Friday, January 28, 2011

The Baby Crib

I was thinking about my babies’ crib the other night as I was drifting off to sleep. I’m not sure why this bubbled up into my conscious mind, but since it did, I relaxed and let my memories lead me by the hand into my past.

We were living in Miami when I became pregnant with Wade. Our home was a cozy one-bedroom garage apartment, surrounded by avocado and citrus trees. The little cottage apartment was barely big enough for the two of us, not to mention a new baby. As we planned for the new addition, we knew that our baby would be sharing our small bedroom with us – there was no other place for him or her – space was definitely limited. I was determined to purchase a full-sized baby bed; I wanted my baby to sleep in comfort, with plenty of room to grow.

The perfect crib found us in the baby department of one of Miami’s department stores. It was a simple style, painted white, with pink and blue spinning balls along the top of the headboard. Stenciled on the headboard panel were the cutest little puppies I’d ever seen. It was the latest design – both side rails went up and down, and the springs had three height adjustments, showing consideration for both a growing baby and the parents who lifted baby in and out of bed. The rail tops had a plastic coating on them, a safety feature for teething babies. I loved this bed at first sight, and even though we couldn’t afford it, somehow we found the money to purchase it.

David assembled it in our bedroom as soon as it was delivered. It fit nicely tucked into a corner of our bedroom, with enough room to spare for a small rocking chair beside it. I put a fresh crib sheet on the mattress, hung the nursery rhyme mobile my parents had given to us, and waited for baby Wade or Katherine to arrive. The crib and I were ready for baby.

Wade slept in the crib from the day we brought him home from the hospital until he was almost three years old. It moved with us several times over those years, and David became very proficient at assembling and disassembling it with each move.

By the time Wade celebrated his third birthday, he had made the move into a big boy bed. We were expecting another baby, and Wade was excited about becoming a big brother.

Before Brian was born, we moved into a house with a small bedroom that would serve as a nursery. David assembled the crib, and I cleaned it up and pulled out the crib sheets I’d stored away. Up went the same mobile that had been Wade’s, and we were again ready for baby.

Brian slept in the crib until he was big enough to climb in and out of it all by himself. Again, we took it down, stored it in the basement, and Brian graduated to a twin bed with rails on each side.

I knew that there would be no more babies coming our way, and thought often about my beautiful crib gathering dust in the basement. What should I do with it? My answer came one morning as a dropped Brian off at a neighborhood church day care center, where he spent one day each week while I worked a part-time job. The center was growing by leaps and bounds, and I noticed that the three cribs in the nursery room were occupied. I asked the director if she accepted donations. You’d have thought I’d offered her a million dollars! Yes! They’d love to have another crib, and hand-me-downs were most welcome.

I talked first to Wade and Brian about the idea of giving their baby bed to the day care center. Upon receiving their enthusiastic approval, we told David our plan. He agreed, and by the following week, the crib was being used by a cute baby girl. When I dropped Brian off at the center my next working day, he was delighted to see his bed with a sleeping baby in it.

I’ve often thought about that crib, wondering where it is and who is safely tucked into it. I'd like to believe that even after all these years, it is still on duty.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Shoe Truck

Today was the day for the shoe truck to arrive at my workplace. I had been looking forward to it ever since I began working at Amtico International earlier this month. I’ve never bought shoes out of a truck before, and I was ready for this new adventure. When I woke up this morning, my first waking thought was of new shoes. I could hardly wait to get to work.

Steel-toed shoes are required in my new place of employment. I am not allowed onto the manufacturing floor without them. One of the perks of employment is a new pair of shoes each year. I was eager to look at the selections in the shoe truck and hoped that I’d find a perfectly wonderful pair of new steel-toed shoes. Yes, I am easily entertained and amused by the simplest of pleasures.

My new friend, Angela, who has been at Amtico for several years walked with me out to the shoe truck, parked behind the plant. I think she wanted to accompany me because all I’ve been talking about the past couple of days is my excitement over the truck’s arrival. Once inside the truck, she left me on my own to select my shoes, and she headed back to the building.

