Last year, I began to get notices from my Sky Miles people about my points. I must ‘use them or lose them’.  Since I had no intention of going anywhere, I just ignored the letters.  Finally I opened one and it read, “… convert your sky miles to magazine subscriptions.”  Well, I earned them, I might as well use them for something, I thought, and that is how I ended up subscribing to 12 magazines at the same time.  Do I ever have time to read them all?  Never.  So, they just stack up in the kitchen until Don or I get fed up and throw them out.  Especially the Glamour and InStyle…what was I thinking?  I’m quite a ways from being InStyle (their version)…and I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being Glamourous!

Well.  Since this was a Saturday morning, I could take my time at breakfast.  I turned on TV and watched a little of HGTV’s  ‘Love It or List It’.  Don’t even get me started!  They must have 100 or more episodes of this show and every. single. one. of them is the same show.  One spouse wants to move and the other doesn’t.  The crazy ‘Love It’ lady always runs out of money and can’t finish.  So she leaves something really important undone and tries to dress things up so the owners don’t notice.  The equally crazy ‘List It’ man sets out to find a house.  He is going to show them 3 with the final one being the one to impress.  For some reason he doesn’t even listen to their requests on the first two, so they are basically a ‘show this house’ video.  The owners always love what Crazy Lady did, but are so disappointed she didn’t do it all.  Oh, and surprise!  value has been added to their house by what she has done though, so maybe they CAN buy the house that Crazy Man showed them that was over budget, but so perfect, otherwise!  They are torn about what to do and amazingly…in the space of 30 seconds, have a discussion about something as important as whether to stay or go…and decide!  We are on pins and needles until we find out their decision.  This same scenario is played out on every episode.  Wake up, HGTV!!!

It is a shame what you will watch if you are tired and sleepy and lazy!  It is a greater shame to admit you do.

When I came to my senses, I got one of the magazines out of the stack and began perusing it.  This one was one of those less expensive mags you can pick up at the check out counter.  Did you know… there are about ’30 ways for you to dress up a pumpkin and make your house the cutest on the block for Halloween‘.  Yeah.  Well, we don’t do Halloween.  Next!  Here’s an article that is going to tell me‘ what jeans to buy for my body type’.  We all love jeans, and since I do have a body type, I thought this may have some useful info.  Ha!  What is so dumb about these aticles is they dress the models up so they look great.  (And, let me give credit here…this magazine actually had models who were short and wide and fluffy, tall and skinny, short and skinny, tall and fluffy, flat in the front, but curvy in the back…you get it.  Most of the time they show all the styles on the average size 8 model who is tall and thin and has her clothes specifically tailored for her!)  They had all the ladies looking very nice…and then showed 2 styles of jeans that would accomplish that look.  Neither of which was on the model.  But, you had to read in very, tiny print to discover that.  And, naturally the jeans that looked so good on her was some brand no one I know has ever heard of and no one I know would ever buy because it would cost them a weeks salary!  So, that was a bust.  However, I know that it is possible for all size ladies to look good in a pair of jeans…if you make the big bucks!

Flipping over a few pages, I ran into an article that told me how to ‘stay in touch with a faraway friend’…and another on why ‘coconut oil is a super food‘, now.  I also learned that if you put cold eggs in a recipe it will cause the fat in the butter to harden and nothing will mix evenly.  Now, I did not know that.  But, it has always been enough for me to know that if a recipe said room temp eggs…there had to be  a good reason.  I now am a better educated cook.  Don will be so happy.

Going on through the book, I find help for the same problem I face week after week at my house...’HELP!  I Have Leftover Sphaghetti’.  NOT!!!  I learned this, though…The Healthiest Vending Machine Snacks…***crunchy granola bar***caramel corn rice cakes***pretzels***Sun Chips (a healthier potato chip)***and a ‘Smart Splurge’ would be…peanut m&m’s.  Hmmmm…chocolate of any kind is always a ‘Smart Splurge’ to me!  🙂 Don’t you agree?

Then I spot a title that causes me to want to check it out.  DON’T STRESS OVER SUPPER.  It says I can ‘play all day and still have dinner on the table in no time’.  This sounds interesting.  While it is for sure that I don’t like to cook…it would be nice to fix something fast and yummy from time to time.  I kid you not…the first sentence in the first recipe says to prepare the filling two days in advance and freeze it, then thaw to finish recipe.  I don’t even plan two hours ahead, let alone two days!  The recipe goes on to list 18 ingredients…18!  For a fast supper?  I stopped reading after 5!  Here’s another that begins by telling me to ‘move all the racks in my oven’…already too complicated.  Oh, here’s one for Spinach and Feta Pie.  Pie is supposed to be sweet, is it not?  Are you serious?  And, next, a huge bowl of Sausage and Chard soup.  Is there even such a thing as chard?  OK…that is all of this I can stand.  Let’s move on.

Now, I tried to read this next article, so I could give you the condensed version…but I’m not sure I understand exactly what it is and why I need it.  BUILD THE BEST PRICE BOOK.  You actually buy a blank book and build yourself a price book listing all the things you buy and what they cost and where you got the best deal on it and what you were wearing at the time and if you had your children riding in the cart with you.  Then you will “Never, ever have to pay full price again…you will know a good deal when you see it…and you will know exactly where to shop.  Just write all your prices…even call around to check on them, when you have time.  And, remember to always keep it with you, wherever you go.”   First of all, if I wrote all this down in a book one time…I would never be able to find it so as to use it a second time!  And, secondly,  I can’t even manage to get my keys and cell phone and debit card in the same place all at once!  I can not possibly keep track of something else!

