IN DEFENSE OF PRETENSE

I want people to like and respect me. To that end, I employ a bit of  pretense. I profess to endorse habits I don’t practice.

For example, I claim I can’t tolerate driving or riding in messy vehicles. This is a lie. I ride in nothing but messy vehicles.

 

I tell people their bad grammar doesn’t bother me. It drives me insane. That doesn’t mean I don’t like people who say things like “just between you and I.” I like some of these people quite a bit, and even love a few of them.

 

I claim I like growing geraniums. I don’t. Growing geraniums is messy and requires work. But I do like having pretty geraniums on my patio each summer.

 

I say I want to learn to play the piano and to create artful flower arrangements. It’s true that I want to play the piano and arrange flowers. I just don’t want to learn to do either one of them.

 

I tell people I exercise regularly. In truth, I walk outside or on a track once or twice a week.

 

I also claim to be five feet, six inches tall when I am five feet, five inches tall, so my weight and height are more proportionate. I say I don’t know how much I weigh because my scale is broken (and I hope to goodness it is).

 

I tell people I don’t watch much TV. This is true only if you don’t count mini series like Downton Abbey, The Crown, Victoria, Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, Sherlock, Death in Paradise and Dr. Blake Mysteries;  or true crime shows like Dateline, 48 Hours and 20/20.

 

I claim I don’t like candy corn, jelly beans, sour balls or gummy worms. This claim is true. I don’t like these treats unless they are the only sugary items in the house. Then I like them well enough to eat them.

 

I have managed to attain some goals legitimately, without pretense. I am an involved grandmother; I keep a reasonably clean house, read good books, practice rigid oral hygiene, and change the bed sheets once a week.

But my real pursuit in life is to be liked and respected because I am a woman who drives a clean car and who is tolerant of people who dangle modifiers; a woman who enjoys growing geraniums and likes the challenge of learning new things; a woman who exercises regularly, and whose height and weight are proportionate; one who doesn’t watch much television and who is selective and uses moderation when she occasionally eats junk food.

How am I doing?

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Conversations Between Two Old Fogies

(THIS MORNING, AT HOME)

Debbie:          Dan, I’m washing a load of whites with bleach.

Dan:               Okay.

Debbie:          Do you have anything you want to toss in?

(Dan tosses in a white t-shirt.)

Dan:               I thought you said you were washing whites.

Debbie:          I am.

Dan:               Whites with bleach.

Debbie:          I am.

Dan:               Then why is a brown towel in the washer?

Debbie:          The bleach won’t hurt it.

Dan:               But why is a brown towel in the washer with the whites?

Debbie:          Because it’s dirty??

Dan:               Will you please just answer my question?

Debbie:          I did answer your question.

Dan:               No, you didn’t.

Debbie:          The brown towel is dirty. The bleach won’t hurt it.

Dan:               But why are you washing it in bleach water with whites?

Debbie:          I wash all our towels in bleach water with whites.

Dan:               Okay. Thank you. Geesh.

————————————————————————————

(LAST WEEK, IN GATLINBURG)

Dan:               Why didn’t you bring your other shoes to Gatlinburg?

Debbie:          What other shoes?

Dan:               The ones you bought before we went to Alaska.

Debbie:          Oh, I just brought these instead.

Dan:               I know. Why?

Debbie:          Because the ones I bought to wear in Alaska are clunky.

Dan:               You bought them to wear in Alaska if we hiked.

Debbie:          I know.

Dan:               Didn’t you think we might hike in Gatlinburg?

Debbie:          Not on icy tundra.

Dan:               They’re good hiking shoes for anywhere.

Debbie:          Maybe so, but they’re still clunky.

Dan:               They’re waterproof and have gripping soles.

Debbie:          That’s what I said. They’re clunky.

Dan:               Perfect shoes for Gatlinburg.

Debbie:          I brought these instead.

THERE. THAT’S THE DEFINITION OF RETIREMENT.

Well?

Many people are sick. They are fighting cancer, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, mental illnesses and more. My heart breaks for these people who are suffering some of the worst kinds of Satan’s curses.

Even healthy people suffer occasional bouts of flu or other temporary ailments.

I know people who are not sick but behave as if they are. They milk minor headaches, stomach issues, and pains for all the sympathy they can get.

These people are the adult equivalents of kids who create ways to miss school.

Like truant students, these people pretend to be sick or exaggerate the severity of their ailments to gain something they want: an excuse to miss work or to get out of washing dishes or to shirk their responsibility in a group project. They are deceivers.

