Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sometimes I Just Don't Understand

I received a small package in the mail a few days ago. Addressed to me - not to us. Me. And I was left wondering, "Why Me, Lord?"

It was from our youngest and I wondered: "Did she read this book herself before sending it? Did she see something in it about me? Have I got a problem coping I wasn't aware of?

Anyway, I read it through in about one sitting and I enjoyed it. Erma Bombeck (bless her deceased soul) has been one of my favorites for years. Much better humor than Karl Rove or Bob Woodward - but not quite as much of the reality of family growth. Along with Erma Bombeck there was Lewis Grizzard (also deceased but hey, his books like "Come Home Billy Bob Bailey" live on as classics of southern edification) and Tom
Bodette who continues on with lights being left on at Motel 6.
To be sure, Tom no longer writes about Alaska, but he does a great job of exposing the lifestyle of northern Vermont.

I've been accused of warping the young minds of our children. That goes back to my love of Spike Jones and Smothers Brothers music but that's not all bad. In fact, I've been accused of occasionally continuing a weird outlook on life even today. Better that than living in a world of negatives or filth.

With that in mind, Maybe that is why Lisa sent me the book on coping. I've coped with a lot in life. I've coped with being fired a few times. I've coped with work that uprooted me and the family more times than I like to think of. I've coped with children growing past the age of Lisa's and somehow making it into adulthood without too many scars. And now I'm coping with retirehood when I always enjoyed being productive and creative. And trying to figure out what day of the week it is - what day of the month it is - and how long it will be before the next retirement check comes in.

Well, I still wonder if Lisa read the book before she sent it to me. You see, she is at that age the book is talking about. Her daughter is named Jill (just like the book) and her boys are a lot like those in the book. And there are a few similarities between the book husband and Lisa's husband. I can't ignore the book telling about a friend who is always first to a party and last to leave and hovers in the kitchen offering little if any help. Lisa has one of those too.

I look back to 1979 when the book was published and realized that we (mommy and me) were past the stage in Bombecks book - but we were coping then and are coping now. Trying to get from Monday to Friday in twelve days. Sort of reminds me of something the kids used to ask: "Are we there yet?" At this phase I have a problem figuring out where there is. But
I'm coping the best I can.

Thank you Tom Bodett, Lewis Grizzard, Erma Bombeck - and so many others who lighten up my life. And thanks to Lisa as well - she's helping me cope with another 12 day week ahead.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

60 Some Years After the Fact

I think it was in August 1946. I might have been standing in the doorway to the left.. You see, I had run away to join the Cole Brothers Circus and I ended up spending a day working in the cook wagon. That's what you see at the left - the cook wagon of the Kelly Miller Circus which rolled into our town late last night or early this morning and will leave town tonight or tomorrow morning.

Sixty or so years ago this month I heard that the Cole Brothers Circus was going to be in a nearby town and I decided to watch it come in. I didn't really mean to run away from home but, hey, there's a charisma to the circus - even a small one.It would be the adventure of a lifetime. In late evening I expected to see at least one or two trucks roll in.. However, nobody showed up until around dawn and I had a terrible nights sleep in the grandstand of the fairgrounds where the great (certainly not the GREATEST) show on earth was to set up. When the trucks began to roll in, I wandered up to see the big top go up. Somebody called out, "Hey, kid - want some work?" The cook wagon sounded a lot better that shoveling elephant poop so I said sure and immediately found myself cooking eggs and burning bacon. They let me eat a bite or two and then it was back to sweating over a hot griddle.

Any thought I had of seeing the big top go up went up in smoke - I slaved in that cook wagon right up to six in the afternoon when somebody handed me a couple of free (did I say free?) passes. I hadn't seen anything of the circus stars except when they ate, or the setting up of various tents. Never saw any of the animals. Just worked up a sweat over that hot griddle.

By the time the day was over all I wanted to do was to go home and sleep for a week or more. I vowed I never wanted to see another circus. Until today.

The folks at today's circus invited anybody who was interested to come at nine in the morning and watch the big top go up complete with an elephant pulling up tent poles. Finally I had my chance - I could visit the cook tent and visit with the cook telling her she had my sympathy - and she responded with a smile - "It's hard work but someone has to do it." I replied, "Yeah, I know what you're talking about - I served my time (a day that seemed like an eternity) sixty years ago.

So go my memories of the circus. And I finally got to see what I didn't see back in the last century. And I did not volunteer to work in the cook tent.