Sunday, December 05, 2004

My Mom’s Hands

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting in the front seat of the car when my mom drove or sitting next to my mom at church, and I would hold her hand. I wouldn’t just hold her hand, though, I remember studying her hand and tracing with my finger all the lines all over it. My mom’s hands were something that I found very interesting. I don’t know if my mom even knew how much I liked looking at her hands. Mom’s hands were so different from my own. Bigger, stronger and lots of bumps and wrinkles and lines, as well as some scars. Back then, mom didn’t worry overmuch about her fingernails, I guess, or at least I don’t remember much about her fingernails. I don’t remember that she used polish, so I guess she didn’t. Though now, in her 60’s, her fingernails are nearly always perfect – I don’t know how she does it. Anyway, I just loved getting to sit in the front seat when my mom drove and getting to hold her hand. Being the youngest of 5 kids, I didn’t often get the front, so it was a real treat.

My mom’s hands epitomized capable to me, even though at the time I didn’t know that. My mom could do anything, and she could make anything. You needed a toy part put back in where it belonged, and my mom could do it. You needed a new dress for school, and my mom could sew it. You wanted a shelf in your room, my mom could make it. You smarted off to my mom, and you learned your lesson with those hands. You hummed a tune and my mom would play it for you on the piano. Tools, machinery, craft projects, books, sewing, crocheting, gardening, cooking, baking, hanging laundry, canning foods, doing ceramics, macramé, embroidery, brushing your hair, checking your forehead when you felt bad... my mom’s hands could handle anything.

And they looked the part. Hands well used. They would never look skinny and soft and smooth and pampered, no way. To me, my mom’s hands were beautiful.

I was just driving my car this morning, and I noticed my own hands on the steering wheel. Ragged nails, bumps, bruises, scars, a cut, a scrape, wrinkles and lines galore. And then I realized, with warm pleasure, I’ve got my mom’s hands!

Winter’s Here For Sure Now

The snow we got on Wednesday is staying. It started out as that nice, thick, wet kind of snow that makes for excellent snowball fights... and snowmen... but then it got very cold and icy. Frozen. So it’s definitely winter now. (I ran over to my folks the other day, so I just put on a pair of flip-flops, which are a permanent fixture near the back door. Well, I didn't actually run there, I drove. It's 3 miles. Anyway, boy oh boy, did my toes get cold. Winter for sure.)

The Snow Day we had on Wednesday was awesome. First of all, it was so totally unexpected because it wasn’t really that bad out, or so it seemed. I did hear that side roads were very icy and vehicles were having trouble staying on them. We did get dumped on big time with that wet snow, but it wasn’t like too much to get the car out of the garage or anything... And by the afternoon, the sun was shining and it was B-E-A-utiful outside.

I stayed home with the kids, “working from home”, which went well until about 9 am or so when the power went out. Still, about 3 hours left on the laptop battery. OK. But then, our phone line went dead. Some telephone sub-station which relies upon electricity had a power outage as well. The recording on the power company phone line said that thousands were presently without power. I had to call back 2 hours later to get an expected time for power to be back up and running again, and the recording said 6 pm Thursday. Ugh.

So we hunkered down for a 2-day pioneer lifestyle.

We have a wood stove, so heat is no problem. Plenty of candles, oil lamps and flashlights, so light is no problem. The camp stove cooks up a mean Campbell’s soup, so food is no problem. We also have an old-fashioned coffee pot for use on the camp stove, so coffee is no problem. Essentials taken care of. Wait, what about water, you say?

Here’s the thing about our water. We live in the country, and thus we have a well which provides us with the most wonderful water. Our water tastes like water should taste. And it makes the most perfect coffee. Because we have a well, though, we need electrical power to pump the water. We do have a gas-powered generator, but setting it up for the water pump to run is a big pain in the ass. I’m not even sure I know how to do it anymore, since we moved into “the house” (about 10 years ago).

Folks who live in town don’t hesitate to pee when their power goes out, I’m sure. But we have to plan ahead – because we can’t flush our toilets when the power goes out.

So on Wednesday, I stayed home and let the kids sleep as long as they may. Sam was up first and was very happy with the Snow Day, but wasn’t happy with my making him go outside to take his first morning pee. That boy can pee longer than any adult male I’ve ever heard. And he does so every morning in my bathroom. For some reason, Sam likes to take his shower in my bathroom, not upstairs. He pees, won’t flush the toilet until after his shower (the shower is only really hot for about 2 minutes until the toilet is done using all the cold water, but Sam won’t believe me – he’s convinced he’ll be scorched and his burnt red flesh will peel from his bones if he flushes the toilet before his shower), so anyway, the second you walk in the bathroom you can smell that Sam has peed. That first morning piss is a stinky doozy!!! No way was that happening in the house with no power. Find a nice tree outside, buster.

And how do we handle the other thing, even smellier than Sam’s first morning pee, the No. 2?? Well, it depends. Seeing as how we could be without power for a couple of days, I decided no No. 2 in the house. Go out to the pole barn and use the scary, cold bathroom there. To flush, all one needs to do is dump a pail of water into the bowl, and the toilet takes over. (It appears to be a little known fact that electricity is not required to flush a toilet. It’s all gravity, baby. Well, technically in our house electricity is required... to supply the water source and get that gravity thing going... This is something my townie friends don’t even have to think about, apparently.) Where to obtain the pail of water, then? Trek on over to the pond and dip it out. Like I told my daughter, “You are so lucky to have this experience. When you’re older and your kids are whining about something, you can say, hey, quit your whining, you have it easy! Why, when I was your age, I had to dip a bucket into an ice cold pond to get water out to flush the toilet!”

I love a snow day!

And the power and the phone were both restored by 3 pm that day. It was so nice being home unexpectedly that I decided to cook and bake. Nothin’ fancy. Homemade baked mac-n-cheese, sloppy joes, potato salad, my special recipe corn (by request), and 2 pound cakes. Comfort food for sure. The best kind to celebrate a snow day.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004