114 Live, Work, Play

It was Friday afternoon and Poppy and Pansy would be delivered, Mrs. James was unsure by whom, to be with her as usual on Friday night, even though school was now out for the summer. All four adults were going on a double date somewhere she was given to understand, though very little information was on offer other than that she’d have the girls all night. She’d been forewarned that it was possible that by Saturday afternoon they might be joining the adults, so to plan on being at home. She didn’t mind being flexible but realized that such last minute changes to her once predictable child care arrangement would get old very fast, especially in summer, when it was easier to be out for longer periods of time, doing pleasant activities with otherwise restless charges.

The Milwaukee Riverwalk spans 3 miles from the Third Ward, thru Downtown and up into the Beerline, incorporating residential, commercial, and entertainment uses.

The Milwaukee Riverwalk spans 3 miles from the Third Ward  thru Downtown and up into the Beerline, incorporating residential, commercial, and entertainment uses.

They really needed to have that summer child care plans talk, several times postponed. She suspected that as relationships were changing so fast on the ground, she would be wise to wait and see how this all turned out. She would bide her time even though it still very much looked like every day a new day, in a new place. She hadn’t been involved last summer, and wondered what they’d done to manage. The girls had alluded to several camps so there must have been some master plan in place. Gervase called up to her unit. This was unusual.

“Giving you a heads up that Rod Thuss was quizzing me just now about you.”

“What? Does he need a baby-sitter, too?”

“Almost. He asked about your secretarial abilities. I said you’d been capably handling the association work but that I wasn’t sure about any other work of that kind you might have done. Just told him that you are a very reliable and organized person, and always carried scissors. He seemed impressed by that. Asked for your number, said he still hadn’t located his association member lists.”

“Thanks for your kind words.”

“Any time.”

“Any idea why he was asking?”

“None, though sounds as if he could use some help up there. And here’s me thinking that I’m the only one who ever works around here. You’ll be putting me in the shade soon with your versatility.” A short while later, her phone rang again. It was Rod Thuss. Without Gervase’s warning, she’d have supposed he were calling to thank her for the cookies and arrange about the return of her plate.

“Mrs. James, this is Rod Thuss. How are you? Good, good. Thanks again for those cookies. They helped keep my energy up while I was unpacking. Say, would you be willing to come back to my place for a few minutes this afternoon? I have an idea I’d like to discuss with you. And of course, return your plate, too.”

“I could come up this minute but not for long. The girls I sit for will be arriving within the hour.”

“Works for me. Please do.” He met her, front door wide open, and greeted her warmly. She judged that he must really want her to do something for him. He waved her toward a stool at the breakfast bar; she teetered uncomfortably on one of its legs and one of hers.

“Look a little better in here, I hope?” As she’d not seen much past the packing cases at her previous visit, she had no particular answer and settled for a polite one.

“It’s a relief to get out of the boxes, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and that’s why I’ve asked you to come. I need to set up a home office and find some help doing that. I don’t require anyone full-time. But I do need an organized, mature, self-motivated worker to assist me. Would you possibly consider this?” She made no comment and waited to hear what his offer might be. He interpreted her silence as a need to elaborate.

“I imagine it would only be for a few hours at a time, several times a week until I can manage some of it on my own. There’d be a lot of flexibility for you to set your own working hours, always during the day. Would you mind being here on your own some of the time?” He’d now asked her two direct questions. She felt obliged to reply.

“Of course I’d have to think. And I’m still unsure of my summer baby sitting hours.”

“I understand. Your compensation would be generous by industry standards. Plus if it suits you, it would be government work. That’s entirely up to you, how you would wish to be paid.” A few more dollars under the table was appealing.

“What work wants doing?”Chapter 115 Live, Work, Play

“Let me show you.” Rod led her to his office door. “As you see, I don’t know quite where to start and every time I do it seems to get worse, not better. But there are things that I need to lay my hands on right away that I can’t seem to find.” Such a mess, and magnified when in a smaller space; it was all Mrs. James could do to resist tidying, setting things straight. She put her itchy fingers behind her back. He would know much joy coming in the morning after she got done with this muddle, this weeping of paperwork pouring out of every opening, every crate.

“Yes, I do see what you mean.” She understood that there were souls who had no sense of order, little grasp of sequence, of what went first. Often they went directly for the small potatoes, as R.T. was wont to say, meaning they ignored the big picture while grasping at some little piece of it or worse, disastrously pulling a finger out of the dike, precipitating a flood, like the cascade of paper on his desk. She recalled teaching her young sons the art of tidying, of first sorting into groups. Of course, they immediately began to play with what was in hand instead of deferring that pleasure until the work was done, the concept of sorting as foreign to them as a language set in a different alphabet.

“I promise I won’t be in your way. You’ll have a clear field. Could you handle this, get something going in a few days time?”

“I expect I could, yes.”

“Let’s plan on it then and thank you, Mrs James. Sooner is better for me. Oh, and here’s your plate.”

“I’ll get back to you, tomorrow.” This would be a good way to jump start her conversation about child-care. It would be silly to give up this ridiculously easy and well reimbursed opportunity.

*   *   *   *   *

After supper, Mrs. James asked the girls to think about some topics and reading material they’d like to explore during the summer. It was like opening a jack in the box, so many popped out of their heads.

“I want to make a scarf, next.” This from Pansy.


“You already said horses, last time, Poppy.” Pansy refrained from calling her sister ‘stupid.’ Mrs. James, always vigilant, was listening and writing this down.

“Yes, horses were on a previous list,” Mrs. James confirmed. “What else?”

“Balloons, then, those hot-air kind, like Dorothy tried to go home in from Oz.”

“Sisters,” Pansy offered, in penance.

“Tea parties, like the kind we want for our birthday.”