Cheese in the Dog’s Water Bowl

Sometimes the events of the morning dictate how the day will go simply because of our reactions to them.

For instance – I was preparing Hubby’s lunch and as I unwrapped a slice of cheese, it slipped from my fingers and fell into the dogs’ water bowl.

“Wonderful,” I thought as I bent down to retrieve it.

It wasn’t exactly wonderful – it was wasteful and cut into my already rushed morning routine – so as I plucked it from the water bowl, I made a decision and asked my mind to snap a memory of how the slice of cheese looked in the dogs’ water bowl.

It landed half in the water.  The uppermost half leaned against the side of the slanted bowl.  One corner of it was draped over the edge.  It resembled someone relaxing in a hot tub with an arm draped across the edge of it. Funny!

As I dropped it into the trash I muttered, “go swim in someone else’s dog bowl. The pool here is closed.”

My reaction to the dropped cheese had the power to affect the remainder of not only my day but Hubby’s as well (and each person we touched throughout the day).

All too often I react instead of choosing my response.  Perhaps it’s part of my personality.  Perhaps it’s simply learned behavior.  Perhaps, it’s a mixture.  I don’t know….

What I do know is that I need to be less reactionary and more intentional in responding in ways that are healthy, honorable, gentle and kind.

Moth Invasion

It began with one.

A tiny one –  delicate, harmless….

And, then there were two.

Two little moths…

I should have known where this was going – I’d been there before.

A box of infested birdseed had spawned a flurry of moths.  But, that was another house, another state, several years ago.

Yes, we moved.  And, yes, when we moved daughter brought her bird with her.  And, yes, I carefully cleaned and disinfected everything with the intent of bringing NO moths with us.

But, here we are again.

Whether it’s because of something we brought with us or bought here is of little consequence.

The fact is:

what began with one has grown to number hundreds….

And, no.  I didn’t kill the first one.  I should have.  Should have killed it instantly, and every one I saw thereafter.

Why not?

Good question.

Perhaps I didn’t kill them because I’d been taught NOT to by my dad.   Poor candlefly…can’t help but be who and what it is – creature of darkness drawn to light.  A gentle soul who does no harm. Only a mean fellow would kill such a gentle, helpless creature.

(Pause.)

And, so I gave grace and showed mercy to the occasional moth that appeared on my wall or ceiling.

Whether stupid or blind, or simply not thinking, I’m not sure what words to hang my lack of attention and forethought to.  But, the fact remains that I neglected to act swiftly and decisively.  And we were soon overrun by moths.

Tiny moths.  Little, delicate, fluttery moths.

The first moth I killed, was killed with deep regret and given an apology.  I truly felt bad about breaking my dad’s rule – you don’t kill moths.

The second moth I killed also received an apology. As did the third and fourth and fifth.  I was deeply saddened by my need to kill them.  I wanted to catch them and release them outside, but they would have frozen.

But, when Daughter sounded the alarm one morning with, “Um…Mom, you’d better come look at this…,” everything changed.  As I approached her bedroom door, I waved off a drove of exiting moths. One look at her bedroom ceiling and walls hardened my heart and set my resolve.

No more grace. No more mercy. No more looking the other way.  And, no more apologies. This was war.  And, I would be victorious!

Harmless?!? Ha!

Gentle soul?!? Bah!

Only a mean fellow would kill them? Well, watch me put on my mean fellow face!

I grabbed the ShopVac, extended the wand to reach 15 feet, and went to work.  I sucked up every gentle soul I could find.

Bwahahahahahahahaha.

There’s nothing gentle about these moths.  They have one goal and that’s to overrun my house. Candleflies they are not.  Gentle souls – nope.  These are pantry moths and my delay has cost me more than just frustration.  It’s an all out war against them.  Eradication will be difficult and time consuming. And, it will mean a constant attack on our part.

And, to be honest, I can think of a lot better things to do with my time than to vacuum moths and moth larvae, and chase after them with my fly swatter.  Looks like my Christmas time off will be spent cleaning out and cleaning up and killing off.

Oh, how I wish I’d taken action before the first moth ever appeared.  Yes, there were precautions I could have taken.  Remember? I’ve been here before.

Living life with my head stuck in the sand isn’t wise.  Inattention to detail only makes matters worse.  Nothing changes for the better without intentional action on my part.

Excuse me – a moth just flitted past me.

Where’s my fly swatter?!?

Die moth! DIE!

The Little Red Pencil

“I need to clean out that drawer in the spare bedroom.  It’s full of…no idea what all is in it.”

Mom uttered those words two months ago and for two long month’s I’ve been saying, “When are WE going to clean out that drawer in the spare bedroom??”

The answer was always “not today.”  And, sometimes “maybe tomorrow” was added as an after thought.

Tomorrow came yesterday.

The drawer was carefully lifted from the chest of drawers and carried out to the patio and placed on the picnic table.  It was full…heavy…loaded with a wide variety of…

For the next 4 hours, Daughter and I joined Mom on a short walk down memory lane as she touched things she’d not seen in years and read notes and cards she’d tucked away for another day.

The last thing Mom paused over was a small, clear plastic bag containing several small memo pads.  As she leafed through them, I began the task of returning things to the drawer.

The memo pads were travel journals dating back 20 years or more.  She read some excerpts and elaborated for us.

And, then, she leaned over and looked down between her knees (she was seated at the picnic table, on the bench) as though searching for something.

“What are you looking for?” I asked.

“My little red pencil,” she said. “It fell and I can’t find it.”

A little red pencil…I’d not seen a little red pencil.  I looked at Daughter who sat across the table from her – she shrugged and shook her head.  Apparently she’d not seen one either.

I leaned over and looked down between the edge of the picnic table and the bench.  No red pencil there.  I stooped and looked under the bench upon which she sat.

