Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mom's Ideas

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” I’m confident you’ve heard this adage. However, my experience with mother and invention was a little different.

It had snowed! The first snow I remember. I was pre-school age and excited. I quickly learned that snow is cold on bare hands -- especially a wet, heavy snow. Since I didn’t own gloves, my mother improvised. “Here’s a pair of your father’s socks. Use them for gloves.” May I save you some scientific research time? Socks suck as substitute gloves! They suck up cold water faster than a sponge. I felt like an ape. The socks were long, wet, heavy and the toes drug the ground as I walked with my hands by my sides. With disdain, I discarded the dripping socks. Strike one against Mom’s ideas.

Strikes lead me into baseball. Spring came and we wanted to play baseball. We found some things to use for bases, a stick for a bat. We didn’t need gloves but we did need a baseball. By the process of elimination, we learned that stones don’t work well. They are too hard, too heavy and too painful. Mom to the rescue! “Here’s one of your father’s socks. Fill it with dirt and tie a knot in the end of it.” “Hey, this could work!” Being the oldest, I was first at bat. I waited for the pitch with plans of putting our makeshift ball over the front yard fence. I kept my eye on the ball and leaned into the swing. The bat made solid contact -- but I didn’t make the fence. When the dust cloud settled and I finished coughing up dirt, I found the ball three feet from home plate. It was half-deflated and twisted into an oblong shape. Never again did I try one of Mom’s sock ideas. I quit listening when I heard the words “Get a sock and…”

Her idea for trapping cats was perfect – well almost. A stray came around the house but I couldn’t get within ten feet of it. Mom suggested placing a bowl of milk under a wooden crate that was propped up on one end by a short stick that was tied to a long piece of rope. The cat eagerly went for the milk and I pulled the rope and let the box drop over the cat – and its extended tail. The cat puller her bruised tail under the box and looked for an escape. I lifted one edge of the box – just enough to slip a hand between the edge of the box and the ground. In my youthful ignorance, I expected to feel a warm, furry, purring mass of love. What I encountered was one pissed-off cat with claws and fangs. To this day, I think Mom should have warned me. However, I held on, my wounds healed and the cat and I finally made friends. I named her Bugs. I used the box/stick/rope/milk method to trap her kittens a few months later. Mom’s idea worked well.

My mother was not raised in wealth and learned to be inventive, creative and make do. One of her best gifts to me was the knowledge that life doesn’t always give us what we need or want. We have to be resourceful. It’s a trail and error process.

Her example has served me well. A few winters ago, Julie and I were at a remote abandoned cemetery several miles from the blacktop with dark approaching and the keys locked in the car. Using a piece of wire from a cross on a grave, a dried rib from a Saguaro cactus and a brass paperweight retrieved from an ammo box hidden near the cemetery, we found a way to unlock the car without breaking a window. But, that’s another story for another time. It’s a story that would make Mom proud.


Blogger Whitesnake said...

Yorkshire Pudding......

First make sure the pan you are using is burnt.......second......make sure the oven is not just hot but hot hot!

Whilst making the batter, drink a stubbie or 2 of beer......

My mother taught me that.

11/14/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

I'm thinking your mom and my mom lived next door to each other. I had forgotten about using socks for gloves and socks for a ball. Was your mom a great believer in the curative value of castor oil - for everything that ailed man and machine? Better than duct tape, bailing wire, WD 40 and JB Weld combined, don't you know,

11/14/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Lucindyl said...

This made my day. Wonderful, wonderful stuff! My brother and I must've not been as inventive as you and your friends. We gave up entirely on the ballgame idea and settled for throwing old tomatoes from the garden at each other.

Moms can be inventive when it comes to punishments, too, alas!

11/14/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I think I would tell my mother to "put a sock in it" after those suggestions. :)

11/15/2006 03:16:00 AM  

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