Category Archives: 250 words

Storm Coming

sturmfrantFor most of the afternoon, the weather radio has been going off in the living room. My iPhone has a weather app that has also been going off with all kinds of warnings. There is lightning on the way. There is the possibility of heavy rain. There is the likelihood of some strong winds. There will be big, burly, gray clouds up in the sky. Oh well. A normal, summer storm for us. (And it may not even show up. Weathermen!)

Anyway, there’s usually lots of forewarning for these storms. As I sit here looking out at the sun that is slowly being obscured by the clouds, it occurs to me that there are lots of other things that we receive a great deal of forewarning for, is there not? A financial professional friend of my friend once said, “Investing in our children is important because we need to think about the dividends we will receive – or not – when they grow up.” He gets it. We can sense what is coming later if we want to, can’t we?

In the case of the storm coming in right now, I’ve made sure the doors are closed, windows secured, trashcans put away, and so forth. What do we do when we see a relational storm coming? Do we prepare or simply decide to do nothing in preparation?

When Dorothy saw the storm coming, she wasn’t able to get into the storm cellar. We know what happened to her – she ended up in Oz! Odd how we prepare for a summer storm better than we prepare for relationship storms. Or maybe we like to be permanent residents of Oz?

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Jimmy Gone

jimmyIt wasn’t the best place to eat but it was certainly not the worst place to have a meal alone or with friends, either. It was neatly comfortable, decorated with chintzy fabrics, mirrors, and oddly shaped flower arrangements (Jimmy’s wife said she liked to express herself artistically), and it usually was mostly served by friendly people. The restaurant was equipped with TV monitors that were obviously not tuned to cable channels – the channels would fade in and out. And despite being Greek immigrants years ago, the owners desired that there be a patriotic, law enforcement, and US military feel to the wall-hangings, photos, and flags in the establishment.

Three things stand out to me. First, it was a place you could get a plain, American meal or you, if a bit adventurous, could get an interesting but traditional Greek meal. The menu was quite extensive for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Second, who can forget the pie display? All kinds of fruity and cream pies. Admittedly, we tried a few pie slices over the years. Along with some coffee or strong tea, the slices sure tasted good.

And third, who can forget the little mouse box at the cash register? Imagine if you can, a small, wooden box with a sliding lid. The temptation (like touching a park bench with a “wet paint” sign on it) is to slide open the lid on top of the box. Of course, every time we were in (from the time the boys were with us until just a few weeks ago) we had to slide the lid open. By sliding the lid open, a mechanism worked such that a little, stuffed, gray mouse would leap out of the box and “snap” at the one opening the box. How fun. I wonder what will happen to the mouse box?

Sadly, Jimmy has decided to close. Read the article here. For the many years we have lived here, Jimmy’s was always a dependable and comfortable place to visit. Jimmy, his wife, family, employees, and the tiny, gray mouse will be missed.

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Should Haves

culmI’ve mentioned this before but even as I was sorting and straightening up this evening around the house, I felt again the regret for not having helped Regina more around the house when I could have. It simply takes a lot of work and effort to keep a house clean and livable. Junk piles and messiness don’t work, do they? And you know – a bathroom takes care and constant attention, doesn’t it? This might all seem kind of silly but truly, if I had helped out a little more, things would have been easier for her and I would have felt better about taking care of our home together.

I have a friend who has never been married. He’s always on the prowl for a wife, though. One of his reasons, he says, is so there will be someone to, as he says, “take care of the house.” I’m not quite sure to what extent he wants his future wife to “take care of the house” but if he means that he wants someone to do all the indoor work then I think he is absolutely wrong about who he is looking for and I hope, frankly, that a girl doesn’t answer his ads and come along willingly.

I understand much better now why it feels good to go to bed at night with not too many piles stacked up and not too many messes yet to be cleaned. Also, I really appreciate having laundry done and put away.

Well, just more reflections, regrets, and, sadly, missed opportunities. Each time I straighten up or clean now, I think of her and how I could have made it just a bit easier for her.

I’m sorry.

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Message Messenger

ponyriderIn some writing that we all are doing, our professor brought up the idea of “message vs. messenger.” It’s an idea that has always intrigued me. I don’t think the question can be asked: “What is more important? The message or the messenger?” The statement presupposes, obviously, that one is more important than the other. And while there might be some kind of argument made for one being more important than the other, it really seems to me that, more often than not, the two necessarily must complement each other in order for an idea to get its full due.