“Are you certain you had a little red pencil? I asked Mom.

The look she gave me was indication enough that there was indeed a little red pencil somewhere and I’d better get on my hands and knees and find it.

To my knees I dropped and under the bench I crawled.  I questioned the existence of the little red pencil.  I’d not seen it.  She insisted it had fallen to the patio below her.  So, why wasn’t I seeing it??  The obvious reason came to mind and I asked again.

“Are you certain you had a little red pencil? Today? Right here? A little red pencil??”

And, the reply I received was “YES!”

I didn’t see one and I said so.

Then she said, “It’s tiny.  It’s a tiny, little red pencil with lead and it writes.”

A tiny little red pencil with lead…. Tiny red….

I adjusted my vision from macro to micro and began to look for the red needle in the haystack, so to speak.

And, there (THERE!) in the joint joining two sections of concrete partially hidden by a crumbled leaf was a TINY fleck of red.

I brushed the leaf away and there lay a perfect “tiny little red pencil with lead” – about two inches long and the width of a toothpick.

To see what was missing I had to adjust my vision and look for the unseen.  I had to see the possibilities. And, I had to accept what I thought impossible as…possible. Focus had to be centered.  I had to get down to the nitty-gritty.  I had to believe in what I could not see.

So great was my mother’s belief in the unseen that I could not help but believe myself – even if only for her sake, even when I was a skeptic, even when I thought it impossible.  Just because I didn’t see the little red pencil didn’t negate its existence.

It was there.  I just had to look until I found it.

We all have something we’re searching for – a tiny little red pencil of a thing that we’ve heard of, read about, hope for, need desperately to find.  That little red pencil is there – don’t give up the search.

Faith – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Fear Me

A fledgling dove sunned itself on my back porch – two feet from my back door.

She wasn’t moving anything but her head, and that only to look up at me with huge black eyes.

Inexperienced and without sufficient life lessons to warn her, she lounged on the uncovered porch in plain view of hawks, cats and me.  She was easy picking for any predator.

Off and on for two hours I peeked out the window to see if she remained.  After a while I became concerned that she might be injured.

And, I knew something she didn’t. I was about to unleash the hounds for their afternoon romp in the backyard.

As I watched her through the back door window, I placed my hand on the knob and gave it a jiggle.  She turned her head and looked up at me.

And, blinked.  That’s all she did.  I waved my hand at her and made faces.

She looked away.

I turned the knob and popped the door open two inches.  She showed no excitement, no alarm.  She just sat, relaxed, on her orange feet and watched me.

I opened the wooden door fully and stood in front of the storm door. The dove calmly looked up at me. There was no fear…no cause for alarm that she knew of.

A large part of me wanted to slip out and sit down beside the dove and just bask in her innocence and purity.  But, the wise side of me (yes, there is one, albeit difficult to find at times) knew this dove would not live long if it was not circumspect in its approach to life and knew no fear.

And, so with a sigh, I threw open the storm door and stepped noisily onto the porch – and added fear of humans and of opening doors to her short list of life experiences.

She hesitated only a moment before taking frantic flight on hesitant wings, low and halting across the garden, and then up into the bush at the edge of the yard where she clattered to a halt with heaving chest.

I whispered, “I’m sorry. You must know fear.  It will keep you alive.”

Fear me.

What a sad world it is when you must fear me.

I long for a day when there is no longer a need for fear and no life experience that teaches it.

“Fear me.”

What a sad commentary on the reality of the world we inhabit.

What / whom do you fear?  and, why?

Peachy Temptation

Just because it looks like a ripe peach, smells like a ripe peach, and feels like a ripe peach is no guarantee that it tastes like a ripe peach.

I had not walked far past the entrance of our local Wal-mart when I smelled the delicious aroma of ripe peaches.

My nose led me to a pile of big, beautiful, peachy peaches.

Wow!  I love fresh peaches.

I bought three and couldn’t wait for that first bite.

And, after I took it, I wished I hadn’t.

…wished I hadn’t bought…bitten…tasted….

Isn’t that the way it often is?

I see what I think I want and when I take it and make it my own, I find that it wasn’t what I thought it was, didn’t satisfy like I hoped it would and wasn’t good like I was certain it would be.

Homegrown goodness can’t be beaten.  And, wholesome desire coupled with foresight and wisdom leads to right choices.

I knew better.  Past experience had taught me all I needed to know, but still…I allowed desire free reign.

And, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.

The Unchewed Chip

I swallowed the potato chip before I had fully chewed it.

(You know how it is with chips…can’t wait to pop the next one into your mouth.)

All the way down my throat, its jagged edges clawed my esophagus. And, as it passed my larynx — it stopped, hung up and dug in, refusing slip on toward my stomach like it was supposed to.

I could feel it, lodged between the bulge of my larynx and my backbone, stuck in my esophagus. Swallowing was painful.  Not swallowing provided little relief.  It hurt.

The only solution was to drink and wait for the chip to soften as it soaked up the warm coffee (Yes, coffee.  What? Do you think I drink water when coffee is available??)

So, I drank…each swallow excruciating as my throat muscles clamped down and squeezed the sharp edges of that chip as they worked the liquid down, down, down.

Sometimes we do things that we know will hurt because we know it’s best – or the only way out of the situation we find ourselves in.

Within a couple of minutes, I felt the chip loosen and slip south.  A few more sips assured me the chip was no longer an issue.

So, I popped another chip into my mouth – careful not to make the same mistake.

Sometimes lessons learned stick with us best when a little discomfort pricks us where we’re most tender.

When was the last time you found yourself in a prickly situation and the only way out was to inflict more pain on yourself.  Did you learn your lesson, or did you find yourself making the same decision and repeating the action, thereby receiving the same prickly outcome again?