I learned that I should get my pup a pal, and my horoscope says I will have a ‘new financial game plan’..could they possibly be talking about my new PRICE BOOK!!! (see previous paragraph).  Oh, and September is National Yoga Month.  Now where did I put that old yoga mat?

Bet ya know where I stored this little periodical…….



There is a wonderful program that is available to kids in our community.  It has them in the pool everyday…but it’s not swimming lessons.  Well, not swimming lessons in the sense you usually think of them, anyway.  Not the kind I took…

I remember, years ago…quite a few years ago, when I really stop to count…I took swimming lessons at the Rec Center.  That’s what it was called then.  And, it was THE place to see and be seen…oh, and to swim or learn to swim, or just bounce around in the shallow end.   I can easily remember how I felt about swimming. We arrived for lessons early in the morning and about 25 or so kids got into the cold, cold pool and lined up against the wall.  Then we all held on to the side and kicked our feet.

I’m swimming,” I thought.  But, no…then we had to stick our face under the water.  This was something I had tried to always avoid.  It seemed to me, it was a little hard to breathe when your head was down under.  And, I know I was right because one time, I accidentally forgot about that  and while I was bobbing in shallow end, I went down too far and happened to breathe in at the same time I bobbed down and severe panic ensued!  PANIC, I tell you true!  “Get thyself out of the pool and forevermore, never put your face in the water,”  I told myself in no uncertain terms.  And, that became one of my LIFE RULES.  Until now.  Here were these Rec Center lifeguards…who were part mermaids and mermen…surely having been born in some other world and transferred here to ours…because they actually SAVED people!  And, they had little whistles that hung around their necks and when they blew them, every body looked up to see who had messed up big time.  Some times they only issued a warning…but other times…they had the power to banish you to sit on the sides  or even leave the pool for the whole day!  And, here they were…telling me to put my face UNDER the water.  Now being the intuitive child that I was, after a few more’breathing under water’ incidences, I learned to ‘hold my breath’.  That was not as easy as it sounds and entailed strict preparation.  First you had to bob up…then wipe all the hair out of your eyes, pull your swimsuit out of the nether regions, take in a gulp of air as large as possible,  This made a large sound which warned people nearby you were about to make your move and not to get in your way.  Then you closed on that huge gulp of air which cause your cheeks to puff out like a squirrel in October!  Next, you held your nose with one hand…this gave you two life lines… no air out of the nose and no air out of the mouth!  And I suppose that’s the reason I squinted my eyes so tightly closed was to prevent water from escaping there, too.  Though, that was pure instinct…I don’t think I thought about that.  Though, it does make perfect sense, doesn’t it?.  Then, giving a little jump up in prep for the bob down…I would GO FOR IT!  And as quick as I sensed the water touch my face, WHOOSH, I was up again.  Now whether I actually went completely under the water, all the way, totally immersed, whole head wet, is a mystery to this day.  I, of course, like to think for sure I did, but it really is a toss up.   And, now, these water gods were telling us not only to calmly lay our face over into the water…they actually wanted us to blow out our air while we were under there!!!!!  BLOW OUT OUR AIR?  Then what are we supposed to do?  Magically grow gills?  No.  No. Now, if I were to actually lean over and calmly put my head under water, I can promise you that I would not let go of the only thing keeping me alive at that moment.  NO WAY was I going to let my air out in bubbles!  HA!  Craziest thing I ever heard of!  But, I noticed that all the kids around me started doing this death defying act.  They acted like it ws no big deal.  They had probably never had the scary encounter I did with the ‘monster water’ getting into my eyes, and nose and ears and surely right into my brain, itself.   They didn’t know the dangers.  And, now one of those mer-girls was heading my way, to see me do it.  I was about to be humiliated in front of the whole water logged beginner swimming class.  I had to do it, I had to.  She stopped right in front of me.  “Let me see you blow me some bubbles, Sweetie,” she said.  “Put your life in danger while I stand here and watch,”  she said.  (She had the thickest Southern accent I had ever heard).   And, so I began my prep for the task. Bob up, hair back, swimsuit out, big gulp, hand to nose bob up then down…rising upon feeling the water.  When I had finished wiping the hair out of my eyes and sputtering and coughing, I looked to her for her approval.   She was laughing.  At what, I don’t know…but I was sensing no humor at that moment!  “Sweetie, that’s not it…you act like that water is gonna bite you or something!,” she said between laughs, “Here, it’s like this.”  And with that, she leaned over and put her face in the water right in front of me, and then she blew bubbles out of her mouth…and as they slowly rose  and danced to the surface, she just stayed under longer.  Her blond hair, pulled back into a ponytail, did not get into her eyes at all.  I do not know why my Mama did not put my hair into a ponytail!  She should know about these things.  Could have been because my hair was permed on the sides and back within an inch of its life and my bangs were cut near to my scalp in the front.  My hair did not lay smoothly in the water like Ponytail Girl.  No, it freakishly clung to the sides of my head in big blobs like a bird’s nest, all tangled and twisted.  I knew what it looked like because I had seen Joy, and Mother obviously liked what she did to my hair, cause she did the same to Joy’s.  So what her hair looked like wet…mine looked like wet.  I was a hot mess.  I digress.  Anyway, when the water goddess finally decided to rejoin the human race, she came up and just opened her eyes and started talking, right normal like.  No coughing, no sputtering, no wiping her eyes.  And, then she had the gall to say, “Now, sweetie, you try it.”  Yeah…you don’t give a girl much mercy here, do you, She-ra of the Pool?  “I’ll practice on it, ” I said.  And she said she would be right back.  But, she forgot and I did not remind her.  I’m sure that was a sin and I will be shown that one day, but at that point in my life, it was a matter of survival.  And, when the mer-people said we could go for today, unless we wanted to stay and practice, in which case, they would hold the opening of the pool an hour, I found Joy and told her we were getting out quick cause Mama needed to go somewhere.  And, we must not keep Mother waiting.  Lie number two.  I know.  I know.

