Hate to Read?

angry-readerSome people hate to read.  I understand that now.  Are you a reading hater?  That’s okay.  I am friend, not foe.  Please don’t stop reading this column.
I always thought I was smart.  Teachers told me I was smart.  My grades told me I was smart.  Every year, after achievement testing, the public school told my parents I was smart.  The problem?  It wasn’t reality.  While I’m extremely gifted in some areas, I’m sadly lacking in others.  Bottom line?   I love words.  I always have.  I can read well and write well-formed paragraphs.  I don’t remember learning to read.  When someone showed me those beautiful letters and the way they could be pieced together to build ideas, I was hooked.  I was home.  I can now use those 26 letters to make people laugh and cry.  But I cannot build a bridge.  I cannot understand calculus.  I cannot put a puzzle together or even understand the importance of quantum physics.  The irony?  The ONE thing I CAN do is the one thing that made me look so smart in school. But all is not as it seems. This is my story.  Our story.

Our youngest son was introduced to letters at an early age.  But they were never his friends.  When he looked at the letters, he couldn’t clearly see how those letters made words.  He couldn’t read the words well or spell the words.  No one could explain it.  After our own research, we now know that he probably has dyslexia.  Dyslexia has gotten a lot of national attention and many school districts now have specialists who have been trained to help dyslexic students unlock the complicated wiring differences which can lead to reading success.  Unfortunately, our district does not currently address this issue.

Some of you may have dyslexia.  If statistics are correct, a lot of you have it. Maybe you always hated writing, spelling, and even reading.  Maybe you felt stupid.  It didn’t matter that you had a gift for science. Science class was all about reading Chapter 7 and writing a well-organized paragraph about photosynthesis.  You hated the thought of spelling “photosynthesis” much less writing a paragraph about it.  Despite your love for the plant world, your hatred for letters made even the study of plants miserable.  Some thought you weren’t very bright.  Unmotivated.  Lazy.  But the ability to put 26 letters together is not intelligence.  It never has been.  And if no one ever told you that, let me be the first.  I made an A on the photosynthesis report.  I couldn’t tell you one thing about it.

Our son can do lots of things I can’t begin to do.  He can take a box of Legos and build a bridge.  He can look at the puzzle pieces hatereadingand see them fit together.  He can see movie scenes that were not engineered correctly, saying things like, “You would never build a space ship like that.  The solar sail would never fold backwards.  It wouldn’t work.”  He’s creative and imaginative.  The problem?  There’s not an academic place for 12-year-olds who can barely read but can understand about solar sails.  Are we discouraged?  No.
Thankfully, our son’s current life with all the paper, pencils, and endless work sheets is not the real world.  It doesn’t define his academic future.  Adulthood can be a place of great success for critical thinkers and those who learn to overcome obstacles.  If your story is our story, don’t be discouraged.   It’s not too late. Your gifts just didn’t fit the mold.  Oh, and if you still can’t spell “photosynthesis”, worry not.  A good computer program can spell.  But thinking?  No.  Only a sharp human mind can do that.

Cleaning out the Fridge

dirtyfridgeI have mixed feelings about this column.  Maybe there should be a parental disclaimer attached to it.  Something like:  The information contained in this column may not be fit for children, overly sensitive lap dogs, or older people with gastro intestinal problems.  Be warned.

It’s time to talk refrigerator cleaning.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Go ahead and admit it.  Every normal person in America has let the refrigerator get “out of hand” at one point or another.  Notice I said every “normal” person.  Yes, there are people who have NEVER let the refrigerator get “out of hand.”  But these people are NOT normal.  They are the ones who alphabetize the pantry items, organize the condiment jars according to height, and clean out the oven on a regular basis with oven cleaner and Brillo pads.  I also get the sneaking suspicion that these are the same people who use vacuum cleaner attachments.  I’ve always wondered why attachments came with the vacuum cleaner.  I think the person with the alphabetized pantry knows why.  No.  I don’t want to know.

For the rest of you, I feel the need to put your mind at ease.  You’re not alone.  All of us have been there.  We get busy and overwhelmed.  We keep shoving stuff into the refrigerator.  All  items naturally “drift” to the back.  It’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Yes, things turn blue and green.   Stop crying, friend.  It’s not too late.  I have a plan.

Step #1 involves removing every item from the refrigerator and placing it on the kitchen counter.  Get it all.  Yes, even the mustard jar that’s been stuck on the second shelf of the refrigerator door for three years and has to be pried out with a crow bar.  Now.  Everything is out.  The temptation will be to scrub and scrub and even sand blast all the hardened particles until the refrigerator looks brand new.  Don’t do it.  Perfection is not the goal, friend.  A hot soapy rag over every surface.  Done.

Now, you’re faced with a crucial decision.  Perhaps it’s the most crucial decision of all.   The light green Tupperware container your aunt gave you for high school graduation contains baked beans from the Christmas church potluck of ‘09.  It’s May of 2010.  You don’t wanna look.  You beg your kids to look.  They scream and vow that they would rather be eaten by wolves than remove that airtight lid.  Is it worth it?  Hard to say.  You desperately want to just throw it in the trash.  But that seems wasteful. No.  I won’t decide for you.  Let your conscience be your guide.  fridge_cleaning

In regard to some other items, let me make myself clear.  Throw the salad dressing away.  Yes, all of it. That bag of half-eaten salad needs to go too.  I know.  You didn’t know a big bag of red grapes got trapped behind the cabbage head a few months ago.  Unless you own a winery, throw the grapes out.  Blue/green tortilla?  Out.  Fuzzy strawberries?  Stop sayin’, “What a waste.  What a waste.”  Just throw it out, friend.  Show some courage, would you?

