Australia · Humor · Musings · Shopping · Short Stories · Short story · Thrift Stores · travel

Why Normal Women Shop at Nordstrom’s

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

chickens · Farming · Goats · horror · Humor · Musings · Neighbors

“Dear My Neighbor,…”

(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.””

Acceptance · Autobiography · Curly hair · Humor · Musings · Parenting · Short story

Stubborn Curls

curls

When my Paul was about 3, he dreaded walking into new situations, especially where there were crowds. The Rancher who fathered him is rather bashful so I intelligently attributed it to that genetic frailty (I can say this stuff because he doesn’t read my blogs.)  I had to reassure Paul we would have a great time where we were going. I’d remind him of previous positive experiences. This is my child, who, without fail, would finally warm up and have a marvelous time –  ten minutes before it was time to leave!

As we pulled into a parking lot, his anxiety would reach a frenzied pitch and he’d make the declaration that he wasn’t going in, excogitating excuse after excuse. He clung tenaciously to his car seat when it was time to get out of the car. I’d finally had it up to here with  calmly reasoning, and pleading, and cajoling, and bribing, and he knew it. “What is wrong with you??!!” I would ask.

Like a whipped goat, he would finally bleat, “They’re going to touch my hair.”

The child donned a massive afro with the most darling boisterous curls.

“You get out of his car right now,” I would state rather clearly with teeth clenched and eyes narrowed. “Right now! No one is interested in touching your hair. You didn’t even comb it. I just need to cut it.”

“Nooooo…” he would howl anew.

“Then get in there! And you will look people in the eye and say halo.”

“Noooooooo…!”

I’d finally march to the building and he’d come hobbling behind me, whimpering all the way with sagging shoulders, Thomas the Tank Engine in hand. He only came because Thomas told him it was probably a good idea. At the door, I’d sigh and recombobulate my frazzled self, and whisper a thank you to Thomas.

I couldn’t believe it! In the building, like eager moths to a fire, female hands – young and old alike – would come at him squealing lustfully, “Look at that hair!” They would moooaaan as they ran their fingers through it and I would watch my child give me the death glare, his little arms crossed in fury. A particular little girl loved to fondle his curls and suck her finger.

At that moment, it always struck me as funny how a shy child would relish donning a crowd pleaser like a massive afro, then dread the attention it brought!

Acceptance · Aging · Body image · Caregiving · Dementia · Elderly · Humor · Musings · Scripture · True Story

My Body is a Sagging Tent

odometer

A dear friend, 6 significant years younger than I,  contacted me feeling woebegone.

She’s about to turn forty and she feels lousy. Her eye-sight is suddenly failing, her metabolism is on strike, and her children – all under the age of 8 – think they are smarter than her despite her doctorate degree. She’d envisioned running a research department at a prestigious university by this age, but now she sits in a dingy diner trying to make out the blurry menu and not kick her rugrat crawling around under the table who just said, “those last people had weally good Fwench Fwies.” Sigh.

Since I’m about to turn forty five, I laughed my head off at her. I bought myself the sign above at a fun store in Rockaway Beach. Poor baby. She has no idea that she’s living the best times and that it’s downhill, fast, from there. See dear, we are now officially middle aged! That’s a true fact. Read it again.

It’s funny to me how 60 year-olds think they’re middle aged. Anyone that thinks we are not middle aged, is actually old and in denial about their status unless they think they will live to be 120.  Which is not going to happen. Please scoot your walker forward, you’re knocking on geriatric. If you don’t own a walker yet, you can get one at the local senior center for a $5 donation. Go get it. I said, (a little louder, and with hand motions) go get it. You can thank me later. The only exception is my 100 year old resident who frequently observes, with disdain, other residents who are much younger than she, and says, “I hope I don’t act like that when I’m old.” Ha!

Our conversation called to mind these superb words from Ecclesiastes 12.

Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
    and mourners go about the streets.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

The “keepers of the house” must be our muscles, “the strong men” our bones. The “grinders” are our teeth. By “fear of heights” the inspired writer means the curb. Be grateful that you can hop right up or down from it today, my dear. A time will come when you will pray that a Boy Scout (who might be a girl- don’t try to understand that) is walking by so it takes you 5 instead of 30 minutes to maneuver getting up or down that curb.

Is the silver cord our hair that will all have fallen off or is it our spinal cord whose reflexes will be calcified. Is the golden bowl our once brilliant PhD brain which will lead us to crawl under the table eating the previous occupants Fwench Fwies? Can you picture carrying a full pitcher and a walker, with shaky hands and a stooped back? Forget about it!

