Who lives in the US,
Is camping in Australia,
On a Ukrainian’s property,
Eating Chinese food,
Prepared by an Irishman.
Who lives in the US,
Is camping in Australia,
On a Ukrainian’s property,
Eating Chinese food,
Prepared by an Irishman.
In the US, I call it junking. The Aussies call it up-shopping. I like that term. Other references include thrifting, second-handing, and up-cycling among others. This is a highly skilled operation that few appreciate and even fewer master.
I can’t tell you how many times I get a compliment on an item I’m wearing, then when asked where I got it and answer, “I got that while junking,” I hear, “What?? I can never find good stuff at thrift stores.” I came to learn I had a rare gift – a knack for digging through “crap” and finding treasures. At first, it was much like the confusion a rich kid experiences when he finds out that not all kids get driven to school by a personal chauffeur. Then I came to embrace it.
I was at an up-shop in Rosanna, a suburb of Melbourne, today and had a memory of junking back home. One of my favorite stores, which didn’t last more than a year despite my concerted efforts to keep it in business, was just a few miles from my house. See, each junk shop has its own culture, it might be the smell, the general behavior of the clientele, or any other trade mark.
I would arrive at opening time after dropping the kids off at school and head straight for the women’s clothing section chomping at the bit to peruse the selection. It was the only time kids got dropped off at school early. Any more, whenever we’re early to go someplace, they say, “Mum, are you going junking?”
Here I was in my happy place, smiling to myself contentedly. Without fail, as I was sliding the scritching hangers along the racks, not a minute into my shopping escapade, the janitor would walk up to me with a massive mop, headphones in position, smacking chewing gum, and bobbing away to the music.
I understand and appreciate that the store must be mopped, but this bordered on the ridiculous. I could swear that janitor never saw me, though I was the only customer and he had 1,999 other sq. ft. to mop. He would walk right up to me and get to work. I’d courteously step off to the side, my hand marking my place among the hangers, like a finger in a book page, with the sloshing monster afoot.
“Excuse me,” I said to deaf ears, pushing my torso into the clothes, my head now swaying back precariously. He responded off key by belting the refrain of the Spanish music he was listening to, holding the handle like a mic, then returned to mop when he no longer knew the words. I tried waving him down. I leaned my head this way and that, like an owl, to meet his eyes – to no avail. I sighed heavily, waved again and mustered a brave, “Hola amigo,” and it was time for the refrain again. I could hear the accordion in his headphones and knew I stood no chance of being heard. Oh dear!
He turned his back to me, mopping a different section and I instantly dropped my foot on the floor to save my life, only to have the mop swing around like a mad Brontosaurus grabbing for an elusive meal. I skittered back onto the rack.
Every time I went to put my foot down, like lightning, the evil mop head came at me again and like a flash, I lifted my threatened foot into the air. Then greedy mop swished its gross saliva and lunged at my other foot on the ground. My footwork got fancier and fancier, pulling me further and further away from THE hanger. Determined not to lose my place, I had no choice but to scramble onto the bottom rung of the clothes rack. I had an epiphany and came to fully understand how a drunk falls on his face and busts his teeth without spilling a drop of his booze. I would jump on the very top of this clothes rack if I needed to!
My anxiety mounting, my heart skipped a beat as the round rack heaved towards me. One of its wheels was missing and it certainly wasn’t designed for this task in the first place. It leaned heavily towards me like a sail on a boat and I hung on for dear life. It stopped suddenly, one leg in the air like a dog at a fire hydrant.
It seemed, at the time, that the mop handle was twenty feet long and growing. Even as he moved away from me, the mop head still hurtled at me as he moved it back and forth. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the janitor’s attention. Flinging my purse back up to my shoulder I wiped the sweat off my brow. I hollered and waved frantically with my one available hand. Wide-eyed, I tried to take a deep breath and centered myself. I was now leaning perilously as well as trying to balance the rickety clothes rack. I started to feel dizzy and the room slowly spun a half circle. Then I realized that under my weight and with all the gyrations, the rack had come alive. It groaned and started to roll, squeaking maniacally and limped a wild wobble as it took off for the dishes aisle with all the mismatched glassware!
“Help!” I hollered, catching speed. I fluttered my hands deliriously then clutched back at the rack that now threatened to buck me. Closing my eyes tightly I braced myself for the inevitable crash.
