Friday, September 28, 2012

You light up my life, in a magnetic sort of way

My fridge with its dozens of magnets and flashlights up top.

I saw my new dream gift last night. It appeared halfway through the 4th set of commercials on the Perry Mason episode ‘The Case of the Flighty Father’ (1960).
That was never one of my favorite episodes because an elderly man is killed. Perry Mason is at his most rewarding when the victim is the snake in the grass type, or the poisonous home wrecker kind of woman.
But now? ‘The Case of the Flighty Father’ may move to my happy list because, halfway through that 4th set of commercials, it introduced me to iScope.

The iScope takes two of my favorite inanimate objects in the universe: a flashlight and a magnet, and combines them in one. It is the Fred Astaire-and-Ginger Rogers, the bacon-and-eggs, the pajama-and-party of the mineral world.
Better yet: It’s the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of Practical Living.

Here is what the object of my desire can do:
-shine a light 

-pick up metal objects

Oh sure. It can do other stuff. It extends from short to long, has a flexible head and if I buy one I get a second one absolutely free-ish. How much can extra shipping and handling be, right?

But that is all fluff. Magnets and flashlights draw me like a moth to the flame. Hahaha. Get it?
Anything that combines the two is double the pleasure, double the fun.
We have flashlights by our bed and on our fridge and in our vehicles. We own flashlights built into keychains and hats and drills and those things that will tap your way out your car window when you’ve driven into a river.
My refrigerator is covered with magnets and I have a book with magnet experiments.
When our boys were younger and my husband needed someone to use the magnetic nail finder after a roofing job I would threaten the boys with no dessert for a week unless they let me do it.

And now magnets and flashlights are joined in wedded bliss as iScope. I want one. Really badly. I won’t ask for anything else.
Especially not the Skin Tag Remover that can be seen halfway through the 5th set of Perry Mason commercials and combines two of my least favorite things: skin tags, and removal.
My Christmas list is set. Let me know if you want an iScope too. Because, you know, I can get that second one absolutely free.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Body Betrayal in the Raspberry Filling Years

They warned us These Days would come.

You know, back in Those Days.
Those days, when our metabolism was brisk and efficient.
These days it chucks ingested calories at our waistlines and upper arms and lounges back to watch Judge Judy.

Those days we could lie in the sun with little between us and UV rays but a layer of baby oil.
These days we wear floppy hats and sunscreen so thick it could mortar a pyramid.

Those days we could read the fine print off a Tiger Beat magazine from 20 paces to see who was in it.
These days we need reading glasses and rubber arms to hold a menu at 20 paces to see what is in it.

Those days we didn’t want to wake up; these days we can’t get to sleep.
Those days we tried to dry up pimples; these days we try to plump up wrinkles.
Those days we could jog a mile and look cute and glistening;
these days we sit motionless in a church pew and find ourselves sweating from areas we didn’t know had sweat glands.

I have a personal bone to pick with These Days.
Back in Those Days I loved fall.
Oh sure, the cool temps and the bright foliage and the hayrides and stuff were all dandy.
But what I really REALLY loved was eating apple donuts. Nothing, but nothing said autumn like apple donuts.
In those days.

These days my body has decided, just for fun, to develop a gluten sensitivity.
Hello dry rice bread, goodbye apple donuts.
Fall has lost its luster.

But These Days aren’t a total loss. Some folks from Those Days never had the privilege to live long enough to see these days. Some folks, like my children, my tiny pre-born grandchild, didn’t exist in those days. And these days, since my metabolism has rolled over and hit the snooze button, giving up apple donuts could prevent my waistline from achieving proportions I wouldn’t have believed possible in those days.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What's a Gull to Do?

Did you ever read ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’? In junior high I begged my parents to let me buy it. They could have said that no child of theirs would read that drivel.
Instead, they let me spend 4 and a half hours worth of babysitting money on a book that took an hour and a half to read and contained half a teaspoon of substance.
I squeezed every possible emotional response from that half teaspoon, trying to convince myself that the very obscurity meant I was reading Truth and Beauty. Preteen girls frequently cry over Truth and Beauty.

From my vague recollections, and for those who managed to avoid the book, it concerned:
-a seagull who thought he was too good to do what other seagulls did
-something about flying fast equaling heaven
-‘don’t be afraid to be different, that is what makes you special.’
-Oh wait. There was also ‘Reach perfection and be at one with the universe’.
-And the ultimate secret: 'Begin by knowing that you have already arrived.'

What preteen girl wouldn’t take those entirely original, never-before-stated-in-the-history-of-mankind axioms and use them to conquer her looming teen years?

