Monday, October 27, 2008

Leslie and the Aliens

(Lots to say, no time to say it! For now, I thought maybe you'd enjoy a true story I wrote a couple of years ago.)

Because my sister was older than me it was only natural that she was smarter. I learned a lot from her. For instance, I learned that I was adopted. My parents had never told me about this, and in fact denied it when I asked, but then my sister had warned me that would happen.
"They don't want to upset you," she explained. "So they'll never admit it. But I remember it well! My parents and I went for a walk one day." Here she paused and looked at me to see if I realized the idyllic life she'd given up for me. "And there you were, floating in the sewer."
"How could I float if I was so little?" I questioned breathlessly, picturing my pitiful little self drowning in a sewer as a baby.
"Oh, you were floating on a log," she said airily, "and I found you. We all felt sorry for you so I fished you out with my umbrella and we brought you home. I've had to pretend like you were my sister ever since!" she finished with a sigh.
Naturally I appreciated the sacrifice she'd made for me. But just in case I wasn't grateful enough, she let me in on a weighty secret that burdened her young mind terribly.
"There are aliens, you know," she confided in a nervous whisper one day, as our kitten streaked across the bed.
"Really?" I quavered, making a grab for my sock just as the kitten attacked it and getting scratched in the process. "What are aliens?"
"Oh, they are monsters from space," she told me, "and they are mean!" I let go of the sock to suck on my scratched finger and the kitten disappeared under the bed with it. "If you don't do exactly what I tell you to do, they'll come and you'll have to go to space with them and be mean, too!"
"Why do I have to do what you say?" I inquired indignantly.
"I'm only telling you what they said," my sister said, hurt. "I'm warning you!"
"How do you know this stuff?" I inquired skeptically.
"Because I'm the only one who can understand them. So I'm useful."
"Well, I just won't go with them," I decided, but she shook her head sadly at my futile defiance. "They'll turn you in to one of them. Then you'll have to go."
"How?" I demanded shortly, a little fed up with these persistent aliens. I looked under the bed, but the kitten was up in the mattress springs destroying my sock. I got back on the bed and began bouncing, hoping to drive her out.
"There's something you have to drink," she started to explain, but I interrupted her.
"I won't drink it!" I avowed.
"Sure you will," she predicted, "after awhile, when you get thirsty enough. They won't give you any thing else to drink."
And that, it seemed, was that. Leaving my other sock on the bed, I went off barefoot to play. Leslie suggested we play "princess," That sounded good - until she informed me I had to be the prince! I started to argue, but then I remembered the aliens. I played prince. Later, she got to be Batman and I had to be Robin. It was a long day.
The next day, I suggested we play Mousetrap. "No, we're playing Chess," she announced. "Let's play jump rope," I'd beg. She'd get out pick-up-sticks. Eventually my mother began to notice my cheerful acqueisance to everything my sister wanted and one day she took me aside privately.
"You know, you can do what you want once in a while," she said, trying to pull my hair ribbon out from under the coffee table where the kitten was tearing it up. "You don't always have to do what your sister wants." She pulled her hand back quickly and reached for a magazine.
"No, I want to do what she does," I quickly answered, watching her poke at the cat with the magazine. "Especially since I'm adopted, you know."
"Tracie, you are not adopted," my mother said through gritted teeth.
"Mom, you know I'm not a baby anymore," I said. "You can tell me the truth."
"I think I hear your sister calling you," she said. She laid the tatters of the magazine on the table and left the ribbon to the kitten.
This went on for quite a while. One night, after our story, prayers, our drink, a trip to the bathroom, the bonus story my sister always shared with me about monsters, another drink, a swat for refusing to stop talking, and another trip to the bathroom, we settled down to sleep. Our backs were touching all the way down to our cold little feet to prevent anything from grabbing us from behind. We'd jumped into the bed so quickly and from such a distance that even the monster under the bed that waited each night to grab us by the ankles and drag us under for his dinner, had given up and gone to sleep. Aware of my parents on guard in the living room and the kitten closed up in the bathroom for the night, quietly shredding toilet tissue, I drifted off.
"Ow," I yelped. I'd been startled awake by something sharp poking me in the side. I tried to turn and look, but got poked again. "Leslie," I hissed in a whisper, but got no response. Sleepily rubbing my eyes, I got up and pushed the curtain aside. Moonlight poured in and I turned to the bed. My sister had vanished! In her place a small fury was twisting and turning, all claws and teeth and strange, hissing sounds.
I stared in disbelief for a moment, and then it dawned on me. The aliens had gotten mixed up! They'd missed me and gotten her by mistake! I burst out laughing and laughed so hard my parents came running from their room to see what could cause such mirth in the middle of the night. The light went on and the alien turned into our kitten! She'd been sprung from her confinement by none other than my sister, failing to shut the door tight after her last visit. My sister herself appeared, having been taken in to my parent's bed after a bad dream.
The spell was broken. I no longer believed in aliens. I no longer waited on my sister hand and foot. She didn't have a willing slave any more. Instead, we grew to be friends. One day she even admitted that I hadn’t been adopted after all.
“Nope, it was really me that was adopted,” she confessed with a melancholy smile. “I was a princess in Egypt, and you were my loyal servant. One day my kingdom was attacked by enemies. You managed to escape, and...”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Don't Worry - Here's Why!

