Tag Archives: Family

Classic Post: Look Out, I’m Pulling a Camper!

This post first appeared on October 10, 2018.

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? Han 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?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Did This Really Start with Only Two People?

O Lord, so thankful for a fabulous time in Indiana’s Brown County State Park with the entire Phillips clan. But OMG, if we grow any more, the next time, we might break the bridge!

Camping with Cicadas

Last summer, my husband and I set up our camper in Versailles State Park amid southern Indiana’s lush, green hills. Beautiful weather. Perfect.

Except for an odd, reverberating hum whose volume increased every hour.

Ooooooo-mmmmmmm.

Hubby snapped his fingers. “Oh, yeah. Cicadas. I read the every-17-year swarm — this one’s called ‘Brood X’ — will arrive this summer.”

Image by Stefan Lins from Pixabay.

I recalled my childhood fascination with cicadas’ molting. My siblings and I giggled at our mother’s squeals when Dad tossed empty shells at her. We perched additional shells on the screen door for her viewing pleasure.

Nowadays, I enjoy cicadas’ summer evening concerts, but Brood X’s noise made me shudder. “Reminds me of 1960s sci-fi movies before aliens show up.”

“The Return of the Monster Cicada,” Hubby intoned in a Vincent Price voice and threw a shell at me.

Image by Parlansky from Pixabay.

The nonstop drone only hinted at Indiana’s bug invasion. According to Elizabeth Barnes and Cliff Sadof of Purdue University, up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre might leave their 17-year underground larvae childhood to climb trees and party.

I thanked God that multitudes of His interesting but noisy little creatures gathered on campsites elsewhere. Those insect swingers appeared so desperate for dates that they climbed anything resembling a tree. A few shinnied up our camp table legs. Up signposts.

Occasionally, on us.

“Get lost.” I brushed off would-be suitors. “I’m taken.”

“If we were survival camping, you’d ask them to dinner.” Hubby consulted his smartphone. “They’re low in cholesterol. See, somebody topped cookies with them.”

“I wouldn’t survive cicada cookies,” I retorted, “and neither would you.”

The Tyson United Methodist Church in Versailles, Indiana, was completed in 1937.

I suggested a walk around historic Versailles, where we read about John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raid and viewed a unique 1937 Art Deco church.

Ooooooo-mmmmmmm. The weird bug love song still sounded as if crooned into microphones. Piles of cicada shells grew beneath trees. We tiptoed along sidewalks to avoid squishing our fellow pedestrians.

Back at our campsite, I ignored ooo-mmms and gave thanks for bugless s’mores. For a fun experience amid beautiful, rugged hills, despite the swarm.

Fortunately, another Brood X won’t occur for another 16 years.

If I still camp at age 85, I plan to head north.

Our noisy neighbors swarmed the campground, the state park, and the nearby town of Versailles, Indiana.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever experienced a swarm like Brood X?

Bicycle and Marriage Built for Two

“It won’t be a stylish marriage; I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.”

According to writer Harry Dacre, his heroine, Daisy Bell, and her sweetheart seemed destined for marital bliss.

My husband and I? Not always.

Whatever a stylish marriage is, I don’t think ours qualifies. I don’t look sweet, either, red face sweating as Hubby and I climb hills on our tandem bike.

We’ve come a long way since our first tandem ride 19 years ago, when we bought the bike as both celebration and consolation for our empty nest.

Hubby explained this “togetherness” hobby would work for us. “It’s the perfect solution for riders of — er — unequal athletic levels.”

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay.

Let Hubby do most of the work? Sounded like a plan to me.

After 30 years, we didn’t expect our first ride would send us back to Marriage 101. That we would nearly take out our neighbor’s trash cans. Starting and stopping required the precision of our operating like bicycle gears. Hubby hadn’t realized navigating turns would be like driving a semi. Dragging an extra person up a hill would resemble hauling an oversize load.

I, taking the back seat, hadn’t realized I’d see nothing in front but Hubby’s back. Nor did I understand that without exception, I had to communicate my intention to procure my water bottle. Once, my shift in balance sent us careening toward a pickup.

Image by Simon Gatdula from Pixabay.

Hubby and I still disagree on how to deal with 4,371 dogs that guard roads throughout our county.

