The Missing Gift

My time is divided between merry-making, play date booking, and looking for that bag. You know the one… The perfect gift found for a special person. In October. That was three months ago. And eight hiding places ago. The cookies are baked. The tree is up. The Christmas get-togethers are happening. But it’s two days til Christmas. I need to find that bag. It has one of the best gifts in it. It was actually shopped for. Not a rush what-do-you-want-and-I’ll-go-buy-it gift. It is one of those hey-this-is-perfect-for-my-nephew kind of gifts. Wait… how big is the bag? I seem to recall buying more than one thing that day. Or did I? Or… did I decide against that gift at the last minute? Crumbs. Now I’m looking for a bag that I’m not sure even exists.

Heading to the basement, my shoulder swishes against a red bag hanging with the coats. What is that? Oh, glad I found that one! Not the one I’m looking for, but one I will be looking for shortly.

I need to take inventory, pull all those cryptic Christmas lists together, and get some wrapping done to see if I’m missing anything. Holy ka-lu-la! I haven’t gotten Dad’s gift yet! I’m not driving by the Welcome Inn in Elizabeth, Illinois, this year on the way to Iowa, so swinging in and getting four orders of his favorite ribs is out of the question. And, my Amazon prime 2-day shipping is worthless at this point.

Has Dad dropped any hints? “I just want all my kids home for Christmas.” No hint there. “Man, it is cold outside. I got my long-johns on and my john-johns on top of my long-johns on.” I’m not doing long-johns again this Christmas. “Well, these are just fine! There’s nothing wrong with them!!” Dad probably has two pair of bib overalls lying in wait for the old ones to fall to strings. “Where are my half-pants?” There’s no sentimental value in getting him a second pair of Dockers when he rarely needs to wear half-pants.

How can the Christmas tree twinkle so calmly while my mind is whirring? Worrying about that gift. Aha! The cookie table is behind me. “I haven’t had a single cookie this year!” Probably not true, Dad, but thanks for the hint! I’ll start with a cookie tin. Then, if I put my thinking cap on – and mentally don my long johns and bib overalls – I’ll wonder the aisles of Ace Hardware as would a farmer. Slowly looking for that “Well, I’ll be….” kind of gift.

May you find “that” bag and the perfect gift. Soon.

(Did you read about the drone that landed in my hair?  Yes, really.  My writing is based on factual events... really.  Here's Happy Day After Thanksgiving!)

The Farmer in the Family

I had a minor surgery last Hump Day. As it was late in the day, I stayed overnight in the hospital. Bill came to get me in the morning. With the general anesthesia still clouding my brain, this is the first story I recall from Bill that morning. Bill woke up at 5 a.m. to go to the bathroom, and he saw a tarantula. I don't have all the details etched in my smoky mind, but both times he saw it -- at 5 and a bit later when he woke up -- it was tucked into a tight corner and he couldn't get it with a fly swatter or a glass , so he pulled shut the bathroom door. It was a bee that had bumbled its way into our house. I told Bill I would take care of it when I got home. "No, I can do it."

This happens every year. The first year, after finding three or four bees upstairs, I had a pest control guy come out. He assured us that the bees we found were simply hitchhikers that hopped a ride on someone's clothing. I don't buy it for a minute. Here is the problem:

With the plunging cold temperatures gone, rhododendron droop has subsided, and this is the view from outside our dining room window.  The rhododendron is below a second floor spare bedroom window.  This giant beauty is nestled outside the portion of our house that was built in 1880.  Big bumble bees love these blossoms.  They roll in the blossoms like pigs in shit.

And I'm convinced that in a pollen-drunken state they meander into a little hole in the old wooden window frame upstairs, get dazed and confused in the thin walls, and of all that enter, perhaps four a season end up inside the house. Then, far away from that sweet nectar and after the treacherous journey to the inside, the biggest one will meet an Englishman in a bathroom at 5 a.m.

When I got home from the hospital, I walked upstairs right by the bumble bee -- he had made his way to the stairs. "Oh, there's your bee," I stated as I walked by him. "OK, I'll get it... How many times do you think I'll need to hit it?" "Well, I don't know, Bill. It's a pretty big bug. What do you think?" No answer. Bill reappeared with a fly swatter and gave the bee a big thud on the head. And the bee bounced toward Bill. "It came after me!" "It didn't -- it bounced off the stairs from the impact of the fly swatter." Basketball is not a popular sport in England, so I didn't bother to use the term "rebound."

At the top of the stairs, the bathroom door was still shut tight with no apparent crack from which the bee could have escaped. Bill approached the door armed with the fly swatter in ready position. As he touched the doorknob, I stung him in the back with my finger. Oh my goodness, the poor Englishman hit the ceiling! And I found the sore spots from a belly laugh so soon after surgery.

Yesterday morning, the story came full circle. In our barn loft, we are experiencing squirrel hell. I fully anticipate writing the Squirrel Saga, but often times I can't write until the trauma subsides a bit, and we've been at it for weeks now. In the here and now, we have live squirrel traps on the roof of the barn and upstairs in the barn loft. They need to be checked daily. We can see the one on the roof, but we need to go up to the loft -- into the corner farthest from the stairs --and check the other one.

So here's yesterday's deal from Bill: "One of my colleagues at work had a bat in her bedroom. As she put it, there are girl jobs and there are boy jobs. And the bat was a boy job. As I see it, going up to the loft to check that squirrel trap is neither a boy job or a girl job. It's a farmer's job."

As Grandma Murphy would've concisely put it, with a sharp sting in the words:

Damn it.