Abhorrent Little Worms

Abhorrent. What a great word, and in today’s cancel culture I get to throw it around a lot. The evening news gives me lots of reasons; who just stretched the definition of the word promise, or which big wig’s toupee just slipped and exposed their abhorrentness.  Yes, abhorrentness is a word I just made up. English is living its best life, adding to itself every day.

“I would hate to miss National Maureen Lewicki half day”

What made me use the word today? It is National Gummi Worm Day. Gummi worms get a day, and I don’t even get a half day. If I ever do get a half day, I hope it’s the afternoon as I am not a morning person. I would hate to miss National Maureen Lewicki Half Day by oversleeping.

How will I celebrate National Gumi Worm Day, especially if I find them abhorrent?  Well I am in luck. Today is also National Give Something Away day, so I can observe the day with astonishing joy, by giving away my Gummi Worms. Can I interest you in a handful?

Just the thought of the worms makes me squirm.

A Four Minute Video

It was just a 4-minute video, but it taught us a lot. Nothing about the subject of the video, but a lot about Dan and me.

When our 38th wedding anniversary rolled around we decided to celebrate in NYC to take in a couple of shows and visit the planetarium. The planetarium was my suggestion which you will doubt the truth of if you know me. If you don’t know me you certainly will doubt it by the end of this, but I really am fascinated by space, planets, and black holes.

At the planetarium we stepped in line for a four-minute video about black holes. I was excited. I have a black hole, more commonly known as a purse. I hoped the video would answer that age-old question ‘Where do the chapped lip balms go after I drop them into my handbag?’

We were directed to stand by a metal railing that encircled a concave floor in front of us, and to watch the floor. This is where the video could be seen.

As the lights lowered, I hurried down the first of the many bunny trails that track up my mind. Why the floor, I wondered, why not the ceiling, the walls, and why were they too cheap to provide chairs? But just before the lights completely dimmed, I spotted it. Right in the center of this floor that would soon to be filled with images of black holes.

 A chapped lip balm.

Just a tiny little thing really, but it sent me deeper down the bunny trail. Did the curators purposefully put the lip balm on the floor of the soon to be black hole? Someone had a subtle sense of humor. Or perhaps someone thought they were putting it into the black hole they carry around on their shoulder and it slipped out and rolled down into the wrong black abyss.

I began to wonder if the owner had begun searching in their bag for the elusive balm, and because it was a cold and windy day in NYC I worried about the person’s dried, cracking lips. Logically I began to think about the cautionary tales of people who used the balms and unwittingly addicted their lips to the waxy, greasy coating.

I began to think how I would have reacted. Swift to jump into action, I imagined myself catapulting over the railing and sliding down the concave screen to retrieve the treasure even though I probably had 6 more of them in my bag. I imagined the horrified shout from the security person dressed to look like a curator, and my scream I when I realized my foot had rammed right through the video screen, yet I had the chap balm in my hand, so, mission accomplished as they say in space science. Do they say that in space science? Yet another bunny trail.

Then mercifully the lights came up, and we were directed to leave the room quickly before allowing our eyes to adjust to the light.

Dan and I had so much to talk about after the video as we headed to the next exhibit. He spoke about the things he hadn’t considered about black holes. “If black holes distort time and space around them, this helps explain the possibilities of time travel, he said thoughtfully.”

He focused then on supermassive black holes, and primordial holes, remarked about the 100 billion galaxies out there, that each have 100 million black holes, and how they regularly devour things. This habit of devouring things I had already known about. I carry a purse after all.

Finally, he realized I hadn’t said a thing.

“What did you get from the video? Only four minutes and it was full of food for thought, wasn’t it?”  he asked.

“Did you see the chapped lip balm at the center of the screen?” I asked.

He looked at me in disbelief, shook his head, and quietly took my hand as we walked.

“Let’s see what else we can find out today,” he said.

I had moved on too, because I started to think about the time that I found 7 pens in my purse.

Keep Running Maggie McRooney, a new fun read!

What a fun, sweet, well written young adult book. I have enjoyed some good chuckles!! Maggie is SUCH a believable character. And here is an added plus for me: when I was a kid my dad had a pink- wait for it- cadillac. I know. I know. Did I get grief for that Cadillac at school as my house was also an unfortunate pink stucco. Uggo.
Anyway doesn’t Maggie’s grandma show up in a pink buick?? Trust me, I can picture that car! Congratulations Edna Waidell Cravitz!! I am so proud if your accomplishment!!!

It’s That Feeling You Had But Every Day

I generally don’t admit to shopping in Walmart, but I was on a hunt for some recently elusive items only Walmart seems to have. As I scanned the shelves in the paper goods aisle, a fellow shopper took my cart and started to walk away.  I heard a woman say, with a certain urgency,

“That’s not our cart, that’s not our cart.”

The urgency in her voice caught my attention, and I turned and saw my cart leaving the aisle assisted by a young boy.

“You can take my groceries, but you’ll have to pay for them,” I said.

