Tuesday, February 26, 2013

True Confessions

It’s time to come clean.  I drive too fast.  Sometimes. You knew that already?  Well, you faithful winepress reader, you.  Thanks!
It’s not right, though, and I feel terrible about it.  And it’s bugging me a lot tonight because—brace yourself—I drove like an idiot today.  I got in my truck, slammed the door hard (making sure my fingers were out of the way), and then I got out on the open road where I . . . drove too fast.
You might be wondering how an idiot drives.  Then again, you probably already know. Try to reign in your imagination here—it wasn’t that bad. Although some guy got mad at me and thought I was tailgating him so he slowed down to ten miles per hour and then I was tailgating him.  Then we were both mad.
So why am I telling you about it?  Because the Pioneer Woman—who just happens to be my blogging idol at the moment—said I shouldn't be afraid to embarrass myself by telling you humiliating things I've done. See, you and my most vocal reader—that guy with the interesting name “Anonymous”—are my peeps. I know I can be real with you.  It's good to admit my failures and confess that when I drive like an idiot it's stupid. 
So, if you happen to know that guy in the car who slowed down to the speed of . . . nothing . . . and made me miss that light, would you tell him for me—nice car.
You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?  Confession is one thing. Apologies are another. I'm not perfect, you know.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Unqualified Expert

“I don’t have an expertise to write about,” I told her, while startled rabbits scampered into the brush and the sound of gravel under foot serenaded our morning walk.
“Everyone has an expertise,” she encouraged, “you just need to identify it.”
I am a writer. It’s a new revelation and I adore the identity.  Finally I understand why I love to write—because I’m a writer.  See?  I didn’t say I’m logical, though—don’t confuse the two.
The authorities I’ve been reading say that a writer needs to discern who her audience is and then write to them.  The problem is, I don’t know who my audience is. I don’t really want to focus on one aspect of the writing I do for my blog, because I’m having too much fun putting down whatever random thought nests in my head.  But if I want to reach more readers, apparently I need to figure out what they want from me.
So I decided to make a list of my qualifications, hoping it would reveal my expertise. A list usually simplifies things for me.  But in this case, it was complicated—and a little depressing.
The list in my head began with empty blanks.
1.      I didn’t go to college for four or even two years; therefore, I have no degree.

2.      I haven't held a job for a while; therefore, I am not marketable.

3.      I can type 160+ words a minute but I don’t know how to use Excel; therefore, I have weak computer skills and am not a geek. I am a dork, but a geek is in greater demand than a dork with mad typing skills.

4.      I know shorthand but no one needs it anymore; therefore, my ability is as extinct as the Great Toothed Diver Bird.  And as sought after.

5.      I worked in a law office for two years but just as a secretary; therefore, I am not a lawyer.

6.      I worked in schools for two years but only as a secretary; therefore, I am not a teacher.

7.      I worked in churches for three years but only as a secretary; therefore, I am not . . . no.  I am a Christian.  That came first.

8.      I speak only English fluently with a faded smattering of college French; therefore, I am not bilingual. Much.

9.      I stopped at two children; therefore, my hat is off to mothers with more.

10.    I’m not currently raising children; therefore, my brain is rusty and my outdated knowledge is nearly obsolete.

11.    I don’t lead women’s Bible studies; therefore, I am not a Bible scholar.

12.   After nearly 37 years of marriage times 365 days times three meals a day, I have prepared a minimum of 40,515 meals which equates to approximately 1,930 meat loaves. I no longer enjoy cooking.  Therefore, I don’t write a food blog—especially a meat loaf blog.

13.    I made my own clothes in high school, embroidered some hand towels in sixth grade, knitted a shawl ten years ago, and scrapbooked a vacation from 1994. None of these crafty items would inspire anyone on Pinterest; therefore, I do not write a crafting blog.

14.   We homeschooled one kid in kindergarten and two kids for seven years and the remaining kid for two more years for a combined total of seventeen years of homeschooling and retired permanently when the second kid graduated high school eleven years ago.  Therefore, I have forgotten most of what homeschooling taught me.
Are you convinced yet?  I’m having trouble finding my expertise, but I appear to have a lot of experience in dabbling.  And lest you think I’m feeling sorry for myself here, I'm not.  I'm just dinging around here with my love of writing. The truth is this has probably been an exercise in tongue-in-cheek narcissism. 

