Friday, October 26, 2012

A No Pants Kinda Day, Outhouse Mishap

Have you ever wanted to go into the office and just go the whole day not wearing any pants?

For those of you who work at home, this does not apply, you can do this any time.

Those of us who are rebels at heart but have to conform to maintain income, pay bills, keep a roof over our heads, put gas in the car, bla, bla, bla ..... we must head into the office. Whether that office is a bus barn where we park our car then climb into a yellow school bus for the morning or a government office building, we must leave our homes and travel to our jobs.

Now you may be asking yourselves, what in the world does this have to do with outhouses?? I will get there eventually.

I was a pretty lucky kid. We only had an outhouse at the lake cabin and didn't have to live there, so we didn't have to use it every single day or night every single day of the year.

Some of my friends were not that lucky. They had no choice and this was very simply, the life they lived, the life they knew, the life they accepted and respected.

When I would spend the night with a friend who had no indoor plumbing, I apprecitated the fact that someone in their family was thoughtful enough to put an actual toliet set above the hole cut out for the waste to fall, even if 20 degrees outside and wrapped in a quilt, that seat was a welcome sight. As a girl, I could manage to sit on the seat still wrapped in the quilt to warm it some until I was about to burst then I would yank the quilt, do my business and run back to the house.

For those of you who are not familiar, an outhouse has to be moved frequently, has to be as far away from the water well as possible and although it certainly would be easier to get to if it was right next to the house, would you really want human waste that close to where you spent most of your time? Also, an outhouse has no electricity, at least the ones I used had no electricity. Flashlights hung by the back door to help lead the way to the outhouse and at least in the winter, there wasn't the need to search every corner, high and low, for snakes, spiders, or some other critter that might decide to make a home for the night in the shelter, especially if it was about to rain.

No matter the time of year, girls, I don't know about the men, but girls had to be careful to keep their pants off the floor of the outhouse. This required some skill if wrapped in a thick quilt because you wouldn't want the quilt to hit the floor either. If there were men about, they didn't worry much about making it to the outhouse, the world became their outhouse, unless they had serious business to do, at which point, they were not too neat. You get the picture.

At work on the day I am speaking of, decades after my last use of an outhouse, I had become accustom to "dropping trowe", just letting my pants hit the floor without worry. That day, I needed to worry. There was a leak in a joint behind the toilet and my pants were accommodating enough to soak up all the water I didn't see at the base of the toilet.

So, there I sat, for most of the day, behind my desk in my office with my pants off. I had a jacket around my waist and my pants drapped over a drawer with a DO NOT DISTURB note tapped to my door. Of course everyone had to knock and ask, why is there a DND on your door? Lucky for me, and them, I have a desk with a privacy front!

I tied it together, the outhouse and my no pants kinda day. It was a new experience for me and my pants eventually dried but oh my goodness. I do check the floor of the bathroom now, every single trip, just like the outhouses from my youth.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walking Away is Not Always Letting Go

I started a massive clean out of my house in preparation for selling the old hag. I am sure at some point, decades ago, she was a beautiful young girl of a home. Like all of us who chose not to get plastic surgery, or more accurate, could not afford plastic surgery, her roof is a little saggy, the doors and windows don't open like they used to and floor boards are not fitting properly any longer.

Like any other person in the world, I want something better. I mean, I am hitting my back nine and is this really the last place I want to see as I take my final breath. Ah, no way man.

So my brain starts clicking. I can get social security early if I chose a place that is more affordable to live and with my small, very small, retirement check, I can get a smaller, newer gal to move into that I simply love!!

Great plan but there are a million and one steps inbetween the make my head spin.

First is getting rid of decades of crap that have somehow found a home in, well, my home! Why in the world did I get all this "stuff"?? I don't all this stuff, I don't use all this stuff and I certainly have no where to store all this stuff.

It's only logical that I box it and bag it then donate it, since I hate yard sales. My first load was quite an achievement. At least 15 bags and 10 boxes of crap I didn't need and was ready to offer to a charity to help someone who surely could use the mountains of cloths I have not worn in years, the book I read years ago and holiday decorations that had been long replaced with shiny new ones.

