Ditching 2020

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Take a peek at that top shelf, if you don’t mind. Everything on it was given to me in the 1980’s. (Well, to my husband too, but he doesn’t remember who gave them. I DO.)

 

That title? It’s another of my attempts to click-bait you, and if you just read this sentence, it worked.
No, I’m not ditching 2020 because of  impeachment hearings and weird weather and a contentious political race and quarantines and tanking economy and 24 hour news forecasting millions of deaths.

Although now that I list them out, I see those are all excellent reasons to MoveOnfrom2020.org (wouldn’t that be a great site?)

I myself was a clickbait victim when I spent way too much of my precious time—that could have been dedicated to staring into my refrigerator—and hit “next” after “next” on a link called “Don’t make these decorating mistakes or you will be the laughing stock of the universe.” Or something like that.

I don’t remember all the mistakes it said I shouldn’t make, but one slide demanded I get rid of anything that even whispered of the 80’s. Teal green and country blue and stenciled hearts and beribboned geese? Dump ‘em all or become the human version of the crappy virus we all want to avoid.

So what did I do?
Went downstairs and gathered up all my wedding and shower gifts from the 80’s.
And proudly displayed them in my kitchen.

Feel free to put a mask on and spray me with disinfectant next time you see me. I’ll understand, but my outdated 1980’s decorations will stay.

Because I am tired of 2020 bossing me around.

 

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WELCOME TO THE 80’S!!!!!

Wednesday at the Tuesday Prude: Grandma Bodies

 

grandmother-4576437_1920I want to talk about the war on women. Women of a certain age. Women of a certain age’s bodies, to be specific.

The Super Bowl halftime show got me thinking about this socially-acceptable war. Incidentally, I’m not here to complain about the—um—energetic gyrations of the dancers. Or the mouthwatering sum of money the women performers must have paid for their wedgie-generating outfits that I could fold up and fit in an Altoids tin.

 
Here’s my main issue with that performance. One of the lead women performers is 50. FIFTY. She is old enough to qualify for an AARP card, people! Before she knows it she’ll be looking up directions to the Social Security office. She is half a century old.

 
Bully for her. My problem comes with the adulation thrown at her half-century feet, the cries of “Women of a certain age can look that good!” and “She’s in better shape than women in their teens!” and “Why can’t all AARP card-carrying women dance on a pole?”

 
Will it never end? How old do I have to be before I can say “I WANT TO LOOK MY AGE!”

 
The pressure to be buff and fit and fabulous and unwrinkled and alluring and slinky should be in my past, shouldn’t it? I look at photos of my grandmothers when they were in their fifties and sixties. Gray hair, support hose, Dr. Scholls footwear, work-reddened hands. They didn’t have time to worry about how their backside would look in high-cut garments. (Which existed in those days. They were undies whose elastic had given out.)

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It’s not that my grandmas didn’t care what they looked like. They wanted to look their best. Which, as their bodies aged and settled and became cushioned, meant being neat and clean. They had a few “good” dresses and necklaces and brooches for Sunday and weddings. Work dresses and aprons for almost everything else. Their primary attire was their labor and their love.

 
At what age do I get to decide what looks “good for my age?” How many fitness classes and wrinkle creams and plastic surgeries do I need so people admire my advanced state of preservation? When can I make peace with gravity? Stop insisting that the miles and years don’t exist and haven’t taken their toll?

 
I’m plenty vain. I don’t want to be dowdy. I wouldn’t mind if occasionally someone underestimated my age. But not to the extent that I want to be mistaken for my grandchildren’s mother.

 
It’s time to fight back against this war on grandma bodies. I’m going to look the best I can, take care of myself, and be at peace with my grandma shape. Wear the miles with pride. Clothe myself with labor and love. Which are guaranteed to never give me a wedgie.

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Theology Thursday with the Tuesday Prude

 

DSC01007 - Version 2Almost any post title with “theology” is almost guaranteed to NOT entice readers.
What’s the opposite of ‘clickbait?’

Personally, I like theology. The study of God?
Awesome.

This past week a minor health scare, the loss of dear ones and a newly-noticed line in an old favorite song culminated in some theological thoughts.