I tried. I reread it to make sure I hadn’t missed any secret knowledge.
-I told my parents I was too good to do what other preteen girls did. Like dinner dishes. They agreed, and told me I could therefore also wash breakfast dishes.
-I ran for awhile but, bothered by a vague notion that ‘speed equals heaven’ smacked of heresy, never achieved my full speed potential.
-Of COURSE I was afraid to be different. I didn’t want to be special in junior high. Just invisible.
-My failure in the above arenas eradicated any chance I had of reaching perfection and being one with the universe.
-But since I had already arrived, I reasoned, why bother beginning? I went back to reading Tiger Beat magazine and Jonathan flew out of my life.

Recently I reflected on the basic flaw in Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The one that all the other nonsense tottered upon.
The world doesn’t need seagulls who behave like ethereal sonic booms.
It needs seagulls who behave like seagulls.
Seagulls clean up human’s messes. They nibble dead critter carcasses that could cause disease. They tidy up beaches and parking lots and picnic spots and the city dump.

Seagulls are photogenic and can make even the land-locked Midwesterner dream of the ocean.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, go ahead. Fly high and fast. But could you grab that McDonald’s bag in parking lot on your way?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sing-along with The Prude

I wrote a song. Use the melody of that campfire echo song called ‘There Was a Bear’ or “I Met a Bear’ or something of that ilk. Someday, somewhere, I dream of walking past someone's bonfire and hearing my song sung in all its lusty glory.

There was a hole
A deep dark hole
Dug for a post
For a mailbox
There was a hole, a deep dark hole, dug for a post for a mailbox.

Its sides were straight,
and it was deep
as mentioned in
the previous verse
Its sides were straight and it was deep, as mentioned in the previous verse.

And in this hole,
There was a toad,
although you can’t
tell from this pic
And in this hole there was a toad, although you can’t tell from this pic.

There was a man
who dug the hole
and wanted to
insert the post
There was a man who dug the hole and wanted to insert the post.

He had a wife
who begged with tears
“Don’t smush the toad,
That would be cruel.”
He had a wife who begged with tears, “Don’t smush the toad, that would be cruel.”

The man gave in
To his wife’s tears
and lent the toad
a helping hand.
The man gave in to his wife’s tears, and lent the toad a helping hand.

The toad was dumb,
and would not jump
into the hand
offered in aid.
The toad was dumb and would not jump into the hand that offered aid.

The wife wouldn’t quit,
she ran to grab
the gadget called
Pooper Scooper
The wife wouldn’t quit, she ran to grab, the gadget called Pooper Scooper

The man unclenched
The Scooper’s jaws
And gathered up,
the nauseous toad
The man unclenched the Scooper’s jaws, and gathered up the nauseous toad.

The toad was free
but ungrateful
and hopped away
while muttering,
The toad was free but ungrateful, and hopped away while muttering:

“Next time I’m squat-
ting in a hole
And you believe
You want to help
Next time I’m squatting in a hole, and you believe you want to help...

“Just smush me rath-
er than attempt
to save me with
Pooper Scooper.
Just smush me rather than attempt, to save me with Pooper Scooper.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

County Fair

County Fairs are Yummy

Politician running for Senate, only seconds before he hugged me–for the first time.

'FOOD' dozes peacefully, unaware that his future is inextricably tied to his name.

Jersey cows, the supermodels of the bovine world

Playing the Bones

Snacking on a banner in the goat pen

Stylin in the sheep pen

Stylin at the fashion show

Should also have won the 'Cleverest Use of Oreos' award

A plethora of Superstars

The County Fair. It's a classic.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raspberry Filling and the Flexible Mind

Candy. One of my favorite signs.

Cranky joints and dozing metabolisms aren’t the only changing components for women in the Raspberry Filling years. Our brains teeter on the brink of atrophy. We shift attention for a second and– WHAM! we can’t remember what we were saying, where we put our car keys, what our cat’s name is. Or whether we do, indeed, own a cat.

I like to blame this, as a mom, on the 3.5 trillion to the tenth power times I said, ‘Did you wash your hands?’, ‘Hang on a second’ and ‘Don’t damage your brother’. They are grooved into my brain.
Thousands of readings of ‘Hop on Pop’ also took their toll. Furrows of ‘Say, play, we play all day’,  “No no Pat, don’t sit on that!’ and ‘That one is my other brother’ snake through my gray matter.

Our sisters whose brains weren’t strained by motherhood suffer from frontal lobe fissures incurred in the workplace:  ‘You can stay after class’ ‘Are you done with that bedpan?’ ‘Yes, boss’ or ‘Overtime AGAIN?’

