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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Depth is critical. Without it, life is two-dimensional and only has length and height.

3D, however, is by far richer because it adds depth. And depth adds dimension, perspective and soothes the mind, heart and soul because it helps bring things to life, and life into focus.

Similarly, in photography, depth of field allows us to discern distance between what is in focus while keeping an eye on what lies beyond.

Note that neither concept embraces looking back.

Ironically, last week before this post came out, I had captured a shot down by the bay that I’d sent to my blogging buddy, Mr. 3D, for his feedback, since he has a really good eye for photography, creativity and all things beachy keen.

My mother’s favorite flower was the camellia, a flower she paid handsomely for to enjoy in her native Chicago, but which grows abundantly here where she chose to live out her last years with me. So I always think of her in the winter when the camellias bloom so beautifully like this.

Some of you may be aware that I laid my mother to rest, summer before last.

Or so I thought!

In an odd and truly unusual religious turnaround, the priest sought me privately after church last week and made a very unexpected confession. “Er, I believe we found what appears to be more of your mother’s ashes, back in the sacristy. What would you like us to do?”

You see, the priest had been hit by a drunk driver the week before mother died (fortunately he was alright after a few weeks of recovery), so the interim priest did the funeral and interred her ashes in the church memorial garden.

I know mother was buried because I and my family was there in vivo to participate in the solemn event. We wept. We joined hands. We sang hymns and prayed. The children scooped grandmother into the earth. Rites were performed.

We said goodbye. Forever.

There was apparently some miscommunication about a second box that turned up long after what the rest of us thought was the actual second box, had been dispersed to the places her ashes were scattered over water. Somehow, the funeral home had created three boxes and delivered them to the church and with the main priest out of commission, nobody knew about Box 3.

Until this week. They’ve been doing a head-to-toe cleaning of the church as they prepare for the regional Diocesan Convention to descend upon our church later this week.

Mother was a photographer and she also had a great sense of humor, so I’m sure she was LHAO from all points beyond, when we learned she had actually been haunting the church for the past 18 months.

So when the priest asked me what I wanted him to do, for a split second, mother’s funny story about what to do with her ashes (pre-death) danced across my mind.

At some point in her 80s (she died at 93), some funeral home solicitor kept calling her every week trying to get her to buy a funeral plan. They were, as pesky solicitors are, relentless.

So one day mother, anticipating their call, decided to rig up a sure-fire way to get them to stop calling. Sure enough, the phone rang that day and she answered with a wry smirk on her face and when they asked yet again she’d decided yet to buy a plan with them, she said without skipping a beat,

“Yes, I’ve finally decided what plan I want. I want to be cremated and for my ashes to be divided into four. Each one of my children will get a portion of my ashes to keep in the trunks of their cars. That way, should they ever get stuck in the snow somewhere, I can still be of help to my children.”

The hapless funeral solicitor never called back. And I decided against suggesting this to the priest, although I might save the story for him for a lighter time in the future.

So yesterday, mother was officially laid to rest with the rest of her ashes, in the church garden where we thought we’d been going to visit (all of) her all along.

The garden happened to have many different-colored camellia bushes behind the memorial section, so I picked one for mother this morning and located her plot, which was newly disturbed with broken grass and unearthed dirt.

Rest finally in peace, Elizabeth Anne – and may you take some awesome photos in Heaven!

Thank You, God, for the gifts You have given me through my mother – love never ending, a happy spirit, an abundance of laughter, a zeal for learning, an eye for Your creation, a passion for seeking You…and for 3D and depth of all fields.

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For this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, I spied a little spy who visually answered my question as to why/how he could possibly get his nose so filthy in under three minutes, as he spied in my bedroom window:

  
(a face only a mother could love…)

Thanks, God, for Your vision for us, for peeping in on us and always being here with us. Thank You for goofiness, silliness and good-natured fun. I know You have a sense of humour, Lord, for I have spied it! 

Thank You for loving us,  God, whether we are in reverent worship or yukking it up and being playful. 

You made smiles, God….let us use them to our greatest abillity!

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The world seems perfectly balanced between voyeurs and exhibitionists. This I learned from a post long ago, the Analysis of a Front Porch.

