I am not supposed to live in close quarters with people. I become far too easily annoyed with everyone and everything, and that’s NOT pleasant.
It rained TWICE today! Two big ol’ thunderstorms!
And the trees and flowers rejoiced.
July 29, 1988
Aptly describes my summers.
Today, Momma and I wandered around down some dusty lanes in the middle of a hickory grove, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the Illiana Antique Power Association’s 31st Steam and Gas Show. I can remember being a shy little kid, following Papaw around as he told me all about the puttering steam engines, who had what tractor in decades past, and what each of the old farm implements was used for.
Gears whizzed, golf carts sped by, kids warily avoided the new, one-room school house, my mom’s friend commanded her kitchen helpers with a roar, while smiling at the droves of people stopping by to taste her scrumptious doughnuts freshly fried in a big, outdoor pot of boiling lard. Family friends stopped to chat about the festivities and the ongoing drought, while kids bumped by in a train made of old 50 gallon oil drums, pulled by a lawnmower. The blacksmith forge was going strong, despite the heat of their fires. The new general store offered anxious kids a place to buy their penny candy, and if they had no more money, they could earn it by sweeping the wooden floor. Women gathered in the sewing shops, the school house, the wash tubs, in around the baked goods, and help with dying and spinning wool, while the men ambled along investigating the engines and tractors, or manned the grist mill or the thrashing machine. Everyone looks everyone else in the eye when talking, no one is afraid to speak up, wave, or tell a story. Hickory nut hulls crunch under your feet, dust kicks up behind the tractors put-put-putting down the dirt lane, straw whips in on the breeze from the thrashing machine in the field, and the smell of gasoline and smoke drifts in from the cooking fires and the kick-backs of the steam engines. Everyone knows when noon rolls around, because all the steam engines shriek at the same time, and then toot at each other all over the camp.
High summer is here, and I am happy.
Worked with the cousin and her reading again today, and, well, . . it seemed to go better. She actually seemed moderately in the books I brought (though not enough to choose those books for the next reading session), especially since I brought along my globe to show her the places mentioned in the book, and three different encyclopedias to show her pictures of the places we read about. She asked a ton of questions about the story, and we managed to read the first two chapters. Though by the time we finished, she was definitely ready to scurry back to her swimming pool.
As she left, I said, “Well, I tried to make it interesting.” She stopped and grinned at me, saying “It was interesting - kind of.”
Am I making some progress? I hope.
I’m still nauseatingly nervous about tutoring my younger cousin. I want to help her, but I have no idea how I am supposed to inculcate a respect and excitement for reading, when I myself never had such a problem?
And really, the problem isn’t with her reading skills. The (supposed) problem is her lack of interest in reading the stories on the standardized reading tests that now determine if a student is to pass from one grade to the next. How am I supposed to help her understand that reading can be for pleasure, but is also just another part of a task that must be done in life?
Later this week, I’ll be taking a ride to Indy to see what she does in her summer tutoring class. Hopefully I’ll have some idea what to do after that …
So I’ve been doing a lot of fun little songs lately but this is my new kind-of-a-big-deal song, Blinding Summer Light! It’s sorta fun and jolly cause I was in the sun last week and it was all just like ‘ugh I really wanna do a happy nice song’ so I did and I recorded it today and here it is! I’ll be making a video for it next week but for now I thought I’d let you tumblr folk have it cause you’re secretly my favourites
listen to it, love it, reblog it, tweet about it, let everyone know what you think. There’ll be an iTunes link when the video goes up :)
Yes yes again
Tom, oh Tom. You have once again won my heart with your summery music!
Mom thought that today wouldn’t be busy.
HA. HA. HA.
Right after lunch, we were swamped - mainly with my family.
Two of my cousins appeared to help move two air conditioners out of the basement and into our grandma’s house. With that job done, I ran down to my house to pick up a card for two of my cousins who graduated from Purdue this spring. The boys said goodbye, and the premises were quiet, except for a few women picking through some flowers.
But not for long.
My dog barked the alarm and I turned around to see Randy, one of our regular customers and good friend, pull into the driveway.
We knew he would probably be here today - right around two in the afternoon. Randy is a fantastic fellow, mainly because he just likes to talk and tell stories all day long. And boy, does he have stories to tell. And he don’t care who happens to be listening; he will tell a story to EVERYONE within earshot of him.
