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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!  

Miserable Judge of Time!

Like usual, I'm a poor judge of time. I always think I'll get through something faster than I do. It all seems so doable when I'm finishing projects in my head! Truth be told, I'm spending tons of time on Wee Folk Art. I'm really enjoying it, but it seems to be taking all my free time. It is hard to believe but I've been writing One Gen for a year now! I was afraid I wouldn't find enough things to write about but my list of topics grows with each passing day, but my free time does not! Oh well, there is a season for everything. Don't give up on me altogether, and please, stop by occasionally to see if I've learned how to balance 2 blogs! In the mean time, stop by Wee Folk Art!

Unhurrying

I love to bake. As a matter of fact I like cooking in general. Whenever I hear someone say they find the task of making dinner an unsavory experience, I get this idiot look on my face, my brow wrinkles, I turn my head sideways like our dog Scully when she's trying to process "STAY". To me cooking and baking is anything but mundane. It's creative...it's rejuvenating...why, it's downright fun.

So, today, when I burnt a batch of Oatmeal Scotchies, I knew that something was amiss in my day. I've got a million things going on right now. The parent situation has calmed down, but in its wake are all the neglected tasks that normally get done weekly. So I'm trying to catch up, but at the same time, ready my house for next week's 18TH ANNUAL PUMPKIN CARVING PARTY and the weekend visitors that come with it. I've got the party down to a science, but it still involves plenty of time. So, here I am, trying to get some cookies made before the grandbabies show up for lunch, finishing up a craft project for Wee Folk Art, doing a couple loads of laundry, and slowly piling party necessities.

Normal multi-tasking, right? The thing is, I was allowing myself to stress. Running from room to room, picking up, sorting, baking, folding, and all the while not enjoying a single thing I was doing! Life's too short not to enjoy what you're doing. Restating...I love to bake. Instead of taking a few minutes, to truly relish the experience, to drink in the sites and smells, the task got heaped into my pile of "to dos". WRONG!!! How much time would I have lost from my day, if I chose to sit while my cookies baked? 10 minutes? Let's say I decided to make 2 batches...what...half an hour? If I had savored the experience, and sat at the dining room table, waiting for the cookies to bake, while guilt free flipping through one of the new crafting books I got this week and still haven't been able to crack open, the world as I know it would not have ended, and my disposition for the rest of the day could have been enhanced instead of frazzled!

So, I feed my garbage disposal the inedible confection...btw...not even my dogs would eat them...scooped up a new batch...and picked up one of the books. True, there were a few things I could have accomplished during that time, but the time was not wasted. When the perfect batch of cookies was taken from the oven, and put on cooling racks to, well, cool, I felt good, even revitalized. I am now ready to move on to the next task, which turned out to be writing this blog, but I managed to UNHURRY my day. UNHURRYING your days is about embracing everything you do and giving it attention and appreciation. It is a choice, and given the emotional well being it provides, well worth putting it at the top of your "to do" list!

OAT MEAL SCOTTISHIES

Ingredients:

2 c. unsifted flour

2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. butter, softened

1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 T. water

1 1/2 c. quick oats, uncooked

1 12 oz. package (2 c.) butterscotch morsels

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside, in large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, eggs and water; beat until creamy. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in oats and butterscotch morsels. Drop by slightly rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

To make a pan cookie: Preheat oven to 375. Spread dough into greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool completely. Cut into thirty-five 2 inch squares.

Pause for the Cause

It was about a year ago now that I wrote a blog on Chicken Soup. I said that chicken soup was a ubiquitous feature of my kitchen especially during the fall and winter. Truth be told, I often have a pot going all year long. When one of the grandbabies does not like what we're having for lunch or dinner, they'll often ask for a bowl of chicken soup in lieu of the offensive gastronomic offering. Nine times out of ten if there's not a pot going on the stove, I'll have left over chicken soup in the fridge that just needs a quick zapping.

The past few weeks have been very trying for our family. Illness and death has momentarily robbed our family of normal routine.  We focused our attention where it was needed most while trying not to neglect everyone else's needs. It's as it should be. But none of us can do it all, and sometimes, trade offs are made. In my case, over the past few weeks, the soup kitchen has been closed.

It seemed a small price to pay for the additional time that we were able to spend with family members that sorely needed our support. But in the eyes of a 5, 4 and 2 year old, it was a heavy price to pay. Routine means dependability, dependability means security, and security means peace. Although they will certainly recover from the past few weeks, their loss is understandable and justifiable. I really knew that routine had digressed to a critical state when, given her choice of any food, the 4 year old requested chicken soup for her birthday dinner! Has it really been that long since I cooked a pot?

Tim lost his father last week and my mother is nicely recovering from her surgery. There has been a hiccup in our routine, but life has a way of going on. We get through the tough times...do we have a choice? But fingers crossed, life will be quiet for a while, and the wonderful wafting smell of chicken soup will fill our home, without interruption, for a respectable amount of time!