My neighbors must suspect by now that I'm pregnant. It seems like every time they witness me doing something that seems (to the naked eye) to be a little insane, that I'm either in the "too large for maternity clothes" stage of the third trimester, or "large-eyed and starving with crazy hair" stage of the first trimester.
Our front area is covered in a thick sheet of ice. This is the first winter this has happened, and I absolutely hate it. No amount of salt or shoveling seems to do anything to it. I had the idea one day to throw a pot of boiling water on it- no change. If anything, it only became worse. So while Gianna napped a few days ago, I grabbed a claw hammer and got right to work trying to hammer it into chunks. Ice chips were flying, and little dents formed in the ice, and by the very edge of the step, small amounts of the ice actually chipped off. While turning my head to avoid flying ice shards, I caught the horrified expression on my neighbors' faces as they pulled out of their driveway and paused briefly to take in the scene. Freezing, and only slightly successful, I gave up.
When I was enormously gigantic with Gianna (and I am not kidding- she stuck way out like some sort of bow of a cruise ship) I decided to calmly and harmlessly retrieve my mail. At that same moment, the man who graded our road at the time was directly in front of our house, on his tractor, paving his heart out. God bless his eccentric soul, this man is in his early 90's, and is missing about 1/3 of his total body parts, including an arm, many teeth, both knees, his hearing and goodness knows what else. For whatever reason, the sight of my girth and width looming in his direction caused a glimmer of chivalry to spark in his ordinarily curmudgeonly demeanor. (Note- Our latest Home Owner's Association minutes includes a reference to the five complaints received regarding "Mr. Road Grader shaking his fist" at people. I wonder- was it his driving fist, or his hook?)
He grinned toothlessly at me, and yelled over the tractor's engine, "Need them rocks moved?" I looked down to the base of the mailbox, where he gestured. There were two large (about the size of a basketball, and a bowling ball, respectively) decorative rocks placed on the ground as someones idea of the "finishing touches" to what they thought would be a profitable house-flip.
"No, thank you!" I hollered, trying to clearly mouth the words in case he was interested in actually reading my lips. He was not, and he ratcheted himself over to my side to pick up the smaller of the two rocks. "No, NO! Leave it there!" I said, waving both hands. He grinned and answered, "The hook's my good 'un, the other wrist is just bad," and proceeded to use his hand to flip the rock onto his hook, and then try to stand from squatting. He bellowed like an elephant, and I screamed. I was fairly certain that I was going to witness the dismemberment of his other limb.
Neighbors started to poke their heads outside while he limped over to the bucket of the tractor, and I hurried to try to grab the other rock and hide it before he could get there. His titanium alloy knees were too quick for me, and he made his way back over while yelling, "I got it, I got it!"
I desperately glanced in the backyard, where Mr. Clarateaches was blissfully mowing the lawn, completely unaware of the lunatics pageant going on in the front. I knelt down to get in front of the rock while waving my hands again. "NOOO! It's OKAY! Leave it THERE!!!" I yelled in my most authoritative "teacher" voice possible. The teenagers across the street stared, mouths wide open. "Aw, it's okay, I know how hard it is to do things when you're gettin' ready to have a baby. I don't mind!" he responded, grunting to kneel back down and hooking the rock into a cradle hold again.
By then, I gave up and silently watched him yell in agony at standing up again, and then inch back to the tractor, slide the rock into the bucket of the tractor, and cackling, drive away.
Lola was just about one year old when I was nearing the end of Gianna's pregnancy. She had just learned that the yard, complete with a brick-wall-bordered garden was perfect for a puppy steeplechase. One day, while trying to get some Vitamin D, I learned that she loved the game where I hid behind the side of the house and jumped out at her while she ran by, which caused her to run even faster, skirt around me and leap madly over the brick walls, turn and run all the way around the yard, and get back just in time for me to do it again.
Think of the confusion, therefore, when the teenage son of the neighbors to the back of our property, arrived home from school. To his vantage point, as Lola was quickly shooting behind the wall as soon as I jumped out at her, he saw:
- A pregnant lady jumping out from behind a wall, towards the direction of his house, hands in claws and yelling, "Rawr!" and then ducking back. He could not see Lola, I quickly realized.
As soon as I saw his horrified and perplexed, frozen-to-the-ground-in-fear expression, I slunk back into the house.