How much Bohemian Rhapsody is TOO much Bohemian Rhapsody?

I love Queen as much as the next person, but J has done all that is in his power to play Bohemian Rhapsody until we’ve been on the brink of tears.  And, sadly, he is doing it on purpose…not because he hates us, but because we re-arranged the furniture in the family room and he has re-designated it as The J Room.

He wasn’t into the whole furniture re-arranging/re-configuring project yesterday.  Skepticism doesn’t begin to describe the sort of attitude that met us as we started working on this.  J sat on the couch looking at us like the cat had just dragged us in…I know because I had seen J staring at Miss Pipa as she brought a grasshopper into the house a few afternoons ago.  The look he gave her was EXACTLY the same as the one he was giving us yesterday as, with very little cooperation from him, we started emptying shelves and moving things here and there.

J was so NOT into this whole thing that at one point we heard him harrumph and then he sat in what we call a modified Lotus position, with his elbows resting on his knees, his hats roguishly placed askew on top of his head and a look of contempt in his eyes.  He sort of reminded us of Lewis Carroll’s Caterpillar…the only thing missing was the hookah, but J still managed to make the straw from his insulated cup give the same effect.  “Hey’, we told him, ‘it’s going to be nice!  You’ll see!!!”  With a shrug, he turned back to his iPod dock and started what can only be construed as his version of sitting-in and singing We Shall Not Be Moved…  Freddie Mercury sang Bohemian Rhapsody so many times in a row that even the recording sounded tired.  That J managed to sync this looping song to one of his Madeline videos made things a little more tolerable, but more on that later…

The morning had started in much the same way Sunday mornings usually start around here: we played some Boccherini on the CD player while we ate a leisurely breakfast which was suddenly interrupted by J’s overwhelming desire to vacuum the carpet in his room.  We invited him to listen to some more Boccherini and he obliged…for about a minute…and then he wanted to change the sheets on his bed and start laundry.  We didn’t move other than to reach for the butter.  J tapped his foot and, in hopes of speeding things up, grabbed the French press and refilled our coffee cups…then he sat down and tapped his foot as, chin resting on hands and elbows propped on table, he looked from one of us to the other to the other.

Much to his chagrin, the ploy didn’t work and no one rushed through breakfast.  Once we were done, well, that’s another story.  J then leapt like a man possessed by joy and happily bounced up the stairs towards his room.  Chores were completed in less than twenty minutes, and that includes the usual roadblocks we put up for him to slow him down.  At one point we heard TGG say “gee, dude, thanks…now I’m going to get the whole why can’t you clean your room as fast as J does???”  Again, to slow him down, I sent them three on an expedition to drop off the recycling while I cleaned the dining room and kitchen.

J’s bubble burst when he realized that we were, indeed, going to work in the family room.  In order to make us not want to work there, he made himself so comfortable on the couch it seemed a pity to move him.  As we started emptying shelves, I started explaining to the room in general what was to be done.  These shelves, I said…MAMAAAAA OOOOOH OOOOH OOOH OOOH…are going to get stacked…DIDN’T MEAN TO MAKE YOU CRY…and the others will flank them.  IF I’M NOT BACK AGAIN…And the lamps…THIS TIME TOMORROW…can go on the lower units…CARRY ON…with the timer…CARRY ON…and that way one can read…AS IF NOTHING REALLY MATTERS…or work at the desk…

TGG, who had been trying to listen and occasionally turned to glare at his brother (you know the look…the “dude!  She’s going to get pissed off!!!” look,) suddenly started laughing so loud that WE turned to glare at HIM!  And then we saw it…

Madeline: Lost in Paris…expertly maneuvered courtesy of the remote control so that what was happening on the screen, through a series of pauses, slow-motions, fast-forwards, quick toggles back-and-forth, seemed to be re-enacting what was happening in the song…Pepito, the Spanish ambassador’s arrogant son, arms open wide, eyes closed and with as rapturous a look on his face as a simply-drawn cartoon can have, did his best Freddie Mercury impression.  TGG, who sometimes forgets how cool and funny J can be because he’s 21 and it’s normal for this to happen, was so impressed with his brother’s witty handling of the DVD and the music that we lost one set of hands to the entertainment provided by J, the saboteur.

