Her Eyes Were Deep Green Puddles

It had rained during the night. The black pavement of the driveway was wet. She was standing at the window, looking out. Her eyes were deep green puddles. From the bottom of the stairway, in the dim early morning light, he could see her reflection in the window.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

She dabbed at her eyes with her shirt sleeve, turned to him and, trying to smile, nodded yes. He shuffled across the room to her.

“Let’s go, then,” he said, barely louder than a whisper. He reached out his arms and she slid between them and buried her head in his chest, her right hand coming to rest on his left shoulder. His hands around her waist, he pulled her close. Outside it was clear to the east and the sky was lighting up, but they both knew that more rain was on the way. She started to cry.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, each word punctuated by harsh and loud sobs. She could feel his body shaking. “I never dreamed it’d come to this …”

“Now, now, we’ll have none of that.”  He was still taller than her, that hadn’t changed. That may have been the only thing that hadn’t changed.

He held her tight. Finally, she pulled back, still in his arms but not as tight. She looked up at his face. His eyes were staring at the hallway behind her, urgent and unblinking.

“Is it …” she started.

He nodded yes, his gaze never leaving the hallway.

She slowly and carefully pulled back, and he released her from their embrace, his eyes still fixated on the hallway. She looked at the hallway, even though she knew it was empty. She couldn’t help it, every time he saw him, she had to look, even though she knew he wasn’t there. Maybe it’s because every time, something deep inside her, against all logic and reason, made her hope that this time he’d be there, that she would see him, too. But she never would, and each time she felt foolish for having looked.

“We’d better get going,” he finally said, his eyes still fixed on the empty hallway.

“Okay,” she said, as she picked up his bag and moved toward the front door. He remained in the same spot in the living room, still staring at the empty hallway. Her hand on the doorknob, she turned to him.

“How does he look today?” she asked.

“He looks good,” he replied. “He looks good.”

He turned his head and looked at the door, at his wife, and forced a feeble smile around his mouth. His eyes didn’t participate. They remained empty. Then, with a sudden jerk, he became unfrozen, and turned and shuffled across the living room to the door. As she opened it, he took one last look towards the hallway, then he took her hand, and they walked out to the driveway, to the parked car. She put his bag in the trunk, then she opened the passenger door. As he folded up his stiff and creaking body and got in, it started to rain, a slight drizzle. Tiny drops of water bounced off of the pavement.

Her eyes were deep green puddles.

Ladies Auxiliary Salad Luncheon

ladies auxiliary salad luncheon

(Today’s guest contributor is Sally Manders, presidentof the Ladies Auxiliary)

My, my, these are festive and fun days!  So much joy and anticipation!  What’s that, with the holidays ahead?  Screw the holidays!  I’m talking about the Ladies Auxiliary Salad Luncheon!  It’s less than ten months away!

Yes, it’s back, after we had to cancel the 2013 event.  We’ve found a new home, the back room at Artie’s Muffler shop on 35th Street.  My nephew, Artie Nelson, was kind enough to offer up his place of business for the 2014 event.   We appreciate it so much!   Especially after the disaster that was the 2012 event, when Gertrude Binglehoff set fire to our old location, the old high school gymnasium.  Things got a little out of hand when Esther Jorgenson was the surprise winner in the best salad tossing competition, breaking Gertrude’s string of eleven consecutive years running.  Some say Esther’s victory was politically motivated, but I don’t believe it, just like I don’t believe rumors of foul play in regards to her subsequent fatal sky diving accident.   Everyone knows that every time you get up there there’s a chance your chute won’t open, and while some may question the wisdom of sky diving with an oxygen tank, I think it’s perfectly natural.   Besides, you have to wonder about someone who puts raisins in a salad.

By the way, all rumors about Gertrude and tossing enhancement substances have been proven false.  The fact she is now sporting a mustache and goatee is merely coincidence, and has more to do with being 94 years old than any chemical abuse.

Now it’s time to remind everyone of the rules.  The Ladies Auxiliary Luncheon accepts only green, garden variety of salads.  In other words, all salads shall have leafy green lettuce as their core ingredient.  NO EGG OR POTATO SALADS WILL BE ACCEPTED.   Our security staff has been trained on how to identify such salads and instructed to remove any individuals violating this rule immediately, by force if required.  Eggs are an accepted topping, so long as they are hard boiled and the shell is peeled.

Which reminds me of another item:  this year, our security team, headed up by Nancy Wilkenson, will be armed, and trained to use deadly force if required.  With the popularity of concealed carry weapons amongst our demographic, we are taking a shoot first, ask questions later approach.  We don’t want a repeat of the Northside Bridge Club tragedy.

