Tag Archives: Rain

Little Joys

Everyone loves huge joys, the take-my-breath-away, can-this-be-me, yippee-yahoo-yaaaay! joys. Some people even become speechless. (A lover of words and hyphens, I’m not one of those.)

Many, though, experience bits of gladness that barely raise adrenaline levels, yet light blahness like a candle’s flame. For example:

  • Being the very first to stick a spoon into a jar of peanut butter.
Image by sebastianhausi from Pixabay.
  • Discovering an in-law’s dog chewed your shoes already destined for the trash.
Image by wixon lubhon from Pixabay.
  • Putting away groceries without remembering what you forgot.
  • Buying avocados at exactly the right stage of ripeness.
  • Almost spilling something purple on a friend’s white carpet but recovering in time.
  • Seeing someone else has reloaded toilet paper. She may have been a burglar, but wouldn’t you like to shake her hand?
Image by Carola68 from Pixabay.
  • Baking brownies with crispy edges and gooey middles — though someone will inform you they are too crispy. Or too gooey. Which doubles the little joy, as you can eat them all yourself.
  • Discovering you really did leave your phone at home, rather than at O’Hare.

Maybe that last qualifies as a big joy, an end-zone-dance celebration. But other small joys make a difference:

  • That someone held the door open for you when your arms were full. And didn’t let go too soon.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.
  • That your car, even more hostile toward winter than you, started at first try.
  • That a human hug is something computers will never replace.
  • That rain doesn’t have to be shoveled.
  • That no one cares whether pink or blue baby sleepers are politically correct. At least, not in Indiana.
  • That you finished a book delightful as a hot fudge sundae — and no calories!

“It doesn’t take much to make you happy,” critics might say.

As if everyday happinesses don’t matter. As if little joys collected throughout a lifetime don’t add up to something substantial.

On the contrary, they shine in a person’s face, walk and talk. In memories of them long after they pass on.

That is no small thing.

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What little joys brighten your days?

End-of-Summer Confusion

Recently, my pastor, instead of dismissing the congregation after the benediction, seated us.

Image by erge from Pixabay.

How could he? Everyone had closed their Bibles and grabbed their purses.

“We have a problem,” Pastor said.

A million-dollar error in our building project? Heresy in the articles of faith? The closing of Cracker Barrel?

He said, “We don’t know when summer’s over.”

For weeks, the church staff has trumpeted program changes in bulletin, website and email. Though Pastor performed the parental equivalent of holding our faces in his hands and articulating new schedules s-l-o-w-l-y, we’ve asked spouses. “Um, what time does church start?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Past decades, summer exited after Labor Day. As for equinoxes — spring never arrived in March, so why bow to September’s equinox for summer’s departure?

Opening school early has shaken our culture. Back-to-school sales start before the previous school year ends. Indiana’s General Assembly passed school-excuse legislation so county fair winners could participate in the state fair.

Once upon a time, children sent to bed during broad daylight assumed they’d committed major sin, or their parents suffered from psychosis. Now, kids consider such craziness normal. Soon, they’ll consider cleaning their rooms as natural as microwaving pizza bites. No wonder everyone worries about this generation.

Image by 1195798 from Pixabay.

This summer’s weather has reinforced bewilderment. Droughts during June fried Midwestern fields and gardens. Unheard-of July rains rescued us and produced bizarre green August lawns.

Early last week, night temperatures fell into the 40s. Before Labor Day, they soared into the 90s.

Should we rev up the air conditioner or the furnace this morning? How about this afternoon? This minute?

Covering all seasonal bases, we snuggle under blankets every night. Turn on air conditioning, start ceiling fans and open windows. No wonder we’re befuddled. We alternate hot chocolate and snow cones.

Besides all this, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and football blare from screens. Aaaaugh!

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Let’s switch from Daylight Savings Time now, instead of November — absorb maximum confusion like a sucker punch and be done with it!

Or next year, we could once again mark Labor Day as summer’s end. But 100-degree heat waves might bake us for two more months.

We’d be more confused than ever.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you handle summer’s supposed end?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Yum!

O Lord, You invested so much sunshine and rain in this first tomato from my garden. You must have thought it was worth it.

Investing aches, pains and Tylenol in pulling these weeds, I wasn’t sure. …

Until I tasted this fruit? vegetable? of our labors.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

OMG, You were right! As usual.

Classic Post: Booting Up

This post first appeared on January 3, 2018.

“Don’t go outdoors without your boots!”

These winter words echo across decades.

Actually, this child liked clumping boots. Despite Mom’s belief I would catch 19 diseases, their podiatric force field protected me when stomping ice-covered gutters.

Unfortunately for my parents, their children’s feet grew hourly. While my sister acceded to wearing my hand-me-downs, I drew the line at my brother’s galoshes. However, recycled boots weren’t always an option because we had honed losing winter wear to a fine art.

