Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Midnight Phonecalls [ominous music]

I changed our land line's ring tone. heehee.
Now, it plays the opening bars of..

Bach-Toccata and Fuge in D minor

It sounds epic. xD
I forgot to tell Blue and Silly... Both said, the first time the phone rang while they were home, they "nearly had a heart attack". I thought it was a far cry better than our usual 'LEE LEE LEE ... LEE LEE LEE', one of the standard, ear splitting out-of-the-box rings most cordless phones have.
I say it fits with our future plans to turn the boot room (tiny, tiny foyer) into a Haunted Mansion styled space. They say I'm going "a bit far" with the whole thing. In the end, though, we've kept it. I think it grows on you.
...besides, if they made me change it, I'd pick the William Tell Overture. LOL

This is why I'm making a post, after all, to write about a phone call. Rather, what the phone call stirred in me.

I think a lot about the garden. When the realization first sank in, I was all gung-ho, ordering scads of seed catalogues and talking "garden" nonstop while visions of our back yard transformed danced through my head. As time marches on, however, my excitement dims. I'm holding onto the hope that it'll happen, that I'll make it happen, but every idea... every effort that goes nowhere leaves me more and more despondent. I've accepted that it won't look the way I want, that I'll likely be gardening out of containers for the foreseeable future. I've accepted that we simply, honestly, cannot work out there right now. We're all getting over this virus and the weather has been peaking steadily at 115* F. Hell, our inflated-ring pool is like slightly-warm bathwater now! WITHOUT the help of a solar cover! There's no way we could go out and rip up the ground like this.

Still... I'd like a little enthusiasm from my pair. I've stopped badgering them with facts and bits of trivia, I would love to hear the occasional suggestion or even encouragement. Now, when my seed books arrive, I don't bother beyond a cursory flipping. Drop it open to the middle, glance at a couple pages, sigh, and toss them in the drawer with the first ones. The ones I'd so lovingly studied, shared with GRIM, wrote notes regarding.

It's happened. I've hit the "what's the point" phase, and I haven't even got a handful of soil to show for it. I didn't plan on having anything planted this year, but I would have liked to buy a tomato and put it in a bucket. Something.

Which brings me to tonight's midnight call. My ominous Bach making me smile. There are only three people who would call me at midnight, when the baby's home. Silly, who works graveyard and gets lonely. Mom, who knows I'm almost always up at night. Patti, my aunt. We've both been the type for odd hours all our lives. Sometimes, midnight is the only chance you get. Your one chance to talk without an impatiently eager child clamoring to be heard by one end of the phone or the other, away from spouses that have an innate sense and decide that's exactly when they need you (similar to the previous).
The house is quiet, everything is peace and calm, you've had a chance to destress and let go.

~dee doo deet... deeedaaduuuudum.. dooodoodoooot dooo dee dooo, dooo~

So. It's my mom.
My son has informed her that I will *be there* for the fourth.
He is emphatic.
I WILL be there.
No one can dissuade him.
There is no argument strong enough, no reason valid enough.
I will be there.
He knows it.

...I'd like to know HOW he knows that.
I offered for him to come out here. Have a barbecue, watch the fireworks, splash in our wading pool, get heatstroke in the park down the street, maybe. I never once said anything about going out there. See, we already had two families coming in for Blue's feed-me-till-I-pop barbecue. I thought it'd be better to add two (or three, or four) mouths to the party, than have me out there.. alone.. trying to remember how long you wait before adding sauce.
Blue had told me the next DAY that he'd called it off because we'd all been sick. He couldn't take grilling and smoking in this breath-sucking dry heat, let alone a repeat of his birthday's chaos. I'd texted mom later that night, saying I would be out for the fourth, if it was okay with her. I hadn't talked to anyone outside of my own house or Blue's mom since then. Mom's phone wasn't set up for texts yet, so it never arrived.


The boy has the pure, singular ability to baffle.

Anyhow, our call gets dropped mid-sentence, and I can't reach my mom. I'm going straight to voicemail, then I get some man speaking Spanish. I wait a little while, and she doesn't call back. Now, she isn't in the best of health. I know this and I'm starting to worry, so I dig my aunt's number out of the phone and wake her out of a sound sleep. Sure, she can go check on mom, tell her I've been trying to call back. Then, since mom's busy, I end up chatting with my aunt.

She's renovating that tiny house, the standing vestige of my grandfather's memory. She's planting in his once-loved soil; mourning the dead lizards that crawled into the walls to hibernate and didn't find a way out.
As is generally true, talk of the property leads to talk of my grandfather. Everyone but his family called him Jim. We called him many other things, from 'grandpa' to 'Fattio Daddio'. He was a great man, but had flaws like anyone else.

He used to cut up half gallon and quart milk jugs, the "paper" ones, and make them into "lizard houses". You could find him outside, kicking back on a pile of old wood like it was a luxury lounger, and he'd gesture you over.
"Quiet!" he'd hiss, grabbing you roughly by the wrist before you could step into an unseen bolt-hole. Once you were settled in, silent and still... he'd lean back again.
Like a magician, his hand would disappear. Bringing it out again with a casual flourish, he'd drop a blue-belly lizard in your lap.. or your palm.. or on the sleeve of your borrowed "cover" shirt.
And there it'd stay.
Staring at you.
You could swear... the damned thing was judging you!
Eventually, it'd look back to him, he'd nod, and it'd skitter off or settle in.
Once they were on me, I found I could sit stock still for hours in that heat. I'd giggle and try to stifle it, squirm a bit with the excitement of it all, and stare deeply into reptilian eyes that seemed just as human as any other. Sometimes, they'd let me touch them, but mostly not. My grandpa, meanwhile, would be crook'd into his lounge, muttering around his rollie cigarette.

I used to think he did it because he loved me best. I was his first, he told everyone. First grandchild; and later, the bringer of the first great-grandchild. His golden one. I thought it was my duty to learn everything he had to teach me. That somehow, all of these experiences were lessons I would need to know when I was grown, when I would take on the mantle none of us could picture him letting slip. Now... Now I think he just needed some peace. A little space of quiet and stillness. Like a child told to play "Let's Pretend" and they've been given the role of "moss on a log", I eagerly accepted and strained to do the best I could at being still and silent.
He never was an outwardly affectionate type. He told people he loved them by saying things like "get a haircut" and "you're too fat". If cornered, he'd admit that he was never taught how to show love. He didn't want his family to be taunted in school, so they should cut their hair. He worried about their health, afraid of seeing them die from something that could have been prevented.

Mostly, though, his love came through in money. "Take some money out of my account and buy that girl of yours a new dress. I don't like her wearing rags." That was said after the family got together (in old, faded clothes) to scrub his floors clean, after he was moved into what would become his hospice area. This man, who would fish out clothes that had washed downstream and take them home to wear, whose ceiling was a schitzophrenic's dream of colors, who'd eaten out of cans he bought by the case.. hated seeing his children or his grandchildren in anything less than "Goin' To Town" clothes.

So we got to talking about the lizards in the walls, my aunt and I. Until she mentioned them, I'd forgotten all about those cut up rectangles. They, like my grandfather, had just... always been there. Accepted, loved, appreciated, sought out. No matter how faded the logos got, no matter how warped by rain they'd become, we - and the lizards - still returned to them, year after year and season after season.

It looks like my Big Idea is going to have to wait for another entry, but I do hope you'll stick around. Whoever... wherever... you are.

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