Stats have it that if y’all came to party at my house, you’d be peeking in my medicine cabinet, too. I’ll save that for another day.

I’m still trying to figure out how you’d react to the post that hasn’t yet happened about what’s in my freezer, like the box of Arctic Mice.

Meanwhile, the other day at work, it occurred to me that my top desk drawer, while entirely familiar and rational to me, might be unconventional by your standards. Perhaps I’m wrong.

(Keep in mind I work in a locked children’s psychiatric facility)

You be the judge and play a little I Spy:

1.) Plastic sword that went to a Ninja figure (no weapons allowed on unit, even pretend ones)

2.) Pennies confiscated from illicit poker game (my comment to the offenders as I busted up the party: “What is this, Friday night at the Elks Club?”)

3.) Miniature AK-47, a generous donation that came with an action figure (compliments of the benevolent and well-meaning and upscale local ladies’ charitable club which shall remain unnamed)

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For you peeping Toms, the rest is pretty self-explanatory, broken down into convenient anally-retentive categories:

Monetary Goods:

  • Visa gift cards left over from Santa (read: generous Angel Tree donors who gave Visas instead of actual gifts); most partially used and now in my possession because the recipients used them to buy contraband (also now in my possession) the first time around.
  • Weekly allowances according to level earned via point system. Don’t you wish we’d get paid every week according to our virtues instead according to status quo?
  • Well-hidden bag of special, magic, golden coins used by the unit’s Tooth Fairy (me).

Office Supplies:

  • Printer Ink (someone at HP is getting filthy rich)
  • Rolodork (does anyone else still own one in this day and age? I never use mine…going to donate it to a time capsule)
  • Spare keys to the kingdom
  • Plastic paper clips (no metal allowed! can turn into useful tools! weapons! instruments of mass destruction!)
  • 2 rubber  bands (these are at a premium at my workplace for some reason, which is fine & dandy with me since I will forever be traumatized by rubber bands after my ruthless big brothers used me on a regular basis as their moving target)
  • Miscellany clips and other titillating office supplies
  • Batteries (kids unit – gotta have plenty on hand at all times to prevent meltdowns)
  • Mini-flashlight (in case the power goes out during a major hurricane)
  • Unknown tool that comes in handy for all manner of breaking into various and sundry things (such as when a child in a heightened state of petulance decides to jam something into my office door keyhole so I can’t escape…also useful for malfunctioning toys which require a tiny screwdriver that our maintenance dudes never seem to have handy in time to prevent a child’s panic attack)

Personal Items:

  • Extra badge clips (fireman putting out fire, angel, beach umbrella, ho-hum company-issued clip (not pictured: smiley sun))
  • Emergency lipstick (I never know these days when our beloved Fox-TV PR gal is going to whisk into my office with her camera and ask for an impromptu quickie video clip or photo-op)
  • Body lotion (used often, daily…God get us out of winter in this hemisphere!)
  • Emergency earrings (ladies, how many times have you rushed out the door without your makeup or jewelry and felt utterly naked?  ‘Nuff said….)
  • Pocket mirror (doubles as cool reflective toy to use with kids when we turn out the lights and play flashlight tag)
  • Gum (there is floss in there too, if you look close enough – oral hygiene is great to have in the workplace)
  • Second box of gum that has no gum in it (it has more batteries, a tube of hydrating goo and a Post-It with critical info I need on hand at any given moment
  • Feminine hygiene products (you never know. Trust me after this last 1/2 marathon one week ago today– YOU NEVER KNOW)
  • Chocolate kisses (confection affection from one who knows me best)
  • Satsuma orange – local orange picked off the tree in our yard. Sweet. Juicy. 70 calories. Vitamin C. Cancer prevention. Good stuff. Great snack.

So…what’s in YOUR drawer at your work or home office?

Anything interesting?

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Nobody prepared me for raising an adolescent. There simply was no handbook.

That is, unless, you count my mother, who shook her finger at me early one morning when I rolled in two hours well after curfew and she admonished, “Just wait until you have children of your own!”

