“Christmas Cradle” part 1 (2011)
Page 3 of 5
The afternoon progressed from Detroit to Dallas for the late game and then after a stretch break outside they returned to watch the evening game on the NFL network and then Lauren played the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade saved on the DVR. Although now the audience consisted of him only as everyone else had given up the ghost at half time of the night game as Katy had cleared the plates, boned the turkey, wiped the counter tops the dishwasher long since competed its wash rinse and drying cycle now quiet as was their home except for the sounds of various marching bands and play by play float descriptions provided by the television hosts. The glow of fluid lighting incantations emitted by the television the only tell from outside the home of life within as three forms watched quietly from within the midnight shadows cast across the street; the cold and swirling breeze having no effect on their disposition and witness to their higher power of the truth they found within this community.
Katy had bathed the boys and put them to bed in their new room downstairs. She then cared for the baby and sat the baby's seat adjacent to her and the bed and had fallen asleep with one hand still holding the handle of the white molded plastic carrier.
Katy was awakened by the sound of footsteps on the roof. She rolled over to check on the baby as the sunlight penetrated the drawn blinds through a maligned knotted single panel and radiated on her face. The warmth felt good and she closed her eyes and visualized an orange hue on her nearly flawless complexion. She laid there for a few moments more with her hands clasped behind her head, then suddenly she felt a huge pain in her abdomen, she grabbed a water from the headboard drank half a bottle and then tried to relax when she emitted a quiet but asphyxiating fart that if Lauren were here would fan the sheets and say something to the effect that her gas would stop a charging Rhino at a hundred paces. She felt much better, laughed out loud mussed to herself that Benjamin Franklin was absolutely correct and chalked it up to the habanera/jalapeno stuffing. The baby awoke and started to cry the tears rolled down her face from the lingering methane. Katy rolled over to the far side of the bed landing face down pushed her self up to a standing position and walked back around the bed to check on the baby before taking a potty break and brushing her teeth. She changed the diaper on the baby girl and the two of them one holding the other close to her chest headed downstairs to make coffee, warm a bottle, fry bacon and flip pancakes for their new brood.
Katy walked out to the font yard to greet Lauren with a cup of coffee and a kiss. But he wasn’t in sight. She looked up and there he was face down on the roof leaning over at an angle to staple the string of lights dangling all the way to the ground. She quietly retreated inside as she knew that for Lauren this was the hardest part of decorating their home for Christmas. He never talked about it but he was not fond of leaning upside down against the slope of the roof and far enough over to attach the lights in a clean tight straight line around the entire perimeter of the home. He decided years ago that experiencing the fear of heights was easier than moving a ladder five feet at a time and climbing up and down for what seemed like an endless number of trips; The ladder although a electricians quality and when fully extended reached almost three stories barely reached the apex of the pitch of the roof over the driveway. The sway factor was unsettling for hime like riding over waves in a boat and when at the top he feared most any slippage of the base. So he preferred instead to haul six or seven strands of lights, his tool belt including several boxes of supplies, needle nose pliers for extracting the occasional errant staple the gun hanging from his neck attached by a strand of yellow stretch rope all this to the roof for untangling, bulb replacement and finally hanging of the lights foot by foot then dropping three one hundred and fifty foot industrial strength cords tucked underneath the clay tile and tied together with garbage bag wire ties to plug into the upgraded outlets installed for Christmas decorations and running adequate power to the roof preventing any more electrical failures like when they married and while hosting their first Christmas party in this their new home Katy fired up her hair dryer and instant overload enused tripping the master breaker plunging the entire house into darkness. The cut off power destined for the band warming up on the driveway and killing the rotisseries, crock pots and causing a fit for the chefs already on a tight time schedule as guests were lined up out the door waiting to sign the party book and then after the evening blessing to queue for the buffet line. Thank God for George the electrician who visited the box aided by Lauren and a flashlight and quickly reset and restored the power and was praised as the hero of the night from that moment forward. She laughed a the mouse trap sequence of events they over came years ago and opted to hassle Lauren with affection and coffee when it was convenient for him probably after the roof job was completed.
