July 22nd – OK, so maybe I was making a mountain out of a mole hill. Uncle George came by today to check on Rand and nothing appears out of whack. Maybe it is just the way things work in their family. The Crenshaw clan has been busy. And they’ve had a few … hmmm … shocks.
First off, Missy is going to have a baby. Uncle George is very happy about that. He says that it is about time she settled down, blah, blah, blah, lots of chauvinistic stuff. Apparently Bill is flying high. He was married once before when he was very young … as in still barely in college young … and he and his wife had a little boy but he died of some kind of birth defect when he was only a couple of hours old. It put such a strain on the marriage that things didn’t work out after that and when she left him for someone else he never expected to get married again or have children. Surprise.
The second is … Alicia and Brendon are pretty sure that Alicia is pregnant too. Uncle George isn’t so happy about that because Uncle George caught them in the hayloft a couple of weeks back and Brendon had promised him that they would lay off the … ummm … interpersonal stuff until after things settled down, worked out, and they were married. Guess once you start down that path it is a hard thing to stop. Temptation got the better of them and … whoops, there you go. Not that I think it is right or anything but if they’re not just willing but wanting to do the right thing and have been all along I guess you have to just deal with it. I’d be scared to death to be in their shoes, either one of them. It’s not like there are hospitals, drugs, and an abundance of doctors around here. I know there is Pastor Ken but I think I’d rather die than think about him seeing … well, seeing everything and losing what little dignity I have. That’s another thing guys don’t have to put up with. So totally not fair.
And there sure is a lot of people making of babies. There’s Julia, Missy, Alicia and Uncle George said he could name another half dozen without even thinking hard. What upset me was that Uncle George tried to tell Rand and I that under the circumstances either Rand should move back with them or we had to stop what we were doing. I asked him what we were supposed to be doing before I really thought it through and he acted like I was being stupid on purpose. When I did finally figure it out I just blurted out, “I wish people would stop thinking we are making like bunnies around here! ‘Cause it isn’t our fault if people have dirty minds!!”
Uncle George has seen me pop off – I think – but he’d never been on the receiving end of it and to be honest I was embarrassed that my temper got away from me before I could grab it. But I am so tired of people doing that. Rand has told me and told me people talk but every time I run into it it feels like the first time and I get made all over again.
I was so mad I walked … stomped actually … down to the hayfield and worked on some target practice. Was so mad I couldn’t see straight to hit the cans and wasted bullets.
“You through missing those cans yet?”
“Don’t Rand. It’s not funny. It might be easier coming from other people but from your family it is different. And I’m sorry if I embarrassed you.”
“You didn’t embarrass me. It’s not often I get to see Uncle George left with his mouth hanging open. Come on back to the house. It’s too hot out here to be terrorizing the trees.”
“Rand …” I warned again.
“What? “ He’s way too innocent when he’s having fun.
“It really isn’t funny to me. How can you stand it when people, people you know you care what they think of you, act like we are … you know … doing stuff?”
“Because I know we’re not. And if I let what other people think bother me I’d have an ulcer and be a nervous wreck … just like you’re acting now.”
“Is it that bad? I mean you see more people than I do … do they bother you because of me?”
“Kiri, stop worrying it to death. Yes, people make assumptions. No, I don’t think they have the right to make those assumptions but I’m not the thought police. They’ll think what they think at this point no matter what we do. As far as Uncle George goes I think he’s figured out he might have spoke out of turn.”
“Cut him some slack Kiri. He’s having to make a lot of adjustments awful quick. Uncle George has always lived for his kids only now they are suddenly growing up so fast it’s hard on him. And Janet is having a hard time in this heat. Add that with both Missy and Alicia puking in the mornings they’re back to eating Laurabeth and Charlene’s hit-or-miss cooking.”
“Fine. And I’ll even apologize to try and smooth things over.”
“Don’t apologize Babe. Uncle George is a grown man and if he wants to dish it out he better be prepared to take it when he is wrong. “
“But he’s your uncle.”
“Just because he is my uncle doesn’t mean I want you to have to change who you are and take away your right to have your own say. That’s one of the first things that attracted me to you. I remember looking and seeing this girl staring at me upside down and telling me to be still or she’d dump me and I could walk. I wanted to get to know the person who belonged to the mouth so bad I decided to live after all.”
He’d never said anything like that to me. It was romantic … in a kind of backwards way, but I still liked it.
Uncle George and I did smooth things over but regardless of what Rand says I think he still believes that Rand and I are … carrying on. But to do that he has to believe we are lying to him and that I don’t like at all. That truly does bother me.
July 23rd – Was so hot today I couldn’t stand it. About all Rand and I have done today is lay around, eat fruit, and drink water and Gatorade that I made up by the pitcher full. Rand picketed Hatchet and the mules deep in some shade trees and we refilled their water trough three times. They didn’t play at all and saved all their energy for swishing their tails.
The chickens scratched out some sand on the shady side of the barn and sat down in there until the sun got considerably closer to evening. And Fraidy lay splayed legged on the lanai.