“Are you okay?” asked a worried Aussie lady at the up-shop, peering at me quizzically over her glasses as I hung onto the clothes rack for dear life. I barely heard her above the thunderous drumming of my heart and I opened my eyes. I slowly turned to look at her, my wild eyes darting back and forth in the bright lights. I noticed 2 other women glancing at me cautiously from around the corner. Their heads quickly disappeared when our eyes met.
“Yes. Yes, I’m okay,” I said confused and embarrassed, and peeled my pale knuckles off the rack. Very slowly, I planted my wobbly feet safely on the floor and stood a long minute to catch my bearings.
“I’m good… sorry… thank you,” I muttered foolishly and headed for the door, flushed. I could feel her scratching her head behind me and shrugging her shoulders in bewilderment.
And that, my friends, is why normal women shop at Nordstrom’s!
Image retrieved 5/1/19 from https://pxhere.com/en/photo/992185
“Show me an ungrateful person and I’ll you a selfish person.”Hannah T. K.
It is a staggering thought that if you are not currently or regularly grateful, you are dealing with a case of acute self-absorption and pride. If you have not thought or expressed gratitude within the last couple of hours, you could use a dose of reflection on what you perceive your role to be in your own universe. Like the proverbial 3 year-old, almost all of us harbor the thought, maybe even sub-consciously, that we are the most important person in our universe. After all, if we didn’t exist, life would be over, right? Wrong!
The reason I don’t notice that someone held a door open for me, or slowed down to let me in in traffic is either because I am distracted or I am entitled. The former is excusable based on circumstances. The latter is abominable. Many of us have worked incredibly hard to get where we are in life but we may forget that there are others who work infinitely harder than we ever will and may never attain to what we have. Let us also not forget that despite our greatest efforts, our successes ride on the shoulders of others, past and current, who poured and continue to pour into our lives. It is a short step from taking things for granted to being entitled.
The benefits of gratitude and boundless to our physical, spiritual, and emotional selves. It infuses life and vitality. The harm done by ingratitude is equally incalculable to the ungrateful person. Those who have to be around that person soon feel drained and sucked dry – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. May we strive to be thankful people and to be reputed as such. May we aspire to be annoyingly thankful. May we be thankful for big things, and for small things, for really, there are no big or small things. Our thanks need to be expressed verbally and in actions. Aim to make your verbalization of thanks deliberate, heart-felt, a sacred moment; not flippant or glib.
The antithesis of gratefulness is expressed in chronic grumbling, murmuring, complaining, frustration, and, worse, in put-downs and disappointments in others. These can be against ourselves, our loved ones, strangers, the government, and on and on. These soon become habits, then a way of life that defines us.
Visualize a gratefulness meter on a continuum – with ungratefulness on the left and gratitude on the right. Make an honest assessment of yourself or ask those who walk life with you where you are on the scale. Make it your goal to slide further and further to the right every day, and so increase your GQ – your gratitude quotient. Thank God and people for
for who and what they are, for what they do, and that they are. Thank the same person – your spouse, your kids, – for the same thing you’ve thanked them for. Open your eyes to something new to thank them for. Thank a person you’ve never thanked before. If you feel a complaint creeping up, rewire your brain by coming up with something positive to be thankful for. If you can’t think of it, keep your mouth shut, unless you can express the complaint constructively and offer helpful solutions.
A grateful person recognizes that they are the fortunate recipient of innumerable and constant blessings. They live in an incessant state of awe and awareness of the beauty and the bounty around them, even in hardships, sometimes because of their hardships. They no longer take things for granted, indeed every experience and interaction, even the most mundane, becomes sacrosanct.
Be that person.
“Thankfulness is a habit that will grow us as a human being; a habit that we can start immediately, and practice for the rest of our lives.”Hannah Kolehmainen
My father was larger than life.
I was a shrimp of a kid and he, a stately 6’2″. Everything about him was gargantuan: his body, his booming voice, his gigantic spirit… He made his presence known before he was seen. He inspired deep seated anxiety without saying a word. In his presence I averted my eyes automatically and my ears pounded at the thumping of my little heart. Fear and respect meant the same thing with him – he wielded them as one.
He knew everyone and was known by all in our little town. I never met anyone he was afraid of. I have memories of him frequently holding court in our living room. Disputing relatives or friends sought him out for mediation. He heard every side fairly and declared swift judgements, his was the final word.