The “wheel… broken at the well” tells you there may be water down there but you ain’t getting it. Just about all you do takes too much effort and creates problems of its own. Or is the spilling, broken pitcher at the spring addressing the deficiencies of our bowel  and bladder functions? Maybe that refers to the female process while the wheel with its defunct rope refers to the male. How annoying to have a bladder full of liquid, move heaven and earth to get to the bathroom, then dribble three drops of urine and be done? That is until you get back to your power recliner and you gotta go, NOW!

But don’t feel bad about this prognosis. There are numerous upsides to the aging process as your youth disappears, the best of which is you can say whatever you darn well please. I can’t remember the rest. But I do remember a brilliant quip some senior citizen came up with that goes something like:

“I can’t walk, I can barely talk, I can’t screw, I can’t poo, I can’t see, and I can’t hear. Good thing I still have my driver’s license!”

So my advice to you is from Ecclesiastes 11.

Light is sweet,
    and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live,
    let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
    for there will be many.
    Everything to come is meaningless.

You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
    and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
    God will bring you into judgment.
10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
    and cast off the troubles of your body,
    for youth and vigor are meaningless.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/disappear/

Scripture reference from the New International Version

Autobiography · Brothers · Humor · Memories · Musings · Routines · Short story · We've All Done It

Don’t Make me Bathe!

tub

I passionately despised baths as a little kid. It was the worst thing ever. I went as many days as I could without one and considered each day a great personal victory.

Inevitably, it would fall on my brother Michael to get me into the bathtub.  He would start the day off by saying, “Today you’re taking a bath whether you like it or not.” I would squawk and howl, wounded at the affront, and tear off running. In the course of the day, he would trick or corner me, and frog march me to the tub kicking and screaming. The brouhaha left me mad as a hornet and him, well scratched up.

Yet magically, within a few minutes of being in the nice warm water, I would inevitably think, “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, I don’t ever want to get out of this bathtub.”

After a few minutes, Mick would repeatedly come to the door, on the assumption that I was done, and say, “You need to get out now.”

It would take another hour of haranguing to match my monkey business and get me out. “Not yet. I’m almost done,” I would say, lunging back and forth and making high waves in the tub, and then return to some really bad singing at the top of my lungs.

Mick would finally say, “I’m not coming back to get you!”

“I’m almost done,” I’d say, a little panicked.

Of course the water would unavoidably get cold and I would sit there shivering, my teeth clattering against each other but still not wanting to get out of the tub. I was confident it was freezing out there. As though that wasn’t bad enough, he unfailingly left my towel clear across the room, at least five feet away and traversing that span would be sure to cause certain death. What to do? I listened expectantly for his approaching footsteps. Nothing.

“Mick?”

Was that him breathing on the other side of the door? “Miiiiiiiiick!” I would holler  after I was done with the next song. No answer.

“Maybe I can just sleep in here…” I reasoned looking around resourcefully.

Then I’d start to get grossed out by the ring of dirt around the tub and any accompanying floaties. I’d try flicking them away while ducking from the ones creeping up behind me. I’d swear I’d never let it get this bad again and that not only would I bathe everyday, but from now on I would be in there for no more than ten minutes. I’d also make a mental note not to drench the towel with all the water I splashed out of the tub.

To my consternation, three days later Mick would be saying to me, “You’re taking a bath today whether you like it or not.”

“Nooooooo…!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/assumption/

 

Humor · Kids

Disrupting the English Language

Funny things my eleven year old says

“I hate it when people enrupt me.”

“What am I exposed to do?”

“That was really rude mum,

of you to put me in time out.”

“Stupendous means stupid good.”

“You mop with a mop, do you broom with a broom,

or sweep with a sweep?”

“John the Baddest was Jesus’ cousin.

He lived in the desert and wore camo.”

In a quiet moment

at the crowded dentist’s office,

“I’m not wearing any underwear.”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/disrupt/

 

 

 

Caregiving · Health · Humor · Military · Short story

High Butt Pressure

back blast area

My poor sons were raised in an adult foster home so they have some rather peculiar perspectives on life. Yesterday I was taking residents’ blood pressures when one of my boys said, “Did you just say blood pressure? All these years I thought you’ve been saying ‘butt pressure’.”

____________________________________

One of my residents, Judy, was coming off some wicked antibiotics and pain medications that left her terribly constipated. We’d been fastidiously following her BM regimen to try and get her relief but it finally came to the big guns – the enema.

