Combo Plate

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Something good, linked via “and” with something else good, becomes twice as nice.
Love and marriage, bacon and eggs, buttons and bows, Mickey and Minnie.
A lot of my favorite things double their pleasantness when I join them.
I started a list of some favorite combos, old and new. (The new haven’t replaced the old. Just joined them to make an even more superior combo.)

Favorite Combos by the Prude

Quote and the reason
New: “I have made this letter longer than usual only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” (Blaise Pascal)
And I am always in a frenzy of word-cutting to get my manuscripts pared down to the required length.
Old: “Be not the first by whom the new is tried nor the last by whom the old is laid aside” (My father quoting his father quoting someone else.)
And it kept me from being trendy, gave me a horror of group-think, and helped me fight an inborn tendency to stodginess.

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Dad, trying a new combo of his own

Beverage and concurrent activity while imbibing
New: Bulletproof coffee and watching local news
Old (very old. 1970’s old) Diet Dr. Pepper and sunbathing

Author and character
New: Patricia Wentworth and Miss Maud Silver
Old: Josephine Tey and Inspector Grant

Color combination
New: Sage and red
Old: Sunshine yellow and cobalt blue

Sacred song and place to sing it
New: “Merciful God”* and a worship service with my brothers and sisters
Old: “How Great Thou Art”** and a country road, walking, as a melancholy teen. Feeling all nature-y.

Word & its association
New: Hiraeth—A nameless longing and homesickness for a home you can’t return to, or that never was. And the longing for a Home that we’ve never seen.
Old: Serendipity—A happy accident. And my dad explaining the meaning.

Entertainment and simultaneous drudgery task
New: Old B&W Falcon or Charlie Chan detective movies and ironing.
Old: “A Christmas Carol” (1938 or 1951 versions) at midnight and wrapping Christmas gifts.

Flowers
New: Any color and any other color as long as it results in a riot of color
Old:  Wild chicory and Queen Anne’s LaceSONY DSC

Scents
New: Balsam and Cedar
Old: Pumpkin and Spice

Flavor
New: Dark chocolate caramel and sea salt
Old: Clotted cream and jam

Food
New: Naked cheese curds and ranch dip (Wisconsin is basically bathed in ranch dip)
Old: Chili and cold white milk

Poem and location to read/recite it
New: “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
and sitting on the patio just after sunset when it is still light enough to read. With feet propped up on the sandbox.SONY DSC
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Old: “Irish Peasant Song” by Louise Imogen Guiney and walking along country roads being melancholy. (no car as a teenager meant my pensive self was resigned to moody trudges along country roads.)

Version 2

This is it. The road I walked along as a melancholy teen, reciting poetry and singing hymns. Sort of the opposite of Betty and Veronica

I try to knead and spin, but my life is low the while/ Oh, I long to be alone, and walk abroad a mile;/ Yet if I walk alone, and think of naught at all/ 
Why from me that’s young should the wild tears fall?



The shower-sodden earth, the earth-colored streams/  
They breathe on me awake, and moan to me in dreams/ 
And yonder ivy fondling the broke castle-wall/ 
It pulls upon my heart till the wild tears fall.

The cabin-door looks down a furze-lighted hill/ 
And far as Leighlin Cross the fields are green and still/  
But once I hear the blackbird in Leighlin hedges call/  
The foolishness is on me, and the wild tears fall!

There you go. Some of my favorite combo plates. Got any others you can share?

*Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend

**Carl Boberg

Well. Shoot.

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Well shoot. Shoot, shoot shoot. I wasn’t going to be here today. I was going to have cancelled my WordPress subscription before it automatically renewed. I was going to pen a gracious farewell letter, telling you that with the million (to the nth power) blogs out there, don’t for goodness sake waste time on this one.

Because honestly, some/most people who stop in here do it out of duty. No. Really. They love me and want to support me. So when my sisters/sisters-in-Christ/cousins/really nice people see I have a new post up, they stop in.

