Is it just me or do Wednesdays seem to come around faster now?
I’m off again at the end of the week for Louisiana. We’ll be returning to Slidell, where there is still work to be done. Can you believe it is three years after Hurricane Katrina and there are still roofs that need repair? Homes that need drywall? People who need help and healing?
Can you believe that tomorrow will be two years since Jeff has been gone? As many of you know, I am not happy about the situation. But I am peaceful now, in ways that cannot readily be described in a few words or a million words. I know how he suffered, I know how he loved, and I know that he did not want any of us to see him weaken. He wanted us all to have the brilliant memory of his laugh, his quick and frequent smile, and the knowledge that his heart was big enough to hold everyone, and still does.
PS. You might get a newsletter next week from Louisiana, but then again…. you might not.
Guess we’ll both be surprised to see how that turns out.
I don’t remember the first time I heard Jeff whimper, but it probably had something to do with some expensive Dale Earnhardt Sr 1:24 die-cast replicate race car.
I do remember one quite clearly, though.
Kmart was closing a few Michigan locations, so we took a drive out to one to see about bargains. The one we ended up at was nearly done-in. The place was a disaster; people were taking things off racks and shelves, opening and destroying boxes and leaving items mid-aisle.
I was just about to drag him out of that madhouse when we rolled by an aisle with – gasp – tools!
“Oooooo,” he murmured. Eyes wide, he radared every shelf. I don’t know how he saw it, but well-hidden, stacked behind some really traumatized boxes was a brand new scroll saw with it’s own folding workbench.
He dragged it out for inspection, carefully searching for any signs that it might have been opened before, returned or damaged in any way. Then, cautiously and thoroughly reviewed the “before and after,” markdown pricelist, dragging his finger down the display.
“Oooooo,” he gasped, peering closely. I could see the dreamy dollar signs in his glazed-over look.
“How much?” I asked.
“It was $215.00,” he marveled.
“How much?” I asked.
“It was already marked down to $115.00,” he cooed
“Jeff!” I snapped my fingers hoping to bring him back, because he was clearly swirling into the “I don’t think I can live without this piece of equipment,” abyss.
“How much?” I asked, again.
.Jeff tentatively smiled as he lovingly patted the box and solemnly spoke. “$62.50.”
“I don’t know, Jeff,” I hedged. “What would you use it for?”
“Lots of things,” he insisted. Earnestly adding, “for the store! um, and… making stuff!”
“I just don’t think we can afford that right now, honey,” I said, trying to let him down easy.
Certain he would bow to my logic, I wheeled the empty cart around to leave.
That’s when I heard it. The whimper.
I was so surprised I stopped right in my tracks and turned to stare at him.
The whimper came with a face I had never seen before – one way more serious than puppy-dog eyes.
Eyes still foggy with scroll-lust, bottom lip tucked in under his teeth, still touching the sacred saw, he barely shuffled away from the hand-magnetizing carton.
He truly tried to take another step toward me, moving maybe an entire inch, arm about 20 degrees behind him.
Then he whimpered, again.
“Ok,” I said. “Throw it in the cart.”
He did. Grinning and with ninja speed.
“Quit smiling like that,” I good-naturedly grumbled. “You’re gonna split your face wide open and I don’t wanna spend another night in the emergency room with you.”
Jeff just kept twinkle-smiling. I twinkle-smiled back.
HBlu received his second steroid shot today, and if it looks like it can be eaten HBlu is zealously pursuing it. The calming meds are working well. He’s so calm that every once-in-a-while I check to make sure he’s still breathing.
And, lastly, Sir Harley of Perpetual surprise has a thyroid problem and supposedly ‘flea dirt.’ He didn’t have any flea-related anything last week at our regular vets.
Odd and absolutely fantasmic, there were no actual fleas or eggs found on him, just residue. And only on his right side. Theoretically, because he can turn his head to the left to groom but cannot turn his head to the right.
Since the chair incident last week, I’m much more hesitant to believe any suppositions.
In any case, I’m about to Zoom my first dinner, on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve got my own hilariously not-so-little feast prepared and delivered by Bob Evans and DoorDash. Seriously, when my new Foodsaver (which is replacing my 8-year-old, now sucking-less model) arrives on Friday, it’s going to get quite a work-out.
Speaking of work-outs, I exceeded my 4-day exercise goal this week by completing 5 days. Under the scrutiny of cats and with cats underfoot, I have cause to be pleased with myself.
Speaking of pleased with myself, I bought that FoodSaver with my well-developed Knabble Layering skills.
You can do it, too.
