A fellow towel shopper reached toward the back of a shelf. She was a large woman, naked from her t-shirt to her sandals.
I did what others might do in this situation – silently gasped, forced a poker face, and pretended to scrutinize the craftsmanship of the towel loops while recovering from shock. I did the sneak-a-look, look away, sneak-a-look thing people do when they don’t mean to stare but feel compelled to assess the carnage of a train wreck. No one wants to be a fake alarmist.
Nearby shoppers were sneaking looks, too. I was contemplating whether I should alert security when I noticed a slight hem just above her ankles, revealing that we were dealing not with full-fledged nudity but with seamless khaki leggings. Semi-relief trickled over me.
Here’s a strong life lesson, I realized.
My mother’s voice kicked in: Form-fitting khaki garments are not your friends.
Holding up my three Girl Scout pledge fingers on my right hand, I silently vowed On my honor, I will try….to do everything in my power never to appear naked in public. That day, I purged all solid khaki clothing items from my wardrobe.
New towels would have to wait.
Pushing My Buttons
Awhile back, Staples came out with the Easy Button. This was a red button with a silver base about 3 inches in diameter, and when you pushed it, a convincing voice proclaimed, “That was easy!”
Periodically, my students would earn a push of the easy button if they lined up quickly and quietly or managed some other classroom protocol effortlessly. Back in those days, their faces lit up like I’d hit the golden buzzer, even minus the confetti.
I’m not a classroom teacher anymore, but I’m still in education – and I feel the daily frustrations! We need a revival of the proclamation button, only we need a variety of buttons instead of just one. We need them lined up on our desks, to proclaim things like:
“I need coffee!”
“This isn’t easy!”
“Bring me a computer sledgehammer!”
“I can’t take one more Zoom!”
“Do families even wear clothes anymore?”
Or maybe I should invent a wild card button app. I could type in what I want it to say and push the button.
Nope, never mind…..
…...that would make some things too easy.
You know it’s going to be a good day when you get a visit from the shared alpha farm dog. You picked up Tia from a cardboard box containing a litter of free puppies when your daughter saw them there by the stop sign at the post office peering over the flap and looking like German Shepherd puppies. She managed to convince you that you were indeed getting a free, full-blooded German Shepherd. And a female – worth even more! Maybe in the world of pedigrees she would be, but you knew you’d have her spayed on her first eligible day.
So on the way home, you look into the sweet face of a puppy now destined to be a farm dog simply by your choice to swoop her up. She’ll chase off critters and follow the tractor through the field and sleep in the shade of a turkey fig and plop down on the front porch with her strong-jowled head in your lap, wanting you to scratch behind her ears as you rock in your red Cracker Barrel rocking chair, drinking a Mason jar of sweet iced tea. She’ll take up residence with you, then move back and forth between farm houses, convincing each family that she has not eaten in weeks and that she needs a hearty meal, despite her thick trunk and spoiled smirky smile that tell the truth.
This clearly non-German Shepherd lady’s role here on the land is more important than being your average German Shepherd- it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s about knowing 200 acres like the back of your paw, surviving snakebites, fleas, and ticks, navigating foxes, raccoons and coyotes, learning not to chase the chickens and deer – and protecting your people.
Any old dog can be a Shepherd, but it takes the best to be a mixed breed farm dog.
Just Dropping In
Pike County, Georgia is 50 minutes south of the world’s busiest airport, on the backside of nowhere, on the flight path to everywhere. It’s all rural farm land, mostly undeveloped and fenced off with barbed wire, with a population of 17,000 people and at least three times as many cows. We are what is known as a bedroom community – not in a red light district sense – but because folks who live here mainly come home to sleep. They get up and drive an hour to work in a larger city by day to return home and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of evenings and weekends in the country, where houses are so spread out that every man can pee right off his front porch.
That’s why I was stunned to see a parachuter circling down straight out of heaven with a bright yellow and purple chute as I drove down a remote highway making the 30 minute drive to the grocery store to pick up our Kroger ClickList order. No one just up and jumps out of a plane around here at supper time and lands in a pasture, so it kind of had me worried about whether the guy fell out prematurely or jumped on purpose thinking he was somewhere else. I broke the law to snap a picture while driving in case things ended badly, then turned the car around to see if the fellow needed a ride back to civilization. As I turned around, an oncoming pickup truck driver with a pinch of dip in his bottom lip and a mixed breed farm dog riding shotgun gave me the backwoods wave and the tip of his John Deere cap that means, “I got this….go ahead…. I’ll help this feller figure things out,” so I turned back around and continued on my way. But I still can’t help wondering what the story was, though. My hunger for answers was deeper than our need for food this week.
Why We Rescue
One’s a fight-pickin’ dog, that’s who he is – he likes to pick fights, but he can’t win any of the fights he picks. I don’t know why he picks fights. Nobody knows. Boo Radley’s a fine Schnoodle, though, he’s a real good boy. He can’t help that somebody abandoned him and left him for dead and then we came along and brought him home and promised him a better forever. Bites off more trouble than he can chew and then he gets his little @$$ kicked, that’s how it happens every time. It’s just what he does. He tries to be a street fighter, but he can’t. He ain’t no street fighter like his brother.
Now his brother carries a little knife strapped to the inside of his leg. A Schnauzer shiv. He wears a spiked black leather jacket and sports his flag and drives this loud little motorcycle. Fitz came from a gang of bad dogs runnin’ the streetz and livin’ off garbage scraps, but we saved him. We rescued him from certain incarceration and brought him and his broken leg home, but he won’t give up his ways. He’d been on the run and we think thrown from a car but we can’t prove it. Had to have eleven teeth yanked out when his breath started smelling like a rotting goat carcass, but now he sleeps with us and we let him kiss us in the face. He’s a real piece of work, and he don’t take nothin’ off nobody.
