I Am Isabel the Storyteller

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#12. A funny story that acts like that splash of cold water that primes the pump (metaphor alert)…

Every morning Pop says to the twins, Did you put on new underwear, boyos?  (He doesn’t call them dudes like Dad did.  That’s good. It would be confusing.)

The twins salute and say, Yes siree, Pop. Yes siree, Pop. (We think that because they’re twins they repeat their answers.)

But you know how little boys can be smelly? Well, Clyde and Sam REALLY smell on this one morning, so Pop brings them into the bathroom, thinking maybe that they didn’t wipe. Or something like that.

Mimi? he calls out. Come here a minute, would you, Dearie?  Mimi and I do question marks eyebrow wiggles at each other. I give her the I dunno shrug. (I am so not the expert on smelly 4-year olds. Geez.)

She goes down the hall to the bathroom. I hear lots of  Pop-Mimi-Murmur-Murmuring and Little-Boy-TalkTalkTalking. Mimi goes upstairs and comes down with two pairs of Elmo underpants.

After a while they march back to the kitchen.

Pop says, Now remember, Sam and Clyde. “New underpants” means that you take OFF the old ones. You don’t just add a new pair.

And we start to giggle.

Giggle! Gushing Giggles. Like that water that whooshed out of the well after we primed it. And we get active: The twins show me their new Elmos and drag me off to play Tonka Trucks and Matchbox cars with them. Mimi stuffs smelly underpants in the trash. (Guess she’s not going to try to recycle ’em which is very unusual for her.) Pop calls to her to come sit outside with him for a while.

It takes giant, big minutes for all the chuckles and activity to subside.

Neato. Or sort of neato anyway.


Isabelcurlyheadfrombackonchair-sketch by my friend Ryan

#11b. Old-fashioned Water Pumps: Metaphor alert!

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#11a. A story from the Way-Back Seat of my memory about Dad that shows how pumped he was about Miss Mary’s pump.

Miss Mary’s water pump looks like the one in Little House on the Prairie. In fact, it looks JUST like that water pump LAMP next to my bed–the one Dad made in shop class.  I wish I could ask  Dad if he got the idea for the lamp from Miss Mary’s real pump.

BEFORE everything changed, my family would “come over” to Pop and Mimi’s for brunch or picnics, stuff like that. And every time we come, Dad brings us to the farm to see the animals and, quiz us on how the pump works.

Dad really wanted us to understand, and I’m finally getting it. Here’s what happens the very last time we visit BEFORE. (Which, BTW, is only two weeks ago. Seems more like a decade.)

After cranking the pump handle a few times while the twins and I watch, Dad raises his eyebrow and says, Who can tell me why there’s no water coming out of the pump today?

ME:  Air.

DAD: Right, air’s gotten in, so there’s no water pressure. No water pressure, no water.

(You might notice that the twins aren’t saying anything. That’s ’cause they’re four. They ARE looking back and forth between Dad and me like it’s a tennis match.) 

DAD: So what do we do?

TWINS: Knock on Miss Mary’s door! Knock on Miss Mary’s door! 

DAD: Looking a little perplexed, Er, why would we do that dudes?

TWINS: Miss Mary has water in her sink! Miss Mary has water in her sink!

DAD: He ruffles their heads and fist-bumps with them, and then he says, What ELSE could we do?

ME: Get rid of the air that’s wrecked the water pressure.

DAD: How do we do that?

ME: Like this. And I run back to Mimi and Pop’s, turn on their hose, pour water from the hose into a bucket, and run back up the hill to Miss Mary’s. (The twins watch me like I’ve never done this before and, trust me, if I’ve done it once, I’ve done it a zillion times. Or at least three times when they were around.)

DAD: Now what?

ME: I pour the water into the top here.  (I have to stand tippy-toed to lift the bucket and pour it into this pipe that’s right next to the pump.) Then I pump the handle. 

I pump the handle updownupdown a few times and then, with a great gurgle and splash, water spurts out and into the trough below. The trough’s for the animals to drink from. In fact, one of Miss Mary’s lambs (Pretty funny, huh? “Miss Mary’s Lambs,” like in the nursery rhyme?) scurries around the corner of the barn and starts lapping it up.


Isabelcurlyheadfrombackonchair-sketch by my friend Ryan Grimaldi Pickard

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