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Archives for : May1956

In Ralphie We Trust

The late afternoon sunshine streaked through the front picture window creating puddles of light on the gold carpet. I still believed that God hung out in the sunshine, just as I did as a child. Seeing sunshine streaks always reminds me to say my little girl prayers. I have no idea how all of that even got into my head. Either my mother or dad must have told me that a long time ago. It reminded me to be careful what I was installing in the minds of my little ones. It’s so easy to believe in those we trust.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard some gentle banging on the back door. The kids were at school and I was busy putting together a casserole for dinner. No one ever knocked at the back door, so the noise surprised me. The inside door was opened a little due to the nice weather and at the other side of the storm door was a small boy. I recognized him as Ralphie Brown, Sandra and Joe’s son. I hadn’t gotten to know them very well yet and he was definitely too young to be visiting on his own. Granted, they only lived a few houses away and I had seen them playing in their backyard. Each yard had its own fencing – some wood, some wire, some just shrubs, so it was easy to see what was going on when families were in their own backyards. I opened the door and the little boy entered. He didn’t seem too frightened of me and climbed up onto a chair at the kitchenette. I automatically brought him a cookie and a small glass of milk. He ate happily, crumbs falling from his mouth. I realized that I had been speaking to him the entire time, asking him his name, where his mom was, what he was doing here, but he never answered any of my questions. Actually, he didn’t pay any attention to me. I sat down next to him and looked directly at him and he smiled back at me. I asked his name and realized that he probably didn’t hear me.

I grabbed a bottle of Daisy’s bubbles off the kitchen counter and blew some his way. He giggled out loud. I pulled some of Junior’s soldiers from the box on the toy shelf and lined up a few on the table in front of him. He did what little boys do. Picked them up one by one and walked them around each other and eventually rammed them into each other and they fell down. That gene must be strong in males. But he seemed to enjoy himself and smiled and laughed as they fell. He looked up at me and smiled. I could see his baby teeth. I decided to return my little friend.

We walked hand in hand down the front sidewalk to the Brown house. As we approached the front door, it swung open and a very worried Sandra Brown came out to greet us. She grabbed her toddler and hugged him tightly. Mrs. Brown turned back to me and thanked me profusely for returning little Ralphie. She explained how he must have roamed away from the backyard where he was playing with his sister. Obviously, she said, he didn’t hear me when his name was called. A bell went off in my head. He never heard me talking to him either. Sandra and I talked for a few more minutes and I made a promise to myself to try and include them more in the activities on our block. The annual party would be soon. Maybe it was time to reach out and get to know this family better. Maybe little Ralphie could even come over for a real visit. I’m sure his mom wouldn’t mind after she knew me better and built up some trust in me. I missed having a little boy around. I was already used to children who didn’t always listen to me; Ralphie might help me learn how to communicate better.

When In Doubt, Do Something

Almost every afternoon this week, I have managed to sneak in an hour of reading time. Romance novel reading time. I have found it very enjoyable and in fact, learned a little history about the roaring 20s and sober 30s. This particular work of history involved a speakeasy where a lovely young thing named Rebecca worked for a mean aunt who ran the club. Auntie was a bit of a despot who expected Rebecca to keep track of all the money they took in, pay the bills and work in a terribly cold basement office while listening to all the music and fun being had by the upstairs patrons. Edie had written the back story to include descriptions of the entertainment, clothes and illicit drinking and gambling. I could picture it in my head because Edie made it so visible. One night, a stranger finds his way to the office and encounters poor Rebecca and is smitten with her. It was a little like the Cinderella story in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but for grownup women.

It was so intriguing to hold a book in my hand that was written by someone I knew. I had nothing of interest to tell anyone and had no idea where Edie found all her words. A lot of thoughts did swirl around in my head though. Sometime back, I had started to write my personal thoughts in a journal. I have always wondered what made us all tick. I often watched for differences in the ways my friends raised their children and dealt with their husbands. We talk about our families a lot and try to help each other with suggestions on child-rearing and husband-handling. Was I really different from my friends? The only way to know if I was capable of understanding would be to continue to document my thoughts. Maybe after more careful examination, I would have a better answer. My new slogan would be – When in doubt, do something. Like write it down.

An Original

The doorbell rang and when I answered it, a beatnik awaited me. Longish brown hair, a fringe of a beard, dark sunglasses and a striped shirt stood before me. I finally had the courage to say hello and he answered with “TT here.” I had no idea what that meant so he repeated it. I had no idea what that meant so he repeated it. Finally, he took off his sunglasses and told me he was Tommy Todd. My surprised face must have looked funny because he chuckled.

