Archive for October, 2016

The Halloweenie

Halloween is just around the corner, and I am kind of a wimp when it comes to scary stuff. That is why I stopped watching my favorite TV channel a couple of weeks before staying at our daughter’s house. You know the show:  Machete-wielding neighbors, swamp murderers, and deranged lunatics.  I am dogsitting her two giant lovable yellow labs who think they are lap dogs and have overactive salivary glands. They are lovable unless you are a stranger, so I wasn’t really worried about staying alone,  but stopped the scary TV just in case. When staying in somebody else’s home, there are things to be learned as you settle in, and this is no exception. The light switches are the worst. It is dark every morning when I leave, and I stumble my way through the house,  turning off lights as I go and locking “the boys” in the breezeway with plenty of water and food. The first afternoon I arrived back to my temporary home, I discovered that I had inadvertantly left the hall and stairway lights on. Shaking my head and muttering to myself about getting forgetful, I turned them off. The next day, I couldn’t find the bottle of very expensive hazelnut liquid stevia drops, which are a must for my morning coffee. Looking high and low, in drawers and cupboards, and even in my suitcase, they were nowhere to be found. I gave up looking and purchased another  bottle, and it hadn’t gotten any cheaper.  Unlocking the door and letting the dogs out for a run in the back yard,  I noticed that the light for the hallway and basement was on again. This time it was creepy, as I was certain that I had shut it off before I left. I took the dogs with me as I searched every nook and cranny of that house, looking for machete-wielding neighbors, swamp murderers, and/or deranged lunatics. I made sure all the windows were in the locked position. I wasn’t really afraid, as I was certain my charges would tear an intruder limb from limb, or at least slobber him to death. I slept well, despite the loud snoring from one of the dogs…or perhaps it was the machete-wielding neighbor sleeping on the couch. I left the house again the next morning in the dark, closing the door and feeling along the wall for the light switch and noting that one of the switches in the breezeway needed to be fixed, as nothing happened with I flipped it on and off. When I returned that afternoon,  the lights were on once again. What the heck, was the house haunted? Were the lights on a timer that they didn’t think to mention? As I reached for the light switch to turn the breezeway light off, I accidently flipped the one that wasn’t working, and this time, the kitchen door was open, and I noticed that the “nonworking” switch actually turned on the hall and stairway lights. It wasn’t a swamp murderer after all. Besides, the house is nowhere near a swamp. In fact, I doubt that the neighbors carry machetes, but from the looks of all the Halloween decorations up and down the street, there will be plenty of ghosts and goblins running around in a few days. Oh, do you remember the bottle of  very expensive hazelnut liquid stevia drops? I found it in the refrigerator. Probably right where the deranged lunatic put it. 

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There was a spectacular sunrise one morning as I started my drive to work, but I missed most of it. It was the perfect kind of sunrise that only God’s paintbrush can create, filled with pastel-hued pinks, purples, and blues. I coasted to the stop sign, pulled off to the side, grabbed the phone and fumbled for the camera setting, but the perfect Kodak moment had passed. Darn it! I wanted to share it on my Facebook page! The colors followed me for the rest of the drive, and although enjoyable, were not nearly as perfect. The memories of that beautiful sunrise stayed with me throughout the day, and I needed that feeling of peace and contentment as I overheard heated discussions and navigated through the ugliness of politics on social media. It seems that one cannot express a political opinion anymore without being harangued by those who might have another opinion. I appreciate the passion, and think that it is much better than apathy, but things are getting out of control. Some of you might be planning to vote for the politician whose nose should be as long as Pinocchio’s by now (Insert name here:__________) and others might be planning to vote for the politician who is a few peas short of a Sunday hotdish (Insert name here:__________).  Really, if you think about it without prejudice, the names can be interchangable. The mean talk seems to be urged on by our own esteemed politicians, who hold a strange belief that they will garner more votes by talking smack against their opponent than by telling us their plan for a better America. I was falling for it, too, and for weeks have had a feeling of unrest and a churning in my stomach that almost bordered on fear. I was glued to the news and to the computer.  I have my own plan for a better America:  STOP IT, PEOPLE!  Stop being mean. Vote for the person that you want, but let your neighbor vote for the person that he wants. Listen to what your neighbor has to say, and if you can’t do that without arguing, talk about the Vikings.  (That works, unless your neighbor is a Packers fan.)  These days, I am watching fewer news shows and scanning social media less often. I am trying to listen more and talk less.  I am reading more books. I prefer REAL fiction to political promises. When the sun rises on the morning after the election, I’m not going to miss it while I wait for the perfect moment. In the grand scheme of things, each of us has been given just so many sunrises, and the list gets shorter every day. I will enjoy all the beauty it has to offer, no matter who wins. Now, how about those Vikings?