The very next day, with not even a day to rest, we had to go back.  We lined up against the side again, and first we practiced holding on to the side and kicking.  Fine.  I did it.  But, I was no dummy, I knew what was next.  They blew the whistle and everyone stopped and turned to look at them.  “Now, y’all practice putting your face in the water and blow me some pretty bubbles.  Now, I know some of you had to leave to go with your Mamas yesterday, and didn’t get to show me, so I’ll be sure and see you do it before we can go on to something else.”  Wow!  Way to go…make me responsible for the whole Rec Center Beginner Swimming Class of 1959 not being able to progress and have to spend another day ‘blowing pretty bubbles!”  So, I had to do this.  “Just do it,” I told myself.  And I leaned over and took in that gulp of air and held my nose, then I put my face in the water and blew out all my water in one large SWOOSH!  But, it came out and I didn’t die!  I didn’t die!  So, I kept practicing and practicing and soon, she of the blond ponytail showed up and told me it was time to show her what I could do.  And, I did.  Not pretty bubbles, but I had it down to 2 swooshes instead of one.  I came up and she said, “Well, Sweetie, you are doing so much better!  I’m so proud of you.  Now you just keep practicing and one day THIS WEEK I want to see those pretty bubbles like I showed you.”  I told her I would get right on it .  Lie number three. That was enough lessons, but no, I hear the whistle, and they tell us what we are going to do today.  We are going to PUT OUR FACES IN THE WATER AND PUT OUR HANDS IN FRONT OF US AND PUSH AWAY FROM THE WALL!!!!  DANGER! DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!   This is not fun anymore.  I want to leave.  I don’t care if I ever swim.  I don’t even WANT to swim.  It was all Mama’s idea, anyway.  Who needs to know how to swim?  Give me a book and a sofa and that’s enough physical activity for anyone! But, I knew I would not be able to ease out of this.  Mama wanted us to swim.  That was enough.  She never went swimming.  Why was she making me?  I hate swimming!  I was so mad, I began hitting the water until the girl next to me started looking at me like I was looney!  Then I put my face in, pushed off, all the while holding my nose.  And, I found I could do it without blowing bubbles.  So, that’s the minor adjustment I made in my attempt.  The Sweetie Queen came over and told me that wasn’t right.  I could not do it that way, cause I was going to need both my hands for the next step.   And, it was then that I told Mama I had an ear ache, and she told me to get back in that pool and do what the nice girl said. I learned to do this routine, and I learned to simulate moving my arms too.  And, I faked all of it I could.

The last day finally came and instead of looking forward to it… I went into it with the same way I imagine some walking to face a firing squad.  We had to jump off the diving board and swim to the side to graduate.  WHAT?    And, somehow, I got up on that low diving board.  Everyone was looking!  I was the last one.  I heard Mama, “Tonja Lynn, you jump right now!”  I didn’t.  Then she yelled across the whole Rec Center pool, so everyone in the whole town could hear, “Joy already jumped and you’re the BIG SISTER!”  Way to put the pressure on Mama.

And, I jumped.  I don’t know how.  I don’t remember jumping.  I don’t remember the hour it took to hit the water.  But, I remember being under the water.  Way under the water.  I must have gone to the bottom of the pool being as I was older and all.  There was water all around and I could not get out of it.  By some miracle, I felt my head come out of the water and one of the mer-men saying “Come on, just swim over here!”  What?  The 5 miles to the side?  And, I began hitting the water and slapping the water and I felt 2 strong arms give me a push in the right direction, and the boy at the side reaching his arms out and grabbing my hand and pulling me to the side.  I inched my way slowly down the side of the pool to the steps, holding tightly to the sides with my bent fingertips.  And, when I got there, I turned and looked back at the water and there was Blond Ponytail giving me a thumbs up!  And, I got out and gave her a thumbs up back.  But, I didn’t mean it.  I wasn’t proud.  I was thankful I was out.  I vowed no one would ever get me into another swimming class even if I had to feign a broken leg!  Never.  And, that is one of my promises to me that I have kept.  Not that it is a good thing.  Not that I am proud of it.  But I kept it.  In the years since then, I have learned to swim…somewhat.  I can take care of myself in the pool.  I can swim with my face in the water or out.  I can bob and go under still and I can even blow pretty bubbles.  But, I have never, ever, ever gone off a diving board again.  And, while there are still things I would like to do in this world before I take my exit,  I can live out the rest of my years and go to my grave and never go off a diving board.  And, still die happy.