And that same Nobody failed to prepare me for the digital age of eBay, when my teenaged fifteen year old who drove us all to the beach yesterday without incident, decided to do his Christmas shopping online after choosing the surfboard of his dreams.

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His mother loves a bargain but she didn’t fall for this one, other than the photo op…No, the piece de resistance was upstairs among a row of gently used surfboards, suitable for beginners.

Shopping for himself, that is. I had to gently remind him tonight about his budget and what he had (or had not) set aside to buy gifts for his siblings, father and…his mother. Um, hadn’t thought that far ahead. We had a lovely lesson this evening in the blessing of giving, of budgeting, of thinking beyond one’s own means. Of trusting God for the details and of thinking of others before self.

So as I’m preparing supper tonight, I overhear a conversation ensuing on the house phone, regarding fishing apparatus:

“Okay, so I  buy the reel off eBay (inferred: because I think I can convince my mom before you can convince yours). ”

Neighbor kid then says, “Then I’ll trade you the one I have that’s actually worth more. You get your mom to bid on the one on eBay tonight and you can have mine, and you can actually sell it for more.”

“Okay. Lemme ask.” “No, don’t ask…just see if she’ll do it…” “Okay…, but she might not do it until the morning.” “It’ll be gone by then…”

And so it went.

So he approached me in the kitchen in between that last load of laundry getting folded and supper to the table, and he did a very fine job buttering me up.

I smiled and told him no, not until I had a chance to ask Daddy (who was at work) and to contemplate the budget in light of all the flurry of Christmas purchases. This did not set well for anyone, apparently – my son dug in a little further and threatened that if I didn’t “act now,” all would be lost.

So I lectured him about trusting the Lord for all good things and not acting on impulse.

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Thank goodness nobody acted on impulse going in the water today – these Portuguese Man-o-Wars were all over the place, breeding season. Their royal purple hues match the royal purple colors at church celebrating the birth of our Christ Jesus, n’est-ce pas? Very timely….and seasonal!

I also reminded him that this same beloved neighbor kid still owed us a Tonka fire truck since 11 years ago he carelessly threw our son’s beloved truck  on to our play dirt pile and broke it. Son and I shared a hearty laugh as we recalled that dark day when both boys were four years old in our yard,  a couple years before Katrina when we all knew no hardships to speak of.

I believe I wrote a poem that day about them – I’ll have to dig that up. It was the one that didn’t get published in a mainstream children’s lit magazine – they chose the one that was glossy, not real.

But in the end my fire truck argument held no water, because que sera sera, and his “must order now” argument held no water, either, because the buck stops here.

I trust that the boys will work out their fishing reel dilemma with or without eBay, with or without the blessing of the mothers, and with or without the decade-old fire truck mishap.

I trust that the Lord will see to all our needs this Christmas and beyond, if we trust in Him and act on faith, not impulse.

May your Christmas be filled with faith, circumspection and hope for all things right and good.

Merry, merry Christmas, my dear readers!

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Fair warning: This is not a post about being a clever buyer, thrifty shopper or getting everything crossed off your shopping list in the most efficient ways possible.

Au contraire, this is a little bit about how to make the world a better place and a lot about shifting your focus from your personal shopping mission to being a “shopping missionary” to others. Or, in short, how to be an angel of sorts.

In the spirit of the season, here are some ideas for making the most of the remaining shopping days:

1.) Go ahead, give the guy (who pretended not to see you) that coveted parking space you waited several minutes to snag. Wave at him when you finally catch his eye. With all five fingers.

2.) Be alert. There is a fellow shopper lurking around the next oversized display about to bash into your buggy. Make sure you smile when they do, and give them the right of way. Do not follow and tailgate them in retaliation.

3.) It’s you versus the shopper that got to the last Sophia the First Talking Vanity or (insert this season’s hottest toy) – at the same time. Override your competitive and/or greedy spirit ahead of time and plan to let them have it. Think to yourself how much gratitude you brought to your fellow shopper, and joy to an unknown child. Besides, you are creative and can figure out a Plan B. Right?

