The Machinist's first observation as I walked into the office were my new blue shoes. "Oh I liiiike theeem, Babe. You look too hot to handle!"
"I love the colour, but they hurt a bit - just on the top" I slid my forefinger between plump upper foot and shoe, demonstrating the exact area of discomfort.
"Oh don't worry about that, I can fix it with a soft hammer..."
I'm still perplexed as to what a soft hammer actually is.
Later in the day, there was rain, - followed by furious hail. We were scheduled to deliver newly manufactured laundry skips to The Canberra Hospital. Despite each skip being polished and sealed in plastic wrap, the Machinist didn't want to deliver in the wet weather.
With his main task thwarted, he gave himself the rest of the day off
("...and with having no battles on at the moment, he gave his lads the day off..." - from The Battle of Hastings)
As we walked down the Christmas isle in Costco (can't resist) a thought came to mind: There is nothing like a grandchild to bring back the joy of Christmas.
Later, dinner and movies added to the excitement of the Season.
After arriving home late after visiting the Grands in their new home, I thought it would be very disciplined and organised of me to go straight to the office in the Machine shop and complete some bookwork before going inside the house. The Machinist was making some end-of-day calls next door. Bob was crying to go inside. Or be fussed. Or fed. I plumped up his cushion and told him to "go cushion", and he gave me 'those' eyes, but obeyed nevertheless.
The Machinist came in and sat on the chair next to me. "Ready to go in, Babe?"
And then - a power cut. The computer, the heater - both off. And yet... the lights were still on.
"If you go out of the front, I'll lock up behind you and come in the back door"
I went to the car to fetch a few items and lock it. By then, the house and workshops were in darkness. The sky was black. And it was cold.
The front door opened and the Machinist shouted to me "Don't come in - there's another bat loose in the house!"
Don't come in?
Wow, he made it quickly through the garden, tip-toeing and avoiding the fuss, grunts and slobbery of the other dogs, through the house, locate the torch and out of the front door...
Don't come in?
There's another bat loose in the hooooose....
The phone rang. Fumbling through my bag and vowing to empty it (again) really soon, I answer the call. Our Sam.
"Are your lights out, too?" he asks
"I'll be down in a minute"
Then another call. Our Sarah.
"Yes, and there is another bat in the house"
Sarah and Cam pull in the driveway. I climb in the back of their car as Cam jumps out the driver's seat, determined to help with bat eradication. Sarah and I swap bat fearing stories and sentiments when the other rear door opens and Sam slides in next to me.
"Not going in to help with the bat?" I ask
In due course, the bat had gone and we went inside to a kitchen lit with candles and the aroma of roast beef.
Sitting down to dinner, with the dim light shining on his cheerful face, Sam declared "Well, I thought tonight would be a bit of a downer, but this dinner has cheered me right up!"
While feeding the baby her porridge, on the morning after her sleepover, - a terrible smell filled the dining room.
"is it the baby?" asks Sarah..
"No, she's clean. What about the mother dog?" I ask..
On inspection, we discover that Pepi had a terrible mess going on in her undercarriage which needed our attention -and fast!
Cam fetched the wheelbarrow, Sarah donned gloves, I brought out the hot water. Pepi sat in the water while Sarah washed her as I held her. Baby wanted to see what was going on and we had to distract her when she got too close to Pepi's splashes.
The phone rang. Machinist came around the corner from the Machine shop. "It's your mom, Helen" (Helen!).."..the movers won't pack their stuff. They need everything to be in boxes and your mom wants to know if anyone in town has any boxes they don't want..."
Hayley arrived to pick up Baby. Sarah and I made a dash to the Grand's cottage. It didn't look as if there was a lot of moving house going on that day. It looked like, and was - a removalist's nightmare. Small tubs, without lids. Buckets oozing their wares. Large tubs with lids - heavy and cracking with the weight they were bearing. A few flimsy cardboard boxes with an occasional content marker. Sturdy boxes - half empty waiting 'last minute items'.
There's a fine line between aged parent independence and necessary action for the good of all. The Greater Good.
Emma confided in Grandpa to leave the key under a pot at their new home, while she took the Grands for lunch and coffee. Sarah and I moved swiftly. Very swiftly.
Pantry and fridge stocked
Correct distribution of tubs and wares
Removal of empty vessels and other rubbish
TV set up
And then, an impulsive but necessary turn into McDonalds drive through (uugh) for a large coke and fries. Diet tomorrow.
On arriving home, and after his meal, the Machinist asks..."Babe, come with me..." (Babe!)..."I've got something to show you".
I follow him to the kitchen, where he collects the torch. I follow him outside towards the Fabrication shop. "Look there!"
He spotlights a BRAND NEW FENCE. But oh! This is not only a lovely, high (privacy) beautifully fitted and welded fence partnered with a well hung and hinged gate. It is a SNAKE PROOF FENCE.
Later that evening, the Machinist and I are lounging back in soft brown leather recliners, sipping cold drinks and basically - living it large. We are watching a Very Scary Movie about alien invasion (the "Greys", FYI). We retire to bed and just as we are falling asleep - a sudden distinct thumping noise. Then again. And again.
The Machinist gets out of bed to check what's amiss. He's gone for a while, as I lay there and wonder if he has been abducted. Then he comes back to bed, lifts the covers, slides in...
"What was the noise?" I ask
"Oh, it was Emma. She had a bat in her room and I helped her guide it out the back door..."
It is nearly three months since the (rush) and joy of Sarah and Cameron's wedding. It was beautiful, yet bittersweet; - a sense of loss and grief at the thought of 'losing' Sarah to Cameron (which is TOTALLY not the case and which I've learned is a common parental emotion) and yet - gain by the addition of another son, as well as a couple. Sarah and Cameron became an entity: The Couple.
When they left for their honeymoon, I remember thinking of our daughter as going away and becoming a changeling, and yet - on their return, I realised how silly I had been and that she was the same, as was her husband, Cam. They were the same; it was me who expected their change. They were still the children, as they had always been, expecting us, their parents to - well - parent as we had always done - with the same attitudes and methods as we'd always used. I, on the other hand had expected some type of change from them so much, that my own fathoming had changed me and I became the Changelings - towards them.
How confused and bewildered they must have been....(I'm confused and bewildered as I try to explain all of this.)
Sarah and I had a heartfelt discussion about this late one night. We cried together. And then, as quickly as this strange and yet common phenomena came upon us, it was gone, and family life, as we know it - had resumed.