I had an insatiable need to stare at him. I would hide behind a piece of furniture or person and study him, wide-eyed with awe: his flaring nostrils, the wrinkles on his regal forehead, his perfectly lined ivory teeth, his grand hands that moved with calculated grace and regency. He had a fabulous sense of humor and a cannonade of a laugh. I would lean in when he laughed, and find myself smiling. He spoke his mind with confidence, wisdom, and fantastic wit. He was never afraid to offend.
Now that I’m an adult we have fostered a great friendship. We are separated by thousands of miles and decades now. About ten years ago, he and mum came to visit me in the States. Before their arrival he repeatedly told me that he had a plan.
“I want to visit the Red Indian.” Not till the day I die will I ever get used to crazy things he says.
“Dad,” I said. “You can’t say Red Indian. Say Native American or just Indian.”
“Okay,” He would say.
When they arrived after hours of air travel, we hugged and laughed and hugged again. We had an animated chat on the way to the car as he regaled us with accounts of their travels. “They were the skinniest bloody Pakistani man and woman I have ever seen,” he said, describing fellow travelers. “She talked non-stop like a machine and I had to keep getting her luggage. She didn’t eat any of the food in the airplane. Three meals! Can you imagine? She brought their food. And when the air-hostesses brought out our food, I had to get theirs from that dirty green bag in the overhead. There were 8 identical lunch boxes. No sooner would I sit down then she would say, “A thousand apologies, not this one, Bwana, other one!”” He mocked her namaste and bobbing head.
“Here I am folded in my tight seat like a pretzel,” he continued, “and I have to unfold myself, get back into the dirty green bag and find the right lunchbox. Can you imagine? And do you know she had the spiciest curry which she ate talking the whole time. She took a bite and her nose started running. Then she put her spoon in the dish, loaded it with curry and handed it to me to eat. Can you imagine? All I could think was, ‘that’s going to hurt going in and coming out.’ I didn’t touch it.”
“Then the next meal I had to do the same thing, I hand her a lunch box and she says, “A thousand apologies, not this one Bwana, other one please.” But when she opened it, it was the bloody same curry.” He threw his hands up in exasperation and we laughed our heads off. We stuffed his luggage in the trunk.
“Next time you must bring a big boot for my bags, Hannah.” He chided as he folded himself into the passenger seat.
“I love Oregon. Now Hannah, you remember I need to go and see the Red Indian.”
I leaned forward from the back seat and grabbed his shoulder. “Dad!” I said sternly, “I told you they are not called Red Indians.”
“Oh,” he said. “A thousand apologies…” namaste and all.
Every morning I awoke and made them breakfast, so grateful for the dream of having them in my home. The days were flying and I was already dreading their departure. Each day we would have some version of, “Is today the day we see the Red Indian?”
“Dad!” I would glare at him, “First of all, you can’t say that. Second of all you don’t know any. It’s not like you just walk up someplace and find Red Indians waiting for you, sheesh!”
“Oh, sorry,” he would say with exaggerated humility. Everyday for 2 weeks
During their stay, he and mum discovered garage-sales and loved them. He was amazed that individuals just set out tables and their stuff and people came to buy it. He bought loads of stuff at each one and was always very pleased with himself. He would hold up a new-found treasure and say, “Can you believe?” His favorite find was a coon-skin hat that he proceeded to wear everywhere he went. Both he and mum became extremely astute at spotting garage-sale signs. “There, there, garage!” They would say excitedly at the siting of a roadside sign. I started to worry about all the stuff they were collecting and how they were going to get it home.
Regarding the matter of the “Red Indian”, my husband and father-in-law decided that what we needed was a day trip to the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon to visit Kah-Nee-Tah, an Indian run resort. Dad had a long sleepless night. He was like a kid the night before Christmas.
We left early and had a great trip east towards Mt. Hood. We stopped at Timberline Lodge to show him the magnificent building and area. He didn’t pay much attention. After a few photos and a bathroom break, he was back in the car. “I don’t want to keep them waiting.” We all laughed at him that “they” were waiting for him. He marveled at and kept a running commentary on the change in terrain and climate as we descended on the east side. Dad got quieter when we pointed out the reservation sign and as we drove the last few miles. He stared at the beautiful cliffs and the desert scrub-brush. “Just like in the films,” he said quietly pulling a little plastic comb from his shirt pocket. He combed his hair and readjusted his coon-skin hat. Stroking its tail and studying every bush and rock, he muttered, “Just like in the films.”
When we finally arrived at the resort, he waved enthusiastically at the lady at the pay booth. He noted that she wasn’t very friendly. ‘No matter,’ he thought, ever hopeful. We were tired, cramped, and ready to stretch.
