Another 8 a.m. lesson

My friends and I went camping on Assateague Island for my friend’s 21st birthday.

We camped in the State Park area, which was blooming with dune goldenrod (which is unusual), and teeming with people (as it is all season).

We strolled the beach as the setting sun tainted the cloud-filled sky with a hundred hues, roasted hotdogs over a smoky fire,

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wrapped up in blankets and laid on the beach to star gaze and watch the moon rise orangely over the water, snored all night in the tent like a pile of cats, and woke up with the first bird calls to watch the sunrise on the beach.

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And then….

the ponies came.

It was cute and kind of funny, really, to see 4 little docile frames trotting through a half-asleep campground, nosing at shrubs and tendrils of grass as if they had just been let out to pasture for the day–as if they never even noticed the entourage of 9-year-olds on bikes behind them, or the sleep-disheveled lady on her way to the bathhouse who stopped and ran back to take their picture.

It was funny to see them nose into the doorway of a neighboring camper’s tent and rummage through the contents of a Styrofoam cooler which was too weak to withstand their practiced ransacking.

My friends laughed, and as a joke we took pictures of them in the  background as we settled down to our long-awaited breakfast, prepared to watch the saga continue to unfold.

And then they turned our way.

Noses down, steadily they came towards us, but we knew what was up. My friends and I gazed longingly at our half-eaten breakfasts on the table, knowing we had to follow park rules and give the ponies a 10-foot wake.

“Don’t worry, guys. I got this.” I boldly stated, and walked towards them commandingly, waving and clapping my hands.

Noses down, they steadily advanced past me, eyes zeroed in on our breakfast.

“Never mind. HIDE THE FOOD!” I screeched, desperately swooping up what I could reach. And then I leaned against the car and laughed.

It was chaos.

One of my friends was grabbing the last cinnamon buns out of reach of the hungry jaws, one was taking pictures and one was literally wrestling a hot dog skewer out of a pony’s mouth.

With the innocence of a dove, Assateague’s native ponies had effortlessly taken over our picnic table, where a very pleasant breakfast HAD been taking place not 4 minutes prior.

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What goes around, comes around.” They say.

“Do to others what you would prefer them to do to you.” Those are Jesus’ words.

Both a good thing to remember at 8 a.m.

That is, if you value your breakfast.

 

 

My Best Addiction

Now that you all know I’m addicted to gummy bears….. (and oh happy day, I got a whole 1-lb bag of them for my birthday) I gotta tell ya’ll about my FAVORITE addiction.

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The one I plug into when I get upset at my boss.

Or when I’m preparing to teach.

Or when I’m bored by a mindless task.

Or when I’m driving, sitting, chewing, moping, running, or staring for hours at a blank computer screen.

Pretty much, I plug in all the time. My father loves it. Tiny kiddos love it. Basically, a win no matter who you are.

Am I gonna tell you what it is? Ohhhh no. Watch it on YouTube HERE.

And join the stampede of audio/visual learners!

We’re happy to have you 🙂

(Oh yeah…. and it’s available on Audible for free, with a one-month free trial subscription. You’re welcome.)

48 Hours of Head-In-Sand Syndrome

I started a new job yesterday. The people are wonderful, but it was a hard day.

First days usually are.

I wanted to say and do all the right things, but it just didn’t work out that way. Sometimes self got in the way and sometimes my mind was just plain blank. And then I felt bad.

I couldn’t understand the baby. I thought she was saying “Go away!” when I put her to bed, so I went. It turns out she was saying “Do, Re.” which meant she wanted me to sing another song.

I tried to iron some shirts, but the harder I pressed the iron against them, the lower the starboard end of the ironing board tipped towards the floor. To this day, I’m not certain how to get it to latch.

I tried to make dinner, but it took me 30 minutes to think of one last place where the potatos might be found.

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When I did make the soup, it looked like a watery mess. And when I walked out the door to go home, I realized that I hadn’t even tasted it.

Those poor people.

