Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ahead of the curve...

I heard someone recently say that blogs were going by the wayside. That people just weren't writing a blog anymore.  I mean, they are sooooo passe.  So 20 minutes ago, you know?  Now everyone tweets and facebooks.  Blog? I don't think so.

Ahhh ... finally I'm ahead of the curve.  Finally I'm the one blazing a trail.  You see, I only wrote one post in 2012.  One.  I suppose it's only appropriate that I match that productivity by posting on January 1.  Now I'm off the hook for the rest of the year.

I confess I read a couple of my old posts.  I'm pretty funny.  Yeah, I said it.  I'm funny.

I know I should be sleeping, but I'm sitting on the bed in a guest room of a sweet little old lady in Dallas.  I'm taking a January term at Perkins/SMU and a friend in seminary who is also taking the class stays with these sweet lady during the semester (thus is the predicament of us commuter students.)  Anyway, this spare room is chock full of history.  It is a room dedicated to the memory of sweet old lady's husband, who passed away about 5 years ago.  What an interesting fellow he must have been.  There's all sorts of membership and achievement plaques and certificates on the wall.  There's a framed U.S. flag for his years of service in the Army, there's a ham radio license, photographs, maps, news clippings.

How nosey of me would it be to read all this stuff?  I mean, it's right here in front of me.  How can I ignore it?

When I'm dead, I hope my kids will rent out a room in their house with all my lifetime achievements hanging on the wall.  Of course, the question is ... what exactly will those things be?

I guess I better get to work so my kids' walls won't be bare.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where's the Pancakes?

Yesterday my youngest son and I went to have our eyes checked.  We are the "blind" people in our family.  Our vision is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20/400 uncorrected.  As I was trying to read the gigantic E on the chart yesterday after removing my contact lenses, I remember thinking, "How did people survive in ancient days before glasses were invented?"

It seems my hearing is catching up with my eye sight.  Last Saturday, my eldest son wandered into the kitchen.  It was around 10:30 a.m.  He was pressing a kleenex to his neck.  Seeing me, he asked, "Mom, where's the pancakes?"

When the kids were younger, I religiously made pancakes every Saturday.  At some point though, this holy habit ceased.  For whatever reason, I found it extremely annoying that my son would presume that he could sleep half the day away and then demand pancakes from me.  So I answered back, "Where's the pancakes?  Sorry, I don't make pancakes anymore.  If you want pancakes, you'll just have to make them yourself!"

Ahh, I felt better.

Looking both annoyed and bewildered, he replied.  "Mom, clean your ears out. I said where's the band aids?"

Anyone who believes that children do not make you humble ... is not a parent.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grating...

I have an aunt who lives in Dallas. In fact, she is my only aunt, the sister of my mother. My father did not have any siblings. And when one only has one aunt ... she tends to be very supportive.

The other day, one of my brothers helped me to send Aunt Jane an audio recording of a sermon I preached back in March. She gushed that it was very good and she wanted to receive a recording of every sermon I give. Today, I sent her another audio file of a sermon I preached in June. I listened to the audio today as well. Holy cow, my voice is annoying!

If you are good, you go to heaven when you die. And if you are bad, you will be forced to listen to recordings of yourself over and over and over again for the rest of eternity.

I have always suspected that I have this "latent" lisp. It sort of lurks in the back ground and rears its ugly head every so often. Today, as I listened to the audio, it was as if an electric shock was delivered to me every time I heard it. OMG, WHY was I never treated by a speech therapist? I think the schools provided them for FREE in the public school system. Why wasn't I sent to one these free classes?

Another annoying thing about my voice is that at the moment when I am trying to make a point and should therefore raise my voice, I tend to lower it instead. No one over the age of 50 can hear the major points of my message. And what is that off-the-charts nasal sound? I'm surprised no one shared their decongestant recommendations with me after church.