In the end, as lunchtime arrived, the younger members of the family abandoned the family room long enough for the older people (the semi-arthritic, in need of readjusting glasses constantly in order to properly handle screws, nuts and bolts, ow ow I can’t get up from this position, what was that you said?do you mean your left or my left? people in the household) to re-arrange the whole room in record time.  When J and TGG emerged from their break and J saw the furniture placement, he immediately leapt and clapped his hands.  All this????  For me????  Oh, you are AWESOME!!!!  Now GO AWAY!!!  What?  You’re not leaving?  Oh, then we’re ALL going to listen to Bohemian Rhapsody for the fiftieth time today!!!!!

It might be that we have found a cure for arthritis.  It might be that, rather than glucosamine or whatever it is people take for their knees, Bohemian Rhapsody is the right remedy for all these ailments.  It made US run up the stairs.  Such alacrity has not been displayed by the middle-aged population of this household since the great Red Solo Cup incident of Spring 2012…yeah, I know that was mere weeks ago…but J is still basking in the glory…and in the family room.


One trip…several stops…and home

The weather forecast was less than auspicious when we crawled into bed last night, but we kept to our plan and made it to market very early.  Lines had formed at most of the stalls, but the ones we frequent were blessedly sparse in attendance.  A line formed at these after we left, and J was very happy to say hello to his newfound friends the vendors.  His newfound friends at the bakery were happy to see the sure-thing cinnamon roll customer, and the people at the library have also grown used to J’s hearty, room-filling hello.  We are usually among the first to arrive so there’s not much need for quiet at that time.  I wonder if all these people have started to measure the briskness of business by whether Two-Hat Man has turned up yet or not.

We all went to breakfast together.  TGG had just returned from work and was not yet tired enough to sleep so we talked him into joining us.  The coffee left much to be desired, but J was so happy with his pancakes (which we didn’t know the sign for this morning, but know the sign for now,) and his eggs and bacon that it was worth the trip.  After that, Dada and the kids went to the bookstore while I went to the crafts’ store to buy supplies to tide us over until school starts in mid-August.

Breakfast was substantial enough that J didn’t really require food until later this afternoon, and then he was very modest.  Between returning home from the store and now, he’s been sitting in the living room listening to music.  We have crossed the room dancing along to whatever he’s listening to, and once he got wind of what our plan was, he made sure to play rather interesting tunes as soon as he heard us walking down the stairs.

Whatever was annoying him on Thursday is now forgotten, and J has been funny and fun to be with since then.  This morning, on our way to market, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was playing on the radio and he insisted that we all  get into the act.  As he giggled, we all emoted and did our best Freddie Mercury impressions.  J, who commands the car radio from the backseat, happily moved from one station to the next until he found something else we could all sing along to…badly.

The rain that was forecast for today has yet to materialize.  Every thick cloud bank has dashed past us, towards the north and away from here.  We are hoping that it either comes with gusto in the middle of the night or early tomorrow morning.  The grass is far from green and the plants survive because J is so insistent about watering them.  Early in the morning he peeks out and, if anything looks wan, he immediately mobilizes to get the watering cans ready.  If it rains tonight and tomorrow, this won’t be necessary until Monday.  On Monday we will check how J’s lettuce seeds are doing…he tends to get frustrated when things don’t germinate fast enough.

For now, I’m just planning on having him help reorganize the living room tomorrow.  We are already wondering where the Christmas tree will go…and yes, we know it’s early, but one cannot leave this until too late.  Considering that once school starts things get hectic around here, I need to make sure that we have plenty of time to figure out how the living room will best be configured for those long winter days when J goes nowhere and invades the now not-frozen tundra.

