O Lord, You have blessed us with wonderful grandchildren. Missing them so much, we appreciate technology that helps us connect. OMG, the energy You gave them! A video call feels like I’m in a roomful of human popcorn.
When you hear the word “treasure,” do your ears perk up like a kitty’s at the whirr of a can opener?
My ears wiggle, too — though as a child, jewels, in particular, fascinated me.
When I was a preschooler, a kind lady, aware of our family’s poverty, offered to buy my sister and me Easter clothes. She was rich, so I reveled in fantasies of princess dresses of red velvet, encrusted with precious stones.
Instead, we wore blue-and-white gingham. Not a single sapphire or diamond on them anywhere.
At sandy beaches, I buried quartz pebbles, marking their hiding places with an X. Someday, I would dig them up and sell them for millions. Then I’d wear princess dresses and eat Dilly Bars every single day.
In my heart of hearts, I knew few found for-real treasures in Indiana cornfields. Jesus told a story about a man discovering a “pearl of great price” in a field, but I never found one.
Still, I tried to hide my everyday treasures, with limited success. My younger brothers, who couldn’t find their shoes if their lives depended on it, possessed sophisticated built-in systems that detected all candy bars within 50 miles.
I also loved fruit — another commodity that disappeared quickly at our house. When my mother brought home ruby-red apples or golden oranges, I sneaked several and hid them in my bed’s headboard for secret indulgence while I read Little Women or Black Beauty.
Much later, I learned that I came from a long line of fruit pirates. My Southern grandmother treasured apples as if they were made of gold. When Dad brought her bags of apples from the Midwest, they vanished. An even better treasure detector than his sons, Dad found them under her bed. Once, while visiting my parents, I was vacuuming bedrooms when I discovered his apple stash as well.
Thus, my toddler grandson’s precocious ability to hide treasure shouldn’t have surprised us. He mostly spirited off other people’s valuables. When car keys, remotes, or backup flash drives vanished, his parents immediately identified the chief suspect. After extensive treasure hunts, they might find their billfolds nestled in 50 pounds of cat food.
Or maybe not.
They still considered that little larcenist a treasure — and Grandma certainly agrees.
I’ve never dug my fingers through piles of gleaming doubloons or gems, but the ring of precious faces around my table glow with greater worth. The only diamonds I own are small solitaires that shine on my left hand and on a silver anniversary necklace, courtesy of the shy, loving guy whose once-hidden treasures have taken a lifetime to discover and enjoy.
Makes my ears wiggle just to think about it.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you consider your treasures?
When Midwestern citizens select their favorite month, February is among the first voted off the calendar. Even 2020’s relatively civilized temperatures (so far) don’t suffice to keep February in the running.
We still wear long undies. Yet swimsuits go on sale. Ack!
February Visa bills bristle with charges we’d repressed.
We’ve already lost the right gloves of new pairs our in-laws gave us for Christmas.
Cars define dirty. Even if some thug attempted to steal mine before my very eyes, I wouldn’t realize it. If I did, I’d offer him the keys.
But I’m still feeling fine in February for 15 reasons:
- God has not run away to Florida. He knew we needed Him here big-time.
- I love baggy clothes. Fitted-waistline spring and summer outfits constrict my creativity. Not to mention, my breathing.
- On Groundhog Day, a marginalized species is celebrated with newspaper headlines. Isn’t it nice that groundhog groupies crowd around Punxsutawney Phil as if he were Justin Bieber? Insane, but nice.
- I don’t have to do spring-cleaning yet. Shoot, if we squeeze a little more snow out of winter, I don’t have to take down my Christmas wreath yet.
- Let’s hear it for half-price chocolate the day after Valentine’s Day!
- If that’s not enough to make you smile, February is also Great American Pie Month.
- Because my toes are buried deep inside fuzzy socks, I don’t have to polish my toenails.
- Nor must I face my March birthday yet. An added bonus: because leap year comes in 2020, I receive an extra day of reprieve.
- My youngest grandchild was born on the 10th — a reason to throw confetti all month long!
- February’s sloppy weather creates an excellent working environment for a writer. With a recluse sun rarely showing its face, my laptop and I snuggle in my chair with zero desire to play hooky outside.
- A steaming mug of coffee tastes 10 times better on a February morning than in May.
- Everybody’s windows are dirty. Everybody’s yard looks lousy. Regardless of color, houses look gray. February in the Midwest is a great equalizer when it comes to property upkeep. Unless you haven’t taken down your Christmas wreath.
- Girl Scout Cookies arrive in February.
- Hot flashes come in handy.
- Finally, it’s February, not November. Only a few weeks until legal spring.
The birds, chirping a little louder, feel the change. So do brave, if stupid, daffodils poking up green fingertips in my sheltered flower bed. With these tiny pre-signs of spring — along with a few hundred Girl Scout Cookies — how can I keep from feeling fine in February?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite thing about this month?
O my God, thank You for our seven grandchildren — a blessing beyond anything we could have imagined. As expected, we also have a granddog and a grandcat. But, OMG — does Your cosmic plan for us also include grandrats?
OMG, at Christmas, sometimes grandsons pause long enough to give angel smiles. More often, they shift into hyperdrive, a blur no power on earth can slow. Not that I’m ever like that at Christmas. Right, Lord? Right?
