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Labors by Leah Jean

Yes, it is that time of the year when we all want to throw out the bathroom scales. Especially since I went thru TWO Thanksgiving dinners! One with the family in Tulsa (2 weeks before the official holiday) and one at a co-worker of Daryl's. I did try to get out of the 2nd one though because I was still recovering from the trip to Tulsa. [Eh, gads! Planes and airports are sooooo much fun. NOT!] And before that I was still trying to recover from Daryl's Halloween party.

Why is it that life goes along pretty routine and then things just start going strong? We'd just gotten back from our "windy" trip to North Caroline (Pinehurst Golf Resort) when my hubby decided to throw a Halloween costume party.

Monster Mash

Preparty preparations. Do you know the problem with having a large house? It takes longer to clean it. So I got started a few weeks early to clean those rooms that are rarely used ... or really thoroughly cleaned: dining room, living room, library (all those bookshelves!), and kitchen. Fortunately Daryl had a couple of friends who helped with the party decorations. And boy, did Daryl and his friends go hog-wild on that! You wouldn't believe how much stuff they bought at the local party stores. They created a "haunted garage" complete with tombstones, skeletons, flying bats, haunting background music, blacklights, fake cobwebs, and a fog machine! The area was encircled in black plastic bags and sheets to hide the walls of the garage. That's my Gadget Guru. [Daryl just happened to have a rental car at the time (his BRAND NEW Acura MDX was in the shop due to defective seat belts), so he didn't mind parking outside the garage for several days.] And to top off the decorations one of Daryl's friends came to the party in his hunting camouflage (complete with head cover). When he laid down in the graveyard's pile of leaves he was pretty much invisible. [The garage was also kept pretty dark.] Then he'd jump up and scare people as they entered the house through the garage. [Yes, a scream would periodically pierce the night.] The party laborers also put up streamers, fake cobwebs, a large lit-up spiderweb, and assorted ghouls hanging from everywhere indoors. Whew! But a major problem was that that Saturday night, the state of Maryland had winds gusts up to 50 mph!!! Leaving the garage door open would have been a major disaster! Daryl and his cronies had to redo parts of the garage graveyard at the last minute so that the guests came in through the garage side door. Daryl was out working in the garage until 15 minutes before the party!!! But he was well rewarded because everybody who came to the party got a big kick out of the entertaining decorations. And the amazing thing is that everybody did come in costume! It wasn't a large group of people ... but a respectable amount. :-)

Postparty labor pains. Then we had to clean up everything. That took about another 2 weeks. Unfortunately a lot of the plates were ceramic or glass and had to be hand washed. Not to mention all the cooking utensils, etc. [Fortunately one of Daryl's friends had bought, cooked, and set up the food ... so I hadn't had to worry about that!] Daryl was in charge of the decorations again though. Most of them anyway. I helped untangle some of those fake cobwebs. Like the real ones, they could stick to some stuff real good. Fortunately the cleaners came that Wednesday. But I did have to clean the floors a little during and after the party. For one thing, Mr. Camouflage had forgotten to clean his hunting boots. [He did help a lot with the preparations though so I easily forgave him.] We finally got all the garbage and recyclables bagged and out on the street curb at the end of the 2 weeks. And that was about the time the garage was almost back to normal and most everything back in place.

Also ... since Halloween night just happened a few nights later after the party, Daryl decided that he wanted to reuse the haunted garage to entertain the local candy junkies. So he rearranged the garage so that only half of it was a haunted graveyard. The kids and their parents got a big kick out of it. Fortunately the weather was unseasonably warm ... and not the least windy ... that evening. Daryl and I sat out with a bottle of wine and gave the kids candy as they viewed the graveyard. But there were a few kids who got a little spooked though and didn't make it up our driveway. ;-)

Trip Preparations

Then we had to start getting ready for the trip to Tulsa. No rest for the weary! I did get someone to house-sit while we were gone ... especially to take care of the cats. So I had to ramp up my laborings again and thoroughly clean up the last of the party junk, prepare cat feeding instructions, a room, and the house in general for the house-sitter. Not to mention I had to get myself ready to go. [Fortunately Daryl takes care of himself in that respect.] At least I'd made the plane reservation for about 12:30 so we had time to stop at a Bob Evan's Restaurant for breakfast. Goooood sausage! Yum. And I was sure ready to sit still for a few minutes.

Airport Woes

Daryl and I had the usual fun going to and from Tulsa via Northwest Airlines. I'd made the mistake of making our connecting flight in Detroit only a half hour. I didn't remember that the Detroit airport is huge. And only 30 minutes between flights was not much time when your loadings gates are on different concourses. We were clear at the end of one concourse (gate 80+) and had to walk very quickly all the way down to approx. gate 40 ... to take the not so short underground passage that cut across to the other concourse! It was a real labor trying to keep up with Daryl (6 foot tall) with his slightly longer stride. Plus I was carrying my bag. [Note to self: Remember to buy luggage that has wheels!] Fortunately we didn't have to far to go down the other concourse. Only about 2 gates. And then we found out that our plane was delayed. Figures.