We used to be “people without furniture” and now we have all sorts of things.  Each time we rearrange furniture it becomes an even more convoluted process, especially since we’re consulting everyone in the household.  The only thing that never moves is the TV.  We’ve never wanted it to be the focus point of the living room so we don’t worry about that, but -and J is the one who determines this- the couch has to be placed so that we can watch TV from it, and there has to be room for the exercising…and enough light for reading…and the bookcases have to be handy…and so what used to be done in three shakes of a tail now requires quite a big of wagging.  J has been circling the couch for the past two days and then he sits and tries to reach the stereo, the table where we keep the remote controllers and, of course, tries to navigate towards the bathroom without having to move anything.  His greatest complaint right now is that when he’s folding laundry, he cannot point the remote control at the DVD player to change the track on his CD without having to get up.  The other day this caused quite a bit of emoting, and I simply got up and changed it for him, moving from one track on to the next until he was satisfied, and as soon as I sat down J gave me a look that said “you don’t want to spend all your time getting up to do this, do you???”

In truth, consolidating some shelving units is the way to go, and this means that J will be in charge of the hex drivers, the joint plates, the screwdrivers, screws, and so forth.  It is as much an exercise in rearranging the living room as it is an exercise in J sorting screws, tools and using the measuring tape and chalk.  I’ve told Dada we need an extra-strong pot of coffee tomorrow morning to survive the demands of “J in charge.”

That’s where we are…and now it’s time for me to sit down and watch Madeline with J…someone has to stretch their arm to properly point at the DVD player and TV, right?  Might as well be me…or I will drown in sighs and harrumphs from the one who thinks the furniture placement is all wrong!!!  All wrong, I tell you…

When the rain that falls doesn’t quite satisfy…

The Cat in the Hat didn’t show up today.  Perhaps if it had been raining in earnest, but no…this rain is more reminiscent of an annoying case of post-nasal drip.  This morning, as soon as he looked out the sliding door in the kitchen, J said OH NO! in that plaintive way that says “it’s not nice enough to sit outside and yet it’s not nasty enough to relish being indoors.”  The expletive wasn’t said out loud, but it scrolled around his head as he smiled at me.

J has the patience of a saint.  I know this because he has been patient with me all day, pretending to care as he humors me in my attempts to entertain him.  I have created messes where there were none, and together we’ve put things to rights.  I had to leave some stuff for tomorrow, of course, as the rain will likely continue through the rest of the weekend.  Why?  Well, because God has a sense of humor…we’ve discussed this already.  It’s not enough rain to impede anything other than J getting outdoor-time, and this puts us in a position to entertain each other.  See?  God needed a giggle and so he looked at the platypus first and then asked “what are those two up to?”  Seeing that we were in a nice, laid back groove, he decided rain was the thing…but, again, only so much as to make us hang out inside out of comfort rather than necessity.

And then God reminded J that he owns a Glee CD that includes Uptown Girl and Red Solo Cup.  If that is not enough to not recommend it, I don’t know what is.  I tried to escape the din all afternoon to no avail.  You know you’re in trouble (musically speaking) when putting things in perspective means “at least it’s not Kidz Bop!”  Yes, it IS torturously bad…


A soft breeze and light rain followed us as we did our shopping earlier this evening.  J was helpful at the store, and made suggestions about which snacks we should get.  We are very happy that he now will accept a small portion of anything we offer him.  He even voluntarily divides food into smaller portions than he would have demanded in the past.  A can of Pringles that would have disappeared in ten minutes now lasts a week, and he can be trusted to “shop” for his snacks on his own.  All I have to do is ask him to get his snack box and fill it, and J goes to the pantry and carefully selects the items he wants for each day.  Not once has he snacked while completing this task and he also has not put more items in the box than I would have.

After shopping we stopped to order from our favorite Thai restaurant.  I decided to go ahead and order take-out while J went to buy a sandwich from his favorite deli.  J and Dada met me at the restaurant and, to J’s delight, there was live music there tonight.  A fiddler and accordion player animated the wait time with lovely, lilting music.  J, eyes closed and fingers modulating the sounds coming into his ears, smiled happily.  The musicians, however, could not see the smile and, suspecting that they would assume he was being a brat about the music, we dropped a tip in their bucket and a note (that J signed) where I wrote: I really enjoy your music.  I am autistic and I cover my ears because I hear too much.  Carefully, J spelled out his name at the bottom, and then proceeded to smile and tap his foot along to the music.  As we left, he slowly walked through the picture window and looked at the instruments.  The lady who was playing the fiddle looked at him with a very polite smile, but something in her body language and the very direct look she gave us tells me that my instincts were right: she must’ve thought J was being rude.

