Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekday Work

We have been busy this week fulfilling the Genesis directive to use six days to accomplish work. Over the weekend, I’d eyed the harvest of tomatoes and okra that Gerald had brought inside form his garden, and I knew what part of that work would be.

That activity was delayed, however, when our oldest grandchild Tara and husband Bryan and boys came to the farm. Tara and Bryan had a half day of appointments in our area, so Gerald and I volunteered to care for Aidan and Maddux, the oldest of their three boys.

We might have wanted to see if we could manage all three at once, but Gerald had a previously made doctor appointment, so I would be alone for a couple of hours, and I knew I better not risk biting off more than I could safely handle. So Baby Payton went with his parents.

Gerald started our joint child care venture by answering Maddux’s request to ride the tractor. It was a marvelous way to distract him when his parents left and he caught on that he was not going with them. Aidan was a willing tractor rider also, of course, and he always wants to ride the “mule” since Gerald lets him steer and do as much as he is able with Gerald as his back up and primary driver although Aidan doesn’t seem to know this.

While they were outside, I did get the large container of okra washed and cut up in quart freezer bags, which later I carried to the downstairs freezer, which really needs veggies since I’ve decided against ordering another beef from a brother-in-law. (It is just too confusing trying to keep track of what is where in the freezers. I think I have come to the age where I’d prefer to plan and buy a week’s supply of meat at a time. It is fun to have meat to send home with our adult children, but even that is one more chore for me and them to pack it carefully for their trip to their freezers.)

Gerald had to watch the clock carefully to get inside to shower and head to the doctor. And suddenly I was alone with Aidan, who is four going on fourteen much of the time, and Maddux, a quiet blond toddler, who melts everyone’s heart with his charm and shy smile. Both boys are sturdy and strong and extremely coordinated. Their parents are excellent teachers, so they can do many things safely for themselves.

For the most part, Maddux seems and acts much older than 20 months. But he is still a baby, and I do not want him out of my sight. He was really disappointed that his great grandmother could not continue the tractor riding even though one word he was saying very clearly over and over was “Tractor!” as he headed to the kitchen door. When I found out he could open the door, I quickly locked every outside door as we passed them.

They are used to stairs at their home, and Maddux can scoot up and down ours with no problem. That is until he looks through the horizontal banisters that every big kid has been tempted and crawled through to jump down on the couch below. He is an obedient child, and he listened to me rather than the temptation as I trailed him. He kept in the middle of the stairway as I directed.

There is also a small space between the bottom landing and the outside windows. Aidan was once in that space retrieving a toy as Maddux scooted down with me behind him. However, I am slow on stairs and he is fast. Maddux had his eyes on Aidan and did not make the turn for the remaining four steps, but instead he scooted beneath the bottom banister and off the small landing right into Aidan’s arms despite my urgings that he continue on as always before. I never did decide if he just got confused because of Aidan standing there or if it just looked like a fun thing to back off that two-foot drop off. Whatever the cause, it was a successful landing, but I didn’t want him to do it again if Aidan were not there to catch him.

We went on into the kids’ den, where earlier in the morning Gerald had gotten down some toy tractors for the boys to play with. Last week I had bought some of those upside down tomato planters on sale and started to assemble one to experiment with planting a vine that had outgrown its hanging plant holder, a holder which we had created for that stairway window I just told you about.

I had decided I might like to have four hanging vines in those four family room windows instead of just the one by the stairway. After two summers’ worth of looking, I had given up ever finding duplicates of the light-weight planter, under which we used a rolling plastic plant base to catch the water. (We discarded the rollers.)

I had started to assemble one of these new plastic tomato planters, which is not at all what I wanted . Instead of hanging in the window, it will have to sit on the floor and have the base filled with sand to weight it down,. The base and top planter were tightly packed inside each other to save space in the box, and I was not strong enough to get them apart. I knew I’d have to ask for Gerald’s help, and I had not gotten around to that yet.

So that open box was there filled with lots of plastic tubes that make up the sides. The boys had discovered this immediately and had the thing partially put together (wrongly) even though I am not sure I can by following the diagram. Now I must ask Gerald to also pull apart those plastic tubes because they are pretty firmly together. Actually this box of plastic parts was very entertaining for them, so if it does not work out as a vine planter, maybe I’ll let it be their construction toy. Both boys are fascinated by anything that has a handle or moveable part, and it is fun to watch them pull and experiment with everything that catches their eye.

