Picture is upside down but candles are arranged to spell, “old.”
The holiday was national as applied to the nation of County Road 21, where my husband and I were again celebrating our shared birthday. The kids made the cake, to which the poor lighting does not do justice. My contribution to the cake was in the form of empathy band aids for all the emotionally disenfranchised during it’s making. Knowing only who hurt whose feelings, whose ideas got TOTALLY ignored, and that they didn’t like any of the frosting recipes so they made up their own, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the cake.
It was delicious, including the frosting. I should say that outright. Their joy in presenting was helpfully contagious. Unfortunately, I have a few issues with germs and food cleanliness. The decision to decorate the cake with fragments of potentially poisonous bits of chopped up rubber snake, cars, and other well used toys was a stretch for me. We didn’t have to guess the theme (which is good because I wouldn’t have figured it out). The birthday man and I were treated to a verbal tour of the cake with great pride and enthusiasm.
Look at the cake. Do you get it? We’ve got everything.
Look. See that brown thing? It’s actually a hat from one of our toys, but here it’s the poop. Get it? It’s a farm!
Don’t forget to show them the pee.
Yeah, see that? There was a trailing blob of yellow food coloring in one corner. That’s the pee. It is definitely not a farm without pee.
There was a car, people, fields. The cake was chocolate. Brown was the color chosen for the icing. Earthy tones all around. Coconut and walnuts for texture.
Doesn’t it look like the snake is actually crawling through the cake?
And did you see the sheep guts? That’s what the red is with all the lumps. Blood and guts.
Isn’t it great? We knew you’d like it.
It really was delicious. I removed the germ infested toys and poisonous rubber snake bits as soon as possible and shook my head at the comradery and pleasure they never tire of finding in all things uncouth. It reminded me of Father’s Day. After all the cards and sweet things, one child ran for his gift. He returned with a blindfold, a nasty concoction he’d made, and the sincere belief that would be fun for his father to drink his recipe and guess the ingredients. Behold the man.
It’s General Douglas MacArthur’s birthday too, but his name didn’t fit in the title. This is for my mom, who taught me to write grateful lists . . .
Happy Birthday, Mom. I made your favorite cake for the kids. Blue icing just like the one I made you when I was seven.
“Holes In A Shooting Target” by anankkml from freedigitalphotos.net
Boy one inherited his father’s one eye raised about my pioneer leanings. But few boys are immune to the allure of a BB gun. When it was time we got him his own.
He also came pre-programmed with an “adherence to rules” setting (we are still looking for the flexibility button). We knew he would follow “no chickadees,” and safety guidelines carefully and he did. Target practice became a source of great joy.
This brings us to his 11th birthday. We suggested that he invite old friends, but to be brave and invite at least one friend from his new school. Boy one chose Turd (not his real name) and I picked them up from school. Turd spoke in sentences and was comfortable acknowledging my existence. Promising, I thought. Turd also discussed the BB gun he had and loved at home.
There was an hour or so before the party started. I sent the boys outside.
Would you mind if we did some target practice with my BB gun? asked Boy one.
Normally, I would not allow this, but Turd clearly seemed like a country boy, he owned his own gun, and besides, he spoke in sentences.
Ok until other people get here, but ALL the same rules still apply.
I know, Mom. Don’t worry.
Ten minutes, or was it twenty, minutes later, Boy one was at the door, his mouth dripping blood.
“Ter sho mah too,” he said, conveying rather unclearly that Turd HAD SHOT HIS TOOTH.
We left emergency messages for our dentist. In the meantime, we had a party. Boy one was in pain, but propped up with ibuprofen and icepacks. He kept a brave face while everyone else ate pizza. Never was it discovered, why, when Boy one said, “let’s go in now,” and started walking across the field, Turd lifted the gun and shot him in the mouth.
Boy one’s tooth was fixed as best as can be until he is older. The BB gun sat untouched after that.
I really can’t even look at it, said Boy One softly.
I apologized many times for my failure to protect. I ached for the delight that had become a sorrow, and life went on. Two weeks ago, Boy one (who appreciates most company except his own) stayed outside after everyone was in.
What’s he up to? I asked Boy two.
Oh, I said. I didn’t say more because I didn’t want to admit how much I wanted all this to be ok now. I wanted Boy one free to not be ok.
Did you see my target? Boy one asked a few days later. I strung cans on baling twine so I can hang it from a tree.
Great idea, said my husband
Yeah, pretty cool, huh? Boy one kicked off his shoes. I love target practice. It’s just so relaxing.
And me mother heart breathes out again.
Mondays is farm project day. It gives my husband and I chance to see each other for free. Also, keep things from falling apart around here. This week the project was to clear the old road that winds through our woods. Now instead of a path you can walk, stepping over logs and around things, there is a clear road to drive a tractor through.
There is really nothing like taking care of the land that you own. It was a nice feeling sitting on the wagon as my husband drove it through our reclaimed road. We were doing a test drive for the birthday party hay ride we are planning later this week. Testing was a good idea. We found two problems. The first, came approximately 5 seconds after I told the driver to trust me to keep his eyes on the road ahead and to trust me to watch behind us, when a tree with serious curvature of the spine made itself known. The wagon, shaped like an L, was completely flat except for a five foot panel at the back. The base of the wagon passed the deformed tree just fine. Unfortunately for us, at about the five foot mark, the trunk grew out into the path. “Stop,” was not shouted energetically enough and the back wall of the wagon was relocated rather quickly to the mud of our new road. Wagon shape has moved from capital L to lowercase.
Problem #2 was more easily solved. Three cedars with trunks four to five inches in diameter made the entrance back to the field a little narrow for our wide wagon. I suggested we wait to get the chain saw, but the manager of the operation decreed that his bow saw would be good enough. A little effort later, he was right about that too. It was a very good day for him.
Getting the old road I’ve been nattering about since spring would have made me happy all by itself, but there was more. As we cleared the path, there was a log lying across it too heavy to pick up. We sawed it in sections and kicked at it. One of the rotten pieces came off the top half of the log as I lifted it. Lying there a Queen bee. I’d never seen one before. But there she was, all groggy and hunkered down for the winter, surprised by all the light. Twenty years ago I might not have stopped, but thank goodness one picks up at least a little common sense along the way. I went and found a tiny see through plastic case that once held fasteners of some kind or another and put her majesty inside so the kids could see when they got home.
Her plastic kingdom is now on the kitchen counter beside the pumpkins, where she will reign somewhat stupefied until further notice.