Cinfulcinnamon's Blog

~~On the Road with Baby Jess~~

Posted on: March 19, 2010

     I was thinking about my Mom today.  She will have passed one year ago in May.  But sometimes things come up that cause me to think about her.  She loved my stories.  And since we lived apart for most of the time while I was married to my ex-husband, she said that she looked forward to the stories about everyday things that happened that I would send to her.  The phone calls were nice, but she said that she really enjoyed getting things in the mail from me.  So, when I had time, I would sit down and write stories about the house, or the weather in Georgia, or North Carolina, or wherever I happened to be living at the time.  When she died last year, she had already made separate boxes with her kids names on it.  For each of us, she had included the things in our life with her that she most cherished.  It sometimes makes me cry to think that a whole lifetime with someone can be sorted through, and put into a box with your name on it.  But when I opened my box,  all I could do was laugh and cry at the same time.  She and I loved the old science fiction movies that we would watch.  While I was pregnant with my son I spent a lot of time in Cincinnati with her and Dad.  And she and I got hooked on the first couple of seasons of the X-files.  And oh my Lord, when the OJ thing happened…. We were all glued to the t.v. during the trial, and spent hours on the phone talking about it when I was back in the south.  But back to the box contents.  She had left me one of her most prized possessions.  A hand typed (on an old typewriter) and signed letter that she had received from Rod Serling (the Outer Limits guy).  Seems that at one time he taught at the University of Cincinnati and had lived for a period of time in our old house.  Mom had heard that rumour and wrote him to ask him if it were true.  And in true Rod Serling gentlemanly manner, he wrote her back.  She got that letter in 1973 and kept it all that time.  This she had put in my box.  I was also surprised to see all the letters that I had written her from Basic Training while I was in the service.  But what really tore at my heart-strings was the stack of stories I had written her over the years.  Tied up with a bow and a note written on each one.  Time after time, the notes said that she wished that she and Dad had the money to send me to college to become a writer.  I never gave it much thought when she would say it in passing over the years.  I figured that if I had any talent, something would happen and I would find my way in the world and an opportunity would open for me.  I was never ambitious enough to persue it myself, so am really glad they didn’t waste their money…LOL I write for the pure joy of it.  If someone gets something out of it great.  If not, ehhh who cares?  But one of the stories that I wrote her stood out and I thought I would re-tell it here.  Everything that I write is true.  Everything that I write about happened just the way that I describe.  And let me tell you, not all of the things are funny, but I will tell you that my life has been ANYTHING but dull.  I feel sorry for people who have never gone anywhere, or lived anywhere but one place.  You are really missing out on a lot.  Anyway, here is the story.  It was originally titled “On the Road with The Little Red Rooster”, but I thought you’d had enough of chicken stories for a while.  Enjoy.

     As cold and miserable the trip to Cincinnati had been, up from sunny and warm Georgia, I would have to say that all in all it had been a very profitable trip.  We had arrived at the family compound the day before Thanksgiving.  Tim (my husband) was on another overseas tour so it was just the baby Jesse and I who were welcomed into the house with warm hugs and hot chocolate.  The trip had been bitterly cold, mainly because the heater in the old VW bus that I had driven wasn’t working right.  My brother Jim and my Dad said that they would look at it during the week-long stay.

     Thanksgiving Day was a loud and noisy affair at the Jones household.  Everyone except for Maggie the middle sister was in attendance.  The grandchildren played with each other and the grownups talked, ate, drank too much and scolded the children when they needed it.  The food was wonderful.  But then, Mom’s cooking always was.  Termed a success, another Thanksgiving was recorded in the hearts and minds of everyone.

     The visit was to be a short one this time….only a week, as there were bills to be paid back in Georgia and Jesse was to start Day Care the following week.  I was quite busy running to the local thrift store and stocking up on baby clothes for Jesse.  Likewise, the trip to the local discount grocery market named Aldi.  I was able to stock up on months of staple products at a fraction of the cost.  The multi-colored bus that my husband had gotten me was loaded to the gills.  Every cabinet and wheel well storage compartment was full.  The overhead storage area was loaded with bags of corn chips, potato chips, and cheese curls.  By the end of the week, there was only enough room to set up Jesse’s nylon tent in the floor of the bus, in the aisle beside the driver’s seat.  That was the only working air vent that would put out warm air, besides the defrost vents.  And they were shaky at best.  Whatever had caused them to all stop working on the trip up to Ohio had somehow corrected itself and it all seemed to be working fine.  Besides, we had borrowed blankets for the baby, and piled on more sweatshirts so we could make the drive south.  The baby’s crib was loaded on the top of the bus and strapped down.  The crib mattress was laid on the floor of the bus with the tent on top of it.

