Just Keep Going

Before I tell my latest story, I have to preface it with some information.  My husband has been engaging in a rather rigorous exercise regime for about four years.  The result is that he’s in the best shape of his life, his biceps are one of the wonders of my world, and he’s quite strong.  Just how strong, I didn’t fully realize until last week.

               Last week, we went out for a day trip to look for, and possibly purchase, an antique sofa or settee.  We found, instead, two antique chairs and a large area rug.  The rug just took my breath away, as it is about 15 x 20, wool, Persian, and in all the right colors for our newly-painted upstairs landing room.  This area will be, someday, a reading nook and quiet space for me.

               We brought the goods home and, since the weather forecast called for rain that evening, decided to bring our new items into the house.  My husband pulled the truck up next to our front steps, which are fairly wide and long.  There are about seven of them leading into the front door and hall.  We easily carted the chairs into the house and placed them in the living room.

               The plan was to carry the large, cumbersome roll of rug up into the front hall and put it down.  My hubby said he’d get a friend to help him take it to the second floor.

               So, we maneuvered the rug off the back of the truck and Matt took the roll – about midway up the roll – under his right arm and tucked it onto his hip. I gamely grabbed the back end and we trudged up the front steps and into the doorway.

               As my feet hit the next to the last step, it occurred to me that the rug was not nearly as heavy as I had thought.  We were going at a pretty good clip, so I called out, sweetly, “Honey, let’s just keep going.”

               [Now, when Matt tells this story, he recalls it somewhat differently.  He says that I adopted the vocal tone, pitch and volume of a Marine drill sergeant and bellowed out, “Just keep going!”]

               Whichever account is accurate, through the hall and to the staircase, we went, rug in tow.

               At the top of this staircase – which is eleven steps – there is a small landing, after which there are four more stairs to the left.  On this small landing is a precious artifact (given to me years ago by my amazing husband) called a “Santos.” This wooden figure stands about three feet tall and is perfectly tucked into the corner of the landing at which the stairs turn.

               As my foot hit the second step, I lost my grip on the rug.  This is when I realized that (a) I hadn’t been “carrying” any of the weight at all and in fact, may have been adding to it, and (b) Matt was carrying this enormous roll of rug under one arm and moving up the stairs.

               I again, sweetly and a bit nervously, called out, “Honey, watch out for the Santos.” He made the turn successfully with me dancing up the stairs behind him, looking around him to check the Santos. [His recollection of this part of the adventure differs from mine as well.  According to him, I screeched rather like an enraged falcon, “Watch out for the Santos!” as he was trying to navigate the turn.]

               He arrived at the top of the stairs without incident and the rug is absolutely stunning.  I was so thrilled and notice that I am giving him full credit for getting it up there! 

               As I thought about it, it occurred to me that “just keep going” is a good mantra for life in general. Whether you’re facing a difficult task, a tough decision, or just some tedious chore, it’s always good to just plow through.  Now, whether you tell yourself to keep going in dulcet tones, or like an owl in heat – that’s up to you.

Parental Indecision

               Most families have stories about things that have happened that are funny, or sad, or strange and ended up with a happy ending anyway.  In my family, my parents’ indecision is pretty legendary. Maybe indecision isn’t the right word.  A better description of it is actually their inability to compromise.  Both of them were pretty stubborn. I have proof.

               My evidence starts with my name.  Back in those days (dinosaurs had been extinct for only a decade or two), the mother couldn’t leave the hospital until the baby had a name.  I don’t know if that’s still true, but what I do know is that the mother and baby are discharged from a hospital within hours, so the baby better have a name pretty quickly.

               I was born on July 31 and my parents were still arguing about my name on August 18.  That’s when the hospital told them enough was enough.  A name had to be chosen and chosen that day.  Nineteen days in the hospital was sufficient.

               My mom wanted to name me (shudder) Star Lynn.  Say that quickly and I’d be named after a dirty bird.  My dad favored a mom-junior, which meant I’d be named Adelene Josephine.  (Please.) When she would hear none of that, he countered with “Helen Ellen.” Given that my surname was “Llewellyn,” I would have been saddled with a rhyming moniker which initials spelled, in my dad’s vernacular, “H – E – double toothpicks.”  How fun.

