The View From My Window

The world as seen from my window and through my eyes

A cute story about Annie August 11, 2007

Filed under: Short stories from my life...so far — auntlelo @ 5:10 pm

All this wedding stuff sort of made me nostalgic, so, I’m reaching way back in my memory to a time when Annie was probably about 4 years old.

I had taken a really fun cruise earlier in the year and someone I’d met on board ship had invited me to Miami to spend a few days. I had talked about it with the adults in the house and hadn’t really realized that any of the kids had noticed or were listening to those conversations.

After one of the discussions had taken place about whether or not I was going to do, Annie came to me crying. She asked me if I was really going to go to Miami. I said I didn’t know. She said, “I want to go to Your-ami, too!”

It made me smile. It still makes me smile. Now, any time we need to make reference to Miami at our house, we call it Your-ami, in honor of a toddlers unique use of the English language.

 

Something important between brothers July 17, 2007

Filed under: Short stories from my life...so far — auntlelo @ 9:53 pm

Another story from my life…so far.

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Something important between brothers 

They were only 13 months apart, my two oldest sons. From the time they were babies, Bobby and Mark shared a very special bond. They shared more than a bond, they shared everything.

When they were just toddlers, not yet in school, they developed a special kind of sharing. Whatever one brother got, they always managed to give half to the other. If it was a toy, it was shared at playtime (even the special GI Joes). If it was a drink, they each had an equal share. Cookies were broken in half and they took turns riding in the front seat. One of my favorite memorable moments happened at that time in their lives.

It was the first time they were doing a chore for “pay.” Both boys took turns manning the rake in the yard, desperately trying to rake leaves into a pile. Honestly, that rake was at least twice their size and sometimes they both had their hands on it. Together, they would diligently pull back and forth and try to make a pile like mine. At the end of our chore time, I pulled a couple of dollars out of my pocket and handed one to Bobby first. Before I had a chance to say anything, Bobby quickly tore the dollar bill in two and handed half to Mark. Markie grinned from eat to ear, saying nothing and they both pretended to be big boys and stuffed the pieces into their pockets.

It was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen.

Many years later, when Mark was leaving for the army, I went to my dresser drawer and pulled out an envelope I’d saved for nearly 20 years. I gave Bobby and Mark the halves of the dollar bill that had always reminded me how much these two brothers had shared. I thought it was only fitting that while they were apart, each had something that would remind them of the other. As far as I know, they both still carry those little keepsakes around.

After all, sharing is something pretty important between brothers.

 

“Just Licking My Lips” July 16, 2007

Filed under: Short stories from my life...so far,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 7:43 am

When telling some of the more humorous stories from my childhood, I’m often asked by children or other family to write them down. Although I think something is lost when the stories aren’t told verbally (primarily my voice and facial expressions, and of course, the constant waving of my arms), I’ll have to agree that there is value for the future in writing the stories down and passing them along. So, for your amusement, here is the first of the lot. Hope you enjoy it!

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“Just Licking My Lips”

It was almost like the painful, interminable waiting that Ralphie Parker in The Christmas Story had to endure waiting to see if Santa would bring him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The difference in my case was the BB gun was, instead, a set of oil paints that I had dreamed and wished about for at least six months. Did they listen to my begging? Did they think I was old enough for a real grown-up set of oil paints? I wanted them so bad I could taste it. The days drug painfully by as we inched slowly toward December 25th.

I was about 13 or 14 then. The perfect age for dreaming and wishing. Also the perfect age to completely despise my younger sister who was about 6 or 7. What a pest! While I was going through the agonizing beginning of my teenage years, fought with my mother all the time and could do nothing right, this rotten little kid seemed to have been born with the mind of an adult con-artist. She seemed always ready to jump right in and expose any mistake I made, all the while covering up her fiendish plot with the blonde curls and angelic expression whose spell my parents always fell under. Well, it was Christmas and she had her own problems to get past. She was trying to figure out whether or not Santa was real or whether she really needed to spend time kissing up to Mom and Dad.

