“Don’t you just love a good piece of wood?”

LumberMikeMozartFlickrLumber/Mike Mozart/Flickr

When I used to shoot stock photography, in the forum we’d all joke about how we had tried to apply the Undo or Clone or whatever (as in Photoshop) in real life. I’ve often wished I could hit an imaginary Back button in real life, and especially an Undo as applies to words.  I’m pretty sure I won the Undo award at Home Depot tonight.

One of the guys who works there (he’s at least in his 40s, so is not some silly kid) is used to me, and I’ve said some dumb-ass stuff to him before, believe me, but I’m still cringing from tonight. I was in the lumber section and long story short, he said did I see the planks over there? We walked over there and I gasped. “Ooh! I walked right by those! Those are nice.”

“Yeah, these will be good for what you want, I bet.”

We both stood there running our hands over the planks, talking about what I’d use them for, etc. And I mean we were having a normal conversation while caressing the planks the whole time. I said I’d have to go back home and “measure twice, cut once” and he nodded sagely. Our conversation was pretty much done but I couldn’t stop touching (okay, stroking, caressing, running my hands all over) the planks. I said, “I just love a good piece of wood. Don’t you just love a good piece of wood? Gosh this feels good.”

His face.

Tears actually came up in his eyes right away, but he kept an almost straight face. He has a mustache and his entire mouth disappeared under it as he struggled. His face got all pink right away too. I remember kind of blinking and I’m pretty sure my face crumpled up. We just stood there looking at each other and it was totally not awkward. It was just a sort of an acknowledgment of: Yup, you said that, there is no save.

I made some kind of horrible apologetic face that probably made me look like I had to throw up, and there was a stupid smile in there somewhere. His eyebrows went up like: All righty, then… move along.

I said, “Right. Measure twice, cut once. So… going home now.” He nodded. I walked away wanting to cry.

I know this is funny now, but it wasn’t so much at the time. Well, it kind of was, and I could have brayed out my usual awkward laughter as when something like this happens, but tonight was really a bit beyond the usual.

And I still have to go back there. Oh boy.

I can’t unhear this (Mom)

Copyright 2015 YawningDog/Kate GarrensonMom: Artist’s Hands by YawningDog

Mom has been retired for about six months now. She’s 73 (looks 60 — I should be so lucky). She’s also an artist — a frustrated artist who hasn’t had the time, opportunity or self-confidence to hone her craft other than sporadically.

It didn’t take long for her to go all Telephone Thing on me nearly every day (usually twice a day at minimum). That’s understandable — she’s retired but is currently living with one of my brothers until her cottage is finished (that’s a story in itself, and not a good one). So, not only is she down from working 70 hours a week to none, she’s lost at sea in her own ocean.

The History of Mom will have to be another post, so let me just get this out of my system.

She called tonight just before I was about to put dinner on the table. She tends to go on and on when on the phone (and in person), so I said, “What’s up?”

CallingWoman1MarcelOosterwijkCalling woman I by Marcel Oosterwijk on Flickr

“What are you up to?”

“Dinner.”

“Oh, okay, I’ll let you get back to it. I just wanted to tell you that there’s been a development.”

“A development.”

“A development in my life. But yeah, but I’ll call you tomorrow and tell you all about it.”

I have visions of tossing and turning all night wondering what this development could be. The way things have been in her life lately, it could be anything from a new recipe to a potential boyfriend, and I’d like to get the discovery over with now. “Mom, you can’t just say there’s been a development in your life and then say you’ll tell me all about it in 24 hours.”

“But you’re busy.”

“Tell.”

“A hummus platter.”

I actually take the phone away from my ear, frown at it, put it back. There’s no way she’s calling me about hummus. “What?”

“I was talking to the waitress.”

“Okay. So…?”

*crickets*

“Well… should I have sex?”

My first thought: she just said this in a restaurant. My second thought came out of my mouth — “How the hell should I know?” — at the same time my inner child put its hands over its ears and chanted, La la la la, I can’t hear you!

lalalalaIdontwanttohearthisHildeSkjolbergFlickrLalalala.. I don’t wanna hear this by Hilde Slkjølberg on Flickr

“Well, there are mitigating circumstances.”

Mitigating.

“Mom… if you have desire and want to do it, then do it. If there are circumstances that might make you, I dunno, question doing it or regret it afterwards or whatever, then don’t do it.”

