Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stress And All That Needs Doing

I feel about as affective as a puddle through a sieve as I rush around trying to get ready to travel halfway around the world to adopt daughter #2, I am trying to pull it together, but there is so much to do that I sometimes stand in the middle of a room totally befuddled, arms trying to reach one way and legs attempting to move in the opposite direction, while my mind is somewhere else altogether. I'm like the Push-Me-Pull-You in Dr. Dolittle!

This week, my last before travel to get it all done has been particularly stressful. I am working a full-time job to which I commute an hour each way, and as I am going to be out of the office for many weeks, I am frantic to get done more than usual and appear productive. I have about fifty illustrations that need doing for a freelance project that I am working through at night. I need the house to be reasonably clean, and needless to say, it is not; many baby safe gadgets have yet to be installed and other things not baby-proof put away. I desperately need to pack – it's all in a pile on the floor of one of the bedrooms and each time I look at it I sigh in despair. Today the travel agent calls me at work to tell me that my new daughter turned two this past Sunday. Yes, I knew that, why is she telling me this? She is telling me this because the airline lap ticket that I purchased for her won't work, it is only good for a child under the age of two. I must quickly send back the ticket to them and buy a full seat ticket. Wonderful.

And just to make my week complete the dogs must go to the vet for their shots so that they can stay at the kennel for a month. I was lucky enough to snag an appointment for today since they are open late on Wednesday. So I rush to pick up daughter #1, rush to the house to pick up the two dogs, one weighing 60 pounds, the other 20 (they are quite the odd pair), chaos ensues trying to get them and daughter settled in the car and calmed down. Rush to McDonald's for a Happy Meal for daughter who is insisting that she is starving unto a near faint; rush to the vet's, run with dogs and kid, who has Happy Meal in tow, through the rain and mud and burst through the doors. Woody, the little one, promptly pees on the floor. Daughter screams this fact so that anyone within a mile radius could hear her. I dig in my purse for baby wipes to no avail, apologizing profusely. Yep, here we are world, look at us! Harried, breathless, rain drenched and mortified! Well done.

The young woman at the counter looks at me expectantly, “I'm here for our appointment at 6:40.”

“Uh, what's your name?”

I tell her. She searches, we aren't in “The Book”. Now I know I made this appointment two weeks ago I insist. She searches some more and finds us...we do indeed have an appointment... for NEXT Wednesday. Uh oh.

“Well, that just can't be.” I lament, “We will be out of town then”, yeah, way out of town! She looks at me blankly, I know she just wants me to go away and come back next Wednesday. “Is there nothing that can be done? The dogs can't go to the kennel without their shots, who will take care of them while we are in China if they can't go to the kennel?” I plead...I whimper and I remain stubbornly standing at the counter.

“Well, I can ask the doctor,” she finally offers. She goes away. I hear whispering. She returns and tells me that they will take me, but I will have to wait for who knows how long because there are other appointments that must be taken care of first. I look around, the waiting room is currently empty. But I thank her and apologize for my mistake, knowing full well that neither one of us apparently had confirmed the actual date; she said Wednesday, I thought it was this Wednesday, she thought it was next Wednesday, and because she has “The Book”, that makes her right. And normally I would concede and go away and come back next Wednesday, but I can't, I am desperate, the situation dire, I must be seen today.

While all of this is transpiring, the two dogs, one huge, one small and my daughter have NOT been sitting primly and properly on a bench and waiting patiently. Oh no, daughter is trying to eat her Happy Meal, play with the toy that came with it (which of course makes some kind of screaming noise), and hold on to two leashes at the same time. She keeps trying to slip the leashes into my unsuspecting hands every few seconds while I am pleading and attempting to look deserving and piteous. Big dog keeps jumping up on the counter next to me. Little dog maintains a constant loud whining. Both start to bark hysterically whenever a person walks in the room, which is happening often because the technicians and the doctor have each come out to glare at me in turn. The doctor has gone so far as to tell me how this is going to make them all have to stay an hour past their quitting time. I apologize for the tenth or so time and try to look contrite, but I probably look more like some crazed stressed out cartoon character at this point. And when the appointment for which we must wait appears through the door, the woman starts back in apparent terror and scoops up her rather large dog in an attempt to scoot around us like we are some sort of traveling freak circus. Which honestly? I am beginning to feel like a genuine participant in. Oh my yes, “Come one, come all to see The Wild Barbarian Woman of Louisa and her Brood of Untamed Savages!”

