Rock Memories

Flowerbed in the Morning
How many rocks can a daughter chuck, if a daughter chucked rocks?

My mom is a rock hound.   Much to my grief.

My childhood years often contained many walks during which we lugged rocks back from 160 acres of pastureland to the in-progress flower garden.    I often whined about having to carry them.

As the project took shape, I thought I would someday see the end of needing to lug hands, jackets and pocketsful of rocks back to the home place.  I sighed with relief when the project was pronounced ‘Done’.

But we were not done…much to my sorrow.

Apparently, rock gardens and such require a periodic cleaning.   Every rock must be removed, fill dirt from our Colorado winds brushed and washed away, new weed guard laid down and the rocks, sparkling from their fresh bath and dried to a lustrous sheen by the sun, placed ever so gently back into their allotted space.

Who knew rocks required baths?

During the moving, cleaning and replacing, much hilarity occurs when enthusiastic rock movers accidentally smash the fingers of less than thrilled co-workers.    These stories make rich family lore fodder and are repeated for decades…

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My senior year, we took a class trip to the mountains.    And visited a pre-historic lake bed.   Filled with really pretty, and big, rocks.    Apparently, the chaperones and sponsors did not know about the severity of stealing rocks and I, in my desire to be a good daughter, lugged a stone the size of a small cooler onto the bus to bring home as a souvenir of my trip.   The Rock Hound is happiest receiving special rocks from special places – these have long replaced postcards, t-shirts, shot glasses, spoons or plates.   Bring a rock and she is happy.

All the way home that bus trip, people yelled and lifted their feet as we wound up and down mountain grades – the huge souvenir slid from one end of the bus to another – too big to fit in an overhead, it happily moved from the back end of the bus to the front and back again.

It became dubbed, “Tamrah’s Damn Rock” for the remainder of our trip and not even the adult chaperones objected to the cursing…

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In the early days of my marriage to an introverted officer of the law, the Rock Hound’s sister visited us in our new mountain home.   Built on a rocky hillside.    Rock collecting runs in the family and she promptly oohed and ahhed over some red rock sitting in the back yard.   Picked it up to take it home.   Hubby, with a sufficiently serious frown, informed her he would have to cite her for removing it if she insisted on taking it.

Shocked, she set it down and apologized.

He grinned and explained he wouldn’t write the ticket if she picked it back up.

We may be exes now, but he still inquires about the  itinerary each year she visits.  He still dreams of intercepting the Rock Hound and her sister during one of their site-seeing trips – for the day to be slow enough at work to stop them, with lights and siren, because he has nothing better to do.

He can’t wait to ask,  with stern face and serious tone, to search their car for contraband rocks.

There are many reasons why I still love that man – this is one of them.

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Over the years, I’ve read about the energy power of crystals and various other rocks.   I’ve participated often in the “love stone” joke (just another f**king rock).

But at some point, I came to realize the importance of rocks.    I was in grief and walking.   Walking in the vain attempt to leave my grief behind.

A glittering stone on the path catches my attention just at the time I’m thinking of my loved one and the good times shared.

The rock is picked up, dutifully carted home and placed in a treasured spot about the home.

It’s my connection to those I no longer get to see everyday.

Last year, I went for a long walk.  And came back to the Rock Hound’s home with a pocket full of sparkly and unusual rocks.

I showed them to her and she started to relieve me of my burden.

“What are you doing?” I huffily asked.

“Putting them on the rock pile.” She replied, amazed at my irritation.

“No!  These are MY Rocks!”

Took her over 40 years, but I’m finally converted…

Move the Rocks and Be Happy About It

Rock Moving
Rock Moving

At some point in my teen-age years, my Dad told me about a time he was pressured into attending a function he did not wish to go to.   Nothing eerie or out of place, just a simple social function his presence was requested at and one he had no wish to attend.

He finally decided to go out of respect for the person inviting him.

On the way to the function, he was asked to put a smile on his face.

