Don’t Worry About It?

At the symphony the other night, an old and not-very-mobile man was sitting a few rows in front of us. At some point, he decided he needed to leave. As he struggled back up the aisle, he suddenly exclaimed “Dammit!”

I glanced his way and my suspicion that his pants had just fallen was confirmed a couple of seconds later when he stage whispered to his wife, “I should have worn my belt.”

None of this was amusing or shocking to me. Not the pants falling, not the loud swearing, not the too loud remark to his wife. No, what got to me was his wife’s immediate response to the Dammit! and sudden grabbing of his pants.

As he struggled to maintain dignity and before he remarked about the belt, she muttered (also loudly enough to be heard), “Oh! Don’t worry about it!”

Don’t worry about it? Really? He’s a grown man in a public place and you don’t think he should worry about dropping his pants? Even placing aside issues of dignity, there are some practical considerations. He couldn’t get out of the chair without your help. He can’t walk up the aisle without you holding one arm while he leans against the wall with the other. He’s basically shuffling along the floor, unable to lift his feet high enough to step. And you don’t think he should worry about his pants suddenly puddling around his ankles? As if that won’t further hinder his progress?

Let’s try switching roles and see whether you can resist worrying about your pants falling down.

What’s For Breakfast?

Sometimes life outpaces blog writing.  It doesn’t matter how many drafts I have started.  It doesn’t matter how many ideas are in my head.  It doesn’t matter whether anything is close to ready for the next day.  Sometimes, I just don’t have it in me to write the next post.

I strive to publish a post every day.  Sometimes I wonder if this is too much, but usually the ideas are flowing.  I can often churn out all five for the week on the preceeding weekend.  Unless the weekend is too busy.  But even then,  I can usually find an hour each day to settle down at the computer and write whatever story I’ve been composing in my head.

This past weekend, though, was booked solid.  The laundry didn’t even get folded until Monday night.  Monday night, I got a post ready.  Tuesday morning, the bathroom flooded and we suspected the drain in the master shower.  We expected to spend the weekend ripping out our shower to get to it.  Tuesday evening, I spent my time volunteering at the high school.  Way too tired by the time I got home.

Wednesday morning, the bathroom flooded again – this time when the other shower was used.  And when the toilet was flushed.  Good news: we didn’t have to rip out our shower.  Bad news: we had no shower or toilet facilities.  I spent the late evening (after we returned home from church events)  holding the flashlight as my husband finished his repair job on the septic line.  Way too tired to flesh out a blog post.

Thursday morning, I took it easy on the treadmill, having pulled a muscle in one leg.  I had finished all the episodes of BBC’s Sherlock – that’s another yet-to-be-written post.  Easily the best show ever.  Anyway, the husband recommended Orange is the New Black.  He made it clear that it wouldn’t hold a candle to Sherlock, but admitted that by my standards, nothing would.  I might still enjoy it.  Well, I watched it while walking slowly and I did enjoy it.  I think.

Anyway, later that morning, I found myself laying on the floor with my toes hooked under the couch.  I was preparing to do daily sit-ups with my husband.  And I was whining.  I had the same headache that had prevented treadmill activity the morning before.  The pulled muscle in my left leg hurt.  I had slept hard so my neck was stiff and painful.  The inside of my left knee hurt.  And as I lay there, my right butt cheek began to cramp.  I was a pitiful mess.

{{WARNING: Minor Orange is the New Black first episode spoiler}}

After the sit-ups, he rolled over to give me a hug.  A kind of mockingly sympathetic hug.  “Oh, well,” I said. “I guess it could be worse.  At least no one gave me a used tampon in my breakfast.”  I smiled, expecting him to catch the reference to a disturbing scene in the show he had told me to watch.

He pulled away and looked genuinely confused.  I smiled sweetly at him.

“Am I supposed to know what you are talking about?” he asked.

“Well, I would hope so.  You recommended it to me.”

He pulled even farther away.  “I did?”

“Yes.  You said you liked it and you thought I should try it.”

I’m usually the clueless one so I was finding this very satisfying.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

With a sigh, I said flatly, “Orange is the New Black.”

“Oh!  You watched it?  Did you like it?”

“I suppose.  I think so.”

“You suppose you think so?”

“No, I meant:  I suppose.  Period.  I think so.”

“Ok, I think we’ve discussed periods enough this morning.”

Ba-dum-dum.  Ching!  And there you go folks, I know you all wish you lived with us so you could revel in this kind of humor all the time.  Lucky for you, I found enough time to get one last post in this week and share it with you.

You are welcome.