When you get the refrigerator completely clean, you will do what we always do.  You will say, “Never again.  We will forever live clean.”  Yeah.  Good luck with that.  Might wanna cut out this column and throw it in the junk drawer “just in case.”

Picture Taking CRAZINESS

If you want to know if you’re old or young, just answer this pivotal question.  How many pictures did you take this year? I could guess your age with incredible accuracy if I only knew your picture-taking habits.

If you’re really really old, you took about five pictures this year.  One picture was taken of the family right after Easter dinner.  You also took a family picture after Christmas dinner.  You took a picture of your great-grandson on the day he was born and a rather fuzzy picture of the dead armadillo you saw on Hwy. 54.  But that’s about it.  In your estimation, birthday picture-taking is only for birthdays ending in “0.”  You have the keen understanding that a relative turning 78 will never be as impressive as the armadillo migrating to Tennessee.

If you’re kinda old, you took about ten pictures this year.  In addition to the ones above, you took an extra Christmas picture because Uncle Harold had his eyes closed in the first one and little Sally was picking her nose.  If you were really really old, you would have said, “Too bad, Uncle Harold and Sally.  We don’t wanna waste film.”  But you’re young enough to realize cameras don’t have film anymore.  So you gave Uncle Harold and Sally one more chance.  You took a picture of the azalea bushes next to the shed and two pictures of your grandkids marching in the Soybean Parade.  You took a picture of the barn cat because he’s 17 and you felt his days were numbered.  But that’s about it.

If you’re middle-aged, you took several hundred pictures this year.  You took the standard Easter and Christmas pictures.  But you also took pictures of the Christmas tree and the outside lights and little Sally dressed like a reindeer in the Christmas play.  In fact, you took lots of pictures of Sally dressed like a reindeer because she kept picking her nose. Truth is, you have a lot more picture-taking patience than old people.   You took tons of birthday pictures, even when relatives turned odd ages not ending in “0.”   You also took pictures at soccer tournaments, your friend’s 40th birthday party, and that horrid vacation in Biloxi when little Billy got food poisoning.

If you’re young, well, God bless you, friend.  You may need to go through a 12-step program for excessive picture taking.  Because of Facebook, I’m convinced the average teenage girl takes more pictures in a day than an adult takes in a year.  The day begins with the “I hate my new haircut” picture taken in the bathroom mirror at 7:00 am.  Then there’s the picture of a sausage biscuit on the way to school.  A picture of the dog in the backseat of the car eating the leftover sausage biscuit.  There are the 27 daily pictures of your bff (best friend forever).  Then there are the pictures of your running shoes, your school art project, your new bottle of hairspray, and the tacos you had for lunch which you deemed unacceptable. This is all before noon on an average Tuesday.

The moral to this story is clear.  Old people need to take more pictures.  Young people need to take fewer pictures.  And armadillos need to stay off the highway.

Side note:  Look at my blog….and guess my age.  🙂  Ancient.

Refrigerator Rocket Science

I hope the refrigerator you own lasts forever or at least until you pass from this life to the next. If not, you’ll have to do what we did last week. Refrigerator shopping is not for the weak-minded.

My husband and I are practical. We have a washing machine because we want clean clothes. We have a dryer because I don’t want everyone on our country road to see my big-girl panties hanging on the line. We have a refrigerator because we don’t want our children to drink spoiled milk and get horribly sick and throw up all over the hall carpet because then we would have to replace the carpet. And I could never decide on a color.

I know I say it all the time in this column. But people have gone crazy. Stark ravin’ crazy. A friend recently got a new washing machine. I said, “Oh no! What happened to your old one?” I knew it must have leaked water all over the floor or set the house on fire or injured one of her children. I mean, that’s the only thing that would ever make me shell out the money for a new appliance.

“Nothing’s wrong with the old washing machine, Lisa. I just wanted a new red front-loading washing machine and dryer. And it’s wonderful. Really wonderful.”

I would like to share a word of wisdom with all readers everywhere. A baby is wonderful. A trip to the Grand Canyon is wonderful. A washing machine is a washing machine. If my clothes are clean, I will never replace my $295 washing machine. Ever. For the rest of my life. I mean, after I’m dead and gone, I hope it is washing the clothes of my great-grandchildren.

Shopping for a refrigerator in this current culture of stylish appliances was beyond challenging for me and my practical husband. The salesperson was enthusiastic which made things even worse. “So what kind of refrigerator are we looking for today?”

My reply was truthful, “Something to keep milk cold.”

She laughed. “Yes, but what kind of features did you want? Side-by-side? Top freezer? Shelf organizer? Life organizer? Aerodynamic lettuce crisper? Better gas mileage?”

Okay. So maybe she didn’t say the part about gas mileage. But it all became a blur. Where were the plain refrigerators that keep milk cold?

She spoke again, “Well, let’s start with color. Most people want these stainless steel models now. They’re very stylish.”

Stylish must be another word for “school cafeteria.” Stainless steel refrigerators remind me of a school cafeteria which reminds me of the year we had Chuckwagon sandwiches every Thursday. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t want to think about Chuckwagon sandwiches every morning at 6:00 when I pour orange juice.

“No, we don’t want stainless steel or white or black. We just want a soothing cream color which matches our counter tops.”

“Oh, that will be almost impossible to find now because most people want stainless steel or black.”

We learned a very important lesson the day we went refrigerator shopping. There are some things worth fighting for. A cream-colored refrigerator without an aerodynamic lettuce crisper is not one of those things.
Every morning I’m now greeted by the appliance version of Darth Vader. But I have very crisp lettuce. If only I cared.