Jesse James

I sorta went on vacation this summer and didn’t let any of you know about it, didn’t I?

It’s not that I planned anything or went anywhere or even slouched from one interesting activity to a completely slothful and relaxing one.

I simply neglected you, dear readers.

And I didn’t have much to say. Or news to report.

The heart attack aftermath appears to be on an upswing after a fretfully frightening bout with medication side-effects and reactions.

Rob broke into an angry red puffy scratchy rash just after my mother’s visit ended. Much hemming and hawing by doctors followed and finally he was taken off of three meds that he didn’t need anyway, but are “protocol”.

I do not like “protocol”, Sam I Am. It drips laziness, and my own take on medical folk is that if I can Google it – it can’t be rocket science – so work a little, okay?

My mother came to visit? Did I mention she was coming? Or was that just Facebook? I confuse the two, think I’ve blogged something I only updated or updated something I actually blogged. The only people who really know are those who read here and are my friends/family/or people I am merely curious enough about to friend.

It was a good visit, but she reads over my shoulder while I am working. A little thing and I know that many daughters would love to have such trivial issues with their moms, but after a week it grates like moldy cheese.

Half-hearted stabs at stay-cationy stuff were attempted during her visit and in the last week because we needed to cancel our real vacation to Yellowstone. Couldn’t safely be Stateside with Rob’s issues and he still hasn’t been “officially” stamped with the “carry-on” seal of medical approval.

There was the Farmer’s Market in St. Albert, which is no place to take a near-eighty year old woman, an eight year-old and a guy who’s recently had a heart attack.

But we went anyway.

Shopped. And I never do that. Which really came home to me when I pruned my wardrobe for our upcoming garage sale and was startled by how little I had to start with and how much less there is now.

Rob takes up more closet space than I do.

I think I have one pair of jeans, and they are capris and two pair of shorts.

It’s so sad that Rob suggested I snag a pair of yoga pants he saw on sale the last time we were at Costco.

Oh, and I shop for my clothes at Costco and Walmart.

How the mighty have fallen.

Shopping with Mom is like shopping with Dee – it’s all about them – which made it interesting to watch my mother’s reaction to her granddaughter’s completely mercenary non-interest in Grandma’s choice of stores. Mom deals only slightly better with not being the center of attention on shopping trips than Dee does.

But in spite of the amusement, it was wearying.

Having a Grandma on the premises is handy however. A couple of days after she arrived, she manned the deck when Rob needed to visit the ER again. I have never had the convenience of family close at hand during crunchy times. Eye-opening really because being far away all the time, I’ve never cultivated a habit of counting on anyone when the going ups and toughens.

She held up but her age was apparent by the end of the day. She is not spry and fatigues more easily than she would care to have anyone comment upon.

But my, handy-dandy. Such a treat.

Losers that we are, Rob and I failed to take advantage of the opportunity to schedule a date night. I thought about it but remembering that I had to drive, I quickly discarded the notion.

I am not at all sorry that Rob is officially sanctioned to drive again. Let’s just say that the four weeks he couldn’t drive were endured by us both and let it go.

Summer mostly came and is gone. Truly. Fall’s heralds trumpet from the turning leaves to the winged ants squirming from the ground. The thermometer dips below 10c every night and the sun’s angling toward the horizon again.

We took in a few local sites. Visited Fort Edmonton, a historical village where that Brad Pitt movie about Jesse James was filmed a few years ago. Trekked out to Vegreville to see the giant Pysanka, a Easter-ish egg of frightening proportions.

Last weekend we cheered Mick on at the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival. We hadn’t planned to go everyday, but Edie’d gone camping with her new beau, Silver, and there was drama on the dragon boat team which left Mick a bit stranded in terms of support.*

And today?

School is nearly upon us. Rob – fingers crossed – goes back to work next week. And me? Back to my schedule, which I have missed a lot.

I like fall.

*It will come as no surprise to older folk that the twenties are still fraught with middle school angst. A couple on the dragon boat team is having “issues” and Mick was unfairly painted as “the other woman” for not recognizing that the man half of the couple was probably being more than just friendly in his daily texting of her. The couple is unmarried, together for five years and while she talks of future knot tying and babies, he says nothing. Tragic but hardly something a person wants to get dragged into the middle of. Naturally lines were drawn. Sides taken. Mick as the only single woman in the group was already probably “suspect” and the rest of the hens jumped with beaks sharp and claws ready. Mick for her part didn’t bite and while in a sane version of life that would count for something, it didn’t help her win anyone over. So we hung out. Even Dee managed to hang in though she wasn’t able to suppress  her obvious boredom toward the end.

We watched Brad Pitt’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Bob Ford this weekend. Rob just wanted to see if he could recognize the settings because some of the movie was filmed here at Fort Edmonton. It’s based on a book about James’ last train robbery and the last months of his life.

Jesse and his older brother Frank were Confederate Civil War veterans. They rode with Quantrill’s Raiders and like many who fought for the southern states, they never got over the idea that they were an oppressed minority. Jesse liked to claim that they targeted banks and rails owned by Republicans and other with pro-Northern sympathies, but the facts don’t really square with this.

The truth is that the James brothers found it easier to make a living by stealing and their military experience made it a preferred profession for them. Jesse in particular was an erratic person who had a hard time fitting into civilized society and these traits were likely not helped much by his war experiences.

Bob Ford was the younger brother of Charley, a fellow who was riding with the James at the end of their career. Bob’s family and many of their friends rode with or were related to the James brothers and he grew up idolizing Jesse and wanting to be an outlaw.

Ford eventually becomes disenchanted enough that he betrays some of the gang members to the authorities in Missouri where Jesse lived under an assumed name. He finally ends up killing Jesse himself, shooting him in the back of the head which was somewhat fitting as James seemed to prefer killing people by shooting them from behind.

Ford collected a large reward and for a time made a living re-enacting his deed on the stage. Eventually, however, public opinion turned against him. He was branded a traitor and Jesse James went on to become a Robin Hood like outlaw.

The film hasn’t much to recommend it. It’s typical of movies anymore that prize character studies* over plot line. The scenery is quite nice, but the glacial pace and the waste of more than a few actors (Mary-Louise Parker, Sam Shepard and Zooey Deschanel to name a few)** prompts to me dub this a library check-out only because no one should waste money in addition to time on it.

I found myself objecting to the “coward” title being hung on Ford’s neck. He, and the others around Jesse, were clearly terrorized by and terrified of him. It’s classic abuser/abusee and not at all a surprise that one of them finally kills James. Jesse is as far from heroic as a person could get. He was a sociopath with paranoid tendencies who has been glamorized far too much in American culture which seems to prize the charmingly violent even a hundred plus years later.

To cap off our study of Civil War veterans, Rob and I watched The Outlaw Josey Wales as well. Was it a better movie? I reckon so.

* And Pitt does a credible job despite being too visibly old for the part.

** Parker plays Jesse’s wife and has probably a handful of lines at best. She is most used like a prop. Shepard is gone within twenty minutes having said little as well. Deschanel shows up in the last ten minutes as another human prop.