Because People Will Die Today

mybrightspots:

I was sitting in the audience during a symphony performance this evening. Beautiful music was swirling all around me. I was taking it all in when suddenly, thanks to this post by John Pavlovitz (one of my most favorite new-to-me bloggers), this thought entered my mind:

***People died today.***

The music actually seemed brighter and more precious.

***People died today, but I am alive. I am alive and I am here, listening to this music. So I should Be. Here. Now.***

And all other thoughts faded from my mind as I let the music take my full attention. And it was wonderful. Check out his post. Maybe it’ll make a difference in your life too.

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:

sleeping
People die every day.

I realize that this isn’t news to you.

You’re probably not receiving it as a particularly profound idea.

I know you know this reality; that your brain understands it, but I guess I thought your heart needed to be reminded today.

Forgetting is sometimes our greatest failure, our most grievous sin.

People will die today.

People are dying now.

Thousands will simply and stunningly cease to breathe, in the time it takes to read this; fathers, wives, children, friends, mentors, co-workers, neighbors.

Their hearts will beat, and then they will not.

They will be here, and then the hereafter.

For most of the people who die today and those who love them, they won’t see it coming.

The majority of them won’t wake up thinking, “This is the last time I’ll do this.”

They won’t consider that this will be their last trip around the sun, or to work, or to the…

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Reading Break-Through

Hal has been slow to show an interest in reading.  I see several factors in this, all of which are related to him being the baby of the family.

  1. We have not devoted nearly as much time to reading to him as we did for the older two.  Our evenings, more often than not, have been full of his siblings’ extracurricular activities.
  2. We have relaxed and not pushed so much to get him to read, trusting in both his basic intelligence and the school system to get the job done within an age-appropriate window.  No need to create another superstar.
  3. Electronic entertainment has been a reality for him at a much younger age than it was for his siblings.  Why bother trying to read a book (in his mind) when you can task various plants to kill attacking zombies?

The effect of this has been that he entered Kindergarten unable to read.  This is perfectly normal in the population at large, but a new scenario in our household.  The older two were reading, and reading well enough to take comprehension exams over the book, by the same age.  Daryl, at least, appeared to think this made his brother inferior in intellect.

And while I, of course, did not share his view, I did feel a little guilty for having not given Hal the same benefits as the others.  With the advent of the school year came the reading log, with the reward of a free Pizza Hut pizza if at least 25 books were read each month.  This motivated Hal to request reading time more frequently.  It did not motivate him to attempt reading himself, though.

When we would sit down to read, he was typically not interested in trying to sound out the words.  He just wanted us to read to him while he looked at the pictures.  If you paused at a word and pointed at it, he’d grunt and complain that he didn’t want to read it.  If you insisted, he’d scan the page looking for a visual clue on what the word might be.  And then he’d guess.  Even once he could correctly sound out the letters, he resisted putting it together.

In retrospect, this is not that different from when we worked with the older two.  The main difference is that he is 2-3 years older than they were.  And, unless my brain is playing tricks on me, much more stubborn.

So sometime last week, I told him to retrieve a book and he selected “Being Friends” – a book that Jane’s friend had given her for her fourth birthday.  I smiled when I saw the tracing of the girl’s hands on the inside cover and the awkwardly scrawled name.

Opening the book to the first page, I noticed the words seemed Hal-appropriate simple:  I like red.  You like blue.

And so I pointed to the first word.  He squirmed and protested.  I said, “Oh, come on.  This one is easy.”  He read it.  I pointed to the next word.  It was apparently a sight word because he read it.  And then the next one.  I helped him with “you” and then he finished the page.  Almost eagerly.

We progressed fairly rapidly through the book.  He squirmed and twisted and barely stayed on the couch next to me.  In fact, he often read while sitting on the floor, poking his head up somewhere near the book.  He told me that he would read all the shorts ones and “the ones I know” while I was to read the long ones.

His squirming made it difficult to hold the book.  When I said as much, he popped up onto the couch and grabbed the book.  He set it firmly in his lap and took over word pointing duty.  And read.  And read.  And read.

At one point, I jumped in for the long word in the sentence and he pounced on me. “I was going to read that one!”  Yes, sir!  I assured him that I would delay before reading any remaining long words, to give him a chance to try it if he wanted to.

Eventually, he showed the tell-tale signs of boredom.  When asked to sound out a simple word, he’d stare and then shout out an absurd answer.  I’d insist and he’d repeat.  Point to the word cat.  “kuh-kuh-kuh aa-aa-aa tuh-tuh-tuh… Poop!”

“Ok, so you are done?  You want me to finish reading all the words?” I asked.  He nodded.  I began to read.  I turned the page.  He grabbed the book and resumed reading.  Finally.  The joy of successfully decoding the words on the page had infected him.  Even when he tired of sitting still, he just couldn’t leave the task to me.

