Friday, August 31, 2007


Today Phil picked the first tomatoes. Yes, I know, it's the last day of August. Other gardeners have been picking tomatoes since July, the first part of July, yet. What’s wrong with our garden? Here’s a clue—“I didn't dig large holes and fill them with fertilizer this year.” said an anonymous husband. “It’s too much work. I just dug small holes and put in a little fertilizer for the tomatoes. They’ll be fine.”


Next year we will be renting a backhoe and shoveling the fertilizer from an entire herd of dairy cows into them.

In past years our roma tomatoes have looked like bowling pins. This year they look like roundish-cone-headed marbles. The other tomatoes look like cherries. I don’t have the heart to cut them and see if they are any good. Something this rare should just be looked at, as if it were a jewel.

I usually spend several weeks in the fall drying bushels of roma tomatoes. I make them into Savory Italian Tomatoes to give to family and friends. This year I will be drying the tomatoes whole, putting them in tasteful settings and wearing them as jewelry. I will call them Rumpled Rubies. I’ll be taking orders but they will be expensive. There are truly rare and everyone knows rare gems are not cheap.

Now if you want cucumbers, let me know. They obviously don’t need fertilizer. In fact, if I didn’t know better I’d think they had a plan to take over the world or at least the cul-de-sac. Come on over. I’ll help you pick. Bring a box. Bring two. After we’re done we’ll sit on the lawn swings and you can admire my new jewelry. They may not sparkle but, if you haven’t had lunch yet, they’re edible.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I have a friend whose body is deserting her. I can almost see the degeneration. Each month she is less mobile, in a bit more pain. You’d never know it by her attitude.

“How are you,” I ask.

“Oh, Lynne, don’t ask.” Then she laughs. “I could be worse. My body has interesting ideas of it’s own.” She laughs again—the most musical laugh I have ever heard. If you could hear her laugh you would want to make a CD of her laughter and sell it to depressed people. You'd make big bucks. Honest, you would.

(I tired to mimic her laugh once, thinking I could change my boring laugh to one like hers. Elizabeth, my eighteen-year-old, looked at me like I’d grown horns. “What’s wrong with you?” she said. I went back to my uninspired non-musical laugh but didn’t do it right then. When your teenager looks at you like that, your desire to laugh is severely hampered.)

So, then my friend, with the musical laugh, changes the subject and tells me something that she has been thinking about—always something upbeat, often something that shows her faith in the Lord and her patience with life. She talks about her family and friends and great ideas. She tells you that you are wonderful and even though you know you're not, because she says so, you believe it. I love talking to her, love being in her home and being her friend. I feel more complete and totally loved when I leave.

So, what could I do to help her? Could I cook her a meal or two? No, I hardly cook anymore and I love to cook—or I used to love to cook. What happened, I wonder to my cooking frenzy that put savory meals on the table every night at 6:00 pm sharp? Phil would like to know, too.

Could I go to her house and tidy up? Should I go for an hour? As I look around my own house I shake my head in wonder. From where I sit I can see a pile of my clothes that used to be hanging overhead in the laundry room. There’s no room for them in my closet because my closet is full of clothes I am going to wear when I’ve lost ten pounds, twenty-five pounds, fifty pounds, etc. You get the idea. The laundry room was my current closet but it became difficult to get to the dryer as my clothes were always fluffing my hair as I loaded or unloaded. I came out looking like a disturbed porcupine. So one day Phil unloaded my laundry-room-closet to the couch and it’s still there. When I need clothes I simply rifle through the stack.

Let’s not even talk about the clutter surrounding the computer. There are stacks of documents I’ve downloaded from the Internet which I fully intend to read and better my life. The latest one is called, “The ‘Genius’ Switch That Turns Disease Off.” (Here’s the URL ) I’d order it but it costs $79 for the subscription to his reports and yes, he offers a money back guarantee and says you can keep all the issues but I don’t want to do that. I’d feel like a cheater so I’ll bookmark his site and when I have $79 in excess I’ll send it off.

