Friday, August 22, 2014

Chapter 23

"Move over a bit," Sawyer told me as I sat on the tail gate of his pick-up.

"What's that?"

"What's it look like?" Sawyer asked looking determined as he shoved in two cases of ginger-ale.

"I know what it is," I told him as he hopped on the tail gate and finally started eating his sandwich that the Hartford aunts had been passing around from some seemingly bottomless picnic basket.  "I meant where'd they come from and what are they for?"

"Tommy said that's what you like to drink."

"Uh ... it is ... when I drink pop ... which isn't often.  And we didn't put it on the list."

"I know."

"Sawyer ..."

"Relax, it isn't going to break me."

"I didn't say it was but why are you all grumpy all of a sudden again."

There was noise all around but he still leaned over and said, "I didn't think about a ring."

"A ring of what?"

"A wedding ring."

A whole bite of bologna sandwich nearly went down the wrong way.  When I got my breath Sawyer asked, "You didn't think of one either?"

"No.  It was enough that you were marrying me.  Kinda crazy to expect anything else."

He opened his mouth to say something then didn't.  He did scoot closer and we let it go at that.  I've never had jewelry except for maybe a beaded necklace I made in the hospital to pass the time or to work on my hand/eye coordination so a ring just never occurred to me.  It actually meant more that he was upset that he hadn't thought of one than actually getting one would have meant.

Soon enough the Aunts were satisfied that no one was going to perish from hunger and said that unless the men had anything else they wanted that we needed to get to the Mennonite store.

I turned to Sawyer and he said, "About that ... you mind if I drop you off and then go get a mattress?  I've about had it with sleeping in the truck and the smell is gone."

"Ok," I told him at least as eager as he was to get off that air mattress.  It was getting harder and harder to get up in the mornings and I was beginning to snap, crackle, and pop like I did when I had to sleep on the mattresses at the group home.


All I could do was stand inside the store’s front door and stare.  Slowly and carefully I started walking down the first aisle and Linda started laughing.  I heard someone ask if I was ok and Linda answered, "Kay-Lee just saw the Promised Land is all.  She really likes to cook but regular food, not the fancy stuff.  She was constantly doing battle with the teachers to let us cook more than just party and special occasion food.  I remember one time someone asked her what she wanted to do when she got out of school and she said be a cook at a truck stop.  She's just like that."

I wasn't really paying attention or I might have objected to her telling my business in public like that because I was too busy drooling over what I was seeing.  There were barrels and plastic bins of bulk items.  On the shelves where prepackaged amounts of other bulk ingredients.  Over on one wall was a cooler with cheeses and sausages in it that made me want to have a little taste of each one.  I started thinking about the money I had in that envelope buried in the backpack and trying to figure how much I could buy with it without upsetting Sawyer's budget.

A lady in a simple dress came over and asked, "May I help you?"

All I could do was look at her and say, "It's beautiful."

She grinned and said, "It is that.  Look your fill but don't go away empty handed."

She walked over to someone else and I pulled out my list and started calculating.  Linda came over and said, "Kay-Lee can you help?  I forgot my calculator."

Linda had a hard time with anything math beyond simple addition and subtraction; division beyond the basic fractions she used for cooking were like a completely foreign language.  I soon had her straightened out and went back to putting some things in a hand basket.  Aunt Pearl was right, the vanilla was better here.  I also threw in some other flavorings and extracts then put most of them back realizing it was a luxury to have anything beyond vanilla and almond though I did keep the lemon extract.  I next went to go look at the sugars but Aunt Pearl said, "We're picking up a bulk order out back - that's where the men are now - and you'll get some of that.  Stick to things you need to flesh out basic staples."

I looked at my list and asked, "What about cornmeal and flour?"

"We're getting that.  And don't get any meat either unless you want to pick you up some burger when you go to town.  We're going to be clearing out the deep freezes starting next week.  You help with that then you'll get a share.  Linda says you know the basics."

"Only because she taught me."

Aunt Pearl smiled.  "She's a good girl and makes Tommy so happy."

One of the other aunts called her over so I started looking to get a little creative with my list.  If I wasn't going to have to spend money on sugar, flour, or cornmeal that was really going to help.  Linda came over and said, "I'd go ahead and get salt and pepper.  Canning and preserving take a lot of salt and I don't know if they ordered it this time or not."

So into my basket went salt, pepper, and some other seasoning like hot sauce, bay leaves, the Italian seasonings, and then the baking spices like cinnamon and that sort of thing.  There didn't look like much in the basket but the price tag was already high so I quit that aisle and grabbed some of almost every dried bean they had including the bean mixes.  I also got some bulk dry soup mixes.  I wanted peanut butter but it was fresh, organic and pricey so I left that on the shelf.  I added a bag of rootbeer drops when I heard from one of the other aunts that they were Sawyer's favorite.  If he could buy me ginger ale then I could buy him those candies.

In the end I didn't do as much damage as I thought I would but it was bad enough that I worried about trying to explain to Sawyer.  When he showed up looking flustered and irritable I really started to worry.  When we got into the cab of the truck to pull out and head to town while the others went back to the Hartford farm I quietly handed the receipt to Sawyer.

"What's this?"

"Sawyer I swear, none of it will go to waste.  I know it seems like a lot of money - I mean I know it’s a lot of money - but ..."

"Don't do that."

I tried to figure out what I was supposed to stop doing and then he put his finger under my chin and turned it towards him.  "Don't cringe like ... like I'm going to hit you or something."

"I don't mean to, didn't mean to I mean.  I just don't want to make you mad.  We didn't talk about this stuff before I bought it."

"You need more cash?"

"Huh?  No.  No you gave me a ton and there's still a lot left.  But didn't you hear me?  I spent ..."

"Well whatever you picked Aunt Pearl sure seemed pleased.  She's normally so involved with her coupons and sales that it’s hard to get her attention.  She just about yanked my ear off pulling me over to load up those groceries and telling me the whole time that I'm luckier than should be allowed, me and Tommy both, and she wished some of the other new wives would take note and follow suit."

"She ... she did?"

"Yeah.  Nearly yanked my ear completely off."


He suddenly laughed.  "You're too easy to tease.  Yes, Aunt Pearl said that."  He started the truck, put it in gear, and then pulled out in the direction of town.  "Look, I knew it was going to take money to whip the house into shape and then to get groceries to hold us until the farm started producing.  I'm just thankful I won't have to figure out how to stretch my savings to do it.  Even with that crazy windfall I'm going to need to hunt up a job pretty soon even if all I can find is temp or seasonal."

"I'll find one too."

"Uh ... actually I'd ..." he stopped and sighed.


"Do you mind not working?  I know some of the other wives aren't as happy doing that as they thought they would be but ... but ... My mom never worked and Delly didn't work once my nephew was born.  And most of the aunts don't work ... outside the farm I mean."

I squirmed.  From somewhere I heard the words "kept woman" but wasn't even sure exactly what that mean beyond the obvious so I tried to find something good about it.

"Well ... it'll save gas not having to run both of us to work.  And ... hmmm ... I won't have to pay for a uniform or anything like that.  I ... hmmm ..."

"That's great," he said enthusiastically.  "You'll stay at home and I'll find a job and we can really get rockin' and rollin'"

I didn't tell him my brain already felt like it was on an out of control spin cycle most of the time.  Rockin' and rollin' would probably put me into the stratosphere and give me hives.



  1. Thank you, I just had to read at least one before I went to bed.

  2. Thanks Kathy great story