Tomorrow morning, before the rain starts again, we will be going to market.  Perhaps there will be live music there.  There hasn’t been in the past two weeks, but tomorrow there might be someone playing.  J likes to stand a little apart from the music, and he likes to turn and clap and look up to the sky.  In the restaurant there was no space for that…we were waiting by the door and the space was narrow…and how can J look up to the sky when he’s indoors???  But I could tell…trust me…the smile said it all, and the OH MY he kept uttering as he listened.

Indoors…all day indoors except to go from the house to the car to the store to the car to the store to the car to the restaurant to the car to the house…but there was music…


Today is Thursday…

Peals of laughter, loud and clear, floated downstairs from J’s room this morning.  I wasn’t even halfway through my coffee and here came, cascading like a happy, babbling brook, the sound that announces it’s going to be a busy morning, and it’s only the preamble for a busy weekend…  If J had been a girl, the most reasonable film character facsimile would have been Giselle from Enchanted.  When he goes enthusiastic on us, dresses will be made from curtains…even as the curtains hang from their rods!

So I chugged down my coffee and prepared to face the J-man.  He bounced down the stairs with the energy of one who knows at noon a three-day break starts, and I received him with the courage of one who knows from Friday to Sunday evening will be finding ways to keep an active, intelligent, inquisitive and demanding young man entertained.  (Insert sign of the cross here…)

Yesterday’s successes must have been fresh in his mind because J was one big ball of joy this morning.  And that ball was bouncing off the walls, down the stairs, in the hallway, in and out of bedrooms, down the grassy (now straw-like) slope and the tar-paved road to the corner where we wait for the bus…bounce…bounce…bounce…and thank you, iron pills, for finally kicking in…

We walk to the bus, and we sing and sign.  We wait for the bus, and we sing and sign.  J gets on the bus and, as I walk home by myself, I’m on the brink of singing and signing.  I stop myself because I really don’t want to be the lady who sings and signs when she’s alone.  People already think we are peculiar…interesting…but peculiar.

When the bus arrived in the afternoon, there were reports of J wanting to rule the world.  Not in so many words, but he did give people a run for their money today.  He was NOT pleased with a schedule change, and he was not shy about letting everyone know.  As we walked and I read the note in his comm book, I told him that I knew he got angry when things change, but that he had to be a little more flexible.  As if to prove that, indeed, he DOESN’T have to be any degree more flexible, J fixed his eyes forward and gave a little sigh.  It was not a sigh of “I get what you mean;” it was a sigh of “yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s THURSDAY!”

I’ve basically let him chill out because I can tell that he’s not feeling cooperative today.  I understand.  It’s his version of “Friday evening” and he wants to relax, and I don’t want to push him too far.  I made him help with the new shirts I bought today (thank heavens for that Clearance rack,) and with some of the dry goods I needed to bring down to the laundry room.  I also asked him to help with laundry, and he did help, but he was ready to be done as soon as the machine started and he even turned off the light before I walked out of the room.  I did a loud “ahem!” and he giggled, but I can tell he’s just ready for the TGIF mindset…

It happens to everyone.  We all get to a point when Friday is the best idea anyone’s ever suggested to us.  J’s Friday is today, and he’s ready for it.  As we sit here and wait for the next few steps before “a day off,” J is impatient…Thursday evening, after all, is an early dinner and the ice cream truck, and these things have a couple of hours to go before they materialize.

As usual, I wasn’t expecting yesterday’s prolonged hatlessness and congeniality with a dog, and the sweet surprise of it all made me less ready for this afternoon’s crankiness in the wake of Giselle-like enthusiasm this morning.  Serves me right…I should have known better.

The plan for tomorrow will be to keep him happily occupied.  Fridays are for an early-morning trip to the pool, and then come chores.  Bathrooms tomorrow, which he likes to do because clean mirrors make him happy.  Mind you, this is not because J is anal retentive and likes things clean, but he does love to look at himself and what better way to do this and seem productive than by cleaning bathroom mirrors?  Laundry is another thing we’ll work on, and in the evening we will go shopping for the groceries we need.

