1. Danger Zone -- Kenny Loggins
(A song I've never liked.)
The air force is out doing maneuvers today. The jets fly low and fast over my house and the windows rattle in their frames. My dog barks uselessly at the perceived threat---anything so loud and unknown must be a danger.
I don't mind the jets so much, though. They are on their way to the Gulf, and I'm simply on the flight path. They don't linger here at all, and are gone in a split second, leaving the air vibrating behind them.
I mind the helicopters more. They fly low and slow, circling. Sometimes they are so close my skin feels the thud of the rotors, and if I look outside, I can see the mouth of the man hanging out the open door. The rest of his face is covered: helmet, ear phones, and goggles. Often there is a mounted machine gun beside him, and I prefer to think it is unloaded.
It makes me think about these men, their helicopters, and communities elsewhere that they fly over, when everyone knows the guns are loaded, and the men are doing a job, not a practice run. Just pondering it can make my heart speed up.
Usually, if these are military helicopters, they, too, are gone quickly. I imagine they fly over us, and are amused to see the little signs of our lives, us, large enough to be seen but small enough to be entertainment.
It's the red Coast Guard helicopters I like least. I know later I will hear a sad story on the news---someone else has driven into the water, another sail boat missing, a tourist caught in the vicious undertow. I hope it has a happy ending. When they buzz my neighborhood and are joined by dark blue helicopters, I know it's about the nearby Boys Town juvenile detention facility. They recently upgraded it to include felons.
Desperate boys do desperate things, and escape attempts are frequent. They run towards the swamps, hoping to elude by wading through the shallow water. If they get far enough north of my neighborhood, they reach the nature preserve and its bayou. There they might be safer from captors, but they are in greater danger from the wildlife, which include alligators.
Neighbors tell wild stories about alligators walking our local streets, but I've never seen one at all.
Neighbors also tell wild stories about young escapees. One of my friends came home to find her house broken in to, the refrigerator left open, milk carton on the counter next to her phone. She checked the last number dialed and reported it to the police. A sixteen year old had called his mother to pick him up after he escaped. The police caught him. Another neighbor was gardening in her back yard, her husband in the garage. He heard her shout and saw the back of a young man climbing the fence behind them, but his wife was on the ground so he went to help her. The young man had shoved her over as he ran past her. She is older and limped for a week. The young man got confused in the odd roundabout that is our neighborhood, and unknowingly ran in circles. He was caught too.
I wonder if these boys are mainly urban reared. How else could they not understand the odd configuration of a meandering suburban neighborhood or the dangers of a bayou?
2. Shower the People -- James Taylor
Spring is fading and summer is coming. Mornings are warmer and more humid, and tend to be foggy and overcast a bit from the moisture. I wear shorts and tee shirt to ride my bike in the mornings now. I don't even want a long-sleeved tee shirt. It's still pleasant, though, and I appreciate the ease of grabbing simple clothes, no layers required. But I also know it means soon I'll be grumbling about heat, and working through excuses to miss my morning bike ride.
I always pull Persistence in the trailer, and she loves it, loves the wind in her face.
"Faster! Faster!" she cries, and if I slow or stop, she yells, "No Mama, go, go!"
On the final street before turning to our street, some neighbors have newly mulched their yards, and it stinks, badly.
Each time we drive past these houses, Persistence says, "Ooooh YUCK! Stinky poopy yards!"
When those neighbors happen to be outside and hear this, I ruefully wave and smile at them, and they usually laugh out loud.
At our house, I pull into the garage, past the crushed sidewalk chalk. Every day I hop Persistence out of the trailer and over the chalk mess. "Walk around it," I say, "We don't want to track it in the house." Every day I make another mental note that I need to sweep out the garage. Every day I get busy and forget. Every day Persistence can't help but stomp her way through the chalk, and point out her yellow and blue footprints behind her, laughing. She loves to giggle, and is entranced by the sound, sometimes stretching it out, angling it up and down, high and low. It inevitably makes me laugh, too.
Inside, I stretch a bit and sigh loudly, saying, "Boy am I tired and hot. I think I need a shower!"
Persistence always agrees, then says, "Me too, Mom."
The morning shower can be one of the most entertaining times of the day. There is nothing quite so lovely or hilarious as a naked toddler. Although yesterday a school friend who has known Persistence since birth said, "Oh! What happened! She doesn't look like a toddler any more! She's turned into a little girl!" I agreed, with that bittersweet feeling all parents know too well.
Persistence has gotten long, long legs and arms. I think she is so tall, but then I see her next to her friends and she looks so very little. She has a very tiny build, and her hair came in late, so she looks nearly a year younger than her buddies. This doesn't slow her down, not a bit. She is sassy. She is a queen.
I sigh to see her so big and independent as we get ready for the shower. She undresses and dresses herself, completely. She gets her towel ready, and tells me, "Mama, you 'member to get my toys, 'kay?"
This is my favorite part. I look in the bath toy bin and choose. This morning I selected a Cookie Monster figurine, a hammer, and a small boat. Whatever could she make of these things, I thought, already amused.
Her bath games are fantastic.
Today poor Cookie Monster was in imminent danger from the hammer. His goal was to get to the boat and escape, but first he had to run all over the tub, climbing slippery walls (which he frequently fell down). The hammer pounded behind him, and poor Cookie Monster shrieked in terror. Eventually, he got to the boat, and sailed smoothly along the bottom of the tub, until...the drain...
Who knows how many more adventures Cookie might have had if we hadn't been a schedule, a tight timeline.
"It's time to get out and get ready for your school," I say, reluctant in many ways, for many reasons, to end the shower.
We have a routine. Persistence always shuts off the water, and we count it down to make sure everyone is rinsed off, "Okay, 1, hair rinsed? 2, body rinsed? 3, toys up and safe? 4, teeth brushed? 5, all set? Okay, off!"
She immediately shivers and claims to be freezing to death, even as I wrap her in a big towel. We keep her clothes in the shower room, hanging on a towel rack, and quickly dress her before even opening the door.
The rest of the morning is always a whirlwind of nagging and negotiation until her classroom door closes behind her.
Today the Cookie Monster figurine is sitting on my desk, to give me a hint of a smile all day until the children come home.
3. Between Something and Nothing -- The Ocean Blue
I'm going to be pretty busy in the coming days, and if anything pans out, more busy than that in the coming months. I've decided to investigate school again. It's nagged me for ten years that I didn't finish my master's. Jon will support me as long as he's on deck to do the same. Because YEAH what we both really need are more degrees...which I always figure will drop our income even more LOL. Also, tomorrow is the county convention and we're both delegates, so...out and about from 6:30 a.m. on.
Have a great weekend.
Edited to add...
The song that inspired my title the other day: Stand Still, Look Pretty by the Wreckers (Jessica Harp and Michelle Branch)
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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