Thursday, May 31, 2012

Things on Thursday: Dogs

I found this picture on Pinterest recently and absolutely love it...and the sentiment with it. I find it not at all odd that doggies illustrate this saying perfectly.

Of course, dogs can hurt people and each other, but it's usually because they themselves have been taught to hurt through neglect or abuse or selective breeding.

There's a lesson in that. We reap what we sow.

This morning, I read THIS ARTICLE on Happy News about the SPCA National Dog Hero award. Good dog, Bear. Good dog. His owner sowed something good when she rescued him.

And here's a picture George took recently of our dog, looking uncharacteristically regal and serious, like King Solomon deciding what to do with the baby those two women were arguing over.  She looks so wise and old and sad.

It's hard to believe that this is the same dog who's currently going gremlin and growling out the open window at...wait for it...birds hopping around our yard.

The birds are not worried.

I guess where Daisy is concerned, we've sown goofiness and enthusiastic affection, which we're reaping in abundant harvest, along with giant golden fur bunnies. Perhaps we should have sown wisdom, but we only get that misleading look when she's really tired.

Dogs are pretty amazing, aren't they?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Organized Life

I've started the special page on my website for organization...The Organized Life. You'll find it on any page of the blog, just under the blog header on the third tab. Just click and there you'll be!

My plan for the page is to add tips and useful links over time. In other words, like organization itself, The Organized Life will be a work-in-progress.

It will NOT be a comprehensive organization plan...that's best left to the experts. Besides, the world has enough comprehensive plans out there.

Instead, it will point people in the direction of comprehensive plans (Roman numeral I on the outline), provide inspiration and motivation (Roman numeral II), and offer quick and/or brilliant tips I and my readers have found useful in organizing and purging various areas of life.

My vision for this page is a collaborative effort. Any time you have an insight or find a useful organizational tip that helps you, please share. The more people participate, the richer the resource!

I've decided that this organized-life elephant is best eaten one bite at a time. That's why my first project will be very small...organizing my cleaning supplies. Right now, they are scattered throughout the house (some are still in the garage!). I will pull them all together, see what I have, and go from there.

What sort of organization do YOU have for your cleaning supplies? What works for you?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thoughts on Memorial Day from a Navy Veteran

The following was written by Tony DeRosa, a veteran of the Navy, who spoke in our church yesterday. He has graciously given me permission to post his thoughts here.

The first known Memorial Day celebration was on May 1, 1865 in Charleston South Carolina, held by newly freed slaves to honor Union prisoners of war who died there. For years after, Decoration Day events were held, typically in May, to honor those who died in uniform during the Civil War.

Starting in the early 20th century, Decoration Day events and parades evolved into Memorial Day as a remembrance for all Americans who died serving our country, even for those who served before the Civil War. If you go to the small cemetery on Factory Street in old Springboro, where members of the Wright family are buried, you’ll find the grave of John Mullen, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 with a Memorial Day flag marking his service.

We do honor to ourselves and to those who fought and died for our country when we pause, however briefly, to remember.

As I was thinking of what to say about Memorial Day, I couldn’t help but wonder how we continue to find young Americans willing to serve, generation after generation, war after war. For more than 35 years, they have been exclusively volunteers, stepping up again and again, knowing they may be sent into harm’s way.

There are many individual reasons for why people put on the uniform. Adventure, travel, unique opportunities, escape, all these reasons and more lead many to fill our volunteer military. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my mother’s uncle who was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I know I caused my teachers and parents much angst with my childhood fascination with all things military.

And last week I became a victim of the mother’s curse – the one where your mom says “I hope when you become a parent you have a child who behaves just like you!” Our 8 year old, AJ, brought home a school project where he wrote about being a Navy SEAL and drew a picture. His teacher, Donna Miller, commented that it was “interesting.” And Karen would rather have bought him any other book from the school book fair rather than the one about Navy SEALs that he wanted.

I think she suggested one on sea otters, but he would have none of it.

