November 15, 1960
Ed has a big new workbench out in the furnace room. His employees tore down the closet, which hasn’t been used much since the children outgrew the wet snowsuit age, and replaced it with the bench. He spent a week sorting out hundreds of pieces of hardware and storing them in little jars and plastic cabinets. He placed the cabinets on a rack at the end of the bench.
Last night as I was stacking the dishwasher I heard a crashing sound. I looked around and saw Kathryn coming through the back door, so I figured she had dropped something in the back hall. She murmured something about “the poor man,” but I didn’t quite catch it. Then I heard an anguished call, “Barbara!”
The poor man, indeed. Ed had tried to move the rack in order to get something behind it. It toppled over, and all those little plastic drawers went flying, tossing their contents in all directions. Nails, screws, bolts, nuts, electrical fittings, fishing tackle, boating hardware, and grommets, and other gadgets were strewn from one end of the room to the other. Later I asked Ed what a grommet was and he said, “Grommets are grommets.”
There wasn’t much I could do except commiserate and bring him a broom. “It’ll take me all winter to get back where I started from,” he said.
I was finishing up in the kitchen when Ed came in with a glummer than ever expression and asked if I knew anything about a bottle of dye under the laundry table. He had knocked it over while he was sweeping up the hardware.
“That was mine,” said Kathryn. “I thought I’d found a good safe place to keep it.”
The floor was blue, the mop was blue, Ed was blue, and Kathryn was her usual philosophical self, bless her.
May 2, 1961
Yesterday Vonnie came home from school with an infected throat. She told me it was very sore, so she had asked the school nurse to look at it. Sure enough, it was inflamed and covered with white spots. “It looks as if you’d accidentally swallowed something sharp,” the nurse said.
Vonnie maintained that the infection had nothing to do with her recent efforts to acquire a husky voice by screaming at the top of her lungs, but Ed said, “Don’t’ be ridiculous, it’s a direct result.”
Poor Ed. The infected throat was the first thing he heard about when he walked in the door last night, and the death of Poky’s baby was the next. (Vonnie had taken her to school a couple of days ago, not understanding a baby goat is much more fragile than a puppy.) Ed threw up his hands and said, “No wonder I need a drink when I get home!”
While he was getting out the ice I asked him if he had any desire to see “The Misfits,” and he said, “Not tonight, I had a terrible day in town and I’m too tired.”
A minute later he called, “Who’s in it?” and I said, “Marilyn Munroe and Clark Gable.”
“Maybe we’ll go later in the week,” he said. “To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve always thought she was a terrifically attractive girl.”
“You don’t have to be that honest,” I said. “Did anyone ask you to be that honest?”
Ed came out of the bar laughing. “I’ve got to admit you’re funny. That’s the first laugh I’ve had today.”
I sucked in my cheeks and stuck out my chest, but he didn’t say anything about my being terrifically attractive.
January 3, 1963
New Year’s Day Mrs. White prepared a holiday dinner of roast duckling cooked in wine and orange sauce. She had dinner with us, we all had champagne first, then dined by candlelight, which has a wonderfully quieting effect. Tim started to switch on the lights, but Mrs. White said, “Uh-uh, Tim.”
“What’s the matter, don’t you want us to see what we’re eating?” Timmy grinned.
Mrs. White understands that Ed gets home late from work, but she still thinks we should dine together as a family more often. “Every once in awhile, why don’t you let me serve you all a nice dinner in the dining-room? It would be good for the children to learn how to conduct themselves on formal occasions. Then when they’re invited to other people’s houses, they won’t feel uneasy or self-conscious.”
She is such a dear to be willing to do this for the young Malley savages. .
Mother sent me a poem called “The New Year.”
The New Year’s a penny untarnished and bright;
The New Year’s a baby, asleep in the morn—
A fine bouncing baby who’s glad to be born.
Let’s write in the notebook, nor leave any smudges,
Let’s spend the bright penny and settle our grudges,
Let’s comfort the New Year who’ll cry when he wakes,
And discover he’s stuck with the Old Year’s mistakes!