O Lord, I’m curious. When I’m on my back, making snow angels like a child, what do actual angels think? What’s that, Lord? “The kids are cute, but that old lady is crazy”? OMG, they’re so right.
There are humans who never spill or stain. Really.
As babies, they don’t spit up. School pictures feature pristine pastels. They finish sports seasons without a single grass stain. As adults, they never squirt lobster juice on other diners at upscale restaurants.
If you qualify, please continue so you understand people like me. “Egg on my face” is not just an expression. Egg not only spatters my chin, cheeks and glasses, but nests in my belly button.
I always thought such disasters were my fault. But modern wisdom says we’re all victims, so I now blame my DNA.
How about you?
Do new pens spring 57 leaks at checkout?
Do supermarket ladies dump beet samples on you?
Do road workers match tarring sessions with your commute?
Then you are stain royalty, a lifetime heir of splotches, blotches and smudges.
Try to think positive. As a child, I snacked on a sleeve, the equivalent of a PB&J sandwich.
Despite serious efforts to avoid staining my teen fashions, though, splotches appeared whenever I brushed against oxygen.
Fortunately, love blinded my new husband to this handicap — until I did laundry: “Where did these lavender spots on my underwear come from?”
I shrugged. “Who knows? Washers don’t like me.”
Give the man credit. He not only has endured decades with a stain queen, but with kids who took after her. One toddler decided Dad’s underwear needed a rainbow hue and tossed crayons into the dryer.
I couldn’t have done better myself.
They’re adults now, with their own little messies. Though my children still suffer from drops and dribbles, their kids’ mishaps supply excellent camouflage. When grandchildren visit, Grandma shares this benefit.
Still, you’d think fellow stainers and I would never wear white or khaki. But miracle products rescue us: bleaches and stain removers — and friends who carry them in their purses. When I dumped punch on a tablecloth, my friend not only loaned me her bleach stick, she gave me an extra.
I shout out other marginalized heroes: the dry cleaners.
Although last time I hauled a load, I found the door locked and a sign: “Rachael Phillips: We’ve moved to Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. All others: Return after she leaves.”
Sigh. That’s the fifth dry cleaning store in town that’s moved to Iceland.
Doesn’t this awaken compassion, you of stainless zeal? Shouldn’t you nix criticism until you’ve walked in my gasoline-dotted shoes?
Finally, fellow sufferers, I feel your stain pain and offer an inspiring quote: Walk carefully and carry a big stain stick.
Or stick with friends who do.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a stain queen?
O Lord, Your Book says You value humility. But when I’m baking bread for company — OMG, is this really the best time for me to learn it?
As children, we believed our parents gave us Christmas sleds because they wanted us to have fun.
Wrong. They knew children already had too much fun.
Instead, as card-carrying members of the Great Sledding Conspiracy, they purchased sleds to ensure their own survival. Their brains atrophied by 573 games of Candy Land, mothers and fathers ordered us to go sledding.
“Fresh air is good for you,” they said.
Chances were, they’d given us a Flexible Flyer, whose sharp runners could slice through granite. We hurtled down hills, often vaulting over streams, stumps and each other … standing up.
This was good for us?
I was surprised to discover the inventor of the Flexible Flyer, Samuel Leeds Allen, was a Quaker. Maybe this desperate father of six strove for peace by concocting ways to keep his tribe outdoors.
Perhaps both Dad and Samuel belonged to the Conspiracy for an additional reason: they’d lower food bills permanently by lessening the population at home.
Mr. Fowler, another secret member, drove our school bus. While my yard was flat, his nearby house sat atop a tall hill. Even we children realized he endured unspeakable racket, yet Mr. Fowler let us sled on his hill. Such a nice man.
Ha! What better way to lower his bus population and its accompanying decibels?
However, one snowy night, Dad topped Fowler’s ploy, offering to take my siblings and I sledding.
Only when we rendezvoused with Dad’s buddies did we realize the fathers would join their kids’ sleds behind a truck. We would zoom along unplowed country roads.
If we children had been older, we might have realized this plan represented the ultimate in population control. Instead, we believed our dads, like Mr. Fowler, were nice.
Soon, we were skimming past a dark blur of trees, fences and fields at speeds we’d never dreamed of. The only complication: when one sled veered into a drift, the whole line followed. Guess who spun off into drifts the most?
Years afterward, I realized those pauses helped preserve our lives.
Upon our return, Mom immediately deduced Dad had overstepped. No one lied to Mom, including Dad. She soon extracted the whole story. Never again would Dad take her children sledding.
Given my steering, that did not bother him.
Did I buy my children sleds? You bet. With no conscience whatsoever, I joined The Great Sledding Conspiracy.
Though lately, I’ve heard my grandsons have been whipping down snow-covered sand dunes on Lake Michigan shores. Do they stop before zooming onto the lake’s ice? Maybe all the way to Chicago?
But their parents say all that fresh air is good for them.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a member of the Great Sledding Conspiracy?
O Lord, some of Your children give thanks because our area continues to escape snowstorms. Others whine because our sledding hills remain bare, with snowmen built only in our dreams. As a mom, I couldn’t please even three kids. When a gazillion of Your children spout their input at once, do You sometimes want to cover Your ears, too?
