Monday, November 15, 2010

A week in the life of ...

Where is a man when you need one? It's a question I often ask myself. Out loud. The answer this time? Cuba. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
My husband Rick is a commercial builder. We have banked at the same bank in our small town for many years. We know the tellers, the managers, the president, and they know us. Well, most of them anyway. I was at the bank last week, being helped by one of the tellers, when another of the tellers stepped over to chat after she finished with her customer. "How's Rick?" she asked. "Is he home or away?" For 25 years Rick has traveled the world for missions, building churches, Bible schools, orphanages, etc., and everywhere I go people ask about him. He's been in Siberia in December, and has had a lot of wild adventures. I have the luxury to pick and choose which trips I tag along on (I opted out of Siberia), but mostly I stay home, write, and enjoy a time of solitude.
So in answer to Joyce's question, I replied, "Rick's in Cuba this time." She got a funny look on her face, then she began to laugh. "Did he come in to get cash before he left?" "Yeah," I said. (He always does. The cash is from whatever team he takes with him, for whatever project they plan to work on, and it's usually a fairly large amount.) "That explains it," Joyce said. "Yeah? Explains what?" I asked.
A new teller waited on Rick--one who's not familiar with him or his ministry--and just to be conversational as she was helping him with this large amount of cash, he mentioned he was leaving for Cuba that night. When he left the bank she turned to Joyce and said, "Someone taking that much money to Cuba? It's gotta be drug money!" Joyce had been tied up with her own work and had no idea who the new teller was talking about, but after talking with me Joyce put 2 and 2 together, and we had a good laugh. "Please," I said, as I prepared to leave, "tell her it's A: drug money or B: a missionary going in to build a church." I know, Cuba/church building? Drug money is more believable. But it's the truth. I swear.
But back to my original question. Where is a man when you need one? Mine could be anywhere in the world, but I can pretty much guarantee if something's going to go wrong, it will go wrong when he's out of the country. Like the time the phone rang at 6 o'clock one morning when he was in the Philippines. We were living in the country on 5 acres and I wasn't one bit happy about it. Though I loved the house he'd built us, I didn't like how far out in the country it was (I'd write 'Back Side of the Moon' as my return address on all correspondence), and certainly didn't like being left alone out there. I answered the phone that morning and a rude woman who did not identify herself said, "Your cows are in my yard." Not being a country girl or a morning person, this took a minute to compute. Your cows are in my yard ... your cows are in my yard ... your cows ... MY COWS!!!! Yes, we (spelled R-i-c-k) had two longhorn cows--named after our granddaughters, so fat chance they'd ever become steaks--and they'd gotten out of our pasture. I leapt out of bed, threw on some clothes, stuck my contacts in my eyes, and jumped in my car. But where was I going? I had no idea who'd called. So I drove around the "neighborhood" looking for Rick's cows. I felt like Little Bo Peep. Not having any luck finding them I went back home, wondering what on earth I was going to do, when my phone rang again. This time--I swear I'm not making this up--it was a friend who lived on the 5 acres behind us, and she says, "Sharon, are you looking for your cows?" Am I looking for my cows?!? How did she know that?!? "Yes, as a matter of fact ...!" And she told me where to find them. Amazingly--and I'm not making this up either--a used-to-be-cowboy-turned-carpenter worked for our company, and he came and rustled up the herd and mended the fence. When Rick (who'd made the mistake of laughing about it when I told him over the phone) got home, there was a For Sale sign in the yard. Not making that up either.
But back to this time, and Cuba. A week ago Sunday night I was in my bedroom watching TV and addressing Christmas cards when a racket shattered the relative quiet--and it came from right above my head. Startled, I jumped up and tried to assess the what and the where as I speed dialed my daughter, because, as we all know, misery loves company. I had no idea what was going on, I just knew it was LOUD. It sounded like a whole family of something had moved into our attic space. With my daughter on the phone, I went outside, hoping against hope that whatever it was was on the roof, and not somewhere INSIDE my house. Alas, it was not to be. I declined my daughter's invitation to spend the night/week on her sofa, and listened in fear and trembling as this thing moved around upstairs above my head till after 3:00 a.m. At one point it sounded like it was dragging something across the floor up there. I kid you not.
I called Clark Exterminators first thing Monday morning. A young man--who was my new favorite hero even though he wasn't a cowboy--came within the hour, but alas yet again, he could open the access to the attic space, but he couldn't actually go in and do anything about what might be up there. It seems they have rules, and that, in my opinion, was the stupidest. What he could do was set a mega-mouse trap just inside the attic space, which he could reach while standing on the very top of my 6-foot ladder, without actually being in the space. Well fine. But let me tell you, A: this was no mouse, mega or otherwise! And B: out of 3,100 square feet of living space, the 16 x 20 inch opening in the ceiling that goes into the attic space happens to be right above the chair I sit in at my computer. So now not only was I afraid of whatever had moved in, I was terrified I'd hear a SNAP! while sitting here trying to write.
So this...whatever it is...had me on edge all week. I'd hear its nocturnal wanderings after the sun went down, and was jerked awake at 2:00 in the morning Wednesday, while it carried on above my head till after 4:00. Elizabeth Berg, bless her heart, kept me company.
As if that weren't enough, I walked into my kitchen one evening to find a spider scurrying along the edge of my island. By now you must be thinking I live with the Addams family, but no. I grabbed my broom and swiped at the spider...and knocked it right into my purse. A brown spider in a brown purse. @*##+##@. So, using the handle of the broom, I upended the purse and shook out all the contents--checkbook, lipstick, cough drops--and sifted through everything, with the broom handle. But no spider. Then, using the sweeping end of the broom, I pummelled the snot out of that bag...but never found the spider or its remains.
You don't even want to know the one-sided conversation I carried on with my absentee husband all week, who was blissfully without cell phone or email access. Trust me, that bliss lasted only until he landed back in the USA, at which time he had the sense not to laugh. And I'm very glad, because I love where we currently live.
You may be wondering what on earth this has to do with writing. Maybe nothing. Then again, if you come across a mad woman in a cowboy hat with a broom in one of my novels you'll know exactly where the inspiration came from.