***
The 60’s are a dangerous age.
Not the 1960’s, (although it had its perils).
Being in one’s 60’s though, is tough.
On one hand we are grateful to have reached an age denied most people in the history of the world.
But it came up so fast! Our bodies are doing strange things.
Some of us fall gravely ill.
And too many of us die.

In the past 18 months I’ve lost a dear friend and a sweet cousin, both barely in their 60’s.
Facebook friends have passed into eternity even as I’ve been praying for their healing.

Almost all these were people of faith, who, the closer they got to the end of their earthly lives,
anticipated more and more their heavenly ones.

But it’s hard to imagine being eager to leave this world for the next.
I know this world.
So many people I love are here.
It is my current home.
I know this place.
One Christmas song you’ll seldom hear piped over the grocery store speakers is “Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor.”
It continues
“…all for love’s sake becamest poor.
thrones for a manger didst surrender
sapphire-paved court for stable floor.”

Sunday at church we sang the heart-expanding, mind-blowing, breath-taking, love-infusing
“And Can it Be (That I Should Gain)”
I always cry at verse 4, when my chains fall off and my heart is free.

This week though, one line in verse 3 (that I’ve probably sung 200 times) jumped the gun, flagged me down, and demanded attention.

“He left his Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love…”

This astonishing truth—one I’ve skimmed over in anticipation of the prison pardon in the next verse— lilts out the same theme
in that underrated Christmas song.
The Savior’s experience was
the opposite of ours. He came down to where we are so we can go up to the Home He left.

Many of us down here, with one foot too firmly in the world we know, aren’t eager to leave it
any sooner than necessary.
Be it ever so humble (hate-torn, contentious, polluted, with devils filled…)
there’s still no place like the home we know.

And there is the Son, in the Home up There. The Home He knew, loved, created, where He lived in perfect harmony with the Father and Spirit, rich beyond all splendor.
And He left it willingly.
Knowing the humility He’d endure in a hate-torn, contentious, with-devils-filled world—
He came into it.
To a place opposite of His Home
and a human race opposite of Him.

All for love’s sake.

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Someday, unless Christ returns, we’ll all leave this home we know for the Home we don’t,
and it is probably natural to be apprehensive, to hold off that day by whatever means God gives us.

But the reason we can go to that new forever Home,
the one our Savior left so willingly,
is all because of
Love.

2021: The Year of Decluttering

That title up there? I like to call it “Double-click Bait”

Because you might have opened this post to figure out how I could possibly get the year so wrong,
or because you thought, “Ooooo, more hints on how to declutter!” Or both.

Decluttering, as everyone knows who watches TV, reads books, or keeps up with social media, is the new national religion.
It’s the current mania.
Our version of 1999’s biggest trend—stocking up on survival skills for when Y2K crashed the world.
It’s replaced determining our love language, and developing habits to be a Highly Effective Person.
It even nudged out learning to dance the Macarena.

Any time there’s a trend everyone is doing, and everyone is telling me I want to do it, my contrary nature and stubborn Dutchness exert themselves.
I dig in my heels and refuse.

So far I’ve bucked the infatuation with decluttering. But it’s so widespread that no matter how fast I scroll past ads and accolades for it, I at least know we are supposed to ask ourselves this:
Does my stuff bring me joy?

This is my answer.
You betcha.

For the sentimentalist, (of whom I am chief) every three-dimensional object has an invisible hook. Attached to the hook is the memory of a person, place or event. Ditch the item and the memory disappears with it.

But, here comes The Big But.
My son and highly organized, uncluttered daughter-in-law invited me to see their newly remodeled basement playroom. Along one wall, an army of plastic bins sat on rows of shelves and on each bin a label was plastered and on each label was written, in my daughter-in-law’s neat penmanship, the contents. It all looked neat. And clean, and spacious, and pleasant.

A strange desire kindled in my heart. A desire for less stuff and more space.
Before the tiny flame could die, I flew home to begin my journey to unclutter.

Where to begin? Start small, Anita.

With this Avon tin.

