The Barn

 

The Barn

 

Ida Blue stood frozen at the end of the walkway. It wasn’t the cold or the snow that caused her stillness, it was the memories that would grip her heart the moment she opened the barn door.

Ten years had passed. She hoped the barn had collapsed upon itself no longer able to bear the pain and heartache housed within its walls. Or perhaps struck by lightning during a violent storm and burned to the ground. But, that was not the case. In fact, the long plank walkway looked reasonably new.

Memories flooded her mind and crushed her chest as she started walking. Slowly, taking measured steps, she was finally at the door. Its’ metal handle was now rusted and the screws were loose allowing the handle to droop. It seemed so much smaller than she remembered.

She grabbed the wrought iron handle and pulled. It was cold, ice cold, and as she pulled, one of the rusty screws popped out hitting her arm. The wind started whipping and seemed to push her into the dark, cavernous building. The smell of hay, machinery diesel parts and animals was intense. The gray skies filtered through some of the slats and the wind had pushed snow on top of hay bales on the west wall.

A horse brayed from one of the stalls and hay drifted like snow from the loft. As she turned……….

 

 

©jdyoung 2016

artwork: D Anderson ©2016

https://www.facebook.com/donnell.anderson.5/media_set?set=a.10207479984550586.1073741844.1617652514&type=3


Jessa

12887527_10207756693468136_543521738_o

 

“Have a wonderful practice, sweetie.”

“Mama, I want you to watch me today. Can’t you stay? Even for a little bit? I’ve been practicing so hard.”

“Jessa, I really want to, but I have to pick up your dad, drop the dog at the groomers and…”

“Never mind, mama, I understand. Those things are important.”

With that, Jessa shrugged, tilted her head down and walked slowly toward her classroom. This time she didn’t turn back to wave me goodbye. My heart was breaking, but I simply had no other choice. There were only so many ways to divide up my time. Driving into the city to pick up Dan, the picture of her walking away from me had seared into my heart. I knew there would be many more times in her life that she would feel this way. That she didn’t come first.

The dog was getting restless in the backseat and Dan was calling on my cell – and my heart was in pieces. Dan could work a little longer and the dog could get another appointment. 

As I pulled back into the parking lot of the ballet studio, I knew what was really important. And when Jessa saw me come through the door, her eyes confirmed what I knew – and my heart stopped aching.

© 2016 jdyoung

artwork: don anderson

https://www.facebook.com/donnell.anderson.5/media_set?set=a.10207479984550586.1073741844.1617652514&type=3

 

 


On the 8th Day of Christmas….

IMG_1000

Excerpt from The Butter Pecan Diaries

SNOW SCREAMS

As we all know, the worst Snow Storm of the year had arrived. Though it had been forecast for a week, most people remained unprepared as did the Young family.

I left work and slid in about 7:00pm. Jerry and I ran to the grocery for a few things. Forty-five minutes at the checkout and $185.32 later we had finished. When we exited the best, biggest, hugest flakes of beautiful snow had started. We decided to walk and bathe in the quiet. We threw the groceries on the table, grabbed our coats and out the door. We walked for about a half an hour, got soaking wet and happy, and grudgingly, went home.

It was about 2:00am when we finally went to bed. Since I’ve been in menopause for sixteen years and maintain a constant body temp around 104° I always have a window cracked – usually 12 – 14 inches. With the snow, traffic had ceased and it was dead calm. Jerry drifted off and I was about to do the same when out of the quiet of the night I heard screaming. I mean screaming. “Oh, my God, someone help me. Please help me. Please someone help me.”

My hair stood on end and I instinctively dove for the window. I was in the “almost asleep position” in my cotton nightshirt that barely covered my hips. The fetal position where I had comfortably stuck my ankle under Jerry’s thigh and had the sheet wrapped around my other ankle so my foot could stick out for cool air. And we were in a full wave waterbed.

Bolting is not something you think about before you do it. You simply BOLT. So, I did.

My mind said jump straight up and land on your feet. My aged body said — rip the tendons in your left thigh, sprain Jerry’s ankle, cause motion sickness for the household, pull the sheet completely out the end of the bed and grotesquely fall over the side with your naked, dimpled arse staring at the ceiling – which I did!

Jerry had been in deep REM; however, now, he was flailing the air trying to grab his injured body parts. He valiantly tried to get out of bed, but the waves from the waterbed prevented him from steadying his foot on the floor and he desperately grabbed for the dresser. The screams were still coming in the window; my shirt had now gravitated to my armpits and Jerry decided it was easier to ‘fall’ out of the waterbed.