I loaded as much as I could into the back of my HHR (a long story how I went from my double cab pick up to the little HHR). It was piled so high I couldn't see out the rearview mirror but that was okay, having driven a pickup that towed a little RV I was used to using the side mirrors more than the over head center one anyway.

That was alover 2 months ago and guess what..... I am still driving around with my crap in the back of my HHR. What is wrong with me?? I have more to load at home, more to pack up and I can't seem to drive to Goodwill or Salvation Army? They both have a circle that is has someone who unloads the bags and boxes, it couldn't be easier. That just leaves one answer. I am having trouble letting go of my "stuff", much like the Steve Martin moive when they go bandrupt and his wife says, "I don't mind losing all the money. I don't want to lose all the stuff."

Okay, I have to suck it up because I want to move to the gulf coast and I am not going to get there with all that clutter. Something in me in refusing to let go. A film crew was at my home last October (another story) and asked if I thought I was becomming a horder and why did I hold onto so many things. It popped out of my mouth before I could even think about what I was saying on film. "I think I hang onto to so many things because I have lose so much in my life." In the year since I have thought, hanging onto these things has not brought back one single thing I lost in the past, it really is time to let go.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Waiting to Get Better at Waiting

I am talking about tables, in resteraunts, dives, or pancake houses.

When I was going to college I tried my hand at waiting tables.

Some things I learned....

How to cut a pie so all the pieces were the same. I can't believe I didn't know
this simple trick. Maybe because if I was the first, or even the 2nd person to
get to a pie during a holiday, my piece took up most of my plate if it wasn't
pre-cut. But I learned a neat trick, wish I could show you here, can't but I can
tell you. Cut it in half, spin the pie plate, cut in half again. Spin the plate,
cut perfectly down two of the slices, turn the pie plate, make the perfect cut
again. I may have been the last person on the planet to learn this trick but you woulda
thought I had discovered gravity I was so excited.

Somehow, I never got the pieces quite exact. I never claimed to be an artist and
my boss didn't have the patience to wait for me get better. Fired.

The other thing I learned as a waitress. How to pour coffee. Now I had been pouring
coffee longer than I had been rolling my Papaw's cigarettes. How silly was it to have
to be taught how to pour a cup of coffee?? There is a trick to it when there are 20
people glaring at me shaking their cups in the air or tapping the empty cup on the table so loudly I thought it would break. To prevent an accidental burn, yes, it would still be accidental, I would never want to hurt someone even if they were rude to me, I had to learn to pour the coffee toward the back of the cup, never tanking my eyes off the rim while asking if they wanted cream, to leave enough room. The danger came when the customer wanted to hold their cup, refused to set it down even if I asked very polite while sweat poured down my face and dripped between my shoulder blades. I was terrified of hurting someone so I never quite filled a cup and always seemed so busy pouring, we always ran out of coffee and it only took about 10 seconds for a pot to burn. Fired.

I learned people are rude to total strangers who are trying their best to give them them a pleasant experience for their hard earned money. I learned that after a long
night of running from the burning kitchen of screaming men to the front area where someone may be celebrating an anniversary, a birthday or just their monthly evening out, I was lost. I tried to keep a smile on my face and remember which planet was I really on? I learned that three men could have no shame as they left a tip of one penny each for steak dinners, served by a near tears teenage waitress in training as they laughed at my shock, yes, they waited to watch my reaction, cruel or bad upbringing?

I learned I felt such guilt and shame at not keeping everyone happy, of not doing at last an okay job, if not a perfect job. TV made this look easy. I was fired from there also.

All in all, my waiting to get better at waiting tables would have taken much too long. It was not in future to the next "Flo", to chat and tell my regular customers to "Kiss my grits"... She had confidence and spunk, knowing they admired her skill, they would be back. They would leave more than a 3 cent tip.

That was almost 40 years ago. It's a good thing I got my degree. I would have never have made it in the service industry and I am still in awe of their skill. I pay close attention and am amazed at their comfort level, the banter, the social part of a very demanding job and I always tip at the very least, 25% because they earn it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Daddy Stopped by Today

I saw something this morning that took me back to the early 1950's and could recall how my dad smelled. It was the smell he had as a young father, not the aftershave of the professional he became in his late 30's. My dad had odd jobs when I was very young, pumping gas at a local service station and worked for the City water treatment plant. It was those early days that my love for my father's devotion to us kids was established and never waivered until the day he died. I knew without a doubt that dad would love each and every one of us kids until the day he died. When he worked at these jobs, he would smell of gasoline and chemicals from the treatment plant. Not unpleasant, burned into my brain and helped me picture when he walked up to the house after work and us younger kids would run out to greet him, each racing to get the lint out of his belly button.