“This is nothing like I remember as a kid,” my husband remarked, worsted, when we got out of the car.
“No,” my father-in-law agreed. “It’s all concrete and metal now.” Even the row of tee-pees were of metal.
We were woebegone. We’d expected to find Indians everywhere, living their life, but only a handful of regular looking, bored young-adult workers milled around on their cell-phones. We had a quiet disappointing lunch, moped around the dry, dusty property and piled back into the car an hour later, chapfallen.
“Why would they bloody make us come to a place like this?” Dad said, as he shut the car door with more force than was necessary. No one bothered to answer him.
We couldn’t believe we’d driven several hours just for this and would be returning home disappointed. No one said much, each one nursing their own grudge at this plight. All of a sudden, from the back seat, mum erupted, “There, there, garage!”
The car had learned to swerve into garage sales and it did not fail us this time. We turned a tight right onto a gravel road where the red paper plate with shoddy hand-writing directed. Their spirits rose significantly.
“More junk,” I thought to myself, disgusted. “Just great!”
We bumped along and presently came up to a small run-down house beyond a rusty barbed-wire fence on which sat a large blue-jay which scolded us then took wing. We pulled in slowly and gazed at a single plastic folding table with a few items on it. Dad was out before the car came to a stop. I scrambled out after him to remind him not to the say the darned words.
There were little children everywhere, kicking a ball made of stuffed plastic bags. They came racing to the table at our arrival, yelling, “Customers, customers!”
A very large woman stood promptly behind the table and straightened her ample skirts and long silver hair at the arrival of customers. She reached forward nervously and rearranged items on the table without looking at them. She had large eyes that sparkled and a huge smile that lit up her wrinkled face.
“Hi,” She said and cleared her throat.
I finally caught up to dad and tapped him on the shoulder, he took off the coon-skin hat and held it in deference, bowing his regal head slowly. He was entranced.
“My name is Thuku,” he began, standing so close to the table that he bumped it slightly. The lady rearranged it absently.
He dropped his voice an octave and said, “I have come to see The Red Indian.” He leaned in further, raised his head, and reached out his hand to shake hers.
“Oooooh God,” I groaned. “I don’t want to die like this!”
The rest of our group was just getting to the table. The kids gathered around and circled us curiously, staring from one person to the other then chattering excitedly to each other.
The lady gasped and clutched her bosom, taken aback. Then, absent-mindedly rearranging the table again, she hollered, “Hawk!! Go get your father.” She whisked a fly off her sculpted face with a nervous hand.
How many times had I told him?? This was terrible and about to get worse. I tried to nudge him and make eye-contact but he wouldn’t look at me.
One of the kids darted off like an arrow, flying through the thin door, which slammed and rattled the whole house. It swung freely one way, then made a dull wham as it opened again. “I told you not to slam the…” She yelled but I didn’t hear any more.
The doorway was suddenly darkened by Goliath. He wore a sleeveless undershirt and held a beer can in his hand. He stooped at the doorway to avoid hitting his head and scratched his belly as he took a giant step over the threshold. I became very light-headed and everything started to happen in slow-motion.
The lady pointed awkwardly at dad, not sure what to say. Before I knew it, dad stood before him, clutching the coon-skin hat to his chest in deference. “My name is Thuku. I came aaaaaaall the way from A-fri-ca to meet my brother – The Red Indian.” He dropped his head in a dramatic reverent bow and reached out his hand. He had said “Africa” as though it had a hundred syllables and was accompanied by a thousand thundering drums from the motherland.
The man paused and stroked on his long silver braid then got a strange look on his face. He put the beer in his left hand and reached out his massive paw to shake dad’s hand, which was stroking his coon-hat tail. They shook hands for a long time, eyes locked, then grabbed each other in an embrace.
“My name is Fire-Maker Wings. I welcome you, my brother.”
I was dumbfounded AND stupefied. Can you believe?
Dad was ushered into the house and the rest of us were invited in. Our eyes took a minute to adjust to the dark room after the bright sun. Fire-Maker turned off a football game he was watching on a wall-sized television and sat next to dad. The rest of us looked around at each other rather dazed and shrugged our shoulders. He turned to introduce his wife Ayita who stood at the doorway, wringing her hands. “It means first to dance,” he added beaming.
