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Subbing and Stubbing (Volume 78, March - June, 2001)

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Wednesday, March 7, 2001

This morning we drove to Rockbridge to buy more sawdust and shavings at the sawmill.

As soon as we pulled away with our full truck, we heard an ominous clanking sound.

We pulled over and discovered the muffler hanging down on the ground. We had no choice but to let it keep clanking against the pavement for fifteen miles or so, until it finally fell off right in front of our pole shed.

Driving home in my ancient, tiny, rusted truck, front held together with duct tape, muffler clanking rhythmically, looking at each other in our hole-filled, dirty, ragged, manure-smelling clothes, sawdust coating our coats and hair, we could only marvel at what utter hicks we’ve become in less than six years of rural living. I’ve gone from urban artist shabby-chic to country bumpkin no-time-for-a-shower, contact-lenses-or-clothing-change non-chic. Now I’m just shabby. Ellis goes into town with huge holes in the crotch of his jeans, through which the winter wind chills his balls. “It’s just Richland Center,” he says. “Obviously I wouldn’t wear these into Madison.”

Monday, March 19, 2001

I didn’t sub today. Instead, I stubbed.

I stubbed my little toe on my right foot so hard that I thought I broke it. I felt nauseous and had to sit down on the bed to catch my breath. My little toe was sticking out at an angle opposite all my other toes.

I could barely walk this morning. Ellis had to help me with my horse chores. It hurt like hell, stuffing that toe into my boot. At least now it’s facing in the same direction as the others.

Why are toes such a big issue this winter? Here it is, the last day of winter; my frostbite is pretty much behind me for now. So I have to go and injure one of my few non-frostbitten toes, just so I’m aware once again that I HAVE TOES?

Of course Caramel stepped hard on my injured toe when I was wearing only socks. I screamed. It’s red and purple and quite swollen. WHAT NEXT?!

Saturday, March 24, 2001

Mom’s House, Williams Bay, WI

I feel sad being in my mother’s house. At this point, there’s no tea, no pan, no tea kettle, no dishwashing detergent and of course no food in the house.

Luckily I had one tea bag in my purse and there are still a few mugs in the cupboard and the microwave is still on the counter. So I’m drinking tea, sitting in the sunny corner of the back porch, looking at the stash of boxes Jeanne and I packed up months ago.

I just noticed that the mug I pulled down is a “Connie” mug. It says this:


Meaning: Stable

You’re solid and steady; Seldom do you sway.

You rarely relent Until you get your way. You’re usually confident And self-assured. You certainly don’t lack The strength to endure. Your feet are planted firmly To keep you stable, And you’ll always remain Powerful and able.

They’re half right.

I would add:

At least until the combined Effects of rheumatoid arthritis, Smoking, drinking and Congestive Heart Failure cause you to be Placed on oxygen — at which point You’ll lack the strength of a Newborn kitten. At that point You’ll barely be able to hold Up a cigarette and also

Your eyes will give out. Being at last completely Broken down by pain and Depression, you’ll say “You can only postpone the

Inevitable for so long.” Then you’ll quickly die, A tiny, frail, disabled

Little old lady in an Assisted Living Center bed.

March 26, 2001, Monday

It was fun doing errands with Jeanne but I could barely walk. I wore my regular shoes instead of my rubber boots so as not to embarrass anyone. The shoes pained my toe.

I was gimping around the store, calling to Jeanne, “Do you feel like you’re with Mom? I’m losing my hearing and I’m limping — isn’t this just like shopping with Mom?” I had told Jeanne and Owen that I’m going to the doctor on Thursday about the ringing in my ears. When Jeanne said I should have someone look at my toe, I told her I was going to ask the doctor to look at it on Thursday. She said, “You’re going to ask an ear doctor to look at your toe?!” So I laughed and held my foot up in the air and said, “Yeah, I’m going to hold my toe up like this and say, “Doc, I can’t hear a thing out of this toe!”

She didn’t realize I’m seeing my primary care doctor.

March 29, 2001

“If a person is sitting backward on a horse, why do we assume that it is the person who is backward, not the horse?”

Monday, May 14, 2001

A week ago today I worked at the Akan School, teaching a combined kindergarten and first grade class. What a chaotic, disorderly, messy day. I had to call the teacher at home as she’d left only the vaguest instructions.

Four girls fought the whole day. Just as I was saying, “You girls! I’m going to line you up and… (here I edited my original thought of “shoot you”) “throw you into a tar pit,” the other teacher walked into the room. I was so glad I hadn’t said “shoot you.” In this day and age, that expression would not go over well.

I had an entire paragraph in my head that went something like this:

You girls! I’m going to line you up and throw you into a tar pit! Then I’m going to find a dinosaur and throw him in on top of you. Two million years from now an archeologist is going to dig up your fossilized remains, frozen in an expression of terror. He’ll ascertain from your pelvic bones that you were once little girls, probably in kindergarten or first grade when you died.

When he’s conjecturing about how you ended up in a row, in a tar pit underneath a dinosaur, he’s going to say to himself, “I bet these little girls were acting up so badly for the substitute teacher that she lined them up, threw them in a tar pit and threw a dinosaur down on top of them.”

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