"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?

And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Matthew6:26-34 (New American Standard)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Don't Worry. It Doesn't Help.

I tend to be one of those people who doesn't worry about much. Now, don't get me wrong, I am very concientious and responsible. But I don't WORRY. I don't fret and stress, and I'm not afraid all the time. I figure we might as well LIVE until we die, otherwise we might as well be dead anyway. I do pray a lot, but then I tend to let God decide the outcome, and since I know He knows what He's doing, I don't have to try to "help" determine the outcome "my way."

But I don't want to be stupid either. I make sure the stove is turned off when I'm done cooking, lock the doors before I go to bed, and drive as safely as I can. And lately, now that my sons have moved on and I'm here alone a lot, I try to be a little more aware of things. Gardening is one of those things I have to be a little more careful about.

When I garden (or any thing else, for that matter) I tend to forget to pace myself. I just go full bore until I'm ready to drop. But besides being accident prone, I'm not as young as I was, and I've gotten myself in to some trouble doing that. The most recent and serious was heat stroke. I'd been mowing in the hottest part of a Florida summer day, and I began to feel chest pain. I stopped mowing and went in to drink water and cool off, but I couldn't get cool - instead I got nauseous and dizzy, progressing to violent vomiting. I have some health issues with medications that exacerbate the problem, so I was one sick puppy. I recovered, but it left an impression, not only on me but on my doctor and hubby! So now I have to take precautions - and I do! I watch the heat, wear a hat and sunglasses, stop to rest in the shade and drink water, and keep only one battery for the mower, so when it runs out, I'm done.

When I go out to garden, I've begun taking water, a chair, my cell phone, and lately, my keys. I got a scare from a vagrant one day, and I realized any one could go in to the house while I was out working in the garden and I would never know it until I was locked in there with them. So I try to take the proper precautions.

But you know, it's a fine line between proper precautions and living in fear. Today was a good example. I took all the many things out with me that I could possibly need to stay safe and healthy while weeding my plumbagos. But then I had the problem of what to do with them. In typical impulsive fashion, I didn't think it through. I just stuck the keys and cell phone in my shirt (you know, ladies, the ever present "purse" that resides there!). I gardened happily for quite a while, serene in the knowledge that I'd covered all the bases. Until I was nearing exhaustion and decided to finish up and go in. That's when I realized I didn't have my keys anymore. At some point gravity had played it's little prank, and they were gone! I am not known for staying calm in situations like that, but I did! I (calmly) walked around to all the places I'd been, looking (calmly) for the keys. I didn't find the keys, but I did give some thought to the thick piles of weeds I'd clutched to my bosom and then thrown over the cow pasture fence. But I didn't dwell on that thought. Finally I gave up and called my husband. About that time I suffered my ultimate humiliation as I realized I DID have pockets in these shorts after all! It was the OTHER shorts that didn't have pockets.

My husband called my son, who was closer, and who I couldn't call because I had never put his new number in my cell phone, and he came to rescue me. He not only let me back in my own house, but he even found the missing keys for me. Lying in plain site about 2 feet from where I was sitting in the shade in despair.

So what have I learned from this? That I'm a hopeless and impulsive clutz. But actually I already knew that, so what ELSE did I learn from this? I have no idea. On the one hand, being "safe" didn't work out so well, as it so often does not. (How many people shoot a loved one thinking they are a burglar, or are suffocated in their own air bag, or die in a fire because there were bars on their windows?). On the other hand, I was rather glad I had my cell phone with me. And my water, for that matter. So I basically learned I was right all along (don't you LOVE when that happens?); that I need to take precautions, but not worry too much. Pray, leave it in God's hands, and LIVE until I die. At which time I have a sneaking suspicion that the angels will be laughing so hard from whatever ridiculous way I end up dying that they won't even be able to greet me right away!
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