Then it occurred to me the child was black, and what I said could sound accusatory because he might not know that my middle name is ‘defuse the situation with cheer.’

 It was two days after George Floyd was killed.

His father graciously apologized, bowed his head, and raised his hands as we do sometimes as we apologize. And he apologized again. And again. I glanced around and realized this was family: husband, wife, and a couple of children. The children watched. Being a teacher, I always notice an audience of children and check for attentiveness. The oldest was wide-eyed, intensely watching his dad.


“No problem,” I said, “I’ve done it myself. I walked off with a woman’s cart once and her handbag was in it! I had it quite a few aisles before I heard an announcement over the PA asking for the cart to be returned. I was so embarrassed, and that woman was really irritated with me.”

The wife chuckled a bit and we went on our way, but as I turned down the next aisle it struck me hard how different the outcome might have been for that boy if HE had mistakenly walked off with the woman’s cart, handbag and all.

When I first heard the term white privilege, I was offended and countered that I was not racist. It took months for me to realize the term isn’t related to white supremacy and I suspect many white people might think they are being accused of being a white supremacist when they hear the term white privilege.  I do not condone white supremacy, but I do unwittingly experience white privilege.

When I don’t hear from my son for a day or two, I pray he is not sick or had a car accident, but when my black friend doesn’t hear from her son, she prays he wasn’t arrested or worse. That’s white privilege. I don’t automatically think my son was arrested and abused or killed in the process.

When a black man of my acquaintance drives home from work he is careful to take the long way home to avoid a neighborhood where a man of color would ‘stand out.’ I am NEVER afraid I would arouse suspicion by my presence. That’s not something I asked for, it’s just something that comes to me by virtue of my birth in a world where people of color continue to dig out of mistreatment.

 I am not racist, but I know now that is not enough.

I need to be Anti-racist: aware of veiled racist statements people make and pointing them out, examining my own knee jerk thoughts and bringing them captive. I dare say we are not even aware of some of the things we think or act on without thinking. We all have assumptions we carry with us that we view the world through.

 Some are seem truly innocent but are wrong.

Some are hurtful.

Some are truly vile.

We all have assumptions we carry with us that we view the world through.

As I left work one St Patrick’s day, a colleague said with all sincerity that she assumed I would come to work the next day with a hangover or not at all. With my heart pounding, my heart breaking, I explained that not all Irish are drunks, that in fact I am a ‘tea-totaler’ and that the real story of Patrick and the hard times the Irish lived through has been clouded by plastic hats and green beer.

When I told my friend, who is black, about that incident and my angst, she said simply, “Yep. I have that feeling you had, but every day.”

 We all need to remember that scriptural warning that the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure—and ask God to root out thoughts that have grown deeply, to help each other by pointing them out, and admitting there is a better way of thinking. Some of our neighbors are still waiting to be loved as we love ourselves.

A Sweet Aroma

As I planted my freshly purchased annuals I wondered which flower was giving off such a sweet aroma.

I sniffed each one just before I dropped them into their new mud homes, but I never found that lovely spring messenger.

My work finally done, my grass-stained knees creaking, I gathered my shovels and wandered over to a bed I had not tended. I wanted to at least peak at it, my project for another day.

Tucked in among the Hostas, that plant that can overpower a garden, were some tenacious Lillies of the Valley.

Sweetly peeking out from among the Hostas, they stood unassuming and small, but sent out a fragrance as a message of their presence.

I want to have a fragrance not my own that sends out a message of hope and peace, even if I am nestled in among giants who have none.

Giants who can overwhelm. Like the lilies I want to be unassuming and make no excuse except that the hope is not my doing, and that anyone can have that same hope.

I pushed the Hosta leaves aside, cupped the little flowers in my hands and breathed in deeply, in no rush to leave them.

Yes. I want to be like them: with a fragrance of hope that draws people closer and makes them want to tarry.

Solo Recital

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It’s a horrible picture, I know, but I have a reason.

On a recent walk I heard a bird singing with abandon and I spotted him in a high branch. He sang and sang and appeared to be looking at me. Slowing down and moving closer, I was careful not to make a sound.

I aimed my camera and tried to find him in the stinking lens. He kept singing. The moment was just for him and me. Me at one with nature. Me, a bird whisperer. His concert was for me alone as he patiently waited for me to goof clumsily with the phone to get the shot. Lovely and tranquil.

“DID YOU GET A SHOT OF HIM,” a dog walker asked as she stood next to me. Where she came from I do not know, but I startled, nearly dropped my phone, and I am pretty sure the bird fell out of the tree from the shock of the human, booming voice.

“WHY ARE THE MALES THE BEAUTIFUL ONES,” she thought aloud loudly, then moved on.

The moment was over. The concert unceremoniously ended without an encore.

I usually look for a lesson in these moments, but the best I can come up with is to always be aware of your surroundings, because if she had been a mugger I would have been minus a phone with a lousy lens.

