Wednesday, June 26, 2013

'Preplanned' Packing

Call me sexist or a non-feminist or non-masculinist or whatever you want, but I firmly believe there are certain things women are better at than men: like childbirth.  

And I firmly believe there are certain things men are better at than woman: like using a urinal.

Under Women Only, I also list "packing." Under Men Only, I list "carrying luggage." With good reason.

Ten years ago, my sweet husband-to-be called to tell me that after our wedding he was taking me to a resort in Jamaica for our honeymoon.

When I asked what he'd packed, he said, "I'm still pre-planning it."

If I may digress for a moment...

People, what in God's green earth is "pre-planning"? Jay says it all the time. I don't mind Southern colloquialisms if they make sense. I've even been known to pepper my conversation with "y'all." It's quite useful as a plural second-person pronoun. But I can't wrap my brain around how one plans to make a plan! Or of what pre-planning consists since the minute one thinks, "I should pack shoes," then one is already planning.

Thank you for indulging me. Back to our story...

I suggested (whenever he got around to actually packing) that he include some nice clothes in case any of the restaurants at the resort had dress codes in the evening. He promised to do so.

Since we would spend most of our time on the beach located mere steps from our room, I brought (along with unmentionables) four bathing suits, three cover-ups, and several each of sundresses, t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and sandals. Oh, and a couple of dresses for the nicer restaurants. Jay grumbled a bit when he hefted my suitcase for the first time, but I wore nearly everything I brought.

The view from our room.
To the right was the beach, where we spent most of our time.
When we arrived at the resort, Jay opened his suitcase (which was significantly lighter than mine). He proudly showed me that it was filled with dress pants and button-down shirts. Even a few ties. It was wonderful of him to remember, and I appreciated how great he looked on the few nights we went out for fine dining.

Unfortunately, he'd also brought only one t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and one swimsuit.

For two weeks.

On the beach.

In Jamaica.

He finally relented and bought another t-shirt (of the overpriced, tourist variety), but he washed his swim trunks and shorts in the sink. 

For two weeks.

We still had a lovely honeymoon, but, based on that experience, when we went to visit family in another state, I considered it my wifely duty to check Jay's suitcase before we left home. 

He was highly offended. 

So, like good wife, I apologized.

"I'm really sorry, honey; I don't mean to be patronizing," I humbly confessed. "Yes, you are old enough to pack your own suitcase. I was way out of line. Please forgive me."

"I do," he graciously replied, mollified.

"...which is why," I added, "I won't mention that the only pair of socks and underwear you'll have for the entire trip are the ones you're wearing to the airport."

"What? You're kidding!" he exclaimed, digging through the suitcase in vain for a pair of buried undies or an overlooked sock.

"Not changing your boxers or socks the whole time might get a bit smelly," I added, "but since you also didn't pack deodorant, shampoo, or a toothbrush, I'm going to assume that you're not concerned with how you'll smell on this vacation."

"You're kidding," he groaned.

"But that's okay," I assured him, cheerfully. "I can work around it. Instead of having people to come to my parents' house to visit us, perhaps we can meet our friends and relatives at the zoo where your odor won't be obvious."

He laughed, shaking his head at his suitcase in disbelief.

"Or rendezvous at a fish-packing plant," I continued.

"I can't believe I didn't pack underwear," he muttered incredulously.

"Or arrange a stroll through a cow pasture," I suggested.

"Okay, okay," he admitted with a grin, "I can't pack.

"Or we could say," I proposed, "that we've always wanted to tour the city dump..."

"This is why I need a wife. Pack my suitcase for me. Please."

"I wish I could, honey," I answered, sadly. "But by the time I'm done pre-planning and then making a plan based on the pre-plan that I'd planned, I won't have time to pack."

Pre-planning definitely pays off--he has all he needs for at least a month.
Verse of the day: (I Peter 4:10) "Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."

P.S. As usual, this has been posted with Jay's approval. Yes, I did pack for him that day--and for every trip thereafter.

For another Jay story, check out She Said, He Heard. For a story about an unfortunate airport incident, read Our Trip was the Bomb.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Doggy Bags or Daddy Bags

My dad (for whom we can blame my sense of humor) wanted me to share this story on my blog because he thought it was funny. My reaction was a little different than his.

This post is for you, Daddy, in honor of Father's Day.