               The nurse faithfully brought me to them each day, saying “here’s your little Susie Q.” So after nineteen days of this and an administrative ultimatum, my father went to the business office and filled out my birth certificate, naming me “Sue.” But everyone in my family called me “Susie.”

               Years passed, and the power struggle between my parents didn’t dissipate.  When I was in high school, my parents informed me that they would pay for my college education but I would have to major in the subject they selected.  Fortunately for me, they couldn’t agree.  My mom thought that, since I could type really fast, I should major in secretarial science.  My dad thought that since I had an aptitude for math, I should study engineering.  I told them both that I was suited for neither.  I could also wash dishes, but I hadn’t planned on majoring in dishwashing.

               They were not deterred by my logic.  They continued to argue their positions.  Meanwhile, I got two jobs and put myself through college, getting a degree in speech and language therapy.  By my senior year, they had quit arguing and honestly, I think both of them were surprised that I hadn’t selected the major each of them wanted.

               They didn’t take me to church while I was growing up.  From all accounts, my brothers were baptized and attended a local Methodist church with my mom for ten years. After I was born, my dad – for reasons that I was never told – refused to attend a baptism ceremony for me.  So, I wasn’t baptized and didn’t go to church. 

               Well, except for Christmas and Easter, when Dad suited up and we all attended.  Fortunately, I did frequently attend church with my girlfriend and her family, so I did get some religious exposure.

               It also allowed me to explore many different churches as an adult and I had myself baptized when I was 27 years old.  I’ve been attending church ever since, and realized that their “disagreement” permitted me to make my own informed choice.

               Parental indecision and arguing can cause children some angst, I know.  In my case, I think it ended up giving me options I might not have had.  Except my name.  I guess at this point, I’m just stuck with “Sue.”

               Well, there are worse things.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Today we were listening to the radio and a tune came on from years ago that both Matt and I recognized.  And though we recognized it, we couldn’t remember the year, the artist, or the title.  So I went into the house to find it on the internet.  That’s when I became Alice and scampered down the rabbit hole.

               The internet is quite a rabbit hole, isn’t it?  You get on there and suddenly you’re going all kinds of places you didn’t intend, but find interesting and then you’re off on an adventure of discovery that can (and often does) take you far afield.

               So I started out looking for “instrumental songs of the 70’s.”  Actually, the tune we heard was mostly instrumental but had one line in it – “let’s get it on, you got to get down.” I made the mistake of typing that, and got a host of information on Marvin Gaye’s hit “Let’s Get It On.” A good song, but not the one we had heard.

               But that took me to another YouTube site for – strangely enough – a high school choir performing the William Tell Overture. It’s the Timpanagos High School Choir, just in case you feel like looking it up yourself, and is three minutes of fun.

               So I watched that choir and the next site was a “mistake mix” of ballet dancers.  I’m not knowledgeable about ballet, and they looked quite graceful to me.  If there were mistakes, I didn’t spot them. Before I could click back to my 1970s quest, the video changed to a Jeannie Robinson clip called “Don’t go rafting without a Baptist in the boat.” If you haven’t watched this lady, she’s really funny.

               Naturally, I watched this clip all the way through. When that nine minutes was over, I noticed that the next clip was a five-year-old performing on America’s Got Talent.  But the clip after that was called “Host Loses It Over 93-year-old Raunchy Joke.” I had to watch that!  It was from a news show in Australia and was another five minutes of fun.

               For some odd reason, the next clip in line was “what happens when I put foil in chicken.”  This was a video – eight minutes of video – for a recipe that quite frankly, looked unappealing to me.  Yuck.  But I watched it. Then the internet took me to “Buddy Hackett’s Duck Joke on Johnny Carson.” I assume this was a natural progression from chicken videos to duck videos.  But I didn’t watch it.