I went to a Bible Study to learn about proper financial management, and instead managed to disrupt everyone within 3 rows of me.

I couldn’t help it that the teacher kept saying, “It doesn’t matter whose money the pocket is in….” Somehow it just struck my funny bone. I can’t even type it without laughing, which is probably a significant sign of my mental stability, or lack thereof. What really got me, though, was when a very diligent attempt at laughter suffocation turned into a snort-ish choke, and my sister had to leave the room before she lost her dignity as well.

Sigh…..

I did apologise to the teacher afterwards. He understands the fragility of women’s emotions. I’m very grateful for that.

Today I got gas.

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Yep, an entire $5.00 worth.

I was very embarassed to hand the clerk a crumpled bill and say, “Put this on pump #2, please.” I tried to say it with a dignified air, but I really think the effort was lost because the clerk was distracted and embarrassed on levels beyond his present surroundings, and hardly saw me. How nice of him. 

I guess something from budgeting class stuck, because this afternoon I was determined to buy all of my  Wal-Mart groceries with only the sack of change I’d been collecting.

One thing that I think is incredibly cool about my local Wal-mart is the coin changer slot in the self checkout line. It looks like a mini version of the circular tray you’d see on a Coinstar machine, only there is no $0.09 charge per dollar. I think of my pennies and nickels as ‘non-money’ (how irresponsible, I know), so whenever I buy groceries with only this small change, I subconsciously think, “Woohoo! I’m practically getting this stuff for FREE!”

I trotted to the self checkout with full confidence, and scanned a bottle of Coke first. I had a coupon to get it free, but the machine wouldn’t accept it. I guess the dear clerk knew I wouldn’t want the Coke unless it was free, so she finally came over and helped me out after I’d scanned the bar code multiple times.

Next,  I started shoving fistfuls of pennies into the coin slot, but they all continued to fall right back out into the change dish. 2013-01-17_16-33-57_478The helpful clerk noticed my distress, and showed me how to feed the pennies in one by one. I managed a feeble laugh, and thought, “Well… maybe this isn’t so much like a Coinstar experience, after all.”

About five minutes into the one-penny-at-a-time process, two college students ambled up, and scrutinized my robot-like routine as if it was a self-help column. “See, this is what I was telling you about!”, the girl squealed.

The young man nodded to the affirmative, but soon seemed uncomfortable and wanted to talk to the clerk.

Finally, many minutes later, the screen read: Amount Due: 0.00. I staggered out of the store with my groceries, trying to avoid eye contact with any of my rather interested fellow-customers, who were doubtless quite tired of the monotonous clanking and groaning of my Coinstar-wannabe and quite possibly also wondering why I wasn’t on welfare.

When I stopped by a little store right down the road from my house on my way home, the clerk eyed me with an unmistakable mix of curiosity and concern. I think she was remembering the last time I came in, and my scandalous attire, and the scandalous behavior of my dog in the parking lot.

But today I smiled sweetly at her, and wryly reassured her in my mind, “Don’t worry. I won’t be performing any preposterous stunts today. I know my pride needs regular trimming, but I think the events of the past 48 hours have filled my quota quite sufficiently.

Sufficiently for THIS week, at least….”

On Hunting, Eardrums, and the Great Game-Creature Masquerade

There was a time when I was a fearless hunter.

I mean, club swinging cave-woman to the core.

At least, that’s what I was in my mind.

Until I took the proper hunter safety classes at Cabelas and an entirely new view of the gaming field unfolded before my youthful eyes. A view of wild creatures who possess x-ray vision and can smell fear 5 miles away, and of whole armies of hunters tumbling out of tree stands to their death or being speared by razor-sharp arrows or shooting themselves in the leg while trying to scale a fence. Our instructor had sinewy arms and a sack full of horror stories. He made a very distinct impression on my young mind. It was a rather scaring impression, to be honest.

My first target-shooting session sounded something like this.

Me: “My eardrums are gonna POP!!”

The Guys: “Don’t worry, they’ll be fine.”