After days of being backed up, she was miserable and ready for anything that would give her relief. I was teaching my caregiver Lora how to administer the enema. Our miserable Judy lay moaning on her bed, facing the wall, obviously a very humiliating and vulnerable position. Lora was on her knees on the floor behind her, quaking with nerves. I was bending beside Lora, soberly walking her through the daunting process. Unfamiliarity,  risk, and pain made them both skittish.

Lora is a luminescent personality. She is Texan and ex-military, meaning she always has a straight-faced badinage that leaves people around her rolling on the floor snorting in hysterics. I was talking in low confident tones and slowly rubbing Judy’s back with my gloved hands to relax her. I started to say, “Lubricate the nozzle and very gently insert…” when Lora poked her head straight up, enema in hand, and interrupted me with, “Now, Judy, in the military, when you’re about to fire a shoulder mounted rocket launcher, you scan behind you to make sure no one is in the danger zone and yell,” –  and she YELLED, “”Back blast area clear!” Then you fire.”

“So I would ap-rciate it if you would give me that there courtesy pr-cautionary proclamation if you feel you are about to expel any hot gases or other dangerous explosives in my general direction seeing as I am in the primary danger zone,” and she bent back down to business, leaned towards me and said quietly, “Pardon me m’am, please continue.”

It’s been two weeks and neither Judy nor I can tell the story without crying.

Image retrieved 4/10/18 from:

http://www.inetres.com/gp/military/infantry/antiarmor/Javelin.html

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/luminescent/

chickens · Ducks · Farming · Humor · Nature · Neighbors · Relationships

Ugly Ducklings

We all know not to count our chickens before they hatch.

A neighbor visited and chatted with my husband about wanting to incubate a batch of ducklings. She’d found a brand new incubator at an estate sale but didn’t know how to use it and was leaving for an extended period of time. They discussed the timeline and agreed to do it. I’ll call her Gabby because I inevitably find myself backing out of a room once she starts talking. It’s all pleasant chitchat, I just get the distinct sense that not only is my input is not required in these “conversations”, but worse, that she might NEVER stop talking.

My work day was interrupted later in the week by Garrulous Gabby dropped in carrying 16 fertilized eggs. They were carefully wrapped in a worn yellow towel, a situation so precarious she was literally biting her tongue and staring at the eggs. Her head was leaning so far forward as she walked that I was afraid she would break into a trot or fall on her face on the eggs. As soon as I took them from her she exhaled deeply and immediately took up a line of thought I didn’t follow, sucking up all the air in the room. She made endless trips to her car for the incubator and its various parts, talking the whole time, while I impertinently prepared a spot for the 2 foot square contraption in my dining room.

I am a reluctant farmer’s wife so gall rises within me whenever I enter these situations. How do I get reined into them? “Isn’t it wonderful?” The farmer cajoles over-enthusiastically.

“No!” I say. I am the one that ends up with stinky chicks in my closet for  weeks on end. I am the one that ends up shaving years off my life scaling fences while running away from mad-cow infested beasts. I am the one that has to listen to interminable conversations about ducks despite my attempts to stay out of his dealings with her. “It is not wonderful!”

She checked in frequently while she was away, yakkity voicemails to boot, “I can’t find your husband’s number… I know there are 21 more days to go. Ducks incubate a week longer than chickens, you know…. We are having a great time. I just don’t want you to feel like I abandoned my project on you.”

With a week left, the farmer starts preparation for the arrival of the ducklings. Humidity in the incubator must be adjusted. Temperature too. He’s starting to get excited. I’m staying out of it. I’d just like the space in my dining room back from its barn status.

We wake up in the morning to very loud peeping. No critters in the incubator but boy those eggs are rocking back and forth. That can’t be right. He looks at his calendar again. Hmm. Sure enough they start hatching and we are all befuddled. Not only are they very early, but there are no bills, and no webbed feet. They are all chicks!

It makes for great laughs with everyone that’s come through, curious about the operation. Gabby hasn’t checked in and I’m not about to initiate contact. This is going to be good.

A few hatch and the farmer brings in a massive cage with feeders, waterers, poop catchers, warming lights, receiving blankets, the works. I might as well set the dining chairs on the table and move it into the kitchen. The nesting boxes and barn doors can go right here.

Some eggs haven’t hatched and we leave them in the incubator. Maybe it was a mixed batch and the ducklings will hatch in a few days. By the next Saturday, I’m tired of dust and ridiculously loud cheeping. I declare the rest of the eggs are duds. I text her, unable to contain the surprise any more, “Your ducks are ready for you to come pick up.”

“What?!” She screams, calling back immediately. I put her on speakerphone. This is going to be really good. “That is terrible. They are not supposed to be ducks! I thought they were chickens!”