So what’s left for me to write about?
I dunno.  But chronicling  this has taken an hour and I’m over it now. Stay tuned for Chapter Two of this potential Book About Nothing where I reveal my lack of geographical knowledge.
It’ll be a real nail biter.

Photo courtesy of Ross Mayfield's photostream at flickr.com where expert photographers loan their stuff to people like me who still use flashcubes on their cameras.
You can find Ross's original photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ross/4368015/

Sunday, February 24, 2013

And The Oscar Goes To . . .

Twelve years old. Or thirteen. Maybe it was fourteen. I’ve been that same age about four times now, so I kind of forget.  It was the summer I sprained my elbow. Yeah, I know. That’s not even a normal injury—well, I don’t actually do normal.
My sister and I were staying with our cousins in the mountains of Payson, Arizona, and it was Vacation Bible School week. Every night we went to the Baptist church in town, hung out with all the other youth in a back room, and planned our culminating project—a float for the town parade on Saturday.
I guess that means it was the 4th of July weekend, that summer of 1970-something. We were constructing a giant paper mache earth on the back of a flatbed trailer and it was looking groovy. All the blues and greens were in the right places, the whole thing tilted just so to make sure it was scientifically accurate, and underneath was a giant banner with the question, “Life Insurance – Do You Know Jesus?” 
I’m not exactly sure what a giant globe had to do with life insurance, but it was gonna be great!  Best of all, the whole bunch of us was going to ride through town sitting on the back of that hay hauler.  I felt so country.
But the night before the parade, the paper mache began to lose its grip, and a huge hole appeared in the middle of North America.  Pretty soon the South Pole started sliding off the planet—probably an early sign of global warming—and we started to realize our slogan was gonna need some tweaking.  Frustrated, I stood on a folding chair on the flatbed trying to glue down a piece of Antarctica when, for some reason, I lost my balance and fell off the trailer. Onto my elbow. On the hard ground.
It’s okay.  I didn’t die.  But when the doctor in the emergency room told me it was only a sprain, not a break, and tried to make light of my pain and near-fatal injury, I burst into tears.  I told him it was a tragedy—I’d never be able to play the piano again, my life was ruined, and he was the worst doctor I’d ever met. Actually, I only thought the last part, but I’d been grounded for wearing the wrong look on my face before, so he probably knew what I was thinking.
I’d like to tell you that I got over being theatrical. I’d also like to tell you I have a million dollars in the bank. The truth is I got to wear a cool sling, we made peace with the melting globe, and somebody changed the banner to read, “Your World Will Fall Apart Without Jesus.” And I still got to ride on the back of the hay hauler.
It’s all about learning to make lemonade out of lemons. Cheetos out of cheese. Dinner out of roadkill. And finding redemption after a fall.
Guess I might still be a little dramatic.

Photo courtesy of David Ortmann's photostream @ flickr.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Hundred Per Cent Chance

They said there was a 70% chance of rain today.  Here. In the desert. Then another weatherman  promised a definitive 98% chance. So I peeked out the window this morning, hoping I could opt out of that dark-thirty walk with a neighbor and just cuddle down deeper beneath flannel sheets and the comforter for a while.
But there was no rain. Therefore no excuses. Therefore no sluggardly sleeping.
I forgot there was a two per cent chance of no rain.
I almost got gloomy there for a while. So I turned on the tv where they promised the next green blob on the radar was gonna blow our way soon, complete with an ark and floating giraffes. I had my reservations, though. After all, 98% isn’t a guarantee.
I tried to be optimistic. The sky was definitely cloudy. It looked like it was raining out there somewhere. I could get in my truck and drive to somewhere. I could drink a Starbucks while I drove to somewhere. I could go find the rain if I just took matters into my own hands and drove to Somewhere!
But every time I do that, it stops raining on Somewhere, moves over, and rains at my house while I’m driving around looking for somebody else's rain. Then I miss it. I hate missing a rainstorm at my house. 
So this morning I waited at home. I brewed some Starbucks in my own personal coffee cup. I positioned myself in front of the windows so I could use my storm spotter skills and identify the first rain drop as soon as it landed. It took a while. The car keys called my name, but I held my ground. I refused to go searching for someone else’s rainstorm Somewhere and risk missing my own.
Ten minutes ago it started raining here while I sat nestled under my favorite quilt. Now I'm enjoying the fruit of not laboring, watching the waterworks outside, drinking a hot cup of Starbucks, and eavesdropping on the percussion of syncopated raindrops. Sometimes you have to stop trying to manipulate things . . . and just wait.
Somewhere is just somebody else’s turn at Right Here. And right now, it’s raining Right Here.
On the wall between the two windows where I can see it pouring rain outside is a plaque I just hung.  It gently chided me, The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  (Exodus 14:14)
Now that’s what I call a guarantee.