               I didn’t watch it because I became fascinated with the 7 ½ minute video of “babies funny reactions to dads shaving their beards.” I was, at first, fascinated because I could not figure out why shaving or beards had any connection to ducks.  But then…the babies.  They’re just so cute.

               That led me to “kids react to the Sponge Bob song from a street performer.” I was glad this was only 42 seconds long, because the “kid” in question didn’t react.  At all.  He just listened.  I guess that’s a reaction.

               Then I started watching an April Fools prank played on a teacher.  It was hilarious, and only lasted two minutes. The topic of pranks took me way around the barn, to a cat vs. dog obstacle course, then to changing the floor texture that dogs walk on, and finally, to a hallway filled with water that posed a problem for a really cute Husky.  Another six minutes or so of fun.

               Are you keeping count?  So far, I’d frittered away over 40 minutes and still had no idea what that song was that we heard this morning.

               I started over, well I started to start over.  The next set of video clips were dance scenes from movies and I just had to watch those.  So after “Thriller” (from “13 going on 30”) and a flash mob based on “Mamma Mia,” I got down to business.  Without much success, I might add. 

               At last, a brainstorm!  I went to the radio station’s website and found their listing of songs they had played in the last few minutes.  I actually had to review the whole list played that morning and success was mine!  The tune was T.S.O.P. (The Sounds of Philadelphia), by the Three Degrees.  I would never have remembered that title, or artist, but good to know.  Plus, it only took about an hour to find and whoosh!  I was right back out of the rabbit hole. 

A Question of Competence

There’s a commercial on daytime television lately that kind of drives me crazy.  It’s for a kind of gutter protector that supposedly keeps leaves and debris out of gutters, so that only rain gets into them.  This sounds great, and would be great…if they worked. 

The ad represents well how these companies sell the leaf protection system.  It shows a group of older folks, mostly couples, and a leader asks how many men still use ladders to clean their gutters.  Many hands are raised, and the women-folk look upset, concerned, surprised, and occasionally irritated.  The commercial emphasizes the dangers of older folks on ladders and pretty much paints a picture that any wife who would permit this behavior (like we control men, ha!) is a terrible person. 

I have some issues with this ad.  First of all, my husband is a grown man who can make his own decisions.  If he wants to climb a rickety old ladder, fall off, and ruin Thanksgiving, not to mention taking years off my life, then my opinion will not change that.  I know this from experience.

Secondly, the pitch on both the commercial and from the actual company who sells this device really hits hard on the “caring wife wouldn’t want her husband on a ladder” idea.  I know this from experience, too.  I almost felt I needed to go to confession after this pitch.

And finally, the stinking system doesn’t work.  I know this from experience, as well!  They come out, put up the leaf-resistant screening stuff and leave (after you pay them an extraordinary amount of money).  The first rain, nothing but water comes out of the spout.  The second rain, mostly water comes out.  By the end of the first season, the gutters are plugged with sodden leaves and branches and the husband is going up the ladder, regardless of my pleas.

He does make one concession, however.  Now when he cleans the gutters, he requests that I stand at the foot of the ladder when he does the job now.  No, not to catch him or prevent a fall, just to be able to dial 911 if the ladder slips.

So, I’m pretty annoyed at the commercial and at these gutter-leaf machine companies who try to make me feel incompetent as a wife and person because I can’t stop my husband from doing something he’s done for roughly fifty years.  Because if there’s one thing I am, it’s competent. 

Or so I thought until today.  My hubby and I have played cribbage ever since we’ve been married.  The game is easy and typically we have close games, though he often wins the tournaments (cribbage boards allow you to track up to 7 games and whoever gets the 7th win first, wins the tournament).

Today we started a new tournament and I dealt first.  We played the first game, which I won easily.  Then we played a second game, in which I led for the first half.  He came from behind with a stunning hand and beat me.  So, we are currently tied, 1 – 1.

As he was putting the cards away, my husband started to laugh.  He showed me the box and pulled out the Ace of Clubs from it.  Apparently, I’d left one card behind when I started the game!  So…maybe I’m not so competent after all?

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