Me: “This gun is heavy. I don’t know where the safety is.”

The Guys: “Umm, it’s sort of right in front of your nose…”

Me: “Oh. (Nervous laugh.)”

The Guys: “AGHHHH! Don’t point that towards me!!”

Me: “Sorry. (Gulps a big breath of air.) Here we gooo!”

Gun: KABLOOIE!!!

Me: “Woohoo, I hit the target!” (insert 3-minute dance.)

I can’t really say that the training made me into the fearless cave-woman hunter that I had been in my mind. But, I did get a big deer at 200-some yards the first day of hunting season. And I did give myself a nice scar by my left eyebrow.

Fast forward several weeks.

It was the beginning of January, and I still had tags to fill. Chunky flakes of snow fell gently to cover the earth’s flaws. It was a cold, crisp, grey sort of day and I’d just finished my normal 6:30 to 1:30 waitressing shift and was sitting down to a long awaited three-o’clock-ish dinner. That’s when my Father spotted them. A collection of brownish dots on the hillside across the valley.

DEER!

Before you could say Jack Sprat, I was Carhartt clad and in the valley, easing our trusty Chevy to a soundless stop several hundred feet from the trail which led up to cleared fields at the top of the hill.

I closed the truck door with the faintest click, and stalked cougar-like up the hill, Winchester 260 in the ready, all five senses doing double duty. Airy flakes of snow blew softly through the air around me, doing their best to diminish the intensity of the moment, and cushioning the sound of my footsteps quite graciously.

About halfway up the trail, I noticed several lines of tracks on the ground.

Snipe!

Ha, no, I really did know what they were.

“Hmm.” I thought, “These look fresh. And there are lots! I guess the snow is making all creatures seek better shelter.”

Stealthily, silently, I snaked my way up that last hill, setting each booted foot down gently as a falling leaf for fear my feet would squeak on the snow. Cresting the top of the last hill, I took an even firmer hold of my rifle and raised it in preparation to aim. Rounding that last corner on toes of air, every muscle tensed, I knew that if I spooked the herd, my chances of felling a deer would evaporate.

Step by step…

inch by inch…

I rounded the last corner, parted the bushes ever so slowly.

and there,

directly in front of me, was the glossiest, hugest, most UNCONCERNED…..

flock of turkeys I had ever seen. In my life.

My jaw dropped in complete shock. Turkeys?

TURKEYS!!!??!

What the baloney! Were these creatures some sort of where-deer, able to change shape at a moment’s notice? Where in the world were the deer? Was this a plot? WILD TURKEYS are not supposed to allow a human to sneak up this close to them. These deranged creatures were literally only 70  feet away.

Rewind back to my little hunter safety class.

One night we had studied turkeys. All about turkeys. We studied the colors of turkeys and the life habits of turkeys and the feeding cycle of turkeys and what you should avoid wearing in the woods so that other hunters would not mistake you for a turkey. It was quite overwhelming. But one thing amazed me. And that was the fact that turkeys have AMAZING senses of both vision and hearing. Just by turning their necks, they can gain a 360-degree field of vision. They can hear sounds that are made up to a mile away.

A MILE.

Whew. When I’m wearing a hat, I can’t even hear someone in the same room. I thought of all of this as I stared at the still-oblivious flock in front of me. What kind of unrighteous turkeys were these? Why in the world hadn’t they heard me coming? I wasn’t sure if I should be terribly proud of myself for stalking them so surreptitiously, or if I should feel utterly ridiculous for sneaking up on the wrong creature. I mean, the tracks were KIND of a big hint.

Sigh…..

I said “BOO!” to the turkeys and watched them squawk and fly, and then turned and trudged back down the hill, laughing to myself as my boot tracks over-marked the hundreds of turkey tracks on the trail.

I guess it just goes to show that what my Great-Aunt Thelhaminda always said is true. Over-confidence killed the cat.

Well, actually I just made that up.

And I never had a Great-Aunt Thelhaminda. But if she had existed, I think she would have had a point…..