wocket in my pocket

Looking for the unexpected in the mundane.

Things I Don’t Know About

I love a great pun. Reading a children’s book with the line, “I love you doggedly, like a flea,” just delights me. Clever words tickle my ears and I absolutely love that my four year old describes herself “rushing across the backyard” instead of the conventional running. So why, I ask, do I groan every time I see a church sign that is so punny?

Last night I drove past two different churches and both gave me a pause and an inner wailing noooo-just-please-nooo. The first said, “Son screen prevents sin burn.” A few miles down the road there was another, “Gardening with God brings peas of mind… Lettuce be kind. Squash gossip. Turnip for church.” I wonder who invented church signs, anyway? And could we stick with profound and simple instead of brain twisting word play? question_2

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Summertime here is synonymous with lost shoes. Every time we want to go away, someone ends up weeping that they can’t find anything to wear on their feet. Each little girl has sandals, crocs and flip-flops. You would think at least one complete pair would be in their shoe box, but we end up doing the rounds of the sand box, play house, Suburban, etc until everyone is properly shod. We met out-of-state friends on Monday night to visit for a while. When we left it was dark and I didn’t think to check for the girls’ sandals. We left not one pair, but two. A few days later, while I was driving to retrieve the missing shoes, I got a text from my mom: Girls left their flip flops here–Will drop them off later.

I feel like Little Bear’s mother, who kept making him more and more clothes to stay warm, but finally he stripped down to just his own little bearskin and was perfectly happy without any other clothes. What a relief that was! Having said that, I have to admit that bare feet are not always good, as Rita discovered when she was picking wild raspberries and cut a deep gash in her foot that required stitches. And I am certainly not suggesting letting our children run around in just their little skins, but hey, it was the first plan in Eden! Still. Imagine how much time we would save if we weren’t constantly washing things in a ceaseless effort to stay clean. ???

My boys are on a camouflage kick this summer. They wear their camo shirts and pants day after day, until I insist strenuously that they have to change. It seems to be the last word in tween boy fashion and it sure does save on laundry, but it’s a little monotonous. I wonder how long this stage will last?

I myself have been losing things the last few days. I couldn’t find my glasses one morning, searching until I had a headache. So I got out my spare pair with black plastic frames, very modern and hot they are (as in, they make my face feel hot), but at least I could see without strain. It was days before someone pulled my favorite pair out of a crack in the couch and how they got there, I have no idea.

I have been reading this lady’s story of how she went minimalist and sold and sold stuff and got rid of everything that wasn’t nailed down or made her truly happy, like her children. They pulled out the shrubbery so they wouldn’t have to waste time trimming it. She keeps saying, “You can always buy another [insert material good here] if you find you need one.” And she got rid of almost all her clothes and went and bought what she calls a “capsule wardrobe” which is just about fourteen pieces of clothing that pair well with each other in endless combinations. I think it sounds fascinating, but I have concluded that this is sort of a first world thing to do. If you are not wealthy, you don’t go buy all new clothes from name brand stores so that you can always look pulled together and your closet looks coughed out of Pinterest. No, you go to Goodwill and enjoy the treasure hunt. So your grill isn’t the last name in sophistication. The hamburgers taste great and you know you will not be replacing it just because it doesn’t quite make you as happy as that other one on the market. Except in the quite unlikely event that you find one at a yard sale. Or unless you have plenty of money. So there is this disconnect with simplicity and lifestyle that bugs me. And if we got rid of our two freezers that hound energy and hog space, where would we put our green beans? I just don’t want to live in a Tiny House, thank you very much.

Speaking of beans, has anyone ever experimented to see if green beans will keep making baby beans forever if you don’t pull them out? I am just curious. We knew we planted extra and have sold about 3 bushels of them, just because we really want some other stuff in our freezer too.

It’s August. I cannot believe it, but my ears insist it is true. The fall insects are in full cry outside my window, serenading the waning blue moon. I saw some bright red leaves beside the road, so naturally I just ate a bowl of ice cream with fresh raspberry sauce to reassure myself.

The children wanted me to join them in the pond today. I had 17 things to do, but I chucked them all and went and floated in the sunshine. The wash is ever with me and I can scrub the fly specks off the windows tomorrow. Addy keeps asking me if we can blow up balloons, if we can buy ice cream, if we can have friends over, if we can roast marshmallows… I have a habit of absent-mindedly murmuring, “Oh, maybe.” She had enough of it and asked in exasperation, “What does maybe mean?”

I hope your summer is just as amazing and cheerful as ours!

Next up: a guest post from my husband!