I don’t think we can simply assume that the next generation will automatically step up. This is why Memorial Day is important. Ronald Reagan said that freedom is only one generation away from extinction. His words are certainly a warning, but also I think a call to action. Those who served and fought before us did it because someone taught them it was important. They learned because someone took took them to a Memorial Day parade or ceremony in the near or distant past. It is likely no one told them Reagan’s words explicitly, but they absorbed the meaning just the same.

They learned the importance of serving a cause greater than one’s self by watching and listening to others remember. They learned how the service and sacrifice of so many preserves the freedoms we cherish. And how, some day, it will be the next generation’s turn to answer the call to keep freedom from becoming extinct. This is the greatness of America, the ability to pass these ideals to the next generation for more than 150 years, despite ongoing changes in our society, politics, and culture.

But it’s scary because preventing freedom’s extinction still requires sending young Americans into harm’s way and no one wants that. We should pray mightily to avoid that. John Adams wrote that he studied war and politics so that his children could study math and philosophy. His dream is yet unrealized.

Until that dream is a reality, we have to do our part to ready the next generation to prevent freedom’s extinction. So take your child or grandchild to a Memorial Day parade. They’ll learn what it means to serve just by being there. And pray that maybe their generation will know the peace that has escaped the previous ones.

Thank you.

And thank you, Tony, for your service and your words.

Gratitude Journal #140

Today, I am grateful for this symbol of my nation.

Today, I am grateful for each and every person who has died in service to my country, whether in war or peace, action or accident. When these men and women signed on the dotted line to serve, they committed fully to what this flag stands for, and I am grateful.

Today, I am grateful that men and women continue to serve faithfully and with honor each and every day.

To my American readers, may your Memorial Day be a day of remembrance as well as celebration.  To those outside the US, I encourage you to take a moment to remember your nation's fallen and all who fight for liberty and justice.

Let's all remember.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I've decided that calling my random posts Random is boring. Let's spice things up by calling them Serendipity. It's fun to say. Say it out loud five times fast. Hard not to smile when you get to the dipity, isn't it?

Besides, I feel like a dip most days anyway.

1. Last night, I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that there were two bags of frozen french fries in my freezer. One should never swear on a stack of Bibles, I guess, because dinner was already running late when George opened the freezer and asked, slightly panicked, "Where are the fries?" Does anyone else have memories--very distinct and clear memories--of doing things for which the evidence proves otherwise?

Does that question even make grammatical sense? No matter.

Dipity-do and all that.

2. Also last night, I went to the basement to bypass the water softener so I could water the yard, seeing as Mother Nature has seen fit not to grace us with rain for the past two weeks but a few counties south of us got flooded a week ago. Moderation is good, Mother N. Anyway, as I exited the unfinished area of the basement, Nick's friend Zach popped around the corner and stuck a Nerf gun in my chest. In the instant he realized he'd tagged his friend's mom in the boob, his face contorted in 12-year-old-boy embarrassment and made me laugh out loud.

3. Internet meanness makes me sad, and when it's directed at a friend, well, that gets me hopping mad. Cyber-bullying is cowardly, hateful, lingeringly a mosquito bite that infects you with malaria. It's the disease that keeps on giving out repeat attacks of battered self-esteem and withering pain for a very long time. There is a special place in hell for people who anonymously wreck other people's emotions on the Internet.

4. I must make this.

It's no-sew, so perhaps I can pull it off. Source

5. I have a stack of twenty-seven magazines that are half-read or completely unread. They've been accumulating since October when George decided we needed to move...a good impulse, actually, but one that threw my brain into a perpetual state of chaos from mid-October through last Monday night. My goal is to blast through the stack in the next two weeks because I really, truly love reading magazines. But not on my Nook. Reading magazines on a Nook is deeply unsatisfying. Even George agrees with me on that one.

