Monday, November 30, 2009

"Check the Lower Left Drawer"

Vital words to live by….enlightenment ensues….

OK, all you readers of the feminine persuasion….I was never a Girl Scout, but I am counting today’s post as my bona fide Good Deed, so tuck this away in your mental file drawer (“drawer-pun” INTENDED), because this could be Very Handy Info; if not literally Life Saving, than certainly Dignity Saving…

Read and profit from my chilling adventure this afternoon….

There I was, minding my own business, trying to keep to the agreed-upon program for 21st Century American Females of a Certain Age. Having arrived—on time, even!—for my annual funfest at the gynecologist’s office, I allowed myself to be led to the weight scale. Once more, it seems that the medical office scales weigh 3 lbs., heavier than my bathroom scale. This is to be expected anymore. Nor was I deterred when the (I’ll just say it) Less-Physically-Fit-Than-Moi nurse pronounced my stature to be .5 inch less than at this same time last year. Easy come, easy go!!!! This will not furrow my youthful brow!

However, even the most even disposition has its limits, and mine were discovered in short order…

The first tip-off that the nurse doing my assessment was, shall we say, preoccupied, came when she asked questions that I had just answered…about four times during a five-minute conversation. I could give snippets of amusing, if slightly naughty, details, but I do try to qualify for a family-friendly rating here, so will refrain…
As a generally trusting sort…I tend to take a person’s word at face-value unless I have very good, dare I say—memorable—reason not to…so, when she zipped out the door with her handy-dandy laptop and called over her retreating shoulder that she had gotten me a gown and sheet to “wear” for my exam, I simply took her at her word.

And here, gentle reader, is the Moral of the Story:

Do not even CONSIDER disrobing in the privacy of any medical office, anywhere, without first ascertaining that The Gown (at least) has actually been procured for you. One can give or take The Sheet, in a pinch, but….one finds oneself in a cold, cruel….did I mention, cold?...world, upon discovering that the neat pile of clothes you have just divested yourself of—yes, the ones that are still warm from your own body!!-- constitutes the only apparent covering for your nakedness….

Peering at my now-blue toenails, I scanned the room quickly for the familiar sanitized haute couture…uh, nada….By now, my birthday suit, which is not quite as form-fitting as it was a decade and a few pregnancies ago, was beginning to contract, but in an unbecoming way… Was there even a “pull here for assistance” bell-rope, akin to what you find in a hospital room…well, no.

By now, any humor inherent to this situation had evaporated long ago…This was chilly, undignified, mortifying, and completely unnecessary. Also, rife with suspense…just how quickly could I attempt to dive back into my pullover once the anticipated “knock-knock” sounded on the other side of the door?

My ‘assessing nurse’ had just earned herself an unsatisfactory assessment for my patient care in my book. Repeating my crazed visual scan of the room, I looked for drawers…drawers that might contain drawers….bloomers…pantaloons….even paper towels!!!

With my body temperature plunging and my emotional temperature skyrocketing, I at last spied a metal drawer pull. Sheets, plain, thin, but apparently clean exam room sheets gleamed up at me…Ah, next one down…lower left drawer…in the nick of time, I yanked it open to discover a neat stack of one-size-fits all, woven cotton-not tissue paper ….exam gowns….

LESSON LEARNED: Refuse to grant exam room egress to any one who does not first deliver what she promised….


Ben Snippet
Ben: [nosing around my piles of paper and books at the Family Computer Desk] Hmmmm…can I use some of this colored card stock?

Mom: For what?

Ben: Oh, just a project I have to do…

Mom: I-I’m sorry Ben, but I can’t hear anything….I’m still waiting for the Large Glass of Chocolate Milk you promised to make me an hour ago when I brought you home…[extending the still empty tumbler]…

Ben: [shaking head in indignant consternation]….I’m sure glad GOD isn’t like this!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Life on the Daily Commute

Sure, it can most often be a mindless, "auto-pilot" part of anyone's day: turn on the ignition, punch in the CD, put it in gear, and your vehicle practically takes itself on the seemingly ceaseless rounds of drop-offs, deliveries, and pick-ups.

But, every now and then, it pays to turn down the music and tune into the back-seat conversation....to wit:

Miss Cee: "Mommy, guess what happened in school today?!"

Moi: "Oh, at my advanced age, I don't think I have any original guesses left..."

Miss Cee: "Well, you can't guess anyway!"

Moi: "Probably true..."

Miss Cee: "Well, we learned about the Al - a - elm--no, that's not it."

John: "Elmo?"

Miss Cee: "NO, John-Jo!! It's in Texas!! You're not listening! Mom, Johnny's not listening, but he's guessing anway!"

John: "I'm not-not allowed to guess...am I? I can guess, right Mom?!"

Moi: *sigh*

Miss Cee: "Mommy- we're holding up the line of cars--we're making them all wait."

Moi: "Why do you think that? Do you see any cars out of our back window?"

Miss Cee: "Well, no, but..."

Moi: "If there aren't any cars back there, we cant' be holding anyone up now, can we?"

John: "Ha-ha! Cecily, YOU don't even know what you're talking about!!"

Miss Cee: "WELL, John-Jo, YOU don't even know it's NOT Elmo, it's the Ala-ali-"

Moi: "The Alamo?"

Miss Cee: "Bingo, Mommy!"

John: "Oh, well, everyone knows THAT....sheeeesh...."

Miss Cee: "ANYway, we also got CARDS today!"

Moi: "What kind of cards?"

Miss Cee: "Well they would have been really cool cards except Mrs. G. forget them at home."

John: "OK, if there's no story, why are we talking about this?"

Miss Cee: "ANYway, we had red, yellow and green cards; I mean, we will have them."

Moi: "Hmmm, sounds like a traffic light...."

Miss Cee: "Yes! And you get a green card if you don't do any uh-oh's or yellow for a warning."

John: "What does RED mean?"

Miss Cee: *scowl* "Red? Oh that means at the end of the day you get an Uh-Oh Gram. But I don't get those."

Moi: "Really? How refreshing!"

John: *eyeballs orbiting wildly*

Moi: "So, you would not have gotten a red card today, is that right?"

Miss Cee: "Yes, I did not get a red card."

Moi: "Because..."

Miss Cee: "Mommy, are you listening? Because Mrs. G. forgot to bring them."

Moi: "Right. But if she HAD brought them, would you have gotten a red card?"

Miss Cee: *displaying a poor imitation of patience* "No, Mom--see--she--FORGOT--them--at--home---today."

Moi: [private musing- 'I'm just SURE there's a market for a coffee bar drive-thru that offers the option of distilled spirits...']


STOP NUMBER 2: Ben and Alina are now 'en vehicle'...

Alina: [matter-of-factly] "Mom, Cecily's shaking her bottom at us again."

Moi: "WHAT?!?!?!"

Miss Cee: "I did NOT!"

Alina & John: "Yes, you DID!!"

Miss Cee: "NO! I shooked it facing the other way!!"

Moi: "W-H-A-T-?!!!??!?!?!"

Alina: "She calls it her Boppin' Mode."

************ It's at times like these when that Auto-Pilot/Brain-Drain capacity comes in quite handy.**************

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Longer My Trusted Source...

…for news. OK, I can’t claim to have surrendered absolute, implicit trust here to begin with; but I have made a near-daily habit of checking www.cnn.com for my news. I have not been so naïve as to presume I read news coverage that even purports to be objective anymore.

Afterall, it was the Previous Century when I was in “J-School”, pursuing a degree in news-editorial journalism. Back In the Day, “lack of bias” and objectivity were actual concepts taught in my reporting classes. Even in the “Opinions Writing” course, we were regularly admonished to build our perspective on a foundation devoid of any ‘slant.’ These values have gone the way of the IBM Selectric and clattering AP wire machine.

Still, I can’t say I was prepared to log on this afternoon and see “The Abortionist and His #1 Foe” front and center on the CNN home page. I got through about three-quarters of the story before I had to look away. The abortion issue itself, the vast and vile social permutations, the sound and fury billowing out of the Reader Comment section—all are old news. [Clearly, the consequent human devastation of men, women, and children touched by abortion is not diminished just because the US is in its fourth decade of “choice.” ]

Even the pro-abortion bias that characterizes the vast majority of mainstream media coverage of this issue is old news. So why do I take note of it here?

I think because this story seemed, to me, to exhibit a new level of flagrancy. Wayne Drash, whose byline appears at the top of this story, managed to sneak in a shot to my emotional solar plexus. For a moment, a wave of despair and futility lapped around the edges of my mind. Evil and annihilation just seem to go on and on and on until it feels hard to take a breath.

Then the needed moment of insight arrived, fresh from the only Source:

“When I tried to understand all this,
It was oppressive to me
Till I entered the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their final destiny.” [Psalm l 73:16-17]

“He who is pregnant with evil…falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.” [Psalm 7: 14-16, selected]

The answer is to look up and remember that the final righteous reckoning is still to come. Make no mistake.

According to the CNN story, both Dr. Carhart, the ‘heroic’ abortionist, and Mr. Newman, a not-winsomely-portrayed pro-life activist, claim that “God is on their side.” This is completely inverted.

Anyone who has even a pale conception of Who God really is would not dare to make such a claim. I don’t know who they mean by ‘god’, but He Who made the heavens and the earth, and before Whom every knee will one day bow, does not settle down on anyone’s team bench. How much less does He grant favor to those who willfully destroy precious eternal beings?

No, the truth is both awesome and awful: every one of us will stand before Him to give account of ourselves as our earthly life expires.

