Lord, Thank You for my daughter’s adventurous spirit.Thank You for her supportive husband, who cared for their boys while she hiked in Michigan wilderness for three days alone. But OMG, please keep her safe as she challenges herself and her world. And please teach her husband not to Photoshop her pics.
I, like other clueless new spouses, signed my marriage license without reading the fine print. Later, I discovered I had promised to camp with my husband — for better, for worse — until lightning melted our tent poles or ravenous raccoons starved us out.
After decades of marriage, I now welcome campout vacations.
Or perhaps I’ve numbed to the point I think I like them.
Either way, I’ve learned the Camping Commandments:
- If thou ownest an RV resembling a Trump hotel, wave pleasantly to those abiding in a bathroom-cabinet-sized tent. Similarly, tent dwellers should show friendliness to those in luxurious quarters. After all, we share the same pioneering blood — a fact well known to mosquitoes.
- Thou shalt not concoct gourmet meals whose tantalizing fragrances make thy neighboring cook’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches appear inferior.
- Designer clothes on a campout shall be considered illegal.
- In the community restroom, thou shalt not hog the one working sink for three hours, perfecting thy mascara.
- Always swat a bug that lands on a fellow camper — after introducing yourself first.
- If thou art a Boy Scout who attained the Pyro Overachiever Badge, bless others with thy superior craft. However, if an ignorant fellow camper adds an uninvited log onto thy perfect blaze, do not toss him in after it.
- If sharing a group meal around the campfire, thou shalt not bring up scary research facts about hot dogs.
- Neither shalt thou yank blazing marshmallows out of the fire, lighting fellow roasters like birthday candles.
- Thou shalt not spin in 60-mph circles on a tire swing after eating four triple-marshmallow s’mores. (My grandson can attest to this one.)
- If rain ensues, and thou ownest the sole camper in thy group, thou shalt welcome all 47 muddy, smelly tent-dwellers — for a price.
- When changing at night in a tent, stuff thy flashlight into thy shoe for lower illumination. Otherwise, thy silhouette will gather unwanted fans or frighten thy neighbors into hysterics.
- Even a grandma cannot be expected to welcome a wildflower bouquet featuring poison ivy.
- Finally, departing campers should always share excess firewood with neighbors. If their loud music kept thy family awake at 3 a.m., thou mayest bore holes in the logs and insert firecrackers first.
“Wait,” you say. “You’ve cited more than ten commandments. Do campers really need that many?”
“Absolutely. We campers are wild by nature. Actually, there are many more commandments than these.”
“Go back and read the fine print.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Camping Commandments would you include?
O Lord, I do appreciate well-trained, caring professionals who do so much to keep my teeth healthy. But OMG, I do look forward to the day when getting my crown has nothing to do with dentists.
My husband and I view a television program for a grand total of 63 seconds before a carrot chorus line high-kicks across the screen. Then an older couple, whose idea of a good time has deteriorated to shivering in separate bathtubs, teeter on a cliff’s edge.
One ad (guess which one) strikes me as mildly funny. I chuckle.
“You’ve seen that a hundred times.” Hubby rolls his eyes.
“I have?” I prod my memory. Zero recall.
“You never pay attention to commercials.” He makes this sound downright un-American.
I resent the slam on my patriotism. Plus, he’s dead wrong. I remember lots of commercials — except they belong to a different era.
Decades ago, Captain Kangaroo lauded Wonder Bread, which built strong bodies 12 ways. Captain K. always celebrated my birthday with a big cake. He reminded me to say my prayers. So, when the Captain told me to ask Mom to buy Wonder Bread, I did. But Mom said it was expensive. Gasp! How could she flout the wisdom of Captain Kangaroo?
She gave in, however, to lovable hucksters who taught thousands of children — including my husband and me — to spell “Nestlé” before they could spell their own names. Danny, a ventriloquist dummy, sang, “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlé’s makes the very best—” and Farfel the dog chimed in, “Choc’-late!” with a loud snap of his jaws. Good stuff.
Even black-and-white TV couldn’t diminish the Ali Baba richness of Kenner’s Sparkle Paints. Not only would Sparkle Paints pictures glitterize and glamorize my room, they would magically protect me from arithmetic, besides bringing about world peace.
I received Kenner’s Sparkle Paints as a gift! But my attempts — plops, glops, and slops of paint — resembled nothing on TV. Since Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev still banged his shoe on podiums and yelled during other commercials, Sparkle Paints didn’t accomplish world peace, either.
Although now a child cynic, I still enjoyed commercial jingles, including Speedy the Alka-Seltzer® mascot’s “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is.” And I, along with a gazillion other schoolchildren, wished we were Oscar Mayer wieners.
Medical commercials, however, caused me concern. I didn’t know what Preparation H® treated, but it had to be life-threatening because when I asked Dad, he didn’t want to talk about it.
Some commercials embarrassed me. I wished Mr. Whipple and his friends, who squeezed Charmin toilet paper in public, would disappear.
Nowadays, though, with Victoria’s Secret models joining the TV carrot chorus line and Vagisil/Viagra enthusiasts telling me much, much more than I want to know, I tend to veg, remembering only commercials of yesteryear.