I think I just heard a giggling giraffe float by.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I cleaned out our collection of books today.
I tossed unused volumes and less-than volumes, dusted hibernating shelves, and re-routed favorites to locations where I can find them more easily.  It’s never easy to tell a book good-bye. I paid for it, after all, and placed it in plain view where people could admire its spine and see how tightly it fits into the whole fa├žade of what avid readers we are.
But it was time to come clean.
We don’t read all those books.  I don’t know enough of what’s in each of them to use them as reference books like I thought I would. And even if the day comes when I have reader’s remorse and weep tears of frustration when I discover I need that printing I threw out last week, it will still be worth it to have organized the survivors and made a little more room on those saggy shelves.
Best of all, now that there’s some space I can go buy more books!
Is there a twelve step program for people with a paperback addiction, or should I just get a copy of that at the bookstore?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In The Doghouse

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”  (Peter Drucker)
Wrong.  Hearing what isn’t said is what puts husbands in the doghouse.  That, and random emails.

----- Original Message -----
From: Rob McLeod
To:      Eula McLeod         

Subject: Forward: Interesting things about traffic

From Tom Vanderbilt's Book: Traffic

Drivers seated higher think they are driving more slowly than drivers
seated lower, and so tend to speed more often.

SUV's can reduce the capacity of signalized intersections by up to 20%.

Studies have shown driving aggressively, which raises crash risk and
increases fuel consumption, saves just a minute on a 27-mile trip.

Here's a link to the latest study from U.S. DOT  2010 Traffic Safety Facts.

From: Eula McLeod
To:     Rob McLeod      
Re: Interesting things about traffic

And your point is?

From: Rob McLeod
To:      Eula McLeod       

Nothing Dear !!!!!
Hey did you hear Andy Griffith passed away yesterday?


From: Eula McLeod
To:     Rob McLeod     

Yes. I heard he was run over by his angry wife. Tragic.

From: Rob McLeod
To:      Eula McLeod         

I heard she thought she was going slower than she really was due to driving an SUV !!

From: Eula McLeod
To:     Rob McLeod      

. . . which her husband bought . . .

From: Rob McLeod
To:      Eula McLeod         

AT her insistence on having a "Gas Guzzling Land Barge"!

From: Eula McLeod
To:     Rob McLeod      

          *** crickets chirping***

Subject: Interesting things about emails
Random emails forwarded without explanation have been known to decrease the life expectancy of one hundred percent of husbands one hundred percent of the time. Random forwarded emails followed by insinuated explanations have shown an even higher decrease in life expectancy.
Here's a link to the latest study from U.S. Husband Safety Facts.

(Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgmdigital/328531098/)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken Nuggets

“YaYa, I’m so hungry, I could eat a giraffe!” Allie exclaimed as I called her and sister Jules in from the playroom for some lunch.
“Wow,” I replied. “That’s pretty hungry.”
She followed me into the kitchen where I had a grilled cheese sandwich and some apple slices waiting.

“Yeah. Momma says giraffes taste horrible,” she went on, “but I could still eat one.”
“Well, then,” I said over my shoulder, “I’ll see if I can find you some giraffe.” And I opened the refrigerator.
“No!” she yelled, panicked.  “I don’t really want any giraffe! They taste horrible!”
I don’t know if that’s really true, though.  I don’t think she’s ever tasted giraffe.  I heard if you use a little ketchup it tastes a lot like chicken.
See? That’s why I’ve never opened my own restaurant.
Picky customers.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Winner's Circle

About to read a book to my granddaughter, Juliet, she noticed the gold medallion sticker on the cover.
“What’s that, YaYa?” she asked, pointing to the sticker.
Hmm. Racking my brain. Not much help there.
How do I explain a medal to a two-year-old? Well, Juliet, that’s the Caldecott Award.  It’s an honor given every year to the most distinguished picture book for children.  See?  No, probably not.
“Well,” I began, “it’s a . . . well, let’s see . . .”
Crickets chirping.
“YaYa,” she pressed again, “what’s that?”  This time she put her finger on the gold embossing.
I knew I should have pulled out a Donald Duck book.
“Yeah, honey, well, it’s like  . . .it’s a  . . .”
Jules sighed.
“It’s a circle,” she said, and opened the book.
Oh. I knew that.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Registration, Please!