Jay (my husband), Caleb and Zoe (our dogs), and I visit my parents across the country at least once a year. On our last trip, one of my cousins took Jay and me out to lunch. Caleb is my Medical Alert dog, so he went to the restaurant with us, but Zoe (a little Bichon-mix) had to stay home. 

We ordered barbequed ribs. Delicious. I collected the fatty scraps, chopped them up, and put them in a "doggy bag" to dole out to my spoiled pups throughout the next week (to the Pet Police: we mix very small amounts with their dry food for flavor). I also packed up a ton of fries that we hadn't even touched.

Fat and half-chewed-on-meat for the dogs
After lunch, we stopped by my parents' house. I went in to tell my dad, "We're going to the cabin to watch a movie. I'll call you if we're going to be gone more than a couple of hours. Oh, and I brought food for you," I added, as I shoved the containers in the refrigerator. "They gave us way too many fries." 

As evening fell, I dutifully called home to say, "Dad, we decided to eat dinner here. Zoe's probably hungry by now, so could you feed her? In the refrigerator you'll find two containers. One has fries for you. The other has fat that I brought home for the dogs. Just mix like half a teaspoon of that in Zoe's dry food or she won't eat it."

My mom was at my sister's house, so I expected my dad to be a little grumpy when he found out he'd be eating alone, but I was surprised to hear how annoyed he sounded when he snapped, "You said you brought food home for me."

"Fries are food. I didn't say that I brought you an entire meal. You can make some scrambled eggs. French fries taste good with eggs."

Looks like food to me
"You said you brought food home for me!" he persisted.

"Dad, you can figure out something to eat with the fries. There's lunch meat in the refrigerator. Why don't you make a sandwich? After you eat, will you please feed Zoe?"

"You said you brought food home for me!" was his stubborn reply.

"Sorry, dad, but all we had left were fries. Eat them or not--your choice. Anyway, in the other container you'll find a blob of chopped fat covered in sauce from the barbequed ribs. Just mix a tiny bit into one scoop of Zoe's dry food, okay?" 

"You said you brought food home for me!" he insisted, slowly and distinctly, as if I were the one with a communication problem.

I was getting exasperated when Jay laughingly interrupted me with the interpretation. "Pamela, he's trying to tell you that he thought you brought the fat home for him, and he already ate it!"  



Verse of the day:  (I Corinthians 10:27b, 31) "...eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake...Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it to the glory of God."

My dad grew up during the Great Depression when lard on toast was a treat, so he insists the fries with barbeque-sauce-soaked-fat were delicious. I'll take his word for it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Medicated Part Two

This post will make more sense if you read last week's post first. It's ingeniously titled Medicated Part One to distinguish it from this one, Medicated Part Two.

Then we get to the worst part of the day. I was feeling better in the afternoon after a long, damp nap (reference is from last week's post) when I heard sirens in the distance. Why is that important, you ask? Let's back up a bit.

The nice thing about Korean Jindo dogs is that they don't bark much. Caleb would bark to alert me when a person came on our property, but he wouldn't bark at birds, squirrels, or paper bags flying in the wind. Which was good, generally speaking. 

My problem was that on the few occasions he did bark, he only barked when outside. I wanted him to bark when he was inside and someone came to the door (especially while Jay was at the fire station for a 24-hour shift and I was home alone). Caleb's fierce, white-wolf looks didn’t intimidate strangers when he was silently peeking from around the corner. 

Our vet told us we'd done an amazing job with Caleb's rehab so far (a neighbor rescued him and gave him to us several months earlier), but advised us to continue to build his confidence until he felt secure enough to bark while in the house. The vet was an older man with a heavy European accent, and since I'm illogically convinced that a heavy European accent guarantees expertise, I raptly listened.  

While looking for ways to boost Caleb's confidence, I noticed that when he was outside, he howled happily, tail wagging, when he heard firetruck sirens.


A light bulb went on (bing!). I figured that if I could encourage him to howl indoors, then he would eventually feel secure enough to bark indoors as well. Brilliant!

So, the next time Caleb was inside and I heard sirens, I cleverly said, "Howl," and gave him a demonstration. He looked perplexed that I was howling in the house, but eventually joined me by making some faint, strange noises, with his forehead puckered. He was possibly asking if I was losing my mind, but I praised his vocal efforts with an enthusiastic, "Good howl!"