(Watch for tomorrow night’s post – I’ll show you how.)
At 2:00 in the morning, I was annoyed to be so wide awake. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was just the long day we’d had Saturday. Maybe it was knowing Sunday would be busy with church and groceries, and maybe meeting that baby. Maybe it was me being selfish after a long week at work. I just wanted to get one good night’s sleep.
Once I’d done what I had to (the mask and the loo thing), I wandered back to the kitchen for a snack. I don’t recall what I was looking for, only that there was a minuscule amount left. My frustrated feelings admittedly moved to more along the lines of exasperation. Directly associated with this continual pet peeve: leaving 2 crackers, 1 cookie, 5 chips – or only the crumbly remnants of what might have been.
Unhappy, I turned about for the other side of the house, again. I figured as long as I was sort-of cognisantly sleepless, I might as well be productive. Jeff and Freddie and Sadie were all slumbering soundly, so I took advantage of the quiet. Parked in front of our home office computer, I tackled month-end book-keeping for September.
I made notes, reviewed cash-register close out receipts. I ticked-off sales, counting the number of salsa, hot sauce, snacks, candy, cookies, gift goods and beverages that had found their way off of our shelves. I ran comp numbers, created projections, brainstormed upcoming holiday and marketing scenarios by myself.
In the early morning hours of October 1st, I’d delightfully determined our September had continued our positive streak for the second month in a row. I, fully alone, full-on grinned at the spreadsheet, looking forward to sharing success and smiles with Jeff in the morning.
That was finished and nicely settled, but I wasn’t. I was on an accomplishment high.
To wind down I relaxed into a Scrabble game, battling it out with the computer-generated Maven. Winning a rare game against the programmed-to-win competitor, lead to another round.
When I was sleepy enough to try sleeping, again, I shut down the computer, packaging up tall of the papers and receipts.
By rote, I turned off the office light and turned the corner, fully self-expecting to return to my side of the bed.
There are many shades of innovation. Some are brighter than others.
There are two engaging and admirable industries within Cass Social Services. Both use recycled/reclaimed materials. Sheet glass becomes handmade coasters packaged in boxes hewn from reclaimed wood. Trashed tires become mud mats, and flip-flops.
Riding around Detroit picking up discarded tires for reuse brings tire recycling to a higher level. Repurposing illegally released rubber into colorful mud mats and trendy flip-flops is out-of-the-box inspiring; a home run from Detroit for Detroit. Even the big “D” logo shows up and adds pride to the sandals. How cool is it to tread on treads? Very. Freaking. Cool.
Rotating through various work stations in smaller groups was also engaging. At each interactive stop, we met mentors, ranging from self-conscious to confident, reserved to animated, a bit distrusting to upright happy. All had story to tell: who they were, who they are, who they are trying to be, a timeline of weary challenges and personal successes.
I tried my hand at glass cutting, after almost everyone else had. The basics: run the blade along the ruler at a 45° angle using firm, even pressure. Since all the kids were doing it, I denied my initial reluctance, carefully applying caution and draw. My instinctive “pass” was reinforced when my efforts failed to split evenly. A portion of the jagged piece I created would be salvageable, just not by me.
Our final afternoon assignment wasn’t about footwear, but an underfoot of another kind: mud mats.
Our two-person team’s teacher was reluctant. His nervousness was recognizable; his mannerisms familiar. You know the feeling you get when the last twist of the Rubik Cube nets the results you’ve been struggling with? You know the contented click of slipping in the last puzzle piece? You know the charge you get when you know you can succeed? With 30+ years of personality variation patience building behind me, I knew what to do. This was my right-place useful moment, although, that might not have been his initial impression
I know we were frustrating. Switching back and forth between thick and thin strips of sliced tire creating an unclear pattern while keeping track of non-repetitive rainbow colors was a bit like Suduko, which has never been a strong point of mine. Rework would be required a number of times.
I understand there is a color version of the game. That may indeed be manageable for me. Shapes might work, too. I’ve never viewed the solution as the need to create a single sum on each line. Too busy trying to figure out what doesn’t go to seemingly no purpose. But a puzzle is just that – an exercise in solving a problem. We all solve problems on a daily basis. Some of them are monumental and some of them are minute. All can be resolved; review, reanalyze, rework.
I know we eventually made him a little more comfortable. I know we made him shake his head in bemusement, and later amusement. I know he didn’t understand how we could not understand. Perhaps too bold, I want to believe our failure, could have proved positive self-worth. He was the teacher, doing something we could not. We left him with a smile, and to my great happiness, he smiled back.