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Five Things You May Not Know About Nurses

Tonight my husband came home 8 hours later than we had expected. The relief nurse didn’t show up and there were emergencies and problems tying him up. Other people’s problems. That’s the thing about nurses: they spend their entire day caring about problems when people are in the most susceptible places. I didn’t like that he couldn’t come home at lunchtime, but it was okay. Four o’clock wouldn’t be so bad. Then I got the text that he was going to be detained until 7:00 and that meant not going to church tonight. When he told me that he got to help stabilize a critically ill child, I was really glad I hadn’t spent any energy being mad about the hours. Sometimes I do that, you know.

A while ago I wrote this list and was reminded of it tonight. I would make a horrible nurse. It isn’t my gift. But I have observed my husband as he exercises his gift and I feel some recognition is due. So here you go,

Five Things You May Not Know About Nurses

  1. Nurses work extremely hard. They routinely take more than the 10,000 steps recommended for daily fitness. That is five miles, by the way. They lift tons of people and I mean that literally. They do this in 12 hour shifts with about 1/2 hour break if they are lucky. They work at night and on holidays and on weekends when everybody else is out camping. One time another lady and I were discussing packing lunches for our husbands and she mentioned that I probably don’t have to pack as much food as if he were working hard. Well. I didn’t tell her how often he didn’t even have time to eat the stuff I packed because other people’s needs were more important than his own. Nurses are knackered when they get home. They need food and drink. They deserve to use the bathroom in peace, take a long hot shower. It is best to wash off all traces of MRSA.
  2. Nurses really do enjoy sticking in IV’s but nobody wants to hit that vein the first time more than they do. That is why they like to stroke your arms, looking for good veins. It’s a funny way to show affection and practice their craft at the same time. If you have great veins, you will occupy a special little place in their hearts. If you don’t have good veins, you represent a challenge, and they can think of lots of places to try next while you shiver in horror. Probably I wouldn’t need to mention this, but I have an extreme aversion to needles.
  3. Nurses have an unorthodox sense of humor. “Hey Hon, come check out this neat Youtube clip,” instantly raises suspicion after just one look at “World’s Biggest Booger” or “Boil Popping on Back of Neck”. I mean, ewwwww. One can never un-see these things. It is my opinion that this dark humor is a way to cope with all the yuck and gore, a chance to laugh at things that are even stranger than the stuff they dealt with that day.
  4. Nurses have vast repertoires of interesting stories, most of which you will never hear because of patient confidentiality. They might tell you about the patient who was crawling with bugs or the man who had no idea who he was, but you have a much better chance of finding out on Facebook that your friend was in the hospital than from that friend’s nurse. And that fear that women have, that somehow the nurses will leak how much they weigh? Not even a chance. They value their jobs and the patient’s dignity much more than that. As a nurse’s spouse, I really don’t find out much about his work unless I listen to the stories when a bunch of nurses get together. That is when the tales come forth that would make a stoic sniffle. Or a maggot gag. It just depends on what is being discussed. You can’t really shock a nurse, and they aren’t afraid to talk about anything when with their own kind.
  5. Nurses are not in it for the money. This is a myth that I would like to dispel. The vast majority of people wouldn’t even touch this work without a lot more pay. It may be a cliche, but it’s true: Nurses are kind souls. They are trained to cheerfully respond to the irritating person who is constantly ringing the bell for attention. They change diapers on adults. They have to be able to care about their patients, yet expect little thanks. Many times they provide care for those who are dying and carefully explain what is happening to distraught family members. These are not really things one does for money. When a patient returns to the hospital, healthy and full of gratefulness, thanking their health care providers for attending their needs in a vulnerable time, it makes a nurse’s day. That is why they do what they do. They really like to help people.

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This is my favorite nurse. I am so grateful that he is using his gift to help bring healing and comfort to the world. (The schedule does stink, though, but that is just my personal opinion.)

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Schlabach Family Camping

I guess it wasn’t actually camping. Since my siblings have all procreated fairly steadily in the last decade, we have given up on rough camping. We found a cabin large enough to accommodate our needs and converged there. This post will be mainly pictures, for those of you who know my family and are interested. Apologies to anyone else.

Here we have my parents, affectionately known as Pops and Mama. We are so glad they fell in love a long long time ago. We are even more glad that they kept on loving and raised us in a happy home.

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Here is a line up of the offspring. It appears that we have now exceeded the bounds of one photo frame, so I have it in two. You can splice them in your mind right there by the little blue boy. There are five boys and twelve girls. Lots of drama in this family!