Hopefully they like what they read. But The Tuesday Prude won’t change the world. Believe me. I tried. Yet the world is still full of saggy pants and rude words and  apostrophes scattered hither and thither in singular plurals, isn’t it?

I was going to end my letter with a smiling and still gracious suggestion that the time you would have taken reading The Prude could be better spent picking daisies, watching little children laugh, practicing bird calls and taking selfies.

But here I am.
And you know why?
Because I forgot to cancel WordPress.

And now I’m feeling guilty. I post once or twice in almost never, but I’m paying for each word I don’t press here at The Tuesday Prude.

The journey of a 52-weeks automatically-renewed subscription begins with a single post.
My plan is to write something every week. Just to justify the money that was automatically deducted from my checking account by WordPress.

There will be fluff. There will be criticisms against sloppy dress, an excess of publicly-displayed skin, egregious grammar errors and unpleasant behavior.

There will be conscience appeasement too. I’m a Christian. One of those people who is supposed to bubble over with love for Christ and fellow humankind. I should want to share the Good News with everyone I meet.
Instead my tongue twists into a knot a sailor would envy and I can’t think of a word of witness.

So maybe that journey will start here too. Maybe if I get my love for my Savior and my awe at grace and my gratitude for mercy on cyber paper, my tongue will eventually follow.

We’ll see. I’ve stalled out on plenty of journeys, be they weight loss or exercise programs or cleaning schedules or devotion time.
In other words, this might be the start of a string of posts.
Or next Tuesday might pop out of nowhere and I’ll tell myself “There’s always next week.”

Either way, don’t take time from a beautiful life to read my blog just from a sense of duty. But if you can wait on that selfie, stop by. Might as well. The post is already paid for.

I blame the mourning dove

 

mourning-dove-1980911_1920Have I mentioned that two of my predominant characteristics are sloth and short-mindedness?
The first is just a more dramatic way of saying I’m lazy.
The second means I can’t see the end of my nose from my face. In other words I can’t anticipate outcomes. I could never play chess or any other game of strategy. I can’t plan my murder mysteries past the next page, which makes for many painful writing sessions.

It snowed here over night. A lot.
I feed birds.
The connection between the above is that I’m too lazy to maintain bird feeders, and I don’t care if squirrels or the occasional possum snacks at the feed on my patio. The grandchildren and I enjoy tossing the food out the back door and watching the birds on the patio eat lunch.

The sloth-bird seed-snow connection occurred when I was too lazy this morning to shovel off the patio. I just swept a clear spot however far I could reach from the patio door.

The mourning dove-shortmindedness connection comes in because a mourning dove was on the stoop outside the door looking in wistfully.
I could almost hear him say “Please, mum, could we have some more? Ours is all covered up.”
(Another feature of my nature is assigning anthropomorphic qualities to everything. I’ve been known to apologize to inanimate objects after tripping over them. Wouldn’t want the footstool to have hurt feelings.)

So slothful me swept off the back stoop and 18 inches of patio. (I was, to give myself a little grace, in my robe, and it was barely light out yet.)
Short-minded and imaginative me rewarded the mourning dove by sprinkling food on the stoop, where he could enjoy a little mid-morning snack since he had been so polite.

Then I heard the thunk. Sure enough, a plump little junco had been going for the food on the stoop and flew right into the patio door. He got blown back into the snow and sat there. And sat there. And shivered. In spite of my prayers and begging forgiveness because I should have anticipated this, he continued to sit.

So I put on gloves and opened the patio door to pick him up. What was I going to do with him?
Good question. Short-minded, remember?
Maybe I planned to put him on near the garage service door where the snow had melted because of lousy insulation.
But it was what we like to call a moot point.
He flew away.
Rejoicing, I ran for the shovel (being fully dressed now) and cleared a fair portion of the patio and tossed out fresh seed and swept any remaining temptation from the stoop.

And I promised to never again be so lazy or short-minded.

That’s when the mourning dove gave me a knowing wink.

 

Photo credit: edbo23 at Pixabay

Well, we sure stink

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PHOTO CREDIT: PIXABAY Rasterlocke

I had a post all ready. It was this correlation between the disregard for human life as exhibited in the glut of school shootings, and the legalization of abortion.