4.) Distracted drivers are the featured bargain of this week, and most of them are in a hurry AND not paying attention. Stop and wave them ahead or wherever – so they don’t rear-end you or hit you head-on. And for Pete’s sake, do your part and stay off your phone!

5.) Make sure to make a thoughtful and pleasant comment to your checker (with eye contact)– thank them for their good attitude, for being so efficient in the face of Christmas commotion, etc.

6.) Carry little gifts on hand to give randomly – a special sticker to the little child wailing in need of a nap whose mother is harried and stressed (ask first!), a little packet of mistletoe to the bickering couple in the stocking stuffer aisle…or a little gift card to the homeless guy who you always see shuffling down that certain street…

7.) When the shopper in front of you walks too slowly, or worse – stops – smack dab in the middle of the aisle, blocking you and everyone behind you, resist your inner Yankee from saying anything for a bit. Hold your tongue and give them a chance to notice their faux pas and self-correct, after you smile kindly. Reserve the polite “excuse me” for extreme cases. This is in keeping with the Southern tradition of never honking your car horn. Evuh.

8.) Have your change ready for the bell-ringer at the store entrance. You will feel better.

9.) Let the person with 12 items get ahead of you in the 10-item-limit checkout. Even if you only have one item. Don’t forget to smile and make small-talk.

Retailers, grocers…here’s a clever solution!

10.) Pay it forward: quietly pay for something for the cashier to give to the person in line after you, then melt into the busy crowd before the person finds out what you did.

Hey, God, may we remember what this season is all about and conduct ourselves accordingly. Help us to think of the other person more than ourselves, to slow down and savor the season. Let us bring joy to our fellow-man, whether anyone’s watching or not. Give us ample opportunities to practice random acts of kindness, both today and every day.

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Dearest Readers, I introduce to you Mr. DeVoss…who happens to share a slice of my reality right now, with a new teenaged driver in a subtropical climate. Except he’s WAY funnier than I am. Enjoy!
~~ssm

Christopher De Voss

The teenage boy is learning to drive.

I’m not helping.

At all.

I’m a bundle of nerves every time I give him the keys. I would prefer that the car be like the Flintstone mobile so I could slam my feet through the non-existent floorboard every time I feel like he is getting to close to another car.

Sample conversation:

Me: OK, make sure you look left, right, behind you, straight ahead…watch for cars just suddenly pulling out…watch for helicopters…

Teenager: OK.

Me: Watch for semi-trucks. Semi-trucks will squash us like a bug.

Teenager: Got it, Dad, semi-trucks are bad.

Me: And taxi cabs. Taxi cabs are dicks.

Teenager: Right, taxi cabs are dicks.

Me: Hey! Watch your language! OK, now don’t get too close to the car in front of us and don’t stay too far behind it either, watch that car on the side of us…are you drifting…

View original post 436 more words

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It happened.

It finally happened. This pristine virgin of social networking got screwed royally last week.

I had kept myself chaste and discreet from most manner of social media. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Pinterest.

For years, I’ve kept my virtual legs crossed and vowed never to cross the line into the worldly evil of social media. (Perhaps blogging is a gateway drug?)

But for the sake of relevance, the tide of society swept me up and catapulted me into the rude awakening that the reason my business cards weren’t garnering referrals is because I was using the wrong kind of business card.

I needed a virtual business card more than a real one.

I then promptly and unabashedly whored my professional self to LinkedIn.

Forgive me Lord, for I knew not what I didth.

In one evening I managed to create a polished profile and was up in lights.

The first round garnered me a bunch of connections which I inadvertently solicited when my gmail sent out a mass-calling to my contact list trumpeting my having joined this network. Within minutes, I had a handful of impressive connections, some of them famous, some infamous.

And it’s funny how my family members can look so different and so impressively good, seeing them how others see them.

Are these REALLY the same people I know, love and share DNA with? the ones who can belch a bow-wow and the ones who wrapped me in a sheet and threatened to send me down the laundry chute if I told Mom they were listening to Cheech & Chong?

The professional profiles of these buffoons include big titles like “CFO” “Senior VP” and “Executive Director.”

Soon, a bunch of other connections rolled in. Mucky-mucks, coworkers, neighbors and friends. And, yes, former sweethearts.