And then, in the midst of all this chaos, an unexpected lull. The dogs are sitting. The child is sitting. I get a moment to glance out of the rain streaked window and attempt to calm myself. It lasts for maybe thirty seconds when my daughter draws in a sudden sharp breath. “Mom!” And in my mind I think, now what?!

“Look!” she exclaims and holds up her finger on which is perched a bright red ladybug. “Mama, a ladybug! She must be here to deliver a message from baby sister!” She holds the bug up to her ear, “Yes? Yes, I'll tell her... Mama, the ladybug says to tell you that baby sister can't wait to meet us and to hurry up and get to China.”

“Really?” I say with true wonder, for here, in the middle of the waiting room of a veterinarian's office is a ladybug, which has chosen to rest, on of all places, the hand of my daughter, will wonders never cease.

“Well, lets give her a message to give to baby sister that we will soon be on our way.” We do this, whispering our love to the small creature and then taking her outside to start again her journey. And all is right and as it should be with the world again.

KKW ©2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Love Is...

Imagine you are going about your day as usual; work, school, laying about like a slug, whatever, and an alien from outer space walks into the room. The alien towers over your small frame and has pale, almost translucent skin. It has hair on top of its head, but in colors you have never seen before. It smells strange, not unpleasant, but different from anything you have yet smelled in your life. The alien speaks, but you have no idea what it is saying, it is just gibberish and noise to you. The alien smiles, or rather grimaces as if in pain at you and then, horror of horrors, it reaches for you! It picks you up and holds you to itself. You are stunned and bewildered. What on earth is happening!? Here I was innocently going about my business and suddenly, out of the wild blue yonder comes this space invader…invading MY space and MY person!

For the sake of our story, here is a translation of what the alien is saying: “Greetings little human! I have come to take you back to my home planet. I know that this will come as a shock to you, but I will take very good care of you and you will come to love life with us. It will be difficult at first, but you will come to accept it in time and even learn to love us. We realize that you will feel confused and miss what is familiar to you, but it is for the best. We have been planning to come for you for many light years; we have filled out endless reams of intergalactic forms and gone through universal background checks; we have saved stardust for many moons in order to cover the fees involved with being allowed to travel here and bring to our home you, our little human. So say good-bye to all that you have known to this point in your life, we will be leaving now for the outer reaches of the cosmos.”

But of course, you don’t have that translation, you just hear gabble and even if you did understand their attempted words of consolation, would it make you feel any differently than you do? And how DO you feel human? Excited? Frightened? Confused? Relieved? Perhaps all of these emotions would flit and flutter within you. You might scream in terror and fight to get away, or perhaps just surrender; defeated in your shock and bewilderment.

Now imagine you are a two year old child living in an orphanage or foster home. All you have known is the life that you currently have. It may not be perfect and you may feel a need and wanting that doesn’t get met often, but you know nothing else. Suddenly into the room walks a stranger who looks like no one you have ever seen before, nor even smelled or heard speak before. The stranger reaches for you and holds you close and speaks words that you do not understand. You are completely terrified!

In fairness, the “alien” is also completely terrified. And speaking from the alien’s point of view now, I am beside myself with a peculiar mixture of feelings: excitement, fear, wonder, panic, anticipation, trepidation,,, a kind of excited apprehensive stage-fright. And as the time to meet the new little human that is to come into my life approaches, I tremble (seriously, I’m trembling right now).

My first daughter was adopted when she was 10 months old, a mere babe in arms who had spent her life to that point in an orphanage. She didn’t speak (at least not English anyway), couldn’t crawl and had no way of telling me what she needed or wanted other than opening her little mouth every time my hand came near to her, for she quickly discovered that I was the source from which the food came. She expressed grief at the sudden changes to her life the day after I received her, but it was short lived and lasted only the day. There after, though there have of course been moments of confusion, heartache and questions, she has been a very happy and engaging little person and wholly my daughter, an individual that I truly love beyond measure of time, space or place.