No, I am not  qualified to assess people’s health. But I know what I know. I have observed obvious attempts to gain release from fulfilling responsibilities by feigning sickness. I won’t say I have never done it. Shame on me.

Something is not right if I can go for a mani-pedi, shop for clothes or show up for my bowling league, but I am too impaired to go to work, to church, to the school event I agreed to supervise or to the kitchen to bake the pan of lasagna I agreed to provide for the deacons’ luncheon.

God did not call me to manipulate people or situations for my benefit.

Good health is a wonderful blessing, but it comes with obligations.  Healthy people perform the jobs assigned to them.  They get up, dress up and show up every time.

In chapter five of John, Jesus asked an infirm man if he wanted to be well. That seemed at first to be a silly question. But maybe it wasn’t.

Photo by  elizabeth lies on Unsplash 

Photo by  Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

 

WHO SAID THAT?

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIES AND TELEVISION SPECIALS. CAN YOU NAME THAT SHOW?

“Is there a thermometer around here?”

“Aaah! “Fra-GEE-leh!” It must be Italian!”

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps… means a little bit more!”

“Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren’t a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?

“This fog’s as thick as peanut butter!”

“And may all your Christmases be white. Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!”

“Yes! Yes I do! I like Christmas! I love Christmas!”

“The four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.”

“And we’re gonna to have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas!”

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

“This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys. Nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?”

Would you please tell her that you’re not really Santa Claus, that actually is no such person?

A CAUTIONARY TALE

My friend Roger told a story that caused all his listeners to sit up and listen. I have never forgotten it.

One fall day Roger drove through a neighborhood with lots of trees. Leaves fell steadily from the branches and colored people’s lawns with splashes of orange, red and gold.

Many homeowners had raked or blown their leaves to the edge of the street. Specially designed trucks made regular trips through neighborhoods and sucked up the leaves.

In front of one house Roger noted a long row of piled leaves. He considered driving through them and enjoying the swirling mass of color rising behind his car. But at the last minute, he decided against it.

He glanced in his rear view mirror after passing those leaves. As he looked, he saw two small children pop up, hands raised, scattering the crunchy leaves.

The sight made Roger sick. How close he had come to destroying the lives of two little children.

I tell this story every fall. Resist the urge  to drive through piles of leaves.

Remind people you know to do the same.

MESSY: A PHOTO ESSAY

Last Sunday our daughter-in-law Jenny reached into my kitchen cabinet to get a sippy cup.

When she opened the cabinet doors, she was surprised to see this.

“Where are the sippy cups?” she asked.

“I reorganized my kitchen this week,” I said. “I was tired of looking at messy cabinets.”

Reorganizing is a fancy word that means moving a mess from one place to another. This is the sippy cups’ new home.

I am generally against messes, but sometimes messy is best.

How many times have you regretted cleaning a cluttered drawer? When it was messy, you could dig through it and find your hole puncher. After you clean it, who knows where the hole puncher is?

Ahhh, tidiness. But where did I put my hole puncher?

The messiest room in your house may also be the one that makes you happiest.

They say a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, and an empty desk is a sign of an empty mind.

If you don’t want to be called empty-headed, follow my example and embrace a cluttered workspace.

We all know you must make a mess before you can clean. I pulled this picture from my own files.

Messy, yes, but a sure sign of orderliness to come.

Messiness can be in the eye of the beholder. Picasso’s famous painting, Three Musicians, looks like a mess to me, but what do I know about art?

The best desserts are messy.

A kiss from a grandchild may be messy, but I never turn one down.

This ends my photo essay on messes.

But know this. I not only create and clean up messes. I AM a mess. That is why I need a Messiah!

 

FALL’S PLEASURES

Pumpkins and scarecrows

Corn stalks and hay

Leaves on the ground

‘Til winds sweep them away.

 

Cider and sunflowers

Jackets with hoods

Campfires and asters

Colorful woods.

 

Crispy cool mornings

Frost on the ground

Playgrounds abandoned

Squirrels abound.

 

Migrating birds and

Football to play

Your breath in the air

A harvest array.

 

Pools are all covered

Grills put away

The air is now filled with

A wood smoke bouquet.

 

Reruns on TV

Quilts on our beds

Knee socks and mittens

Scarves around heads.

 

Apples, persimmons

Thanksgiving buffet

Sunset comes sooner

To shorten the day.

 

Late fall brings frostbite

Hayrides and s’mores

Get out the board games

We’re staying indoors.

 

Winter looms large now

With cold winds and snow

So savor fall’s pleasures

Before they all go.

For friends who share common interests with me and enjoy reading lighthearted, inspirational, and entertaining articles, many with spiritual applications.