I think I’ve seen everything.

Well, not quite everything, but too much.  I don’t even know what to say. But you can bet your spare car key, I’m gonna give it my best shot here anyway.
Tonight on national television capitalism hit an all-time low. An automaker introduced—via a ‘this makes perfect sense’ professional voiceover—an “entirely new way of purchasing a car.”  Gone are savings accounts and personal checks. Or, in our case, personal auto loans.

Nope. Now you can customize a brand spanking new automobile, sign up on a website that "works like a wedding registry", and invite a few dozen of your closest friends and family to "Please please sponsor part of my car as . . . "  a wedding gift/birthday gift/guilt trip.  Fill in the cyber blank.
I.Am.Not.Kidding.  And neither were they.  I waited through the whole commercial for a punch line that never happened.
The ad says,
“Dad sponsors the engine for your birthday. Grandma sponsors the rims for graduation. The car gets funded. Then you pick up your new car at the dealership. And all that’s left to do is say ‘thanks’. Easy.”
Yeah. Easy and irresponsible and wrong at more levels than a Pac-Man game.
Maybe I’m being too old fashioned.  Everyone's busy and it's so hard to shop for people anyway.  And now if this idea catches on, it could simplify the whole birthday gift thing. If your friends and family really love you, they’ll all chip in to buy you a new twenty thousand dollar car.  Then all that’s left for you to do is say “That Was Easy.  Thanks.”
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "car registration", doesn't it?
I don’t know if I should thank Staples or Dodge for this stellar idea.  But I’m taking back all the nice things I said about that ‘God made a farmer’ commercial Dodge ran during the Super Bowl. I don’t know any farmers who teach their kids that the way to be successful in life is to ask other people to fund it for you.
I feel better now. Thanks.

That was easy.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Somebody told me once that I’m “addicted to Starbucks, and Christians aren’t supposed to be addicted to anything!”  I took umbrage to that.  First of all, I don’t think you can develop an actual addiction to a corporation. But more important, I can stop drinking peppermint mochas any time I want to. I’ve been ordering iced coffee lately anyway.
If, however, there’s any truth to the rumor that the road to hell is paved with frappuccinos, then I’m in a lot of trouble. And I’ve been a terrible influence on the youth of America.  Namely, my granddaughters.
Today was my oldest granddaughter’s very first fifth birthday. She’s a girlie girl, and her mama told me Allie loves to get pedicures.She and I went out this afternoon on a YaYa date, and headed over to a grocery store which boasts its very own Starbucks—across from the bread aisle—and a nail salon next door. One Stop Shopping.  With ice cream and birthday cake waiting at home for the birthday girl, sugary treats were limited, but I had the okay to treat her to a lemonade or hot chocolate. We put our names on the pedicure list and walked over to the grocery store for some ‘icing on the cake’.
See, I had this picture in my mind of Allie in one salon chair, drinking a tall hot chocolate, while I sat in the cushy chair next to her with my salted caramel hot chocolate. Girly girl heaven. Hand in hand, we practically skipped up to the coffee counter to request the beverages I knew would make our pedi date perfect. But before I could give our order, the perky teen behind the counter said,
“We’re closed today. We’re working on our equipment.”
I’d like to tell you I set a good example for the little girl standing next to me. I wish I could tell you I walked straight to the dairy aisle and bought two bottles of lemonade, smiling good naturedly at this change of plans. Instead, I looked blankly at the girl who just heartlessly popped my birthday balloon and . . . whined.
“I’m really sorry,” she said, “but you could have something sweet to eat instead.”  No, we couldn’t.  Birthday cake waiting.  “Or there’s another Starbucks five minutes from here.” No, it’s not that close. I could draw you a map of every Starbucks within a thirty-mile radius and she was way off.  “How old are you?” she weakly asked my granddaughter after I explained that today is this little girl’s birthday.
“I’m five,” Allie answered sweetly, all five fingers held up for the girl in the green apron to admire.
“Well, happy birthday!” the teen told her.  “Here’s a chocolate heart for you!” And she handed Allie a foil wrapped treat she’d probably been saving for herself.
I’m proud to tell you I recovered quickly from my disappointment, thanks in large part to the joyful spirit of my granddaughter who grew a whole year older today.  But I’m pretty sure as we walked away, we left the coffee counter girl wondering which of the two of us was the real five-year-old.  I can't blame her.  It was almost an out-of-body experience as I heard myself trying to convince the poor kid that her equipment was perfectly fine and she could wring out two little hot chocolates if she wanted to.
Don’t worry.  I’ll try to find a way to apologize to that innocent Starbuckian as soon as I get out of rehab. Maybe I’ll mail her a letter.  I wouldn’t want to risk a setback by sniffing any corporate coffee fumes.  She probably wouldn’t want to talk to me in person anyway. I heard they put my photo up behind the counter there.  “Under-age”,  I think it says beneath my mug shot. 
They never should have legalized Starbucks.

