Rescue and Recovery

On Sunday morning we’re in Chitty, tracing the crust of a hayfield and peering in the woods. We aren’t bird watching or spotting local game.

We’re after a different beast.

Let’s back up a couple hours. When I woke Sunday morning, Cayden and Hadley were watching TV, Brynn was eating dog food and Martin was nowhere to be seen. The vehicles and gator were parked in view.

An hour passed. Then another. Maybe he went for a walk, I thought. A really long walk. I was getting peeved when the phone rang.

“Hi, Jo.”

“Hi, yourself.”

“Just calling to see how you are.”

“Fine. Where are you?”


I looked out the window. “Where? I don’t see you.”

“I was mowing by the creek where we take the kids.”

“And…what? Did you run out of gas?”


“Did the mower break down?”


“Is the blade bent?”

“No. But I might be a little bit stuck.”

Forty-five minutes later Martin and Maisie appeared on foot. We gathered a tow chain, ropes and kids, and set out on a teeth-rattling journey cross-country.

The kids didn’t care. Any excuse to ride in Chitty.

In the high grass near the woods we spotted the mower in it’s unnatural habitat: mired in the boggy lowland beside the creek.

Martin hooked up the chain, I fired up the mower and a few tugs from Chitty and we were out.

A happy ending, I guess. But the mower — recently tuned-up, repaired and cleaned — is a muddy mess.

From now on I vow that any new machine must be Martin-proof — fitted with a winch and tow bar.

And mud flaps.

Is that a threat?

It’s no secret that Martin practices retail therapy. It’s his way of managing stress. When the kids push him past his breaking point, he darts into Bed, Bath and Beyond and loads up a cart with pillows, travel mugs, tupperware and air purifiers.

It drives me nuts. And lately I’ve noticed a correlation between stress and price. The greater his stress, the more he wants to spend. Right now he’s got a lot of work, which is why I wasn’t surprised when he announced:

“I found a new tube for our tubing trip.”

“A new tube?”


“Martin, we don’t need another tube. We’ve got 30 in the hayloft.”

“Yea, but this one is better.”

“How much?”

“It fits 8 people. It has a built-in MP3 player and speakers. And two coolers. And a platform you can dive off–“

“Who the hell is going to be diving? The river’s maybe two feet deep!”

“Well if you wanted to dive off, you could.”

“How much?”

“It’s got a sun deck.”

“How much?”

“A center cooling area…”


“Five hundred.”

“Dollars? We’re not blowing $500 on a tube! A tube you’ll be lucky to launch off the sand bar!”

“Okay, then I want to buy a trampoline.”

Martin’s dream tube, complete with detachable boarding platform.

The trampoline gives me pause. It’s not a terrible idea…. except for our vicious winds. Our neighbors had a trampoline until one gusty day, it cartwheeled across the pasture, crashed through our fence and careened into the next county.

I’m leery about investing in a $400 wind projectile.

“Listen Martin, after filling the dumpster with junk, I’m putting a moratorium on shopping. Don’t buy anything ever again.”

“Jo, you won’t buy anything! You don’t even have a stool to sit on!”

This is true. In the kitchen, we have only three stools. At dinnertime, I sit on the dog’s plastic food container.

….which I’m pretty sure Martin bought at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

“You need this tube to be happy? Doesn’t the new bathroom make you happy?”

“An army truck would make me happy. Maybe I’ll buy the tube. And the truck. And the trampoline!”

“Is that a threat? Don’t you dare buy that army truck. Or the tube.”

I don’t know if I can hold back the tide. Martin’s an adult (sort of). He can do what he wants.

And a Sea Doo Mega Inflatable Island is just one click away.

Lamp it up

Gaze around our house and you might notice that our decor teeters between half-decent antiques and cast-off, college-era furniture.

Our couches are especially beaten and saggy. One, we purchased from a grad student bound for New York (back when we were engaged). It’s quite a clunker and 14 years ago, the girl had the sense to set it free for $35.

Standard college fare

While our couch collection is over the hill, our lamps hold the title of shabbiest. We’ve got several of those cheap halogen lamps mounted on flimsy, tilting stalks. At least one dates back to my college dorm room. A few months ago, the little plastic dimmer knob fell off.

I think that Brynn ate it. 

Anyway, that particular floor lamp finally up and quit, so I set out in search of a replacement. Something more substantial and stylish.
Unfortunately, the lamps that made the grade cost $350 or more. Three-fifty? I couldn’t muster the courage. I imagined buying some beauty, then watching one of our monsters tackle it to the ground.
After several stops at lighting stores, I ducked into the Salvation Army where I spied a possible candidate. It wasn’t fancy but the lamp looked age appropriate for our house. And it cost $20. 
At home I dragged Martin to admire it. “What do you think? I like it!” I added before he could answer.
“Yea, I do, too. It looks like the light upstairs in the red room.”
“I can see that,” I said, backing up to study it.
“No, I mean that it’s the exact same lamp as the one upstairs.”
“It’s similar, but it’s not the same.”
“Oh yes it is.”
I sprinted up the stairs. In the guest room stood virtually the same lamp.

Apparently when it comes to decor, I have a certain taste.

And at long last, my grandmother’s old lamp has found a mate. 

My Salvation Army salvage
The family hand-me-down upstairs