Have you ever listened very closely to Andie McDowell's voice? She has this sort of low, monotone-sounding, flat voice. That's what I sound like. In fact, I could probably win an Andie McDowell impersination contest (assuming the judges were blind).

I can imagine the church office being flooded with calls during the week. "Um, yes, who's preaching this week? The lisping, monotone, man-like, flat-voiced robot or the real preacher??"

The biggest problem, though, is that I used a full manuscript to preach from. I mean, my eyes never left the page for an instant (except to look up at my Mother, another of my fans). You can "hear" that in someone's voice, when they are reading versus talking. In fact, if this was American idol, or worse yet the Gong Show, I would be outta there in 10 seconds flat.

I remember the worship leader Mike warning me, "If you've never heard a recording of yourself before, don't freak out when you do...." Did he mean me specifically or anyone in general who has never heard a recording of their voice? Was he trying to tell me something?

I feel like I need to google a Professor Henry Higgins to help me out. Or start talking with marbles in my mouth. Or avoid all words containing the letter "s."

If you know anyone who does reasonably-priced speech therapy for middle-aged women, send me a link...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Worth a chuckle...

My kids range in age from 13 to 20. They continue to say amusing, enlightening and outrageous things. Sometimes they are very funny; other times, exasperating.

Yesterday was more funny than exasperating. It started around the pool, when our youngest daughter told me about her "method" for making up nicknames for people. Not satisfied with such standards as "honey" or "sweetheart" or "darling," she set forth her process for creating a three-word term of endearment.

The first word should be an adjective (a nice adjective), like precious, adorable, peppy, handsome, etc.

The second word should be a food that you like, such as banana, pickle, ice cream, strawberry, popsicle, etc.

The third word should be an animal.

OK ... so go ahead. Try it out.

Let's see ... adjective. Hmmm .... how about "cuddly."

OK ... food that I like. Well, I really like "bananas."

And finally ... an animal. How about ... "kitten?"

So in a moment of sharing my true feelings for you, I might call you my "cuddly banana kitten."

Isn't that adorable?

The term is even more endearing if the first letters of each word are the same ... like "precious pancake puppy."

Give me a kiss, my precious pancake puppy!

Come sit by me, cuddly banana kitten!

Oh handsome ham horse, I think I love you!

The same child who invented this ingenious system made a hilarious, unintentional mix-up of words last night. Our family went out to dinner. I had set forth the rule that anyone who wanted to go along would have to enter into a covenant to be nice to each other, assuring me a peaceful, enjoyable dinner. After all, it's one thing to have your dinner at home ruined by childish bickering and insult trading, but quite another when you are paying $24.95 a pop for entres. The three of my four kids who said they wanted to go along all agreed to the covenant.

Well ... about halfway through dinner, some brew-ha-ha began to surface, don't even ask me what it was about. My younger daughter was trying to remind the rest of us of our solemn promise, but the word "covenant" was far from her mind. She just couldn't produce it to save her life. She finally piped up, "Don't forget our condolences!"

Everyone at the table turned and stared at her briefly before uproarious laughter erupted.

"Condolences??" my other kids mocked. "Do you even know what that word means?"

"What???" she asked in total confusion. "Isn't that the word?"

Everyone started offering different, equally absurd words to substitute for covenant, with "cannoli" being the best by far.

All the way home in the car, my younger daughter was reminded of our cannoli to get along...

This is one of those family stories you tell at weddings and funerals...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Unsacred

Were I writing this post on my other blog, you would expect to read me ranting about some "less than holy" actions of another person or group. But ... here, I will confess that I have a sick sense of humor. One of my brothers is the same way. We make sick jokes about things you should not joke about ... to the extent that our family members will tell us we are not allowed to be in the same room together.

I texted my brother this morning to tell him about an article I read in the Houston Chronicle about Silence! The Musical, an unauthorized musical parody of The Silence of the Lambs written by two brothers who sound as if they have a divinely twisted sense of humor. We are going to be in New York next week, so just for fun, I went to the website. Even the description of the available seating is hilarious. The most expensive tickets at $48 are called the Well, described as ... "The best seats in the house for the most moisturized patrons. These premium tickets include a "Precious Basket" with chianti specials, lotion for its skin, surprises galore, and other items."

