Friday, September 27, 2013

Cups and Oreo Cows: Illustrations of Futility

Dear Diary,
Take a look at what I see on my kitchen counter every night before bedtime. 

So many cups.
Adult cups.
Kid cups.
Cups with lids.
Breakable cups.

Except for a fresh cup at dinner time, I try to establish a one-cup-per-day rule.  It is simple.  Drink from a cup, then keep it for use the rest of the day.  With a family of five, it just makes sense.  Without this rule, my dishwasher's top rack would hold nothing but cups. But, as illustrated, even with this rule I have a plethora to deal with at the end of a typical day.  Probably because I don't want to drink wine out of my coffee cup from the morning or send a kid off to school with a glass of water!

While I do believe this one-cup rule helps rather than hurts, it almost seems like a futile rule judging by the amount I still have stranded on my counter.  This observation makes me think of other recent activities in my life that are examples of futility.  Things that do not provide effective results and are not worth the time and effort to do.  Here are some of those things:
  • Shaving when I have goosebumps. 
    We are entering the chilly morning season.  Showers are hotter and longer and, sometimes, goose-bumpy.  Not the best time for a razor-sharp blade on the skin.
  • Training the husband to pick up his clothes pile in the bathroom. 
    The result won't be long term.  In fact, I give it an hour.
  • Looking for a contact lens that is, in actuality, still adhered to the eye. 
    Yes, I was convinced it had popped out and bounced all over the bathroom counter/sink/floor; especially since I had already mauled my eye trying to determine if it was still there.
  • Pointing out to the girls anything of interest while on a road trip. 
    "Look at those Oreo* cows!"
    "Look at that pink house!"  or
    "Look at the monkey dancing on top of that firetruck truck throwing $100 bills at passersby!" 
    ........are all a waste of breath when the girls are so engrossed in their electronics.
  • And not to appear too jaded, but lately my job search falls under this classification as well.
I could go on and on.
But it is getting a little depressing, no?

Listing everything that seems futile in life is not the way to go about living.  At least not happy living. 

I don't want to be an Ecclesiastes kind of a person.  You know, "all is for naught" and that kind of thing. 

I don't want futility to break me, to see me end up listlessly lying in the backyard hammock eating from a box of graham cracker Scooby snacks.  (Don't ask.)

I want to live with an attitude of feasibility, not futility. 

Feasibility makes the world go 'round!

Feasibility helps me to get up out of that hammock!

OK, and a ringing phone does too.

Crushing the futile,

*Oreo cows are actually Belted Galloways, a breed one won't find in too many places in the US, though there are a few farms with them not too far from where I live.  Thanks to Wikipedia for this picture.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why I Sit in Front

Dear Diary,
Choosing a seat in the front of church has its advantages. 

In some churches those first few pews are often empty and forlorn. 

But in my church the brave come boldly forward via the center aisle to pick a front or near the front pew to sit in.  For me, sitting in the front provides a better worship experience; it is a matter of less visual distraction and better focus.  Sitting in the front of church keeps me blind to such distractions as:
  • the pew jumping, hymnal scribbling, cracker munching (and cute as a button) toddler, (don't get me wrong, I encourage youngins to come forward...if it helps me focus, it couldn't hurt them!)
  • the shirt tag flipped up from the collar of a woman’s blouse in front of me. And me, spending what should be corporate prayer time, daring to reach out and tuck it back in with bonus kudos points if she doesn’t notice, or
  • the many backs of heads I need to look past or through to view the action at the altar.
Front (or near the front) pew sitting focuses me on my task, on my worship.  It also gives me a clearer view of my husband tucked in the corner doing his percussion thing, and of friends who are song leading.  How I love to give them a goofy smile while they are in proper performance mode, singing like angels and trying to avoid eye contact with me.  =)

In the front, I am in the thick of things -- primo baptismal font viewing, first up to the communion rail, first to see the “please rise” hand motion from the worship leader.

And first to get the larger than life view of our preacher in his finest hour of the week, with his sweat beaded brow, or the spittle spewing from his mouth during a particularly brimstone part of the sermon. 