Photo courtesy of Your Pal Dave’s photostream at Flickr.com

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Wrong Side Of The Stroller

Talk about some cool wheels. It's a double seater with plenty of cup holders, peeky boo plastic windows over the kids’ heads, and two pull down shades sporting a Do Not Disturb attitude aimed at the sun. It’s easy to push and maneuvers through narrow spaces while you yawn with one hand. My two granddaughters loved climbing in and out of the seats for a better look at any lion or elephant we chanced by on our visit to the zoo last Tuesday.
But late in the morning, after sharing a snack with ducks and other exotic water fowl at the picnic area, two-year-old Juliet began to cry. 
“What’s the matter?” I asked with concern, as I leaned over the top of the stroller and looked down where she’d climbed into her seat.  “Is the sun in your eyes?” I continued, trying to pull down the shade. “Are you still hungry?” I pursued.  “Is she just tired?” I queried my daughter, as she came close to investigate.
“No, her foot is caught in the strap,” she replied, and untucked Jules’ bent leg from beneath her, freeing it so she could sit down comfortably again.  I had no idea that’s what was causing her pain, but the more I tried to guess at the problem, the louder she cried and the less I could help.  It wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t figure it out—it’s just that I was on the wrong side of the stroller.  Her mom was the only one with the right perspective.
Facebook reminds us now and then to “be kind – for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”  I’m not a person who naturally reads people well. I realized early on in life that my first impression of someone is usually the opposite of what is true of them.

At least I was smart enough to recognize how clueless I am.
I can’t tell a book by its cover.  I haven’t walked in another’s shoes. But most of all, in the words of Mark Twain, I can’t depend on my judgment when my imagination is out of focus.
Few of us can.
My husband and I tend to the quieter side of the personality rainbow.  In school, we both were accused by some of being “stuck up”, when the truth was we were both self-conscious. To an insecure teenager, hearing something like that from her peers is like a one-two punch. Then acceptance, which is so integral to human nature, eludes again. 
All  because someone stands on the wrong side of the stroller.
It isn’t always the quiet ones who are misunderstood, though. Sometimes mirth is its own mask.  E.H. Chapin warned not to “judge men by mere appearances; for the light laughter that bubbles on the lip often mantles over the depths of sadness, and the serious look may be the sober veil that covers a divine peace and joy." 

I’d like to see that one passed around on Facebook.
It isn’t easy to identify with other personalities when we are all so uniquely made. It may be more comfortable for birds of a feather to flock together, but that doesn’t make all the other neighbors in this zoo worthless. The wounds we’ve each suffered in life have left scar tissue that can cripple and obscure the original injury. Maybe it would help if we knew we at least have this much in common: every one of us is a casualty living in a fallen world.
I don’t have the last word on what makes people tick. And I may never be able to understand my own heart well enough to explain it to others. It would help, though, if we could each be open to the possibility of another point of view—a different perspective. 
Who knows what you could be set free from if I could just step around to the other side of the stroller.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl Forty-Seven

