Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 3-28-11 |

Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 3-28-11

“FAT!!” That’s what neighbor Thelma declares she is. She’s tried all kinds of exercise: Treadmills, weight-lifting, belly-dancing (no weight loss, but her husband, Floyd, enjoyed watching her practice) as well as assorted diets and riding her mare – bareback. (The notion there being that clinging with her thighs to the back of her horse would peel pounds off said thighs faster than merely sitting in a saddle).

Thelma, who is built somewhat along the lines of a Bartlett pear, became discouraged. As a ranch woman, she gets plenty of exercise in the lambing and calving sheds, not to mention slopping the hogs. Still she feels pudgy. Every so often she goes into a feverish fit wherein she determines to change her shape.

For Floyd, she always claims.

Floyd, tall, skinny and apt never to put on an extra pound, likes pear-shaped women. He married Thelma when she was a 20-year-old Bartlett.

But Thelma despairs. She looks at her teen-aged daughter, Vanessa, and sighs. Vanessa, you see, takes after Floyd. Model slim and movie-star pretty, Vanessa moves through life with unconscious and totally indifferent grace. She can’t understand her Mom’s complaint.

“Mom,” says Vanessa, “you’re as cute as a puppy; everybody loves you. You’re not fat, you’re pleasingly plump.”

No amount of reassurance from either Floyd or Vanessa turned Thelma’s gloom off. She determined on one more attempt to change herself. She bought a trampoline.

Floyd grinned, but kept his trap shut. (Floyd is a man with a sense of humor and Thelma is a constant source of delight to him – but as a wise husband, he tries not to make any unnecessary comments). He installed the trampoline in the yard, first putting down a cushioning bed of straw. Seemed to Floyd that the contraption was awfully high off the ground.

It was. Thelma had to bring out the kitchen stool as a ladder to scale to the trampoline’s surface. Once there, she instituted a program of aerobic moves. Every morning, right after collecting the eggs from the henhouses and feeding the chickens and the bum lambs, Thelma mounted her trampoline and began vigorously bouncing.

Picture an impossibly blue sky overhead, a line of snow-capped peaks marching across the background horizon, the sun shining golden on the spring coming-green meadows, the new mama ewes and lambs grazing on the veldt (do they have veldts in ranch country?). For two weeks, Thelma had a super grand time – twisting, leaping, jumping-jacking – she made up moves for which there are no names. She acquired expertise and confidence which led her to – instead of taking the ladder to the ground – jump to earth – always landing with an acrobat’s balance and elan. That is, until yesterday – the day she gave up the trampoline.

Time: 10 o’clock a.m. Chores done. Two hours till noon dinner for which she’d already put a roast in the oven and the potatoes were ready to mash. Thelma was superwoman hurdling tall buildings. She bounced so high, she was able to scratch her initials in the sky. She was having a glorious time. She felt gloriously thin.

About then Floyd drove up in the flaking-paint 1976 pickup that he uses to check cows.

“Honey,” he shouted, interrupting Thelma’s lovely fantasy. “You got time to …” These are four little words all ranch women hear right before they become an Instant Hired Hand.

“That A-47 heifer is trying to calve. I need some help. I’ll go on to the south 40, you come down on the 4-wheeler.”

“Sure,” yelled Thelma and gave Floyd a thumbs up. That’s where Thelma’s over-confidence got her in a pickle. The trampoline edges wore goat-hook prongs over which the tension ropes were wound. Thelma was wearing the standard ranch-woman blue-jean garment – the kind with belt loops. She wasn’t however, wearing a belt. Blithely she soared (can you soar blithely?) up and over – a wee bit too close to the trampoline. A backside blue jean belt loop caught on a goat-hook prong. Thelma, as mentioned, is pear-like in shape and also short. Some would call her petite. There she dangled, feet not touching the ground, arms flailing. Sometime later, Floyd found her.

As stated, Floyd finds his soul mate endlessly entertaining.

The trampoline went to the Goodwill.

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