Never thought I’d say this, but Mr. Whipple, I really miss you.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite commercial? Your un-favorite?
OMG, Thank You for a harvest in which there is standing room only!
I listen, heart pounding.
Bumps in the house tell me I’m not alone.
It’s midafternoon. I shouldn’t hear these until 5:30.
But the noises morph into big footsteps. He’s walking my direction.
I grab the nearest weapon. A sofa pillow?
Not much help.
But that’s all right.
The “intruder” is my husband.
For the umpteenth time, I forgot that after 40-plus years of family medicine, Dr. Hubby has hung up his stethoscope.
We celebrated this new life chapter the way I expected. A fun retirement party. Kayaking. A steak dinner out. A camping trip he’d dreamed of for a year.
But now, official celebrations are finished. Though Hubby is teaching college part-time, my retiree is basically a homebody.
Friends tease about my handing him a honey-do list, covering the past four decades. But he has compiled his own list, one he tackles each day with the joy of a 10-year-old let out of school.
He is retired.
I am not.
Having worked full-time at home for 20-plus years, I have developed my own schedule — which includes a sacred, after-lunch siesta.
Though he respects my personal space and timetable, just the presence of all this relentless energy disrupts my nap aura.
Meanwhile, Hubby has even washed his truck. Downright unnatural.
Even more unnatural, he suggested a shopping trip.
I would have insisted on a psychiatric evaluation, except that he would have demanded I undergo one, too.
So, my new daytime life floats as if in a world of levitation. The garage door goes up and down, lights flick on and off, and food vanishes into thin air. Broken appliances fix themselves, laundry folds itself, and dishes fly from the dishwasher into the cabinets (Love this!).
However, the calendar misplaces half its dates. “Is this Tuesday or Wednesday?” becomes a subject of serious breakfast debate. With new freedom, actions we thought built into our DNA — such as brushing teeth and putting out the trash — disappear as if the Social Security Administration waved a very odd magic wand over us.
After a week of getting his bearings, Hubby commented, “I really like retirement, but this flexibility thing is hard.”
Strange, but true.
But with a strange man in the house, what would you expect?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you think you’ll like retirement for you and/or your spouse? Why or why not?
Lord, thank you for ripe, melting peaches, especially in peach praline shortcake. Do I also appreciate the 20-mile bike rides Hubby plans in order to lessen the shortcake effects? OMG, I am grateful . . . when they’re done.
Life today has become so complicated that we need computers to help us understand our computers. Appliances, cars and GPSes bully us 24/7. Cell phones accompany us everywhere, like chaperones — or personal jailers.
We dream of escaping to The Simple Life.
Decades ago, I lived the dream in Mexico, where my missionary parents ministered in a small village. They never punched a clock or answered a phone.
The townspeople loaned us a four-star hut with a thatched roof. Constructed of random boards, cardboard and dried mud, the walls somehow remained standing.
A restroom visit was simple. There wasn’t one outhouse in the entire village.
We awoke each morning to breakfast fragrances, rising from the communal campfire. Women in dark skirts and shawls rocked back and forth over stone troughs, grinding corn for tortillas. They shaped then flipped flat circles of dough onto a metal sheet over the fire.
They stuffed us with these tender, smoky treats spread with wild honey. But I, a narrow-minded five-year-old, refused the slimy raw eggs they offered.
Thus, I escaped deadly germs. I still might have consumed a few, however, because the villagers regarded washing hands as frivolous.
They kept their lives simple.
My siblings and I didn’t need video games. My six-year-old brother Ned and a neighboring burro supplied sufficient daily entertainment.
Ned and I considered the animal’s owner an atheist because he never attended church meetings. His burro was an atheist, too. Every day, Ned shinnied up the animal so he could ride like Roy Rogers on Trigger — until the pagan burro gleefully dumped him into a colossal cactus.
Each evening, lanterns appeared like wandering stars on the darkening, rugged landscape as people walked to church. Mommy pressed magic buttons on her red-and-white mother-of-pearl accordion, playing lively songs that reminded me of cantina music. She led the singing with her high, sweet voice. Daddy’s bass voice rumbled like friendly thunder. Like Jesus, he didn’t use a microphone; still, they probably could hear him in the next village.
No one owned watches to check how long he preached. We kids often fell asleep and found ourselves in bed the next morning. The hut accom-modated two mattresses on the floor — one for us three preschoolers and one for our parents — with plenty of room for hundreds of fleas that wanted to share in our missionary endeavors.
Decades later, I learned that one day, having braved fleas, germs, dirt and nausea (she was pregnant again), Mom dampened Dad’s enthusiasm for village life with a potent line: “I said I’d live anywhere with you, but this is ridiculous.”
And I realized my complicated life is pretty simple, after all.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever tried to escape to The Simple Life?
O Lord, my God, today I thank You for my dear in-laws. For decades, they have blessed us with love and faith in You. Thank You, too, that of the millions and billions of people on this planet, there are still two who think of us as “the kids”!