Dr. Carhart still has a chance to make a 180-degree turn in his life and escape the condemnation that he--and we all--deserve, apart from Christ. And Mr. Newman still has a chance to evaluate his words, attitudes, and actions against the Jesus Whose name he invokes.

But those chances, too, will come to an end. Until then, we who belong to Christ can know unswervingly that God’s perfect justice and mercy are definitive and sure.

None of us ‘gets away’ with anything, unless we surrender to Him.

And I have no doubt we would turn away in horror if we were to see the “the final destiny” of those who do not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Miss Cee’s School of Subtle Social Insinuation

Greetings, Gentle Readers!

It has come to my attention that concern has been voiced in some distant quarters about the relative infrequency of my appearances on this blog of late. Please accept my abject apologies for this shocking lapse! Upon careful reflection, it became suddenly clear to me how disturbing this inconsistency must be to my loyal following. Mea culpa!

To remedy this egregious irresponsibility to you, my audience, I offer the following:
Today’s installment features a Unique and Incisive Perspective on how best to capitalize on Opportunities at Sporting Events. You read that correctly. You may rely on me to expand your horizons whenever possible!

I must note that this enterprise requires that you be on—at least—nodding-acquaintance terms with an Actual Athlete. Hangers-on will not do since, technically, you yourself could be placed in this category. Being a Hanger-on of a Hanger-on is too far removed from the action to hold any promise of real success. If you do not know a genuine athlete, it is the better part of wisdom to abandon this endeavor and pursue another avenue of adventure.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must note that this particular assignment most often involves long and arduous journeys to abandoned wagon train trails and ancient farmlands, which are quaintly referred to as Competition Venues. Trust my experience on this, dear readers: this is not a point over which to quibble. If THEY say it’s a venue, take it at face value—this is a non-negotiable aspect of spectator sports, apparently.

I found myself doubly fortunate this morning, as I knew –not one- but two! athletes: both my older brother and sister were slated for today’s High School Cross-Country Regionals competition, held at Fuller Forest Preserve, in Winnebago, Illinois. Judging by the terrain and travel time and acres of corn, this is apparently quite near the Iowa state line. But I digress.

When you arrive at your destination, do not be too ruffled if you are required to hold the hand of a Bona Fide Adult. This happens, even to me, at my now-advanced age. Bide your time, readers, knowing that adult attention is easily deflected. Before you know it, you will be able to surreptitiously slide your digits out of the elderly paw, and you will be “off to the races,” [pun intended].

Once free of your ‘adult keeper,’ carefully but nonchalantly get to know ‘the lay of the land.’ In today’s case, this involved a long, serpentine mud trail, apparently abandoned by swine and euphemistically known as The Course. Just play along with such general misapprehensions…they are not relevant to our ultimate goal.
In many cases, you will find the countryside peppered with square nylon structures of assorted hues; these are the Team Tents.

While I’ve heard of more reckless parties attempting to penetrate team tents of rival teams, I consider this unnecessarily risky. For one thing, since you are entirely unknown to any occupants of these tents, you will stick out like a sore thumb. In addition, if you wander too far afield, there is always the nasty possibility of Getting Lost, which truly ruins all the fun.

For you further edification and inspiration, I now offer an account of my own adventure this morning:

After arriving and parking several hundred miles away from The Course, we literally followed the herd and eventually found ourselves in view of the team pavilions [fancy talk for ‘tents’—this term is used by the Uppity Schools, which shall remain nameless}.

Once there, I easily identified our team’s nylon lair and, with just the right amount of savoir faire, surveyed the perimeter. Eureka! Inside I quickly spied The Cooler, and—even better!—a large pink and orange box of---oh, the wonder of it! –one dozen fresh and delicious Dunkin’ Donuts!!! This discovery proved the interminable journey had been worthwhile.

Much as I was tempted to dart quickly inside, I knew better and refrained. It is always best to wait until all competitions are complete: then you can rely on the milling crowds to mask your presence and prowling. When the final mud-encrusted, extravagantly priced running shoe crossed the finish line, there was a spontaneous eruption of cheers, applause, and –what sounded like—spanking….? This was followed by great exhibits of applause, cheering, congratulations, recognition, and (in a couple of cases) regurgitation; I’m told the latter is not uncommon after Herculean athletic effort.

I timed my approach carefully and managed to slip between two of our runners as they entered the team tent. Unfortunately, my pale aqua parka did not blend in as well as I had hoped with their royal blue team uniforms. But this is when I take comfort in my smaller stature…A moment later, I was In. To my delight, the cooler had been thrown open, and a dazzling array of treats met my eye! Bullseye!!

After taking possession of a few smaller items [known in the vernacular as “pocketing”], I experienced a stroke of genius!

No one took the least bit of notice as I strolled casually out of the team tent with a delectable stick of Kit Kat bar wedged rakishly in the side of my mouth.

It looked exactly like a stogie!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Splish-Splash

Once upon a time...

Mom [to various family members she encounters while strolling through the house]: Miss Cee is in her Bubble Lab….just lettin’ ya know, the Bubble Lab is busy, so use a different bathroom….don’t interrupt Cecily, she’s in the Bubble Lab…

Ben: Ah, yeh, thanks for the warning, Mom, heh-heh...

John: [hyperbolic eye-rolling—he must be practicing in a mirror!!] Sheeeeesh.

Alina: Ooooookay, then….

Some minutes later, at the family lunch table…

Dad: So, Cecily, I understand you’ve been busy in the Bubble Lab…

Cecily: Well, yes.

Mom: How’s progress coming on that new research?

Cecily [one imperial eyebrow arched skyward]…Huh?!

Mom: I’m just askin’, have you had any major breakthroughs?

Cecily: Well, it’s been really frustrating…

Ben [elbow to my ribs]: Mom! It’s NOT as easy as it looks! Come on, now!

John: Hey, what I want to know is-Is she REALLY allowed to use bubble bath for bubble science?

Mom: Bubbles…bubble bath…is that cheating or something?

Cecily: What cheating?!

John: Cecily! Just admit it…you WERE using bubble bath when you were pretending to give your Barbie a bath!

Cecily: It was NOT pretending, John-Jo!! It was a BUBBLE bath, as in bubbles!
Hello!

Dad: Wait…you’re using bubble bath in the SINK?!

Cecily: um, no…

John: CECILY! You’re—

Cecily: I mean, not TODAY—right NOW!

Mom: Well, no, because right now you’re eating your tomato sandwich…

John: Look, IS she allowed to use bubble bath in the sink? That just seems like cheating.

Dad: Cecily, don’t use bubble bath in the sink, even for an experiment. We’re Hollidays and Hollidays don’t cheat!

The End

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ben Update

This is identical to the e-mail I sent several of you, but thought I would repeat it for anyone else who might be interested...

I talked to the endocrinologist's nurse yesterday about Ben's recent blood tests, and they are very encouraging. The doctor is stopping short of saying Ben is cured and no longer diabetic, but he did write 'good report!' on the lab documentation.

Ben's blood glucose at that time was 82. They look for a normal reading to be in the range of 70-99.

Yesterday, Ben's glucose level was 159, which was a bit high for him, and we're not sure why. He's running several miles each day, 4 to 5 days a week for practice, and then has meets. He had one last Saturday, right before Homecoming, and is at another one right now, somewhere in the suburbs. We hope they're home soon. [Update: the girls team won!]

Ben's appetite is still off, although I did get a smallish steak in him yesterday. He needs to gain weight. Also, he is being a bit of a toad about testing his blood sugar (a.k.a. non-compliant), but we are putting our foot/feet down!!! Ben forgets how sick he was.

We next go to the endocrinologist in December, at which time the dr. is looking for several weeks of blood sugar readings, along with some documentation of what his reading are within two hours of eating (before and after).

The other lab report was on Ben's A1C level, which is a measure of hemoglobin and somehow gives a retrospective indication of what his blood glucose and insulin output have been over the last three months or so. The normal range is 3.9 - 6.0. Ben's reading was 5.2 percent which, honestly, was unexpected. So technically, Ben does not now meet the lab criteria for a Type 1 diabetic. Things can change, but we are encouraged. When the dr. gave us the diagnosis in January, he assured us it would most likely be a lifelong condition and that a recovery was improbable. We had not been bold enough to pray for such results as these.

But, we are very thankful!

Monday, September 28, 2009

If you're looking for Cool, look no further...

"Hey, is all that blinding light bouncing off of us or coming FROM us?"

The iconic "Bolt" pose

Daniel, Angie, Chloe, and Ben...too bad no one looks like they're having much fun, Ben!

Exclusive Interview with Ben Holliday, Courtier Extraordinaire

[Pretend this deathless prose is actually copyrighted...humor me.]

Ed. Note: a few photos may be examined on the Christian Life High School Facebook page...

Editor: Ben, are the rumors true? Were you really selected to be on the Christian Life High School Homecoming Court? How did this come about?

BEN: Um, yes, by popular vote, I was elected to Homecoming Court. No surprise there.

Ed.: Say what?

BEN: You heard it from the horse’s mouth.

Ed. Well, I heard something, but I always assume an uppity attitude comes from the Back End of a horse...just sayin.' Anyway, I was given to understand that SOME of your family members where QUITE dumbfounded by this development…

BEN: As well they should be. This is the first time in Holliday family history that One of Us has been on CLHS Homecoming Court.

Ed.: Tell us how you felt when you learned this news.

BEN: I, myself, was quite shocked. I never thought that I would ever be so honored as to be on my high school's homecoming court. Actually, I'm not sure I'll ever be the same...wait, is that a GOOD Thing?