This room we call the kids’ den is really a furnace room and was planned for a shop. It has an uncarpeted concrete floor and a couple of tubs with running water that I thought might be used for cleaning fish when we planned the house—but no fish has ever been cleaned there. Lots of children’s paint brushes have been because we realized immediately we needed an area for the little kids to gather in. So a long table was made from an old door and surrounded with little red plastic chairs, and this became the kids’ art room. They loved it, and so did the grown-ups who were spared lots of noise and work as the kids entertained themselves.

A couple years’ ago, I realized they had outgrown this, so Gerald repaired an old kitchen table there for them to create on. (One young teenager, who shall remain nameless, was very upset when he discovered their door-table which they had decorated together down through the years was gone.) We also put in two old couches and a small area rug and a large TV on the other end of the room, and call it their den. The little red chairs and a tiny table are there for these great grandkids.

Maddux grew tired of this play sooner than Aidan did and he opened the door into the family room and was heading to the stairs. So Aidan and I followed him. This was the first of many trips back to the breakfast table. It seemed to me that the boys ate breakfast all morning. Just a few bites at a time or a little milk or juice, and then they were off to play again. Then one of them discovered new box of vanilla wafers. Before I knew what happened after I opened it, Aidan had it dumped over and half a box was on the table. (The kids are so quick and I am so slow.) But their continuous breakfast included plenty of vanilla wafers. Suddenly it was lunch time, and breakfast food and dishes were still on the table. Fortunately, Gerald was back by now and took them out for more tractor and “mule” riding before and after lunch.

Then Tara and Bryan were back to the farm, and we had to use what little visiting time we had to enjoy Payton before they started north to the other end of the state, where Bryan had to work the next day although Aidan was begging to stay all night. Mary Ellen had thought she might stop with Trent and Brianna for the night on their way to Florida, but she phoned that they were able to get away soon enough that she decided not to stop but to try and reach Chattanooga yet that night instead.

I’d thawed a large round steak to fix a nice dinner, but seeing the messy kitchen and no guests, I decided we’d enjoy that on Tuesday and substituted our usual light supper meal for me and Gerald. That evening I finished my Sunday night blog.

Last week I had put some tomatoes for casseroles and soups in the freezer, so on Tuesday I decided to make tomato juice. I had made a little juice last year for chili, but I had more tomatoes to work up on Tuesday. I was not very well organized after the fun distraction the previous day.
I finally found the tomato juicer (a colander on a stand with wooden pusher in the middle) on the garage shelf where it has been for a year. It had to be scrubbed down because dirt dobbers had also found it. I thoroughly washed the large buckets of tomatoes through four waters and tossed them cut into quarters or halves into the large pans brought down from the top shelf of the pantry and started cooking them.

I really thought I would finish soon after our noon meal (the round steak with mushroom gravy, instant potatoes, corn on the cob, okra, and tomatoes), and then I would run in to see Katherine. Somehow this project just kept growing as the day went on. Other big pans were needed to run the juice into. Then I put some juice in plastic freezer bags and stopped when one came unclosed and spilled juice in the cookie pan holding them. So I found other more suitable containers for the rest of the juice. Then they all had to be taken to the freezer down in the kids’ den.
My kitchen floor had a good dose of vitamin C before the project was over. And it was not over until after supper when I was washing those large pans. (Well, to be honest, there is one pan that had a few tomatoes burned on the bottom during the last batch I cooked. That pan was through soaking and was scrubbed today.)

By yesterday, Gerald had brought in another large container of okra. So that morning I washed and cut up several more bags of okra for the freezer. Finally that afternoon I got to Katherine’s house. And finally last evening, I got my overdue books back to the village library. I’d had them in the car for over a week, but I kept forgetting to run by the library when I was in Crab Orchard.

Today I had a six-month standard doctor check-up scheduled, and I was glad since I had developed plantar fascitis in my right heel. I knew what I had because I diagnosed it by Google. As soon as I typed in heel pain last week, I went right to the description of what was going on in my foot. It would be very painful when I got out of bed during the night and in the morning, but the pain would lesson as the day progressed. The Google article suggested heel pads, and I had taken a pair from Gerald’s boots he was not wearing. That seemed to do the trick during the day, but the next morning the pain would be back.

So I was grateful to report it to my doctor, who gave me some more suggestions on an information sheet, and warned me to come back for further treatment if it did not soon go away. Now I have an excuse to get some writing done (maybe) because the first thing I noted on the information sheet is that it is a good thing to stay off my feet! (I had actually thought the opposite since the pain went away during the day when the foot was being used.)

Katherine said this afternoon that she has plenty of help tomorrow. I have a lot of odds and ends to catch up with here. (The big pans all need to go back on the top shelf of the pantry for one thing.) Then tomorrow night we will be going to an East Cape eatery for fish with Gerald’s 1948 classmates.

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