O.

M.

G.

I bumped into one of my (friend) connections at an event this week and he laughed when I said, “Geez, where have I BEEN?” Lurking in the blogosphere all this time, I suppose. He commented that he thinks of LinkedIn as a professionals’ Facebook.

The second-worst part of joining was having a connection request that, if I accepted, would likely make many of my connections think twice about me and my character.

And the worst part was the epiphany that perhaps I, too, was capable of causing someone else discomfort in feeling obligated to connect. So in the spirit of Jesus hanging out with the tax collectors and sinners, I connected.

Thus the Happy Stalker in me spent endless hours this week perusing the universe of links. Like a dog in a bacon factory, I went bananas.

The connections keep rolling in, much to my amazement. All kinds of stuff I never knew. One classmate is now a big shot publisher in NYC. A high school sweetheart I thought would never speak to me again, is speaking. Kings in the ivory tower at work whom I thought didn’t even know I existed, are connected – and patting me on the back for joining the virtual rat race.

I was majorly Sucked In.

The biggest problem was the process of getting SuckedIn resulted in a few days of my children seeing their mother with glazed eyes, waving them off to do their homework on their own and to consume bottomless bowls of Lucky Charms, ice cream and God knows what else while Mom was SuckedIn.

The mighty herdsman neglects his herd, absorbed in the mysterious gadget the gods dropped from the sky.

But now, six days later, I realize why there is an entire generation of children coming into the world who do not know what good, old-fashioned connecting is. And what it means to REALLY connect. And why there may be so many psychiatric issues in children.

And why many children today think as much, if not more, of looking into the glow of the screen as they do into the eyes of their loving parents – and confuse the two.

Parents and children are distracting themselves with electronic diversions. In order to satisfy their electronic addictions, they unwittingly encourage their children to absorb themselves in electronic diversions, as well.

We can do better than this, can’t we?

Autism has a characteristic of solitary and/or parallel play in which individuals may be in the same room but not necessarily relating to each other. This is the opposite of reciprocal play in which it takes two to tango.

Are we turning into a society of parallel play? Operating in a world of our own electronic making, a virtual society with only necessary human contact?

These kids might learn as much, if not more, by playing with each other. And with a human adult’s direct help.

People don’t pay much attention to business cards anymore. I am now more relevant if I hide behind my laptop, my blog, my website, and reach out to the universe a block or a mile or a country away, via the keyboard. This is the natural byproduct of becoming a global society.

There is hope for those SuckedIn.

The irony is, my business is counseling, teaching people to relate, face to face – a basic component in humanity which seems a click away from being as obsolete as exchanging a business card and a handshake.

Thanks, God, for fellowship of all kinds, but especially for those which connect us to You.

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Chore Evasion

The hits on the Do-It-Yourself post keep coming. Apparently I hit a nerve in the universe.

So let’s turn now to housework.

Not unlike scofflaws who evade taxes, there are family members who exist (you know who you are) who spend as much time devising ways to evade chores as it would take to get the dern job done in the first place.

Perhaps I only notice this because I, as a female, am outnumbered 5:1 in my home.

9:1 if you count the various non-human species, not including the live-food fish in the tank of the vicious but cute snapping turtle (although he’s partial to rotisserie chicken from Publix).

Snapping Turtle

Not that I’m saying that men evade chores in general. Just men in MY house.

I will give them credit, however. They have developed a system of staggering the order of their efforts in a manner which prevents me from bitching about chore evasion on any given day.

I’m so pleased to see somebody helped with the floors that it distracts me when the dishes guy sticks me with a dishwasher to empty, which I blindly do while reveling in the goodwill of the doer-of-the-floors.

Better yet, they suck up to elevate me daily to try to buffalo me into feeling good about being their domestic goddess. Most the time, I can’t complain.

It gives me a place in the family and allows me to rack up points in the eyes of my sons come time for future daughters-in-law to invade my planet. God help me if I ever rule with an iron rolling pin…

This is not me. It’s some photo off
babyproofingyourmarriage.com

Last but by no means least, it entitles me to the occasional free pass when I am sick, on my cycle or assert myself and command that it’s MY day at the beach by myself, sans chores –

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(Yes, life is beautiful in the southeast!)

