Anniversary

Our first photo together.  I am the chubby baby in the front row.  Bud is behind me to my left.

Bud and I celebrate our forty-eighth anniversary today.  We met days after my birth when his mother came to help out after my birth.  Two and a half years old and more experienced, he wisely waited for me to grow up a little before showing interest in me.  I was pre-occupied with the business of being a baby and had no time for him, possibly leading him to think I was playing hard to get.  From time to time, we’d be thrown together over the years, at holidays, school events, community, church, and family visits.  He was pleasant to me.  I liked him, but had no idea he held a special interest in me.  The summer I was seventeen, he’d gotten a car and starting calling regularly.  My sister Phyllis thought he liked her, so I made a point of getting out of their way when he came to visit.  All socializing was done in the living room in the midst of a large boisterous family with the TV at full blast, so there was no question of privacy.  We could take a guest to the snack bar in the dining room if we wanted, but we were still in the middle of things.  Coincidentally, my fourteen-year-old brother, Bill, really admired and enjoyed Bud, too, so he thought he was there to see him.

Bud was had broken his foot and bashed his thumb in separate accidents in his summer mechanic job, so he was a comical site hobbling on crutches with casts on his foot and hand.  He was good-matured about all the teasing, so I knew he had to be a good guy.

After a week or so of nightly visits to Phyllis and Bill, I was surprised to get a call from Bud, asking me out.  I probably stammered a bit, since I thought he was interested in Phyllis.  I accepted, and that was it.  We were married two years later.  Forty-eight years and two children later, August 22, 2018, we celebrate our  anniversary together.  We’ve had the best life anyone could ever have.

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Open and Closed

Bud is mostly reasonable, but does have his moods.  One morning he got up and made me coffee while I dressed for work, which was a real treat.  I always got the kids’ breakfast on the table before turning it over to him to get them fed, dressed and on the bus.  He didn’t go to work till later in the morning so our paths didn’t cross in the morning that often.  Of course I didn’t have much time to drink it, so he fixed me a cup to go as I headed out the door before five a.m.  I grabbed my badge, coffee, bag, and  lunch and keys out of the fridge.  The only way I could remember my lunch was if it was with my keys.  Bud fussed, but it made perfect sense to me.  He didn’t have to get the kids off for a while so he settled back in his recliner to watch the news and probably catch a snooze.

I found it distracting to have Bud up and about as I left for work, so I was a little distracted as I hit the garage door remote.  The door had a little glitch where it sometimes edged back down a few inches instead of engaging at the top.  This was one of those mornings.  Bud had kept meaning to fix it, but you know how that goes.  I made one last check on things before starting my vehicle.  Backing up, I was rewarded with a whump and a nauseating schreech as I connected with the garage door.  Apparently, it had learned its lesson, because it returned to the correct position just as Bud burst out the back door, gesticulating and shouting!  He looked like he was foul mood so I hurried on my way, not bothering to stop and find out what he thought of the situation since he didn’t look like his morning was going well.  I never have understood why some people have to be grouchy in the mornings.

I called his job later in the morning to find out how much damage I’d done.  One of his buddies answered the phone eager to talk to me.  “Hey, I heard you backed into the closed garage door!”

”Yeah, but it wasn’t my fault.  Bud was supposed to fix it.”

”Yeah, he’s gone to get some parts now.  Do you want me to ask him to call you when he gets back?” He laughed.

”No, not really.  He was in a bad mood when I left this morning.”

 

 

Chicken Poop Tea For Two

Why don’t men just say what they mean?  Bud and I have been married forever and I still don’t know how he thinks most of the time.  You need a little history here.  My niece generously gave me a garbage bag full of chicken poop.  I’d been coveting her chicken poop for a while, but hated to come right out and ask for it.  If you’re not a gardener, you probably have no idea what a precious gift chicken poop is.  Ferns love it.  There is nothing better than a delicious dose of chicken poop tea for your flowers and vegetables.  They practically slurp when they get their weekly dose and seem to fairly jump up.  I hurried home with my prize before she could regret it, with the intention of making myself a big batch of chicken poop tea.  I dug around is Bud’s shop and found a nice five gallon bucket.  He agreed I could use it.  It never occurred to me to mention what I wanted it for.

I divided that precious poop between that bucket and one of my own and filled both three-quarters full, covered them and left them to steep, one on the front porch and the other near the back patio.  In a week or so, I had a strong brew.  The lid prevented the smell from permeating the area.  It was potent.  I doused my ferns and other hungry plants weekly.  They loved it, competing to green up and put on new growth.  Adding water each use kept it coming.  The stuff was all I hoped it would be.

