Last week was packed with angst, what with Genius losing the use of his precious laptop on Monday, and Hick planning his upcoming business trip to Sweden for a Saturday departure.
Hick is usually upbeat and looking forward to travel. But the last two times, not so much. I can judge his level of anxiety by the amount of talking he does. I could be talking about something totally unrelated, like the idiosyncrasies of Puppy Jack, and Hick would blurt out something about his trip. He hadn't even left yet, and he was saying he couldn't wait to get home. Like Thursday night, on the front porch giving the dogs their evening snack.
"I'll miss you while I'm in Sweden."
"The animals will miss you. I'll miss you too, but I like it when you're gone."
"I have to switch flights a bunch. And then take the train. I think it'll be night when I take the train. I hope that guy who's supposed to pick me up and take me to the train station is there waiting, because I don't know if my phone will work. Last time it didn't work. I went by the SPRINT store on the way home, twice, and they tell me it will work. But that's what the other kid down here said last time. If my phone doesn't work, and he's not there, I don't know what I'll do."
"I'm sure you could find someone to make a call for you. They do it all the time for people on The Amazing Race. Of course, they have TV cameramen all around them..."
"Yeah. See? I just hope I make it home."
"Why wouldn't you make it home?"
"Planes crash every day..."
"You'll be fine."
"I'm coming home early tomorrow so I can get packed. And go by the pharmacy and make sure I have enough medicine. I'm putting it in my carry on bag with my breather."
So...Hick came home early on Friday afternoon. You know what happens when Hick is here at a different time. It discombobulates me. And the dogs. Every afternoon I go out to walk at 4:30. The dogs come running. They KNOW it's walking time. They jump around and wait for me to stretch out my knees on the steps. Then they run barking up the driveway, jostling and shouldering and play-growling, protecting me from each other, all the while knocking into my legs. After the first 50 feet or so, they run off and I can walk.
Friday afternoon, I came out and didn't see the dogs. I hollered for them several times. "Jack! Juno! Time for our walk!" I'm not saying my dogs are brilliant, but they know the difference between TREAT and WALK, and respond very differently to each word. Still, they didn't come. I stretched my knees and toddled off along Hick's redone same brick sidewalk, and under the carport to the driveway. I heard the Gator.
Here came Hick, dogs running ahead of him. I had to stop to hear what he was saying. If I turn my head while walking on that land-mine of a driveway now, I stumble.
"I'll keep the dogs out of your way!" Uh huh. Hick the knight in green metal armor, gunning the Gator and taking off with my walking buddies. He went up through the yard and down the main gravel road.
One and a half driveways later, here came Jack. He was all wet. He jumped up on my leg once, then pranced around the yard and under the neighbor's fence. I finished my three driveway laps, and was about to start re-stretching on the steps, promising Jack a TREAT of some cat kibble, when Hick came down through the yard on the Gator.
"JACK! JAAACK! Oh! There he is. I thought I'd lost him!" (Yeah. Like the time he lost my Sweet, Sweet Juno for 8 hours and didn't tell me.) "He was down at the creek with us, and then he disappeared."
"You've got our routine all messed up. Here."
Jack had run over to, and under, the picket fence Hick put up across the front sidewalk. Instead of giving him the cat kibble on the side porch, where the pan is, I carried it to the fence. And some for my Sweet, Sweet Juno as well. I reached over and put hers on a flat rock, because she can't squirm under the fence to the sidewalk like Jack.
"I might as well go in the front door now, since I'm already here."
I went to the front steps and put my left foot up on the second step to stretch. Wait a minute! What's that?
A ladybug! Right there on the porch post where I was stretching. Where I NEVER go, because I always go in around by the garage. Except this evening. I got a picture, then it flew off. But I looked again, and there was another one!
I had to chase it around the pole. And in doing so, I found another one on the other side!
Following that one, I found yet another!
I was pretty happy to see these beetles. I had my pictures. I went back down the steps to stretch the other leg. We certainly don't want Val to be unbalanced, now do we? As I leaned over to stretch, something hit me in the back of the head. It was a flying ladybug! Two more went past, up to the eaves. The best I could tell, there were 7 ladybugs flitting around in the area where I never am. Oh, I'm down the porch a ways, sitting on the pew, when I give the dogs their treat. But I have not seen any ladybugs flying around there. Except when Saturday rolled around.