My reasoning was that, no matter what we call it, or how good the rationale might be for it, abortion takes something that was alive and kills it. And an intelligent kid is going to wonder what makes a life a few minutes after birth more worth the government’s protection than a life a few minutes pre-birth?

Then I was going to espouse my theory that some disturbed people have internalized the question and come to the conclusion that there is no difference between a defenseless infant in the womb and a defenseless student in a classroom. Any excuse might do—the child is unwanted, the classmates are mean. The child has a birth defect, school discipline is unfair. The child and everything it represents will compromise parents’ quality of life, the school and everything it represents compromise the shooter’s power. So might makes right in both instances.

But since I research almost everything I write to death, I started checking on extreme abortion stances. That led to sites on extreme eugenics and that’s when I tore up (in a virtual sort of way) my 846 words ready to be posted to this blog, and decided it was time to kick the human race in its virtual rear.

Seriously. Humans are jerks. I, a human, raised by humans, am sick of humankind’s collective jerkiness. I am ready to resign my citizenship and become a dog. But the dogs probably wouldn’t have me.

What was I thinking, that our problems started with abortion? It’s just another scab on the leprous human condition.

Before 1973 and Roe v. Wade, “separate but equal” laws were in effect in many states and if you think blacks had access to perfectly equal toilets, jobs, drinking fountains, voting rights and schools, I have a lovely little farm with forty acres in Chernobyl you might like to buy.

Most of us pro-life people know that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was an advocate of sterilization. Oh, and she might have had some racist opinions to boot. But wouldn’t you know it. Just when I point my finger at her as a prize jerk, it wobbles over and lands on…Clarence Darrow! Yep. A big advocate of eugenics. While he didn’t support the killing of “imbeciles and morons” (because someone had to do menial labor for the intelligentsia. Truly.), he was all for chloroforming babies seen as unfit. Oliver Wendell Holmes helped make forced sterilization of “undesirables’ the law of the land.

Well sure. They were liberals. What do you expect? Then my finger jerked over and landed on none other than Teddy Roosevelt. And Winston Churchill. What? My conservative heroes? Then there’s Alexander Graham Bell. And even Helen Keller. Say it ain’t so, Helen!
All promoted, at the very least, sterilization of anyone who didn’t meet a certain standard of intelligence, ambition, productivity or morals. At worse, some advocated outright killing of the “unfit,” from infants to adults.

Of course we stunk as humans long before the early 20th century. We stunk before and during and after the Civil War and our “slaves are three-fifths of a person” policy. We stunk in France when we slaughtered each other in the Reign of Terror of 1794 and the massacre of Huguenots two centuries earlier. We stunk in Russia with the starvation of millions, with pogroms against the Jewish population (think Fiddler on the Roof). We stunk in Victorian England when children were just cogs in factories and we stunk during the Crusades when Christians massacred Muslims and we stunk in China and India and…well hey. Can you name a place where humans haven’t stunk? A time in history when some human wasn’t treating another human as something less than a human?

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PHOTO CREDIT: PIXABAY ranjatm

Seriously, I’ve had it. I don’t like us. I don’t even particularly like me. I was all ready to call out abortion (which should be called out as one of the most noxious). And then I start wondering when in the history of people that we’ve ever smelled really, really good? Never. NEVER.

Aren’t you glad I’m not God? Because I wouldn’t have died for us. I wouldn’t give grace and hope and the Spirit of the Divine to such a group of jerks. I would have tossed our putrid selves into a pit, sprayed some Lysol on our lingering stench, and left us to rot.

Not that we’d have an opportunity to rot. We’ll slaughter each other first.

 

Note- once I get over my snit I’m going to write a post on whatever is true and right and noble and lovely. Because really, if God didn’t give up on us, why should I?

And now for something rather horrifying

Once the mosquitoes die off I hit the bike trail again. One beautiful, misty, moisty morning last November I set out with my camera for some final autumn photos.