Dad was not affectionant in a traditional way, not a lot of holding, hugging, any of that kind of coddling but he coddled in other ways, had his own brand of nurturning.

I think he learned by the time his forth child was born how to do this a little better. He was older and it was about 14 years after the first one showed up. There is a picture of my dad rocking my brother, David, when David was a young toddler and dad was singing to him. I remember the singing because I was there, I took the picture. It was such a tender moment in such a turbulent home that I knew if I didn't capture it, I might not recall those sweet times.

Dad was never rough, he just seemed a little lost as to what to do with us kids. I am sure that is why he deferred almost all of the discipline to my mother and seemed to magically vanish during times of high conflict or violence by my mom. As far as I know, dad never laid a hand on any of us kids, certainly not me. He would take off his belt when he was angry, place it in a circle in front of his chest, face stern then snap it to where it made a loud "POP" that echoed in the house or he would say, "Don't make me take my belt off," then would promptly begin to rattle the buckle but it wouldn't come off most of the time for the "popping" exhibition.

Dad seemed to smile all the time which was odd because his dad rarely smiled. My Uncle Bill and Uncle Tex also told me Papaw was harsh with his punishment to all the kids, 5 boys. He would make them hold onto a hitching post and whip them until they bled. Papaw never laid a hand on any of the grandkids either. Maybe as adults, the sons all warned him?

Dad nurtured by singing, smiling and growing things. We had a tiny house in the 1950's but as he furthered his education, our homes grew in size as did the lots until he bought the 35 acres in the Ozarks. He worked a garden with a tractor. This is not what made me think of him this morning. On the nurturning side, yes, gardens need a lot of time, love, and attention to grow. He did his best to do the same for his children. The thing I recall being out of bounds for dad was he grew the delicate flower, African Violet. They were all over the house when I was an adult and went home, I was amazed at their delicate beauty. These tempermental flowers take a lot of attention and just right care to flower. They all flowered.

About 2 months ago, I bought one on a whim. Knew it would die from my brown thumb. This morning, it was all leaves to heaven and blooms were peeking at me. Daddy. It was all I could think of, daddy stopped by to say hello. Dad died in May 2004, much too young from a much too harsh cancer. I miss you daddy and thanks for stopping by to check in on me.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Never Give Up, Just Walk Away

I think everyone in my family was a fighter of some sort. Unlike my father, God rest his soul, who was a Golden Glove Feather Weight champ back in his day, who was a "real" fighter.....we were each fighters in our own way.

My family members have faced hard times, every single one of them, in some form. Some more serious than others. Some had illness that took their lives. It wasn't that they gave up, they just knew it was time to let go, to walk away. Other family members walked away from bad crops, knowing no amount of water and care was going to coax out a good canning crop. They didn't give up on their gardens. Just was past the time of being able to fight mother nature's elements.

For me, it depended on the year it was, my age at the time, and my goals...... but it seems like I was always faced with some sort of battle. It took me 10 years to get my college degree. I didn't give up, I just had to walk away and regroup.

Well, lucky for me, I learned these lessons from growing up in the middle of war zones. Not like I saw at the movies with John Wayne but right under my nose, with my family.

It was the wars my family fought that had lessons for anyone willing to watch, listen and learn. My parents fighting and screaming, my grandparents, God love 'em, had their fits and fights too, as well as Aunts and Uncles. I don't think any kid could drop and roll under a bed as fast as I could. If a loud voice or the stomp of angry feet reached my ears, I ran to the nearest bedroom if trapped inside, hit the floor and rolled under a bed.

A lot of education was processed by my little brain over a decade as I listened to arguments simple as the amount of money spent to a person feeling ignored and undervalued. At first I might not have caught the concept of each argument but as I laid under many a bed avoiding conflict, I would flick dust bunnies with a puff of my breath then bounced them around with my fingers on the hardwoods wishing I had been outside, not trapped listening to things a 10 year old didn't need to hear. But I was lucky to have been caught unaware and trapped. A great lesson learned was that people who fought could still love each other. Well mostly, our family had it's share of divoce but also some who weathered the storms, stuck it out, walked away from the conflict for the moment but never gave up.