Wendy Paine Miller said...

So good to laugh this early in the morning!

No Siberia for you, eh? ;)

Love the story about the cows in your neighbor's yard.

Your house sounds a bit like our place. We've had a bee problem. Even bees buzzing in our basement. So odd. And a wildebeest or some large animal (I'm certain of this) has crawled inside one of our walls and expired.

Thanks again for the laugh!
~ Wendy

Latayne C Scott said...

Thank you dear Sharon for that hilarious peek into the innards of your writing life!

Too bad you don't live closer -- looks like you're racking up some great wildlife management credentials. :)

Meg Moseley said...

Funny! You've reminded me of our kids' 4-H pigs that rooted up the neighbor's garden. Then we moved to suburbia, and a stray dog followed a visitor inside and chased our cats all over the house. Years later, the cats still think a ringing doorbell means a dog has come to eat them.

Lately, we've had lizards sneaking inside. The cats enjoy it. I don't.

Thanks for sharing!

Nicole said...

Hilarious (but of course I didn't laugh). Giggle.

l said...

LOL! Forgive me for laughing. :0) That sounds cool, getting to go along with your husband on trips. I'd skip the Siberia trip too--after all, I moved to Michigan to marry my guy, and that's cold enough for me! ;0)

Anonymous said...

Bees and wildebeasts and pigs rooting gardens, oh my. Nice to know I'm not alone in my misery. But what really upsets me is that the thing in the attic, whatever it is, hasn't made a peep since Rick got home. Not. A. Peep. I know Rick's thinking, "Critters. In the attic. Uh huh." Dang.

Lori Benton said...

Way to start my day with a laugh, Sharon. That was as vivid as fiction. :)

My weapon of choice for spiders is a fly swatter. They usually stick to it in a jelly crumple, and can be conveniently knocked off by tapping the swatter on the edge of the trashcan. I do not call my husband for spiders. That man will capture them and put them gently outside... so they can come right back in and terrorize me some more.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Lori, that's exactly what my son used to do with spiders.

Ellen Staley said...

Thank you, Sharon!
I laughed 'till my grandaughter came looking for the source of my merriment (she thought there must be a funny picture or video.)

I can add a mouse in the top of my drapes, a 12" lizard who thought it should be a picture frame (the picture hung on the wall) and a family of rats that played soccer every night in the attic.
Oh, not to forget the snake who dropped out of the bottom of a set of kitchen cabinets, slithered across the floor (followed a week old mouse trail), then disappeared up into another set of cabinets. Needless to say, cooking was not high on my priority list that week.

Wildlife. Our God has a hilarious sense of humor!

Chris Jager - Baker Book House-fiction buyer said...

Thank you for my Monday morning laugh. Of course now my fellow employees are wondering what all the laughter is about.
My husband doesn't travel as much as he use to, but I could count on one major problem while he is gone. No animals in the house that didn't belong there, but I have chased cows. The kids were helping out a neighbor and their cows got out, so of course we were chasing them around the neighborhood and they didn't really want to go home. I think they thought the owners were on vacation and maybe they (the cows) deserved one also.
Thank you again and punch you husband in the arm if he laughs again. :-)

Bonnie Grove said...

Sharon, I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. Oh man - sorry about the critter, but the image of you beating the crap out of your purse had me on the floor.

Oh, and Meg, your cat story had me in stitches too. Poor kitties! HA!

Ahhh - good to laugh.

Susan M. Baganz said...

Country living can be challenging! Too funny! We've had rats show up in the middle of the night, get caught in glue traps and make a huge racket. Ewww! Baby racoons were there to greet us one night - blocking the only entrance we had a key for. And a woodchuck used to live under our trailer and a sick cat chose to die under there (right under the dryer - and stunk to high heaven). Spiders - they are everywhere and my kids yell "spider" with the same volume as you would expect to hear "fire" (and probably with more fear!) Thanks for the laugh!

Kathleen Popa said...

Wait a minute! If Rick can't hear it, and the o-so-helpful Clark man didn't see it, how do we know there's a wildebeast in Sharon's attic?


Judy Gann said...

Oh, Sharon, thanks for the needed laugh.

Don't even get me started on my rat stories. You'd think the large rat traps left by the previous owners might have given me a clue about my attic residents.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, everyone, for letting me know I'm not alone in my adventures, or my paranoia. With all these stories ... we could write a book : )

Jan Cline said...

Did I miss it? Did you ever find out what was in the attic? It's a well known law of physics that noise are louder, night is darker and spiders are bigger when the man is away.