Has this ever happened to you?  It is about to make me lose my religion!  Why is it (other than the obvious reason) that we get so upset when this happens?  I think it’s about more than ‘keys’…it’s about…“I can’t drive my car”“I can’t go where I want to go”“I will have to stay in my house forever”“If I get locked out, I’ll have to live on the patio for the rest of my life.”  All these things and more.  Which, when you continue boiling it down, adds up to a loss of independence.  And, I am independent, if I am anything at all. And, it’s also because I have had the same key chain since I was in high school.  I found this large brass clothespin long,long ago.  And, I bought 2 of them.  I gave Joy one and I kept one.  It is basically the only thing we have ever used.  She, being a pianist, she doesn’t like to play with her rings on.  So, she always hooks her rings on the clothespin to keep them safe.  I, working with children and art and craft projects, have had a safe place to keep my rings.  And, when I was working in nursing, I could keep my jewelry pinned and safe also.  And, it’s perfect to clip your keys onto those little rings they now have in most purses, or onto the straps.  Well, perhaps that’s reading more into the ‘key’ situation than necessary, so, I’ll go on with my story.

My housekeeper was here and Don was here and Levi was here…and me.   Levi was here for the day and we were all having breakfast.  My housekeeper was ironing in the laundry room and she called me.  I went to see what she needed.  My iron had chosen that moment to die.  And, it died a quick and immediate death.  No hanging on long enough to iron my favorite linen shirt or Don’s work pants…nope.  It was over in a second.  So, since Don was still here, I decided to run up to our local T*rget store and get a new one and get right back. ( Well…I wan’t going to ‘run’…I was going to drive! ) Put on some lipstick, put on some shoes, pick up my phone and purse, pick up my keys…NOooooooooooo!  Where are my keys?  Who moved my keys?

Now, friends, when I say I went into search mode…it’s a true story.  My houskeeper helped me, while Don entertained Levi.  At first we blamed Levi.  We looked IN every toy, UNDER every toy, everything that had a place for a set of keys to be…we checked! Every toy was touched and looked at.  I actually asked Levi so many times, “What did you do with my keys?”  He actually began echoing me “Keys?  Keys?”.  Then we checked everywhere he usually runs to when he knows he not suppossed to.  No keys.

Of course, Don had a word of wisdom,  “Tonja, you cannot keep up with anything.  I’m going to get you one of those beepers that helps you when you lose your keys!”  So he, obviously, was going to be of zero help in this crisis.  Anyway…I did not lose my keys.  See I always put them on the round foyer table when I come in.  It is a habit I made myself get into because…I tend to lose things.  But not my keys!

Next we thought Levi may have thrown them into the garbage can.  He likes to do that.  I have found one of his shoes, a hard backed book, a sippy cup,  unopened cans of food, a few clean diapers…all in the garbage at one time or another.  So, Otelida, my housekeeper, went through the garbage.  Which had already been collected for tomorrow’s pickup.  And was already at the street.  In the big can that holds a weeks worth of garbage.  Bless her heart, she went through every piece.  Twice.  No keys.

Into the closet.  Check the pockets of every pair of pants I’ve worn lately.  Looked all over the floor.  No keys.

So, I decided to sit down and pray.  And think.  Do you have to just sit quietly, sometimes, and let your thoughts have room to run from here to there and back again in hopes of running up on the information you are looking for?  Well, I do. So, I did.  And I prayed.  I prayed for the keys to turn up.  I prayed for us to run across the keys while we were searching.  I prayed Levi would bring them to me.  I prayed they would magically appear in my purse…when I looked in there…for the fourteenth time.   None of those things happened.  But, I did think about the people who had been in the house since I last drove.  The only others…Adam and Suzanne.

So, I texted them both.  Adam texted back “Nope, don’t see them anywhere.”  I texted Suzanne, “Do you, by any chance, have my keys?”  Almost immediately she texted back “No.”  Otelida said, “She didn’t even look…that was too quick!”   But, I knew Suze would look if I asked her to, especially since I never asked her that before and she knew it must be important or I would never have bothered her at work.  So, that was another dead end.

I didn’t have anybody else to ask.  We had looked over and under and around everything in the house.  So, I took my extra key and went on to T*rget and bought an iron and another hundred dollars worth of junk I didn’t need (except the eggs).  I was so bummed about my keys and it is not safe for me to go shopping when I’m bummed about anything.

Levi is in the midst of swimming lessons (post coming about that…amazing)…and they are giving a class for 6 at our pool.  Usually Levi and I go out and sit on the screened porch when the lessons start about 3:00.  He likes to watch the other children while they swim and he can’t reach the door handle to get out of the porch, so I can relax, too.  We wait there for Suzanne to come from school and then she has about 20 minutes to rest and visit and then they get ready for Levi’s lesson at 4:10.

She asked me about my keys…did I ever find them.  I told her I didn’t.  She then said, “Why would you think I had them?”  “I didn’t really think you did, but I was just asking in case you had picked them up by mistake,” I said.  “Well, yeah, I didn’t even bother looking…I knew I didn’t have them, “ she replied.  I laughed and said, “Otelida said you didn’t even bother to look.”   Then she offered, “Well, you sit out here with Levi and I’ll go in and look around and see if I see them.  Maybe a different set of eyes can spot them,” she said.