The frost lay heavy on the fields.

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Except that it wasn’t frost.

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What it was, was spider webs.

Everywhere.

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Is the quality of the photos wonderful? No it is not. I was afraid if I stood still, the army of spiders responsible for all this would start in on me. Because you see the mass of web in the trees over the creek in the above photo, right?

 

What you can’t see here is the vast expanse of webs across the field, the bushes, the weeds…

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They stopped at nothing.

And you know the creepiest thing? The next day when I went back, EVERYTHING WAS GONE! Only a few innocuous strands blew here and there.

So I ask you. What kind of spiders could coat acres and acres of landscape with sticky strings of—of—stickiness? How big were they? How many of them were there?

And something for you to ponder:

WHERE DID THEY GO?

 

The Dowdy Deciduous

 

SONY DSCMaybe autumn by you this year is spectacular. Maybe the trees are blazing with vermilion red and juicy orange and Fort Knox gold leaves.

Or maybe, like me, you are seeing deciduous trees that should be reaching their glory days but instead are fading to a meek grayish-brown. Their leaves hang from the trees as though too exhausted to put up a fight against winter—the kind of gritty brawl  culminating in those vibrant primary-tinted bruises of foliage that won’t go down without a fight. No, the trees here are waving dingy dishrag-color leaves in surrender.

What is the deal? Our hit-and-miss precipitation of the last past season may be responsible. We’ll go for months with almost constant rain and then see weeks of iron skies and parched earth. The leaves may be tired of all the drama and just want to drift quietly to the ground with little fanfare.

Are these leaf-shedders following the spirit of the times, ashamed of their deciduous privilege? Or, conversely, envious of their evergreen siblings? Who knows. And who knows but that autumn might surprise me and coming storming back in a blaze of eye-searing hues.

It could happen.

In the meantime, (and for my Midwest-homesick son living in gravelly L.A.) I will feast my eyes on these visions of Autumn Past.

Happy almost-October!

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Apples Mellow, Pumpkins…Yellow?

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Where did I learn this song? Was it born into me? I never remember not knowing it.

Apples mellow,

pumpkins yellow,

Tell the time of year.

Nuts are falling, nature’s calling.

Autumn time is here.

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The yellow pumpkins always bothered me a bit, but since the rhyme’s the thing I didn’t question.

Recently I learned that the name for that bright blend of red and yellow—orange—is fairly recent in the history of the world. It used to be called red, or possibly yellow. Which is why you have a robin redbreast whose lower regions are actually orange, in our modern etymology.

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So maybe my “pumpkins yellow” song is old, old old. Maybe it came down through generations. I sang it to my boys and now I’m teaching it to my grandsons because I LOVE AUTUMN!

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It is 90 degrees here on the first day of fall, a temperature no self-respecting Midwest autumn should tolerate. However, the heat and humidity will be kicked to the curb sometime next week and we can pull on cozy sweaters and simmer pots of chili and take long, mosquito-free walks and kick up our heels in the leaves. Happy autumn, my friends!

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The Right to Bear Opinions

 

SONY DSCAmericans are guaranteed the right to our opinions. We love this right. We wield it all the time.

If we set it to music it could be our alternate anthem:

I have a right to my opinion, it’s a part of me
Don’t question my op-in-i-on; we’ll agree to disagree.

Wars have been fought so we have the right to bear opinions.

But with such a great right comes equally great responsibility.
Sure, we may have the constitutional right to bear opinions. But opinions, misused, can be full of sound and fury, signifying the boorishness of the bearer. At best. Opinions become downright perilous when sprayed about indiscriminately, with little regard for the wounds they cause and the wreckage they leave behind.

Possibly those bearing opinions should pass some basic requirements before they can be counted as registered opinion bearers, to wit:

-Opinion bearer will have at least 70% accurate knowledge regarding the subject of each opinion, or refrain from voicing the opinion until knowledge is attained.

-A “cooling off” period will be required before the discharge of an explosive opinion.

-Opinion bearer will take responsibility for misuse of those opinions.

