Tuesday, January 1, 2019


So, in addition to many other goals I'm going to try to achieve very soon, I recently assigned myself the task of posting a new blog entry.

The entry was supposed to be about Christmas. The problem is that I waited too long, and by the time I gave myself that job, I was already enmeshed in the foggy funk that envelops me every year around Thanksgiving and beyond. I've already written in this blog about how I'm not a fan of Christmas in America. Phony joy, pretenses of shiny happy families, fake pine wreaths showing up in stores right next to skeleton decor (hence in September), Jesus-deniers and even haters lustily singing carols and hymns without a thought as to the words they're uttering, not to mention commercialism and materialism run amock... It depresses the hell out of me. How can I write anything other than negative vitriol when I'm deep in the grim throes of my holiday bleakness? I can't.

So I'm not writing about that. I'm going to write about patterns. By doing so, I'm still sort of writing about Christmas. And I can tackle that now, because we're well out from under the last gift exchange, the final car trip, the culmination of shopping and listing and preparing and cooking and eating and wrapping. Honestly, I had a nice holiday! I really did. But now the tune has changed because we've successfully reached a new year; my spirit is lighter, I begin to sing with real enthusiasm, and by the time we dismantle the tree, I'll be genuinely smiling in spite of the fact that Christmas has been hijacked yet again by some strange force that has very little to do with what it claims to represent. It's okay. I can take it. The important part is Emmanuel. I can celebrate that every day, because Jesus isn't just "God with us" on December 25. We get Him every day! That is truly good news.

But back to patterns... I'm coming to the conclusion that most of humanity is rather lazy. It's easier to be an imitator instead of an innovator. Much less effort is involved when following others, simply falling into line without questioning things like purpose or destination. When people are ridiculously busy and distracted, it requires so little effort to resign oneself to the bovine course of action. To top it off, we love comfort--not just cushy easy chairs, but also the comfort of familiarity. When the same situations arise and end the same way, when people we know behave in the expected manners, we might hate every minute of it but also feel comforted because the scene fits our expectations.

This truth, that humans prefer simple-minded thoughtlessness and familiarity, is clear to me on a personal, familial, nationwide, even global scale. It's everywhere. The same things keep happening, over and over, through homes and seasons and civilizations and--yep, here it is--during holidays. We call them traditions. Sometimes, I wonder whether they should be called traps.

It's not easy to react differently in familiar circumstances. I'd add that I suspect most of us don't realize that we are behaving predictably; many are unable to discern a pattern, particularly our own patterns of behavior, even when they're pointed out to us by others. No one wants to believe that they're predictable, that they tend toward emotional laziness, that they're unoriginal or through long-standing behaviors are contributing to a well-established (dare I say generational?) problem. Most of us cling to the hope that we're "different."

By and large, though, humans are not different. It's hard to be different. (And people wonder why I'm so gloomy. It's in my blood. I could do this all day.)

So what's my point?

I'm going to claim 2019 as my year to break some unhealthy patterns. I need to spot them, in myself and those around me, in situations that involve me, and then I need to cease protocol and behave or react differently. Sometimes that will mean not reacting at all. (This is where you recite to yourself that tidy little verse about knowing the difference between what you can and cannot change, yada yada yada...)

Do you have some unhealthy patterns in your mind? In your family? Your life? Would you care to join me in trying to identify them, and then change the pattern for the better? What a worthy pursuit! If we succeed in just one pattern shift, 2019 will be a better year than the last. What do you have to lose?

Monday, April 16, 2018

A new shtick

Remember how I said I needed one? Well, here it is!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Re-redux on waste, tech, convenience, yada yada

I've been absent so long from my poor Melmoirs, and the guilt has been heavy upon me... I keep writing posts in my mind. This last one that has yet to be properly composed is all about the young lady who ran into me a few weeks ago, because although she had a stop sign and I did not, her GPS was instructing her to turn left—so she did, right into my driver's side front bumper.

But the point of that post would basically be how much control of our lives, and our minds, we have given up in order to have convenience-touting gadgets. I'd rant about how kids used to have to memorize things which (crazily enough) makes you better at remembering things, and how calculators and spell- and grammar-check have dumbed us down tremendously as a population.

And that would lead to my soapbox-ing about waste in our society, that not only are we spoiled and lazy and skill-less but now we throw so many things away that are perfectly good, or were never good for much to begin with...

Here's the problem. I have already written about all these things. When I searched my own blog for "convenience," I hit upon a surfeit of posts from years past that I almost recall penning... Posts like this, this, this, this, this, and this.

So, I'm not going to write that one again. It's been said, by me no less.

Should I be comforted by the fact that I am still so perturbed by the same things? Or disturbed that all the stuff I kvetched about years ago is even worse now?

I need a new shtick.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Post-holiday pondering

I might have already confessed here that I don't actually like Christmas very much.