And she went in the house.

Less than 30 seconds later, I felt her presence next to me at the French door.  I turned to look.

There she stood, with a guilty, impish grin.  She was swinging my keys in her hand!

I jumped up and opened the door and she came outside and said, “I’m not even going to tell you where I found them.  You just really don’t even want to know.”  First,  I thought for sure I had them in some obvious place and that Otelida and I and Don and Levi had all overlooked them.  Then I was afraid that perhaps I had put them in the freezer or something and this was going to be the first clue that I was, in fact, getting senile.  Which my boys accuse me of quite often.  I just knew I was going to feel so dumb if she told me.  But, the mystery got the better of me.  “You have to tell me.  I can’t stand it”, I begged.  Then she said……

“They were in my purse.  I thought I’d just humor you and look there first.  I must have picked them up by mistake and thought they were mine ’cause they were right where I keep my keys.”

I really didn’t hear much after she said, “They were in my purse.”  I thought of how I had searched all morning and all afternoon.  I thought of how my mind was coming unglued because I was so afraid I had put them in a crazy place.  I thought of how my very soul was at unrest.  I took my phone and looked at it and told Suze  “I sent you that text at 11:55…it is now 4:00.”  She hung her head…in shame.  She was guilty…and she knew it.  It is only because I am the kind and gracious, loving mother-in-law that I am, that I didn’t heap more guilt on her.  “Please forgive me,” she said.  And, I did.  Because the only thing that really mattered in the situation was that I was not senile I had my keys back.

Oh, and another good thing that came out of the whole situation…Levi can now say “KEY?”!


The deal is…I care for the little boy named Levi and Alex cares for the little dog named Finn.  This is a good and proper way to do things in our house because Alex doesn’t change diapers very well and I don’t like standing around in the cold and wet waiting for a dog to ‘go’.

Today, our well oiled plan became a little turned around.  Alex has been feeling particularly bad since we have entered the monsoon season here in our town!  Really, we are all either floating away, have sandbags at our door or are molding!  Hurry Spring!    And, since there was rain predicted for three days straight…this was going to be one of those “Let’s stay in our pajamas all day and chill out” kinda days.  Levi and I both thought it was a grand idea!

The housekeeper was going in to do Alex’s apartment and since he was moving so slowly, I went in to lend a hand and let Finn out to take care of his business.  It was pouring rain.  So, I intended to just stay in the doorway.  No such luck…I had to step out on the porch.  And, it was wet with standing rain. And, I did not have my shoes on…day in pajamas and chilling, remember?  Well, Finn finally bonded with nature and decided to come back in.  As I stepped back in I took off my socks so as not to wet the floor. And, quick as a wink!  Finn grabbed one of my socks and ran over to the chair.  “Get my sock,” I shouted,”I don’t want him to put a hole in them!”  Alex tried to get it, the housekeeper tried to get it, and I was on my way to try to get it, when Alex said, “It’s gone.  He ate it.”  “What do you mean- he ate it?”  I yelled.  Housekeeper said, “He shore did, Ms Tonja.  He swallowed that sock right down.  I never saw anything like that!  He swallowed that sock!  He did!”  “Y’all are crazy…look under the chair, he probably dropped it,” I said.  Alex and Housekeeper looked at me and said together, “He swallowed the sock!”  “Well, can he still breathe?” I asked.  They assured me he could.  And, when I looked over at him, he looked quite pleased with himself…had himself a little sock snack here on this rainy day!  And, he wasn’t worried about it a bit!

Well.  I knew this could cause trouble so I went to call the vet.  They said to watch him.  Yeah, well, I did that.  I watched him eat my sock!  But, in a little bit the doctor called back and said for me to bring him in middle of the afternoon to get an x-ray.  OK.  I can do that.  It will cause me to have to go and get dressed though, put one makeup, too…but I can do it.  And, that’s what I did,  Went and got ready, because with my luck, he’d try to pass it and get an intestinal obstruction.  But, no..that sock was in the belly and in the belly it was going to stay.

And, as I dressed, I watched my wonderful day all snug inside…OUT of the rain…go floating past.

After the Vet saw the xray, he said, he was going to try to go down through the throat and try to catch it with an endoscope, but if that didn’t work, it would be surgery.  When he called me later, he told me that there was no way the sock would have ever moved.  And, so, Finn now has a 2 inch incision on his belly where he was sliced open and relieved of the sock in his tummy.

I went to pick him up later.  They said to be there around 5:45.  Around 5:30, here comes one of those downpours that renders windshield wipers useless as well as headlights…because of all the lightning.  If you know me you know I do. NOT. do .lightning.  Unless I have to pick up a poor, hurt dog and bring him home.  So, I prayed all the way to the vet that God would move His little thunderstorm a few miles in the direction of His choosing and give me time to get the dog and put him back in the car.  Obviously, the thunder was too loud for Him to hear me, because when I got out of the car at the vet, all I could hear was a sonic boom as I sprinted to the door…in the pouring rain…and much lightning.