O Lord, though AARP and Medicare supplemental insurance companies seem ecstatic that I’m older, I’m not inclined to thank You for sagginess, bagginess, and wrinkles. But when our precious clan, including seven grandkids, comes for Thanksgiving — OMG, I’m grateful to be Grandma!
O Lord, thank You for giving us our daily bread. But OMG, sometimes when we least expect it, Your biggie-bag blessings blow our minds!
O, Lord, thank You for our grandchildren, with their bright, shiny, Cadillac brains. But OMG, when one wipes out both Grandma and Grandpa in Monopoly, isn’t that a little much?
Do you remember your first Girl Scout Cookie?
During the early 1960s, a neighbor girl rang our doorbell, and my mother happily did her civic duty. I tasted my first Girl Scout Cookie, a peanut butter sandwich called a Savannah.
Today’s savvy cookie-taster insists Savannah Smiles® are lemon-flavored half-moons, a 180-degree turnabout from those I first savored.
I thought my memory must be 11 short of a dozen. Comparing notes with other Boomers, however, I discovered I was right! Those peanut butter confections are now called Do-si-dos®.
I may forget my parking spot location, social security number and computer password, all within the same hour. But I never, ever forget a cookie.
Not that I ate many then. My brothers also tasted their first Savannahs. A severe cookie famine ensued.
I sought to ease it by joining the Girl Scouts myself.
I soon discovered my Girl Scout uniform did not come with a free admission to an endless cookie buffet. Each box cost (gasp!) 50 cents — a king’s ransom to an 11-year-old.
Somehow, I’d signed on an invisible dotted line to sell them. By then, I understood many people did not welcome door-to-door salesmen. Little-girl appeal redeemed my fellow Scouts, but my weed-like growth spurt nixed that angle. Walmart and cookie stands did not exist.
Still, a Girl Scout keeps her promises. So, I trudged through subdivisions, praying with every doorbell’s ring that no one would answer. Sadly, during the 1960s, everybody was at home. When doors opened, I had to say something. Usually, “You don’t want to buy any cookies … do you?”
Amazingly, they often did. Despite setting new substandards for salesmanship, I sold my share.
Both my daughters, cursed with my door-to-door DNA, did well in the cookie-table arena. Tiny, with Bambi-brown eyes, our younger girl even persuaded a kindhearted baker to purchase several boxes.
Our older girl later worked for the Girl Scouts, dedicating weeks of her life to sorting, distributing, selling and collecting payments for stacks of cookies that filled her living room.
Why didn’t she accept my offer to serve as official taster?
Soon, my granddaughter proudly wore the Girl Scout sash and kept the promises, faithfully contributing a million-dollar smile to the cookie cause. Plus thousands of calories to Grandma’s mostly theoretical diet, which she was happy to break to do her civic duty.
I thank the Girl Scouts for promoting superior values, as well as good taste, throughout three generations of my family. Also, for providing inspiring, delicious writing material (munch, munch, munch).
If a cookie quality control position opens up in your organization, you know whom to call.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?
Travel often aggravates the phobias we accumulate along life’s journeys.
Football commentator John Madden and many others fear flying, which is known as aerophobia. Others avoid travel in automobiles (ochophobia) or trains (siderodromophobia). Some even fear long words (hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia).
However, I’ve never encountered a term for my own neurosis, the “pack attack.”
My husband does not understand why the sight of a suitcase gives me the shakes.
What could you expect of a man who not only survives, but thrives on taking brown pants, two brown shirts and brown shoes? For fashion excitement, he adds a beige cardigan.
I like brown, too. But which brown will suit my mood tomorrow? Sepia, sienna or russet sweater? Raw or burnt umber toothbrush? So, I bring all my browns.
No wonder my dearly beloved struggles to understand. The man’s wardrobe controls the weather. If he forgets an umbrella, The Weather Channel calls a halt to all thunderstorms within 500 miles of our destination.
My packing paranoia asks, “What if?” I can’t leave city limits unless my suitcase contents cover every climate emergency ranging from a Tallahassee Ice Age to an Indianapolis volcanic eruption.
When we visit grandchildren, my entire wardrobe must be available. As long as Grandpa packs a separate bag, his clothes rarely suffer from baby body fluids. Let him share a suitcase with me, though, and a pee-a-thon — and worse — ensues. Although his preference for brown covers a multitude of sins ….
I marvel how his clothes mysteriously collapse into packets that could fit into a billfold. Once, when I foisted snow boots and my lumpy body armor bathing suit onto his bag, they promptly folded themselves into hankies.
Inspections present the ultimate torture for travelers who suffer pack attacks. Not only do strangers unwrap our Christmas gifts and wave our oversized undies like flags, they risk the entire terminal’s safety. One flip of a suitcase latch, one zzzzzip! — and my bag explodes. Shoes fly like missiles, and hundreds in line suddenly wear my wardrobe. On the positive side, they can expect lots of fashion variety.
When inspected, I miss my plane. My husband, who dashes for the gate before anyone knows we’re together, always makes it.
Airline carriers should offer therapy — and marriage counseling — for travelers in airports. They’d never go bankrupt.
Sessions for luggage also might be in order. My suitcase flips and flops like an angry two-year-old as I drag it through the terminal. It attempts to steal other bags’ identity. It tries to get lost when I travel.
I should send it to luggage obedience school.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll send it packing.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you suffer from pack attacks? Does your spouse?