Then Bud started badgering.  “When are you gonna pour that stuff out?  It stinks!”  You can’t keep it here in that bucket.”

I wasn’t getting rid of it.  “Hannah, gave me this.  I need it for my plants.  I’ll move it away from the patio, but I’m not getting rid of it!”

”That s—— stinks.!  You need to pour it out.” He had the nerve to actually call it s—-!

”I’m not pouring it out!”  He stomped off.  He better have the good sense not to mess with my chicken poop tea! 

This went on for three years.  Several times a summer, we discussed my tea.  He never quite had the nerve to dump it, though he threatened several times.  That was a wise decision.  Chicken poop doesn’t grow on trees.  By now, this was prime stuff, very valuable to me.

This May, we were having guests.  I was fatigued, having spent several days getting ready.  Bud started up again, seeing my weakness.  “What are you gonna do with this bucket of s—-?”

I lost my resolve.  “I guess I’ll  throw it out!”  I thought he’d be ashamed and stop me.  He didn’t!  I gave my plants a final treat and emptied the buckets on my compost heap.

Yesterday as we dawdled over Sunday coffee in his shop, I spied that same blue five gallon bucket by Bud’s saw, full of lumber scraps.  “Is that THE bucket?  I didn’t think you’d still use it after it stood full of chicken poop for three years.”

”Why sure.  It’s a good bucket.  Why do you think I wanted it back?”

“You mean all that complaining was over the bucket, not the chicken poop?”

”Well, yeah.  It’s a good bucket.  I needed it back.”

”Why in the world didn’t you tell me?  I would have gotten you another bucket and kept my chicken poop? Buckets are cheap!  Chicken poop is priceless!”  Was this the same man who agreed to share all his worldly goods only forty-eight years ago?  I guess that didn’t include “good buckets.”

Chcken s——-!

My patio

 

 

Andrew and Molly Part 18

Andrew slept most of the next forty-eight hours, only waking long enough to tend his needs and ask after the baby.  With Rosemarie in attendance, the baby had little need of anyone else.  Ecstatic at her reprieve, she’d barely relinquish her hold on the baby, sleeping on a pallet by its cradle.  The little girls were delighted at the acquisition of the baby, vying for the chance to kiss its pink cheeks and rub its blond fuzzy head.  Even Jamie wasn’t too proud to hold it, being thoroughly tired of girls. They insisted it was their brother, though Molly kept reminding them they didn’t know whose baby it was.  “That man gave us this baby.” Addie insisted.  “When Pap gave  us a puppy we got to keep it.  We didn’t have a baby.”

“No Aggie.  That’s not the way it works with babies.  This baby may have a mother who’s looking for it, right now.” Molly explained.

“That’s not fair.  She can just get another one.  We need this one.” Addie insisted.

The baby quickly plumped up with regular feedings.  The childrens’ hand-me-downs were put to good use.  Rosemarie fairly doted on it, lavishing on it all the love she meant for her lost baby.

Late on the afternoon of the second day, Andrew woke and wandered through looking for Molly, encountering Rosemarie nursing the baby.  He asked after Molly.

“Mistress Wharton stepped across to see Mistress Bartles.”

“No, I am looking for my wife Molly, not Mistress Wharton.” He explained.

“The only Molly I’ve met is Mistress Molly Wharton. I just came after the baby got here.”  she answered.

He found Molly watching the children at play in the backyard.  “Whose children are those?”  he asked.

“They are mine.  After you were gone, we all thought you were dead.  I found I was to have your child.  To save me from trouble, James Wharton married me.  You know what can happen to a bondswoman found with child.  Jamie is your child, though James Wharton gave him his name.”  she paused.

“You married Wharton! How could you marry Wharton?  Why didn’t you wait?  You didn’t even give me the chance to get back!  How could you marry so soon?” he demanded of her.

Will and Aggie walked up, having seen them in conversation.  It was clear Andrew was overwrought. Will addressed Andrew.  “Hold your peace, man.  Wharton saved her by the marrying.  She could have been punished or sold to another.  She was fortunate he offered.  She’d have been foolish to refuse.  Your capture left her in a grave situation.”

Molly spoke.  “I’ll thank you to compose yourself.  Will, can you put him up?  Come children!”  With that, she left them, stalking to the house.