It's over the top, every part of it. Too much spending, too much eating, too much cleaning, too much planning, too much driving, too many events in too short a time.

So, as my family knows, I try to play my role and then, when it's all over and the smoke has cleared, I grin like a cheshire cat.
It is what it is, and I am what I am.

However, after the debris has settled, I have time to really consider why we celebrate Christmas, albeit employing many pointless pagan rituals all the while.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
-1 John 4:9-10

So. The magnificence of this act is disguised in an infant, born in the most rough and humble way. One of us, in a body much like any of ours. Into a world where evil leaders were killing people who threatened them, and inns were overcrowded, and the poor people still had to work/herd on Christmas Day.

But—He was born. He lived among us. He lives among us yet. It's miraculous, and awe-inspiring, and wonderful.

It matters not what season the Savior was born; the day, the exact location needn't concern us. What matters is that He was, and He is.

I'm breathing in that truth this morning, reveling in it, resting in it. I survived Christmas, but most importantly? I have an eternity with Jesus to anticipate.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


As I sat down to breakfast this morning, I gazed with not a little wonder at the plate before me. It held one of my faves: egg-in-the-hole. Yes, a piece of wheat bread with a hole ripped in the middle and a lovely egg resting inside the empty space. Atop it were leftover roasted autumn veggies, tiny potatoes and Brussel sprouts, a few pepper slices, some hunks of carrot... Can you picture it? And then, the crowning jewel atop the veg—a sardine.

Scrumptious, yes? Aren't you jealous?

If you aren't, I won't take it personally. If you'd told me 30 years ago that I'd look upon this as a desirable dish, I would have laughed. I couldn't imagine eating something so savory and unsweet at that point in my life. It was beyond comprehension. I still inhaled ice cream most days, drank sweet tea, scarfed down Ho-Hos for lunch. I distinctly recall my splurge in college being Hostess brand raspberry-coconut coated Zingers.

(Not to say I wouldn't still enjoy those on a daily basis today. I mean, come on—those things are amazing.)

But thanks to sugar issues, changing metabolic rates, middle age, and a more sedentary lifestyle, I was forced to become much more health-conscious in the past decade, and it's been good for me. I've become a better and more creative cook, I've learned much more about our food supply, I actively seeking homegrown and local options for the kitchen... And my palate has expanded exponentially. As it should, since I'm a reluctant grownup now.

I described my breakfast meal only to preface the point of this post—that being, we as humans have an incredible capacity for change through growth. Most of us are constantly changing, and often not by choice; sometimes, however, through limitations or fear of consequences, the changes make us better people.

I've gotten better at budgets because of times when we lacked. I've grown more active lately because of the adopted dog who needs activity. Would I have chosen to go through tight financial periods? Heck, no. It was rough. But I'm wiser now because of it, and I have more faith in God's provision. Would I have picked out a high-energy dog intentionally so I'd be forced to exercise? Good grief, no—I wasn't eyeballing the purse-fitting dogs or anything, but I would likely have gravitated to a couch-loving breed of small beast, and we would probably have grown chubbier together... God knew I didn't need more relaxation.

So, what's the point? I guess what I'm saying is it's increasingly clear to me that what initially looks like suffering or denial will, in most cases, end up being a doorway to a good place that I would never have discovered otherwise.

And the big picture? We have the ability to be altered. We are capable of falling into bad habits, but equally capable of teaching ourselves (or being forced to learn) new, better habits. Our beliefs can shift, our behaviors can change, we can improve. We don't have to let life happen to us.

Isn't that empowering?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

if only I woof known, I'd have done this sooner

So, it turns out I might not need to maintain that fitness club membership. It served its purpose, got me moving, helped me loosen up the bad knee—but what I really needed? An active dog.

We recently adopted a female Vizsla. She came from friends, so it wasn't a completely clueless adoption; we had met the dog several times, had even spent a few days with her when we visited with said friends after Christmas last year. However. I still had some reservations. This type of dog is a particularly energetic breed known for running all day and hunting to exhaustion.

A high-energy, boundless beast? Probably not what I would have chosen for our family. I was thinking of something small, harmless, fuzzy and lazy.

And yet, the plan had been laid; after much preparation and many texted Q&A sessions between the previous owners and us, we brought the dog home. She was confused, we were confused, the already-tiny house suddenly seemed to shrink by half... What had we done? The dog alternately fetched a newly purchased squeaker ball and paced, barked at us a bit, quivered with fear the first night, and seemed generally lonely and depressed. I had doubts, my husband tried to assuage them, and our son watched it all with raised eyebrows.

Fast forward three-and-a-half weeks, and we are all adjusting rather nicely.

She's a lovely girl, well-behaved, polite, unbelievably pretty, and extremely expressive. Her light brown eyes can convey an expansive array of feelings, she accepts a biscuit in the dainty fashion of a fine lady, and we are all three of us completely smitten. The energy level is there, no doubt about it—but heck, we needed some shaking up, right? Who wants to sit around and do nothing? I've been outside more than normal, have been back in the woods and on farms, have smiled more, and have solemnly pondered life and the world much less. Pros, all of those things.

