Confessions of a Mug-aholic

My name is Rachael, and I’m a mug-aholic.

I wouldn’t admit that, except last Thanksgiving, my family engineered an anti-mug intervention group.

“You promised to quit this.” My husband stared me down. “Instead, you’ve been smuggling mugs from the flea market. Sneaking off to Cracker Barrel when allegedly picking up milk. The cabinets are so stuffed, we’re afraid to open them.”

“Why are you uptight?” I countered. “It’s not like I stole any from the church.”

Had he found my blueprints for a new wing — a Mug Museum — hidden in my office?

I knew my grown kids weren’t backing off when they made the grandkids wear helmets in my kitchen.

Unreasonable. Mugs save lives. Would civilization survive chilly mornings without steaming drinks that keep workers functioning and murderless?

Perhaps I should consider tossing my snowman mug which, despite its exorbitant price, chipped the first time I microwaved coffee. A few heated sessions later, Frosty lost his nose. Made in China, the mug probably was coated with mercury. Still, I sneak occasional coffee with Frosty. How will I make it through the approaching winter without his cheerful grin?

Hubby catches me. “I’m surprised you haven’t grown an extra eyeball, drinking out of that thing. Throw it out.”

So far, I’ve ignored him. But given Frosty’s uncertain future, I’ll have to buy a clearance snowman mug after Christmas.

Please don’t tell my little coffee buddy. Such disloyalty might make him fall to pieces, and if I tried to fix him … the only thing superglued together would be my thumbs.

I rarely use my smaller mugs except to torture unpopular relatives with a stingy supply of caffeine. But I can’t bring myself to give them away. (The mugs, not the relatives.) They might feel rejected. What if someone wrapped you in newspaper, tossed you into a box and dropped you off at Goodwill?

A new epiphany strikes me.

My shelves teem with flowery mugs. Mugs with hearts. Mugs with angels. Soon, I’ll bring out a hundred girly, Christmas mugs.

My husband’s collection: a sacred Indiana University mug; one boasting New Testament books of the Bible, including “He Brews” (guess who gave the tea lover that one); and a 1983 Doctor’s Day mug.

No wonder he borrows my Oreo mug.

Such inequity is downright unjust.

Fair play will result in even more crowded conditions. And an absolute mandate to construct the Mug Museum.

My name is Rachael, and I’m a mug-aholic.

You, too? Let’s fill a couple with favorite brews and drink to that!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you regard your mugs as family members? If not, what collection do you treasure? (Does your spouse?)

The Eyes Have It

My stylish glasses worn in fifth grade.

“Rachael needs glasses.”

My mother stared at my teacher. Neither she nor Dad wore glasses. How could their six-year-old mistake “Dick” for “Jane” on the blackboard? But my siblings also misread “Boys” and “Girls” on restroom doors. Mom soon made weekly visits to the grocery and the optometrist’s.

Meanwhile, my husband languished with poor vision longer than his parents realized. They coaxed him to the optometrist’s, promising his bat would connect with the baseball better.

“Ball?” Steve said. “They throw a ball?”

As a Phillips, he probably took good care of his glasses.

My siblings and I, however, used them as fresh opportunities to annoy our parents. We don’t recall the color of brother Ned’s glasses because Mom was always swathing his bent/ fractured/twisted spectacles with new duct tape.

We all discovered innovative ways to lose our glasses. We left them on school lunch trays. Baby brothers flushed them down toilets and dropped them down heating vents. On vacation, Jean left her glasses in Louisville … or Memphis? The wind blew mine from my face as I rode in the back of Dad’s pickup.

My high school singing group, Debuteens. I’m sitting on the front row, far right, sans glasses.

Eventually, I graduated to the ultimate cool: contact lenses. Why I bothered, I don’t know. My bangs reached my nostrils. My own mother had forgotten my eye color. Eyes? What eyes?

I couldn’t wear soft lenses, so I paid hard-earned dollars for pieces of glass I stuck into my eyes like tacks. They worked great — except on sunny, dry days. Or cold, windy days. Or when I opened my eyes.

After several masochistic years, I decided they weren’t worth it. My boyfriend-turned husband didn’t mind my glasses at all. Not surprisingly, we produced three bespectacled children.

Inheriting my fussy corneas, our eldest gave up on contacts, too. Apparently, gentlemen still made passes at lasses in glasses, because her future husband saw past hers. When our family shed spectacles for a swim, though, he discovered we couldn’t tell time on the hotel’s large clock.