I had a nice time watching the Super Bowl today, in between short excerpts of Iron Man Two, which was already in progress. But a few things were disappointing. I missed the M&M commercial because of Iron Man Two. I missed almost all of someone famous singing God Bless America to thousands of teary-eyed football fans for the same reason. But, I also missed a lot of Iron Man Two.
Finally, I grabbed the remote from Itchy Fingers McLeod and never missed another commercial. I even got to see Alicia Keyes sing her entire version of the Star Spangled Banner. I never knew our National Anthem was such a sexy song. I kind of think that might have been some kind of blasphemy, but am grateful she knew all the words.
As I mentioned recently, I’m a football fan in training. So watching the Super Bowl today was kind of like taking my final exam, and I’m happy to report that I’m making some progress.  I recognized that playing in an important game like this means the two teams must dislike each other.  That became evident when a fist fight broke out during the second fourth of the game, right there on the field. Millionaires sure do have bad tempers. The referee diagnosed them as personal fouls and decided to put those guys in time out. I think. I lost focus for a while there, and began to wonder what Iron Man was doing and if he knew how to be a good sport.
One thing I enjoy about watching football is the artistic way referees throw yellow flags around. What a nice splash of color there on the green grass. I also like their black and white costumes. It seemed like such a smart fashion choice—they look nice no matter what colors all the other players are wearing.  
At one point I was amazed to see that score was already 114 to 56!  But Rob said that was just ‘yardage’.  I never heard of that except in a fabric store, and I still don’t know what it has to do with football.  Finally two quarters had passed by and it was time for the halftime show. Rob said it was going to star J. Lo. She turned out to be Beyonce, but dressed a lot like J. Lo.  I can see why he got confused. By the end of her concert, I realized why Felicia Keyes sang the Anthem the way she did.  It was just one big night of sexy entertainment. 
We were pretty impressed by Beyonce’s agility, and talk about a workout!  I know I speak for my husband when I say we were both relieved there were no wardrobe malfunctions. It takes a lot of talent to wear so little and still stay covered. I guess she’s never heard of ‘yardage’ either.
The most exciting thing happened right after The Beyonce Show—all the lights went off in the stadium and the players were just sitting around on the grass with nothing to do and no one to beat up.  Some people thought maybe it was a terrorist attack, but I was pretty sure Beyonce blew a fuse. Finally, the authorities agreed with me, and blamed it on a power surge.
The lights came back on and suddenly San Francisco’s side began scoring a lot. They did a bunch of things right and in seventeen minutes made four points! Or maybe that was seventeen points in four minutes. I don’t know—doesn’t matter.
“Since the power outage, things have completely changed here,”  said one astonished broadcaster.   “There’s no energy coming from the Ravens – they are flat and unfocused.”  Rob said the 49’ers were playing like comeback kids. And then one of the Ravens said . . . oooh!  Lip reading was a really bad idea right then.  At that point, I really thought San Francisco was going to win the game, and a country western song started running through my mind:
“That’s the night the lights went out in N’awlins.
That’s the night that they blamed it on the band.
Don’t trust the boys in this game, you know they’re stallin’,
At the end of the night they’re goin’ to Disneyland.”
I couldn’t make sense of what happened after that, so Rob began to explain how the two teams were going to take the last eight seconds of the game and turn them into a sideshow stunt. I knew I’d never remember the details, so I started taking notes.
 “This guy might run around and burn a few seconds in the in-zone, and then the other team gets a safety. See? He took the safety with four seconds to go. So now, it gave the 49’ers who were down by five points, it gave them two points for the safety, but now the other team gets a free punt with no chance of anyone blocking in the in-zone, although somebody could run the ball back. This is San Fran’s last shot.”
So the Ravens got the safety and won the game which made Rob a happy camper because they were the underdogs and have never won a Super Bowl ring before and then they get a big trophy while my husband drank a glass of wine and wrote a Toastmaster speech before he went to bed.
And I learned a lot. I, more than anyone else watching the commercials tonight, had no idea that the whole point of football is to get the most points so you can go to Disney instead of the guys on the enemy team.
Well played, Ravens, well played.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dinner Impossible

I can’t think of a bigger adventure than eating on the road. Sometimes when there are eighty miles between cafes, a simple stop for supper can quickly turn into a prayer meeting. We had a spiritual meal like that in New Mexico once, where we gambled on a “Family Style Restaurant” whose sign also boasted, “Phones At Every Table.”

