Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Tag Archives: #family

Human Fly Swatters

How are you when you are speaking on the telephone?  Are you hyper focused?  Can you listen to a side conversation? The reason I mention this is for as long as I have been with my husband, the old bald guy, his phone habit continues to intrigue me.  He has made it quite clear not to speak to him while he is talking on the phone.  He is intently engaged.  He mutes the television before answering or dialing a number.  If he hears any human voices he will turn around and glare at you with two evil eyes.  He even makes a swatting motion at you as if his arm were a fly swatter.

In this day of multitasking, I really don’t understand this.  My husband and I have been together long before the hectic world of computers and gadgets overtook us.  You might find it hard to believe that we did not even own a computer when we were married.  “Online” was not a word that we knew, and while we may have seen car phones in the movies, it was still a few years before we had our fist cell phone.

Anyhow, back to the topic at hand.  My feelings about this phone situation were that perhaps this was an older person thing, or maybe even a man thing.  So I was very surprised one day at work when I was orienting a new employee.  I did not like his scheduling system.  I showed him mine and told him about others.  We walked over to another employee so that I could show him the system she used, which was probably better than mine.  She was on the phone.  I saw her scheduling paper and started to explain her system to my trainee.  She turned and glared at me and gave me that same swatting motion.

Okay, so it’s not a man thing.  I honestly do understand the flip side.  Sometimes conversations are very important and you need to tune everything else out.  However, I also know that important information can come in while one is on the telephone.  Perhaps someone reminds you to not forget to ask about this or that, especially with some large bureaucracy where you have been on hold for thirty minutes.

My question is this:  Why is the fly swatter maneuver reserved only for people on the telephone?  Let’s say you are at a party or some other get together, and a group of people are speaking.  Often, conversation breaks off into subgroups.  Do you swat at people for holding separate conversations right next to you while you are engaged in conversation with others?  Fellow movie goers often glare at others for talking during the film, but have you ever seen the fly swatter come into action?  If you or others are rudely interrupted, do you move your arm at them in a quick, downward motion?

I hope many of you get a good chuckle out of this.  Maybe this reminds you of a friend or family member, or even yourself.  Can you accept verbal input while you are on the phone, or are you a human fly swatter?

What Did You Do With Your Christmas Tree and Did It Involve The Fire Department?

So there we were.  Post Christmas and what to do with the Christmas Tree.  I have to tell you that when we first get the tree I am really good with watering it.  I am always amazed at how much water a Christmas tree can drink in the first few days, but as time goes by, it drinks less and less, until there is no loss in water in base at all.  The needles go from soft and pliable to bone dry and brittle.

My husband has numerous stories of burning a Christmas tree and convinces me that it goes quickly and that is an amazing sight.  For some reason, after numerous year of marriage, he decides we will burn the Christmas tree in the yard this year.  Yes, we have a big yard.  No, I have never seen a Christmas tree burn before.

So we happen to have this weird, old, wood burning stove thing with a vent in the top that has been outside since we bought our house.  My husband places the Christmas tree into the vent hole, so now the base of the tree is about four feet off the ground.  Please add 6 feet for the Christmas tree just to adjust your visual picture of this situation.

The old, bald guy takes a match to tree.  Oh my, wow, holy moly.  I watch as the fire catches quickly and burns up one side of the tree, crackling and popping as it goes.  Once the flame reached the top of tree, a HUGE fireball rolled off and went up, up, up, I swear maybe twenty to thirty feet.  Small cinders and ashes are raining down on our immediate neighbor’s home to the north, where the wind took it.  My husband had the forethought of having a hose ready and starts spraying the tree with water.  I’m thinking this is not good, this is dangerous, I’m sure that neighbor would not appreciate this.  Did I mention that we were new to the neighborhood?

So my hubby is putting out the fire, and doing a good job, except I’m still concerned about all the little cinders possibly igniting a fire in the aforesaid neighbor’s yard.  Hubby assures me he is looking around at the neighbor’s yard and making sure that nothing will happen, with hose in hand.  A little time passes, and he is sure all is well, so now it is time to continue with burning the other side of the tree.  Yes, one side of the tree actually did not burn and it is time to finish the job.

Next thing we know, we hear a siren.  I am sure it is for us.  I tell my husband I hope you know that siren is for us.  He blows me off like I am an idiot, a complete idiot.   It is a coincidence.  The neighbors to the west pop up in their upstairs window and yell to us – you scared the heck out of us, we saw the huge fireball and thought your house was on fire.  So then, of course, another siren is heard.  My husband starts to put two and two together while the neighbors do the same and yell with amusement at our expense “here comes the Fire Department!”  And even then, we hear a third siren.

My husband goes into defense mode and says “let’s go inside.  Turn off the lights!!!”  We see a fire engine going down the next street, slowly as if looking for something.  I explain to him that they are most definitely looking for us and we should come clean because every single neighbor will point to our house and then we look really bad.

So at this point there is a fire engine coming slowly down our street and hubby realizes he needs to fess up and goes out to greet them.  He tells them he lit the Christmas tree on fire.  Their first question is did we have a permit?  This question is actually a rouse, because where we live there is no such thing as an after dark fire permit.  (We learned this afterwards.)  My husband apologizes and asks if he is going to be the idiot in tomorrow’s newspaper.  They assure him that he will not, as long as he does not continue with the stupidity.  Now, we live in a small town, or at least it was at the time, so I am kind of surprised that a 3 engine response did not gain the press that it should have.

I have fond memories of the half burned Christmas tree that sat in our yard for months.  Our town now has a wonderful recycling program for Christmas trees which we take advantage of every year, perhaps brought on by pyromaniacs like us.  It was an interesting way to meet some of our new neighbors.  And I hate to say, I would like to see, some day,  what it would have looked like if the whole tree had gone up!!!

Enjoy Old Holiday Traditions and Start New Ones

My side of the family has a wonderful story we have passed on through the generations.  It began when my grandmother cooked a fine meal for Turkey day way back when.  She cooked an amazing meal, everyone sat down to eat, then everyone excused themselves from the table and left her to do the cleaning.  She was very upset and (as the story goes) exclaimed “I worked hard all day for this wonderful meal and no one even said boo”.  So of course, everyone showed their appreciation by saying “boo”.  From then on after every meal, everyone in the family would say “boo”.

Recently, just within the last 5 or so years, on my husband’s side of the family, we started a new tradition.  It was not planned. It just sort of happened.  I’m not even sure whose idea it was.  We were all about to sit down for a Thanksgiving dinner and it was decided we should all hold hands and each person would say what they are thankful for.  It can be serious or silly.  The idea may have even been from one of the young children.  It’s fun to see what everyone has to say, kind of like a penny for your thoughts.  To this day, we still practice this tradition.

I either read or heard somewhere that a person can only recall one of their great grandparents.  This rings true for me.  I think Holiday traditions are a great way of sharing family folklore.  It’s wonderful to watch children grow up and pass it on to their children.  And, you can always retell old stories.  What a beautiful gift for the family from the family.

So, what’s your holiday tradition?  If you don’t have one, start one!