But, for now, it is still Thursday and not yet early-dinner or ice cream time.  For now we are navigating the choppy waters of “I just finished a four day stretch of work, lady, and I am in the mood to unwind at my own pace…get out of my way…”

Walking to the mailbox and being surrounded on two sides by dogs (a Basset Hound puppy in front, a Pitbull and the dog version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s Riff Raff in back,) and houses on the left and mother on the right…it was too much.  I swear I heard him HARRUMPH!  If he’d had a cane, he would have rapped me on the head and asked me to move on.  All those wagging tails were not helping matters.  Where was the lovely, friendly, non-anxiety inducing Golden Retriever from yesterday when I needed her????  And, to make matters worse, our mailbox was empty and there were children everywhere we looked.

It was more than he was willing to tolerate.  Charlie Brown would have yelled AAARGH! right about then…

I’m fine with it…I understand.  J’s tolerance for the demands of everyday life is running a little low right now.  Tomorrow is another day, but today…well…today is Thursday…



Hear ye! Hear ye!

Once in a while, when I wake up in the morning, I dare to not think anything is going to come out of that particular day.  Mind you, it’s not that I don’t look forward to “results” days, but I have wised-up enough to know that it’s not always possible to achieve something on a daily basis.  Besides, the definition of “achieve” around here is very realistic…if we make it through the day without J consuming a whole roll of toilet paper and finding it wadded up in the trash can in their bathroom, it’s a good day.

Please, don’t think that my expectations are low, but I am a realist and I know that, after a long chain of successes, it is not unusual to hit a wall…even if it’s a low one, or even the foundation for a wall that will make us trip up.  When you have an autistic individual in your household, you develop a sense of humor about what constitutes “achievement,” and you revisit the definition over and over again because that is part and parcel of the whole gig.

I know what you’re thinking: get to it, woman!

Well…one of the things that has been predominant in these rambling entries of mine has been the presence (ubiquitous) of J’s hats.  One of the goals we have set for ourselves through these past few months has been getting J to not constantly wear his hats.  He does, after all, have a lovely head of hair and we do love seeing it.  J has made huge progress thanks to his timers, hasn’t he?  We’ve documented this progress with as much humor and enthusiasm as anyone can show…

Over the past few months, I’ve tried to also document how J has been slowly emerging from his shell.  Perhaps he is less funny than he was a while back, but he is also more verbal and willing to interact with the whole world.  That he can now go to Market every Saturday, and if not interact at least co-exist with dogs is huge.

J now happily announces what day of the week it is, calls people by their names and manages his schedule board with quite a bit of self-assuredness.  And today…

I’m getting to it, I promise.  I know, of course, that to many it will be anti-climactic, but to me it’s been worth sitting here and savoring.  I don’t even know where to start because, quite honestly, there isn’t much to tell, but it feels (to us humble J-parents who often wonder “what the hell are we doing?”) like quite a monumental achievement.

I wish I had some drums to roll…

Shortly before 3 P.M. J made his way to the kitchen and promptly removed his hats.  I was sitting in the living room and heard the Velcro strap on his scrum cap so I know he took his hat off.  I could hear him singing to himself as he got ice from the refrigerator door.  Then I listened as he sang to himself a little while longer.  Of course, I looked up and, noticing the time and the clouds rolling in, decided to gather our things to go check the mail.  J’s singing and hatlessness had been going on for about fifteen to twenty minutes by then.  At around 3:10, I found J -hatless and happy- in the kitchen, and told him we were going out for the mail.  Without the slightest hesitation, he followed me downstairs and, giving him time to change his mind if he was so inclined, I made a big spectacle of getting my sandals, my hat, an umbrella (it looks like rain,) and my keys.  Hatless, his head naked and free, J followed me…

I walked slowly, mind you.  In part I did this because of the stupid weakness the anemia has made a fact of my everyday life for the past few days; in part, I was giving J a chance to turn around and go for his hats.  Nothing.  Not a move.  Not a frown.  Not a bit of looking over the shoulder and wondering.  On he walked, head held high and smiling from ear to ear.  Past the construction site, past the little dog that sits with its mistress on the stoop, past the last row of townhouses and to the mailboxes…J was happy and hatless.