He spoke to her in a language I didn’t understand and she hurried out of the room followed by the troop of children. In no time, they returned with glasses, sodas, and a couple of beers; and proceeded to serve us.
The children sat among us and Ayita sat by mum. I looked around as though watching a movie. ‘This is crazy,’ was all I could think. My eyes came to rest on dad. Presently, he and Fire-Maker were leaning forward in their seats talking to each other in hushed tones. They looked intently into each others’ eyes, listening, then speaking, all the while nodding their heads, then listening again. I caught snippets of their conversation and was transported many miles and decades, to being a child, secretly watching dad from behind a piece of furniture, entranced by his large presence, his big spirit. It was a sacred interchange. Their large hands gestured as in a solemn dance. They discussed politics, history, and culture. They talked about reservations and colonialism. They talked about the past and the future.
Time was flying and soon it was time for us to leave. Fire-Maker sent Hawk to the next room. Hawk returned with a wooden chest from which our host unpacked items wrapped in tissue paper. Indian dolls, miniature totems, pieces of decorated leather, and beads. He showed them to dad then to the rest of us. Then he walked us to a shed outside the house where he opened another chest. He slowly unpacked his porcupine roach head-dress, placed it on dad’s head, and showed him how to dance in it. He unfolded a gorgeous red shawl with an eagle emblem and draped it on mum’s shoulder. It was simply magical!
Dad beamed from ear to ear all the way home.
We had waited restlessly from dim dawn to drizzly dark.
It was a brumal October day in Oregon that boded well for a spooky evening of trick or treating. Misty rain and heavy, grey clouds palled over the day like a heavy, wet, grey blanket. It was dismal really. A long crooked line of raked leaves lined Meadowview Road on both sides like two parallel giant snakes that had gorged themselves and couldn’t move. They lay there, trying to slither away but helpless, awaiting the monster that would ramble down the road and suck them up into its bowels.
Four year old Paul wore his ill-fitting Power Rangers costume he’d worn the year before – and all year long. He had found that the new Ninja costume he got this year did not confer the same powers, so he fell back on Old Faithful, which permanently showed off his bright red Lego socks and kept riding up his crotch, the taut row of stitches now stretched menacingly like the teeth of a snarling dog. Oh well, super-heroes have these problems too and he was not to be talked out of it. His large eyes teared up at the thought of replacing it and big tears fell onto his chubby cheeks and dribbled onto his quaking lips.
“Fine,” Mum had said, “you can wear the darned thing.”
The air was alive with excitement. Not only did he get to wear his costume all day along with other kids, but there were bags of candy to be handed out to fellow goblins and super-heroes at dark. Paramount, was that uncle Matt was coming to the party that night. Paul loved Uncle Matt. He loved to call him Bath Matt at which point Uncle Matt would growl fiercely, attack Paul and rub his pokey stubble on Paul’s little face making him squeal with convulsive delight and wriggle to get free.
As Paul and I were unpacking our costume tote, Paul’s stubby fingers held up a white plastic gadget. It was a half-dome about 4 inches high that had a string attached to it. Draped over the plastic was a white piece of nylon fabric with a ghost face painted over it. When activated by motion, the battery-operated Cosper would jiggle and dance enthusiastically, produce flashes of bright light, and make a horrific howl. After a fine initial scare, Paul enjoyed turning it on and off and watching it dance. It rattled against the floor which further reverberated and added to the din.
“Let’s use it to scare Uncle Matt,” said a very exhilarated Paul. We skulked around the house looking for a perfect spot. The bright windows were an impediment so we needed to find a dark place to accentuate the flashing lights. We settled for the bathroom which would be dark and enclosed – the perfect set-up. He giggled uncontrollably as he turned it on and off several times with the bathroom lights off and watched the little devil dance.
“Oh man, he’s gonna cry like a little girl!” laughed Paul till his sides ached.
I asked him to come get the table set for dinner. He set the ghost so it was ready to activate, jumped lithely off the counter, and shut the door gently.
He hopped onto the kitchen counter to get plates then carried them carefully to the table. Dad would be home any time and Paul couldn’t wait to show him the booby trap. He grabbed the silverware and napkins.
“Mum, you’re the oldest, so you sit at number one,” he said to engineer-minded self, hopping onto my dining chair, clumsily placing a plate at my spot, and hopping off. “Dad is next, so he sits at number 2,” and he hopped onto dad’s chair, set dad’s place, then hopped off. “Then me,” he hopped onto his chair, set his place, and hopped off. He scooted brother’s high chair noisily next to my seat. “When brother is older he will sit at number 4.”