When I first saw the headline, I thought, musical version of The Silence of the Lambs? Huh? But the article gives a sampling of a couple of the song lyrics and I must admit, I laughed out loud -- I mean really loud. My goodness, what kind of twisted mind takes one of the most creepy and disturbing movies of the 90s and makes it into a musical? (Remember, it's a parody).

Here's one of the lyrics included in the article, taken from a song called It's Me, which recalls one of the creepiest scenes in the movie when Hannibal Lecter escapes prison by killing a prison guard, putting his body under the gurney that was supposed to be holding Lecter's body, then putting the guard's face on his face and walking right out: "This cop is already dead/ You'll see/I'm wearing his face on my head/It's me." (I just laughed out loud again as I typed it.)

I had another encounter with the less than sacred yesterday reading a book called Naked by Dave Sedaris. A co-worker recommended this author when I announced in staff meeting that I needed something light to read. This particular volume by Sedaris is his memoir. One of the earlilest chapters retells his "suffering" with what sounds like full-blown OCD as he recounts his urges to touch his nose to the windshield, lick the light switches, rock in bed, make high-pitched noises, etc. Each year of his early life, a different teacher comes calling to the house to have a conference with his mother, who Sedaris clearly gets his sense of humor from. An apparent chain-smoker and heavy drinker, the mother offers each teacher a drink upon entering the house and then in the dryest sarcasm imaginable says something like, "Let me guess ... you're here about the high-pitched noises?" Her wry acceptance of her son's ailment is nearly too much.

Equally unsacred are his stories about his Greek grandmother who won't even say his mother's name, but refers to her only as "the girl." The exchanges between mother- and daughter-in-law are boisterously hilarious.

What exactly is this fascination or appreciation of sick humor? I know that I can be terribly serious and intense at times (maybe too much of the time.) Perhaps its my brain's defense mechanism telling (as the subtitle of my blog says) "Come on people, lighten up!" I don't know ... but considering the health benefits of laughter, I think I'll keep nurturing it.

Oh ... the Chronicle also listed other "unsacred" works by the same brothers, including Schindler's List: The Musical. I know I'm not supposed to think this is funny. Every decent bone in my body is insisting that I stop laughing this instant. But I just can't...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blistering...

Darn blisters!

I worked pretty hard in the yard yesterday, raking and shoveling and bagging. What was my paycheck? A gigantic blister!

The people who built our house (that was four owners ago) thought it was good idea to plant a small grove of pine trees in the front yard. OK, I'm exaggerating a little, but there are five pine trees out there, making a mess like nobody's business. So naturally, you have to rake the needles up and pick up the cones and clean up the mess that the squirrels make as they munch on "premature" cones and then toss down the leftovers.

I wore gardening gloves as I always do when I work in the yard, but I guess the friction on the "gap" in my hand between the thumb and pointer and the rake I was holding was too much for my skin. I could feel the irritation as I raked so I kept changing my grip to lessen the damage. But alas, I have a huge blister at the outside base of my thumb.

To pop or not to pop? There are several schools of thought on this. I think people pop blisters more out of obsessive/compulsive behavior than anything else. Somehow, they get it into their heads that "relieving" the pressure of the fluid build-up will help the blister heal faster and the only way to do that is to pop the blister. Bad idea! (Or to tear the skin of entirely -- even worse idea!) That fluid? It's called serum and it's a defense mechanism that your body creates to provide a "cushion" between the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and the "raw" layer underneath (dermis). That cushion is needed while your body grows a new layer of epidermis. It's supposed to be there ... leave it be!

