Jonathon's Closet

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Be kind to little old ladies; you'll be one yourself one day!

I was needing my fix. There was no denying it. I had to have it. So I got in the car and headed off with the intent to cure what ails me.

I drove directly to the Speedway station that has the great big 32 oz frozen drinks, on sale all month for only 79cents. Yep, that ought to do it. 32 ounces of frozen coke, my daily caffiene fix. Breathing a sigh of relief. Now I'll function.

There's a Dairy Queen attached to the Speedway - one that used to only serve ice cream. But they've added a full menu now, and in celebration they are giving away free chili dogs today. Ok, a chili dog. But the big guy behind the counter booms out "You're a tiny little thing - you need 2!" and despite my protest, 2 chili dogs land in the cardboard tray. I can't eat 2 chili dogs. Jona's not home. What am I supposed to do with 2 chili dogs? I thank him and leave.

As I pull out of the Speedway, some dude on a construction crew lets out a whistle. Ok, reality check. I'm 40, honey - we all know it's the car that caught your eye and not the chick driving it. Silly boy!

I head back down Marsh Road, listening to Carly Simon singing "I know nothing stays the same, but if you're willing to play the game, it's coming around again". I've got the top down on my little silver car and the sun is delightfully hot. Hmm... I think I may have needed the sunlight and fresh air as much as I needed the caffiene. This is exquisite.

I spot a tiny little old lady struggling with a grocery bag from the Save-A-Lot and recall seeing her walking toward the store on my way to find caffiene. Now, in the 95 degree heat, she is returning home with her groceries.

I am the child of a law enforcement family. I am the granddaughter of the chief of police. I am the daughter of the county sheriff. A woman alone does not stop to offer a ride to a stranger. Period.

Sorry, Dad!

I pull to the curb, turn the music down and ask her if she's ok. She looks at me cautiously as she wipes the sweat from her forehead and nods. I ask if she lives at the Grange - it's a senior development about 2 miles down the road. Another nod. I ask if she'd like a ride. She looks frightened, but looks like she really wants to say yes. I put the car in park and the hazard lights on. I walk to where she's standing and say "It's just you and I - com'on, it's ok" and take her bag for her.

She grins as she gets into the car and says "I've never ridden in a convertible before". In that moment, I see my Grandma. Now, this lady looks nothing like my Grandma ... not at all ... it's just that those were the exact same words that my own Grandma spoke to 16-year-old me, when I showed up in my "new" 16-year-old Mustang to take her for a ride! The same Grandma who taught me to be nice to old ladies - yeah, Gram, you're right ... I'm fast becoming one!

She introduces herself as Maggie, and giggles when the wind blows thru her hair. Her eyes dance with laughter, and her pleasure is clear. She shares that her son used to come to bring her groceries every month, but he's busy now and even though he lives closeby he just doesn't have time for her anymore.

I take a deep breath, really wanting to get home, and ask if we should drive the loop around the lake. It's no big deal, just a 5-mile jaunt, my old jogging route before I fell ill in January. The look in her eyes is an absolute "yes". I offer her a chili dog, and as we take in the beauty of the blue water, she says "A ride, lunch, and a new friend - and all in one day".

I smile as I drop her off at home. I am blessed. Sunshine, lunch, and a new friend - all in one day.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Little Girls Like Camouflage Backpacks ... who knew?

Last week, one of the Dads at the grief center asked if I would take his daughter back-to-school shopping. His daughter is 12, and thinks she is quite grown up. And Dad is at a loss as to how to handle a child who really is a child, despite the effort she puts into acting as mother to her two younger brothers. He was unsure of what she needed, and equally unsure of what was appropriate for a 12 year-old girl.

So I picked up Kami, who instantly begged me to put the top on the car down and was practically jumping up and down in excitement when I complied. Her Dad handed me an envelope containing $600 – and asked if I possibly could, would I please bring this shopping trip in under $500? Uh, yeah - no problem, Gary.

I handed Kami a notebook and a pen and told her to write down everything she thinks she needs during the ride to the shopping district. Before we got started we discussed her list, and did a little editing - it’s kind of difficult to get things like “lots of makeup” for a 12-year-old on MY shopping agenda, and I know her Dad agrees!

I gave Kami a $200 budget, knowing I was carrying plenty more should she need it for anything. You should have seen her eyes get wide when I said $200! She asked “do we need to buy things for my brother too, or is ALL of that for ME?” When I answered that today was ALL about her, she jumped up and wrapped her arms around my neck, hugging tightly.

Kami was responsible for checking items off the list and also recording how much we spent on each item. We changed the list as we went along, making sure we had covered all necessities. Kami was quickly learning how to search the sale racks and compare one item against another for style, price, and quality.