Saw the vet…Finn OK.  Give up mega bucks to the receptionist in order to get my sock back all soggy and wet in a zip lock bag like some kind of prize at a fishing rodeo!  What did I want this nasty sock for?  But, I gingerly put it in my purse, along with what was left of my paycheck, and waited for the ‘dog of the hour’!  And, then I heard him…”whine, whine, yelp, YELP,YELP, whine, whimper, whimper.”  I was a goner.  How dare they hurt my Finn!  No, they were just trying to bring him to me…his mama. The Vet said, that he was going to give him another shot and it would probably knock him out by the time I got home and that we should be careful because he may run into the walls and look at things and not see them.  “Stoned?”, I said.  “Stoned”, he said.   And, there came poor Finn…walking slowly…ears down, head down, no smile, no jumping up to slap my thigh.  He was pitiful.  And, they gave me his meds and they gave me his leash.  And all of this drama inside was accompanied by the drama going on OUTSIDE.  Finn and I and the sock got to the door and I knew there was no way we could safely make it to the car amidst the lightning striking in a circle round my car without me carrying the 25 pounds he was…minus the sock.  So, I prayed, again, and bent to pick up the animal that was hurt and in pain.  And, I immediately remembered people’s stories of how the dog turned on them and bit them when they were hurt, and so since I was praying anyway, I asked God to remember what He did for Daniel when he was forced to be in the den with hungry lions and would He please do the same for me with the hurting Finn…especially since I was forced not only to carry the animal, but endure one of His firework shows at the same time.  I pushed opened the door and made it down the steps and carefully shifted the dog to my hip so I could open the door. I got it opened and …”who put those gloves and muzzle on my front car seat?”  Oh, no, it must belong to that lady that just took that 80 pound boxer in and this must not be my car, even though it is the same make and model and color.  I can tell all this because the sky…she is so lit up.  Shift dog back to carry in both arms, round the back of my car to ease, oh so carefully, between her car and mine, and to shift the dog and open the door halfway and try to carefully sit the dog on the front passenger seat.  FYI…there are only 2 cars in the lot.  Only 2 cars in the whole lot!  Plenty of room not to have to squeeze in so close to another car and make life so much the harder…I’m just saying!

Finn goes on the seat and I shut the door and run for my life to get to the driver’s side before certain death from being struck by a dagger of lightning occured.  Opened the door and there is Finn…standing in my seat…whining, ears still down and eyes looking so doggone mournful you could cry.  So I gently picked him up and held him…all 25 pounds, above the steering wheel, until I could slide the ampleness that I am under the steering wheel.  With door still open, I carefully lay him down on the towel I remembered to bring.  Keeping one hand on his head, I straighten my body and slam my car door.  And there we sat…in the thunder and lightning show…hoping all I’d ever heard about the car being the safest place to be and all…but deciding it didn’t matter anymore…I’d just trust the Maker of all the lights and noise.  And we sat for a good 5 minutes.  Me, panting and blowing…Finn…in la la land.  Then I cranked the car and carefully drove home.

I called Alex from the car and told him to meet us in the garage to help.  He did.  We got the dog in.  And got him settled.  And, they he lay…stoned out of his head…probably wondering why his people went all ape on him and freaked out and cut him open.  Or maybe he was just seeing pink elephants.

He lay carefully on Alex’s bed and slowly lay his head down.  Who knows what dreams he dreamt while under the influence.  But, I didn’t stay around to find out.  I put back on my pajamas and got into bed.  Yelling to whomever may care, “I’m hereby OFF DUTY!”

And as I reflected on this day before sleep overtook my eyes…I thought how chaotic it had been, but yet…perfectly orchestrated.  My housekeeper was here to care for Levi when I had to leave, both times.  The Vet said, “You’re lucky, most Friday afternoons we are so wrapped up, there would be no way I would have had the time to do this surgery.  Today, we only have 2 doctors and very few patients, and I have all the time I need.”  And, I told him, and he agreed…”No luck involved…ochestrated by the Father.”  See, this dog is more than just a dog to Alex.  It is his companion, his friend, his heart.  As Alex, due to his disease, is homebound 99% of the time, he misses so much.  But, Finn is there, beside him, to love and comfort and share.  Finn watches patiently as Alex suffers, offering a warm body and a lick to the hand.  He waits until Alex feels like it , and then they sing together….howling loud enough to wake the dead!  And, if Alex is up to watching some TV, Finn is watching, too…from his perch in Alex’s lap.  And, though Alex is in pain himmself…he is tenderly and carefully tending to Finn.

I know many of you love your animals like this, as well.  But, to end this story, I just want to say that God sends His love and comfort to us in many ways.  He offers us arms to lean into and He lets us sit in His lap.  He picks us up and carries us when we hurt too much to go on.  He promises to meet our needs.  And no matter how hard our life may be, He knows the best way to be with us.  In Alex’s case…He sent Finn.  Mischievous, impish, yelping, sock eating Finn.  And, we thank Him for His goodness!

Job 12:7-10 – But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (NIV)


This new phase of my life called ‘POST CATARACT SURGERY’ is causing me much grief and unrest!  Really, I accept the fact that I had to have the surgery.  It’s one of the unpleasant things one has to deal with as we accrue more mileage on the body.  So, it HAD to be done, and I know that.  I am still not liking the results of it, however.  The surgery itself went well and all is well and as it should be, according to my doctor.  However… I do not like the way it has changed my eyes…for the worse.  WAIT…that is not entirely true.  It has definitely made my distance vision much better!  I can drive without glasses and see the TV across the room without glasses.  That’s a wonderful thing!  But, before the surgery, I had enough near vision that I could see my telephone or read the instructions on a box of cake mix…if I had to…without them on.