I tried to cover my back end with my left hand while Jerry asked, “what is that?” As though I knew and wanted to keep him in suspense. I had visions of a roaming Satanic cult taking up residence in the backyard and holding a snowflake ritual.

We finally limped to the window as Jerry called 911. You might think a 911 call would be a simple action, but consider – our bedroom had five large windows – a large bay with two full side windows and double side-by-side windows all facing front. Since I wanted to see the blanked snow when I awoke, I had opened all the blinds. Thus, at 2:00am if a light were turned on in the bedroom, everyone south of Washington could see in. Jerry flipped the closest light switch – the bathroom light that contained ten vanity lights under which you could do brain surgery. Lights that showed him in his underwear and me kneeling, with a large naked arse hanging out the window.

We grabbed clothes, ran down the stairs and automatically pushed open the front door. What if Hells Angels were parked in our driveway waiting for us? We stepped onto the front steps, barefoot. I assumed Satanists were already in the house and we would soon be an ingredient stored next to the “eye of newt.” The girls awoke and when I told them the police were coming they ran for clothes. I wondered if the police knew just how much people cared about their wardrobe choices when they were called for an emergency.

As we scurried about checking our clothing the screaming stopped. Jerry decided we would be arrested for a false police report and decided we should call and cancel. We didn’t make it to the phone. Two police cars arrived in front of my house – no sirens, but lights blazing. Yup, my development — Yuppieville, Virginia. Generally the loudest noise heard is the annoying fizz of opening Perrier bottles. I could not wait for the next development board meeting.

Thankfully, the screaming started again – I was vindicated. One cop looked up, drew his gun and told us everything was fine (like I believed him) and please go back in the house — they never noticed our choice of clothing.

Sleet had started, but our curiosity was insatiable. We opened the kitchen windows and fastened our ears to the screen trying to listen to the police radio. They determined the screams were from a drunk that had been locked out of his house. Thirty minutes later Jerry and I limped back to our bedroom. The waterbed was still moving and the sheets were hanging from a lamp. The screaming had stopped, the police had left and the snow continued. We just closed our eyes and drifted off.

About 9:00am Rosie, guitar on her hip, entered our bedroom:

How about a ride to Ashley’s house. Everyone is going over there to play in the snow.

It’s a blizzard outside.

It’s not that bad. I saw a car on the road.

No, we’re not going out! It’s a mess out there.

Fine! Than just drive me halfway and I can ride my bike.

There’s two feet of snow. Your bike won’t move.

Yes it will.

No it won’t.

Okay, I’ll walk!

Scarlett — Run away, get married and have your husband drive you. Daddy and I are going back to sleep.

My butter pecan was safe on the back porch under the snow.

Love ya — Scarlett

 


On the 7th Day of Christmas….

Screenshot 2015-12-30 13.06.20Excerpt from The Butter Pecan Diaries

 

It was a dark and stormy night – okay – it was cool, bright and cheery.

If you are gonna check the weather forecast stop reading now.

It was so good to celebrate the end of another year in my perennial search for competent health care, honest auto mechanics and skilled service personnel (in ANY industry). I have missed my Winter Solstice Update but Turkey is holding it’s Camel Wrestling Festival – might work as a substitute.

Jerry, as always, is doing beautifully. He is still making closets for the rich and famous and is now conversant in Spanish, Russian and we believe Botswanan. Conversant in that he can raise his voice and everyone knows exactly what he means.

His stapled neck and implanted knees are doing just fine. With all his added titanium parts it has been a wonderful opportunity to accurately test security at several major airports.

Rosie is terrific. She is at Smith College and carrying a solid B+ and holding down a job. We saw her at Christmas and had a rousing discussion of black holes, Stephen Hawking theories, the Event Horizon and her A in Microeconomics. She is preparing for interviews for summer internships at Bear Stearns, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. She has not had an ER visit in over a year, but since she has her own medical policy I cannot swear to that fact.

Must tell you though I kinda miss the flashing ambulance lights on Christmas Eve during a snowstorm. The way the lights reflected on the icicles was simply stunning – such a sentimental sot that I am.

Rosie wants to do her last year of study in Spain – yeah, I need her near bullfighting, but have to assume Franco instituted some sort of health plan with the billions he got from the US. I mean, do they just put injured matadors on the side of the road?

Scarlett is now retired. I took the Voluntary Retirement Package (VRP) offered to those who had time and service or had fully pissed off the entire executive board. The other name for this retirement package is the TIODOTSOTR or ‘Take it or die on the side of the road with furry rodents eating at your heels.’

You know how it is when the execs need a 25% bump on that $11.4 million bonus. I know I am a selfish sort; never thinking of the execs – expecting them to get by on under $22m a year so in my own inimitable way, I let them know my thoughts. However, I still have Jerry and Rosie and for that I will forever be thankful. Believe I got the best deal.