But what if the outer layer gets torn open on its own? Then what? That's what happened to the blister near by thumb. The skin didn't completely tear off, so I've been treating it like a comb-over, patiently placing the flap back down every time it gets moved out of position. The problem is, it hurts like hell! I put some ointment on the thing, but I think that was a mistake. I considered trying a bandaid, but it is such a awkward location, I don't' think the bandaid would stick. Sometimes when I've had these "flaps," doing the comb-over makes the outer layer of skin magically "reattach" to the inner layer. No such luck this time!

When I turn this same hand over, I can see another blister on my hand, right below the pointer finger on what one might term a "pad" were one a dog. It is neither torn nor filled with a big bubble of liquid. But I need to leave it alone, all the same. It will become a future callous I suppose.

If that were the end of my blister woes, I wouldn't even bother with all of this. But alas, at church today, we had an "event" after the worship service, with a big water slide, little water sprinklers and stuff, a snow cone truck and a fire truck from the nearby fire department. Consequently, I was walking back and forth before and during the worship service, collecting hoses, finding plugs, unlocking gates, setting up barricades, etc. Don't ask me what I was thinking when I put my shoes on this morning, but I thought the sandals I had chosen were comfortable. And they were, until the blisters formed.

The circulation on the right side of my body must be compromised because sure enough, right below my right big toe, a huge blister ripped open. I tried covering it with a band aid, but it felt as if I had placed a steel wool pad over it. I had a matching blister below the left big toe, and also on my "pinky" toes, but luckily they remained intact.

Dang it!

I couldn't do the comb-over on my big toe blister because the skin was completely missing (is this getting gross yet, lol??) Instead, after church, I begged my eldest son to PLEASE drive home and get me a pair of flip flops.

Theoretically, the blister areas will grow back a layer of skin that is stronger than ever before, sort of like a bionic blister. Of course, it will take three to four days for this to come to pass. In the mean time, I'll be stuck in flip flops and wincing everytime I have to shake someone's hand.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Priceless

Today I ate a $13 bowl of fresh fruit. Had I purchased said bowl of fruit at the grocery store, it would have consisted of several whole apples, oranges and pears, a few bananas, a cluster of grapes and maybe even a pint of berries, if there were a sale on. But I didn't purchase it in the grocery store, I purchased it in the hotel where we are staying in Austin. Thus my bowl of fresh fruit consisted of 8 blueberries, 2 raspberries, 2 blackberries, 2 slices of orange, 4 "squares" of cantaloupe, 4 squares of melon, 2 spoonfuls of applesauce and 3 squirts (I mean it ... think enough toothpaste for your toothbrush) of yogurt.

I won't name the hotel we are staying in, but I'll give you a hint. Its name is just one letter of the alphabet. And it's not the letter V or the letter X ... it's another letter ... in between.

You know you are getting old when trendy translates to you as ridiculous. I call the decor concrete chic. The room is all grey and black and red (Hey, Bally Total Fitness used to use these color schemes!). There is one "funky" chair in the room besides the ordinary desk chair I'm sitting in as I type this. No table of any sort. The bed is just a little too soft and crowded with gigantic pillows that no one would actually want to sleep on. And there are no drawers for your clothes ... just a small closet (think dorm room) with two shoe-box sized shelves.

The waitresses in the bars (I say bars because there are lots of them) wear little black dresses during the day that allow every common lech quite a view. By night, they don chic little berets and knee-high boots with hemlines that absolutely demand that they stand all evening. Everyone looks young (there's a reason for that ... they are and I'm not). When we are turning down the covers at 10p.m., everyone else is hopping on the elevators to go out.

It's funny, we were talking last night with another couple about what age you are versus what age you "think" of yourself as. I used to believe that I was one age, but thought of myself as another. I now see that I think and am 48. And you know what? It's OK.

I'm sure this is not the last $13 bowl of fruit I'll eat, or the last concrete chic hotel I'll stay in. However, I'll probably grow increasingly confused about it all ... and say things like, "What's the matter with kids these days?"