Wee daughter #2 will turn 2 years old on August 24th. She will be older and have more experiences and memories than daughter #1. She lived her first year in an orphanage, but was then moved to a foster home. She will have now been brought back to the orphanage by this time in anticipation of her upcoming adoption; away from the only “family” she has known. She will understandably be distressed and frightened. And as I am bustling around preparing for our trip to China to meet her, she will probably be trying to figure out what has happened to the life that she knew. She will be able to comprehend enough of what is taking place to be terrified, but not enough to know that it will get better and how much she is wanted and loved. And though she might be speaking, it will be of course Chinese, and will not help me to understand her needs and wants. When meeting Lily and I for the first time she could fight back in terror, or try to run. Or, grief spent, surrender to what is to come.

She is also cleft effected, which means that she was born with bi-lateral cleft lip and palate. Her records tell me that both were repaired when she was 11 months old, for which I am grateful, but there will be other needs, some related to her clefts, some not. She will probably need further surgeries at some point, such as a bone graft when her adult teeth start coming in. She may also have attachement issues, or eating issues, speech, hearing, eye sight and development issues.

I have read “Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft” by Mary Hopkins-Best, a book that could scare the bee-gee-bees out of The Super Nanny. But it is an excellent book and has encouraged me to hope for the best but be prepared for the worse.

Regardless of circumstances, parenting is an adventure, no matter how it comes about, a magnificient, terrifying journey into the unknown. To love any person as much as a parent loves a child is to risk one’s very soul. But in the loving comes a richness of spirit that cannot, I believe, be achieved in any other way. And so it goes. I am scared, yes, but over riding any fear is a belief in both me and my children. A belief in our futures and the differences we will make in this world. For whether we set out to make a difference or not, we surely do one way or another, and can but hope and endeavor to make the difference a positive one.

One of my favorite quotes is written by J. K. Rowling, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and spoken by Hagrid: “No good sittin' worryin' abou' it. What's comin' will come, an' we'll meet it when it does.” And to that I would like to add: that we will meet it with all of our courage and humor and love, all three of us, myself and my two amazing daughters.

KKW ©2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Call For Back Up, The Cows Are Out

While driving my daughter to school this morning and then myself to work, headlights were flashed at us by oncoming cars. This, as most of us know, would indicate that there was a police car hidden up ahead waiting to pounce on unsuspecting, but of course innocent (wink wink), travelers. But I have also discovered that it might mean that there is something to look out for in the road. So I slowed the car and as we came up over the hill there were indeed many blue flashing lights and white sheriff’s cars blocking the road. Cars were squeezing by within a very narrow space between the cruisers. What was causing all this mayhem? An escaped cow of course. The cow in question was serenely munching away at her breakfast; someone’s lawn I presume that looked greener from her side of the fence. Now, I don’t know what the intelligence of the average cow is, but I have reason to believe that their benign appearance is all a ruse. Several years ago I lived on a beautiful farm in Fincastle, Viriginia, a lovely area outside of Roanoke. I rented a wonderful giant of a Victorian farm house which was situated on several hundred acres of rocky land up against the mountains. The area around the house had a board fence to mark off an area of front and back yard and to keep the landlord’s cows away from the house. The garage and parking area were outside of this fenced area quite a ways down a stone lined path. Tough bringing in the grocery shopping at times, but worth it for it’s peaceful refuge and gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge.

The cows had hundreds of acres to roam, and most mornings preferred to be down in the front part of the vast property, but at quite a distance from the house; a range of at least a quarter mile. Never the less, each morning as I made my appearance from out of the kitchen door, regardless of how far away the herd was, each member would raise its massive head to stare at me. It really was quite unnerving as they froze in place, their big bulging eyes the only part of them moving, following my progress as I made my way to my car. I am convinced that cows are really undercover agents. Of whom, I have not yet discovered, but they seem to be in cahoots with the groundhogs, I have seen cows whispering into groundhog holes while I safely peered from between the window blinds so as not to tip them off that I was on to them. The groundhogs of course have set up a perfect and elaborate underground system, ideal for surveillance, and are known subversives. Why do you think that you see them on the side of the road, standing and looking around, appearing quite innocent? I know that they look like they are just enjoying a quick meal, but honestly, how many times have you actually seen one run over? Raccoons, possums, cats and dogs, yes, all the time, but groundhogs? No, they are much too smart to be hit by a car while secretly collecting data for their command center. And with those round fuzzy cheeks and cute buck teeth, who could possibly suspect them of covert actions?