Here is a summary of ways one can evade chores by guaranteeing the more conscientious family member will assume the duty:

Dishes: Ensure that at least two specks of dried-on food are left on each plate, cup or bowl. Bonus points for leaving a milk ring intact.

Laundry: Send at least one stained, critical garment through the laundry without applying Spray-N-Wash or Stain Stick or whatever your family uses. Make sure it goes through the dryer for a full cycle so the stain becomes permanent. Ditto for red-clay-stained socks, baseball pants etc. if you live in the South. Sharpies in pockets count triple.

Vacuuming: Go out of your way to suck up the little kitchen rugs in front of the sink and oven so that they become frayed and/or noticeably frazzled. Don’t forget to suck up the pearl earring that’s been missing for a month and any haphazard Matchbox cars left in the way.

Extra credit for leaving a lingering, smoky odor about the house that reeks of a combination of unemptied vacuum bag, burned up rubber thingamabob and thoroughly chewed up lingerie which went missing under the bed last week.

Other floors: When you sweep, swiffer or whatever, leave your pile smack-dab in the middle and conveniently forget it so multiple pairs of feet retrack it throughout the home.

uglyhousephotos.com

http://www.marthastewart.com/267641/how-to-sweep (Perfect sweeping? shut up, Martha…Just. Shut. Up.)

Dusting: Take the shortcut like my dad always did to my mom, by writing the date in the dust several days before she gets to it. There is nothing more infuriating. Of course my wise-guy comeback is to doodle a little smiley face or other backatcha-message and leave it there to be discovered.

In honor of my dearly departed dad, bless his passive-aggressive soul.

Windows: Leave eye-level streaks. ‘Nuff said.

Bathrooms: A veritable cornucopia of evasion opportunities! Ignore floss-splatter on the mirrors. Clean all but one obvious spot in the toilet. Leave a ring in the tub but make sure to get the ledges, or vice versa. Wink at the toothpaste sludge in the sink.

howstuffworks.com

This can also apply to cooking simply by burning anything, not having the right ingredients and all other manner of screwing things up, necessitating the process of ordering out or raiding the MREs.

This just happened to someone I know at work, and they got an entire new kitchen, flooring and everything in their house cleaned or replaced, out of the mandatory insurance deal.

The typical reaction is woe-is-me: “Oh, brother…I’ll just do it myself if I want it done right.”

This is NOT the way to solve this problem. I urge you to hang in there and withstand the discomfort of things not getting done “properly.”

I have found that over time, eventually, the offenders themselves are driven crazy by their own efforts to evade chores done adequately. Eventually somebody else will start ranting about the toilet not getting cleaned at least twice a week, the shameful dust and the becursed state of the dishes. Take heart!

Moral: Don’t go bonkers over housework.

After all, you will not find “Cleanliness is next to godliness” anywhere in the Bible.

Pinky-promise.

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The Expense of DIY

My husband is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kind of guy.

Because he has a knack for figuring things out himself (and because things like rocket science/engineering are genetically programmed into his DNA), whenever something needs fixing at home, he nominates himself to fix it.

the-boneyard.com

I have learned that our home is not a democracy.

Our marriage has spanned the gamut of things gone wrong, parts burnt out and appliances gasping their last.

Why, just in the last calendar year we have reckoned with the dishwasher, water heater, washing machine, refrigerator, well pump, dryer, internal plumbing (including leaks in pipes deep in the walls which leaked across multiple rooms), the second refrigerator out in the smoke house out back (don’t ask, just bring a cigar/pull up a chair), the fuse box, HVAC unit, a handful of beloved toddlers’ electronic devices, two cell phones, a minivan and a partridge in a pear tree.

Our home has a Poltergeist.
Seriously.

I do believe the only thing to bite the dust this year that he didn’t blink an eye at was my hair dryer. A great flash caught my eye when a spark departed the inner chamber from the coils of the dryer and shot straight at my hair last week. Alarmed, I called my resident DIY-er to seek advice. “Nah, should be fine until you’re done,” the expert assured me.