6. And speaking of my Nook tablet, I found an awesome app for just a buck. It's called Write Notes and lets you, um, well, write notes in several different ways. My favorite notes are the sticky notes. You can enlarge them, shrink them, move them around with your finger, color code them. You can email them, too. I know I'm late to this whole tablet-app game, and some of you are saying, "Well, duh, Susan, of course there are cool apps out there...otherwise, what would be the point?"

Dipity do, again.

7. Never, ever go to a Bible study without reading your lesson because that will be the day the pastor has to leave early for her daughter's preschool promotion ceremony and hands the class off to you to lead. Seriously?

8. It's hot. Africa hot.

9. Tomorrow is Memorial Day here in the U S of A. I hope those of you in America enjoy a day off and barbecue and family fun--we will be--and I hope you'll remember the reason you have the opportunity to do that.

Channeling Miss Daisy

Ha, ha!!!!

I has my blue rubber toy. Feel urge to growl viciously and force it in face of my human!!!!

Grrrr, RRRR, Uuuurrrrr, Grrrrrr!!! Fear me! I will KILL you with blue thingie!!!! DIE!!!!! Grrrrrrrrr. Double uuurrrrrrrrr. I am scary golden retriever!!!!! Grrrrr...

I sorry. What was that? Did you say, "Drop!"?

Oh, okey dokey, here ya go! If I sit and look cute and quiver with anticipation, will you give it back? Then I will terrify you again.

You're not terrified?

Not even a little?


I has a sad. When you has heart of lion and face of golden retriever, nobody takes you seriously.

Photo by George

Friday, May 25, 2012

Words, Words, Words about Home

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body." --Benjamin Franklin

"It was good to walk into a library again. It smelled like home." --Elizabeth Kostova

“Happiness doesn't lie in conspicuous consumption and the relentless amassing of useless crap. Happiness lies in the person sitting beside you and your ability to talk to them. Happiness is clear-headed human interaction and empathy. Happiness is home. And home is not a house--home is a mythological conceit. It is a state of mind. A place of communion and unconditional love. It is where, when you cross its threshold, you finally feel at peace.” --Dennis Lehane

Home means different things to different people. For some unfortunate souls, the word conjures the scent of bitterness and pain, insecurity and fear. Most people, however, smell fresh-baked cookies, warm wood, and safety from whatever mysterious monsters are "out there." Home can be a place of refuge and recovery, nourishment and nurture.

Home is important. Home is here.

I had no idea how divided I felt over my home until I unloaded the extra one. Monday night, we finally closed on our old house. What a weird experience this move has been, a Dantesque Limbo, perhaps, or, even better, Purgatorio. It was a long time of transition, moving stuff and moving hearts to arrive at a place called home.

I'm here now, and finally moving forward.

I think George is here, too, especially when we sit on the patio and listen to the birdsong and breeze rustling the leaves, and saturate ourselves in green.

Jack is here. On his last visit at the old house, I said, "We're saying goodbye to the old house." So he walked up to the closed garage doors and told the house it was a good house and he would miss it. And then he got into the car and buckled up. "Are we going home now, Mom?"

Yes, Jack. We are.

Nick isn't here yet. Poor child. His heart still feels divided between the old house and new. He misses the old, and letting it go requires a period of grief for him. His time in Purgatorio isn't over yet, which breaks my heart, but he'll get here. Eventually.

My task now consists primarily of nurturing this brick building into something comfortable and useful, a place of communion and unconditional love. A place of peace. A place that smells of books and food and hearth fire. A place we all, including the reluctant Nick, call home.

Are you home? Why or why not?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gratitude Journal # 139

Today, I am grateful for a dining room table that is upright and functional. Thanks, honey!

Today, I am grateful for the Methodist church's focus on loving one another...and another sermon from Pastor Suzanne encouraging us to do just that.

Today, I am grateful for Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books. Way better than the movie and a fun distraction from stress.

Today, I am grateful for my financial institution: USAA. George and I have been members for decades, and the service simply can't be beat. (Not a paid endorsement, either!)

Today, I am grateful for air conditioning.

Today, I am grateful for these two bottles of wine:

Finding these two on the wine aisle at Target totally made my Friday, despite the fact that they are not quite grammatically parallel.