But I digress; this morning’s great cow break-out prompted me to ponder the work day of the average country police officer. Sure, you’ve got your criminal element in the country as well as the city, but fortunately for us, the crime rate isn’t near as staggering. So aside from driving endless miles of back country roads looking for escaped bovine, how exciting is a day in the life of the typical deputy sheriff? Certainly, pulling on that snazzy brown and tan polyester uniform might rev the guy up a bit, and hoisting on that groovy belt with all of the really cool cop gadgets on it must be thrilling, but really, how dapper does one have to look to rustle up some cattle?

My first contact with the local police department was while I was moving into the house we now live in. I was moving from the above mentioned farm house, two hours east to Lousia,Virginia. I was a very new parent having only adopted my first daughter two months previous and was in the midst of severe New Parent Brain. (Let me here suggest NOT trying to move life and household after recently having traveled halfway around the world and adding small baby to single parent family…live and learn). So I have just arrived back to Fincastle after moving vast amounts of stuff to Louisa when I suddenly realize that I have left the front door open. Not just unlocked, mind, but unlocked and standing wide open to the street. I know none of my neighbors names yet, nor anyone who lives within a hundred miles of the place. Am I actually going to have to drive a round trip of 4 hours back there with the baby to shut the door at 11 pm?! So I decide to call the local police department and ask if they can please go and shut the door. They could lock the front door and go out the back. The back door locks with a key and cannot be pulled shut while the lock is engaged, I suppose to prevent people with New Parent Brain from locking themselves out, but I tell them that it’s okay, the back door can be unlocked as long as it is shut, as they have assured me of the safe area into which I am moving. Besides, I will again be back the next day with another load of the stuff that apparently I am incapable of living without. I am told that they will call soon and give me an update. Several hours later I get the call; I am assured by an officer with a somewhat amused tone in his voice, that all is well and the house is locked up. And as a bonus, they have managed to also lock the un-lockable back door. “Uh, okay.” I say, “Thanks.” I have no idea how they have achieved this, but I am too tired to care, and go back to some much needed sleep confident of my new home and content’s safety.

The next day I trek on back to the central part of the state and find everything safe and indeed the back door as well as the front door are closed and locked. “Huh.” I think to myself. As I am making my way out to the truck for what seems like the billionth load of unnecessary possessions, I am hailed by two of my new neighbors to the fence between our yards. They are wearing gleeful smiles and this alone makes me like them immediately. They ask if I had called the police the night before. I admitted that yes I did and explain about the door being left open. “Oh…..” they look at each other and grin. “Okay, what’s the joke?” I ask.

“Well,” mother Edith and daughter Theresa merrily tell me, “one cruiser with one officer showed up with lights flashing and began looking all around the house late last night, he then went into your house and we could see the flashlight beam zig zagging through the windows.”

“But why on earth didn’t he just turn on the lights? The electricity has been on for a week now,” I ask.

They laugh, “Who knows? Anyway, we knew why he was there since we have a police scanner, so we weren’t too worried. We watch him from the window as he closes and locks all your doors. And then he tries to leave by going through one of your back windows.”

“What?! But I told them to just leave the back door unlocked, why in blazes would he do that?” I am flummoxed and Edith and Theresa look ready to burst with withheld laughter.

“And...” they say, “as Mister Officer gets halfway out the window, which is quite small and he being quite, um, large, he gets stuck!

“What?!” I cry again, beginning to picture the scene in my mind.

“Oh yes, his gadget belt kept him from progressing further out the window, while the size of his middle kept him from moving back into the room, especially since his feet were now off the ground giving him no traction.”

