Grateful For Smiles, Three Unexpected Things

THING ONE: Looking Up


Our local Kroger is undergoing a remodel that started in April.  Since about day 1 this upside down wheelbarrow has been on the roof, not moving, just sitting up there.  While the unexpected wheelbarrow placement is a charming bit of whimsy, every time I see it I chuckle to myself wondering if anyone doing the remodel remembers that it’s up there.

Care to place a bet as to when [if] it ever comes down?

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THING TWO: Looking Forward


Shopping in Half Price Books I noticed that the clever employees have quietly moved all the books by and about Hillary Clinton off the “First Ladies” shelves to the nearby “Presidents” shelves.  This might be presumptuous OR it might be prophetic, but it is, if nothing else, an unexpected bit of humor.

Good people in that store. I like how they think.

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THING THREE: Looking Around


Fuzzy the Squirrel, who hangs out around our house, has found a new, unexpected way to entertain [annoy?] me.  For the first time he’s leaving nut shells all over any concrete or stone surface in front of the house.  Meaning that when I want to get the mail I have dodge sharp nut shells as I walk to the mailbox OR use a broom to sweep the shells away as I walk along.

Sure, he’s cute, but oh. so. bothersome.

~ • ~


{ This post, inspired by Nerd in the Brain‘s Three Things Thursday, is part of a weekly blogging event dedicated to the idea that gratitude is awesome and leads to smiles. You can join in too. Go here to learn more. }

How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 2 of 2]

[Part 1 of this childhood story is here.]

The next time Karl started hassling me was in class a few days later.

He sat a row in front of me and turned around to torment me, the quiet girl named Alice, by mocking my name in a sing-song fashion: “Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland.”

I was mad.

Following my father’s advice I turned to Karl and said loudly: “So who are you? The March Hare?”

As fate would have it, our teacher, Miss Thomas, a maiden lady [as they used to say to describe unmarried women over 50], was standing at the end of my row.

She was a known disciplinarian, seemingly devoid of whimsy.

However, my adult putdown of a kid who she knew was going to be trouble for years to come caught her off guard, and she burst out laughing.  At which point the rest of my class joined her in laughing at red-faced Karl, former bully turned class buffoon, thanks to a few well said words at the right time.

Thank you, Daddy.

From this experience I learned three valuable lessons that have stayed with me to this day:

  1. Words have power;
  2. If you can make people laugh, you can make a point;  and
  3. Bullies are weaklings who you can take down, one way or another, if you just apply yourself to making them look like fools in front of their peers.

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How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 1 of 2]

Watching The Donald make an ass of himself while attempting to intimidate Hillary reminded me of this story from my childhood.

My father, a genius, did not suffer fools easily.

He had zero patience for stupidity combined with malice.  It’s from him that I learned how to shut down anyone who gets out of hand by flaunting his or her willful ignorance &/or bad manners in my face.

Be forewarned.

However, as a kid I was not naturally inclined to defend myself.  You see, I was a shy, bookish child with poor coordination, no siblings, and thick eyeglasses.

Bullies used me for target practice, because I was physically weak and because I was a girl and because of my legal first name.

In the first few weeks of kindergarten one bully, Karl, an oversized-oaf with pale blond hair and a need to be noticed [sound like anyone in particular?], started bugging me on the playground and in the classroom.

I was upset and didn’t know what to do.

When I told my mother, an introvert, about what was going on she gave me her general advice about people: “just ignore ’em.”  This, as you can imagine, was of no help to me in this situation.

Kindergarten is not the time for taking the high road.

So I turned to my father.

He listened to my problem then told me exactly what to do.  I didn’t understand what he wanted me to do, but I knew, even at a young age, that this guy had a way of dealing with people, so I did exactly what he said.

[Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.]

Hobbling, But Happy: An Early October Walk In The Park

We’ve yet to see any fall color here, but on Sunday the sky was clear blue.


Zen-Den and I decided to go to a city park for a mosey.


It seemed like a sensible thing to do.


You see, Zen-Den, who sprained his ankle a few weekends ago, was just getting back to walking without a crutch.


And I had twisted my knee while mowing the yard on Saturday morning, meaning I was moving slowly, too.


So, not wanting to let a glorious day go to waste, we hit upon the idea of going to a nice flat park.


