There’s a layer of explanation I must add to this memory that I think will increase the sense in it.
I was the oldest grandchild born from the oldest child. That meant my mother’s siblings were hardly more than kids themselves when I was born. My interactions with my mother’s brother and sisters resembled that of a ‘baby’ sister more than a niece. My aunts married youthful men their own age too.
I love men! Yeah, I said it. I have no doubt that my uncles’ incessant teasing and practical jokes were most useful in making me the confident person that I am today. (Male role models are almost as essential to girls as they are to boys.) There were several moments when I teetered between the choice of crying and complaining or “taking stuff on the chin”. The route I chose which was not to get mad, but” get even” has made ALL the difference. As an 11-year-old, and on, it was quite a bold decision considering my adversaries were in their early twenties.
This one event, again, takes place at the farm. My mother’s ‘baby’ brother probably had been tormented by her at some point and his devilish pranks toward her children may have been part of a retribution. On the farm there were patches of burdocks. Burdock seedpods are covered in spiky barbs that easily catch on animal fur and clothing as Nature’s way of widely distributing the seeds. Those seed pods were famously directly responsible for the innovation we know as Velcro.
At the farm, we would grab a bunch of dried burdocks and make a handy ‘snowball’ of them for whacking each other in the back. They carried a startling weight and made ‘the receiver’ of the ‘shock’ have to strip off their overshirt and carefully pick them off. Pretty funny stuff! My Mom’s brother realized that burdocks on clothes was annoying but burdocks in long hair was a nightmare and proceeded to hit me with them, every chance he got, in the back of the head. I wore thick long braids that became a tangled (somewhat painful) mess when that happened! That same uncle had recently tried to fool my brother by pulling up to the electrified fencing (meant to keep the cows contained) close enough to touch the metal truck grill against it. My two and a half years younger brother would have gotten the startling (not deadly) shock when he exited if he had stepped out by grounding the electricity while still holding the metal door handle. If I hadn’t recognized the prank and grabbed him by the collar telling him to jump, not step out, that mean trick would have worked. Incidentally, those shocks from the fences packed quite a punch especially when you didn’t expect them.
Well, this gal had a score to settle. You can ‘mess with me’ but nobody was going to get away with ‘messing’ with my ‘baby’ brother. 😀
My uncle was in his early twenties when 77 Sunset Strip was a popular show. He wore his hair slicked back with Brylcreem probably because he wanted to look like those popular characters.
As luck would have it, Brylcreem came in a tube like toothpaste.
You’re probably already seeing my plan. And also, according to luck, my grandmother’s choice of toothpaste at the time was Colgate.
The color similarities of those two products were about to prove extremely handy.
This uncle had a habit of dragging out of bed before daylight and robotically eating his breakfast then rushing to the barn in a semi-coma. I never have seen since someone eat cereal with their eyes closed.
All I had had to do was exchange his tube of Brylcreem for the toothpaste that he was sure not to examine!
“AARGHH!” is all I heard before the bathroom door swung open. Still foaming at the mouth, he was ‘literally’ spitting mad. LOL Even though I was laughing hysterically, I still believe he thinks it was all my grandmother’s fault for moving his ‘stuff’ around.
The moral bears repeating: Don’t ever get mad when you can get even.
You haven’t heard the last of my practical joke era…stay tuned.
I spent a great deal of Summertime on my grandparents’ dairy farm as a child. Their house was at the top of a sloping hill with a gravelly road leading up to it from the blacktop well-traveled road below. On either side of that gravel road were pastures. One contained the barn (closer to the house) where the cows were milked and the other was the grazing area. So, late in the day, the cows would gather at the ‘grazing’ pasture gateway waiting to cross the road so they could access the ‘milking’ barn. Someone (often my grandmother) had to open the gates on either side of the road to allow the cows to cross. Usually, a person would stand on either side of the cows on the road while they filed. Part of it was to watch for cars but most of it was just to let the cows know that they shouldn’t decide to leave the line and take the liberty of ambling up the road.
My grandparents had a herd made up of primarily Holstein cows. They were big milk producers and a very docile breed. But Grandpa had a few Brown Swiss cows mingled in for their higher butter-fat content milk. Brown Swiss were a bit more ‘uppity’ and I always thought it was because they tended to be smarter. One in particular became my nemesis. Her name was Suzette. Each of the cows had names back then not numbers. I can still bring to mind many of the old ‘girls’ by name. Brown Swiss cows stood noticeably taller than the Holsteins and when their horns were allowed to grow, (betcha you didn’t know that cows naturally grow horns, but farmers remove them) those horns would grow straight up not curled and rounded. Yeah… to a kid, those Brown Swiss were menacing creatures in every way.
