While cleaning up my camera, I found these fellas. Two stray (and skittish) kittens that miraculously survived the winter living in our defunct sheep barn.
I have half a mind to just post song after song from various Charlie Brown movies. Because that would make me very, very happy. Would that annoy anyone? What the hell, I’ll do it.
First up, opening scenes and songs from the first full-length Peanuts film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. I loved this movie so much as a kid, and Gram had it recorded on a VCR tape, and I would watch it as often as possible. Peanuts comics and movies are an inseparable part of my mom’s side of the family, so I was raised loving these characters so much.
(For context. And also because I love her and miss her too much.)
My dog. Annie. A basset/dachshund/maybe beagle mix. She’s getting old, and one of my greatest fears is that I won’t be home when she dies.
She’s the best lil’ rabbit hunter in the county, with a fog horn voice. What a hound.
Listening to my mom as she yells at my dog and the coons and possums in our yard. The darn dog is chasing them all and is likely going to get bit, the big dummy.
Just hung up on Mom so she could go chase them all and hopefully catch the dog and shoo the critters away from her bird feeders.
And that is what a normal night is like at home.
God, I miss it.
I miss having a big, bustling, busy family around me. I realized that this past Christmas when everyone kind of split up and showed up over a period of a couple of weeks instead of all at once on Christmas Day like we used to do. I spent an entire hour on the phone (a rarity, indeed) just talking to one of my cousins in Texas. I cannot fathom his graduation from high school this year, but it’s happening. He sounds ready for college. A heck of a lot more ready than I was. And I just really miss him and his little sister (who isn’t so little anymore - sixteen???!!! WHAT?) - we’ve missed so much of each others lives ever since they moved down there. And I have so many memories of them when they were little, but so few of them as teenagers and growing more and more independent by the minute.
And then for the youngsters in the family, I got to spend an entire afternoon with my cousin’s two adorable and ridiculously smart kids. The youngest is learning how to write and so she struggled to write my name in her journal. Her older brother built an entire Lego kit car in that whole afternoon, and then continued to beat me at card games for the rest of our time together. They didn’t want to go home, just like when my cousins and I were their age (“Can we stay just a little longer? Five more minutes, PLEEEEEASE?”). Playing with them isn’t a chore anymore - it’s the most pleasant thing in the world.
And then when the rest of the family gathered around the table after lunch and played our card games, it was just like old times. We were all on the same playing field, no snide political comments, no goading me into a defensive mode, no judgmental looks appeared on any faces. We were laughing and teasing and joking just like we used to do.
The house misses all that action and happiness. Not to say there isn’t happiness in it now, but it’s a lot smaller. No big families with kids in tow to show up every weekend for Sunday dinner. No kids thundering up and down the stairs, plotting devious tricks up in their parent’s childhood bedrooms. Nowadays, Gram has the TV on all the time, just to have some background noise in that quiet, quiet house.
My mom told me that my great-grandma once said: “The days are busy, bright and cheerful. But the nights can get awful long in an empty house.”
Ever since early December there has been a momma cat and three little kittens struggling to live through the cold, harsh Indiana nights by hiding in different outbuildings around my home. I got to meet the family over winter break, and like most animals that have been dumped, things didn’t look so good. My mom has been updating me on the kittens’ condition everyday throughout the winter, and as the little blue kitten eyes crust up, we keep telling them that winter is almost over.
And they almost made it, too.
So when I was in elementary school, it seemed like every fall our class would go to a fire safety program at a high school in town. And it was weird to see grown firemen running around in costumes singing songs to us about fire safety, but one song has stuck with me all these years. I still know almost all the words to the chorus of “Smoke Detector of Mine.” Because that’s what happens when I like a song - I will remember it for an eternity!
Anyways, I just caught myself singing that song, but with the words changed to profess my love to my coffee pot.
“Coffee pot of mine, you know you are my friend.
Coffee pot of mine, you keep me safe at night.”
I am so weird.
So the woman holding the baby is not me. But it really, REALLY looks like me. A thinner version of me, but me just the same. But it’s not me.
It’s my mom.
About ten years older than I am now.
We undeniably and stunningly look alike.
I’ve got a wedding in the family to look forward to this summer, which means the kitchen at home will be bedecked in flowers as my mom (and I’ll help, but there ain’t no florist as good as my momma) prepares the arrangements and it will all be messily beautiful. There will be nothing but cut flowers hanging out in our refrigerator again! Outdoor wedding, on the farm that my great-grandparents first owned back in the early 1940s - it don’t get much better than that.
And then the family will be back together again. That’s what I’m really looking forward to seeing again - most of my family from all reaches of the country in the place where we all got our starts.
And now I’m homesick. Sigh.