Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comical Cone of Contentment

The first year we had Caleb, I tried putting him in a costume. Even though we assured him that he looked wonderful, he felt embarrassed, shamed, demeaned, mortified, disgraced, and debased. It went downhill from there.

He found it just as humiliating as the medical cone collar he had to wear after a visit to the vet. 

(After taking a photo, of course) I haven't subjected him to attire since.

A few of years later, Zoe joined our family. She's a small breed mix with hair instead of fur, so she needs help to regulate her body temperature in cool weather. She loves her clothes, but I erroneously assumed that was only because they kept her warm.

In the summer, when I put away her little shirts and sweaters, she ended up with a "hot spot" on her belly. The vet gave us some ointment and told us to keep her in a medical collar for at least a week. 

Caleb gave Zoe long, pitying glances when he saw the small, plastic cone in my hand.  

I sorrowed as I placed it around her neck. "Mommy is so sorry, puppy! I know you doggies hate these things, but the mean doctor said you have to wear it until that spot heals. Please don't mope because it will make Mommy so sad," I gushed (along with other idiotic things that one says to a dog when they don't have human children).

Zoe waited patiently until I attached the last snap of the cone.

I pressed my lips together and choked back a sympathetic sob as she adjusted to the new sensation.  

Which was entirely unneeded since she jumped off the bed and pranced around the house, gleefully tossing her head, like, "Look at my modern Elizabethan collar! Finally, I have something really cool to wear."

To this day, it's one of her favorite things.

Verse of the day:  (Philippians 4:11-13) "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to be content in every situation...I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength." Contentment is a choice, even in a plastic cone.

For another Zoe story, click here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Postal, Southern Style

There's another thing I find curious about the South. The mail.

On lovely days, the mail either isn't delivered at all or it is delivered late. Sometimes after sundown. After watching the mail truck pull away at 10 PM one night, I asked Jay about it. He shrugged and answered (as if I should have easily figured this out on my own), "It was a good day for fishin'."

It's no better when the overcast days of fall arrive because then it's hunting season. I do a jig whenever mail actually arrives. Even if it smells like gunpowder and has a few duck feathers stuck to it.

I know it's a stereotype that Southerners are nosy, ahem, I mean interested, but I was surprised to discover when I moved here that this "interest" included my personal mail. Many of my packages were opened before they were delivered. Nothing was ever taken, but the items were examined (I'm sure with, "Well, butter my biscuit, ain't this just the cutest thing you ever did see, Jenny Sue?") and carefully put back. I haven't complained because I know I'll just hear a surprised, "Well, darlin', we only wanna make sure no one's sendin' you bombs. It's part of Southern hospitality. You'll get used to it, sugar." 

Once they helped themselves to a complimentary service card from a car lot advertisement. If they took it to the dealership, they were entered into a drawing for a free car.

We know they didn't win because Southern manners would have required them to send a thank you note. Of course, given the track record of this Post Office, the thank you card might be crammed among bobbins in a tackle box and won't be delivered until next spring (with a fish hook hanging off of it).

They also occasionally take our coupons. They don't tear them off so that I could blame the sorter; they cut them neatly with scissors and then dutifully deliver the ads as if I'd have some use for them without the discount code.

Good to know I could have had 30% off and free shipping....
if I still had the coupon code!

I can hear the Post Office conversation in my head. "Eulla Mae, here's a coupon for Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I was reckoning to get me some new sheets. D'ya think she'd mind a-tall if I borrowed it?"

"Why, she'd be tickled as a hound dog with two noses, Betty Jo! That's just bein' neighborly. Nobody minds that." 

Verse of the day: (Isaiah 48:17-18, 20) "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow...Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth!" Singing or shouting a message might be a tad more effective down here than trying to send it through the Post Office. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Tatterdemalion (Yes, It's A Real Word)

There's no denying that my husband Jay is a handsome man. In fact, he is frequently hit on when we go out together. My favorite line was from the woman who cooed to him, "What magazine cover did you just walk off of?" as we approached her counter. (Prompting me to gleefully tell his firefighters call him Captain Coverboy--he's barely forgiven me for that.)

But the ladies' interest in him doesn't concern me because I know he's always ignored when he's out alone. Why? Because if I don't hand him clothes for the day, he looks like he crawled out of a dumpster. There's even a word for him: Tatterdemalion, n. a person dressed in ragged clothing. (My blog is so educational.) 

I'm not criticizing his love of comfort because I live in pajama pants. But only at home. Besides, they fit, they aren't threadbare, and they don't have holes or stains. Jay, on the other hand, wears (out in public, no less) attire he's kept since 1986 and things that his father (who is 79-years-old) and brother (who is 4" taller than Jay) have discarded.

I've tried reasoning with him. "Sweetie, face it. You're not going to hit a growth spurt at your age to fit into your bother's hand-me-downs; unless you're applying for a job as a scarecrow, they're too baggy. And if something is too unstylish for a retiree, then you, my dear, certainly can't pull it off."

"But these clothes are still good," he protests.

"You mean, they function. They're definitely not good." I answer.

Normally, I don't care what he wears when he's running errands without me. But the day he was headed to the jewelers to get my bracelet repaired, I stopped him and pointed to the foyer mirror. He hadn't showered or shaved. He'd squeezed into a grubby coat (from his teen years) that was so tight it couldn't be zippered shut. It revealed an old, over-sized flannel shirt that he'd tucked into a pair of paint-stained work pants. The pants were a few sizes too big, so he'd gathered them at the waist with a belt like a hobo. Muddy boots and a black knit hat completed his look.

"Honey," I said, patiently, "people will either think that you're a homeless man looking for a bathroom or that you're about to rob the place. Either option is detrimental to the jewelry business. They're good people; I can't let you do this to them."

When he was done laughing at his reflection, he changed into clean khakis, a button-down shirt, and loafers. So, cops were not called when he arrived. (That day, anyway.)

We had friends over for a potluck dinner one weekend. When most had left, I shook my head in despair at my sweet husband and said, "I know they're friends who love you anyway, but you could wear something nicer than a stained, threadbare t-shirt when you welcome people into your home."

He defended his wardrobe choice with, "Well, I knew I'd be outside at the grill, and I thought it might rain."

"I had no idea your t-shirts couldn't get wet," I gasped. "All this time I've been washing them in water!"

He smirked at my clever remark (that was pretty quick, wasn't it?), but stubbornly claimed, "This shirt is still good."

I put my finger in a small hole and gently tugged. The shirt immediately parted like the Red Sea in front of Moses. 

Believe it or not, the man insisted (wait for it...), "It's still good; now it's just ventilated!" 

Verse of the day: (Psalm 30:11b, 12b) "You have taken away my ragged clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy... Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever."

Our handsome hero, Captain Coverboy, 
cleverly disguises himself as his alter-ego...Split-Pants Man!
He still hasn't thrown these pants out, but I refuse to sew a giant patch over the crotch. In the winter, I'll let him wear the pants as a hat-scarf combo because I know gorgeous women will only approach him to point the way to the nearest soup kitchen. 

Disclaimer: For those worried about Jay's fashion sensitivity--he has none. He read this story with a snicker and assured me that plenty of men would agree that his clothes are "still good." If that's the case, then we know why God Himself said, "It's not good for man to be alone" (Gen 2:16). I agree, God, I agree.

For a story about my pajama pants issues, click here.

For a story on how I convinced Jay to quit bugging me about having too many pairs of shoes (as if there could be such a thing as too many shoes), click here.