Ed.: What all was involved in this ?

BEN: It was a big honor. I had my picture taken along with the rest of the court, many times. We had to learn a song and dance that we had to perform at the Banquet. It was “Chicago” by Frank Sinatra. It was like a 1920s swing dance…I even got to wear a fedora ..the Rat Pack…that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

And it was really busy. We had to go to the homecoming games, including Powder Puff (the game when the senior boys play the junior boys in volleyball, and the senior girls play the junior girls in football). Practice for coronation…That was pretty punctual, you know, and took up a lot of time during school. Then after the real coronation, we got served lunch in the board room – Mongolian Beef and Chinese food. That was really nice. And then we toured around the middle school and elementary school and said 'hi' to the tykes, and 'here's your new king and queen," etc. I think it was supposed to be a 'highlight' but who knows what they really thought. Maybe they got out of a test or something!

Then, there were lots of poses for photos. When we were on stage after coronation, we had our photos taken by the school photographer. It’s all on facebook. http://www.facebook.com/ A few weeks before Homecoming. Mr. Beary announced over the PA system who the candidates were….I really didn’t know anyone would seriously vote for me before then. One day they took us outside and had us pose…it was a nice day out and I was the last one, they gave me a pair of sunglasses and they showed me how to do “The Bolt” - [Ed. note: this iconic pose can be viewed amongst the photos at the top of this installment]

Ed.: Gracious! All this heart-pounding excitement sounds as if it could cause a spot of fatigue...but, then, you're Forever Young.

BEN: Well, it was a 'Ride' - if ya know what I mean! Like, at halftime during the football game---which we WON, by the way....SORRY, Kirkland--actually, NOT sorry. They had all of us on the court and the King and Queen ride around the field in a jeep motorcade…the jeeps were all different colors, and each king candidate rode with a queen candidate. I felt like I was in a deck of cards. That was a blast. I rode with Danielle Cicogna and our driver was Bronson Radke, an alumnus, and he swerved around, and then two of my buds, Andrew and Daniel had the audacity to hop into our jeep…they were stowaways.

Ed.: Whew...let me catch my breath here, laddie...

BEN: Next came the dinner on Saturday. First, we met at one of the girls' houses...well, house is kind of an understatement..and posed for pictures. Unfortunately, this was somewhat spoiled when our moms morphed into frustrated professional photographers and became Really Annoying.

Anyway, I was so busy this past week, between school, x-country practice, working, and then even having a x-c meet ON Saturday, that I had to send my mom and my sister on a mission to get my clothes…fortunately, they can follow directions. Yeh, sometimes they even have to ASK for directions...

It just so happened that my friend, Daniel and I , wore the exact same thing, except his tie was silver grey and mine was pure white. His date, Angie, wore a silver/black dress. My date, Chloe, wore a black and white polka dot dress, so everything was somehow perfectly coordinated. By some weird coincidence, we each got them the same wrist corsage. Well, I mean, they each had their own....

Then it was on to La Casa Grande. It was a nice place in Beloit, WI right across the state line. The food was great…I had beef and pasta and such. But, believe it or not, no dessert. I know...

Ed.: You've got to be kidding! No chocolate of any kind? anywhere? Did you ask for a refund???

BEN: You're interrupting. When we walked in, it was all lit up with Christmas lights, and there was soft jazz music playing, and there was a balcony, and there was an unnecessary amount of our teachers there, pretending to be chaperones. The court and our dates sat at the head table up at the front of the room. We got to see everyone, because we had the best seats in the house. A person could sort of get used to that. It was nice to be there and see everyone dressed up.

Ed.: Well, except for the egregious absence of chocolate, it sounds like a great evening...did anything else happen?

BEN: Well, after they served dinner, we watched a lot of video clips from youtube.com and Pixar, then we played a game where the faculty sang things and we had to guess what they were singing about...or something like that. I'm still not too sure.
Then Mr. Beary [the principal] narrated a slide show making reference about homecoming about what to do and what not to do. One poor kid had these really embarrassing photos that his mom had snuck in.

Ed. Note: I did NOT 'sneak' them in. I merely complied with the letter sent to "court" parents from the school office, asking us to discreetly look for memorable photos of our students to be used in some creative way at the Banquet. I was only obeying.

BEN: Then the homecoming court did our performance of "Chicago" by Frank Sinatra. That's why so many of the guys wore black shirts and fedoras. Miss Beach choreographed it. And then one of the interns from CrossCurrent [student ministry group] tried to teach the faculty how to do the Thriller game. Then one of the foreign exchange students, Leo, did a beat box solo (rap), then Mr. Beary prayed, and we all left.

Ed.: Wow, Ben, that really sounds like a night to remember....

BEN: Oh, I'll remember it, all right. And, before I forget, THANK YOU, MOM, for sneaking Mr. Beary that picture of me when I was three, riding the toy rocking horse in my plaid pants. That was Just Great. The whole room started laughing, and Andrew made his usual crack about how that was my golfing outfit, and then everyone started calling me "Rocking Horse Boy." Yeah. Nice.

Ed.: *smirk*

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Note how seamlessly I fit into this group of 'unsuspecting peers.' Well, I must admit the fashionable head scarf does help me look a wee bit older than my years...


Do I not blend in perfectly here?

Miss Cee's Institute of Subtly Successful Interpersonal Management

a.k.a. – “How to Be There Without Them Minding”

Greetings, gentle readers! I know, I know, it has been Far Too Long! Please accept my earnest apology for being Incommunicado for so long. Life here at the Circle H Ranch has been nothing if not hectic, even for moi!

But, don’t think you’ve all been far from my thoughts—far from it, as they say! In the interest of consistency, I try to take my own advice (from time to time) and so when I found myself in the situation described below, I instantly recognized it as a Serendipitous Teaching Opportunity to share with all of you!

Allow me to provide the context: My middle-older brother, Ben, and my only sister, Alina, both run on the cross-country team for their high school. [Here’s a mysterious sidenote: everyone on the team, including the Coach, RUN and RUN, but they never catch anything! I know! Even curiouser, they don’t even seem to be chasing anything! It’s like running—just for the sake of running. I’m pretty sure this is another one of those “you’ll understand when you get older” topics. I, myself, think it only makes sense to run when you’re after something that’s Really Worth Catching!]

ANYway, a couple of Fridays ago, the Team Dinner was held at our house. It was kind of awesome because there were lots of people, girls AND boys, and lots of food, including three jugs of chocolate milk!! There was eating, and laughing, and joking and eating, and then playing ‘Apples to Apples’ and goofing around. AND, Mom and Dad were kind of like the wait staff…which, it must be said, was fun to watch.

This is kind of funny, because-actually-Mom had been telling me that I was supposed to be The Helper who waited on the Guests. Now, THAT’s an idea…for someone else…

But, on to the subject at hand: navigating and negotiating your way through a social milieu without having to observe any pesky guidelines or boundaries that could (and, inevitably, do) get in the way of Smooth Social Swimming. For those of us who find ourselves at the younger end of the age spectrum, it is especially important to get the situation well in hand early along.

Bear in mind that the Ultimate Goal (elusive as it may sound) is that you will so completely melt into the fabric of the party that troublesome concepts such as “Bedtime” and “Hey, Where’s Your Little Sister?” do not register on anyone’s mental radar.

When finding yourself in a social situation such as described, the cardinal rule to keep in mind is to Not Draw Attention to Yourself. For some of us, this might seem contrary to nature, if not downright impossible. But, press on, and success will soon be in your sights.

As is the case with all worthy stories, there is a Dramatic Arc involved in this - the Unfolding Party for Older People that you want to insinuate yourself into. Begin with Diligent Observation. When the doorbell rings, be Jenny-on-the-Spot to answer it, dazzling guests with a warm welcome as you usher them in.

Even though it is going to be Really, Really Hard, try not to talk too much…just show them around and make sure they get whatever food, napkins, M&Ms, and chocolate milk that they want. You are There to Serve. Before you know it, they will subconsciously think you are Handy to have around, and not a dreaded Little Sibling Nuisance.

Be sure to mingle-mingle so that no one feels left out, and ALSO, so that no one notices you hanging around too much…;if you’re not very careful, someone—even a non-family member-- can get snarky and wonder aloud just why you are there at Party Central. [I know it seems unspeakably impertinent, but it has been known to happen.]

One little technique I’ve found to be effective is to slip away at odd moments and repair to your private space—both to take a breather, and to survey your closets and drawers: be on the look-out for any accessories or accoutrements that have the visual effect of making you seem Older Than You Are, and hence, more easily taken for a peer than a preschooler. In my case, a Cool Headband Scarf that my grandma got for me was quite effective in providing additional panache.

You will know that success has been achieved when you find yourself in the very middle of the current party game, and No One Is the Wiser!!!!

Party on!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Last to Know...

[Warning: flagrant bragging ensues]

One of my favorite 80s bands, the Police, released an album called “Synchronicity” a couple of decades ago now (just another little reality check there). Although only about half the songs (I’m old enough to remember when they were called “cuts”, as in LP vinyl) were worth replaying, the idea of synchronicity fascinated me then, and still does.

Or, as I used to think of it when the thought first occurred-- the simultaneity of life; the simple idea that while certain events are happening Here, activities and passages of different sorts are taking place There, and There, and There—virtually ad infinitum—at the very same moment. It would take someone or something supernatural to grasp it all, let alone oversee it. And, most fortunately, God does. To paraphrases T.S. Eliot again, Christ is “the still point of the turning world.”