In fact it was so hot that … well … I’m embarrassed to admit it but Rand talked me into just wearing a sundress and bathing suit bottom and letting him mist me with some fresh, cold well water every once in a while. The thermometer registered 98 degrees and the humidity was so high that it was like breathing steam and walking through molasses. He was in shorts and a tank top and took even the tank top off after a while. I liked looking but it makes me feel dangerous things so I had to stop. Made me feel like a hypocrite after the way I’d snapped at Uncle George. Rand seems to like being all hot and bothered – he kept winking when he’d catch me looking – but I’m not sure how I quite feel about it yet.
July 25th – Heat finally broke. Took nearly three days but we had a powerful rain storm that started this afternoon and has lasted until it got dark. Rand and I got tired of sitting in the dark so we used the wind up lamp up here in the dormer. Can’t have the window open because it is still raining but at least the fan should work for a while yet, at least until we can get to sleep.
Sunday all we ate was fruit, mostly the same for yesterday which was OK because it was too hot to work. Today though I cooked breakfast and then baked cornbread. I got so hot while I was watching the cornbread fry that I started seeing spots. Rand saw me start acting wobbly and got a bucket of water and made me sit with my feet in it until I could catch my breath. But it was good to have something more solid in our stomachs.
Too tired after the heat to do much even though it has cooled down. I’m just taking a break from reading some of Daddy’s notes to write notes of my own. Rand is nodding off though so I’m going to stop and see if I can’t convince him to give it up and just lay down.
July 26th – Saw Pastor Ken today. He doesn’t look good at all. Rand was down at the county road gate checking on the yucca plants that grow there for me. I was in the middle of canning some apple marmalade and couldn’t leave it and I wanted to see how many of the plants there were down there and see about maybe transplanting some of the yucca and agave down to the area where the palmettos are. I’m trying to find “wild” foods to take advantage of.
Anyway, Rand said he saw Pastor Ken rolling by and saw how awful he looked and basically just scooted him over, took the buggy reins out of his hands, and drove him back here. We got him on the lanai and I made up some raspberry shrub … I remember the pastor saying he was fond of raspberries … and then after it looked like he was reviving a little I fixed a plate of the yellow rice and chicken that I had cooked up using canned chicken and dried peas. When he finished that I made Rand talk him into eating a couple of the baked apple doughnuts left over from breakfast.
He looked some better after that and was able to say that there have been nearly a dozen heat-related deaths over the last couple of days. Momma O was nearly one of them until Paulie was able to convince her to sit in the horse trough and pretend she was vacationing at the beach like when she was a girl. That would have been a sight to see that’s for sure though I don’t mean to make fun. It must have been pretty scary for her family.
“It’s lack of water and the ability to cool down. People don’t have the sense or the experience. When it is hot like this people shouldn’t be moving around in the heat of the day.”
I mumbled, “Said the pot to the kettle.”
I didn’t think I was saying it that loud but there had been a sudden lull in the conversation. Rand started choking on the water he was drinking and Pastor Ken started laughing outright once he’d gotten passed being surprised. “You’re right of course. I just don’t feel I have much choice. So many people are coming down sick and there is little enough I can do at the clinic these days. A minor injury can be handled by the regular staff and anything major gets triaged and they can handle that kind of care as well. Often enough it is end of life and easing their fears. We don’t have any more pain medication, antibiotics, steroids, nothing. We are even out of gauze and bandaids and have been reduced to sterilizing sheets and tearing them into strips. They have to use sewing thread and fishing line for stitches.
I looked at Rand and he just looked back. I guess he couldn’t read my mind and I hated to say anything to him in front of the preacher. We have a bunch of bottles, I didn’t see the harm in giving him one. Thankfully Rand understood after I showed him the bottle behind Pastor Ken’s back.
“Pastor Ken, I know this isn’t much but here’s a bottle of ibuprofen and another of acetaminophen. And here is a bottle of honey. Momma always put it on our small ouches when we were little. She said it was to keep the germs out and sweeten us up.” I remembered that last bit with a smile. My Momma could dish out her own silliness when in the mood. “And maybe you can talk to some of the older ladies still living … I mean the lots older ladies that would remember what they had to use way back when there wasn’t any money for doctors. And while I’m thinking of it, ask Alicia too. Her Daddy was … well anyway; her family was into all natural stuff so she might know something that could help.”
Both Rand and Pastor Ken looked at me weird and then Rand got silly and grabbed me and pulled me behind him and he said real dramatic like, “You can’t have her, she’s mine!”
Pastor Ken cracked up and I tried to swat Rand but he moved too quickly. It was too hot to chase him so I let it go but I did tell him to behave or I wasn’t going to give him the last biscuit like he asked for. That made Pastor Ken laugh even harder. I’m not sure what is up. I guess all real men are chauvinists at heart and letting them just let it out in the open every so often keeps them healthy and happy. I didn’t always agree with Aunt Wilma but I will say this for her, she let boys be boys instead of trying to knock it out of them.
The other thing that Pastor Ken had to say scares me and I’m not sure what to make of it. He said there was a man in town looking for me. I thought for a second maybe the man I buried wasn’t Uncle Charlie after all but when I asked Pastor Ken to describe him to me I knew it couldn’t be him. Different height, older, talked very proper … I haven’t got a clue who it could be.
He’s going to bring him to the gate tomorrow morning and I’ll guess I’ll know then … and know what this might mean for me.