When we arrived, the mail carried told us that she had just then arrived and it would be a while.  I told J “we can come back later,” and we turned towards the office.  Since the other day he’d been upset about the manager not being there, I took him to the door even though I could see her car wasn’t parked out in front.  “The door is locked,” I told J.  He smiled, and we turned towards home.  Not twenty yards from the door, we heard the little convertible pull up and I told J “would you like to go visit the office?”  He smiled, took my arm and we approached the car.  The manager stepped out and smiled at him, then opened her eyes very wide and said (with her lips pressed tightly together) “where are the hats?”  (It actually sounded more like wherarrhehhaahs?, but I knew what she meant.)  Into the office we went and J asked for his candy very nicely, thanked her (using her name, which he hadn’t done before…he used to crunch Amanda into Anda,) and then walked over to the gym where he climbed on the treadmill for about a minute.

Of course, at this point I am already so proud of J that I could dance all the way home with butterflies flying around my head, but that, my friends, is not the end of it…

As we stood there talking, the manager and I saw a neighbor approaching with his Golden Retriever.  It is a well-known fact around these parts that nothing makes Jack nimble and quick more than a dog…candlesticks are child’s play to this particular Jack when a dog is around.  The owner, having witnessed J in what can only be described as his own version of parkour, calmly waited outside for the manager.  The dog, lovely thing that she is, sat and watched us watching her through the window.  J said DOG WOOF WOOF several times, and calmly observed her from the safety of his position.

And then…

J took my arm and walked me to the door.  I told him the DOG WOOF WOOF was still out there, but he still allowed me to open the door and step outside.  He stayed inside the building, but he was neither cowering nor expecting fire and brimstone to rain upon him.  I approached the dog and let her sniff my hand, she licked it and stayed calm as J looked at her.  When the owner started walking away with her, J stepped out the building, as calm and relaxed as if he’d never disliked a dog in his life.  He wasn’t trying to seem calm.  He was calm.  The dog checked the mail with its owner, and J wanted to follow, but I told him we would wait until they were done.  Once the dog had cleared the area near the entrance of the mail room, we walked over there and got our mail from the box.

We walked home, hatless, having been near a dog, having used a person’s name and happy.  I don’t know what you think, but I would not have dared to imagine such developments for this particular day…

And what a happy surprise this day has been…

Moving at the speed of cooling tar…

My aunts used to say that the weather is one of those things we can only prepare for and hope it shows us mercy.  Erring on the side of caution, they would leave the house equipped with umbrellas (because they serve for protection from rain, sun, and possible assailants,) and hand fans; they also kept in their wallets those small plastic head covers that were folded into a tiny square, but that served the purpose of helping preserve a fresh-from-the-salon do…  These days, I carry an umbrella, fan myself with whatever I can press into service from my purse, have sunscreen handy at all times and still wouldn’t be caught dead with one of those folded pieces of plastic.  The heatwave we experienced over the past few days, however, could not really be managed through any of those means, and it took its toll on me.

I am not one for lazing about.  If you’ve ever met me and spent enough time with me, you will understand why my husband refers to me as the very definition of perpetual motion.  I seem to be spring-loaded is what I’ve been told.  I’ve been falsely accused of always having something to do.  I’ve also been told that there isn’t a single furniture arrangement that I’m ever completely pleased with and I “move furniture” in my mind.  OK, that last one might be true…

That I have been sidelined by a combination of excessive heat and a flaring up of my dreaded iron-deficiency anemia/NOS (which means Not Otherwise Specified rather than Needs Oatmeal Steadily or No Organ Spared as I believed for a while) is mortifying to me.  But there you have it…I seem to be the Energizer Bunny without batteries, or with the old Eveready batteries that had the black cat jumping through one of the letters.  I have, for the time being, run out of juice and am being made to…gasp…rest!  Mortifying and irritating in the extreme.  I’ve read a whole novel, completed several crossword puzzles, made lists of lists of things to do, watched several movies, and basically complained incessantly about my tiredness until everyone else in the house was equally tired.  In other words, I’ve achieved very little.

