saturdays.

Saturday mornings when I was growing up meant house work. Mom would put on the music and like Pavlov’s dog we’d get going. But instead of salivating for a treat, we were wound up for slave labor.

“Vacuum first, then dust!”, “Dust first, then vacuum!” To this day I’m unsure of Mom’s rule as it seemed, no matter which step I took, it was wrong.

If she found a poorly cleaned dish in the cupboard, my sister and I were tasked with emptying the cupboards and rewashing EVERYTHING! I later learned this tactic was used on my two older siblings. However, in the retelling of their story, they shared a secret. They would remove all the dishes, rewash a few of them, then re-stack the rest slightly different to give the illusion all the dishes had been cleaned. Robin and I were not that clever. We’d complain about Mom, bicker at each other and clean the stupid dishes.

Mom was a drill sergeant, but that probably wasn’t a bad thing because the smell of clean; ammonia, bleach and Pine Sol, bring a smile to my face.

The “Saturday-morning clean-up music”, as I called it, is actually Jazz. I prefer the pieces with lyrics, ’cause I like to sing along. It’s my favorite music and I’m pretty sure that is because the “Drill Sergeant” introduced it to me.

The drill sergeant gene isn’t in me. So the connection to Saturday mornings and cleaning doesn’t exist in my family. I think they laughed when I tried to introduce the concept.

Saturday mornings are still filled with the music as Jazz plays through our speakers. I also listen for the sound of my neighbor’s water fountain. I hear leaves rustle through the trees and there are barking dogs as well as noise from lawn mowers in the distance.

Brian usually makes coffee, and cuts up fruit for a salad. We sit at the table, reading news from our phones. I might prepare biscuits or bacon and eggs or potatoes or something that helps empty the fridge.

The floor isn’t mopped routinely, but when it is, there’s the smell of ammonia or pine sol, that makes everything alright.

stating the obvious.

Don’tcha just love those people who state the obvious?!! That’s me. I’m HER!! I’m the person that gushes “Wow, your eyes are green!” or, “Ooh, you have dimples!”.

I just heard myself to the young girl with the red hair (I’m sure she already knew the color of her hair ūüôĄ). She grinned. Her dad said, “she always gets the attention”.

I kinda don’t want to, but some may find offense so, I apologize if I cause any.

“Wow, you’re a red head!” in my mind means, I love your red hair! It’s lovely! It’s my favorite!

I love freckles. I have freckles, so I always tell people with freckles, they “have freckles”. Duh!! I do the same to beholders of dimples or those with a gap in the middle of their smile. Marks of beauty imho. Do I need to point them out, probably not?? I dunno.

Recently I was told of a young boy who once too often heard adults tell him how “pretty” his long curly eyelashes were. Thinking “pretty eyelashes” belonged on girls, he went to the bathroom and cut his off. Red lights shine brightly at the thought of a little kid with scissors so close to the eye. Fortunately, it’s a story told with humor as he grew into an adult with pretty eyelashes.

My children and husband walk a few paces ahead of (or behind) me. I figure this is to offer the pre or post apology. “Please don’t mind my mom”.

I will remark on the color or pattern of someone’s shirt, tie, dress or socks. I hear music in people’s voices. I hear authenticity in an accent. My curiosity holds no sinister veil. I simply find excitment in the individuality, or joy in the shared traits. It’s all just threads in this tapestry of life. My comments are my awkward way of saying “hello”, starting a conversation or telling someone I see them. I see their worth.

When I was fourteen, the owner of the little market where I bought my after school snack of orange soda and Almond Joy (ūü§Ę) told me, it was always nice when I entered his store because I always greeted him with a lovely smile. One time when I was in the store, he suggested I enter the “Miss Teenage America” contest. He gave me the paperwork which I filled out at home with my mom.

The talent portion of the application was the challenge. I decided I would sing and dance (even though I’d never sung or danced in front of anyone). My mom laughed at the thought and suggested I share my artwork. I filled in “sing and dance”. Turned out it wasn’t a problem as I didn’t make it far enough in the contest for it to matter.

The steps it took to participate in that contest from self evaluation to being interviewed, then celebrating the accomplishments of others were new and memorable experiences I’ve been able to take with me throughout my life.

I never forgot the kind spirit in which that man complimented me. I think things like that go a long way.

Lost and Found.

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The Phone.

Hanging out with my sisters and our¬†mother one Thanksgiving weekend, we¬†walked into a¬†casino. I¬†threw $60 dollars at a slot machine,¬†it caught it,¬†and five minutes later, I¬†was ready to go home. ¬†My mom was¬†seated at a machine dropping in nickels one at a time and getting a¬†return in multiples with each push of the button. I hovered around her and grunted until¬†she¬†reached into her fanny pack, pulled out a twenty and said, “bring me back ten.” Okay!!! Somebody else’s money!

Two seconds later, with $400 in my hand,¬†I found my mom again. “What time is it?” she asked. “We’ve been here 5 minutes and 2 seconds, I’m $330, dollars ahead, it’s¬†time to go!” I reached for my phone intending¬†to touch base with¬†my sisters but couldn’t find it. It probably¬†fell from¬†my lap when I got up from that last slot machine! I retraced my steps but the phone wasn’t¬†anywhere in sight.

The remainder of the day circled around the¬†use of¬†the ‘Find My¬†iPhone‘ app. My husband joined us at the casino as the iPhone app was new to me, and it’s capabilities came across with conflicting results through tales from my sisters.