Throw in that other oft-overlooked truth that “the secret things belong to God” [Deut. 29:29], and it’s a safe bet that there will be times in life when it pays to “hold on to your hat.”

One side effect of this mortal phenomenon is that things happen, even to those closest to us, of which we are usually unaware. Such has been the case around here lately---well, all the time to be literal about it.

But, here’s the point.

Ben, or Someone wearing his appearance and identity, has been developing a bit of positive notoriety of late. And who is the last to know? Your Faithful Correspondent, [Clouseau accent]: “but, of course!”

This afternoon, as I diligently graded more mind-numbing grammar worksheets at a tot-sized table (my turn to work as the office assistant at John’s and Cecily’s school today), another friend-mom casually mentioned, “So, Ben is on Court.”

ParDON?!

My Ben? What court? Another of my offspring has been visiting a court of a very different nature lately (as in traffic court), so the term does not default to a positive connotation for me.

No, silly. Homecoming Court. Ben has been voted onto Homecoming Court. Our elf.

This is very cool, and we are pleasantly taken aback. “Who’d a thunk it?!”
On the other hand, since everyone in residence here SPEAKS ENGLISH, can someone clue me in?!!! Everyone in the world knows these things but me!!! I’m developing a complex. I still don’t even know when this happened.

And, there’s more. [“But, of course!”]

In fairness, we were made aware of this Next Installment, but the communication was at the instigation of Ben’s ever-faithful Coach, who made him call us here at home. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Fall Retreat for Ben’s high school took place this past Thursday and Friday up at Lake Geneva Conference Center. Other than eating food of varying quality, hearing sessions with a guest speaker, and participating in praise and worship time, I am still in the dark as to what else ever takes place at these annual outings. (Bear in mind that Son #1 was graduated from this same institution and participated in these retreats during his own high school career—but we learned early on not to expect any info from him.)

We were about three-quarters of the way through our favorite spy show (“MI-5” on PBS) when the phone rang, showing Coach’s cell phone number. Probably not good.

As Bill wandered into a different room with the phone pressed to his ear, my curiosity was piqued, and my usual one-side-of-the-conversation discernment skills failed me.

After he rang off, Bill explained that Ben had just been voted Torch Bearer by the senior class at the retreat, an honor that left him humbled and nonplussed. Evidently, this takes place each year in this setting, and the person named is then considered a spiritual leader for the class for the remainder of the school year. At least, that’s my best understanding.

Not so many months ago, I’m told, Ben was grappling with the expected confusion and anger that comes in the wake of a complex hospitalization. “There will be a light at the end of this tunnel, Ben,” his coach assured him.

Last week, standing on a picnic table an hour or so north of here, Ben held aloft a torch—indisputably a light—and experienced a tangible demonstration of God’s engagement in life.

Just today, I was told that the torch had to be replaced and relit several times during the retreat’s closing prayer time, owing to the number of students joining in. I’m hoping there might be a photo or two out there but will need to investigate that.

Can there be any more to this story? Certainly, or I wouldn’t have asked.

Less than a week after assuring me that he had NO interest in attending his senior year Homecoming banquet, that same Someone, answering to the name of Ben, apparently changed his mind.

The eyewitness account runs like this: ‘We were in the middle of playing “Captain, Captain, may we cross your ship?” [I know], when Ben asked me to ad lib it a little. So, when they asked to cross, I answered, “Only if C---- will go to Homecoming with Ben Holliday!” Allegedly, heads swiveled around to see Ben the Gallant down on one knee.

And you think you know a person. (Yes, she accepted.)

To tie the proverbial bow on this little installment, I note the reaction of Ben’s older brother when I shared the foregoing account.

“MY brother?!?!”

Yup, that’s kind of what I said, too.

Then the not-quite-suppressed half smile appeared.

“Well, Mom, you know what it is…it’s that old Holliday Male Charm.”

And what can I say? It worked on me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Persisting in the Echo Chamber

One of my pet peeves is the failure to respond.

Unless you’re engaged in some sort of audiology research, an echo chamber seems like a distinctly unhelpful venue.

It has always irked me when there is every indication that a message has been received audibly, but the recipient seems unwilling to bother with any kind of response. I imagine one of the many annoying ‘mom-habits’ my children will look back on with chagrin is my insistence that they acknowledge and respond when spoken to.

To my mind, how hard can it be? What’s not to get? It’s simple courtesy. It’s fundamental to human discourse. Even animals initiate and respond to communication amongst their own kind. If the only response is “I’ll get back to you,” one can at least know the communication registered.

But, in terms of magnitude, most of this amounts to minor annoyance. It’s when life heats up, or freezes over, when you find yourself barely able to tread the Really Deep Water--well, then it’s very different. That’s when the seeming lack of response to our desperate pleas and obvious crisis feels intolerable.

'Sure, You’re the God Who hears, Lord. That’s the tagline, anyway. OK, so I’m a bit thick, slow on the uptake. But, I know my eyes and ears are wide open, and what am I getting from You? Nada.

Hello! Are You on hiatus or something?'

This is the kind of vortex I can easily find myself swirling in when I keep my focus on the ‘horizontal plane.’ I know that engaging in the Real Stuff requires ‘going vertical’- lifting my face and my focus to the One on Whom I have set my hope (II Cor. 1:10).

But popping in and out of my own personal viewfinder, with unanticipated frequency lately, is my floundering firstborn—the subject of much petition, and the origin of muted angst. If God is really at work here, you couldn’t prove it by me.

If anything, this one who is much prayed for seems even harder than he was before. I mean, there’s not even a dent. If I’m looking for any shred of encouragement, it’s not here. Not yet.

'OK, I’ll just ‘go on faith’, Lord, that You’re really there, You really care, while I wait, You work—all the usual platitudes. Head down, hands clasped, assuming the position of spiritual communication. Could You maybe spare just a minor clue that You’re actually engaged here?'

But—will I ever learn?—once more I’m focusing on the wrong target. I’ve known from the beginning that any transformation in this prodigal is going to be An Inside Job. As in, starting on the inside, in the calcified heart—long before any evidence appears on the outside. No easy trick, that. In fact, I have it on good authority that such battles are fiercely joined, with vast reverberations in the spiritual realm, unseen.

In the meantime, nowhere is it written that my inability to perceive a divine response relieves me of my calling to pray. Persist in prayer, and don’t confuse it with a cakewalk.

It’s hard because it matters. At least, that’s my current guess.

I try to take myself in hand: can I know for sure the Lord is not still engaged here? How do I determine that? What are my criteria? My own puny understanding and surmising? Hmm, that really DOES sound like I’m stuck in an echo chamber.

A few years back, as I vividly recall, I was driving home after depositing this then-student at school. Unhappily, the few minutes in the car together had been another in a long string of dispiriting exchanges. Gripping the steering wheel, I spoke out loud: “Lord, I need something from You!!”

As clearly as if it had been an audible voice, I heard back, “I see it all, Kathy.”

That was enough. And that hasn’t changed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Facts of Life, Gerbil-Style

What do you get when you mix a lonely, middle-aged, dominant, male gerbil [a.k.a. Sensei] with two younger, naive, skittish gerbilettes?

A homemade biology lesson, of course...

Earlier today:

Scene 1: Ben is found hunched over the kitchen table-

Me: "Ben, what happened?! Is that blood?"

Ben: "Yeah, well, I kind of destroyed my hand. I can't believe I was so stupid!"

Me: "How bad is it?"

Ben: [peels back a blood-soaked tissue] "What happened is, well, I was cleaning out Sensei's aquarium, and for some reason, I stupidly leaned on it while I was reaching, and I knew it was glass and all, but I didn't think, and my hand just went right through it..."

Outside on the deck, the wicked shards of evidence glitter in the sunshine.

Scene 2: A few hours later, Ben's right mitt is swathed in gauze and antibiotic ointment. Sensei has already "marked" and, now, eaten through the grocery bag that was to be his temporary abode. Suitable temporary accommodations are few and far between...in fact, we seem to be fresh out of possibilities.

Against my better judgment, Sensei is quietly deposited into the Other Gerbil Aquarium; yes, that would be the Girls' Dorm, home to Sly and Desert, John's two little lady rodents.

Me: "Remember, Ben, this is vewy, vewy temporary...we're not getting into gerbil breeding around here."

Ben: "Right, right, I KNOW."

Scene 3: Never-before-heard high-pitched squeaks emanate from the newly coed gerbil aquarium in John's room.

Me: "Cecily, what is that noise?"

Miss Cee: [nonchalant]: "Oh, they're just having a little talking party in there, Mom."

Me: "Hmmm, well, that's funny, because I never heard that sound before when it was just the Girl gerbils, and everyone knows that girls talk all the time..."

Miss Cee: "Well, they must have more to say today."

Uh-huh.

Scene 4: John's head is seen leaning over the banister...

John: "Um, Ben? I think the gerbils are Doing Things."

Ben: "John, just leave them alone, I've already checked on them, and it's just fine..."

John: "I don't know..."

Ben: "John, it's FINE!"

Scene 5: I am innocently grading Cecily's grammar workbook pages.

Miss Cee: "Uh -oh."

Me: "What?"

Miss Cee: "Well, I better go get Ben. BENNNNNNNY!!!! You better come!!! Sensei and Sly are going to get married now!!! At least, I think they NEED to get married! Hurry up!!!"


Stay tuned, gentle readers...the coed gerbil dorm may soon be a nursery...and we'll be launching into Accelerated Biology class...

