The Big Belly Crew
The Big Belly Crew
There’s something about the heat here in Hemet that evaporates any kind of motivation you might have. When I’m back at home in the 70 degree fog that is the beach these days, I get these day dreams where I show up and help my mom clean up her ratty mobile home from top to bottom. We paint the dark wood paneling a cheerful white and organize her sewing room, the laundry is done and then we start in on her garage and go through mounds and mounds of old boxes filled with junk. In my dreams I think up craft projects for my nieces that keep them occupied and not tearing each other’s hair out. Somehow I manage to find activities that occupy a seven-year-old and a two-year-old simultaneously. We make candles or homemade soap with little plastic toys inside. I think I even dreamed that we made a peach pie from the ripe peaches on my mom’s tree.
Maybe we’ll do all that tomorrow.
Today I arrived, flopped into the nearest chair and stayed there. Even inside where the drapes were drawn and the sun is reflected off the broad metal awnings outside, the heat is still oppressive. We can barely feel the sticky breeze from my mom’s swamp cooler that is working overtime from her back bedroom window. The cool air can barely make it down her hallway before it dissipates into tepidness. The dogs pant outside. Flowers wither, the sidewalk fries and the neighborhood kids don’t even come outside to play in their above ground pool. It’s just too freakin’ hot.
Finally, when the sun went down we ventured outside. That’s one nice thing about California, it does cool down at night. But even now, as I type this and I hear the crickets chirping outside, I can feel moisture on the back of my neck and above my upper lip. Sort of a “sweat mustache”. No matter how many clippies I put in to hold my pony tail up, little strands of hair find their way to tickle my face, stick to my neck and irritate the crap out of me. I have no patience. My cool has evaporated along with anything else.
Or maybe it was my nieces and their one hundred and one questions and they way they won’t sit on their butts when we go out to eat in a restaurant. Why is it that they insist on standing on their seats or kneeling or rocking on their backs with their crotches in the air for the whole restaurant to view? I like to think I’m firm and a few choice words will make them act like the sweet little girls that they are but all night long it was just one useless threat after another. Toby says I just have to let go, which is hard because I love them like they are my own. Don’t get me wrong, they can be good kids. They don’t really have a malicious bone in their body…it’s just that they are used to a little less structure or maybe I’m just used to a little more control. Whatever it is, I just have to go with the flow and try not to turn into the raging mean Auntie with scary hormones.
I really want this summer to be a fun summer full of memories like the kind I remember. Of course I do remember my mom losing her temper at my brother and me a few times or ignoring us for hours on end with her nose in a romance book. Somehow I survived and I still adore my mom. Maybe my nieces will survive me losing my temper too. I hope so.
After dinner, Rapunzel and I took a walk around my mom’s block. It’s probably a mile all the way around because there are so many big fields. It’s a nice walk, if you don’t come across any attack dogs that have escaped their yards. We didn’t. We skipped along the dusty side of the road getting our flip flops full of fox tails and stick-a-burrs. We had to move fast because the red ants are out in full force and red ant bites hurt worse than a bee sting. There are freeways of them going up and down the side of the road. They are impervious to the heat. If we died from heat stroke, they would probably cart our bodies below ground and eat us bite by bite.
We tried to pick some black eyed susans but their stems were harder to cut than nylon cords. Rapunzel used her teeth and tried to knaw one off. I freaked out thinking she was putting her mouth on something poisonous. She just laughed at me. My niece is definitely my brother’s daughter. She’s such a tom boy, dragging me through the fields and laughing at me as I shriek because I’ve walked into an invisible spider web. All my growing up years my brother used to taunt me with dirt and bugs and anything creepy he could get his hands on. He would laugh his head off when I curled my lip in disgust or ran screaming to my dad because he had caught a june bug and released it in my long hair. Oh the memories.
I guess I’m making new ones with my nieces but they just aren’t exactly what I had in mind.