A quality message presented by a hypocritical messenger will ultimately fall on deaf ears. Likewise, a slick and smooth messenger with a bogus message will, after awhile, be found out for what he really is – a snake oil salesman.

Honestly, this is one of most serious fallacies with electronic, social media. There is a message but, more often than not, the recipient is not fully aware of who the messenger is. The message is received but from a mostly anonymous messenger. And that’s when all kinds of misunderstanding occurs. Perhaps a social media presence is what some like – an image can be crafted and manipulated that, it’s hoped, will be liked by others. But the whole transaction is nothing more than a false message being sent from a fake messenger.

For there to be quality, meaningful dialogue, there needs to be an important message and it needs to come from a messenger of integrity.

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Calm Rising

kidsgrassA new week. One class is almost over – my project was submitted late last night with two hours to spare. All of the college and high school graduation brouhaha is complete – a nice, weekend gathering for Christian last Sat was pleasant. Nick and Laurie have completed their move to a new place – it’s nice, big, and comfortable. Zak and Kathy are settled – or as settled at Navy people can be settled. Summer is officially here so we can get that over with in a few weeks. World Cup is very enjoyable and, this time around, very surprising and exciting. School is out locally so all of the kiddos are in summer mode and the teachers seem slightly less panicked and morbid. I made it past the two year mark in mostly one piece – I really don’t enjoy anniversaries and special days. My method of coping is to avoid! And just this morning when I woke up around 7am, I realized (still!) that I didn’t have to get into the car and commute for 1 1/2 hours to a work site. (Sorry, Paige, for your long commute.) And on top of everything else, the sun is shining through the window in a happy way.

As hard as stuff can get, sometimes it takes more effort to be sad than happy. This morning is one of those times. Despite what goes on, it’s hard to not be calm and peaceful and feel like things are going to be okay somehow.

I hope you have a good day.

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Jack Bauer

jackbauer1There are some differences between Jack Bauer and me. After watching the latest episode, I realized just how far detached I am from the Bauer world of intrigue.

Him: Never says hello or goodbye on the phone.
Me: Lets callers go to voice mail.

Him: Can walk in on the President of the US.
Me: Can’t walk in on an IHOP Manager.

Him: Asks for a helicopter – gets it!
Me: Pumps own gas at 7-11.

Him: Flies his helicopter.
Me: Still figuring out cruise control on car.

Him: Has a wispy, gravelly, enigmatic voice.
Me: Nasally and choking – especially in the mornings.

Him: Has good guys, bad guys, and middle-of-the-road hackers on speed-dial.
Me: Lake Arrowhead Sam’s Pizza is on speed-dial.

Him: Always has nice looking hair – even after a run-for-his-life-run, fist fight, or gun battle.
Me: (No comment.)

Him: Never looks surprised.
Me: Usually spend all my time being surprised.

Him: Has nice looking women crying for him.
Me: (No comment.)

Him: Has incredibly fast internet speeds – even on wireless.
Me: Beholden to Comcast and AT&T. Enough said.

Him: Drives spanking new BMWs and Chryslers every time he drives. (Probably doesn’t hurt that they sponsor the show.)
Me: A Toyota and Ford.

Him: Doesn’t seem to ever snack, nap, or go to the bathroom.
Me: I will likely do each of these at least once during any single episode.

Him: Does more in one hour without a day-planner or calendar than I do in a year.
Me: I would die without my iPhone calendar!

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Personal Viruses

vrsalrtI can’t decide whether it would be a good idea to have a personal virus scanner or not. What I mean is – have a button that, when pressed, activates a scan that searches my thoughts and intents and identifies threats and then asks whether to clear and delete or leave alone. You know, like a virus scanner on your computer? I automatically scan my PC once a week – Mon mornings around 2am it happens automatically. My Mac Mini doesn’t scan because I don’t worry about viruses on the Apple device. But the PC – oh yes! Anyway, it runs weekly and takes about an hour and then generates a report that I can read the next morning. If it finds something, it isolates it and then asks if I want to delete it and make it go away. Everything will be fixed.