Where we hobbled ourselves around, park bench to park bench, taking photos and laughing about how we’ve somehow morphed into old people.

Unwanted: A Photo Study Of Stuff, With Commentary

• OUT FOR A STROLL AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD, I saw this little chest of drawers sitting out by the curb, waiting for trash pick-up.  I immediately thought of Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson’s observation: “If you are tired of style, you are tired of life.”


~ • ~

• WALKING THROUGH OUR LITTLE DOWNTOWN, I saw this sign on the window of a dilapidated building that I hope to heaven is torn down soon.  It’s the kind of private property that appears to be one sneeze away from collapse, and as such, is dangerous to walk by.


~ • ~

• ORGANIZING THE JUNK DRAWER, in search of coins, I found this long-expired casino voucher for a whopping 15¢.  Never let it be said that I am not a frugal optimist, albeit a disorganized one, who believed that she’d get back to the casino to redeem this voucher.


~ • ~

• SORTING THROUGH THE BASEMENT, I found these moving boxes that I saved from our last move 17 years ago.  Interestingly enough, I have no idea where they came from.  We are not the Sparks family, but apparently years ago we got their stoneware, plus bowls and glasses.


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And The Award For The Best Sales Pitch By A Kid At The Front Door Goes To…

LATE AFTERNOON ON A SUNDAY, the doorbell rang.

I answered the door to see a tall skinny kid, who probably eats 4,000 calories a day and is still hungry, standing on my stoop.

He was wearing his scout uniform with shorts, looked to be about 15, and was holding a clipboard horizontally [landscape style] in front of him.

In the metal clip on his clipboard he had put a pen so that the pen protruded toward me, allowing me easy access to the pen.  Clipped to the board itself was an official Boy Scouts of America order form.

He said nothing, but his brown eyes, made large by his glasses with farsighted-lenses, showed me that he was alert.

And clever.

# # #

OVER THE YEARS I’VE LEARNED that neighbor kids selling things will just stand there at the front door if I don’t get the conversation rolling, so I said: “hello.”

To which he said: “POPCORN.”

And that is all he said.

There was no involved introduction. There was no needless chatting. There was no coy sales banter.

There was just a kid, probably an introvert forced to sell something that he has no interest in selling, standing in front of me.

I immediately loved this kid and his direct sales approach, so guess what I did?

I said: “ok.”  And grabbed the pen and clipboard so that I could order popcorn.

Lots of it.

Because, as you my gentle readers will understand, I’m easily charmed by a no-nonsense man with knobby knees in a uniform.

# # #

{ source }

I’m Where I Belong As Autumn Begins. And You?

Take the “What State Do You Actually Belong In” quiz. Find out, for sure, where you belong. In case you’re unclear about this. Or you’re just looking for something to do. Which is how I stumbled upon this quiz. Which turned out to be spot on.

• • •

I’ve often thought that if you don’t like autumn around here, then there’s something dead in your soul.

I can understand not liking our gray, snowy winters. They are dreary and can sap your soul, requiring a certain kind of physical and mental strength that not everyone has.

That some years I don’t have. No problem, there. That I get.

But to not like fall here in Ohio?

That seems most peculiar to me, oh Autumn-haters.

• • •

img_0036Here’s what I mean.

Autumn is just beginning around here and already the weather has turned cooler, dropping into the 50s at night, and the humidity is gone.  I’m sleeping more soundly at night, windows open, and am wearing sweaters, or fleece, during the day.

A more alert me, and you, is good.

The leaves on the trees and bushes have yet to turn colors, but each day a few leaves fall onto the ground, a precursor of what is to come: bold colors, naked trees and clear blue skies by day + dark starry skies by night.

img_0035This will be good, just wait and see.

And what about the fact that fall ushers in HallowThanksMasNewYear, a time of endless candy, cookies, costumes, outfits, and decorations?  Hmmm?  Had you thought of that, oh Autumn-haters?

Sweetness and sparkle is good for all of us.

• • •

Obviously if you, oh Autumn-haters, insist on not liking this season, despite my thrown together well-reasoned and quickly written impassioned entreaty to change your mind, I will let it go.

Which, I do believe, now that I think about it, is the subtext of this entire season.

Don’t ‘ya know?  ;-)

• • •