Oh, Charles

The errands continue to proliferate. Between the move and an unusually busy semester, I find myself swimming upstream in turbid waters at all times.

My husband and I have been working as hard as we can to make our new house into a home. Still, each box unpacked is mitigated by a new surprise. A bit of water damage at my little one’s new daycare led a mommy to call the city with a worry about mold. Suddenly, the daycare was shut down for a week and, desperate, we had to ship the little one off to my in-law’s. Then, the former owners left us with a filthy oven and, in cleaning it, I put the racks into the sink to soak. Alas, the weight of the racks and the water caused the under-mounted sink to break free of the counter, so now it sits, ¾ of an inch below the marble, on its plywood frame. You can imagine three or four more of these and you’ll have a sense of the domestic side of our lives lately. Add to that a similar set of comic mishaps, all leading to more work for each of us, at our respective jobs, never forgetting, of course, that there are two young children to feed and bathe on occasion, and you’ll have a snapshot of our life in November.

At the moment, my stamina is on low, and, though my mouth runs on as ever, I find myself wanting to channel Ma on “Little House on the Prairie.” As my beloved continues to find the energy to unpack, as I just really want to curl up in a corner and read, I need to talk less and express more. What I remember most of Karen Grassle’s Ma was the many, many inflections of “Oh, Charles.”

“Oh, Charles” could mean “thank you so much for replacing the waxed paper in the windows with real glass.” It could mean “I’m both pleased and embarrassed that you’re flirting with me in front of the children.” It could mean “I’m so grateful that you brought home four new chickens, but where are we going to put them?” Or it could mean “I’m so proud and happy that you’re willing to make this run into town in the blizzard, as we have neither food nor fuel, and yet, it’s terrifying to me that you propose to leave me alone here in the prairie with three young children and no food or fuel.”

Oh, Charles.