Well, at some point, Suzette ‘got my number‘. She realized that I was frightened of her. Now and then, she’d look me in the eye and snort or shake her head from her stanchion.
One day, Grandma asked me to stand on the upside of the filing cows on the road just as a human reminder for the cows to stay in line. I was about ten. It was an honor to have graduated to an adult duty BUT that meant I would be standing mere feet away from Suzette with no barrier between us. Grandma had no idea that Suzette and I already had a strained relationship, and I didn’t want to be a ‘whiny’ kid, so I armed myself with a handful of pebbles. Are you laughing? Yeah! I was 10 and I did think a handful of pebbles was a defense against a 1,400-pound charging cow.
I can still feel the beating summer sun and imagine my rapidly beating heart as Suzette reached the road crossing. As she walked among the other cows, she suddenly paused and lifted her head in my direction. That’s when I raised my arm and shouted at her as I threw the pebbles at her feet. (Heck… I wasn’t one to want to harm ANY animal.)
Suzette snorted and glared at me! Then… she continued to cross as if nothing epic had just occurred. I clearly remember how I felt. I stood straighter than ever because I had single-handedly slain my first dragon!
Our cow/kid relationship improved after that. My willingness to ‘take her on’ had changed her mind about terrorizing me from afar.
I’m still proud of 10-year-old Susie for meeting the challenge and hiding her fear. ❤
Are you a person who likes their life to be orderly with set routines and schedules or is that not an essential for you to worry about?
I’ve always disliked schedules, deadlines, and appointments. There’s too much to be ‘thought about’, ‘investigated’, ‘created’ and “played” every day for that. Probably half of the reason I never liked school was because I felt forced to be there. When I was spending summers at my grandparents’ dairy farm, the adults were busy with chores, while I was busy being a “free range” kid on my own. I was never bored. With the farm dog as my sidekick, I explored fields, ditches and barns. Some of my pastimes were braiding bailing twine into belts, teaching the farm dog tricks, exploring ditches for polliwogs, riding my pony while pretending to be Annie Oakley, and collecting interesting rocks. Every situation since has felt a little ‘confining’. When I discovered I could make a supplemental living by inviting kids into my home each day, it was my perfect niche. With kids (at least with my style) every day was a different adventure. Sometimes I’d plan activities, but they were always subject to change. If a backhoe showed up to dig a trench across the street, would you want to sit at the table pasting pictures or watch it? The gang and I always chose the backhoe of course. As for tidiness, I’m not good at that either. Our helter-skelter day care ways left picking up for days’ end… sometimes the next day. 😉
Are you a natural people watcher and if so what do you enjoy about the experience?
Gosh, yes. People are almost as interesting as polliwogs. Everyone has a story, everyone has a natural born temperament, and everyone is a possible new friend. While growing up, I watched people and evaluated them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ examples of who I wanted to be. As an adult, I want to know what others think when I can get them to ‘open up’. My everyday dress code is mostly a decorative t-shirt with a flannel overshirt. My t-shirts have words and/or symbols that represent a wide assortment of my favorite things. Those t-shirts frequently elicit a comment and connection when I’m in public. It’s just the opening I need to be comical and friendly. The grocery store never disappoints. It’s a place where I can collect new humous anecdotes or curiosities on human behavior.
Do you think your online persona is very different from the one at home or are you exactly the same as you display yourself to your readers?
I don’t see any difference. I’m genuine to a fault. Even when it means I may ask inappropriate questions or state brutal truths, it’s always me talking… sometimes apologizing. LOL
Children never recognize that their lives have blessings. There are experiences that we have that seem ordinary until we’re grown and reflect upon them. As a child, I had the tremendous opportunity to hang around on my grandparent’s farm. “Doesn’t everyone?” Not until later on, I realized, “No, Susan. Most have no idea about your experiences.” One especially cool experience was observing old-fashioned milking time. The cattle would wait beyond the barn door as they knew it was milking time. The doors were flung open, and they’d file in finding their own assigned spot among many. There was an open stanchion that they would stick their head through finding a measured amount of grain waiting. One of the chores was for someone to walk along beyond and snap each stanchion shut. This kept each cow still until the milking machine could be placed on her. It was a while before I was tall enough and responsible enough to be the stanchion closer but when that happened, it was a rite of passage and confidence booster for this kid. Walking among 1200-pound beasts is alone a big deal so snapping that stanchion shut and patting each on the head like I owned the place was a super big deal. None of the kids that I went to elementary school with had any idea about those extraordinary life experiences and watching them squeal at spiders or run from puppies soon made me appreciate my life. My escapades with those cows were many. Some were smarter than others and tried to intimidate me. I learned a lot about asserting myself, hiding fear, and, of course, connecting with animals.