And the timing? Perfect. My son is old enough to help care for her. She gives our little family something else to hug, a warm wriggly body when I want to snuggle my son and he wants only to be left alone. And when he needs comforting or feels cuddly but doesn't want to compromise his newly discovered independence from his overly affectionate parents? There's the dog, begging for a belly rub.

Isn't it funny—and wonderful—how God gives you what you need? Even when it wasn't what you asked for, He knows best.

So, it's been an eventful month at our little homestead. Blessings abound. I have always believed that animal companions lend much warmth to a home, but this darling dog has exceeded my expectations pleasantly.

P.S. Learned the hard way to proactively repel ticks. On her and on us. Also? She's going to cost us a fortune in food, toys, and various accoutrements. Oh, well. I'll get back the fitness club fee, I suppose...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Going back on my word

I don't like to do that, truly—to go back on my word. Say what you mean, mean what you say, or shut up was my phrase of choice for years. Many times, however, I fail to adhere to my own mantra. Thankfully, if I've learned little else, I am finally figuring out that I should never say never... unless I want to end up doing exactly what I swore I wouldn't do. We little humans preach and predict, and God smiles gently and then proceeds to completely rearrange every detail of our lives. He likes to keep us on our toes, I suppose.

I was never going to have kids. (Yeah, I have one.) I was never going to teach again. (Although I'm not currently instructing, I did end up teaching Sunday school after that brash promise to myself.) We were never going to buy another small house... and our current dwelling is the smallest yet (although I do console myself by oft and silently by chanting Location, Location, location).

And I was never, ever going to become one of those smug, smarmy, fitness-in-your-face folks who belonged to a gym. No way. I had the whole world around me, and I could walk and jog and run errands at top speed and that was the only workout I needed, thank you very much. As IF I would pay someone to go tread on a mill with tens of other people, staring sightlessly alongside my treading companions, all of us going nowhere. So silly, thought I.

And then, my metabolism tanked. And doing what I had always done was no longer sufficient. I was forced to up my game, to be more intentional about taking more steps and taking them more quickly. And it seemed to be working (albeit taking what felt like aeons...)

Then? The knees. Especially the left knee, that troublesome bugger. The hands-in-pockets fall I took a few years back must have caught up with me. Suddenly, I found myself gimping around like an old woman, moving at half my normal speed, avoiding stairs, excusing myself from long walks, putting off laundry (washer/dryer in basement, you see). My heart went out to all the people I know who suffer chronic pain combined with weight problems. In a matter of a weeks, it all made sense to me, and new compassion was born.

But I'm not old enough to have these issues! Maybe, thought I, if I found a swimming pool, I could do aqua exercises to loosen the bad knee and rebuild strength lost during my gimp season... But the nice community center with a pool that is nearest me was private, thus expensive. And it was only January; waiting many more months for hot weather, all the time watching my weight creep higher, was not an option.

So I ended up at one of the biggies: one of those clubs that have multiple branches in every major American city. Happily, I chanced to stop in one day before the no-initiation-fee special kicked off. I joined, and after convincing the trainer that I was not willing to pay beaucoup bucks to become a professional bodybuilder, I did begin attending water aerobics. And that helped, a bit.

The whole club culture cracks me up, though. I spent the first few visits just looking around me, watching, waiting for someone to figure out that I was a complete poser. I knew nothing about the machines, I didn't have a lock for my locker, I was worried whether people were watching me get dressed, I felt awkward because I was the youngest person in the water class... I got over all of it. No one is paying attention to me—they're too busy worrying about themselves, watching the big TVs in front of the treadmills, checking out their biceps in one of the countless mirrors, making sure they're wiping the equipment before they use it (because, you know—other people's sweat). The club even has its own soundtrack, every song thumping a beat and featuring often suggestive lyrics... Boom, boom, boom...

And I said I would never join a club. Pshaw.

Anyway, I worked, I rode, I tried. And not much happened. The workouts became a bit easier, and I started having an easier time in general keeping up with the routine, stepping up my speed on the bike... But the knee pain stayed. Some days, it got worse. So, after a clear x-ray, and an unrevealing MRI, I went back on my word yet AGAIN and agreed to a cortisone shot.

WOW!!! That works! I'm back, baby, jogging up steps again, keeping up with laundry, feeling like I should at my age. It's incredible.

But I'm still at the club. Turns out it's not so silly after all. I'm pals with a couple of ladies in their 80s, and I bumped into a neighbor a couple of weeks ago who says she's been coming there for years. I think I'm a tad better at blending in these days. I've even dropped a couple of pounds at last.

My advice to you? Swear you won't do something only if you really want to do it. The Big Man is listening; He might even be smirking.