But a problem occured in that time frame probably due to the short time between the connecting flights. One of our checked in bags went astray. The one with practically all our clothes. This also happened to several other people who originally started at Baltimore too. Sigh. Apparently luggage is rescanned between flights as a new security precaution so luggage gets routinely delayed from one airplane to another. [We later found out from a guy at the front desk of our hotel that this is happening to a lot of people now.] Jeff and Jodi temporarily lost one of their bags too when they flew in from Denver. But the important thing was that Daryl's golf clubs made it through! So we could live without some of our clothes for one night. But we all got our luggage back a day after. Eh gads, I was sick of laboring with luggage!

One final mention. The airplanes we took between our connecting airports and Tulsa were small! Daryl's head almost scraped the ceiling when walking down the isle. The plane only had 4 seats in a row and the one isle was even narrower than normal. The seats were extra small and didn't even lean back. It was even more cramped than on a regular sized plane! And most of our planes were full to the brim! Sigh.

Home Again!

You never appreciate your own house more than when you get home from another fun vacation. The cats were still alive. The house wasn't burned down. And everything was still pretty clean. And now all I had left to do was go through a HUGE PILE OF LAUNDRY that had accumulated over the last several weeks. [Sob.] Daryl and I didn't have to worry about fighting over the washer much because neither of us were in any big hurry: we were both exhausted and we had to go right back to work the next day. So it took about another week to get our clothing piles down to a reasonable size. Wah.

Now I need to get back out in the yard and work off some of this fat that I've accumulated from the second Thanksgiving dinner. [Fortunately I was too busy with party and traveling labors to gain any weight before. In fact I'd even lost weight! But I ... sigh ... gained it back after the 2nd dinner.] The weather is been climbing up into the low 60s so I need to take advantage of it. The yard has been neglected so much in the past few months.

But before I do I have another thing to ruminate about ....

Wes' First "Short Story"

The first time I read through John Wesley's first short story, ... I've got to admit ... I wasn't too impressed. I really had to labor through the first part of the story which described all sorts of electronic gadgets. Then I kept looking for a story plot since everyone was calling the work a "short story". It was really autobiographical. So I was a little annoyed by the time I got to the end and there wasn't any "plot". It didn't help that I was pretty tired from plane traveling, loosing luggage, constant yacking, etc. And I was rushing because Thanksgiving dinner was almost ready. Also, my own memories were getting in the way.

It was surprising to know that Wes was so impressed with my family. The city slickers? More like a gang of little monsters. ;-) From my point of view ... I was really impressed with how the Downs lived! I just loved eating Aunt Sybil's biscuits every morning. [Wes loved to groan about having them every morning.] It was always such an adventure for us kids to ramble around in the great outdoors! Rowing boats. Fishing. Trying to avoid the nasty domesticated geese. Swimming in lakes. Watching the water from Beaver Dam flood the creeks, creating a fairy land of fog (really cold water in warm temps). It was all a mysterious world waiting to be explored! And Wes was so cool himself. We enjoyed playing chess together. He was so electronically knowledgeable .. and just awfully smart in general. His quick and sarcastic sense of humor fit in perfectly with us kids. I can't really remember too much about the stereo thing though. But my family did love music. And I remembered the Doors album ("Light my Fire") ... that eventually melted on that trip because someone left it in the car (got awfully hot in there). I also remember the time the song "Back Door Man" was playing on the album and Aunt Sybil asked us about it ... suggesting in hesitant terms that the song was ... ahem ... in questionable taste. I got to admit something to you, Sybil. I didn't have the foggiest clue what you were talking about. But was I going to admit that in front of my peers, siblings, and an adult? Plus risk listening to an adult explain what the song was about? Noooooooo. So I did what any other "self-respecting" kid would do in such a situation. I intimated that I knew what the song was about ... and that its subject matter was no big deal. [Liar, liar! Pants on fire!]

But later, I read a few notes on Rosenose about how my mother and (I think) Janell both had such emotional reactions to Wes' literary work. So after sufficiently recovering from the trip home, I gave it a second shot. And I'm glad I did. This time I kind of skipped the opening technical paragraphs. I also reined in my own thoughs and feelings to concentrate on what Wesley was trying to convey. When I got to the end of the piece, I was smiling. This time I had caught the subtle parallels between the "friends" (Uncle John and the musician) and the theme of music interlaced throughout the story. The writing was inspired and insightful. A real labor of love.



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