Another change:  This year, we will have a new category for non-traditional salads.   By creating this category, we hope to quiet the controversy and clamor over the use of croutons.  Those who feel that croutons are a satanic bastardization of the pure and holy essence of the leafy green salad can enjoy their lunch unencumbered by the evil toasties, while those who still have strong enough teeth to withstand their crunch will be free to do so, even if it means handing their soul to Satan.    Also, the past practices of sabotaging salads by slipping stale croutons or moldy cheese on top when no one is looking will not be tolerated this year.  Suffice to say, we’ve studied the surveillance film from the 2012 event, and we know who you are.  We will act swiftly and severely if any such behavior is observed.

I have appointed this year’s judges, and they are currently undergoing extensive and in depth training at the Salad Institute in Rhode Island on the elements of evaluating green lettuce based salads.  Among the criteria they are learning are:

–           Freshness of lettuce (as measured by color and crispness)

–          Tangy, sweet, and sour dressings

–          Tomato effectiveness (evaluation based upon ripeness and slice size.  Cherry tomatoes will be evaluated separately)

–          History of the Roman Empire (for those judges who will evaluate Caesar salads)

The identity of the judges shall remain undisclosed so as to prevent tampering.

We expect a full turnout, so buy your tickets today!   Remember, the date is October 14, 2014, and the event is the Ladies Auxiliary Salad Luncheon!  Don’t miss it!

Holiday Letter

Dear relatives:

Seasons’s greetings!  Happy Holidays!   And Merry Christmas!  Paul made me throw that last one in there.   He tells me there’s a war on Christmas going on.   That’s terrible!  Why would anyone want to declare war on Christmas?   If there was no Christmas, then there’d be no day after Thanksgiving – what do they call that now? – Black Friday, that’s right.  And there’d be no sales events, there’d be no commercials for all those cars, like the December to remember.  I keep telling Paul that that’s what I’d like for Christmas one year, one of them new cars with the fancy red ribbon tied on it, and he says, ha, we can’t afford the ribbon, let alone the car, but if we could, I’d get one and put it on our 1986 Ford Escort, that’d look pretty funny.  A war on Christmas just seems so wrong.

So Merry Christmas, 2013!    It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over already.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting down and writing the 2012 update, now it’s already time to look back at 2013.  It turns out that 2013 was a doozy for the Jacobs family.   So for those of you who we don’t get to see very often, I hope you are well and here is what is new with our family in 2013.

The year got off to a bad start when I had that Laz-tek surgery on my eyes.   I’m sure you all remember my eyes problems, some of you even probably called me “Cross-Eyed Mary” all those years growing up.   Jimmy Preston used to tease me about a song by Jeff Rowtull,  I think that was his name, that was called Cross Eyed Mary, and he used to tell me the song was about me.   Who knows, if Jeff Rowtull ever lived in Deer Falls he might of heard of me, so Jimmy might be right.  I don’t know.   All I know is that Uncle Leon had the surgery, and it worked for him, he said it was so simple that a monkey could do it.  You know how smart Uncle Leon always was.  When he was a teenager, he learned all about electricity, just on his own, and he wired the electricity up to that new house his ma and pa had built down there on Highway P.  And no one ever taught him nothing, he learned it all on his own, and if that house had never burned down, it’d probably still be working today, that’s how smart old Leon was.   So Leon says how easy and simple the Laz-tek surgery was, and how much better his eyes are now than before, and how he can read the year on a penny now, and that I ought to have it done, and I says I don’t have no insurance, not since the Possum plant closed down and Paul lost his job.  That’s another thing that happened this year you might not know about – the plant in Janesville where Paul used to work that made toy stuffed possums closed down.  And here Paul had worked there for three years, and worked his way up to lead possum stuffer, and now he was thrown out of work.   He went down to the unemployment office and they said they ain’t got no jobs stuffing possums, so there Paul sits, with all that training for nothing.

Anyways, I says to Leon that we ain’t got no insurance, to which Leon says, hell, there ain’t nothing to the procedure, all they do is cut your eyeball and then shoot a laser beam into it.  Hell, he says, I reckon I could do it, seems simple enough.  And I says, but Leon, where are you going to get a laser beam and he says, shoot, they got them little pen flashlights that shoot laser beams, you can get one down at the dollar store.   And then he says, look at me, I can see just fine, in fact I can see so much better than before, and it were all a piece of cake.   So we talk it over, then Paul and me talk it over, then Paul and Leon talk it over, and Paul and Leon both agree that Leon could do the operation on me with no trouble, and so I was outvoted, fair and square, two to one, so the next day Paul drove me over to Leon’s trailer park.  Leon told Paul to bring me, cause afterwards I might not be able to drive.

