PB&J&J for Our Heroine

Henry parked the truck in a cloud of dust right in front of the house. “Come on,” he beckoned with a jerk of his head toward the bed of the truck and handed Frannie a single bag containing a loaf of Wonder Bread.He gathered up the rest of the bags in his own arms and headed for the porch.

He dropped his load of groceries on the porch swing in order to struggle with the front door. “I don’t hardly bother locking it up anymore, what with as bad as it sticks nowadays.” He turned his head to tell Frannie.

She nodded solemnly, and her stomach rumbled again, more insistently this time. Henry laughed and finally got the door open.

“Got to get the plane out and fix this, but then I wonder why bother. I only go to town a couple times a week, and my little girl doesn’t visit near often enough.” He expertly threaded his arm through the mishmash of bags on the swing and carried them inside, leading Frannie to the right, through the dining room and into the kitchen. “Here’s good, girl.”

She reached up nearly as far as she could to put her lone bag on the counter and looked up at Henry. He told her to go have a seat at the table, so she did.

“Milk or juice? I got orange,” he offered.

“Orange juice is my favorite!” Frannie had already brightened up immensely.

Henry grinned as he opened the fridge and pulled the jug out. “Now, all I got’s real glass, are you up for the challenge?”

Frannie put her hands on her hips in mock indignation. “I’ll have you know, sir, that I can drink out of a real glass just as good as any grownup I’ve ever met, thank-you-very-much.” She reached out for the glass that he handed her and greedily gulped down three-quarters of the juice in one slug.

Henry had brought the juice into the dining room, so he topped off her cup. “Go a little slower on this one, or you won’t have room for a pb&j.”

Frannie nodded. “Yes, sir.” She sipped more politely.

Henry laughed and returned to the kitchen to put the groceries away. “Grape or strawberry jam?” He asked her, raising his eyebrows. “Or I can do both. Don’t tell anybody, but that’s how I like ’em.”

“My last mother only ever bought grape jelly, so I don’t even know if I like strawberry. Why not both?” Frannie remained as blunt as ever.

Her words were like a funny bone strike to Henry’s heart, and he shook his head as he turned to make two sandwiches. “I got to figure out how I can do right by this girl,” he muttered to himself. He cut each sandwich into four triangles, and brought the plates to the table. “Dig in!” he said, with a much brighter tone than he felt.

pbj

Read more of Frannie’s Misadventures here and find out how on earth she got where she is today.


Genealogical Pursuits

file000114053890My stepmother’s hobby is genealogy. My father hates it; the last time I talked to him, he complained of their last road trip, of the visits to small town city halls and libraries where she pored for hours over moldy records and microfilm while he waited in the car with the dogs. When I was a kid we would stop at places while traveling between their house and my mother’s house so that she could research someone or other.

I respect her dedication to the pursuit. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always clean. I never knew that it was because she’s Mormon that she worked so hard at it. I didn’t know that was just another thing that she did, like keeping a year’s worth of food on hand. I mean, lots of people study their genealogy.

I think it’s interesting in itself, although not enough to go out and research my own family as actively as she does; that’s mostly because I’d have to leave the country to find out about my father’s side.

I haven’t thought about it in a long time, about researching for myself, that is. It seems more interesting now that I’m older than it used to. I think I’ll see what I can find online.

How much do you know about your family? Have you ever studied genealogy? Do you have any site recommendations?


Sweet Adventure at Jack’s

Frannie was only too happy to leave the stinky van and the company of those hippies when they finally sputtered to a stop at the store in town.

“See ya later, little dude!” the driver called as she hopped down.

Frannie sighed, rolling her eyes, and simply waved her goodbye. There was just no getting through to this guy. He was as bad as a second grader.

She smoothed her hair down and squared her shoulders as she turned to face the entrance to–she looked up at the sign–Jack’s Grocery-N-More. Well, it would have to do. She picked up her pace and hit the automatic door nearly running. The man leaving through the exit door paused to make sure she was okay.

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“That was a pretty good hit there, little lady. You feelin’ alright?” he asked, leaning down in concern.

She stood up and brushed off her backside. “Yes sir, I’m quite all right, thank you. I just expected the door to open for me. I guess that was a mistake.”

The man laughed aloud. “Yes ma’am, you’re sure right about that. It’s probably been six years or more since Jack’s door worked right. Since you didn’t know that, and I don’t recall seeing you around anywhere, you must be new in town. Where’s your mom and dad, honey?”

“I’m in the market for a set,” Frannie answered him honestly.

He was baffled. A kid this small, this honest, lost and alone?  The town was too small for any kind of social services office; his mind quickly discarded the idea of calling the county. This girl could go places in life if she managed to not get caught up in the system.

“Do you have any money, or somewhere to stay tonight?” he asked.

“Nope. I’ll work something out.” Again with the honesty.

He screwed his face up in thought. He wasn’t sure if a girl her age would be comfortable coming home with a strange man all by herself, especially when he was all by himself, but he had to make the offer. He just wouldn’t have felt right about  himself without doing so. “Would you–I mean, do you think–well, little girl, I can offer you a safe bed to sleep in tonight, is what I’m tryin’ to say.” He noticed her swallow as she eyed the grocery sacks in his hand.

“And a hot dinner, too,” he quickly added.

That was more than enough for Frannie. She jumped on it. “Thank you very much, sir. I won’t be much trouble for you. Can I help you carry one of those bags?”

He laughed and handed her the smallest. “That’s my truck, the red one right in front.”

