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  • Corn – The Great Mystery Of The Universe

    June 29, 2007

    Corn is one of the most indestructible elements on the face of the earth. At one time it was on Mohs Scale of Hardness, but was later replaced by Conundrum. Or something like that. Which is a good thing because had it stayed on the list, your birthstone might be corn. It’s true. I would not make up something as serious as that just to amuse myself.

    Anyway, you don’t need Moh to tell you about the properties of corn. You’ve eaten corn. You know that it can pass through the length and breadth of your digestive tract unblemished, unscathed and in tact. I became acutely aware of this fact soon after feeding the little boy corn for the first time. From the changing table, I called to Antique Daddy, “Dude! Get in here! You gotta see this!” He never falls for that.

    Since then, I have learned that corn can even hold up to the most stringent of wash cycles – the setting that I call The Last Chance Cycle — hot and harsh. But this is not the time to bring up Antonio Banderas, this is about laundry. Anyway, that which emerges from The Last Chance Cycle  unrepentant and uncleansed is cast into the rag bag of damnation and destined to wash cars and mop up the unspeakable for all eternity. Be warned. It only takes one indiscreet fling with chili sauce.

    I bring up the fascinating topic of corn for a reason.  As I’m pulling some clothes from the washer yesterday, I notice there is corn on everything. And I wondered from whence does this corn come? I did not remember opening a can of corn and dumping it in the washer. But I’m a 46-year-old woman with a toddler, so I don’t remember a lot of stuff. Nonetheless, being the logical and scientific CSI person I am, I began to seek clues. So I yelled out, “Hey Dude! Did you put corn in the washer?” And oddly enough, he did not even bother to dignify my question with a response.

    I continued my investigation by checking pockets, which based on previous laundry experience, was probably a dumb thing to do. I hear of women who pull out ten dollar bills and even lottery tickets from pockets while doing laundry. I pull out things that breathe. And now? Corn. Someone, and I won’t name names here, had apparently filled his pockets with corn at the dinner table last night. On the bright side, it’s unlikely that I will be seeing corn on the changing table again, as it appears that none of it made it into his mouth.

    In our next episode of Great Laundry Mysteries, I ask this question: How is it that a kleenex will disintegrate in your hand while dabbing a runny nose, yet survive a Last Chance cycle no worse for the wear?

    My theory is that kleenex is made of corn.

    This post was originally published in April 2006.

    What I Said

    June 28, 2007

    What I said:  Done with the milk?
    What I meant:  Would you pleeeez not leave the milk out?
    What I wanted to say:  Stop leaving the damn milk out.

    What I said:  I need to go to the store (sigh).
    What I meant:  I have to defrost or chop something for dinner and I don’t feel like it.
    What I wanted to say:  I’m not really hungry. Y’all are on your own for dinner.

    What I said:  Are these papers important?
    What I meant:  These papers have been on my kitchen counter for a week and you need to move them. Now.
    What I wanted to say:  I’m throwing these papers away.

    What I said:  Can I make you a sandwich?
    What I meant:  Do you have to spread the contents of the fridge and pantry across the entire kitchen to make a measly sandwich?
    What I wanted to say:  Get out of my kitchen before I turn on you with a spatula.

    What I said:  Thanks for fixing my computer.
    What I meant:   I love how you take care of me.
    What I wanted to say:  I’m glad I married you even if you leave the milk out. 

    Antique Carnivore

    June 27, 2007

    Sean has never been much of an eater, but when he was around 18-months old eating stopped almost entirely.  Somedays we are lucky to get five calories in him.  We try not to worry about it because watching us nervously wring our hands at the dinner table has not increased his appetite.  Wise people say when he’s hungry he will eat.  Wise people are wrong.

    In an effort to encourage eating, we tell Sean that if he hopes to grow up to be big, he’s going to need to eat something — specifically something not made of orange dust or coco/fruity/frosty/gummy/happy stuff – something with protein to build bones and muscle, something like meat.  

    Apparently he has been giving this concept some consideration because the other day we had this conversation:

     “Mommy, I’m going to start eating MEAT like you so I can be big –  like you!” 

    “You eat MEAT all the time and you are willy willy big (holding hands out in front of him in a big circle.” 

    That’s fabul  ….. hey, I’m not that big.” 

    “You eat sooooo much MEAT!  You eat hamboogas and pork chops and ham and wunch meat and woast beefs and chicken and hamboogas and…. (pauses to think up other varieties of meat) you are big Big BIG!” 

    “Look dude, I’m not that big.  Okay?  According to the insurance charts, I’m average.” 

    “Oh no mommy – you are SO big (again with the hands in the big circle) because you just eat meatmeatmeat all the time.” 

    “You are big MEAT-eating BIG!” (making a circle from front to back like a hula hoop).