Finally, it arrives. It’s Christmas morning and, as usual, the heaps and piles of gaily wrapped holiday bounty were spread underneath the tree and spilling out into the living room floor. My eyes were quickly scanning to see if they could identify a rectangular package that looked promising. No, that one looks like clothes. No, that one is too square. No…what the heck is that? Looks like the little kid wrapped it! Finally, my eyes fall on the likely package, toward the back of the tree. I wanted to climb over and dig out the only thing that interested me that morning, but, I had to be patient.

I didn’t have to wait through the opening of the stockings. We were allowed to do that during the night or as soon as we got up in the morning. As you might guess, it always happened during the night. Finally, the packages were being passed out. Shirt, jeans, book…where is it?????? There! Finally, the package is passed to me. I bite my lip, say a silent prayer and start tearing at the paper. Is it? Can it be? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A full set of real oil paints, paint brushes and books. I was ecstatic! I could act like a true artist now and pretend that I wasn’t sitting on a farm in Missouri, but, on the banks of a river in Paris or London. Ahhh, what bliss!

The morning wore on and we had picked up the paper, eaten a big lunch and some of the grown-ups were taking their Christmas afternoon naps. I wanted the day to be over. I wasn’t allowed to get the paints out and try them while we had all this company. They were messy and would smell up the house. I had to content myself with picking up each and every one of the 24 tubes of paint and familiarizing myself with their names: burnt umber, burnt sienna, cadmium red and orange and purple, cobalt blue. I’m surprised I didn’t make myself high that day, as many times as I unscrewed the lids and sniffed the paints that would identify me as a serious artist. Ahhh, time. It was my enemy.

In the meantime, as with most Christmases, people who had been up too early and had stayed awake too late the night before began to get cranky as evening approached. The younger sister was no help, picking and pestering the whole time, just trying to make herself generally disagreeable. We started snapping at each other and pretty soon, the inevitable happened. Mom was walking through the living room and yelled at us, telling us if we didn’t cut it out she would send us both to bed. Both! All I was doing was sitting on the couch looking at and dreaming over my paints. How could I help it if the seven year old bain of my existence wouldn’t leave me alone? The injustice of it just burned me. As my mother turned around to walk down the hallway, I quickly and without any thought, stuck my tongue out at her retreating back. I knew I was in trouble when the lump sitting next to me on the couch said “Ummmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!”

Mom turned and gave me one steely-eyed look and said, “Did you just stick your tongue out at me?” You see, the universal language between Mom and the little sister was the word ummmmmmmm. It meant I was doing something that my sister could exploit into “I’m bad and she’s good and, oh, isn’t it fun to see her get into trouble?”

“Yes”, I said defiantly. What did she expect? I was being put upon by my little sister and had only been defending myself.

“That’s it. I’ve had enough. I think I’ll just take those paints away for two weeks until you learn to behave better.”

Oh my gosh, did I just hear that correctly? Did she say she was taking my paints away? For TWO WEEKS???? Surely she had to be kidding. Surely she wouldn’t take the one thing I waited for all year and withhold it for the whole of my Christmas vacation? Oh yes, she meant it. The hand came out and took the box of paints from my hands. I would have sooner had food and water withheld. I couldn’t believe I had to wait another two whole weeks before getting to try out those beautiful, beautiful paints.

Thoughts of horrible, nasty deeds I could perpetrate on that awful little sister were swirling in my head. I had to get away before I got myself in more trouble and just slapped her silly. I went to bed.

Time drew on. It was several days later, although not long enough that my paints had been returned to me yet. Again, I was sitting on the couch. Again, the little pest was picking. And, again, we began to fight. Enter the female authority figure (a.k.a. Mom). Again, she laid down the law. And again, she turned to walk down the hallway. Then, I saw it! That little pink tongue peeking out of that seven year old tattling mouth. That’s when I knew the opportunity was mine. I thought quickly and said, “Ummmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!”