He closed the story with the phrase,

“You wanted me to go, I’m going.  But I don’t have to be happy about it.”

Patience…we’ll get to the rocks, which I know you’re dying to hear about…

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During the course of my BS career, I worked nearly 30 years in a variety of industries.

Before Stroke – but it does ring true for other reasons…

There were few jobs I couldn’t find a way to be happy in.  Even when moving rocks, patiently, from one place to another.

Back and forth – Back and forth.

Sometimes, the people I was moving the rocks for made the time interesting.   As a bartender and waitress, I met many folks and heard a wealth of stories and wisdom while I ran around, taking orders for rocks and delivering them to those who wanted them.

The rocks, themselves, rarely changed.    Over and over, I took orders for rocks and delivered them.

At some point, the stories became cliche, because I’d heard it all before.   I became tired of the industry that required me to show up and smilingly deliver rocks, day in and day out, with no benefits, no room for advancement and a death certificate required should I have pneumonia and foolishly claim to be too sick to work.

I moved to a different rock pile.

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Learning at the new quarry kept me entertained for quite some time.   I now had to use computers to record for others data concerning the rocks I moved, when I moved them and how they were doing at their new location.

Occasionally, I found myself mindlessly moving rocks from one pile to another, report on it, and then report when I moved them back to their original location – when that occurred, I ended up changing quarries within a year – I was unwilling to move rocks simply for the paycheck.

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And then came the day when I was in charge of coming up with a plan as to how rocks would be moved.    I was delighted.

FINALLY!   I have the power to make sure any moving of rocks will be done in an efficient and useful manner.   Each rock touched is merely one piece of the magnificent structure and while duly noted and reported, the moving of the rocks became synonymous with the building of The Great Pyramid.

Purpose, Higher Ideals and Goals, Efficiency, Economy…

I was in Heaven.

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Then I discovered there are many who like moving rocks from one place to another without really changing anything.   Moving rocks around aimlessly is big business and those who engage in the activities are very defensive towards anyone who dares to question the purpose of their activities.

I spent 9 months pleading for rock movers to see the big picture.   To dream of what they could do once freed from the insanity of lugging rocks back and forth, every day, with no sense of purpose or accomplishment.

To no avail.   Livelihoods were at stake and resistance was strong.

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During this same time period, I noticed how very unhappy the rock movers were.    Break time meant talking about anything except life in the quarry – the party later tonight or the latest jokes and gossip making the email rounds.    Snide remarks regarding other workers in the quarry were common and among the sections most ripe with rock movers, lay the most venomous snake pit ever known to man.

I came to the conclusion that pointless moving of rocks erodes away the soul.   Deep down, the spirit knows it’s being wasted away, engaging in the futile and redundant each and every day.    But the ego understands that when you engage in the unneeded and pointless everyday, there is little room for failure.

Show up, move the rocks, be happy about it and you can survive.

I left the quarry.

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My co-worker
My co-worker

Now, I’m moving rocks, blocks, tires and dirt.   From one place to another.   There are days when I faithfully lug my teal bucket, reminiscent of those used on archeological digs, except for the size and color, back and forth.

Back and Forth.

All while praying for strength and stamina to carry the bucket just one more round.

Please, today, let me move more rocks.

No one pays me to do this.   No one records how much I get done each day and no one cares if I fail to take a 15 minute break at 10 or decide I’m knocking off early at noon. I do not have to sit for an hour each quarter to hear about how my supervisor wishes I could move more rocks and write better reports to justify my activities to the budget committee.   I do not have to attend seminars, classes or meetings in order to move my rocks.

I do not have co-workers who snidely comment on how much I’m paid to move rocks and I don’t have to justify my rock moving techniques to them, or train all of them on how to move rocks efficiently.

I no longer have to convince people that moving rocks in this way makes sense.  Builds for the future.  I do not have to prove that my 5 year plan is good for the ages and is fluid enough to handle future rock moving activities.

I have only to carry my bucket to the front yard and start moving rocks.

And man, am I happy about it…