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Word, Word, Word for the Week: Disappointment

We were supposed to close on our old house yesterday. The buyer's lender dropped the ball, and now, hopefully, we'll be able to close on Monday. They are homeless because we can't let them move in before closing. It's all so frustrating, and what a disappointment to a family of four who expected to spend last night in their new home!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Things on Thursday: Heavy Equipment and Unsung Heroes

When you buy a new-construction home, you get to see first-hand the skill and confidence of the men who work with heavy equipment. What I loved about the guy who seeded our yard was the joy he took in his work. While grading the yard, he manuvered the bull dozer with the skill of a brain surgeon, taking obvious care to get the yard just right. He seeded carefully and thoroughly. And then he sprayed straw.

While spraying the straw, I saw a huge grin on his face that made me run for the camera. Alas, I didn't capture his joy at using that heavy equipment in pixels. He was nearing the end of a long day of hard labor, but he pushed bales of straw into the spreader and then watched that straw flying through the yard like it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

He was making it happen, with his own two hands and heavy equipment.

Kid in a candy store. That's what he reminded me of.

In so many ways, our culture has lost its appreciation of skilled labor, of hard physical work, of a job well done. We take the work of others for granted, only noticing when the job isn't well done, when we have an opportunity to complain. George and I both come from working class roots. His grandfathers were a plumber and carpenter, mine was an auto mechanic. We've enjoyed chatting with the laborers who have made our home.

As I watch the green blush of new grass rising through the straw two weeks after that photo was taken, I want to sing for those heroes who made it possible. Here's to them and their heavy equipment.

What unsung heroes do you want to call out this week?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

12 Random Observations about Pinterest

If you haven't been on Pinterest yet, what are you doing that's so important?!?!?! Seriously, I've overheard people at Kroger, JumpStart Java, the post office, and the pediatric waiting room discussing this website. Click on over and spend a few hours; then come back here and add your own random observations to my own.

1. Lots of people are pinterested in making their own stuff...make-up, deodorant, detergent, soap, toothpaste, and window cleaner. These are all things I try to think about as little as possible, yet some choose to spend hours doing the chemistry. Cool.

2. Apparently, a large number of people think skeletal women in frumpy clothes are sexy. Not cool.

3. Pictures of naked men that display only the portion of their bodies between their strong, stubbly jaws and the very bottom of their six-pack abs appear frequently. I'm not complaining, but it does seem to objectify men. Do they mind?

4. Anger and hostility crop up occasionally, usually with frequent dropping of the f-bomb and b-word. Don't be hatin', pinners!

5. Pinned food pictures are almost always saliva-inducing orgies of gluttonous eye candy, but occasionally, the food looks pre-digested and might help inspire you if you are fasting or dieting. It might be worth creating a a whole board of gross food for future reference, don't you think?

6. Pornographic pictures confirm that Pinterest is not just for women. Men are pinning, too.

7. Scary make-up and ridiculously high-heeled shoes are oddly popular, which makes no sense to me. So are hairdos, prom dresses, sensible shoes, knitted fashions, coats, jewelry, and purses, which makes perfect sense to me.

8. Nostalgia is also popular...old advertisements, clothing, books. I like nostalgia.

9. If you're decorating your home, Pinterest can give you lots of awesome ideas and make you feel horrifyingly inadequate at the same time.

10. If you're planning your wedding, Pinterest can give you lots of awesome ideas and make your father take out a second mortgage at the same time.

11. Occasionally, you'll come across things that cannot be unseen and will leave you wishing to gouge out your eyes and wander around Greece bemoaning your fate just like Oedipus. Seriously.

and finally...






12. You'll see stuff like this, and all the Greek tragedy will have been worth it:

Epic Photo Bomb

What are your random observations about Pinterest?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gratitude Journal #138

Today, I am grateful for my amazing readers who left thoughtful and kind comments on my Thursday post. Even the lone dissenting voice was civil and kind and very brave. Thank you, each and every one. I have the best readers ever.