Still I am grateful to that little honey of a bird for his performance for me and it makes me wonder what other treasures I miss in my day because I am moving too fast to notice. There might be concerts all around. I might try to be more attentive for them tomorrow.

Love that is not Reckless

When I think of God’s overwhelming, never ending love I can’t add the adjective ‘reckless.‘

I just can’t.

Have you ever been in a car when the driver was driving recklessly? I have. There was no love motivating that thoughtless endangerment of lives.

Is God, as reckless is defined, without thinking or caring about the consequences?

Never.

He is always thinking, ALWAYS caring about circumstances.

Did He sing over me before I spoke a word?

Did He breath life into me?

Does He chase me, fight for me, pay the cost for me?

Yes

Is there a wall He won’t scale, a mountain He won’t climb? A debt He won’t pay?

No

God cares and watches and thinks and counts the cost of His Son’s sacrifice.

Does that sound reckless?

The verse of a very presently popular song tells me He is reckless. Although it fits well into the cadence of the song, I can’t utter the words, but these I can:

Oh the Overwhelming, sacrificial, endless love of God.

The thoughtful sacrifice of Jesus is redemptive, not a reckless one.

One word change and I can get behind it. Reckless? Not God

Oh You Lovely Stalwart Stem!

Summer heat stifled you
But in these warm-waning days

You still reach to the sunny-less sky
To bloom

In the growing dark

Smaller than your summer show
Yet more delightful to see
In a winter-soon garden bed

Oh to be like you
Reaching up
Beyond the Sonless world
Reaching ever toward Him

To bloom
Even in the thickening dark
Even as the world grows ever more

Wearying-cold

Blooming

Because of Him
Seeking, trusting, and blooming
In a winter-swept and Sonless world.

Sanity is Slipping Away

A friend of mine with several young ones under 5 years of age shared with me her desperate need for sleep.

I understand this, I really do. I understood first hand, as a mother of a newborn, why sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture. If I had been entrusted with the combination to the lock to a nuclear bomb silo, I am certain I would have called a communist leader and offered it to him, if only he could have arranged for a sleep long enough for REM sleep to kick in.

I recall how hard it was to make a simple decision. Baby is sleeping.

  • Should I shower?
  • Nap?
  • Make out a grocery list
    • Should I use crayon or pen to make out the list?
  • Should I call my husband and ask him to pick up dinner on the way home?
  • Should I tell him to get pizza or Chinese take out?
  • Should I call and ask him to help me make this decision even though earlier I called to ask to ask him what I should eat for breakfast? Or was that yesterday?
  • Is that the phone ringing or is the that the microwave or is the baby awake and crying?
  • What am I doing wrong?

Oh, I can answer that one…..nothing. I am doing nothing wrong.

That little body in the crib has been carried in a safe, warm, wet, dark place for months, and now is adjusting to life outside the womb.

So be ok with letting the laundry pile up and the groceries sitting on the floor until tomorrow, as long as you toss the perishables into the fridge-grocery bag and all.

Love your hair in a messy bun day after day.

Turn off the phone, catch a drooling nap on the couch, and whatever else you do, do not make major decisions when you are sleep deprived. Those will wait.

Best of all, remind yourself of the good news you already know: God knows your need and He will provide for you, just as He perfectly provided the parents for the tyke, who even now, is stirring in his crib, beginning to wonder where you are.

You read that correctly.

God perfectly provided your children with the parents they need for His plans for them.

God provided you.

Let the dust pile up, let the laundry mound grow, let the sink fill up with dishes. That’s not really part of God’s plan right now.

At the moment, that little soul is helpless and needs someone to take care of every need he or she has.

And God choose you for that; Sleepy, hair asunder, hormones surging and ebbing in an attempt to reach balance, just a little hungry, just a little lonely, and perhaps a lot insecure. God knows what He is doing.

 

 Unmerciful Hats

IMG-5018 Why do hats make me look like a blithering idiot? I have a string of photos of myself in which I didn’t have the common sense to remove my hat before someone snapped the picture. The look on my face in every single one one implies that I will have to look at the tag around my neck to recall my name. Assuming I can read.
Some women look so darn cute in a hat. In fact some women make baseball caps look classy. Life’s not fair. I don one and 50 percent of my IQ drools down the front of my shirt.
Then there is the problem of hat-hair. You may think you have experienced the heartache of hat-hair but you haven’t truly plumbed the depths of pain unless you have curly hair. Curls and hats do not mix.

In mythology there must be a legend about gods and curls. Flathedius, the god of the bald was envious of Curlius, the god of curls and challenged him to a battle. Curlius won of course but Flathedius has never forgotten and takes every opportunity to mash ringlets into a matted mess.

Simple solution: dump the hats. But there is this little detail that seems to have come along with my curls: skin that fries to a bright crimson just crossing the street.
So I live in that constant tension: wear the hat and end the day with hair that looks like it had a close encounter with a steam roller at the top and shooting out at right angles from my head(think Bozo) and looking as intelligent as that iconic clown or forgo the hat and look windblown and barbecued. The struggle is real.