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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | Nov 13, 2009

Maybe it’s a thing that comes with age. Or perhaps, one of the many things that come with it.

When we were young, and on the farm, we learned that the area that we would otherwise call a cows’ neck, is the brisket. (Reference cow anatomy 101. It comes right after Barn Etiquette vs. Table Manners.)

And when we get a little older, we learn that chickens and baby chicks have stomachs that are so small, that they eat all the time. Nowhere in the “chicken analysis 101” section did it say that humans should adapt that exquisite dining philosophy, but, of course, I’ve always thought that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, er, wait, what’s good for the chicken is good for, well, never mind that one.

We also learn that it’s difficult to ride a pig, to get your boot out of knee-deep manure without losing your balance and stepping stocking-footed back into the manure; to keep playing cards stiff over and over again when you use them to make your two-wheeler sound like a motorcycle; to walk to the house with frozen winter clothes after you’ve fallen through the ice of the nearby creek; and to fit into a canner tub when you live 10 or 15 miles from the nearest swimming pool. Aah, those were the days.

Then we fast-forward a few years to when we have kids of our own, and they learn all of those things as we watch. Oh, the glory of being older and wiser! But one thing I didn’t think about as I was growing up was that I would be learning things for the rest of my life. Not that I’ve always wanted to learn things, but it’s a necessary reality of this life.

I have learned not to be surprised when, during the week before our county fair, I open the cupboard under the sink and reach for the dish soap, and end up with a handful of cobwebs instead.

Naturally, the dish soap is outside where they are washing cows and sheep. Don’t all housewives keep their dish soap supply outside in the cattle barn?

I have found lately that age spots have crept into my existence. As I was applying makeup the other day, I realized, with great horror, that I could qualify for the speckle-faced sheep class at our 4-H and FFA fair. If I walked on my hands and knees and glued on a tail, no one would know the difference. And with four legs and a tail, my very busy farmer guys might actually take note that I’m here this time of year.

But there are also all those other things that come with aging, like our ability, or lack thereof, to shed a few pounds. My pounds tend to “go into the shed” instead, to stay. Thank God I tend to carry around some spare change in my purse, because when I make a purchase and give it to the cashier, it’s the only way I feel like I can lose weight.

At least my purse feels lighter and that has to count for something.

Then there’s that whole memory loss thing. Who invented that, anyway? And when I can’t read what’s right in front of me, I recall the words of my mother as I was growing up, who, I now realize, was the woman with the golden tongue. She always told me, “You can’t see past the end of your nose.” She was probably a fortune teller in a previous life.

But it’s really so aggravating when all of these things work together to make your life miserable. Recently I decided I needed a larger purse because I always had things hanging out of the one I was carrying.

It was looking frumpy and most unfashionable. It didn’t do much for my professional office clothes that I could wear to work, or to chase sheep in when they get out of the pasture during office hours.

My new purse needed to be part purse, part disguiser of my half-century-aged body and part briefcase because I tend to carry paperwork back and forth between home and work.

It’s an office on straps; almost Clay County Fair-like, and a middle-aged woman’s dream.

A couple of weeks ago I placed something in there to mail when I got to town, then promptly forgot about it. It was like I had placed that envelope in a black hole. Thank God I needed to add to my grocery list the following week, and saw that envelope which should have been mailed the week before. As I stood there making up excuses about what I was going to tell those people, it occurred to me that a large purse and a short memory are not a good combination.

At least I didn’t misplace a kid in there or find Jimmy Hoffa, or even my long-lost sanity. That would probably have put me over the edge. But who knows? Maybe I’d like it over there.

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