Finally.  He was reading.

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Rudeful Ravioli and Traitorous Bay Leaves… Or Something Like That

Jane was gone to a retreat this weekend so for approximately two days, we were the parents of two boys only.  Here’s a sampling of things I overheard.

“My secret ingredient will be poop.” – This in response to the older brother telling the younger that he would teach him how to make eggs… including his secret ingredients.

“Stupid bay leaves!” – Muttered by the older as he rifled through the spice cabinet.

“Captain, don’t forget our dog is immune to lava!” – Something to do with all the floors in the house being lava and this statement allowing the dog to traverse the floors without either hopping from chair to chair or dying a horrible, slow, burning death.

“I’m not a traitor!  No, wait.  I am a traitor.  I’ll tell you where he is.” – Overheard during an apparent interrogation behind closed doors.

(cheerfully) “I’m not a traitor!  I’m the delivery man!” – Said by the youngest when “delivering” a “package” and being accused by the oldest (who answered the door) of actually be a traitor.

(in the wrestling ring, aka living room)
older, in a sinister voice: “I. Am. Black. Mamba.”
younger: “I am Death Snake!”
older: “No, you can’t be death snake because black mamba is already the deadliest snake in the world. You should be… The Brown Recluse. That’s a vicious spider that when it bites you, your skin falls off.”
younger: “But I want to be Death Snake!”
older: “No! We can’t have two snakes!”

(during make-believe school) “Hal!  No swords in class!”

(also during make-believe school) “Ahh!  No fair.  Dogs don’t go to school!”

“Well, Bubba, your head looks like a ravioli!” – said by the youngest at church Sunday morning.

“You said that very rudefully.  You shouldn’t talk like that.”

Oh, honey.  Rudefully or not, I have so thoroughly enjoyed listening to the two of you talking this weekend.  We should deprive you of your electronic devices more often.

Sometimes Life Stinks

There are definitely downsides to dog ownership. Like skunks. Skunks may very well represent the worst aspect of dog ownership. Hands down.

We’ve owned our dog for less than three years and have had to deal with at least 3 skunking incidents. Murphy makes sure that certain aspects of the occasion will always be true:

  1. It will most likely be dark when it happens.
  2. It is guaranteed to be at or near freezing outside.
  3. At least one of you will be occupied in such a way that you can’t imagine a worse possible time to deal with a skunked dog.

The first time she messed with one, she managed to kill it.  Unfortunately, it still sprayed her and it all happened just as my husband was preparing to herd the children out the door to head to school.  Not understanding how caustic the oils are, we tied her up outside so that he could run the kids in and I could go to work.  It wasn’t until we were both home that evening that we attempted to deal with her.  We learned our lesson that time.  You have to drop everything to deal with a skunked dog or a) she suffers discomfort and/or pain and b) the stink lingers longer.

Another time nearly saw the end of our marriage as we struggled to keep our cool after he woke me up in the middle of the night to help with the skunked dog.

And then there was last night.  Things were going well at first.  We all had a meal together at the table.  My husband ran Jane to her Destination Imagination practice.  I read to Hal and had the great joy of watching him take over the reading for the first time.  Then he had a great cello practice with his Dad.  Daryl practiced his viola.  All was going great.

Until it was time for my husband to leave to take Hal to basketball practice and pick up Jane.  Rose, the dog, was excited and hopeful about tagging along.  I remarked that he could take her with him and he said he planned on it.  But as soon as he opened the door and she ran out, he was yelling at her.  His frustration rose as he called to her and angrily deposited her back in the house, like he always does when she runs off instead of waiting for him by the car.

As she ran past me, I first noticed the ridge of hair along her back.  Obviously, she had been chasing something.  Then I noticed a bit of foam around her mouth and heard her snorting.  Then. Then I smelled it.  Just as she took off down to the boys’ room.  Within seconds, my husband opened the door.

“Did she get skunked?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, wrinkling my nose.

“I just smelled it,” he said apologetically.  He almost looked grief stricken and torn.  Hal was about to be late to his first ever basketball practice.  “Can you get Daryl to help?”

“Just go,” I said, as I headed to the supply box that had the extra bottle of hydrogen peroxide and the rubber gloves.  I called to Rose who ran into her crate.  I called to Daryl to get her on the leash and back outside.  I Googled the deskunking recipe.  I mixed the ingredients.  Daryl hurried in and said that Rose had been rolling on the grass and managed to unfasten her collar and run off.  He couldn’t see her since it was dark.

I grabbed the flashlight, found the discarded collar and leash outside, and chased down the dog.  Then he held her more tightly while I went back inside for the supplies.  We did the usual soap her up with peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap, rinse her (and us, incidentally) with the garden hose, wash her with the dog shampoo, and dry her the best we could.