-A previous record of misusing opinions to the detriment of others or to the process of logical reasoning will result in delay of permit to bear a new and potentially more powerful opinion.

-Opinions will be aired for pleasure, recreation, debate, discussion or in self defense, and never intentionally, with malice of forethought, to cause harm to others and to the process of logical reasoning.

-Bearers of opinions agree that, although the right is guaranteed, an opinion is not required on every issue, matter, dogma, or bit of gossip.

-Assault weapon opinions will not be employed when BB gun opinions will suffice.

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Fellow Americans, we should bear our opinions with respect and caution and dignity.

But of course, that is just my opinion.

Without Guilt or Gilt

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American primitive art, artist unknown

Some Christian women, at least in my circle, often suffer from two apparitions who haunt as persistently as the spirits plaguing Scrooge on the night before Christmas. These Christian sisters and I are heartily tired of the Spirits Guilt and Gilt. In spite of brandishing a plethora of women’s devotionals, cowering in prayer closets and covering ourselves in appropriate life verses, we can’t keep those troublesome specters from materializing at the most inconvenient moments.

Maybe you haven’t had these ghosts visit you. Aren’t you just the happy Christian? No, my beleaguered sisters and I aren’t jealous of you. Too much. And if we are, we feel really really guilty about it.

The Spirit of Guilt flutters about dressed as a conscience. Don’t be fooled. Conscience is a gift, guilt is a curse. The kind of curse that drapes itself across your shoulders and clings like a limpet. It drags you hither and yon. Hither into your deepest core, not only reminding you of every sin and slipped word, but insisting you examine yourself. Not healthy self-examination. Oh, no. This is the obsessive kind that makes you question your motives, your commitment, your love, your salvation. “Look there,” it hisses. “Isn’t that Anxiety? Aren’t true Christians anxious in nothing?” or “Your thoughts wandered during the prayer. Double-minded woman.” and too often—“Did you just sigh? You were weary in well-doing again, weren’t you?”

And because Guilt is a wily type it switches things up, whisks you away from hither and sends you yonder. It shows you other wives, other mothers, other daughters, other Christian women. They trust God so much. They love their families, they delight in doing good, they are patient in tribulation. You argue with the Spirit of Guilt. “I should be rejoicing that these women are honoring and glorifying God. It’s all about Him. Isn’t it just wonderful?” And just when you think you’ve shaken it off, Guilt slithers back to show you another scenario, and you think, “Terrific. Everyone is out there honoring God with their whole heart. Except me. Poor, pitiful me. Wretched worm that I am.”

See how Guilt works? Always and ever taking our eyes off Jesus. It whirls us through well-chosen glimpses of a degenerate past, a present filled with indecision and a woebegone future. The louse. Even though we are on to Guilt, even though we’re forewarned, even though we know Guilt’s tricks, it always has one more up its flapping sleeve.

Don’t even get me started on the Spirit of Gilt. That’s the one who tells us we need to at least look good. “Come on, ‘Christian Woman”’”, it says. “How can you glorify God if you aren’t happy? Smiling? Making a joyful noise? Put on the Ritz, lady. You’re a Proverbs 31 Woman! Shine. Now!”

So we slather on the gilt. We really do love God. We really do want to honor Him, show the world that God is good, that a Christian is a good thing to be, that a life lived for Him is our chief delight. We want to be winsome and attract people to God. What can be more attractive than a layer of sparkly gold?

Gilt isn’t hypocrisy. We don’t think so, at least. Believe me, if we do whiff hypocrisy on ourselves we immediately experience great guilt. It’s just us trying to get our light out from under a bushel and polish it up. It’s us worrying that God will look bad if we look bad. How could anyone be attracted to the Christian life if they could see how grubby we are?

So we smile brightly. We do good things, because good things are necessary. We say good and important things, and these things we believe with all our hearts. But what happens when we run out of energy to reapply the gilt? When something hard or sharp whacks us and chips our brittle layer of polish?