Katy called her mom while the children ate breakfast and holding the baby with a towel draped over her shoulder for the post intake burping session. Mother and daughter exchanged pleasantries regarding thanksgiving and the guests many of whom had stayed over at Mom’s home after the late dinner preferring now to acquaint themselves with the night life of Dallas and remain until Monday night or Tuesday prior to catching one of the many family Cadillac shuttles to the airport and their return to such diverse destinations as Berlin, Chicago, D.C., El Paso, Houston Nashville, Seattle and Santiago.
Lauren ventured inside for coffee and returned a few minutes later with a coke and climbed back up to the rooftop to accessorize the sleigh, straighten the reindeer made of mesh metal wrapped in rope lighting and designed for a flat surface but on this roof they were angled down slope facing the driveway to greet the guests as they entered The Annual Toys for Tots extravaganza scheduled for the first Saturday in December.
Once Lauren completed his work on the roof Katy felt more relaxed about leaving with the children to shop and accentuate their skimpy clothing that arrived with them stuffed into one small black gym bag.
Lauren continued uninterrupted as Katy left, returned and left again for a quick run to the store. Upon the her final trip home she bathed and fed the children and put them to bed and ventured outside where Lauren was just completing the lining of lights on top of the retaining wall nailing cable fasteners into the stucco seams bonding the concrete blocks around the entire perimeter of the yard and somehow flawlessly integrating with the roof lighting to form what appeared to be a seamless garment of multi colored lighting. He looked up as Katy approached and said: “You’re just in time” she replied: “I am” “Yes" and then he instructed Katy to walk over to the electrical box and turn the timer to the dusk/dawn settings.”She did and he followed casting the beam from his snug fitting battery powered head lamp onto the dial. It was almost completely dark now and as soon as she turned the black knob a red light appeared on the face of the dial and then all of the Lauren’s work that day illuminated their roof, the sled and the block wall. She threw her arms around him and said: “I am so happy! Do you think we can keep the children?” He said nothing but held her close and appreciated for the first time that Katy was working through the funk and grief that she had internalized for so long and now she appeared more as the girl and woman he was first afraid to approach in school as she commanded so much respect from all the kids, teachers and administrators due to her charming extroverted ways and the flashing of her larger than life smile when she introduced herself to him saying "Hi, I'm Katy Ritz, like the cracker.
She said: “I know you’re busy finishing up for the day; I bought some choice Texas Rib Eyes and I'll prepare them for grilling in about an hour with your favorite home made thin cut french fries and blue cheese laced salad so you better hurry up!” And with that she disappeared into the darkness and he turned his head lamp to scour the ground and look for tools, extension cords, three way plugs dropped from the roof and any other supplies that would be crucial for him to complete the rest of the lighting on the front lawn tomorrow which was Saturday. He thought to himself tomorrow is Sunday and I have to pull the Christmas tree, stand, lighting, angel top, and rather large collection of ornaments from way up in the back of the shop attic and then off the North Little Rock on Monday early morning.
They had a delightful time that evening and finished off a bottle of cabernet in front of the crackling fireplace. She checked on the children and when she returned Lauren was already asleep on the white fur.
Early the next morning she peeked out the front window to see Lauren sitting on a large trash bag on the dew rising lawn and tinkering with one of the white metal Christmas trees whose branches folded up to the center to fit in the box and were the most dangerous of all their lighting effects as Lauren had already received several jolts of electricity when he inadvertently touched a bulb-less insert camouflaged by the extensive white stapled wiring while attempting to feather the branches to into their slots for a realistic looking spread.
Each year he played with each and every one of the nearly worn out collection of seven such trees. Some were over seven feet in length and required four back to back pole inserts and snapping in place without over stretching the wiring a real feat when set in the box no matter how cleanly the following year the entire tree seemingly more tangled than the worst strand of old large bulb Christmas lights he had ever patiently untangled sometimes on top of the roof in gusty conditions his hands cold and numb but he not satisfied until every knot was purged and each light was in good working order. The discarding of old bulbs a testimonial to his ability to deal with areas of minutia in life and just as therapeutic as cultivating the tiny plants that would eventually yield a bountiful array of fresh produce each fall long after the sprint planting.