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I remember doing photo shoots like that when I was little. It was never as much fun for the children as the grownups. Oldest in our family is my brother Nate, who is turning 40 this year! Hi Nate! He and his wife are raising four lovely daughters.

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That’s Gabe and I with our crew in the second photo. Kenny is third in the line. We had the honor of meeting Jenica, the youngest of the entire crew, for the first time on this trip.

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Last, but certainly not least, there is Rachel and her family. She is turning 35 this year. Yup, that’s right. My Mama had four babies in less than five years. It was probably a lot of work for her, but it sure was a blast for us. For some reason Nate and I used to refer to Kenny and Rachel as “the little children” despite the fact that they were right on our heels. Probably that is why Rachel resented it so much when we called her the baby of the family.

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I have one photo that deserves a spot as the most delectable meal I have eaten in a long time. Kenny’s wife Carma served us this plate full of flavors that were just delightful. I can’t remember what it was called, but it involved chicken and mangoes and cilantro, among other ingredients. Isn’t it so purrrty?

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It was great to get away for a few days and just visit and eat and eat and visit. You know how it goes. It is also quite a bit more relaxing now that the most of the children play nicely together. The older ones found a game that kept them occupied for hours and hours. And the little girls… well they just kind of trolled around being mostly sweet.

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We are so blessed!

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Living it Up In the Garden

Our family had a weekend with the in-laws in Rome, unplugged by necessity, but actually it is a relief to be unreachable. Well, they do have land lines, but you have to take a walk up the hill for cell service and while you are doing that you feel the ridiculousness of constantly glancing at the bars on your phone when there is a panorama of rare beauty in the Endless Mountains.

I got up this morning with one thing on my mind: laundry. We had some full hampers when we left, so there was plenty of it! Then I opened the washer lid to see the load of towels and washcloths I had put in so they wouldn’t get stinky while we were gone. Alas, they had not gotten transferred to the dryer and were just plain… searching for a word here…. putrid. Wow, I thought to myself. What a great start!

Then I took a walk outside, checking on the gardens. I noticed that the weeds grew about 18 inches while we were away. Seriously, if you take your eyes off those things… As I strolled further, I saw that the tomatoes are in full bloom. And the row of Amish Pastes that I planted for sauces, they appear to be cherry tomatoes. Wow, I thought to myself, that little green house lady just messed with my summer. We can never keep up with just one cherry tomato plant. How about a whole row of them??? Gabe said hopefully they will get bigger, like develop into Amish Pastes after all. I am not holding my breath. Oh, the drama that can attend gardening.

We have whopping big broccoli heads ready to harvest, and the constant flow of green beans. But the best of all are the raspberries right now. We eat all we want, enough to make us sick, and still there are more. It is lovely. Wanna see the new variety Gabe planted?

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Aren’t they amazing? Five berries filled the palm of my hand. I am so grateful that Gabe takes care of the pruning and staking. Picking is more fun.

I also brought in our first cucumbers and sliced them up to eat with our breakfast eggs. They are so delightfully fresh that I think I will just throw out the store bought ones in the crisper drawer of the fridge.

On my way back into the house I noticed that the portulaca planted in the window boxes is nearly bursting itself with effort these days. My grandma liked these flowers, so in her memory I planted some this year. I had forgotten how sprightly and durable it is. I forget to water the window boxes too many days, yet it thrives. And every time I look at these flowers, I think of my grandma’s cement walkway scuffed by manurey chore boots going to the back door, yet bordered the whole length with a cheerful row of portulacas. That’s how my grandma was, and it makes me happy to think of her.

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I just read recently that the purslane that is the bane of my garden is a relative of portulaca and it is edible. I bet my grandma knew that too. I remember when she showed me a cheese plant with its diminutive seed pod that looks like a tiny wheel of Swiss. She urged me to eat it, and after that the play with the cousins included some foraging for snacks in the weeds. If you like edible wild plants, check this out. Here is how it looks.

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Now that the lettuce in the garden has bolted, I am considering a salad of purslane and mallow (cheese plant) with a generous side of freshly sliced cucumber. We could kill two birds with one stone, pull weeds and harvest lunch in one fell swoop. Sorry. It’s late and the idioms do tend to get out of the bag.

I LOVE this season even more than reading and writing. Maybe you noticed? I think heaven will be like May and June weather with the harvests of July and there won’t be weeds. I think heaven will be walking with my grandma through gardens that have no Japanese beetles endlessly chewing and making out in the raspberries. I think heaven will have plenty of zucchini for everyone but not too much.

What is your favorite thing about summer?

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