Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Technicolor Women

What do you think? Am I a pink lady? I don't think so either. Why do these women inevitably seek me out? Do I send out a some sort of signal indicating a willingness to join philanthropic organizations? It's happened again. This very morning. A woman from the church we have just started attending, mind you, called to find out if I wanted to become a pink lady. I was a nurse for a hundred years. I just got to quit. I do not want to volunteer in a hospital gift shop and/or hand out magazines and coffee to visitors in the waiting room. I want to be a pink lady almost as much as I want to model underwear.

Ethel I do not now or have ever wanted to be a pink lady, a gray lady, a green thumber, a blue bird leader, or join the red hat society. I also do not want to be a (name your sorority) sister, a home room mother (I don't even have kids), a (name your church woman's organization) member, a (name your youth organization) leader, a garden club member, a hometown booster, a Tea Timer, a Coffee Klatcher, or collect money for the dog pound. I do not want to be on the library board, recreation board, museum board, cultural arts board, or HOSPITAL board. Like Garbo I just want to be left alone.

Do you think there is something wrong with me? Do I not possess the milk of human kindness? Or after years of hard use has it all just been sucked out of me? What is it with these women who want to club together to save the whales? And why won't they leave me alone?

I said "no" and now I feel guilty. It wouldn't kill me to hand out a magazine or two. But I like to be at home. I enjoy doing laundry. Especially now I can do it a load at a time instead of trying to do it all on the weekends. I like quiet. Hours or days at a time of my own company do not terrify me. I luxuriate in finally having the opportunity to have a clean house and orderly closets. How do these do gooders get stuff done? I should be able to get my life in order and still have time to help others. But I don't want to. Am I a creep?

I seem to be an affront to life's helpers. When one of them finds out I am "only" fifty, childless, and just want to be a housewife, they look shocked. (The women's libbers also look shocked but for entirely different reasons. Them I can handle.) It is the retired vim and vigorful women who send me down the yellow guilt road. They accept my needing to be a homemaker but also believe part of said role is to serve the community. As indeed it was for generations. But I don't want to. This bothers them.

I seem like such a nice woman. Well groomed, well mannered, well heeled, and yet I won't read to third graders every Thursday or put up a bus load of snow stranded women from Ohio. What is wrong with me? What indeed? They then try to figure me out. They invite me to coffee, to tea, to lunches, and to dinners. I am hunted to ground like some prize prey animal. I kid you not I hid from one of these happy huntresses behind a diet Pepsi display in the grocery store. I felt stupid...and victorious when she didn't catch me. I love their first impressions of me and hate to burst their bubble and mine. But it has to be done. When I have been guilted into joining one of these groups there are always tears before bedtime. In addition to the above sterling qualities I am also bossy, perfectionistic, techy and I swear like a sailor. The lovely women are never prepared for the complete package, and I can't play the desired role for long.

So I said no. And I feel guilty. What the Heck. Maybe I would look good in pink.

Love Bea

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Fire

Well it's over. I have the flu and so does Mark. I also have a new Bible, several new Barbara Pym novels and more gloves than I know what to do with. Apparently all my friends feel sorry for me in this frozen country, and sent gloves.

We went back home last weekend for Mark's office Christmas party. The beginning of the end for me. I was not ready to go back so soon. We've only been gone two months. It snowed, and snowed, and snowed. We got stuck for four days. Mark made the reservations at a nice motel. Said it cost $55 per night. Some sort of special he got. Was very nice for $55/night. I was pleased. Well...turns out it was $109/night with the phone calls on top of that. We went to the party in a blizzard. Took great outfit to show off weight loss. Ended up wearing jeans and sweatshirt and boots. Was delighted to see friends. I began eating when we arrived and have not yet stopped. I have been eating out of control for two weeks. That d#*n trip. We made contact with everyone, and I cried, and I ate. We drove by our house. Not our house anymore. I cried some more and I ate. Mark started coming down with flu on Sunday. We finally slid back in here on Tuesday.

I did not unpack Christmas. Put little bare tree on the buffet next to box marked "puzzles." Tied red ribbon bows on it. Was kind of cute. Relatives cancelled at last minute. Was dreading them and heartbroken when they cancelled. Go figure. Since we were not having guests decided to do simple Christmas dinner. Still have not found pans so bought gorgeous enamel cast iron roaster to cook pot roast and veg. Also planned blueberry pie, Mark's favorite. Have located wedding crystal and silver, but no everyday dishes yet. Cleaned off dining room table and planned simple pot roast dinner on blue plastic plates with very nice utensils and glasses. Sounds fine right.

