Wednesday, June 27, 2012

jack the bear

This morning I asked Max to feed the cat. For emphasis I added, "fast, like Jack the Bear." Which made me wonder (again) where it came from and what it means.

I know I got it from my dad. He used it often in sentences like this: 'I told old so-and-so I'd stop by and look at that truck, but I'll be fast like Jack the Bear.' Ironically, this usually meant we were about to spend a lot of time waiting in the car while he picked up a part, dropped something off, or helped someone out.

Until I left home, I never thought to ask what it meant. The meaning was clear enough and I thought it was just another one of his colloquialisms, like The Dairy Kink (Dairy Queen), pass the moke, Joke (please pass the milk), back when I was a little girl (a long time ago) or, this is better than hammered horse-pucky (this tastes really good).

It wasn't until I started using it with my kids, who would stare at me and ask "Who's Jack the Bear?" that I realized I didn't know. And then, this morning, I finally thought to google it. I wasn't really expecting to find anything, but it turns out that Jack the Bear is a racing term, meaning the car is moving at optimum efficiency or running flat-out.

Huh. Maybe I'll google hammered horse-pucky...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

begin, the rest is easy

I am usually a believer in the phrase, 'Begin, the rest is easy.' I tend to whisper it to myself as a kind of mantra and with almost everything I have done, it has been true. But this summer I started painting the outrageously neglected trim on my old brick home, and I have learned a thing or two.

Or five:

1. When painting the trim on an old home, beginning does not make the rest easy. Rather, beginning means you have to finish, which is the worst possible thing you can imagine once you begin.

2. Painting the trim is not so bad. It's the scraping and caulking that takes so blasted long.

3. Although painting the trim on the exterior of your home will require a lot of paint, do not be tempted to buy the five gallon bucket. Five gallon buckets are surprisingly heavy and the lid is a total pain; unless you are a weight-lifter, you are likely to end up with a great deal of paint pouring down the side of the bucket while struggling to get it back on the ground.

4. Unlike paint buckets, when it comes to ladders, bigger is best. But even the largest, heaviest ladder you own may not be tall enough to reach the highest points of the house, meaning your husband will offer to climb up on the roof to paint them and, while he's up there, put himself in great danger of breaking his neck, or worse - getting white paint where it does not belong.

5. Hauling and maneuvering such a beast of a ladder is likely to make your arms and shoulders ache, although those sore muscles will go nicely with the kink in your neck from tilting your head back, the cramp in your hand from holding a brush for long periods of time, and the raging headache caused by all of the above and, possibly, the fumes from a paint/primer combination powerful enough to make the old wood look good. 

I wish I were writing this in retrospect, but in fact I have only just begun. I hope the rest will be easy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

he may not seem like a superstar

Abby is amazing and everyone notices. She is pretty, talented, smart, outgoing, friendly. We recently timed her to see how long she could go without smiling: not long. Dave's mom has always said she has a star hanging over her head.

Max is more reserved; he won't speak unless he has something to say. He is sensitive and caring but doesn't like people to notice him. He is funny (in the comedic way) with excellent timing and clever wit, but for a long time he got upset when he made people laugh. He avoids shirts and hats with slogans or logos that might spark a conversation with a stranger, or require him to explain his interests and tastes.

Max is talented and smart, just as much as Abby is, but in a different way; a way that is easy to overlook. But every once in awhile, we catch a glimpse of his star, not hanging over his head, like Abby's, but shining out from inside of him.

Like the first time we convinced him to practice his cello in our presence - many weeks after he started orchestra. None of us were prepared for how beautiful he would sound and it wasn't until the last concert of the year that we realized he was playing first chair; he never mentioned it.

When applying for an English class next year, which required a writing sample, I had him pull up a story he's been working on for at least a year or two. It was long - chapters and chapters and chapters long - but I found myself wanting to read the whole thing. As I am not a youth fiction fan, that's impressive!

Today he is supposed to teach a lesson in his church class. When he woke up I offered to read through the lesson, so I could give him some help if he needs it. His reply was something like, 'No, I already know what I need to do,' and then he opened the manual and asked me to type up some word strips to put on the board.

Outwardly, he may not seem like a superstar. But to those who know him best, Max is amazing too.