All six people in the room fall over laughing. We’d all heard, repeatedly, that they were duck eggs. The farmers wife shakes her head in dismay.

Don’t predestine your ducklings before they hatch.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/identity/

Anxiety · Authority · Christian · Cows · Daughters · Death · Faith · Farming · Fear · Health · horror · Humor · Maturity · Mishaps · mothers · Spiritual

If You Believe

black cow

If you know anything me, it’s my feelings about cows. You can find contributing factors here: https://thukumainen.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/wild-about-cows/. And to think I am married to a man who calls himself a rancher. Very sad. I posted that blog a year ago and my feelings haven’t changed much.

Shortly after that, Emma who’d grown up on a dairy farm shared how she was washing dishes in the sink one sunny day while her kids played outside. She was watching them dreamily in the sand pit through the open kitchen window. She’d just picked up the last glass from the warm sudsy water when she heard a sickening bellow. She looked up to behold her 3 year old daughter sitting on the bottom rung of a gate to the field while one of their massive bulls came bounding across the field. “Oh God,” she moaned gripping the side of the sink. There was no way she could even set that glass down before the bull got to her baby, let alone get out there to rescue her.

In slow motion, it seemed, little Layla hopped off the gate she was sitting on and authoritatively stuck a stubby little hand straight out in front of her and yelled, “You stop!”

The colossal brown bull skidded to a screeching halt not five feet from Layla. He lowered his immense head and pounded the dry ground. He seemed to be reconsidering his actions. His responding moo projected slime all over the place. “No! Bad cow!” commanded the little girl, leaning her stern face forward, hands akimbo, and stomping her miniature pink cowboy boot in defiance.

That bull lowered his gargantuan head repentantly, sniffed at the dirt, and slowly turned  away.

Emma hadn’t heard the glass shatter, muffled by the soapy water, as she tore through the door.  She ran pell-mell to her baby in the field, tripping over broken branches while her apron fluttered like a flag in the wind. She grabbed her like she would never let go, sobbing fitfully.

“Mama sad?” asked Layla quizzically placing dirty little hands on her mother’s tear-stained face.

“No, baby. Mama’s very happy.”

__________________________________________

This week I have encountered many people who are going through various degrees of apprehension for one reason or another. It has astounded me, I don’t remember it being this unbridled, almost epidemic. Many posts I’ve visited have entailed details from anxiety-ridden writers expressing hopelessness about the world’s plight and our leaders’ wanton disregard for us. Sitting in prayer groups, I’ve prayed for people dealing with fears of flying, fears they can’t put their fingers on, and fear of the future.

It seems we are being pummeled by angst and asphyxiated under its weight.

Are we paying too much attention to current events? More importantly are we basing all our trust and hope on the shifting sands of circumstances? Are we listening too closely to the primal internal voices that are gifts for our survival, but which we have amplified with the megaphone of attention?

The resulting degree of stress is ravaging our health, our wellness, and our souls. It exudes from our every pore so that we contaminate people around us. It’s affecting our children and grandchildren and shortchanging any chance for joy and a vibrant life. It grows like a cancer and stifles our very lives.

Can we, like little Layla stand up to these demons and gain control of ourselves and our reactions to our stressors. We can drop and allow them to trample us mercilessly and fling us up in the air. We can turn and run like lightning with the massive bulls in hot pursuit. Or we can stick our little hands out in their face and scream “STOP!”

This lion must find a heart.

See that day, Emma learned and then taught me about authority that is vested within us. It is the authority of a thirty-pounder against a thousand-pounder. Within me is mastery and dominion over my reactions to circumstances. But I must learn to wield it. It is a spiritual weapon that I can brandish to quell the enemies of my soul.

Jesus died that I might have life, and life abundantly. Peace and His presence are two things He has assured me He will never withdraw from me. Hope and joy are mine to enjoy despite the worst possible circumstances in life. Otherwise what is our faith for? I’ve tried many others and they are all sinking sands. He alone has seen me, and countless others over the ages, through thick and thin VALIANTLY. His are promises that we will not be shaken if we stand upon the Rock that He is.

If you don’t know Jesus, He is a simple invitation away. All you have to do is believe He is the son of God who died to save you and who came back to life so YOU might have life. His presence in your life is the authority to speak over your perspective on life’s circumstances and command your fears to be still.

Here’s a great truth: You can’t think two thoughts at the same time. And tough times call for soul talk.  In 1752, Katharina A. von Schlegel penned “Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.” What a great mantra. It has amazing words. Enjoy Kari Jobe’s rendition of it.