     Mom had dressed Jesse in one of the three sleepers that I had gotten from the Village Thrift.  It was bright red with those kind of plastic feet to them.  The feet were white.  Under this, were his socks and over it his hooded sweatshirt.  With pacifier in mouth, and bottle in hand, we were ready to go.

     The first two hundred miles of our journey were uneventful.  I could hear Jesse softly talking and playing with his bottle as the bus slowly warmed up.  The occasional sound of a loose can of peas or tomato sauce rolling around, was comforting as we headed south towards Knoxville.    When Jesse had drifted off to sleep, I began to wonder what goodies my Mom had packed in a lunch bag over in the passenger seat.  As I drove, I juggled the steering wheel while I rummaged through the sack.  I could make out the outline of a donut. This would be good for Jess’s breakfast in the morning.  Then I felt an apple.  This too I discarded onto the dashboard.  My mother bought the worst fruit.  Sorry Mom.  But it’s true.  Then I came to a sandwich.  I pulled it out and happily munched on peanut butter and jelly between not so fresh, but pretty tasty slices of bread.  Washing it down with a soda, on we traveled through the night.

     On the other side of Knoxville, I needed to stop for gas.  I hated to stop because I knew Jesse would wake up.  And I was afraid that the gremlins would have returned to the ignition system and the bus wouldn’t start.  This problem had only started the day before, and I didn’t tell Dad about it, or I would have had to wait to leave…and I was on a schedule.  I looked for a well populated gas station so that if need be, I could beg some help in push starting the bus.  With fear in my heart I turned off the bus and gassed up.  After locking the bus, I went inside to pay and use the restroom.  As I left, I purchased another caffeine loaded soda and a pint of milk for Jesse’s breakfast.  Jesse was indeed awake upon my return, but his attempt at escaping the tent had been thwarted by the garbage bag tie I had put on the tent zippers.  I turned the key and miracles of miracles the bus started.  On to leg two of the journey south.

     Chatanooga came and went.  I was bored, the radio didn’t work, so I rummaged in the sack for another sandwich.  I had begun to hear a squeaking sound coming from somewhere over my head but I ignored it.  I found the second sandwich.  I knew it would be ham.  I expected to bite into an exciting mixture of ham and spicy mustard or creamy salad dressing.  What I got, was dry ham on even dryer pieces of bread, one I think was even a heel.  No condiments of ANY kind.  I should have chosen the apple.  Speaking of the apple, it had warmed on the dashboard from the defroster, and was giving off a pleasant warm apple smell.  I contemplated this as I chewed the dry sandwich.  All at once, I felt the top of my head suddenly become cold.  In an instant, I realized that the latch securing the camper top had come loose.  It wouldn’t come all the way open because of the straps that secured the baby crib to the top of the camper.  But at 60 m.p.h I knew I’d better pull over quick.  In the instant that I grabbed the camper latch, I threw the sandwich in the passenger’s seat and maneuvered the bus to the side of the highway.  After calming myself, and re-latching the top, I got back on the road.  The ham sandwich was no where that I could locate with my hand in the dark, so I just drove.  It had probably returned to dust from whence it came.  Between Chatanooga and Atlanta, I realized that I was extremely tired.  My teeth were chattering from the combination of cold and caffeine so I decided to stop for the night.

     In Dalton, Georgia, I found a cheap room at the Country Boy Motel and woke up a very large clerk at 3 a.m. to register.  She was pleasant enough, although she still managed to short change me a dollar and ten cents.  I refilled the baby’s bottle with half the carton of milk and sat the remainder in the sink of the bus where I knew it would remain cold for the night.  I bundled a half asleep baby and a very large purse/diaper bag into the room.  I looked forward to a few hours of sleep.  This was not to be the case. I immediately went into the bathroom with the baby in his red sleeper with white plastic feet following drunkenly. New walkers always look like they are drunk.  And this is where he immediately slipped and fell on the tiled floor.  Unhurt, but now fully awake, he stumbled around the room inspecting everything in the sparsely furnished room.  He really did resemble a red rooster as he crawled and bounced on one bed and then the other.  His hair was all stuck up on his head.  I laughed in spite of how tired I was.  I took off my sweatpants and climbed into bed.  The rooster followed.  As I turned off the light by the bed and the baby snuggled in next to me, I actually thought that he would fall back to sleep.  I soon discovered the only thing worse than being continually kicked on the bare legs by cold plastic feet, is when one the plastic feet has a crack in it.  So the kick, kick, kick, became a kick, scratch, kick.  I turned on my side since that was the only way to try to sleep with Jesse lying diagonally in the bed kicking me.  As my teeth chattered from the cold of the room; must I always find things with lousy heaters; and the caffeine effects, I started to drift off.  I was suddenly grasped from the arms of sleep by a thud and a yell.  The rooster had kicked my back one time too hard and launched himself onto the floor between the bed and the wall, where he was wedged with white plastic feet sticking in the air.  As I hauled him back into bed I had to laugh, mad though I was.  He must have had enough excitement for the night.  He calmed down and he too fell asleep.  Finally.

