Tag Archives: Autumn

Playing Hooky in October

Is there anything more fun than sneaking a walk when you should be hard at work?

Perhaps balancing the national budget, achieving world peace and losing four dress sizes rank above it. None of these, however, appear imminent. So I pilfer little thrills, like kernels of candy corn, when I can.

Autumn’s tawny, sun-freckled face grins from every yard and field, a mischievous TP-er who messes with trees so we have to clean up many-hued clutter. Scraggly flowers, survivors with colorful personalities, mix well with show-off mums. Ragged, brown corn and soybeans look weathered and friendly as smiling scarecrows that guard small-town yards and grocery store produce sections.

Al mellow and unhurried. Autumn urges me to enjoy its relaxed aura while I can.

Apple trees, however, awaken my laid-back senses. Loaded with plump fruit, they tempt me to borrow just a few.

However, calling my husband to spring me from jail isn’t the best way to celebrate fall. Forcing my steps past, I promise myself a trip to an orchard.

Squirrels, sociopathic larcenists, don’t worry about raising bail. They freely steal fruit, walnuts and acorns, which they hide in my flower pots—their personal storage units. Fall squirrels are like spring dandelions, fluffy and cute. I love both … in other people’s yards.

All paths lead to the elementary school, easily evidenced by a trail of kid stuff: a flattened baseball hat; a pink bicycle abandoned near a stop sign; a plain strawberry Pop-Tart®, no doubt rejected because someone wanted frosted chocolate with sprinkles. Scholarly endeavors are verified by broken pencils and crinkled homework. How long has this rain-faded permission slip lain here?

Rows of cars at the school speak of the commitment of teachers, administrators and staff. I pray for them, as the place — even when recess is not in session — emits energy unmatched by Hoover Dam turbines.

Ditto for Taylor University. A substantial portion of its science building’s energy needs are supplied by geothermal, solar and wind power. However, the pulsating between-class rhythm of skateboarders, scooter-riders, cyclists and joggers who don’t even notice they’re jogging prompts another energy question: Couldn’t the remainder be supplied by students, who regard midnight as the start of prime time?

I seek quieter streets, where I can saunter, unmolested by the vigorous and motivated.

Instead, yards teem with home improvement projects, and on the town’s outskirts, farmers driving giant combines lumber into fields, braving clouds of chaff. All strive to complete their tasks before cold weather.

In the face of so much diligence, goofing off is downright tough. I head for home.

But that doesn’t mean autumn and I won’t try to play hooky tomorrow. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite goof-off season, and why?

 

 

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Coloring on the Tablecloth?

thanksgivingtablecloth    thanksgivingtableclothiiO my God, if I’d drawn on a Thanksgiving tablecloth as a kid—“No pumpkin pie for you!” But this tablecloth invited rowdy games of tic-tac-toe and connect-the-dots, and kids, young and old, colored it with gusto. OMG, thanks for that wild, wonderful three-day feast! And for the put-my-feet-up quiet now.

 

Weird Things for Which I’m Thankful

Welcome to my annual appreciation-of-the-odd list.

Wait. Isn’t gratitude against the law during an election year?

Too bad.

Before I dine, I’ll lose the whine and savor what’s extra-fine. Join me, if you’re so inclined.

