You are hereMonthly archive / November 2008

November 2008

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Actions Speak Louder than Slush

Let me set the stage...late afternoon Thanksgiving Weekend, a snowstorm...no, a slushstorm...and (insert ominous music here)... THE MALL.

The principle characters...me, an extremely exhausted mom with my 9 year old son that just finished up his Christmas shopping.

The plot...after an exhausting but productive shopping spree, mother and son battle the elements and make what must be a four mile trek out to their car. It seems for the holidays The Mall annexed property in the next county to accommodate the hordes of shoppers. Having procured the WORST possible parking spot in the whole lot, tired mom sits in her seat and starts the car. She kicks the heat up all the way hoping to restore the feeling in her frozen toes before making the drive home, when 9 year old son in backseat says, "Uh oh, Mom. There's a problem." Nothing good can come of this! She's begins praying for something simple like frostbitten fingers or a frozen seatbelt buckle. But alas, something far worse! When looking at a receipt The Boy notices that the Hallmark shop accidentally forgot to charge him for a $1.95 Troll he bought for his sister.

The conflict...9 year old son wishes to return to the Mall to rectify the situation. Near crazed mom wants to drive away fast and never look back! What to do?

At this point two axioms wrestle in the mother's thoughts. First, "Actions speak louder than words", and second, "Do as I say, not as I do". This is the type of moral quandary we face everyday as parents. We wish to teach our children to do the right thing...to be honest, to be fair, to take turns, to be compassionate, and to live by the "Golden Rule". Trouble is, as time goes by, rationalization has infiltrated our own personal values and our actions are often in direct conflict with the lessons we wish to instill in our own children. Mom's internal value system can easily identify the absurdity of tromping through the snow yet again for a measly $2.00. She can rationalize that someone, somewhere this week probably overcharged her by $2.00 so, in the long run, it all evens out. When faced with the Artic conditions, distraught mom wonders if it isn't time the child learned the nuances of honesty.

But there he sits, receipt in hand, with his integrity still intact. So, going against every survival instinct the mother possess, she turns, looks at the imploring eyes of her 9 year old son and says as enthusiastically as she possibly can, "Glad you caught that. Okay, let's go!" And back they tromp...through what has now escalated into a full fledge blizzard, to right a wrong. The salesgirl at the counter is not impressed. Her manager is standing behind her frowning. She'll undoubtedly be reamed later for her carelessness. Plus, the salesgirl is clueless as to how to fix this situation. Increasingly annoyed manager asks her to step aside as she takes over the transaction. The line behind them is getting ugly. Mom can feel their stares boring through her skull. No one is applauding her actions. No one is congratulating the boy for his profound honesty.

But, as Mom bundles up yet again to make their way back out to the car, SHE is proud; proud of her son, and yes, proud of herself. Sure, someday the son will start making his own rationalizations, but not on her watch. As long as she has anything to do with it she will encourage his moral behavior. She will also humbly learn from it!

Our children need us to be the people we hope they become. Although daunting at times, and near impossible at others, it is the gauntlet that challenges us to be our best!

2 Men, 4 Duffle Bags and a Goose

On Saturday Tim was heading over to his daughter's new house to do some plumbing stuff. Since there was no heat on in the house yet, and the toilets didn't flush, I wussed out, stayed home where it was warm, and worked at my desk. So, I get this call from Tim. 

Tim: I just saw the weirdest thing.

Me: Yes? 

Tim: I'm driving down the expressway, and on the side of the road I see 2 guys, 4 duffle bags, and a goose.

Me: A noose?

Tim: No, a goose.

Me: There's a goose traveling with 2 guys and 4 duffle bags?

Tim: My point exactly! You don't see that every day.

Me: No, you sure don't. Have to wonder if they all planned this trip together or just hooked up along the way.

Tim: Yeah, maybe they're heading home for Thanksgiving. If so, this can't end well for the goose.

Me: Or maybe they just hooked up in a bar last night, hit it off, and decided to travel together. But you have to wonder whether the goose is an asset or a liability for getting rides.

Tim: Well, maybe they brought the goose along because they thought he'd be good at picking up chicks!

Me: Hmmm...that's probably it.

Tim: Yeah. Well, talk to you later.

Me: K, bye.

I hung up the phone, with a smile that threatened to strain the muscles in my jaw. I had an image in my mind that I couldn't let go of. It got me to thinking of all those little tableaus we see throughout our lives, fleeting glimpses, vignettes if you will, of other people's lives. Real people, real events, that we share but for a moment, and then they are gone forever. Case in point, we'll never know where the unlikely trio was heading...truth be told, and this is NOT a scenario I care to entertain in any depth...they may not have been a bona fide traveling entourage. It may have been pure happenstance that brought the 2 guys, 4 duffle bags and a goose together, and once out of Tim's view, parted company. And my point...we can only wonder.

I can remember when I was a young girl, perhaps 6 or 7 years old, I was on an auto excursion with the family. I can remember looking out the window at the people in other cars. At one stop light I looked over at the car next to us. Looking directly at me was a boy in the back seat. He was older than me, maybe 9 or 10, and our eyes connected. We held each other's glance, expressionless, until the light changed, and our visual contact was severed by the flow of traffic. I think it was the very first time I became truly cognizant of the existence of other people. It hit me that here was another human being, this boy that had his own thoughts, his own life...a life I would never be a part of. He'd go to his home, play with his friends and be tucked in bed that night by his parents. I would NEVER again see him, but he would continue to exist! I was overwhelmed by a sense of irrational panic. At the ripe age of 6, I realized I was not the center of the universe! That other people lived lives, had stories and thoughts that I would never be a part of.

I think that's part of the phenomenal appeal of blogs. It makes us privy to another human being's inner thoughts. We don't have to wonder or speculate about the musings of someone, they tell us. We aren't given a fleeting glance of someone else's life, only to be cruelly removed from their presence, left wanting for greater understanding. In blogs a flustered mom actually tells us what was going through her mind when her youngest toppled the apple display at the grocery store setting 67 Gala apples free to scurry about the aisle. Or the textile artist explains what inspired the use of vintage bow ties in constructing a messenger bag. And the budding author, traveling cross country in hopes of gathering enough insights and experiences to become the next Kurt Vonnegut or Mark Twain recounts his adventures of being a member of a traveling entourage consisting of 2 guys, 4 duffle bags and a goose.

But life is not a blog and will continue to offer vignettes of other people's lives; both the mundane and the ludicrous. Over the years I have come to accept my isolation from most of humanity, but there are times when a scene begs for explanation, and when one doesn't present itself, I have a tendency to invent...hmmm...perhaps "speculate" is a better choice of words... a plausible explanation. The aforementioned trio was, in fact, traveling together. Prompted by the goose's fear of flying, the 2 brothers, were escorting Sheldon (the goose's given name) down to Florida for the winter. Perhaps my explanation sounds more preposterous than the scene itself, but in my world, it IS a plausible explanation! I hope they got there safely!

Life is an enchanting story; I hope you know how to read!