Then there are the stacks of video’s Phil got out for the grandkids but the grandkids haven’t been here for weeks but there’s two stacks of videos anyway, still waiting.

Phil’s office has migrated to the couch and loveseat and the papers seem to breed after we go to bed. I wouldn’t dare touch any of them for two reasons: He knows where things are and if I moved anything I couldn’t bear to see his devastated face. The other reason is I don’t want anything to do with inanimate objects with breeding abilities. That gives me the shivers. Someone who gets the shivers in a house, that is at this moment seventy-nine degrees, is someone in trouble.

There is one overflowing laundry basket filled with miscellaneous stuff behind the recliners. (Yes, we have recliners—obviously we’re ready for “the home.”) I can’t possible face delving into that laundry basket.

Behind me are some cute little plastic, portable drawers. They are full of things I use occasionally when making a handout for my church calling or making a card that I fully intend to send, but because it looks homemade—not in the good homemade way—I don’t send it. So people who might have known I thought of them or were sorry they were ill or that I might have wished a happy birthday to will never know because the hokey homemade card ended up in the garbage can—which is already overfed.

On top of these nifty drawers is an interesting stack of papers with three books stuffed amongst them and two micro-fiber dust cloths on top. They are there just in case I feel the need to dust—which obvously won’t be today.

Next to the garbage can is at least two reams of paper that is printed on one side that I intend to turn over and use when I am writing a rough draft. In all honesty, I’m not going to do that but it makes me feel better to think I might be thrifty. Someday.

So, how can I go clean someone else’s house when mine is obviously a disaster? Doesn’t charity begin at home? Shouldn’t I start by spending an hour (or four-hundred-thousand hours) cleaning my own house?

Maybe I should send her the URL to that site that promises to cure disease. Do you think that would count as a charitable act? I’m going to think about it. If anyone knows who I’m talking about you should send her the URL to my blog and let her read this and then she’d know how much I really love her and why I can’t go clean her house for an hour—her house is about ten-thousand times tidier than mine anyway. She could send $79 off for the report about curing disease and maybe fix her problems and wouldn’t need my help. We could have a good laugh about it and I’d record her laughter on a CD and sell it on ebay for big bucks and we’d all be better off.


Yesterday I made brownies, partly because I wanted to eat one. Okay maybe two. But I didn’t want to eat a bunch. If a dozen were there, lookin at me, calling my name, I would eat ten of them. Phil would eat one and a half and then say something like, “These are too sweet.” He would throw the other half away.

When the brownies were done I put them on a plate and took them outside on faith. People were doing yard work and visiting with other neighbors. When they got finished with all that busy work I snagged them with the aroma of warm brownies. I got rid of the whole batch and had eleven neighbors sitting on the lawn swings, eating brownies and visiting. That’s what I call a successful batch. I got to have a brownie—okay, I ate two—okay, two and a half and all I have left is a dirty pan to wash. I have good memories of good friends and we visited until it was too dark to see. Phil had to go in early because the mosquitoes love him. I feel sorry for him. Before he left he said, “These brownies are too sweet,” so I don’t feel totally sorry for someone who doesn’t understand the mission of a good brownie.

Before bed I hugged him, I was sitting in the computer chair and he was standing so my ear was on his stomach area. My, his stomach is very busy. Movie production studios should make recordings of the active noises to use in horror films. Match those up with something slimy, climbing up from the foggy bog and you’d have a winner. All that sugar and chocolate could be put to productive use. He should look into it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


It’s a peaceful morning. The sun is shining on each drop of water that comes from the sprinkler. The house is cool; the fan in the kitchen circulates the morning air. We are contemplating breakfast, I vote for peaches given to us by our neighbor Cindy. Phil is holding out for eggs and sausage. He’ll eat peaches, I know him well.