Today, I am grateful for a clear desk. It's about all I have to show for today, but that's okay. It's something.

Today, I am grateful for mothers everywhere but especially my own mother, who is the best ever.

Today, I am grateful for late-night covert operations that ended in a BMW sports car with a huge red bow in a friend's driveway. Happy birthday, Karin!

Today, I am grateful for our new patio fire pit and the hilarity it provoked. Nick wanted to tell horror stories around it, while George and I wanted to stare into the flames and relax at the end of a long week. The following conversation resulted:

Nick: I'll start. This noisy boy was with his parents...

Me [interrupting]: who killed him for being noisy...

George: and fed him to the rats....

Me: The end.

Nick [after shocked pause]: That was mean.

We're gonna love this fire pit.

Today, I am grateful for faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Words, Words, Words Are Not Enough

Last night, a friend died of cancer...inoperable brain cancer. Words are not enough. Faith is strong, and  she is with God and in no pain. Her family and friends will miss her.

Good-bye, Janelle.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Things on Thursday: A Soap Box

In the nearly four years I've been writing this blog, I've steered clear of politics and taking sides, not because I'm afraid to speak out but because I rarely have a side. Being in the middle means sitting on the fence, seeing both sides, recognizing valid arguments for both, and reserving judgment.

But there's one issue I'm not on the fence about at all. This week my home state of North Carolina passed a ban on gay marriage.

I am sad right down to my core.

I am sad because sexual orientation isn't a "lifestyle choice." Science shows this clearly and unambiguously. Everyone I've ever known who is gay is simply that. They did NOT wake up one morning and say, "Gee, I'd love to make my life more difficult and really piss off my parents and invite bullies to harrass me, so I guess I'll choose to be gay." Some of them tried to pass themselves off as straight for years, and the effort of pretending to be something they were not nearly killed them.

I am sad because I have friends in North Carolina who have been in committed, same-sex relationships for longer than I've been married (and that's over a quarter century) who have raised children and are raising children and doing a better job of it than some traditional families I know.

I am sad because when government starts instituting bans on private citizens who are not hurting anyone, where will it stop? Churches, of course, have every right to limit who is admitted into the sacrament of marriage--that's what freedom of religion is all about--but does government have the right to say who can and who cannot enter into the civil, legal institution of marriage? I think not.

I am sad because love isn't winning this debate. Where is the love?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Prophetic Simplicity and the Buddy System

Simplicity and Minimalism taunt me these days. This pair of philosophers has quietly demanded my attention for years, but the noise of the world generated by Commercialism, More-ism, and Busy-ism drowns them out. I sit in a new house--spacious and beautiful--packed full of junk that weighs my family down, clutters my vision, and sucks my time with its need for containment.

I don't have a home yet; I have an extremely expensive and messy storage unit we're slowly purchasing from the bank at an extremely attractive interest rate.

What we need is a home, a place of rest and refreshment for our souls.

Whatever is a girl to do?

Pair up with a buddy and pray, that's what.

My friend Liz and I are praying for each other. She wants to de-clutter and has made a good start with her garden, pulling out plants that were overgrown and choking each other. An overgrown garden. What a metaphor for the cluttered life, don't you think? I've taken car-loads to Salvation Army and will take many more as I slowly chip away at the clutter and junk.

Both Liz and I struggle with letting go of sentimental know, the stuff that belonged to loved ones, especially those who have died; the stuff given to us by loved ones; stuff that was once useful but now, not so much; the stuff others give us as they clean out their own junk. Liz and I are specifically praying for strength in dealing with these things, in letting go of them in healthy ways. Divine intervention, we feel, is necessary.


I've been on the lookout for inspiration in our quest to declutter our lives, and I have found two things in the past week that I want to share with you.