“Oh dear! So what did he do?” I feel an uncontrollable need to giggle coming on.

“Do? He had to call for backup of course!” says Theresa. And it is at this point that we all burst into gales of laughter. Once I can again speak, I ask how he was able to call for back up. Fortunately for him, his radio was attached to his shoulder and not his belt. I now understand why it took so long for the police to get back to me and why the officer I spoke with sounded so amused.

“So what happened next?”

“Well, we could hear the dispatcher on the scanner telling two other units to go and assist officer 'so and so', that he had a situation.’

'What kind of situation?’ the answering officer asks.

'He's stuck in a window,' says the dispatcher.

'He's what?!'

'Stuck in a window.'

'Ten-four dispatch, we're on our way.' ”

At this point tears of laughter are pouring down our faces and a lasting friendship has begun between us, for which I am daily grateful as they are the best of neighbors.

“So how did they get him out?”, I ask.

“Removed his gadget belt and just pulled real hard. Laughing their heads off the whole time of course.” We all expel sighs of exhausted contentment brought on by a good hearty laugh. Yup, I am willing to bet that that was a police situation out of the ordinary for Mister Country Sheriff and that he STILL hasn't lived it down. To this day I can't clean that window without giggling a little imagining the scene.

So here's to you my brave and determined public servant… Salute!!

KKW ©2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Love is….Sometimes Painful

“Mom? Why did my baby sister’s birth mom leave her in a cardboard box?” Daughter #1 has just been reviewing daughter #2’s paperwork as we get ready to travel to China soon to make her part of our family. #1 will turn eight years old in a few weeks and was adopted from China 7 years ago at the age of 10 months. This injection of information into her still young mind has started the wheels turning; I can see it in her eyes. I explain that they placed little sister in a box so that she didn’t get stepped on or hurt while she waited for the police to find her.

But why Mama, didn’t her birth mom just take her to the orphanage?” I explain that it is against the law in China to do this and so parents must find another way for their babies to be found so that they can find new homes.

Oh …. Did they at least poke holes in the box so that she could breathe?”

Don’t worry baby, I am sure that the lid wasn’t on and she could breathe.” Silence, so thick and painful I want to cry while she processes this. And then comes the question I have been waiting and dreading for 7 years.

Mama, why did my birth mom give me away? Didn’t she love me? Was I left in a cardboard box too?” This is so difficult to answer on so many levels that I don’t know where to begin. We have talked about adoption from the time she was 2 years old, she has, it seems, always known about it and slowly as she has grown and developed, so has her understanding.

Well sweetie, I don’t know if you were left in a box, but I do know that you were left in front of a Fu Dragon because I saw it. We even have pictures of it. And Fu Dragons are good luck. I don’t know why they couldn’t keep you since we don’t know who your birth parents are and there could be many reasons why they felt they couldn’t take care of you.”

Like what reasons Mama?”

Well, China allows most people to only have one or two children and no more than that.”

So I was extra and they decided to keep the older kid?”

Well, I don’t know, that is one possibility. Or maybe your birth parents were sick, or just couldn’t take care of you the way they needed to and wanted you to have a family that could do what they couldn’t.”

Or maybe it’s because I’m a girl, right?” Apparently she has gleaned this information somewhere. It isn’t hard, strangers in public have commented to me in her presence that “China doesn’t like girls, they only want boys.” And though I have tried to educate the ignorant when I can…or just walk away, you know the message that has remained foremost in my beloved’s mind.

Can we see my birth mom when we go to China?”

No, baby, I’ve told you, we don’t know who she is.”

Maybe she’s dead, and that is why she couldn’t take care of me. Yes, I think that is it, she’s dead.” To think that my daughter would rather imagine her birth mother dead than to imagine her abandoning her is heartrending. My precious one has slowly crawled into my lap as this conversation has progressed and is now inches from my face gazing intently into my eyes. “So if I didn’t get borned in China and my birth mom didn’t give me away, then I wouldn’t have you for my Mama?”

That’s right baby.”

Well then, that must have been the plan. Cause you’re my best mom. You are my only mom. You belong to me.” She says this with a fierceness and grip around my neck that is staggering.