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This over-half-a-century old container that used to be filled with “Lady Skater” talc.
It has that invisible hook on the side.
Attached there is the memory of my little brother and sister, who’d saved their pennies and bought it for me as a Christmas gift.
THAT memory is linked via a long chain to the one wrapped around my entire childhood—we were only a few pebbles removed from dirt poor. My dad felt called to teach in small, struggling Christian schools. Mom worked every possible job to keep us from bankruptcy and there weren’t a whole lot of toys, trinkets, floo-floobers or tar-tinkers.

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The two littles in our family

So when a gift from the two littles in our family showed up under the tree one Christmas, I was charmed and delighted and smelled like Sweet Honesty powder for a solid year.
About a decade ago I showed the tin to my sister, thinking she—also a sentimentalist—would be impressed I’d kept it. But she had no memory of giving it to me. Therefore she saw no hook, and was aghast I still had it.

Filled with zeal and a desire to be trendy, I hauled the tin out of the ‘miscellaneous” Christmas bin. That’s where I keep all the decorations I don’t set out but can’t throw away. They either have memories hooked to them, or show great potential for the hypothetical craft project of my dreams.
I held the tin before me and set my face like flint toward the garbage, trying to disentangle the joyful memory from the hook as I walked.

You know where this story is going, don’t you?

Whether by accident or subconscious intention, I took the path leading past my Dickens-style Christmas decorations.
Newton’s first law kicked in and the body in motion (me) was compelled to change her action (dumping a precious-memory holder) by an external force (the gladsome comprehension that Avon’s little Currier and Ives tin would look perfect tucked into a corner by the cricket on the hearth and the Christmas Carol carolers.)

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See my Dickens shelf? Carolers, the Cricket on the Hearth and the Goose getting fat? The shelf below has a Norman Rockwell Dicken’s print next to Samantha, who is only slightly anachronistic in the display.

The tin has moved from “miscellaneous” to the “Dickens” bin, waiting—Lord willing—to join Christmas festivities 2020. Come 2021 we’ll revisit the Avon Lady Skater and see if she still makes me happy.

An epic failure to be one of the cool, decluttered in-crowd. But I comfort myself with this:
By keeping those memories hooked on tangible objects, my brain stays more organized and less cluttered. What could possibly bring more joy?

The Ratio of Ick to Glory

 

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I live in one of the American States in an area vaguely designated as the Upper Midwest. It’s not so northerly to suggest all Paul Bunyan all the time. And not mid-westernly enough to call up images of cornfields, wheat and the occasional soybean.

My state has so much to commend it!  Rolling hills. Picturesque farms. Colby Jack cheese. And many bodies of water.

The problem is this:
There are only two months of the year during which I can fully, without encumbrances, enjoy and participate in the Great Outdoors.

June is one. Many folks remain outdoors for the 30 days June hath.
With good reason. We seldom need buckets of citronella, pallets of Deep Woods Off
or thousands of dollars of homeopathic insect repellents. But that day comes soon enough.
Because a primary function of some bodies of water making my Upper Midwest state so appealing is mosquito hatcheries.
They perform it admirably, and from July through September, my fellow statesmen and I don Deet, erect screen houses, engage in the state dance (The Mosquito Swat, Slap and Sidestep) and cower indoors after dusk like the residents of Transylvania avoiding Count Dracula. Because often, mosquitoes don’t depart till October.

Speaking of October, it is the other month that beckons us upper Midwesterners
with open arms. “Come outside,” this tenth month calls. “Leave behind your insect repellent, your Uggs, your mosquito netting and your fuzzy mittens.”

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Isn’t October pretty?

Like June, it compels us to spend the entire month outdoors.
Because we know that the months of November through May often bring this:

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We are either anticipating the above dump of white, living through it, or cleaning up after it in those 7 months.

But we endure. Because we anticipate June and clasp memories of October to our hearts.

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Friends who may consider a move to the Upper Midwest, know this:
The ratio here of ick to glory is 10:12. That is 5/6th of a year we can’t head outside without layers of outerwear or layers of insect repellent.
Is it worth the struggle?  Mathematically the odds are against us.
But aesthetically it can’t be beat.

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Up ain’t pretty

Here’s one of my new life mottos:
Smug goes before the grunt.