    “Go away before I eat you.”

    The Prize

    June 26, 2007

    On the news last night, there was a story of a woman who won a house. A house!

    A lot of people say, “I never win anything.” I am one of those people who say that. I never win anything. Except a pumpkin. One time I won a pumpkin.

    The year was 1969. It was Friday, October 31st. Halloween. I was a skinny scrawny fourth grader at St. Cabrini Catholic grade school. The entire month of October, the teacher had a big fat pumpkin sitting on her desk. Just before the bell rang, she decided to hold a drawing for some “lucky” student to take it home, thus relieving her of the task of disposing of a large and soon-to-be rotting pumpkin come Monday morning.

    The PumpkinYou could have knocked me over with a feather when my name was drawn. I was thrilled! I had won something! My nemesis and rival, Erin Flannigan — who was cuter, smarter, had better hair, was more athletic, wore nicer clothes, had a sister and could do just about everything slightly better than me except possibly jump rope — really wanted that pumpkin. But there was no way I was giving it up, especially not to her!

    Intoxicated with the thrill of the win, it did not occur to me that I would have to somehow get that pumpkin home, that I would have to walk nearly a mile schlepping a ginormous pumpkin that weighed not that much less than I did.

    I proudly strode up to the front of the classroom like Miss America to claim my prize. I was so thrilled. I slid the orange beauty off the desk and up onto my knee and then I hoisted it up to my tummy, which sent me reeling backwards a few steps. I wrapped my spaghetti arms around my beloved prize and with my back swaying like a pregnant lady, I staggered two or three drunken grapevine steps to the door. Erin made one more generous offer to take the pumpkin off my hands, but I said nothin’ doin’ sister, it’s my pumpkin and I’m keeping it! And then with trembling knees and sweating brow, my pumpkin and I slowly melted to the ground.

    But I remained undaunted for I had won a prize! A pumpkin!

    For the next half mile, I slowly slogged toward home, repeating the knee-lift/hoist/stagger/squat/rest sequence about every ten steps. I was sitting on my pumpkin on the sidewalk resting up for the next sequence, when I saw Paula Vose’s mom zip by in her little VW Bug. The tail lights turn red.  The car stopped and then whirred back towards me. She rolled down her window. “Wanna ride?” she asked. God bless Mrs. Vose! She had mercy on me. I nodded my head vigorously. She got out, put the pumpkin in her car and took me home — a kindness I have never forgotten.

    The next day, I noticed the bottom of the pumpkin was beginning to turn black and soggy. I ceremoniously hauled it out to the burning barrel in the back yard. I lifted it to the edge of the barrel and with an odd sense of satisfaction, I tipped it in. It hit the bottom of the barrel with a resounding thud and sent up a cloud of grey ash. So long prize. And I haven’t won anything since.

    * * * * *

    Have you ever won anything?

    It Made Sense At The Time

    June 24, 2007

    Whenever I’ve talked about how that at St. Cabrini, where I attended Catholic grade school, our 4th grade class saved up to buy a pagan baby, I’ve gotten one of two responses.  People who did not attend Catholic school in the 1960s will look at me in stunned silence as though I were from Mars.  People who did attend Catholic school will nod their head knowingly and sigh at the utter absurdity of the notion.

    Sister Mary TwiggyHow does a fourth grader go about buying a pagan baby you might wonder?  Well, we brought our scavenged pennies and nickels into school and put them in a jar until we finally had enough to send off for a pagan baby, I guess from the pagan baby store which was probably somewhere in California.  That’s where everything cool was, or at least that’s what mid-western Catholic school kids thought.  If you could get your parents to move to California, then you could automatically be cool.  Anyway, $4 and some box tops later, or something like that, and we were the proud owners of a heathen.  I have no idea how much a pagan baby cost, no one ever told us, and being good Catholic children, we didn’t ask.

    Eventually we would get a certificate of some kind in the mail.  The class would vote on a name and afterwards we would have a naming ceremony.  For a baby girl, Sister always pushed us to choose Mary something – Mary Beth, Mary Alice, Mary Margaret, Mary Catherine, Mary Jane, whatever.  The Mary list is endless. For a boy we were expected to choose a name like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.  But in 1969 the names we fourth graders favored were names like Ringo and Twiggy.

    Since it was a class vote with Sister having two votes to our every one, we compromised on Mary Twiggy. We thought it so very funny to exasperate Sister with our zanyness.  As a class, we were supposed to pray for the salvation of little Mary Twiggy throughout the school year. So you see, there was a seed of goodness buried deep deep within such a warped idea.  And somehow?  It made sense at the time.

    I wonder what ever became of Mary Twiggy…

    Originally published July 2006.


    June 22, 2007

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,

    Or what’s a heaven for?

