Making the Rounds for Mother

When I pulled into 1618 Kingsway Drive late April 18 after a marathon month on the road that took me from Missouri to Ohio to Florida to Ohio, then back to Missouri, the first thing I noticed was a single red rose on the bush around the yard on the front yard.

The next morning, the bush was covered in blooms. Even though we had several days of torrential rain over the past few weeks, there were quite a few blooms ready for me to make the Mother’s Day rounds.

I don’t like plastic flowers

I’d rather leave some ratty real blossoms cut from the front yard instead of plastic plants made out of dead dinosaurs. The latter might last longer, but they are impersonal. The first stop was Wife Lila’s mother’s grave in St. Mary’s Cemetery off Perry Avenue.

Unusual tributes

My brothers and I usually mark Mother and Dad’s graves with things we pick up on the road, or things from the house. I’ve left tiles from the ruins of a building in Cairo, a railroad spike from Wittenberg and a coin smashed flat by a train car. David and Mark have buried tiny shoes from Mother’s shoe collection and Christmas ornaments.

Mother was an unusual lady, so we think she’d appreciate our quirky leavings.

“Who will decorate the graves?”

I spent many hours with Mother driving all over Cape and Stoddard counties visiting tiny cemeteries that contained the final resting places of her friends and family. This is my grandparents’ grave in Advance. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

I don’t know how many times I heard her ask, “Who will put flowers on the graves after I’m gone?”

I’ll do my best.

The Clothespin Bag

Mary Steinhoff's clothespin bag 05-07-2016I’m at the stage of life where I should be getting rid of stuff instead of acquiring more, so I haven’t claimed a lot of things from Mother’s house. One thing I snagged was the clothespin bag she’d hook over the line while hanging up the laundry.

She and Wife Lila both preferred to dry clothes and sheets where the wind and sunlight can do the job, even though perfectly good dryers were available.

Wood cart Plan A didn’t work

Mary and Ken Steinhoff loading firewood 10-13-2004The basement has some furnace ducts, but most of the heat comes from a wood-burning fireplace. For Mother’s 2004 Birthday Season, I bought her a garden cart that has been featured in a bunch of funny family photos.

The only problem was that it could just barely make it through the basement door, and, when fully loaded, weighed more than she did.

It became the wood depot

Basement Kingsway Dr 10-13-2004Whenever one of us boys hit town, we’d load the cart to the brim for her to draw from if the weather was too bad to go outside to replenish the wood bins on either side of the fireplace

The bright-colored fold-up thing on the left wide of the photo was the laundry cart she’d use to haul the wet clothes down the hill to the “garden” where the clothesline lived.

“It’s too nice for wood”

For short hauls from the wood stacked outside to the bins, she’d load the firewood into a clumsy metal cart that would just as likely dump its load as carry it if it wasn’t balanced just right. On top of that, the wheels and axles had long gone kaput, and Brother Mark had “repaired” them with axles that were about two inches too long on each side, so they’d snag the door weather stripping on the way through.

I hated that bleeping cart, so I bought her a nice-sized heavy-duty plastic cart that wasn’t too heavy, was well-balanced and would fit through the door.

“Smile and say ‘thank you'”

Mary Steinhoff gets new washer 10-16-2008After she had a fit about it, (leading to a discussion about “what you do when someone gives you a gift, even if you don’t want it,” leading to the right answer, “You grit your teeth, smile and say, ‘thank you.'”) but, eventually, she smiled and said, “Thank you.”

The only problem was that she didn’t want to “get it dirty,” so she wouldn’t put firewood in it. It got pressed into service replacing that cloth rolling laundry cart, which WAS a good second choice.

This, by the way, was her cranky expression. We got that during Birthday Season 2008 when she came home to find out that we had replaced her washer, which was leaking water all over the floor. We finally convinced her that it wasn’t a good idea to be standing in water while operating an electrical appliance.

She was more accepting by 2009

Sending it on its wayShe was ready to kick her old dryer to the curb in 2009, so we didn’t get much resistance when we replaced it.

Mark and I kept trying to convince her to let us move the clothesline closer to the house so she wouldn’t roll down the hill, be buried under a bunch of wet clothes, then drained dry by a cloud of mosquitoes, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

By last fall, we could tell her energy was fading because she was using the dryer more and more. Mark and I planned to surprise her with a new clothesline, but we never got the chance.

Laundry on the line

Malcolm running through laundry 10-06-2007I’ll keep Mother’s clothespin bag hanging in my office, and Wife Lila will keep hanging laundry on the line for grandkids like Malcolm, age three at the time, to run through. (Here’s the video version of it.)

When I went away to school at Ohio University, the semester was winding down; I was working as photo editor for the school paper, and I had a bunch of final exam work to get done, so Mother’s Day slipped by unobserved.

That mistake made me sure it never happened again, hence this post. Happy Mother’s Day!




A Change of Seasons

Old Man's Cave 05-11-2014Friend Anne, who flew into Columbus Sunday to roadtrip to Florida with Curator Jessica got a completely different view of Old Man’s Cave than Foodie Jan did in February 2013.

February vs May

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013I told both Jan and Anne that one of the nice things about the park was that the gorge has enough twists and turns that you feel like you are alone even when other people are in the park. That statement certainly was true when the temperature was about 24 degrees.

That doesn’t apply to Mother’s Day Sunday after a cold winter, we found. The park hosted the biggest crowd I had ever seen there, and the noise levels were proportional to its size. There was lots of kid hollering and squealing going on all around us.

Still, I don’t begrudge them their fun. From what I saw, it was Mother’s Day they’ll remembered.

No crowds at Pencil Sharpener Museum

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum 01-24-2013We didn’t have to fight with the crowds at the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum. I think Anne was impressed.

Early Mother’s Day Gift

Mary Steinhoff with hedge trimmer for Mother's DayOne of the last things Brother Mark asked me to do before I left Cape was to check out Mother’s hedge trimmer. He said the last time he used it, it gave him a little buzz, and not the good kind. He thought maybe the power cord should be replaced.

I remembered it well: it was probably about as old as I am. It had a metal case and a 12″ blade. Since our house was built long before three-prong plugs were invented, somebody – probably Dad – had broken off the ground prong so you could plug it into a two-prong outlet.

That meant if the trimmer shorted out, YOU were the effective ground, particularly if you were standing in wet grass.

I quietly slipped out and went to the local emporium of tools and toys and bought her a newer version that has a longer blade, more power and was lighter than her old disaster-waiting-to-happen trimmer.

That’s ENOUGH!

Mary Steinhoff with hedge trimmer for Mother's DayMother isn’t big on change, so I bought a mushy Mother’s Day card and a cute bow (which, observing the Family Frugality Rule, I affixed in such a manner it could be reused) and left it in her spot on the kitchen table while she was sleeping.

To my surprise, she loved it. Loved it so much that nothing green in the yard is safe.

“That’s ENOUGH!” I said. “You’re not going to have anything left but a stump.”

I turned around and saw her attacking a dandelion that had the audacity to stick its head out of the ground. “Wow,” she said, “I can even use this like a weed eater.”

For the record, I did a finger count when I left town. She had ten digits when I pulled out of the driveway. I hope she doesn’t think she can use the hedge trimmer on finger and toenails.