 

Andrew and Molly Part 16

James Andrew Wharton  made his appearance seven  months later, a hearty little fellow.  His parents and Will and Aggie Bartles purely doted on him.  Molly was amused that she’d ever thought James or Aggie stern, especially as they coddled and spoke nonsense to Jamie.  Molly and Aggie enjoyed their new status as free citizens and were active in church.

James Wharton lost some of his austere persona with the happiness of his marriage.  Molly’s relationship with him blossomed as she had leisure to spoil him, a luxury she and Andrew had never enjoyed.  She was surprised to find him a skilled and generous lover with none of the urgency she’d experienced with Andrew.  Before Jamie was a year old, she was pregnant again.  James was ecstatic to see his family increasing.  He engaged a young bondswoman woman to help Molly as soon as he could.  James had expanded his acreage and engaged another man soon after they married.

Molly gave birth to a girl she named for Addie then little Hannah the next year.  She teased James that he’d tricked saying he wouldn’t be a virile husband then landed her two babies in a year.  He added rooms as the family grew, including one for Josie, the bondswoman.  The children called Addie and Will grandparents.  The family truly thrived.

The four years Molly shared with James were precious, all the more because she knew she wouldn’t have him with her forever.  One evening after supper, he took her hand.  “Mollygirl, I am old.  When I work hard, it pains my chest.  I want you to know, you are the best part of my life.  I have my affairs in order.  I will engage another man to ease my labor, but I won’t be with you much longer.”

Molly wept softly in his arms.  “I will always love you, dearest.”

He began spending his days around the house with Molly as the bondsman worked the farm.  Two months later, Molly went to wake him for breakfast and found he’d left left.  She’d lost two husbands before she was twenty-five.

She grieved James as Will Bartles helped her learn to run the farm along with the two bondsman, though not a day passed that she didn’t think of his strength and kindness.  One morning as she hung clothes on the line, a man in buckskins came running from the woods.  She was gathering her little ones to run when she heard a familiar voice calling, “Molly!  Molly!”

 

Andrew and Molly Part 14

Aggie and Molly sat down with Bartles at the day’s end telling her troubling situation.

“Molly, if I had money, I’d gladly buy your bond.  We hardly have two pennies to rub together.  I’ll talk to Master Wharton for you.  He’s a fair man.  Losing two bondsmen has left him in a dire situation as well.  I will speak to him now.”  With that, he left the women, and strode to Master Barton’s house on his mission.  In an hour or so he was back.  “Molly, Master Wharton wants to speak with you.  Aggie, come with us as witness.”

Molly felt panicked, not prepared to deal with her fate so soon.  She had no idea what awaited her as she walked in his back door.  Master Wharton greeted them.

“Come in the front room.  This is no talk for the kitchen.”  Though she’d cleaned it every day since her arrival, Molly felt she was seeing the room for the first time with its golden pine walls, large fireplace, table and chairs, and bench.  A large quilt covered-bed filled one corner.   She’d swept and scrubbed the pine floor with lye-water till it was white-bleached.  Even though it had never been her home, it had become familiar and dear, especially since she and Andrew had so recently occupied the small bedroom off the kitchen.  It was certainly the most comfortable dwelling she’d ever lived in.

“Let’s get straight to our business.”  Molly felt a sense of doom at his terse demeanor. Battles has explained your situation.  You know mine. We have to assume Andrew is dead.  I have to engage another bondsman or a couple.  My cash stores are depleted.  A woman in your position is in peril.  I have two offers to buy your bond, both single men.  There is the possibility, but no promise you might be offered marriage, though of course, neither man is aware of your condition.  I cannot guess how that might change their offers.

I have grown fond of both you and Andrew over the past months.  I loathe the idea of your falling into peril.  Though I am an fifty-seven years old and you but a girl, I offer you marriage.  I realize you cannot expect the comfort a young man could give you, but offer I marriage if you desire it.  I would welcome your child as my own.  I had never thought to know the joy of a wife and children again after losing my family.  You can take some time to think before giving me your decision.

Molly had come in expecting to learn she’d be cast out, not offered marriage.  Even though she’d had little time to grieve Andrew’s loss, she knew she needed Master Wharton’s protection.  This was a time for reason, not emotion.  The welfare of her child was her main consideration.

“I’d be honored to be your wife.” She answered.

Wharton nodded.  “I’ll ask the minister to announce the banns.  Battles, can Molly reside with you till our marriage? I want no gossip.”