We should have chosen to fast that night.
I know first impressions aren’t everything, but don’t you think they should count for something?  The faded, burgundy carpet was covered in years of gravy stains, punctuated by a week’s worth of food crumbs brushed off the tables and onto the floors.  The vinyl red bench seats looked cushiony until we sat down—and sank a full six inches down to the plywood base. That made eating a little less messy for us, though—we could just use the chin-high surface as a bib.
A waitress showed up immediately in the empty room, and greeted us with an enthusiastic smile.  Suddenly I realized we were the only people in the whole place at six o’clock on a Friday night.  A chill went down my spine as the reality of our situation became clear—we were stuck here for dinner.  And by dinner, I mean food poisoning. But there was nowhere else to eat, no other town for miles, and no way to sneak out before ordering. I rifled in my purse for Tums and Pepto tablets.
We’re not the kind of people who stand up for our rights and risk making others feel bad. We have Southern roots. Instead, we suck it up, bear the burden, tough it out.  Basically, we’re wimps. On the other hand, we have a germaphobe friend who would have surveyed the situation, turned on his heel, and marched out before anyone had a chance to hand him a flu-infested menu. 

Where was that guy when we needed him? I dug around in my purse again, this time looking for some Purell so we could toast our wiser, absent comrade.
“Our special tonight is meat loaf and mashed potatoes,” our waitress was saying, “and the salad bar over there is included.”  My husband and daughter checked out the salad bar first, returning to the table before I could get out of my sunken seat.
“It’s an interesting assortment,” was their only explanation for coming back with empty plates.
This just kept getting worse.  I walked across the vacant, dimly lit restaurant to the shiny, metal cart with a dirty plastic canopy overhead.  Snickers from behind me serenaded my approach, as the appetizer portion of our meal quickly disintegrated into a Search and Rescue operation.
The huge, gallon size plastic salad bowl was full of melting ice and a few pieces of soggy, floating lettuce.  It was like a mini-terrarium gone awry—Titanic style—with no survivors.  A small cereal bowl held six rapidly rotting cherry tomatoes, flanked on one side by a bowl of soupy cottage cheese and on the other a bowl of green jello chowder.  I headed back to our table.
“Well, I wasn’t in the mood for salad anyway,” I announced to an explosion of hysteria from my family.  “And I’m tired of feeling like I need a booster seat, too.  What say we move to another table before the waitress brings our drinks?”
My husband, Captain of the Good Ship Don’t-Make-Waves, frowned in disapproval. 
“What’s she going to do when she comes to our table and finds it empty?” he asked of the absent waitress.
“She’ll probably turn around in the crowded room and spot us across the aisle,” I retorted sarcastically, as I picked up my silverware and brought it with me. 
It took two tries before we found seats that lowered us a mere four inches, but only one attempt for the waitress to locate us, as predicted.
“Playing musical chairs?” she asked.  Rob pinched my arm so I wouldn’t give her a reason to spit in our soup.  He knows me so well.
She took our orders and disappeared as fatigue and hunger began to mess with our brains.  Suddenly everything was funny.  The carpet, the wall-mounted telephones at every table, the empty building, the soggy salad bar.  Slap happy and on the verge of delirium, it was all we could do to contain ourselves when our plates of “food” arrived. 

And believe me, I use the term loosely.
It was meatloaf.  And that’s all I need to say about that, except that we should have known better.  The mashed potatoes wore a yellow plastic hardhat pretending to be gravy. Through some lapse in logic, each of us had ordered the same meal.  And now we were all doubled over in laughter—not only could we not eat the swill placed in front of us, we couldn’t even breathe. Tears and snot rolled off our red faces and ten minutes later, full dishes still on the table, we headed to the register to pay for our sins of omission.
Finally, we understood why there were phones at every table.  It was either to call out for a pizza or to dial 9-1-1.
The next morning, as we crossed the state line into Arizona, my husband handed me a gift as a memento of our culinary adventure in the Land of Enchantment.  It was a refrigerator magnet shaped like two vultures with a hungry look in their eyes. 

“Send more tourists,” it read.  “The last ones were delicious.”
At least it explained the road kill at the salad bar.

Friday, February 1, 2013

How We Keep The Spark Alive

Overheard in our truck today: 

Best Beloved:  "I might get up early enough to watch some golf tomorrow. Or some hunting shows."

His Beloved:   "You have a pretty short list of interests there."

Best Beloved:   "Right.  I forgot that you have so many.  Let’s see—House Hunters and . . . the Food Network."

His Beloved:      "And Joseph Prince.  Don't forget him.  I have spiritual interests, too."

Best Beloved:    "Yeah. That makes you better."

His Beloved:       "No. That makes me spiritual. Plus, nothing dies on my watch."

That’s where the conversation died.  Guess I was wrong.