PP #40


But None to Be Found Just Yet

Remember the girl who was left behind? Let’s find out what she’s been up to lately.

destiny-courage

It had been a long, dusty day traipsing along the side of this highway in the middle of nowhere. Her whistle had long since petered out. Perhaps it was time to take an inventory of her situation, she thought.

Yes. That was probably best.

A patch of shorter grass was just up ahead, and when she reached it, she plopped down on her behind to go through her pockets. She smoothed the grass even smoother and began laying out her life.

Her right front pocket was empty.

The first thing she pulled from her left front pocket was a particularly round rock that she had just picked up, maybe five minutes earlier. She inspected it anew, twisting and turning it to check for any more appealing attributes that she may or may not have noticed the first time she picked it up. It appeared to be the same. She placed the rock on the smooth spot that she’d made.

Next up was a Dentyne gum wrapper, sans Dentyne. Normally, she recalled, she jammed the gum wrappers into the crevice of the back seat of her (former) parents’ car, but for some reason, she had kept this one. She shook her head, unable to recall any sentimental value for this particular wrapper. Next to the rock it went, just in case the reason she’d kept it came back to her.

Underneath the gum wrapper, she discovered seventy-eight cents in various coin denominations. She stacked them in order of increasing diameter, and checked her back pockets.

Her left pocket was as empty as the right front, not even occupied by a stray chunk of denim lint, but her right pocket was slightly more lucrative. She smiled as she read over the grocery list that she had swiped from her (former) mother three days earlier. The woman had searched and searched for that list, and never suspected her darling little girl had possession of it.

She sighed at the memory, knowing that at the moment, she was no one’s darling little girl. It was time for that to change. She gathered her small pile of belongings up and carefully replaced them in her pockets before standing up and stretching.

She arched her back and decided that it was time to come to terms with her new situation.

“New parents, here I come! Get ready for your darling little Frannie to come home,” she called to the vast prairie stretching before her.

And she set off walking again, whistling with renewed vigor.

PP #40


Punching Judy

My parents don’t get along.

Well, I’ll take that back, a bit. My biological parents get along tolerably well when they’re in each other’s actual, physical presence, at least, since a few years after they divorced. They’re quite civil with each other, and I’ve never heard my father speak ill of my mother. When we talk on the phone, he asks after her wellbeing, and listens to my answers. He even asks after my half-brothers, because they’re my family. https://ericwedwards.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/punch-and-judy-1880.jpg?w=500

My mother is a different story. Once I was ‘old enough,’ however she defined that age (she never told me; I never asked), the words that she’d held back for so many years came tumbling out. Before then, her communications were limited to eye-rolls and sighs of disgust.

Now, it’s one thing for my best-friend-since-we-were-eleven and I to laugh bi-annually when I received my birthday and Christmas packages from my father; a quick summation of his gifting skills is secondhand, cheap, and/or quite odd. Not that secondhand is bad, necessarily, but when it comes to an address book or a calendar, it does subtract from the usefulness of the item in question. So. It’s one thing for us to do that, and we certainly do. My bestie awaits those packages as excitedly as I do.

But it’s another for my mother to tell me that my father, who always paid his child support the month it was due, if not generally the day it was due, who never struck me, who, as a creative artist, supports my own creative and artistic endeavors, is a sorry piece of shit. It’s worse than the pot calling the kettle black–I don’t know how many times she hit me, and she has often ridiculed my artistic ambitions.

The thing of it is, she’s proud of being that person. One of the (admittedly few) stories I’ve heard of when she and my father were married is about her shrewishness: once, my father simply stated boogers are salty. She promptly and furiously contradicted him: no they’re not! But when she tells this story, she can’t leave it at that; she has to boast that she’s so contradictory and argumentative that even an example like this is a source of pride to her.

My mother collects negativity and misfortune and hoards them, only to pass them out when she needs to one-up someone, anyone. She doesn’t feel the hurt of these things as everyone else does; they’re good things, to her, because she can use them as building blocks to raise herself up to martyrdom, above everyone else’s suffering.

She’s built up this cult of anger instead of personality, and my stepfather bears the brunt of it now. All four of her children have tried pointing this out to her, pointing out her pettiness and her belittlement of him, and all it’s done is make us notice more.

But sometimes, now, he gets angry back, and they will scream and fight and blister each other with insults until one of them gives up; not verbally, but physically leaving the room and locking the other out.

It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. And yes, tremendously awkward.

And I’m afraid it won’t end until one of them is institutionalized.

Tues Truthiness at TBP–from a few weeks ago


MIA

First of all, diagnosis: rotator cuff tendinitis, yay! Exercises: totally not fun. Who knew how difficult it could be walking your fingers up and down a wall at arm’s length? But I can do them for longer every day, and it’s getting better. Sore muscles are so much easier to deal with than the pain I was having. And it’s great to not worry about causing further damage that may or may not improve.

Secondly, while I was waiting for my discharge and Provera prescription (no BCP, long story), my mom called me. Something came up, and she had to attend some meetings near us for a few days. So they came in Monday night, my stepdad dropped her off Tuesday morning, and he has been hanging out with us since he’s picking her back up tomorrow. Ian’s brother spent most of yesterday and part of today here as well, so Abby’s been in heaven. I’ve really enjoyed having him here for a few days, and since Ian took off work yesterday to replace the radiator (success!), it’s been like a mini-vacation for us.

Yesterday I made fudge and today brownies, because I have to keep up the tradition of my family gaining weight from my cooking. I think I’m still on a roll with that.

I had so many topics lined up to write about, but this week has been awesome family time, which will always take precedence. I’ll catch up this weekend, promise!