Saturday, August 20, 2011

The "Deal of the Week" for one-footed patrons

I'm all for being resourceful in efforts to bring in some extra cash. I really am.

Selling a few pieces of furniture online. Setting up a lemonade stand. Hosting a garage sale.

Really, all good things.

But can we draw a line with the merchandise?

I went to a garage sale today that brought me to tears...from laughter.

For sale, at the bargain price of 50 cents each...

Large, stretched-out, STAINED, men's white briefs.

I'm not even kidding.

But oh, I wish I was.

I don't care who ya are - I firmly believe you should NEVER buy used underwear.

And most certainly not from this particular merchant.

But to have it laid out, displayed like it was fine china - with all the world to see the years of wear and well, other stuff.


That's just wrong. In fact, there should be a law forbidding it. But I'm not sure how one would even write up a bill like that. You'd think common sense could prevail.

But as I'm making my way out of this establishment - fearing for my life, really - I catch a glimpse of a price tag on one incredibly hideous ceramic cat cookie jar.


That's right. A cookie jar.

Of a cat.

An ugly cat.


I couldn't hold it in any longer. I practically sprinted to my car in order to avoid laughing in front of these people.

MAYBE that cat is a collector's item. I'm not sure. I'm no cookie jar connoisseur, by any means.

But very few things at a garage sale should be priced at $85.

A large appliance.

A small snowblower, perhaps.

But a cookie jar? Of an ugly cat? Again...seems to go against all common sense.

My personal favorite today was walking into a garage to find a very large box - we're talking the size of a small refrigerator - stuffed full of children's shoes. I just assumed they didn't have time to get them all displayed. There was already a large lineup of shoes on the driveway, after all.

I see one shoe on the top of the pile that looks cute, so I shuffle a couple other shoes in search for the mate.

The homeowner gets my attention and says, "Oh, those are all mis-matched. You won't find the other one like it."

I was dumbfounded. I was aghast. I looked at her with astonishment and said, "Really? This WHOLE box is full of shoes missing their match?!"

She smiles and shrugs as she looks at her children gathered around her. "Yeah," she sighs. Then a bit embarrassed, she replies, "I know."

It was tragic, really. Dozens of adorable shoes - some in excellent condition - with no match. How does this happen??

I can understand a lost shoe here and there - but an entire box full of them? That's nearly miraculous.

My mind began to race with all the possibilities of where those shoes could be.

I picture the shoe hanging from an electrical line (evidence a bully came by or a teenager pulled a prank).

Or on the street. (perhaps it fell out during a Chinese fire drill?)

Or ferociously chewed to bits by the family dog. (naughty Fido)

Whatever the reason, I was puzzled as to why they would even be offered up for sale.

You're expecting a lot if you think a one-footed customer could happen to - well - hop in.

I suppose it could be helpful for that kid who ended up in a cast and doesn't want to wear out one shoe while they wait for their foot, ankle or leg to heal. This is a perfect solution in that case.

But even a cast is only on for about 6 weeks. A couple shoes should suffice.

Personally, I would have just pitched them.

They would have fit nicely in the garbage truck next to those nasty tightie-whities.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The stars may shine a little brighter tonight...

His eyes said everything.

Today a small, rural church will fill with people to honor a man and celebrate a life full of its share of ups and downs.

He knew tragedy.

He knew joy.

He knew hard work.

He knew gentleness.

Most of all, he knew love.

And you saw it in his eyes.

Those sparkling eyes...

Even on his death bed, amidst pain and discomfort...a yearning for it all to come to an end...the sparkle was there.

It may have dimmed a bit, but as it accompanied a wink - as it usually did if a grandchild caught his eye - it was one thing the cancer couldn't take.

As I sift through family photographs, it's a privilege to consider the life of this man.

A simple school boy.
A young farmer.
A mourning son.
A grinning groom.
A self-less soldier.
A proud father.
A compassionate grandfather.

Like most farmers, he knew the value of hard work. His strength was undeniable.

In fact, at the point of beginning cancer treatments when he seemed incredibly weak (his family wasn't convinced he could endure it), his doctor believed he would persevere.

Due to sheer strength.

But eventually the battle became too much to fight. The opponent too great.

On his final day, his young granddaughter refused to leave his side. His eyes met hers.

