Blonde on the Prairie: Just Take It by the Month

If you would have asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was 5 I would have told you I wanted to be a penguin breeder. It wasn’t until I turned 17 that I knew for a fact I wanted to be the television weather girl. Now that I’m ripe and nearly 46 I have an insatiable desire to teach as much as I learn and I want to do it living.

A wise businessman once gave me a piece of sage advice. The sales advice he gave me, I learned, didn’t just apply to business. He said, “Take it by the month Jodi Rae. If you had a bad day of sales don’t wallow in that. Instead wait for the end result at the end of the month when all of everything is added up.”

That’s how my week went. A little bit of this, a whole lot of that and I’m hoping for the big, fabulous, successful ending for both you and I.
We stopped at an estate sale. Both my groom and I get spry at the thought of picking through stuff. I am a professional estate sale picker. My eyes float back and forth, left to right zooming across all the goods looking for the one thing that I can use to decorate our cabin romantically. Ta-dah! There they were! Vintage ballet slippers. I knew I would use them in our bedroom as a wall decoration somehow.
Ballet slippers are wildly romantic to me for some reason and apparently a bit naughty too. What I’m about to type is a whole lot more racy than you’re used to out of me so excuse yourself from the next paragraph if it gets to be too much.

“How much for the ballet slippers,” I asked the fella taking the money?
“There’s a funny story about those slippers,” the man began.

Of course there is. It’s not often I pick things out without a story attached.

He continued, “This house belonged to my brother-in-law. He was a bachelor. He willed the house to my wife. He had this thing about women’s feet. Look at the bottom of the slippers.”

So I did.

Wish I didn’t.

Each pair was signed and autograped. Innocent-minded me asked, “Oh! Are these the autographs of the ballerinas?”

“You might say that,” the man giggled. “My brother-in-law would buy ballet slippers and walk over to the Northern Strip Club in Fargo and have the girls dance for him in them-and then have the girl that danced sign them.

I came home with a vintage accordian made in Italy.

Once my friends heard the story they commented the first things that popped into their minds.

“You have strip clubs in North Dakota,” one friend jested?

Another asked the obvious, “Was the accordian signed?”

A woman who usually doesn’t say such things said, “Stripping to accordian music, now that’s funny!”

My goodness gracious how a story can change and all because a dead man had a foot fetish. The dead man with the propencity towards size 7, womens feet provided humor bigger than the bunion on my left foot.

That husband of mine is not my father but any reason to celebrate my love and appreciation for him is a welcome day. I tickled him awake so he could find a card and a cake. He doesn’t eat cake much but a celebration doesn’t feel very celebratory without one. Plus a cake just makes the greeting card look so much better sitting on the kitchen counter. It’s all in the presentation after all. I’m not much of a presentation when I wake up first thing in the morning so I was counting on the cake to help him overlook me. I pulled some strings and found a way for Husband’s son to spend a few hours with us. We ate an overwhelmingly delightful meal. Together we went to a movie and then off to Tutti-Frutti for dessert. If you’ve not been to Tutti-Frutti I highly recommend it. It’s a yummy yogurt shop and they too offer quite a presentation with all their colorful, healthy toppings. We drove home hand in hand. “It’s going to be a good week,” I pondered with a peaceful perkiness. This day provided familiar love.

The good days continued and all because eggs hatched. Just like I enjoy decorating the inside of our cabin I excite at accenting the outside too. Birdhouses are my muses. All about my prairie and sometimes in peculiar places I place them. When my prairie begins sounding more like a jungle I know it has happened. New life explodes as the chirps of tree swallows percolate in my ears. I have one birdhouse hanging from my kitchen window awning. Two little beaks peek out at me playfully. Time after time I go in to grab my camera to capture them as newborns because too soon they turn into fury toddler birds. Day after day I make my rounds to all the houses nurturing new life. As I get near to any one of them it’s as if a troop of kamikaze pilots are plummeting towards me. “Bonzi to the emperor,” I imagined them screaming as they nearly nose dive into me. The families of the newborns are the pilots and they have mad, acrobatic flying skills! I called that husband of mine out to experience it with me. The energy that comes off mama birds wings as they swoop to protect their young is a lesson in itself. Don’t mess with a mama’s babies. There was a special nest of baby swallows in our garage. I took many photos of the 4 little rascals who chirped at me every time I went to peek at them. On this afternoon I walked in to find the whole nest gone. “Husband! Emergency,” I screamed! “The babies are missing and so is the nest!” I began frantically flinging things to try and locate them hoping I’d find them. Husband gave me the news. He said, “When I got home I found the nest broken on the ground and the mother was dead beside it. There were no babies.”

My heart fell to my ankles. Just then I began turning around and around not accepting that the babies could just disappear. On one of the rafters that joined the one where the nest was I found this little one looking at me with an odd confidence. It had lived. This day provided hope for life just when I needed it.

As you’re reading this I am at the clinic. My appointment is at 2 pm on Friday. It should have been at 2 pm on a Friday 8 years ago. I have a mole on my upper left, inside thigh. It used to be just a little black thing. I recognized it was growing unevenly and larger all the while the unevenness was getting more uneven. It feels like sandpaper and wax. My mama didn’t raise any dumb kids so shame on me for being dumb. Being a patient makes me too anxious but getting out of the bathtub every night thinking a black-brown bug is crawling up my inner thigh produces fear. Fear trumps anxiety. It’s time to get this thing looked at. This mole provided me with the realization that self-preservation can’t happen without myself acknowledging myself and my needs.

“Take it by the month Jodi Rae,” were the wise man’s sage words. Humor, love, and hope is what I have this day so far. There are still days left in this month for me to grow my goal of a healthy, happy, alive life. I want to teach as much as I learn. Therefore I implore you to please use sunscreen and watch out for men who don’t stare into your eyes when they talk to you but instead tend to favor your feet! Prayers for my mole to be nothing but a mole are welcome and appreciated.

Blonde on the Prairie
Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.