It is bitterly cold in Iowa, but the sunsets are gorgeous. I joked with Dad that it's God's way of compensating us: "'I will make is miserable, but gorgeous!'" All I’ve gotten done so far in 2009 is a little painting. I wanted to do something for Unkie and Helen. I adore them, and besides Christmas it was also Helen’s birthday. Helen collects pig decorations, as they used to be pig farmers. (My cousin Connor has revived the operation a bit.)
I painted a small wooden box leftover from last year when I painted boxes for my friends. I took it to Unkie and Helen when dad went to their house to feed sheep. After the tornado, Unkie took in part of the flock. Dad has built a new barn, but it can’t quite house all the sheep right now. Plus, I suspect Dad likes being able to chat with Unkie. Unkie likes to tease Dad about his reticence to sell sheep and his tendency to chore in the dark.
Unkie has gotten a lot of mileage out of a story about the time he heard a strange noise in the middle of the night. What could that possibly be? He warily made his way out to the barn, only to find my dad, chopping a big, round hay bale with a chain saw. Hee!
When I got into Unkie and Helen’s house, it was a bit chaotic because a light had just exploded for some reason! Everyone liked the pig box, though, and it was a nice visit. Helen’s been really sick—facing a tough combination of lung cancer and the flu—but she was starting to get her voice back. Their daughter Carla was still visiting, and while I was there I didn’t get to see the adorable Hannah or Lynn, but Karen and Connor stopped by. Connor was on a mission to detect the short or surge that had taken out the light.
Connor was telling me about his Christmas gifts. When I’d seen him last, his mother said (with a TONE), “Tell Erin what you’re getting for Christmas.” “A potato!” Me: “Baked for supper, or a Mr. Potato or what?” Karen said, “No, a potato. And a carrot. Tell her why, Connor.” He informed me that when giving his Christmas wish list, he’d been unable to come up with anything that cost less than $200 (like many adolescent boys, Connor longs for costly video game systems). Then one day, he mentioned wanting a baked potato. “Well,” Karen replied with a clap, “That we can do.” On Christmas morning, he did receive a potato and a carrot…and a new cell phone. Heh.
Connor shuffled his feet the whole time he described making some kind of hammer with the potato…a tomahawk, perhaps? (Apparently, it didn’t hold up well to impact.) Unkie admonished him to hold still while talking to me. I laughed and told Unkie that my Child Psychology professor (I love you, Sholly!) taught me that adolescent boys concentrate better while moving, and if you really want them to learn something, tell them while playing catch. “Well, I’ll be darned,” Unkie said. “See!” Connor exclaimed, “I’m not crazy!” I laughed, knowing that I’d just given the young man license to fidget like the dickens.
Since then, I’ve finished a red, white and blue box for my Kiley grandparents and another for my Gilbaugh grandparents, yellow with purple accents, proclaiming “Peace, Love and Joy!” Grandma Carol told me once that she tries to live her life for joy. She hopes that’s how she’s remembered. I hope she likes it. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get to see her this visit. Sigh. Well, I’m not visiting as many people as I’d planned to, but at least I’m catching up on my rest and my writing.