Yes, and you belong to me too, my wisest and most wonderful daughter.” She lets go her death grip and leans back to look at me.

Do you think that she remembers me?”

Baby, you’re hard to forget, I bet she thinks of you every day.”

I love you Mama.”

And I love you too, forever and for always.”


Yes dear one.”

May I have some ice cream?”

Sure sweetie.”

With a cherry on top?”


Mom? You’re the best.”

Back at ya kiddo.”

KKW ©2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Dear Lily Advice Column

Dear Lily,

My Mom is always shushing me when we are out in public. What is that all about, can’t a kid speak outside the home?

Mystified in Manakin

Dear Misty,

This is a problem that many kids have; the speed at which a Mom can whip her head around to shush a kid is astounding. Adults are constantly shushing kids, at home, in church, at school, in public. Honestly, it sometimes sounds like they have all sprung leaks. I have discovered through thousands of hours of research that you have to be SO careful about what you say in public. For instance, my Mom totally freaked when I pointed out the Genie at Target. Turns out he wasn’t a genie after all, just a man in a turban. Well, for heaven’s sake, how did I know!? He was really very nice though, and offered to give me a wish. One look at Mom’s red face said that I had better wish for understanding. Sometimes you even get shushed at home, is nowhere sacred? My Mom just shushed me the other day at dinner. She asked what happened at school that day and I told her that JoAnn picks her nose and eats it. Mom turned green and almost jumped out of her chair with the shushing. “Well, she does!” I offered in defense. Mom said that she really didn’t need to know that particular fact about JoAnn. Well, she DID ask what happened at school, and that was what happened! A related problem that goes hand in hand with shushing is how parents are always keeping secrets from you because they are afraid of you repeating the secret. My Mom refuses to tell me how old she is for this very reason. I try daily to trick her into telling me by springing the question on her at unexpected times, but so far, the score is Mama 204, Lily 0. But as the result of intensive questioning and suggestion, I have at least narrowed it down to somewhere between 25 and 82. So my advice would be to try to speak softly in public, whisper if possible and try not to point, Moms just hate when you point. Chin up, in fewer years than you can imagine, your parents will be begging you to talk to them about even the most mundane of occurances. Good luck Misty.
KKW ©2008

How Rich Am I?

How rich am I? My bank account is minimal, my house modest, my car fourteen years old. My clothes out of date and my furniture used. Sure, money in the bank would be nice. A nicer and bigger house would be wonderful. A newer and safer car would be desirable. A really nice family vacation, wow, that’s never happened. I have just enough in those areas to get by. Life is good, and I am rich. I have little arms that wrap around my neck, and little hands that take my face in them to kiss my nose. I have original artwork on my frig created by the hand of the child I love. I have chalk drawings on the patio, kool-aid filled cups on the tables, crayons just about anywhere you can imagine. I am the recipient of sticky kisses and belly laughs at my jokes. I am told that I am loved dozens of times a day. I get to read stories snuggled with a little one under my arm in rapt attention. My living room is a fantastical magic kingdom filled with blanket forts and pillow mountains. I receive energetic hugs morning till night. I am serenaded with original operas and silly songs. I am prepared snacks of peanut butter, jam and tomatoes on raisin bread. I am told I am the most beautiful woman alive regardless of the fact that I am dressed in sweats and my hair is sticking up in every direction. I get to comfort and dry the tears when no other comfort than a mother's will do. I am handed little pieces of paper adorned with hearts and “I love you”. My hands are bejeweled with rubber stamps and stars because I am judged to be “good”. I am often made breathless with laughter at the unique way my child has of discribling her world or telling a story. My attention is drawn many times a day to the wonders in the world that I have sometimes overlooked due to busy schedules and the little problems of everyday life; how fascinating is an earth worm that temporarily becomes a pet, butterflies and lightening bugs become fairies, dirt an art medium, a flower the center of the universe. My house is never clean, there are always dishes in the sink and school papers flying about my ankles, shoes in the hallway, towels on the floor. Work piles up and waits until night fall, then most times waits a bit more. I rarely get a moment to myself, but I've had enough lonely moments before I became a mother to last a lifetime. I am rich. I am lucky. I am blessed beyond belief. And I am smart enough to know it.
©KKW 2006

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This is my mail box?....seriously?