     The eight o’clock wake up call came much too early.  After changing a soaked diaper and collecting our belongings, we went back to the bus.  I threw the now fully rested rooster into his tent and prayed the bus would once again start.  It did.  I drove to a nearby gas station and fueled up, bought another soda and bag of chips and juice for Jesse.

     The bus warmed, very slowly as we headed for Atlanta.  I had promised the rooster that if he behaved in his tent until we got through Atlanta, I would let him play outside of his tent.  He must have understood, for he drank his juice and ate his chips and was very quiet.  Except for a couple of grunts.  These I dismissed as I negotiated the busy traffic going into Atlanta.  Soon, however, I began to notice the unmistakable odor of a dirty diaper.  Even the smell of the now soft apple couldn’t disguise.  I couldn’t stop for many miles because of road construction.  I decided to endure until I needed to stop for fuel.  I will say that I gave it a valiant try, but the smell became too much.  I took the next available exit to a small gas station and pulled over.  Since he had behaved, and we had made it through Atlanta; traffic and toxic smell included, I took him out of his tent, dismantled it and changed his diaper.  This I promptly disposed of.  I retrieved his bag of plastic trucks and toys from the back of the bus and rearranged the contents back there.   I had been able to stow all the groceries except for one cardboard box containing assorted cake mixes and boxes of corn muffin mix and three 5 pound bags of flour.  These I shoved to the far corner of the back.  We started out again.  With Jesse happily playing on the floor on his mattress with his toys.  I knew in my heart that I should have had him in his car seat.  But he was down low, on the floor, surrounded by his mattress and pillows and so I let him play.  We were both happy.  For the moment anyway.

     We were approximately one hundred and fifty miles from home when disaster struck.  Traffic was brisk to say the least.  My full concentration was directed at keeping us safe.  Especially since I knew the rooster wasn’t in his car seat.  I heard a thud, couldn’t imagine what it could be, looked up in the rear view mirror, just in time to see a large, white cloud headed my way.  Jesse had found the flour.  Not content to open it, he tried to carry it over the back seat, lost his balance on his white plastic feet and dropped the five-pound bag to the floor.  Flour was everywhere.  As I screamed my horror, I dragged the steering wheel to the right to pull over.  The anger washed over my body as I headed to the back of the bus.  There stood the flour covered rooster.  With his white hands and white plastic feet looking at me innocently.  I grabbed him up and immediately hit my head on the over head compartment.  This dislodged the door to the compartment, opening it, and allowing bags of chips to fall all over.  As I picked them up, I turned my back on the mess in the floor and the evil-doer himself.  This was just enough time to allow him to go forward in the bus, retrieve the half full carton of milk from the sink, open it and try to get a drink.  Which he spilled down the front of is his now red and white sleeper and onto the deposited flour on the floor.

     There was nothing I could do.  There were no towels.  Nothing to clean the mess up on the floor or the baby.  The tent was put away and we were so close to home.  I picked up what I could of the flour.  In the meantime,  Jess had crawled into his car seat.  I locked him in and strapped myself in and just drove. I tried to be mad, but I looked into the rearview mirror and my heart melted.  Somehow, he had found his pillow and had it clutched in his little hands.  And his beautiful, dirty little face was peaceful as he had fallen asleep with his binky in his mouth, head resting on the pillow.  I looked at his beautiful face and his hair streaked with flour and milk and his little white plastic feet pointed at me, and a tear came to my eye.  The tear was probably from the thought of the mess I’d have to clean up at home when we got there.  Naaaah…. I’m thinking it was love.





2 Responses to "~~On the Road with Baby Jess~~"

omg. I am laughing so hard, I can barely breathe. Damn girl…..

Thank you for sharing that.

You are welcome my darling. Now that he’s 17 and 6′ 3″ I think back to those days and miss my “little” baby.

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Goofy Me

I am: an Air Force vet, Mom, sister, friend, Lifestyler, and all-around smartass with a heart of gold. I have lived all over the far East and learned many things about people and cooking, art and true value. I like to share my experience with the rest of the world. I will be the most loyal friend or most annoying enemy you've ever known. Honest to a fault. My life has not always been easy, but it has never ever been boring.

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