“I can almost see numbers,” our daughter said.

“I can make out the hands,” I told him. “Sort of.”

“What clock?” said Hubby and our son in unison.

Brave soul, the boyfriend married into our family anyway.

Eventually, I did the bobble-headed thing while adjusting to new bifocals. Now the media hypes laser surgery for cool Boomers.

I prefer to blow my wad elsewhere. Besides, not-so-great vision can prove positive.

Seeing the blackboard clearly for the first time, my six-year-old self never would have believed it. At this life stage, though, Hubby and I don’t miss seeing gray hairs, wrinkles or love handles.

A little blindness can be a blessing.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Describe your first pair of glasses. Or do you possess perfect vision?

Overrated

Facebook reunited me with an elementary classmate with whom I shared the zenith of second-grade status: our class chose us as PTO prince and princess.

I blurted my ecstasy to Mom. “I can win a crown!”

Reading the school’s purple, mimeographed sheet, Mom raised an eyebrow. “You’ll be asking people for money?”

“Yeah!” I held up the bank-like canister accompanying the information. “Let’s take this to church!”

Mom, more interested in heavenly treasure, considered that “honor” highly overrated.

Since then, I’ve discovered many similar, oh-so-desirable positions. The words “officer” and “chairperson” come to mind. Those who assume titles of “assistant” and “coordinator” often wish they could revert to the “secretary” who wasn’t chained to her laptop weekends, fed on bread and water until projects were completed.

Titles aren’t the only foolers. I despise the word “update,” which slows my phone or laptop to slug speed. Afterward, with one correct swipe, I can enlarge bacteria-sized print to readable material. However, with one wrong swipe, I set off interplanetary war — or open the garage doors of every home in Rhode Island.

Updates rarely include explanations. Instead, I’m to follow the wisdom of a long-distance, twisted techno-geek who needs a laugh: “To accelerate your laptop’s update, submerge it in boiling oil.”

However, technology hasn’t cornered the “overrated” market.

Medical insurance companies like updates, too. Many currently demand that slaves — er, customers — achieve 10,000 steps daily, measured per devices akin to ankle bracelets. Five years ago, such behavior would have labeled the customer obsessive-compulsive. Yet now, companies advocating “wellness” raise premiums — and blood pressures — with noncompliance.

What’s next? Will updates demand we smile while jogging?

Other overrated objects, events and activities include:

  • Waistbands. These stifle creativity, not to mention oxygen intake. Especially when buttoned.
  • Cars whose designs block back-up vision. Instead of lowering their obnoxious rear ends, we install cameras. Cool! (And costly.)
  • Milkshakes. As a busy young mom, the only warm food I ate was melted ice cream. Paying perfectly good money for the equivalent seems overrated.
  • HGTV. Should we commiserate with people whining about crushed dreams as they shop for $500,000 houses?
  • Tattoos. Though tattoos are considered art, ceramics classes are less painful — and less permanent. A generation hence, I look forward to watching parents explain to skeptical teens why Mom and Dad thought this was a great idea.
  • Weed whackers. Mine whacks flowers, strips paint, dents siding — and nibbles weeds. Maybe.
  • Roundabouts. Carmel, Indiana, where my daughter lives, boasts more than 100, claiming they reduce accidents and gas usage. However, have statisticians counted how many have died of old age while circling within 10 feet of McDonald’s?
  • Vacations. While they promote family togetherness, the amount they generate sometimes reaches toxic levels — as do resulting Visa bills afterward.
  • Awards. They glitter in the spotlight, but tarnish quickly and eventually end up in the attic or trash can.

Even the long-ago, fourth-grade PTO princess who actually won the crown probably can’t find it.

Soon, the writing award I coveted but didn’t win will fade from memory as well. Like my mother’s, my treasures may prove to be heavenly, rather than earthly.

Thankfully, those can never be overrated.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What everyday trophies have you learned to treasure?

Cars Hate Me

When purchasing a car, I emphasize one feature, difficult to judge when the shiny vehicle is on its best behavior.

Will this car like me?

Some have detested me the moment I sat behind the wheel, e.g., my driver’s education car. Like my teacher, Mr. Doom, the brand-new Cutlass hated all four of us women drivers.

My fellow driver, Linda, paid it back by sideswiping a telephone pole. We learned about police procedure, an educational experience that would serve me well in future, um … situations.

I practiced frequently, using my parents’ dinosaur-sized station wagon. Long before email, that car notified our neighborhood and took bets whether I’d hit something.