Here's the back story: I live in the country, and yes, apparently, in a world with unlimited forms of entertainment teenagers still find destroying mail boxes the height of hilarity. My mailbox has been demolished three times in one year. If it were the entire street that got hit, we could at least rally round to grumble and commiserate together. But alas, it is just my mailbox. I don’t even KNOW any teenage boys in Louisa. Do they have me mistaken for someone else? Do they get heaps of delight watching me yet again dig a hole and fill it with cement and assemble another new and costly mailbox plus post? What is it? What kind of negative mail related karma have I attracted to myself out here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge?!

The first time it got a bashing, all that was left was a battered box flung far into the front yard, the post, which had been cemented in, had disappeared completely. With the second bashing, I actually heard the box being annihilated, I just naively lay in bed wondering why there was a neighbor repeatedly opening and closing their car door in the middle of the night when in actuality there was a kid who had gotten out of his car with a baseball bat and was whacking repeatedly at the post arm, until he succeeded in dismantling it, and giving a loud whoop of triumph at this perceived great achievement, hopped in the car with his posse and sped away in a cloud of dust and squealing tires. It was finally at that point I realized what really had been going on and leapt out of bed only to view from my window the sad and wounded wood and metal remains of these senseless hostilities.

So, I then decided that I was going to catch the little bandits on film and set up my video camera every night with its night vision feature on. Video tape only runs for a few hours, so I had to set my alarm to get up in the middle of the night to change the tape. I was quite diligent and kept dragging myself from comfortable, sound sleep month upon month until finally I just decided it wasn’t worth the sleep deprivation. They had won the battle, I surrendered. And yes, sure enough, once my little white flag had been symbolically raised, my mailbox was again flattened, razed, ravaged and abused a third time. I attached yet another new box with a cursory single screw to the dangling arm of the leaning, weary battle-worn post. After all, why put in a lot of effort at this point, I would just slap something up that could hold a few letters each day and wait for the next attack.

Enter Gary Wayne, cowboy, country singer, pipe layer and husband to my co-worker Kate. Gary needs a web site to support his budding fame. I desperately need help around my house, not the least of which is a bash-proof mailbox. Let the bartering begin! Gary lays pipe at his day job, (but let me here also plug his talent and singing/song writing abilities: he’s very, very good). So Gary tells me that he can create for me a bash-proof mailbox. A mailbox like no other. A mailbox made of pipe. A mailbox that will be ugly, but could destroy the arm bones of any young buck attempting to wage war upon it. Ugly? Who cares, I’ve had it with mailbox repair, bring on ugly. After all, how ugly could it be? You see, I am imagining three inch piping as a post with the box anchored to it, I’ve seen them like that in the country. But Gary thinks big….real big. He shows up to my house on what happens to be the hottest day in decades. It’s 100°F before noon and the humidity makes it feel even worse. I question whether today is the right day to be doing anything outside, let alone be working. It is so hot that when I step out for five minutes to talk to him the tops of my toes start to burn like someone has set them alight. How is he going to work in this? I check on him constantly out the window to be sure he is still standing. At one point I don’t see him. I wait. And wait. And wait some more. Oh no, he’s passed out and in the ditch, I just know it! I go out to look in the ditch. No Gary. I walk around the yard, my toes burning, but can’t find him. As I am looking under his truck, out he comes from the house next door. Ah yes, small towns, he grew up with my neighbor and was over at her house catching up. Ok, no problem, just thought you might be passed out in the ditch, my bad. At least he got cooled off in there and I am relieved.