BUT, NOW… all my close vision is gone…and it’s driving me crazy!  This is normal and not a poor result of my surgery, by the way)It is also making me crazy that I have to try to keep up with a pair of readers so that when one of a million things that I need to look at in a day pops up, I can decipher what it is.  I tried putting the glasses on my head…but my head must be wonky or something…they just won’t stay.  Now, I see people all the time who walk around, go shopping, drive a car, go swimming, dance, play, eat …you know, all the important things in life…with a pair of glasses or sun glasses poised ‘just so’ on their heads…looking ever so cute!  And, they never budge!  But mine slip down around my neck or fall off the back of my head and slide down my back!

I’ve tried using those ‘hang ’em around your neck’ strings…but no.  They flap and flop and and bounce around on the area that is my ‘boobage’ and for all the world it looks as if they are on a trampoline.  Plus, Little Levi thinks they are hanging there purely for his entertainment and amusement!.  I’ve taken them and stuck them into my cleavage and hoped for the best.  No. No, they didn’t go anywhere, but I was most uncomfortable!  I know what I’m doing…whining!  Don’t you hate to hear a grown up whine?  It’s much worse than a child whining and that’s enough to make your hair curl.  That’s why I am not ever going to speak about this again.  Or, I promise to try really hard not to.

So, what’s a girl to do?  Let me just tell you.    I have worn glasses all my life and I never minded so much.  It is much easier than this on and off and on and off game I have to play now.  I got my doctor to give me a prescription for glasses that has the reader part at the bottom and just a touch of correction at the top.  Then last week, I went to the eye glasses factory to get them made.  And, here’s where the drama starts.

They advertise that they will have your glasses in an hour.  They have a lab and technicians right there.  And, it looks…to me, at least…as if it is well stocked.  Or, if it’s not…it should be!  I know that some folks, like my boys in their younger days, do have to have special lens ordered due to the severity of their prescription.  I get that.  But in MY case, they had to order the lens…because I needed anti-glare lenses.  Now, I have always gotten anti-glare lens…it cuts down on glare when you are in a setting with fluorescent lights.  But, now I need them because of the halo I see around lights when I drive at night.  Which is a normal occurrence after cataract surgery as well as a normal part of aging.

But, it was going to take 2 weeks to get my lens in.  2 weeks!!!!  Not acceptable.  I asked if I could have them shipped overnight.  They said they would try.  (I am going on a trip this week…Thur-Sun…and I wanted to have them so I wouldn’t lose my ever-lovin’ mind and act all ill and stuff in front of my friends).  So, I told them I would wait while they called and checked.  (Because I had another option to get them).  They called and they called and they called.   “Sorry, we can’t get them to answer,”  they said,  “We will call you as soon as we get in touch and get an answer.”  So, I made sure M. got my number and I got hers and she promised to call me as soon as she could.  And, she called me later in the afternoon to say that she didn’t make contact but would try first thing the next morning.  I told her that would be fine.  And, she did.  She called the next morning and said that the glasses would be ready on Tuesday!  I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated her efficiency.

And, I was all set to go pick up my glasses on Tuesday.  Yea!  All was working out just fine!  My youngest came home this weekend, with a special friend, and I went to Publix to pick up some goodies for them, because what they cook is always better than what I cook.  As I was walking into the store, I heard someone call my name.  I turned around and there was M.  She asked if the store had called me, because she had been off.  I told her they had not.  I sensed some bad news was coming and I was not going to like it.  She said that the maker of the anti-glare lens had called and could not get my lens here in time for me to have them before my trip.  It was still going to be two weeks!!!

All sorts of responses ran through my mind.  “This is ridiculous! ”  “Just cancel my order and I’ll take my business elsewhere!”  “I will tell everyone to never shop there for eyewear!”  “I am furious and about to make an ugly scene and embarrass myself and you and it’s what you deserve!”  But, none of that came out of my mouth.  Just because you think it doesn’t mean you have to say it.  And, even though thoughts may pop into your mind and you can’t always control that…you CAN control what comes OUT of your mouth and what others hear.  I looked at M., a young girl who moved here from another town to work with this company.  She is young, not yet married, and doesn’t know many people here.  I had invited her to visit our church when I found out these things about her as we were talking at the store.  What kind of witness would it be if I told her all the things that came to this sad mind.  So, I said, “That’s OK, M., you tried your best and I appreciate that.  You just call me when they come in and I’ll come and get them.”  She looked so relieved and apologised again.  We parted ways and I breathed a prayer.  “Thank-you, God, for reminding me to speak as you would speak.  Thank you for taking those words out of my mouth and putting kind ones in place.”  To be totally honest with you, my friends, that doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes I DO say things I’m sorry for and ashamed at myself for speaking.  But, I really try…with God’s help.

I finished my shopping, came home, got everything put away, and was sitting down to rest for a few minutes when my phone rang.  I answered it, and it was M.  “Mrs. Owens,” she said, “I just came in to work and your glasses are here and ready for you to pick up!  I don’t know how this happened.  They told me they couldn’t do it, but here they are.”