The positive side: Lack of sufficient winter garb kept us inside warm classrooms at recess. While friends shivered outdoors, I read favorite books.

Some stories featured boots. In Little Women, Jo March’s boots helped her play swashbuckling heroes and villains in homegrown dramas. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, a traveling cobbler designed Almanzo Wilder’s first manly pair. Puss in Boots never would have brought his master fame, fortune and a princess if he hadn’t strutted about in that all-powerful footwear.

Still, most boots seemed mundane until go-go boots invaded the fifth grade fashion scene. My ignorant mother refused to buy me white boots amid the muddy slop season.

I whined. I pined. I promised I wouldn’t lose them, not even one.

She wouldn’t budge. So, I languished without the go-go boots every girl owned except me — and Becky Andrews, who wore thigh-high black boots like Nancy Sinatra’s when she sang “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”

Ten years later, I wore a similar pair that stretched my height well past six feet.

But snow time with my toddlers required mommy boots. My little ones readily wore garage sale Strawberry Shortcake and Ninja Turtles boots, even with PJs. They, too, waded in yucky gutters, despite my warnings.

Years later, they cornered me in a boot discourse similar to my go-go debate with Mom decades before. My children wanted me to spend a gazillion dollars on short-topped “boots” designed to frostbite toes.

When I refused, they left a row of sensible boots to an undisturbed existence in the closet — until I discovered my son’s worked well when I shoveled sidewalks.

I couldn’t wear the tall, black leather boots (my size!) I’d found on sale for five bucks.

I still wear them. I just leave them home when it rains. Or sleets. Or snows. Or. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Fess up. Do you wear your boots during yucky weather?

Classic Post: Brown vs. White Winter

This post first appeared on January 24, 2018.

Today, we’re experiencing a brown winter.

Typing those words makes me quiver with fear. Do I dare mention the weather to neighbors, coworkers or friendly convenience store clerks? With a few unguarded words, I may jinx the entire Midwest!

Despite brown winter’s dreariness, some consider it a gift, especially after enduring Snowmageddon. Anyone who mentioned “global warming” then was sentenced to shoveling the town’s driveways with a teaspoon.

No one battling the notorious Midwestern blizzard of ’78 had ever heard that term. If a foolhardy soul had suggested such to brides whose winter weddings were postponed indefinitely, they might have strangled him with tulle bows and buried him in uneaten wedding cake.

Others who survived that months-long whiteout not only stopped driving, they gave up finding their vehicles until spring.

Brown winter, by comparison, seems good.

  • Midwestern weddings should happen on schedule this weekend.
  • Cars start. They move!
  • Even if buckets of rain fall, we don’t have to shovel them.
  • Lower heating bills and fewer frozen pipes give cause to celebrate.
  • Mothers rejoice. Their offspring won’t need the 25 pounds of clothing required on snowy days. My son rated snowsuits along with vaccinations and boogeymen. Every outing resulted in a mother/son smackdown, the loudest always occurring at either the library or church.
  • A thaw dramatically reduces the likelihood of mistaken identity. Government statistics state that due to warmer temperatures, 77 percent fewer parents bring home the wrong kid from school.

To be sure, skiers and resort owners long for the white stuff. Ice skating rink owners anxiously await frigid temperatures.

No town wants its snow and ice festival to morph into a Sleet and Slop Spectacular. Nor do cities that have busted budgets, buying snowplows and stockpiling mountains of salt, look kindly on brown winters.

Worse, snowbirds cannot bear photos of friends back home visiting mailboxes in their shirtsleeves.

Yes, brown winters remain unpopular with some.

Me? I’m a coat-hater from decades back. (My son’s snowsuit antipathy is no surprise.)

Still, I welcome whispery snowflake kisses on my hood as we walk to church. Thousands of priceless diamonds glittering in my sunny backyard. Wind-carved curves of snow defy human artistry. …

Uh-oh.

I should’ve kept my mouth shut.

The Weather Channel predicts snow’s soon return. Do these scientific drama kings and queens truly know their stuff?

Brown or white winter today?

Stay tuned for our latest paranoia.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Which do you prefer, a brown or white winter?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Easter Afterthoughts

O Lord, some might think these crazy people lined up for blocks in the rain to watch the Cubs or American Idol. It still makes me smile to know they waited to see the Marion, Indiana, Easter pageant. OMG, I know it makes You smile, too.  

Indiana Spring: Prepare for Anything

“Would you write a note that says I can’t go teach today?”

My husband, a retired family physician, often heard similar requests about missing work. Today, though, he’s the speaker. Glaring at hail pelting our backyard, he dreads Indiana weather’s hormonal tantrums.