A little while later he finishes up the mailbox and fetches me to come see his handy work. It truly is a mailbox like no other. I mean NO OTHER. He has used 12 inch bright blue piping emerging out of the ground like some proud alien port to an underground world. Attached to that is an iron elbow with a glorious crown of one inch lugs around its ends joining it to the next piece of bright blue piping that becomes the “box” part to hold the mail. And to top it off, he has used the little red flag from my old mailbox and attached it to the side of this Marvelous Holder of Epistles so that there should be no mistaking its purpose. He has devised a white pipe plug to use as the door, but doesn’t like the results; it doesn’t quite fit right, so currently, there is no door. I express worry about the mail just disappearing down the big pipe since there is no barrier to stop it. I mean, if it falls in there, it’s gone forever! This mailbox is permanent baby, it’s not going anywhere. A semi could run into it and loose! He suggests he bring a feedbag from home and fix it in place on the inside to keep this from happening. Feedbag, oky doky. He also suggests I paint the pipes different colors for the holidays, the fourth of July is coming, and perhaps I can alternate red, white and blue on each pipe section. He further explains how I can hang stuff on the lugs and giant screws to decorate it……. (insert cricket sounds here). I know that I need to do something to enhance its rugged beauty, after all, I am an artist by trade, and this is a real opportunity to explore the depths of my creativity. A challenge, yes, an object to transform, to titivate if you will. And honestly, I do have a one of a kind, like no other, original, unique, kick butt mailbox. If this sucker goes down, I have vastly underestimated the teenagers of Louisa. Although I do wonder if they will just see it as a challenge, hmmm, perhaps I should set up the video camera again just to capture the response and possible attempts. Come on Don Quixote! Come try to attack my windmill! My mighty, mighty cowboy-made windmill – er, mailbox! I dare ya!! I double dare ya!

So far, no mail has been delivered three days out of this week. Perhaps I just didn’t have mail those days. Or perhaps it has vanished into the underground world that now exists in my ditch. I came home yesterday to find bright blue paint marking the water lines that run the length of the front yard just behind my Magnificent Receptacle for Correspondence. Does the county think that perhaps my water line needs repairing because they perceive my Superb Vessel for Communications is actually a broken water pipe in need of repair? Perhaps, we will just have to wait and see. I’ll keep you posted on the post.


So, it has been two weeks, and I should have had several pieces of mail that have not made an appearance. Gary Wayne had come and attached a piece of feedbag to the interior of my new and wonderful mailbox, but since I was not at home at the time, I was not able to request that he take off the top to see if any of my conveyance had fallen into the depths of the thing. To the rescue comes my next door neighbor Chris, a young man of exceptional humor and determination. Chris got out his Granddad’s pipe wrench, and together with his mom Theresa, the three of us (and it did take three of us to handle this monster), proceeded to dismantle it enough to peer inside. Once the lugs were loosened and removed one of the iron rings dropped like lightening onto Theresa’s toes. What a trooper! She hopped, she winced, she expressed her pain….she hobbled back home for some ice. Chris and I got the large head of the colossal beast off and gazed inside, sure enough, more mail than I could have possibly imagined had fallen and drown in the dark, wet depths of the obelisk. I remain in awe of just how deep Gary Wayne, a one man powerhouse of energy, dug down to put in place this Matchless Wonder for Dispatch. Mere arms, even Chris’s, who is quite tall, were not able to reach down into the abyss. Extra long tongs and a skinny rake were quickly employed in order to save these poor innocents from the malodorous void. We retrieved no less than four magazines, (one of which was a Martha Stewart publication, she would be horrified!), four catalogs, five bills, an insurance statement, my bank statements, a letter from a friend which is completely unreadable, two checks totaling over nine hundred dollars and wouldn’t you know it, not one piece of junk mail. All of this paper communication was soaked completely through, even the magazines wrapped in sealed plastic. I salvaged the checks and dried them between two towels over night to make for what could be an interesting trip to the bank the next day. The Chronicles of Communication continue, stay tuned.

KKW ©2008

Sunday, August 03, 2008


My approval to travel to China has arrived! Now all we need are the confirmed dates and we are on our way to Meika! Probably the first or second week of September. Now comes the part I hate, getting ready; packing, cleaning the house, re-packing, learn to use the new digital video camera, finding somewhere to board the pets, re-packing, clean some more, then re-pack. Oh yeah, and go to work, get Lily to school, which starts August 11th, and keep up with the freelance work. Oh, and did I mention the house is having work done on both the inside and outside. Ugh! I will need to go to China just to get some rest, that's one good thing about a long plane ride.