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Thanks for a great way to end the summer!
Bill and John--both die-hard Cub fans

"Man, this TOTALLY beats lying in a hospital bed!" - Ben

The 'digs' weren't too shabby at all!

Sophomore Sister, Senior Brother; also known as Numbers 2 and 3 in the Holliday line-up.

"Did I ever tell you about the time, 'in an earlier life' when John fell overboard and had to be fished out of the drink by a brave and quick-thinking uncle? I didn't think so...we try to keep that episode on the down-low now..."

Beach siblings...in a [rare] moment of peace...

Looking out to Fremont Lake in Fremont, MI--a relaxing weekend, courtesty of our friends, Gary and Cheri---who are also responsible (is that the right word?!?!) for introducing the Ancient Hollidays...but that's another story.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Approaching the Finish Line"

I just returned from the home of a dear friend who moved her mom into her family’s home less than a week ago. Barring miraculous intervention, it is doubtful that Mrs. R. will reside in her own residence again. And, depending on how the Lord chooses to heal her-physically or ultimately- she may not reside in her earthly tent much longer.

Several years ago, the first of a series of unwanted medical diagnoses intersected her life and changed her circumstances, as such news tends to do. The original malignancies were overcome, but the unwanted visitor has now returned and taken up residence in her brain.

In the past several years, it has dawned on me repeatedly that life seems to get sadder as I get older. Like many aspects of this earthly journey, there’s an emotional, psychological counterpart to the physical entropy we all experience as the birthdays accumulate.

As I held Mrs. R’s hand, recalled some common memories, and helped her sip a shake, it occurred to me that maybe it is more accurate to frame it differently. There is sadness, of course. Life as we know it now is not how it was originally intended to be, when man inhabited the Garden where he heard “the sound of the Lord God walking …in the cool of the day” [Gen. 3:8]. The Fall, which is the pivot referenced whenever scholars talk about “prelapsarian” and “postlapsarian” history, is the origin of human sadness. If not for that, everything would be so unimaginably different.

But perhaps it is, finally, not so significant that life gets undeniably sadder. More to the point, it gets more real. As in what is really Real. The veils that obscure temporal life from eternity are peeled back with greater frequency. I’ve heard scoffers maintain that all it amounts to is ‘falling off the barge’—to be crass about it-- and into oblivion. They think this in part, I suspect, because they don’t want to be accountable and refuse to countenance the Truth they cannot change.

Quite a few years ago, I sought temporary refuge from my feuding preschoolers in the basement laundry room of our first home. The tumbling of the dryer was more soothing to a young mom’s nerves than tiny men squawking and bickering. Craving adult “conversation”, I had tuned into a Christian radio station and heard a man say things that hit me between the eyes.

Those were moments of transforming clarity for me. The statement that echoes in my mind even today, and which constitutes one of the lynchpins of my life view, goes as follows:

“This life is a walk toward eternity.”*

[*David Shibley.Ultimate Success.New Leaf Press, 1994.]
That handful of words expressed ultimate reality. Like selecting “Solution” on the pull-down menu of some computer games, formerly disparate components tumbled together into a whole. Answers to some pesky quandaries came into focus:
-“This life…” – we’re in it, but it’s not the ‘whole show’
-“…is a walk…” – it’s not static, it’s not a destination, it is a journey, a course progressing somewhere

-“…toward eternity.” – there is a purpose, afterall.
We’re destined, like it or not, to be somewhere Entirely Other. Or, as the British express it, we’re all going to “go elsewhere!”

In this sense, progress into the latter part of life is a matter of it getting more Real. When someone cuts us off in traffic, we don’t usually count that as a highlight of the journey, or a step toward understanding the ‘grand scheme.’ But when you stroke the cheek of a dying believer, or feel their fingers loosen around your own as the day’s strength ebbs away, you realize you’re touching someone’s “jar of clay” that will soon yield up its eternal treasure; and who they Really Are will enter the presence of the Lord, where

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- [I Corinthians 2:9]

That's the Real deal.






Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Winning Form"

Within the past 20 minutes, as I walked toward my vehicle in the church parking lot, I got another glimpse of the time warp we all subconsciously live in.

I’m getting a little more used to these episodes but, since one doesn’t usually “anticipate” them, they can still be jarring. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a well-dressed and dignified lady being escorted to the passenger side of a car. As her husband held her arm, she carefully bent herself at the waist to maneuver inside the vehicle, all the while keeping herself ramrod-straight from the waist up. I hope I didn’t noticeably slow my step as I walked by, but it was evident that she was having a bit of difficulty with her mobility. Still, they were managing well and negotiated it all in only slightly more time than it probably “used to” take.

“Used to;” as in, “formerly;” as in, “may soon revert to, but is not quite the case yet.” In spite of myself, I reflexively did a double-take and recognized this faithful couple-people who are part of the context and human scenery in the family of believers we’ve been part of for more than 25 years. We’ve never known them well enough to use the word “friends” in any but the broadest sense. There have, perhaps, been words spoken here and there, briefly, over the years. Maybe a general awareness that one child or the other of theirs has grown, married and is raising family of their own somewhere else now.

Time changes us all, but seemingly not at the same rate. Children of relatives we see only infrequently seem to undergo startling metamorphosis between visits. After adulthood is reached, there may be the occasional realization that someone’s hair is not just a new style, but perhaps a new hue. There may be a little “softening” in the jawline of someone’s profile (like mine!)

And then, as birthdays accumulate, gradual, irrevocable changes can become more noticeable—or, perhaps, harder to register subtly. One of my sons, now overlong in the easy denial of adolescence, often has an unnecessary and derogatory comment at such moments. I no longer bother to remind him that the only difference between himself and the person whose age he scorns is the passage of time…and that it will tell on him, too.

But I think it’s the unanticipated moments I find myself bouncing up against that offer a choice: they can either wear me down with the undeniability of decay and mortality; or they can be opportunities for recalibration. Always best to make the latter choice….much more useful.

Many years ago, as a college student, I found myself taking a mental note when my roommate’s fiancé made casual reference to some future time when they, as a couple, would be “35 years into our marriage.” It was probably the first and last time I’d heard a 20-something male make such a comment. He was voicing his expectation and assumption about their relationship, based on the “ life-lens” through which he lived.

It seemed unusual for someone so young to project so far into the future, and with such certainty. I’m sure such a view is even more unusual now. [By my reckoning, it will only be a few more years until they will actually be at that milestone.]

Now and then, usually when we’ve been out somewhere, my husband and I will see an “older” couple [relative term, that!] and tell each other, “That will be us someday soon, doll.” Or, “we’re going to be just like that in a couple more months…”

Today, in the parking lot, the couple I saw had somehow, in a way ‘sudden’ to me, arrived “there.” Do they realize it? I’m sure they do . Do they regret it? That would seem to be an unwise expenditure of emotional energy. Do they accept the inevitable with grace or rancor? Do they treasure this stage, knowing that the future direction is inexorably downward…until these “earthly tents” are cast off for the Ultimate Improvement?

Just prior to stepping into the sunshine and out into the parking lot this morning, I learned that another woman had stepped into eternity two nights ago. I think I had been introduced to her once, years before. Shortly after that, I heard that the mother of another acquaintance has just received a dire diagnosis. So perhaps these newsflashes lent some gravitas to my emotional outlook.

But I reminded myself again, as I have been doing for my own past several birthdays, that it’s best to take The Long Look. These milestones undeniably progress….and I use the term “Progress” intentionally: both in terms of Moving Forward, and in terms of Getting Better.

For the lady in the parking lot, for the believing cancer patient who has now passed from Darkness to Light, for the slacker-jawed reflection I see in the mirror each morning: the physical evidence of entropy is most rightly understood as a prelude to the glorified bodies we will know in eternity.

I know that how we negotiate the twists and turns of mortal life matters—what we do with Jesus determines our Destination. How we live now reflects for good or for ill on who we are as people, and on the difference He is making for those of us who follow Him.

But I also look forward to that ultimate “winning form.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What He Does...

It's a blessing to realize you live with someone who is, occasionally at least, a source of Wisdom.

Not long ago, I came to the end of an unusually trying and discouraging day. As in, "boy, am I having A Day." Friends nod sympathetically; no one needs a definition.

Such days contain more stress and unanticipated How-Can-This-Be-Happening than any self-respecting 24-hour unit should contain. One climbs into bed more than depleted: it feels as if months of effort and persistence were consumed just to finally arrive at bedtime.

Mustering my last reserves to drag my other foot into bed, I turned to my semi-somnolent mate.

"Hey. I'm just wondering."

*hhmmmm....???*

"I'm just feeling like...well, do you REALLY think God hears your prayers? All the time? Like, even at times like this?..."

A moment of silence and then familiar crinkly eyes squinted at me over his shoulder.

"Yes. He does."

"Are you Sure-Sure?"

A tired smile and nod. "Yes. He does. It's what He does. I don't understand it. And He doesn't hear me because I think He does. He does because of Who He is. He just does."

Hmmmm. Well, that's what I was thinking-and-hoping; but I didn't feel so sure.

Once again, move the lens off of myself and my Day and focus it back on The One Who Hears. And Sees It All.

It's what He does.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Attend, Please!"

Recently I read an interesting article in the online version of one of the London dailies. It was a thoughtful piece recounting some moments of unexpected emotional resonance that the author experienced in the aftermath of her ‘very civilized’ divorce. Eschewing an expensive divorce lawyer in favor of a simple paper contract they had drawn up together, the two estranged spouses apparently set about determining the destination of various pieces of shared property.