I wound up going to work damp-dry after the faulty device dragoned me with one last breath of fire just to spite our resident expert. May you never have to smell burning hair…

I think it was the very first time he told me to go ahead and throw something away. He replaced it within 24 hours with a brand, spankin-new, pink hair dryer. I’ve been blessed not to have breast cancer and I dig my new, pink dryer.

So, how hard was that? And how many other things that break could we have saved the hassle, time and energy had we just simply replaced them?

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE to save a buck wherever possible, I use coupons when I can and shop sales. And I’m all for rehabilitating something if it’s worth it.

But when my husband rolls up his sleeves to get into a project that he believes he can “save us money” on by doing it himself, I have begun to question the cost-savings differential. Something’s just rotten in Denmark…

fixitnow.com

I have seriously considered the possibility of my next degree being an MBA, going so far as to choose the courses I would take at the university of my choice. But until then, here’s my crude breakdown:

Doing It Yourself, Time/Energy/Resources Spent:

  • Taking it apart
  • Diagnostics
  • Gathering appropriate tools
  • Consulting the internet, technical manuals and calling knowledgeable neighbors/friends
  • Trying to fix the problem
  • Discovering you don’t have the right tool for the right procedure
  • Calling in to work to ask to use a chunk of off-time that now can’t be used if kid gets flu
  • Calling parts stores, neighbors/friends et. al. within 50 mile radius
  • Driving to parts stores, neighbors/friends et. al. within 50 mile radius to obtain necessary tools
  • Returning to project and discovering something else is needed
  • Repeat last three steps
  • Determining that it can either be fixed or needs to be replaced altogether
  • Taking steps to accomplish the step before this one (note: replacement involves an entirely similar process involving the last five steps, at a minimum)
  • Restoring the offending item back into its original (broken or working) condition
  • If now working, doing a test-run
  • Not included are the toll it takes on family to rearrange schedules, disappointed family members & friends when events must be cancelled and the toll of suddenly becoming a single parent. And the other scheduled projects that desperately needed attention which are now, yet again, postponed.
  • Not to mention the live version of the “Christmas Story” scene of the dad cussing out the hot water heater which regales almost every DIY project, without fail (rigga-frigga-fragga-shrapnel-ruggu-frugga-frack!) (Excuse me?).

Courtesy rottentomatoes.com

Remotely watching the unbudgeted debits rack up via online banking today while the rest of the family’s day got derailed due to an unscheduled DIY project, I can assure you that the cost fully outweighed the benefits.

I welcome any reader to change my mind on this, but I’m convinced that unless it’s something truly cost-effective that you can bet your spreadsheet on, it just may pay to let somebody else do it…somebody with the right tools, somebody who can take care of it quickly with minimal interruption to the family needs.

Somebody – depending on how much they charge – who comes with a warranty so if it fails again, you’re just a phone call from a repair.

I love and respect my husband and admire his abilities, but I love and respect his time with me and the children. I enjoy my sanity, as well.

********************

Wait, I forgot to factor in the cost of PRIDE.

Priceless.

********************

Post-editing post script: A few days out, I can say I am SO glad I didn’t have to wait for the mechanic Monday morning to fit us in during the week, arrange for a loaner vehicle or courtesy ride, and everything was status quo come school and work schedules Monday morning.

So, who needs to adjust their thinking/doing, he or I? What cost more, my angst in losing him to a project or him losing me to my angst?

Ahhhh, the challenges and joys of marriage! 😀

May we all learn to “be still and know that He is God…”

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In case you missed Part I,, I was recounting how I blackballed myself right out of an uppity Bible study. Swiping the coveted blue teapot in a cutthroat game of Dirty Santa was just the beginning.

Later that year, I got engaged to my husband. I was told they would hold a bridal shower and that it was going to focus on “personal” things. I was told to (wink-wink!) scour the catalogs (implying I should not be seen shopping around for such things in our community). This, also, seemed to contradict the goal of accountability, but, good sport I am, I ran the race.