Perhaps I should ask the church elders to provide plastic poncho protection that can be retrieved as needed from the Hymnal/Bible racks, like at a Blue Man Group or Gallagher performance.

Sitting in front can also have some disadvantages.
In order not to appear overtly rude, one must master the over-the-shoulder-just-checking-for-the-time-on-the-back-wall-clock congregation scan.  This survey is good for when I feel the need to:  check the source of a screaming baby or a chatty family, or just see if a friend is in attendance.

I can also get slightly paranoid that I’m the one with the shirt tag out, or my skirt has too much static cling, or my watery eyes will be perceived by those behind me as emotions instead of allergies.  (Really!)
But the everlasting spiritual advantages of the front pews outweigh these trivial matters. 

And so my family and I sit near the front. 
And if my tag is out, feel free to just tuck it back in. 
Bonus kudos points if I don't notice.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Job of the Heel

Dear Diary,

Almost every school day morning, the first thing I do after I get up is make the girls' lunches.  In my PJs and -- if the family is lucky -- my faded pink robe, I saunter into the still-dark kitchen to pull out the "samwich" supplies, which includes bread of some sort.  On a good day it is usually a choice between bagels, sub bread or sliced sandwich bread.

Inevitably, when I choose to use the loaf of sliced bread, I remember a scene at my cousin's house a few years ago.  It is funny what tidbits of information stick in my head over the years.  I often can't remember an occasion, but I can remember a moment.

At my cousin's home, we were putting sandwiches together for some reason.  I assume it was for a cheap lunch option for our airplane ride home from the Sunshine State, but I can't be sure.  I reached into the bag to pull out some slices, which were quite a few for my family of five.  I reached the bottom of the bag and grabbed the heel. 

Being the sacrificial mom that I am, I knew that the sandwich with the undesirable heel would be my own.

After assembling said sandwiches for the family, enter my cousin.  She is frugal minded, like me, and had the foresight to offer us her food for our comfort on the (equally frugal) plane ride.  But when she saw my heel-clad sandwich, her eyebrows furrowed. 

"Why are you eating the heel?" she asked. 

It's my job, as a mom, to eat the heel, I thought. 

In actuality, I didn't have time to reply before she said, "We only keep the heels in the bag to keep the rest of the loaf fresh.  We don't eat them."

Boy, were my eyes opened to new wonders.  Not eat the heel?  What kind of luxury is this?  Do I really have permission from my economically like-minded cousin to discard the heel for a fresh, fluffy slice of bread?

Every morning since then, as I reach for the slices to make a "samwich" for my girls, I remember her comment and bypass that heel and go straight for the center cuts.  

I have a new job for those heels:  to protect the freshness of the inner loaf! 
And when their job is done, I toss them. 

Yup.  I do.  Unless I am hungry for a piece of toast. 

Heels do make pretty good toast.

Love to my cuz,

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day's Love is Not Lost

Dear Diary,

Today is the first Monday of September: Labor Day. 

Yup, it has crept up on us already!

For over 100 years, America has been celebrating Labor Day.  This blogger is grateful for a day off of the normal Monday routine. 

Poor Monday; such a hated day of the week.

I dare say that if all American adults were asked for the origin of Labor Day, the majority wouldn't know, and I would be guilty-as-charged.  I would have said that it was a result of a law passed in the '50s to honor America's laborers by giving them:  a day off; an excuse to shop really great deals at local retailers; a reason to pig out at backyard bar-b-ques.

I wouldn't have been completely wrong.  According to the US Dept. of Labor, the holiday was nationalized by Congress in 1894 and
"is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
On such a celebratory day, I don't want to dwell on the feeling I get from today's government and the divisiveness it propagates for class and labor divisions.  It seems that plenty of bitter union leaders and minimum-wage earners get all the press coverage these days.  The cynicism can be seen in cartoons such as this: 

I am happy that we have workers in all classes, and that America allows for the freedom to better ourselves in our work.

So, now that I am a little bit smarter for it, I am happy to celebrate Labor Day in honor of America's workers.

Bring on the food, retail savings, and subsequent four-day workweek!