The selection of women’s steel-toed shoes was sparse and disappointing. That is, until I spotted a pair of clogs! I commented to the salesman that they reminded me of my Crocs. I had no idea that one could get safety shoes in a slide-on style. Luckily, he had a pair in my size. Yes, they felt very much like Crocs on my feet. When I verbalized this out loud, he shot me a look verifying that he thought I was downright loopy. But, he wasn’t one to turn his back on a sale and quickly wrote up my receipt.

Once back inside the building, I was invited by Angela to walk with her back onto the manufacturing floor. I quickly slipped on my new shoes, wiggled my toes, and stepped confidently into the plant.

It’s amazing what worlds can open up when you’re wearing the right pair of shoes!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Sunrise

One nice thing about my new job is my drive each day to work. I’ve never before had a job where my commute took me past pastures, hay fields, and rolling farm land. And, this is the first time in my working career that I haven’t been on the road well before the sun came up in the morning. For this job, I drive east and have the privilege of watching the morning sky change as daylights dawns on the Georgia countryside.

This morning’s sunrise was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. As I drove along, I wished for my camera to take a photo of what my eyes could hardly believe. I left home just as the sky was beginning to show light. To the east, a multi-shaded orange glow draped the horizon, and to the west a band of icy clouds reflected the early light in a pinkish violet glow.

When I turned onto the road to Madison, the colors were changing second by second as the sun inched her way into the morning sky. Sunlight reflected off of the ice-laden clouds hovering along the horizon, shooting golden rays into the sky. A wash of blue began to deepen as day began in earnest. The frost on the barren fields and bales of hay sparkled with the dawning day. It seemed that nature was celebrating with a burst of color.

By the time I got to work, all of the colors had faded into a bright and clear winter morning. As I walked into the building, I was ready for my day.

I also began to wonder what my ride home would be like, when I’d be driving into the afternoon sunset after my work day is finished.

There are other good things to say about my new job, but for today nothing can top the way this day began.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another Snowy Day - Am I Still in Georgia?

It started late Sunday night after I went to bed. We all knew it was coming, but I was secretly hoping that this snow storm would be a false alarm, much like the one I remember in the mid-70’s, when I lived in Marietta.

On that eventful, or non-eventful, day as it turned out, I stayed glued to the parsonage windows with my little boys, eyes peeled to catch the first snowflake. We were ready for some winter fun – visions of building snowmen, sledding, and most definitely making snow angels were dancing in our heads. The television was tuned to a local channel, and the news announcer standing on one of the overpasses of I-75 kept telling us over and over that the snow was on its way. Businesses and schools all over Atlanta had either closed for the day or had sent children home early. While there was no white stuff falling, there was mayhem on the interstate as cars jammed it up, creating rush hour at 2:00 pm, their drivers and riders trying to get home before the storm hit. Every few minutes, we’d hear the announcer tell us that it wouldn’t be long- we were definitely in for a winter event. Sadly, it never arrived. We might have seen a few snowflakes that afternoon – I really don’t remember – but our dreams of playing in the snow drifted up into the winter sky, yielding no results.

This time was different. I woke up yesterday morning to a white world. Of course, the first thing I had to do was take my ruler out onto the deck to see how deep the snow was. Measuring about 4”, I knew that I would be staying home for the day. It didn’t matter that the company I now work for doesn’t have an inclement weather policy – I wasn’t going anywhere! The snow was still falling, and I was eager to get out in it to check things out. As I was heading out my door with Diamond for a morning stroll, my phone rang. It was my boss, telling me that the office was closed for the day. I was delighted, since I was facing taking a vacation day on my second week of work! Diamond and I ventured out onto our dirt road – no tracks. Ours were the first ones of the day. We then checked out the paved road. Only one set of tracks had disturbed the blanket of snow. Yes, it was going to be a good day to stay home. Now, if only the power would stay on for the day!