First, Sundays in the Storage Unit is a blog about clearing out a dead man's things. Two daughters, Sarah and Rachel, moved all their dad's stuff into a storage unit after his death, and on Sundays they work at cleaning it out. Their father was a hoarder, and it's a big job. I find inspiration from Sarah's writing, not only in her courage to let her dad's things go, but in recognizing the burden placed on loved ones when we have too much stuff.

Do I want a loved one to spend weeks, months, or years feeling obligated to sort through the detritus of my life? Do I want them to angrily and resentfully shell out money having it all hauled to the dump?

Not really.

Sarah's journey inspires me and motivates me. If you're struggling to let go of stuff, perhaps she will inspire and motivate you, too.

The second bit of inspiration I found in quite an unexpected place: the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet, quite your stereotypical gloom-and-doom guy. He said things like "circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskin of your heart." That metaphor conjures images I'd rather not carry around in my head, which is why I share them with you. Take the images, please!

Besides, if I circumcised my heart, I'd probably put the foreskin in a jar of formaldehyde and keep it in a storage bin with my children's and dogs' lost teeth. Ewww.

Anyway, Jeremiah also said, "Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."

Jeremiah surely didn't have my overload of junk in mind when he said this, but it struck me forcibly as a tidy summation of where I'm at right now. I've been thinking a lot lately of what people possessed centuries ago, as well as what I possessed as a child (which sometime seems centuries ago).

The ancient paths, I think, were simpler. My childhood possessions fit nicely into a rather small closet, easily organized and lovingly tended. They were not a burden, but a blessing. The Hebrews carried what they needed on their backs through the wilderness until they settled and grew strong as a nation and Jeremiah had to come along to tell them that their greed and covetousness were leading them to destruction.

God, through Jeremiah, laments the loss of His old tabernacle...the nomadic tent that was God's dwelling place while Moses led the Hebrews around the desert. Solomon's magnificent temple, with deep foundations rooting it firmly in Jerusalem, had become a den of wickedness, too full of treasure to have room for God, whose home it was.

See. Jeremiah is relevant to my current situation. When I think of home, I think of rest and peace and laughter and joy and lightness and comfort and warmth...a place to rest my soul and where others I love may also find rest and refreshment.

 George and I sat outside on our patio this weekend, reveling in the simplicity and openness of our green grass. There is nothing in our back yard but grass...trees ring the right side and back of the lot, but the yard itself is simply grass...peaceful, natural, uncluttered.

Then I walked inside the house and saw chaos. The contrast was overwhelming.

If you would like to join me and Liz in our prayerful campaign of decluttering, if you would like to make room for what is important in your life, please leave a comment on this post. If enough of you are interested, I will create a place on the blog where we can gather whatever sources of inspiration we can find for this journey. Also, please share your own stories of letting go and finding rest for your soul in your own home.

I, for one, can use all the help I can get.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gratitude Journal #137

Today, I am grateful for our new patio and back yard. George and I spent some lovely time this weekend sitting on the patio, listening to birds and squirrels and looking out at an expanse of green grass and trees. It was beautiful, restful, rejuvenating.

Today, I am grateful for hospice. The good people there are taking care of my online friend Janelle and her husband, Ken. Janelle has a brain tumor, and Ken is caring for her at home with help from hospice.

I was sad to read that Izzy the Hospice Dog, owned by Jon Katz, had died. Today, I am grateful for Izzy's good work with the dying...and all the good work done by dogs in service to people.

Today, I am grateful for peace. It seems there isn't enough of it in this world, but if we seek, we can find it, perfect pockets of peace in hectic, uncertain, sometimes insane or tragic lives; the peace that passes our understanding; the peace we find in the Divine.

Peace be with you on this beautiful Monday.

Where do you find peace? What are you grateful for today?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Words, Words, Words about Friendship and Sunshine

"But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine."  Thomas Jefferson

What blessings of sunshine and friendship are you anticipating this weekend? I'm going to revel in my best friend being home again after yet another business trip, a baseball game, and the sunshiny grass growing in my back yard.

