baa baa black sheep



Yesterday afternoon at work I was feeling downright irritable/sad/cry-y/angry/headachey//full of rage, and as usual when the PMS hits and I don't have immediate access to a) Pamprin or b) wine, I reigned in the rage and dealt with it by not talking as much. I've found that to prevent myself from being stupid when I'm In A Lame Snit, I just go about my tasks more quietly than normal (or "Not While Bouncing Off The Walls Loudly"). A coworker even asked if I was okay, even, because I was not chattering or whistling or, I assume, making a general nuisance of myself. Also, she said I looked too tired, and to make sure to get some rest! Etc.

(Hey! Did you know in kindergarten I got moved around the room a lot for talking, in a plan to find someone who might curb my babbling, but the teacher couldn't find ANYone I wouldn't talk to? I'm annoying!)

Anyway, I went home feeling pissy and lame, because woe is me with my uterus and my normal hormones. I saw my 94 year old neighbor going into her house, and determined that I should give her some cookies I made on Sunday. So I put some in a baggie, went over, knocked on the door, and gave her the cookies. She immediately insisted I come inside, so I went in and stood inside her living room, which was filled with framed photos of faces, photos on every surface. When the furniture surface ran out, she had framed displayed on the floor. The carpet was brown and thick, her couch was the style that had brown quail on it (everyone has had that couch), her armchair was a yellow tufted piece from probaby the sixties. The seat was worn, and there was a napkin on the table beside it with a mug on it, and I had a feeling the napkin had been there, reused and reused, for a long time. She said she'd take the cookies out and return my baggie, and I laughed and told her to not worry about it. She said no no, it's no trouble, and I said, "No, really, keep it." She told me she'd put it in our mailbox when she was done with it.

She gives us all her newspapers after she reads them (she gets a few different ones), and shoves them behind our mailbox up against the wall of the house so we'll be sure to see them. On the first one, it said, "From Your North Neighbor" in shaky pencil cursive, but since then they have been blank of any explanation. One or two day old papers, arriving while we are at work, which we read.

As I stood awkwardly in her living room, she said, "I hope you don't mind that I give you the papers! I hope you don't mind." I assured her that we always read them, and she said, "I'm so glad you get some use out of them. I'm just glad you do. My grandkids never want them, but I always sit here and read them when I drink my hot cocoa or when I eat my breakfast in the kitchen, and I'm glad you use them. Plus then I don't have to bundle them up and take them to the bins, because I know you do." I thanked her again.

She asked if we liked our house, and I told her we did. Her living room was stuffy, and her the front of her short hair was pinned up. Her hands moved as she talked, and her blue sweater was worn on the left elbow. She talked about how glad all the neighbors were to have young people around, because they saw us busy and it made them feel good. It made them want to do things, she said. I told her I like to make cookies and my husband didn't eat sweets, so if she liked sweets I could always bring some cookies over. She assured me that she loves sweets, and then asked if my husband was enjoying teaching. We talked about how teaching is important, and how if you are excited about what you are teaching the students will learn more.

She told me about our neighbors, again, although this time she told me when all of the ladies' husbands had died. (Hers, twenty years ago, another neighbor, one or two, another, her "friend" had died before they were married.)

Suddenly she stopped, looked at me, and said, "You have just got the prettiest eyes and hair!" and I said, thank you, thank you. Her hands fumbled to the pins in hers, and she said apologetically, "Well, I need mine cut, but I didn't get around to calling my lady today. That's why it's in pins." I laughed and said I didn't care, and she said she admired people with long hair because it takes such a long time to wash and dry. She said she couldn't do much with hers anymore, but she always notices my hair and thinks it looks pretty.

We talked about dogs and more about the neighbors and how she grew up on a farm. We talked about houses and how the man who owned our house was a good man, and how it was always such a warm little house.

She asked me to write down our phone number, and said she thought maybe she tried to call us once but maybe she had the wrong number, but of course she was in the book.

I finally said, "Well, I'll let you get back to your supper, I need to go," because I did, and she said, "Wait, before you go, let me show you my cat." She walked over to the corner of the living room and picked up a toy cat that was nestled in a bed. She said her grandkids gave it to her, and she had no idea why, but she turned it over slowly and found the switch slowly and flipped it on. The little toy cat started purring and breathing, a mechanism in its side moving up and down. I laughed and said it was cute and funny, and she said she didn't know why they gave it to her but it was her cat now. She told me a story about a great granddaughter seeing if it was really breahing, and she told me, "Now you can tell your husband you saw my cat!" I told her we had two cats, and she asked what colors, and she talked about cats. Then she flipped the toy over, turned it off, and said, "I don't want to run his battery down." He stopped purring creakily. She slowly put him back in his chair. She was very gentle.

I told her I'd be by again soon, and she told me she'd better turn the porch light on for me, and she watched me go. "Goodnight!" I called, and she called, "Goodnight!"

And I felt a lot better. And maybe a little ashamed, because I really am pretty selfish sometimes.

black sheeped


Blogger Tessie said...

This is such a great story. I love that little old lady.

8:19 AM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Flibberty said...

That story was absolutely touching. If there was ever a reason to always be baking cookies!

8:30 AM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Fine For Now said...

I love it when you talk about your neighbor! She is so cute. It is funny/interesting what things older people talk about. I'm glad she has you guys to 'take care of', sounds like she really enjoys it. :o)

8:56 AM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Mommy Daisy said...

Aww, what a sweet story. You described your little neighbor so well. I almost feel like I know her.

9:02 AM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Shannon said...

You are a beautiful writer and a great person. I should reach out to my neighbors, too.

10:51 AM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Shelly Overlook said...

Wow, what a great story! Lucky you to have such a neighbor. I bet this winter you can get lots of good tales from her.

11:16 AM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Artemisia said...

You are so sweet and brave, K.

Oh, to visit with a neighbor! I miss things like that a lot. I am sure she just treasures you, K. It took the better part of two years just to get my neighbors to WAVE at me when I walked the dogs... A. gave a plate of cookies I made to the neighbors that plowed us out last winter, and he said they looked at him really strangely. He said it was uncomfortable. How SAD.

11:17 AM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Marie Green said...

I love your neighbor! You have captured her perfectly. I feel like I've met her. =)

2:35 PM, November 13, 2007  
Anonymous tonie said...



8:04 PM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger aurantifolia said...

You in kindergarten = me in Freshman Algebra. Eventually I ended up directly in front of the teacher's desk. :D

1:32 AM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger Pann said...

oh so sweet... at 94 to be independent still and living at home? what an amazing woman.

it sounds like there are a lot interesting things she can share with you.

I love hearing from ancient people, their perspective is so much different from my own

9:57 AM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger desperate housewife said...

This is the kind of story that could be in a book of short stories. You could call it, "Perspective." I would read it and cry.

7:57 PM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger el-e-e said...

This has made me cry. My Grandmother used to use the word "lonesome" instead of "lonely," and this reminded me.

Thank you for visiting your sweet neighbor.

10:02 AM, November 15, 2007  
OpenID parkingathome said...

My heart ached as I read this, and I didn't know why until the last line you wrote.

Thank you for some perspective today

3:32 PM, April 01, 2008  

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