I don’t blame him. While I enjoy gentle raindrop melodies, I dislike hail’s percussion. Poor spring flowers probably don’t appreciate that music, either.

I settle deeper into my cozy robe and sofa seat, tapping on my laptop. One gloating glance from me, and Hubby might park beside me for a month. Maybe two.

Past Aprils have dumped snow on us. Today, thunder, lightning and hail prevail. Will tomorrow bring a biblical plague of frogs?

But spring peepers in nearby wetlands, the amphibian Mormon Tabernacle Choir, remain strangely silent. Perhaps they’re in a mucky mood too.

A born-and-raised Hoosier, I should accept this climatic insanity as normal.

Golfers like our neighbor consider it an unfortunate par for the course. They crave the 70-degree April in which my son was born, with lilacs and crab apple blossoms dizzying us with fragrance.

Or even the spring in which our daughter was born, when April blizzards morphed directly into 90-degree temperatures.

Even without that extreme temperature change, panicked weather personnel have trumpeted tornado doom for our state.

I appreciate their concern. Yet, how do we prepare for such climatic craziness?

Plus, Floridians don’t face the wardrobe problems we brave. Hoosiers cannot retire cold-weather clothing, yet must jam closets with spring-friendly outfits. Do we choose a parka or spring raincoat? Woolies or sleeveless? Wearing layers works, but how many? And not even the most flexible Midwesterner pairs flip-flops with electric socks.

Spring weather also scrambles food choices. If we bravely plan a barbecue, we may squint through a whiteout to see if the chicken’s done. Mother Nature, off her meds, may blow our grill to Cleveland.

Surely, she’ll get over her snit soon. Sunshiny weather will last through a five-minute walk. My miserable diet, kept with swimsuit weather in mind, will prove worth it. Hubby, who persists in making desperate camping reservations, will set up our pop-up without joining our grill in Cleveland.

For now, though, he must face Indiana weather as it is.

“Take an umbrella,” I say.

Hubby rolls his eyes. “It’s in my backpack.”

“Do you have a snow shovel in the car? Boots? Food and water? This might turn into a blizzard.”

“Check. Glad we had the air conditioning fixed last fall. Could be 90 by evening.”

He dons his suit of armor.

I open his helmet visor and kiss him goodbye. Now he’s prepared for anything — even an Indiana spring.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s spring weather like in your state?

Rendezvous with the Rain

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day!”

Some preschoolers let weather spoil play-outside plans. But one warm, rainy spring day 60 years ago, my brother Ned and I begged to play outdoors. Mom, seeing no lightning — and desperate for peace — dressed us in bathing suits she’d sewed. Mine was the most beautiful suit in the world, with ruffles on the rear.

At the neighboring playground, we danced through God’s sprinkler system. Ned and I soared on swings, welcoming rain’s laughing pitter-patter. We experienced the joy of mud, chocolate-brownie-batter stuff we smeared on the merry-go-round and watched the rain scrub clean. We worried less about our own state. Mom almost locked us out.

Later, having sworn off mud baths, I still loved awakening to rain rhythms plunking on the roof. I sometimes avoided sibling anarchy with an early morning walk in the rain. At 10, I didn’t run outside in a homemade bathing suit with a ruffled butt. Instead, I ducked raindrops until I found an umbrella under the swing set, where my brothers had conducted parachute jumps.

I strolled along wet, black roads where iridescent oil jewels gleamed. Silence ruled the slumbering village’s lush lawns and rainbow flowers. I breathed newly washed air and listened to raindrops skittering across my umbrella. Sometimes I talked to God. Sometimes neither of us said anything. I counted it a major triumph to return before my family awoke. We had managed this secret rendezvous, the rain and I.

During young adulthood, love often turns to hate. I attended a college under a huge rain cloud with a permanent “on” switch. I spent a bundle on umbrellas because dastardly thieves stole the hundred I forgot in cafeterias.

Noah floods with 30,000 gloomy students wielding 30,000 umbrellas didn’t charm me like my childhood walks. Elevators, where we absorbed each other’s wet-dog fragrances, became danger zones. When the film, Singin’ in the Rain, was shown on campus, the student body flew to California and staged a sit-in at Gene Kelly’s house.

Now an (ahem!) mature adult, I’ve shed youthful habits. I don’t lose umbrellas in cafeterias because I am the cafeteria. Loading groceries into my car amid a deluge, I gnash my teeth and weep.

Yet even on this dreary April day, rain calls to me.

I probably won’t play in the mud. Nor will I wear a bathing suit with ruffles on the rear. But before the nearby school erupts at three, I grab my umbrella.

I know where deep puddles hide. Where wet tulips and daffodils will listen to quiet, spring songs in silence.

I know the perfect route for my rendezvous with the rain.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you love a rainy day?