When Jay came home from work the next morning, we heard sirens again (no, we don't have an arsonist on our street; we live a couple of miles from the fire station.), so I commanded, "Howl," and we both howled for Caleb. After a few minutes of our idiotic indoor bawling, he finally joined us with a response that sounded like a dying moose.

Most likely it was doggy laughter.  

But I exclaimed, "Good howl!" to encourage him.
Back to the worst part of my day...I was feeling better in the afternoon after a long, damp nap (reference is from last week's post) when I heard sirens in the distance. Caleb was outside, and I knew he'd howl when they came closer. Excitedly, I shouted for Jay, who was in the kitchen, to rush outside and join him. 

Jay obligingly ambled out the side door. He's very good to me.

Thinking, I, too, could help, I climbed out of bed and went out on the back deck. I couldn't see Jay, who was around the corner of the house, but when I couldn't hear him, I had an annoying suspicion that he was humoring me by standing there whispering, "Howl. Howl. Ah-rooo. Ah-rooo," under his breath. 

The sirens were lessening, but I smugly decided that I, at least, was dedicated enough to our pup's rehab to continue the exercise. 

I leaned over the deck railing in my powder blue, snowflake pajamas and howled. 

To my joy, Caleb raced from the side of the house, barking! I proudly assumed that he was responding to my feral vocalization, so, although the sirens were long gone, I threw back my head and howled again. 

Nice and long and loud. 

It was a spectacular howl!

As I slowly lowered my head at the end of my award-worthy canine call, I noticed that Caleb had kept running because he was actually barking at the neighbor who lives behind us; she was next to our back fence, partially concealed by the bush she'd been clipping, staring at me in open-mouthed shock. 

She abruptly put her head down and scurried away. 

We don’t know her well, so I desperately wanted to yell to her rapidly retreating back, "I'M MEDICATED. HEAVILY!" 

Verse of the day:  (2 Corinthians 15:13-14) "If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ's love controls us."

Zoe pretending she wants a howling lesson (I wasn't going to lean over the railing this time).
She didn't let out a sound, so I began to suspect she was just egging me on.
Confirmation of the set-up complete when she burst out laughing.
"Humans! Ha! They're so gullible."
Follow up:  I stopped taking that prescription (to the great relief of my husband and several neighbors). So I can no longer use medication as an excuse for my behavior.

I miss that.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Medicated Part One

A few years ago, in March, I sent a cousin several birthday cards. It would have been a sweet gesture except that each card was exactly the same. And her birthday is in July.

My defense was that I was medicated.  

I was trying a new anti-seizure medication for pain-control, and the side effects were dizziness (Whee!), drowsiness (Yawn…) and brain fog (Who is this cute man in my house, and why does he keep calling me his wife?). My doctor warned that it takes a while to adjust this particular medication and that I might act a bit strange for a month or two. Of course, with me, how could one tell?

One morning, I woke to find myself with a nearly-empty cereal box on my lap cramming granola into my mouth with both hands. There were empty wrappers on the bedside table, evidence that my binge hadn't started with nutty oat clusters. 

Another morning, I tried to take a dose of the new pills and at some point lost consciousness. I didn't pass out, I just checked out. When I found myself back in reality, I was leaning on my elbow staring at the medicine bottle. It was filled to the brim with water. 
Something seemed wrong, and I realized that I had to get the water off the pills immediately, but instead of pouring the water into the cup conveniently located on my nightstand, I poured half of the water directly on the nightstand.
Also incorrect
That also seemed wrong, so I dumped the remaining water on the bed. 

Surprisingly, this, too, was incorrect
I reiterate; I was drugged.

At that point, I knew I was incapable of rationally dealing with the situation further and woke Jay. He patiently took over, spread the capsules out to dry, and cleaned up the nightstand. He left the soggy bedding alone. He figured it would dry on its own, and, after all, it was on my side of the bed.

Jay tried to put a positive spin on my actions. He said, pragmatically, "You came up with viable options. Not normal options, but options, nonetheless." He added, benevolently, "You were thinking outside the box!" 

To this I replied, "What box?"

Then I went back to sleep.  (To be continued next week. It gets worse. Much worse.)

Verse of the day: (Matthew 9:36) "When (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless..."  I know the feeling.