Even spelled on a SCRABBLE board, the word “stranded” packs enough panic power to send us to our vehicles with snow shovels, boots and sleeping bags as well as food, water and Prozac.
We Midwesterners have two words for those “stranded” in the tropics: oh, please. That goes for you, Swiss Family Robinson, Tom Hanks, and snowbirds who grouse about sand in their bathing suits.
My family and I have collected a portfolio of strandedness Gilligan wouldn’t believe.
My parents, newlywed missionaries in New Mexico, were gathering firewood atop a mountain when the year’s only rainstorm struck. Torrents washed away the road, leaving their Model T half-buried in mud. Having left coats at home (they’d anticipated a three-hour tour), Mom and Dad spent the subfreezing night there. They burned the firewood to stay alive and dug out. Thus, began a long, creative career of strandedness, generously shared with five children.
Fast-forward two decades. My medical student husband and I skated our car down interstates between Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Muncie, Indiana, where Hubby would work in a clinic several weeks, staying in a decrepit, deserted dorm. I’d planned to drive home to Indianapolis, but remained until conditions improved. Much skinnier then, we fit in his twin bed. Sort of. Glad to be alive and together, we decided that despite resident ghosts, being stranded wasn’t half bad.
Sharing the Minneapolis airport with thousands of angry people — including our teenagers — during a nationwide blizzard wasn’t nearly as much fun. Snarling, would-be passengers formed mile-long lines at ticket counters, restaurants and restrooms. Areas under drinking fountains morphed into sleeping quarters. A stranger accosted me:
Strange Woman: Where did you get that shirt?
Me: Um, at a consignment shop.
Woman: I gave my husband a shirt exactly like that for his birthday.
Me: The consignment shop was in Atlanta.
Woman: (baring her teeth) I’m from Atlanta.
That encounter, along with a 24-hour TV loop featuring the Sports Illustrated bathing suit edition, didn’t brighten my day. Leaving Minneapolis never felt so good, though our trip home from Indianapolis would have proceeded faster if a single sled dog had towed our minivan.
Years later, amid another hair-raising drive during an ice storm, Hubby and I managed to reach a hotel. Fortunately, our room featured a king-size bed, not a twin. I could banish swimsuit models from our TV with a single remote click. Nobody demanded the shirt off my back.
The aforementioned folks marooned in the tropics might question my strandedness. Too bad. They should write their own blogs. Since this is mine, I affirm my official status: stranded.
Though, sometimes, stranded isn’t half bad.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever been stranded?
O Lord, You know that when this first pic was taken, I thought people who were 47 years old were ancient. Antediluvian, actually. OMG, how could I have known how rich 47 years of married love — built on Your love — could be?
This shivery, January day, I contemplate a profound subject: long underwear.
My interest is personal. I prefer that my husband not freeze into a hiker-sicle.
While sane people stay by the fire during inclement weather, he’s addicted to five-mile winter walks. (And you thought Zoom had messed with my brain.) No antiquated long johns for him. He wants “base layers.”
At first, I feared he’d fallen prey to some paint-your-body trend. Then, I realized Hubby was carefully editing facts and figures to promote a new, improved version of long johns. Their wickability — whatever that was. He expected me to rubber-stamp his purchases.
Though even if I accidentally (ahem!) lost my rubber stamp, he would buy them.
I registered a protest. “John Sullivan never blew big bucks on base layers.”
“Who’s John Sullivan?” His eyes narrowed. “How do you know about his long underwear?”
“He was a boxer who made long johns popular during the 1800s. Wore leggings into the ring.”
“With that heavy cotton, he probably sweat gallons.” Hubby brightened. “Which is why I want base layers —”
“When I was walking miles at college in freezing rain,” I retorted, “I wore long johns Mom sent. Plain, cheap long johns. Why do you need something expensive?” I pointed at his laptop screen. “Those don’t look like they could keep somebody warm in Florida.”
Patiently, he explained that a modern winter base layer consists of a thin, but warm shirt and leggings of special fabrics that maintain body temperature. Yet, they prevent a hiker’s sweating too much, dangerous during extreme weather.
He made his case sound infinitely reasonable. As reasonable as a hike in single-digit weather can be.
Until he insisted he needed wool T-shirts for summer hikes.
“Wool?” My rubber stamp vanished into a black hole.
“Merino wool’s a main component of Smartwool®.”
Smartwool® in July didn’t sound smart to me. Besides, I distrust the label “smart.” We already purchase smartphones, smart cars and smart watches. Now we have to buy smart underwear?
He insisted, “Smartwool enhances the layering system.”
A system? “Does it require Wi-fi?” I said. “Or maybe it meshes with satellites. They’re tracking people’s long underwear from outer space now?”
Despite my objections, I knew he’d never buy long johns. I couldn’t permit my husband to freeze to death. Because base layers were on sale, I found my rubber stamp and approved his purchases, making him very happy.
Plus — (gasp!) this is hard to say — Hubby (choke!) proved to be r-r-right. The base layers have kept him toasty and safe.
Sorry, John Sullivan.
When it comes to long johns, you and I were way off base.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Has your spouse proved r-r-right lately?f
When Christmas, 2021, ended the year with this much fun, OMG, bright moments just have to happen in 2022!