At one point, as we struggled with a squirming, wet, stinky, bleeding (she rubs her face raw when this happens) dog, we heard a little chirping bark sound a little ways off.  Is that the skunk? I thought.  Daryl echoed my thoughts out loud.  The noises continued.  “I think that skunk is mocking us,” Daryl said.  I couldn’t help but agree.  I certainly felt mocked.

The brief times I had been in the house, I could tell that the house was going to stink to high heaven.  Not wanting to exacerbate the problem, I kept her outside.  Daryl and I stripped down and threw our clothes and his sheets in the washing machine.  We used the meager supply of Febreeze on the carpet and couch.  I attempted to dry off my best and newest pair of dress boots that I had been wearing when the incident occurred.

I wrote on the chore calendar that Daryl, who had clearly not been enjoying himself but never once complained or refused to do what I asked, had earned an extra $2.  When Jane returned home, I ordered her to fix Daryl some hot chocolate.  When I returned from picking up Hal, I sprayed Daryl’s bed, which stunk terribly, with the new bottle of Febreeze before pulling the guest mattress in their room for him to sleep on instead.

All in all, it was an exhausting and stinky evening.  Anyone want a dog?

TBT: Great Grandma’s House

Two weeks ago, in honor of Halloween, my Throwback Thursday post was about the spooky bedroom at the end of the hall at my Great Grandmother’s house. I spent a lot of time at her house. This week’s throwback looks at some of the brighter – or at least, not frightening – times.

Great Grandma was very adept at pinching pennies. Conservation was the name of the game. According to her, an inch and a half of water in the bottom of the tub was more than adequate for me to take a bath in. Can’t wash my hair in that little water? No problem. She’d just bend me backwards over the edge of the bathroom sink and wash it there.

She had a whole bunch of cheap costume jewelry. Never having pierced her ears, all the earrings were clip-on. This was perfect for our jewelry store that my brother and I would setup in the living room. We’d pull a dining room chair in as our display space. Hang the necklaces on the corners. Clip the earrings on the center portion of the chair back. We’d push the two facing couches away from the walls and each would claim one space as his or her home. The shop would be outside one of the homes. Business couldn’t have been swift. What, with only two people in the town.

My favorite activity, by far, was eating Saltine crackers. Now that I think about it, that was pretty much my favorite activity wherever I was. And I always had to be sneaky about it because crazy grown-ups seemed to have a problem with a kid eating an entire sleeve of crackers in one sitting.

Grandma kept her crackers in the little vertical storage space in her range (cooktop and oven – not built into any cabinetry). I’m sure the space was intended for baking sheets or something, but at her house, that’s where the crackers were. When she wasn’t looking, I’d swipe them and run to hide under the table in the living room.

For a smart kid, I wasn’t very bright though. I almost always forgot to close the door in my haste. So in would walk Grandma to the kitchen. She’d see the open compartment, and she’d start calling me. Problem was, she was 80-some years old and had quite a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It took her awhile to get to my name.

“Mary Lee? Marsha? Susan? Jennifer? Lucy?” I never felt compelled to respond until she got to mine. I mean, how was I supposed to know she was calling me? In the meantime, I’d pick up the pace on stuffing crackers in my mouth.

Eventually, sometimes after cycling through some men’s names too, she’d hit mine. And I’d dutifully call out, “Yes?” The response was always muffled since it’s hard to speak with your mouth full of crackers. She’d enter the living room and snag the remaining crackers. I don’t recall getting into much trouble for it.

She had a pecan orchard too. As she got older, she became less and less able to pick the pecans on her own. In fact, sometimes she’d call my mom or my grandma yelling, “The crows are getting my pecans! The crows are getting my pecans!!” That was the siren call that would get all family members living in the area loaded up and hurried out to her house to pick pecans.

When I was in eighth grade, I remember going out there and picking pecans. That’s when I learned that there’s some sort of dye in the soft outer green shells that protect the brown speckled shells we are all accustomed to. I was trying to be helpful and peeled them all off. And all my fingers were stained orange!

Such an event is absolutely devastating to a middle schooler. How could I go to school with my hands looking like that?! I simply couldn’t. There was obviously only one thing to do… I carefully covered all my fingers with band-aids. Yep. That’s what I did.

And being an honest child, when the unforeseen question came up, “What did you do to your fingers?!”, I told the truth. Which made me look incredibly stupid since I wasn’t actually injured.

On Great Grandma’s wall, hung a poem. I thought this was one of the most insightful things I’d ever seen. And when we emptied her house, so many years later, I learned I wasn’t alone. Everyone wanted the poem. And so we all got color copies of the original. Mine is matted and hanging on my dining room wall:

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