A Ring of Truth

Sundays at the Ranch are generally quiet. Everyone goes to church, comes home, has lunch.

Sometimes in the afternoon we take a swim, or work out a little bit, or just hang around the house doing whatever.

As for me—I’m supposed to be writing a book about how Down Home Ranch got started. Somehow that’s not happening. Things get to popping up here and there and the time set aside for writing the book gets filled up with other stuff on a regular basis.

So, what the heck. Sundays I won’t blog about the Ranch. Instead I’ll write about how the Ranch got started, and we’ll see where it winds up.

So here goes.

Down Home Ranch began, of course, with a big surprise.

Jerry and I were living in Austin with two of our three girls. Carolyn, the oldest, was just finishing up a Master’s degree in voice at the University of Colorado/Boulder. Martha, the middle, was halfway through her BA at the University of Texas/Austin. Janny, the baby, was just beginning Anderson High.

We lived in northeast Austin in a rambling ranch house built in the 50s on about a third of an acre. We loved our house, which was filled with plants and light, and we loved being only 15 minutes from our jobs, the University, and pretty much anywhere else we wanted to go.

Jerry was working on his dissertation to complete his Ph.D. in Educational Administration at UT, and had a part-time job working with an outfit that placed and cared for decorative plants in commercial buildings.

I was teaching Spanish at Austin Community College and working part-time for a software company. I had completed all my course requirements for the Ph.D. in Latin American Studies at UT, and was taking some time off to consider other options before either continuing on or pursuing a different direction.

Friends were always stopping by for dinner or to play a little music. We had a big garden in the back yard and even kept chickens for eggs and amusement. Martha and I sang with the Austin Civic Chorus and both of us attended Friends Meeting (Quakers) on Sundays, where Martha took care of the little kids during Meeting for Worship. Janny generally spent the night with a friend on Saturday nights, and Jerry preferred puttering in the garden to any organized Sunday morning activities.

That year, 1983-84, I was serving as Recording Clerk of Friends Yearly Meeting. (Our local meeting was called “Monthly Meeting”, and “Yearly Meeting” took in a four-state area that met once a year around Easter for a retreat and to transact any business that needed taking care of.)

In early February of ’84, I was due to fly to Houston for a planning meeting for our upcoming Yearly Meeting, leaving around 2:00 PM in the afternoon.

I’d stayed home from work to straighten up the house and get ready for the trip. The airport was only five minutes away, and arriving half an hour before the flight would still get you on the plane in plenty of time in those days.

I was going from room to room, packing my bag and thinking about this and that, but a nagging little issue kept calling me to attention.

I was 41, and generally felt terrific since I’d stopped smoking four years before, but for the past ten days or so I’d been feeling light-headed with just a tinge of nausea that came and went throughout the day.

It was a familiar feeling from days long past, but I really didn’t think there was any chance of that. However, unlike the old days, there was a new, easy way to find out.

So I hopped in the car and drove the few blocks to the nearest pharmacy, bought a pregnancy detection kit, came back home, performed the necessary steps and set the contraption up in direct sunlight on the windowsill as directed. A positive result would be announced by a ring forming in the bottom of the tube within the first 45 minutes. No ring, no pregnancy.

As I finished getting ready for my trip, I peeked at the little tube nesting in its holder on the sill every ten minutes or so.

Each time I checked I relaxed a little more.

At 40 minutes, still nothing—big relief!

I loaded my bag in the car and went back in to leave Jerry a note on the kitchen before I left. Suddenly I remembered the gizmo in the bedroom and went back to toss it.

I went to pick it up and there, perfectly formed, appeared a distinct, dark ring in the bottom of the tube.