In its expanded version the motto goes:
If we’re smug because we can sit down cross-legged on the floor at our age, (60+), we’re sure to be humbled to the dust when we grunt getting up.

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Oh yes. Once, maybe only a decade or so ago, my fellow 60+ers and I were able to perform a feat of beauty:
We could rise from a legs-folded-and-tucked floor position and STAND UP by merely rising. No arms needed.
Note: In our less culturally and politically woke days, this seated position was known as “Indian style” (but whether from Native Americans or Indian swamis, I can’t say).

Apparently, once we hit late middle age, this graceful upsweep of levitation has become more complicated for many of us.
As our cracking and creaking days increase, rising can involve several steps, including but not limited to:

flexing, shifting, rotating, bending, hoisting one’s backside, and praying. And grunting.
Sometimes all limbs, including both hands, AND a piece of sturdy furniture get involved.

Up ain’t pretty.

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People my age should build an additional forty seconds into our estimated time transitioning from the floor to wherever we’re headed after the floor.

To be fair, the process isn’t always this complicated. I can often go from cross-legged to a squat to a stand using only one hand for support. A sort of flash-tripod move. (Usually only accomplished with speed and precision when there is no one around to witness my two-step triumph.)

I say this not to brag but to encourage. Another of my life’s mottos is: If I can almost do it, almost anyone can.

To be fairer, just last winter I witnessed a woman— a scant 30 some months younger than I—perform the single-sweep elevation. But she’s a vegetarian, so there’s that.

I, however, am an omnivore, I’ll never see 60 again, creakiness is in my DNA, and I never remember to regularly take my glucosamine and chondroitin.

Right now I’m going to enjoy the fact that I can still sit on the floor. Great things happen there. Stories with grandchildren, circle songs, a direct view of lost items cowering beneath the sofa.

And if up ain’t pretty, it is still up. A good place to be.

Hoist with his own petard. How the Sam Hill?

 

Wile E Coyote Quotes image in Vector cliparts category at pixy.orgLife is full of surprises. I thought everyone knows what it means to be “hoist with your own petard.”
Not surprisingly, I was wrong.

If you don’t know the meaning, read on and expand your universe. If you do—well, you’ve read this far. Why not stick with me to the end?

A petard, according to my extensive research on Wikipedia AND two other sites whose names I can’t remember, is a small bomb you construct to blow something up.
To hoist something is to lift that something into the air.

The pithy little phrase is found in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet has two friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. (Are those not the greatest names? I’m so jealous Shakespeare thought of them first.) Hamlet learns they are going to betray him by carrying a letter to the authorities requesting Hamlet be killed. Great names do not always great friends make.

When Hamlet finds the letter, he substitutes Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s names for his own. Thereby writing their death sentence.
Then he chuckles that
“… ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar’(d)*

In other words, Hamlet considers it sporting when the one who engineered the bomb to blow up someone else gets lifted into the air when it explodes under him.

Sort of like Haman in the book of Esther, being hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai.
Or a poacher accidentally stepping into the trap he set for a rare white rhino.
Or Wile E. Coyote getting beaned by the anvil meant for the Road Runner.

So now you know how to be hoist and what a petard is. If I were you, I’d be asking ‘WHY?”
Why do I think you need to know this?

Because not everyone is familiar with this evocative and very descriptive phrase. Even literate, well-educated everyones haven’t heard it. Like some of my writing critique group. While reading aloud to them from my current WIP (Work in Progress for those of you with enough sense of self-preservation to never try your hand at authoring), I came to the “hoist, etc.” phrase. I’d written it in because it was JUST PERFECT for a scene where my antagonist got snared by his own evil devices. My fellow writers, with clearing of throats and furrowing of brows, asked what the Sam Hill “hoist with his own petard” meant. I sensed immediately that they were under-impressed.

But I kept the line in there anyway.

So.
IF my WIP ever becomes a finished manuscript, and
IF it gets contracted and published, and
IF you happen to read it, you won’t need to contact me and ask what the Sam Hill I mean by sticking “hoist with his own petard” in there.
Because now you know.

It’s something writers like me and ol’ Billy Shakespeare throw around.

*The “d” is my addition. All this is confusing enough without dropping consonants.