We walk in and Leon tells me to sit in the kitchen chair, and Paul goes over to the kitchen counter, where Leon’s got everything laid out.  He’s got a utility knife, a bottle of Yukon Jack whiskey, he’s got a little laser pointing flashlight, he’s got a couple of toothpicks, he’s got some band aids, two shot glasses  and he’s got  a little hand mirror.  Paul asks him what’s the whiskey for and Leon says to disinfect the utility knife, and he pours some of it over the knife in the sink, and Paul says, that seems like an awful waste of some high priced whiskey, and Leon says, I thought of that, too, that’s what the shot glasses are for.   And Paul says, you gonna  give Mary some, and he says, no, she can’t have any, she’s the patient, it’s for you and me, you cause I know you like your Yukon Jack and me cause it calms me down and stops my shakes before I operate.  And it ought to calm you down, too, Paul, since you ain’t got nothin’ to do except drive Mary home when we’re done.

Well, that Yukon Jack did a world of good, cause Leon were just as steady and even as he ever were.  He had me open my eyes as wide as I could and then he took them toothpicks he had laid out and used em to prop my eyelids open.   But for some reason, I dunno why, I started getting the jitters and I started shaking, and Leon told me to sit still but I couldn’t, and just as he was ready to do the first cut I stood up and he cut my nose instead of my eye.  He cut it clear off of my face!   I was bleeding everywhere and old Leon, you know how he could never stand the sight of blood, he just fainted right there on the kitchen floor.  Paul called 911 and told em that his uncle had passed out and to get someone over there right away.  An ambulance came while I were in the bathroom, trying to stop the bleeding from my nose, and I came out just as them ambulance fellers were getting ready to drive Leon away.  And they seen me and took me to the hospital, too, and I’m kind of glad they did.

But enough about me!   You’re probably wondering what’s new with the rest of the family.

First, our oldest, Jimmer, you know, the smart one, he turned 15 this summer!  He’s getting so big, too; he’s already taller than Paul and me.  He just passed the 8th grade, so he started high school in the fall.  High school!  Can you imagine, a Jacobs going to high school?  Me and Paul were so proud, we were going to throw Jimmer a congraduation party but the night before Jimmer ended up in the hospital with the worms after he and the neighbor girl was drinking puddle water, pretending it were beer.  They pumped his stomach but I still had to collect samples of his “stool” for a few weeks, that’s what they call it, a “stool”, they said bring in a stool sample, so I bought in one of the chairs from our breakfast nook, and they said no, that’s not the kind of stool they meant, and they gave me these little plastic bags.  And Jimmer had a hell of a time pooping in them little baggies, but he’s all better now.  Jimmer is in the middle of his first year in high school, and he’s learning all about numbers and fractions and social studies and gravity and stuff, it makes my head spin just thinking about it all, but he’s so smart, he’s passing all but three of his classes.

Our second son, Arthur, well, to be honest, he’s a different little feller, he turned eleven this October, and he’s, well, he’s just different, he ain’t smart like Jimmer, he’s different, but we love him almost as much as we do Jimmer anyways.  He talks funny, like he’s making up words as he goes.  He’s always talking silly stuff, like the other day he comes up to me and says, “Ma, did you know that elementary particles behave both like particles and like waves?”  Well, I didn’t know what to say, what can you say when a boy talks gibberish like that?  I said you better off not worrying about that stuff, the world don’t care none about that, and he says “but the atomic world is nothing like the world we live in!”   So I says fine, if you want to live in your atomic world you go ahead, just don’t expect any carrots in your stew.   Arthur loves carrots, you see, he eats em all the time, so alls I got to do when he gets too weird is bring it back to carrots.

Well, Jimmer and Arthur both had to take part in the school’s science fair this year.   For some reason they put Arthur in with the eighth graders, I dunno why.  Paul helped Jimmer with his project for a couple of months, it were really clever, too.   They took a bar of soap and whittled it down till it looked just like a beaver!  It looked just like one, if you looked at it from behind, and if you imagined a beaver having bigger ears than they really did.   A beaver made out of soap!   Who would’ve thought.

Arthur meanwhile worked in private on his project, spending nights and days out in the shed behind the house.   Hell, that weren’t too unusual, as he normally spends a lot of time in the shed.  Alls I gotta do is buy a couple bags of carrots and leave em out there and Arthur is fine.  Anyway he was working on his science project all secret like out there in the shed.