I went right on to the store and picked them up.  And, oh what a great difference they make!  I can just wear them and not have to change anymore!  I thanked her and spoke to the manager and praised her efficiency.  And walked out the door a happy woman.  This is great!

Now, I don’t know if this little episode in the “Life and Times of Tonja” has a true lesson in it or not.  I am no great theologian nor writer who can take a little nugget of wisdom and turn it into a meaningful devotional thought.  What I get is that God has wonderful surprises for us when we least expect it.  And, He wants us to enjoy the wonderful things He surprises us with.  I am enjoying my glasses.  But, how guilty I would have felt if I had acted unkindly toward M.  How embarrassed I would feel if those horrible words had been spoken out loud.  Just a little ‘life lesson’ that God reminded me of.


DH and I were away from home and not on any schedule.  So when I woke up earlier than he, I eased out of bed…very quietly…and moved to the den.  I opened the computer and read.  I did nothing to wake him up and nothing to make any noise.  I opened the refrigerator very quietly and eased out a DDP and opened it inside the refrigerator…so even the “WHOOSH” sound wouldn’t disturb him.  Cause, y’all don’t even know…just  normal breathing disturbs him.  I didn’t dare get dressed.

After about 40 minutes, I heard him up and then he came into the den.

ME:  “Good morning”

DH:  “Good morning.  I’m hungry.  Let’s go and get a biscuit.”

ME:  “But, I’m not dressed.  Just go on and get us something and I’ll get the table ready.”

DH:  “No, come on and ride with me.”

ME:  “But, my hair isn’t even combed.”

DH:  “You’re fine.  Come on, you’ll just be in the truck.”  Yes, I was tooling around town looking like a sad, sad excuse for womankind everywhere…and I’m doing it in a truck!  One of my least favorite forms of transportation!  But, DH loves it…and it does beat walking! 🙂

ME:  “O.K.  But, I’m NOT getting out of the truck.”  So, out of the house I go…just as I looked when I got out of bed.  And, it’s not pretty.  I had on my pajama bottoms…short, bright green with white polka dots.  I had on the top to another pair of pajamas.  Heaven only knows why…but I packed the top of one set and the bottom of another. You know, some pajamas can almost pass for regular clothes…and the bottoms of my ensemble could have passed…perhaps if I had had on a matching top.  The top I did have on was bright orange…very baggy (so as to sleep more comfortably).  It is not a top I would ever wear out because the neck…she is a little too low for my comfort.  Thankfully, I did have on an upper body undergarment.  I left with no shoes…not even flip-flops.  I was not cute.  Comfortable, but not cute.

We traveled the 2 minute trip it takes to get to the doughnut shop/biscuit place.  I told him what I wanted  to eat and drink.

He ordered and came back to the truck while he was waiting, to tell me the following:

DH:  “Look at all those tables they have out here to sit and eat at.  I bet you would enjoy eating out here in the cool breeze.  It sure is nice.”

I just bet he thinks I bet I would enjoy sitting outside in the cool breeze.  In my green pajama bottoms, and my bright orange, too low for daytime top, and no shoes, makeup or hair combing.

ME:  “We can sit here in the truck if you want to, but I’m not going to get out looking like this and go sit at those picnic tables.”

But, something told me this was one of those battles that was going to be senseless to fight.  It was early.  I was hungry.  No one there looked any better than I…and they were ready for the day, and some were heading to the beach.  So, I went searching through his truck to see if I could, at least,  find a comb.  My DH is one of the neatest, most groomed persons I know.  He’s right on par with my Pop.  I can get a shower, wash and dry my hair, put on makeup, pick out and iron my clothes and get dressed…fully…and he will still be in the shower!  So, I would expect him to have several combs stashed around the truck.  Because, the man…he does LOVE to comb his hair.  LOVES!  But, no comb.  All I found were his deacon ministry cards from church, a dozen or so straws from McD’s, several plastic wrapped spoons and forks, a few coins, some chapstick, and a random key.  I thought to myself, “What would Mrs. McGyver do?”

Well, let me tell you, friends.  I discovered that you can take a plastic fork and hold it backwards (upside down)  and it makes a fairly decent comb.  It only has 4 teeth, of course.  But, in a pinch…it’ll do!

And, when DH came back to the truck, I hopped out, and tiptoed through the sand spurs to the picnic tables.

It was, indeed, delightful sitting there in the cool breeze eating our biscuit next to the ocean.  And, after I finished my biscuit, I was REALLY glad I had agreed to expose my self and my night clothes to the morning sun.  Cause in the bottom of the bag was the freshest, gooiest, Long John!  (Rectangle of glazed doughnut dough, filled with yummy white cream, and topped with chocolate icing.)  It was divine!  It was scrumptious!  It was the best!  We enjoyed our breakfast…and the dessert and then, I waited till no one was looking, that I could see, and tiptoed back through the sand spurs (little pods about the size of a pea that are covered in strong, mean, mean stickers) and hopped up into the truck.  SAFE!

Sometimes, you just have to let go of the way you feel and just live the moment as it presents itself.    I did and the reward was well worth it!  Sweet memories made on a weathered old picnic table, by the ocean, just me and DH.

I probably shouldn’t mention that I was also silently beseeching the Lord to “please don’t let anybody who knows me show up while I’m here!”