“Certainly, Master Wharton.  We’d be honored.”  He and Aggie were beaming.

“And call me James.  You are a free man now.” He directed.

“Yes indeed, James.  My name is Will. “The men shook hands heartily and James embraced Aggie.  He turned to Molly.  “I won’t kiss you till after we wed.  James, make sure there is no gossip on my wife’s good name.”  With that, he took both Molly’s hands in his.  “I will keep out of the house while you are about your duties until we marry.”

Ask Auntie Linda

Auntie LindaDear Auntie Linda, My husband, Bob, had a cancerous kidney removed four years ago. Our marriage was never good. He is a truck driver and did well until three weeks ago when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor after a seizure. Now, he is unable to work. His prognosis is poor and he needs my health insurance. We have three children. I had already told him I was leaving before all this happened. I could never leave him, now, with him being sick. He had already confronted me because of some text messages and emails he found, though I am pretty sure he has been unfaithful as well. He knows I have gotten involved with Mike, co-worker. I want a relationship with him.

Bob, our children, and I are all devastated by Bob’s illness and terminal diagnosis. They know I was leaving before all this happened, and immediately they all started saying I had to stay now. I feel awful about Bob’s illness. I know I am hopelessly stuck. Both our families are involved now. We live in small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Our minister has already been here to visit.

I know I have to stay and care for Bob till the end. That is not my issue. Mike is very supportive. He understands I cannot leave Bob and isn’t asking for that. There is a workshop for my job I must attend in San Francisco next month. Bob’s parents will be coming to stay with him and the children while I must be gone.

Mike wants us to be together that week. I don’t see how it would hurt since Bob knows how I felt before his illness. I wouldn’t hurt Bob by rubbing his nose in it, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t take this opportunity since Bob knew I was leaving him before his diagnosis. Am I wrong to want some happiness before what promises to be a miserable, lengthy ordeal?  Molasses Molly

Dear Molasses,  No, you are not wrong to want happiness, but this is not the time to put yourself first.  Escape will not solve your problems.  Examine your conscience.  You know Bob’s time is limited.  If your relationship with your children is important, don’t lose sight of the fact that it will be impacted forever.  Their sympathies will be with him.  If the ethics of that don’t concern you,  being involved with a coworker may be a sexual harassment issue, not to mention the damage to your professional reputation and possible job loss.  On a more practical level, you and Bob share a financial situation.  You could be left with astronomical expenses should you lose your job.

I suggest you back off, support Bob and the children through his illness, and consider your needs when the situation changes. I can’t see how adding another problem to the mix will help. Auntie Linda

P. S.  Old Mike sounds like a real buzzard.

 

Dear Auntie Linda,  Our parents had to go in a nursing home a year ago because two of my sisters and I could no longer care for them at home.  My father had end-stage lung disease requiring professional care.  Mother has early Alzheimer’s Disease.  Though she appears fairly functional on visits, she requires constant attendance since she wanders off and can’t manage her daily care.  The problem is, my father died three weeks ago.  Now, one sister who lives several hours away insists Mother is well enough to return home with some help.  Of course, Mother is all for it.  The problem of managing her care would fall on me and my two sisters who live near Mother.  Even though she appears pleasant and competent, Mother can not be left alone.  She was leaving burners on even before she went in the nursing home.  Several times we had to go looking for her in all weather.  Even though we have made this clear to my sister, she insists Mother can manage with home health.  She says we (not her) can check on her a couple of times a day.  The responsibility of Mother’s care would fall on those of us who live in town, and we have already tried everything.  I am worried my sister will move her home over our objections.  What do we do? Exhausted

Dear Exhausted, Make it clear to your sister that you will not accept responsibility for caring for your mother at home.  If your sister insists on bringing her home, involve the social worker and adult protection if necessary.  Your sister cannot force you to assume responsibility.

 

 

Dirty Trick

As we walked across the Walmart parking lot this afternoon, my husband of forty-five years, Bud, pointed out my loose bootlace. I had no intention of bending over in the parking lot to tie it, so replied, “I have a backache.  I’ll tie it later.”

Bud couldn’t deal with the idea of the flopping shoelace, so he rolled his eyes and grumped,  “You can’t walk around like that.  You’ll break your danged neck.  Stand still.  I’ll tie it!”

With that, he dropped down on one knee to tie it, just as a couple of guys walked by, obviously wondering what was going on.

I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, spouting,  “No, I won’t marry you!  Now get up!”