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Riding Shotgun

We just returned from our inaugural motorhome trip, which was a four-day visit to South Dakota’s Black Hills, including Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park. Mount Rushmore was something on HIS bucket list and mine included owning a motorhome, so we took care two of them in one year. I carefully planned which clothes to pack and our food  right down to the last crumb, since RVs don’t have a lot of storage space. I even remembered Barney the Chihuahua’s doggie bed and his favorite snack of peanuts. As  I cleaned and packed the motorhome, Barney sat in the passenger seat, enjoying the view and the sunshine from the wide windows. He was kind of surprised to find out that was MY seat when we started our adventure. The first few hours were not fun. We chose the windiest day of the year to leave, and it took brute strength to keep the motorhome on the road. HIS brute strength, not mine. My bucket list included owning a motorhome, not driving a motorhome. It didn’t help that with each mighty gust of wind, he would either say “Whoa!” or “Oh, @$&*!”  I held the little dog tightly in my arms, both for his nervousness and my own. Our first night was spent in a Walmart parking lot because overnight campers are welcome there and it was free. We like free. The next two nights were spent at a real RV park. After a morning at Mount Rushmore, we decided to explore the area. Did you know that there are mountains there? I didn’t, either, although you might think that the word MOUNT Rushmore would have given me a small clue. The roads were steep, narrow, and filled with tight tunnels that had been blasted through granite. There were hairpin curves everywhere, and I do mean really tight hairpin curves. The kind of hairpin curves where you look out the window and see gravel falling down the side of the mountain. The beautiful vista seen through the large windows of the RV is not quite as beautiful when looking straight down  while praying there would be no wind gusts to take us over the edge and into the abyss. I kept Barney tightly in my arms, because he kept trying to jump over and  sit on HIS lap, and for sure, HE needed both hands on the wheel. Despite a little nervousness on my part (HE wouldn’t admit to any), we had a wonderful trip that was way too short, and we learned a few lessons along the way: 1) The cost of gas for this short trip equalled the cost of staying in a  fine hotel, but was worth every penny. 2) The miniscule hot water tank in a motorhome does not give you the pleasure of a long shower. Be sure to wash the soap out of your hair first, or you may freeze to death before you’re finished. 3) There is almost nothing better than sitting around the campfire with your loved ones and  a warm sleepy  Chihuahua zipped up in your jacket. 4) If you feed the Chihuahua lots of peanuts, be prepared for more gas than what can be held in the large tank of a motorhome.  Not too pleasant, especially if the Chihuahua is zipped up snugly in your jacket. 

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“If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.” ~Katharine Hepburn

I have never been one to follow all the rules 1oo%. Growing up, I was never really too naughty, I just liked to make my opinions known and to take things right to the edge and perhaps just a teeny tiny hair over that fine line between obedience and disobedience. I could tell you stories. I could, but I won’t, especially since by some miracle, I turned into a fine upstanding citizen, a fact that probably caused my parents to give a huge sigh of relief.  I even managed to argue with the rather conservative pastor of our church many years ago, who insisted I attend our pre-wedding classes BY MYSELF because my fiance was living 1000 miles away. I was supposed to envision how my husband-to-be would respond to different scenarios, then discuss and sharpen my problem-solving skills. Kind of hard, without the potential problem sitting in front of you. HE got off easy. I learned that he doesn’t necessarily follow the rules, either,  especially after confessing that he had his little brother fill out the initial questionnaire that the pastor mailed. I was supposed to call HIM and discuss matters after each class. I was supposed to…but I didn’t, and didn’t even worry that I would probably  head straight down to H-E-double-toothpick for lying to a Man of God by saying that I did. The main controversy between the pastor and I, after an initial smaller disagreement about my choice of songs for the wedding, was that I didn’t want the word OBEY anywhere in the ceremony. Pastor thought I should comply with the more traditional approach, but I insisted that I wasn’t going to obey my husband or anybody else. Back and forth we went, until we both gave in.  I agreed to make my songs a little more appropriate, he agreed to leave the offending word out of the vows. Compromise at last! Fast-forward to the happy day when in front of God and everybody, the pastor slipped in THAT WORD  during the Question of Intent. You know how it goes:  “Do you, future Farm Woman, take HIM….to love, honor, and OBEY…” What? Did I just hear what I thought I did? HE, knowing exactly what was supposed to be said, turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and waited to see what I would do.  I could have made a scene or even could have refused to answer until it was reworded,  but instead, I bit my tongue and meekly said, “I will.” To this day, 39 years later, HE can diffuse a disagreement in a second by reminding my of my long ago vow to obey. Right. Like THAT’s going to happen. We both start to laugh at the absurdity of it all, and that is a sure-fire way to stop an arguement in its tracks.  What HE doesn’t know is that right up there in front of God and everybody, standing at the alter, and hidden underneath that big bouquet of fall flowers, I had my fingers crossed. 

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