“I love it when we have masanya for dinner. Do I have to eat my salad?” he queried hopefully.
“Yes, son.” I answered absently, backing off the opened oven door as the heat rushed out. I took off the bulky silicone oven mitts after I set the lasagna on the stove to cool.
“Go get your brother please.” He tore off to their bedroom to wake his brother up. After a few minutes I heard them chattering away then galloping down the hallway headed my way.
“Wash your hands,” I hollered, and hit send on a text to Justin to get his ETA.
Suddenly, a single ear-splitting scream pierced the house to it’s foundation. My heart stopped and froze in horror. “Oh God,” I thought, aghast, and bolted in their direction in dread. They stood transfixed, screaming at the top of their lungs. Blabbering and bawling they broke out in a crazy dance around each other punctuated by more screaming.
As soon as I got there, they both leaped into my arms in a single choreographed bound and buried their curly heads in my neck, tears and snot mingling freely, little chests heaving in terror. A shaky little finger pointed to the dark bathroom. Over the din and confusion, I heard the tell-tale sound of old Cosper jiggling and bumping the bathroom door ominously his lights flashing like lightning. It must have seemed that the cavernous earth had opened it’s hungry giant bowels to snatch up my boys. They were inconsolable and I couldn’t put them down the rest of the night.
Uncle Matt has never stopped laughing at this and relishes bringing up the ghost of Meadowview Road.
(Donald Trump having visitation with one of his offspring)
The text didn’t take him long to compose.
“Dear my neighbor JD. Your goat is being on my property again and mutilating our agreement to be keeping the animals separate due to I am very particular about their safety and breeding issues. We must resume serious discussion again at earliest convenience. Sincerely, me.”
Ranjit was sick and tired of his Mexican neighbor’s animals constantly being on his property.
JD on the other hand, was flabbergasted. He had walked his entire perimeter ten times and saw neither hide nor hair of a clue as to how the large hairy goat, Fabio, got there. Not only was he mutilating the agreement, he was mutilating Ranjit’s she-goats. Fabio was an impressive specimen: he had a massive brown head with white racing stripes across the eyes and just below his fearsome horns. He was always pawing at the ground, just like in the cartoons and had a particular affinity for butting the poplar tree that had never done anyone any harm, right in the navel.
We call it the navel because it looked like someone planted the tree upside down and when a stiff branch broke off right where a navel would have been, it left a perfect inny. The trunk then splayed shamelessly into two massive branches a foot above the navel, seducing neighborhood kids to climb it, then jump off, and break their necks.
JD is easy-going and is always ready to tell, or make, a great story, complete with theatrics. He has a million animals on his property because he can never say no to anyone that offers him animals they can’t keep. He has thousands of cows, horses, yakalos, bears, and tigers. And goats. He has tens of thousands of chickens, ducks, turkeys, and mean geese. You must be careful walking around his property, for at any given time, you are liable to step on an egg or four, and there’s no telling if it’s a chicken- or a kimodo dragon-egg. With this uncertainty in mind, you must also be careful when he blesses you with a tray of delicious farm-fresh eggs, stegosaurus-like plates sticking out of some of them.
Neighbor Ranjit, on the other hand, likes things just so. He had 8 Rhode Island White chickens and 4 Toggenburg goats.
“Females only,” he says sticking an authoritative fore-finger in the air and greatly enlarging his already huge East-Indian eyes. “Males are notorious for the filth and mess that is incongruously unacceptable.” He blinked forcefully whereupon his eyes returned to their normal size. My head jerked back an inch at this transition. His raised finger remained at attention much longer than I deemed necessary. He finally lowered his hand, slowly, like a car window being retracted by a power button, his finger still sticking straight up.
I cocked my head, somewhat stupefied, and expected his finger to disappear into the joint like an antenna. His gaze followed mine to the finger, as though wondering why I was staring at it. I looked back at his face, a little abashed.
He HAD 8 Rhode Island Whites. He now has 13. This was no plan of his for that is “amounting to gross negligence, over-breeding, and utmost irresponse-bility of cross-breeding. There are enough phasianids running around,” he noted passionately, said finger in the air, like a microphone.
