Kim and Thomas were over today, putting the final touch on my newly painted bedroom: a new light fixture that is more appropriate to a 1935 plantation house. While they were here, I had them tackle The Honey-do List as well. This included dragging the Christmas tree and ornament boxes out of deeply entombed corners of the carport. Looks like I’ll be decorating the tree by myself this year – everyone else is too busy.
The girls are buried, as the end of the semester is near. Finals are next week. The tension in the air at home is palpable. Both Faye and Jade are fully focused on studying for this last push. I tiptoe around them so as not to disturb them. Even in the car, things are quiet.
But eventually, all that energy has to come bursting out. Last night as I was trying to read, Faye came upon a bag of balloons, the long skinny kind. Just as BG came through the door, one burst and he yelled, “What are you trying to do, give your old man a heart attack?!!” But soon he was showing her the finer points of getting this kind of balloon to inflate, and tricks on how to get the end knotted.
I don’t know how the sword fight started. There they were, thrusting and parrying in the kitchen, she with two swords (pink balloons), he with one (blue). They laughed with the fun, and laughed to rid themselves of tension. Each squealed when they were stabbed and when they landed a hit. BG had the longer arms, but she was short and could get under them, landing multiple blows with her two swords. On they danced, laughter pealing across the house, until at the end, they were just bopping each other over the head, nearly falling down with laughter. We all needed that.
Jade already took one of her finals (today) because her teacher is leaving town early. It was Anatomy and Physiology. She got 100% on the final, and she’s had 100% on her labs and homework all semester.
I am so happy, not only for her grade, but also because we can now get rid of Uncle Henry, BG’s full size plastic skeleton. It’s time for him to go back upstairs to the ohana. He served his purpose while Jade was studying bones, and he added flair to the house for Halloween, but we don’t have room for him down here, especially with the addition of the Christmas tree. I did get the tree put up today. (Actually Kim and Thomas did it while I picked up the girls from school. They didn’t even charge me for the time – said they had fun.) So I shoved Uncle Henry into the pantry until I can get a word with BG.
Jade really liked that Anatomy and Physiology class, except for the last set of labs: the cat dissection. Her objection wasn’t even cutting the cat – that part was interesting. No, it was how it made her smell after working with it for two hours. Her friends sprayed her with cologne afterwards, but to me that smelled worse than the formaldehyde.
Today she had a mysterious phone conversation with her dad. I didn’t think much about it until I picked her up. She was carrying a large awkward package. “Can you please pop the trunk?”
“What is that?”
She averted her eyes, and tentatively suggested, “Daddy’s Christmas present?” Again, I thought nothing of it. The girls brought home bulky artwork gifts all the time, and it is not unusual around the holidays.
As we waited for Faye, the car interior began to smell. After a time, it took on the recognizable, though faint, odor of formaldehyde. My eyes opened wide. “Is that a dead cat in the trunk?”
“Did Daddy tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
She rushed her words: “Well, you know Daddy wanted me to bring home my cat after we got done, right? I couldn’t give him that one – it went into the waste. But there was one extra dead cat that nobody used. The teacher said she was going to throw it away unless someone wanted it. So I said, ‘hold on while I call my dad.’ He said he definitely wanted it. So, yes, that’s a dead cat in the trunk. But don’t blame me. And don’t make me take it out – I can’t return it.”
What am I going to do with him – and his accomplices? He snuck the cat out of the car when I wasn’t looking. But I did interrogate him about it at dinner. “Where is that dead cat? You don’t have it upstairs do you? Or in the upstairs freezer?”
“Why would I put it in the freezer?”
“Because you’ve done it before! When I was rummaging around up there for the Thanksgiving turkey I found that dead mouse that drowned in the coolers while we were bleaching them outside!”
“What did you do with it?”
“I left it there – I wasn’t going to touch it.”
“No I didn’t freeze it, I buried it. I just want the skeleton, so I’m letting nature clean the flesh off of it.”
“Where did you bury it?” He was evasive. I’m not sure if microbes in the soil will be willing to eat the formaldehyde laden flesh, but it’s not my problem – unless I don’t like where he buried it. Sigh. He doesn’t have time to get the Christmas tree and ornaments out of the carport, but he has time to bury a cat.
On the bright side, it looks like Uncle Henry won’t be lonely anymore: he’ll have his own pet. One must find a bright side to situations like this.
On a somewhat related topic, have I ever mentioned that we got a shrunken head from BG’s dad? He got it in Columbia from a peasant hanging around the Bogotá airport. Most likely it’s a monkey, but it sure looks real. At least I know where BG gets his unusual interests. Really folks, I don’t make this up.
Every family has stress and its own way to deal with it. It seems this time of year brings out the worst of it. I’ve tried to get my family to start a yoga/meditation/breathing routine, but they say they don’t have the time. Seems they would rather have the stress leak out in other ways like strange behavior. What are you doing this holiday season to relieve stress?
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