Okay, so I was a virgin when it came to Passion Parties, and this was a good decade before the Passion of Christ was released. But, y’know, I’m a pretty passionate person, and flexible, so…let’s roll. I was on fire for the Lord, why not be on fire for my marriage?

I implicitly trusted these elder women to steer me in the right direction. After all, hadn’t they invited me so they could keep a sharp eye on me in the first place? Wouldn’t they want to steer me closer to my husband-to-be and away from their husbands or their sons or whomever they foolishly feared this femme fatale might devour, or whatever they thought I was?

One day as the shower approached I mentioned something Christian-like such as a religious candle for the wedding ceremony. Oh, no, they chirped – we want to give you things you wouldn’t dare buy yourself! Isn’t there some nice lingerie or bedding you’d like instead? This is a LADIES’ GROUP!

Oooookaaaay…so I went home and rifled through some catalogs I’d recently received and stumbled on a Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog. Hmmm…

I browsed and dog-eared the pages. I considered the crotchless underwear, something, like they said, I’d never buy for myself. Leather corsets and bras with neat circles where the nipples should be, oh geez!

Frederick's

Exhibit A, the catalog, along with the beautiful butterfly thang I got from the French Quarter on my own dime 15 years later…with my husband present, thank you very much! If that isn’t the epitome of accountable…

The next Bible study, the leader asked for my catalog choices and I forked over a fistful of ideas, Frederick’s carefully stuffed in the middle.

Next week, on the day of the shower, I was greeted with a room full of blushing matrons and a hushed study. The air was so thick with shifty, uncomfortable fake politeness you could slice it with nothing less than the very sword of the Lord.

This was followed by an awkward opening of shower presents which included spatulas and sensible aprons from Williams-Sonoma and the like. One of them gave me a book on cleaning up one’s mind.

The tea-and-crumpets part of the Bible study was inexplicably abbreviated, and everyone either offered to skibble off to the kitchen to “help” or coincidentally had a pressing errand or appointment to dash to.

Then the wedding happened and I got lost in wedded bliss; somehow they never called after me to see when I would return, and likewise, I didn’t call them.

I was again free banished hurtled back into a life of unaccountability.

(okay, well, one of them who most held me suspect, cornered me in a coffee shop a year later and warned me to be good and stay in my own lane. She was drinking a giant mug of double espresso; I had a little latté. I had my Bible on me, she didn’t. One of us knew what she was talking about, and it wasn’t me, at that point. What, does nobody have fun inside the sanctity of a marriage anymore???)

This accountability group seemed to keep me more accountable to these ladies and their need to have someone or something to talk about, rather than to the good Lord. In fact, they made my mind wander astray and second-guess things.

I was always uneasy with how the initial task in accountability groups was to collect everyone’s prayer requests – and, in the guise of humility, nobody hardly ever asked for prayer for themselves.

No, the prayer requests always felt like a benevolent way of obtaining the latest gossip.

I do, however, appreciate the importance of being accountable – it is a matter of transparency and good intention, both good things when it comes to integrity.

But really, how can we, as sinners, be truly accountable to anyone but God? He knows our hearts and our being, down to the last jot and tittle of our soul, much better than a human prone to judging our baloney ever can.

If an accountability group is properly structured and those in home leaderships are held more accountable, I believe these can be a good way to grow in the Lord. Except the sinner is prone to presenting a façade to whomever he wishes, whenever he wishes – even in the most intimate of relationships.

My limited experience is that the bigger the church, the more diluted group leadership gets and the flock gets more off track with laypersons who mean well but who may be limited in their ability to counsel, guide and keep things focused on the spirit instead of the flesh.

Smaller churches, it goes in reverse and people tend to focus more on being accountable to the smaller, “inner circle” than on what the Lord intends (often a broader perspective) for them to focus on.

This group experience was a gold-mine of spiritual lessons, not one of which I regret.

If it’s true that good intentions pave the way to Hell, I’ll stick with being honest about my bad intentions, inadequacies and fallible foibles – and whatever little good comes out of me, therein lies the gold, silver and precious stones, even though it may not be much in others’ eyes.

It really DOES boil down to a person’s individual, personal relationship with God.

Only HE knows the whole story.

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