All of a sudden we hear the unmistakable sound of Minkey, our Burmese cat. Most cats have a normal “meow.” Pika—our white Persian—has a meow like sweet honey. Minkey’s voice sounds like a chain saw, cutting through garbage cans. Every thought that comes into his little cat brain is expressed. All day long he expresses. If he hasn’t had enough “sitting-on-my-lap” time or enough “scratch-under-my-chin-and-under-my-ears-and-pet-me-a-whole-long-time” time he complains. Non-stop.

So, Minkey made his first comment of the day and Phil said, “Oh no! Minkey’s up.”

And indeed he was. Our day has begun and will end with Minkey, complaining in the hall, outside the bedroom door at 2:00 am or perhaps 3:00. Occasionally I stumble out of bed, open the door a crack and squirt water, randomly into the hall in the direction of the yowl. This gives him an opportunity to run down the steps and yowl from the living room, where he knows I won’t bother to venture.

“We have absolutely no leadership ability. We can’t even control our cats,” Phil said. “Minkey, PLEASE be quiet.”

Minkey answered.

“See! No leadership whatsoever.”

And so we start our day, floundering with our insecurities and wondering if peaches will be soothing or if it will take eggs and sausage to restore the peace and happiness of ten minutes ago—before Minkey got up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


When I was a kid and we drove in the car Mom tried to make use of every opportunity to stimulate my powers of observation. “Look,” she’d say pointing out the window. “A white horse.”

“Where?” I would say. I loved horses; especially white ones, which I thought granted wishes if they were truly white. I was always interested in getting wishes granted.

“Right there,” she would say, pointing again.

I would press my nose to the window and scan the fields and then scan the horizon too when I couldn’t find anything more horse–looking than bales of hay.

“Where? Where?” I’d plead.

“Right there,” Mom would say. “Oh, you’ve missed it.”

I would whip around and look out the back window. Nothing. Not even so much as a white house.

“I didn’t see it,” I’d whine.

“Well, maybe next time,” Mom would say, which she knew was a boldfaced lie. I never could find anything out the window unless it was huge in the future such as: “Here’s a huge building coming up on the right in two minutes. It looks like the empire state building. The right side of the car! It’s red! It has trees all around it and pink flowers leading up the sidewalk. It’s right THERE! See?” Then maybe I’d see it if she took my head and pointed it in the exact direction and pointed with her finger, too.

So, last night, at midnight I went outside to see Mars. An Internet site said: “Mars is the breathtakingly bright "star" in the southeast after dark. You can't miss it. Mars shines many times brighter than any actual star in the sky. Anyone can see it, no matter how little you know about the stars or how badly light-polluted your sky may be.” Did I see Mars. No. It was not in the sky. Nowhere. It will be this close again in the year 2287, the Internet site said.

So, I stood in the street, looking everywhere for the red planet. I was all alone. All sensible people were in bed, asleep. I finally spied the streetlight. It was red. Honest, it was. I always thought they were white or at least yellow. This one was red. So I looked at it, for a minute, squinting and pretended it was Mars. Somewhat satisfied I stumbled back into the house and read a book until 1:30. Little did I know that in just a half hour a lunar eclipse was starting—a “rare lunar eclipse.” Rare, because—surprise, surprise—it was going to glow red, just like Mars! So, not only did I not get to see Mars, that is so easy to see that “you can’t miss it,” but also I missed seeing the real show in the sky, the red full moon and then a lunar eclipse. It’s just like when I was a kid. I looked in the wrong place at the wrong time and now it looks like I even looked for the wrong thing.

Maybe there never was a white horse. Maybe it was really a chipmunk, on the side of the road, on the opposite side of the car and maybe it was Mom’s way of having some fun. Maybe she’s still doing it, from Heaven, having a good laugh.

“Look, Reed,” I can almost hear her say. “She can’t find Mars and she’s going to miss the lunar eclipse too. Just like old times, huh? Heh heh heh.”

It’s not funny. The next lunar eclipse won’t be for three years. I’ll probably be looking for the space shuttle or a building as big as the Empire State Building or a mythical white horse and miss it again. That’s how I do things, I’m afraid.