They do things, you see. Strange phrases catch their attention, and become songs, or mantras, or buzz-words, for days or for years. The Donut In A Container Song. The Birthday Bat for my wife's birthday over there and the phrase "Corn and worms for you!" The Bat did not make an appearance last night but the phrase sure got born, and quite frankly I could go on and on, but none of it would make sense to anyone but two regular readers of mine, being my mother-in-law and my wife. One, you see, was the instigator, and the other was the one who grew up with this sort of thing. And that's just it--she grew up with strangeness abounding in the house, my very young brother and sister-in-law are growing up with it right now, and I envy that.
My childhood was straight-laced and a bit dour. My father was very quiet, my mother very uptight, and so I don't really know where I got my off the wall humour from. I certainly never got to sing the Donut In A Container Song, nor did I know what the Bug Dance was. Ah, but I'm catching up fast.
All Souls Day
I don't know if it's the day before or the day after All Hallow's Eve that the family is supposed to go out and clean up the dead ancestor's gravesites, but if it's before then my brother and I have done our fair share for the next decade.
I've mentioned the old family cemetary plot up on the hill I think. It's a very old (1850's) family plot, set up on a hill that, unfortunately, now overlooks a major four-lane highway. But it's set in the trees, and it hasn't been really taken a lot of good care of until here of late. New headstones and a good general clean-up of the hilltop have made it beautiful again. This Sunday morning was the second Sunday of our huge work-out, and involved such things as felling largish trees and clearing a lot of underbrush, vines, and finding some suspicious old whiskey bottles.
The best part of the day? The last tree we felled was an old cedar growing right along the very old fence along the outside of the cemetary. It had been split in two down at it's roots by one of the last two major storms, and as such it was leaning well across the cemetary proper. We all knew that if rot felled it, it would take out at least five or six of the very new and very nice marble headstones, so it had to go, somehow.
Using our country-bred smarts, I tossed a rope over a fork in the trunk about fifteen feet up, then headed down the state's right-of-way incline toward the highway, letting my 230 pounds hang out over the slope by that nylon strap. My brother stood in the cemetary and pushed on it toward me, and my cousin took the chainsaw and took a huge wedge out of the side, so it'd fall sideways and not the way gravity really wanted it to go. Our sincere hopes were to drop it in a ten foot wide clear space along the old fence, between the cemetary and me hanging out over the highway's cliff, and if it fell more toward me and took out the fence then so be it, as long as it didn't fall into the headstones.
The cousin had to be stopped at one point from starting to cut while standing UNDER the intended falling path of the tree, but it went well otherwise. At one point I had to loosen my hold on the rope so my hand would not get crushed from the pressure, and when I released the tension I heard a horrific "CRACK" from the trunk, everyone started shouting all at once, I heaved the rope and myself out into free-fall, my brother pushed untl his shirt tore, the cousin gouged the Poulan back into the trunk and within an instant the tree came loose, I almost took a tumble down twenty feet of roadway embankment, and the tree fell, freakishly, PERFECTLY between headstones and the fence, right in that narrow 10' corridor of clear grass. It's uppermost point fell within a foot of a headstone so old it didn't even have dates, just initials.
I nearly fainted when I saw it had worked perfectly.
Then I broke into a top-of-my-lungs rendition of "I'm A Lumberjack And I'm Okay."