Your turn!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spiderwoman Instinct

Just last week, my aunt told me about the book The Gift of Fear and shared a story of a time when her instinctive fear warned her toward caution during a late-night kitchen run. She put on slippers and turned on lights (she ordinarily did neither) and when she walked into the kitchen, a spider--a huge wolf spider--was poised to attack just inches from her foot.

This reminded me of the car accident I had years ago in Columbus, Georgia. Something warned me not to turn on the green arrow. Three lanes of cross-traffic were stopped, but I couldn't see the fourth lane. Reason told me that no one would run a red light with three lanes of heavy traffic stopped beside them, so I pulled out but kept my eye on the empty lane. I saw the GMC Jimmy plowing straight for my car at top speed.

Time slowed for me, and I could see very clearly that there really was nowhere to go, nothing to do.  I thought I was going to die, so I closed my eyes. Who wants to watch something like that?

Crash. Big crash.

I can still hear the noise of it.

When the noise stopped, I opened my eyes to see how hurt I was. The interior of my car was a light camel color and I was wearing light blue clothes that day and my first thought was, "Where's the blood?"

Then I thought, "YAY! No blood!"

I looked up to see a horribly cracked windshield, a crumped hood blocking my view, and dense black smoke billowing around it.

That JMC Jimmy killed my Acura Integra.

Turns out I was thrown against the driver's side door, hitting my head, shoulder, and arm pretty hard, though I have no memory of it. A nurse who happened to be in the car behind me climbed into the back seat of my car (not easy in a two-door Integra) and held my head steady until the paramedics arrived. The nurse and paramedics were so kind, though backboards are really, truly, horribly uncomfortable.

The police called my husband to tell them I'd been in an accident and he needed to come to the hospital ASAP. They would tell him nothing of my condition, so he, of course, freaked out until the ER staff brought him back to see me and my non-bloody self.

I thank God my injuries were all soft-tissue and bumps and bruises, though the shoulder pain took years to go away. Go away it eventually did, as did the unbelievable fear of turning left on green arrows. People would honk their horns to urge me through intersections when I couldn't see if every single lane of cross traffic was stoppped.

Flash forward to Tuesday of this week. I stopped at the end of our driveway to get the mail and tossed it into the front passenger seat. One of these jumped out at me:

Of course I freaked and tried to kill it with a magazine from the mail, but that sucker leaped into the passenger floorboards and crawled out of sight into the dashboard.


I was wearing sandals.

The horror. The horror. This is what happened to Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. Spiders jumped out of the jungle on him, he went crazy and died.

Not really. But you know exactly what I mean, don't you?

All I could think of was my aunt's story about the wolf spider. I knew that my spider (a less dangerous jumping spider) would reappear.


When I least expected it.

Crawling up my bare naked leg.

Or biting my toe.

And I would wreck my car in panic.

Because really, these sorts of melodramatic things happen to me every single day.

Reappear she did, though thankfully not on my person. Yesterday, while driving alone on a two-lane country road, I caught movement on the dashboard, and there she was.

Interesting how, just a second before I noticed her, I had assessed the road situation: no one coming at me, no one behind me, no cars pulling out onto the road ahead of me, doing the speed limit. It was perfectly safe for me to react to her hairy presence on my dash.

I immediately grabbed a conveniently-located copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from the passenger seat and whacked that spider. Fortunately, she was in a dip in the molded dash and she didn't get totally squished--just squished enough to die--so I can show photographic proof.

Feelings of power and deep, abiding satisfaction filled me when I realized I. Had. Won.

I am WOMAN, hear me roar! See me kick scary spider ass!!!!

Delusions of grandeur.

But after whacking that spider, I wonder if I need to read a book called The Gift of Fear. After all, I'm Spiderwoman and I've got instincts.

What has made you afraid recently? Have you ever seen fear...and instinctive response to a gift?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Irony on Fire

Seen on our community's junior high message board:

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

Followed by:

"OAA Testing Today"

That there is what we educated people like to call irony, seeing as not one single fire ever got lit filling out a bubble form for a standardized test.

Just sayin'.