See, JD has a hilarious looking orange naked-neck we call Donald Trump. As he was leaving for work early one morning, he was utterly dismayed – and relieved – to see Trump flying over the fence from Ranjit’s property back to his own. His work crew was already running late for work so JD had to leave immediately but upon his return,was sure to trim it’s wing feathers to prevent future incidents of flying the coop. He was glad Ranjit hadn’t noticed and promptly forgot the matter until 4 weeks later when he received a text demanding his “prompt and immediate audience for a matter of urgent attention.”
JD, sure that Ranjit needed a favor, rushed over there ready to lend his neighborly assistance. He was met by a mortifying sight. Ranjit marched up to him at the gate – microphone in position, eyes at full beam, and fuming like a bull. He pointed east beyond the chicken coop, temporarily lacking for words.
“This is vhat I have been talking about!!” he finally spat out, fighting to control his rage.
There, in front of God and everybody, was the cutest clutch of orange baby naked-necks, following proud mama Rhode Island White around and pecking at the ground. There was no denying who the proud papa was.
That was 4 months ago.
And here he was now, needing to answer the summons that Fabio had been nabbed red-handed “mutilating” the she-goats. His hands were sweating as he headed to Ranjit’s to retrieve Fabio and explain himself. One of his employees, laughing his head off, said, “JD, tell him, “you know those Mexicans, they know how to dig.””
I’m a little confused
as I celebrate the shortest Winter ever.
It’s a most fabulous Spring day, mid-October here in Oregon.
I’m sad I didn’t have time to enjoy my Fall decorations,
So I set them up on my porch anyway.
Don’t be confused when you walk up to my doorway,
For I look forward to a fantastic summer soon.
I felt physically ill and fought to keep my composure.
She went on and on not realizing that, in the torrent of words, she had lost me at, “My favorite is to just stand in the shower for like 30 minutes.” I felt dizzy.
That was A LOT of water.
Funny how that memory replayed in my mind as I stood in the shower today, ten years later. I grabbed my soap-loaded brush and scrubbed the wall and floor of the shower. I love the convenience of cleaning while I’m already in there and wet. Secretly, I also justify spending extra time after I’ve done what I went in there to do in the first place, which takes me all of 3 minutes at a languid pace.
As I rinsed the walls off, I thought to myself, “Bet you can’t get anyone that grew up in the third world to just stand in the shower for 30 minutes. At least not guilt-free.”
Interestingly, about 2 hours later I was visiting with my employee Jan and she said, “Did you have water shortages growing up?”
“I sure did. We had to be so mindful of every drop we had and used.” Later I asked her why she had asked me that.
“You are very conscious of water use.”
“The worst,” I quipped, “is when someone is doing a small stack of dishes, water on at full blast, loading the dishwasher one leisurely dish at a time, telling a story, pausing to make gestures, water gushing the whole time.” They think I’m listening but I’m watching clear liquid gold literally and figuratively go down the drain: my pulse is mounting, my heart is racing, my breath is waning, and I barely gasp, “turn… off… the… water!” before the life trickles out of me.
I understand that it’s hard to relate when you’ve never had just a gallon of water to use as bath water – I understand you can’t even call it a bath at that level! May I invite you to pause and cherish the very lavish convenience of your faucet. Treasure the thought that you have one in several rooms of your house. Gush at the fact that you have one for hot and another for cold water. Your ancestors would have marveled at that! Let out a stream of praise that you that you’ve probably never turned it on and had it sputter and cough and produce nothing.
At any point in time, billions of people are languishing, praying for rain. May gratitude flow from you, in place of complaint, that it rains so hard and so much where you live that you get sick of it!
People around the world walk miles to collect a small jug of putrid water to be used by a whole family for personal and household use. For that reason alone, some can’t go to school and get an education because it takes so much time to fetch water. Water-borne diseases from unsanitary water causes untold deaths and suffering. Would you consider sponsoring an organization or cause that supports clean water access?
Chug that with your food for thought…
Water/key image used from https://phys.org/news/2015-04-insecurity-global-economy.html
It has been reported that Walt Disney once said, “It may not feel like it at the time but a kick in the teeth might be the best thing that happens to you.”
Really, Walt? A dirty, well-aimed booted foot to the dentition?
“Ouch,” is what I say, spitting out a handful of teeth and gravel. “Brutal,” and “uncalled for,” also come to mind. Well, last week I got just that – in the form of medical lab results!
Like a drug addict, I have mastered many whys and wherefores to justify moderately sloppy lifestyle habits: “I’m quite active,” (people in my life call me a hummingbird and say I should sit a minute.) “I’m of slight build,” “I eat way better than most people,” “I cook from scratch,” and up till a few years ago, “I have excellent genetics.”