She returned to the children and enjoyed her new habit of summoning them to the kitchen through the aroma of a hot skillet of french toast, pancakes or bacon and eggs. She loved their look as the two boys slowly made their way with still sleepy eyes now modeling their full length pajamas with the feet in the bottoms. She adored these children and the baby and developed a sudden anxiety with the ringing of the doorbell wondering if it was the mother returning with heavy heart to claim her children but was relieved when she peeked out and viewed Lauren seeking her assistance to retrieve some tape or twisty ties from the kitchen to complete the task at hand.
She closed the door and the guilt weighed heavy on her as she questioned her motives why she should experience joy from another’s misfortune. She pondered if people who purchased homes at auction in these trying times ever felt for the families who due to previously unforeseen catastrophic circumstances in their own lives let alone the economy ever thought about the misplaced love, laughter, bedtime stories and dinner hours shoveled into the street along with their personal effects; the permanent scars on the children of such families and how the decisions for the rest of their lives would be guided by the incompetence, negligence and greed of their elected leaders from both parties who made bold proclamations that everyone deserved to own a home then attempted to engineer the financial system to validate their insensibilities, flawed perceptions and immorality.
Her mood elevated to one of gratitude at how they were at least semi self sufficient with a back up generator and enough fuel to last a month in the event the lights went dim, for their half acre of garden, the wood shop and most of all for her husband and her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ed like Lauren worked out of his garage and was qualified to build an entire house, plumbing, electrical and all but preferred decks, remodels and additions. In California he had to pull a number of licenses and pass tests, pay fees, take environmental training, and use only California approved paints which were more expensive and required several coats to seal the project ballooning costs and limiting work. The penalties for non compliance bordered on criminality and the fines were so steep he simply applied to and received a job as a custodian and handyman at the local women’s only Catholic prep school. His eldest son having completed high school was living at home unemployed partially due to the codependency and selfishness of his mother who was to burden him with her own abandonment issues preventing their only son from experiencing tribulation retarding his growth and postponing living and the depth of spiritual communion gifted by Almighty God these recent trials prevailed by a few but feared by many as represented by the four horsemen of the new apocalypse: hunger, homelessness, loneliness and addiction.
Her brother Christopher had left Las Vegas selling his home and relocating to the safety of El Paso with his wife also a former California girl who seemed to remain one giant step ahead of the great calamity sweeping the nation. They departed just in the knick of time prior to the bursting of the gambling bubble in Nevada paying off their mortgage and pocketing a tidy sum while their neighbors withered like unattended grapes on the vine their previous disposition plumb and juicy now subject to the birds or vultures pecking at the remnants of this once vibrant neighborhood purchasing a home next door for less than the builders price.
Ed had been calling as he always did near the holidays which meant he needed cash. In the last year they had taken separate vacations; She with the children to Disneyland in what seemed like an annual pilgrimage and he to Missouri to spend time fishing and drinking with his high school friend for life Charlie Stowe. Ed had purchased a new truck during cash for clunkers even though his other work truck was fully functional and was paid in full. He was now saddled with making the car payments for three vehicles since none of the children remained gainfully employed for any length of time especially in the most mismanaged economy in the United States. Lauren had been very generous in the past sending them a check for one thousand then fifteen hundred and so forth for years until they both agreed that they were only enabling the promotion of bad financial habits. The final straw was when they loaded up their already over extended credit to spend a cool twenty thousand for the quinceanera of their youngest daughter last July. This year they sent a Christmas card and their love! Katy and Lauren had experienced a number of these celebrations in their own church. Some were elaborate like weddings and some were quite modest including one with only the grandmother in attendance and the young lady attired in a simple dress. Katy cried that day as she knew that young lady was deeply blessed and would never forget the day she spent a portion of her fifteenth birthday at the altar of the Lord and the rousing applause she received from the congregation after receiving the blessing from Father Paul.
Gold and Green
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Posted: 12.24.2010/ 12.29.2010/