(He once told a story about when he had to pay child support and medical bills to his ex, and because she refused to pay for college tuition or anything else, he got a little bit disgruntled. And because the system was set up so that he would have to bring the money in either cash or money order to the courthouse, then wait for his ex to decide to come to the courthouse (which sometimes she decided several times that she couldn’t come) and claim the money. And to boot, the woman at the courthouse who had to orchestrate all of this wasn’t very nice to Randy. So, Randy did what Randy does best, and he planned a good trick on both the woman at the courthouse and his ex. His last payment was for $5,000 - and because he could pay in cash - he called up the bank and ordered $5,000 in quarters, nickles, dimes, and pennies and filled the back of his pick-up truck with wheelbarrows and five-gallon buckets of loose change. And he drove it all to the courthouse, carried it all into the building, past all the security, and to the desk of that crabby lady, who would have to count all of that loose change to make sure he had paid in full. Then his ex would have to find a way to transport all of that loose change home or to the nearest bank.)
Yup. That’s Randy.
Now you know a smidgen about Randy’s personality. He plants one ginormous garden every year, and this year was no exception, despite the drought and the heat. Today, he was here to buy 100 sweet potato plants. 100. That’s A TON of sweet potatoes at the end of the year.
But of course, Randy sat down and talked for about an hour before he even thought about sweet potato plants.
Man, do I love his stories. Never a dull moment when he’s here.
And just while he’s yackin’ away, up walks one of my other cousins. I think she was more than a little confused by Randy, who would talk to her as if he had known he all his life. (All her life, she’s been itching to get her scissors and cut my long hair. I have refused her suggestions all my life. Randy said I should ask her for an afro. Now THAT would be interesting.)
Pretty soon two more of my cousins appeared, buying flowers for their house. One asked me a question about some tomato plants, and then apologized, telling me to go back to chatting. I told her not to worry, that Randy would still be here for another hour or so.
And he did.
Long after my horde of cousins left, Randy was still there, 100 sweet potato plants and two packs of tomato plants in hand, telling us about his trip this weekend, to a rodeo in Georgia, with a fifteen hour drive with a horse in front of him, and he still wasn’t quite ready to leave us.
An hour later, a fella drove in, and immediately began talking to me. Randy finally decided he had better go, just as the school bus stopped along our stretch of the highway, clogging up traffic for miles. Goodbye Randy, hello new-fellow-who-I-have-no-clue-who-you-are,-but-boy-you-sure-act-like-you-know-me.
This new fella was nice. Plenty of energy, dressed in old, black converse tennis shoes, brown cargo shorts, a snowboarding t-shirt, and a dune-buggy racing baseball cap, and telling me all about his daughter who just got back from an internship in Kosovo. When he asked what I was studying, I told him history, and he responded with an “aww, yeah!” and fist-bumped me. Great guy, but GEEZ I couldn’t remember who he was. When I told him that we had sweet potato plants, he told me that he could hug us all - and promptly went to go chat with my grandma. I got him his plants, helped him pick out some cilantro and broccoli plants, visited with my mom, and then said our goodbyes.
I marched down to the other end of the greenhouse and asked mom who the heck is that guy, and mom told me that he worked with my dad a long time ago.
Apparently at a Christmas party, when I was just a kid (and before I knew I should remember people like this), he and I got to talking about the books we liked to read, and he found out that I liked fantasy/science fiction books. As I write this post, I feel like I’m starting to remember that someone gave me my copy of The Hobbit when I was very young. That must have been him.
Mom can’t remember his name. I sure don’t know it. But I am grateful to him for the book that started my obsession with Middle Earth, which consumed my middle-school life, and still remains deeply ingrained within me.
I am grateful to wonderful people who surround me with guidance, humor, happiness, a job, and a satisfaction with my life here at home.
My whole family (mom, dog, cat, and me) planted beans last night.
Geez, do I love beans. I love looking at them in catalogs, I love finding my new favorites in the mail, or saved in the refrigerator from last year. I love planting them (bare feet are a necessity), and I love growing them, harvesting them, and shelling them.
And of course, eating them.
The cool, smooth feeling of running my fingers through freshly shelled beans will forever give me goose bumps.
*Varieties planted: Turkey Craw (originally found in the craw of a wild turkey), Cherokee Trail of Tears (supposedly carried by the Cherokee on their death march), Hidatsa Shield Figure (grown by the Hidatsa in the North Dakota area), The Brown Nut, Pigeon Hole, Tiger Eye, and soybeans.