The sloppy habits were aided and abetted by a rabid love of cooking – especially carbohydrates. I adore them. Each one is AMAZING. And so beautiful. And gratifying. And coffee with creamer is of the gods. I know my relationship with sugar is not a good one. It’s like the bad boyfriend my friend keeps going back to. “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good morals,” the good book warns in 1 Cor 15:33. I need to seriously limit our interactions. I need to unfriend it. Unfortunately bad company tends to be fun, but as my new favorite bumper sticker says, the trouble with trouble is it starts off as fun!
What about drinking water? One should drink 1/2 – 1 oz. of water for each pound of body weight, so my body weight divided by a million times some crazy number… Surely a max of 16 oz. a day should do me. When I was pregnant, my midwife, Dr. Brenda would shake her head in dismay and say, “You need to drink more water to sustain this pregnancy.”
“It makes me nauseous,” I explained.
“I don’t know how you don’t just pee a little puff or pellet of pee-powder…”
Powder-Puff-Prego proved her wrong and got away with it, again!
Till last week.
Today a 1 liter pitcher of water sits on my counter and I aim to drink 2 of those a day, so help me God. If I ‘must’ have my carbs then I’ll return half or two thirds of it. I have revisited my list of good cholesterol (HDL) foods to increase and bad cholesterol (LDL) to decrease. I’m educating my boys even more on all this. I’ve downloaded a fitness app and I aim to make it beg me to stop!!
I bare my soul and my medical records here for all to see. AARP reports that the average 45 year old American takes at least 4 prescriptions. I’m 45 years old and I aim to take zero till I have to take an aspirin at 90. That won’t happen if things in my life continue as they are. That’s at least 4 sets of side-effects to deal with. 4 sets of expenses. 4 sets of food/drug interactions. 4 sets of medical visits and tests. 4 sets of headaches. Fortunately for me, I ducked in time and didn’t receive the full force of the kick – this time. I wish you the same, at worst.
In a nutrition class I took this spring, Dr. Erlandsen taught us that, for optimal long-term health, adults should consume no more than about 25g of added sugar daily. There are about 12g of sugar in a tablespoon! By added sugar, he excluded naturally occurring sugars such as fructose in your fruit and lactose in your milk. Added sugar includes any that’s added to prepared products such as breads and commercial juices. Keep in mind that prepared products can be store bought or home-made.
I aim to consume less sugar daily, and certainly less added sugar. While sugar is necessary for sustaining life, the impact of high amounts of it on our bodies is deleterious and the majority of us are a far cry from have sugar deficiencies. In observing my habits, one of my sugar culprits is creamer in my coffee. I love me a steaming cup of that creamy wake-up-and-love-life goodness. I drink 2 cups a day and add 2-3 tablespoons per cup.
When taste-testing, I used to add the sweet stuff till it tasted just like I wanted. By the end of the cup, the drink was so sweet it was distasteful. So I trained myself to start with it less sweet than I think I want. You can inure or habituate yourself to consume less sugar (or other offenders like salt) this way. Just a few sips into the drink, it tasted just right and continued to be so to the last drop.
You can also do this with your other senses such as hearing. Start a TV show off at a lower volume than normal. Your hearing will habituate to it, as long as the volume within a reasonable threshold. The same thing goes for smells, especially with things like perfumes.
A majority of recipes call for ridiculous amounts of sugar. Think for yourself, promote mindfulness and don’t do things just because a recipe called for it. Get in the habit of using about half of the amount of sugar called for in recipes when you make them yourself. The difference is astounding: it does’t taste that much less sweet and you can actually taste other ingredients like spices or flavorings better when your sweet receptors aren’t overwhelmed with syrupy taste.
Another area where being mindful pays off is with portion sizes. You don’t have to accept or eat a portion of dessert just because it’s pre-cut and served to you, e.g. at a birthday part. Ask for less. Or take what you are given and eat just part of it.
Soda and fruit juices have got to be the worst offenders when it comes to sugar consumption. They have zero to minimal benefit and horrific consequences. Don’t fall victim to clever marketing and thinking that you need to consume them. Cutting regular consumption of those will give your body – and your wallet – significant relief.
Be more aware of habits that impact your health and take small steps towards wellness. You’ll start to notice that things you thought tasted normal soon taste too sweet. Be drastic when it comes to children or when you are diagnosed with a lifestyle related disease. Sugar is a real killer.