You might remember that Saturday morning, Hick left for the airport, and then I had the T-Hoe oil issue and the A-Cad tire air and near-empty gas tank issue. Once I got back home from all that unpleasantness, it was my job to feed the chickens and guineas and turkey and goat and mini pony. I finished up and gave them water, then I went in to get the evening snack for Puppy Jack and Sweet, Sweet Juno. As I sat there alone on the pew, a ladybug flew over and landed on my shirt. Right above the pocket. In the area you would put your hand over your heart for the singing of the National Anthem if you're patriotic.
(I had a picture of the shirt with the ladybug over the pocket to put here. But since Val is a technology simpleton, blind as a bat without her bifocals, pushing buttons all willy-nilly in excitement on her hand-me-down phone she's only had since August...I took a video instead, and it's too many megabytes for my email, or Sprint Gs, or whatever, and I couldn't send it to myself. If you drop by to take the Hick's Shackytown Amusement Park tour, I can show it to you on my phone. For an extra fee, of course. So take my word for it here: ladybug over the pocket of a yellow-and-white pinstriped oxford shirt.)
I didn't want to squish it, or have it fall down in my pocket and get smashed later. So I flicked it so it could fly away. Which it did, momentarily, then turned around and landed on my finger, and crawled back at me.
Ladybugs seem to like me.
Yeah. I'm crazy. This reminded me of a story my mom told me about 6 months after my dad died. She was used to him taking care of everything with the cars and the house. At the time, they had two cars and a truck. The license was due for renewal on all of them at the same time. So Mom would drive one for the inspection, then take her paperwork to get the license. For three days she did that, even though she could have waited and made one trip to the license office with all three inspection notices. I guess this way was easier for her. It's a small town office, you know. Not a long wait.
Mom was relieved to have that chore finished. It was late in the day, during winter when it's completely dark by 5:00. Fastened to the brick on each side of her 3-car garage was a light in a black metal sconce kind of thing. She had turned them on before she left, because she didn't like to be out at night, and was afraid it might be dark by the time she got home.
"Honey, I was SO glad that was all done! As I started down the driveway, those garage lights blinked off and on twice. I felt like it was your dad telling me, 'You did good.'"
UPDATED Nov. 3, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.
This morning I checked my blog, and saw a comment question from blog buddy Lynn. All the way to town (5 miles, 10 minutes) and back, I was thinking of how to answer her question. Briefly. I know. That's hard for Val Thevictorian. So I figured I could link the posts with ladybugs. There were a lot more than I remembered!
Oh, yeah. And when I got home, I found THIS waiting for me on the kitchen door:
So here they are, in chronological order, with a brief description.
1- She Put a Bug in My Ear
March 21, 2014 The original ladybug tale. It's at the end of this post, I swear.
2-Now There's a Little More Slaw in the World For the Rest of Us
February 4, 2015 No ladybugs, just the day Mom passed away.
3-The Mind Makes Mysterious Connections
March 1, 2015 The first ladybug sighting, on The Pony's laptop.
4-I'm Gonna Need a Chart to Keep a Tally
March 7, 2015 Ladybug on the bathroom floor(with William Carlos Williams-type poem)
5-Call Me Crazy, Maybe
March 12, 2015 Ladybug in my car at school.
6-Truth is SO Much Stranger Than Val's Convoluted Tales
March 17, 2015 When a ladybug appeared on Peg Bundy's forehead.
7-Things That Make You Go "WTF?" in the Night
October 23, 2015 A ladybug makes an appearance at parent conference night.
8-An Unexpected Message on Christmas Day
January 4, 2016 A winter ladybug shows up at a family gathering.
9-It's Been a While, But the Message Came Through
June 7, 2016 A ladybug visits me on the porch during worries about The Pony.
10-Maybe It Wasn't Alive, But It Was the Next Best Thing(s)
June 28, 2016 Val sees two ladybugs while taking The Pony on a college visit.
11-Hello, Oklahoma Oil-Driller, Let Me Thank You for Your Time. You Work a 40-Hour Week for a Livin', To Move This Convoy on Down the Line
August 23, 2016 A ladybug sighting again while moving The Pony to Oklahoma for college.