Thursday, June 2, 2016

Down Time

The past few days have been spent napping and reading and grumbling to myself.  I have had the flu.  Not the influenza kind of flu, which is more a respiratory kind of thing, but the flu, which is what we call anything else that causes us to feel like crud.  The rumbly tummy, can't get warm even when wrapped in a large, green fuzzy blanket, no appetite - that kind of flu.

When forced to be still, my mind wanders.  Well, it wanders anyway, but more than usual in times like this.  At one point I was thinking about my childhood and comparing it to that of my youngest grands.  They are active children, but their activities seem to be more structured.  I wondered if they had ever played Anti-I-Over with the neighborhood kids, or Fox and Geese or Duck, Duck, Gray Duck or Simon Says or Hopscotch.  Or if they had even heard of those games that were so common to my generation.

I'm pretty sure that, after their chores were done, they haven't been turned loose on a summer morning to play with friends with instructions from Mother to be home in time for supper.  If we didn't show up for lunch, it was OK because sometimes another mother would provide a stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a jug of Kool Aid, and sometimes my mother would provide lunch for the neighbor kids and me.

When we were old enough for bikes, our horizons expanded.  We could ride to the local elementary school and play on the swings and slide and teeter-totters.  Or we could have bike races in the alley behind our houses.  Or we could ride about a mile or so to the woods where forts were built, cowboys fought the Indians and where Hide and Seek was much more fun than played indoors.

Lest you think we were just a bunch of rowdy kids, I am here to tell you that there were rules.  "Stay away from the railroad tracks.  That's where the bums hang out," or "Mrs. Jones says no more crab apple fights in her orchard.  She needs the rest of the apples for jelly," or "If you run through Mrs. Brown's garden again and trample her green beans, she will make you work all day, replanting and pulling weeds."  And she would.  With the blessings of our parents.

One evening while reading one of my favorite murder mysteries, I heard voices from the street below.  The bicycle shop beneath my apartment has set out a nice metal table with four chairs for the use of its patrons.  At night, in the warmer months of the year, the bar patrons from next door make use of them.  Most times I just tune out the voices unless the conversations are amusing to me.  But the conversation that evening caught my attention.  Every other sentence contained words that would have brought out a bar of Ivory Soap to be used by parents for washing out the mouth of the offending child.  I realized that the ongoing conversation below was not unusual, but was the norm.  Nobody was angry - nobody was fighting.  Nobody was slurring words as if too many beers had been consumed.  It was just a regular conversation between friends.  I am not so naive as to believe that my own children and grands never say these words, but they have enough class not to utter them within my hearing.  When did language like that become acceptable in public places.  I think it boils down to respect - for ones self and for others.  Respect seems to be in short supply these days.

I wonder how many of my vintage collected a weekly allowance.  Not I, she said.  If there was a toy or an article of clothing we just couldn't live without, we either pestered our parents until they gave in, or we saved for it, which was the usual procedure.  Pestering usually gained us time weeding the garden while pondering the error of our ways.  Sometimes grandparents or favorite aunt would put a dollar or two in a birthday card.  Once in a while a grandparent would sneak us a half dollar just for the fun of it.  Money could be earned by babysitting or mowing lawns or shoveling snow from sidewalks.  All of this hard earned cash was put into the Piggy Bank until enough had been saved to buy the object of our desires.  But an allowance for doing household chores?  Didn't happen.  We were told that we had a roof over our heads, food for our stomachs and clothes for our backs.  And as members of our family we were expected to pitch in and do our share.  But get paid for washing the supper dishes - nope.

Well, today I am feeling much better.  Dirty dishes that were neglected for a couple of days have been washed.  A couple of soft boiled eggs and toast have been consumed for breakfast.  The better part of a pot of coffee has been drunk.  There are just a couple of small chores that require my attention, but not enough to cause a relapse.  Kids have been checking up on Mom - some who live farther away, by phone.  Oldest Son, who lives next door, brought me my mail and hauled out the trash.  He thinks I don't know he shows up every other day or so to do these things so he can check up on me, but I have figured that out.

It is odd where a wandering mind can travel when the body is forced to spend time quietly.  I can only wonder what paths it will take the next time.


  1. Sorry to hear that you've been down with the flu. But glad to hear you're on the mend.
    I had a childhood similar to yours - leaving the house after breakfast and not returning until just before dinner. I'm pretty sure my Mom never figured out how very far afield we got on our bikes. I looked it up recently and was surprised myself. If I returned mid-day, she would often send me back out to my forts or play with sandwiches or thermos in hand. We would play kick the can at the local elementary school or roller skate on the sidewalks. No supervision. The only supervised activity I remember from childhood is swim team practice and swimming at the pool with the lifeguard.
    Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC

  2. SJ...I think you and I had probably the best of childhoods. "Go outside and play," was every mother's battle cry. :) I just can't imagine growing up with "play dates" or having a parent watching over our every move. I understand the need for it, I guess. The world is no longer the same safe environment for children. There seem to be a lot more crazies out there now, who are interested in causing harm. We knew who the few crazies were in our town and we just stayed away from them.
    I had forgotten about roller skating. The skates clamped on to our shoes. I don't think I ever knew a kid who didn't have a skate key on a string hanging around their necks!
    Your memories of supervised activities are nearly the same as mine, which were the summer swimming lessons put on by the Red Cross at a local lake. These lessons weren't supervised by parents, but by the instructors. Far cry from activities now.

  3. Glad you are feeling better! Ah, growing up in the late '40's and early '50's! Life really was like a Norman Rockwell painting. On sweltering summer nights we were allowed to play outside under the street light. The ice man was our friend, too - he would hand out chunks of ice to all of us as we followed his truck down the street. That America will never be again, but I'm so glad I did live it.

  4. Glad you're feeling better. Maybe a bucket of water thrown out your window would have ended the foul conversation below.

  5. Chickenmom...Thanks...much better today. We really did grow up in an Andy Griffith - Mayberry kind of world, and it was wonderful. There was a feeling of freedom that has long since gone. I am so glad I have those memories to look back on and really wish my grands could experience what we did.

  6. Thanks, Gorges...Nice idea, but probably a waste of time, effort and water! I don't expect anything will change until we as a nation get back to the principals that were behind the founding of these United States. And with criminals now at the helm, I fear something drastic has to happen before that becomes reality.

  7. A week ago Thursday, I lay in bed moaning as my innards rolled and grumbled. I thought both ends would explode but nothing happened except pain and grumbling inside. The next day, my allergies bothered me. The next day, I had a headache all day. I finally got over what ever it was.

  8. Practical Parsimony...Glad you are feeling better. Sometimes these things just appear out of nowhere and lay us low for a bit. Mine wasn't nearly that dramatic. Just irritating. :)

  9. I am trying to write this while Tom Tom the cat tries to type as well, so who knows what the end result will be. Sorry to hear you have been under the weather, but it's good you are getting better. I can certainly relate to the phenomenon.

  10. Harry...I'm thinking I should pretty much be done with the health issues - at least I hope so. Haven't the patience for it.

    Reading about your Tom Tom here and on your blog reminded me of my last cat, Kizzie. She was 25 lbs. of fur who had to be involved in whatever I was doing. Woke up one night convinced I was having a heart attack, only to find Kizzie asleep on my chest. Darned cats. :) I really miss them.

  11. Thanks, Rob...Flu is gone and I'm back to my normal ornery self. :)