Wynonna We miss her more each and every day. I know she is shaking her head with trepidation every time I touch a computer. I still don’t understand DOS and, I don’t care…..I bought an iMac!

Am almost finished The Butter Pecan Diaries. Now if the publishing world ever gets its act together perhaps I can rent a bus and we can all visit Ellen or Oprah. I might even pop for lunch.

I hope your holidays were calm, warm and happy. My wishes for a prosperous and laugh-filled New Year. I miss each of you!

Love ya, Scarlett

 


On the 6th Day of Christmas….

Screenshot 2015-12-30 13.08.07

Excerpt from The Butter Pecan Diaries

   Thought I’d relax with one of my Christmas gifts as I started this tome. Do ya like my shoes?

The year has shot by and I have the powder burns to prove it. To herald in the season and brighten the spirits of all my coworkers and WalMart shoppers, I’ve liberally applied iridescent peacock sparkles to the scorched areas of my Rubenesque hips. I am quite a fetching sight, but am festive in a shimmery, flower-child sort of way!

The house is not yet decorated, but we all know what time of year it is. I don’t think 140 sq yds of icicle lights will make a difference. Besides, I went on the “Holiday Tour of Homes” in my neighborhood. I now feel like the “before” picture in Extreme Home Makeover. I had not realized how closely my piece of the planet resembled a slightly upscale crack house.

We’ve been in our home for just over a year and settled in nicely. Just to clarify – I don’t count the garage and attic as part of our home – just immediate living space is tallied.

The craft room/third bedroom is not considered living space either. Okay, if you really must put a fine point on it, we have two bedrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen that are relatively habitable. I do not remotely consider the pantry as part of anything that needs to be straightened!

I am confident I will have the rest of the boxes unpacked by 2020 so plan your trips accordingly.

It was a relatively quiet year in comparison to say…locusts, floods and dung beetle infestations. The IRS was strangely quiet, however the Commonwealth of Virginia has been the active little burr under my broad, leathery saddle. They sent a lovely note indicating we had never submitted our 2001 taxes (right on top of things aren’t they?) and would we mind sending them a check for $5,560?

After hours on the phone and countless copies from our accountant they said, “Oops, you did submit, our bad!” A second holiday note now indicates they can’t find where we paid the $665 for the 2002 tax bill. So, with taxes, titles, tags and the inevitable penalties they would like us to send them a check for $1,800?

Yessiree, I’m looking for my checkbook right now! I absolutely want to support the Virginia Chapter of Tammany Hall.

Jerry has acquired a new nickname – Titanium Ted. He had surgery on his neck last Halloween and now sports a titanium plate and six screws that do a heroic job of holding up his graying head. His newly implanted neck material is a stunning adjunct to his titanium knees, which were jammed into his leg bones on Halloween of 2000. Forget about the Ides of March – Halloween makes me fret.

He is also quite versed in pain medications – Vicodin vs Morphine vs “I don’t care what it is – just push it in the IV.” And with this new partnership with pain meds he has become a wild and crazy late night infomercial shopper. He just knew I’d always lusted for the Ronco Egg Spinner.

He remains a force to be reckoned with at work and is becoming manually multilingual since pointing is his primary means of communication. This works exceedingly well in Spanish, Russian and Hebrew.

Rosie has enrolled at Smith College studying economics. I thought French cooking presented a language barrier. Take a look at her recent email . . . “if the average is 7, and 4 of us have scored 15 or better, who is scoring lower than 7 to bring the average down. Statistically speaking I could find the standard deviation of the sample population and see if, as a family, we fall more than 2 standard deviations from the mean. If we did, an argument could be made that . . .” I gave up and did not finish her email – go ahead – ask me why?

She will be with us for Christmas and I am frantically exploring recipes that do not use wheat, dairy or meat. A dazzling array of formulas featuring tofu, cardboard, blow fish, rice and more importantly Capucijners blue pod heirloom peas, seem to be my best bets. You can order those peas pretty reasonably on the Internet.

Scarlett published her first book and it has now sold an astonishing 817 copies with a bullet – eat your heart out Grisham! What more could a babe from the South Bronx ask? I’m now working on Scarlett’s Letters II –Night of the oops I mean – The Butter Pecan Diaries. Do ya think Spielberg might have interest? Nah, probably stand a better chance with Stephen King.

Wynonna remains in our hearts and we think of her every day. We miss her terribly and know she watches over us. She is probably sighing deeply, shaking her head at me and exclaiming “Mother! You can’t possibly still be using that juvenile email program – real emailers use DOS.”

Love ya, Scarlett