I would like to point out that there is a reason why I’ve mentioned my current state of laziness…

A few days ago I rigged a plastic crate to use for conveying items from the kitchen balcony to the lower level.  J has thoroughly enjoyed this development.  Not only did he like it when he first started receiving items via this mode of transportation, he then started loving the idea of handling it himself.  Several times a day we would see him climb the stairs to the kitchen, load bottles of water or other things into the crate, lower it carefully, take the stairs back down, empty the crate and then return to the kitchen to retrieve it.  The novelty, as of yet, hasn’t worn off…and J, seeing that I am spending a great deal of time on the couch bemoaning my fate until my iron supplement and the iron-rich diet I’m consuming kick in, has been having a grand old time with the crate.

“I KNOW what you are doing!,” I say from my corner.  J stops mid-leap…his giggle dies down and I get a “look” from him.  A look that says “excuse me?  What DO you mean?”  He comes closer and plants his hats more firmly on his head.  “Just like you’re autistic, not stupid, I’m anemic and it hasn’t affected my eyesight or my intelligence.  I know what you’re up to, McJ!”  J straightens up and goes into full Foghorn Leghorn mode.  Or Daffy Duck…it all depends on how energetic I seem at the moment.  “Have all the fun you can now, young man, because I will be getting up no later than Tuesday and it will be spectacular!!!”

J flashes a smile that says “there, there, poor darling!  You are hallucinating!   We REALLY must give you more spinach.  How about another lovely piece of fish???”  He runs out to the dangling crate, extracts a bottle of water and brings it to me.  WATER.  “Yeah, yeah, buddy, I see the water, but I KNOW that if I get up…”  J gives me a look that is part patient and part irritated, covers me with a blanket and pats me on the head.  SIT.  SIT.  SIT.  BYE!

The whole thing about him coming into his own is a double-edged sword.  Two seconds is all it takes for him to re-arrange the rotation pattern of the whole planet.  One walks into the store, leaving him and his brother in the car, and a text message interrupts “J wants what’s on his list.”  What list?, I ask out loud.  A trip back to the car reveals that the list that only had water, ice and milk when I prepared it now boasts BACON, SODA and CEREAL of a specific brand.  Two seconds. I walk back to the car with said items and J inspects the bags.  “Where did he get the notion about BACON?,” I ask no one in particular.  TGG says “Sunday…tomorrow’s Sunday.  Sunday is bacon.”  J says SUNDAY BACON.  “Don’t put ideas in his head!,” I whisper.  TGG says “I wasn’t even in the room when he put those there.  He took it out of his pocket after you guys left the car and pointed to my cell phone.”  “Well,” I say,” so long as when we get home we hide the LOBSTER, CRAB, SCALLOPS and FILET MIGNON PECS we should be fine.”

This morning, as we walked to the bus, J offered his arm to me.  He knows I’m not at 100% operational strength, and he also knows (because he was watching) that I took my iron supplement as soon as TGG brought it this morning from the pharmacy.  “I’ll be feeling better when you get home,” I told him, and he smiled.  We stood and sang and signed and off he went.  At noon I was waiting for him, and I looked as pale as I did in the morning.  He came up to me and patted my head.  “Getting better!,” I chimed, and he offered me his arm again.

I am hoping that by tomorrow the spring is fully back in my step…he now runs into the room, checks if I’m awake and then moves quickly past me with his back turned and holding things behind him while he smiles broadly.  I haven’t heard any hammering, but I cannot swear on a stack of Bibles that J hasn’t built himself a silo when I wasn’t up to chasing after him…

And another bowl of spinach for me…  🙂


The heat wave is frying our sunny dispositions…

Every swimming-pool season, a day comes when J gets in the water and refuses to come out.  I would like to publicly thank the brutal heat wave we are enduring for this day arriving so early.  My guess was that J would hold off until late August before finally giving in to the urge, but it was this morning’s heat that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

I don’t blame him.  We got to Farmers’ Market by 8:30 this morning, and there wasn’t one single person there who didn’t look like they were on the brink of wilting.  Some of us, and I confess I started wilting as soon as I crawled out of bed, had wilted already.  It was one of those mornings when not even the lightest, coolest clothes seem to have an effect on one’s ability to fight off the heat.  Even the books in the library seemed completely exhausted.