  • First, I’m thankful the election is over. Enough said.
  • pressurepeachI’m thankful for my Pressure Peach, a squishy, foam rubber peach with a perfect blush. My sister, a weird, wonderful pastor who lives near Atlanta, hoped its therapy would keep me out of jail. Whenever I feel like punting my computer (or a few people I know), squeezing my Pressure Peach restores sanity and makes everything go just … peachy.
  • I thank God for blue jeans that “go” with 1970s T-shirts, button-downs and blazers, sequins or satins. Accessorized with jungle flip-flops or jeweled high heels, jeans go everywhere with everybody. Stains customize their charm. Rips qualify them for designer status. Baggy, saggy or raggy, fitted or faded, yanked from dryer (or laundry hamper in an emergency), jeans are this girl’s best friend.
  • I thank God pens, pencils and paper are still legal. I appreciate computers, especially since my handwriting rivals my two-year-old grandson’s. But my fingers still itch when I spy a freshly sharpened pencil, smell a new notebook, or watch ink flow like dark cream across fresh, untouched paper.
  • I’m thankful gas prices dropped. Sigh. Now they’ll rise a dollar a gallon because I said it. Or because it’s Wednesday. Or because Obama ate anchovy pizza. Still, I’m thankful.
  • I appreciate street lights. They remind me of Thanksgiving cooks — unnoticed until they take time off.
  • I’m thankful for my naked coffee table. No one-of-a-kind knickknacks mar its surface — precious evidence of sticky little grandkid fingers.
  • clocksteveI’m thankful for my mantel clock, all crystal and gold balls that dance in an infinite circle. It keeps lousy time, despite fresh batteries. But my husband gave it to me one Christmas with a note that said his love for me was timeless. So I don’t mind being late to appointments.
  • I’m grateful God didn’t outsource tree creation to me. I would have gotten the fall colors all wrong. I would have used Super-Glue to bind trunk, limbs and twigs in awkward lumps and would have forgotten roots. Winter breezes would have sent trees rolling like giant tumbleweeds, resulting in interesting insurance claims. God, however, engineers elaborate systems to anchor and nurture trees. With an artist’s eye, He arranges bare, elegant, black branches like lines of poetry.
  • I’m doubly thankful God also welcomes the challenge of caring for me and other higher(?) species. Especially during this election year.

What weird things make your odd-Thanksgiving list?

 

 

 

 

Unwelcome Visitor

Something brushed across my arm in the night.

Not my husband’s touch. After decades of marriage, my epidermis recognizes his epidermis, even when I sleep.

spider-1016713_640So I came to my usual semiconscious conclusion: giant hairy spiders had invaded our bed.

Please understand that as a five-year-old missionary kid, I once discovered a tarantula had invited himself to share my covers.

Now, decades later, I slowly wiggled my toes.

Nothing ate them. Whew!

I listened for unauthorized breathing. When our children were little, that sound on the wrong side of the bed indicated our son once again had escaped his crib.

Eventually I realized our son was pursuing a doctorate in Washington, D.C. Probably a safe bet that he wasn’t my brush with the unknown.

A burglar? But our stairs emitted loud cr-r-reaks. I had heard only a quiet swoo-oosh.

Now completely awake, I convinced myself I had dreamed it all.

Until … the next morning, when my no-nonsense husband said he had a similar dream.

That night, I crept up the stairs to our bedroom. A black, shapeless something hung from the fire alarm. I admit to letting refrigerator contents age into anti-matter, but had it been that long since we checked those batteries? Had they disintegrated to black goo?

The “goo” actually resembled a small, folded umbrella … until it shuddered.

bat-868410_640“A bat!” I screamed. “Kill it!”

Men do not understand why women who weep during puppy food commercials expect their husbands to take a flame thrower to all unwelcome home invaders, including burglars, germs and bats.

Finally, Steve persuaded me we could capture it. Armed with a laundry basket, a sheet and a fly swatter, we approached the bat, apparently a sound sleeper. I held the basket over the fire alarm as Steve tried to pry him loose. If Mr. Bat wasn’t a vampire, he certainly impersonated one well, with fierce, beady eyes and snarling white teeth.

My kindhearted husband finally detached him and slapped the sheet over the laundry basket. We carried him, hissing and flapping, outside and released him. Mr. Bat zoomed off into the blackness like a dark angel.

While I admit to a few bats in the belfry, I never expected to find one in our bedroom. If it happens again, we now have a plan.

laundry-basket-59654_640But if I hear unauthorized breathing?

I don’t think a laundry basket will work.

Have you ever shared your space with a bat? Or another unwelcome critter?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer

christyrachaelcornmazeO my God, my grandson questioned my lack of a sense of direction: “Seriously, Grandma? You get lost in Walmart parking lots?” But when his mom, similarly flawed, and I barely made it alive out of a corn maze, he believed. OMG, thank You for guiding our paths, even when we are clueless.

We(eds) Are the Champions!

Our September Garden of Weedin'

Our September Garden of Weedin’

In our September garden, we grow the best weeds in the Midwest.

The hubs and I nurtured this elite crop all summer. Yet — can you believe this? — no one awarded us a grand champion ribbon.

Last spring, my husband, risking vitality and vertebrae, rented a tank-like tiller to prepare the soil. We planted the highest quality vegetable seeds and plants. Why? They attract the highest quality weeds.

I fertilized the garden, nurturing early weed development. Hubby shoveled mulch between rows, providing moisture.