It was all so polite, so pragmatic, so unemotional. Evidently, they continued to ‘believe the best’ about each other as people of honor, despite the failure of their marriage. Personal schedules were even arranged so that the partner-still-in-residence would be absent when her counterpart (for lack of a better term) showed up to collect whatever possessions were agreed upon as his.

The only snag was the unanticipated, repressed—perhaps, even, compressed?—emotions that simmered near the surface when certain, ostensibly mundane, household items morphed into Objects of Contention. Who knew?

It seemed to me that no particular professional insight was needed to understand this: when an intimate human relationship is torn asunder and the consequent emotional toll is denied, it’s bound to come out somehow…even in so “petty” a matter as who wins possession of the kitchen cutlery. And, sure enough, the writer included a couple of quotes, attributed to behavioral experts, which bore this out.

She wound up her account noting that when all was said and done, she realized that what really lay ahead of her was A New Life; all the rest was just “stuff and nonsense.”

If this is the culmination of her emotional processing and allows her to ‘move on,’ I imagine it was a helpful insight for her.

But, not for the first time, I couldn’t help wonder what all had gone wrong for this couple who had built a life together—gone so wrong that, ultimately, a civilized rupture was the only legacy left from more than two decades together…

On one hand, each story must be as unique as the individuals who inhabit it. On the other hand, people are people and the same human failings probably afflict us all in varying flavors and degrees. I’ve no doubt, based on a cursory glance at the mirror of my own life, that one of the biggest taproots is plain, old self-centeredness. It’s so pervasive we can’t, really, see around it most of the time.

But I think there are also shoots and tendrils branching off, and they’re probably not all that hard to identify. In the London writer’s story, it seemed her former partner spent most of his time ‘traveling abroad’-gone more than he was home. People grow apart, we’re told over and over. There’s no longer a shared life focus and before you know it, couples who were previously ‘in sync’ are careening off in separate orbits. You don’t have to work at it—it just happens. Human nature, the busyness of life…all the usual suspects.

I suspect, though, that to some degree it might really be a matter of Emotional ADD---or, not to put too fine a point on it—failure to attend.

It’s not just Paying Attention. It's Attending, as in these few helpful clues from Webster’s Tenth Addition: “to look after;” “to go or stay with as a companion;” “to be present with;” “to apply the mind or heed.”

We all “attend” to something, all the time. If you’re reading this post it is, by definition, claiming your attention right now. How intentional you were about deciding to focus your time and attention here is a question only you can answer. I know my own attention is all too easily drawn away from previous intentions.

But surely there are some ‘wake up calls’ or alarm bells that ring when we’ve wandered too far afield –when we’ve ceased to attend to those relationships or ideals we once vowed to make Priority. It IS possible to take oneself in hand and ‘make the main thing the Main Thing.’ Maybe not Easy, but certainly Possible.

Note to self: Be aware and Beware…INTEND and then ATTEND to my intentions. It’s a tiring endeavor, no doubt, and impossible to sustain 24/7.

And yet, it seems foolhardy--perhaps even inexcusable-- not to try. Otherwise, it's likely all too easy to one day find oneself, standing in the kitchen, at pains to persuade anyone listening that the collapse of the Really Important stuff of life is all just “stuff and nonsense.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blazing New Trails in the Professional World

Bonjour-

In today's economy, it's wise to be innovative, think 'outside the box,' and be willing to take risks...especially when it comes to bringing home the ol' bacon.

As some notable entrepreneurs have proven, sometimes the most unlikely concepts lead to veritable gold mines...[think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak...the 3M engineer who created Post-It notes...the culinary genius who concocted hazelnut coffee syrup...well, you see what I mean.]

And, it pays to keep your eyes peeled, because you just never know what possibilities might be lurking nearby...perhaps even as close as the kitchen sink!!

Scene: Holliday kitchen, sometime earlier today. Unsuspecting matriarch converses with patriarch on phone, oblivious to the suspicious silence now reigning...

[**clunk**]

Miss Cee: [slipping through the French doors to flag my attention] Mommy...mommy...um, well...

Moi: [alarmed to notice her reddened, tear-filled eyes and quivering chin] WHAT? What's the matter?!?!

Miss Cee: Um, Mommy, I really, really didn't mean it...[*danger! danger!, Will Robinson!*]

She reluctantly leads me to the kitchen...the Kitchen Sink, actually...where wickedly jagged shards of tempered glass are strewn about the sink. My French press is now history.

Moi: Hmmmm....what happened here?

Miss Cee: It slipped and...I...*sobs*

Moi: Well, what do you think about this?

Miss Cee: I...I...shouldn't have...Mommy, I am so, so sorry. It was an ACCIDENT!

Moi: Well, accidents happen, but why were you fiddling around in the sink when we've talked about this a "Few" times before?

Miss Cee: I just like to....I was being a Bubble Scientist...and I really LIKE to be a bubble scientist!!!!

Seen in this light, I guess a broken carafe is minor collateral damage incurred during "cutting edge" [I couldn't help myself] Research and Development.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Lucky"

Today's post is just a brief update--one more small step on the long journey of progress that Ben has been on since this past December. [To avoid repetition, I am assuming that most of you who may read this already are aware of Ben's lengthy hospitalization that was precipitated by a severe staph infection.]

This morning, I took him for a "surveillance" appointment with "Dr. Green Bay," the orthopedic trauma surgeon who opened up Ben's knee and left the impressive "war wound" scar. During that surgery, it was discovered that Ben had significant infection inside the cavity of his right femur; bacteria had been tirelessly mounting an assault that led to the infection being under pressure. As a result, about two dozen small holes had to be drilled into the bone, and some bone removed, in order to relieve the pressure; apparently the layman's term for this is "Swiss-cheesing"--well, at least that helped us to understand the surgery a little better.

Today's x-ray showed that not only have all the holes filled in completely, but a "callous" of new bone tissue has formed on the inward side of the knee. Ben's growth plates are not quite closed up, giving him a small ray of hope that he may gain a little more stature before he is completely done growing...and birthday #18 comes up next week!

All of this is cause for much gratitude on our parts--not only to the Great Physician, but also to the many who prayed so faithfully for Ben's healing.

More surprising to the doctor and physician's assistant was the news that Ben has been on no insulin at all for about 10 days now. [His type 1 diabetes diagnosis came the first week of January.] His glucometer reading this evening was 93.

Dr. GB: "Wow, that is just amazing...*head shake*...Ben that is great...you are a lucky guy. You guys made my whole day."

Well, we always like to be of service...but we know that Someone else is behind all that has happened to Ben.

At this point, Ben seems to think that the expired need for insulin is due to his pancreas "just rebooting itself," since the diabetes seems to have been precipitated by the MSSA infection. That is one way to look at it.

But, I heard myself telling a friend on the phone a couple of days ago, that if the end result of this odyssey is Ben (and the rest of us) seeing, undeniably, God's involvement in his life, it will have been worth it all. OK, that's easy to say.

Yet, I really believe that.

I try to more consistently take the eternal perspective on everything.

Anything that leads to a person's authentic surrender to Christ, at whatever cost, is worth it. I say this to Ben, and at nearly 18 years old, that is too much of a stretch for him. [Although, unlike many of his peers, as a result of his illness, I think he knows he is not invincible.]

But it's only the truth. This life is a vapor...what we do in mortal life really matters. What we do with Christ determines our ultimate destination.

But I try to keep in mind that it's the prelude.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Miss Cee's School of Consumer Economics

Ah, and you thought Miss Cee’s Scope and Sequence was limited to the sphere of domestic management! Think again, gentle readers…

Armed without a federal stimulus check, the intrepid Holliday Clan [sans patriarch] set forth this noon to do our part for the stuttering retail economy. Destination: Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, once billed as the largest shopping mall under one roof…but that, of course, was in the Previous Century.

But, no matter. Your Faithful Correspondent had been hoarding Christmas and birthday mad money with the aim of purchasing a Brighton watch. I hesitate to admit that I even had spent an unseemly amount of time surfing their website to study various watch styles.

I was on a mission. As were my Spending Associates. This was a maiden voyage to one of the bastions of consumer craving.

After a relatively quick search for a parking slot on the Macy’s side of the complex, [in a former life, I worked as a security checker at the erstwhile Marshall Field’s department story and, since that time, have used that location as a lodestar to find my vehicle in the acres of parking lot there], we quickly reviewed Appropriate Mall Behavior and sallied forth.

There was a time when I truly enjoyed the atmosphere and tempo of shopping malls. But that sentiment has faded; whether the reason is my advancing age, the dizzying changes in popular society all too clearly on display at malls, or a combination of the two, I’m not sure.

But the human scenery can be vaguely depressing: first, there are the roaming packs of Disaffected Youth, shuffling about with jeans precariously hanging below their “sitters;” no, it is no treat to me to see your underwear. Just when I think I’ve seen every possible body piercing, someone manages to push the envelope further. I am basically hardened to tattoo sleeves. Then there’s the pervasive “time lapse” sociology lesson: clumps of nubile females spilling out of their clothes and peering out from Cleopatra eyeliner…and soon to pass by are any number of child-mothers with vulnerable looking infants in tow. It’s all old news, but it never seems to get happier, no matter how “normalized” some would have it be.

But, I digress.

Once in the vast mall forecourt, we began traversing the catwalks. A familiar yellow sign beckoned: LEGO! There was no turning back…the Lego construction possibilities still amaze me. But the Hollidayettes were more absorbed with the new Sponge Bob Square Pants play sets. Did you know you can build a Krusty Krab restaurant out of Legos? Well, now you do.