Mom turned around and her eyes set upon the younger sibling next to me. She said, “Did you just stick your tongue out at me?” I waited, smiling, as my moment of triumph, my revenge was close at hand. I looked at my sister and waited for her to say “yes” and for the punishment to begin.

“No, I was just licking my lips!” she said.

What? What!!! WHAT??!!!!!! She was WHAT???? Mom looked at her for a minute and then turned and walked away. I couldn’t believe it. Did that really just happen? No, it can’t be possible.

I looked over at my sister who was grinning at my stricken expression. She giggled, hopped up and ran away to play with her Christmas toys. The toys that, a moment ago, should have been taken away for two weeks.

That’s when I knew it. Life as a teenager in a house with a seven year old demon was going to be hard. Mom and Dad were under her spell and there was nothing I could do. If only I had some paints…

Well, that’s what Christmas is all about right? To quote The Christmas Story, “Peace. Harmony. Comfort and Joy… Maybe Next Year.”

 

Remembering mudpies February 20, 2007

Filed under: Short stories from my life...so far,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:38 pm

It’s funny the conversations you have on the way to work in the morning. I don’t know exactly how my husband and I started on the topic, but, suddenly we were waxing nostalgic about the games we used to play when we were young children. Wow, that was a LONG time ago.

I grew up on a farm in a house right next door to my grandparents. What a great way to live life as a child. My parents worked and my grandparents were my babysitters. They had a huge yard that was fenced and my Granny was an avid gardener. She had this enormous bunch of honeysuckle bushes around the corner of her back yard. They completely covered the fence and spilled far out into the lawn. I can still remember their heavenly smell (and the bees). There was a magical thing about those honeysuckle bushes. For a small child who could burrow under the branches to the open space underneath, they were a playhouse. Some days the bushes were a submarine, others a cave. But, most days, they were my playhouse. I had an old blanket, some disposable pie pans, an old spoon or two, a bucket and, of course, a doll. I had a collie named Poochie that often joined me underneath the honeysuckle for a little company. It was about as perfect a playhouse as a farm kid in Small Town, USA could wish for back in the 1960’s.

All was great until I decided I needed a bit more space. I found the hedge clippers and decided to clear a larger space underneath the honeysuckle. It wasn’t a big deal until Granny noticed that a large patch of her honeysuckle died and she started to investigate. Poochie and I were evicted. Immediately.

We moved to the garden and set up housekeeping there. That’s when I discovered the magic of mudpies. I would dig in the dirt by the garden gate and scoop the soil into an old Folger’s coffee can. Some days I would add a little grass, others some twigs, maybe a few seeds or flowers if I could find them. (Not the ones from Granny’s flower bushes, though. We would have been evicted again.) I would mix this with water from the garden hose, put them in aluminum pot pie pans and set them to “bake” in the afternoon sun on top of the garden fenceposts. Wow, that was fun. I’d almost forgotten how much fun.

While they were baking, I’d while away the afternoon pretending to be a “fairy” and playing among the giant sunflowers Granny and Gramps grew in their garden. I would play “pioneer” and journey from one end of the garden to the other, encountering all manner of disasters in between. Actually, the worst disaster was running into the bees at the other end. My Gramps was a beekeeper. I, personally, hated the bees, but, loved the honey.

When the mudpies were done, I’d take them down and have a lovely teaparty with Poochie and my dolls. I was dirty and my clothes were a mess, but, I was very content in my imaginary world. It’s too bad kids today have so many toys to play with. They miss out on so much of the magic they carry in their imaginations. It’s a wonderful thing, although it occasionally causes trouble. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about playing hospital and what happens to your backside when you write numbers on imaginary hospital doors!

What was your favorite imaginary play when you were little?