Don’t go handing us any sweet little innocent puppies to love. Give us the dogs with histories and issues. The ones with stories to tell and the spunk to tell them.
I got her machine out of its case and set it up- the very same one she taught me to sew on. She was a master seamstress who made her own wedding gown and every prom dress I ever wore, and she made us matching mother-daughter dresses when I was little, almost two decades before it became a popular trend in the late 1980s. Ours dresses were penny stretchers – not fashion shows. More like The Sound of Music drapery dresses for two, whenever fabric went on clearance. New pre-made clothes were almost never purchased – as a pastor’s wife, mama knew how to cut more than a few kinds of corners! Hers was necessity sewing – not hobby sewing, but she found joy in it all the same.
A few months before she died of Parkinson’s, with hands that had been far too shaky to sew for the last seven years of her fight, she passed on her Bernina to me. Although I’m not nearly the dressmaker she was, I still enjoy threading a bobbin and whirring up the needle to stitch up a seam. Whenever I need to hear her, I start a sewing project and listen carefully. I can still feel her standing over me, guiding my hands along the fabric as I feed it through the foot.
Today, there were no tears of frustration or crying about having to fix mistakes, and this was what I needed to hear. Rag quilts might be the most mistake-forgiving blankets of all time. Forgiving just like my mother – a sweet, gentle soul who appreciated everything that came her way and knew how to let things go. The frayed edges of the soft flannel backing envelop me, and I hear her whisper words of wisdom in my ear, “Don’t take it all too seriously – life’s too short. Perfection doesn’t offer the extra seam allowances needed to forgive and move on.” Oh, how her reminders come when I most need them!
Here’s to Hygge!
I joined the Hygge (pronounced HOOga) Life Facebook page after reading about the Danish concept of comfort. Members share ideas about what makes life more cozy for them. I learn a lot about warm fuzzies from member responses on these pages. Here is a list of 30 ways your life, too, can be more Hygge:
- plenty of plants/ fresh flowers
- a heated blanket
- sherpa-lined slippers
- the sounds of a trickling fountain
- an electric tea kettle
- a Keurig
- a dog or cat
- a fireplace
- scented candles
- fairy lights
- stretch jeans
- a weighted blanket
- artwork of favorite places
- cabin socks
- a down coat
- flannel pajamas
- a hammock or swinging chair
- good books
- a hand-warmer mug
- birdfeeders by windows
- cheery dishes
- an alpaca duvet
- a memory foam mattress topper
- wooden windchimes
- crystal window rainbow makers
- China tea sets
- a hot tub
- a soft rice pack shaped to rest on your shoulders, heated with lavender oil
- a variety of herbal teas
- soft music
Here’s to Hygge in your life! Please share your own tips in the comments.
Save the Lions!
In my dream, I adopted a lioness. We had moved to a village where the next-door neighbor fostered rescue lions and made home placements. She chose us as parents of a half-starved but playful adult cat who spent most of her time on her back baring her sharp teeth, twitching her dustwand-tipped tail, and begging us to scratch her belly. We were enjoying our new family feline when panic suddenly gripped me full-force.
What have I done? Is this legal? Can we even afford to feed her?
Oh God, she’ll eat our dogs!
We set off to see the lion veterinarian (yes, there actually was one in this strange town) to seek advice on what to do to fix our error. I was already making a list of zoos to contact about making a live donation if the vet didn’t pan out.
In dreams, nothing seems out of the ordinary, so we were not surprised that when we stepped inside the office we had to put our lioness in a Walt Disney World-style It’s A Small World boat and ride with her back to the veterinarian’s exam room. Thank God they didn’t play the music. She turned onto her back in the boat, pawing at us to scratch her belly as we floated past a mixed pride of lions all lined up along the wall awaiting their own appointments.
Halfway there, I jolted awake and was relieved to begin the day lionless once I got my bearings and realized it was all just a bad dream and decided that perhaps I should quit with the creme de menthe shots before bed. As I was getting dressed, my husband asked what had me all jumpy this morning. I shared my dream with him as he stood before me with his towel around his waist, smelling of a pleasant blend of Lever 2000 and Head and Shoulders. Before turning on the hairdryer, he thought deeply for a moment and then replied, “Hmm…..2021 might be better with a lion. We might shoulda kept her.”
When a hacker sends a Facebook Messenger greeting posing as your friend Betty saying, “Hello. How are you doing today?” and you can clearly see that the new fake friend has zero posts and only two mutual friends, you begin to wonder: is every lie a sin if the friend is inquiring on false pretenses in the first place, or is your best attempt at an injured tomboy adventure story fair game as an answer? You decide to change your own password as a security precaution before responding, brewing your lie in countercrime for a few minutes.
Hello. How are you doing today?
Not well, Betty. I actually fell out of a tree today while trying to rescue my cat that had been stuck there for three days and was being attacked by a hawk that kept coming around. The cat and I both fell, and when we did I fell on him and squished his innards out and killed him in the process, also breaking both of my own legs and one arm. The hawk got away. Thankfully, I am able to text back to let you know how I am doing. Can you please send money to help with my medical expenses?
And then you send a message to the real Betty to tell her the truth about your lie and encourage her to warn her real friends not to take her fake friend requests. Because friends don’t let friends’ hackers get away with attempted lies and foolishness about who they really are.
What else could you share in the name of friendly counterhackery?