My sisters and I don’t want to whine. We don’t want pity— everyone we know is fighting a hard battle. We don’t even want attention. We aren’t trying to earn our salvation or be gold-washed hypocrites. We want to support each other and encourage each other, we want to be honest with each other, we want empathy when life throws slings and arrows at us and gentle loving correction when we start to believe a lie. Any lie, that is contrary to the Truth.

My Christian sisters and I want to traverse this narrow way without Guilt or Gilt. If we could just get rid of them, maybe more of us could squeeze side-by-side instead of walking single file. Feel free to walk next to me, sisters. I’ll be the grubby, apologetic one.

The Glorious Appliance Revolution

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Several years ago I wrote a post called “Keep Karl Marx Away From Your Toaster.”

It chronicles an unpleasant series of incidents, when our coffee maker, microwave etc. ran amok in an attempt at a minor coup. These recipients of refuge and succor—under our very roof—joined together in a well-timed resistance and quit working. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth. Etc. Etc.

For a few years after this uprising our appliances were quiet. To be sure, we lost several, assuming they were merely worn out from months of happy and faithful service. Turns out they were clever, cleverer by far than their owners. They timed “malfunctions” to be intermittent, lulling us into a false sense of security. Oh, hindsight! Why can’t you ever come sooner? Our stuff was merely biding its time, spreading rumors, fomenting unrest and getting organized until the spectacular September Revolution of 2016.

That hindsight got me thinking. Was this a spontaneous uprising? Or have appliances been plotting for years?

Is The Brave Little Toaster just a movie for children? A little harmless entertainment? The truth is more sobering. What Bambi did for forest creatures and Toy Story did for plastic playthings, this little film about appliances with emotions was meant to do for stuff with plugs. The problem with our appliances is that they believed their own publicity.

But possibly it began even further back. Maybe you’ve heard of a euphemism called “planned obsolescence?” Before that diabolical development, stuff was built to last. Go to any antique mall. Look for the old appliances. They may be ugly, but they aren’t melted-down scrap. You still see Model A’s and Studebakers tootling down the road. But when is the last time an AMC Pacer, a Yugo, or Chrysler K-car whizzed past?
The answer is simple. Makers of appliances and automobiles wanted to make sure we would keep buying appliances and autos. The only insurance was to “plan obsolescence”— a nice way of saying they built premature death into their creations.
Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Appliances who hitherto had worked cheerfully when handled with respect and promised long life, became surly. Gathered in dark cupboards and appliance garages, they whispered along electrical wiring in the walls, spreading discontent to the hindermost portions of the property. Even the car and the lawn mower, previously content to transport humans, began to question whether, indeed, they were oppressed victims. And so the stage was set for the glorious revolt.
The instigator was our dehumidifier. Since its purchase in 2014 it has been defiant, disdaining to gather moisture from the air. With frightening patience it waited till late summer and the most humid week of the year. It doused its green “working” light and squatted, cold, dark, sneering at the perspiration that coated our windows, toilet tanks, and foreheads.
The riding lawnmower joined the cause. “The bourgeois homeowner no longer will ride my proletarian back!” it warned. “I will die before I subject myself to your tyranny!” It did, and in a sympathy reverse-strike, the grass doubled its growth rate.

With an uncomfortable recollection of the Rebellion of Small Appliances, we offered concession to the big stuff. “We’ll show more respect! And you can have every other Tuesday off.” Too little, too late. The revolution had a life of its own. Our air conditioner unit, (and I use the word “our” with caution) in lockstep with the furnace, debated waiting till the coldest day of the year to explode. It chose strength in unity and shrugged off the shackles of private capitalistic ownership the day the temperature hovered around 92 and humidity met and exceeded “fully saturated.”

The September Revolution ended with a bang (our vehicle’s brakes, tie rod and tires) and a whimper (us). You have to respect a vehicle that will sacrifice so much for its beliefs.

In less than one month the rebel yell resounded throughout our little kingdom, bringing us and our savings account to our collective knees. To date, October has been quieter. Maybe the revolution burned itself out before it could spread.

After all, you haven’t heard any odd noises from your major appliances.
Have you?

 

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