With this year’s bullying June rains, I feared our weed crop would float downriver. But despite such watery adversity, they grew strong.

Our garden in June

Our garden in June

At first, the dastardly efforts of vegetables and flowers were winning. Rain morphed scrawny tomato seedlings into scary green monsters. Lettuce, carrots and peppers crowded out crabgrass and ragweed. Berry bushes actually produced berries.

Insidious squash vines crushed the life out of purslane and poison ivy. Squash — a fitting name for such invaders, don’t you think?

But squash aggression could not match barbaric cucumbers that wound deadly vines around helpless clover and cockleburs. They even turned against their allies, the zinnias, hanging fat-bellied cucumbers around the zinnias’ skinny necks like fifty-pound pendants!

Cucumber reproduction surpassed that of rabbits. I fled through nightmares in which thousands of cucumbers chased me, finally pickling me in a giant Ball jar.

Fortunately, other allies supported the weeds. After record-breaking rains, July drought sucked out the vegetables’ fighting spirit. The brave weeds, however, persevered.

Area animals also came to the weeds’ rescue. Deer sacrificially forsook hundreds of acres of wild food to munch our garden’s green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Bunnies wiped out berries, saving us from the sad necessity of eating them. Squirrels stole cherry tomatoes. As they could not carry Big Boys in their mouths, they contributed by taking one bite out of all they could reach.

I did question the knee-high weeds’ newest allies: chiggers. But what are a few thousand itchy bumps compared with the joys of paying high prices for store-bought vegetables that taste like Styrofoam?

Despite trials and tribulations, we weed-growers will never give up. When hostile vegetables and flowers multiply, we enjoy the deep-down satisfaction of giving our all to cultivate the finest crop this side of Green Acres.

Even if we receive no purple ribbon — not even a participation one — to hang on our wall.

Even if we never see our picture in the paper.

We will not lose hope.

There is always next year.

 

Which won your garden battle this year? The veggies or the weeds?

 

Stuff I Shoulda Done … before December

ChristmasList BWhat’s wrong with this calendar I bought last March? Perhaps I should expect flaws in 90-percent-off merchandise. But my bargain declares we soon will see Christmas. This cannot be. As of November 30, I was supposed to have conquered the world.

Or, at least, defrosted our geezer freezer. This faithful appliance contains a prehistoric package of meat, the remains of a five-year-old Dairy Queen cake and 2,000 pounds of ice—mainly because I didn’t defrost it by December last year. Soon it won’t close. Then it will do its wheezing, freezing best to turn our junky garage into a Winter Wonderland.  

I shoulda cleaned my oven before December. Yet, why scour if I’m going to grease it up again at Christmas? Turkey-flavored Christmas cookies aren’t so bad.

The kids who formerly helped with raking have scattered farther than the leaves. Now my husband and I hold annual competitions to see who can crack their vertebrae the loudest. This year, some leaves are hanging around for Advent. Maybe delusional oaks think they’re Christmas trees?  

I shoulda renovated my flower beds, too. Bags of bulbs have lingered in my garage since 2003, when I last anticipated conquering the world. Maybe those underachiever bulbs already snoozing under blankets of soil will show up next spring. Raising perennial flowers resembles raising children: parents drown in guilt about nurturing miscues, yet their progeny spring forth in brilliant glory. Other times, when we lavish attention on them, they sulk and refuse to get out of bed for years on end. 

At least, I never left my kids on the porch after frost. My house plants are another matter. I stuck them there last spring, hoping for improvement. (Holiday gift tip: Giving a writer plants is like sending them to a plant concentration camp.) As frost approached, I reminded myself repeatedly to bring them in. But the “improved” plants now resemble greenish hat racks.

I shoulda “winterized” my car by now. (Why do we never “summer-ize” cars?) I detect a few sniffles from my Ford. I’d better let the grease gods give it a flu shot.

I did obtain my shot and tune-ups with doctor and dentist. But repairs on this (ahem!) mature body resemble maintenance on my 1960s ranch home: for every check off the list, five more materialize.

Now, with Christmas coming, to-do items on my list are reproducing like – like – Easter bunnies!

Wrong season! Maybe they bought discount calendars, too?

Feel free to add your to-do list moans and groans. We can moan and groan together.

But please don’t let your to-dos get too friendly with mine!