the bushes in the backyard.