Canines always lunge for riders on the back seat. Ergo, my approach: “Pedal for your — I mean, my — life!”

Hubby’s: “We’ll never outrace them. Yell at the dogs to alert the owner.”

What if the owner commutes to Chicago?

Image by S Hermann and F. Richter from Pixabay.

Despite our differences, we enjoy aspects of the Indiana countryside many people miss — rustling cornfields, forested hills and flower-covered meadows. Cows and horses can’t make heads nor tails of this odd, two-headed creature passing their fields.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay.

Daisy and her man probably discovered that riding a tandem and achieving wedded bliss are work! Both are acquired tastes — especially puffing up those hills.

Though on that first ride, we hit speed bumps, Hubby and I have kept both tandem and marriage moving. They’re our favorite pastimes.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever ridden a tandem bicycle?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Whatever Happened to Buying Fisher-Price?

O Lord, I can hardly believe it! Shopping for my granddaughter’s freshman dormitory supplies? But thank You our three generations did it together.

She seemed to have a good time with her sweet mom — even, OMG, with her misbehavin’ grandma.  

A Clothesline Chat

Image by AlkeMade from Pixabay.

On a blue-sky morning with a delicious summer breeze, don’t you want to hit the beach?

Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay.

Me, too. (Sigh.) Instead, I meet our clean-underwear quota.

I remember clotheslines with chorus lines of jigging jeans. Wind-chubby, upside-down shirts. Billowing sheets sailing in a heavenly sky-ocean. My siblings and I flitted in and out of a blue-and-white world.

As I stuff wet laundry into the dryer, yesterdays hover like butterflies.

We were crazed moths, drawn to clean laundry like a flame. Fresh from the playground, we plopped into laundry baskets. The clothes didn’t mind grassy, muddy hugs, but Mom did.

Image by Adriano Gadini from Pixabay.

We despised bedtime, but clean sheets’ sunny smell reminded us we could play outdoors tomorrow.

When I helped Mom, clothespins chomped my fingers like miniature monsters. A determined little laundress, I learned to pinch them instead.

Everyone possessed a clothesline, then. For big families like ours, every day was a potential wash-and-dry day — if the sun appeared. Sometimes, he’d shine while we filled lines with clothes, then played hooky. Worse, he conspired with rowdy, storm-cloud friends, who gleefully doused a morning’s hard work. When the sun left for Florida in December, clothes morphed into stiff, frozen aliens that refused to fit into a basket.

No wonder we — and much of America — greeted dryers with enthusiasm. Clotheslines became an endangered species.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

Recently, however, their number has increased, mostly for ecological reasons.

Despite her neighborhood association’s rules, Susan Taylor of Bend, Oregon, set up a clothesline. She became the star of a neighbor’s covert photographing sessions. Even after Susan screened her offensive laundry behind backyard trees, then a curtain in her open garage, the association filed a lawsuit against her.

Susan and others nationwide won their point, though, because Oregon and 18 other states now ban bans on clotheslines.

Image by Jay Mantri from Pixabay.

I don’t own one, mostly because Hubby’s too busy to install it. But I’d like to fulfill our clean-underwear quota with a clothesline, hanging them behind sheets, as Mom taught me. I could return to that heavenly, blue-and-white world, then snuggle at night into sun-kissed sheets smelling of a fresh tomorrow.

Unlike Susan, I live where people care more about each other than the way they dry clothes.

Her neighborhood’s dirty laundry has been aired all over the Internet. I wonder … have they learned to be neighbors yet?

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever used a clothesline?

T-Ball Time Again

T-ball, the kiddie variation of baseball, didn’t exist when my husband and I were kids. Instead, we played neighborhood softball. I discovered my talent for missing flies. Hubby learned to hit the ball — when new eyeglasses revealed its existence.

Thank goodness, our five-year-old started his baseball career with T-ball and a caring coach.

Most of the team managed to hit the ball, yet challenges abounded. Four-year-olds who had not learned to count demanded seven strikes. Batters chopped as if cutting wood. The tee, instead of the ball, flew into the air. Confused fielders stared. Were they were supposed to catch and throw this thing to first base? Napping outfielders found a hurtling ball a nuisance. One future ballerina at shortstop practiced pliés as it whizzed past.

