October 2, 2009
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I felt mistreated when Mom assigned chores by age. Being too old for Barbara’s pretend work and too young for Carolyn’s skilled tasks, I drew the ugliest jobs. I remember pushing our vacuum down the hall, trying to finish before the antiquated machine erupted. It needed to be emptied; I hoped to avoid doing so by stowing it away before Mom noticed the dust clouds oozing from its bloated pores.
As I child, I participated in summer parades whenever possible. Unlike Halloween, which ignited my mother’s creativity and gave me heartburn, parades allowed us both to go berserk. The fun began in June with the Lake Shore Homecoming parade. While our friends rode streamer-festooned bicycles into each other, my siblings and I strutted our stuff. In 1950, we presented the “Bray One-Ring Circus”— which many deemed appropriate.
I run for exercise. More accurately, I quick-shuffle. On a good day, I scuttle along quite nicely, though I slow to a walk for a few paces when my breathing sounds like a steam engine run amok. I began my exercise program at 26. I read “Aerobics,” by Dr. Ken Cooper, purchased running shoes, loaded the dog, and drove to the old railroad grade between Carson City and Virginia City, Nev.
March 9 opened poorly. It began with incessant ranting on the early morning news shows about the falling sky. Exercising, which usually delights me when it ends, didn’t do the trick. The coffee ran out. I made more, but it tasted like tar because the potato peels drifting in the gray water of the plugged garbage disposal distracted me.
Like many school children in America during the 1940s and 1950s, I grew up with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Their portraits kept an eye on me in every classroom I entered at my elementary school. I remember radiators releasing a comfortable hiss, chalk dust sifting from erasers, art projects parading walls — and George and Abe on high, supervising.
My siblings and I grew up with certain understandings: Dad gets the biggest piece of pie; don’t disturb mom’s nap unless you’re hurt enough to go to the emergency room; and the “Lawrence Welk Show” is unavoidable. We also obeyed a more universal decree: Children do chores.
In third grade, a classmate, Herbert Peterson, claimed to have seen a two-headed pig. I didn’t doubt him. In our rural area, such an oddity seemed possible. He further asserted one head was good — pleasing oink, rosy color, ate from his hand. The other was evil. It shrieked, slobbered, and nearly ate his left thumb.
I love Thanksgiving. Growing up, I looked forward to the quiet holiday tucked between my birthday and Christmas, because I could eat all I wanted — an unusual occurrence when competing on a daily basis with six siblings, hungry and mean.
I sat in the top row of an arena during the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, baffled by the timeout behavior of the crowd. When action on the court stopped, fans occupied themselves by visiting the Internet or sending texts on cell phones that glowed like fireflies throughout the stadium.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed an I-70 sign posted for westbound traffic shortly before the off-ramp to Silverthorne. It instructs truckers not to exit if they’ve lost their brakes.
I stared in dumfounded silence at the mirror in the beauty shop. I had anticipated a halo of soft brown curls imbuing me with a youthful glow. Instead, I beheld an orange straw-stack, spoking out from an appalled face. Why was I surprised?
Before the Craig Daily Press discontinued the column, Moffat County Neighbor, I looked forward to the question, "What's your favorite place in Moffat County?" I enjoyed learning what other people like about our spot on the planet.
When I watch "American Idol," I identify with the contestants who inspire eyeball rolling and snickering. It takes time for some of us to realize that promoting our musical gift is a good thing - if we have one.
When younger, I never dithered about everyday decisions such as snooze alarm or shower, pantyhose or knee-highs. With age, I've become less certain, more given to deliberation. I ponder all possibilities, consider inconsequentials and consult compulsively. I change my mind.