Silence (while it lasts) really is golden
By Dorothy Wilson ‘The Marion Mom’
Do you hear that?
It’s the golden sound of silence.
Well, not really silence.
There’s that incorrigible tinnitus. I can hear my heartbeat, too.
But you know what I don’t hear? Those stupid trains.
Forgive my vehemence.
They irk me because I spend most of my waking hours and all of my sleeping hours close enough to see the shape of the mustache on the engineers.
I weary of pausing my conversation while the horn blows — we can’t even shout above the noise. I’m weary of plugging my ears.
I’m weary of my house rattling.
True story #1: My first night in this house, I awoke in a panic from my bed shaking excessively. I thought it was an earthquake.
It was only a freight train.
True story #2: I once missed an exciting 3.2 earthquake here in Marion because I subconsciously associated the shaking ground with just another freight train.
True story #3: Our dressers in our upstairs bedroom had mobile handles and a metal backplate in the style of the ‘40s. For four years, I complained about the dink-dink-dink those 30 handles made as my house shook every time a train roared by while I was trying to sleep.
For four years, I suffered.
I griped. I complained.
Then I decided to do something about it.
“I’m going to buy a new bedroom suite today,” I announced one day as I was swimming my way out of the morning brain fog by way of my friend, Java Joe. My husband’s eyebrows shot up, and I could almost hear the cash register dinging in his mind.
“Um, why?” he replied, calm on the outside, but bubbling with anxiety on the inside (what I like to call the Expense Defense).
So I answered through gritted teeth and suspicious eyes, “Because the tinking dressers keep me awake.
My new dressers will have immobile handles.”
My husband said, “Why don’t you just put a little felt between the handle and the backplate to absorb the sound?”
Oh. My. Word. If necessity is the mother of invention, a potential unbudgeted expense is the mother of ingenuity. It was four years late, but his idea worked.
Now, ten times a night, the freight train rumbles by our house like an elephant stampede, but Husband and I often snooze through it, thanks to a $2 sheet of felt dots.
But the ear-splitting blasts still drive me nuts.
Since the railroad has been working on the tracks, however, those uncomfortable moments have diminished remarkably.
The sound of silence. It really is golden after the weekend we had.
Eldest Son turned 10. In our house, the tenth birthday earns an outrageous party.
Eldest Son decided he wanted to have 10 puckish boys over to play a computer game called Minecraft all night long.
Although I left the technical side of the party for my husband, I worked for three weeks on the Minecraft theme.
I bought chocolate candies shaped like rocks. I bought actual rocks. (In hindsight, this was hilariously unwise.) I bought square, clear shot glasses to fill with blue jello in the style of a Minecraft block of water.
The guests raved! Lamentably, a number of the preteen boys called them Jello shots.
They were not Jello shots, parents. I promise.
I prepared and supervised a real-life TNT science experiment using Diet Coke and Mentos. Remember Mr. Foster’s chemistry class? Yeah, he would have been proud. My neighbors, the mayor on one side and the parents on the other, probably weren’t so smitten with my handiwork as they were irked with the midnight outdoor clamor.
(You didn’t think I’d let Diet Coke explode all over my kitchen floor, did you?) I had to download, design, print out, laminate, and hang decorations and photo booth props. I spent hours on Endermen faces, Creepers, diamond swords, and Steve heads, and a DVD playlist of Minecraft parodies. (Think “Don’t Mine At Night” to the tune of Katy Perry’s, “Last Friday Night.”) I fabricated my own creeper t-shirts. (By ignoring the very clear and emboldened warning on the iron-on transfer instructions, I cracked a large piece of glass protecting my desk. So if you see, “DO NOT IRON ON GLASS,” I recommend you heed the warning. And yes, we “fixed” it with duct tape.) The piece de resistance, of course, was the cake.
Eldest Son requested an Ender Dragon. (“A whatthe- who?” I replied, but Google saved my tail.) So, it’s basically a black dragon with purple eyes.
But some snooty little Haute Mama Pinterested her perfectly smooth, wholly artistic, fondant glory, complete with sparklers for fire-breath, and I saw certain failure in my foreseeable future.
Because my cake-decorating skills fall between “Not burnt” and “Barely legible.”
So, I crafted a not-sosnooty- but-far-more-tasty buttercream dragon with fruit roll-up wings.
I bought a jar of black food coloring for the fuliginous Ender Dragon and used a baby spoon to dollop it onto the icing.
While I was mixing, all six children ran through the kitchen in a tizzy to lick the bowl and spoon. After I acquiesced, Eldest Daughter spied the sidelined baby spoon with a glob of pure black food coloring settled tantilizingly in the center.
Mistaking it for icing, she snatched it and shoved it in her mouth.
You can imagine how pretty that was. For days.
(We incidentally stumbled upon another science experiment: How ingesting black food coloring affects your bowels. True story #4: I nearly took a child to the hospital once for blood in the stool, but it was just red food coloring.) The night of the unslumber party, I believed I deserved to call in pizza and then escape with the girls, but I guess I should have shared my plan with my husband.
His face froze in panic when I headed out the door.
So I stayed.
And I heard loud laughter, whoops, hollers, and delight all night long.
Plus the trains.
So thank you, railroad safety guys, for replacing rotting timbers for a few days. We sure could get used to this.
(True story #5: Just as I type this sentence, a long blast from a slow train disrupts my reverie.
So much for the golden sound of silence.)
Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris as they enjoy all the adventures life with their seven children provides.
Her columns appear monthly in the Marion Ledger, with reprints, such as this one from April 2016, appearing from time to time in the online edition of the Evening Times.