Though everyone wanted to tag the batter out. Can you say, “gang tackle”?

Eventually, our son left T-ball behind for competition in which nobody took naps. Nobody practiced pliés.

Where was the fun in that? While I celebrated his Little League team’s championship, I missed T-ball’s creativity.

Fast-forward three decades. Again ripe with sunblock, bug spray and pride, I anticipated another T-ball game.

Our grandson’s.

Image by Chris Pastrick from Pixabay.

He joined a flock of pint-sized ballplayers wearing shirts that reached their knees, shorts that reached ankles, and hats that reached noses. Fielders lifted mitts half their body weights. Our son, the assistant coach (aka crowd-controller) walked players to positions, as some might get lost. He and the head coach demonstrated catching, throwing and hitting.

T-ball, like everything else, had become educational. That’s good.

My heart warmed, though, when an outfielder picked daisies. This pitcher jitterbugged rather than doing pliés, consumed with the joy of playing. The brave assistant coach refereed fielder pileups.

Having inherited his father’s early baseball passion, our grandson had been smacking it off a tee since he learned to walk.

“He’s a better player than I was,” our son admitted during a family Zoom session.

Three generations of Cubs fans on their way to a game.

“A great trend,” his grandfather said. “Your dad was better than I. You were a better player than he. Now, your son’s even better.”

“Someday,” I interjected, “I’ll look down from heaven and watch our descendant in a Cubs uniform.”

Fun to project our dreams on future descendants.

But do such extravagant visions rival T-ball’s fun?

Nah.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you attended a T-ball game lately?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: We Should All Be So Truthful

O Lord, I know You love weddings, and so do I. We’ve attended a lot of them. But OMG, don’t You think this bride and groom were more honest than most?  

Don’t Do This During a Storm

Image by sethink from Pixabay.

Television weather experts give us blow-by-blow advice, yet anyone knows that when lightning rips the sky apart, watching TV is risky. While tornadoes flatten Starbucks nationwide, viewers plaster noses to TV screens. They may fry or be blown to Oz, but they’re informed.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

Once aware of severe weather, we should stop watching weather experts.

They never tell us that.

The bold sit outside, counting lightning hits in their yards. Some attempt the photo that will appear on TV. News flash: Lightning may agree to a selfie with you, but you won’t like the results. Storm chasers may not enjoy making its acquaintance, either.

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay.

Did you know that according to The Weather Channel, men are six times more likely to be struck by lightning? Wives insist it’s because they never put their dirty socks in the hamper. However, the article ( https://weather.com/health/news/lightning-kills-more-men-women-20130805) suggests men’s favorite leisure activities — fishing, boating, camping, golf and soccer — make them favorite targets.

Ladies endanger themselves for social reasons, e.g., talking on landlines during thunderstorms. Determined brides risk lighting up entire wedding parties like marquees. And let mere funnel clouds change their romantic venues? Never!

I’ve avoided most feminine scenarios. However, Hubby, who preaches togetherness while camping, ensures that I get up close and personal with storms.

Image by Ralph’s Fotos from Pixabay.

Once, while setting up camp as lightning sizzled around us, he yelled, “Hold up those tent poles. Higher. Higher!”

Maybe he’d taken out life insurance on this human lightning rod?

A tip for grandparents: don’t babysit during storms, as what worked in “The Sound of Music” won’t work for you. Grandkids won’t sing “My Favorite Things.” They will not sleep. You won’t, either.

Their snickering parents, miles away, will.

Finally, while God may not take offense to references about His moving furniture in heaven or bowling with angels, we probably shouldn’t yell at Him, as Lieutenant Dan did in “Forrest Gump.” Again, what worked for Gary Sinise might not work off film.

The Psalms state that God rides the wings of the storm. His improvement on a roller coaster?

While He grants weather experts ingenuity to guard our safety, God doesn’t plaster His nose to the TV to receive Doppler reports. He can calm the worst storm with “Peace, be still,” (modern translation: “Knock it off!”).

I’ll always consult Him first.

Image by Felix Mittermeier from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you react to storms?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Wish I Hadn’t Quit!

O Lord, You recall how my mom begged me to practice piano, but finally gave up and allowed me to quit lessons. Thank You that my daughter didn’t cave — and, OMG, her boys make wonderful music!