    ~ Robert Browning

    Sandbox Theology

    June 21, 2007

    From a distance, I watched two little boys hunched over in the sandbox. One sported a mop of platinum curls and wore an orange Kool-Aid mustache. In typical little boy fashion, he skidded and careened a plastic truck through the sand, crashing into the other toys in a spectacular display of vehicular manslaughter. The other little boy, taller and thinner, sat off to the side and quietly observed.

    After a minute, Curly got bored with the truck and set off on another search and destroy mission. Slim watched Curly saunter off. After he was sure he wasn’t coming back, he claimed the truck for himself and set about road building.

    Curly turned to see Slim with the truck. He ran back to sandbox and tried to snatch it away. Slim, fearful yet determined, stood up and clutched the plastic truck to his chest. His father stood off to the side and watched. “Stand your ground,” he quietly encouraged without intervening. They struggled with the toy, back and forth, wrenching, twisting and turning. Although timid by nature, Slim held fast, secure in the knowledge that his father was nearby. For reasons known only to Curly, he gave up the struggle and decided to move along.

    Alone in the sandbox again, Slims’ father came over and sat by him. “You were right to stand up for yourself,” he said, “but the next time that happens, why don’t you just give him the truck and say, “Here, if it means that much to you, I want you to have it.”

    Slim is my three-year-old son. The lesson in the sandbox that day probably washed over him like the autumn breeze. So for now, for these few years that he is mine, I will continue to try to teach him sandbox theology — to be secure in the knowledge that his heavenly father is always nearby, watching over him, to bravely stand up for who he is in Christ while yielding to the needs and desires of others, because it is Godly to do so.

    And maybe in the process, I can learn these things myself.

    Of Bears And Boys

    June 20, 2007

    One rainy afternoon last week, Sean and I were snuggled on the sofa together watching a show about bears on Animal Planet.  A young bear scaled a tree with enthusiasm if not grace.

    “Now why is that widdle bear not with his mommy?” he asked with concern.

    “Well, he is probably big enough to be by himself,” I assured him.  “He probably doesn’t need his mommy to look after him anymore.”

    He took a few seconds to consider this and then said in a low and worried voice, “I don’t ever want to be that big.”

    I took a few seconds to consider that and said, “Yeah.  Me neither.”

    He doesn’t know yet that someday he will itch and yearn to go off and discover the world on his own, that God builds bears and boys with this desire and that it will awaken in him at just the right time.

    I’m just not sure God has built me with the desire to let him go.
    Photo: For now, my cub and I climb trees together.

    Of Bears and Boys

    Below are the comments for this post that were made before everything was transitioned over from the old site.

    Only Because Stacy London And The Local News Would Not Approve

    I have two or three boxes of maternity clothes in my closet that I can’t bear to part with or pass along.

    Part of it is that my pregnancy was the most joyful time in my life and I want to hang on to that. The other part is that I had some darn cute maternity tops and dresses that I didn’t get to wear nearly enough. The pants? Not so much. Good riddance. There is no such thing as cute maternity pants.

    So the other day when I was in my closet the boxes called out to me. And like Pandora, I wandered over and opened them up. The next thing I knew, I was standing in front of the mirror holding up a few of the blouses and dresses and reminiscing about when I last wore them and how fabulously pregnant I was.

    And then, just for kicks, I tried on one of the tops and it fit pretty well. Yes, it was kind of loose, but isn’t that loose-peasant-y look kind of in style right now? If anyone can look like a loose peasant, it’s me. And then I tried on one of the dresses and I was thinking, this doesn’t look so much like a maternity dress. It has the little ties in the back and lots of non-maternity dresses have the little ties in the back. I could wear this to church. Who would know? And for a full minute, I gave that thought some serious consideration.

    But ultimately, I put everything back in the box and stashed it away for fear that I might get into an accident on the way to church on Sunday morning and be found unconscious wearing a maternity dress. And it would be reported on the local news:

    Jane: “Steve, This morning a Texas woman was found unconscious at the scene of an auto accident. She was wearing a dress with tie backs, but the label found in the collar clearly reads Motherhood Maternity (pauses to grimace). The woman was last known to be pregnant in 2003. (raises eyebrows slightly). It is also reported that she was not wearing good underwear (shakes her head). Her mother had this to say. (Video clip of Wivian) “I always told her to wear good underwear in case she was in an accident. But does she ever listen to me? No. She never listens to me. I can’t explain the maternity dress.” (she waves off the camera and closes the front door) Back to you Steve.”

    Steve: “Speaking of crazy, Jane, we have had some cuh-razy weather lately. We are in for another round of showers, but apparently not baby showers! So you can put those maternity clothes away, ha ha ha…”

    And then instead of dying of a concussion, I would die of embarrassment.