I fought with siblings, cousins, and parents but knew I still loved them. I teach my grandson now, it is okay to be angry with someone and still love them.

Over the years, watching my family evolve and growing into my own individual life, I learned that sometimes it's better to walk away sooner rather than later. It didn't mean I was giving up, I made a decision to do what was right for me at the time I made the decision.

This example can be used with something as simple as fishing. My Papaw built a cabin with a little outhouse on the side of a steep hill. It had no running water and the only heat was from a small wood burning stove in the middle of the one room cabin. It sat next to a great Ozark lake. I loved that place. It was a retreat that I used when I entered my teen years and needed to be alone to just think, no distractions. Papaw build a boat dock and had an old flat bottomed fishing boat tied up there year round.

Those of you who fish know, some days fish just don't bite. Many days, I stared silently at my bobber. After a few hours if that bobber wouldn't move, I knew it was time to walk away. I didn't really give up on ever fishing again, it just wasn't the right time.

The same goes for relationships, to my way of thinking anyway. If I walk away it does not mean I have given up loving that person. It doesn't mean I have given up on feeling loved, cared about or needed. It very simply means I go back to my roots and know that what I am seeking isn't where pain resides. If I keep going to the same place and only feel pain, it's time to walk away.

It was time. I left.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gun Racks and Bench Seats

When I dated, I can't remember ever being in a car or truck that had bucket seats. I heard on the radio today that bench seats are going to be a thing of the past, gone the way of 8 track tapes and simple phones that only called or took calls.

I can hardly remember dating a boy that didn't either drive his daddy's pick up with gun rack or own his own truck with gun rack when I was young, before I became older and more open minded. Or was it really just what every my family liked most I went the other way?? I was pretty rotten that way.

Back to the loss of bench seats.... surely not in pick up trucks!! I have not googled to see if that is a fact but if it was on the radio, it must be true, right?

In Texas, they wear their guns proud. Other states, not so much. Me, don't own one, used to, had kids, read about accidental killing figured I would never get the lock box opened or gun loaded in time for protection anyway. Most likely woulda shot myself in the process.

My first husband made me carry a gun. Well, by making me meaning, I LOVED IT. But I didn't have kids at that time. Illegal, unlicened and under the seat. I will assume the statue of limitation is up after 43 years? He was a Viet Nam vet and had a gun with him at all times. Forget the empty gun rack in the window of the pickup truck, it was easier for him to strap on the pistol. Our practice range was a little different from what my Papaw used. Papaw gave us kids a 22 rifel and hung a pie plate on a tree with a LONG string. My husband threw bottles in the air. Now, I was a crack shot but even I could not hit a flying bottle or full beer can with a pistol.

I am a bit all over the place tonight but I am rambling, sorta required.

My best memory of bench seats? Scooting up close and an arm draped around my shoulders and the guy would say, "Shift". He would push in the clutch and I would move to the next gear, no matter where the shift stick was, comical at times, hard on trucks and cars all the time. My man would not let me go! I learned to drive what is now a classic GTO stick on the floor, at least I think it was a GTO. It was about 1966. How are kids these days going to have memories like that? They can't put down their smart phones long enough to know the eye color of their date for goodness sakes.

I recall the rattle of the guns on the rack, smell of field dressing due to the gear would be behind the seat, yet to be clean. Good way to ruin a sharp knife but I blinked my eyes and giggled like I had no idea what that horrible odor was.

The days of gun racks and bench seats are behind me. If I could fit my purse into one, I would have a Mini, gas is getting so high!!! I'm stuck with what I got cause I plan to retire in the next few months. That's okay, I just won't drive as far or as often.

For some reason, the disc jocky talking about the end of bench seats brought a wave of nostalgia that drug gun racks with it. As a parting picture for this entry. A member of my loving Ozark family, yep, we made amends and I am blessed for it. Good to know that althought my grandparents and parents are gone, the fundamental parts of childhood can be read in their pictures. So long bench seats, say hello to 8-track for me.