The night before the science fair, at supper, Arthur asks Jimmer, what did you make for the science fair?   And Jimmer goes and gets his soap beaver and shows it to us.  He were grinning from ear to ear (Jimmer, that is, not the soap beaver) as you can imagine he would, proud of his beaver and all.  Jimmer then asks Arthur what he made, and Arthur takes us out to the shed where he’s got a bed sheet draped over something.  He lifts the sheet off and there is some weird contraption with bicycle tires, levers, pulleys and saw blades.  “What is it?” Paul asked, and Arthur says, all excited like, “It’s a Perpetual Motion machine!”  Then he poured some water in a tank that was hooked up to the contraption and it started moving, the saw blades turning.  Arthur said “Look!  It violates both the first and second laws of thermodynamics.”  Paul got mad and said, “What are you trying to do, get us arrested?  There will be no violating any thermo dynamite laws in this house!” and he took an axe off the wall and smashed Arthur’s invention.   Thank goodness we have Paul’s quick thinking to rely upon.

A couple of nights later, I went out to the shed, I’d just bought a couple new bags of carrots, and I went out to give em to Arthur but Arthur were gone.  Turns out the boy had run away.  I went in and told Paul and Jimmer that Arthur were gone, and Jimmer said we ought to go and look for him, and Paul said, “don’t worry, he’ll turn up.”   Then Jimmer started crying and I says “What’s wrong, Jimmer?” and Jimmer says, “I don’t want my brother to turn into some damn turnip.”  So Paul and Jimmer, they hop in the Escort and takes off looking for Jimmer.   They looks in the bowling alley, they looks out in the marsh, they even looks in the Laundromat, but no sign of Arthur.   That’s when on the T.V. they says there’s a tornado warning, and that a fun old cloud had been spotted just west of Deer Falls.   I don’t know what anybody thinks is fun about a cloud like that, cause it brought a twister with it.   The twister hit our house smack dab in the middle and blew it up real good like.  I were down in the cellar and when I come up everything were gone.   I was by myself, Paul and Jimmer were still out looking for Arthur.

So I go upstairs and everything is gone, and there’s all kind of crap laying all over the place.  I look down at my feet and there was a highway sign laying there, that said, “St. Paul, 54.”  I took that sign as a sign, and sure enough, who pulls up in our driveway but Paul and Jimmer in that Ford Escort.   And Jimmer says, we found Arthur, and he opens up his hand and he’s holding a turnip .  “Pa were right,” Jimmer says, “Arthur did turn into a turnip.  But it ain’t so bad, is it Arthur?”  He was talking to the turnip, and then he says, “It ain’t so bad, Arthur being a turnip and all.  He don’t say much, but I never understood anything he’d say anyways.”

Paul says what happened to our house, and I tells him, the twister blew it up, but it’s okay, cause it blew this here sign.   And Paul says so what it blew a sign and I says don’t you see, Paul, it’s a sign, and he says I know it’s a sign, I ain’t blind, and I says but it says  St. Paul, 54 and he says so what and I says well, you’re Paul and you’re 54 years old, it means something, like when those folks over in Earlstown found the face of Jesus in their hash brown taters, this is just like that, it’s a sign.   And Jimmer says it’s kind of funny you can’t see Arthur’s face on this here turnip, seeing as it’s Arthur and all.

About a week later, early in the morning, Paul and me and Jimmer and the Arthur turnip were all sleeping in the yard, where our house used to be, when a big long car pull up in the driveway.  I says to Paul, what’s that, and he says it’s one of them lime-o-seens that rich people ride around in.  Well it stops and the driver’s door opens and some feller in a uniform gets out and walks to the other side and opens the back door and damned if Arhtur don’t step out.  “Mother,Father,” he says, and I turn to Paul and says, “Arthur ain’t a turnip after all!   See!  I told you that sign was a sign!”

Well, turns out that after Paul wrecked Arthur’s science project, he took his blue prints and sold his perpetual motion machine to GM for one hundred twenty six million dollars.  With the money Arthur brought us a big piece of land and had a big mansion built.  Out in back he built a replica of our old shed, and that’s where he lives, out there in the shed, while me and Paul and Jimmer and his turnip all live in the mansion.  We dress and eat funny now.   For breakfast we have creeps instead of pancakes.   I have a woman who does the cooking and cleaning for me.   She goes to the market for me and buys bags of carrots for Arthur.

So that’s our little old family story for 2013.   Happy Holidays, and stay safe.   I’d sure hate to read about one of you getting shot or blown up in the war on Christmas.

Your relatives,

The Jacobs (Paul and Mary and Jimmers and Arthur and a turnip)