Like the cowards that we are, we came home armed with two 10-pound bags of ice, and we have been working on keeping the upstairs cool.  Last night no one slept as comfortably as they would’ve liked, and it was all because of the darned bubble of hot air parked on the upper level.  Today we are bound and determined to prevent the same from happening…and this might mean dragging everyone downstairs to sleep in the coolest area of the house.

The only thing advising against this strategy is J’s ability and desire to take over parts of the house.  As you already know, the deck is no longer a general area…it’s J’s territory.  We have, in the past, lost the living room to J, and we are not ready to do this at this time.

The year was 2010, and J was slowly emerging from his massive personality-altering temper tantrums.  The heat was not as bad as it is now, and -if anything- the dry air in Santa Fe made it a little more tolerable.  J decided his bedroom was too hot, and parked himself in the living room.  At the time we owned a futon we’d bought shortly after we married, and J opened it and piled all his things on it.  The living room was verboten for everyone, and it took quite a bit of convincing to get J to return to his bedroom after three months of occupying that area.

Ever since then, we’re leery of giving him the opportunity to take over an area that we might want to use as a family.  J doesn’t mind if Dada goes to grill on the deck…there IS something in it for him, after all.  J also doesn’t mind that a good deal of our vegetation is down there because it gives him something to do.  What we cannot do is park ourselves out there with the intention of keeping him company.  To this, with a big smile, J says a quick, firm and irrevocable SIT which means “go inside.”

We’re ok with that.  We understand his desire for an area where he can lounge like the man of the world that he is.  We simply observe him closely and keep an eye on the temperature tracker.  One of us will, every half hour or so, step out there to spritz him with water, turn his umbrella (with its curtains to shade him,) and to remind him that he needs to continue drinking water.  J has an entourage that sees to his every need, and that anticipates his every request.  That’s why when nine P.M. rolls around, the entourage is ready to keel over with tiredness, but considering that J is the one person in the household who is most limited in explaining how the heat is affecting him, we don’t mind.

J was very happy at Market this morning.  He found the cheese he likes (I think the guy was waiting for us because we’ve been asking for the Havarti for three Saturdays in a row now,) and we got there early enough to find his favorite red potatoes.  There was a shorter line than usual at the bakery and J was very happy about that because that meant we could go to the library and then head home.

The library is one of his favorite places.  They still have VHS tapes and J likes to look at them.  We have realized that he misses cover art on movie cases like we miss cover art from LPs.  The other day I found him pulling out some of Dada’s old records and looking at them, curious about the pictures and drawings on the album covers.  Eventually he picked out The Cars by The Cars, and started bouncing around to My Best Friend’s Girl.  Now that he knows what those big, black discs are for, he is fascinated by them.  John Fogerty’s Centerfield was next…he liked the title song and Rock and Roll Girls.  The album covers, however, hold as much sway over him as the old National Geographic Atlas Dada brought with his books many years ago.

Our strategy today is to wilt no further.  I am wishing us luck with that…and I am hoping the weather forecast pans out the way it’s saying it will.  Twenty degrees less than what we have now will be infinitely nicer, and perhaps some rain will appear from somewhere.  J has been watering the plants twice a day to the tune of about fifteen gallons of water per day.  Yes, it sounds like a lot, but it’s really not considering that the plants wilt and dry out by the early evening hours after the thorough watering they get when we get up.  The tomatoes are ripening on the vine almost faster than we can eat them, and this is because of the heat.  In spite of the inauspicious conditions, we will be planting lettuce on Friday, and we need to get more rosemary plants…

The clock and the thermometer inform me that it’s popsicle time…it will be popsicle time again sometime in the late afternoon.  This is how we now measure our time…by temperature…and everybody CONGA!!!!!!