Umbrella Magic

Image by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay.

When I was a preschooler, my mother said umbrellas kept high-wire performers from falling. Would carrying an umbrella atop a swing set morph me into a lovely lady wearing a sparkling bathing suit? Then, perhaps, the world would see the magic me.

But the umbrella didn’t turn into a parachute. I fell like a rock.

Nevertheless, umbrellas continued to enthrall me. Why wouldn’t my mother buy them?

I understand now.

First, what five kids can do to a helpless umbrella staggers the imagination. When my mother gave in and bought one, all umbrellas in the store bowed in a moment of silence. During initial roughhousing, someone raised the newcomer inside the station wagon, resulting in broken ribs.

Sometimes, a lucky umbrella survived and took refuge in the front closet, buried among mittens, hats and boots. If not so fortunate, it found itself in a fencing match with a broom, both wielded by little brothers.

Occasionally, a foolhardy umbrella permitted itself to be discovered. It faced more fencing matches at the bus stop and a school bus ride among 40 passengers intent on poking each others’ eyes out. However, after occupying a dusty corner of the lost-and-found, it eventually vanished into the Alternate Universe where half of all children’s possessions abide, never to be seen again.

As a preteen, I decided to purchase my own umbrella. Because awkward Jo March in Little Women found true love under the umbrella, I thought I might, too. But umbrellas cost three whole dollars. When a friend from Indianapolis offered to buy me one for only one dollar, I requested red with polka dots. Instead, she bought one covered with old-lady pink and yellow flowers. Mom made me smile, thank her, and pay her $1.25.

Still, it possessed a magic of its own. On rainy Saturday mornings, I ventured into our slumbering village, rendezvousing with imaginary loves who shared my umbrella and the rain’s gentle, percussive music.

When did the magic disappear? During college in Bloomington, Indiana, which boasts more rainfall than your average Amazon jungle. I often left my umbrellas in classrooms. Skipping lost-and-found, they entered the Alternate Universe, leaving me to empty my tiny bank account to buy another. I also shared elevators with 30,000 other umbrella-wielding students. My love affair with umbrellas might have ended forever — except that a special young man raised his below my dorm window to signal his approach. We have shared umbrellas for 45 years now. …

This chilly March day, as I again walk a college campus, umbrellas bloom like spring flowers, sheltering laughing, shivering students on their way to class.

Do they feel the magic, too?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like rainy walks under an umbrella?

The Camping Commandments

I, like other clueless new spouses, signed my marriage license without reading the fine print. Later, I discovered I had promised to camp with my husband — for better, for worse — until lightning melted our tent poles or ravenous raccoons starved us out.

After decades of marriage, I now welcome campout vacations.

Or perhaps I’ve numbed to the point I think I like them.

Either way, I’ve learned the Camping Commandments:

  • If thou ownest an RV resembling a Trump hotel, wave pleasantly to those abiding in a bathroom-cabinet-sized tent. Similarly, tent dwellers should show friendliness to those in luxurious quarters. After all, we share the same pioneering blood — a fact well known to mosquitoes.   
  • Thou shalt not concoct gourmet meals whose tantalizing fragrances make thy neighboring cook’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches appear inferior.
  • Designer clothes on a campout shall be considered illegal.
  • In the community restroom, thou shalt not hog the one working sink for three hours, perfecting thy mascara.
  • Always swat a bug that lands on a fellow camper — after introducing yourself first.
  • If thou art a Boy Scout who attained the Pyro Overachiever Badge, bless others with thy superior craft. However, if an ignorant fellow camper adds an uninvited log onto thy perfect blaze, do not toss him in after it.
  • If sharing a group meal around the campfire, thou shalt not bring up scary research facts about hot dogs.
  • Neither shalt thou yank blazing marshmallows out of the fire, lighting fellow roasters like birthday candles.
  • Thou shalt not spin in 60-mph circles on a tire swing after eating four triple-marshmallow s’mores. (My grandson can attest to this one.)
  • If rain ensues, and thou ownest the sole camper in thy group, thou shalt welcome all 47 muddy, smelly tent-dwellers — for a price.
  • When changing at night in a tent, stuff thy flashlight into thy shoe for lower illumination. Otherwise, thy silhouette will gather unwanted fans or frighten thy neighbors into hysterics.
  • Even a grandma cannot be expected to welcome a wildflower bouquet featuring poison ivy.
  • Finally, departing campers should always share excess firewood with neighbors. If their loud music kept thy family awake at 3 a.m., thou mayest bore holes in the logs and insert firecrackers first.

“Wait,” you say. “You’ve cited more than ten commandments. Do campers really need that many?”

“Absolutely. We campers are wild by nature. Actually, there are many more commandments than these.”

“More?”

“Go back and read the fine print.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Camping Commandments would you include?