I got up Christmas morning with a raging headache and mean as a snake. Decided to make pie first and get it over with. Turned oven (not my own dear oven but some other woman's oven) on to 450 degrees to preheat. I put pie together. I opened oven door... and black smoke engulfed me. I then found out we had smoke detectors in every d##n room on the first floor. The high pitched cacophony scared the cats and they began to run around and yowl. You know I have been griping about how cold it is in this old house. Mark fixed the problem by putting plastic over all the windows. I now can't get any of the windows open without ripping down his hard work plasticing. Open the doors you say. Nay not able. No storm doors. The cats would escape. In my anger and panic I of course forgot to turn off the oven so the smoke continued to roil through the house. I got up on a chair and was attempting to turn off the smoke detector in the kitchen when Mark came tearing out of the bedroom. Flu ridden asthmatic Mark. He hit the wall of smoke and promptly went into an asthma attack. At this point I began to swear. Loudly. Nice Christian woman standing on a chair on Christmas morning clutching a broom yelling the 'f' word at the top of her lungs while her poor husband coughs his lungs out in front of her. The swearing did it. I came to myself. I hit the smoke detector with the broom and killed it. I got off the chair and drug Mark into the far bathroom. I ran back and turned off the stove. I ripped plastic off three windows and opened them. I took said broom and murdered three more smoke detectors. Peace.

I think the cats have recovered. Mark is weak and shaky but with fresh air and his inhaler we avoided an E.R. visit. He fixed three of the smoke detectors and will replace one. Just to finish out this Christmas story I will tell you I threw the pie in the trash and put the roast in the freezer. We went to the only convenience store open is this tiny town and bought dinner. We sat at our dining room table in our new home and had nuked frozen burritos and Snickers bars. We drank diet coke out of our wedding crystal. It was a great Christmas dinner.

In hindsight I should have cooked dinner on the lawn.

Love Beula

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Well we're here. I know I haven't kept you very well updated, but losing job, getting job, finding house and moving in a month tends to cut down one's ability to communicate. You are very lucky to be getting this card and letter at all. The whole general delivery post office thing has about driven me round the bend. I am promised a p.o. box "as soon as one comes open." This is said in a such a way as to confer a great blessing upon me. I'm still not sure what it means. How I did take house to house mail pick up and delivery for granted.

Anyway we are here and it is Christmas. If one more person asks me if I am ready for Christmas I am going to spit on their shoe. All my shoes are lost. Why would I want to dig out Christmas crap? Even if I could find it? By the by, Mark says he is beginning to enjoy living in a warehouse. If I had a forklift I'd spit him. He puts on his suit and waltzes off to a secretary who can locate her pencils and leaves me here to sort out this mess. I am real irritated at him. And it's Christmas.

What is this obsession with Christmas? Why do I feel like a failure as a woman if I don't put up a tree and litter the house with red and green detritus. Without women there would not be Christmas as we know it. Can you see the average man baking Santa cookies at three a.m.? Not on your candle holder. And yet. If I don't put up a tree, where will we put our presents? On the sixteen boxes marked 'kitchen'? FYI do not let five churchwomen giddy on spiced cider pack up your kitchen. Sixteen boxes only labeled 'kitchen' are of very little practical help when looking for the coffee maker. We have been enjoying boiled coffee for the past two weeks as I did happen upon all the camping dishes. They were all in a blue tub marked "camping dishes." Mark says the grounds give the coffee character. Want a well used husband? I'll send you one for Christmas.

Okay back to my Christmas rant. I am dog tired. A dog who has worn the same outfit for a month because all her clothes are in boxes marked, now hold for it, "clothes." Can I do Christmas without my red and black vest? Mark's clothes were in wardrobes marked, "suits, sport coats, slacks, casual." I take great pleasure in telling you he can't find his shoes either. We did come across a pair of black patent leather heels and a stethoscope. Mark allowed that in another time and place this find would have interested him mightily but just now he needed his wingtips. And it's Christmas.

I am holding my own weight wise. Am not losing any more but am also not gaining. I guess that is victory of a sort. They are Christmas crazy here and the great feed has begun. Cookies and hot chocolate free in all the stores. Free. All the empty places in my recently relocated heart cried out for those free cookies. I ate some. And you know what, I felt better. I hate it when that happens. This year I will be glad when Christmas is over and I can continue to look for my shoes. Sorry this is so unholidayish but Christmas in another woman's house is just wrong. I don't even know how the stove works. How am I to cook Christmas dinner? (Hoards of relations coming don't you know.) Maybe I will start a fire in the front yard and cook there. I have the pans for it.

Well Ethel I have to go. Mark wants to go get a tree. He just found the popcorn popper and some red napkin rings. Says he will make the tree decorations this year! Hey it's Christmas. We'll put the tree on the box marked "odds and ends." More later.

Love Beula