Ages before, King David said, “Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” Psalm 42:11. Sometimes I say, a thousand times, “I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord.” I’ll sing a song or meditate on and recount a piece of scripture. Scream it if you need to or just think it, though your knees are knocking.

And should the circumstances do you in, you have a blessed promised eternity awaiting you. One of complete rest and bliss in His presence. Death will be your final enemy and you WILL overcome it victoriously. You can’t lose!!

So put your hands on your little hips and stomp those sparkly cowgirl boots. Silence that bellowing bull and speak your truth!

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Burying the Cat II

JD darted from the church and into his car in record time. Drenched in sweat, he felt like he would pass out. After he’d got a grip on himself, he reached into his front pocket of his stiff new Bi-Mart jeans for the infamous phone.

He stilled his shaky hands and flipped the little gadget open, muttering at it the whole time. 6 missed calls in 2 minutes. It was his elderly client Lynn. He pushed call.

She answered immediately. “Halo JD.”

He could tell something was very wrong. “Are you okay? What’s the matter?”

“It’s not good.” She said. He could tell she’d been crying. “Can you come?”

“I’ll be right there.” He started his car. He raced the familiar 25 miles there and let himself into the house, scared stiff. “Lynn!” he called gently.

She sat on a chair facing away from him and he hurried to her. When he got to her, he stepped back in utter dismay. She was cradling a very dead cat!

She started bawling when she saw him. “He was very sick this morning when I woke up. By the time I showered and called the vet, he was dead.” She sobbed helplessly.

He was aghast. He was tempted to say, “Is this why you called me?” but she couldn’t hear anything over the sobs anyhow. She reached out an arm for a hug. He leaned in and tried very hard not to touch the cat. “It’s okay, Lynn. I’m so sorry.”

She held him for a long time. So long his back started to cramp. Then his stomach started growling again. And that cat, he was certain he could feel it squirming, or winking at him. Or something.

Two hours later, he helped her out to a spot where they had decided Gumby would be buried. He set a chair up by the old magnolia and  scraped a perimeter for the hole. Once she approved it he got to work digging  a hole, 2 feet by 2 feet. He gritted his teeth at having to dig with his weekend clothes on, but he couldn’t very well go back home  to change at this point. The rhythmic strike of the shovel followed by the thud of the moist dirt landing was punctuated by Lynn’s soft sobs. Strike, thud, sob. Strike, thud, sob, sniffle.

He pulled his bandana from his pocket, wiped the sweat off his brow, threw the shovel off to the side and jumped out of the three foot deep hole. Lynn had wrapped Gumby in one of her towels and JD slowly reached out to receive it. He was met with a visceral wail and she clutched tightly at her stiff but beloved pet.

JD stood by trying not to the think of the tamales at his house that his friends were probably devouring without him. He didn’t want to deny her this precious moment with Gumby but he had spent all day yesterday preparing them and his cousin cooked them while he was at church.

He cleared his throat and placed his hand on her shoulder after she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her pink polyester robe. “Honey,” she started, “I don’t that’s deep enough. I don’t want coyotes and racoons digging him up. Let’s make it a little deeper.”

He jumped back in and dug first one foot, then two feet deeper. Unfortunately this also meant he had to make it wider than two foot square. He put his foot down when he was chest deep and she mistook his tear for sympathy. “Gumby always loved you so very much,” she said wanly, rocking him back and forth.

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“Donde estas?” yelled his cousin, Pablo trying to make himself heard over the loud music in the background.

“I’m coming from buying tulips and heading to Lynn’s house,” JD replied. “Hide me a bunch of tamales.”

“Tulips? What about the tamales? Estas loco? ” Pablo scratched his head, sure he’d heard wrong.

“Hide me 6 tamales. I’ll be home soon. I think,” and he hung up, exasperated. There was nothing like missing a tamale fiesta at your own house.

She’d decided she needed tulips on the grave so that she had something pretty to enjoy when she sat by the chair she’d had him cement under the magnolia tree. That had taken another hour and a half but she just had to have those tulips. They were Gumby’s favorites, she said. She had him lay them out, first one way then another before settling on  a third configuration. He buried them then set up some rockery that the tulips would adorn.

He pulled into his driveway at 6 p.m. to find folding chairs, dirty dishes, and beer bottles strewn across his front yard and no one in sight. He was the epitomy of mixed emotions as he stood there his eyes going from this mess to the wad of cash Lynn had stuck into his breast pocket “Please take this,” she said as she hugged him goodbye.  “You’re a better son to me than my own. He’d have told me and my cat to go to hell hours ago.”

JD counted it 5 times. Nine hundred and Forty dollars.

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