And he winked.

He barely had the strength to take a breath. He could no longer sit up. Attempts to eat or drink were futile.

And yet he winked...and did his best to curve his mouth into a smile for her.

His eyes would want to close, but he'd force them back open.

And then a tear would sneak out of the corner of his eye.

His eyes dimmed. And he was gone.

As the family gathers and remembers this man that meant so much...we grieve a loss.

But cheer for victory over death. Heaven is his new home.

And his eyes shine brighter than ever.


"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, even though he dies, he will live." (John 11:25)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Good times. Good memories. Good grief, we’re old.

Webster defines a reunion as “A social gathering attended by members of a certain group of people who have not seen each other for some time.”

Okay, it’s not as if I really thought you didn’t know what “reunion” meant, but I looked it up just to see what ol’ Webster had to say. (It’s good to ask Webster a thing or two. After all, he’s just sitting out there waiting for some attention.)

But let’s break this apart.

A social gathering
In light of my recent class reunion, that’s putting it mildly. Social – uh, yeah.

We are talkers.

What we are NOT is: dancers or loud music-listeners. The days of heavy metal pounding through the speakers or tearing apart a dance floor are over for us. No, we wanted the music turned down so we could carry on a conversation without screaming.

All that hollering just gives us a headache and sore throat. We don’t need that.

We’ve got kids to go home to and may have to report to work in the morning. Plus we’re genuinely interested in what the other person is saying so it would be helpful if we could hear it. Frankly, having to yell, “What’s that?” four or five times just makes us feel even older.

Especially when it’s shouted during a Van Halen song.

Members of a certain group of people
Oh, yes. Definitely a “certain” group of people. We’re the Class of 1991. A group of about 55 men and women wondering where in the world the time went. Honestly. 20 years? How did that happen so fast?

Nonetheless, there we stood.

Hoping we didn’t look too fat, too gray or too sleepy (no one likes to admit that they can’t recall the last time they were up past 11pm if it was due to anything other than heartburn).

And guess what? As one reunion-goer put it, “I think we all look (slight, thoughtful pause) pretty good.”

Not completely convincing, but we’ll take it.

Reunions are funny that way. First and foremost, let’s face it. We’re checking appearances.

Mainly for easing our own curiosity about whether we’re the only one who put on a few pounds or added some laugh lines.

Then we’re hopeful everyone is living happy, healthy lives. We hold out hope that our classmate who marginally escaped death in the past year looks well. He does, and we’re relieved because it’s not just external. Latest medical report says he really is doing well. Whew!

Who have not seen each other for some time
I love that. For “some time.” Like it could be a week or 100 years. In many cases it’s literally been 20 years since I’ve seen these people.

While 20 years seems to have flown by, a lot happens in two decades. Weddings, births, graduations, deaths, job changes, surgeries, moves, divorces, remarriages, and plenty of other significant life events along the way.

And yet, for a few hours this weekend, time stood still.

We were carried back to a time when a well-timed Bryan Adams or Bon Jovi song could soothe our sorrow. Life seemed simpler back then. Of course we believed once we threw that grad cap in the air, we would take flight ourselves…into a future of possibilities and exciting unknowns.

Now that ‘future of possibility’ is full of potty-training, enduring adolescence, and fretting the first day of college all over again – seeing it all from a whole new set of eyes.

Or maybe it’s job success or failure. Family dysfunction. Saying goodbye to those we love.

Sure, there’s likely plenty of regrets. But with nearly 40 years of life behind us, we’re smart enough to not dwell on them. Instead, we’re grateful for the little things, because we know the big things are out of our control.

I certainly enjoyed my class reunion. Spending time with these men and women void of the teenage awkwardness, cliques and desperate need to impress was refreshingly fun. We could reminisce about days gone by, but also congratulate each other on how far we’ve come.

While rarely do we take the time to walk through our past, when we do, it illuminates some pretty sweet memories.

Who would have thought that cheesy class motto would actually hold true? “The moment is only temporary, but the memory is forever.”

Now let's not wait 20 years before we dust off the cobwebs again, okay?

Hey classmates - in case you're looking for more tidbits from the reunion, check out our Class of 1991 page on Facebook for my "The Best of the Class" note.