A Hog a Day Part 18

Linda First GradeIn some ways, my older sister Phyllis was a parent’s dream.  She would walk a mile to follow a rule and was always on the lookout to alert my parents of mine and Billy’s actual or suspected transgressions.  We must have been satisfying siblings to a natural-born tattler.  On occasion she would report, “Linda did such and such.”

Most of the time, Mother either took action or sent Phyllis back to straighten me out.  However, once in a while, Mother replied, “That’s okay.”

Realizing she’d needlessly missed out on the fun, she’d ask.  “Then can I?”

Phyllis was a perfect student and never missed a spelling words the whole time she was in grade school except for forgetting to dot the I in President and not crossing the T in Grandfather.  When I followed three years behind her, the teacher always said, “Oh, you’re Phyllis’s sister.  She was the best kid in class and always did such neat work.”  I was so proud the first time I heard that ominous description, totally unaware that I wouldn’t be shooed into that position with no effort on my part. I thought the role was inherited, not earned.  I wasn’t even on the good kid list.  I was sloppy, careless in my work, chattered incessantly, rarely got to class with homework or school supplies, and was best-known for staring out the window when  I should have been listening.  Billy, who followed three years behind me probably dealt with a whole new type of comparison.  The second day of school, I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Mother and Daddy that Mrs. Crow said I was a scatterbrain, having no idea it was not an honor.  It didn’t take long for Daddy to bring me up to speed on that.

I was fairly bouncing my first day of school, delighted with my red and green-checked book satchel and school supplies.  I’d been admiring the two fat yellow, pencils, box of eight chubby crayons, jar of paste, blunt-ended scissors, and Big Chief tablet for days.   When Mrs. Crow had us introduce ourselves,  I was horrified to find I was sitting next to a girl named Virginia. Weeks before I started school, Phyllis had misinformed me that the name of female genitalia was Virginia.  I couldn’t imagine what would make any parent name their little girl after that particular body part, but knew I wouldn’t be able to talk to her. I might get in trouble for talking dirty. If that wasn’t bad enough, the boy on the other side of me was named Peter!  I hadn’t been in class an hour before Mrs. Crow confiscated my paste just because I tasted it, finding it sweet, but pretty bland.  She didn’t like it when I stuck my fat yellow pencil up my nose, either.  My school experience was going downhill fast.

 

 

A Hog a Day 12

Church was a trial for me. Daddy marched us into third pew from the front on the right side of church. He’d stomped out any hope of back- row giggling long before. I did look longingly at the lucky, wicked girls happily ensconced there, but had learned not to even ask to sit with a friend. We always filed in and took our seats in the same order. Daddy was first with Billy sandwiched between him and Mother. Mother held a baby on her lap. I was in easy reach next to Mother, with Phyllis and Connie, a toddler next to me. Sometimes during the service, Mother and Phyllis exchanged charges.

Phyllis, an adolescent, was the model of propriety, the darling of Sunday School teachers and choir directors. She’d have crawled to church on her hands and knees and sung a solo every Sunday if they’d let her. I compared poorly. Every Sunday I offered up excuses to avoid church. “My stomach hurts. I have an earache. I can’t find my shoes.” That last one was probably true! Billy and I could be depended upon to misbehave if allowed to sit together.

In preparation for the Sunday show, Mother spent endless hours sewing, starching, and ironing frilly dresses for us to show off at church. To ensure total misery, on Saturday night, she clamped me between her knees and twisted my fine hair into tight pin curls as I whined and wiggled. Invariably, she expressed the hope the some day I’d have fifteen girls with straight hair. Ironically, I have one daughter with curls. As final punishment, Mother wrapped my head in a scarf, and made me sleep on those damnable pins. Come morning, I was transformed into a kinky-headed mess in a Shirley Temple nightmare of a dress. I hated it.

The enforced quiet of church sermons was endless. In the days before ADD, I was BAD. My parents didn’t believe in providing distractions for restless children during church, offering up pre-sermon threats and terrifying looks, instead. I completely understood what was waiting at home if I messed up, so I passed the time manufacturing silent distractions.

Mr. Rose and Miss Bessie sat on the pew directly in front of us. He wore ancient gabardine suits with wide ties. He drifted off to sleep as soon as the preaching and his gastric system relaxed. Soon he regaled the congregation with a symphony of flabby farts. Poor Miss Bessie elbowed him to keep him awake and silent, but was no match for his system. It was a fascinating show, made all the more thrilling, since I was supposed to ignore it. How can you not notice farting in church?

 

Dirt is Good

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Ilove dirt.  This is some great dirt. It is the color and weight of chocolate cake mix, but I haven’t tasted it yet. I am moving a lot of this into the strawberry bed just outside my backdoor.   This particular dirt is from a our four year old compost he heap where we dumped grass, branches, garden and kitchen refuse, bured a few varmints.  Bud has turned this pile 3 to six times a year for the past four years with his garden tractor. It would have broken down much faster if I had left it alone, but I planted Cushaw, Yukon Gold Potatoes. And Sweet Potatoes in it last year, so he couldn’t turn it for a long time.

We have a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a year old compost heap.

Coming to Jesus

Water headRepost:

Though I wasn’t an actual heathen, I looked like one compared to my older sister Phyllis.  In her religious fervor, she never missed a church service, sang in the choir, and volunteered for all kinds of activities, while I dreaded Sunday mornings, knowing I’d have to sit through another long service.   This really rankled me, so one Sunday I decided to Continue reading

Puke

As I walked in my first grade classroom in December 1956,  I  wondered what all the excitement in the back of the room was about. The kids were buzzing around a mushy, malodorous pile of paper towels on the floor.  “What happened?” Continue reading

Coming to Jesus

Water headThough I wasn’t an actual heathen, I looked like one compared to my older sister Phyllis.  In her religious fervor, she never missed a church service, sang in the choir, and volunteered for all kinds of activities, while I dreaded Sunday mornings, knowing I’d have to sit through another long service.   This really rankled me, so one Sunday I decided to Continue reading