Miss Cee promptly clamped her busy pink hand around a few Lego keychains [“I found all the girl ones, Mommy!”] and declared herself sated.

For Sir John, things were a bit more problematical. There was a noticeable gap between the amount of greenbacks in his trusty wallet and the sticker prices of the most desirable Lego sets. How was he to know we would stumble upon a Lego emporium today when he plunked down $3.50 for an ice cream sandwich from the ice cream truck five days ago? But money spent is money gone: Consumer Economics 100.

Ben, Alina, and I tried in vain to steer him toward the smaller Lego sets still in his price range or to suggest he begin his birthday and Christmas wishlists while he had The Goods before him. But, he would not be consoled or condoled with. The eyebrows knitted together and the dark, face-sized cloud descended.

Some time later, we had accomplished a successful foray to Brighton Collectibles and enjoyed a sit-down lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. It was time to check off another destination on our To Go list.

As an aside, today’s field trip yielded unexpected educational benefits; aside from the obvious economics lessons, there were several opportunities to read maps and exercise spatial orientation…neither of which is among my strong suits.

On to Game Stop. In my limited experience, these stores are completely interchangeable regardless of the location. Same layout, same pierced sales associates (usually clad in black), same clusters of Transitional Males scoping the games. Well, some are “gamier” (excuse the pun) than others, but that’s a minor detail. Come to think of it, not always…

Planted in front of the racks of GameBoy DS games, John began making selections. I was willing to spot him a few bills, but not at the cost of compromising the economics lesson at hand. He hadn’t anticipated this wrinkle. Sheesh! What’s a guy to do?

Well, save your allowance, offer to do extra chores for mom or dad, exercise restraint when the ice cream Truck of Temptation tinkles down the street. Just sayin’. These pearls of wisdom went unappreciated.

Time for Contestant #2: “Mommy! Look up there! It’s a Littlest Pet Shop DS game!!! Can you see it!” Yup, $29.99. Crestfallen, she peered into her wallet. “Is that this much?” Um, no.

Ben and Alina exchanged Knowing Glances.

“But, but, that’s really, really the game I want.” Have I mentioned the concept of a wish list? “But my birthday is long away!” [Just-a-guess: this plea most probably would succeed with a grandparent…and perhaps will with me when I am Grandma Kathy. But today, no dice, baby.]

Alternative suggestion: how about looking at this case of Nintendo game cartridges that will work in your DS? They’re gently used and only $8 to $10. One eyebrow arched hopefully.

“Are there girl games?” A quick scan revealed a small handful of pink-labeled offerings. She narrowed it down to “Barbie” and “Groovy Games.” Decisions, decisions. The moment of truth arrived as I summoned a friendly associate to the locked case. “Groovy Games” was the winner.

Now to belly up to the check-out station and open the pink, heart-spangled wallet.

“That will be $10.99 with tax.” We unscrunched the well-fingered singles, and I slipped in a couple of Georges…nine, ten, eleven. “Wait, all THAT?!,” she turned a baleful eye on the cashier.

Well, you DO get some change. You get a penny back! Eleven dollars minus ten dollars and 99 cents equals one cent.

“A PENNY?!?!?! For all those dollars I get one cent back?!” The cashier and I exchange Knowing Glances.

“This is part of your spending lesson, Cecily.” The Eeyore-Formerly-Known-As-John had no sympathy to extend.

“Here’s your penny, Miss. Don’t spend it all in one place!”

"Well, You Don't See THAT Every Day..."

Mere minutes ago, the Hollidayettes and I arrived home from our day trip into the congestion of suburbia. I have traversed the ribbon of pavement, officially known as I-90, countless times, and seen a few anomalies in my time. But today’s sighting was singular.

Having left the outer edge of Elgin behind us, we were settling into a reasonable spell of cruise control, keeping alert for the last-second lane changers before and aft. We had just assumed a comfy cushion of space around us, when I had to press the “Coast” button on the steering column. Directly ahead was a red Neon which seemed intent on exploring both sides of his lane—constantly.

I slowed further to keep my distance. Traffic became stop and go, but he didn’t seem to notice when it resumed. I held my breath as I watched the vehicle behind me suddenly grow larger and larger in my rearview mirror. I was about to honk at this ne’er-do-well when he apparently “came to.” After almost 15 minutes of this, I was losing patience. I-90 at 5:10 pm on a weekday is no venue for a joy ride. What the heck?

I began voicing my surmises to Ben before noticing he was dozing beside me with his earbuds firmly inserted.

What were the possibilities?

… a couple of teenagers distracted with any number of behaviors completely unrelated to operating a motor vehicle?

… a driver even older than myself, having trouble with the power steering?

… an executive type fiddling with her GPS?

… an unfocused driver (it pains me to suggest it, but perhaps a female) blathering into her cell phone?

You know how this goes…curiosity eventually gets the better of us and as soon as there is room in the left-hand lane, we maneuver over and pull up to take a gander at this interstate hazard. No GPS; no female; not even any teenagers in evidence.

Nope; it was a 30-ish looking man shaving [more effectively than he was driving] in his rearview mirror. And it looked to be with a hand razor. Ben opened one eye and then sat upright. We exchanged incredulous and alarmed glances.

It is probably too much to hope that Mr. Neon Shaver was caught on a radar cam.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Spinning

Every morning we get up, and the world is still spinning. Spinning through time toward eternity. But on the way, the whole surface--I suspect-- is covered with great clamor…and I daresay that most of it savors of some sort of human distress…even if the end result is a new life coming forth to breathe the air of earth, or the final departure of one whose life is spent, there is constant change and stress, accompanied by the challenge to cope.

Just this morning I learned through an e-mailed prayer request that a group of young people ascending a mountain near Kathmandu are in urgent need…one is experiencing altitude sickness and needs to be airlifted down.

Another e-mail described to me the storybook proposal of a friend’s son to his sweetheart—rose petals and a park gazebo figured prominently…I hope to see some photos. I remember this young man as a spunky towhead with a ready smile, not so long ago.

Each of us has our own heart concerns…of various “flavors” and urgencies…the sheer scope and weight would be too much for any one of us to absorb. I have my own, and you have yours.

I remind myself again that, in the words of T.S. Eliot, “He is the still point of the turning world.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sales Assistant-NOT!

Bon Soir, gentle readers-

Today is the first day of my biannual garage sale...and we are appropriately tired, but our cashbox is noticeably heavier.

I have several "unique" observations about this whole endeavor, but those will have to wait until the energy meter needle is not in the 'red zone.'

Tonight, I will limit myself to Today's Hard-Won Life Lesson:

* Think a few hundred times before allowing any strong-willed offspring to "assist" [and I use the term VERY loosely] at any effort aimed at earning the CHC* (cold hard cash).

Whatever could I mean?

Well, despite "pre-activity encouragement" about proper "sales floor" behavior, the following are a few slice-of-life snippets...freshly baked today-a.k.a. Little Miss Caesar, raw and uncut, all in an embarrassingly too-loud voice:

* "Mommy, look, I think that lady must be a grandma--at LEAST a grandma!"

* "Well, why aren't they even buying anything?!?!" [my restraining hand was extended in the nick of time to halt her pursuit...]

* "Look! Here comes that one lady again-I hope she has her money."

* "Hey! That lady is buying everything--she's selling us out!!! Why is she doing that? That Littlest Pet Shop was supposed to be MINE!"

Well, you get the drift...it is never dull. And, even in the moment, I realize these little quotable quotes will be humorous as soon as the real-time embarrassment has dimmed. Thankfully, some of the older patrons today seemed a bit hard of hearing.

However, that was of no comfort when I turned to see Miss Cee merrily zipping around the garage, piling sale items into a toy shopping cart...and strolling away.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What the Numbers Tell...

Although it's questionable to assert that I have much of a "left brain," [or at least that it is fully developed], I do understand the usefulness, precision, and economy of numerical data.

"It is what it is," is nowhere more applicable than in the world of measurement and calculation. As with any other data, numbers provide information; they efficiently express quantity, results, implications, and the like. When they refer to some part of human experience, they tell a tale...good, bad, indifferent...

But my number story today has to do with our son, Ben. Those of you who followed our family's odyssey this past winter on Ben's carepages.blog [BenHollidayRunner] know that for several weeks, the numbers that resulted from all manner of medical tests on Ben told a scary and (thankfully) unanticipated tale. There were numbers that revealed his body was being assaulted by a powerful bacterial infection (MSSA); numbers that told us his blood chemistry was dangerously abnormal; numbers that revealed his kidneys had shut down, and that his lungs could not properly oxygenate his blood due to bilateral pneumonia. Numbers that specified medication dosing; how much longer What needed to be infused When....and how many staples closed up the third knee surgery. There's more, but I am repressing most of that...(a tried-and-true, if not exactly optimal coping mechanism).

Last, and perhaps least welcome, because of it's long-range implications, was the number that told us Ben's blood glucose was far, far above normal...necessitating a second hospital admission this past January and the introduction to the "Uninvited Guest," diabetes mellitus 1 [DM1].

All of the foregoing did little (well, nothing!) to endear the realm of numbers to Your Faithful Correspondent. But, as with many stories, numbers can detail not only the onset of a crisis, but also its prayed-for resolution. The number of chapters in the story, and whether there is an epilogue or a Volume II, etc., are determined only by living through it all, day by day, and sometimes, hour by hour. [No "Cliff Notes," no turning to the back of the book.]

This status report focuses on some happier--in fact--conventionally inexplicable Ben Numbers.