Lucy had nicely arranged for her brother, the artist/painter, to visit our house to check out the bedroom wall I wanted painted. I took a very deep breath and I invited him in, barely remembering to introduce myself. Tommy followed me to Junior’s bedroom and I gave him my thoughts. He stared at the wall for a good minute or so and told me it was a bold move. But that he liked bold ideas with paint. When he told me when he would be able to do it and what it would cost, I figured that I could always paint over it if it didn’t work out.

Later that week, after everyone left for the morning, Tommy arrived and started painting. I wanted to check from time to time on the progress but Tommy closed the door. He said that he wanted to keep the paint fumes out of the house and he did have the windows in the room open. It was excruciating. I knocked and offered to make him lunch which he turned down but as far as I could tell, he only left the room to use the bathroom.

About 2 o’clock, the bedroom door opened and Tommy found me in the kitchen. He had splatters of sunset colors over his face, hands, and used-to-be white overalls. He was grinning, which I took as a good sign, and he motioned for me to follow him. The wall was gorgeous, sublime, stunning and amazing. The colors gradually climbed down to the floor in a perfect sunset.

Even better, a very lifelike small cactus had been placed on one side of the painting. It really was a giant painting. In fact, it was signed, with a scripted TT in the bottom corner.

Riding Off Into The Sunset

Sarah and Roger were planning some renovations to their home and Sarah asked me about using the company Stubbs owned. Stubbs and Judy Anne had done some renovations to their home already and her backyard kidney shaped pool was on the top of my wish list if we ever changed things. I encouraged Sarah to check with Judy Anne to see her changes. I have seen the trucks from Stubbs’ company in different neighborhoods in Monterey Park. I guess as homes and families aged, renovations were always needed and wanted when affordable.

I was thinking about redecorating Junior’s bedroom. He is heavily invested in a future as a cowboy. Although concerning, especially since I was unsure of the profitability of roaming the Old West, I played along most days and didn’t try to dissuade him from his fantasy. I really wanted to paint the wall behind his bed in a sunset but had no idea how to accomplish it. I mentioned my dilemma to Steve and he rolled his eyes. I guess the thought sounded as impossible as the execution.

I decided to stop at the wallpaper shop to see if maybe a mural or some other solution was available. With the bookshop on the way to the decor shop, I stopped in for a quick look at the new titles. Lucy was behind the cash register helping a couple choose between two different books on antique collecting. Lucy found me looking through the fiction paperwork books, specifically the romance novels. She looked at me sideways and I understood her surprise. When she realized I felt a little uncomfortable getting caught looking for Edie’s books, Lucy stuttered a little and agreed that as genres go, romance novels included a little history lesson also. I laughed a little and told her that I wasn’t planning on reading any of them but wanted to find a particular author. Author. I was trying to make it feel a little more professional than it was considered. I gasped a little when I saw the name R.L. Newquest. There was a whole shelf of them! I grabbed three different titles and told Lucy that I changed my mind.

After paying for my books, Lucy asked me if I was doing anymore shopping. I told her where I was headed and even told her about my crazy idea about painting the sunset wall. Lucy thought it sounded beautiful and offered the name of her brother as a possible painter. Apparently, Tommy Todd was a local painter/artist and might be able to make my idea a reality. What a day, Edie’s fantasy books and my crazy idea coming together. Life is strange like that.

Cleaning my World

The first shade of green lawn always looks the freshest. It’s almost unreal and I like walking around barefooted in the morning outside the back door while the sun greets the day. The smoke from my cigarette rises in bright white swirls in the cool air. It’s my alone time, pre-morning chaos. Soon everyone will be up wanting something. Coffee for Steve, breakfast for everyone, lunches for later. Last minute requests are suddenly urgent – papers that need to be signed, clothing that doesn’t fit right, lost ball caps. I am useful in the morning.

Just as quickly, everyone is off with a quick kiss and my work day begins. Spring means extra work with windows, doors, walls, and everything that needs a thorough cleaning. Clothes need to be changed out for warmer weather and shopping lists need to be created for summer clothing. I love my job. Caring for others is very gratifying. But sometimes, I dream of more. I know more is dangerous for some people, but just a little more at a time would be helpful.

Since Edie shared her writing secret with me, I have had a nagging feeling about my sporadic journaling. Sharing my rambling thoughts on my little world is much smaller than what Edie has created. She managed to develop a whole world. Maybe that’s the key. If you make it up, it can be as big as you dream.

Edie and I had a nice talk after she showed me her office. Artie thought the writing was okay as long as Edie didn’t spend a lot of time doing it while he was home. I was a little jealous of her and told her so but she reminded me about her lack of babies to care for and I understood better. We all judge each other’s lives against are own. But no one ever will agree to swap lives. We hold on to our own little issues because they belong to us. Maybe I could spend a few minutes today writing these thoughts down. I don’t want to forget them since they might be the secret to more ideas. But first, it’s time to tackle the baseboards!