Repeat a phrase or activity often enough and it gouges into your mind. Those gouges spread, crack at a time, diminishing your ability to learn. This explains why middle aged women commit violence upon new cell phones and laptops at a rate triple that of women in their 20’s and 30’s.
My mid-life friends, we must keep our minds agile to prevent fissure-spread. We don’t want to end up pointing  a menacing finger at the poor bagger at the grocery store and shouting, ‘No, no Pat, don’t sit on that!”

Brains need exercise. But one can’t hula hoop a brain. What to do?
Learn new things.
That’s right. Don’t rest on your brain laurels. Read new books. Develop a new skill.
Learn a new language.
My new language is SIGN. (Sometimes I write that I am learning ‘sing language’. Pesky consonants. Always transposing on me.)
Anyway, I chose sign because:
-it is beautiful
-I don’t have to remember male or female forms of nouns or participial forms of verbs
-My son’s parent-in-law are deaf and I want to converse past a wave and a nod of goodwill.

 In the well-over-a-year I’ve been practicing, I’ve mastered a hundred and a half nouns, a hefty chunk of adjectives and a half dozen or so verbs. Which means, when I see my daughter-in-law’s parents at Thanksgiving I will be able to say,
“Your daughter nice, my son love, have good trip here, want more candy?”
Maybe, just in case my brain falls into a groove, I should also learn to sign ‘Say, play, we play all day?”

Toilet. One of the most vital signs.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Original Sin–Covered

For years this
hung in my youngest son’s room and I believed it was there:
a) as a testimony to my lack of concern for regular wall washing
b) for what I liked to believe were sentimental reasons– I drew this sometime in my late teens– and
c) because he displayed no interest in the latest decorating trends

But after looking at it for way too long and finally realizing that:
a) the drawing has more in common with new age or far eastern mysticism than it does biblical Christianity and
b) my youngest no longer occupies that bedroom and
c) maybe I should swipe the walls every decade or so

I decided to take it down.
And found this

behind it.

In wrath and hot displeasure I showed my husband.
He was irritatingly nonchalant.
“That happened when Son #2 tried to insert his brother, Son #3, through the wall and into the attic when they were wrestling.
It was easier to tell them to cover it than for me to fix it.”

This demonstrates that:
a) the only female in a house full of testosterone is always the outsider
b) men stick together in times of crisis involving drywall, and
c) I bragged way too much about how well my sons got along, even when I wasn’t looking. And how they respected personal property.

There is no doubt some depth of theological truth to be mined here, such as:
a) it demonstrates the futility of man-made attempts to cover sin,
b) the hole is a reminder that even little Christian boys are filled to the brim with original sin.
c) we need someone outside ourselves to fix our holes, and that “fix” was the opposite of easy for that Someone. It cost Him His life.

But for now my personal fixer has no time for hole-repair, so I will look for a suitable replacement to cover the hole and utter a prayer of gratitude that the wall Son #2 tried to propel his brother through wasn’t made of brick.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Raspberry Filling Women and the Long Unwinding Road

Women in the Raspberry Filling years like to take up hobbies. We want to fill time
formerly spent washing thousands of acres of spit-stained clothes, preparing thousands of pounds of mac and cheese, traveling thousands of miles to soccer practice, music lessons and dance recitals. Raspberry Filling Women who never had children may already have their hobbies mastered and take pity on us, their empty nest sisters, as we attempt to redirect Mommy-fingers and retrain Mommy-brains.

Personally, I like to double up on my hobbies.
Recently, on the challenge of a Facebook friend, I took up knitting. I began with a dishcloth. When it was apparent the only thing holding it together was mistakes I pulled it out and started over. The sixth time I did this I noticed the yarn was losing some of its zing. It was looking disheveled, disheartened even. I took pity and forged ahead. With stamina and grit I turned a stoic blind eye to the errors and somehow got it completed, although I am quite certain my method of getting the yarn off the needles was unorthodox.

A folk legend tells us that Amish women are such expert quilters, they intentionally stitch mistakes into their quilts to keep the ladies from the sin of pride.
How do you like that? Do you want to explain how INTENTIONALLY erring to avoid perfection can keep you humble? I’ll tell the Amish ladies how to keep humble.
Knit like I do.
Count up your errors.
Humility will abound.
Which leads me to my idea of doubling up on hobbies.

The blue dishcloth is my creation. My mom, who could knit like nobody’s business, made the yellow one. Here is a fun little ‘test your visual acumen’ game to play in your spare time. I like to call it ‘Find the Errors in Blue’.
Count up the mistakes in my dishcloth. Give me one humility point for each one you find.

Keep a spotter point for yourself.
And then tell an Amish quilter that you know someone who can out-humble her faster than you can say knit one and yarn over.