Someday, I’ll tell you about Suzette. She became my nemesis and her daughter Bambi carried on her legacy! But that’s another story…
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is starts with “u.” Find a word that starts with the letter “u” and use it however you’d like. Bonus points if it’s the first word in your post. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t online for a few days but upon my return this morning I found this prompt perfect for a little jaunt down memory lane. My word is “ugly”. My Mom has always emphasized good grammar. Word meanings were also important. One particular pet peeve of hers was the use of “probably” and “possibly” interchangeably. Those words are NOT interchangeable. The former means “more than likely” or “an excellent chance” and the latter means “there’s a chance” or “it’s 50/50 odds” that something will happen. Well, on the same word meaning examination angle, Mom always told us to say “homely” to describe mildly unattractive people or animals. The word “ugly” was reserved for only the “grotesque” images. Here’s my associated tale: My grandma was a farmer and, of course, from the older generation. I don’t know if it’s a ‘country thing’ or an ‘elder thing’ but Grandma expressed herself often in idiomatic terms. “Make hay will the sun shines” “Between a rock and a hard place” “At sixes and sevens” were all frequently heard and Many, Many, more! I was about six years old and likely being a pest to my very busy, hard-working, Grandma when she said to me, “If you keep that up, I’ll get ‘ugly’.” I specifically remember studying Grandma’s face thinking, “My wonderful Grandma could never be ugly.” Of course, all went along well thereafter because whatever I’d been doing gave way to quiet contemplation of her odd word usage. Not long after that, Grandma instructed me to stay safely in the car while she spoke to a neighbor in the neighbor’s dooryard because, ” We don’t know if that farm dog in the yard is “ugly” or not.” When I observed the BEAUTIFUL German shepherd (He was far from even homely.), I figured out what she meant by ‘ugly’! LOL The world and my grandma’s words had become clear. Ugly meant ‘mean’, ‘vicious’ or ‘mad’!
To this day, I can ‘ace’ the Jeopardy category on American Idioms just from having spent time on the farm with my beloved Grandma. 😀 Hope you all had a wonderful Saturday and none of you got ‘ugly’!
I happened upon a vendor, at the flea market, this weekend. She was selling old beaten, yet still useful, metal trucks. My heart was happy at the memories stirred by these relics. Days spent riding them over the grass hills of my backyard with my brother. Tumbling and laughing …oblivious of their sharp edges and lead paint…we used them in the unintended ways kids do with toys.
Out of nowhere, I remembered Halloween and the fun we had roaming our neighborhood until 10:00 pm! I reminisced for a moment with the vendor. We shared a happy talk of pillowcases filled with candy and the knowing we were safe because we knew our neighbors.
“Now, Halloween is limited to an hour and a half .” I sighed. “Oh well, the kids won’t miss what they never had, I guess.” I walked away with a heavy heart.
The next vendor had a metal Popgun for sale. He wanted $20.00 for memory’s sake and I held the toy, not daring to buy, but allowing myself the memories of me, as Annie Oakley once again. Jamming the barrel with dirt that would go off, with a pop and a puff, was not the intended use, of course. Such happy times…
I’d just had a birthday so reminiscing was near, anyway. The rest of the morning held flashbacks to the happiest times riding in the back of pick-up trucks and on top of hay wagons, with the breeze and treetops at my cheek.
Building campfires on an old dirt road and learning to swim without life vests in the ponds and creeks, came back. Using a wood-burning set without incident and at an “inappropriate” age and the “Thing Maker” with molten goop producing plastic bugs. Riding an, at least 1000 lb horse, bareback at the age of 6 and wandering about the cows, who weighed the same, without fear nor injury because I had been taught about caution. Oh yes, and building bows with arrows of sharpened sticks with the Barlow pocketknife grandpa bought for me. Building jumps for my spider bike and riding with no hands…feet upon the handles…producing some scrapes and bruises, but what a ride! Climbing to the tops of trees and silos and getting scared but holding tight and cheering “like a gold medalist” when I, once again, found the ground.
These things are dangerous and won’t happen any more…why? Because no modern child would attempt them. They haven’t any way to test themselves…to learn caution as they grow by “uping” the ante of self-reliance. All they know is “You mustn’t try. You mustn’t risk. Your judgement is flawed.Don’t get hurt.”
Kids are taught to fear, now. A fine beginning to taming them…self-reliance is dangerous, you know.
Wild colts can turn into sheep.
Since so many other online writers have blogs dedicated to their writings, I’ve decided to jump onto the bandwagon. All posts published here will be either fiction or poetry, some new, and some previously published on various places on the Internet. Some of my works are conventional, and some are quirky. All fiction posted here, except for fan fiction, will include the letters "rose" somewhere, as a tribute to my Baba.