Here's what we ended up with:

2 “girl cut” T-shirts; 1 pink, 1 yellow $3 ea
2 “baby doll” blouses, floral with cap sleeves; $3 ea
2 Hoodies; 1 baby blue, 1 lavender $5 ea
2 Turtlenecks; 1 white, 1 black $5 ea
2 lightweight V-neck sweaters; 1 lime green, 1 black $7 ea
2 pr. Jeans; 1 light, 1 dark $8 ea
2 pr. Capri pants; $6 ea
2 pr. Cargo pants; 1 olive, 1 khaki $9 ea
2 pr. walking Shorts; $5 ea
1 denim Skirt, with embroidered flowers along the hemline; $11
2 pkgs. Panties; $4 ea
4 training bras; $6 ea
2 pkgs. Socks, $4 ea
1 pr. satin pajamas, $16 – My idea, because sometimes a young lady needs a little indulgence!
1 “stylin” cap, or so I’m told; $3
2 pr. Sunglasses from the dollar store. $2
3 pr. Earrings, 3 Purses, 2 clear lip glosses, 2 Necklaces – from the 10/$10 bin at Claire’s $10
1 Camouflage Backpack, $17
1 pr. pink Sneakers, $11
1 pr. lime green “crocs”, $8
1 pr. white running shoes, $13
1 pr. “high” heels (about a ¾ inch heel!) $7
Grand Total: $240

We did quite a bit of talking while trying on clothes and putting together outfits. One thing that never ceases to surprise me is how I can actually see the shadow come over the face of a child who is talking about a deceased parent. The haunting look that resides in the eyes and creeps out during "thinking of them times" is unmistakable.

Kami was an absolute delight to spend the afternoon with, and was totally thrilled with all of her new purchases. She was especially proud to share her list-keeping and price-recording skills with her father, as well as tell him the story of the 3-store search for a Camo backpack that didn’t break the bank and how we ended up with the “very best one in the entire mall!”

As for Gary? Well, he was thrilled with the "Mom-approved" wardrobe, confided that he really expected us to spend all $600, and he nearly hit the floor when I handed him back almost 2/3 of the money he had planned on spending!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bits and Pieces

A while back, in an effort to counteract the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, I decided to take up my old habit of crocheting. I pulled an old shoebox from the closet and began to retrain my hands using bits and pieces from this box of leftovers.

Quickly I realized that I didn’t have enough yarn for a project, and a few of my friends stepped in and offered me their leftovers too! Soon I had a small pile of yarn in all colors, and in varying amounts. I began to crochet all of these bits and pieces into granny squares.

The bits and pieces were predominately pastels. Many pinks, peaches, and lavenders were in the mix – not colors I would have chosen, had I handpicked them myself. But as I began to weave them together and combine them with some of my more “favored” colors, I grew to love the beauty of this soft rainbow.

I now have 70 granny squares, each surrounded by the color of Lake Michigan beach sand, waiting to be joined into a blanket. A blanket that will warm my family physically, but also warms my heart. In these squares, I see the beauty and personalities of so many of my friends.

Crocheting these granny squares has been both a labor of love and a measure of my tolerance for torture. Sure, my mind still fumbles occasionally as I attempt to recall the patterns that were taught to me as a child, leaving me momentarily lost and confused. But the real torture test is in my hands; hands which constantly scream out in pain, refusing to cooperate, and demanding the pampering of painkillers, wrist splints, and heat packs. Where crocheting once was a mindless activity, one where my hands worked swiftly and skillfully with the yarn, now it is a time-consuming painstaking process that requires much patience and determination as each stitch slowly forms with great effort often accompanied by tears.

As is my life. Circumstance dictates the necessity to make something from nothing, as there is nothing here now but the many “bits of yarn”, remnants left as evidence of a previous existence.

And the many leftovers – left from my life with him, other people’s cast-off’s, even the “leftovers” found in the scratch and dent bin at the supermarket – all combine together, sometimes so beautifully, to become this life that is now mine.

Monday, July 09, 2007


So, that's what all the noise is in that room! I was hoping ...

Boy, I'm looking forward to seeing this ... but not going to tell him that I spotted his blog entry. After all, I'd hate to cause progress to come to a halt!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Ok, don't tell my Mom - she hasn't seen it yet - but guess what? I'm cleaning my room!

Yeah, I know ... I could hardly believe it myself. For weeks she's been telling me that she thinks my bad attitude is coming from the nasty environment that I've created for myself. So I started to pay attention to when I'm getting in trouble for acting up. And she might be right!

When we're out, I feel ok. We talk, we laugh, we joke, we do all the stuff we used to do. When we're at home, I feel nasty and grumpy. I bitch and I complain and I generally try to see if I can get her to explode. I guess I just want her to feel as nasty and grumpy and unhappy as I do.

So that sounds like it really might be environmental. And I've decided to change my environment.

Last night I started trying to clean up, and was grossed out by how dirty my room really is. Yeah, I know, she's been telling me. But I guess I just ignored her. Anyway, you can see half the floor now. And I have clean clothes to wear, I've been doing laundry.

Did you know that when we bought this house, my Mom gave me the Master Bedroom? Yep, it's the largest bedroom in the house, and the one with cross-ventilation too. I used to really like it. I guess I stopped liking it when I started letting it get out of control. But I'm liking it better today already!

My Mom says I'm a young man and that it's time to step up and act like one. Maybe this will help show her that I'm ready for that challenge. I hope so.