As the morning progressed, the snow changed to sleet, and then a misting freezing rain. I stood at my window, much like that day so many years ago, watching the day drift by. By mid-afternoon, Diamond and I were beginning to feel the effects of cabin fever, and decided to venture out once more. This time, it was more treacherous making it to the ground level. Our steps were covered with a crunchy layer of ice over the several inches of snow. Carefully, we conducted the slip test, discovering that if we stomped hard, we didn’t have to worry about slipping on the ice. With feet and paws finally firmly planted on the ground, we checked the bird feeder, and I dusted the snow off, allowing better access for our birds. There were now a few sets of tracks on our road, and a couple of four-wheelers roared past. The paved road was still snow and ice-covered, but a few more tracks showed me that some adventurous folks had braved the icy conditions. Diamond romped in the snow for a few minutes, took care of some necessary business, and we headed back home. Cold! It was sooo cold. I had bundled up pretty good, but my gloves were not made for snowy days, and my fingers began to throb. I knew it was time to get back indoors where it was warm.

So, now it is Day Two of the first (and I hope, last) snowstorm of 2011. Not only is the ground still covered with white, but the pine branches are heavy with a thin coating of ice. I’m still indoors with no plans to go anywhere today. Our office is closed again, so it must be pretty bad out there. I’ll bundle up once more a little later in the day, with two pairs of gloves on my hands this time, and go for a walk with my dog. I’ll look toward the sky, urging the sun to peep out from behind the clouds to melt some of this stuff, and eat another steaming bowl or two of homemade soup.

Springtime, where are you?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Second Day of 2011

The new year arrived as I was rudely awakened at midnight by the sound of gunshots from down the road. Crazy neighbors were welcoming in 2011 with firearms instead of firecrackers. I was thankful to be indoors, as I rolled over and gave Phil a New Year’s kiss on the cheek, without rousing him from his sleep. I drifted back into la-la land, pondering the thought, “I wonder what 2011 will bring my way.”

On my Facebook page, I have been wished a Happy New Year by a number of my friends. One thing that struck a chord was that many of them commented the hope that 2011 will be a better year than 2010. It made me begin to wonder – was 2010 a bad year for so many, or are people merely striving for excellence in the coming year? How can 2011 be better? We lived through 2010 to welcome in a new year. What could be better than that, I ask.

2010 was a challenging year for me, but it was a great one. Who could ask for more? As I look at the open book of 2011, I see opportunities and more challenges heading my way. 2010 prepared me for this new year. In 2010, I learned that I can be a salesperson as I hawked my wares at the Saturday market. I broke out of my introverted shell as I interacted with strangers, making friends along the way, sharing my gardening and baking knowledge, teaching friends how to make rag rugs, and stretching my wings in my writing and photography skills. Money was scarce at times, but all our bills were paid, and as I look back at the year, I can see that I prospered.

The year also brought sadness and pain. My son’s beloved dog, Maddie, died, leaving a hole in all of our hearts. My dearly loved Aunt Agnes finally left us at the age of 103. Phil’s mother didn’t wake up one morning in October from her nursing home bed. I stumbled in my garden in July, leaving a jagged upside-down “L” shaped gash in my leg, requiring 20 stitches and a huge medical bill. My washer and dryer of over 15 years agitated and tumbled their last laundry load, again calling for a large expenditure of cash to replace them. These, along with other events, of lesser note and importance, brought tears and moments of introspection and contemplation.

And there were surprises in 2010. The biggest one of all was that I was offered a job in November. I was flabbergasted that I was invited for a second interview. For the past two years, if I made it to one interview, I was never asked back for the second. For some reason, this company wants me, and even with all of my excuses not to accept the position, they had a solution to every one of my roadblocks, including my part-time job of tutoring at the local college. The job offer was a decent one – a good salary, excellent benefits, and a job that is only 20 minutes away from my home. When I start my job on Tuesday at Amtico International, I look forward to this new chapter in my life, while I’ll still be able to leave early on Mondays for tutoring at Georgia Perimeter College. It all looks very promising for an interesting year.

I wonder what 2011 will bring? I hesitate to speculate or dream of what I wish for the year, because I know from experience that the surprises will out-number what I think will happen. With my notebook in hand, and my new camera around my neck, I’m ready for whatever the year brings down my country road.

Bring it on, 2011!