What would I do if I had a scanner on me? Would I want to run it? Would I want to see a weekly report? Since I’m me – do I need a virus scanner or should I know better? The whole thing sounds crazy, I know, but just…what if? Would I let someone else audit my records once a week to keep some accountability (like our computer nut at work who used to audit our computers weekly to make sure we weren’t messing with them – or him!).

As you know, viruses can really mess things up on a computer. Anything from a mouse that acts weird to a computer that becomes a zombie. And personal viruses? What might happen?

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We Talk

hurdgood1Me: I don’t feel like going.

Him: It’s not about you. You seem to forget that.

M: I know. You like to remind me of that constantly.

H: It’s not to hurt you. But it’s true. I’ve given you time – and more will come – but this tonight isn’t about you.

M: I’ll be alone.

H: If you want to be. This is one of your old arguments. There are people all around you who love you and care for you.

M: They don’t know how I feel.

H: Oops. Forgot, again. Not about you.

M: Good grief.

H: Look, in ways that you can’t know, they need you. They probably won’t say it, but you get the whole cycle of life thing. Everyone feeds on everyone in a balance. You’ll be okay.

M: So many memories. And hopes gone.

H: I know. I’m sorry.

M: It hurts and I can’t really talk about it or show it.

H: I know. If it matters, lots of them hurt, too. They don’t show it but they need someone to say something to them, too.

M: Always about them!

H: Well, yes. In a way. But helping them helps you. You know that.

M: I know. But it takes so much energy. It makes me tired and hurt.

H: Here’s a deal. Make it through and we can watch a movie later.

M: You don’t watch movies.

H: It’s a manner of speaking. You know what I mean.

M: I care for them even if it hurts me.

H: I know. I can feel your hurt. But we can get through this together.

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Good Convo

conversationI know I might talk about this too much, but it continually amazes me just how powerful kind words, careful listening, and patient responses can make a conversation so much better than when two people are talking over each other, not listening, and trying to get an upper hand of some kind. Obvious thing – the second method of conversing (if it can be called that!) takes little or no discipline, doesn’t get anywhere, and usually ends up with misunderstandings and confusion. The first method of communicating, however, results in more respect, better understanding, and a likely desire to further the conversation at a later time.

Good conversation begins with, I think, self-respect. ¬†Am I comfortable listening to someone else for awhile without having my feelings hurt or otherwise feeling less important because someone else has the floor? If I am confident in myself and in what I think and believe, it won’t matter a whit what someone else is saying. Simply because someone is filling the air with words is no cause to believe that I will somehow implode and self-destruct.

With self-respect and, then, when it is my turn to speak, I am able to cogently, kindly, and confidently express my opinions, observations, or findings with grace and fluency. I will be respected rather than thought of as a bag of hot air.

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Burned Legs

futmoleSunburns hurt really bad. I unintentionally burned my legs a few days ago. It was very uncomfortable in bed for several nights and, even now, they are itching like the dickens. In the end, I went by CVS and picked up some secret aloe vera sauce and it, temporarily, makes me feel better. Actually, it sizzles from the touch when I put it on the burned places, then the burned places get frigid and numb for an hour or so. I guess that’s okay? I’m basically just pushing through the intense, excruciating, burning, acute, violent, searing, raging pain. (Feeling sorry for me?)

So, like any one of you would do, I turned to the interwebs for some advice on how to treat sunburn. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Pat down with squished or blended potatoes. Let them dry in place. Remove them and take a shower.

2. Pat down with a vinegar-soaked cloth.

3. Pat down with oatmeal. I’m guessing the application works the same as with the potatoes.

4. Pat down with yogurt. Plain, if possible. Again, apply and wait same as with potatoes or oatmeal.

5. Apply fresh slices of cucumber on the burned spots. Preferably, use a cuke that has been in the refrigerator – the coolness will help make the burned places feel better.

6. Mix up two, white eggs and blend with honey. Apply using a cloth. Follow the same procedure as with all of the other healing, buffet-style food methods.

7. Using lettuce, cabbage, mint, or strawberry leaves, boil in a pot of water for ten minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to steep. Strain the water and chill. Spritz the cool water on the affected areas. If the cooked leaves are still around, apply them directly, too.

If you get a sunburn and use any of these methods – and aren’t attacked by a crazed dieter or swarm of bees – your sunburn might get to feeling better. For me? I’m going stick with my aloe sauce.

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