When Ben was diagnosed with DM1 during the first week of January, it was the result of a home health visit that included some routine blood work; one of the blood levels numbers was not routine...a glucose reading of 590, almost 6x what was anticipated. When Ben was discharged from the hospital the second time, as a newly diagnosed diabetic freshly introduced to glucometers, lancets, and insulin pens, he was injecting somewhere between 30 and 40 units of Lantus insulin nightly, as well as day-time Humalog insulin to "cover" the carbs he ate for meals and snacks.

Since diagnosing Ben, his doctor has managed the diabetes by means of a 'sliding scale' to calculate the number of insulin units needed, based on his gluco-check numbers (rather than counting carbohydrates, etc.). To our surprise and delight, Ben has not required any Humalog injections since Feb. 1st. His daytime gluco-checks have stayed consistently within the normal range.

And as time goes by, his nighttime Lantus requirements have also diminished consistently. Now, six months on, Ben has been administering 3 to 4 units of insulin at bedtime. This does not count the occasional times when the insulin pen didn't make it out of the case at all. [A troublesome tangent intersects our story line here, having to do with 'memory failure' and some snippets of deliberate patient non-compliance, but that is a tale for another time.]

Selected data from the past several days' Number Storyline has continued to show a downward trend:

20 July Blood Glucose (BG): 79 Units Insulin: 5

21 July BG: 122 Units: 4

23 July BG: 92 Units: 3

25 July BG: 118 Units: 0

26 July BG: 103 Units: 2


For us, this number story is beguilingly happy. We don't understand it, but we're grateful for it. Perhaps the most-asked, and often frustratingly unanswerable question in life, as well as in medicine, is "Why?

I learn repeatedly that this is often not a question to "camp on." Acknowledgement, Acceptance, and Moving On will keep one busy enough.

And, I've noticed, that I don't mind not knowing Why nearly so much when the context is positive rather than negative...the old chestnut about 'not looking a gift horse in the mouth' comes to mind.

On the frosty January afternoon when the endocrinologist patiently and compassionately explained this new dimension of life to the three of us, we asked if this would be a lifelong condition. Asking anyone to project into the future steps past literal human ability, and the doctor freely acknowledged this; we were trying to regain our emotional bearings. But the real answers are the province of God.

"I can dream," the doctor smiled. "But for now, I must look at the numbers we have before us."

At Ben's regularly scheduled check-ups, the glucometer readings have been a source of interest and information, but not blatant consternation. What will tomorrow's gluco-checks tell? We'll know when we get there.

In the meantime, a dear friend mentioned some weeks ago that her husband, a logical, objective, and kind-hearted soul, saw no reason not to pray for Ben's diabetes to be completely healed, and so has been praying to that end for some time now. Whether you connect any dots between this work of prayer and the digital data Ben obtains depends on whether you choose to look through the lens of faith.

I choose to...and I also do my best to remember Who I'm talking to when I pray. Maintaining that focus helps keep me from assuming or demanding or whining. The 'story of the numbers' seems to reveal what He thinks about it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Junior Mints: A Cautionary Tale

We live in a dangerous world.

Sticky dilemmas lurk where one would least expect. Never mind the ceaseless tidings of ill that issue from every broadcast outlet, internet link, or newstand. We have now reached an unprecedented state of affairs in which the previously innocuous cannot be presumed to be safe.

Not that I am seeking to incite mass paranoia...but ratcheting up the personal radar may not be a bad thing. Especially if personal dignity is of any value to you...

To wit:

Yesterday afternoon, we were invited to join some friends to take in a matinee at the local multiplex. [Sandra Bullock's new film, "The Proposal"--now on my Recommended List for light comedy]

Now, I am of the persuasion that it is advisable not to take life's treasures for granted...and I endeavor, from time to time, to assist my husband in this noble pursuit, as well. Presuming and assuming can quickly degrade into an ugly habit, and I try to head this off at the pass, so to speak, when it comes to mind.

Thus, after the occasional Certifiable Dinner Date (requirements: adults only, off-site venue, no fast food, no remote controls or media screens, wait staff, ...well, you get the idea), I do my best to offer verbal cues as the old minivan-chariot groans into the garage.

"Thank you for a lovely dinner. I think it might be alright for you to call me again," I intone.

Or, alternatively, should he be a step ahead, the exchange might go like this:

He: "May I call you again?"

Me: [Any of various appropriate responses, according to my lunar whim]: "That would be lovely;" "I'll think about it and let you know;" "I'm afraid my social calendar is chock-full for the foreseeable future, but don't lose heart;" "Shall we set it up now?", etc.

Admittedly, some might view such efforts as pathetic attempts to recapture long-gone memories of youthful courtship, or perhaps even psychotic breaks with reality. Afterall, anniversary #27 looms in four short months. However, I espouse (pun intended) a broad array of techniques to fan the flames of Continued Fascination and Humor for old married couples such as ourselves.

Hence, yesterday's stroll into the cinema lobby, redolant with the aroma of popcorn and Totally Synthetic Butter-Flavored Powder of a color Not Found in Nature, evoked memorable images of dates gone by. Times when I had only to ask, and the requested desire was soon in my hand. Hmmmm....

Me: "Do you remember when you used to get me a box of Junior Mints when we went to the show...you know the big movie-size box that you can only get at the movie theater?"

He: "Yes...."

Me: [hopeful half-smile, raised eyebrows, eyes darting between his and the candy counter, only a few steps away...Subtle is my middle name.]

He: [Sigh!]
This stuff is SO overpriced...

The message is successfully transmitted and received; soon the familiar white, green and brown box is safely in my grasp as we settle into our seats. Try as I might to share the minty gems with my seatmates, it seemed everyone else is fully engaged with their popcorn. The entire Junior Mint stash is mine, all mine! [Note to self: Junior Mints at the grocery store or on dusty shelves at video rental outlets are invariably firm; overly firm; perhaps even...Old. While Junior Mints purchased from a harried teenage behind the counter at the multiplex are soft, fresh, delectable.]

However, on this occasion, even my appetite for the adorable minty nuggets was exceeded by the unshared supply.
Result: leftovers.
Quick mental assessment: bring the box in the house and prepare for the inevitable Offspring Assault and Sibling Skirmish. Or, just tuck the box back into the dashboard slot under the CD player.
No brainer!

But, as I'm increasing discovering as the years accumulate, things that once Seemed So Simple can acquire, almost overnight!, a new Dimension of Complication...

Fast forward to this morning: after literally weeks of coaxing, cajoling, threatening, and giving up, I found myself this morning actually driving Miss Cee to Summerama daycamp at church..."...just for one week! You may actually like it! And it will impossible for you to bicker and fight with your brother since he will be, like, three miles away!! What's not to like?!?!"

This, after four pre-dawn pleas for amnesty, the last one replete with quivering lip and an actual tear.

Genius stroke! "Cecily...would you like some Junior Mints for your lunch bag?!?!" [twinkle, twinkle]

In the rearview mirror, one small eyebrow arches. "You have Junior Mints HERE, Mommy?"

The box is displayed and rattled affirmatively. "Can I have more than one?"

SURE! Take as many as you want!! But, you can't eat them until lunchtime, which means you have to stay at camp until lunchtime, which you'll want to do, since you'll be having so much fun...and you won't believe how quickly the time goes....Junior Mints to the rescue!!

A short time later, we are inside, filling out insurance waiver cards, submitting a registration form and scholarship certificate (all those Awana memory sections added up to a nice perq!) and searching for a friendly little friend-face.

"But, Mommy, can you stay here?"
For how long?
"Until I tell you."

I take up my post leaning against the wall behind the huddled masses. A small, familiar face turns to verify my presence several times; a short time later, large blue eyes peer into mine.

"You can go home now, Mom....Mom, GO!"

I think this might be appropriate as an epitaph on my headstone...but, I digress.

Now, gentle readers, comes the Junior Mint Caveat:

In the brief time that I was inside the church, registering, reassuring, and being dismissed, the temperature in my parked car rose precipitously.

High heat + Junior Mints = A Sticky Situation

As I rumbled out of the parking lot, the solution was obvious: shake free the partially melted minty nuggets inside the box and pour them directly into my hot, dry mouth at the next red light.

It SOUNDED so easy....

Alas, any motorists near enough to peer inside my vehicle were treated to the following spectacle. The rectangular opening of the Junior Mints box did not remotely approximate the size or shape of my mouth. With one eye on the road and the other obstructed by a flap on the famous white, green, and brown box, I attempted to tap the semi-molten mass free from the cardboard interior.

Success eluded me. Undaunted, I fastened the top of the box shut, inverted it, and tried approaching the problem from the other end. Ah, that's the ticket! The ticket to a veritable avalanche of giddy, semi-melted Junior Mints cascading down the steering column and bouncing under the accelerator, while a few rogues wedged themselves in my lap.

Not only do Junior Mints have an inconveniently low melting point, but experience has shown me that they do not hesitate to stain clothing.

When next we see our hapless driver, she appears to be averting her glance and digging down between her legs to snatch up small chocolate disks and discard them into her mouth. But the more frantically she proceeds, the more quickly the pesky mints roll beneath her and into the upholstery! The car lurches forward as she simltaneously applies the brake and lifts herself from the seat in a vain attempt to avoid smushing another Junior Mint into the driver's seat! Sure hope no one recognizes me!! Gack!!

Not soon enough, I pull up into the driveway, turn off the ignition, and ring down the garage door-curtain on this sorry spectacle. No family members are in evidence as I slink into the house. This all COULD have been worse...

But, something seems to be stuck to my backside as I step up into the kitchen...something round, sticky, and minty...