*crickets*

“Well… in a nutshell. Hmm. Okay, thanks, honey.”

“Okay Mom.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

Yikers. My ears. My psyche.

Copyright 2015 YawningDog/Kate GarrensonShocked Eyes by YawningDog

Homelessness, Heartache… and Hygiene

Before you read this post, read this:
Al Jazeera: Hygiene and Heartache

If you can’t be bothered to read that, don’t read this post.

HomelessGroupWithDogsFrancoFoliniOnFlickrHomeless Woman with Dogs, by Franco Folini on Flickr

The Al Jazeera article just made me cry, and I don’t do that much. Homelessness in all its forms is a concern of mine, but reading about what these women go through really got to me. On a day when I’ve been doing yard work and I get stinky, I can run inside and shower up real quick before work or before going out in public as a disgusting mess.

Maybe it’s because I’m one of those people — okay, one of those women — who is not the ideal of womanhood in that I sweat: I do not perspire gently or “glow.” I sweat and I stink, in all ways, all over — truly gross. I’ve warned my husband not to get too close to me at such times. I’ll never forget dragging out an old batch of T-shirts from the back of the drawer several years ago and thinking I should use them for yard work. They were clean, washed. I saw some GAPO on some of them and it prompted me to smell them. There was a lingering odor of old sweat washed many times. I was sitting on the floor with this pile of T-shirts around me, smelling the pits and wrinkling my nose. “Ugh. Eew. Ugh! Yuck. Really?”

Nitram walked into the room and gave me the side-eye. “What… are you doing?”

I handed him one of the T-shirts. “Smell this… in the armpit.”

He did, and made an appropriate face, handing it back to me with an odd look of —- dare I say it — almost pride, or some kind of weird respect on his face. “You — you are a force to be reckoned with.”

“I know! Gross, right?”

“Oh yeah.”

Thank heavens for tolerant husbands.

Thank heavens for our house, our warm shower, and all the daily things we take for granted that go along with that.

Homelessness comes with a myriad of problems generally inconceivable to most of us. This post in particular focuses on hygiene — female hygiene — but trust me, there are other and many more problems that are a daily concern to homeless people — hunger and warmth and health, to name a few. Respect any person would give another person they pass on the street — that’s a big one.

Another is homeless people who have pets. Maybe it’s a knee-jerk reaction, but I’ve heard so many people say things like, “They’re homeless, how they can afford to have a pet?” Or, so much worse, “They’re homeless — they don’t deserve to have a pet.”

Oh, really? If you even have to think about that one, well then: Fuck. You.

HomelessGroupWithDogsFrancoFoliniOnFlickrHomeless Group with Dogs, by Franco Folini on Flickr

As is often the case, women have a special sort of hell reserved for them in this instance: hygiene. (Women have the same hell reserved for them in regular life, too  — so many men haven’t a clue to what it takes to be one’s own definition of clean, much less a man’s definition of how a woman “should” be clean.) Men don’t bleed out of their genitals monthly, that’s one thing. Men don’t have to shave their pits to feel attractive. Nor do some women, but most of us still feel the need to do so. I’ve been shaving my pits since I was a teen, and if I let it go too long, the feeling of that crispy, growing bit of hair under my arms drives me crazy. I think: Ick, how do men live like that? Yuck! But it all comes down to what you’re used to in your life. And so many women are used to being at least somewhat smooth-skinned, and clean in their gennies.

SailorsPerformComminityServiceOfficalUSNavyPageCClicenseFemHygieneSailors Perform Community Service, Official U.S. Navy Page on Flickr

See, because it doesn’t matter if you just want to just keep clean, or what country you’re in, or how smelly you are or aren’t in your regular life, or if you’re male or female. It’s just a basic thing with homeless people that aside from those who have mental/emotional/psychological or other unimaginable problems that prevent them from taking care of the most basic of necessities for themselves, there are the others who are “like us.” Seriously: truly just like us, or your version of what “like us” means, but without a home or house — who quite literally do not have a fucking pot to piss in. Or a tampon or sanitary pad. Or toilet paper. Or access to a shower or other basic sanitary facility in which they don’t have to worry about being raped or disrespected in some way.

Don’t make me do your homework for you. See what kind of homeless assistance is available to you locally: it’s only a click away.

And if you feel a need to make a judgmental comment on homelessness in general in response to this post, you’re reading the wrong blog. So go back to FB and spout off there. Otherwise: Thank you.