The¬†adventure filled our¬†hours. Like treasure hunters deciphering a map, we ended up at¬†a convenience store near the¬†casino where a grey bearded man dressed in a black Members Only knock-off was holding¬†my beeping¬†phone¬†in his pocket. With noisy slot machines in the background, the police (who just happened to be there) and a mall cop¬†swooped in and confiscated my property. After all was said and done, I heard one officer say, “That was cool, I’m gonna have to get that iPhone app!”

 

The Keys.

A couple of months ago, I¬†unlocked the door, walked in the house, set the keys down, went¬†to my easel and started painting. Less than 10 minutes later, my husband¬†asked for the keys. “Aren’t they on the table? I just put them down.”

They vanished from sight.

I once read a book about¬†the tiny little people that live in houses and¬†borrow things when the big people¬†aren’t looking. Things like keys, pencils, socks and¬†sunglasses will mysteriously disappear. One minute they’re on the table, the next minute they’re gone. ¬†I felt like my keys had been “borrowed” by the little people.

The next morning, I still couldn’t find the keys and things got complicated. I needed to get my daughter to school, but the locked Toyota was in the driveway directly behind the¬†Volvo that was parked in the garage.¬†I was frantically trying to squeeze the Volvo through the¬†ridiculously tight space¬†when a¬†police car¬†patrolling the neighborhood approached the house…. Officer Alan stopped and asked if I needed¬†help.¬†Much to¬†my daughter’s¬†disdain, she arrived to school in a¬†police car. With a wink, he promised not to¬†turn on the lights until he got close to the school.

Three weeks later, I noticed the water in the sink next to my easel was draining a bit slow.  I placed my hand in the garbage disposal, and found my keys.

 

The Purse.

Last Friday after my daughter and I finished shopping at the art store, I opened the rear door of the car and placed our new items inside. We got in and began our drive back to Walnut Creek for lunch.

Once inside the carpark,¬†I realized I didn’t have the small clutch I’d been carrying. I called the art store to ask if I’d left it there. We checked inside the car several times, but we couldn’t find it.¬†I then¬†drove to the bank, cancelled and replaced my cards, and my daughter and I carried on with the rest of our day.

Irritated with myself as I realized I probably placed the purse on the top of my car and drove away. I also imagined¬†I’d left it in the store where¬†someone picked it up. There were several¬†scenarios that could have taken place. I tried not to be upset as I knew things could have been worse. There wasn’t anything of much value¬†in the purse. I’d replaced my bank cards. My phone and my keys were in my jacket pocket. The most annoying thing would be going to the DMV to replace my driver’s license.

My thoughts kept going to the person who picked up my purse¬†and the disappointment I felt towards them. It happens all the time. It’s easy to walk away with something that doesn’t belong to you. Keep the twenty dollar bill. Maybe try to purchase something using the ATM card. As tempting as that might be,¬†it’s just as easy to go up to the clerk and say, I found this in the parking lot. I know what I would do.

I remembered the man that picked up my phone a few years ago in the casino. I remembered him being near the slot machine when I went back to look for it. My sister spoke to him. Not too long after, once I figured out how to use the Find My iPhone app, the phone beeped for hours in his pocket.

I want to believe in good. I want to be good. I want to do good. Spread good. But life gets in the way. Doesn’t it?

Saturday morning, less than twenty four hours later, special delivery. My purse was returned.  There was a note inside.

Hello!

Found this on the road in Oakland today. Your lipstick was smashed by a passing car so I threw it away to avoid further mess. I hope calling American Express so they could let you know it had been found does not cause any complications. Have a nice day!

Dustin

Thank you Dustin. Your kindness brought me to tears.

Crayons.

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There is something exciting about a brand new box of crayons. Colorful, bright, clean and smelling of wax. Then somebody borrows one, tears the paper, dulls the end and breaks it….

At Bible Study this past week, we were asked to illustrate our perception of Glory. I immediately thought of that new box of crayons. A perfectly, sharpened, orderly, smudgeless box of colorful glory!

I have a memory of a playmate showing up with the Crayola Crayon box of 96 colors with its built in crayon sharpener! I was impressed and thought this added feature sure way to keep those crayons looking fresh. Unfortunately you had to peel back the paper on the crayon in order to sharpen it. Also sharpening a crayon makes it smaller. I finally accepted that if you use the crayon, it will never look new. Kind of like having cake and eating it too.

I had to re-think my bible study illustration. Perhaps Glory doesn’t have anything to do with perfection.

My crayons, no longer perfect, live in a plastic shoebox. They are broken, the wrappers are torn, smudged, unreadable or missing. They are the crayons that were used to give life to masterpieces created by my children and their friends. Each dulled colored stick of wax had a story to tell.

I think, like the crayon, we start out perfect. As we live, we leave marks on our canvas gradually creating our own masterpiece.

Adam and Eve were hanging out in paradise with only one rule to follow, Leave the apple alone. Although their world seemed perfect, they were still given the gift choice. A decision was made, and consequence ensued.

If perfection was the only expectation, why weren’t Adam and Eve simply destroyed and a new set (of humans) created? Instead, they were given an opportunity to live, grow and recreate outside of paradise. They were given life outside of the perfect environment. One can only exist in the womb, it isn’t until we are outside of the womb that we live.

Perhaps it is all as it should be.

Outside of the crayon box.

I am like the crayon, spreading color, my sharp edges are gone, I am broken, my wrapper is torn. My story is the markings on the canvas.

Perhaps Glory is when I can look back and say, I’m happy with my masterpiece.