When I backed the behemoth, it aimed straight for our neighbor’s driveway. I usually missed her car. But not her roses.

Eventually, I passed driver’s ed, but the DMV examiner’s car didn’t like me. I flunked.

My second attempt, I passed! Neither the DMV car nor the examiner wanted to see me again.

After a few accidents (Not my fault, really!), I experienced a reprieve from mean cars. During college, I was too poor to own one.

Until our honeymoon, when we borrowed a car that died only on left turns.

Even the first car we owned, a deceptively cute, green Opel, hated me. It emitted puffs of smoke when I forgot to take off the parking brake. The Opel delighted in springing leaks in unfindable places.

A later car, my Pontiac, initially seemed reliable. However, it nearly exploded when I drove to a neighboring city to rescue my sister. Her car hated her, too.

Looking back on my ownership history, I should have blamed my mother, who also attracted nasty cars. One barge-sized LTD ground out weird noises as we ascended Oregon’s Strawberry Mountain. I insinuated the car might be disintegrating.

She shrugged. “Oh, honey, that’s just the transmission.”

Mom let the cars know who was boss. Despite hostile vehicles — and, occasionally, police officers — she lived to be 84.

Some insist my continuing problems aren’t the car’s, but mine. They predict as I grow older, cars will like me even less.

Modern technology, though, has created self-driven cars, a solution my children may embrace on my behalf. However, having set up safe routes in my car, they probably won’t teach me how to program it.

They underestimate their mother.

I simply will consult a five-year-old great-grandchild: “Honey, here’s a Jolly Rancher and $1,000” — hey, inflation will hit bribery, too — “if you’ll just program this car to take me to Hawaii.”

My self-driven machine may not like me.

But that newly rich little kindergartner will.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did you ever own a lemon?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Thank the Lord and Hobby Lobby

Oh, my God, thank You for this final bouquet from our garden, rescued before temperatures plunged 40 degrees. And OMG, thank You for last fall’s Hobby Lobby clearance sales, providing this bouquet to greet the new season.

 

Look Out, I’m Pulling a Camper!

Pulling a camper is like being followed by a shadow that’s gained 2,000 pounds.

Sure, I’ve spelled my husband en route to nearby campgrounds. When straight roads send him to Lullaby Land, I save our lives by driving short stretches on state highways.

But brave roaring, dragon-like semis on interstates? Motorcycles whipping in and out of lanes at Star Wars speeds? Hans Solo, I’m not.

Especially as the rearview mirror is rendered useless.

My husband installed extended mirrors. However, they warn that reflected objects are closer than they appear.

That’s nice. Even humble, and I admire humility. But sorry, nice mirrors, when changing lanes, I want accuracy. And if up-close-and-personal encounters with construction barrels throw you off, I really don’t need views up my nostrils.

Especially when parking. We often need to stop for gas, food, and/or restrooms. Those paltry reasons pale, however, as we focus on more profound questions: Will we find a place to park the camper? Afterward, can we get out?

Once, as I contorted truck and camper in my 100th effort to leave a convenience store, Hubby lost all hope. “Will we spend the rest of our lives behind Kwickie Mart?”

Not exactly the retirement we’d envisioned.

I tried to console him: “Living on Little Debbie® cakes and beef jerky wouldn’t be so bad.”

My attempts scared traffic to a dead stop. A hundred yards away.

Thus, we finally left Kwickie Mart.

Hauling a camper never bores us. Once, while I was driving down South, purple-cloud giants charged us. They spit lightning and smothered us with avalanches of rain that drowned car taillights ahead. If I had risked pulling over, my flashers would have disappeared, blown out like candles.

Did I slow down? Not much. Storm or no storm, drivers who never drive less than 85 mph — on roads, shoulders and in parking lots — can be found everywhere. Even in easygoing Mississippi.

My prayer life shot up several notches.

Hubby’s, already flourishing, set new records.

Jesus took the wheel.

Afterward, when He had guided us to sunshine, Hubby tried to talk Jesus into taking all my shifts.

He smiled and said, no, we needed to grow in faith. Together.

Though Hubby still had theological doubts about Kwickie Mart experiences, and I struggled with mirror-nostril crises, we indeed have learned to depend on Jesus and each other. With His help, we and our 2,000-pound shadow return home, safe and sound.

We will hit the interstate again soon.

It’s only fair I give other drivers advance warning: Look out, I’ll be pulling a camper!

Prepare to grow in faith.

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever pulled a camper? Driven an RV?